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Article: Do The Twins Need A Proven Closer?

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Potential Free Agent Idea

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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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Let's get this mother started.    
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Go get Verlander

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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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Twins to hire John Manuel

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Didn't see that coming.
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Twins Fall To Yankees... Again. Looking Back, Looking Forward.

The Minnesota Twins season came to an end on Tuesday night at the hands of the New York Yankees. Let me know if you've heard that one before. It was the Twins 13th straight postseason loss. Many of them have been to the Yankees and that trend continued despite the Twins seven-season hiatus from the playoffs.

The Twins' season came to an end. It was a tremendous turnaround and yet another loss to the hated Yankees leaves a bad taste in our mouths.
Image courtesy of Brad Penner, USA Today
Coming into the game, there were several things that the Twins needed to do to give themselves a chance to advance to the AL Division Series against Cleveland. A couple happened. A couple did not.

Fast Start

We all know about the Yankees bullpen. We knew how dominant they could be. Luis Severino was one of baseball's best starting pitchers in 2017, but he struggled against the Twins in a start two weeks ago and at 23, you never know how he would handle the spotlight.

Many believed that the Twins would need to be aggressive to try to get ahead early. Well, Brian Dozier led off the game for the Twins. He was patient and on a 3-1 pitch, he hit a home run to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. With one out and Jorge Polanco on first base, Eddie Rosario came up and rocketed a hanging, spinning slider just over the fence in right field. 3-0 lead Twins.

Fast Start - Successful!

Score Runs When Possible

Severino gave up a single to Eduardo Escobar and a double to Max Kepler. That was the end of the night for Severino. Chad Green came on with runners on second and third and just one out. He struck out the next two batters, and the Twins had their 3-0 lead after 1/2 inning, but it could have been worse.

In radio interviews earlier on Tuesday, I thought runs would be at a premium in this game and that any time they had the opportunity to score runs, they needed to. They needed to find a way to score runners from third base with less than two outs. In the above situation, the Twins really needed to find a way to score at least one more run.

At game's end, the Twins had left six runners on base.

Twins Needed A Strong Start

The Twins didn't need Ervin Santana to throw a complete game shutout, while that would certainly have been just fine too. They just needed him to get them to the sixth and preferably the seventh inning having given up two or less runs. Santana was the easy choice for the Twins and Paul Molitor to start. With his 2017 numbers, he earned it. He showed good stuff, and he was throwing harder down the stretch. He was the one Twins starter that we felt would be able to handle the pressure of Yankees Stadium and keep them in the game despite his lack of playoff success or lack of success in Yankees Stadium.

Well, after being given a 3-0 lead in the top of the first, Santana gave up a three-run homer to Didi Gregorius in the bottom of the first inning. Sure, Aaron Judge reached out and muscled a blooper into center field. Sure, a 2-2 pitch was shown by technology to be a strike three and when it was called a ball instead, Santana gave up the home run. In other words, he could have been out of the inning with a two- or three-run lead.

Santana then gave up a solo homer to Brett Gardner in the second inning. He got through the second inning, but Todd Frazier crushed a ball to dead center that Byron Buxton leaped and caught before banging into the wall.

Santana didn't give the Twins what they really needed.

Berrios Get Them to the 7th

Jose Berrios was in the bullpen for the Wild Card game, and if Santana had a short start, or even a five-inning start, I felt it was important for Berrios to get them through the seventh inning. Well, he went three innings, and gave up three runs, and got them only through the fifth inning. He sure impressed the ESPN broadcasters with the movement on his fastball, but like Santana, his slider was often more of a spinner.

And Then There's More

Trevor Hildenberger had a 1-2-3 sixth inning, but he left with one out in the seventh inning and the bases loaded. Taylor Rogers struck out the one batter he faced. Alan Busenitz was brought in and walked the first batter he faced on four pitches to give the Yankees another run. He came back with a strikeout.

Zack Granite had to replace Byron Buxton who left the game a couple of innings after slamming into the center field wall. He stole a base and came up twisting his back. It affected his swing, so he had to come out. That felt like a dagger as much as anything.

