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Rich Hill throws no hitter through 9; loses game

Other Baseball Today, 03:35 AM
Ends up he threw a 1 hitter, giving up the winning home run in the 10th to lose
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Article: Twins Minor League Report (8/23): Pitching, Hitt...

Twins Minor League Talk Yesterday, 11:09 PM
A tough loss on the South Side of Chicago for the Twins on Wednesday, but plenty of excitement in the minor league system. A couple of ve...
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Article: Falvey Playing Numbers Game With Pitching Staff

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 10:28 PM
During his ball-playing career at Trinity College, Derek Falvey was a pitcher – albeit not a very good one, by his own admission.He hasn'...
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Article: CWS 4, MIN 3: Twins Bullpen Blows Lead

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 09:47 PM
The Twins held a 3-2 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth inning Wednesday, but Taylor Rogers and Trevor Hildenberger each gave up...
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Twins @ White Sox, 8/23@5:10pm PT (7:10 PM CT)

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 09:46 PM
First off, I'd like to thank Vanimal for pointing me in this direction for this thread. (notice how I'm cleverly deflecting any blame if...
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Deadline Primer: Are Twins Buyers Or Sellers?

As the Minnesota Twins head into the All-Star break, two games above .500 and very much in the postseason mix, they are coming up on some important decisions that could help shape the final months of this season, and beyond.

Above all, they must take a hard look at who they are, and where they're at, then make a critical determination: will they enter the upcoming deadline as buyers or sellers?
Image courtesy of Brad Rempel, USA Today
First, let's quickly take stock of a first half that's been tremendously redeeming for the organization and its fans.

Where Things Stand
Last season's mess was a painful slog for all involved. The Twins entered the break with a 32-56 record, already long erased from any kind of relevance. Setbacks and struggles were vastly outweighing any positive developments.

What a difference a year makes.

This season hasn't been without its misfortunes and letdowns, but everywhere you look, there are fun, energizing storylines.

Ervin Santana is approximating an ace with his performance; he's already tied his career high with four complete games, giving him more than any other team in the league.

Miguel Sano is fulfilling his immense potential, showing prodigious power that makes him a favorite in Monday night's Home Run Derby.

Closer Brandon Kintzler will join the two in the All-Star Game on Tuesday, as one of the best current stories in baseball.

In 2016, the team's play was characterized by poor fundamentals and losing streaks that extended into agonizing droughts. In 2017, we have seen vastly improved defense and a newfound resilience.

A year ago by this time the Twins already had already endured four losing streaks of five or more games; this season it hasn't happened once.

Beyond the improved competitiveness, this club has simply been entertaining to watch. Sano hits the baseball as hard as anyone I've ever seen. Jose Berrios is electrifying on the mound. Byron Buxton is turning himself into a human highlight reel by doing things like this and this and this and this:



Yes, just as Buxton scampered 270 feet from first to home in seemingly the blink of an eye, the Twins have come a long way in 12 months. But are they ready to make a real push for the playoffs?

The answer will dictate their strategy over the next three weeks.

The Case For Buying
Opportunities like this don't necessarily come along often. The Twins are getting career years from players in key spots – namely, at the top of their rotation (Santana) and back end of their bullpen (Kintzler). Given the lack of quality depth in those units, and the lack of future assurance for either, this is a fortuitous alignment that should not go to waste.

Any talk of a theoretical timeline in which young players continue to mature and more prospects join in seems to overrate the likelihood of such outcomes reaching fruition, while underrating the value of guys like Santana and Kintzler doing what they are doing.

Neither is the prototype for his role. The Twins aren't the prototype for a World Series contender. But they are getting it done, and they continue to do so. The combination of a scrappy young club, finally coming into its own, with a front office showing a refreshing quickness to react and willingness to experiment, builds intrigue over what could happen the rest of the way.

More prospects could enter the fold. Perhaps Minnesota catches lightning in a bottle with someone like Dillon Gee or Bartolo Colon. But there's no doubt about this: the Twins need some outside help in order to shore up inhibiting weaknesses.

Provided they can acquire players with control extending beyond this year, and can avoid parting with assets critical to their continued emergence, heading into the deadline as buyers doesn't necessitate sacrificing the future.

The Case For Selling
Derek Falvey and Thad Levine came into their jobs with a big-picture focus. If that meant building the best possible clubs for 2018, 2019, and beyond, then things have certainly played out favorably for them during the first three months.

Whereas last year's deadline didn't bring much drama due to lack of attractive saleable parts, this year the Twins have trade chips of legitimate interest to top contenders. Pitching is at a premium, as always, and the Twins have a pair of All-Star arms capable of helping anyone.

