Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Waiting Game

General managers across the American League have been relatively busy reconfiguring their teams for the 2010 season. Of particular note are Brian Cashman and Jack Zduriencik, the respective GMs of the Yankees and Mariners, who have both been quite impressive up to this point in the offseason. Cashman has reinforced the roster of the defending World Series champs by bringing in Curtis Granderson and Javier Vazquez in trades that most analysts viewed as lopsided in favor of the Yankees. Meanwhile, Zduriencik has seeked to build on his team's 24-win improvement during his first year as GM by adding Cliff Lee and Chone Figgins. Earlier this week, the M's dealt underperforming former top prospect Brandon Morrow to the Blue Jays for Brandon League in a deal that puzzled many but that I liked given that I've long coveted League.

Meanwhile, Bill Smith and the Twins have been awfully silent. Since making a big early splash by trading Carlos Gomez for J.J. Hardy just a couple days after the World Series, the Twins have been relatively inactive, with the only noteworthy moves coming in the form of an arbitration offer to Carl Pavano (which was accepted) and a minor trade that sent Boof Bonser to the Red Sox for a low-level pitching prospect.

Seeing rival GMs wheel and deal while Smith has remained in the shadows has irked a number of Twins fans, but the reality is that the Twins are probably playing this the right way. Despite the number of significant trades that have gone down, the free agent market has remained stagnant. Several options at positions of need -- including Felipe Lopez, Mark DeRosa and Adrian Beltre -- are still out there, and it seems like agents and teams are waiting for a few early contracts to set the tone before they start hammering out deals. The Twins probably don't have a lot of financial flexibility left to sign additional players, and they almost certainly can't afford to meet the current demands of guys like DeRosa and Beltre. Yet, as time goes by, the prices will only drop. The same is true for potential trades.

I'm not suggesting that the Twins once again wait until late February when the only remaining option is a hobbled and desperate Joe Crede before they start seriously investigating solutions to their infield holes, but fans should show a bit more patience with the front office. Waiting is the right strategy for the time being.

8 comments:

Steven Ellingson said...

Exactly. It seems like there are more 3rd basemen than there are spots. No reason to rush anything. This year, I think the fallback option is to give in to San Diego and give up a prospect with Perkins for Kouzmanoff.

If the Red Sox can't trade Lowell, that's really going to drive prices down. If San Diego trades for Uggla, that'll also help. The Orioles already did us a favor by filling their hole with someone we absolutely didn't want. If a few things break right, a guy like Beltre or DeRosa might have to take a 1 year contract. If they don't, there should still be passable options out there.

Bryz said...

League is a ground-ball(2.75 career GO/FO), quasi-strikeout (9.16 K/9 in 2009, but 6.85 for career) pitcher that has wildly varied between greatness and mediocrity. Moving from Rogers Centre to Safeco should help him a bit, but he needs to keep his walk rate down.

I think what bugs some fans is that with how patient the Twins have been, they worry that:

1. It feels like the Twins front office isn't concerned about improving the team, which can be unsettling to those when the offseason is already nearly half over (at least until pitchers and catchers report).

2. All the options will go to teams other than the Twins, which will leave them stuck with Nick Punto (probably happening regardless) and Player X (Orlando Cabrera, Joe Crede, etc.) that is signed only because no one else wanted him.

I have to admit that it's certainly bugging me. It probably is the safe/right thing to do, but I think I can safely speak for all fans by saying that I would prefer to see a little more urgency with Bill Smith.

Doofus said...

The Twins have done a lot this offseason, especially if you count the moves made in August and the return of Neshek to health. That gives us 2 relievers Rauch and Neshek, a solid starting pitcher Pavano, a solid to allstar calibre SS in JJ Hardy, at this point we need either a 2B or 3B, possibly a bench bat, and something that doesn't affect the team too much next season but it will us fans.... a Mauer extention. We can trqade for Kouz, sign Crede or get someone else as there are still numerous options out there. I think the Twins are waiting for the giants to get someone as they seem to be after the same targets we are which will lower the price on whoever is left.

TT said...

Obviously they can make improvements, but the only move the Twins really need to make is to sign Mauer. Until they know that cost, spending any more money on a free agent or other expensive player makes little sense.

They could use a better number two hitter than the current choices. Those seem to be Hardy, Punto and, maybe Harris or Tolbert in that order. But if they can't make a deal to improve there, it is not the end of the world. Same with an improvement at third base.

I don't think anyone should be disappointed if the Twins go into spring training with their current roster. So long as Mauer is signed to a long-term contract.

Anonymous said...

I think Bill Smith is playing the off-season situation just right. The Joe Mauer extention is the first domino in what the Twins are going to do. Then I think Bill Smith has a plan set as to how they will fill their other needs after the fact. I think Bill Smith has done an excellent job up to this point and most fans don,t realize the difficulties invovled in making trades and signing free agents. It takes time and patience. Just give him a chance.

Beth said...

I thnk the no news policy from Smith could be ok, while it would be nice to see him making moves towards organizing a strong competitive roster, I think it is equally importnant that the first roster decision to make is to insure that Joe Mauer will be back.

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