The Show Must Go On: Deadline Decisions
Image courtesy of MLB The Show 20, SonyTo get caught up on what we're doing here, you can check out the introductory post in the series for an explanation of the premise and setup. But the quick version is this: We're playing a progressive simulated Twins season on MLB The Show 20 on PS4, and y'all are helping guide the ship. In each installment I'll update you on what's happened since the last, and put at least one key decision up for vote.
Date In Game: 7/27
Team Record: 62-46
Leading OPS: Luis Arraez (.918 in 329 AB)
Leading ERA (SP): Kenta Maeda (3.36 in 128.2 IP)
Leading ERA (RP): Tyler Duffey (1.52 in 47.1 IP)
LATEST RESULTS (4-6)
Gm 99 @ TEX: L 3-2 (Berrios 7 IP, 2 ER)
Gm 100 @ TEX: W 5-0 (Odorizzi 6 IP, 0 R, W)
Gm 101 @ TEX: L 7-1 (Maeda 5 IP, 5 ER, L)
Gm 102 @ ARI: L 7-2 (Bailey 4.1 IP, 6 ER, L)
Gm 103 @ ARI: L 6-0 (Pineda 4 IP, 5 ER, L)
Gm 104 @ ARI: W 4-2 (Arraez pinch-hit GW single)
Gm 105 vs CWS: W 7-3 (Odorizzi 7 IP, 0 ER, W)
Gm 106 vs CWS: L 2-0 (Sano, Kepler, Rosario: 0-13)
Gm 107 vs CWS: L 6-4 (Bailey 4.1 IP, 4 ER, L)
Gm 108 vs CWS: W 6-3 (Arraez 3-3, 2 RBI)
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
Our Twins rode a hot streak into the All-Star break but have stumbled a bit on the other side, dropping six of 10 games while Cleveland went 7-3 to pull back into a first-place tie.
Naturally, right after I said last time that the offense was fine and we needed to address pitching, the units flip-flopped over these 10 games. The rotation delivered several outstanding performances while the lineup sputtered, scoring two or fewer runs five times including a pair of shutouts – one a complete game by Arizona's Madison Bumgarner, the other a collective effort from Chicago led by Gio Gonzalez. Our team seems to have some issues with lefties?
The tough stretch puts us back under the gun as the trade deadline arrives and Cleveland shows no signs of relenting. We are at a pivotal moment in the season. The next three series on the schedule, all at home: Dodgers, Astros, Indians. Titans are about to clash at Target Field, and we need to power up for it. I've been exploring possible deals to add starting pitching, and will run through the possibilities shortly, but first wanted to mention that we were offered a trade by another team.
The Angels, running away with the AL West and leading the majors in wins (71), interestingly came calling for Jose Berrios. Their offer was enough of a nonstarter that I went ahead and rejected without even bringing it up here for a vote.
Now, I will say that if the Twins were out of contention, this might be a deal worth considering. Canning is a legitimately good young pitcher with many years of cheap team control. Jones is a solid prospect. Anderson is a reliever with a big arm. And the Twins would benefit financially from this trade.
But the idea that our first-place club would trade its best starter to the only AL team with a better record, in exchange for prospects, is laughable. Nice try Billy Eppler, but no dice.
Berrios, for one. Which makes the above trade offer all the more easily dismissed. Berrios delivered a pair of quality starts and dating back to the beginning of June, he has now delivered eight of them in nine starts while posting a 2.24 ERA over 64 1/3 innings. Berrios has his ERA for the season down to 3.38, trailing rotation leader Kenta Maeda (3.36) by just a hair.
Jake Odorizzi has been a bit more up-and-down this summer, but he too came racing out of the gates in the second half, firing 13 scoreless innings against the Rangers and Diamondbacks. His ERA now sits at 3.42, so the top three starters are all right in the same neighborhood.
Offensively it's been a bit of a trudge, with the typical exception of Arraez. Among AL players he trails only Mike Trout in average (.334) and on-base percentage (.432), and the second baseman's latest sample included a crucial pinch-hit two-run single in the ninth to help Minnesota avoid a sweep in Arizona.
Plenty of hitters, but that's not my concern right now. The biggest problem on this team has become Homer Bailey, who's managed to collect 10 wins despite mostly pitching rather terribly. His struggles have gotten out of hand lately; in the most recent stretch, he went 0-2 in his two starts while failing to get through five innings in either. Add in his clunker against Toronto just ahead of the All-Star break, and Bailey has coughed up 16 earned runs on 20 hits in 11 1/3 innings over his past three turns, with as many walks (7) as strikeouts (7).
For most of the first half, he was a decent enough stopgap for the back of the rotation. But it's clear that he needs to be replaced. Let's see how we might go about that ...
DECISION TIME: PULLING THE TRIGGER ON A BLOCKBUSTER
In our last edition, voters dictated that starting pitching would be our top priority in terms of deadline upgrades. Following this direction, I've made some inquiries around the league and come up with four proposals that I think we could get through. I've arranged them here into tiers of magnitude, and you can vote for your favorite(s) in the comments section.
