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Twins Minor League Talk Today, 12:10 AM
Article:   https://www.nzherald...jectid=12286274   He was in New Zealand preparing to play for the Auckland Tuatara in the Aus...
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Front Page: Offseason Blueprint: Bet the Farm

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:07 PM
As much as I would like to design my offseason blueprint around the Twins pushing all of their chips into the middle of the table and upp...
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Sign Yasmani Grandal, be open to trading Nelson Cruz if M...

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 10:49 PM
Mitch Garver had a tremendous home run rate in 2019. If he is anything close in 2020 to the hitter he was in 2019, the Twins' have a spec...
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NYT Lists MiLB Teams Targeted For Extinctio

Twins Minor League Talk Yesterday, 10:15 PM
Emily Waldon Tweeted out a link to a New York Times article that lists the 42 minor league teams that have been targeted for extinction b...
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Front Page: Offseason Blueprint: Spending Every Penny

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 06:18 PM
Jim Pohlad has had it up to here with you people. After checking his burner twitter account (@matthew_btwins) and once again seeing someo...
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The Hazy Future of Fernando Romero

When it comes to the Twins bullpen and its deficiencies, you can accuse the front office of poor planning. But you can't accuse them of a lack of planning.

They had an – altogether defensible – plan for late-inning coverage. It just so happens three pieces of that plan fell through, and one misfire in particular leaves Minnesota in the lurch while trying to plan for the future.
Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
In mostly bypassing the reliever free agent market (a wise enough choice, in retrospect) the Twins envisioned a bullpen whose back-end would be powered by the likes of Taylor Rogers, Trevor May, Addison Reed, Trevor Hildenberger, and Fernando Romero, with other options to emerge during the course of the year.

In some ways, this blueprint has come to fruition. Rogers is one of the most valuable relievers in baseball. May, outside of a few hiccups, has been a dominant force. As for those those other quality contributors developing on the fringes? We've seen plenty: Ryne Harper, Zack Littell, Tyler Duffey, and so on.

But the almost total lack of impact from Reed, Hildenberger and Romero has left a sizable late-inning void that the team is struggling to fill.

Like I said, you can call it the result of poor planning. Reed gave us little reason to believe he'd be an asset this year, but I can't fault the team for attempting to extract some semblance of value from their $16 million investment. (I also credit them for quickly moving on as it became apparent he wasn't up to the task.) While Hildenberger was rough in the second half last year, he had been a lights-out high-leverage fireman before.

And Romero? This was the boldest and most audacious bet of them all – taking the best pitching prospect in the system, and fast-tracking him into a bullpen role where he could maximize his stuff and bolster a unit in need. But from the jump, this experiment was ill-fated.

Romero looked brutal in spring training, prompting the Twins to abandon their original plan and send him to the minors. The hope was he'd acclimate, gain confidence, and join the Minnesota bullpen in short order. This didn't happen.

After four appearances at Triple-A, the Twins recalled Romero. He stuck around for three weeks but looked ordinary. He went back down for a month, and returned to make a single appearance, facing the Mariners on June 13th. Romero started the eighth, gave up two hits and two walks without recording an out, and was returned to Rochester. He hasn't resurfaced since.

As we near the end of August, Reed is long gone. Hildenberger is on the rehab trail (and looking promising). Romero, meanwhile, is in limbo. Over the past two months back at Triple-A, he's been totally unremarkable, posting a 4.18 ERA and 1.71 WHIP in 28 innings while yielding a .261/.374/.342 slash line. To his credit he's limiting the big knocks (just one homer and six extra-base hits during this span) but his control continues to suffer, and he's not getting anywhere near the number of whiffs you look for from a big hard-thrower out of the pen.

This stall-out doesn't spell doom for Romero. Twins fans know better by now than to form definitive conclusions about a talented young player who hasn't yet turned 25. But unfortunately, patience is ceasing to be a luxury the team can afford. Next spring he'll be out of options, meaning Minnesota will need to either carry him out of camp or expose him to waivers (where he wouldn't make it far, I imagine).

One might say, "The reliever transition has failed, move him back to starter." Which sounds fine, except... they can't send him to Triple-A and have him readjust to that role. Does anyone feel comfortable with Romero (who by the way has never put together a complete season as a starter) in the Twins rotation right out of the gate next year? Is there any legitimate reason to think a guy who can't silence minor-league hitters as a reliever is suddenly going to be an effective MLB starter?

Romero's inexplicably sluggish performance this season leaves the Twins in a tough spot when it comes to planning for 2020 and beyond. The reason it's worth talking about now is that the front office faces a pivotal decision in the week ahead. Next Sunday, rosters will expand for September call-ups. One day later, Rochester plays its final game of the regular season.

