Monday, October 12, 2009

Quick and Painful

It was tough watching the Twins trudge dejectedly off the field after last night's 4-1 loss, which completed an ALDS sweep for the Yankees and officially ended the Twins' 2009 season. Not just because the Twins lost the series -- I expected that. And not even because they failed to win a single game -- I pretty much expected that.

It was tough because the Twins gave themselves enough opportunities to make a series out of it. Much like their three-game set in New York during the regular season, the Twins were swept in this series but hardly laid down for the Evil Empire. After being soundly defeated in a first game on Wednesday that hardly anyone could have expected them to win, the Twins pitched well enough and collected enough hits to take both of the next two games. But given the inherent disadvantages the Twins faced in this series, they stood no chance of overcoming the Yankees with all of their terrible baserunning blunders, the brutal work from their seemingly depleted closer, and their complete lack of execution with runners aboard (32 runners stranded over the three games). We can talk all we want about Phil Cuzzi's unspeakably horrendous call on the left field line on Friday night, but the fact is that the Twins are ultimately responsible the fate that fell upon them. I do wonder if having had their repeated fundamental lapses on display for the entire nation over the past week or so will put a dent in the commonly held notion that the Twins are a sound fundamental team that does all of the little things.

I'm disappointed by this outcome but not at all surprised, and given the spectacular end to the regular season I do feel like this 2009 Twins team gave me my money's worth. I'll have further analysis of this series and of the Twins' season as a whole over the remainder of the week, so be sure to check back. Within the next few weeks I'll also start diving into discussion of issues facing the team during the offseason. You can get a jump start on that conversation now, though, with the perfect offseason companion, which I invite you to read about below.


Back in July, I joined forces with John Bonnes (the Twins Geek), Parker Hageman and Seth Stohs to develop an eBook called the TwinsCentric Trade Deadline Primer. This was very much an experimental project, but the results were encouraging. The product generated a lot of good buzz and I'm extremely appreciative of everyone who bought a copy or supported our efforts in any way. But there were two central problems with the Deadline Primer. The first was that neither me or my TwinsCentric partners had much experience with designing and marketing something like this so there were a number of rough patches. The second -- and more troubling -- issue was that the Twins simply don't have a history of being real active at the trade deadline, so people had a hard time getting excited and shelling out money for an extensive write-up on the topic.

That second issue was one we had foreseen, and unsurprisingly it was one of the main areas of negative feedback we received. It was completely understandable. That's why I'm extremely excited about our newest venture, the TwinsCentric 2009-10 Offseason GM Handbook. Not only does this book cover a lengthier period of time where the Twins are much more likely to be highly active participants, but the product itself is built around a unique and fun concept that I think people will really enjoy.

The basic premise of the GM Handbook is that rather than simply providing an outlook for the next several months while predicting what Bill Smith and the Twins will probably do or what we ourselves would do, it actually puts you as the reader in the position of general manager. You are provided with a schedule of key offseason dates, a comprehensive breakdown of the team's payroll outlook, an incredibly thorough organizational depth chart, a listing of arbitration-eligible players, a collection of potential trade candidates, an overview of the entire free agent market position-by-position, and a whole lot more. With all this information at hand, you can either draw your own conclusions about the direction that the front office will take or you can create a personalized offseason blueprint. How would you fix the problems facing this team as they move forward into a new stadium while remaining within a reasonable budget? This book gives you all the information you'll need to come up with your answers, rounded out by plenty of opinion and analysis from us dopes.

Smith and the Twins have a tough task ahead of them over the next few months. If you're not content to sit back and see what they do, perhaps you'd like to formulate your own ideas. The GM Handbook provides an excellent resource for this endeavor, and of course picking up a copy will provide some much-appreciated support for your local Twins bloggers. If you'd like a sneak peek, you can download a free 61-page preview (a little over one-third of the book) at the TwinsCentric website.

Thanks to everyone for your support this year, and I look forward to continuing the discussions and debate throughout the offseason.