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2019 Game Threads

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We will have a much more informal game thread procedure this year (similar to how we ended last year.)   In short...there is no proc...
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Article: Central Intelligence: Rebuilding Royals

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Kansas City’s front office has followed a similar formula during the last decade or so. They build their team through the draft and trade...
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No Ichiro Love

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Indians tanking but will still win the division?

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Interesting article that suggests that the Indians are so confident that they will win the AL Central that they are tanking somewhat to m...
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Recent Blogs


Mailbag: Extension-Palooza, Infield Log Jam, New Spring Format

Spring training has started, but there are certainly plenty of questions to be answered about the club. Over the next few weeks, the roster will be finalized and some of the club’s best prospects will find out where they will be playing this season.

So what kind of questions were in the mail this week? Let’s find out.
Image courtesy of Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

After locking up Jorge Polanco and Max Kelper last week, the Twins could still lock up another piece of their young core before the season begins. I believe the Twins lock up one more piece before the season begins and I think it will be a pitcher. That leaves Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson in the discussion.

Berrios is coming off an All-Star season and some recent MLB contract extensions could provide the outline for getting a deal done. Seth prognosticated on those possibilities over the weekend. Gibson can be a free agent at season’s end, but I believe the Twins want him to stay with the organization beyond this season.

If I was betting on the next extension, it would be on Berrios.


Even with the extension for Jorge Polanco, I believe Royce Lewis won’t be impacted. Nick Gordon will be slated to make his debut this season, but his stock has significantly dropped over the past year. Jonathan Schoop is only under contract for this season so Gordon could take over second base next year. Granted, Gordon is going to need to show some offensive improvements during the 2019 campaign.

Lewis will spend the first half of this season in Fort Myers with the possibility to make it to Pensacola in the second half. Depending on how he does in 2019, he could split time next season between Double- and Triple-A during the 2020 campaign. That puts him in line for a debut at the end of that season or early in 2021.

Middle infield depth is never a bad thing. It’s also something Minnesota hasn’t had in quite a long time.


At this point in their careers, I think Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario are both trade worthy. Neither of them has shown me they are irreplaceable and there will certainly be some pressure from the minor leagues. Alex Kirilloff could make his debut in 2019 (see below) and this could put added pressure on some of the other young outfielders on the roster.

Overall, I think John was right when he wrote about the Kepler deal at the end of last week. The club and the player might have found a balanced deal. However, it doesn’t mean Kepler is going to be in a Twins uniform for the remainder of his professional career.


Yes, I do believe the Indians win the division, but baseball is a crazy game. If I was a betting man, I would say Cleveland wins the division but only manages less than 90 wins. Their roster has flaws for the first time in multiple years and this is when other AL Central teams can begin to try to take advantage.

For Minnesota, it will be about their start to the season and how well their key players perform. The Twins could easily win as many games as Cleveland, but a lot of things are going to have to go right. Minnesota’s front office will also have to be willing to deal young players at the deadline to add impact pieces. Is that something that is in the best interest of the club? We will have to wait and find out.


For me, the easy answer is Willians Astudillo. He might be a fan favorite, but I don’t see a scenario where the Twins will need three catchers on the roster. Jason Castro and Mitch Garver are ahead of him on the depth chart. He provides some defensive flexibility, but I don’t think it is enough to warrant a utility spot on the 25-man roster.

Will he play for the Twins this season? Yes, but I don’t think he makes the 25-man roster out of spring training.


Hot or cold starts are a tough thing to predict. In recent seasons, the Twins haven’t exactly come bursting out of the gate with an 8-14 record last April and a 12-11 record the year before. With a new manager and plenty of young pieces, I would guess on a slower start for the core to gel. I think the team will have around a .500 record at the end of April. From there, the club will have to make strides in the right direction to make the playoffs.


I believe the Twins are going to use an opener most of the season. I don’t think it will matter if the starter is Jose Berrios or someone at the back end of the rotation. Minnesota is teaching their young players about the benefits of the opener and I think the veteran pitchers will follow the lead of Rocco Baldelli. He’s coming from the Rays organization that created the opener concept. Openers won’t be used every day, but I would guess the Twins use an opener four out of six games in a week.


As I wrote about in his profile last week, Alex Kirilloff is clearly on a path to Target Field. Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, and Max Kepler all sit on the 25-man roster ahead of Kirilloff. He hasn’t played a game above High-A so the team will have to be aggressive with him this season for him to make his debut. That being said, I certainly think it is a possibility.

