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Twins’ overhaul can’t stop with Denard Span trade

Nov 29, 2012, 6:26 PM EDT

Josh Willingham, Denard Span, Ben Revere AP

After consecutive seasons of 99 and 96 losses, the obvious answer for the Twins is to tear it all down. True change, though, hasn’t come to Minnesota in a long time.

These Twins have employed two managers in 25 years, with Ron Gardenhire replacing Tom Kelly in 2002. General manager Terry Ryan spent 14 years on the job, stepped down in favor of his longtime assistant, Bill Smith, in 2007 and then came back a year ago only after Smith proved totally inadequate.

When the Twins decided to make some coaching changes at season’s end, it was mostly a reshuffling. The new hitting coach simply moved up from Triple-A. The old hitting coach became the third base coach. The old bench coach became the first base coach.

The Twins finally made a real move for the future Thursday when they traded center fielder Denard Span to the Nationals for a top pitching prospect in righty Alex Meyer. Even that was a compromise move, though. Trading Span isn’t starting over. It only clears $4.75 million from the 2013 payroll. And his replacement, Ben Revere, is a very similar player who probably won’t ever be as good as Span is.

That’s why this can only be the first domino to fall. Trading Span and keeping Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham would be crazy. With their unexceptional farm system, the Twins aren’t going to contend the next two years. There’s a case for holding on to Mauer as the face of the franchise, but Morneau and Willingham aren’t great bets for 2015, which is the year the Twins need to be thinking about now.

  1. paint771 - Nov 29, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    Hey, I said all this in the other thread!

    To quote:

    “Solid move by both teams, although I think Minnesota might have sold a bit low – they probably could have held out for the Nats to throw in a middle inning reliever or AAAA infielder or something.

    Still, while this is indeed throwing in the towel in some respects for 2013 for the Twins and that’s gotta be discouraging for fans, at this point, why not? This is a damn near 100 loss team two years running – it really is time to pull an Astros and blow it up, rather than limp along hoping for divine intervention or something. It’s just not a team you can “fill holes” on or nibble around the edges. I think you gotta move Mauer, Morneau and Willingham – who ain’t getting any younger and will not be productive players by the time the Twins are ready to contend again. So what’s the point of hanging on to them? Their value is likely not going to go up substantially, but for all three could crash at any time. So get your hands on as many high-upside prospects as you can, draft well, and by 2015 or 2016 the twinkies could rise again.”

    I hereby demand a job offer to blog fulltime for HBT.

    • crisisjunky - Nov 29, 2012 at 7:04 PM

      The Twinkies will never rise again, as Hostess is dead.
      So get your hands on as many twinkies as you can by 2015 or ’16.

  2. lazlosother - Nov 29, 2012 at 6:54 PM

    Not only is Mauer the face of the franchise, but with his contract, injury issues and age trading him could be tough. He’s not old, but he is a large man who plays a physically demanding position and his back and leg issues are scary. There may be teams that would bite (hello Dodgers) but return would be minimal.

    I think Mauer is great, but he is a Twin for a while, no matter how well he performs

    • albertmn - Nov 30, 2012 at 10:53 AM

      I also believe Mauer has a full no trade, so he won’t go anywhere without his permission.

  3. ezthinking - Nov 29, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    Morneau isn’t worth much less than a year from free agency and a lousy 2012.

    Willingham may bring a prospect or two, but not top tier. The only remedy seems to be buying pitching.

  4. rgledz - Nov 29, 2012 at 7:08 PM

    My frustration with the Twins is at an all time high. This is an awful trade for another low 90’s throwing pitcher. I’m absolutely shocked that he’s not from Minnesota. Terry Ryan loves to trade for talentless players that are “one of us”. Span’s contract was cheap and he’s a more than solid everyday player. Now they have a noodle arm centerfielder that will be lucky to hit .265. The timing of this is so ridiculous too. Wait for a while, drive the price up, get some major league talent for crying out loud! Now not trading Willingham last year looks even more insane than it already did. Get rid of Terry Ryan, Gardy..hell everybody and just start over. This whole situation just makes me sick, this organization is going nowhere and the Pohlad’s should be embarrassed.

