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Recent Blogs


Bailey Upgrades a Familiar Twins Face

When the Twins first dipped into free agency this offseason, Thad Levine noted that the roster needed stabilization. The starting rotation was losing four-fifths of the arms, and reunions with Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda became a priority. Although Kyle Gibson wasn’t retained, the front office may have landed his equal.
Image courtesy of © Peter G. Aiken
There have been plenty of roster projections and free agent discussions from all corners of Twins Territory this winter. Although Gibson has been somewhat of a polarizing pitcher over his tenure with the Twins, he’d have been a solid fit at the back end of a rotation. Dealing with health issues for much of the season he contributed a significant slide last year following the step forward in 2018. Ultimately the Texas Rangers saw the projectable upside and handed him a nice three-year contract. There’s some risk involved for a guy who has pitched more than 160 innings just once since 2015, but the 2018 version was a considerable asset.

Gibson came off the board early, and while Minnesota was more focused on the likes of Zack Wheeler, a pivot was forced when the “impact” arms they sought signed elsewhere. Rich Hill was grabbed earlier this week, and is reflective of that definition when healthy, but it’s the other guy who draws all the parallels. Homer Bailey isn’t a sexy name at all, and I’m not yet sure how I feel about it, but I can understand where the Twins saw an opportunity to upgrade on Gibson.

Bailey is two years older than the former Twins first-round pick, and he’s pitched nearly double the number of big-league seasons. Even still, the longtime Reds pitcher owns a career 4.57 ERA, 7.4 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. It’s almost scary how close that is to Gibby’s career 4.52 ERA 7.0 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 numbers. So, if the thought was that Kyle could work at the back of Minnesota’s rotation, and he should be in line for a bounce back with a clean bill of health, why turn here... right?

Again, Gibson was off the board early, and Bailey represents Minnesota responding to the situation more than anything. However, he was had on just a one-year $7 million deal and has already shown signs of improvement.

For 12 years the Reds miscast Bailey as their ace. He routinely struggled with injury, and 2019 was the first season he topped 145 innings since 2013. After being serviceable in 18 starts for the Kansas City Royals, it was in 13 outings for the Oakland Athletics that things may have clicked. The 4.30 ERA isn’t glowing by any means, but he posted a 3.65 FIP, 8.3 K/9 and a career best 1.8 BB/9. The 2.9 fWAR was a high-water mark since 2013, and it appears that the time in the bay area might have been a turning point.

Never a real hard thrower, Bailey has held a 93-mph average velocity since 2015. What he did with the Athletics however was to elevate the use of his splitter. After using it just 12.9% of the time over the course of his career, he more than doubled that mark last season. Batters couldn’t hit it, generating just a .182 average on the pitch, and he had a whiff rate that nearly reached 40%. So, while Gibson’s allure is rooted in the premise of a health-related rebound, Bailey presents the opportunity to expand on something that has already worked.

Minnesota, through the eyes of Wes Johnson and other adept coaches in the system, has become significantly more associated with pitching development. Should Bailey be provided even more usable information from within the Twins clubhouse, taking another step forward is hardly out of the question. I’d be hesitant to expect a near-34-year-old to drastically shift from career norms, but a nice uptick isn’t abnormal either. This same think tank may have seen the breakout of Anibal Sanchez coming, and this is an opportunity for them to execute fully on a similar scenario.

Much like Kyle Gibson would have been, the acquisition of Bailey wasn’t a well-received one. Although he doesn’t have the upper-echelon name recognition, he draws parallels to the guy he could replace, and has already shown why the gamble is a worthy one. This story will unfold throughout the season, but Rocco Baldelli’s staff is better today because Homer Bailey is in it.

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26 Comments

If the Twins Bombas can score 6 or 7 when Homer gives up 4 or 5 they should be in the post season.
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Tommygun921
Jan 03 2020 07:16 AM
I think this was a good signing. I think a safer bet would've been an innings eater like Julio Teheran. I don't necessarily see the negativity behind this signing. The Cole and Strasburg singings will prob be bad ones even for the Yankees and Nationals. Let alone a team like the Twins. Bumgarner didn't wanted to go to AZ. Wheeler wanted to go to Philly. All the other free agents cost a ton more and could ultimately pitch at the same level a healthy Bailey could. The Twins can afford to overpay for players to get them to come to MN if theres a decent chance their upside is similar to that of a guy like Bailey. They also can afford to waaay overpay a player like Cole or Strasburg (real difference makers) just to get them to come here when they don't want to. Not everyone grew up being Twins fans like us. Are used to the weather and the lifestyle that comes with living in this area.
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Tommygun921
Jan 03 2020 07:18 AM
Should've proof read my comment before posting. 😂 The twins CANT** afford to overpay**
    • PDX Twin and MN_ExPat like this

 

If the Twins Bombas can score 6 or 7 when Homer gives up 4 or 5 they should be in the post season.