Tier 1: Trade LF Eddie Rosario and SP Jordan Balazovic to Rays for LHP Blake Snell
From my cursory exploration of the market, Snell seems to be the best pitcher that could feasibly be had. I'm not exactly sure why the Rays would be compelled to trade him, but, you know. It is the Rays. And they'd be getting back a nice haul.
The Upside: Snell is an ace. Perhaps the very one we need. His ERA in 122 2/3 innings with the Rays this year is 3.52, which puts him in the same range as our current top three, but Snell's rating in the game (93) is vastly higher than any current Twins starter (Berrios, Odorrizi and Maeda are all 81s). Best of all, Snell is 27 and under reasonable team control for four years.
The Downside: Losing Rosario and Balazovic would hurt, a lot, both now and in the future. Rosario is tied with Donaldson, Rogers and Sano as the highest-rated Twin (85). Rosie's been a crucial piece of the lineup with 16 homers and 67 RBIs. Meanwhile, Balazovic is already our organization's fourth-highest rated starting pitcher (75) and he's a 21-year-old rookie. (With 72 strikeouts in his first 68 MLB innings, I might add.) Balazovic is certainly the key to this deal in Tampa's eyes and I'd be wary of moving him.
Tier 2: Trade CF Byron Buxton and RF Alex Kirilloff to Mets for RHP Noah Syndergaard
Naturally, I went to revisit this fizzled discussion from the 2019 deadline. New York's demands haven't changed much since then: They want a star-caliber center fielder (Buxton) and another top-tier prospect for their flame-throwing righty. In real life, I'd view this Buxton + Kirilloff package as far more indispensable than the Rosario + Balazovic package proposed above, but in our virtual sim world, that's not so clear.
The Upside: Syndergaard's UCL is intact in the game. So that's a plus. Not only is he healthy, Thor has been up to his usual tricks, with a 3.06 ERA and 120-to-37 K/BB ratio in 118 innings for the Mets. And while giving up Buxton and Kirilloff might seem like a hard pill to swallow, both are (IMO) a bit underrated in the game, and both are relatively replaceable, with Max Kepler able to play center and Trevor Larnach alongside Kirilloff at Triple-A.
The Downside: Syndergaard's got a lower rating (87) than Snell, though he'd still instantly become our best player. Thor is also due for free agency at year's end, meaning we would be giving up Buxton and Kirilloff for a rental. We can certainly try to re-sign Syndergaard, but budgetary constraints are a thing. Then again, it's a video game so who really cares about the future?
Tier 3: Trade SS Nick Gordon, SP Devin Smeltzer, and SP Griffin Jax to Tigers for LHP Matthew Boyd
A good ol' quantity-for-quality trade. Since Boyd's name has frequently been the subject of trade rumors, I went and inquired about him, and it seems he could be had for a palatable prospect package.
The Upside: We're not really giving up anything that hurts too much, and Boyd's a solid arm, with an 82 overall rating that edges any current Twins starter. He's arbitration eligible for two more years after 2020.
The Downside: It's a big step down from the two game-changing options above. And while Boyd is rated well, his performance this year hasn't backed it up: He's 6-12 with a 4.80 ERA in 22 starts.
Tier 4: Trade SS Nick Gordon and SP Tyler Wells to Dodgers for LHP Alex Wood
Among starting pitchers that are actually on the trading block, Wood is the best available. Since he's being shopped, I figured the lefty might be available for a smallish return and, yep, that is the case.
The Upside: Not giving up much, and Wood's having himself a year, with his 2.53 ERA through 20 starts ranking third-best in the National League. Sorta begs the question of why the first-place Dodgers are trying to trade him, but that's not for me to worry about.
The Downside: His overall rating is 81, so while he'd be a clear improvement over Bailey (73), Wood is just another guy at the same tier as Berrios, Odorizzi, and Maeda. He probably helps us win a few more games in the regular season, but does he make a difference in the playoffs?
I'll list these four proposals in the comments. Whichever one gets the most support, that's the trade we'll make. And I'm not opposed to swinging multiple deals.
7/28 vs LAD
7/29 vs LAD
7/31 vs HOU
8/1 vs HOU
8/2 vs HOU
8/3 vs CLE
8/4 vs CLE
8/5 vs CLE
Part 1: We Can Build This Thing Together (0-0)
Part 2: 10 Games In, 6 Games Back (4-6)
Part 3: Roaring Back (11-9)
Part 4: Over the Hill (17-13)
Part 5: Checking In at the Quarter Point (23-17)
Part 6: Rising Power (30-20)
Part 7: First Place! (Barely) (34-26)
Part 8: Drafting and Dropping (38-32)
Part 9: Cruz Control (45-35)
Part 10: Pulling Ahead (52-38)
Part 11: Bashing into the All-Star Break (58-40)
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