With the end of another losing season, fans cannot help but think what happened to the six-time AL Central Champs of from 2002 to 2010.
Who is to blame?
Since losing Carl Pohlad, why have the Twins been on the downfall the past two seasons? Under his ownership (1984 to 2009), the Twins won two World Series and four AL Central championships while producing such greats as Kirby Puckett, Johan Santana, Torii Hunter, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Chuck Knoblauch, Kevin Tapani, Scott Erickson, Kyle Lohse and David Ortiz.
Despite winning the AL Central in the two seasons following Pohlad’s death in January of 2009, they have little else about which to be happy. In the past four full seasons, the Twins have produced very few noteworthy players and have or will have finished amongst the AL’s worst team in the past two seasons.
Is Carl Pohlad's absence to blame on the Twins’ downfall? Hardly.
First and foremost, consider the Twins' payroll during Carl Pohlad’s ownership (below). The graph illustrates several key trends in during Carl Pohlad's reign as owner. Firstly, in all but two a seasons, the Twins were ranked in the lower half of MLB team payrolls.
Only in 1988 and 1989 were the Twins in the top half of the league for payroll. The Twins were also ranked in the bottom quarter of MLB payrolls for half of Pohlad's tenure.
During the Carl Pohlad era, the Twins were generally considered a small-market team. Not surprisingly, the Twins also ranked amongst the bottom half of MLB’s team payrolls for a majority of the Pohlad Era.
The billionaire, Carl Pohlad was one of the richest owners in MLB during his time, yet the Twins had considerably small payrolls. Frugal or stingy? That is open to interpretation. What isn't open to interpretation is the Twins' inability to sign several key players in the late Pohlad years. Most notably, Torii Hunter and Johan Santana.
Secondly, consider the actual on-field success of the Twins during the Carl Pohlad era versus post-Carl Pohlad era (below). The Twins won two World Series, four AL Central Championships, had 12 winning seasons and 13 losing seasons.
On the other hand, the Twins have two AL Central Championships, two winning seasons and two losing seasons since Carl Pohlad passed away. Is there a correlation between Carl Pohlad not being there? No. The Twins spent much of the 1990s with horrendous ball clubs. Two back-to-back seasons of 90+ wins is not a downfall due to the absence of the Twins owner.
Lastly, consider how much influence owners actually have on day-to-day performances of baseball teams. Sure, owners fork over the money, but they generally are not scouting, signing talent, making roster moves, coaching players, etc.
This brings up the question of how much influence Carl Pohlad had on the Twins. This is tough to say. When Pohlad spent less money on the Twins in the 1990s, they were terrible. Yet, the Twins' tight budgets during the late 80s and early 2000s still yielded good teams.
To say there is a correlation between Carl Pohlad's absence and the downfall of the Twins is preposterous.