He should be given the opportunity to start the year at Double-A. In the past, top prospects have shown the ability to skip Triple-A and head straight to the big leagues. Minnesota did this with Joe Mauer when he was making his debut. Even if Kirilloff moves quickly this year, there is no reason for him to debut before the second half of the year. Last season was outstanding, but he needs to show he can produce in the upper levels of the minor leagues.


With a new coaching staff, there is plenty that is left to be seen with how it impacts the club. The Twins have put a new spring training format into focus so far with the club. This has been meant to minimize time standing around and to keep the club moving through drills.

“I think the best way to describe it is to get the most out of our guys in a good, concise, short period of time,” Baldelli said. “We wanted to get out guys on the field, do good work, get them off the field to try to treat them good.”

Less down time during drills could leave plenty of opportunities for off-field bonding. The first position player workouts are just underway so it will be interesting to see how the player react to the new format.


I think Craig Kimbrel could be a very valuable piece for a bullpen, but I don’t think it will be in Minnesota. Maybe the asking price will become low enough. However, I think the organization is content starting the season with the bullpen arms already on staff. Especially with the news, about Fernando Romero joining the bullpen. I don’t know if the Twins will have a traditional closer. I wouldn’t be surprised if multiple players collect 10+ saves this season. I think Baldelli will go with the best match-up and not have a designated closer.

What do you think about the questions asked this week? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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42 Comments

Per the athletic, an article about sano

For him to embrace it to the extent he did is significant,” Levine said. “We saw video accounts, photographic accounts. I got a chance to see him when I was down in the Dominican and literally lay hands on him as appropriately as possible, hug him and touch as many muscle groups as I could.

“When you then see him in spring training and it starts with the smile on his face, which feels exuberant and authentic. Then you see how he looks physically … it’s very encouraging that he took to heart the opportunity that was presented to him this offseason.”
    • Minny505, caninatl04, MN_ExPat and 1 other like this
If Baldelli uses openers for Berrios, that's going to be a negative Mark in my book. I get it for Perez and probably even 5 inning Odorizzi and comeback trail Pineda. Berrios should pull a Bumgarner and walk right out of the stadium. As a fan, I'd like the opportunity to see him throw a complete game shutout or maybe get his first no hitter. Gerrit Cole is right. No one, except statheads, wants to watch a *@$# math equation.
    • Han Joelo, pbrezeasap, Twins33 and 7 others like this

Cody,

 

I like your Q&A/Mailbag article every week!!!

 

Is there any way to ask a question if I'm not on Twitter?? Like via email??

 

 

    • caninatl04 likes this

 

If Baldelli uses openers for Berrios, that's going to be a negative Mark in my book. I get it for Perez and probably even 5 inning Odorizzi and comeback trail Pineda. Berrios should pull a Bumgarner and walk right out of the stadium. As a fan, I'd like the opportunity to see him throw a complete game shutout or maybe get his first no hitter. Gerrit Cole is right. No one, except statheads, wants to watch a *@$# math equation.

Amen brother!Right in line with you.

 

    • Tomj14 likes this
I don't think we will much of the opener used this year, by the Twins. In interviews both Baldelli and Falvey have avoided committing to it for this year. With veteran starters and questions about the depth of the bullpen, this strategy makes less sense for the Twins than perhaps other teams. We will see, but unless injuries intervene or the depth of the bullpen changes, using the opener may not be the best strategy for the Twins.
    • Steve Lein, birdwatcher and bighat like this

I see an opener being used, but four out of six games in a week? I doubt that.

 

That's twice as much as anybody else has used one to this point. The Rays did it in about 50 games last year, but that's a projection for over 100 games with an opener.

 

The only starters I see this being used with are Mejia, Perez, and possibly Odorizzi. In other words, the back of the rotation. I don't see that happening with Berrios, Gibson, or Pineda.

    • USAFChief, birdwatcher, Twins33 and 7 others like this
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Battle ur tail off
Feb 19 2019 09:15 AM

 

 

At this point in their careers, I think Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario are both trade worthy. Neither of them has shown me they are irreplaceable and there will certainly be some pressure from the minor leagues. Alex Kirilloff could make his debut in 2019 (see below) and this could put added pressure on some of the other young outfielders on the roster.

 

 

Your post here is great, but this comment about Rosario seems a little funny. It's almost as if you haven't watched games and just are typing this looking at numbers. 

 

Rosario has been the heart and soul of this offense the past 2 seasons. He's a fixture if I'm the GM. 

    • gman, bighat and wintersux like this

Gerrit Cole is right. No one, except statheads, wants to watch a *@$# math equation.

