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Angels Requiring Test for Potential Managers

Other Baseball Today, 10:10 AM
https://bleacherrepo...ur-written-test     I'd be intrigued to take it and see how I did, I'm sure I'm not alone. Thoughts?
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Damning article in the Washington Post re: Pressly / Anal...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:10 AM
Very damning article for the (now former) coaching/analytics staff. Pressly is used an example of how the Astros use analytics & coac...
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Article: Offseason Primer: Can Minnesota Mimic Milwaukee...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:10 AM
There are more things tying the Twins and Brewers together than geographic proximity.Both are mid-market teams with finite resources. Bot...
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Ex-Twins in the Box Scores

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Baseball games are being played again! I know it's only spring training, but I'm a box score junkie and once again I can get my daily fix...
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Article: Minnesota’s Managerial Candidates: External Cand...

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:18 PM
Earlier in the week, I looked at the top internal candidates for the Twins open managerial job. Since Tom Kelly was hired in the 1980’s,...
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2020 Vision

The stunning lapses from Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton this year are distressing not just because of the short-term impact – a lost season on the front-end of Minnesota's contention window – but more so because of the long-term implications.

Expected to be cornerstone superstars by the time 2020 rolled around, Sano and Buxton have endured tumultuous campaigns that call those expectations into doubt. Right now it feels questionable to count on either.

This is very bad. In many cases it would be disastrous. Crippling. But, shifting our attention to the bright side: Where 2020 is concerned, everything else is shaping up beautifully.
Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn, USA Today
In the theoretical conjurings of worst-case scenarios for this 2018 season, "Buxton and Sano both optioned to the minors" would've ranked pretty high. And now, as Sano fails to inflict damage against Triple-A pitching, while Buxton remains sidelined by yet another injury, after much the same... faith is wavering.

What if Sano ends up being no more than a plodding, all-or-nothing DH? What if Buxton never finds a way to sustain health and production?

These are real possibilities. But they are far from set in stone. All things considered, both players are young, and irrefutably talented. Sano and Buxton have several years left to figure things out in Minnesota.

What's most comforting is this: pressure is being lifted off their shoulders. Elsewhere, it's pretty much all going to plan.

I've heard some grumblings about the front office. I even came across a thread here asking if they owe fans an apology (?). But lest anyone forget: this regime has already gotten it extremely right on at least two vital occasions:

1) They didn't meet Yu Darvish's demands. People around here got AWFULLY huffy when his deal with the Cubs was announced. When I suggested the Twins might have been wise to avoid the risks associated with Darvish's decidedly team-unfriendly contract, it wasn't exactly a popular take.

Now, he's a mess, plagued by elbow issues and struggling when on the mound. This'll mark Darvish's fifth consecutive year coming up short of 200 innings. He turns 32 in a few weeks. And the Cubs are locked in for $100 million over the next five years.

The Twins held their ground, and – as with their rebukes of LA's underwhelming offers for Brian Dozier the previous winter – it was a decision that very quickly looked very smart. If Darvish signed here and followed the same path, this club would be in rough shape.

2) They drafted freaking Royce Lewis. It's almost hard to fathom by now, but when Minnesota selected Lewis with the first overall pick, it was a pretty controversial and unconventional choice. No publications covering the draft pegged him as the No. 1 talent, and very few forecasted him as even a top three pick.

Lewis' relatively low profile enabled the Twins to sign him at a big discount, and use that saved money to juice up later picks. But that's only icing on the cake. One year later, Lewis is the crown jewel of Minnesota's system, and one of the most heralded talents in all the minors. He's far more accomplished than any of the players ranked ahead of him on pre-draft boards.

Presently posting above-average production as a 19-year-old shortstop in the Florida State League, Lewis is tracking to become the youngest Twins player to debut in decades.

His ETA right now looks like late 2019 or early 2020, and thus far Lewis has proven a very fast learner at every level.

Of course, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine can't take much credit for the rest of the enviable situation they've inherited.

