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Article: Twins Sign RHP Michael Pineda

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2017-18 MLB Off-Season Transactions Thread

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Article: 4 Stories To Watch At The Winter Meetings

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Article: Twins Prospect Spotlight Series: Ben Rortvedt

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As a way to look back at a great minor league season and look ahead toward the release of the 2018 Twins Prospect Handbook, I’ll be writi...
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It's OK To Get Excited Again, Twins Fans!

The Minnesota Twins won their fourth game in a row on Wednesday night when they traveled over to Milwaukee and shut out the Brewers 4-0. The Twins got seven shutout innings from Bartolo Colon followed by a clean eighth inning from Taylor Rogers. Matt Belisle struck out the side in the ninth to maintain the shutout.

The win moved the Twins back to the .500 mark, at 56-56, with 50 games to go. It’s been a roller coaster for the Twins the last month. They surprised people and became buyers. Less than a week later, the team became sellers at the trade deadline. The win put the Twins back within 1.5 games of a wild card spot. So, should the Twins be buyers again?
Image courtesy of Jordan Johnson, USA Today
There are a number of ways to look at the 2017 Minnesota Twins to try to figure out what they should do here in August. It’s clear that the team, at least not right now, should not sell off any additional players. At least not this week. But should they be buyers?

Well, the Twins are now 4.5 games back of Cleveland in the AL Central Division and one game behind the Royals for second place.

However, in the wild card race, they find themselves just 1.5 games behind the Seattle Mariners, who would be the second wild card team if the season was to end today.

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Sure, the Twins still have to pass three teams to get into that second wild card slot, but with 50 games to play, it’s not insurmountable by any means. The Mariners have played three more games and have three more wins already in the bank. The Rays already have two more wins in the bank. But 50 games is a lot of time.


The Effect Of The Trade Deadline

Brian Dozier spoke out with his thoughts on the decision of the front office to trade lefty Jaime Garcia before the deadline. While the team’s downward slide meant that the voices were a bit quieter when the team traded closer Brandon Kintzler on the deadline day, there’s no doubt that there was some disappointment in the clubhouse.

We know that Paul Molitor had a rare team meeting. Oh, to be a fly on the wall during that meeting. I would guess that the message from the manager to his team was clear. Yes, the front office made some decisions, and they traded a couple of players that we could use. I’m guessing that he spoke about how much talent there still was in that locker room. I would assume he mentioned that he was not going to give up on anything, that he believed in the players and he would manage with the goal to win. I’m certain that he challenged the team to prove people wrong. That’s the same thing Brian Dozier has said in a few interviews since the trades. Proving people wrong. That can be a motivator.


Where Falvey and Levine Wrong to Trade Garcia and Kintzler?

The answer to that question is certainly a matter of opinion, but I still don’t think it was. For the front office, they need to continue thinking big picture. They need to look at things like the team’s run differential and realize that there was a likelihood of a slide. When Cleveland and Kansas City both went on extended winning streaks before the trade deadline and it coincided with the Twins worst stretch of the season, the moves were right.

The organization took on payroll. They took the contract of Garcia so that they “only” had to send rookie ball pitcher Huascar Ynoa to Atlanta. But Garcia will be a free agent at the end of the season. They will continue paying Garcia throughout the season, and in doing so, they were able to pick up quality pitching prospects Zack Littell (AA) and Dietrich Enns, who will start for the Twins on Thursday.

Trading Kintzler, who also will be a free agent at the end of the year, for a young, left-handed, projectable starting pitcher also made sense. The Twins have a history in the last decade of selling low rather than selling high. I think that the front office did a good job of selling high.


Youth Movement Delayed?

The team is in contention again, and they need to act accordingly. That means, in my opinion, that they should not call up young players just to give them experience, just to get them big league time. Decisions should again be made with the primary thought being what will help the 2017 Twins.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that young players shouldn’t be called up. If there are young players at AAA, or even AA, that they feel will give them a better chance to win now, call them up.

