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Article: 2017 Twins Player Predictions: Joe Mauer

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 07:09 PM
When Joe Mauer makes a start next Monday for the Twins at Target Field, it will be his 13th Opening Day start for the Twins. That will ti...
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Chris Gimenez?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 07:01 PM
Is he our backup catcher or will it be Murphy?  
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Article: The Twins Bullpen Is Set (And You’re Not Going T...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 07:00 PM
The Twins made their final bullpen roster moves today, reassigning Nick Tepesch and Alex Wimmers to minor league camp. While the official...
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SI not thrilled with Twins

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 07:00 PM
SI had some scout takes on the Twins. It's not pretty.    "There's a reason all these guys had 5 ERAs last year. The Twins used...
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Free MLB.TV for T-Mobile customers

Other Baseball Today, 06:52 PM
FYI: T-Mobile customers can sign up this week (April 3-10) for a free, season-long MLB.TV Premium subscription: http://www.t-mobile.com/m...
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Latest News


The Age Of Analytics Arrives In Minnesota

... Finally

For more than a decade, Minnesota Twins fans have been clamoring for a more analytical approach from the front office. Those cries have now been answered.

The pivot from legendary scout Terry Ryan to relatively unknown young executive Derek Falvey at the head of baseball operations represents just about the starkest move in that direction possible, and we're already seeing evidence of it.


The Twins Bullpen Is Set (And You’re Not Going To Love It)

The Twins made their final bullpen roster moves today, reassigning Nick Tepesch and Alex Wimmers to minor league camp. While the official roster is not set, those moves clarify the likely bullpen. It is not an impressive group.

Brandon Kintzler will return as a closer. The 32-year-old took over the closer job for the Twins last year when Glen Perkins was injured and saved 17 games. He also struck out 5.8 guys per nine innings pitched, which puts him well below the average strikeout rate of a major league pitcher (which is 8.1 K/9), let alone a major league closer.


2017 Twins Player Predictions: Miguel Sano

Might Sano set a record for the Twins in 2016. His 178 strikeouts broke Brian Dozier’s one-year-old record of 148 punchouts in 2015. It was an impressive feat considering he missed the month of June on the Disabled List. Sano enters 2017 knowing he will be back at his more natural position, third base, after last year’s erstwhile attempt in right field.

While most consider Sano’s 2016 a down season, he still had 25 home runs. However, after such a strong showing in the final three months of 2015, expectations were very high. Still just 23-years-old, Sano has a ton of potential. His power remains legit, but he’ll need to find a way to put the ball in play more often.

That’s the question at the plate. Meanwhile, there are lingering questions about how well he will be able to play third base defensively too.


2017 Twins Player Predictions: Brian Dozier

After an offseason of rumors, Brian Dozier is still with the Twins. The second baseman gives the team a reliable bat in their lineup. He put up a career high in batting average and became the only Minnesota Twins player not named Harmon Killebrew to hit over 40 home runs in a season. 2016 was an historic season for Brian Dozier. What will he do for an encore in 2017?

Brian Dozier was the Twins 8th round pick in 2009. He was drafted as a senior. Many said he was “too old for his level of competition” to be a prospect. He came up the first time at age 24 and really struggled as a shortstop. He was moved to second base, the defense was sound, and suddenly he started displaying remarkable power.

After two very slow months to start 2016. After May 22nd, Dozier was hitting just .199/.284/.318 (.602). Paul Molitor didn’t start him for two straight games, allowing him to clear his head. Over his final 115 games, Dozier hit .291/.356/.621 (.977) with a remarkable 38 home runs.


Report From The Fort: Living In The Present

The big purge has been delayed for at least one more day, leading to a day of anticipation or anxiety or purgatory or … living in the present, maybe? After all, it sounds like the decisions have been made. Tomorrow isn’t getting here any faster. There is a baseball game in the sunshine. Let’s travel the zen path and soak in what is in front of us today.


2017 Twins Player Predictions: Joe Mauer

When Joe Mauer makes a start next Monday for the Twins at Target Field, it will be his 13th Opening Day start for the Twins. That will tie Harmon Killebrew for the most in team history. In 2004, Mauer debuted as a 20-year-old kid in 2004. Late next week, Mauer will turn 34 and that will make many of us feel even older than we are.

