July 26, 2005

Twins Media Round Up

As the Twins prepare for a crucial series against the mighty Yankees, there seems to be an awful lot of Twins-related stuff in the mainstream media lately. So rather than babble on about my usual stuff today, I thought it would be good to take a stroll through the various coverage and see what sort of interesting tidbits we can find.

  • Former Mets GM Steve Phillips wrote a very interesting article over at ESPN.com yesterday, breaking down the personalities and negotiating tendencies of the American League GMs. While Phillips wasn't particularly forthcoming about anything that could be viewed in a negative light, there were a lot of interesting notes to be found in the article. Here's what he said about Twins GM Terry Ryan:
    Ryan is a very serious and hardworking guy. He is all about the team and the organization. He chose to stay in Minnesota through some rough times without any guarantees. That tells you about his character and commitment. He knows what he likes and what he doesn't. He also understands what he can consider and what he can't because of payroll limitations. He is a realist.

    He tends to look at the worst-case scenario instead of the best-case scenario in situations, but that is what drives him and motivates him to find solutions to problems. Terry is also willing to say no, which helps him. In fact, he says no to most first proposals even when it might be a deal he would consider. He doesn't chase away his partners, he just gets them to consider other options that ultimately might better suit him because he knows he can always go back to the original proposal later. He tests other GMs, and sometimes they blink and improve their proposals.

    Much of what Phillips says about Ryan is very similar to what he also says about other GMs, so it's difficult to get a feel for what is a description of something specific to Ryan and what is just typical cliche-speak. However, the few things Phillips says that are unique to Ryan are likely what his strongest traits are.

    One is that Ryan "tends to look at the worst-case scenario instead of the best-case scenario in situations," although to be honest I'm not quite sure what that means. The other is that Ryan is "willing to say no" and "says no to most first proposals even when it might be a deal he would consider." This is a very clear description, and I think sheds an interesting light on Ryan's ability to make good trades. As Phillips writes, "He tests other GMs, and sometimes they blink and improve their proposals."

    Basically, if you read Phillips' description of Ryan and compare it to the descriptions of the other AL GMs in the article, Ryan comes across as a no-nonsense guy who tends to get right down to business rather than make small-talk and someone who attempts to prolong discussions to improve his end of the deal. While that may not make him the most fun GM to negotiate with (Phillips describes several GMs as being fun to chat with), it certainly seems to work for the Twins.

  • Jim Souhan writes in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that not only has Bret Boone been bad on the field, he isn't making any friends off the field either. It is sounding like the trade couldn't have turned out worse, and Boone's days may be numbered. In a column in which it seems like he's trying exceedingly hard to be really clever, Souhan did have a few good lines:
    Now that we're approaching the end of the Bret Boone era -- my favorite moment was the walk -- it's time for the Twins to look under another family tree for help.

    [...]

    At this point in his career, he's a big ego bursting out of a banjo-hitter's body.

    Souhan also comes to a conclusion that I've been stressing with regard to the Twins for years now: "Guys with track records are not necessarily the answer, however appealing their names might be." Amen to that.

  • Meanwhile, Jason Williams of the St. Paul Pioneer Press has a more even-handed look at Boone's struggles. Williams also has a minor-league wrap-up with notes on Travis Bowyer, Francisco Liriano, Luis Rivas, and Jason Bartlett. Bartlett is hitting .330/.399/.467 at Triple-A and the Twins are looking for offense, yet Williams writes that "he isn't expected to be recalled anytime soon."
  • John Harper of the New York Daily News writes about the Twins' search for some offense and refers to the team as the Yankees' "favorite first-round playoff opponent." Which is true, of course, but it still stings.
  • ESPN.com's Rob Neyer had a column last week about the Twins that works off the shaky premise that Ron Gardenhire really believes the team's struggles are due to not having Henry Blanco around. I liked Rob's last line:
    But in all sincerity, I will suggest that if I employed a manager who really believed such a thing, I would seriously consider finding a new manager.

    I know Gardenhire said such a thing, but I have a hard time believing he truly meant it.

  • And finally, Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune reports that the Twins might be interested in Alfonso Soriano:
    In a widespread search for a hitter who can help their struggling offense, the Twins have spoken to the Texas Rangers about Alfonso Soriano, two people familiar with the trade discussions said Monday.

    Soriano is certainly the most interesting name that has been mentioned in connection with the Twins throughout all the trade rumors. The Twins reportedly offered Texas J.C. Romero, Joe Mays, and/or Kyle Lohse, but judging from the rumors about both New York teams being interested in Soriano, I can't imagine the Twins being able to get him for players like that. Plus, Kathleen O'Brien of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes that the Rangers aren't even sure they want to deal Soriano, period.

    I've been e-mailing back and forth with John "Twins Geek" Bonnes about a potential Soriano deal, but I'll wait until the rumor becomes somewhat concrete before wasting too many words on it. The short version is that he is a good but not great player who makes a lot of money and will thus likely be gone after this season if the Twins acquire him. I don't think giving up future value -- whether in the form of Romero or prospects like J.D. Durbin or Boof Bonser -- is smart when the upside is a 60-game upgrade of debatable significance.

    Is the upgrade from Luis Rodriguez or Nick Punto to Soriano over a two-month span really going to make the difference in the Twins' playoff chances? I don't think so. Plus, the assumption that Soriano could be had for guys like Romero, Mays, Lohse, Durbin, and Bonser seems iffy to me given how much competition their seems to be for his services.

  • Today at The Hardball Times:
    - Moneyball and Efficient Efficiency (by J.C. Bradbury)
    - Business of Baseball Report ... as of 1954 (by Steve Treder)

    Today's Picks (81-69, +$1,060):
    Detroit (Johnson) -100 over Seattle (Pineiro)


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