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Week 11: Vikings at Bears

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This is pretty much a must win in my opinion. We need to go to Soldier Field and take them... which means we won't. 
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Twins Minor League Coaches/Coordinators

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Article: Welcome to the New School

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NBA 2018-19 Thread

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Article: Rundown: Target Field Security, Offseason Expect...

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Target Field is undergoing yet another fairly major update this offseason, the focus being around Gate 34. Rochelle Olson of the Star Tri...
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Don't Give Up On These Twins Quite Yet

A little over a month ago, I posed this question: How good is Cleveland, really?

At the time, they were dragging their feet with a .500 record and several laggards in the lineup. But over the past four weeks, the Indians have shown that they are, in fact, pretty damn good.

Unfortunately, the Twins have made the opposite statement.
Image courtesy of Rick Osentoski, USA Today
Since I posted the aforementioned article on May 9th, Cleveland has gone 17-11, pushing its lead over Minnesota from 1.0 games to 6.0 games. The Indians have overcome some serious bullpen issues thanks to MVP contender Jose Ramirez powering the offense and runaway Cy Young front-runner Corey Kluber leading the rotation. On Monday, they called up Francisco Mejia, ranked by MLB.com as the 11th-best prospect in the game.

This doesn't look like a club that'll be easily run down. Minnesota certainly doesn't appear equipped to make up all that ground, not presently anyway. They're coming off another lackluster week that saw their fledgling momentum dissolve before deflated fans at Target Field.

Here on June 11th, Minnesota is 28-34 and reeling. But it's not quite time to give up on them yet.

At the beginning of May I tried to shed some optimism following a crummy first month, by pointing out that in 2006 the Twins had also finished April with a 9-15 record. Here we are, almost six weeks later, and the parallel still fits. On June 11th, 2006, the Twins were 28-34, same as today. They faced a much larger deficit in the standings, 11 games. As you'll recall, that team finished with 96 wins and a division title.

They didn't wait much longer, of course. The '06 Twins rattled off victories in 19 of their next 20 games, astoundingly making up only two games in the standings as first-place Detroit went on a coinciding tear. But in the second half, Minnesota gradually gained ground, finally surpassing the Tigers on the season's final day.

What I'm getting at here is that we're still not in hopeless territory. Even if you don't buy the literal comparison between this year's Twins and the 2006 version (I'm not sure I do), the point is that things can change quickly in this game. And while one might be inclined to lament, "It's getting late early," the night ain't over yet.

One thing you can say about these current Twins is that the pitching staff has been quite impressive. Starters are giving the team a chance to win every night and the bullpen has been mostly solid. Minnesota posted a 3.52 ERA in May and are at 3.50 in June. Combine that kind of performance with the Twins offense from last year's second half, when they averaged 5.6 runs per game, and you've got the recipe for a 20-win month.

Needless to say, the current lineup hasn't resembled that one at all, but it soon might – at least in terms of personnel. Joe Mauer is on a rehab assignment and could be back as soon as Thursday. Byron Buxton is traveling with the team and taking positive steps. Jorge Polanco is suddenly only a few weeks from returning. Brian Dozier is approaching that point in the summer where a light bulb usually flicks on.

Get all these guys clicking in the lineup together while Eddie Rosario and Eduardo Escobar keep clubbing away, and you can start to envision the Twins stringing together some lengthy winning streaks.

I'll admit that right now it's difficult not to feel weighed down by pessimism. Mauer's concussion symptoms can re-emerge at any time. Buxton has looked abysmal at the plate when not sidelined. And Miguel Sano... yeesh.

But as I said before, things can change quickly in this game. The '06 Twins are a good macro example and Polanco is a good micro example. Last July he had one of the worst months you'll ever see, slashing .078/.158/.115 while collecting only four hits in 17 games. Then, the calendar flipped and he was a suddenly a monster, putting up a .373/.413/.686 line in August.

A few similar offensive outbreaks from players we know are capable, along with some desperately needed good fortune on the health front, would make a big difference for this year's squad.

As we get deeper into the season, it grows harder to believe that these aren't the real Twins – this relentlessly disappointing bunch, constantly shrinking in big moments and fumbling away key opportunities.

But I'm still not totally convinced that's who they are. Granted, at some point it won't really matter. The hole will become too deep and the Twins will have no choice but to approach the trade deadline as sellers.

We're not there yet, though. Urgency grows as Minnesota heads out on a critical road trip that gets underway on Tuesday in Detroit.

