TwinsCentric was formed by Twins super-bloggers Seth Stohs, Nick Nelson, Parker Hageman and John Bonnes. Together they publish at TwinsDaily.com and have authored books, e-books and magazines that provide independent and in-depth coverage of the Minnesota Twins from a fan's perspective. You can contact them at TwinsCentric@gmail.com.
Baseball is a game of second guessing, and we as bloggers take that to a new level. We analyze (and over-analyze) every decision that players make throughout the game. We question calls that a manager makes, and the lineup construction on a day-to-day basis. We second guess every decision that the General Manager makes or does not make. It doesn't mean that we disagree with every decision. We just think about each situation and what we would do.
You rarely see bloggers reminding people of the times they were wrong. However, I think sometimes it is good to do, just to remind ourselves of how many times the front office got it right. The other thing to remember is that they have to work within a budget, and although we 'would have signed three or four relief pitchers" that they didn't, they can only sign one.
So let's start with the bullpen. Remember in February of 2009, the Royals signed Juan Cruz to a two year deal with about $8 million. All off-season I had been saying that you don't sign any Type A relief pitcher because they are so uncertain that it isn't worth giving up the draft choice. But when I saw the deal that he got, I thought again that the price was low enough and worth giving up the 22nd overall pick. A year later, the Royals released Cruz because he was so bad. That 22nd pick turned into Kyle Gibson who certainly appears to be on the path to being a very good pitcher for the Twins.
But that offseason, the Twins were rumored to be looking for a relief pitcher. I wanted them to sign Russ Springer. Joe Nelson was available and we spent hours talking about how good he had been and that he would be good for the Twins. Some were very disappointed when a deal fell through between the Twins and Eric Gagne. At last look, none of those pitchers is in the big leagues.
How about this spring? I would have been unwilling to give up Wilson Ramos for Heath Bell. lf I had known that at the July deadline, Ramos would fetch only Matt Capps, then Heath Bell would have made a lot more sense for a full year.
And one final thing about the bullpen... I'd be remiss not to mention Jesse Crain. I've stood by Crain the last couple of years when most of Twins Nation was ready to drop him. I thought it was the right choice to offer him arbitration and bring him back. I kept talking about the 96 mph fastball, with the slider at 89 and a curveball at 76. The stuff was there. And then by early May, I gave up. I think I even uttered the stupid term "Crain Wreck" once. (I'm not proud of it!) I was ready to give up on Crain. That was the first time that I thought releasing him was the right decision. And since that time, he has arguably been the best relief pitcher in baseball. In fact, I would challenge anyone to find a reliever that has been better since June 1. ALL ABOARD!!! All Aboard the CRAIN TRAIN! He will become a free agent at the end of the season, and it will make for some very difficult decisions, especially with Matt Guerrier and Jon Rauch becoming free agents as well.
All of last offseason, when asked, I would say that Brian Duensing had done enough in the last six weeks of the 2009 season to deserve the first shot at the #5 starter job. Why? Because with Scott Baker, Carl Pavano, Kevin Slowey and Nick Blackburn sharpied into the rotation, I thought that it would be best for Francisco Liriano (and his confidence) to start the season in the Twins bullpen to experience some success. Well, Francisco Liriano has been one of the best pitchers in baseball all season. So has Carl Pavano, who I was hoping would not accept arbitration so the Twins could get a supplemental first-round pick. Hey, I thought that between Jeff Manship, Anthony Swarzak and Duensing, they could find a couple of pitchers to fill the last spots in the rotation.
Where would this team be right now if not for Carl Pavano, and if Francisco Liriano would not have been in the rotation for the first months of the season? Swarzak, Manship and Glen Perkins have all had disappointing seasons at AAA Rochester. Blackburn, Slowey and Baker were not good at all in May, June and early July, but thankfully Baker and Slowey have been better of late.
I was happy when the Twins were able to sign Orlando Hudson to a one-year, $5 million contract. That said, he was not my first choice. I wanted the Twins to go out and sign Felipe Lopez. In fact, I encouraged they just offer him a three year, $18 million contract. After the Twins signed Hudson, Lopez signed with the Cardinals for one year and $2 million. He has been solid as a utility type, but Hudson has been exactly what the Twins needed in the field and in the second spot in the lineup.
Third base has been a question mark for years, at least since Corey Koskie left via free agency. Should they have signed Casey Blake two offseasons ago? Maybe. He has been good (not great) the last two years, and the Twins did offer him a two year contract. Blake got a three year deal, so we'll find out next year if he was worth it. Of course, with Danny Valencia now in the picture, there would be no purpose for Blake in 2011. I thought adding Freddy Sanchez last year at the deadline would have been great, as a 2B. But the Giants gave up way too much for him, and he was hurt the rest of the 2009 season.
I could go on and on with how frequently that I have been wrong over the years when it comes to disagreeing with decisions. In fact, I've been wrong often enough that you will rarely read me being overly critical of any move that I disagree with. But at the same time, it's what we do. It's the nature of baseball. We won't always agree, and that's OK. The manager, and the GM understand that part of their jobs is to make decisions and fans have the right to be critical. The front office isn't going to claim to have always been right, but they would say that every decision made is done so with all the right intentions and with a lot of thought behind it. So as bloggers and blog commenters, we can and should continue to dive into these decisions and enjoy following our favorite team to this degree. But every once in awhile, we do need to step back and realize that they have done a pretty good job over the last decade.
As the Twins begin this three game series against the White Sox, a series that will pit the top three Twins pitchers against the top three White Sox pitchers, we should enjoy it and appreciate how good we as Twins fans have had it, to be able to watch such a good team this decade.
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