Twins Free Agent Signings--A Review

You know, the Twins organization is marked by it's continuity.  The names remain the same; promotions come from within.  Bill Smith replaces Ryan, Radcliff and Rantz are long-timers, etc. 

The Twins as an organization do some things very well.  Their drafting and development is good--see Mauer and Morneau; see 4/5ths of the starting rotation--all drafted by the Twins.  That's very, very solid. Obviously, they make mistakes like every team, but their ability to generate talent is impressive.

They scout other organizations--particularly their minor leagues, very well.  See Johan Santana, Kyle Lohse, Lew Ford, Jason Bartlett, Alexi Casilla, Boof Bonser, Francisco Liriano, Matt Guerrier, etc.

What they haven't done well, however, is sign major league free agents.  Part of this is obviously budgetary: the Twins don't go out and sign Carlos Beltran.  However, they have shopped in the bargain bin to solve problems, and it's justified to call them out for their failure to succeed.  Below is a review of the free agent signings over the past five years.  It isn't a pretty picture:


Jose Offerman-- 96 OPS+ in 202 PA

Henry Blanco  60 OPS+ in 353 PA, though he did throw well

Terry Mulholland (Not technically an FA signing--they bought him from the Mariners in the spring of 2004): 2 seasons of mediocre, low-level pitching--most memorable for his star turn in Batgirl's opera. 

Aaron Fultz 50 innings, 94 OPS+ as a poor LOOGY


Juan Castro: a thoroughly execrable year and a half of play, both hurting the team's chances to win and inexplicably holding Jason Bartlett back.

Mike Redmond: Ah, a truly useful player; one of the better backup catchers in the majors over the past few seasons. 

Jason Tyner: 3 mostly useless seasons as a part-timer who couldn't really hit or field.


Rondell White: Two disaster seasons marred by injury and an inability to hit. 

Tony Batista: Horrible in part of a season.  Completely predictable, and arguably the worst, most craven move Terry Ryan made in his tenure--everyone knew that 3rd base was a problem if they were moving Cuddyer, and this was a pathetic attempt to solve it. 

Ruben Sierra: transient, injured, half-season that showed he was toast.

Dennys Reyes: a reasonably useful LOOGY--had a great year in 2006, mediocre since--innings so limited that results are almost random given the sample sizes. 


Jeff Cirillo: terrible hitter over 174 PAs before he was jettisoned. Another vague attempt to partially solve 3B that failed.

Ramon Ortiz: Lousy pitching (84 OPS+) in half a season, but did get turned into Matt Macri!

Sidney Ponson: Disaster. 


Mike Lamb--Yet another attempt to fix 3B.  2 year deal, he's already buried on the bench after half a season. Hasn't hit, doesn't really field well, lost his job primarily to a minor league veteran.

Adam Everett: Injured, useless.  Attempt to replace, at least temporarily, their traded shortstop, was on the verge of being cut until the Casilla injury.  Simply can't hit enough to play.

Livan Hernandez: Apparently on the verge of being cut after 2/3rds of a season; ate a lot of innings, but belched up a lot of runs.  Poor results, only marginally better than the Ortiz signing. 

NOTE: Craig Monroe wasn't technically a free agent--though he was in spirit. Also terrible.

That, friends, is not a good record.  It suggests a couple of things to me, and I wonder if you agree or have other ideas.  First, this method of trying to find lightening in a bottle with inexpensive veterans isn't working.  (AND THIRD BASE IS STILL A GAPING WOUND.  Sorry, needed to get that out of the system). 

The problem is that they make these signings, and then don't pursue other solutions, thus costing them, not in dollars but in opportunities and in talent.  Wasting 2 months on someone who can't play, then being left with the options you didn't think were good enough in the first place.

Thus, they should stop it.  Stop trying to grab these types of players to be any more than backups.  Either open up the wallet to chase after a higher quality of free agent, or solve your problems another way.  Spend some talent, if not money. Trade for Kouzmanoff, don't sign Lamb. This is essentially what they did to fill left field--traded talent to get Delmon Young.  Young has yet to be great, but it's been a hell of a lot better than Rondell White.  It's my opinion they are much better off making those sorts of deals than signing guys with forks in their backs and hoping.