12.15.2004

Pohlad Blues

While the Mets signed Pedro to a mind-numbingly enormous contract the Twins were outbid by the Toronto Blue Jays for Corey Koskie. This, if anything, is a clear sign of the state of major League Baseball. Indications are that the Twins were unwilling to give the oft injured Koskie a third year on his contract. Koskie is not one of the elite free agents of the offseason, but his contributions to the Twins will be sorely missed. Koskie was one of the last remaining 2001 Twins to leave, part of the team which brought the Twins back into contention after the dark years of 1993-2000. Koskie was the most patient hitter in a lineup of hackers. His plate discipline was straight out of Moneyball. With a career OBP of .373, 25 home runs in 2004, excellent defense and the respect and admiration of his teammates, Koskie has become (in the words of Sid Hartman) "The Twins biggest free agent loss since Jack Morris."


One could argue that the Twins lost Koskie because they were wary of his pattern of nagging injuries. This is partly right. However, if Carl Pohlad was willing to raise the payroll by even a few million, the risk would have been far smaller. Most teams sign players which never return the investment made on them due to injury or lack of ability. The Yankees are a prime example with four players signed to massive contracts who have vastly underachieved (Giambi, Brown, Vasquez and Williams) due to these same factors.

The difference between the Twins and the Yankees is this. The Yankees can afford million dollar blunder after million dollar bunder after million dollar blunder; the Twins can't. If Twins owenership spends anything beyond two or three million the bunder becomes crippling. Joe Mays was signed to a large contract after a stellar 2002 season and was injured almost immediately afterwards. The Twins lost seven million in Terry Ryan's seasonal quest to make Pohlad's self imposed salary cap of 54 million. With an extra seven million the Twins could have kept Koskie. Instead they paid for Mays' injury troubles in a way only a small market team can, leaving Twins fans everywhere signing the Pohlad Blues this winter.



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