    • Bryz - Nov 29, 2012 at 7:19 PM

      Look, I agree that the Twins probably could have gotten more for Span, but at least be fair to Meyer. He’s 6’9″ and throws in the mid-90s, and is considered a Top 100 prospect. He’s a bit of a risk, but if he can stick as a starter, this trade will look pretty good. He is not “talentless.”

      Also, Revere is not going to be lucky to hit .265 in a season, it will be the norm for him to surpass it.

      Your frustration with the Twins is at an all-time high because you’re imagining a fantasy world that does not exist.

    • pdowdy83 - Nov 29, 2012 at 7:21 PM

      Meyer is not a “low 90s throwing pitcher.” He has hit triple digits in before and sits in the mid 90s with a wipe out slider. The guy struck out 139 hitters in 129 innings. While he may not stick as a starter he is a good prospect and could be a very good get for the Twins.

      Also your concept that the timing is ridiculous is off. This is probably the best time they could have dealt him. Everyone saw the large contract Upton just signed and wanted to get a CF without paying top end ridiculous long term contracts for Bourn and Pagan.

  5. crisisjunky - Nov 29, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    Terry Ryan has been one of the GREAT wheeler-dealers in recent history, incredible track record,
    not the least of which was trading prznke for Liriano and Joe Nathan. But when he stepped down, he said,
    “I felt a lot of elation when we won, and a lot of sorrow when we lost. Now all of a sudden, the defeat are getting harder to take, and the wins aren’t as much fun. That’s not a good thing to experience as a General Manager.”
    If he felt that way after incredible success with Carl Pohlad money, the next couple years of losses are really going to build up inside.
    To paraphrase the great Dr. Sydney Friedman,
    “Twins fans, take my advice:
    Pull down your pants,
    and slide on the ice.”

  6. schlom - Nov 29, 2012 at 7:46 PM

    “After consecutive seasons of 99 and 96 losses, the obvious answer for the Twins is to tear it all down.”

    Considering the Orioles lost 93 and 96 games the previous two seasons and the A’s lost 88 and 81 (and traded away their best two starting pitchers after 2011) I’m not sure a teardown is the only logical move.

  7. bambam4 - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:21 PM

    If a “teardown” is in order, then do not stop with players. Get rid of the manager. When the Twins were competitive, it was despite having Gardenhire not because of Gardenhire. He was fortunate to have a string of very good or great players — Hunter, Santana, Mauer, Mourneau (when healthy), Nathan and Liriano in 2006. Gardenhire is part of a good old boys club that will doom the Twins. He really should be tossed. I agree with Pouliet – the recent coaching changes are nothing more than rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic and will not help the Twins to win.

    • tashkalucy - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:35 PM

      Gardenhire is one of the best managers in baseball.

      If they canned him he could sit out a year and have his choice of jobs. Heck, at least a half-dozen teams would fire their manager to get him.

  8. rgledz - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    Imagining a fantasy world that doesn’t exist??? What does that even mean? Considering the Twins track record with finding talented pitchers forgive me for being skeptical. You have to go back to 2001 to find a solid trade that Terry Ryan made. Congrats, I guess he’s due as we just passed the 10 year anniversary. I like Revere for the most part, but he’s not as good as Span and who knows if he ever will be. I went over the top a bit with the talentless comment, they should have gotten some major league talent in addition to this kid. So forgive me for being frustrated….look around the majors at all of the quality players that the Twins have traded or let walk and show me what the Twins have to show for it. You might wanna look into that fantasy world you mentioned. Sounds like a good place for you.

