Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Party Is Over

Parties end.

It’s a sad truth, and you don’t need to be happy about it. But embrace it sooner, rather than later. Nobody wants to be THAT guy, stumbling around a fully-lit dining room, screaming at nobody in particular to “PUT THE MUSIC BACK ON!” So here it is again:

Parties end.

This party is going to end. The Twins Cities did not suddenly swell to the size of an east coast metropolis. The local TV contract has not been renegotiated. And the Twins aren’t going to open a newer, bigger, better ballpark again next year. The huge bump in revenue that the team expected has happened. It isn’t happening again.

That bump in revenue, and thus payroll, was significant. Payroll jumped up $30 million or about 50% over the previous year (according to USAToday). Comparatively, MLB payrolls actually decreased 2.5%.

Historically, MLB payrolls have generally increased 5-10% from year-to-year over the past decade. The Twins have exceeded that a little, another few percentage points, except when they lost particularly expensive guys.

So what does this have to do with parties? We’re about to cover the Twins payroll situation for next year, and when you see how bleak it is, your first reaction is going to be that that there MUST be more money available. If you want to decide that, go ahead. But deciding it doesn’t put any more beer into the keg.

On the left is the back-of-the-napkin sketch of your shell of a team:

Big Picture
Unless you dump some guaranteed salaries, you’ve got about $18 million to spend - and that’s if payroll increases 15% this year to $110 million. You need to completely reconstruct a bullpen, patch over a middle infield, possibly replace an ace starting pitcher, and decide if you want to keep fan favorite Jim Thome as he closes in on 600 home runs. (Good luck.) Let’s walk through each area.


That beautiful middle infield that produced offensively and shined defensively? It could be completely gone. You own the rights for JJ Hardy for one more year, so you get to decide if he stays or not. But he’ll make what an arbitrator says he is worth, and that’s likely to be about $7M. They aren’t included in the above tab. Orlando Hudson is a free agent, so even if you want to keep him, you might not be able to. If you do want to bid on him, plan on spending about $6M. Punto is also a free agent, but will likely command utility player money.

Cuddyer’s money is guaranteed, so you need to trade him or pay him. Same with Span, not that you would want to lose him. You get to choose on Delmon - that salary is an estimate of what the arbitrator will pay him – and Kubel, who has a one-year option on his existing contract. If you want to keep Jim Thome, you had better plan on spending $4M or so – and may need to find him fulltime at-bats.

Brendan Harris may not be on your team, but he’s on the books because he signed a multi-year deal last offseason, so you’re paying the $1.75M whether you want to or not. Repko is your choice and that salary is an estimate of what the arbitrator will rule.

Wanna bring back the ‘stache? You’re going to need to give the 34-year-old a three-year deal for around $30 million. The last two years he has signed “make good” deals, and he did. It’s only fair he get paid, and the market will ensure he will.

I’m listing the bullpen last, but you should probably attack it first. Nathan’s money is guaranteed and there won’t be any insurance to cover it this year, so don’t ask. You have your choice on Neshek, Mijares and Capps – but Capps is going to cost you $7-$9M in arbitration. You also have an option on Fuentes for $9M if you want, but you’re more likely to let him become a free agent – just like Guerrier, Crain, Rauch, Mahay, and Flores will be.

Whew. Roll up your sleeves. And leave us your comments....

The above is first draft of an essay you'll find in the 2010-11 TwinsCentric Offseason Handbook, an e-book that we'll be selling for $9.95 the day after the World Series ends. Last year it was 151 pages of analysis on all the free agents and trade targets that included identifying JJ Hardy as the #1 trade target of the Twins. This year it will be even better, plus, we're promising early delivery and extra content to anyone who pre-orders this week.

Now, the bigger news: because we want to reward our readers who stop by day-after-day, we're selling it at half price to the first 500 people who pre-order it. It couldn't be easier to order. Just swing by TwinsCentric.Blogspot.com for all the details, including how you can download last year's version absolutely free so you can see what you're getting.

Finally, thank you for all your support this season. I'll be here throughout the offseason, obsessing about the Twins and baseball just like you, talking baseball almost as often as I wish I could. I hope you'll come and visit often.


John said...

Who all is available in AAA that might be MLB-ready...ish? The Danny V's, if you will?

Anonymous said...

I'm in. Thanks for the discount! It was a great read LY and so was the beginning of year glossy.

Moe said...

Oh man that was depressing to read. I don't doubt that the Twins will still find a way to rebuild a team that will remain competitive, but this was our year. Crap.

Jack Ungerleider said...