The Tigers likely remember that magical Twins turnaround in 2006. Their manager definitely does.

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57 Comments

http://mlb.mlb.com/m...ex.jsp#20100713

Of course the 2006 Twins, who played .680 ball over their last 100 games, is the best-case scenario. This year the team probably will have to play almost as well to catch Cleveland or Seattle; a .620 pace would get them to 90 wins. Trouble is, only three teams in Twins history have played better than .600 ball after Game 62 (the '65 and '69 Twins were the other two). Last year, even with the August surge, they were a .520 team over their last 100 games.

 

Winning pct. after Game 62 by Twins teams that made the playoffs or won 90 games:

 

2017 .520

2010 .580

2009 .564

2006 .680

2004 .580

2003 .550

2002 .586

1992 .570

1991 .580

1988 .570

1987 .500

1970 .570

1969 .630

1967 .596

1965 .640

1963 .586

1962 .550

 

If they finish at a .570-.580 pace like the 2010, 1991-92, 1988, 1970, and 1963 teams--some of the best teams in Twins history--they'll wind up with 85-86 wins; and that would be more enjoyable to watch, of course, but most likely would fall short of the playoffs.

 

A .600 pace and 88 wins might come close, but I really think they'll need more than 90 wins. And that means matching the hottest finishes of the Killebrew era--the '65 team with Killebrew, Oliva, Versaille, Allison, Hall, Battey, and a loaded starting rotation that won 102 games and the AL pennant, and the '69 team with Killebrew, Oliva, Carew, Allison, Tovar, Reese, and two 20-game winners in the rotation that won 97 games--or that 2006 miracle run. Honestly, I don't expect to see the likes of that 2006 finish from a Twins team ever again.

 

It's not likely the Twins make the playoffs but it can happen:

 

The 2009 W% after 62 games was 484.

Last year, the low point came later - the 2017 W% after 104 games: .481 (50-54)

 

The bar is a lot higher this year - Boston/NY are going to take one WC spot and the Mariners have a commanding lead for the other. It looks pretty grim. Still, why not see where the Twins are at the All-Star break before giving up? Nothing much will happen on the trade front until then anyway. 

This season is very different than others, because the wild card races in the AL, are pretty much done, unless something drastic happens. This will make all the .500 teams non-wild card contenders, which means that all .500 teams and sub .500 teams in the AL East and West will likely be sellers, because both Division and WC are very uphill climbs.

 

As far as the Twins go, the only way to the post-season is through Cleveland.To do that, unless Cleveland falls apart, they pretty much need to win every series against lesser opponents, every series against better opponents at home and pretty close sweep all games against Cleveland.They are 5 behind in the L column and 7 in the W.Splitting series with Cleveland will get them nowhere.

 

Pretty. Tall. Order.But the fat lady hasn't sung yet.

 

 

 

 

 

    • Tomj14 likes this

I think if they can be within a 2-3 games of .500 by the All Star Break, (45-47 wins).They might have a chance.I've now tempered my expectations for the season. 81 wins would be ok.Anything more is gravy. I think the starting pitching has been good enough for a better than .500 finish. Just have to:  cerrano.jpg

I must clarify why this roster isn't a 96-win roster. The 2006 Twins team was far superior to this Twins team. 

 

The 2006 team had the following:

Star Catcher

MVP First Baseman

Gold Glove CF that COULD HIT!

2 left-handed Cy-Young candidates

An excellent bullpen with no less than 5 reliable arms.

 

This team has a lot of potential, but there should not even be a comparison to the 2006 team. We will be lucky to even have a league average catcher. There are no MVP candidates on this team. Our Gold Glove center fielder can't stay on the field. There are no Cy-Young candidates. The bullpen has some good arms, but is leaky.

 

As it turns out, 2017 was a classic case of being slightly better than all the other mediocre teams in the AL while having the benefit of playing in a weaker division. Maybe this team just isn't as good as we thought.

    • Mike Sixel and wsnydes like this
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Thebigalguy
Jun 12 2018 11:14 AM

Thanks for the article and all the comments. I think the team has until close to the trade deadline to turn it around. Unfortunately, they have less room for error this year, since the wild card slots aren't there for the taking. It's either catch Cleveland (and Detroit!) or stay home. The fact that they're 3-13 in one-run games means they're capable of a turn around. Tommy Lasorda used to say that the best team loses a third of its games, the worst team wins a third of its games, and that it's the other third, the games that can go either way, which make the difference between a winning and a losing record. That 3-13 makes me cringe and for me it's the story of the season to this point, but it also tells me the team is competitive and that there's still hope.