I wonder what Cole yells at the opposing dugout when a lefty is brought in to pinch hit against him. :)

tenor.png

    • Twins33, 70charger, Minny505 and 1 other like this

 

If Baldelli uses openers for Berrios, that's going to be a negative Mark in my book. I get it for Perez and probably even 5 inning Odorizzi and comeback trail Pineda. Berrios should pull a Bumgarner and walk right out of the stadium. As a fan, I'd like the opportunity to see him throw a complete game shutout or maybe get his first no hitter. Gerrit Cole is right. No one, except statheads, wants to watch a *@$# math equation.

If they have told Berrios this why would he ever sign an extension with the Twins and not demand a trade.

    • wintersux likes this

If the opener strategy helps the Twins win games, I'm for it.Use the personnel to the best of their ability, if that means using an opener for them, so be it.Just win baby.

    • Riverbrian, Ben Noble, Minny505 and 2 others like this

 

 "I got a chance to see him when I was down in the Dominican and literally lay hands on him as appropriately as possible, hug him and touch as many muscle groups as I could."
 

Just a bit creepy!

    • USAFChief, Oldgoat_MN, Minny505 and 2 others like this
Use of an opener is just an adjustment in sequence.

It is nothing to be afraid of.
    • birdwatcher, 70charger, ChrisKnutson and 4 others like this

 

Use of an opener is just an adjustment in sequence.

It is nothing to be afraid of.

 

Not afraid of the opener .... Just think it is poor strategy, bad baseball and less fun to watch when the primary pitcher would be someone like Gibson or Berrios .... You're basically just wasting a bullpen arm right out of the gate, when either of those guys is probably a better bet than the likely opener.

 

Berrios doesn't seem like the kind of player that would buy into this. He might give the lip service to his manager, but that is about it.If I was him, I would tell my agent to suspend all extension talks until he's guaranteed to start his games.

 

Take a look at the Twins bullpen and tell me who you would sacrifice as a high leverage option and then still prefer over Berrios against the first three batters in a game (even if they are all left-handed). 

 

Berrios wasn't the one gassed or injured at the end of last season.It was the likely opener fodder (Hildenberger, Moya, Reed, Mejia).

    • Tomj14 likes this

Not afraid of the opener .... Just think it is poor strategy, bad baseball and less fun to watch when the primary pitcher would be someone like Gibson or Berrios .... You're basically just wasting a bullpen arm right out of the gate, when either of those guys is probably a better bet than the likely opener.

Berrios doesn't seem like the kind of player that would buy into this. He might give the lip service to his manager, but that is about it. If I was him, I would tell my agent to suspend all extension talks until he's guaranteed to start his games.

Take a look at the Twins bullpen and tell me who you would sacrifice as a high leverage option and then still prefer over Berrios against the first three batters in a game (even if they are all left-handed).

Berrios wasn't the one gassed or injured at the end of last season. It was the likely opener fodder (Hildenberger, Moya, Reed, Mejia).


The Rays didn’t use an opener for Snell.

Despite unquestioned success with the concept they still acquired Charlie Morton.

The Rays and every team will continue to look for traditional starters who can throw lots of quality innings.

The problem is that very few teams can staff a 5 man rotation with 5 guys who can throw quality innings and down with that ship they go like a bad auto-pilot.

The Rays just said enough of that. No more forcing a 5+ ERA in to a traditional starter role just to eat innings below par... and it worked and now others will follow.

The opener was just a creative solution but a partial solution. The opener is just sequencing... not a big deal in itself but it is what everyone is latching on to.

Take a look at the innings allocation of each pitcher on the Rays... that’s where the real story is. They blurred the lines between starter and reliever innings... and it worked.

Just another example that the traditional model of roster composition breing clearly outdated. Free agent compensation, positional flexibility, players who can both pitch and hit.

Cue Bob Dylan “The times they are a changin”. And it’s about time.

    • ashbury, 70charger, Ben Noble and 5 others like this
If Ohtani has been healthy all year and produced on both sides of the ball like he was preinjury does that make him a clear MVP candidate?

 

The Rays didn’t use an opener for Snell.

Despite unquestioned success with the concept they still acquired Charlie Morton.

The Rays and every team will continue to look for traditional starters who can throw lots of quality innings.

The problem is that very few teams can staff a 5 man rotation with 5 guys who can throw quality innings and down with that ship they go like a bad auto-pilot.

The Rays just said enough of that. No more forcing a 5+ ERA in to a traditional starter role just to eat innings below par... and it worked and now others will follow.

The opener was just a creative solution but a partial solution. The opener is just sequencing... not a big deal in itself but it is what everyone is latching on to.

Take a look at the innings allocation of each pitcher on the Rays... that’s where the real story is. They blurred the lines between starter and reliever innings... and it worked.

Just another example that the traditional model of roster composition bring clearly outdated. Free agent compensation, positional flexibility, players who can both pitch and hit.

