Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

The Forums

Cody’s Top 20 Twins Prospects: 11-15

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 01:29 PM
Not all organizations have prospect depth that stretches outside of their top-10 prospects. The Twins have multiple names on this list th...
Full topic ›

Could Dobnak be an All Star?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 01:27 PM
 Could Dobnak be an all star? With this terrific infield, I believe he could be. When Donaldson was in the line up Dobnak shine...
Full topic ›

Who’s the Top Twins Prospect? Alex Kirilloff vs. Royce Lewis

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 01:40 PM
Many teams would be ecstatic to have the likes of Alex Kirilloff and Royce Lewis headlining their farm system. For Twins fans, a debate c...
Full topic ›

Is Cruz a MUST signing? And what if he doesn't fit?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:22 PM
Let me state I love Cruz and want him back if possible. I not only believe he brings class, experience, knowledge and leadership to the t...
Full topic ›

FA Value Shopping

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 11:03 AM
Just for fun-here is 1 player at each position that might be worth the money and my contract estimates:   C- Sandy Leon 1 year/1.5 m...
Full topic ›

Recent Blogs

Why Did the Twins Let Liam Hendriks Go?

Liam Hendriks is back in the AL Central and that might not be good news for Minnesota Twins fans. Hendriks has evolved into arguably the game’s best relief pitcher over the last two seasons and now he has $54 million reasons to be excited about joining the Chicago White Sox. It wasn’t very long ago when Hendriks was a prospect in the Twins organization with a bright future ahead of him. So, let’s look back and see what happened between the Twins and Liam Hendriks.
Image courtesy of © Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Hendriks originally signed with the Twins in early 2007 as a teenager out of Australia. He’d make his professional debut with the GCL Twins and post a 2.05 ERA with a 1.18 WHIP while striking out 52 batters in 44 innings. That winter, he pitched for Australia in the final Olympic Qualification Tournament, but then he needed back surgery that cost him the entire 2008 campaign.

In 2009, he returned to the mound and the majority of his starts came at Low-A where he was nearly two years younger than the average age of the competition. For the season, he made 14 starts and posted a 3.55 ERA with a 1.29 WHIP. He was limited to fewer than 84 innings, but he struck out 75 and only walked 16 batters.

The 2010 season was his coming out party as he dominated both Low- and High-A on his way to flying up Twins prospect lists. He pitched over 100 innings for the first time in his career while posting a 1.74 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP. Hendriks posted career bests in strikeouts per nine, walks per nine, and hits per nine. At season’s end, Seth and I ranked him as the team’s third best pitching prospect even though he had yet to make his Double-A debut.

Minnesota didn’t mess around with Hendriks during the 2011 season and that was easy to do when the club was on their way to losing close to 100 games. The bulk of his innings came at Double-A and he was successful at that level by posting a 2.70 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. From there, the Twins pushed him to Triple-A and he allowed 25 earned runs in just over 49 innings. September wasn’t going to be pretty for the Twins, but Hendriks was still pushed to make his big-league debut. In four starts, he allowed 16 runs in 23 1/3 innings with a 16 to 6 strikeout to walk ratio.

Hendriks was still only 23-years old, so there was plenty of promise in his right arm. He dominated the next year during his time at Triple-A with a 2.20 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP. However, that performance didn’t translate to the big-league level as he struggled to post a 6.43 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP. As far as his time as a starter, it was getting close to being sink or swim time.

As a 24-year-old, Hendriks was not nearly as successful at Triple-A, but it was going to be hard to live up to his 2012 numbers. The 2013 season wound up being his final year in the Twins organization. He bounced around between Triple-A and the big leagues throughout the season even though the Twins were on their way to losing 96 games. Minnesota’s rotation that year included Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey, Scott Diamond, and Sam Deduno. Hendriks struggled, but it’s not like the team had a lot of big names blocking his path.

The Twins never gave Hendriks a shot in the bullpen and they designated him for assignment in December 2013 while he still had minor league options remaining. Minnesota was in the midst of a terrible run of baseball where the club lost 92+ games in six out of seven seasons. Maybe the front office thought he would sneak through waivers or maybe they didn’t think he could be successful in the bullpen. Either way it looks like the Twins missed out on one of baseball’s best relievers.

It’s not as if the Twins were the only organization that missed the boat on Hendriks. He spent the next few years bouncing between multiple organizations. The Cubs claimed him from the Twins and 10 days later the Orioles claimed him. He didn’t pitch for either of these organizations as he was claimed by Toronto in February 2014. He’d pitch parts of the next two seasons with the Blue Jays and the Royals before finally finding himself, literally and figuratively, in Oakland.