While the ride has been fun thus far, an analytical front office will recognize that this club is not really equipped for a championship run. Their postseason odds are at 20 percent, they're outperforming their Pythagorean W/L record substantially, and their flaws glare against quality teams.

The fact that they're on the fringe of contention, and hardly motivated sellers, gives the Twins leverage in negotiations that didn't exist last year. If they can identify and acquire either young MLB pitchers or prospects on the brink, it's a savvy long-term strategy.

Why The Next Two Weeks Will Decide Everything
Here's the problem with the savvy strategy mentioned above: if things stay as they are, it is not really an option in practical terms.

A reader of Twins Daily might be sold on the wisdom of waving a white flag in order to bolster future odds and supplement the pitching pipeline. But the casual fan, or the actual players who have worked to get to this point? Not so much.

This franchise has endured a demoralizing run over the past half-decade, and making moves that optically resemble giving up just won't play. Of course, this could all change over the next two weeks.

The Twins come out of the break with a very tough run. They first head to Houston for a three-game series against the American League's best team. We all remember what happened when the Astros came to Target Field. Minnesota follows up that challenge with a homestand against the Yankees and Tigers, two offenses capable of dismantling a weak pitching staff. Afterwards, it's off to Los Angeles for a daunting matchup against the NL's best team, the Dodgers.

It's entirely possible that the Twins find themselves well below .500 after running through this gauntlet. At that point, the decision sort of makes itself. So really, if the players in this group want to make a push, they hold their destiny in their own hands.

Stay Tuned
Make sure to visit Twins Daily regularly over the coming weeks. We promise to cover the deadline – with all its rumors and speculation – more exhaustively than any other spot. Follow us on Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates. And if you aren't already, please join the conversation by creating an account and sharing your own thoughts.

Will the Twins act as buyers at the end of the month? It's hard to know right now. But that sure would beat the alternative.

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174 Comments

Take Colon out of the comments.  If he is a savior we are doomed.  He is 44.  He is done.  If he can resurrect for a month it will not mean a thing for the years you projected.  

    • Blake, nytwinsfan, curt1965 and 1 other like this

Falvine have been around enough to know that the idea behind a trade is either to win it all within a year or to improve the overall state of the organization. In the case of the former you usually sacrifice the latter, and vice versa. This team has overachieved. Houston and the Dodgers are both head and shoulders above us and pretty much everyone else, and they will almost certainly try to make a couple moves to go for broke this season. Trying to win big this year would be a very poor gamble. I'd be way more inclined to listen to offers for our veterans than to make offers for other teams' veterans.

And don't try to bring up the 1987 Twins as an example of what could happen. I was beyond delirious about that team, but there has probably never been a less deserving or more fortunate team to become World Champions. Under today's format that team would not have even made the postseason. Moreover, the rotating home field advantage format favored the Twins both in the AL postseason (just one round, not three counting the wild card game) and the WS. That type of thing will almost certainly never happen again.

I'm not saying sell, but I am saying don't buy.

    • birdwatcher, Blake, Craig Arko and 7 others like this

Unless the Twins go on a tear in the next two weeks, we should be sellers. Now just because we go into sell mode doesn't necessarily mean we HAVE to trade Santana. He has two years left with the option, so you need to get something of signicant value. I would say that unless we get at least one high-upside pitcher with 4+ years of control who will be ready by mid-2018, don't trade him. Preferably we'd get one high-upside pitcher ready by early or mid-2018 and another high upside pitcher who is maybe a little further off. I'd also shop Dozier, but might not trade him if the return isn't what I was hoping for (which it might not be). I'd also test the waters with Rosario. But Santana is obviously the main guy

    • Dantes929 and terrydactyls1947 like this

I would shop Rosario and Kepler and see if I can get some pitching for one of them. Looks like Granite is ready or his chance. You have to trade from surplus and that is the only possible surplus I see right now. 

    • caninatl04 likes this

I don't care about next year. I want to win now. I'll say the same thing next year too.

    • USAFChief, howieramone2 and Bill Brown69 like this

I think you more or less answered your own question in the article. I'm not going to pull the rug out from under the team when they are doing well, but they do not match up well with the best teams in the league. Maybe make a small move to help out the bullpen. The other problem is that we really don't have prospects to spare.

 

 

I would shop Rosario and Kepler and see if I can get some pitching for one of them. Looks like Granite is ready or his chance. You have to trade from surplus and that is the only possible surplus I see right now. 

Beyond Granite where is the depth? LaMonte Wade only just made it to AA. We are one injury away from having very thin outfield depth, unless we are counting Garver now? 

    • birdwatcher, LaBombo, ThejacKmp and 5 others like this

I believe they will be neither buyers or sellers.  Anything really useful will cost youth yet selling is like spitting in the face of the players and the fans.

