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I shouldn't be surprised anymore. I really shouldn't.Baseball's award voters have overemphasized traditional baseball-card numbers like w...
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Front Page: Every Team Wants Zack Wheeler

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Zack Wheeler is one of the most sought after free agents this off-season and there will be not shortage of teams interested in his servic...
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The Value of Prospects

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I am reading a study right now that 80% of top 100 pitching prospects bust.  Only about 8% are considered "above average".  Sam...
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Dealing with Wheeler Gets Minnesota an Ace

This offseason the Minnesota Twins chief focus is going to be on acquiring impact pitching. The front office has suggested as much, and with most of the lineup positions spoken for, it’s where spending money makes sense. Jose Berrios is the only returning arm at this point, and despite getting substantial levels of consistency from the group last year, Rocco Baldelli is going to need a unit that can raise the bar.
Image courtesy of © Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Everyone knows what the top of the market will look like. Gerrit Cole is going to command a return that could make even Mike Trout and Bryce Harper blush. He’s been nothing short of exceptional, just turned 29-years-old, and may still have another gear to reach. There’s no guarantee that Stephen Strasburg becomes the second premiere arm, but logic suggests he’ll opt out of the final four years and $100 million of his current deal. Every team in baseball should be tripping over themselves to offer these guys a payday. If the Twins aren’t in on them it’s a problem, but if they get turned down anyway, they’ll need to pivot.

For the sake of this argument let’s assume that Derek Falvey offers either of those pitchers a blank check and neither takes the bait. All is not lost with Zack Wheeler still being in the picture. He’s not the arm either of those pitches is, and he is older than Cole, but the former Mets hurler may be the most underappreciated talent looking for a new home.

A former first-round pick, Wheeler has been a model of consistency when healthy. In his three full seasons he’s pitched at least 180 innings with strong strikeout numbers and an ERA firmly in the mid-3’s. For New York in 2019 his ERA crept up to a 3.96 mark, but the 3.48 FIP suggests he was likely victimized by one of the worst defensive teams in baseball.

Over the course of his career Wheeler has avoided the long ball and kept baserunners to a minimum. He’s not going to challenge for the league lead in strikeouts but the 195 in 2019 was a new career high. With the Mets he was consistently a 10% whiff rate thrower, and he’s expanded his chase rates each of the past two seasons. With an average fastball of 97.1 mph this past season, Wes Johnson should be salivating at the opportunity to take him to the next level.

You can bet that the Twins have done a decent amount of background work on Wheeler already. They were in talks with Brodie Van Wagenen regarding Noah Syndergaard, and there’s no doubt that Zack’s name likely was added into the mix. Now costing only dollars, he doesn’t come with the price tag of coveted pieces from within the system. The ability to add a starter with his repertoire and upward projectability is a rare scenario, and one that Minnesota can’t miss on.

Paying for pitching on the open market is largely a landmine of failed opportunity. Teams either find themselves looking to overextend for the best option or having to settle for a patchwork piece that doesn’t fit the mold. Developing pitching is the greatest path to sustainable success and being able to acquire someone like Wheeler who provides a fair mix of pay and future potential looks like a slam dunk.

Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg represent the outlier opportunity to add one of the 5-10 aces in baseball to your staff. Someone like Wheeler gives the Twins an avenue to have two aces of their staff and allow them to battle each other for that top spot.

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109 Comments

I honestly believe the Twins will look at both Cole and Strasburg. How could they not considering payroll and opportunity? Now, even 5-6yrs at $30M do they love Target Field, the young lineup, Rocco, Johnson, the FO, etc.? Or are either drawn to lower tax rates, a place they call home, etc?

The Twins then have to look at the 2nd level options. Not bad, just the next tier, to go a long with other moves. Is Wheeler that guy? I'm torn between him and Bumgarner. Bumgarner has a ton of IP, and is a couple years older. But he has experience, and STILL has good velocity. Could Johnson work a few bits of magic and tweaking and have him at least close to what he was previously? Somewhat similar to Verlander finding new life in Houston?