With the injury to Adalberto Mejia, someone will have to take his place in the rotation. For Thursday, that will be Dietrich Enns. But Dillon Gee could be an option this year. So could Tim Melville, or Aaron Slegers, or Stephen Gonsalves, or Fernando Romero. Whoever the Twins brass believes will give them the best chance to win.

Talk of getting rid of Bartolo Colon, or DFAing him, really needs to stop. I hope that's clear to everyone. After Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios, Colon has given the Twins a reliable third starter option. Kyle Gibson has been OK of late. Losing Mejia hurts, but it all goes back to someone else stepping up. Maybe that’s Enns. Maybe that’s needing Dillon Gee to eat three to five innings sometimes.

And if in a week or so, they feel that Stephen Gonsalves is ready to help them win games, call him up.


Should They Be Buyers?

I’m curious what you all think. Leave your comments below. But my general thought would be that they can again be looking for pitching.

Cleveland added outfielder Jay Bruce, who has 29 homers and 75 RBI this season for the Mets. And they only had to send 22 year old, right-handed relief pitcher Ryder Ryan in return. He was Cleveland’s 30th-round draft pick in 2016 out of North Carolina. In Low-A Lake County, he’s got a 4.79 ERA.

In other words, if Jay Bruce could be available for a non-prospect relief pitcher, the cost for the Twins to acquire some relief pitcher help, or even a mid-rotation starter, should not be too high. In my opinion, if the price is right, Falvey and Levine should consider any options to make the team better.

Is It OK for Twins fans to get their hopes up?

Hey, there are a lot of real positives on this Twins roster. There’s The Core Four. Byron Buxton equals tremendous center field defense, and he’s been improved at the plate. Miguel Sano is in a rough stretch offensively right now, but we know the power he can provide. His defense has also been better than advertised. Max Kepler had slumped, but in recent games, he appears to be figuring some things out at the plate. Defensively, he plays well in right field. Jose Berrios is the pitcher in the group, and he’s been as good as hoped, maybe even a little better. He got off to a great start for the Twins this year, struggled for a few starts and then he’s been better again lately. These four will be a big part of the charge toward a wild card spot.

Eddie Rosario and Jorge Polanco are outside of my Twins Core Four, but they are vital to Twins playoff hopes. Rosario has been among the best Twins hitters the last two months. It’d be great if that could continue for a couple more months. Jorge Polanco just had the worst two-month stretch of his career. In the last week, he is coming out of that and hitting like we thought he could. His defense has also slumped, but if he can be an average defender down the stretch, it will be huge for the Twins.

The veterans also need to step up. Joe Mauer’s been better this year than in recent years. Fans need to accept what he is now offensively and stop worrying about his contract and such. What he needs to do is continue getting on base (same with Robbie Grossman), and continue to come up big with runners in scoring position as he has his whole career, even in the down years. His ability to play first base so well has saved several errors already, and he should continue to keep extra base runners from getting on.

Brian Dozier isn’t having the same season success as he did in 2016, but the last week, he has taken off. Really, since the All-Star Game, he has been very good again. We’ve seen what he can do when he’s hot, so what if he’s got another two-months of being on fire left in him? What would that mean for the Twins?



If all of that, or even several of those things, can happen in the final 50 games, then Jason Castro and Chris Gimenez can focus on their defense and working with the pitchers. Any offense will be a bonus from them, so hopefully they can at least work counts and take a lot of pitches.

The offense has a chance to come up big through the final two months. But it will obviously be the pitching that needs to step it up for the Twins to have a chance at a playoff berth.

We need to hope that Ervin Santana pitches like he did in April and May and not like he did in June. We need to hope the Bartolo Colon has seven or eight more good starts left in his 44-year-old arm. We need to hope that Kyle Gibson can pitch like he did in 2015 for the rest of the season. We need to hope that Adalberto Mejia can come back healthy. And if not, someone will need to step it up, whether that’s Dietrich Enns or Dillon Gee or Stephen Gonsalves or Fernando Romero or some combination of them.

And the bullpen will need to find its way to success. There were a lot of struggles early in the season, but Taylor Rogers and Brandon Kintzler were fantastic. Well, with the one-week exception right before the trade deadline.

