Gamblin' Man

I have fun at Terry Ryan's expense. (Sorry big guy, it's just too easy.) I photo shop him in all kinds of compromising outfits like say...this one!

While this seems bad, plenty of people are frustrated enough with Terry's attitude to this off season to do far worse than photoshop him onto a Dutch breakdancer's body. Just what did he do?

Well, he seems to have taken an already suspect pitching staff and filled it up with even more questionable characters including: a pitcher with two years experience who just had elbow surgery, a journeyman pitcher who hasn't had a positive WAR in 3 years, and another fading prospect who lost almost all of last year due to Tommy John Surgery surgery. The greatest ray of hope is that we may be the last best hope for a left-hander from a playoff team (whose best season was 5 years back).

There are other complaints from other quarters: trading both Denard Span and Ben Revere, not upgrading the middle or corner infield, failing to buy us all ponies and cotton candy (okay that was just his granddaughter). But by and large the wrath is focused on the "upgrades" to the pitching staff.

To many (if not most) it will seem like the team has simply forgone any effort to be competitive this season, looking to find names to fill out the line-up card rather than find top notch game changers. Instead of carefully selecting long-term investments (like Zack Grienke or Brandon McCarthy), Ryan has wagered the season on the vague hope that we could win the pitching lottery.

But, as easy as it is to find fault with the GM's decisions, I don't spend a lot of time doubting or second guessing his moves for two main reasons:
  1. I doubt that venting my spleen all over the internet will change TR's decision making process in any way shape or form.
  2. I know enough about baseball to know that I don't know anything about baseball.
Terry Ryan's winning numbers?
I may be the first blogger--writing in a medium that requires sincere belief that other people think you know what you're talking about--to admit that I really don't know squat. And if you, gentle reader, are really honest about it, I'll bet you'll admit that you don't know either. We don't know who will succeed and who will fail. We don't know whether the pitchers we've signed will prove resilient or so utterly neurotic that they can't function. Every day has uncertainty, but few areas have as much as that most volatile part of baseball: starting pitching

Sure, a long-term investment in a star pitcher sounds good, but while you might be netting CC Sabathia, you might also get disasters-in-waiting like Barry Zito or Mike Hampton.

Sure, last-ditch, desperation contracts seem like a lottery ticket to nowhere, but while you will likely lose your money, you just might come up a winner with an RA Dickey or Ryan Vogelsong. 

One of my last chances
to post Marquis de Marquis
Even within Terry Ryan's own history there's a legacy of lottery ticket wins and losses. How many people were jumping with joy for the acquisitions of Carlos Silva or Kenny Rogers? How many regret their optimism for Jason Marquis or Sidney Ponson?

Creating a starting rotation is an awful lot like buying a lottery ticket. You take a guess and hope it works out. When it does (even if it's just getting $100 for landing 3 out of 5 or winning 75 games with a patchwork quilt of has-beens and never-will-bes) you have to figure out what to do with your winnings. If you're smart, you seek out some prudent investments (i.e. extend Joe Nathan; trade Boof Bonser for anything at all); if not you're just going to keep on buying lottery tickets until the end of time.

I have no idea how this rotation will pan out. I have major doubts, to be sure (I sincerely doubt that Kevin Correia has a Cy Young season just waiting to happen), but I also know that my judgements aren't based on the same information, and knowledge that Terry Ryan and his team has. As much as I love the game, as much as I think I understand it, my knowledge and comprehension barely scratches the surface of those who cover it full time. That's not to say that the Twins' front office will always be right, just to say that I have no idea (right now) if they will be right or wrong.

I like to think that I know more than that, but in reality I just don't.

But I do know that Terry Ryan looks funny in that "Clog-Enthusiast/Construction-Worker" get-up.