It has been 79 days since the last time I wrote about the Twins. There are several reasons for the hiatus, a new job and a move to OKC chief among them. But it also had a lot do with the team itself, and the fact that there is only so much you can say about a team that has racked up 291 losses over the past three seasons (!!!). In a world where seemingly every baseball fan has his own blog, there are only so many articles to write about Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. But on the eve of a ten-hour drive back home to South Dakota for Thanksgiving, I feel compelled to say a few things about the most recent Twins Hot Stove report, one that apparently has them pushing for two more years of Mike Pelfrey.
This past weekend, I found myself defending a tweet about the team’s rumored interest in Bronson Arroyo. For what it’s worth, I could care less whether the team spends a dime on starting pitching this offseason. Next year promises to be another long season in Twins territory regardless, and in today’s MLB landscape where losing is rewarded by larger international bonus pools and higher draft spending allotments, if the team is going to be bad again it might as well be really bad. That logic notwithstanding, the point I was trying to make with Arroyo is that by signing a proven starting pitcher (albeit one who will be 37 years old next season) to a legitimate multiyear contract (one approaching $10M annually), the Twins front office would at least send a message to fans – and more importantly the rest of baseball – that it understands the current free agent market. If nothing else, such a deal would demonstrate an awareness that the only way to sign a reputable free agent starting pitcher in 2013 – one with a better track record than Kevin Correia or Mike Pelfrey – is to pay the going rate. After three straight 90-loss seasons during which I watched more games than I care to admit, that’s all I’m really looking for this offseason – some indication that things will be different going forward.
Which brings me back to Pelfrey. I have nothing against Mike Pelfrey as a person. He was a perfectly adequate fifth starter last year, and I’m sure he will be something similar for whichever team he pitches for in 2014. But that is all he is, and that is all he will ever be. Pelfrey has been a borderline replacement-level starter throughout his entire eight-year career, and if there is one thing the Twins don’t need right now, it is another one of those. Is paying market value for Arroyo, Ricky Nolasco, or any other mid-tier free agent starter going to make the Twins contenders in 2014? Hell no…far from it. But at some point, the symbolism of signing such a player becomes just as important as the name on the back of his jersey.
The next year promises to be a very important one for the Minnesota Twins. A wave of prospects via the best farm system in baseball will soon be arriving in droves, making contention in the not-so-distant future a legitimate possibility. With an estimated $30-$40 million to play with this offseason and just two players under contract in 2015, the free agent decisions made by Terry Ryan and company going forward will ultimately determine how quickly that promise becomes a reality. But the team cannot afford to wait until Buxton is patrolling center and Sano is manning the hot corner to start making good decisions. The time has come for the organization to demonstrate that it is capable of more than just procuring young talent. In my opinion, signing up for two more years of Mike Pelfrey does not send that message. #p2c