Wheeler hasn't had near the career that Bumgarner has had. But he's also about 4yrs younger.

It could be easily argued that Odorizzi, acquired for next to nothing at a similar age and point in his career, would be a similar comparison. And Oddo, a hopeful, and expected re-sign, in whatever capacity, probably has less pure "stuff" than Wheeler.

Playing devil's advocate, and just assuming we lose out on Cole and Strasburg, even with similar offers, is Bumgarner or Wheeler the next best choice?
    • brvama, rdehring and jz7233 like this
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KirbyDome89
Oct 18 2019 02:40 AM

Cole and Strasburg aren't turning down blank checks. If (when) MN doesn't land either, it'll be because they weren't the highest bidder. Period. 

 

Wheeler isn't near the pitcher Berrios is. Acquiring him isn't landing an ace. He's also closer in age to Gibson than Berrios. How long do the Twins have to wait for that "future potential?"

    • beckmt, notoriousgod71, Jham and 2 others like this

Wheeler is less than a year younger than Bumgarner.

    • notoriousgod71, Danchat, Jham and 2 others like this
The real failure at the deadline the trade deadline this year may not have been the failure to improve or chances at and in the playoffs, but rather the missed opportunity to salvage the 2020 rotation. It certainly appears that we've left ourselves with too much to do.
    • Steve Lein likes this

For the sake of argument, Wheeler and Madbum are the same age, but Bumgartner has over 1,000 more innings on his arm. He pitched 200 innings in his 21 year-old season. It's not always the age, it's the mileage (thank you Indiana Jones, baseball savant).

 

Quirky info: they were both signed as No. 1 picks of the Giants; Madbum in 2007, Wheeler in 2009. Heck, why choose. Sign both of them, and Pineda.

 

Rotation = Bumgartner, Berrios, Odorizzi, Wheeler and Pineda. You could do a lot worse. It's not Verlander, Cole & Greinke or Scherzer, Strasburg & Corbin, but then again those 2 threesomes probably won't be together next year.

    • Twins33, Mike Frasier Law, Dman and 5 others like this

For the sake of argument, Wheeler and Madbum are the same age, but Bumgartner has over 1,000 more innings on his arm. He pitched 200 innings in his 21 year-old season. It's not always the age, it's the mileage (thank you Indiana Jones, baseball savant).

Quirky info: they were both signed as No. 1 picks of the Giants; Madbum in 2007, Wheeler in 2009. Heck, why choose. Sign both of them, and Pineda.

Rotation = Bumgartner, Berrios, Odorizzi, Wheeler and Pineda. You could do a lot worse. It's not Verlander, Cole & Greinke or Scherzer, Strasburg & Corbin, but then again those 2 threesomes probably won't be together next year.


Doesn't that indicate Bumgarner has been way more durable over his career than Wheeler?

I wouldn't be opposed to either one for the Twins, but given the choice I would go Bumgarner 10 times out of 10 because of his durability and ability to pitch with his left arm.
    • beckmt, KGB, Rigby and 3 others like this

I'm certainly for going after Wheeler, I've said I want him and Bumgarner...

 

But he's not an ace. He's not even on Berrios level. I put him as a below average #2 starter or decent #3... when he's on. He goes through stretches just like Jose has where he's bad.

 

Wheeler's ERA was above 4.50 for about 2/3's of the season, while Jose was never above 4.00. Wheeler's WPA for the year was negative. At a -.42 mark versus Berrios being +1.9. 

 

Maybe the coaches can get more out of him, and I think that's fair to project a little (but not a certainty), and certainly improves the rotation, but let's not call Wheeler something he's not.

 

If you can't get Cole or Strasburg, Wheeler is a good option, but then it becomes you need multiple of him, so a Bumgarner in addition.

 

I would love to have a rotation of: Cole/Strasburg, Berrios, Odorizzi, Pineda/other FA, Internal rookies

 

But if you don't get that, you have to shoot for something like: Berrios, Bumgarner, Odorizzi, Wheeler, Pineda/Other FA/internal rookies.