Rogers will need to get back to his dominant self in the eighth innings. Matt Belisle will need to continue “pulling a Kintzler” in the ninth innings. And after that, guys will just have to step it up in their roles. Maybe that means more Trevor Hildenberger in the seventh and eighth innings. Maybe it’s trusting Alan Busenitz. Having a Dillon Gee-like long-relief option could be important, at least until rosters expand in September. Being able to use Buddy Boshers only against left-handers will also be helpful, though when he does face right-handers, he’ll need to find a way to get them out.

Listen. A lot of things would have to go right for the Twins to just get that second wild card spot. Is that worth getting excited about? Would you be excited about a one-game playoff game against the New York Yankees? I would be. I am.

I just wrote about 2,100 words, trying to show that there are many reasons, and admittedly many What Ifs, to be excited about the Twins. I’m thrilled that we have a team to watch that is competitive. I’m thrilled and excited to see what happens in the final 50 games. If I were a Twins fan (and I have been for at least 36 of my years - I don’t remember the first six years too well), I’d be excited about what could be.

But as we’ve seen a couple of times in the last month, in another week, the situation could change completely again. Then they could be sellers again.

I look at it like this. The Twins didn’t have Garcia when they put themselves in a position to be buyers. So, trading him is a loss, and yet it put them right where they were a week earlier, roster-wise. Losing Kintzler takes a really good pitcher out of the bullpen rotation. It may hurt. It might. But, had he (or any other key piece of the team) got hurt and went on the DL, it would be similar. Someone would have had to step into those roles. And the phrase “Step it up” applies again.

And maybe it took a trade to push some players. They’re major leaguers. They shouldn’t need extra motivation, but if that’s what it was, I’m fine with that.


Right now the Twins are a .500 team, but they’re on a four-game winning streak. It’s OK to be excited again.

  • pbrezeasap, Mike Frasier Law, rcfarmer and 11 others like this

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59 Comments

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Don Walcott
Aug 10 2017 05:08 AM
I'm excited. We're still in it. The other teams vying for a wildcard spot all have their problems as well. And we're scoring runs without Sano, We could be a very tough team to beat if Sano starts hitting, and if the rest of the team keeps it up.

I am very concerned about the closer situation. I like Belisle, but I don't see any way he can continue closing games.
    • glunn likes this

I am not excited, but enjoying the ride.  No anticipation of playoffs, but glad to be competitive.  No I would not engage in more buying.  What I wonder about is the messages that players perceive from FO moves.  I liked your insights on the clubhouse after Garcia and Kinzler and I wonder how the young pitchers we have in the minors feel about all the trash pitching we have had in MLB while they continue to wait.  And now Enns comes in and immediately moves in ahead of them. 

    • Jerr, Mike Sixel, Oldgoat_MN and 4 others like this
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theBOMisthebomb
Aug 10 2017 06:33 AM
If a team can get into the postseason anything can happen. Let's get the second Wild Card spot and then see how far we can ride Santana, Berrios, and Colon. Stranger things have happened than those three having postseason success.
    • Seth Stohs, gunnarthor, pbrezeasap and 4 others like this
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theBOMisthebomb
Aug 10 2017 06:33 AM
Yes, it is ok to be excited. Also, it is wise to have realistic expectations.
    • Thrylos, Blake, brvama and 6 others like this
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theBOMisthebomb
Aug 10 2017 06:33 AM
A nice first step to a playoff push is to complete the four game sweep against the Brewers.
    • Jerr likes this
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Original Whizzinator
Aug 10 2017 06:36 AM
Enns was further along and entrenched in AAA when we got him.

The Twins were out of it when Dozier went on his tear last year.

 

The Twins are in it this year and Dozier looks to be heating up.

 

It could be an interesting ride down the stretch.

    • pbrezeasap, gil4, James and 3 others like this

 

I am not excited, but enjoying the ride.  No anticipation of playoffs, but glad to be competitive.  No I would not engage in more buying.  What I wonder about is the messages that players perceive from FO moves.  I liked your insights on the clubhouse after Garcia and Kinzler and I wonder how the young pitchers we have in the minors feel about all the trash pitching we have had in MLB while they continue to wait.  And now Enns comes in and immediately moves in ahead of them. 

