2012 Organizational Rankings: #25 — Minnesota

Dave Cameron laid out the methodology behind the rankings last Friday. Remember that the grading scale for each category is 20-80, with 50 representing league average.

2012 Organizational Rankings

#30 – Baltimore
#29 – Houston
#28 – Oakland
#27 – Pittsburgh
#26 – San Diego

Minnesota’s 2011 Ranking: #6

2012 Outlook: 42 (23rd)

Quite a difference a year makes, as the Twins lent credence to the dreaded #6org meme for a second consecutive year by losing 99 games in what was likely the worst season in club history. A good portion of the damage done was self-inflicted — though injuries certainly had their way as well — and steps have been taken to ensure that no repeat of 2011 will occur.

Firing Bill Smith — in November, no less — was the right move, but that didn’t cure the Twins of its ills overnight. In a meticulously crafted offseason, old-but-new GM Terry Ryan managed to add mostly depth to a team that for all intents and purposes is only one season removed from dominating the American League Central.

But times have changed.

For one, firing Smith doesn’t undo the Matt Capps or J.J. Hardy deals, and secondly Prince Fielder moving to Motown means it’ll be an uphill battle for any team to challenge for the Central crown, let alone dig out from a near 100-loss season. The Twins should be considerably better in 2012 — I have them pegged for 84 wins in my own personal projections — but that makes the club unlikely to contend for one of the new wildcard spots instituted for the upcoming postseason.

2013+ Outlook: 43 (25th)

There isn’t a ton of help on the immediate horizon, but at least in my perception, the Twins do well to add quality in spots where it isn’t usually projected. Chris Parmelee has been a pleasant surprise, and has forced the Twins’ hand into placing him onto the Opening Day 25-man roster as either a right fielder or first baseman. He, Joe Benson, and Liam Hendriks — thirteenth, ninth, and seventh in Marc Hulet’s 2011 Twins prospect rankings, respectively — are the few beacons of light that might immediately provide shine from the Twins metaphorical lighthouse.

The rest of the club’s big time help is offshore a considerable amount, as Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Arcia, and Levi Michael all represent the next crop of big prospects likely to descend on Minneapolis in the next handful of campaigns. They’re closer in proximity — a number of them will suit up for the Beloit Snappers — than proclivity.

The three wild-cards in the Twins deck are right-handers Kyle Gibson (arm surgery), Alex Wimmers (yips), and whomever the club selects with the second-overall pick in the upcoming amateur draft — a lot that may still include high school phenom Lucas Giolito, who allegedly hit 100 on the radar gun in one of his final starts before he too fell victim to season-ending arm woes.

Nonetheless, the farm system is a bit of a teeter-totter — with some depth on either side but a bit soft in the middle — but overall doesn’t stand out, especially when placed in comparison with the Royals or even the Indians, a system whose prospects are mostly graduated and playing full-time roles.

In terms of big league talent, the Twins are forced to retool rather than rebuild due in large part to owing Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau roughly $40 million in each of the next two seasons. The success of both 2012 and subsequent seasons will hinge greatly on the health of the Twins incarnation of the M&M boys.

Financial Resources: 47 (t-20th)

According to recent Forbes figures, the Twins are the 14th most valuable franchise at $510 million. Certainly, moving to Target Field has boosted the team’s value, as has not having to share or outright pay to the Vikings the concession dollars collected from the previously shared Metrodome. The Twins have long maintained that they use ~50 percent of revenues toward on-field personnel, and Forbes’ suggestion that the team’s revenue of $213 million in 2011 falls right in line with the $113.2 million payroll the club funded last season.

One thing worth watching will be the attendance as the Twins head into year three at Target Field. Oddly, though the Twins were 31 games worse in the standings from 2010 to 2011, attendance only dropped about 55,500 — roughly 700 heads per date — and the club actually jumped from third to second in the junior circuit in attendance. The Twins announced in August last season that there would be no increase in season ticket prices, and despite recent cold calls I’ve received from the ticketing department, all signs seem to point to another great year of season ticket renewals according to team president Dave St. Peter.