Under normal circumstances (at least, normal for the past nine years), calling up Romero would essentially be a no-brainer. Development is the utmost concern, so you get him a few more opportunities and let him work with the big-league coaches, hopefully building some kind of confidence to carry forward.

But now? The Twins are in a tight division race. They can't afford to give innings to someone they can't trust. And if their handling of him this year makes one thing clear, it's that they don't trust Romero to pitch important innings for them right now.

Will be they be able to trust him to do so next year? They're running out of time, and chances, to inform that decision.

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45 Comments

You nicely articulated the frustration of Romero.

 

I've always gone the old school route of not giving up on a potential #3 starter or higher (sending to the bullpen) until you are sure it won't work out.

 

And I didn't think we were close to that point yet when he was sent to the bullpen (yes he had high pitch counts and was inconsistent but he flashed more potential than Berrios did during his first few MLB tries).

 

That being said, times have changed....

 

If he had truly developed into a fireman with the ability for 2 shut down innings whenever the opposing team was getting too frisky, none of us would be peering down the retro-spectoscope today.

 

...and that seemed realistic when the experiment began.

 

If forced, I vote for starter or bust. Some simply have a starter mentality. Plus, we need to know we are not giving up on a great starter before we let him go.

 

If we prove he is not a starter, let him go, and he becomes an above average reliever for a few years down the line....I can live with that but not proving that he is not a reliever only for him to find himself as a starter elsewhere.

 

One last thing...."May, outside of a few hiccups, has been a dominant force." 

 

I'm not sure that is how opposing scouts have described him to their teams this year

 

 

    • birdwatcher, brvama, mikelink45 and 4 others like this

"his stall-out doesn't spell doom for Romero. Twins fans know better by now than to form definitive conclusions about a talented young player who hasn't yet turned 25." Have they?Have they?   

    • Riverbrian and howieramone2 like this
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AlwaysinModeration
Aug 26 2019 07:46 PM
I still want to see him start. He’s had a mediocre year. All is not lost. In some ways I’m glad he’s out of options next year, as they will be forced to give him a chance to make it in the bigsz
Not sure I remember many names from the list of bad relievers that became good starters. I would consider that more a hope than a plan. Meanwhile, the Twins should be as patient as they can with Romero, but think he needs to figure out how to get guys out from the bullpen before I’d be pushing him back to a starting role.
    • Otwins, Old Twins Cap, Dman and 2 others like this

Yeah... things aren't looking good. At this point you just have to hope he can hit the reset button over the offseason and hope for the best...

 

I wonder... would Romero have any trade value over the offseason? Like, as a reclamation project? I know they wouldn't get much for him, but they may have to DFA him next Spring and get less for him then... I doubt this happens, but it's a possibility. More likely is that he would be a throw-in on a offseason trade for a starting pitcher (headlined by a much better prospect, of course).

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Old Twins Cap
Aug 26 2019 08:28 PM

 

Not sure I remember many names from the list of bad relievers that became good starters. I would consider that more a hope than a plan.

 

Have to agree with this.

 

Typical route for young pitchers is to start in the bullpen, get MLB experience, earn your stripes, build your repertoire, then step in to starting. That's how the Cardinals do it, that's how Santana did it with the Twins.

 

Believing that, after a big step back as a prospect, somehow, Romero will pull a Rumplestiltskin and turn himself from straw into gold, man, that's mistaking a fairy tale for real life.

    • Dman, IndyTwinsFan and MN_ExPat like this
Can we EVER trade a player, either a prospect or a rental, at their peak value? Another blue chipper with almost no value. With no options, he can't even be shuttled. If he couldn't be shuttled this year, there's no reason to think he can stick next season without clogging the shuttle. Kohl Stewart is more valuable. He's never thrown as hard as advertised. His k/9 looks ok because his whip is pedestrian. His K% never matched the hype. He's very hittable and doesn't miss enough bats. His debut was amazing. Don't know what's happened to his control since.
    • Mike Sixel likes this

Both Romero and Gonsalves have become dead wood in the system. How much stock do you put that you could carry either on the roster next year and they would produce better than anyone else "behind" them in the pecking order, but suddenly ahead. The Twins have Stewart and Thorpe and Poppen and Stashak and Dobnak and Littell and Smeltzer all holding 40-man sports and a better chance of making the Twins than two prime prospects from the past (with no trade value). 

 

Which kinda makes the trade deadline lackluster for a team that HAS too many players to protect come 2020 or 2021 and not enough spots. You talk about losing Romero to waivers if he doesn't make the team out of spring training. Hell, you could cut him in late October and still lose him, too. Or trade him for anotehr low level prospect.

 

Or hope he has seen the light and him and Gonsalves will take one of the MANY open spots this team will have in the rotation OR bullpen in 2020.

