Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Last Inaction Hero

Yesterday marked the final day for baseball teams to make trades. Many general managers for contending teams were busy adding players to help improve their team for the stretch run. The Yankees, trailing the Indians by 4.5 games in the Wild Card race, added infield depth in the form of Wilson Betemit. In that deal, the Yankees sent reliever Scott Proctor to the Dodgers, who trail the Diamondbacks by a game in the NL West. The Padres, who are just a half-game behind the Dodgers in that division, got some help of their own in the form of third-baseman Morgan Ensberg, along with outfielders Rob Mackowiak and Scott Hairston. The Red Sox shored up their bullpen with the addition of Eric Gagne in an effort to maintain their big lead over the Yankees in the AL East. The Braves, trailing in the NL East by 3.5 games, brought in closer Octavio Dotel one day after adding first baseman Mark Teixeira in a blockbuster trade. The Phillies, three games out in the same division, brought in Kyle Lohse to round out their rotation.

And then there was Terry Ryan, whose Twins' club sat out the deadline trading frenzy once again. After last night's victory over the Royals, the Twins sit five games out in the AL Wild Card race and six games out in the AL Central standings, and yet their heavily flawed offense continues to struggle mightily. Their savior at designated hitter is a player who has arguably been one of the worst in the league since the beginning of the 2006 season, and who is unlikely to remain healthy for the rest of the season. They have no clear starter at third base or in left field. They will be giving the majority of playing time at second base to a rookie for the remainder of the season. They've won four consecutive games only because they have gotten ridiculously good starting pitching during that stretch -- once the rotation starts to look more human, the Twins will go right back to being the mediocre .500 club they have been all season, unless the offense can turn things around. The addition of a hitter may have provided a jolt for this lifeless offense, and more importantly, it would have shown the Twins' players that the front office is committed to winning.

This all leads me to an article penned by Joe Christensen for today's Star Tribune, in which Johan Santana basically states that Ryan's timidity on the trade market and his unwillingness to make sacrifices and improve the team have put the two-time Cy Young winner's future with the team in serious doubt. An excerpt:
"We've been close," Santana said. "And in all those times, we seem to be a couple players away from winning it all. So I respect all the decisions they make, but I won't say that they're right all the time.

"They protect their young players. They protect their organization, their roots, everything. But I guess I won't be a part of it. A lot of guys don't feel like they can be part of it, and they have to move on."
Many players who could have filled needs for the Twins were dealt for relatively small returns within the past week, including Ty Wigginton, Betemit, Hairston and Ensberg. The Twins whiffed on some other players they were reported to have interest in, such as Colorado's Garrett Atkins and Oakland's Mike Piazza. Many such players could have figured into the Twins' plans beyond this season, making the unlikelihood of a 2007 playoff berth irrelevant.

Instead, the only move Ryan could muster was to trade away the team's veteran leadoff hitter for a pair of non-prospects in order to save a couple million dollars that, in the end, will probably remain in the owner's pocket.

I'm not overly frustrated that Ryan didn't make a move to bolster the Twins' chances this year, because they have an extremely difficult road ahead of them in order to make the playoffs as it is and adding one hitter probably wouldn't be enough to make the difference. But if the Twins wanted to throw in the towel on this season, it makes no sense to hold on to Carlos Silva, who will walk at the end of the season for no return.

As a huge fan of Santana, reading his words in Christensen's article hit home pretty hard with me, but in reality I can't blame him for feeling the way he does. He and his teammates are playing their hardest and trying to get back to the post-season, but they clearly need some help because there is not enough offensive talent on this roster to put together a complete lineup. Instead of aggressively trying to fulfill those needs, by all accounts Ryan continues to guard his prospects and hang the team, as it currently stands, out to dry.

Does Ryan's inaction singlehandedly eliminate the Twins' chances for a post-season berth? No, but it's clear from reading the quotes in the paper that the morale of the players has taken a hit. Instead of a new player or two, the Twins have at least one grumpy superstar and an offense that last night scored upwards of four runs in a game for just the fifth time since the All-Star break (and they were aided in doing so greatly by some poor defensive play from the Royals).

Johan, I feel your pain.

12 comments:

S.Chancellor said...

Some observations:

1. Ty Wigginton is traded to Houston for a middle reliever.
2. Morgan Ensberg is traded to SD for a player to be named. Houston pays his salary.
3. Shea Hillenbrand is released, and two weeks later signs a minor league deal with SD.

4. The Twins make no moves, other than to dump their only table setter.

5. The GM has lost the confidence of his veteran players.

Do I really think that Morgan Ensberg, with a suspect shoulder, would propel the Twins towards a mad play-off push? No. But Ensberg is capable of hitting a few homers and is an honest bat. More importantly, any acquisition would have been a gesture by the GM: “we are still in this thing, so let’s see if another bat gives us a little boost.”

SD picked up both Ensberg and Hillenbrand. SD is out of pocket one player to be named, and the league minimum salary, for two months: 198,000 total dollars.

The Twins just saved 2 million on Castillo … hmm.

Ensberg at 3B and Hillenbrand on the bench would have been a significant upgrade in light of what the Twins have now at those spots.

So when the GM says “we couldn’t force a deal,” his veteran players are not the only folks that have lost confidence in the GM’s willingness or ability to field a championship team.

beth said...

I question how happy Santana would've been if Silva had been traded for the third baseman.