One place the Twins simply can’t keep up with is television contracts. While teams like the Angels have been able to procure astonishing, astronomical TV deals — the Halos opted out of a $50 million per year deal to strike a new one with Fox worth $150 million per annum for 20 years — the Twins are sort of stuck in flyover country, pulling in a reported $29 million per season to be broadcast on Fox Sports North.

Baseball Operations: 40 (t-28th)

This ranking is no doubt the hangover of the Smith era at the helm of the front office. In Smith’s short tenure in the GM’s chair — four years, five weeks — the trades were few but ultimately, quite disastrous.

* Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, and Eduardo Morlan for Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, and Jason Pridie
* Johan Santana for Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey, Carlos Gomez*, and Deolis Guerra
* Capps for Wilson Ramos
* Hardy for Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson

To Smith’s credit, he did turn Gomez into Hardy.

Now this isn’t entirely to besmirch Smith’s character as GM; his late-season/waiver-wire deals were generally good — including Brian Fuentes, Carl Pavano, and Jon Rauch — and he did sign Jim Thome for peanuts, but all-in-all the writing was on the wall that Smith just wasn’t the man to resurrect the suddenly downtrodden franchise. Want some perspective on how big of a deal the Twins firing someone is? The Twins permitted Tom Kelly to manage the team despite losing seasons from 1993-2000. Only when Kelly retired was he replaced by incumbent skipper Ron Gardenhire. In short, if you’re a Twin, you’re often a Twin for life. Consistent with that notion, Smith was retained as a special assistant to Ryan and St. Peter.

Overall: 43 (25th)

As I stood in the clubhouse at the end of last year’s dismal run, Twins legend Tony Oliva — in full team attire, mind you — ambled into the middle of the room and asked why everyone was so glum. “Sure, today it’s raining,” Oliva offered. “But sometimes you have to go through the rainy days in order to see the flowers.” It was a simple phrase spoken through broken English, but Oliva made a good point: If a team needs to have a 99-loss season to right some wrongs and get back on track, maybe it’s worth it.

The 2011 season was all sorts of ugly for the Twins; every single regular with the exception of since-departed Michael Cuddyer and holdover third sacker Danny Valencia missed significant time, and the Tsuyoshi Nishioka experiment sort of cemented the notion that Smith was in over his head in terms of player evaluation.

The climb back to the top of the rankings is going to be exponentially longer than the fall was, but as long as Ryan is at the helm — he’s still mum on what his long-term plans are — it would seem likely that a consistent climb is in the future.

 



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In addition to Rotographs, Warne is a Minnesota Twins beat reporter for Cold Omaha as well as a sportswriter for Sportradar U.S. in downtown Minneapolis. Follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Warne, or feel free to email him to do podcasts or for any old reason at brandon.r.warne@gmail-dot-com


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Will
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Will
4 years 4 months ago

Does anyone know if the crowd sourced average rankings have been tallied?

Perhaps #25 is a bit harsh, but I suspect the gap between #25 and #15 is probably much more narrow than it is between #25 and #29.

Shattenjager
Guest
Shattenjager
4 years 4 months ago

There is a tab in the crowd rankings called “average of crowd.” I don’t know if it’s updated to include the rankings after it.

It has the Twins at 26 with a 42.95 overall.

Craig
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Craig
4 years 4 months ago

Wow, 84 wins? I am a Twins fan and even I think that is optimistic.

I believe the Vegas over/under is 74 wins.

rea
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rea
4 years 4 months ago

a team that for all intents and purposes is only one season removed from dominating the American League Central.

I don’t know that winning the division in Game 163 counts as “dominating”.

Ian
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Ian
4 years 4 months ago

He’s probably referring to the 2010 season, not the 2009 one.

RationalSportsFan
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

“If a team needs to have a 99-loss season to right some wrongs and get back on track, maybe it’s worth it.”

What is meant by this? This isn’t the NBA, where if you are terrible one year, you can get Lebron, Dwight, or Durant and suddenly be contenders. Is there any real benefit to being terrible in the MLB (besides the high draft pick which is unlikely to make a difference for years)?

