Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Twins Outright Missed Opportunities

In my 2017 Minnesota Twins wish list I touched on the fact that I am looking forward to new President of Baseball Operations, Derek Falvey, coming in and cleaning up the 40 man roster. There is no shortage of players that can be moved on from, and the Twins must do so in order to turn the page on what was an abysmal 2016. Before he has even gotten into the building though, Minnesota began making moves.

Admittedly, I have no idea if the Twins were in touch with Falvey prior to outrighting five players this week. Tommy Milone, Andrew Albers, Pat Dean, James Beresford, and Jordan Schafer were all sent packing off of the 40 man. Whether Falvey was involved or not, it was all but certain none of them belonged. Milone wasn't going to be given arbitration, Albers and Schafer are veteran retreads, and both Beresford and Dean are nothing more than minor league depth pieces. You really shouldn't need anyone to sign off on moves like that.

As Falvey comes in though, the hope should be that those types of players don't continue to find their way to Minnesota. Now, to be fair, Tommy Milone really doesn't belong grouped in with that lot. He's a capable big league starter, and while he struggled at times for the Twins, there's little doubt that he can go fill out a big league rotation elsewhere. Terry Ryan acquiring him in returning Sam Fuld to the Oakland Athletics a couple of years ago was about as shrewd a move as it gets. Right now though, it was just time for both parties to go their separate ways.

If there's a problem with the five outrighted players though, it's that the represent opportunity. I'm a firm believer in the idea that if you aren't going to be good now, you should either be creative or have a plan for being good again in the immediate future. What players like Schafer, Albers, Dean and Beresford don't represent is creativity or future success.

It's hard to be too harsh on the Twins for giving a hat tip promotion to James Beresford. He was signed by the organization out of Australia and has toiled away in the minors for over 1,000 games and 10 seasons. He paid his dues, and on a 103 loss team, he found his time in the sun.

When quantifying what the four players not named Tommy Milone represent though, we come up with this:
  • 2 hitters (Beresford/Schafer) 36 G 98 plate appearances .233 AVG .597 OPS 5 XBH
  • 2 pitchers (Albers/Dean) 25 G 84.1 IP 11 starts 6.05 ERA
No matter how you cut it, that's a significant chunk of exposure. Now Dean throws off the numbers a little bit as he was called up as early as May, and made appearances in both June and August as well. Regardless, giving nearly 100 plate appearances, 11 starts, and 80+ innings pitched to four players that have no future benefit to the organization seems like a silly allocation of playing time.

If you remember correctly, it was Jose Berrios (the Twins top pitching prospect) who was repeatedly threatened (and was) sent down to the minors after poor outings. There was talk of him going to the bullpen following some late season starts, and he had to scratch and claw his way to finish the year with 14 starts. It wasn't an isolated incident however.

J.T. Chargois was passed over multiple times for a promotion in the middle of the year, and players like D.J. Baxendale, Jake Reed, Mitch Garver, and Adam Brett Walker (on the 40 man) were never given a shot at all. Each of the above names fits both the criteria of being creative, or contributing in future winning seasons, yet the Twins went with the lowest possible options across the board.

At some point, a bad team has to stop giving away time to players who've shown they aren't big leagues. Schafer is a 29 year old with a career .611 OPS in 318 games, Albers flopped in Korea and has been passed on by everyone not named Minnesota in the major leagues. It's moves like these that do little to help a franchise now or in the future.

Throughout the rest of the offseason, you can bet there will be more changes to the Twins 40 man roster. As players fall off, go unclaimed, and become free agents, Falvey must steer the Twins in the direction of meaningful talent at every corner. For a team that will rely upon its internal processes, they have to start practicing them at a much higher level.