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ALDS Takeaways, Part 1: Jake Odorizzi Should Be a Priority

It’s important to not sugarcoat what just happened, even if there seems little danger of it. While the Twins’ brilliant season was unexpected and thrilling, and while they certainly seem more on the upswing than on the down slope, the decisive and deflating way the season just ended represents a real setback. Not only do they have to start all over next spring without even a moral October victory to balance out the added pressure they’ll face, but the team faces real challenges in reconstituting a roster that will regress substantially in 2020 if left to its own devices.
Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
Three games should hardly form the basis of a team’s offseason mentality, but the particular way these three games unfolded should crystallize a few things as the Twins look toward 2020. Specifically, this five-part series will explore things that seem both clearer and more important now than they did a week ago, and which should inform the Twins’ plans for getting back to the Division Series, at least, next fall.

Jake Odorizzi Should Be a Priority

For most of baseball history, a pitcher with Odorizzi’s vulnerabilities the third time through an opposing batting order would be significantly less valuable than even a slightly worse pitcher with better durability. In this era, though, Odorizzi is almost the quintessential mid-rotation guy. He might only go five or six innings (as in Game 3, when he allowed two runs to the formidable Yankees lineup in five frames), but he’ll usually leave his bullpen a lead to protect for the balance of the contest.

His performance in Game 3 was typical in every way: he got some swings and misses, stayed mostly off the barrels of opponents’ bats, and forced them to defend the entire strike zone. His adjustments this season deepened his repertoire and made him more well-rounded, even if they didn’t eliminate his fundamental shortcomings.

As he carried the pitching staff during September and turned in the best performance of any Twins hurler against New York, he asserted himself as the first internal decision the club needs to make. The club should extend a qualifying offer to Odorizzi. Too often, teams get cute with those decisions, and treat it like a game of chicken. They only extend the offer if they feel sure the player will reject it, thereby assuring them of the right to collect draft compensation for him.

In this case, Odorizzi might well accept the offer, but that shouldn’t scare Minnesota away from making it. He’ll only be 30 in 2020. He’s a good fit in the clubhouse and for the needs of the team. He’s already proven he can work within the support framework of coaches and analytical staff to maximize his talent. A one-year deal, even for $18 million or so isn’t a bad proposition at all, especially given the Twins’ payroll situation for the coming year. Such a short-term solution would allow them to evaluate their internal options for a more homegrown rotation in 2021 and beyond.

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42 Comments

Totally agree.

 

Do have a question, however.Is it likely that they offer a QO and during the period he has to accept negotiate a new deal...whether 3 years, 4 years or whatever?Is that common in the marketplace, or even allowed by the rules?

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TwinkieTownKiller
Oct 10 2019 06:44 AM

 

Totally agree.

 

Do have a question, however.Is it likely that they offer a QO and during the period he has to accept negotiate a new deal...whether 3 years, 4 years or whatever?Is that common in the marketplace, or even allowed by the rules?

If they offer a QO, he may not accept it right away and hit the market. That being said, he would still have that draft pick attached to him, which would knock out a lot of the competition in terms of other contract offers (see Kibrel and Keuchel last offseason). The Twins can still negotiate a longer term deal while all this is going on, and I'd argue this would be the best case scenario.

    • Brock Beauchamp, Steve Lein, glunn and 8 others like this
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Brock Beauchamp
Oct 10 2019 07:18 AM

I know I'm right about something when Trueblood agrees with me on it.

 

Tag Odo with the QO. If he accepts, fine. If he doesn't, use that QO to negotiate a multi-year deal with him.

 

The Twins need a lot of starters. Keep the best one you had this season to begin the offseason.

    • Seth Stohs, glunn, Twins33 and 10 others like this

 

Funny we are talking about giving a starting pitcher that started 30 games and didn't have enough innings to qualify for the ERA title 19 million dollars.

 

"carried the pitching staff during September"?

 

He pitched less than 2 more innings than with a higher ERA than Dobnak. He pitched about 10 less innings than Berrios, yes Berrios had a higher ERA but what would his ERA if he pitched 10 more innings?

 

If the Twins are going to give him 19 million, what is Berrios going to ask for? Also if you are Cole and you see Odo get 19 million aren't you thinking you are worth close to double that? (just in September he pitched 42 innings and gave up 5 earned runs in 6 games.