Alex Kirilloff, who's crushing the Florida State League alongside Lewis (he notched three hits on Thursday night and is batting .383 for the Miracle), was drafted in the first round about one month before Terry Ryan's dismissal. Right now it's looking like a brilliant endcap to Ryan's tenure, and a true scouting success – it's a lot harder to find such transcendent talents with the fifteenth pick than the first.

And then the there is the starting rotation. A sore spot for so long, finally coming together. Consider this: Jose Berrios played in the All-Star Game last week at age 24. Fernando Romero, 23, has shown elite stuff to match. And Kyle Gibson is fulfilling his promise at long last. This trio, from my view, presents a worthy core for a contending rotation, with stud prospect Brusdar Graterol (another product of the Ryan regime) on the way to joining them – perhaps right around 2020.

The point here is that the Twins have enough high-caliber talent incoming that they can live with either Buxton or Sano coming well short of his potential – maybe even both. The outlook going forward is bright even with those two playing supporting roles rather than steering the ship.

But I'm not ready to count out the possibility that one or both will rebound and reconnect with his previous trajectory. If they can get back on track, and meet with the other talent rising through the other premier talent rising through this system – say, around 2020? – that's going to be something to see.

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40 Comments

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KirbyDome89
Jul 27 2018 01:50 AM

I guess it depends on what definition of we're going with here. If the goal is to win a bad a division and get eliminated in the divisional round then yeah, they might be able to pull that off without Sano or Buxton. I'm skeptical this team will be much more than that without serious contributions from each of them. 

 

Dozier is definitely gone, Mauer and Escobar might be following him. There catching situation is bleak. Is Garver capable of playing full time? Will Kepler figure it out and become more than a platoon OFer? Right now the Twins have Rosario and maybe Polanco as position players you can rely making plus contributions. Berrios can anchor the starting rotation, Romero brings hope, and if you want to you can toss Gibson's hat in that ring, although I'm hesitant to trust him. 

 

That isn't exactly a ringing endorsement for 2019. 

 

Maybe Lewis, Kirilloff, and Graterol all reach their ceilings and the Twins actually make some noise in the playoffs, but I'm getting tired of this window constantly shifting into the future...

    • mikelink45, adorduan, Taildragger8791 and 4 others like this
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Original Whizzinator
Jul 27 2018 05:45 AM
did Buxton have a track record of injury in the minors?

I've heard some grumblings about the front office. I even came across a thread here asking if they owe fans an apology (?).


I was no fan of that thread, but explanation != apology
    • Hosken Bombo Disco likes this
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diehardtwinsfan
Jul 27 2018 06:12 AM

 

did Buxton have a track record of injury in the minors?

 

He lost most of 2014 to a concussion he got very early on in high A. That was his second full season in our org.

 

He was in the majors in 2015 due more to need, as he was not really blowing away AA. 

 

He lost most of 2014 to a concussion he got very early on in high A. That was his second full season in our org.

 

He was in the majors in 2015 due more to need, as he was not really blowing away AA. 

Think he had a thumb/wrist issue somewhere around that time frame as well.

    • diehardtwinsfan and Minny505 like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Jul 27 2018 07:19 AM

 

Think he had a thumb/wrist issue somewhere around that time frame as well.

 

forgot about that... you're right... the concussion came right after he got back. 

 

forgot about that... you're right... the concussion came right after he got back. 

Recall stories about he and Sano working out in the morning, then going fishing in the afternoon.Both missed a big chunk of that year.

 

And thanks for a great article, Nick.Enjoyed reading a positive take on where the Twins can be a couple years down the road.

    • Nick Nelson, d-mac, Minny505 and 1 other like this

I appreciate the essay even though I think you are too soft on Falvey and Levine. 

 

Your concern about Buxton and Sano is significant.They were the two building blocks we looked at for salvation during our last Gardy years and to have both fall flat is devastating.Yes we can point to Lewis and Kiriloff and Brusdar and Rooker, but they are just prospects at this stage and we cannot count on them the way we did Sano and Buxton.There are bound to be disappointments and injuries.

