Twins Fest Weekend: Part 2 (Chat with Bill Smith)

2 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

I will be breaking up my Twins Fest Weekend into several blog postings. In Part 1, I wrote about Friday night at the Ballpark Tours Hot Stove Banquet. The next few blogs will be various topics from the two days I spent at Twins Fest.

On Saturday, the gates opened at 9:00 a.m., and I got there about 9:45 or so. Even at that time, I had to park in the Overflow parking lot. It was cold, so fortunately there was a shuttle bus going frequently to the Blaine National Sports Center, so it wasn’t too bad. I walked in, and as I was walking down the hallway, someone came walking toward me saying, “There he is, it’s Seth Stohs.” I looked, and it was Fanatic Jack. He was standing where he was, on his phone, on the Dez Tobin Saturday morning Twins podcast. I didn’t bother him too much, although I did tweet that I was listening.

I walked around and saw Mike Radcliff (Twins Director of Player Personnel) over by the Down on the Farm area, so I went up and talked with him for a few minutes. It seems that I see him just once a year, at Twins Fest, and try to get five minutes with him. He’s very nice and happy to answer questions. He commented that the spring competitions would be for the extra infielder and obviously in the bullpen.

After a few minutes, I went to a concession area that didn’t have a long line. I noticed that 1500espn’s Darren “Doogie” Wolfson grabbing something to eat. I went up to him and asked where his security was. It was nice catching up with Doogie again, and he was on his way to the 1500espn area where he was on air with KSTP’s Joe Schmit from 12-2.

By this point, I had also run into Andrew Bryz-Gornia, who worked Twins Fest on Friday night and Saturday and then went as a fan on Sunday. Also, the North Dakota Twins Fan was there with Mrs. North Dakota Twins Fan, and it was good to hang out with the two of them at various times throughout the day.

I met Fanatic Jack and we were just chatting in the middle of a walk way when Bill Smith walked by. Fanatic Jack went up to Mr. Smith, which of course made me a little nervous, but he mentioned he was a season ticket holder and we all shook hands. Jack was really complementary, and frankly, I was in awe at Jack being so nice. Suddenly, he started asking questions:

Justin Morneau

I know I said I wouldn’t discuss the Justin Morneau situation anymore until spring training, but I will briefly here because Jack asked Bill Smith a question about it. And, as he had said the night before at the Diamond Awards, they have “April 1st circled on their calendar.” That’s when they want him ready. March 1st would be great, but they want him ready by Opening Day. At that point, I was happy with that answer…

Unfortunately, he continued by saying that they don’t want him to go back and forth from playing to the Disabled List and back. If they means they wait until May 1st or June 1st or even July 1st, they will wait. He talked about how he is now a father, and they want him to be able to live a long and healthy life with his family.

So, now I’m back at WHO KNOWS? And I’m back to not talking about it because I do know that I don’t know. I’m no doctor, so I guess we will have to see.

Francisco Liriano

Next, Jack asked if the team had any plans to discuss a multi-year contract with Francisco Liriano. Again, I expected Mr. Smith to say something like, “Well, we will think about that and if something happens, we’ll let you know.”

Nope!

Bill Smith instantly said, “No, we are going to go year-to-year with Liriano, at least for one more year. We definitely recognize the risk in doing that and if he has another big year, it will cost us some money.”

What is the financial risk? Well, if you read the Offseason GM Handbook or my Locking Up Liriano blog from last fall, I compared what Liriano could get this offseason to what Zach Greinke and Josh Johnson got at the same point in their careers. Like Liriano, both were risks at the time of the signing and although they had experienced success were not quite at the level they are today. They were both in their second year of arbitration, as is Liriano. Zach Greinke got four years and $38 million. Josh Johnson got four years and $39 million. I think that it would cost the Twins four years and $40 million to lock up Liriano for 2011 through 2014 if they did it this spring. If Liriano were to have another very good year, I could see him getting a five year, $72 million type of contract after 2011. That extends the risk a couple of years, but it keeps him around a little longer, and a big chunk of that $72 million is paid in the final two years. However, the amount paid from 2011 through 2014 would only be $3-5 million more than signing him now. (see guestimated chart below) Obviously with Liriano there are injury risks that can’t just be ignored (however, that is also true of any pitcher).

  Yr-2-Yr 4/40 now Long-Term Next Yr
2011 $ 4.5M $ 4M $ 4.5M
2012 $ 9M $ 8M $ 9M
2013 F/A $ 14M $ 15M
2014 F/A $ 14M $ 16M
2015 F/A F/A $ 18M
2016 F/A F/A $ 19M

So, I would be in favor of locking up Liriano now for four years, but I certainly can also understand that a lot of the risk in signing Liriano this year is on the Twins part. The five year, $72 million deal in a year is my guess if Liriano has another great year. Obviously we all believe he can and hope he does, but we don’t know.

But back to the Twins Fest/Bill Smith discussion, I was quite surprised that he was as upfront about not negotiating long-term with Liriano.

MORE MOVES COMING?

One of Jack’s other questions was whether or not the team would consider adding another player, bullpen or other, before spring training. Smith said, “We currently are at 59 players that we have invited to training camp, and ironically, we have 59 lockers in Ft. Myers.” That created a chuckle. Obviously it doesn’t mean that they couldn’t add another player.

He did stress that they have brought in a lot of pitchers to compete for some spots. He named James Hoey, and he mentioned Dusty Hughes. He mentioned Jeff Manship and Scott Diamond. He was talking about another pitcher they had added, and I said, “Eric Hacker?” He said, “Yes.”

I completely agree with this philosophy of building the bullpen with internal options which would include one of the six starting pitchers. They have plenty of arms. It might take training camp and a month or so to figure out what the best combination is, and what roles some in the back end of the bullpen will fill, but there are plenty of good arms.

It was pretty cool conversing, and watching Fanatic Jack converse with, Bill Smith. I wasn’t sure how it would go, but in the end, Jack could not get over what an affable man Smith was.

If you have any thoughts on this posting, please feel free to e-mail me or leave comments below.

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5 Responses to “Twins Fest Weekend: Part 2 (Chat with Bill Smith)”

  1. Kunza February 3, 2011 at 7:32 am #

    Liriano is the perfect example of what most fans think is wrong with the Twins front office. We have an ace-type pitcher and we’re going to roll the dice and hope he has an average year before guaranteeing him $10-$12 million per year. Instead he has a great year and we’re looking at $15-$18 million per year.

    I guarantee we won’t have any problem extending Michael Crappy Cuddyer for a ton of money without even blinking an eye.

  2. gobbledy February 3, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    Joe Mays!

    • Kunza February 3, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

      Francisco Liriano >>>>>>>> Joe Mays

      They’re not even in the same category.

      • DB February 3, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

        Joe Mays had one good year that was better than any complete season Liriano has put together. The Twins signed him to a big money, long term contract, and he turned out to be a huge bust.

        Liriano has yet to step up and dominate a BIG game for them. I agree with their plan.

  3. roger February 3, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    Hey Seth, still cold in northern Minnesota? Headed back this weekend to the snow and cold. As for Liriano, wouldn’t you want to see whether he will mentally become an Ace before giving him Ace dollars? To many times he didn’t show up in big games to sign him long term. Until he overcomes his lack of confidence, he won’t be that front of the rotation guy you can count on.

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