 

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Harrison Greeley III
Oct 10 2019 07:39 AM

He has a very marketable quality for smart front offices. He helps others. He helped Martin Perez with his cutter and Berrios with (I think) a slider. There was footage of him using a football to communicate how the ball should leave your hand during a bullpen session.

It's one thing for the front office and pitching coaches to communicate their analytics and their plan for how to be successful. But when you have someone out there actually battling and getting results, it's a lot easier to pay attention to what they have to say. 

 

Houston deliberately seeks out pitchers with this quality. I get the feeling if Houston sought him out, they'd tweak his pitch mix somehow and turn him into a top tier starter. He's a student of the game and he has a 'growth mindset.' I still believe the likeliest scenario to me is that the Twins QO him and he accepts. But I don't think it's out of the question that Houston pursues him. 

    • Oldgoat_MN, Jacks02 and DannySD like this

My thoughts exactly. A one-year deal can't hurt the team that much.

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ScooterDance
Oct 10 2019 08:09 AM

 

If the Twins are going to give him 19 million, what is Berrios going to ask for? Also if you are Cole and you see Odo get 19 million aren't you thinking you are worth close to double that? (just in September he pitched 42 innings and gave up 5 earned runs in 6 games.

 

Berrios is going to ask for an amount similar to what other arbitration eligible pitchers have asked for.

 

Cole isn't going to even consider what Odo is getting paid when / if he / his agent starts discussing terms with the Twins. He's going to compare himself to other elite FA pitchers who have gotten paaaaaiiiiid in the last few years.

    • Danchat, howieramone2 and wabene like this

 

Funny we are talking about giving a starting pitcher that started 30 games and didn't have enough innings to qualify for the ERA title 19 million dollars.

 

If the Twins are going to give him 19 million, what is Berrios going to ask for? Also if you are Cole and you see Odo get 19 million aren't you thinking you are worth close to double that? (just in September he pitched 42 innings and gave up 5 earned runs in 6 games.

 

A 1-year deal at $19MIL is basically equivalent to a multi-year deal at $15MIL/year. I wouldn't consider this a problem.

    • Dantes929 likes this

 

Berrios is going to ask for an amount similar to what other arbitration eligible pitchers have asked for.

 

Cole isn't going to even consider what Odo is getting paid when / if he / his agent starts discussing terms with the Twins. He's going to compare himself to other elite FA pitchers who have gotten paaaaaiiiiid in the last few years.

Sorry I should have been more clear, when Berrios negotiating a contract extension.

 

 

A 1-year deal at $19MIL is basically equivalent to a multi-year deal at $15MIL/year. I wouldn't consider this a problem.

agree 1 year contracts are never bad and if you can get him for 3/45 that isn't bad.

The front office justs need to realize you need a bunch of good relief pitchers and a shuttle to AAA to cover the other 4 innings the night he pitches. It is not a surprise the bullpen starts to look bad when you have 4 or 5 starters going 4-6 innings every night.

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Brock Beauchamp
Oct 10 2019 08:28 AM

 

He pitched less than 2 more innings than with a higher ERA than Dobnak. He pitched about 10 less innings than Berrios, yes Berrios had a higher ERA but what would his ERA if he pitched 10 more innings?

Yet out of the three pitchers you just mentioned, only one of them effectively managed the Yankees offense and should have left the game with a "W" next to his name in the box score.

 

I consider Berrios and Odorizzi close to interchangeable but people continually undersell Odorizzi's talent level while raving about Berrios and I just don't understand why.

 

Personally, I want them both on my team and at least one more pitcher equally as good, if not better.

    • Steve Lein, glunn, Twins33 and 8 others like this
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terrydactyls1947
Oct 10 2019 08:44 AM
Personally, I am going to wait until I get my copy of the Offseason Handbook before I begin to tell you how I would approach 2020.
    • ashbury, Seth Stohs and tarheeltwinsfan like this

 

Yet out of the three pitchers you just mentioned, only one of them effectively managed the Yankees offense and should have left the game with a "W" next to his name in the box score.

 

I consider Berrios and Odorizzi close to interchangeable but people continually undersell Odorizzi's talent level while raving about Berrios and I just don't understand why.

 

Personally, I want them both on my team and at least one more pitcher equally as good, if not better.

