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How Will Sano’s Return Impact the Roster?

So far this season, Minnesota has been clubbing the ball out of the ballpark at quite the rate. The team has been able to do this with one of their best sluggers, Miguel Sano, recovering from an injury. Sano is in the midst of a rehab stint and he is getting close to rejoining the big-league club.

How will Sano’s return impact the club’s roster?
Image courtesy of Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Marwin’s Struggles
Marwin Gonzalez has been getting most of the playing time at third base with Sano out of the line-up. Entering play on Monday, he is hitting .204/.271/.286 with four extra-base hits in 98 at-bats. These are far below his career totals (.261/.316/.414). One has to wonder if his late signing this spring has impacted his ability to get prepared for the season’s start.

Even with his struggles, Gonzalez has shown some positive signs this season. His 91.1 exit velocity is higher than his career average. It is also higher than the MLB average this season (87.4 mph). His launch angle is around the league average at 9.0 but it's below the totals he’s put together the last two years.

Defensively, Gonzalez ranks in the middle of the pack among American League third basemen. FanGraphs credits him with one defensive run saved so far this year. His 1.4 defensive WAR ranks him sixth among the 11 qualified AL third basemen.

Roster Space
Finding roster space for Sano could come from the back-end of the bench or from a 13-man pitching staff. From the bench, Ehire Adrianza seems like a likely candidate to make way for Sano. He’s hit .146/.250/.220 in 16 games this season. If Adrianza is the odd-man out, Gonzalez could shift to a fill-in role at multiple positions.

Jake Cave could also be sent back to Rochester if the Twins are comfortable with Gonzalez serving as the fourth outfielder. Cave has hit .206/.289/.235 this season with one extra-base hit in 14 games. He has more strikeouts (9) than hits (7). Cave might be more replaceable since Adrianza is currently listed as the back-up shortstop on the team’s depth chart.

Minnesota is also carrying 13 pitchers so the team could trim the pitching staff to 12 pitchers. Mike Morin, Fernando Romero or Matt Magill could all be candidates to taken off the 25-man roster. The Twins are in the midst of quite a stretch of games so the extra man in the bullpen might be a necessity.

Playing Time
If Sano is going to take back the reins at third, Gonzalez will need to slide into a secondary role. It still seems likely for Gonzalez to get playing time at other positions in the line-up, especially if Cave is the one sent down. Gonzalez’s ability to play multiple positions could shift him to a super-utility role in the weeks ahead.

Sano could also spend some time at designated hitter, but it seems likely for Nelson Cruz to continue to get the majority of those at-bats. Among regular non-catching starters, Cruz is tied with Max Kepler and Marwin Gonzalez for sixth most games played. His 38-year old body might need some rest in the months ahead.

How do you think Sano will impact the line-up? Who gets sent down? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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121 Comments

Adrianza almost certainly has some trade value.


Not sure about this. I guess the Twins could get international bonus money (the new PTBNL) or another flawed player without options like Tyler Austin.
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TheLeviathan
May 08 2019 03:38 PM

 

Not sure about this. I guess the Twins could get international bonus money (the new PTBNL) or another flawed player without options like Tyler Austin.

 

Some perspective:Adrianza was 28th among shortstops last year with an 82 wRC+.He was 27th by OPS.31st in WAR.

 

People talk about him like he's a trash heap player.He's not.It's the nature of the depth of middle infielders in the bigs, but people lose sight of that methinks.

    • Twins33, Jham and Platoon like this

Some perspective: Adrianza was 28th among shortstops last year with an 82 wRC+. He was 27th by OPS. 31st in WAR.

People talk about him like he's a trash heap player. He's not. It's the nature of the depth of middle infielders in the bigs, but people lose sight of that methinks.


31st in WAR as a mostly backup is pretty good. Like basically lower-tier starter. Luxury as a back up. I know Rowson was working with him on swinging out and hitting for more power which would raise his value and ceiling significantly. Early returns were somewhat positive. This year's been a struggle after a fantastic spring. But he's a veteran presence by now. He's a proven, if unspectacular fielder. He'd be a perfect stop gap for a rebuilding team or a nice backup for a contender. He's better than DSan, Florimon, or Juan Castro anyhow... put another way, if we didn't have him, and Gonzo or Polanco got hurt, I'd be very willing to offer something for a him.

I just don't see Adrianza going anywhere. Last night with Castro out, Garver getting a bat on the neck, and Cron being the emergency catcher convinced me.I don't want to see Schoop or esp. Gonzalez at SS even for a game. Cave will be optioned when Sano/Astudillo is up with Gonzalez playing some OF LF if needed.When the second of the Astudillo/Sano duo is up a pitcher (the worst performing reliever) will go.

 

Some perspective:Adrianza was 28th among shortstops last year with an 82 wRC+.He was 27th by OPS.31st in WAR.

 

People talk about him like he's a trash heap player.He's not.It's the nature of the depth of middle infielders in the bigs, but people lose sight of that methinks.