Ian
Guest
Ian
4 years 4 months ago

My guess is that it made the Twins realize a few things – 1) Smith had to go and 2) changes were needed in MiLB development/coaching.

When the Twins were doing pretty well in 08-10 (two game 163s and then dominating in 2010), the minor leagues were stagnating a bit. By 2010, the Twins were fixing things by signing Thome and Hudson and trading for Pavano, Hardy etc. The minor leaguers weren’t really helping (Valencia being the nice exception) and last year, guys came up and weren’t playing fundamentally solid baseball at all. I think that’s what Cameron was trying to imply.

Joof
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Joof
4 years 4 months ago

#6 org.

glassSheets
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glassSheets
4 years 4 months ago

The Johan trade didn’t turn out great for the Twins, but it turned out better for them than it did for the Mets. If there was a “winner” in the trade, I’d probably go with Minnesota.

Ulger is a better example of how hard it is to get outright fired by the Twins.

Gardenhire might give humorous quotes, but there might not be a worst tactician in the game.

MrMojoRisin
Guest
MrMojoRisin
4 years 4 months ago

How do you figure the Twins fared better than the Mets in the Johan trade?

He may have missed last season, but he was their best pitcher for the 3years before that, with like a 14.5 WAR (off the top of my head) over the 1st three years. I doubt the players the twins got will produce that over their careers combined.

Was it what the Mets wanted, prolly not, but its way more than the Twins got.

That being said how are the Mets ranked ahead of the twins? The only the Mets have done right in the last 3 years is build a gorgeous stadium!

RationalSportsFan
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

Santana has amassed 10.9 fWAR and 14.4 bWAR with the Mets. He has also been paid ~$78MM with another guaranteed $55MM coming his way.

glassSheets
Guest
glassSheets
4 years 4 months ago

At that time (Metrodome days), the Twins were in a position to try and maximize WAR/$. And they would not have had Johan past the one year. In 2008, Johan put up 4.8 WAR and Gomez 2.6 WAR with 16M difference in salary. That achieved the Twins goal for that year. Just none of the pitchers were hits and Gomez never developed at the plate.

Santana has 4.8+2.6+3.5 = 10.9 WAR with the Mets at 19+20+21+24=84 million. Maybe say he was better than that and maybe get some insurance on the last 24, but still a lot more WAR/$.

By a simple WAR value, sure, the Mets win but only if we include all of Santana even after his would be walk year, don’t include Hardy’s contribution or Gomez’s in Milwaukee, and don’t care about salaries.

Miguel Arias
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Miguel Arias
4 years 4 months ago

No way the twins rank lower than the M’s.

CheeseWhiz
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CheeseWhiz
4 years 4 months ago

Except that they do.

Tyson77
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Tyson77
4 years 4 months ago

They were ranked #6 last year so that gives you some idea of how accurate these rankings are. How the Mets, Royals or the Marinrs haven’t shown up yet is amazing….

jpg
Member
jpg
4 years 4 months ago

I disagree.The big key is how this whole ranking series is weighted. Present talent and Financial Resources are the most heavily weighted. Every team from #20 on down are all likely to be long shots for the playoffs. I thinks it’s fair to say that, at the very least, all of the teams listed so are big long shots. The Twins are the first team with a $100M+ payroll on this list so it should come as no surprise that the other teams who figure to suck in 2012 but have money – like the Mets, Dodgers and Mariners – would place ahead of the suck teams that are broke. Even with the fiasco surrounding the Mets ownership, they are still trotting a $90M+ payroll out there. Same with Dodgers who still gave Kemp a huge deal and should be fine once they are sold. Even in their current suboptimal financial situations, the Mets and Dodgers are in a financial position that many of the teams that are already on this list can only dream of being in.

Simon
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Simon
4 years 4 months ago

The Twins are a mediocre organisation getting worse, due to their poor drafting and recruitment generally. At least the Royals could be good soonish, and the Mets have the potential to be good once they sort out their ownership/finance issues. I suspect the Mariners will be along soon, but then, they at least have a load of pitching coming (including guys who can throw over 90 and who strike people out).