I think the difference between the two is the 69 1/3 more innings Berrios has pitched the last two years and being 4 years younger.

Odo did pitch really well against the yanks for 5 innings but Berrios pitched 4 innings and gave up 1 earned run.

I don't undersell Odo's talent, he is very talented 5 inning pitcher, there really can be no arguing that.

I am good with both on the team as well, but as I have pointed out in many other posts, the front office needs to pack the bullpen because they will be pitching close to half of the game when he pitches.

(In reality I believe Odo and Berris should be allowed to pitch more pitches thus giving them more innings but the manager or front office doesn't agree with me)

 

 

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Brock Beauchamp
Oct 10 2019 09:12 AM

 

I think the difference between the two is the 69 1/3 more innings Berrios has pitched the last two years and being 4 years younger.

Odo did pitch really well against the yanks for 5 innings but Berrios pitched 4 innings and gave up 1 earned run.

I don't undersell Odo's talent, he is very talented 5 inning pitcher, there really can be no arguing that.

I am good with both on the team as well, but as I have pointed out in many other posts, the front office needs to pack the bullpen because they will be pitching close to half of the game when he pitches.

(In reality I believe Odo and Berris should be allowed to pitch more pitches thus giving them more innings but the manager or front office doesn't agree with me)

Next year, rosters move to 26 men. Packing the bullpen will no longer compromise the bench as much as it did in previous years.

 

The point of pulling both Odo and Berrios after 5-6 innings is because they're no longer more effective than your average reliever after that point. That's the entire reason for shortened outings. Berrios is better than Odo later in games, therefore he goes just a bit longer per game on average. But Odo (drawing from memory here so I might be off) is quite a bit better than Berrios early in the game so things tend to wash out somewhat.

 

And that's just the reality of modern baseball. It's not just Odo and Berrios. There are very few pitchers who can withstand the absurdly hard task of successfully navigating a modern baseball lineup a third time.

    • bizaff, tarheeltwinsfan, howieramone2 and 1 other like this
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LimestoneBaggy
Oct 10 2019 09:48 AM

 

Next year, rosters move to 26 men. Packing the bullpen will no longer compromise the bench as much as it did in previous years.

 

They'll just add more pitching ..... ;)

 

    • Shaitan and Tomj14 like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Oct 10 2019 10:17 AM

 

I know I'm right about something when Trueblood agrees with me on it.

 

Tag Odo with the QO. If he accepts, fine. If he doesn't, use that QO to negotiate a multi-year deal with him.

 

The Twins need a lot of starters. Keep the best one you had this season to begin the offseason.

yeah... I think they can let him know in advance that they are going to tag him but would prefer a 3 year deal... It kind of sets the market on his price to an extent, but I'm with you... keep him. 

 

Right now it's Berrios, Dobnak, and crickets. 

    • Kelly Vance likes this

 

Next year, rosters move to 26 men. Packing the bullpen will no longer compromise the bench as much as it did in previous years.

 

The point of pulling both Odo and Berrios after 5-6 innings is because they're no longer more effective than your average reliever after that point. That's the entire reason for shortened outings. Berrios is better than Odo later in games, therefore he goes just a bit longer per game on average. But Odo (drawing from memory here so I might be off) is quite a bit better than Berrios early in the game so things tend to wash out somewhat.

 

And that's just the reality of modern baseball. It's not just Odo and Berrios. There are very few pitchers who can withstand the absurdly hard task of successfully navigating a modern baseball lineup a third time.

I agree with your first point and this is modern baseball, my point is why spend 19 million on that. When you still need 4 innings to finish the game, wouldn't it be better to spread that cost over all 9 innings instead of front loading it? And if this is truly the case, why bother starting him, you could have Thorpe or somebody else go the first two, have him pitch 3 - 8 and bring in the closer to finish it off, that way at least you are spending money later in the game.

    • flatlanddad likes this
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nicksaviking
Oct 10 2019 11:52 AM

The threat of the QO is going to be one heck of a negotiating tool. It's hard to say where Odorizzi sees himself in the free agent pitching hierarchy, but after last year it should be very clear that unless he puts himself on par with Cole, it's possible his phone won't ring until June 11th if that QO is around his neck.

 

How long has this QO system been around? 8 years maybe? The Twins finally have a player who is actually worthy of having this discussion! Hooray!