Granite did well. In his first at-bat, he singled. In his second at-bat, he grounded toward first. The first baseman flipped to the pitcher who dropped the ball. The ball went to second baseman Starlin Castro who was backing up the play. Castro tagged Granite who was called out. Had he turned the wrong way? No. He inexplicably did not touch first base. I'd offer some explanation, but as I noted, it was inexplicable.

While some may say that it is some sort of sign that Granite 'gave up,' I don't think that's fair. No one was giving up. This was a resilient team and a bunch of gritty players. Granite wasn't giving up, but somehow his footwork got messed up to completely miss the bag. It's something that does happen, but you don't want it to happen in a playoff game, and unfortunately, it ends up being almost a microcosm of the Twins/Yankees situation.

The Twins lost 8-4 in New York and the streak continues. Unfortunately, the Twins season comes to an end, but it's hard to look at the Twins 2017 season as anything but a huge success.

The Twins improved by 26 wins, jumping from 59 to 85. While some may choose to say that this team just could not match up with the top four teams in the AL (Cleveland, Houston, Boston, New York), they were able to beat all of the rest of the teams in the league by five games. So yes, they are "just" the fifth best team in the American League, but when they were the worst team in all of baseball in 2016, being the fifth best team in their league is pretty good.

There are a lot of questions for Derek Falvey and Thad Levine to consider. One is will they be more active than last year. Their first decision will have to be whether or not to keep manager Paul Molitor or bring in their own manager. How will that affect the rest of the coaching staff. Many more front office decisions are likely, and that's all before even getting to the on-field decisions they have to make.

Derek Falvey and Thad Levine deserve a lot of credit. They've begun to implement their systems and a new culture. It's clear that it is much more analytical than a year earlier and it will continue to emerge as more analytical. The coaches and players will have more and more information.

But Terry Ryan and Bill Smith and Rob Antony deserve a lot of credit too. They brought in much of the core of the 2017 and helped their development by being patient and pushing them at an appropriate pace.

Brad Steil and his staff deserve credit for the player development in recent years that brought this team of young core players .

The managers and coaching staffs in the minor leagues deserve a lot of credit as well for developing these players.

James Rowson has earned and been given a lot of credit for his work with the young hitters, especially Eddie Rosario, Jorge Polanco and Byron Buxton. Jeff Pickler worked with the outfielders, but part of his job title involved being a liaison between player development and the big league coaching staff.

It will be a fun, interesting offseason. We encourage that you continue to have Twins Daily as your go-to site every morning. We will continue to provide new content each day on this site.

And there's more. Twins Daily is already far along the path to offering our Offseason Handbook again. As we have in the past, the document will illustrate for the reader what some of the options are for the Twins this offseason, looking at key issues, available free agents, trade targets, depth charts and more.

Also, we have now begun to work on the 2018 Twins Prospect Handbook. We will post player profiles for over 160 Twins minor leaguers, share our prospect rankings, write articles and much more. This will be the 10th annual Prospect Handbook, which is hard to believe.

Thank you to all of our readers, writers and browsers. We appreciate that you take time during your day to peruse our site, read the content and participate in the forums. It will be a fun offseason and Twins Daily will do our best to give you a quality site, full of information and opinion.

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52 Comments

Great post. I look forward to more quality content during the offseason.

    • caninatl04 likes this

"Granite did well. In his first at bat, he singled. In his second at bat, he grounded toward first. The first baseman flipped to the pitcher who dropped the ball. The ball went to second baseman Starlin Castro who was backing up the play. Castro tagged Granite who was called out. Had he turned the wrong way? No. He inexplicably did not touch first base. I'd offer some explanation, but as I noted, it was inexplicable.

 

While some may say that it is some sort of sign that Granite 'gave up,' I don't think that's fair. No one was giving up. This was a resilient team and a bunch of gritty players. Granite wasn't giving up, but somehow his footwork got messed up to completely miss the bag. It's something that does happen, but you don't want it to happen in a playoff game, and unfortunately, it ends up being almost a microcosm of the Twins/Yankees situation."

 

Seriously? He also threw to first - where there was no one even there to catch the ball - in LA! The only mission one has running down the first base line...... IS TO TOUCH FIRST BASE! There no explanation for both of these game affecting plays. It is not that he gave up..... it is that his brain just didn't work.... again.

