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Article: Can Minnesota Follow Houston's Blueprint?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 07:47 PM
There were some dark days for the Houston Astros. From 2009-2014, the Astros didn’t have a season with an over .500 record and this inclu...
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Cubs Pitching Coach fired. Buddy of Molitor.

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 07:47 PM
Guess who was a Molitor teammate on the Brewers? Chris Bosio. He was just let go by the Cubs and Molitor looked at getting him on his sta...
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Go get Verlander

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 07:47 PM
http://www.espn.com/...astros-audition   Best possible combination of help in 2017 and help in the next couple years, right where th...
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Article: Do The Twins Need A Proven Closer?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 06:48 PM
Last week, the Minnesota Twins announced that they would not be activating the contract option for Glen Perkins, making him a free agent....
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Potential Free Agent Idea

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 06:28 PM
How about Ichiro to platoon with Kepler?   I know he's left handed, but he hits lefties better than righties. Wouldn't need much pla...
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A Gedankenexperiment: Beating The Yankees

When Albert Einstein revolutionized universal theories, he didn’t use a lab. He used gedankenexperiments - thought experiments - to explore extreme situations. Doing so allowed him to explore truths beyond the normal course of thought.

The AL Wild Card game is an extreme situation, and lends itself to a gedankenexperiment. It is:
  • one game
  • that counts for everything,
  • but gets a full 25-man roster,
  • and essentially has zero games before it (or maybe after) to use all the players on that roster.
Image courtesy of © Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
And so, I present the following gedankenexperiment: pick 25 Twins players, custom-picked to beat the Yankees in one game. It’s beyond our normal course of thought: suddenly a team doesn’t need a full rotation on the 25-man roster, or a full complement of a bench or bullpen. But what does one do with those 25 spots then?

Well, that’s what the comments are for, and I trust this community to research the strengths and weaknesses of the Yankees team. But I’ll start with a few observations:

Bring Left Handed Pitchers
At a macro level, the Yankees are not bad against left-handed pitchers. They rank fourth in the American League against southpaws, thought that’s lower than they rank against right-handed pitching. But they have players who are very bad against left-handers, and two of them tend to sandwich the heart of their order.

Brett Gardner, who leads off for the Yankees, has always been a little bit worse against left-handers, but he's still been on base against them at a .335 clip. When one bats in front of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, that's all one needs to do. But this year he's struggled bit, with just a .208 BA against southpaws and – most importantly - a .301 OBP. Beside his ability to get on-base, he can also steal bases, so to what extent one can, especially in later innings, he must face left-handed pitching.

Batting right behind Judge and Sanchez lately is left-handed hitting Didi Gregorius. Gregorius has been as steady a performer as anyone could expect who had to follow Derek Jeter, and when a shortstop bats fifth in a lineup, he’s a mighty valuable commodity. But even though the 27-year old is having his best season, his biggest weakness – left-handed pitching – remains a weakness. This year he has just a .657 OPS against left-handed pitchers and that’s in line with his career.

In the second-half of their lineup, Yankees manager Joe Girardi tends to alternate left-handed and right-handed hitters, so it’s not like a left-hander can mow through the rest of the lineup. But the only player down there who is legitimately scary against left-handers is Todd Frazier, which is probably why the Yankees traded for him mid-season from the White Sox.

I’ll also postulate that where Frazier has batted is telling: he’s batted ninth lately, despite having a 775 OPS (albeit a .210 batting average) and crushing left-handers with a .932 OPS against them. Why is he batting so low?

Whether Girardi talks about it or not, I bet it’s at least partly to protect Gardner, batting leadoff. Frazier forces opposing managers to go from left to right and back to left to keep the bases empty before getting to Judge and Sanchez. Anything that Girardi does not want is what I do want.

Beyond southpaws Taylor Rogers and Buddy Boshers, I’d like Adalberto Mejia available to work out of the ‘pen. I’d also bring Gabriel Moya, even though he gave up a home run against left-handed hitting Efren Navarro last week. I’d even consider Nik Turley. That’s how serious I am about keeping Gardner off the bases and Gregorius from driving in Judge or Sanchez.

(You might be wondering about Glen Perkins, and I wonder if the overall zeitgeist surrounding him ignores that he may yet be a decent LOOGY - Lefty One Out GuY. I agree, but this is not the time. He’s been crummy against both sides during this late-season stint. This one is on us, Glen. Enjoy the ride and get ready for March.)

Bring Live Arms
Back to Judge and Sanchez, there is no good way to attack them. Neither had been susceptible to right-handers or left-handers. Power pitchers have done quite a bit better against Judge than finesse pitchers, which makes sense given his strikeouts. Sanchez has had more success against fly ball pitchers than ground ball pitchers. But focusing on that is like craving more money. Duh. Everyone wants power pitchers that keep the ball on the ground.