Twins fans are all aware of the date August 19, 2013. The Twins played a make up, interleague game against the Mets. Joe Mauer went 2-4 to raise his stat line to .324/.404/.476 (.880), numbers that would rank as one of the best in his career. Unfortunately, that was the day he took a foul tip to the face mask and suffered a concussion that would alter the rest of his career. The last three seasons he has hit .277, .265 and .261.

Obviously there is a large sector of Twins fans that don’t care about any of that. Others will tell you that he was hitting .284/.384/.417 (.801) on August 16th last year. In that game, he strained his quadriceps (both of them) which affected him the rest of the season. Had he just shut it down at that time, that .801 OPS would have been good, something to build some excitement about. Instead, he toughed it out and kept playing through the injury. Over the season’s final six weeks, he barely hit over .100 and his OPS dropped by almost 50 points.


2017 Twins Player Predictions: Jason Castro

The Minnesota Twins offseason is generally considered to have been very quiet. It would be difficult to dispute that too much. However, the Twins new front office was very aggressive in their pursuit of one free agent. By mid-November, just weeks after the new regime began, it was clear that the Twins were a serious player in negotiations for catcher Jason Castro. By the end of the month, Castro had signed a three year, $24.5 million deal with the Twins.

As has been written about, ad nauseum, much of Castro’s value comes from the his work behind the plate. No need to go over there much here, but Castro has great pitch framing stats. He presents the ball well, but he’s also touted for working well with pitchers and calling a good game. His numbers indicate that he is average at controlling the running game. He also seems to give up a fair number of passed balls.


Tyler Jay and Baseball's Evolving Bullpen

Twins fans were recently hit with the news that former first round pick Tyler Jay will be moved to the bullpen. This is disappointing news for many as the team used a high draft pick on a player they hoped could be become a strong starting pitcher.

Even with Jay shifting away from starting pitching, there might be a small ray of light at the end of the tunnel. Baseball's use of relief pitchers has begun to shift in recent years. During last year's postseason fans saw the importance of dominant relief pitchers like Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman.


Report From The Fort: Decisions And Divides

Pop quiz, hot shot: When the rubber meets the road, what makes everything move forward?
Answer: Friction.

For a team that was supposedly going through an overhaul, the Twins offseason has been one giant Kumbaya singing chorus. The new organizational leaders, CBO Derek Falvey and General Manager Thad Levine, have emphasized relationships, including the one with incumbent manager Paul Molitor. But the season is starting up, and that is when relationships get tested. It usually starts with roster cuts.


Central Intelligence: Chicago White Sox

Following an incident last summer where White Sox ace Chris Sale busted out a pair of scissors and cut up a uniform he didn't want to wear, he was suspended and fined. It appeared that the relationship between him and the team was reaching a perilous point.

They didn't fire Sale, but during the offseason they did trade him, setting off a roster fire sale that saw Chicago trade away its pitching and position WAR leaders for hefty prospect hauls while also making a managerial change.


Report From The Fort: Batting Order Time!

I’ve got good news for the batting order obsessed: it’s finally your time. With more regulars playing more games this week, it’s time to start paying attention to the Twins lineup. Molitor is clearly trying to find the right mix, and Friday he hinted that the batting order could look quite a bit different against right-handed and left-handed pitching.

The only thing he has committed to so far is that Byron Buxton will not hit leadoff. Sabremetric types likely concur, given Buxton’s .274 OBP in the majors so far. But I get the sense that Moltor’s decision is more about catering to Buxton’s mindset. Buxton has been at his best when he is aggressive, and the traditional leadoff role expects patience.


Next "Write Of Spring" Newsletter: A Pitching Primer

Do your eyes kinda gloss over when people start talking about a slider versus a sinker versus a cutter? Mine do. So this spring I asked for help from the Twins pitching staff. The resulting cheat sheet will be in this week's Write Of Spring Newsletter. It's free, but you must sign up soon as it will come out Wednesday night. Sign up by giving us your email in the box at the bottom of this story or use the box on the upper right of the front page.