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Updated: September 13th, 2013 11:10am
More evidence for why payroll is the least of the Twins' concerns

More evidence for why payroll is the least of the Twins' concerns

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by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com

I interrupt your football programming for a minute to make a point about why the Minnesota Twins are terrible and why the Oakland A's are not.

Everybody beats the payroll drum. "The Pohlads are cheap."

If you still think payroll is a significant reason why the Twins are on the verge of a third straight 90-loss season, pay close attention. 

Over the past three seasons, the A's have spent an average of $60 million per season on payroll. The Twins, even with a drop off this year, have spent an average of $98 million.

Yet the A's have won 54% of their games over that stretch, including one playoff berth and possibly another one this year. The Twins have won 40% while cleaning the American League Central basement.

Why is this?

Well, for starters, look no further than the last two games of the most recent series at Target Field. The Twins were bludgeoned 26-5 over the course of those two games, including allowing a three-run homer to Josh Reddick, three hits and two RBIs to Brandon Moss, multiple hits and RBIs to Josh Donaldson and a home run a four runs scored by Coco Crisp. The Twins were also dominated by young starters A.J. Griffin and Sonny Gray.

Griffin was a 13th-round draft pick in 2010. He has been a rock-solid starter in the A's rotation since the middle of 2012.

Gray was a first-round pick in June of 2011. Now he's one of the A's best starters.

Who are the last two Twins starting pitchers to be drafted in the June entry draft, climb the minor league ladder and contribute to the major league starting rotation?

Kyle Gibson, drafted in 2009, and...

I hope you're sitting down for this next one...

Jeff Manship, drafted in 2006.

Think about that.

Moss, who has 25 homers and a .502 slugging percentage, was basically signed off the street and makes $1.6 million this year.

Crisp has been one of the best value free agent pick-ups over the past few years, producing a career-high 19 home runs this year, and an average of 35 stolen bases and a .740 OPS in four years with Oakland for an average of $6 million per year.

With only 11 home runs and a .677 OPS, Reddick is having a down year, but he did hit 32 home runs last season and will likely bounce back in 2014. The A's acquired him from Boston two years ago for closer Andrew Bailey, who has recorded 14 saves with a 4.91 ERA in two years with the Red Sox.

Donaldson, who has 21 home runs and a .299/.375/.494 batting line, was acquired from the Chicago Cubs in 2008 (along with a few other players) for Chad Gaudin and Rich Harden.

Sell high. Sell high. Sell high.

Draft. Develop. Do it again.

Find quality free agents to supplement the process.

Avoid bad contracts.

There are other recent examples in Oakland as well. Dan Straily, a quality starting pitcher, was a 24th-round draft pick. Grant Balfour is one of the best closers in baseball at $4.5 million - as opposed to some teams that pay their closers $10 million.

Chris Carter, now with the Astros but previously with the A's, was acquired in a sell-high trade for Dan Haren. Brett Anderson was acquired in that same deal.

Tommy Milone, another solid starter, was acquired in a sell-high trade for Gio Gonzalez.

Jarrod Parker, Oakland's No. 2 starter, was acquired in a sell-high trade for Trevor Cahill.

When is the last time the Twins sold high? Maybe Denard Span and Ben Revere

Stop talking about payroll. 

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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