Minnesota Twins: Why the Twins Find Themsleves at a Crossroads

Chris Schad@@crishadContributor IIIOctober 3, 2012

Denard Span could be one of the players to be sent packing if general manager Terry Ryan decides to rip the Twins down to the studs.
Denard Span could be one of the players to be sent packing if general manager Terry Ryan decides to rip the Twins down to the studs.Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The hardest decision a general manager in the MLB can make is whether to blow up a team or to try and fix what's there in hopes for a championship run.

Every Major League Baseball franchise finds themselves at this crossroads at some point. 

The Minnesota Twins are no different, as they finish up their second consecutive last-place finish in the American League Central on Wednesday night.

As interim general manager, Terry Ryan, enters his second off-season with the Twins, he must decide whether he should spend money to add to the current nucleus of players or trade off every asset he has in order to rebuild the franchise from the ground up.

This will not be an easy decision from Ryan, as he'll have two different parties pulling on him.

The Pohlad's will obviously have the final say in this decision, as they're the party that controls how much of the revenue the Twins will ultimately spend on the team.

With the exception of the off-season, leading up to the opening of Target Field in 2010, it seems like the Pohlads' motivation has been putting money in their own pockets, rather then fielding the competitive team they promised when the financing for Target Field was passed.

That's what sticks in the craw of the current fan base right now. In September, Target Field looked like a ghost town. Tickets for Twins games, which were once going for ridiculous amounts of money, were being listed on StubHub for a penny.

This is evidence of a fan revolt.

Minnesota ownership has opted to surround highly paid stars, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, with the likes of bargain basement free-agents, such as Jason Marquis and Joel Zumaya.

After shelling out $392 million in public subsidies for the home of the Twins, the public believes that they deserve better.

No one wants to spend $100 to see Nick Blackburn get pulled in the third inning.

So what should Ryan do? To find the answer, Ryan should look West to see what the Oakland Athletics did this past off-season.

The Athletics decided that, instead of using their Moneyball strategy as the ultimate solution, they would trade their assets to obtain players that could not only help their roster now, but also down the road at a cheap price.

Initially, fans in Oakland were outraged at general manager, Billy Beane's, strategy after he traded Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey for prospects.

As the 2012 season unfolded, those young prospects turned into something. The end result was the Athletics winning the 2012 American League West division championship.

Could the Twins experience a similar result if they trade Denard Span, Josh Willingham, and Morneau? It could be unlikely, but those trades could get the Twins the much needed pitching they need to match an offense that continues to grow into their shoes.

An option like this is more enticing than picking up another highly-paid pitching free-agent (or another version of Marquis) that could flame out sooner than expected.

The Twins have seen a lot of success over the past decade, but now is the time to make some unpopular decisions that could help the franchise get back to prominence, sooner rather than later.


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