Opinion corner: Twins cutting back everywhereMost followers of the Minnesota Twins surely took notice last week of the team's Winter Caravan stopping in Fargo and a couple other North Dakota cities. Normally, the Caravan comes to Jamestown, Valley City or both, but this year we got nothing.
By: Dave Selvig, Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Most followers of the Minnesota Twins surely took notice last week of the team's Winter Caravan stopping in Fargo and a couple other North Dakota cities.
Normally, the Caravan comes to Jamestown, Valley City or both, but this year we got nothing.
Why they would decide to cutback on the number of stops this year, makes zero sense to me, but it is in line with what this franchise seems intent on doing: cutting back.
Following back-to-back last-place finishes in baseball's weakest division, which included a combined record of 129 wins and 195 losses, the Twins have apparently decided to fix a bad team by doing basically nothing.
The Twins have twisted themselves into a pretzel this winter trying to explain exactly what the plan is. However, it is incoherent, inconsistent and non-sensical.
Here are the facts of the situation as pitchers and catchers get ready to report to spring training in about two weeks.
Last season, the Twins' payroll was right around $94 million. Since last season ended, the team has lopped off over $30 million in salary.
In the same time span, the team has signed one pitcher for $5 million per season (Kevin Correia) and another for $4 million (Mike Pelfrey).
We'll gloss over the fact that this is kind of like signing Jason Marquis twice. Of course, once was one too many as last season proved.
Had I been in charge, I would have combined that money and signed one pitcher that could have made some kind of positive impact, instead they went for the 60-65 Correia and Pelfrey, who barely pitched last season because of Tommy John Surgery, and even before that was just 50-54 for his career. However, he was a college teammate of Bryan Erstad at Wichita State, so we got that going for us, which is nice.
Back to the facts.
While cutting nearly a third of the payroll with Carl Pavano ($9 million), Scott Baker ($6.5), Francisco Liriano ($5.5), Matt Capps ($4.5), Denard Span ($3), Alexi Casilla ($1.38) and a handful of others off the books, attendance at Target Field has remained strong despite the bad product on the field.
The last three years, the team has averaged over 37,000 butts in seats per game and drawn nearly 10 million fans since opening the new ballpark in 2010.
The Twins have never made more money. That can not be disputed, yet the payroll will drop, significantly, for the second straight year.
The trades of speedsters Span and Ben Revere brought back potentially high-ceiling pitchers for the future, which I supported at the time and still do. But there was no reason the current roster could not have been supplemented with needed upgrades for 2013. That could have been done without adding payroll. In fact, they could have bought one very good pitcher and still paid out less this year than they did in 2012.
Further perplexing for Twins fans is that every team in their division has improved this winter. Detroit, already one of the two best teams in baseball, only got stronger (Tori Hunter), while Kansas City and Cleveland both made significant upgrades to their pitching staff, lineups or both.
In previous years when the Caravan came to Jamestown, I always kid-gloved and lobbed softball questions to the players, coaches, team execs or whoever else made the trip out here. Despite it being against my nature, this year, had they come, I would have went all Bob Costas on them and asked them some meatier questions like, "Why do you keep cutting payroll? You certainly haven't cut ticket prices."
But like I said, they didn't come out here this year. Clearly, it wasn't in the budget.