Bailey was better than Kyle Gibson and Martin Perez last year both by raw ERA and in his peripherals. He's a solid pitcher and could easily have a season that could classify him as a number 3 while he'll be our number 4 when Pineda is back. Believe it or not, you can't stack a rotation 1-5 with guys like Berrios and Odorizzi.

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tony&rodney
Jan 03 2020 07:54 AM

The opportunity to sign a top pitcher has passed.

I'm hoping that Bailey is a marked improvement throughout the season from Perez and am especially hopeful he gets off to a strong start in April and May, although not necessarily as strong as Perez was to June. A season of a 4.30 ERA and 180 IP would be a plus.

In one way none of the pitchers we picked up are going to be quite like Gibson. Can you imagine Gibby and his wife getting kicked out of a Viking's game and arrested? Hilarious!!!

Bailey will be better than Perez.The version of Bailey prior to the last two months is much better than Perez was from May to September.The real improvement comes from can the splitter be a true pitch and is it possible Wes Johnson can gain a couple miles per an hour out of his fastball and make that a plus pitch.My gut feel is Bailey will be viewed as the best pitching signing at the end of the year.Ultimately though we will be looking for two more pitchers at minimum next year in free agency. 

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jorgenswest
Jan 03 2020 09:08 AM
Martin Perez has a dominant cutter last year until he didn’t and couldn’t get it back.

If Bailey struggles look to the effectiveness of his splitter. If effective give him some rope. If not cut ties.

Believe it or not, you can't stack a rotation 1-5 with guys like Berrios and Odorizzi.

Why is that?

 

Why is that?

Because by fWAR they were both 4+ win players and were top 20 in all of baseball by that measurement. Can't imagine there were too many rotations in history with 5 top 20 pitchers in the MLB.

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The_Phantom
Jan 03 2020 10:28 AM

 

I think this was a good signing. I think a safer bet would've been an innings eater like Julio Teheran. I don't necessarily see the negativity behind this signing. The Cole and Strasburg singings will prob be bad ones even for the Yankees and Nationals. Let alone a team like the Twins. Bumgarner didn't wanted to go to AZ. Wheeler wanted to go to Philly. All the other free agents cost a ton more and could ultimately pitch at the same level a healthy Bailey could. The Twins can afford to overpay for players to get them to come to MN if theres a decent chance their upside is similar to that of a guy like Bailey. They also can afford to waaay overpay a player like Cole or Strasburg (real difference makers) just to get them to come here when they don't want to. Not everyone grew up being Twins fans like us. Are used to the weather and the lifestyle that comes with living in this area.

Seriously. Stop using the excuse no one wants to come here. The team just didn't pony up the money other teams did, period. You just claimed at least 4 people said "no way" to minnesota. It's just patently false. 

Nobody seems concerned that maybe we get the Homer Bailey of the prior 2 years that was 7-23 with an ERA over 6. I hope we get last year's results, but who knows. As for the Wes Johson Kool-aid everyone seems to be on, he has been here 1 year with mixed results. I like the guy, but people have him just turning around pitchers right and left and finding velocity. A couple guys had success, but what happened with Berrios? Guy turned into a complete disaster mid-season. Perez turned back into a disaster. I'm going to need to see a lot more going forward to say Wes Johnson is the pitching messiah. 

    • USAFChief, Rigby, jud6312 and 2 others like this
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puckstopper1
Jan 03 2020 11:50 AM

Twins fans deserve to be disappointed thus far with the FOs off-season moves. 

 

They may not be done yet, but they promised "impact", and we have not seen that so far.

 

Even if Bailey, Hill and the young arms make the starting staff "better" than last year, the team has done nothing to make the rotation "play-off" better.

 

Until that happens all of these types of signings/moves will be looked upon with skepticism.

    • jud6312 likes this

The motive behind the Bailey signing is pretty clear and Ted sums it up nicely.Angry Twins fans act like signing Bailey and Hill was the "impact" pitching the FO was hoping for.

Simply put, the top FA pitchers weren't coming here as has been well-documented.This is the ultimate "stabilizing" move.They simply canNOT go into the season with Berrios, Odo and a mixture of Thorpe, Smeltzer, Dobnak, etc. until Pineda comes back.