 

I'm glad that the front office isn't pushing Gonsalves and Romero too fast. Gonsalves has 28 starts above A ball. Romero only has 22. Neither has tasted AAA yet. They're part of the 2018 Twins, not the 2017 Twins. If we get a cameo in September that's great but guys like Gee and Enns are better for this year. The big picture has to still matter - the goal isn't one improbable wild card berth, it's competing for a decade.

    • pbrezeasap, brvama, rcfarmer and 6 others like this

Also, Kintzler was fine but he isn't some dominant reliever you can't replace. The Twins have some fun internal options who may be just as good. Still a good trade.

    • caninatl04 likes this

Thanks, Seth. Now I'm a little more pumped for the "Final 50". Hoping we can find ourselves and maybe go 30-20. Or at least get going good enough to get to the Wild Card game. 

    • Jerr and Oldgoat_MN like this

 

I am very concerned about the closer situation. I like Belisle, but I don't see any way he can continue closing games.

 

I believe this is what we all said about Brandon Kintzler for the last 14-15 months or so. Belisle certainly doesn't profile as an elite closer... but he's a good pitcher. Even if things go well for him down the stretch, he'll blow one or two, like all closers. The key will be how he bounces back from a blown save. He's 3-3 so far... 

    • bluechipper, dbminn, howieramone2 and 2 others like this

 

Yes, it is ok to be excited. Also, it is wise to have realistic expectations.

 

No question... this team is flawed, and for all of the positive "could be's' that I mentioned, the exact opposite could happen. But, it just feels like Twins fans have kind of talked themselves out of 2017 hope, and I look at it as Why not keep optimistic as long as possible! And, be excited and hopeful.

 

But I agree that they should also be realistic and not give up the farm for anything either. There's certainly a fine line there somewhere.

    • ChiTownTwinsFan likes this

 

I'm glad that the front office isn't pushing Gonsalves and Romero too fast. Gonsalves has 28 starts above A ball. Romero only has 22. Neither has tasted AAA yet. They're part of the 2018 Twins, not the 2017 Twins. If we get a cameo in September that's great but guys like Gee and Enns are better for this year. The big picture has to still matter - the goal isn't one improbable wild card berth, it's competing for a decade.

 

I agree with your last sentence. That absolutely should be the focus... But they're there, and they're close now. 

 

I don't know if I agree with you on Gee and Enns being better for this year. That very well may be true, and logically, I think it's accurate...But we don't know how good Gee can or will be, and we don't know how Enns will handle tonight (or subsequent starts). Likewise, we don't know how Gonsalves or Romero would handle the big leagues, much less a playoff race either. Could be great. Could be good. Could be bad. No way to know either way. But I think I agree with the logic of the decisions on Gee and Enns. And the front office will adjust the roster accordingly pending results.

 

    • MN_ExPat likes this

I'm excited to see where everything goes this season. They could get into the wild card spot with a couple breaks going their way, and a one game playoff would be the most exciting Twins game in years.

 

Win or lose, I can see the team moving forward in a positive direction. Absolutely, there are parts that need to be changed to become a top team, but a push for the playoffs would be a lot of fun.

Whether or not playoff success happens this year, and I'll leave that term undefined, these young guys need this. I'm not sure these guys would ever win anything if they rolled over and died.

One of my best memories ever is road tripping to the Grand Canyon on the last day of the 2006 season, listening to baseball the whole way. If they can stay in this five-to-seven team race for the next six weeks, it would be more fun than being a Dodger or Astro fan.
    • Vanimal46 and MN_ExPat like this

It is August 10th and we are speaking of the Twins being 1.5 GB. of a playoff spot!They have certainly had many ups/downs which is typical in a traditional baseball season.They are giving fans a reason to at least remain engaged.For those of us on Twins Daily great cordial debate on what they should/should not do etc.For me I see a team that is internally on a mission for themselves to prove to each other they are a good baseball team.Certainly not a great team but a team that is going to bust it hard in how they play.They didn't fold the tents in after that West Coast trip and the moves the FO made.I think that is part of their motivation inside the clubhouse.Hopefully we can continue to enjoy a great ride for the next 50 games!It would be fantastic if the last 10 games or so were a legit playoff atmosphere.