However, I would like to see Jose Berrios available in the ‘pen. Besides having the highest strikeout rate among the Twins starting pitchers, he’s held the opposition to a .212 batting average his first time through the order. (Full disclosure: he’s also been homer-prone early, so that’s a not an insignificant risk.) Beyond him, there aren’t too many surprise arms I want, though maybe I bring John Curtiss if I have room.

Add A Right-Handed Bat
Once the Twins decided to sell at the trade deadline, there was no longer any discussion about acquiring a right-handed bat. In some ways, it has become less critical – Joe Mauer, Jason Castro, Eddie Rosario and Jorge Polanco have all hit left-handers better than one might expect. But there has still been Max Kepler.
Kepler has had a little very recent success, but has hit just .149 against left-handers this year. If there are any pinch-hitting needs, that’s the glaring one.

It would be nice if a limited Miguel Sano could provide the occasional pinch-hitting appearance, but the more likely answer is that Ehire Adrianza joins the roster as a one-time replacement. There really isn’t anyone else on the roster that deserves to be pulled in a matchup situation, unless Chris Gimenez starts over Jason Castro due to concerns for slowing down the Yankees running attack.

So where does that leave us? Let’s list them out the obvious names and start counting down the rest. If you have your own lists, we have this revolutionary way, below the story, where you can share your own Gedankenexperiment – provided you REGISTER:

The Starters
1 Robbie Grossman
2 Jason Castro (or Chris Gimenez depending on Castro’s ability to throw out runners. The Yankees will run.)
3 Joe Mauer
4 Brian Dozier
5 Eduardo Escobar
6 Jorge Polanco
7 Eddie Rosario
8 Byron Buxton
9 Max Kepler

The Obvious Pitchers
10 Ervin Santana
11 Matt Belisle
12 Trevor Hildenberger
13 Taylor Rogers

The Bench
14 Ehire Adrianza
15 Matt Garver (as a 2nd catcher, or maybe, Chris Gimenez. Not both)

The Left-handers
15 Buddy Boshers
16 Adalberto Mejia
17 Gabriel Moya

Live Arms
19 Jose Berrios
20 Alan Busenitz
21 Ryan Pressly

The Final Spots
22 Nik Turley – Left-handed
23 John Curtiss – Power and had success in Yankee Stadium last week.
24 Zach Granite –There is a roughly 198% chance Molitor finds a reason to use a pinch-runner, so I’d better give him one.
25 Tyler Duffey – For whatever reason, he’s pitched well in the new Yankee Stadium. Sorry Chris Ginenez. You can still have champagne.

This little experiment is not going to change the concepts of time, space and gravity. On the other hand, all three have seemed to aligned against the Twins whenever they faced the Yankees in recent years. A seemingly inevitable (knock, knock) Wild Card berth gives the Twins (and their fans) a little time to consider the extreme situation of playing in Yankee Stadium. Do you have the gedankens to put your alternate observations and theories below?

  • Mike Frasier Law, Cory Engelhardt, Monkeypaws and 3 others like this

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31 Comments

I would replace Duffey with Vargas due to the fact that they won't need a medicore long reliever and I guess could use a mediocre RH pinch hitter, but other than that looks good to me. 

 

If Sano can pinch hit bring him, get him a bunch of bp and make it happen if at all possible.

    • Monkeypaws, tarheeltwinsfan, Platoon and 3 others like this
I won't try and look it up, but I will admit I did not know you could completely rebuild your roster between the WC game and the next series. If so, this is quite the idea. I do like the Vargas Duffey switch for this reason. While you may get into a spot where a long ball is your only hope, you will never get into a spot where Duffey is your only hope. I loved your outside the box thinking.
    • tarheeltwinsfan, SF Twins Fan, Original Whizzinator and 1 other like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Sep 27 2017 05:30 AM

I thought they had to use the same 25 man in the ALDS (minus injury)... interesting idea. I'd go heavy on RPs in that situation.

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tarheeltwinsfan
Sep 27 2017 05:48 AM

You have 25 players, but 2 two are numbered 15 and there is no number 18. I guess you were celebrating late last night... a day early. Thanks for you goo and interesting analysis. 

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tarheeltwinsfan
Sep 27 2017 05:50 AM

Oh wait....you must have Vargas instead of Duffy.

I want Gee instead of Turley, who is just plain old bad. Plus, you already have four left handers, do you really need a 5th? Especially since you're bringing all 5 to deal with Brett Gardner? Seems like an overreaction based on 30 points of OBP. Gee will be useful if this turns into a very long game as he's capable of giving you 3-4 innings.