This at least buys them some time to try and make a trade and, to be honest, I don't expect that to happen until July.Until then, we'll see Berrios, Odo, Pineda in May, Thorpe, Smeltzer, Dobnak.Considering they have 20 games with Seattle, Toronto, KC and Detroit in the first six weeks, they may not need a better starter until July.

    • Vanimal46 likes this
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puckstopper1
Jan 03 2020 05:47 PM

 

Simply put, the top FA pitchers weren't coming here as has been well-documented.This is the ultimate "stabilizing" move.  

 

Bob:

 

I agree with this.But the FO said they were going to add impact players in the off-season and they have not - yet.

 

Hence the reason for the frustration.

 

I'm still holding out (a minor sliver of) hope for a trade.

 

I'd prefer to have that happen before the season so if the player(s) received are rental(s) the Twins can use them all season and also it gives the team more time to convince them to stay...

    • DocBauer likes this

 

Bob:

 

I agree with this.But the FO said they were going to add impact players in the off-season and they have not - yet.

 

Hence the reason for the frustration.

 

I'm still holding out (a minor sliver of) hope for a trade.

 

I'd prefer to have that happen before the season so if the player(s) received are rental(s) the Twins can use them all season and also it gives the team more time to convince them to stay...

I'd love to see a Gray or Boyd added.If they can keep one of Larnach/Kirillof and use one in the trade I'm fine with that.I'm with you.I'd love to see it happen tomorrow.I just don't see it happening.I really think they're going to ride this group, thinking they can stay in contention and lower the price of the pitcher they acquire.

I'm 100% on board with getting a guy that'll be around 2-3 years for sure.FO has done a great job replenishing the farm system.I'd like to see them use some of that talent to help the big club now.

Just looking at his bbref page, I can't see how this could possibly be characterized as an "upgrade."

 

It doesn't just look like a downgrade from Kyle Gibson, but a downgrade from a replacement level pitcher. I don't see how Bailey possibly qualifies for anything above a minor league deal (like he signed entering last year.)

 

He had a nice, solid run that ended in 2014. From 2015 on, he's posted a 5.56(!) ERA while averaging only 79 innings per year. Most of that was posted in the NL where average ERA has been hovering around 4.30

 

At age 34, that is a recipe for unemployment or minor league duty.

 

I think giving the innings to internal options or AAAA rule 5 or waiver wire pitchers would be a more appealing option as it has potential for some upside.

 

Are we to project Bailey's production solely on the 73 pretty-good innings he pitched with Oakland?

 

Should we be convinced that those 73 innings are representative of what can be expected in 2020? Moreso than the previous 4.5 years?

 

Are we supposed to be convinced by his track record of having a better FIP (4.71 since 2015)? Are we not supposed to remember how that reasoning worked when we brought in Nolasco? 

 

I don't get this one at all.

    • USAFChief, Danchat and Hosken Bombo Disco like this
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Battle ur tail off
Jan 06 2020 01:18 PM

 

Believe it or not, you can't stack a rotation 1-5 with guys like Berrios and Odorizzi.

Boy are we expecting alot out of Ordorizi this season. He's good, but let's be honest here guys, he's a #3-4 starter.

If he was that solid #2 guy, then our Front office completely messed up by not extending him more than one year. Even they feel like he is a mid rotation starter.

 

Don't get me wrong, I like him. But he's generally a 5-6 inning pitcher, who keeps you in games. He's far from dominant though. 

    • jkcarew likes this

Just looking at his bbref page, I can't see how this could possibly be characterized as an "upgrade."

It doesn't just look like a downgrade from Kyle Gibson, but a downgrade from a replacement level pitcher. I don't see how Bailey possibly qualifies for anything above a minor league deal (like he signed entering last year.)

He had a nice, solid run that ended in 2014. From 2015 on, he's posted a 5.56(!) ERA while averaging only 79 innings per year. Most of that was posted in the NL where average ERA has been hovering around 4.30

At age 34, that is a recipe for unemployment or minor league duty.

I think giving the innings to internal options or AAAA rule 5 or waiver wire pitchers would be a more appealing option as it has potential for some upside.

Are we to project Bailey's production solely on the 73 pretty-good innings he pitched with Oakland?

Should we be convinced that those 73 innings are representative of what can be expected in 2020? Moreso than the previous 4.5 years?

Are we supposed to be convinced by his track record of having a better FIP (4.71 since 2015)? Are we not supposed to remember how that reasoning worked when we brought in Nolasco?

I don't get this one at all.


