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: The silly Twins buyer vs. seller debate

Posted by: Howard Sinker under Twins management Updated: June 27, 2013 - 11:13 AM

One thing that appeared clear a few weeks into the season was that the Twins wouldn't be as bad as some people thought they'd be. In fact, if everything went just about as well as possible, the Twins maybe would contend for third place in the mediocre American League Central.

That's different  than whether we'd be looking at a countdown to 100 losses for the third consecutive year, a fate the Twins barely avoided in the disastrous seasons of '11 and '12. They're currently on pace to lose 88 games. (You decide whether "only" is an appropriate modifier, OK?)

So it has been with equal measures of amusement and horror that we have been subjected to straight-faced conversations about whether the organization will be "buyers" or "sellers" as the baseball trading deadline approaches.

First of all, the Twins are a more interesting team to watch than they have been the last couple of seasons. (If you can come up with fainter praise, go ahead and take a shot in the comments.) But watching Oswaldo Arcia develop, Aaron Hicks go from zero to a .179 average and Joe Mauer hit is overshadowed by underperformance almost everywhere else.  The sad state of the offense is broken down in a blog post by Patrick Reusse, where you can find an especially horrifying detail about what the Twins numbers would be if you eliminate Mauer.)

In other words, combined with the starting pitching, this team is more intriguing than good. Creating a "buyer vs. seller" debate is silly at best and disingenuous at worst. The only real question is whether the Twins have anything to sell that would do more than free up payroll, and the accompanying question of what management would do with any resources that are freed up.

The current payroll of about $75.8 million is a significant retrenchment from the $113.2 million that the Twins spent in 2011. There's more coming off the payroll in 2014 (Justin Morneau's salary) than there will be added in raises due to players with multiyear deals. That's why you don't have to be much of a skeptic to wonder whether the Twins will spend on talent or put the savings in the company wallet.

And, for the record, teams don't have to spend large to win, a point made by KFAN's Dan Barreiro a few days back. Eleven of the 15 MLB teams with winning records current are 10th or below in total payroll -- starting with St. Louis at $115 million. Seven of those 15 teams have 2013 payrolls of $90 million or less.

Put it this way: Painting the Twins as buyers is a reach-and-a-half. They are good enough to play interesting baseball in spurts and flawed enough to fall apart in others. The two losses in Miami this week were due to shortcomings in offense, defense, starting pitching and the bullpen. In a word, everything.

Painting the Twins are sellers is almost as silly because they don't have much that will fetch a return. TwinsCentric's Nick Nelson explained this week why Morneau won't bring much, if anything, except for increased playing time for Chris Parmelee. If you want to get excited about acquiring midlevel prospects, excuse me if I don't join in. I didn't renew my membership in the Lester Oliveros fan club.

As sellers, the Twins aren't much more than a thrift shop.



New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Minnesota 94 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Houston 93 FINAL
Boston 87
Portland 99 FINAL
Atlanta 105
Sacramento 90 FINAL
Cleveland 101
Toronto 127 FINAL
Brooklyn 122
Dallas 93 FINAL
Miami 72
LA Clippers 103 FINAL
New Orleans 108
Golden State 100 FINAL
Utah 110
Chicago 93 FINAL
Phoenix 99
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL(SO)
Carolina 2
Nashville 0 FINAL
Colorado 3
Buffalo 2 FINAL
Vancouver 5
Chicago 4 FINAL
Anaheim 1
Harvard 75 FINAL
Princeton 72
Quinnipiac 57 FINAL
Canisius 63
Brown 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Siena 79 FINAL
Manhattan 87
Marist 65 FINAL
Niagara 61
Dartmouth 51 FINAL
Penn 58
Oregon 68 FINAL
Arizona State 67
Yale 63 FINAL
Columbia 59
Monmouth 60 FINAL
Fairfield 59
Western Ill 63
Oregon State 34 FINAL
Arizona 57
Kent State 55 FINAL
Buffalo 80
Canisius 75 FINAL
Monmouth 58
Butler 67 FINAL
Providence 59
Cornell 65 FINAL
Brown 52
Columbia 47 FINAL
Yale 55
Coll of Charleston 47 FINAL
Drexel 64
Penn 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 39
Elon 60 FINAL
James Madison 89
(19) Princeton 96 FINAL
Harvard 46
(9) Florida State 82 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Siena 62
Richmond 54 FINAL
Rhode Island 50
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Southern Ill 64
Georgetown 52 FINAL
DePaul 93
Villanova 75 FINAL
Marquette 59
Wichita State 70 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
Xavier 65 FINAL
Creighton 74
Bradley 58 FINAL
Illinois State 55
Missouri State 89 FINAL
Drake 94
Arizona 48 FINAL
Utah 62
(11) Arizona State 68 FINAL
Colorado 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2015 Twins?

Weekly Question