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Target Field Tax Status

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 04:58 PM
Been reading about all the losses (alleged or not) that MLB has (and maybe will again) taken with the pandemic, and wondered how the tax...
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MLB.com report on instructional league prospects

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 11:30 AM
In case you haven't seen it, mlb.com has published an article on the prospects at instructional league camp and their progress.   ht...
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2020 MLB (non-Twins) Postseason Discussion Thread

Other Baseball Today, 09:08 AM
Feel free to chime in here about any of the (non-Twins) 2020 MLB postseason games!
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Nelson Cruz wants 2 years

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 08:12 AM
https://www.mlbtrade...-year-deal.html
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Recent Blogs


Is it Time to Move on From Nelson Cruz?

The Minnesota Twins finished their 2020 season with a whimper. After being among the best teams in baseball all year, they drew an ideal Postseason matchup in the Houston Astros, and immediately proceeded to fall flat. It was the offense that let them down, and now they must decide if a key contributor should return in 2021.
Image courtesy of © Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Nelson Cruz has operated as the designated hitter for the Minnesota Twins each of the past two seasons. In 2020 he was playing in his age-39 campaign and turned 40 years old in the midst of it. Looking for a two-year deal on the open market as a free agent, the exceptionally well cared for body will be 42 years old by the time said deal expires. Rocco Baldelli will have a huge hole in his lineup without the Dominican napper, but should the front office look to fill that with someone else?



You can’t make a case against Cruz without first looking at what he’s provided. His .992 OPS in 2020 was the second-best mark of his career, topped only by the 1.031 total in 2019. He blasted 16 dingers in just 53 games and any concerns about a wrist tendon seem to be all but gone. With the designated hitter expected to remain universal, he’ll have no games in which Minnesota is forced to sit him from the lineup, and he remains dialed into his body and health more than any other athlete can claim.

So, why wouldn’t the Twins look to bring him back?

I don’t think there’s a case to be made from a financial sense. After signing Josh Donaldson to a franchise record deal last offseason, and being in the middle of a competitive window, payroll should continue to rise in the years ahead. Even if a Cruz contract goes belly up, there’s hardly an argument to make that the Twins couldn’t simply absorb that hit. Spending for the sake of doing so never makes sense, and it’s why payroll hasn’t been the issue in recent memory. Spending when you’re a contender is such a logical ask, the Twins doing anything but for at least the next couple of years would be worthy of handwringing.

The only assessment to make when it comes to Nelson Cruz is on the basis of production, and where Father Time ranks in the list of detractors. At some point age is always undefeated, and while David Ortiz experienced a similar final season outburst, there’s hardly a guarantee the production would’ve continued forward. With Cruz, it’s fair to wonder when that time may be coming, and just how steep the decline will be.

2020 is a difficult year to assess from a statistical landscape given the small sample even considering its entirety. However, it’s still worth wondering if anything can be gleaned from short snippets of the season. Cruz raced out to a really strong start and was pacing the league in homers for a time. As the Postseason push came to a head though, he slowed some. Over his final 20 games Cruz slashed just .265/.383/.426 with three home runs. He didn’t homer in his final 10 games including the playoffs, and that dry spell tied a season long dinger absence. An .809 OPS as a low point in a 162-game stretch would be hardly anything to scoff at, so the hope would be a cold streak rather than a decline.

What is a bit more troubling is the swing profile that Cruz owned in the season that was. A year ago, Nelson posted an MLB leading 12.5 barrels per plate appearance and had the third highest average exit velocity in the game. His hard-hit rate was 51.5% trailing only Aaron Judge and teammate Miguel Sano. In 2020 Cruz’s barrel rate dropped over three percentage points putting him 27th in baseball. His average exit velo tumbled to 34th in the sport, and his hard-hit rate came in at just 37th (more than a 4% decrease).

None of the steps backwards represent an untenable path forwards. In and of themselves, they’re respectable numbers that you’d take from anyone in your lineup. What is bothersome is that the slide is relatively steep, and all of them speak to quickness of the lumber through the zone. What Minnesota needs to deduce is whether that’s reflective of normalization after a career year, or a veteran starting to see some signs of age.

We don’t often see players fall off in a comparable state. While there’s ranges that production wanes, how quickly and how drastically it happens remains individualized. I’d prefer that Minnesota did bring Cruz back, I think the level of familiarity and comfort makes it a good fit. The lineup probably needs more protection around him though, especially given the injury histories of some other key contributors. At some point there will need to be a transition from the Boomstick carrying the load to him being a cog in the wheel. Two years, hopefully with an option on the back half, would be the best-case scenario.