    • pbrezeasap, Sssuperdave, Blackjack and 8 others like this
Rosario I would be okay shopping. Kepler, no way. He's a corner stone. Even Rosario could be a good piece for the future. Probably wouldn't get the value in a trade for him. Shop Dozier, polanco, Santana, Rosario, and kintzler and see what you can get.
    • 70charger, h2oface, jun and 3 others like this
I wonder if theAstros would have interest in Santana. Think we could get them to give up Francis martes and David Paulino.
    • jun and nytwinsfan like this
They are not in the postseason mix because we have to many holes to fill. Trade Dozier, Santana, and Buxton and bring in some much needed pitching. Our farm system is so depleted that we need to be aggressive on obtaining prospects.

I wish Santiago or Gibson ahd value.

 

Dozier could be trade bait. Then you move Polanco to second. Of course, he has fallen into a utility role (except he IS a prospect). Escobar is a valuable infielder...but like Nunez last year, could you expect a Mejia in return?

 

Santana could be had if the price is right. I don't see a strong NEED to keep him for 2018. I would like to think he won't get better than he is right now.

 

Kintzler will be a free agent and might be the most valuable Twin. I worry that he will wear down (again, like last year). I don't see a longterm contract being lavished on him.

 

Can the Twins afford to dangle a Kepler or a Rosario? What could they get in return for Kepler (the Twins do have a good investment in him, and he is promising).

 

The Twins could also move Gimenez (or minor league catcher Murphy).

 

If someone wants to grab Boshers from them, I would listen.

 

 

Photo
HitInAPinch
Jul 10 2017 01:28 AM

There isn't much question in my mind:  Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will be looking to add talent to the MLB and MiLB rosters.  And I'm reasonably sure the bait will be Buxton.

 

I keep looking at those videos of Buxton's "highlight reel" catches.  The one where he's running in, that's a great catch.  The one's going towards the wall, dumb luck.  Look closely at what Zack Granite does.  Granite tracks the ball the entire time it's in the air, even as he hits the wall.  No slamming into the wall, like Buxton.

 

To me, the Zack Granite audition is a prelude to trading Buxton.  Let someone else work that development.  And, no, I'm not worried about Buxton developing into a legit All Star.  Twins need better prospects for the future as a team.

    • Thrylos, Oldgoat_MN, Blackjack and 2 others like this

 

Falvine have been around enough to know that the idea behind a trade is either to win it all within a year or to improve the overall state of the organization. In the case of the former you usually sacrifice the latter, and vice versa. This team has overachieved. Houston and the Dodgers are both head and shoulders above us and pretty much everyone else, and they will almost certainly try to make a couple moves to go for broke this season. Trying to win big this year would be a very poor gamble. I'd be way more inclined to listen to offers for our veterans than to make offers for other teams' veterans.

And don't try to bring up the 1987 Twins as an example of what could happen. I was beyond delirious about that team, but there has probably never been a less deserving or more fortunate team to become World Champions. Under today's format that team would not have even made the postseason. Moreover, the rotating home field advantage format favored the Twins both in the AL postseason (just one round, not three counting the wild card game) and the WS. That type of thing will almost certainly never happen again.

I'm not saying sell, but I am saying don't buy.

The 2014 Giants88-74 Wild card winner. World Series winner. 

 

The 2011 Cardinals were the worst team by wins entering the playoffs and won.

 

 

The 1987 Twins won their division. That is all they had to do. They were in first place the whole season. Won when they had to. They beat Detroit in Detroit to win the ALCS, no dome field advantage needed.Minimize the team all you want. The bottom line is, they won.

    • Oldgoat_MN, 70charger, tarheeltwinsfan and 2 others like this

 

 

I wish Santiago or Gibson ahd value.

 

If they ahd value the Twins would not be looking like sellers. If they were above average pitchers to have value it would be likely the Twins would have a few game lead in the division

    • ashburyjohn, Oldgoat_MN and Original Whizzinator like this
I think Colon is the rotation upgrade and if were lucky they may trade for a reliever. I dont see tbe front office doing much else till the offseason. Maybe bring Gonsalves up for September...
I would be of the sell mode, and it would Dozier, and Grossman. Rosaio if I got more than I expected, and Santana in the same frame. Sadly, I doubt you will get any young pitching for anyone other than Erv. As one can see by watching this years baseball pitching is not easy to come by. But in general I would be in sell mode. Not tear down mode. Sell, with emphasis and tweaking the SP. Sanatana is the problem. He is the only practical value we have to trade, and we don't have enough pitching to trade pitching.
    • Oldgoat_MN, 70charger and spinowner like this

 

I don't care about next year. I want to win now. I'll say the same thing next year too.

