Should There Be Such a Thing As Too Much?
Anybody who is following the Twins should know that the Twins are in discussions with the Seattle Mariners concerning Cliff Lee. Theses talks “are ‘interesting’ and have ‘posibilities.'” These talks have gone to the point where it has been reported that Bill Smith has offered Wilson Ramos and Aaron Hicks for Lee.
The fact that Aaron Hicks could be included in a deal for Cliff Lee has many fans outraged. They believe, and wisely so, that he is too good of a prospect to give up for 2-3 (regular season) months of Cliff Lee. He was, after all, ranked by Baseball America as the 19th best prospect in all of baseball. As Seth Stohs says, Hicks isn’t untouchable, but he shouldn’t be traded for a rental player. That is conventional wisdom and I was agreeing with it, until I thought further.
I wondered a couple of things. The first I wondered was how many of the recent 1st round picks have made it to the big leagues and either had success or are currently having success. I figured some of them have probably had success (I heard there was some guy named Mauer) and that some of them probably didn’t. The next thing I wondered was how is the payroll going to be in the coming years? Surely there will be players with payroll increases meaning that it will be harder to keep around players like the free agent acquisitions Hudson and Thome.
Part 1: Recent 1st Round Picks
1st Round Pick-1997-Michael Cuddyer:
Like him or hate him, Michael Cuddyer has had success in the big leagues. He has been put in many positions on the field and his real success started in 2006 when right field became his home. He got comfortable there and put together a 3.1 WAR season. In his 2 full seasons since then (he was injured for the majority of 2008) he put together 2.6 WAR seasons. This season hasn’t been as successful, but he has been a decent 1st round pick.
1st Round Pick-1998-Ryan Mills:
Ryan Mills was a top pitching prospect out of Arizona State University. He made in the 1998 season for fort Myers and looked like the top prospect that was signed. He threw 5 total innings and gave up only 1 run. It all went down hill from there. He ended his career with a 6.04 ERA ending in the 2004 season. This 1st round pick did not pan out.
1st Round Pick-1999-B. J. Garbe:
Garbe was another failed 1st round pick. He never played a game in the big leagues. He had been the winner of the Gatorade High School Player of the Year award, but he never panned out. He spent 8 years in the minors and hit .235 with a .638 OPS.
1st Round Pick-2000-Adam Johnson:
Adam Johnson was a highly touted pitcher out of California State University. He had instant success in the minors, he put up a 2.47 ERA in his first year. The next year (2001) he was with the Twins and he was less then a success. He put up an 8.28 ERA in 25 innings. He was sent back to the minors. He came back in 2003 and was worse than before. He put up a 47.25 ERA, or 7 earned runs in 1.1 innings. He never made it back. It was quite evident that he was rushed, so it’s hard to say if this was a quality pick or not. He did not, however, have a successful major league career.
1st Round Pick-2001-Joe Mauer:
I think this man may have had some success in the big leagues. If 3 batting titles, 3 silver sluggers, 2 gold gloves, and an MVP can be considered success. He also has been named an All-Star 4 times, and this year was the leading vote getter for all players. You could ask for no more out of a first overall pick. Mark Prior who?
1st Round Pick-2002-Denard Span:
The “Span-Man” had an up and down minor league career. He was dubbed the future center fielder of the Twins. This was quite the pressure for the young man. In 2008 he finally got the call he believed he deserved when Michael Cuddyer went down with injuries. He has done nothing but produce since then. He put up 2.9 WAR in 93 games in 2008, 3.6 in a full 2009 season, and 2 so far this season. Span has been a very good 1st round pick.
1st Round Pick-2003-Matt Moses:
Matt Moses looked like he could be a pretty good major league 3rd baseman. But he has to be thrown out of this whole thing. He had a hole in his heart. If he ever played an inning in the majors it would be quite the story.
1st Round Pick-2004-Trevor Plouffe:
Trevor Plouffe has been a decent minor league shortstop. He has hit .256 with a .707 OPS over his 7 year minor league career. This year he got a brief callup to the majors. He hit an abysmal .130 but was great in the field. He had a 20.5 UZR/150 in limited play. He was sent back down to the minors. He has been a pretty good defensive shortstop in the minors too. He could turn out to be a decent major league utility player. A utility player is not what you want with a first round pick, so I’d say that this wasn’t the greatest pick.