It’s hard to predict what path Hendriks would have taken had he stayed in Minnesota. Perhaps being designated for assignment that many times put a chip on his shoulder. He also might have needed to end up in Oakland for that club to find his magic spark on the mound. Either way, it seems like he will be causing headaches for Twins fans in the years to come.

What are your thoughts on the way Hendriks was handled by the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email

  • mickeymental and nclahammer like this

  • Share:
  • submit to reddit
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

24 Comments

He was DFA 4 times. He must have found the right pitching coach that finally unlocked his full potential.

    • ashbury, mickeymental, Vanimal46 and 2 others like this

I'd love to go in a time machine and tell everyone in 2013 that Hendriks would one day make the most $ per year for a reliever in 2021... that'd be a hard sell. There was no reason to believe that this type of turnaround was going to happen, so the decision to DFA him was fine. But when in doubt, try a failed starter in bullpen - you'll never know what will happen!

    • peterb18, Dman, DocBauer and 5 others like this

It's likely a combination of the right pitching coach and the right player mindset that flipped the switch in his career. Sometimes we need setbacks in life to re-set our frame of mind and willingness to truly give a different approach a try.

    • peterb18, DocBauer, arby58 and 2 others like this

I suspect that if the Twins had held onto him and kept him on the big league roster, there would have been plenty of 'fan discord' related to performance. Paging Aaron Hicks, who was sometimes painful to watch, particularly against right handed pitching. It's hard to blame the Twins on this one, just as it was hard to blame them for moving Lance Lynn. Unfortunately, they are both now in White Sox uniforms after figuring some things out.

    • peterb18 and dbminn like this
Terry Ryan.

Who knows what his mindset was at the time, either. Maybe he wasn't interested in trying a bullpen role and was convinced he was a starter. Maybe the Twins didn't see anything that made them think he could make that transition (it doesn't work for everyone).

 

The Twins missed on him, but so did a lot of people. He retooled his career relatively late and managed to still get someone to take another chance on him after he'd flamed out as a starter in a few places. Good for him.

    • specialiststeve and dbminn like this

The real question is why did they let the White Sox out bid them for Hendricks. Could make the difference in who wins the division. 

 

Now they have to spend big anyway just to catch up to paraty ..

One thing I am wondering is the claim that many pitchers are doctoring the baseball (this is part of the lawsuit by the dismissed visiting clubhouse manager).I have always wondered if part of late 20's, early 30;s revival is from finding a way to hide the doctoring and how many pitchers are doing it.

If baseball comes down on this, we may get to see what the true pitchers look like in some cases, though pitch selection and mechanical changes probably also have an effect.

    • snap4birds and SkyBlueWaters like this
Photo
specialiststeve
Jan 13 2021 08:55 AM

 

The real question is why did they let the White Sox out bid them for Hendricks. Could make the difference in who wins the division. 

 

Now they have to spend big anyway just to catch up to party ..

 

A nice signing for the White Sox for sure but..

 

Handing out that kind of money for him was a HUGE overspend. Relievers area dime a dozen and rarely have these worked out well. We had the 2nd best relief corp in the majors last year and there are a TON of relievers out there that need jobs that are 80-90% of what he is. We are good. 

 

White Sox clearly have made some very nice upgrades and they AND the Twins are the co-favorites to win the division. We are still good. We will make some more moves to "catch up".... be patient. 

    • tarheeltwinsfan likes this

The Pale Hose are spending a lot of money for 1 inning a game, 65-85 innings a season.

    • Nine of twelve and SkyBlueWaters like this

Any time a player slips through and has good numbers later on everyone thinks why did we let them go.This is one where many let him go, and really any team had a chance.I have a feeling if our now FO was in place this may not have happened.They have found some scrap heap pitchers lately themselves.Sometimes it just takes the right fit.

You can’t hang on to players forever. Sometimes you have to decide. The biggest change is his body. He was skinny with the Twins and didn’t throw hard. Now he looks like a linebacker and throws hard.
    • benchwarmerjim and arby58 like this

The Pale Hose are spending a lot of money for 1 inning a game, 65-85 innings a season.

True, but they do have the privilege of picking which inning and which game. :)
 

    • USAFChief, mickeymental and AceWrigley like this

I remember him being hyped and then getting to the Bigs and becoming very hittable.He wasn't the same pitcher when called up.He really struggled to get outs.Honestly I don't understand why the Twins gave him the short hook but he didn't really prove them all that wrong as he never did make it as a starter.