 

Our core is still good, but catcher needs help and I think playing Garver almost every day the rest of the year is the way to develop his skills.We also need to start thinking about a balanced bench and fourth outfielder until Kiriloff takes Kepler's place.Is Cave the answer if Buxton stays injured?  

 

Who will take Dozier's place next year if Gordon continues to struggle?Jump Lewis up and hope we have a young Griffey who can handle the pressure?Who plays 3B if Sano continues to fail, gets injured, gains more weight?If Escobar leaves as a FA who is next for the hot corner?I do not see that player in our minors.

 

Does Rooker take Morrison's place next year - not a high bench mark to make.What if Mauer does leave- is it Sano at first?

 

I have really come around - very slowly - on Gibson and he can be the veteran on the staff with Berrios, Romero, Mejia, Gonsalves.  

 

Will we use our young relievers and let them get established?Or will we continue the merry-go-round and sow more confusion.

 

Who analyzes all the coaches - not just Molitor - and decides if we have the right people in place?

 

If 2020 is the target what about 2019?

    • ken and Dave The Dastardly like this

Not worried about position player talent in 2020. The Twins will likely need a few free agent additions but with a young rotation that should be doable. Consider:

 

C: Garver, Rortvedt, Grzelakowski, Jeffers, Astudillo, veteran free agent

 

Garver looks like at least a part-time catcher and Rortvedt is one of the best developing stories this year and may be ready to be a light-hitting defensive back-up in 2020. Jeffers would likely not be ready until the end of 2020 at the earliest but is in the pipeline. Taylor Grzelakowski and Asrudillo may be pushed off catcher but are other internal options for a backup/3rd catcher role. The Twins may need to augment the position with a veteran backstop but that should be doable and not prohibitively expensive.

 

OF: Kiriloff, Rooker, Garver, Rosario, Buxton, Kepler, Wade, Cave, Baddoo, Whitefield, Larnach

 

Outfield is in flux as no one but Rosario seems a given. That said, Buxton and Kepler are young and Kiriloff and Rooker have starting corner outfielder bats. Wade and Cave profile as more 4th OF but that’s a lot of options for the Twins. Larnach, Whitefield, or Baddoo might be a nice mid-season call-up if one or two of them can move up the ladder quickly. I’m not sure who will be out there in 2020 but I feel good about the OF depth. Especially if some of the middle infield depth (Lewis, Arraez) is an option as well.

 

DH/Corner IF: Mauer (last year?), Sano, Diaz, Blanekenhorn

 

This feels like the spot the Twins are weakest at. Blankenhorn is in A ball but isn’t dominating. Mauer may retired but I think he has two more years in an increasingly platooned role. Some of the OF depth can move to 1B/DH (Garver, Rooker, Kiriloff, even Kepler) but 3B could be an issue. Even if Sano re-learns how to hit, the Twins may be getting ready to move him off of 3B. This feels like a good place for the Twins to invest some free agent money.

 

Middle IF: Polanco, Javier, Gordon, Lewis, Arraez

 

Middle infield is a bit shallower than OF but still looking solid. Lewis should be pushing the majors spring training 2020 and with Javier, Gordon, Arraez and Polanco, the Twins should be able to find a 2B (or SS if Lewis needs to move). Definitely could use more depth but this feels fine. If three of these guys are demanding playing time, this may solve some of the Twins depth issues at 3B.

 

 

 

The Twins may need some free agent additions but they seem more cosmetic than systematic. 3B and, to a lesser extent, C, seem like places that the Twins could be looking to target. Eduardo Escobar becomes a pretty good option for a 3-4 year deal this offseason. He may be more of a 105-110 OPS+ than the 130 he’s put up this year but he’s a team leader and provides depth at 2B/3B. Plus, stranger things have happened than him continuing to be a 125 OPS+ guy.

 

From there, the Twins will likely be shopping the bargain bin at 1B/DH like they did with Morrison this year. That doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement but the Rays have spent years showing that you can get a lot of value in that arena.