I wouldn't say trash heap, but who's going to give up anything of value for him? Iglesias was 22nd in wRC+, and 15th in WAR, and he had to take a late minor league deal with the Reds.

 

There are a few teams with poor shortstop production, but they generally have another player they'd rather invest at-bats in, than an almost 30 year old utility guy with a peak 84 wRC+, 70 ZiPS projection, and a guaranteed $1.3 mil salary. Shortstops as a whole had a 97 wRC+ last year, so while some guys wind up around 80, teams generally want to aim higher (or at least younger, or cheaper) than that.

 

Just eyeballing the teams with below-average SS production so far in 2019 at B-Ref, I only see one where I might prefer Adrianza to their current starting personnel: Pittsburgh. But then again, Pittsburgh is also frugal, so the $1.3 mil salary might come into play, and if they know the Twins are looking to unload Adrianza, they'll probably just wait to grab him on waivers or only offer a token PTBNL.

 

Someone else might take him off our hands as a utility player, but again they probably aren't interested in paying much for the privilege.

    • USAFChief, Riverbrian and Vanimal46 like this

For the record, I'm not necessarily advocating or predicting Adrianza getting cut either. I expect Cave will go first, and then perhaps a reliever, and that's okay.

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Ehire Adrianza has no trade value.

Every team has an almost exact copy or two of Adrianza in AAA. If not, they can get one cheap if needed for nothing of any real value.
    • Mike Sixel, Vanimal46 and Don Walcott like this
Lot’s here think the pitching staff will go to 12 when the second of Sano/Astudillo become available? Why? Seems counter to recent history and trends especially as we get out of the cancellations season and into the makeup season. I’m sceptical that the staff will be 12 for anything other than brief periods going forward. I mean, they want 13 in early May, but will want 12 in June because...it’s become too hard to chose which hitters remain?
    • Jerr, Platoon and Vanimal46 like this
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TheLeviathan
May 08 2019 10:31 PM

 

I wouldn't say trash heap, but who's going to give up anything of value for him? Iglesias was 22nd in wRC+, and 15th in WAR, and he had to take a late minor league deal with the Reds.

 

There are a few teams with poor shortstop production, but they generally have another player they'd rather invest at-bats in, than an almost 30 year old utility guy with a peak 84 wRC+, 70 ZiPS projection, and a guaranteed $1.3 mil salary. Shortstops as a whole had a 97 wRC+ last year, so while some guys wind up around 80, teams generally want to aim higher (or at least younger, or cheaper) than that.

 

Just eyeballing the teams with below-average SS production so far in 2019 at B-Ref, I only see one where I might prefer Adrianza to their current starting personnel: Pittsburgh. But then again, Pittsburgh is also frugal, so the $1.3 mil salary might come into play, and if they know the Twins are looking to unload Adrianza, they'll probably just wait to grab him on waivers or only offer a token PTBNL.

 

Someone else might take him off our hands as a utility player, but again they probably aren't interested in paying much for the privilege.

 

A player's value is not the same as their trade value.I wasn't arguing he would reap some kind of huge trade reward, merely that people keep throwing out the idea that he's an easily replaced player.

 

He's not.He's not great, but he has value.Players of value, especially those that can play a decent to good shortstop, are not easily obtained.

Ehire Adrianza has no trade value.

Every team has an almost exact copy or two of Adrianza in AAA. If not, they can get one cheap if needed for nothing of any real value.


These types of players are traded all the time. Usually for cash or ptbnl. No one notices because no one cares. There's no reason to cut him if we don't have to imo.

My guess is that Cave is optioned first.Then if the Twins staff is OK, Romero goes back to Rochester until a 13th pitcher is needed again.  

One other point, I thought from somewhere that position players had a 30 day rehab, so Sano would only have to be here at the end of the month.That gives more time to sort things out.

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yarnivek1972
May 09 2019 05:12 AM

Lot’s here think the pitching staff will go to 12 when the second of Sano/Astudillo become available? Why? Seems counter to recent history and trends especially as we get out of the cancellations season and into the makeup season. I’m sceptical that the staff will be 12 for anything other than brief periods going forward. I mean, they want 13 in early May, but will want 12 in June because...it’s become too hard to chose which hitters remain?


Because the starters have been doing a better job getting deeper into games. There is simply no need for 8 relievers. Sure that could change, but right now relievers are being underutilized. The Twins are essentially carrying four relievers for use almost exclusively in extremely low leverage situations: Magill, Harper, Morin and Romero. No decent team needs 4 mop up relievers. True enough that they could use one more high leverage reliever. But they could easily drop 2 of the 4 I mentioned and replace them with one good one (in a perfect world, an effective Addison Reed).

My guess is that Cave is optioned first. Then if the Twins staff is OK, Romero goes back to Rochester until a 13th pitcher is needed again.
One other point, I thought from somewhere that position players had a 30 day rehab, so Sano would only have to be here at the end of the month. That gives more time to sort things out.


20 days for position players. 30 days for pitchers.