 

 

The write up in the Strib granite is quoted as saying that he did not want to step on the pitchers foot and in doing so, he missed the bag. He when out to say that he should have just stepped on his (the pitchers) foot.
Terry Ryan, Bill Smith and Rob Antony get ZERO credit. Why? Two seasons, Aaron Judge and Kohl Stewart. One was drafted before the other, and a reminder of how HORRIBLE this team was managed for years, on old school thinking. I, for one, do not take this loss lightly. For all the high draft picks that we have had, it was expected that the Twins reach this stages ages ago. Late to the party is no excuse for having the wrong dress on. Sorry, but Terry Ryan, Bill Smith and Rob Antony do not get credit. They ran this club into the ground.
    • h2oface, LewFordLives, Dr. Evil and 1 other like this
1. We lost because Gardenhire was in the building 2. Hindsight, Santana shouldn't have pitched the 2nd inning 3. We have a deep line up but boy, do we need pitching.

I think the Twins success this year had to do with Falvey and Levine, but not the way that some might think.That was a determined, pissed off, group of guys in that clubhouse....and rightfully so.It was us against them and Molitor was part of us.It didn't take statistics to look at our August schedule and see that it was a cupcake schedule.We all saw it!Why didn't they?

 

Going forward, if they don't rehire Molly and bring in "one of their guys", that guy has already lost the clubhouse just by being "one of their guys".The Twins were determined to prove management wrong and they did.Now management can either acknowledge that or reject it by replacing Molly.

 

Look, Molitor might not be the perfect manager, but if Falvey and Levine are as smart as people seem to think they are, they'll give him another year.If they don't, we won't see the postseason next year.

    • Jerr, LewFordLives, bizaff and 1 other like this

I completely disagree with those who want Molitor to come back. Get some new blood managing this team, get a guy who understands today's game and today's players. Get someone who is well liked by players. Thanks for the ride, Molly. Grab your fishing pole and head off into the sunset knowing you got your team to the playoffs in your last year as manager. 

    • USAFChief, Mike Sixel, h2oface and 3 others like this
In the end, I guess the game shook out fairly predictably. Kudos to Girardi. Robertson in the third? I hope Buck is proud they changed pitchers on him twice--and not emotionally scarred.

I wish we would have had a healthy Sano. I wish Santana would have pitched a shutout. But, I'm grateful for the ride.

Go Tribe!
    • birdwatcher, Longdistancetwins, mickeymental and 1 other like this
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Pardon My Dinger
Oct 04 2017 07:07 AM
I really hate watching Granite play.
    • h2oface and lukeduke1980 like this

Tough crowd this morning. Looking back, I enjoyed a surprising and exciting season. I commented optimistically in mid-June that the team had a chance of going into the All-Star break with a winning record. The assumption by most, if I remember correctly, was that the floor was going to collapse eventually, sooner rather than later. Then came the trade deadline dump. The team became stronger. Anyway, it was a season of many good memories and I'm looking forward to the future.

    • birdwatcher, Dman, bizaff and 1 other like this

 

The write up in the Strib granite is quoted as saying that he did not want to step on the pitchers foot and in doing so, he missed the bag. He when out to say that he should have just stepped on his (the pitchers) foot.

 

Minnesota Nice!!

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youngtwinsfan
Oct 04 2017 07:19 AM

The front office has a plan if Molitor isn't the manager in that plan they need to find their manager regardless of results this season. That's exactly what the Cubs did, Theo stuck to his plan regardless of results and it paid off. Molitor is also not a good manager in my opinion. Loves the bunt, but doesn't call a bunt with runners on 1st and 2nd with no out I just don't understand that. His bullpen management also is not good in my opinion, but these are all just MY opinions. From stories we've been hearing on TV he wanted to fix the defense this season and he certainly did so have to give him Kudos for that! Was a great year overall though and I'm ready for the next one to start!

    • bighat likes this

Man, that loss hurt more than I thought it would. But good season.

    • AlwaysinModeration, Sconnie and Dman like this
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JaleelWhite FanClub
Oct 04 2017 07:28 AM

We need an ace. We need an ace. We need an ace. We need an ace.

 

If you're top 2 starters give up 7 runs and can only get the team 5 innings in the most important game of the year, than there's not much else the rest of the team can do to win.

