Organizational Rankings: #18

Today, we keep looking at some teams that have legitimate hope, so it gets harder from here on out. And, for those of you who haven’t seen the previous parts (which are linked below), keep in mind that this is a forward looking exercise – we are evaluating clubs on their overall ability to contend for a World Series title in the future. We are not evaluating how they have performed historically. This is about the health of each organization going forward.

Rankings So Far

#30: Washington Nationals
#29: Florida Marlins
#28: Houston Astros
#27: Kansas City Royals
#26: Pittsburgh Pirates
#25: San Diego Padres
#24: Cincinnati Reds
#23: Colorado Rockies
#22: Detroit Tigers
#21: St. Louis Cardinals
#20: Toronto Blue Jays
#19: San Francisco Giants

#18: Minnesota Twins

Ownership: C-

During the Pohlad era, the Twins have consistently been under-capitalized, especially considering the strength of the rosters being put together by the front office. Despite a player development system that churned out all-star after all-star, the team has acted like a second class citizen, running low-end payrolls and dealing off practically every meaningful player once they started making market value salaries. The ownership even went so far as to volunteer to contract the team despite the fact that the team has a solid history and a good fan base to draw from. The posturing was enough to finally get them a new stadium that will open next year, but given how the Pohlad family has operated in the past, we can’t be certain that new stadium revenues will actually be poured back into the franchise.

Front Office: B-

Under Terry Ryan, the Twins were a player development machine. They scouted well, drafted well, developed well, and created home grown stars that helped push them into contention despite questionable major league acquisitions and an old school philosophy that actively discouraged their players from hitting home runs. Ryan’s exit left a hole in the organization that Bill Smith has tried his best to fill, but so far, the few moves he has made have been somewhat questionable. While the structure that Ryan left in place should continue to allow them to be among the league’s best in scouting, the team continues to ignore the new understandings that other franchises have gained in the past ten years, and at some point, the Twins are either going to have to adapt or get left behind. They have their strengths, but they also have too many analytical weaknesses.

Major League Talent: B-

This might be the toughest roster in MLB to gauge. Joe Mauer is an MVP candidate, Justin Morneau is a minor star, and the team should get good contributions from the likes of Alexi Casilla, Denard Span, Carlos Gomez, and Joe Nathan. If Francisco Liriano can stay healthy, he’ll give the team a quality frontline pitcher in front of a bunch of strike throwers, which can depend on a solid defense to keep runs off the board. But for a team with so many pieces in place, you have to wonder why some holes didn’t get fixed. Nick Punto is miscast as a starting shortstop for a team with championship aspirations, and the team should have done better than sticking with Young/Cuddyer/Kubel to split LF/DH between. In addition, Mauer’s back problems could sink the entire season, and Mike Redmond isn’t a suitable fill-in. The roster has talent, but also too many unresolved issues that could have been fixed. If Mauer can’t play 120+ games in ’09, they’re in a lot of trouble.

Minor League Talent: C+

With Ben Revere and Aaron Hicks, the Twins have two of the toolsiest outfield prospects in the game – both fit the Minnesota model of a ballplayer, as they offer copious amounts of athleticism and should be solid enough hitters. They fit the defense first mindset, and while neither is particularly close to the majors, they both offer significant long term potential. There’s a huge valley between those two and the rest of the system, though. Shooter Hunt has too many control problems for a college tested first round pick. Wilson Ramos is a nice enough catching prospect with no real future in Minnesota. Kevin Mulvey looks like a #5 starter. It’s a collection of moderately interesting guys giving the organization a bit of depth, but the system breaks down as Revere, Hicks, and a lot of question marks.

Overall: C+

With a young core and a window for contention, the Twins are blowing a fairly large opportunity by not investing more in their product. With a larger budget and a few front office members that were more open to new ideas, they could build something pretty special. They have a championship core in place, but unfortunately, haven’t done enough to build a high level team around that core, and right now, it appears Joe Mauer’s prime is going to be wasted playing on some teams that could have been special but ended up fairly mediocre. It’s too bad, because he’s a great player, and he deserves better.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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13 years ago

I’m really interested to see what the Twins do moving foward if Mauer can’t catch. It has to be a real concern for them. Do they move Morneau to DH and Mauer to first? Doing so would cancel out a pretty big advantage they have had for the last couple years.

13 years ago
Reply to  drew

Morneau is a very good 1B, if they were to move it would be to third, but Mauer won’t be moving for at least 5 more years, guarenteed. By that time, it would probably DH (assuming he continues his injury streak)