 

You have the lineup, now fix the pitching. 

    • SQUIRREL, Mike Frasier Law, Jham and 5 others like this

If I want to play on the West Coast, Minnesota could write a blank check and I would ignore it, because I know that a West Coast team will also write a blank check.

Sometimes, where you want to play is more important than how much money they will give you.:)

    • Twins33, Dantes929, LA VIkes Fan and 2 others like this

Has Wheeler pitched in the post season? It seems like the other impact arms have. That experience isn't a deal breaker to me, but it's a nice perk.

 

If I want to play on the West Coast, Minnesota could write a blank check and I would ignore it, because I know that a West Coast team will also write a blank check.

Sometimes, where you want to play is more important than how much money they will give you.:)

 

Exactly. It's along the lines that people don't want to play for the Twins because it's Minnesota and the Twin Cities kinda like people don't want to play for the Sabres because it's welllll Buffalo.

    • gil4, Twins33 and Mike Frasier Law like this

I'd take Wheeler in a heart-beat. Like others, don't think he's any more of an ace that Berrios, but I'd take him. What I like about him is his relative consistency in getting into at least the 7th inning. I might like Burgarner more in the shortest term...but do worry more about the miles on his arm relative to Wheeler, despite being only one year older. It'll be interesting to see how many years Bumgarner gets.

The real failure at the deadline the trade deadline this year may not have been the failure to improve or chances at and in the playoffs, but rather the missed opportunity to salvage the 2020 rotation. It certainly appears that we've left ourselves with too much to do.


Not to mention at the start of the year, bringing in a number five starter instead of someone else. This mess is their own making.
    • Tomj14 likes this

I am not certain Strasburg turns down 4 years $100.In the recent years of FA for pitchers, how many pitchers have got much more? Only a few pitchers are making more than $25M per season.Many pitchers over last couple off seasons were thinking they would get that, and did not.Yes, Strasburg is coming off very good year, most innings pitched his whole career and strike out/ walk rates are the same.It will be interesting to see what he decides, but how much more than $25M a year over 4 will he be asking for?Kershaw is getting $31M a year over next two, would he ask for 4 years $120, and will he get it?The main thing going for him compared to Keuchel and Arrieta, both guys last two years hoping for huge pay day but did not get it, is Strasburg numbers have remained strong and he finally played full year.  

    • D.C Twins likes this
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bustedstuff88
Oct 18 2019 03:07 PM

 

I honestly believe the Twins will look at both Cole and Strasburg. How could they not considering payroll and opportunity? Now, even 5-6yrs at $30M do they love Target Field, the young lineup, Rocco, Johnson, the FO, etc.? Or are either drawn to lower tax rates, a place they call home, etc?

The Twins then have to look at the 2nd level options. Not bad, just the next tier, to go a long with other moves. Is Wheeler that guy? I'm torn between him and Bumgarner. Bumgarner has a ton of IP, and is a couple years older. But he has experience, and STILL has good velocity. Could Johnson work a few bits of magic and tweaking and have him at least close to what he was previously? Somewhat similar to Verlander finding new life in Houston?

Wheeler hasn't had near the career that Bumgarner has had. But he's also about 4yrs younger.

It could be easily argued that Odorizzi, acquired for next to nothing at a similar age and point in his career, would be a similar comparison. And Oddo, a hopeful, and expected re-sign, in whatever capacity, probably has less pure "stuff" than Wheeler.

Playing devil's advocate, and just assuming we lose out on Cole and Strasburg, even with similar offers, is Bumgarner or Wheeler the next best choice?

 

They will indeed be looking at them but I believe its virtually a foregone conclusion already that neither Cole nor Strasburg want to pitch anywhere other than on a coast, which we are not. Ive already mentally moved on from these two, unfortunately.

    • Steve Lein, Oldgoat_MN, Dman and 2 others like this

 


A former first-round pick, Wheeler has been a model of consistency when healthy.
 