 

They probably should have given him a shot in the pen but must have felt differently at the time.I am happy he found his way to elite status.He never gave up on himself and his hard work paid off.Good for him.

Photo
Dodecahedron
Jan 13 2021 11:17 AM

Some of the responses here seem a little sour-grapey. 

 

The truth is, Hendriks was good within a year after leaving the Twins organization. He has been good, barring a couple of slumps, for five years. 

 

He was good in the minors, so his performance in the MLB should not be a surprise to anybody.

 

We all know how the Twins team was in disarray when he was with the club, lacking both starting pitching and an outfield defense to give the pitchers a chance to succeed. We all saw the games where opposing teams would tee off hit after hit into the outfield, with far to many balls hitting the turf than should have.

 

One thing I am wondering is the claim that many pitchers are doctoring the baseball (this is part of the lawsuit by the dismissed visiting clubhouse manager).I have always wondered if part of late 20's, early 30;s revival is from finding a way to hide the doctoring and how many pitchers are doing it.

If baseball comes down on this, we may get to see what the true pitchers look like in some cases, though pitch selection and mechanical changes probably also have an effect.

That story on the Angels clubhouse guy was really interesting.Said that some teams (Astros, of course) were altering the rosin bags in an attempt to improve spin rates.I wonder if Liam's improvement was related to a an improved spin rate?  

To answer your question, Cody, you would have to go back and look at who was added to the 40-man the fall when he was released. Then you will have your answer, the Twins valued all of those prospects more than the Liam Hendriks they had seen the previous year(s).

This is like the conversation of how the Twins blew it by letting David Ortiz go.Ortiz went unclaimed....so EVERY team blew it on him.Hendriks has been readily available many times and EVERY team blew it on him as well.

    • Nine of twelve likes this
Photo
The Wise One
Jan 14 2021 05:41 AM

Hendriks began doing long toss while in Oakland. The added strength led to more velocity and control. Changing to the four seamer from the sinkerball improved his results. There is no shame in letting him go, Oakland did it. 

There is a nice story in The Athletic, Sept 17 aboutHendriks' early years in Australia and the US: "I'm on an adventure": Why Liam Hendriks left Australia to chase baseball dreams.Starts with:

 

The dining options were limited for Liam Hendriks and the rest of the Gulf Coast League Twins in the summer of 2007. The players lived in a hotel in Fort Myers, Fla., that, according to Hendriks, “has now been demolished, because it was a cesspool.”

Physically, he looks a lot bigger than he did with the Twins and he is throwing the fastball 6 miles per hour faster. I believe a few of his teammates in Oakland were caught using PEDs. Would anyone really be surprised to find out that he was using PEDs?

Photo
Nine of twelve
Jan 15 2021 05:50 AM

 

Physically, he looks a lot bigger than he did with the Twins and he is throwing the fastball 6 miles per hour faster. I believe a few of his teammates in Oakland were caught using PEDs. Would anyone really be surprised to find out that he was using PEDs?

Certainly the thought occurred to me. In this day and age of testing it has become difficult to get away with it but when a player who is about to have his career end due to mediocre performance suddenly becomes dominant it makes one wonder.

 

A nice signing for the White Sox for sure but..

 

Handing out that kind of money for him was a HUGE overspend. Relievers area dime a dozen and rarely have these worked out well. We had the 2nd best relief corp in the majors last year and there are a TON of relievers out there that need jobs that are 80-90% of what he is. We are good. 

 

White Sox clearly have made some very nice upgrades and they AND the Twins are the co-favorites to win the division. We are still good. We will make some more moves to "catch up".... be patient. 

And those pitchers are who, exactly?

 

The only name I've seen them even kick the tires on was Colome and there are multiple holes to fill - most of them guys that contributed a lot to the success of that bullpen last year.

Photo
tony&rodney
Jan 15 2021 06:18 PM

Hendriks is really good and I hope he has a fantastic year. I love that he was tunneled from a very young age to throw to spots and learn his craft. It has all come together for him and every baseball fan should be delighted at his success.

The White Sox did get great outings from their closer last year, however, and Hendriks alone doesn't win the World Series for the White Sox. The Twins are very good right now and it should be a fun summer of baseball. We may pay more attention than in past years because of the competition.

I bet on the Twins.


Similar Articles


by RandBalls Stu , 12 Nov 2020
Photo


by Ted Schwerzler , 25 Sep 2020
Photo


by Ted Schwerzler , 24 Sep 2020
Photo


by Ted Schwerzler , 17 Sep 2020
Photo


by Andrew Thares , 15 Sep 2020
Photo