    • tarheeltwinsfan, Shaitan, Tomj14 and 1 other like this
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Brock Beauchamp
Oct 10 2019 12:16 PM

 

I agree with your first point and this is modern baseball, my point is why spend 19 million on that. When you still need 4 innings to finish the game, wouldn't it be better to spread that cost over all 9 innings instead of front loading it? And if this is truly the case, why bother starting him, you could have Thorpe or somebody else go the first two, have him pitch 3 - 8 and bring in the closer to finish it off, that way at least you are spending money later in the game.

Sure, there are different ways to approach the goal but right now, Odorizzi can pitch 150+ innings of well above average ball. Could he maybe pitch six if an opener is used? Sure, but then you're tasked with finding an opener that can pitch, say, 80-100 innings a year of above average ball because at the end of the year, roughly the same number of innings need to be pitched by one baseball team.

 

Where the innings come don't really matter in the grand scheme of things. The point is avoid opposition runs for nine innings a game.

 

There's also the problem of a hard cap of 13 pitchers, which eliminates the option of teams using bullpen games constantly. Thirteen pitchers just can't pitch that many innings unless you go out and find a bunch of 100 inning relievers, which is a different challenge in itself, one that may be impossible given payroll constraints and actual league talent available.

If Cave's does'nt make a ridiculous dive that came up 6 feet short reminiscent of this play  then Odo only gives up 1 run against the Yankees.If he had 4 more inches of vertical then Odo gives up 0 runs.That really shouldn't come too strongly into play in the Offer. Nick Blackburn pitched great in game 163 and also great in his lone game in the playoffs against the Yankees. The reason you resign Odorizzi if you can is we only have Berrios and maybe Dobnak slated to be starters next year. I am a fan of bullpen games but you can't have three of them every time through the rotation. One year contract prices mean nothing to guys looking for multi year deals so you don't worry about qualifying offer. In fact Trevor Bauer has stated his plan to only make one year deal once he hits free agency which would maximize his earnings if he stays healthy but also not bad for a team that would only be paying a premium for actual current production.

    • wabene likes this
How much is Odorizzi worth? I mean I like him, but he threw only 159 innings this year. I mean who is worth more Odorizzi at 159 innings or Berrios at 200 innings?? I think so many of these 4 - 5 inning guys wrecks the bullpen. I mean if he could throw 7 every time out then shoot yeah 3 - 4 year deal. But big money for 5 innings? IDK.

As of today, the Twins starting 5 is:

 

Berrios

Dobnak

Smeltzer

Thorpe

Stewart

 

I think there'll be some changes, but that's the starting point. Sign Odo and he slots in after Berrios and everyone slides down one and Stewart drops off the list (note, Stewart may or may not have another transaction just for him in the near future too). Then sign someone else and drop people down. 

 

Again, I'm fine with Dobnak, Thorpe or Smeltzer being 4 and 5 starters, but ideally the Twins go into spring training with those three fighting for the 5th starter job and the other two (and Graterol, maybe Gonsalves, guys like Duran, Colina, Balazovic in AA, and so on) working at Rochester as the 6th, 7th and 8th options. Just gives them so much more depth. 

 

I'm looking forward to seeing what happens. 

    • glunn, Twins33, DocBauer and 2 others like this

Please please please keep writing the Twins, Matthew. Love your work! It's an absolute delight to hear your take about my favorite team.

    • Sconnie likes this

I've never been a huge fan of watching Odo grind through 5 innings on 100 pitches. I guess I don't mind making him the QO, but I'm not that interested in giving him $45-50 million over 3 years. I'd extend the QO and if he declines, take the draft pick and spend the $ on Cole or Mad Baum etc.

 

My preferred address for the rotation is make a deal for Syndergaard, take your best shot at Cole, and then take your best shot at Mad Baum if that fails. That still leaves the #4 spot open, but I'd rather fill that with Pineda for $8 million than Odo for $18.

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jwestbrock11
Oct 10 2019 04:29 PM

 
If the Twins are going to give him 19 million, what is Berrios going to ask for? Also if you are Cole and you see Odo get 19 million aren't you thinking you are worth close to double that?


I'm going to go out on a limb and say he's going to ask for that whether Odorizzi gets it or not.
    • ashbury likes this

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