 

Overall, I feel good about the 2020 Twins position players. The team won’t look much like the 2018 version but there’s so much talent moving up that they should be okay. I worry more about pitching. The Twins have a good rotation core on paper (Berrios, Romero, Graterol, Gonsalves, Thorpe) but pitching is hard to project.

    • SF Twins Fan, Minny505 and mngopherguy like this

I don’t get ragging on the FO. The moves they made this offseason were acceptable and I don’t see how they can be blamed for player regression. At the end of the day, the player needs to play.

 

Lynn, Morrison, Reed, Rodney, and Duke were all smart signings. Only the back three have worked at all but that’s baseball. Sometimes the process is smart but the results aren’t. The Twins have no long-term commitment to Lynn or Morrison – they’ve struggled but neither blocked someone who demanded PT (Vargas for Morrison and Gonsalves for Lynn) and were good low-risk gambles.

 

The big issues were Sano and Buxton. I haven’t seen anything that suggests the Twins screwed those guys up. They stuck with them for a reasonable amount of time and then sent them to the minors when the situation warranted it. They’re not rushing them back up and seem to be trying to correct some of the mistakes in development from the TR era.

 

Just because something turned out poorly doesn’t mean that the people in charge are to blame. A good baseball team is a delicate organism – all a FO can do is put together reasonable pieces and hope. This team should be better next year and in 2020 and that’s good enough for me.

    • USNMCPO, SF Twins Fan, Minny505 and 1 other like this

Well, with some of the rest of their peers on the team developing into stars in their stead, maybe all of this will serve to take some of the mental pressure off of both Sano and especially Buxton.  Neither are suited to fulfill the Prophecy of the One That Was Promised. One because he thinks too much, the other because he hasn't thought enough.

I think we need to keep perspective on the Lewis pick.

It appears as though they didn't draft him because he was the best player. By many accounts, it was a decision based on the slot system, and wanting to allocate some funds later in the draft.

It could be argued that they got lucky. It's sort of similar to the Mauer scenario. Passing on Prior due to monetary concerns turned out well....but it wasn't because the FO identified some flaw in Prior or some superiority in Mauer (relative to Prior).

We should also keep in mind that Lewis is only at High A. He is by no means a done-deal. The knee issue is enough to be cautious. It's certainly possible the he's not the best player out of that top 5 group.

It's just a little early to call that a great move. Buxton looked like a future HOFer all the way up through AA/AAA as roughly a 21 year old. He drew Mike Trout comparisons. Same with Sano and Miguel Cabrera comparisons.
    • mikelink45, adorduan, KGB and 2 others like this

 

I think we need to keep perspective on the Lewis pick.

It appears as though they didn't draft him because he was the best player. By many accounts, it was a decision based on the slot system, and wanting to allocate some funds later in the draft.

It could be argued that they got lucky. It's sort of similar to the Mauer scenario. Passing on Prior due to monetary concerns turned out well....but it wasn't because the FO identified some flaw in Prior or some superiority in Mauer (relative to Prior).

We should also keep in mind that Lewis is only at High A. He is by no means a done-deal. The knee issue is enough to be cautious. It's certainly possible the he's not the best player out of that top 5 group.

It's just a little early to call that a great move. Buxton looked like a future HOFer all the way up through AA/AAA as roughly a 21 year old. He drew Mike Trout comparisons. Same with Sano and Miguel Cabrera comparisons.

 

While true on the Lewis luck, I like the frame of mind. It is much more likely to strike gold with these guys when you take a guy that can likely be a top 5 prospect in your system and save money to get guys like Rooker, etc.... But the brilliance is in the fact that they obviously saw the free option with Lewis and that option was that he had the ceiling of something special.

 

It's an exercise in scenario analysis that is expected out of these analytical types. They had a feeling that at worst, Lewis was an athletic CF that could hit for average and steal bases while giving them money to pursue other talent later. This paired with the option that he may actually be the best pick and a stud. 

 

This type of thinking is what putting your money in the pot with the best odds is all about and probably why they seem to be killing drafts so far. Time will tell.