And there's the rub.He is 29 and missed THREE SEASONS in a row.He had two decent years in a row, but he is in no way "an ace"

 

That said, he did have 23 games where he pitched six innings or more so the guy fits my profile for the kind of pitcher I want

 

 

 

Wheeler isn't near the pitcher Berrios is. "

"isn't near the pitcher Berrios is" is a little much.

Berrios is probably better, but it's closer than what you are saying

    • Vanimal46 and D.C Twins like this

And there's the rub. He is 29 and missed THREE SEASONS in a row. He had two decent years in a row, but he is in no way "an ace"

That said, he did have 23 games where he pitched six innings or more so the guy fits my profile for the kind of pitcher I want

"isn't near the pitcher Berrios is" is a little much.
Berrios is probably better, but it's closer than what you are saying


I find it ironic Wheeler is thought of as an ace with his injury history, and Bumgarner is dismissed because of too much milage on his arm.

Bumgarner has been way more durable in his career other than a couple of freak accidents (falling off a dirt bike hurting his shoulder, and getting drilled by a line drive on the mound).

Mileage on the arm doesn't appear to affect Scherzer, Verlander, and Grienke. I really think Bumgarner is one of those unicorns in baseball. A true work horse that can pitch 200 innings year in year out.
    • D.C Twins and DannySD like this

At what point do we come to understand that there is no such thing as "durable" in baseball? You're only "durable" until you're not. Ervin Santana, Nolasco, CC Sabathia, and a bunch of other pitchers were once considered "durable" too. Past experience is not a predictor of future success when it comes to "durability".

    • birdwatcher, Twins33, Dantes929 and 3 others like this
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LA VIkes Fan
Oct 18 2019 04:56 PM

 

If I want to play on the West Coast, Minnesota could write a blank check and I would ignore it, because I know that a West Coast team will also write a blank check.

Sometimes, where you want to play is more important than how much money they will give you.:)

Absolutely right. These guys are human beings, not robots. Cole likes playing for Houston, so they get first crack. He's from SoCal and his family is still there so the Angels and Dodgers would be his next choice. He is going to get basically the same money wherever he goes, and so Is Strasburg, Wheeler, etc., any of the "top" guys. It's not a money contest at the top level - it's a fit and desire contest. Money matters more to the second and third tier guys because it won't be the same everywhere. 

    • Dman, Major League Ready and D.C Twins like this
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notoriousgod71
Oct 18 2019 05:22 PM

Quit trying to find a diamond in the rough and sign the best guy out there.

 

    • Steve Lein and Battle ur tail off like this

Did I miss something? Have we signed Odorizzi and Pineda already? If Wheeler and Buamgartner aren't better than Berrios then they are not better than Odorizzi and proebably not better than Pineda. Get Odorizzi and Pineda signed, then get one of those other guys and roll with Graterol or Dobnak.Then get one good reliever. I ask for this with knowledge that the likelihood is they will do less. Asking for 2 or three aces every year ignores the history of what the team has done, ignores the fact that there just aren't that many top tier pitchers and ignores the fact that there are 29 other teams that also want quality pitchers.  My fear is that there are a couple dozen GM's that are targeting the same guys mentioned on this board including Odorizzi and Pineda.

    • notoriousgod71, DocBauer and Battle ur tail off like this

 

Quit trying to find a diamond in the rough and sign the best guy out there.

 

I don't know. Cole was the diamond in the rough less than two years ago. I'd like to find the next one. There are probably a few.

    • whosafraidofluigirussolo and DocBauer like this

Quit trying to find a diamond in the rough and sign the best guy out there.


