Sunday, March 20, 2011

Prepaid Price

Minnesota Twins announce RHP-Pat Neshek was placed on irrevocable waivers and claimed by the San Diego Padres.

Let's start with the big picture.

The Twins biggest concern this year is their bullpen. This was the case entering spring training and spring training has done little to alleviate that concern. While roster battles are being waged, and the Twins may be able to identify seven guys to take north, certainly no shut-down option has emerged.

And yesterday, the Twins lost Pat Neshek for nothing. Supporters will point out at Neshek hasn't been a shut-down option for three years. The truth is sadder than that. Neshek hadn't shown enough this spring to Twins brass to even be one of the seven guys to come north. So what is the harm in this move?

The harm is that Neshek isn't unique in his status. There are a lot of relievers in the Twins systems who aren't going to make the Opening Day roster, and the Twins didnt waive any of them. What's more, Neshek, unlike some other relievers, had "an option" left, meaning he could be sent to Rochester this year and recalled later in the year. So why give up an organizational asset (in an area where we KNOW there are so many question marks) for nothing? What was gained?

The glib answer is "40-man roster flexibility," which sounds great until you start to unpack it a bit. Yes, the Twins gained a spot on the 40-man roster - but Bill Smith admitted yesterday they don't know if they'll need it in two weeks or six months. What's more, that kind of move can be made at any time - like when a team actually NEEDS the spot. There isn't any advantage to having it early.

Its also been suggested that the Twins did this as a favor to Neshek. Sorry, no. If Neshek or the Twins or Neshek's agent found a team that wanted Neshek, and the Twins wanted to do him a favor, a trade for a player to be named later or cash would have been worked out. Leaving is to the whims of the waiver wire process isn't doing anyone a favor.

No, this move fits a different modus operandi of major league teams. Teams make moves like this earlier in spring training because they think it is less likely a player will be claimed now. Most teams are struggling with 25 and 40 man roster decisions at this time. The Twins gambled.

It almost paid off. If my understanding of the waiver claim order is correct, Neshek made it through 25 of 29 teams before he was claimed. But he WAS claimed. The Twins lost that bet.

Presumably, they made it because they anticipate needing that spot. Is that because they foresee adding Kyle Waldrop? Is a trade in the works? Do they expect another team to run out of room as Opening Day approaches?

I expect we'll find out sooner, rather than later. But we shouldn't pretend that future opportunity didn't come at a prepaid price.


Anonymous said...

Meh. Losing (and adding) players off waivers is part of baseball. I really don't think it's a big deal. But, if we're going to be complaining everytime one of our scrub players doesn't get flipped for a diamond in the rough from some other team, we better be celebrating every waiver wire pickup the FO makes.

Anonymous said...

Not sure how many times this can be said but here goes. You don’t release a player who has a proven track record at this level for a 40-man roster spot. With this logic the team should have released Francisco Liriano in 2009. Liriano was terrible and still trying to come back from T.J. surgery in his thrid year. This was Neshek’s third year back and the velocity might still come. You use the option and stick him back in Rochester. Kyle Waldrop has no experience and the only time he faced M.L. caliber hitters was in the AFL and he was trounced. Stupid move here with one option remaining. This was done either as a salary dump (cheap) or because Gardy does not like that he reports stuff on Twitter. Just more evidence that he is mediocre manager at best with a 6-21 lifetime record in the playoffs.

Fran said...

Teams make moves like this earlier in spring training because they think it is less likely a player will be claimed now. Most teams are struggling with 25 and 40 man roster decisions at this time. The Twins gambled.

Less likely, unless you do make move with knowledge the team you *want* to make the claim will make a claim. Thinking the Twins knew everyone else was likely to pass and also knew the Padres would make a claim. Smells pre-arranged to me. The Twins gambled? Maybe, but only a very little.

Anonymous said...

My take is they think he's done. And when they made that decision, they decided to save $700K.

I trust the Twins when they think a pitcher is done.

I don't trust the Twins when they think a middle infielder is done (ie. Hardy).

Anonymous said...

Jack - Liriano actually had some very good moments in 08 and he showed early that he was coming back from TJ surgery. He had some bumps in the road but he was still striking out a ton of guys. The Twins weren't sure he could be a starter anymore and were preparing him for a BP role in case he didn't have the stamina to start anymore. Neshek hasn't done anything to suggest he'll come back. He's 30 and the Twins have a ton of younger arms that will be able to help now.

Your theory that the Twins dumped him either b/c their cheap or to please Gardy says a lot more about you than the Twins organization.

TT said...

The Twins still have 10 other relievers who were in spring training who will need to have spots in the major league bullpen or at AAA. And that doesn't count their Rule 5 pick Diamond. Nor does it consider younger guys who are ready for AAA but weren't invited to spring training. Nor does it count Anthony Slama who is injured.

In short, Neshek as a 30 year old with a mid-80's fastball, was at the end of a very long line with the Twins. They didn't have a spot for him and the Padres do.

Neshek is not the last player the Twins will have to give up on this year. They are overloaded in the minor leagues and there are going to be some young players who are at the end of their careers as a result. They did Neshek a favor. A year sitting on the bench at AAA was not going to get him back to the major leagues.

Pat M said...

TT the problem isn't the move itself its the execution. The FO gambled that they could pass him through waivers and lost. Given that the bullpen is the weakest perceived part of this team there was no reason to dump Neshek or "do him a favor" b/c AAA depth is always an asset. If at the end of camp they wanted to add someone to the 40-man like Waldrop then fine take the chance but there was no need to do it now. The FO took an unnecessary risk and failed. I wish they would just come out and admit their failure instead of trying to cover it up. The only differnce now is we lost an experienced arm on the depth cart and Neshek is headed to Tucson instead of Rochester

TT said...

"The FO gambled that they could pass him through waivers and lost."

I doubt it. If anything they won. The Padres are now responsible for Neshek's salary.

"AAA depth is always an asset"

Not if you have a 30 year old with no future taking playing time from younger players with a future. Neshek was not going to play at AAA. There are too many other guys who need innings.

"the bullpen is the weakest perceived part of this team "

If Neshek were an option, then that perception would clearly be accurate. But maybe the perception is wrong. It looks to me like the Twins are going to have guys at AAA that would have started last season on the major league roster. In fact, Burnett is already there.

by jiminy said...

Thans Geek, this argument makes sense, except for one thing that confuses me. If their hope was to sneak him through waivers, why didn't they use revocable waivers and pull him back if he got claimed? Or was that not an option for some reason? Anyone know?

jjswol said...

I think Neshek was waived because he was pitching poorly and he clearly did not earn a spot on the 2011 Twins. The Twins avoided another bruhaha with Neshek by just letting him go versus sending him to Rochester where he would have been an unhappy camper. A win-win for both sides and no one looks bad.

Jim Garrison said...

Or it could be that the Twins don't think he's very good anymore. He did spend most of last season in the minors. Yes he was recovering from TJ surgery but how much time do expect Nathan to spend in Rochester this season? His ship has sailed and the Twins knew it more than anyone.