Nelson Cruz has staved off Father Time for quite a while. He was a late bloomer that has less tread on his tires as well. 500 homers are probably unlikely, but if he sniffs anywhere near that in the next two seasons, whoever he plays for will have gotten more than their money’s worth.

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40 Comments

If we lose Cruz, our offense is definitely going to suffer. Getting that type of production is rare, especially as he was our only hitter doing anything in the playoffs.

 

I will understand the move if they think regression is coming... perhaps they could consider signing Michael Brantley from the Astros? That might be the only way to get a true replacement for him (minus the pop, but could play some LF/RF).

    • TopGunn#22, DocBauer and bighat like this
Sadly, yes. Find the next one.
    • bighat likes this
I’m torn on the subject.

On one hand, he has been great here. He’s clearly a positive influence. His numbers have been phenomenal. He’s fun to watch. He’s, by all accounts, a great guy.

On the other, as great as he’s been, we’re still being swept out of the playoffs and humiliated with him in the lineup. You know what they say about trying the same thing repeatedly hoping for a different result. I also don’t think regression is a going to deliberate process. One day, he’s going to wake up and the bat/hand-eye will be just a tick slower. Thats all it takes to go from premier power hitter to detrimental.

Honestly, I’d be fine either way. At this point, I can’t be convinced that this roster is making a serious push for a title any time soon, with or without Cruz.
    • bighat likes this

If Nelson doesn't return then find a DH who can play in the field some times giving more flexibility for line ups.

    • DocBauer and Joey Self like this

We don't know if this was a decline or just the opposition teams deciding Cruz was not going to beat them.I don't know which, but am in the camp of teams deciding Cruz was not going to beat them, plus the pressure of the lineup not being all together and Cruz possibly trying to do too much.

    • AceWrigley likes this

Is it time to move on? Hell No - he was our only offense in the playoffs. When father time catches up is when the Twins should move on. They can absorb a year- year and half worth of salary and replace him with a prospect that needs an opportunity. But until then we stay with the big man. He is the best Twins hitter since Kirby Puckett.The combination of power and average cannot be taken for granted.

    • wavedog, TopGunn#22, Danchat and 4 others like this

 

I’m torn on the subject.

On one hand, he has been great here. He’s clearly a positive influence. His numbers have been phenomenal. He’s fun to watch. He’s, by all accounts, a great guy.

On the other, as great as he’s been, we’re still being swept out of the playoffs and humiliated with him in the lineup. You know what they say about trying the same thing repeatedly hoping for a different result. I also don’t think regression is a going to deliberate process. One day, he’s going to wake up and the bat/hand-eye will be just a tick slower. Thats all it takes to go from premier power hitter to detrimental.

Honestly, I’d be fine either way. At this point, I can’t be convinced that this roster is making a serious push for a title any time soon, with or without Cruz.

 

I think the Twins getting eliminated early from the playoffs is less about Cruz and more about all the other guys around him in the lineup. He was literally the only offense for the Twins in the playoffs this year, and he was really the only consistent producer the lineup had this year.

 

I think the Twins should sign him an identical contract to what they signed him for in 2019. 1 year guaranteed and another year option.

    • wavedog, Dantes929, adjacent and 6 others like this
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yeahyabetcha
Oct 07 2020 05:24 AM
If Rooker and Kiriloff are deemed ready for the major league roster, it is probably time to move on from Cruz.
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TwinsFan268
Oct 07 2020 05:40 AM

 

Is it time to move on? Hell No - he was our only offense in the playoffs. When father time catches up is when the Twins should move on. They can absorb a year- year and half worth of salary and replace him with a prospect that needs an opportunity. But until then we stay with the big man. He is the best Twins hitter since Kirby Puckett.The combination of power and average cannot be taken for granted.

Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes.

    • TopGunn#22 likes this
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TwinsFan268
Oct 07 2020 05:40 AM

No. No no no no no. Keep him.

    • TopGunn#22 likes this

If he is willing to sign a 1 year deal with a fair bump in pay to both sides if there is such a thing in professional sports anymore if I were the Twins I would do that in a heartbeat.My guess is he will want two years for sure.As others have mentioned there are certainly other factors to take into conisideration.Isoliating just one is the health of Donaldson...how many games can we count on him to play in the field?Several others as well but that is a huge 'what if'.Should be an interesting off season.