    • dlambrecht - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:52 PM

      Yes, dude, a fantasy world that doesn’t exist. “You have to go back to 2001 to find a solid trade that Terry Ryan made.” Really? You don’t remember Ryan bringing Liriano, Nathan, and Bonser to the Twins for the 2004 season. For Pierzynski?

      Next you’ll say that trade didn’t work out, which will seal the deal on your non-existent fantasy world.

      Can you name the top-prospect outfielders the Twins have knocking on the door in Rochester making Span completely expendable in a trade, and making Revere a simple stop-gap solution in CF who will hopefully raise his trade value over the next season + while one of our new big guns prepares to take over?

      Are you aware that starting pitching depth is the greatest need the Twins have, and trading Span for a 2011 1st round pick who throws 97-98 mph heat and had a better than solid rookie year in A and A+ is a perfectly reasonable get in exchange for a 30 year old CF with injury issues? Have you even looked at Alex Meyer’s stats? http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=meyer-001ale

      Have you figured out that the Twins are almost certainly not going to contend for another 2+ years, and that Alex Meyers will be only one of the 3-5 starters they need to compete in a 5 year timespan?

      It’s one thing to be frustrated for how the Twins performed over the past two years. All Twins fans are unhappy. But it’s another thing to simply ignore objective facts about the value of different players and how it takes time to build a winning team just so you can pretend you know more about baseball than does Terry Ryan. I’m not saying he’s some baseball god, but if you enjoyed the Twins from 2002-2009, then you’d best tip your hat to Terry Ryan, because he’s the guy who assembled that incredible winning streak.

      • tashkalucy - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:41 PM

        The trades a GM make are only a part of his job in structuring a team, for the coming season and beyond. Those trades are made with the budget as a backdrop, and in conjunction with free agent signings and promotions from the farm system.

        Anyone that looks at Terry Ryan with disdain hasn’t followed MLB. He’s one of the best front office executives of the past 30 years.

        This reminds me of two guy that took over crap teams, and within a year the locals were bad rapping them saying they were past their prime and didn’t have a clue – Pat Gillick when he went to the Phillies and Dave Dombrowski when he went to the Tigers.

      • rgledz - Nov 29, 2012 at 10:20 PM

        Since you like “objective facts” I’ll have to point out the fact that you passed on commenting about all of the quality players the Twins have traded or let walk. What do they have to show for Santana? A multiple Cy Young winner….nothing. Torii Hunter? Walked, nothing. JJ Hardy….could they use a quality SS with some power?? Nothing to show for him, but I’m sure you prefer Jaime Carrol. I’d go on; but I don’t have as much time as you do. Clearly you have a life……..by life I mean lits of time in Mom’s basement to hack out a 2000 word response. The same architect that created the 2002-2009 run had a large hand in the the 2010 – 2015 debacle. Objective fact.

      • pmcenroe - Nov 30, 2012 at 9:16 AM

        @rgledz

        Just want to make sure you realize Bill Smith and not Terry Ryan was the GM during the Santana, Hardy and Hunter FA. Also they actually did receive compensation for all of them (albeit minimal).

        Not really sure why you are making personal insults on a baseball blog, if you didnt have so much free time why are you here making multiple posts? Seems like a pretty dick move.

    • dlambrecht - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:08 PM

      Sorry, Span will be 29 next season. He’s not 30.