 

So, yes, there is still hope.

 

I would suggest, because he has been hurt and he is a south paw, that Gonzlvez has more upside than Stewart.  He is likely to be DFA's this off season (Stewart).

 

Still hopefully on Romero, but agree I think he should be put back in as a starter.  I mean we have no clue how our 5 will look next year...besides Jose.

Next spring he'll be out of options, meaning Minnesota will need to either carry him out of camp or expose him to waivers (where he wouldn't make it far, I imagine).


Romero won't be out of options next spring -- per Jeremy Nygaard, Romero will qualify for a 4th option year:

http://twinsdaily.co...th-option-r7741

Fernando Romero is in line for a fourth option in 2020, if the need arises. As 2016 was his first professional season and he was added to the 40-man that off-season, Romero ran through three options (2017, 2018 and 2019) in his first four seasons. That allows him to be sent on optional assignment next season.

    • Brock Beauchamp, Nick Nelson, SwainZag and 7 others like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Aug 27 2019 05:50 AM

I'm not sure the pen was ever the right answer here. We seem too quick to take a promising starter and turn them into a reliever. Romero has been a pretty good prospect for years now and was pretty decent in MLB at first too... He's gotten results and seems to have the stuff.. but man did the wheels fall off...

 

I'm going to chalk some of it up to a lost season and hope that he turns things around next year and regain that status. We're going to need pitching next season, and while I don't want 3 spots in the rotation left to rookies, I think one of them will probably go there... and we'll need depth if someone fails. 

    • brvama, mikelink45, SF Twins Fan and 1 other like this

Imagine three years ago what the Twins could have gotten for a Romero, Gonzo, Jay and Stewart package.

Hence why I am almost always for trading prospects for proven players.

 

At this point, I find it hard for more than one minor league stater to be given a chance to start at the beginning of next year, no way they take a playoff team this year and try to run out two or three rookie starters and if they do it seems like a shuttle for one spot.

Which mean Gonzo probably is done as a twin and Romero better figure out how to pitch out of the pen.

    • USAFChief, birddog, Minny505 and 1 other like this

The team mishandled Romero.Whatever the reason the adjustment became more than physical.That is a shame.Looking ahead - Stewart, Gonsalves, Smeltzer, Dobnak do not look like good answers to next years questions.Only Thorpe has the real potential.Smeltzer was a short term sensation, but does not have what is needed for a full season. We have an abundance of mediocre so the front office needs a real plan - can Graterol be reliever of starter?Will Alcala be in the pen?Do they resign Pineda, Odorizzi, or Gibson? We do still have Perez (potentially). 

 

Is this a rotation that we can look forward to in 2020?

Berrios

Pineda

Thorpe

Graterol

Perez

 

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SF Twins Fan
Aug 27 2019 07:31 AM

 

The team mishandled Romero.Whatever the reason the adjustment became more than physical.That is a shame.Looking ahead - Stewart, Gonsalves, Smeltzer, Dobnak do not look like good answers to next years questions.Only Thorpe has the real potential.Smeltzer was a short term sensation, but does not have what is needed for a full season. We have an abundance of mediocre so the front office needs a real plan - can Graterol be reliever of starter?Will Alcala be in the pen?Do they resign Pineda, Odorizzi, or Gibson? We do still have Perez (potentially). 

 

Is this a rotation that we can look forward to in 2020?

Berrios

Pineda

Thorpe

Graterol

Perez

 

 

That would be a terrible rotation to start next season.I can understand bringing back Pineda and or Odorizzi to be your third / fourth starter but they need someone equally as good as Berrios at the top for this team to have a legit shot at the World Series.

    • birddog, IndyTwinsFan and Marzen 2018 like this

 

The team mishandled Romero.Whatever the reason the adjustment became more than physical.That is a shame.Looking ahead - Stewart, Gonsalves, Smeltzer, Dobnak do not look like good answers to next years questions.Only Thorpe has the real potential.Smeltzer was a short term sensation, but does not have what is needed for a full season. We have an abundance of mediocre so the front office needs a real plan - can Graterol be reliever of starter?Will Alcala be in the pen?Do they resign Pineda, Odorizzi, or Gibson? We do still have Perez (potentially). 

 

Is this a rotation that we can look forward to in 2020?

Berrios

Pineda

Thorpe

Graterol

Perez

No chance they can go into next year with an injury prone Pineda, two rookies and a 5th starter that the fans have been begging to be moved to the pen basically most of the year.

 

I expect there to be rumors for Cole, but they will be out bid on him. There will be talk for Bumgarner but again will not come to fruition.

My thoughts are they will end up with Wheeler.

    • SF Twins Fan and wabene like this

 

No chance they can go into next year with an injury prone Pineda, two rookies and a 5th starter that the fans have been begging to be moved to the pen basically most of the year.