1st Round Pick-2004-Glen Perkins:
Glen Perkins had a fairly successful minor league career. He even started out good in the majors. Through his first 34.1 innings in the majors (2006-2007) he had a 2.88 ERA. His next 247.1 innings (2008-2009) didn’t go so smoothly. He put up a 4.99 ERA claiming that because he was struggling it must mean that he was hurt. He is currently in AAA trying to figure things out. His 7.39 ERA show it isn’t going well. He has shown he has the capability of pitching in the majors, he just hasn’t shown it lately. Not the greatest pick.
1st Round Pick-2004-Kyle Waldrop:
Kyle Waldrop was originally a starter. He was a pretty decent one too. He missed his entire 2008 season recovering from shoulder surgery. When he came back in 2009, he was put into the bullpen. He has been insanely dominant ever since. He had a 2.08 ERA last year and so far this year it is at a mark of 0.98. He looks like he could be a very good bullpen arm in the majors, if and when he gets promoted. This is looking like a good pick.
1st Round Pick-2005-Matt Garza
Matt Garza is one of the more talented pitchers the Twins have drafted in recent years. He tore up the minors, posting a 2.96 ERA minors over 3 seasons (2 of which he split time between the minors and with the Twins) and 1 rehab start in 2008. The Twins felt he was expendable since they had so many young starters. He, Jason Bartlett, and Eduardo Morlan were traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, and Jason Pridie. He has been a successful pitcher in the majors, he has put up at least 3 WAR in every full year in the big leagues, all with Tampa Bay.
1st Round Picks-2004 through 2009:
Chris Parmelee, Ben Revere, Aaron Hicks, Carlos Gutierrez, and Kyle Gibson all currently are making their way through the minors and are not relative to proving positive or negative success in the majors.
The Twins have had 4 really good major league stars come out of these picks. Joe Mauer, Denard Span, Michael Cuddyer, and Matt Garza were all worthy of their 1st round pick. Kyle Waldrop looks like he could join the previous group, be he needs to be given a shot. Glen Perkins and Trevor Plouffe look to be replacement level players at best. Ryan Mills and B.J. Garbe were failed picks. Adam Johnson may have been a failed pick or he may have been pushed to soon. Matt Moses cannot really be taken into consideration since he did have a hole in his heart.
That looks to be 5 good first round picks, 5 bad first round picks. This goes to show, no matter how much potential a player shows early on, that potential is not always going to be met.
Part 2: Payroll
The Twins payroll is as high as it has ever been. It is already at $97 million, and the addition of Cliff Lee would drive that higher. But that’s okay. The Twins have the payroll flexibility to afford Cliff Lee.
The Twins have a young team. A young team means their will be salary increases. Delmon Young and Francisco Liriano will be in for arbitration increases. Mauer’s salary alone will jump 10.5 million. Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Nick Punto, Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, and Denard Span all have contracts that will increase. Carl Pavano, Orlando Hudson, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch, Jesse Crain, and Jim Thome are all free agents. Others besides Young and Liriano could be in for arbitration increases.
I found conflicting information as to salaries for next year, but the Twins Geek did some number crunching and found out that the payroll for next year is about $107 million. And that’s without Pavano, Hudson, Rauch, Punto, and maybe Thome.
With all of these payroll increases it is pretty obvious that this roster won’t be around next year. Unless there is more added payroll, a significant amount of it, many of these players won’t be here. There are things that could be done to lower the payroll, such as replacing relief pitchers like Crain with relief pitchers from the minors like Waldrop and Anthony Slama, but that would only be a couple million shaved.
With this being said, it looks like 2010 may be the most talented team top to bottom that there will be for several years. This would be the year to go for the World Series if there ever is one.
So is it wise to spend for Lee this year?
If you take the information from part 1 and part 2, I have to believe that this is year to go for broke and give up prospects for a stud starting pitcher like Lee. Sometimes prospects pan out, and sometimes they don’t. A lot of the team is going to get more expensive. Some say Ramos and Hicks is to much. I say if I takes Ramos and Hicks, go for it. This is the year. If there’s a World Series was it worth it? I think so.
Oh yeah, if Lee is a Twin, this is going to be one fun ride.
I think I could get used to that.