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Escobar resigns with Arizona

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:48 PM
Its a three year contract for around 21 million. If this is true then the Twins low balled him. Let's see the details as they come out.
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Article: Your Turn: What Do You Want From A Manager?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:48 PM
As the 2018 World Series is set to start tonight in Boston, indications would seem to be the the Twins are down to just a couple of final...
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Sickels top Twins prospect list for 2019

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 12:40 PM
Top three aren't a surprise but #4 was.   https://www.minorlea...spects-for-2019   Sickels like the depth of the team a lot.
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Week 7: Vikings vs. Jets

Minnesota Vikings Talk Today, 12:38 PM
We're certainly in the soft part of the schedule now. My only concerns today: 1. Whoever the Jets decide to line up against Alexander wi...
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Article: Minnesota’s Managerial Candidates: External Cand...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:36 PM
Earlier in the week, I looked at the top internal candidates for the Twins open managerial job. Since Tom Kelly was hired in the 1980’s,...
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Offseason Primer: Building a Badass Bullpen

The trend in baseball around power bullpens isn't new. But here in 2018, this seismic shift has become as conspicuously apparent as ever.

If the Minnesota Twins want to establish themselves as true championship contenders, it's blindingly clear they need to stockpile some serious late-inning juice. While the club appears to have a decent foundation in place, much work remains on this front.
Image courtesy of Orlando Ramirez and Brad Rempel, USA Today
This story helps set the stage for a truly pivotal offseason ahead. It's just a taste of what you'll find in the 2019 Offseason Handbook, which is currently available for preorder. If you wanna learn more about it, and the benefits of preordering, check out our FAQ.

In the American League Wild Card Game last week, New York received four strong innings from starter Luis Severino before unleashing its intimidating reliever stable on Oakland's doomed lineup. Dellin Betances, David Robertson, Zach Britton, Aroldis Chapman... ballgame.

The Twins can relate. One year earlier they'd been bounced in the same ballpark, after a bottomless Yankees bullpen ate their lunch following Severino's first-inning exit.

Of course, the A's had made it into this position on the strength of their own stellar pen, which carried them to stunning regular-season success and made up for a wholly unspectacular rotation. Look around at the rest of the remaining teams, and you'll find plenty of deep, dominant relief units.

Which brings us to the Twins.

They finished the season with exactly two reliable relievers. The good news is that those two – Taylor Rogers and Trevor May – had a hell of showing in 2018, solidifying themselves as fixtures.

Rogers has fully graduated to top-tier status, having finished with a 2.63 ERA and 0.95 WHIP after closing his year with 28 straight scoreless appearances. His 2.33 FIP ranked ninth among MLB relievers, and fourth among those who made 70+ appearances. Once a lefty specialist (and a great one at that), Rogers is now an all-purpose shutdown arm and easily Minnesota's best bullpen asset.

May shows signs of being able to join him at this level of distinction. He was nothing short of spectacular in his return from Tommy John surgery, turning in a ridiculous 36-to-5 K/BB ratio in 25 innings. Take out his disastrous lone outing as "opener" (1 IP, 4 ER) and the right-hander put up a 1.73 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 13.3 K/9 after joining the team in late July following Tommy John rehab.

He averaged a career-high 94.1 MPH with his fastball, pounded the strike zone, and induced a 15.4% swinging strike rate, which would've ranked among the top 10 AL qualifiers. May finished the year as closer and looked very much up to the task.

Rogers and May are 27 and 29, respectively. Both remain under control for multiple years. So, that's the good news.

Elsewhere? Plenty of not-so-good news and uncertainty.

I'm not sure you can make a strong argument that any other incumbents are locked into the 2019 bullpen.

Addison Reed is probably closest, solely by virtue of his contract. He's owed $8.5 million next year as part of the two-year pact signed in January, so he'll get every opportunity next spring, but Reed showed nothing to indicate he's capable of being any kind of positive contributor.

His 4.50 ERA was bad and his 5.11 FIP was worse. His fastball velocity was way down. He missed three weeks in July with elbow soreness and came back looking even worse, allowing an .842 OPS with just 8% swinging strikes the rest of the way (in 2017 he was at 13.7%).

It's very obvious that Reed's arm was not close to 100% for the majority of the year, but evidently Minnesota never discovered structural damage and so no action was taken. The Twins have little choice but to hope several months of rest will cure what ails him.

Trevor Hildenberger, too, looked completely broken by season's end. The reigning top Twins reliever bounced back from a rocky spring and put together a solid first half, but collapsed in the second. In August and September, he allowed more than a run per inning (9.55 ERA) and a .965 OPS, fumbling away his audition in the closer role.

Much like Reed, the Twins were hoping Hildy would be a trustworthy staple, and now he's probably going to have to earn a job next spring. His greatest strengths disappeared, as his ground ball rate dropped from 58.8% in 2017 to 46.3% in 2018, as his K/9 rate dropped from 26% to 22%.

The unraveling of these clearly capable righties throws a wrench into Minnesota's bullpen planning, and also casts further scrutiny on the decision to trade Ryan Pressly, who has since cemented his rep as one of baseball's very best relief pitchers. Jorge Alcala had better pan out.

