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We had a thread for items around the baseball world that were worth sharing but not worth a thread of their own. Now that the 2018 season...
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Kyler Murray

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Article: Twins Trying to Sustain Excellence

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:11 AM
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Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:44 AM
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Ehire Of Hope: Can Adrianza Seize A Prime Opportunity?

If you played ball growing up, there's a good chance at least one of your coaches invoked the story of Wally Pipp.

The legend goes like this: Back in 1925, Pipp asked for a day off due to a minor headache. Yankees skipper Miller Huggins acquiesced. The guy who started in Pipp's place went by the name of Lou Gehrig, and would take a hold of the position with an iron grip for the next 13 years, starting 2,130 consecutive games. Pipp, meanwhile, faded from relevance.

The story as it's told is not actually accurate, but that doesn't stop it from being repeated ad nauseum by mentors and instructors – the ultimate cautionary tale.

In the big leagues, someone is always behind you, angling for your job. At this level, you cannot afford to lapse.
Image courtesy of Douglas DeFelice, USA Today (Ehire Adrianza)
On Sunday, the Minnesota Twins and their fans were stunned to learn that Jorge Polanco, fresh off a breakout finish in 2017, was being hit with an 80-game suspension after testing positive for the steroid stanozolol. Not only will he miss the first half of the season, but the shortstop will also be unavailable for a theoretical playoff run.

It's a crushing blow after Polanco's offensive emergence in August and September last year helped carry the Twins to a postseason berth. He batted either third or fourth in all but two of Minnesota's final 33 games. The switch-hitter figured to provide thump near the bottom of the lineup this season, as well as insurance for injury or regression near the top.

Now, the Twins must plan around life without him. It's a huge bummer.

But for Ehire Adrianza, the unfortunate situation presents a huge opportunity. The 28-year-old was penciled in as a utility man destined for sporadic playing time, but now could seize a regular job. This would prove very advantageous for both him and the club.

Adrianza's lackluster offensive performance in parts of four seasons with the Giants landed him on waivers, where Minnesota was able to claim him last spring. His outstanding glove at short has kept getting him chances in the majors, but during his tenure in San Francisco, Adrianza just didn't hit enough to make himself an asset.

Then again, he rarely received steady at-bats for any length of time. And Adrianza's career .303/.385/.412 line in 115 games at Triple-A is hard to ignore, even if it was accrued in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.

In his first season with the Twins, Adrianza received a career-high 186 plate appearances, and posted a career-high .707 OPS. Like Polanco, he's a switch-hitter who rarely strikes out. And while his light production in the past had cast him in a certain mold, Adrianza took steps to alter his reputation last summer.

"I was thinking 'Good field, no-hit shortstop' when we got him," Molitor said early in camp. "I was wrong. He hit the ball hard quite a bit. And he looks stronger this spring."

Despite making a good first impression, Adrianza had little shot at becoming a lineup fixture this year. Until now.

The Twins don't seem to love Eduardo Escobar's defense at shortstop, the infield's most vital position, so they could turn to Adrianza often. Especially if he and hitting coach James Rowson can build upon last year's progress at the plate.

Adrianza's defensive aptitude is such that if he can establish himself as a moderately above-average hitter – last year the average OPS for an MLB shortstop was .735, so that bar is not terribly high – he suddenly turns into a very valuable regular. Whether that's for the Twins or somebody else, it figures to benefit the club.

If Adrianza can back up his encouraging 2017, as well as his promising 2018 spring (he's slashing .294/.333/.529 in Graprefruit play), Polanco could return to a very different landscape at the shortstop position in July.

Situations like this are exactly why the myth of Wally Pipp's plight continue to endure.

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65 Comments

WE really need him to step up.
    • Riverbrian and nytwinsfan like this

 


"I was thinking 'Good field, no-hit shortstop' when we got him," Molitor said early in camp. "I was wrong. He hit the ball hard quite a bit. And he looks stronger this spring."


Click here to view the article

 

The Statcast data does not support this assertion. Adrianza is one of the weakest hitters in baseball. Exit Velocity, % of balls hit 95+ mph, and Barrels per BBE all suggest he will never be an average hitter over a full season. Since he's already 28 it's not even like he's young and could grow into some power at this point. He is just fine as a utility infielder.

    • Mike Frasier Law, Sconnie, Vanimal46 and 1 other like this

 

The Statcast data does not support this assertion. Adrianza is one of the weakest hitters in baseball. Exit Velocity, % of balls hit 95+ mph, and Barrels per BBE all suggest he will never be an average hitter over a full season. Since he's already 28 it's not even like he's young and could grow into some power at this point. He is just fine as a utility infielder.

