Reusse: Ownership not to blame for Twins' many woes

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 27, 2014 - 12:28 PM
hide

Twins President Dave St. Peter, foreground, offered Twins CEO Jim Pohlad the chance to answer a question at a news conference announcing a contract extension for Ron Gardenhire.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Twins have numerous problems as they get ready to depart Florida and open their 54th season. Ownership is not among them.

The Twins have lost 99, 96 and 96 games in the past three seasons. They will be back in the same range in 2014, if the lineup remains such a mess that the best idea manager Ron Gardenhire can come up with is to bat Kurt Suzuki second.

This is not the fault of owner/CEO Jim Pohlad, or his brothers and partners, Bob and Bill. This is the coming together of poor big-league personnel decisions; mediocre work in the amateur draft a few years back; and bad luck.

The Pohlads had nothing to do with those decisions, the draft or the luck. The owners budgeted a higher payroll in 2012 and 2013 than General Manager Terry Ryan chose to spend. That will again be true in 2014, as the Twins prepare to start with a payroll of about $84 million.

The bad luck started on July 7, 2010, when Justin Morneau was kneed in the head while sliding into second base in a game at Toronto. Morneau was two months past his 29th birthday and putting up numbers that would have surpassed his MVP season of 2006.

It’s not a stretch to say that, without the concussion and its lengthy effects, Morneau would have signed another large contract and still be hitting fourth as the heart and soul of the Twins’ lineup. Instead, he is in Colorado, trying again for a return to productivity.

The Twins made an awful decision in July 2010 when they traded Wilson Ramos, an outstanding young catcher, for Matt Capps, a closer in the midst of a strong season in Washington.

This was done to mollify Gardenhire’s concern over having Jon Rauch in that role. As it turned out, the Twins would have won the division with Rauch as the closer, as they did with Capps, and they would have been swept by the Yankees in the playoffs with Rauch, as with Capps.

That big mistake was compounded in the winter of 2010-11. Rather than show some confidence in their original evaluation of J.J. Hardy at shortstop, the Twins decided to jettison him after one much-injured season. As a replacement, they brought in Tsuyoshi Nishioka, as clueless on a big-league baseball field as was Ndudi Ebi on an NBA basketball court.

These were not Pohlad decisions. These were the decisions of Bill Smith and his advisers, and they wound up getting Smith fired as general manager by the Pohlads.

As a TV announcer of local notoriety might say, there are not yet signs on “the major league level” of progress with the rebuild since Ryan’s return in November 2011.

The decision to spend $49 million for Ricky Nolasco and $24 million for Phil Hughes in an attempt to lift the starting pitching from horrific to respectable was not done with recalcitrance from the Pohalds, but almost at their insistence.

If Ryan wanted to sign outfielder Nelson Cruz and sacrifice a second-round draft choice, he could have done so. If pitcher Ervin Santana wanted a three-year deal for around $10 million per from the Twins, he could have had it.

I don’t believe in praising a pro organization for what it tried and failed to get done. This is simply pointing out that ownership and money have not been the issue here; it’s been those bad decisions, mediocre drafts and bad luck.

If you take part in the moronic mantra about the Pohlads promising gigantic payrolls once Target Field opened, you’re just that … a moron. The Pohlads have been wonderful caretakers of the spectacular ballpark that will serve generations of fans, including the next one not yet born.

The original deal called for the Twins to pay one-third of the actual stadium cost: $130 million out of $390M. Right away, the Pohlads threw in another $15 million for land acquisition. They added another $50 million in enhancements before the ballpark opened, and $10 million since then.

As for personal seat licenses, they charged an initial fee of $2,000 for 3,000 seats in the Legends Club. That was $6 million in PSLs for roughly 8 percent of the general seating. Our friends at Winter Park hope to have collected $100 million in PSLs when the Taj Ma Zygi opens in 2016.

There are more problems ahead for the Twins in 2014. The Pohalds aren’t among them. They are good citizens, determined to keep their ballpark magnificent, willing to fund a return to winning when the homegrown talent dictates, and not gougers of the public.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
Final123456789RHE
Minnesota000000000040
Detroit «00100002X340
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:D.Price(15-12) L:K.Gibson(13-12) S:J.Nathan (35)
HR: MIN- None DET- I.Kinsler (17)

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 3 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 2
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Dallas 117 FINAL
Orlando 92
New York 80 FINAL
Toronto 83
San Antonio 87 FINAL
Houston 96
Miami 104 FINAL
Memphis 98
Minnesota 113 FINAL
Chicago 112
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Utah 100
Sacramento 93 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
Denver 112 FINAL
Golden State 119
Portland 99 FINAL
LA Clippers 89
Dallas 3 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Tampa Bay 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Colorado 7
Carolina 3 FINAL
Edmonton 6
Columbus 1 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 30 FINAL
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Houston 1 FINAL
Chicago 2
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who should get the Twins' managing job?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close