You can't always get what you want.

    • Oldgoat_MN and SwainZag like this

 

The 1987 Twins won their division. That is all they had to do. They were in first place the whole season. Won when they had to. They beat Detroit in Detroit to win the ALCS, no dome field advantage needed.Minimize the team all you want. The bottom line is, they won.

I didn't minimize anything. I stated facts. That team would not be in the postseason today and they only had to win 8 games (with a home field advantage) to become World Champions. This year's team is highly unlikely to win its division, meaning they would have to win 12 games (without home field advantage) against better teams than they faced 30 years ago.

    • LaBombo and markos like this

I hope the team is and has been shopping players like Santana, Dozier et al. I also hope Falvey and Levine are too smart to shop Rosario like some on this website are constantly preaching.

    • Oldgoat_MN, laloesch and olivia11 like this
Buyers vs. sellers...it doesn't have to be one or the other.

They have some parts that can be replaced internally. Listening about trading those parts is where I expect them to start their discussions.

I see the Twins considering trades if the trade will make them a better team both today AND in the future.
    • Highabove, howieramone2 and spinowner like this

Nick, nice article! It summarizes the pros and cons nicely.

 

Two sentences stick out to me:

 

"The fact that they're on the fringe of contention, and hardly motivated sellers, gives the Twins leverage in negotiations that didn't exist last year. If they can identify and acquire either young MLB pitchers or prospects on the brink, it's a savvy long-term strategy."

 

"So really, if the players in this group want to make a push, they hold their destiny in their own hands."

 

Even if they do well in the next two weeks, I don't expect Falvine to do much beyond picking up a pitcher. If the do poorly, they are in a good position to deal.

 

I would put Kepler in the untouchable category, along with Sano.Buxton is going to be very good but I also think that he has a 50/50 chance of permanently hurting himself, I'd deal him if they have the chance.

 

 

Let's see not just what their win-loss is after they run the Gauntlet, but how much fight they put up. If they sell off while in the hunt, that sends a terrible message that could have unforeseen long term repercussions. Remember all the Twins teams that didn't get reinforcements?

That being said, I wouldn't trade young talent, and it would be theoretically smart to maximize value on a couple of vets. Tough spot.

 

 

To me, the Zack Granite audition is a prelude to trading Buxton.  Let someone else work that development.  And, no, I'm not worried about Buxton developing into a legit All Star.  Twins need better prospects for the future as a team.

 

WOW!  That's a bold prediction if i may say so.  Not saying right or wrong, just bold.  

 

Getting back to the buyers vs. sellers, I don't think the Twins are either at this point. Falvey has hinted they aren't going to mortgage the teams future on rentals to try and sneak into the post season. They might add a couple of minuscule bullpen pieces but nothing major IMO.  

 

That said, I still think they should explore moving Dozier and Santana, for the right price that is.  However, Dozier is certainly not helping matters and is having a DOWN season ( surprise surprise), and his trade value has shrunk considerably from last season.  While i hate to give up Santana he is probably the most valuable trade chip right now and the AStros need pitching help right now after some starting staff injuries.  Could be a good fit there and they have a deep farm system right now.  Explore that for sure. 

 

The only other thing i can think of is see what Oakland wants for Sonny Gray.  His is having a decent 2017 season so far averaging 9.1 strikeouts per K9 which would push him ahead of Berrios K/9.  A's are looking for outfielders which we have in abundance.  Two options Rosario, Granite or Buxton, Granite + Wade or pitching prospect not Romero or Gonsalves.  

 

Anyhow, two things I look forward too this offseason.  Santiago let go (thank god) along with Scaredy Cat Meow Mix Nibbler Gibson.  Both guys have mental fortitude issues and they can cut bait with them with no strings attached.  Beyond that i have no idea what happens.  Hughes is still with us till 2020 and Joe through next season.  After that plenty of cash to go after free agents.

 

In the meantime they should be auditioning Jorge, Romero and Gonsalves now, not next season.  If any of these options hit the ground running, give em a mile long leash and let em RUN!  

 

I don't care about next year. I want to win now. I'll say the same thing next year too.

 

 

You can't always get what you want.

What I want (and know I won't necessarily get) is for the Twins to be an organization that supports a major league team that is in contention every season. That's a formidable but achievable goal. It means having a steady stream of improving prospects, which in turn means having quality people throughout the organization, especially scouting and player development. Trades and free agent acquisitions will also only be successful with good scouting and player development. We are not there yet and it will take a number of years to reach this goal. In the meantime trading to win now is contrary to this goal. I hope that in 5 years we'll be in a position to make such trades.

    • ThejacKmp likes this

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