    • dlambrecht - Nov 29, 2012 at 11:37 PM

      rgledz, you seem oblivious to the following facts:
      * Terry Ryan wasn’t the GM from 2008 – 2011. That means he had nothing with moving J.J. Hardy to the Orioles.
      * That JJ Hardy came to the Twins in a trade by Terry Ryan, when he sent Gomez to the Brewers. So while Gomez didn’t work out as planned, we got Hardy in his place, which greatly mitigated the Santana-Gomez (et al) trade. And as I just stated, it’s Bill Smith who pissed Hardy away, not Terry Ryan.
      * That Santana got a $137.5MM contract for 6 years with the Mets (the Twins paid him just shy of $29MM over 8 years). With the Mets he’s never been to the playoffs, hasn’t won the Cy Young (getting votes in only one season, enough for 3rd place in the voting in his second season there), missed the entire 2011 season due to injury and had an injury shortened 2012, and has only had one season pitching over 200 innings (like he did every year for the 4 years he was a full time starter for the Twins). He’s never been as effective for the Mets as he was for us, and we paid 1/4 of the price they paid.
      * Letting Torii Hunter go for two sandwich picks instead of paying him $90 million dollars over 5 years was a reasonable business decision. (And how many postseason appearances and World Series titles did the Angels gain in that timeframe? Exactly as many as the Twins – 2 appearances, 0 World Series titles). Torii played better than expected in that time, no doubt, but we were making a playoff run in his final contract year, so didn’t want to trade him, and didn’t think he was worth the money he would get as a free agent. That’s not a bad business decision in any sense of the term.
      * That one of the draft picks we got the year we let Torii walk is Aaron Hicks, who profiles to be the next badass CF in the Twins organization, and the key reason that Denard Span was expendable for the Twins this offseason.
      * That it only takes 10 minutes to “hack out a 2000 word response” when you actually know something about baseball. As for “mom’s basement,” I’d put even money that I bought my first home around the time you were being fitted for braces and praying to get asked to your Jr. High Sadie Hawkins dance.

  9. jsally430 - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:11 PM

    the twins have what seems like a million outfield prospects and zero pitching prospects other then Gibson

  10. tashkalucy - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:32 PM

    Gee golly,

    Are we to believe that Terry Ryan is going to restructure the franchise? And here we thought that he was brought in to continue the work of Bill Smith.

    Groundbreaking journalism.

  11. noozehound - Nov 29, 2012 at 11:13 PM

    OOOHHHHHH SNAP, SON! You’re gonna need some ointment, cause you just got BUUUURRNED! ahh, in all seriousness, if you’re resorting to a “get a life”/ “get out of mom’s basement” then you’re completely admitting that you’ve lost this debate.

  12. broncosfan29 - Nov 30, 2012 at 1:07 AM

    what is it with the mlb nowadays? build a new stadium and then gut your team? what a joke. and I’m a Twins fan

  13. JB (the original) - Nov 30, 2012 at 7:55 AM

    The Twins and Nats have been playing around with the “Span for ?” for a couple years now. Hell, makes me wonder if Washington drafted Meyer with the Twins in mind at the time.

  14. joeyashwi - Nov 30, 2012 at 8:51 AM

    broncosfan29- My thoughts exactly

  15. foreverchipper10 - Nov 30, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    If the Twins are really going to break it all down Atlanta better get in on talks for Willingham. I so wanted them to pursue him when he was a free agent. Willihgham, Upton and Heyward would be quite nice.

  16. albertmn - Nov 30, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    They will get better value from Morneau by waiting and seeing if he starts hot. If he returns to this MVP type stats, then maybe they try to keep him. But, if he even returns to very good, maybe they can package him at the trade deadline and get more than they could get now. No reason to trade him now, unless some team blows them away with an offer. You would be selling low to trade him now.

    Mauer has a no trade, so he isn’t going anywhere unless he ok’s it. Plus, with his contract and injury issues, I don’t see any team doling out a ton of top talent for him. Better to keep him.

    Why trade Willingham? Considering how he hit last year, his contract is cheap. He is not great defensively, but is seemingly the only Twin (other than Thome when he was here) to not let Target Field get in his head about it being difficult to hit HRs.

    Lastly, would people stop with the JJ Hardy crap already? Look it up. He couldn’t stay healthy and didn’t hit well while in Minnesota. And, that came after a year or two of subpar play with the Brewers. There was no way to predict he would bounce back like he did with the Orioles. All of you trying to claim you knew that are lying and/or full of BS.

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