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Kelly Vance
Jun 12 2018 12:25 PM

The wild card slots are not filled in mid-June anymore than any of the division races are.  There is time to right the ship. But like Nick says, we need to get hot and make our own luck. This team has the potential for a winning streak after ASB. Six games under .500 is no reason to cry in your beer. Hang in there folks.

 

 

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RatherBeGolfing
Jun 12 2018 12:54 PM

 

The wild card slots are not filled in mid-June anymore than any of the division races are.  There is time to right the ship. But like Nick says, we need to get hot and make our own luck. This team has the potential for a winning streak after ASB. Six games under .500 is no reason to cry in your beer. Hang in there folks.

 

We're already almost 12 back in the wild card race. It would take a MAJOR collapse for us to even be in the conversation for wild card contention. Our only realistic route is by winning the division.

    • Thrylos, beckmt, wsnydes and 1 other like this

 

The wild card slots are not filled in mid-June anymore than any of the division races are.  There is time to right the ship. But like Nick says, we need to get hot and make our own luck. This team has the potential for a winning streak after ASB. Six games under .500 is no reason to cry in your beer. Hang in there folks.

 

Houston will get to 90 wins by playing .505 ball the rest of the way. Boston just has to play .479 ball, the Yankees need a .475 pace. Seattle will get to 90 wins at a .500 clip.

 

One of those teams might go into a complete tailspin, while the Angels stumble across the line and the Twins play .620 ball or better. But... well, there are fewer moving parts required to overtake the Indians, let's just say.

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Nick Nelson
Jun 12 2018 01:39 PM

 

I must clarify why this roster isn't a 96-win roster. The 2006 Twins team was far superior to this Twins team. 

 

The 2006 team had the following:

Star Catcher

MVP First Baseman

Gold Glove CF that COULD HIT!

2 left-handed Cy-Young candidates

An excellent bullpen with no less than 5 reliable arms.

I guess this is kind of the point I'm driving at though. On June 11th, 2006, when they were 28-34, was anyone looking at those Twins as a 96-win team? 

 

Right now this team isn't clicking. If that changes, I don't see them as being all that comparatively inferior. 

 

No, they don't have a star catcher. But they have a second baseman in Dozier whose impact over the last two years (according to WAR) has been on par with that version of Mauer.

 

They don't have an MVP first baseman but they have a potentially top-tier slugger in Sano.

 

They have a Gold Glove CF who hit last year. 

 

They don't have Johan or Liriano but Berrios and Romero are nothing to scoff at (nor Gibson) and this rotation is easily deeper than the '06 one.

 

If a majority of these guys start playing up to their ability or close, I don't think it's ridiculous to say this can/should be a team capable of 95 wins.

    • DocBauer and Don Walcott like this

Matt Belisle to the rescue! And a damaged May and Santana, and an out of practice Polanco are on the way, too. And don't forget that other damaged and overweight tourist pitcher in the wings.

 

Yup, anything can happen.

    • Mike Sixel and TheLeviathan like this
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Kelly Vance
Jun 12 2018 04:01 PM

 

We're already almost 12 back in the wild card race. It would take a MAJOR collapse for us to even be in the conversation for wild card contention. Our only realistic route is by winning the division.

Yeah, it is still June. 

I haven't watched much lately and every time i have watched or listened to the Twins same thing has happened to me watching the Twins. They have the lead and starting pitching has gotten them to late 5 to early 7 inning with a lead. They bring in releif help and first thing that happens is releif gives up the lead to where i turn off the Twins. I have lost total faith in Ryan Pressly he may have all makings and abilities of top reliever but he just gives up to many big hits and runs when he brought in. I willing he has given up lead at least 6 times this year or more when he has come into the games. That to me is six wins given up or they would be tied for first place if he would have held in his relief appearances. I can name several more like this and this is the feeling I have had all season something is not clicking with this team I don't know what it is but you just have that feeling. I wonder if it is to many of these guys are playing on their contract year and are not handling the pressure of playing like this. Also the way Twins were last year I wonder if they feel they are going to be traded by deadline because this team is not playing up to expectations. I look at this years club Dozier, Escobar, Mauer, Santana, Duke, Rodney, and Lance Lynn where these are leaders of this club or were expected to be for this year were seeing where this may be influencing how this club is performing. Also we have Sano and Polanco who are not contributing to this club like last year and we have club that is playing sub 500 baseball. The good thing is they have chance to turn this thing around because Cleveland hasn't played up to expectations. But the time is running out on this years club because I just don't see that same fire and urgency to win. FO got some big decisions ahead of it this year because it looks to me Sano is going to be bust as big star, Buxton is coming up to this too great defender but gets hurt to often making big plays and offense struggles with these injuries. So where does this leave the Twins if these players turn into busts and they loose Escobar, Dozier, and Mauer next year this leaves the Twins with two above average everyday players on the field of Kepler and Rosario. Like I say Twins have time to turn this around but longterm plans may be in trouble if Sano and Buxton are not ones to fit to into the future.