 

I expect there to be rumors for Cole, but they will be out bid on him. There will be talk for Bumgarner but again will not come to fruition.

My thoughts are they will end up with Wheeler.

I hope we can make a move that is better than Perez was last year.I agree this is not a rotation for a contending team.

Littell has only allowed a run to score in 1 of his last 17 MLB appearances. He was excellent vs Texas recently. Any thoughts on his future, as a starter? Reliever?
    • wabene likes this

I don't understand what happened to Romero.He was lights out in AA until the end of the season two years ago and a year ago he was OK in AAA I wouldn't say he was dominant there and he got a taste of MLB ball and was sensational a couple of games and then hit hard.Whatever he is throwing isn't fooling anyone anymore.

 

It seemed like he always had stamina problems coming up and many scouts pegged him as a reliever.I agree with that assessment.I mean in the upper levels he wasn't a great starter and the thought was that in the pen his heater would play up but that hasn't happened and he currently owns a 4.7 ERA and his FIP and XFIP essentially support those numbers.Right now unless something changes he just isn't that good.

 

I was hoping the new pitching coach we have was going to help him take that last leap but so far that hasn't happened.He has the velocity he just needs more movement or better control or something.His K rate in AAA is good right now but his WHIP is too high.He needs something else to get guys out with, to be more elite, if he doesn't find it soon he might have to try and find it somewhere else.

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MMMordabito
Aug 27 2019 08:44 AM

 

Littell has only allowed a run to score in 1 of his last 17 MLB appearances. He was excellent vs Texas recently. Any thoughts on his future, as a starter? Reliever?

 

It was either Morris or Blyleven that stated something about Littell's fastball not playing as a starter at this level.His off-speed offerings are good, but his fastball plays better in the bullpen where he can just let it fly and not worry about saving anything for the 3rd-6th innings.

 

With that said, I would be OK with FO planning that Littell will be one of the five core relievers next year.You have to leap with some of these guys, and I think Littell is a good bet.

 

Rogers, Dyson, Duffey, May, Littell is a good start for the 2019 bullpen.I would say they need to get another lefty, but is that really going to be important with the 3 batter rule?

 

 

    • Danchat, SF Twins Fan, wabene and 1 other like this
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Nick Nelson
Aug 27 2019 08:51 AM

 

Romero won't be out of options next spring -- per Jeremy Nygaard, Romero will qualify for a 4th option year:

http://twinsdaily.co...th-option-r7741
 

This is excellent news, thanks for adding. Twins still face a conundrum with Romero going forward but at least the urgency is diminished somewhat. 

    • ashbury, Danchat, IndyTwinsFan and 3 others like this
Roster resource on fangraphs has all the data you need on options....

As for Romero.... Exhibit A for trading prospects sometimes.... His lack of helping the team this year is definitely part of the bullpen problem. I got no answers for what to do, though
    • brvama and rdehring like this

Roster resource on fangraphs has all the data you need on options....


That is a great resource, although 4th option years are a tricky calculation, and they don't seem to be noted there (at least not until they are awarded/used, perhaps?).

https://www.fangraph...th-charts/twins
    • ashbury and Mike Sixel like this
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Only Here in Negative
Aug 27 2019 01:09 PM

 

Typical route for young pitchers is to start in the bullpen, get MLB experience, earn your stripes, build your repertoire, then step in to starting. That's how the Cardinals do it, that's how Santana did it with the Twins.

 

Believing that, after a big step back as a prospect, somehow, Romero will pull a Rumplestiltskin and turn himself from straw into gold, man, that's mistaking a fairy tale for real life.

 

As a reliever in 2000, Santana put up a 5.34 ERA and was pretty terrible. Granted that was as a Rule 5 guy but he wasn't much better the next year. It was year 3 he started showing that promise.

 

The issue is that the Twins may not have the luxury to carry Romero if it takes that long. Though with a 26 man roster next year, maybe that changes? Would hate to give up on his arm.

Stretch Romero out for the Arizona Fall League and send him there as a starter. Try him again as a starter in Spring Training and make adjustments as the Spring proceeds. I would like to see him get another chance to start but I also hoped May would get another chance. Moving starters to the bullpen too quickly has not proven consistently successful. This also gives me hesitation about Graterol...

    • nokomismod and gagu like this
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Parker Hageman
Aug 27 2019 01:31 PM

One thing I wanted to point out about Romero is that since his lower back injury, he has been working on shortening his arm action:

 

 

It could lead to more velocity and better command but so far in August, he's walked 12 batters in 12.1 innings pitched. That may be a byproduct of the adjustment. 

    • Nick Nelson, jorgenswest, brvama and 2 others like this

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