 

WIN TWINS

    • brvama, bluechipper, CUtomorrownight and 2 others like this
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puckstopper1
Aug 10 2017 08:00 AM

 

Yes, it is ok to be excited. Also, it is wise to have realistic expectations.

Yes - this!

    • Thrylos likes this

It's always acceptable for fans to be excited.

 

should they be buyers, you ask?

 

Well, for one, bats are going for 10 cents on teh dollar right now, compared to pitchers. There have been a lot of words written about that on line.....if they could add a legit DH for their 20-30th ranked player in low A ball, I'd do it. (frankly, I'd call up Garver and see if he can do it). I'm not convinced there is a RP that is better than what they have available right now. 

 

I'd consider trading for Verlander or such type player, but I don't think the Tigers are going to eat salary enough to make it worth giving up legit prospects, and I don't think teams are trading legit prospects for him....

    • markos, Blackjack, DocBauer and 4 others like this

It's always ok to be excited about the Twins - that's why we're all here! :)

    • markos and IndyTwinsFan like this

That said, I don't think our situation is very different than any time in the past month. We're capable of making the playoffs, but only if everything goes right, and there are so many holes in the roster. I'm enjoying being in contention, but I won't be disappointed if we don't make it.

 

Keep giving young guys playing time and see who sticks. And if we can make a waiver trade for a non-propsect, like the Jay Bruce trade, absolutely do it.

    • Dman and caninatl04 like this
As long as they are not in the division race, they should be "measured" buyers or "measured" sellers. We're still a building team that seems to be just past the rebuilding team phase. Sell carefully the parts that are not going to be part of a run and buy pieces that will be. This seems to have been the deadline approach and should continue to be so. If surplus can be sold for long term control of assets, then a bigger deal can be made. Until then, we will probably only see Garcia or Kinzler type moves
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Tom Froemming
Aug 10 2017 08:15 AM

It's pretty easy to look at the pitching staff and predict doom and gloom, but on the flip side, what would happen if Mauer and/or Buxton got hot right now? Polanco's outburst so far this month has dramatically changed the offense and extended the lineup. If those two get rolling and Dozier stays hot, this team is going to be very difficult to beat.

 

Joe has been getting on base, but he's been really slumping with the stick. Over the last four weeks he's hit .194/.371/.239 (.610 OPS). Buxton is hitting just .222/.300/.259 (.559 OPS) since returning from the DL. 

 

But in order to stay in the race, they'll have to start playing better on the road again. The Twins have one of the softer schedules down the stretch, but 29 of these last 50 games will be played away from Target Field. They got off to a great start on the road, going 20-8 over their first five road trips, but are 9-14 since.

 

The very end of the season is particularly road heavy, as 10 of their last 13 games will be away games (3 at NYY, 4 at DET, 3 at CLE).

    • caninatl04 likes this

I can almost not handle the past 4 weeks.

 

troy-barnes-emotions.gif?w=650&h=330

 

 

Gotta keep those expectations in check though.I've said it before, and maybe just to myself, that hovering around .500 and improving individually and as a team is a-ok with my for this season. 

 

Meaningful baseball in Aug-Sept-Oct is good experience for the young guys.

    • gunnarthor, Blackjack, Willihammer and 3 others like this

Cleveland and Arizona next week. Not as bad as Houston/Dodgers but not like facing the White Sox for a week.A week of angst followed by a week of hope.

To get to 85 wins (which is worse than any wildcard team since the most recent format changes), the Twins need to go 29-21 over their last 50 games. That works out to a 94-win pace for an entire season, and is two wins better than any 50-game stretch they've had this year.

    • caninatl04 and rhaggstrom like this

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