 

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LeatherAntenna
Jun 12 2018 07:56 PM
Like the optimism in the story comparing the possibilities to 2006! That was a dream season catching Detroit the last day. I was glued to every inning after the Twins started the climb winning 19 of 20 in June and July. Sadly though, those are near impossible odds to see repeat, going 71-33 the last 2/3 of the year. Fun to see happen again though.

After almost 10 years of mediocre to bad baseball its difficult to get excited about what might happen. They had a good month last year and a good one in 2016. Anything other than that is hard to remember. Yep they may trade some people next month or get some guys off the injured list or pigs may fly, but I've seen too much of this kind of baseball. Judging by the crowd sizes at the games so have alot of other people.

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LeatherAntenna
Jun 12 2018 08:18 PM

I guess this is kind of the point I'm driving at though. On June 11th, 2006, when they were 28-34, was anyone looking at those Twins as a 96-win team? 
 
Right now this team isn't clicking. If that changes, I don't see them as being all that comparatively inferior. 
 
No, they don't have a star catcher. But they have a second baseman in Dozier whose impact over the last two years (according to WAR) has been on par with that version of Mauer.
 
They don't have an MVP first baseman but they have a potentially top-tier slugger in Sano.
 
They have a Gold Glove CF who hit last year. 
 
They don't have Johan or Liriano but Berrios and Romero are nothing to scoff at (nor Gibson) and this rotation is easily deeper than the '06 one.
 
If a majority of these guys start playing up to their ability or close, I don't think it's ridiculous to say this can/should be a team capable of 95 wins.

agreed on Dozier. The last two years his production has been vastly superior to 06 Mauer. And I am not taking away from Mauer’s 2006 last game performance in winning the batting title-he did that well. Potentially top tier slugger in Sano? He appears washed up as a top tier slugger to me. Hope I am wrong about him, I will be happy if I am. Buxton is an X factor. If he is healthy and hitting like at the end of last year, then the dream season could happen again.

 

They don't have Johan or Liriano but Berrios and Romero are nothing to scoff at (nor Gibson) and this rotation is easily deeper than the '06 one.

 

About the pitching: it's been fine, better than what we're used to seeing for quite a long time, yes, but over the past month the Twins staff still rates just 8th-AL in ERA, 7th in FIP, and tied for 5th in xFIP. On the season, the staff is in the middle of the league--the rotation is 8th-AL in FIP, the bullpen is 13th (albeit 9th in ERA and xFIP).

 

Trailing teams that they're trying to chase down, mostly.

 

On an individual level, some possible red flags:

 

In his last 5 starts, Romero has a 6.20 ERA, 1.46 WHIP with a modest 6.9 K/9.

 

In his last 5 starts before today, Odorizzi has a 4.91 ERA, 4.47 FIP with a 77% flyball rate and 1.75 HR/9. On the season, he's been skating on a favorable BABIP and high LOB%, but lately those have regressed. As he gets into the summer weather, all of those flyballs sailing through the hot air could get ugly.

 

In his last 5 starts, Gibson has a 3.48 ERA, but a 4.78 FIP with a 1.74 HR/9 and 24% HR/FB. Being a groundball pitcher should help him control the longball damage to some extent, but those HR rates are something to watch as he goes through the summer, too.

 

In his last 5 starts, Lynn has improved his line, but thanks a lot to a high LOB%. He's been pitching around trouble, caused largely by his ongoing control problems; he still has a 4.88 BB/9 in the last month. And even if he continues to improve, if the Twins don't tear off a hot streak over the next few weeks, Lynn should be one of the first guys traded in July.

 

Meanwhile, two of the mainstays of the bullpen, Pressly and Reed, seem to be wearing down lately.

 

It's a decent pitching staff, possibly an average pitching staff if those red flags don't actually spell much trouble down the stretch. Is that good enough to drive them to a 62-38 record or better over the final 100 games? Unless the hitters suddenly challenge the Yankees for best offense in the league, probably not.