That depends on if those 73 good innings with Oakland were fueled by a sustainable change, or if they were just random variation.

Whether you approve or disapprove of this FO, I think it's fair to assume they've done some homework regarding what fueled those improved results.
    • Mike Sixel likes this

 

That depends on if those 73 good innings with Oakland were fueled by a sustainable change, or if they were just random variation.

Whether you approve or disapprove of this FO, I think it's fair to assume they've done some homework regarding what fueled those improved results.

100 OPS+.

 

Not really all that "improved."

100 OPS+.

Not really all that "improved."


I was responding to a poster who suggested he was a significant downgrade from Kyle Gibson.

Gibson posted a 95 ERA+ last year.

100 is league average. League average for 1 year $7M is a bargain. I'm not sure what people are demanding from a 1 year $7M signing?

 

I was responding to a poster who suggested he was a significant downgrade from Kyle Gibson.

Gibson posted a 95 ERA+ last year.

100 is league average. League average for 1 year $7M is a bargain. I'm not sure what people are demanding from a 1 year $7M signing?

And I was just pointing out, his track record and career arc wouldn't make me project an "average" 2020 contribution. His age and stats would make me expect he's about done as a major league contributor. 

His 2019 league average performance represented a marked improvement over the previous 4 years.

 

Homer Bailey's past 5 years: 5.56 ERA, 96 IP per year

Kyle Gibson's past 5 years: 4.41 ERA, 171 IP per year

 

The FO has to be seeing a story that his basic stats don't tell. I'm skeptical because his bbref page doesn't say "upgrade." It really looks like a pitcher who signs to a minor league contract + spring training invitation.

 

If the best we can hope is league average production, I'd rather see those innings allotted to an ascending pitcher. 

 

Of course, that might not be the best we can hope for. i just don't see it.

 

Thanks for engaging in a respectful and thoughtful discussion. 

    • USAFChief and Mike Sixel like this

And I was just pointing out, his track record and career arc wouldn't make me project an "average" 2020 contribution. His age and stats would make me expect he's about done as a major league contributor.
His 2019 league average performance represented a marked improvement over the previous 4 years.

Homer Bailey's past 5 years: 5.56 ERA, 96 IP per year
Kyle Gibson's past 5 years: 4.41 ERA, 171 IP per year

The FO has to be seeing a story that his basic stats don't tell. I'm skeptical because his bbref page doesn't say "upgrade." It really looks like a pitcher who signs to a minor league contract + spring training invitation.

If the best we can hope is league average production, I'd rather see those innings allotted to an ascending pitcher.

Of course, that might not be the best we can hope for. i just don't see it.

Thanks for engaging in a respectful and thoughtful discussion.


I'm positing that perhaps last year's improvement was driven by a specific and sustainable change he made, either mechanical or approach.
If that's the case, then the last 5 years aren't very meaningful.
Only the numbers from the point he made that change onward are.

I don't personally know if he made an adjustment, or just got lucky in a 73 inning sample size. But I trust that the FO has done some homework where that is concerned.

This still leaves 2 spots for internal options. Bailey isn't blocking anyone. Every team needs league average guys to fill out their team, even the big spenders.

I'm positing that perhaps last year's improvement was driven by a specific and sustainable change he made, either mechanical or approach.
If that's the case, then the last 5 years aren't very meaningful.
Only the numbers from the point he made that change onward are.
I don't personally know if he made an adjustment, or just got lucky in a 73 inning sample size. But I trust that the FO has done some homework where that is concerned.
This still leaves 2 spots for internal options. Bailey isn't blocking anyone. Every team needs league average guys to fill out their team, even the big spenders.

He changed his pitch mix. Can’t remember the specifics but remember that was reported.

 

I'm positing that perhaps last year's improvement was driven by a specific and sustainable change he made, either mechanical or approach.
If that's the case, then the last 5 years aren't very meaningful.
Only the numbers from the point he made that change onward are.

I don't personally know if he made an adjustment, or just got lucky in a 73 inning sample size. But I trust that the FO has done some homework where that is concerned.

This still leaves 2 spots for internal options. Bailey isn't blocking anyone. Every team needs league average guys to fill out their team, even the big spenders.

Maybe the FO is picking up on something legitimate. I guess we have to hope so. If nothing else, there is another arm in the pool. 

 

I'm not feeling inspired. Oh well. I'm still glad to write Berrios and Odo's names in the rotation slots. All the other guys I look forward to seeing likely wont make the team but Bailey+Hill+Pineda don't represent formidable barriers to forcing one's way into a rotation. 


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