 

Whats Polanco's trainer up to these days?

    • Jerr, Mike Sixel, Dantes929 and 5 others like this
I feel really badly for him and thought he really had a chance to take offf and solidify his future as a major leaguer this year. Now that is on hold and will be tough to get his job back if the Twins are competitive given the fact he cannot play in the post season. Looking ahead to next season though there is a potential silver lining. If Adrianza proves valuable at SS and can hit to a league average OPS then it’s so much easier to move Polanco to 2B if Dozier isn’t resigned. Or gives the team another trade chip (either one of them) if Dozier is signed.
    • gagu likes this
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killertwinfan
Mar 19 2018 05:12 AM

I am sick of cheaters. Cut him.

    • PDX Twin likes this
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Comrade Bork
Mar 19 2018 05:33 AM

I am sick of cheaters. Cut him.


He's claiming he's innocent... ignorant*, but he didn't assault a chick. Which denials am I supposed to belive again??
    • Tomj14 and killertwinfan like this

 

The Statcast data does not support this assertion. Adrianza is one of the weakest hitters in baseball. Exit Velocity, % of balls hit 95+ mph, and Barrels per BBE all suggest he will never be an average hitter over a full season. Since he's already 28 it's not even like he's young and could grow into some power at this point. He is just fine as a utility infielder.

 

I think you are correct, and that's also not necessarily the point.I (and I assume Paul Molitor) expected, based on his pedigree, that Adrianza would bring a really good glove with near league-worst bat.But, Adrianza hits the ball with authority more than expected, and didn't strike out much last year.It's not going to be a league-average bat, but if he has better than a league-worst bat, he can probably provide positive value at shortstop.

 

It's just too bad he has the same right/lefty splits as Escobar (much better against lefties).

    • gagu, Minny505 and MN_ExPat like this
Adrianza will be exposed with more PAs. A league average bat is a very rosy picture. I'm expecting Pedro Florimon type production from him.

I'm way more interested in Nick Gordon seizing the opportunity and taking over at SS full-time. Throughout the offseason I've been beating the drum of trading Gordon+ for an impact SP. I don't like cheaters like Polanco. So let's trade him instead.
    • Dantes929, Oxtung, mikelink45 and 3 others like this

Is there any chance that his second half surge had some chemical enhancement?I am fine with Ehire to start, but if Gordon gets off to a good start - bring him up, actually if Lewis gets off to a really good start - bring him up!

Like Molitor, I thought Adrianza hit the ball more than I expected.  This is based on my murky memory and not hard facts, so TWAGOS. I don't think he is going to be any kind of all-star, but I think he can outhit Florimon.  Luckily, it appears Florimon will be in the majors as well, so we'll be able to start that thread when appropriate.

 

For those pushing for Gordon, let's not forget his brother is a recent suspensionee as well.  This means absolutely nothing, of course.  Not sure why I bring it up, other than to note the weirdness of it.  I guess all middle infielders can't be strapping, 40 home run hitters...but they'd sure like to be.

    • Carole Keller likes this
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terrydactyls1947
Mar 19 2018 06:58 AM
Calling Polanco a cheater is unfair. However, calling him Stupid is accurate. An athlete has a single most valuable asset (and before the critics jump in, I know there are others) and that's their body. To take any drug assuming that another person prepared exactly what you asked for is absolutely ignorant. It reminds me of Len Bias in 1986 who decided to try heroin two days after being the second pick in the NBA draft. He died. What a waste of an asset and human. If all you want is B-12 and an iron supplement, go to the drug store and buy it yourself. Or even better, go to Costco and get humongous jars for a fraction of the price.
    • DocBauer, Minny505 and Doctor Wu like this
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terrydactyls1947
Mar 19 2018 06:59 AM
And as for Adrianza, I hope he is the second coming of Lou Gehrig. If not, bring up Gordon and see how he does.

 

And as for Adrianza, I hope he is the second coming of Lou Gehrig. If not, bring up Gordon and see how he does.

Or bring back Florimon!

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Old Twins Cap
Mar 19 2018 07:15 AM

Kind of makes you wonder what the Twins knew: as in, why did they bring in Aybar to Spring Training?Wasn't that a head scratcher?

 

I would bet MLB has back-channel communications that makes Trump-Russia look like an old fashioned switchboard.

 

I am bullish on Adrianza.He's a heady player, a gamer, with good glove and decent speed.

 

Can he hit? 

 

The answer to that question is:Can Sano hit the curve?Can Kepler hit lefties?Can Buxton hit anyone?

 

IOWs, if we are hanging anything on Adrianza's bat, we are in big trouble.