A player's value is not the same as their trade value. I wasn't arguing he would reap some kind of huge trade reward, merely that people keep throwing out the idea that he's an easily replaced player.

He's not. He's not great, but he has value. Players of value, especially those that can play a decent to good shortstop, are not easily obtained.


Okay. The post you responded to said "I guess the Twins could get international bonus money (the new PTBNL) or another flawed player without options like Tyler Austin" so I guess I assumed you were disagreeing with that take? It seemed accurate to me.

 

Because the starters have been doing a better job getting deeper into games. There is simply no need for 8 relievers. Sure that could change, but right now relievers are being underutilized. The Twins are essentially carrying four relievers for use almost exclusively in extremely low leverage situations: Magill, Harper, Morin and Romero. No decent team needs 4 mop up relievers. True enough that they could use one more high leverage reliever. But they could easily drop 2 of the 4 I mentioned and replace them with one good one (in a perfect world, an effective Addison Reed).

I agree that there are reasonable arguments/reasons/scenarios for a 12-man staff. And hope that that is what happens. But I don't think that will be the decision/outcome...at least not for the majority of the season. Will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Sano moving up to AAA today. 

What will keep Adrianza around is his 1.3M salary, but players who play at his level either get cut or end up in the minors. If he plays out the year like this it will be his last year in the majors.

 

Adrianza is a huge success story right now. If this is it for him, he has nothing to be ashamed of. He is clearly very easy to work with because he is still around in spite of never putting up good numbers at any level. Ball clubs like him and he did a serviceable job with the Twins.

 

As for Sano, though he is hitting well in the minors ... wow, he does not look like he is in shape. We'll see what happens. His value is in his bat and hopefully the Twins will realize that.

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Channing1964
May 13 2019 09:39 PM

Gordon is 3 for 3 in SBs since he's been activated, including 2 last night, including a steal of third base. 80% steal rate in 2018.

If Ben Revere is not available, I wonder if Herb Washington is doing anything? :)

LMMFAO I bet Herb can still run a 4.2 40 and then get picked off second. 🤣
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Channing1964
May 13 2019 09:43 PM

You should never be that systemic with anything and as long as you feel that Stringer meant "Absolutely Equal" playing time for all 12... you will prevent yourself from seeing the sensible reasoning behind what he is saying.

Cruz, Garver, Castro, Astudillo, Cron, Sano, Schoop, Polanco, Marwin, Rosario, Buxton, Kepler.

12 Players listed above... Who is our worst player and who is our best player? You may have an opinion and I may have an opinion... but If I open up that question to Twins Daily and do a little survey on the subject... I doubt the responses will be unanimous and I imagine the responses will be varied.

This should show everyone that the differences between our worst player and our 8th best player is going to be pretty razor thin. Does it makes sense to play Kepler 162 games ranked 8th and Astudillo 0 games ranked 12th... Because maybe Kepler is a hair better at the moment.

First off... Is Kepler a hair better?
2nd... You have just killed Astudillo for absolutely no reason at all. When you have a chance of him continuing to produce at a .300 mark and establishing Marwin Gonzalez type value... or a .300 hitter at the catcher position which is as rare as Mike Trout.

If Astudillo establishes that type of value... He could be traded for something of value in return. If you don't play Astudillo, he doesn't establish value and you get nothing back when you eventually release him.

All 12 of the above names don't deserve consistent bench time, they have value to the team currently regarding wins and losses and can increase in value for future acquisitions via trade. However... a player can only increase in value unless he gets playing time.

Having a hard cap(this player is a smidge better than this player) just throws 3 potential (25%) future and current value slots into the garbage.

This is why you need a roster of 25 players who the manager will play. Not playing someone on your roster is a waste.

true all of that and you are sooo Right R.B. the best deepest championship caliber teams all go at least 12 deep. (position player wise) The fact that we are even discussing this means we are on the right track.
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Channing1964
May 13 2019 09:51 PM
The whole fact that we are talking about our depth makes me smile. One point I would like to make about Adrianza is this. Some players would never be the same for any other team. Case in point Brian Dozier. On the other side of the spectrum, David Ortiz. Adrianza is who he is, a smart team player that is happy to do anything asked to help his team win. We could do worse. If he had any options he would prolly already be gone. But he doesnt. Until Gordon or anybody else can take Polanco or Schoop's job Ehire will be on our bench. Only Rocco and the FO knows why. but, #13 is okay with me
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Channing1964
May 13 2019 10:12 PM

I think Cave goes down and stays there until one of the starting three outfielders go down with an injury. I think Adrianza stays because of his glove as a late inning replacement for Sano at 3B and spot duty in the infield.

If the starting rotation continues on this pace - I think they can survive with 12 pitchers. I think adding quality arms to the bullpen and another starter will be the priority. I believe Keuchel and Kimbrel are both real possibilities if the team has a healthy lead when the compensation picks drop off of the two of them in June. Falvine would much rather add payroll than trade prospects.

wow! Both of them would put us over the top! Just remember, neither if them will be super valuable until maybe after the All Star break.

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