 

 

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LeatherAntenna
Jun 12 2018 08:49 PM

After almost 10 years of mediocre to bad baseball its difficult to get ecited about what might happen. They had a good month last year and a good one in 2016. Anything other than that is hard to remember. Yep they may trade some people next month or get some guys off the injured list or pigs may fly, but I've seen too much of this kind of baseball. Judging by the crowd sizes at the games so have alot of other people.

. It’s not been 10 years. More like 7 and 1/2 years but I agree with you that it has been too long not playing consistent playoff achieving baseball. Especially with the potentially best outfield the Twins have ever had if Buxton can appear again. Something is amiss within this organization. If the Twins don’t finish strong this year and that does look doubtful then singing players to contract extensions, if that is an organization desire, might get harder with this outfield seeing a more appealing move to a free agency market where the player can sign with a winning team becoming a factor.
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Kelly Vance
Jun 12 2018 08:57 PM

Those who think of themselves as ex-players and coaches, be it baseball or softball, look at baseball as a pennant race the same as others who didn't play. But they know that you just have to stay positive. The season doesn't go away just because you hit a bad patch and lost a few games.  In the Twins case way too many 1 run games. But that is what you kinda expect with a young team. Still, I am glad to see articles looking at the positive side.  

 

Six games below .500 in mid June is nothing.

 

 

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RatherBeGolfing
Jun 13 2018 07:26 AM

 

Yeah, it is still June. 

 

Both New York and Boston are going to win 100 games or close to it. Second place in the west essentially has to play only 500 ball the rest of the way to get the second wild card spot. I mean, yes it's still June but the wild card race for the Twins is over. It's the central or nothing.

    • frightwig likes this

You have to be realistic.With the large number of sellers, the buyers should be able to pay less than market value for assets.The better teams are only going to get better at the trade deadline.My issue is how the sellers will opperate.If sellers sell controlable assets to maximize the return, some of these teams are in a position to get very scary good for the next five years. (Yankees and Houston come to mind with great farm systems to buy the assets and there may be more teams in that group).Twins will have to make a realistic assessment of assets and may have to both buy and sell to position themselves for the future.Good luck to the FO for planning that mission.

Failure means that the Twins could be looking at 2 - 3 superteams when our window is open.That is a big task.

Nick, as always, excellent work.THere is one thing, however, that I have comment on with regards to this offense.This article didn't say go there, but other articles recently have with regard to the negative affect the Buxton and Mauer injuries have had on the lineup.

 

Thus far this year these two players have given the Twins 228 at bats and have produced a COMBINED 12 extra base hits.Buxton has given us at .158 average and an OPS of .383.When these guys come back Joe is going to need to do more than just walk, hits singles and bat around .280 and Buxton is going to need to hit the reset button back to zero, pretend this is a new start, and get his act straightened out.Talk about his speed and defense all day long, but if he can't .200 in his first 15 or 20 games back I am done waiting. A demotion has to be in order.There needs to be accountability on the Twins end

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LeatherAntenna
Jun 13 2018 08:29 PM
Well another disappointing loss and with this thread the Twins are that much farther away from a 2006 mirror season since in that year the Twins at this same time were starting a long winning streak as opposed to tonight’s continuing loss tendencies. Reed actually looked good tonight but he is still got spanked and his night pretty much sums up this season.
I absolutely think we could repeat 2006. The 2018 Twins can catch the 2018 Tigers on the last day of the season!
    • USAFChief, Mike Sixel, alarp33 and 3 others like this
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Battle ur tail off
Jun 14 2018 12:03 PM

Yep, I don't think it's going to happen. When one thing goes right, the other fails each game. That's the sign of an incosistent, marginal team. If they can finish the season at .500, I guess that would be good. That said, I thought this year would be a step forward. Instead, it's been a step back and now we are worrying that the 2 hyped up "chosen ones" are just that - hype. 

 

Let's hope not, if those 2 can't carry us, it's gonna be another pretty long stretch of bad Twins teams. 

 

    • Mike Sixel likes this

10 hits combined in 2 losses to the Tigers. Take out Adrianza's slam in game one and what have you got?

Maybe they will sweep the Indians. Maybe not.

Where in the Sam Hill is Miguel Sano? Does he need to rest every 2 games? Please don't say he can't play against right handed pitching. Are they afraid his average will slip below the Mendoza line?

Molitor has to go as the only option.


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