Getting swept as we did in the playoffs again doesn't make us any more attractive to top end starting pitchers entering the market. We will likely need to outbid the entire market whereas teams like Houston or NY (for example) won't need to try as hard. This is why I am not a big believer in signing pitchers for stupid money. I'd much rather swing a trade and watch a young guy grow with us rather than sign a guy for a term that is too long
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The Wise One
Oct 19 2019 05:49 AM

I don't get the poo pooing of his skillsfor Berrios on this board. Berrioswas 16th WAR,24th era. fip 25 WPA 22.. I don't know but it would look like there are very few pitchers that pitched better than Berrios last year Berrios's positionrelative to the other pitchers was lightly lower in 2018. You can't say it is a one year flukey sort of thing. The dude has shown he can pitch. Is there some measure on than a Deus scit omnia type of reasoning that says he is not an Ace? So he is not an Ace, there are about 20-25 pitchers better than Berrios. Not many of them would be Aces either. what the heck is out there that is obtainable? Yes Cole, Strasburgand Ryu are better than Berrios. One of the 3 will be on a winning World Series team to add to their pedigree. Even if 1/2 the teams are are not bidding that leaves 14 others teams to bid against, Are they obtainable?  Ryu with Boras as his agent and the twitter buzz goes like this Ugh.....Boras trying to spin Ryu as having “an arm of a 27 year old” is just so hokey and cheesy. Every Dodger fan wants Ryu back, but they’re not gonna empty the bank for a 33 yr old pitcher who been on the IL almost as much as he’s pitched in his entire MLB career. Nice try tho.Speaking of Boras, Strasburg is his client. Other than a June contract do the Twins really want anythese players on a Boras contract?So kindly enlighten with some logical method who is available and better than Berrios and what is the methodology of that proclamation.

    • brvama likes this

 

My fear is that there are a couple dozen GM's that are targeting the same guys mentioned on this board including Odorizzi and Pineda.

This is the issue and it has been one for years. We have desperately been looking for starting pitching for years because we can't seem to raise it ourselves.At the same time high payroll teams are looking for starting pitching all the time because they can do it no matter how stocked some of them might be.The free agents want to go to winning teams and those teams have bidding wars and then we are left in the dust unless we throw stupid money around.

 

A lot of people were really into throwing money at Yu Darvish and I think a lot of that was with "making a splash" and "getting a name guy". I think it is kind of a similar thing with Bumgarner.Sorry, no thank you.I get trying to acquire Wheeler, but if anyone thinks we have a shot at Cole it would need to be a deal that is literally more than any other team would offer.

 

 

 

Had we nutted up and played a much better series in NY or even won we would be a more attractive destination to free agents.If a player has a choice they likely aren't interested in playing for a team that has no intention of doing anything beyond getting to the playoffs.It is a real mess right now and this season that just ended for us needed to be a year where things were a bit different.After winning 101 games we can't even be competitive in the playoffs.Players know this about this organization and they aren't wasting time trying to "find the positives"

It is very hard to sell this team to free agents if we are going to be permanent postseason losers who insist that they are successful in spite not winning a damn post season game in 16 tries.We end up with guys like Lance Lynn, etc....for a reason.

 

I don't think many fans are willing to accept this harsh reality.Losing in the playoffs the way we did hurt our chances in this year's free agent market to get top flight guys.Winning some postseason games would have helped

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jorgenswest
Oct 19 2019 07:51 AM
Is Wheeler better than Odorizzi? I wouldn’t put him in a tier above Odorizzi.

Wheeler gets a huge benefit pitching in an NL pitcher friendly park. He had 28 strike outs to no walks against pitchers. Both the park and the NL helped to extend his innings and give the perception he would go deep in games. Take out pitchers and his OPS against (712) was 45 points higher than Odorizzi. In Citi Field Wheeler’s OPS against was 658 vs 727 away from home.

Wheeler is better than Nolasco but the concerns should be the same. Nolasco came off a season pitching in the NL in a mix of neutral (Florida) and pitching friendly (LA) parks. He had about the same number of pitchers faced that included 23 of his strike outs. We found some hope in his FIPs that were better than his ERAs. His OPS against non pitchers that year was 706.

I think there is a better chance that he will be Nolasco than be transformed into an ace. I expect somewhere in the middle getting between 5-6 innings per start of a little better than league average pitching and then declining some age 32 and 33.
    • birdwatcher, brvama and Vanimal46 like this

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