 

So luck, maybe. But maybe the idea of putting their chips in with the best shot is actually manifesting in a way that just looks lucky. 

 

In short - I dig it

    • Han Joelo, jimbo92107, Twins33 and 2 others like this

 

Overall, I feel good about the 2020 Twins position players. The team won’t look much like the 2018 version but there’s so much talent moving up that they should be okay. I worry more about pitching. The Twins have a good rotation core on paper (Berrios, Romero, Graterol, Gonsalves, Thorpe) but pitching is hard to project.

Wow, I hope you are correct.

But you listed a possible 13 players in AA or lower possibly helping the team in two years. That would possibly be the greatest minor league system every to do that.

 

    • Minny505 likes this

Speaking of luck. I think we are just seeing a pretty bad outlier this season and I dont believe 2019 is a bleak as others think.

 

Think of what happened this year and the odds:

 

- Lance Lynn has worst year of career

- Morrison somehow forgets what he did last year and pulls the complete inverse

- Santana comes back 2 months later than expected

- Buxton gets injured again (yes, seems more probable but the guy could catch a break here at some point)

- Sano still has lingering effects from leg

- Odorizzi has almost a career worst year

- Dozier is just not Dozier

 

Thats quite the list and way past coming back to the mean for some of these guys. Luckily they are all on one year deals and we can try the same strategy next year. These things happen but I think if you find some FA's next year that dont completely tank out of the norm, this team is a 90+ win team. 

 

This year was just a weird year.

 

PS - this is my only glass half full post of this year. Had to get one in

    • big dog and Minny505 like this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Jul 27 2018 08:45 AM
It's always just a couple years down the road.
    • adorduan likes this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Jul 27 2018 08:49 AM

AWFULLY huffy


This "awful huffiness" was mostly a product of Levine's storytelling abilities, about how serious the Twins were about pursuing Ohtani and Darvish. Maybe fans should be more critical of what the front office tells them?
    • KirbyDome89 likes this

From the current 40-man roster, 17 guys should still be around come 2020. Berrios, Gonsalves, Littell, Romero, Thorpe for the rotation. The bullpen holdovers are Hildenberger, Pressly, Moya, May, Curtiss. On the field we have Garver, Polanco, Sano, Buxton, Cave, Kepler, Rosario,

 

So go from there. Out of all the names above, Thorpe would probably be etting his first major look. 

 

So you have to ask who is coming up in 2019? Rooker, Gordon? Who would make their debut sometime in 2020?

 

On a bigger scale, besides the free agents you would jettison this season (Belisle, Duke, Lynn, Rodney, Wilson, Astudillo, Dozier, Morrison, Escobar, Mauer) you have some names that could play in 2019, but are they needed for 2019 - Gibson, Odorizzi for example. You also have Pineda who will be free after next season. You have Castro who will be free if he comes back from injury after next season.

 

And you have these names who will PROBABLY not be a part of the team come 2020 and you can ask how valuable they would be for 2019 - Busenitz, Duffey, Magill, Mejia, Reed, Grossman, Slegers, Rogers, Adrianza, Granite, Grossman and he possible pick-up of Ervin Santana because a $14 million solid start might be hard-to-find. If you COULD get more for any of these names this season compared to next, would you do it? Not that people are standing in a line to get Twins folks for their team.

    • jimbo92107 likes this
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Nick Nelson
Jul 27 2018 09:11 AM

 

This "awful huffiness" was mostly a product of Levine's storytelling abilities, about how serious the Twins were about pursuing Ohtani and Darvish. Maybe fans should be more critical of what the front office tells them?

By all accounts they did seriously pursue both. Ohtani had no interest in pitching here. They offered Darvish more than $100 million. 

    • MN_ExPat and mngopherguy like this
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Nick Nelson
Jul 27 2018 09:20 AM

 

did Buxton have a track record of injury in the minors?

Yeah... I wrote a post during spring training last year about his hazardous track record and the concerns they cast on his future.

