Startribune.com digital sports editor Howard Sinker used to cover the Twins and now shares season tickets with friends in Section 219 of Target Field. He blogs about baseball from the perspective of a long-time fan who loves the game, doesn’t always believe the hype and likes hearing what others think. Howard sometimes talks about sports with Cathy Wurzer on MPR's Morning Edition.

Section 219: Throwing cold water on the hot stove

Posted by: Howard Sinker Updated: November 15, 2012 - 8:54 AM

You know, I don't really want to hear much about baseball right now, and it isn't fun to feel that way.

It is discouraging to see the postseason awards handed out without anyone from the hometown team even remotely under consideration. That R.A. Dickey guy who won the Cy Young Award. He was a Twins pitcher once, right?

It is discouraging to see the discussion about Scott Baker leaving the Twins, because whether or not Baker was going to be part of the 2013 Twins wasn't likely to make much difference. He was a placeholder, one that should be able to be replaced pretty easily. More cheaply even, if that matters.

It is discouraging to see the Toronto Blue Jays make a bold move and pickup a star shortstop and two starting pitchers in one monster trade. The Jays get Jose Reyes. But, hey, maybe the Twins will sign Jo-Jo Reyes. He won six games in Triple-A last season!

It is discouraging to have a conversation in the office, as happened this week, about whether the Twins as currently constructed are a 100-loss team ... or a 110-loss team. Yeah, that's a bit gloomy, but it's a conversation the Twins created with their talk of a "perfect storm" that lead to what we watched in 2011 and the dismal encore of this season.

In 2011 and 2012, the Twins pretty much fielded 100-loss teams that managed to lose only 99 games and 96 games.

It is discouraging to be this discouraged.

The Section 219 household has cut back its ticket-holdings by one-fourth for 2013. I don't know how many of us are in the "giving-it-one-more-year camp," but right now I can't see throwing more good money at bad performance if we endure a third season of crudtastic baseball.

We've been quick to mock Tsuyoshi Nishioka. But aren't the Twins pretty much the Nishiokas of major league baseball right now? What else should you call the last-place team in the worst division in baseball for two years running?

No, the 2014 All-Star Game will not be incentive enough to renew my season tickets. From the conversations I've had, I know I'm not alone. Unlike some people, I'll keep going to games even if the Twins are wretched. But I'd be switching from having my box of season tickets in the basement to buying cheap ones on the street.

I've pretty much stayed away from blogging since the end of the season -- save for the changing of the coaches -- because I haven't felt there's much I could add to the conversation. I feel an obligation to say nothing if I can't contribute to a healthy dialog.

But some stuff needs to be said on behalf of those who have been faithful and might think their faith is being taken for granted. And for the people who have already walked away until things get better at 1 Twins Way.

I agree that you don't need a $100+ million payroll to be a postseason contender. Half of the teams that played into October were in the bottom half of MLB's 2012 payrolls -- at $82 million or less. Oakland was 30th among the 30 teams.

But...

But if your* roster and farm system has been shredded by bad decisions and bad fortune and your* ownership is as committed to winning as to having a beautiful ballpark with craft beers and gelato, then it behooves you* to bust payroll constraints that exist because of formulas that you* have set as opposed to resources that you* have available. To retain customer loyalty, sometimes you* have to do things that hurt you* a little bit more in the bank account than you* would like.

(*You and *Your = Twins ownership, a/k/a the royal You.)

In the Twins' case, that means spending on starting pitchers -- spending more than management was planning back when Target Field was being built and postseason baseball in Minnesota was a common occurrence. (Yes, that era ended only two years ago, even if feels like two decades ago.)

Sometimes, the dramatic moves don't work. Look at Miami.

Sometimes, they do. Look at Detroit.

And here's my statement of faith: Give Terry Ryan the resources to make moves right now. Buy and trade for several of the proven starting pitchers that are on the market. Add a couple of arms to a bullpen that should be pretty good if it isn't worked into submission. Good pitching can carry a team that has weaknesses elsewhere.

But nothing can carry a team into contention if its pitching is atrocious. If the pitching is good enough, I don't care if Darin Mastroianni and Chris Parmelee split right field, the shortstop is a competent fielding .220 hitter and the second baseman is as close to my age as my son's age.

When you're done reading this, you should read the new TwinsCentric post by Seth Stohs, who knows more about the Twins minor-league system than you and I combined. He makes the argument that the Twins should be building for 2015, and writes about the promising young players the Twins can expect to have ready by then.

But the Twins should not write off 2013 and '14. If there is as much future talent in the system as Seth suggests, some of it should be used to procure players who can help now.

The Twins must build a bridge to their future that fans can feel comfortable walking across, as opposed to a bridge that requires a detour deeper into irrelevance. In a 10-team playoff system, it is not unreasonable to expect the Twins -- with some combination of Mauer, Willingham, Morneau, Span, Plouffe, Revere, Perkins and a few others -- to compete for one of those spots in 2013.

In the bigger picture, I'm still lowering my expectations. Not long ago, we were talking about how the Twins needed to make the move from playoff participant to World Series winners. Now, we're talking about bold strokes just to color the Twins as contenders for the expanded postseason.

The Twins must go hard, not just nibble at the corners.

When I see that happening, I promise to stop feeling so discouraged.

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Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 0
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 6 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Capuano 3
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: E. Butler 5
Boston - LP: R. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: C. Tillman 7
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Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
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NY Mets - WP: J. Niese 4 FINAL
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Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: C. Archer 3
Cleveland - WP: T. House 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: T. May 3
Seattle - LP: C. Young 1 FINAL
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 10
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: J. Motte 8
San Francisco - LP: Y. Petit 2 FINAL
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Texas - LP: C. Lewis 5 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Weaver 8
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So Florida 17
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Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
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Virginia Tech 24
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(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
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Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
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Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
Miss State 34 FINAL
(8) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(14) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(24) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
(22) Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
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Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
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Buffalo
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California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 FINAL
Portland 3
Houston 0 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
New England 0 FINAL
Columbus 1
San Jose 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
Seattle 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 4
D.C. 3 FINAL
Chicago 3
FC Dallas 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
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