I'll take the following line on Thome: $2 mil guaranteed and another $2 mil if he gets full time at-bats.

Reasoning: Thome has stated that he needs to play for a team that understands his limitations at this point in his life. Gardenhire proved that he does. (Much to the dismay of some of the fan base.) So Thome may come back for a tiered contract. If he plays as he wants he gets $2 million and his back feels pretty good at the end of the season. If he needs to make more PA then he gets more money to help pay for the physical therapy in the off-season.

As far as the rotation is concerned if the Twins can find a trading partner interested in Scott Baker, that would free up half the money needed to pay Pavano. (Before you jump on me about who'd want Baker, some team may see him as similar to Matt Garza or Kyle Loshe. Guys who don't fit the Twins system and could do well in a different environment.) Should you use it on Pavano? Probably not.

Craig in MN said...

The big wild card for the Twins is what trade will they be able to work, and that depends on other teams. I could easily imagine trading an OF (Young, Cuddyer or Kubel), a starter (Baker or Slowey), or possibly Hardy or Capps if there is demand. Actually, I could see them packaging two of those to upgrade somewhere.

Short of trades, I'd try to sign Thome, Bill Hall, and one of Crain/Guerrier, then go to arbitration with Hardy and/or Capps if the money is still there. I'd also try to see if Justin Duchserer was interested in a change of scenery. He's got issues, but when he's pitching, he's very good and could profile as a reliever or starter depending on what they need.

Bill Hall would give them another righty bat who could backup everywhere in the OF (and let Repko go), play 2nd base, or fill in almost anywhere. He would give them flexibility to trade an OF or Hardy (or even non tender him) or just give them some depth to deal with injuries.

Plouffe, Tolbert, Casilla and/or Harris should be able to hold down the rest of the open fielder jobs, and they can try to fill 3 bullpen jobs internally. I don't see any way for them to upgrade at starter without a trade, but I do see a trade happening somehow.

Anonymous said...

Looking at those numbers, there's no way the Twins keep Capps. You can expect simular production from Rausch at a fraction of the price. I would try to keep Fuentes if at all possible, but... well... yikes.

I haven't been paying too close of attention, but where does Kyle Gibson fit into all of this? I'm sure he'll make his MLB debut at some point in 2011, but would he be able to compete for the 5th spot in the rotation out of spring training?


rover27 said...

This is how the Mauer contract hamstrings this team. And will for nearly a decade. To get a contract of his size(4th largest in MLB history), you better be a difference maker(Pujolis, Cabrerra, Hamilton). Especially in this team's salary structure. He isn't. And those wanting to move him to another position...he'd be worth even less as a 9 homer, 75 RBI producer.

As far a pure production, the Mauer contract will go down as one of the worst in professional sports history. Put it in with the KG ontract with the Wolves, but worse.

Nick said...

I think the Twins should look into getting Greinke. Send KC Baker & Blackburn and a prospect. That would help both teams - Twins don't need 2 more average starters, but the Royals do. The Royals don't really have a need for an Ace when you follow him up with 4 terrible starters. You could even throw in Slowey and the costs would almost be even.

Twins Rotation: Greinke, Liriano, Duensing, Gibson, Manship/Swarzack.

AK47 said...

Why is it crazy to think the Twins wouldn't carry a payroll of $105M - $115M?

I guess nobody has explained that one to me.

Anonymous said...

Revenue at Target Field exceeded everyone's expectations, or so we keep hearing. With that in mind, and if the Twins want to keep up those numbers, it seems the can afford to push payroll up a bit farther north. They need to be smart about doing so, but I don't see how we have to accept they've topped out.

Anonymous said...

You glossed over one very important point. Punto is NOT a free agent. The club holds a $5m option on him. Why would you keep Hardy for $7m when you can keep Punto for $5m? It's like free money! You can't put a price on savings like that. He might even be able to cover the whole middle infield, eliminating the need for spending on a 2B either. Whew...glad we solved that one. Now we can focus on replacing 3 terrible starters (SlowBakeBurn) with at least one other good arm that Andy doesn't neuter.

freealonzo said...

I agree with AK47. A year ago, you would have laughed at me if I told you the Twins payroll would be around $103M at the end of 2010. With the money making maching known as Target Field no reason to think Twins can't have a payroll somewhere north of $110M

taxmensch said...

Here's an idea. Trade Justin Morneau. We don't know if he'll ever be again what he was. Trade him to Seattle so he can be near his home. Package him with Slowey or Baker. Get a true ace. Felix Hernandez. Then either shift Mauer to first or sign Konerko.