    • wavedog, h2oface, Danchat and 6 others like this

 

I really hate watching Granite play.

 

couldn't disagree more. Takes good ABs, plays OK to good D, runs well. 

    • Seth Stohs, Steve Lein, wavedog and 2 others like this
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Longdistancetwins
Oct 04 2017 08:12 AM

 

Minnesota Nice!!

Oh, thanks for explaining that play (such as it is). At the ballpark, the Yankee fans sitting next to me kept saying he turned the wrong way, but I had a good view and knew that wasn't true.Thought it was a new example of umpires screwing us in the playoffs.

 

couldn't disagree more. Takes good ABs, plays OK to good D, runs well. 

I'd prefer to watch 3 other outfielders play over Granite, but agreed, he's certainly a good 4th/5th outfielder.

couldn't disagree more. Takes good ABs, plays OK to good D, runs well.


As a minor league emergency depth piece...ok. A 6th or 7th OFer.

As a regular backup major league OFer? Wayyyyyy too limited offensively. No arm.

No thanks.
    • h2oface likes this

 

As a minor league emergency depth piece...ok. A 6th or 7th OFer.

As a regular backup major league OFer? Wayyyyyy too limited offensively. No arm.

No thanks.

 

to be clear, you know that after 2 months? Because he was good in AAA. 

 

I agree, he's a backup. But no way he's the 6th best OF on most MLB teams, imo.

    • Deduno Abides, WLFINN and SentryJet like this

to be clear, you know that after 2 months? Because he was good in AAA.

I agree, he's a backup. But no way he's the 6th best OF on most MLB teams, imo.

He has 300 PAs of decent in AAA. Nothing of consequence (.700-ish OPS) in his other 4 minor league seasons. Zero power.

His "good ABs" added up to a .611 OPS this year.

If Zach Granite is your plan for fourth OFer, you're doing it wrong.
    • Danchat likes this
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JaleelWhite FanClub
Oct 04 2017 08:56 AM

I'm a glass half-empty guy, so I thought a loss was inevitable after the Gregorius home run. All the momentum from the top of the 1st was gone and the Yankees pen was already deployed and mowing down batters.

 

3-2 fastball in that situation seemed like a mistake. 1st & 3rd and one out. I would have rather Santana thrown a slider and risked a walk to load the bases and faced Castro (a righty) than challenge the lefty with 25 HRs on the year and the short porch in right.

 

I know Santana didn't have the slider working last night, but it would have played better against Castro, especially considering he chased one from Berrios out of the zone for a K later in the game.

    • bizaff likes this

 

He has 300 PAs of decent in AAA. Nothing of consequence (.700-ish OPS) in his other 4 minor league seasons. Zero power.

His "good ABs" added up to a .611 OPS this year.

If Zach Granite is your plan for fourth OFer, you're doing it wrong.

 

good thing we can't say anything with certainty after 200 ABs or less.....and look around the league, and ask if 120 OFers are better at the running and D parts also.....

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Pardon My Dinger
Oct 04 2017 09:00 AM

couldn't disagree more. Takes good ABs, plays OK to good D, runs well.


Yeah, but, you don't even watch the games, so...
    • h2oface likes this

 

Yeah, but, you don't even watch the games, so...

 

fair....I don't mind he's on the roster. I might not like watching him.....

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Don Walcott
Oct 04 2017 09:12 AM

I'm surprised there isn't more conversation about the balls and strikes calls. Maybe I'm just a sore loser, but Santana struck out Gregorius before that home run. Then, Castro got screwed when the umpire expanded the zone outside on him, and he had to strike out on the next pitch that was outside the zone. I didn't pay too much attention to the calls the rest of the game, but those were two big calls.

 

I'm probably just biased, but it seemed to me like at least those two calls had a major effect on the game, and we didn't get any important breaks from the ump.

 

And you can offer excuses, like Santana didn't throw the pitch in the right location, and Castro had to reach for it. But the umpire should be calling the strike zone, not where and how the pitch is caught. It's time we had balls and strikes called by someone who isn't distracted by shiny objects or influenced by crowds.

    • h2oface, Major Leauge Ready, bizaff and 1 other like this

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