 

 

    • gagu and BJames like this
To me, it's hard to ignore Adrianza showing he could hit in the minors and then hit well with the Twins. Opportunity? Change of scenery? Tweaks at the plate? Hard to say for sure. And he could absolutely regress, but there is also some reason for general optomism. A decent bat with contact and speed at the bottom of the lineup with quality defense would not be a bad thing at all, not that he'd truly replace Polanco.
    • LA VIkes Fan, gagu, Dozier's Glorious Hair and 3 others like this
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Nick Nelson
Mar 19 2018 08:29 AM

 

 Since he's already 28 it's not even like he's young and could grow into some power at this point. He is just fine as a utility infielder.

Adrianza has slugged .382 in 250 PA over his past two seasons in majors. Simply continuing at that level would probably make him at least a borderline starting candidate. No one is saying he's gonna start launching 20 homers a year. 

    • gagu, Dozier's Glorious Hair and MN_ExPat like this

Adrianza is better defensively than Polanco.Period.Not even a discussion.With the way the Twins lineup, assuming health, is constructed, they can get by with an OPS around .700 in the 9 hole.That number, of course, is assuming we see the Adrianza we saw last year offensively and doesn't even take into account if he's actually somewhere between that and what he's been this spring.Let's remember too that Polanco will be back before the AS break.

    • howieramone2, gagu and Respy like this
On offense, I would be happy with just a .320 + OBP. Everything else is gravy.
    • James, Twins33, Danchat and 3 others like this
From Adrianza in case i needed to say it.
Also atleast Polonco is owning the punishment and consequences. I dont like what happened cause it hurts the investments made by the team by creating an unnecassary whole, but he is owning up to it.

The excuse of ignorance has been used passed the point of it being acceptible though. I would be ok with increasing the penalty to a full season to deter this type of behavior.
    • bluechipper likes this
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howieramone2
Mar 19 2018 09:21 AM

We have all kinds of depth. Half a season without Polanco is not a season changer.

Adrianza can not and will not hit. He's a utility infielder until he loses a step. He has a career wRC+ of 76 and has never even flashed an upside bat at the MLB level. His best stint, ever, was a 20 plate appearance rookie cup of coffee in 2013 where he registered a wRC+ of 100. His AAA numbers are incredibly easy to ignore. His age and far too high BABIP inflated the numbers. The idea Adrianza can or will turn a corner is just random player affection.

 

Adrianza does bring a potentially very good glove. How good? Tough to say as he's only had 500 career MLB innings at short stop and his fielding percentage is lower than Escobar's.

 

In regard to Escobar, he's an above average fielding short stop, and I don't get why people continue to lose sight of this. It's practically conspiracy level at this point, haha. The Twins haven't disliked Escobar's glove at SS, they've liked his utility everywhere else as they've used him as defensive duct tape to hold the roster together as needed. If Escobar had been used as a shortstop instead of everything and the kitchen sink, I think it's likely he would be looking forward to a big pay day in 2019 already.

 

In summary, there is no way in hell Adrianza pushes or challenges Escobar at shortstop. The two players are in entirely different leagues. Adrianza is a utility AAAA infielder who's all glove and can serve as a defensive replacement or an occasional breather. Escobar is a potential 3 WAR starting MLB shortstop. Whether Escobar ends up playing shortstop seems more likely to rely upon Sano's potential suspension.

    • Dr. Evil and Ghost_Of_Sid_Hartman like this
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Nick Nelson
Mar 19 2018 10:31 AM

 

His AAA numbers are incredibly easy to ignore. His age and far too high BABIP inflated the numbers. The idea Adrianza can or will turn a corner is just random player affection.

He has batted over .300 in three different stints at Triple-A, dating back to when he was 23. All just coincidence and luck, eh? 

 

 

In regard to Escobar, he's an above average fielding short stop, and I don't get why people continue to lose sight of this.

I don't think you'll find a single person on the ground or in the scouting community who agrees with this assessment. Escobar is sure-handed and capable but lacks the range and arm to be any kind of asset at short. 

    • luckylager, Danchat, Platoon and 1 other like this

Haven't read the article yet, just came to say that your pun in the title is *Italian chef kissing lips motion*, just perfect...

    • ashburyjohn, Nick Nelson and Dozier's Glorious Hair like this
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yarnivek1972
Mar 19 2018 12:22 PM
I don’t think Adrianza even has to hit as well as an average ss to fill in just fine as long as he plays strong defense. He just needs to not be an automatic out. He puts enough balls in play that that shouldn’t be too difficult for him.
    • bluechipper, adorduan, Platoon and 3 others like this

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