I think Buxton's trajectory was inflated early on in his minor league career along with being the #1 overall prospect in baseball.Yes, he dominated A ball and was good in AA.But I think the hype got, at least me, thinking we have an even faster version on Mike Trout.I finally have tempered by expectations.I do still expected a gold glove center fielder that can be a menace on the bases.The offense though I will now be happy with a .260 hitter that has a .340 OBP and .400+ SLG.

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Nick Nelson
Jul 27 2018 09:23 AM

 

If 2020 is the target what about 2019?

I'm bullish on 2019 (which is a big reason why I say the Twins cannot trade Gibson unless totally overwhelmed by an offer), but 2020 is a more realistic timeline for those emerging top prospects to enter the fold and take things to the next level. 

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drivlikejehu
Jul 27 2018 09:35 AM

 

I think we need to keep perspective on the Lewis pick.

It appears as though they didn't draft him because he was the best player. By many accounts, it was a decision based on the slot system, and wanting to allocate some funds later in the draft.

It could be argued that they got lucky. It's sort of similar to the Mauer scenario. Passing on Prior due to monetary concerns turned out well....but it wasn't because the FO identified some flaw in Prior or some superiority in Mauer (relative to Prior).

We should also keep in mind that Lewis is only at High A. He is by no means a done-deal. The knee issue is enough to be cautious. It's certainly possible the he's not the best player out of that top 5 group.

It's just a little early to call that a great move. Buxton looked like a future HOFer all the way up through AA/AAA as roughly a 21 year old. He drew Mike Trout comparisons. Same with Sano and Miguel Cabrera comparisons.

 

This is a very dubious line of reasoning. The Twins wouldn't have drafted Lewis #1 overall if they didn't believe in him strongly (they only saved a few hundred thousand compared to the alternatives). He was the best high school position player by most accounts.

 

They could have drafted one of the other top 5 guys (Gore, Wright, McKay, Greene) and then gone under-slot with another pick, for instance the slot they took Rooker or Leach. Or just not drafted Enlow in the 3rd round - even if they paid out the top bonus in the draft, they still could have gone well over-slot there, just not to $2 million.

 

That's also some historical revisionism on Mauer - there's no chance they take Mauer #1 if he was from Los Angeles or whatever . . . he was an elite hometown talent. And it's not "luck" when you pass on a pitcher and then that pitcher gets hurt - that's what happens to pitchers. That's like saying it's "luck" that the Twins turned down the Dodgers offer for Dozier . . . by that definition, every decision ever made on Earth is "luck."

 

So far as Nick's article, honestly I think the topic requires more depth - Rosario and Polanco aren't even mentioned, for instance. The Twins' payroll situation (i.e., $0 committed for 2020) is a topic unto itself. There's a ton to unpack.

    • Han Joelo, ThejacKmp and Minny505 like this

It could be argued, as well--with facts based on what has actually happened--that the Twins DID draft Lewis because he was the best player on their board, as evidenced by the fact that, thus far, he is the best player out of that draft.

 

Best player on their board being a myriad of factors, of course, one of them being he is not a pitcher.  If one of Gore, Greene, McKay, or Wright does not get hurt, I will be astounded.  If two do, I will not be surprised in the least.  If one of them turns into Kohl Stewart or Tyler Jay, I will not be surprised either, as I am conditioned to expect that.  So glad this FO didn't pass on Lewis to gamble on another pitcher.

It's very upsetting how two Top-5 prospects in the whole league can go from rising superstars to -WAR productivity. Think about that: Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano are -0.5 WAR combined this season coming off Buxton's Platinum Glove season and Sano's all-star season ... the good thing is that they're young.

I just hope that something clicks in Sano that makes him want to be one of the greats, because he really could be. He's lost the weight, and he hit well at High-A. I think we should bring him back up to spark the lineup... We need RH power. 

 

Buxton has the passion to be great, but he can't stay healthy. Last season, he flashed what he really could be: a 30-30 Mike Trout type superstar. Platinum Glove and all. They need to bring him back up soon also if the FO is giving up on this season. 


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