Yes, no, maybe?

 

A lot depends on whether he is willing to accept a one year deal or one year with an option. When players get to his age, isn't smart for teams to be guaranteeing two years unless the total dollars is near what you would pay for one good year.

 

Also depends on the insider knowledge management has regarding his health and general physical condition towards the end of last year. No question, he began wearing down the last several weeks. And that was only a two month season. Should he begin wearing down after 6 weeks of a six month season it could be ugly. We just don't have the knowledge needed to know.

    • DocBauer likes this

How about a combination contract - player coach?Use his approach, attitude and skills to teach others - he is essentially doing that now, but if the contract is structured right he can step out when certain level are not reached and continue to have an impact as a PH and coach? 

    • Melissa likes this

Yes. The worst case scenario is dead money for 1 year if he struggles. He's not getting a long-term deal anywhere.

 

I imagine his September decline was due to his injury.

 

Yes, he's in his 40s so he will be injured more often. But with a likely larger roster size next year, you absolutely carry him. If he drops off or is injured then the team has depth. Depth is how you win. 

 

I disagree with your assumption that payroll will only go up. We're in unprecedented times (outside of MLB) and without fans in the stands, I wouldn't be surprised to see all MLB payroll drop. It's going to be a weird offseason.

 

    • mikelink45, DocBauer, rdehring and 1 other like this

I think can go year-to-year. AT some point the Twins do need to make room for Larnach and Rooker, amongst others. Sano the DH? Can Cruz help Sano for one more season? The Twins also need to get Garver at bats to increase value, either at first or DH.

 

I'm sure Cruz would love to reach 500 homes. Would it take two or three seasons to do so is the question, and can he.

I wouldn't mind giving him another 1-year deal with an option year. I also wouldn't mind if we didn't bring him back.

 

We have to be realistic and expect the numbers to go down, and also assume we'll see less of Cruz in the batter's box if he does return. Fewer plate appearances and week-long "rest periods" and injuries are gonna be a part of the future with Nelson.

 

Letting him go opens up a spot for a developing player.

    • mikelink45 likes this

 

If Nelson doesn't return then find a DH who can play in the field some times giving more flexibility for line ups.

The solution here may be related to the Donaldson/Buxton article earlier... If neither of these two can consistently stay healthy then maybe the solution is to have them platoon DH, and however isn't DHing on gameday is playing their normal position.That means we have to carry an additional infielder and outfielder (or a super utility that can play either).

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Dodecahedron
Oct 07 2020 11:38 AM

It's not time to move on, it's time to add more players like him.

    • Otwins likes this

DH & Hitting Coach?

    • bighat likes this
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IndianaTwin
Oct 07 2020 12:26 PM

In terms of his winding down at the end of the year, it’s worth noting that he played 53 of 60 games. That includes 40 of the first 41. He missed four consecutive games at the end of the season. 

 

That’s considerably less rest than he’d gotten the last couple years. I’m guessing that’s a function of both the urgency of a shorter season and the injuries/underproduction of others making Rocco reluctant to give a day off. In a “normal” season, I think he’d have gotten a few more strategic days off and remained fresher. 

 

 

    • DocBauer, kenbuddha and bighat like this

And in reference to Houston, if the Astros-A's series were best of three the A's would be gone too. Just sayin'.

You ABSOLUTELY bring him back. The lineup was pathetic without him. He would have been even better if he would have had someone who could hit batting behind him in the lineup. Easy out swing at anything Rosario and the Big K Sano don't offer much protection. Why give Boomstick anything to hit?

    • TopGunn#22, Otwins and Battle ur tail off like this

Bring Nelson back and let him do his thing.

 

Should be talking more on shipping Sano.Yes, we'd lose one of the strongest bats in baseball if we sent Sano in a trade, but we'd also be unloading someone who strikes out at an insane rate, which was even worse this past season.I've mentioned before that what he doesn't bring to the table far outweighs what he does.We have young and very able bats (capable of power) and gloves better than Sano.

 

But he hits massive HR's every once in while.

    • TopGunn#22 and mikelink45 like this

It says he is looking for a two year deal. Is that confirmed?Anything beyond a year should be dismissed. Pay him for one year and pay him well, then see what next year brings. 

    • mikelink45 likes this

I guess my answer above is dependent on a few factors. Is Kiriloff replacing Eddie?Is Rooker replacing Cave?Is Sano still around?


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