Nick
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Nick
4 years 4 months ago

I don’t quite see how you can predict 84 wins and yet have them #23 in 2012 outlook. Last year 84 wins would have been #13 and even going with 74 wins (Vegas o/u) would be right around 20th in the league. I’m assuming then the consensus among FG is lower than 74 wins?

I actually think the Twins will be around .500 this year with sizable comebacks from Mauer, Span & Liriano but with set backs for Morneau & Baker health-wise that will keep them from contending.

I like the lineup and the flexibility they’ll have with the position players, but the front 5 is really mediocre, even with a good Liriano season, there just isn’t much there past him and Baker (when healthy).

Brandon Warne
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

Those are the staff rankings, not mine.

Visnovsky
Member
Visnovsky
4 years 4 months ago

I think the Bill Smith firing was a step in the right direction. But, I still think there needs to be major improvements in the decision making process. They have improved, but are still making stupid mistakes.
-Matt Capps’ 2012 contract of $4.5M and forgoing 2 compensatory draft picks to sign him
-Choosing a no upside pitcher, Terry Doyle, with the #2 overall Rule 5 draft pick (already gone from the team due to poor performance).
-Getting rid of Kevin Slowey for nothing of value, and then watching Colorado trade him for a MLB ready relief pitcher.
-Allowing Drew Butera to be on the major league roster.

Brandon Warne
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

Oh definitely. Keeping Capps on a non-closer basis might have made sense — draft picks aside — but to sign him, forfeit the draft pick(s), and anoint him the closer immediately? Blech.

On the other hand, you can’t have just Glen Perkins in the bullpen in terms of ML established pitchers.

The Doyle thing just makes no sense. None whatsoever. The club should be using its waiver slot more judiciously as well, in my view.

The Slowey thing makes sense in that he simply had to go, but he simply gained value because Fausto Carmona got in trouble. Otherwise, there probably wasn’t a secondary market for him.

The Butera thing? #sigh

d_i
Member
Member
d_i
4 years 4 months ago

I don’t really understand how retaining Terry Ryan equates to a gradual climb up the rankings. His first move when he took over was significantly overpaying Matt Capps (relative to better RH bullpen arms subsequently signed this offseason) which was multiplied by the fact that doing so meant forfeiting comp picks they would otherwise get. Made no sense, and I don’t think his philosphy is much different than that of Billy. Their front office will not accept that things are different and new information is available.

Visnovsky
Member
Visnovsky
4 years 4 months ago

They’re still ranked tied for 28th in baseball operations. That means only 1 team is ranked worse. They don’t have much more further to go down.

Sam A.
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Sam A.
4 years 4 months ago

Exactly. So why does the author think having Ryan at the helm will have such a significant impact? Smith was bad and Ryan must be an improvement, but in a lot of ways, Ryan is more of the same. Smith made the final call on Nishioka (and other bad moves), but he wasn’t making those bad decisions and player evaluations all by himself.

Brandon Warne
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

Because he was the one that largely built the teams from the early ’00s on? Sure, it’s no guarantee, but he’s largely revered as one of the most cash-wise GM’s in recent history.

d_i
Member
Member
d_i
4 years 4 months ago

Isn’t that talking out of both sides or your mouth? If you think “he’s largely revered as one of the most cash-wise GM’s in recent history” rank why are his operations ranked 28th? Personally, as a Twins fan, Terry Ryan instills no confidence in my expectations.

Visnovsky
Member
Visnovsky
4 years 4 months ago

Can you honestly say that Baltimore’s front office is better that the Twins?

d_i
Member
Member
d_i
4 years 4 months ago

SSS, but they sure swindled them in the JJ Hardy for Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson deal

Brandon Warne
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

That might just be striking when the iron is hot.