 

Gimenez over Garver. You'll pinch hit for Castro at some point and you need someone better behind the plate. Garver may be there next year but for this year he's too raw for the playoffs. Plus, the bats aren't that different.

    • jimbo92107 and spycake like this
Vargas for Duffy, Gee for Turley. I would also keep all 3 catchers instead of Curtis so molitor has the freedom to pinch hit or pinch run for one (or even two of them if need be).
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Old Twins Cap
Sep 27 2017 06:47 AM

Watching the Yankee broadcasts, they are really playing up the desirability of not playing that Wild Card game, by winning the division.

 

I suppose no team, but especially one that has had a good year, wants to be in an elimination game right off the bat.

 

But, the Yanks are feeling it a bit.

 

Main thought experiment:Play like you have nothing to lose. 

 

Nothing.

 

Yanks have something to lose.As in, a lot.

    • Monkeypaws and Hosken Bombo Disco like this

 

I won't try and look it up, but I will admit I did not know you could completely rebuild your roster between the WC game and the next series. If so, this is quite the idea. I do like the Vargas Duffey switch for this reason. While you may get into a spot where a long ball is your only hope, you will never get into a spot where Duffey is your only hope. I loved your outside the box thinking.

 

You can change your roster between every round of the playoffs. 

    • Mike Frasier Law likes this

Here's my wild card roster:

 

DH: Grossman

1B: Mauer

2B: Dozier

3B: Escobar

SS: Polanco

LF: Rosario

CF: Buxton

RF: Kepler

C: Castro

SP: Ervin Santana

That's the starting 10.

 

Obvious Bullpen:

11 - Belisle

12 - Hildenberger

13 - Rogers

14 - Busenitz

15 - Boshers (over Moya)

16 - Berrios (early long-man, doing so makes Gibson the G1 starter vs CLE)

17 - Duffey or Pressly (over Curtiss)

18 - Gee (for in case it gets ugly in a bad way and need to get through it)

 

Bench

19 - Adrianza (4 IF spots + LF)

20 - Granite (3 OF spots + PR)

21 - Vargas (1B + PH)

22 - Gimenez (backup catcher)

23 - MITCH Garver (PH, #3 catcher)

24 - Miguel Sano (fake PH, maybe real PH)

25 - Niko Goodrum (7 positions, but really a PR)

 

9 pitchers, 16 position players. If Sano is an absolute No-Go, then I'd probably go with Duffey/Pressly, whichever wasn't already there.

    • Steve Lein, Mike Frasier Law, Monkeypaws and 6 others like this
Final spots -- 10 pitchers are suffcient for one game. Need to provide for emergencies and multiple PR, PH situations. This is not a game where you can afford to run out of bench. Two outfielders collide and you need to replace them, but still have a back up in the filter and a pinch runner and so on. So my four final spots contain no pitchers:

Granite - The most likely to get used -- as a pinch runner, and outfield fepth in case of injury or pinchhitting for Kepler)
Vargas PH, Mauer backup in case of injury.
Goodrum PR, emergency anything
Garver. ( PR/PH for Castro, and want to do it again for Gimenez-- can't put Escobar back there w)

 

Here's my wild card roster:

 

DH: Grossman

1B: Mauer

2B: Dozier

3B: Escobar

SS: Polanco

LF: Rosario

CF: Buxton

RF: Kepler

C: Castro

SP: Ervin Santana

That's the starting 10.

 

Obvious Bullpen:

11 - Belisle

12 - Hildenberger

13 - Rogers

14 - Busenitz

15 - Boshers (over Moya)

16 - Berrios (early long-man, doing so makes Gibson the G1 starter vs CLE)

17 - Duffey or Pressly (over Curtiss)

18 - Gee (for in case it gets ugly in a bad way and need to get through it)

 

Bench

19 - Adrianza (4 IF spots + LF)

20 - Granite (3 OF spots + PR)

21 - Vargas (1B + PH)

22 - Gimenez (backup catcher)

23 - MITCH Garver (PH, #3 catcher)

24 - Miguel Sano (fake PH, maybe real PH)

25 - Niko Goodrum (7 positions, but really a PR)

 

9 pitchers, 16 position players. If Sano is an absolute No-Go, then I'd probably go with Duffey/Pressly, whichever wasn't already there.

I would want Gee in case the good kind of out of control happens.  If someway, somehow the Twins jump out to say a 9-0 lead by the 3rd inning, do you sit down Santana and go to a bullpen game and use Gee and Berrios and another arm or two the final 6 innings?  That way it sets up for Santana to possibly be available in Game 2 of the next series assuming my bullpen game plan doesn't blow up and the Yankees mount an incredible comeback.