Frymaster said...

s.chancellor, when Terry Ryan was on KFAN radio a couple/few weeks ago, a caller asked if there was ever any interest in picking up Milton Bradley who was DFA'd or Shea Hillenbrand, and before the caller could hang up TR said "no." It was the quickest and most short answer he could've given, and I'm assuming because of both players' reported attitude problems. As you know, TR doesn't want to "disturb the peace" in the clubhouse.

Nick N. said...

As you know, TR doesn't want to "disturb the peace" in the clubhouse.

Ironic, no?

S.Chancellor said...

Frymaster,

The GM certainly wasn't concerned about the clubhouse when he failed to make a deal yesterday.

Sometimes a little rancor goes a long way. Veteran players speak up because they have earned the right. It is no coincidence that the three players most critical of the GM are Santana, Hunter, and Nathan.

But yes, the GM has taken "low-risk" flyers before (White, Batista, Nevin, Ortiz, Ponson) and none of them have done a thing except take up roster spots.

I just have no idea what the GM is thinking. I don't know by what measure he is defining success, and since he is the architect of the team, I find that a bit scary.

Dan said...

It is greatly dissapointing that the Twins stood pat, but should we be really surprised. In one way, managment is in a no win situation b/c they get reamed when they sign crappy veterans in favor of younger talent, and they get reamed when they don't. Personally, I don't think acquiring Ensberg would have done squat. I think if TR could, he would, so if we point fingers, I think we go all the way to the top(Pohlad)
I do sympathize with Santana, and I'm kind of glad he said what he said, I don't think it was classless, he has feelings and he can voice them, and I think maybee it can be a wake up call to sign who they need for the long term. However, given from Brett Boone to Phil Nevin and his latest offseason acquisitions, quite frankly, I'm sick of picking out the rif-raf, and I would rather play prospects or younger talent than looking through the garbage bin, even if where still in the race. Such is life as a Twins fan.

I would have like to see Rincon go along with a lower prospect for Betimit but maybe he looked into that, I don't know.

If the pitching keeps up somewhat to the level of what they have been doing later I think the offense will improve some. As usual, I am now worried about the Yankees than the Indians for the Wild Card.

Anonymous said...

To be fair to Ryan, look at some of the deals he was looking at.

To get Wigginton, the D-Rays were asking for Garza. Maybe that was just the opening, "pie-in-the-sky" bid, or maybe that was typical of teams dealing with the Twins: only willing to give up a guy we wanted for a ransom in pitching. If the latter is true, then it's probably better to stand pat than give up a couple of starters for a mediocre rental player.

And let's not start over-valuing Luis Castillo, ok? I liked him just fine as our 2B, but he was gone after this year, and it wasn't like he was setting the world on fire. Sure, he gets on base at a respectable clip, but he can barely hit the ball out of the infield. Zero pop in the bat at all, so if he goes into a bit of slump he brings very small value at the plate. He was solid on D, but no longer a Gold Glove player because the range was reduced significantly because of the nagging injuries. Replacing him with Casillia will probably be a push.

I'm betting the Castillo trade was made partly in an effort to make room for a guy like Piazza, whom we know Ryan was trying to add. But they couldn't reach a deal, probably because the A's wanted a ransome in pitching for a year rental guy. I would have liked to add him, but only if it's a deal like Slowey & Rincon (at most!). When guys like Garza get added to the mix, you have to say no.

Hillenbrand is washed up and terrible. He's an ass in the clubhouse, and no longer has the bat to back it up. Forget him.

Ensberg has a bum shoulder (always good in a 3B!) and his bat ain't nothing to write home about these days either. He's a Ramon Ortiz signing: a guy we get at a little too much money and we try and talk ourselves into thinking he'll be an answer.

ubelmann said...

The Devil Rays were not asking for Matt Garza in exchange for Ty Wigginton. No one is that delusional.

ubelmann said...

I love the title of this post.

Nick N. said...

However, given from Brett Boone to Phil Nevin and his latest offseason acquisitions, quite frankly, I'm sick of picking out the rif-raf, and I would rather play prospects or younger talent than looking through the garbage bin, even if where still in the race. Such is life as a Twins fan.

The problem is that people have gotten the impression that these are the only types of players that can be acquired around this time of year. I would have loved to see the Twins nab a Wilson Betimit or a Ty Wigginton, and the price wouldn't have been absurdly high on either of those guys -- the problem is that you would have to give up SOMETHING, which Ryan has proven completely unwilling to do on the trade market.

And let's not start over-valuing Luis Castillo, ok? I liked him just fine as our 2B, but he was gone after this year, and it wasn't like he was setting the world on fire. Sure, he gets on base at a respectable clip, but he can barely hit the ball out of the infield. Zero pop in the bat at all, so if he goes into a bit of slump he brings very small value at the plate.

Who's overvaluing him? I've never said he was anything more than mediocre at the plate and in the field this year. He was still one of the better hitters on the team though, and even though they've brought up a player in Casilla who could easily replace his production, it hurts to lose a guy like that for pennies while picking up nobody else to support the offense.

Anonymous said...

The Devil Rays were not asking for Matt Garza in exchange for Ty Wigginton. No one is that delusional.

The StarTrib (can't recall if it was Christiansen or LEN3) reported that the D-Rays asked for Garza in return for Wigginton. So either someone was having a little fun with the beat guy or the D-Rays are precisely that delusional.

freefun0616 said...

酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店經紀,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店工作,
專業酒店經紀,
合法酒店經紀,
酒店暑假打工,
酒店寒假打工,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店工作,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店經紀,
專業酒店經紀,
合法酒店經紀,
酒店暑假打工,
酒店寒假打工,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店工作,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,

,