Cue Bob Dylan “The times they are a changin”. And it’s about time.

 

I don't think we disagree on very much, if anything.

 

My initial post was a reaction to this specific line from the mailbag article:

 

"I don’t think it will matter if the starter is Jose Berrios or someone at the back end of the rotation."

 

Everything you are hitting on makes sense.  

 

Using an opener for Jose Berrios doesn't make sense, just like opening for Snell didn't make sense for the Rays.I'm taking it one step further in saying that it should never be an option for a top of the rotation starter that I'm at least hopeful Berrios will be.

    • Twins33, Riverbrian, LA VIkes Fan and 3 others like this

If Ohtani has been healthy all year and produced on both sides of the ball like he was preinjury does that make him a clear MVP candidate?

Yes

Take a look what is happening now. Rumors of Matt Davidson also pitching and rumors of Lorenzen also hitting for the Reds.

I’ll contend to all comers that baseball specialization was wrong for decades and decades.

Shohei was the first guy because Japan allowed him to. MLB would have never allowed it. They would force him into one or the other.

We would have seen multiple players with this skill set by now if the option wasn’t removed as a possibility for decades.

Same goes for the Bryant/Bellinger multiple positional talents.
    • Minny505 and Original Whizzinator like this

 

Use of an opener is just an adjustment in sequence.

It is nothing to be afraid of.

Good way to look at it!!!And I agree!

    • Riverbrian and Minny505 like this

I think the benefits of using the opener is related to how poorly a pitcher does the third time through the order.The use of the opener would mean that a pitcher can get deeper into the game without having to face the top of the order 3 times.  

    • Minny505 likes this

I think the benefits of using the opener is related to how poorly a pitcher does the third time through the order.The use of the opener would mean that a pitcher can get deeper into the game without having to face the top of the order 3 times.  

This is on the right track but I would add a little more. If the guy who would otherwise be your starting pitcher is like this, then there's no chance in the world he's pitching a complete game, and extremely unlikely to pitch even six full innings, even if he does pretty well within his limitations. So your bullpen is virtually certain to be used heavily. In that case, bite the bullet. Get a quality short man in there to face the top of the lineup right away. With luck, the "starter" you bring in for the second inning will do well with the lower portion of the lineup, and then get through the complete lineup two more times after that. This strategy potentially gets an extra inning or so out of the starter, compared to having to come rescue him when he gets in trouble the third time through the top of the lineup. Then you turn the game over to the bullpen as you otherwise would have to, when he's about to face the top of the lineup a third time (fourth time overall in the game).

 

It's basically matching up mediocrity against the bottom of the lineup, more times than against the top.

 

You don't do it with a starter who has a track record of holding his own. And you use this as carrot-and-stick with your shaky starter, to tell him that when he starts to demonstrate better staying power, for instance by letting him go ahead and face the top of the lineup a third time if the game is going well and you have a decent lead, then eventually you can take the training wheels off and let him start the game like normal.

 

It's training wheels for youngsters. A walker for the older starter who is just hanging on. :)

    • Steve Lein, Physics Guy, Eris and 3 others like this
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jorgenswest
Feb 19 2019 06:45 PM
The challenge with the opener is expecting a reliever to get through the teams best hitters at the top of the order.

It is going to take a very good reliever from a deep bullpen to make it work.
    • ashbury and wintersux like this

It is going to take a very good reliever from a deep bullpen to make it work.

Concur. I envision the third-best reliever in your bullpen for the role. A guy you would be calling into service anyway, only later, in a game you intend to try hard to win.

 

If you are sending Matty Belisle out there to begin the game, You're Doing It Wrong. :)

    • Twins33, Physics Guy, Minny505 and 2 others like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Feb 19 2019 07:02 PM

 

Concur. I envision the third-best reliever in your bullpen for the role. A guy you would be calling into service anyway, only later, in a game you intend to try hard to win.

 

If you are sending Matty Belisle out there to begin the game, You're Doing It Wrong. :)

I thought he was the closer.

    • ashbury, USAFChief, Minny505 and 1 other like this

The challenge with the opener is expecting a reliever to get through the teams best hitters at the top of the order.

It is going to take a very good reliever from a deep bullpen to make it work.

Is it? I wonder what the average pitcher can do in one inning? Say, 80 percent of the time? Especially if they only pitch one or two innings every other day?
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jorgenswest
Feb 19 2019 07:19 PM

Is it? I wonder what the average pitcher can do in one inning? Say, 80 percent of the time? Especially if they only pitch one or two innings every other day?


It depends heavily on whether they are pitching against the top of the order or the bottom half.
    • ashbury likes this

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