    • Sconnie likes this

 

I would want Gee in case the good kind of out of control happens.  If someway, somehow the Twins jump out to say a 9-0 lead by the 3rd inning, do you sit down Santana and go to a bullpen game and use Gee and Berrios and another arm or two the final 6 innings?

No.

 

I'd possibly put Gee on the roster too, but not for this circumstance.

 

I'm thinking more in case you need a long guy both early and late (i.e. extra innings).  But you don't get cute with Ervin.

    • Loosey and Hosken Bombo Disco like this
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Smarterthanyou
Sep 27 2017 01:55 PM

I would actually rather see Berrios start in the one game WC. Santana has been good, but he has an 0-4 record there, and a rather high ERA. Remember, on July 19th, Berrios limited the Yankees to one run and four hits, and got a win. Santana hates Yankee stadium, and once a couple of home runs get launched against him, it will be in his head.I'd rather roll the dice with Berrios and his potential.

    • jimbo92107 likes this
Photo
Hosken Bombo Disco
Sep 27 2017 02:14 PM

Watching the Yankee broadcasts, they are really playing up the desirability of not playing that Wild Card game, by winning the division.
 
I suppose no team, but especially one that has had a good year, wants to be in an elimination game right off the bat.
 
But, the Yanks are feeling it a bit.
 
Main thought experiment:Play like you have nothing to lose. 
 
Nothing.
 
Yanks have something to lose.As in, a lot.

This is fascinating to know, and promising, and very different from the 2009-2010 Yankee team that was taking the foot off the gas late in the season in order to get a #2 seed, so they could play the Twins who were the 3 seed.

I like the approach. To further mess with the Yankees, I would officially change everyone's uniform numbers prior to the game and then periodically send position players down to warm up in the bullpen throwing ephus pitches and knucklers. To further disorient them, I would also have the third base coach actually stand in the third base coaches box during the game.  

    • Hosken Bombo Disco and David HK like this

 

Watching the Yankee broadcasts, they are really playing up the desirability of not playing that Wild Card game, by winning the division.

 

I suppose no team, but especially one that has had a good year, wants to be in an elimination game right off the bat.

 

But, the Yanks are feeling it a bit.

 

Main thought experiment:Play like you have nothing to lose. 

 

Nothing.

 

Yanks have something to lose.As in, a lot.

 

Well they know that the Twins CAN BEAT THEM in Target Field and have come close in Yankee Stadium.They've got to be nervous about that. 

1.38 ERA, 1.102 WHIP, 7.4 K/9, 3.9 K/BB as a reliever, arguably the Twins' best reliever, Dillon Gee has to be on the roster.

    • Monkeypaws, Sconnie and David HK like this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Sep 27 2017 02:58 PM

I like the approach. To further mess with the Yankees, I would officially change everyone's uniform numbers prior to the game and then periodically send position players down to warm up in the bullpen throwing ephus pitches and knucklers. To further disorient them, I would also have the third base coach actually stand in the third base coaches box during the game.

Joe Nathan just signed a one-day Twins contract -- however, I would stop short of unretiring Nathan and putting him back on the postseason roster :)

Love these analyses, a lot of good figurin.' That said, I'd love to see the Yankees get beaten by a bunt. That would be sweet like sweet ain't never been. 

Any restrictions on who can be on the playoff roster?

 

I understand they had to be on 40-man roster by midnight 8/31 correct? 

 

Any restrictions on who can be on the playoff roster?

 

I understand they had to be on 40-man roster by midnight 8/31 correct? 

 

They had to be in the organization by midnight 8/31. 

To me this seems like Moya would not be eligible unless he's replacing an injured player

 

From:  http://m.mlb.com/glo...son-eligibility

 

Players must be on the 40-man roster, the 60-day disabled list or the bereavement/family medical emergency list as of midnight ET on Aug. 31 to be eligible for their respective clubs' postseason rosters. Consequently, players that are acquired via September trades or signed as free agents in September are ineligible for postseason play.

 

Clubs can petition the Commissioner's Office to add any player that was not on the 40-man roster as of Aug. 31 -- provided the player was in the organization on Aug. 31 and is replacing a player who has spent at least 60 days on the 60-day disabled list. The Royals were able to use this tactic to add Brandon Finnegan to their roster during the 2014 postseason, despite the fact that Finnegan was not on the 40-man roster as of Aug. 31.

 

Additionally, all players who have served part of a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs in a given season are ineligible for postseason play that year.

Moya added to 40-man on September 12th

 

https://www.mlbtrade...assignment.html

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Hosken Bombo Disco
Sep 27 2017 09:02 PM

I'm sorry, but this plays right into the Twins hands with their left handed batting lineup...

 

 

...actually, no, not sorry :)

    • tvagle likes this

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