Dave in GB
Guest
Dave in GB
4 years 4 months ago

If anybody had foreseen Hardy have the kind of turnaround in ’11 it was very few. Most people saw the Hardy trade as insignificant and the Orioles caught lightning in a bottle.

westcoast hero
Guest
westcoast hero
4 years 4 months ago

At the time of the Hardy trade it definitely looked like a steal. He appeared to have 4 war upside with a 1.5 war floor, and the alternative was Miguel Tejada for 6.5 mil

DrBGiantsfan
Guest
4 years 4 months ago

A huge part of the Twins fall is tied up in Mauer and Morneau, who I think most people thought were two pretty good guys to build on. Mauer’s problems might have been predictable given the position he plays, but Morneau’s problems are quite unusual.

bpdelia
Guest
bpdelia
4 years 4 months ago

Yeah exactly. Even mauer isn’t THAT predictable. Its not like every catcher flames out. He was rightly regarded as a super elite talent there.

The morneau situation. While the contract was an overpay he and mauer were two good young players to build on an d his issues fall under tragic and shocking more than anything.

If mauer and morneau are both producing big the last two years the outlook is awfully different and that’s no one s fault

SaberTJ
Guest
SaberTJ
4 years 4 months ago

Another failure of the Twins is the inclination for pitch to contact, meh stuff pitching. I understand that these kinds of talents are safer and cost less, but at some point you need to take some risks and develop highly talented players to help carry the load. Other than Johan and Liriano (before his arm troubles), when was the last time the Twins had a starter that a playoff team would worry about scoring against?

Omar
Guest
Omar
4 years 4 months ago

Always a fun series. I like to wait until the end to give my full criticisms unless there’s an absolutely stupid ranking. The Twins are pretty terrible, their farm sucks, they’ve made god awful deals left and right, and their two best players are shells for their former selves. At least the Mariners have Felix, Ackley, Montero, and Smoak going for them. The Twins have a nice new park and that’s it.

spoof bonser
Guest
spoof bonser
4 years 4 months ago

The Twins dumping Hardy was seen as a debacle from the get-go. The only people who thought it was insignificant were those close to the Twins front office and followers of said. ie beat writers and their readers.

The Capps re-signing looks bad now, but has the potential to either be an ok thing at best or could wind up being unbelievably stupid -more likely.

Terry Ryan > Billy Smith = crap

bill
Guest
bill
4 years 4 months ago

Not one mention of Willingham? He was a marginally better option than Cuddyer although the more important thing may be that a key member of the “club” wanted to get the hell out of dodge after 2011. Gardy has also been rumbling to the press in very non-Twins way fashion about throwing fast, striking people out, and hitting home runs. The Twins are slowly getting smarter, I think.

bill
Guest
bill
4 years 4 months ago

oops that was menat to be a reply to OP

jw
Member
jw
4 years 4 months ago

BTW: Both Minnesota and San Diego are ranked 23rd for 2012 Outlook, with 42 and 38 scores, respectively. Typo?

mike wants wins
Guest
mike wants wins
4 years 4 months ago

They didn’t fix the inbreeding problem, they brought back Ryan. You think smith was making all the personnel calls, not Ryan and the scouts? The lack of young talent in the majors and in AAA happend during Ryan’s term as GM. Ryan quit on the team when the hard Hunter and Santana decisions had to be made, and now I’m supposed to be happy he’s back? Really, I don’t get the love for the Ryan regime. I really don’t.

As for this year, I’d go mid to upper 70s in wins. The pitching is awful, and Morneau will not be full time. Gardenhire appears to be awesome at the non-strategic parts of the game, but he does not understand platoons and other issues. His fear over losing the DH (we have airplanes now) and insisting on three catchers is crazy.

Josh
Guest
Josh
4 years 4 months ago

Hey, I used to work with you.

Way to go, Brando.

Travis
Guest
Travis
4 years 4 months ago

I’ve gotta disagree with your view on their financial resources. You say their season ticket sales look good. I’d say they don’t. I’ve been a season ticket holder for a few years. Last year I couldn’t sell my unused tickets for face value. So this year I cancelled my ticket package. I have received repeated calls from the Twins, the latest being a week ago, asking me if I would like to reconsider and renew my ticket package. And Dave St. Peter has acknowledged that there is no waiting list for season tickets. They may end up being close to selling out or meeting their sales goals. But they are dangerously close to a bad season causing major problems for ticket sales going forward.

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