In the meantime, the Twins need to replace Pressly's impact in the bullpen if they have true aspirations for 2019.

The remaining holdover candidates – Oliver Drake, Matt Magill, Alan Busenitz, Tyler Duffey, etc. – should all be considered fringe contenders for the bottom spots in the bullpen.

This means Rogers and May are short on company at the top. General manager Thad Levine, fresh off turning down the Mets' advances, will have his work cut out for him. Last winter he showed some savvy in signing Fernando Rodney and Zach Duke, but his biggest splash (Reed) proved to be his biggest whiff.

Will Levine be gun-shy this time around, still on the hook with Reed as the largest current payroll commitment for 2019?

There are other options than free agency, of course. Trades are in play, and in fact I would wager good money the Twins acquire at least one reliever through this avenue during the winter. Meanwhile, any number of borderline starter candidates could be converted to relief. It's an approach we've seen work with May among many others. Zack Littell, Kohl Stewart, Fernando Romero or Lewis Thorpe could be intriguing in this regard.

Needless to say, there's a lot at play here. We'll lay it all out for you – free agent options (+ what they'll cost), realistic trade targets, and an in-depth feature on the closer situation – in the 2019 Offseason Handbook. Preorder it today and you'll get your copy ahead of the official release.

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63 Comments

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Hosken Bombo Disco
Oct 08 2018 10:06 AM

Well the Twins could have traded for a Pressly-type bullpen arm in July too but they didn't because the team was so far in the hole that there wasn't much point to it. Making a good team before the season starts will win you more games than making a good team in the middle of the season.

Agree completely, but I was thinking in terms of finding the Joe Nathan type of guys already on other rosters having years of control but not being utilized to their fullest extent.
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TheLeviathan
Oct 08 2018 10:09 AM

Agree completely, but I was thinking in terms of finding the Joe Nathan type of guys already on other rosters having years of control but not being utilized to their fullest extent.


Those are not typically the kind of deals you see at the deadline. Those tend to be off-season deals just like the Joe Nathan one.
    • SF Twins Fan likes this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Oct 08 2018 10:18 AM

Those are not typically the kind of deals you see at the deadline. Those tend to be off-season deals just like the Joe Nathan one.

Agree again, but they can happen. The Archer deal this summer was sort of a sideways deal between non-contenders. Just another idea, that's all.

While I agree that the bullpen needs to be better and the more good players you have the better your team will be, I disagree with this article's premise that the only way to win a World Series is to imitate other teams' success around the league.

 

The beauty of this sport is it's enormous schedule, which allows for different models to reach that same end goal. Whoever determines the next trend is the one who will likely win the WS.

 

And sometimes you just get lucky. (eg. 1987)

    • Hosken Bombo Disco and Vanimal46 like this

I would love for the Twins to add an impact arm this offseason. I don't know that it has to be a "closer", a role that tends to overpay and under use pitchers. Frankly, that was one of the best things about signing rodney; the lesser arm could roll out for the 9th and better players could play fireman to get us there. It would be my preference for 2019: utilize May & Rogers to address late inning roles against the meat of a team's lineup based on matchup rather than limit one of them to finishing the game in the 9th.

 

I think Reed will have a bounce back year. He clearly wasn't right (maybe got overused early in the season?), but he's got enough of a track record to suggest there should still be some mileage left there to be a contributor. He was terrific in April and wasn't all that bad in May before things started imploding on him. I'm reluctant to read anything into his solid Sept, as the small sample size and expanded rosters make those games a little questionable to project off of.

 

But maybe the real key to the Twins bullpen next year is a different manager. The biggest knock on Molitor was his bullpen useage; here's hoping the next guy does better.

    • Original Whizzinator likes this

While I agree that the bullpen needs to be better and the more good players you have the better your team will be, I disagree with this article's premise that the only way to win a World Series is to imitate other teams' success around the league.

The beauty of this sport is it's enormous schedule, which allows for different models to reach that same end goal. Whoever determines the next trend is the one who will likely win the WS.

And sometimes you just get lucky. (eg. 1987)


No doubt, there's more than one way to skin a cat over the course of 162 games. Step one, and the only step that really matters, is bringing in more talented players.
    • USAFChief, Mike Sixel, beckmt and 4 others like this
Been saying this for a long time...the "bullpen guys are easy to find" theory was always wrong, and a dominant pen is the simplest way to gain a significant advantage.

Find and acquire at least two legit dominant arms, and another flyer or three.

I also believe a manager more adept at managing his pen, and more adept at knowing when to remove his starter, will boost the pens performance all by itself.
    • Mike Sixel, Twins33, nicksaviking and 3 others like this
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nicksaviking
Oct 08 2018 11:00 AM

 

Agree completely, but I was thinking in terms of finding the Joe Nathan type of guys already on other rosters having years of control but not being utilized to their fullest extent.

 

I hope the team is constantly looking to trade for undervalued guys, but at this point I don't want them pinning the success of 2019's bullpen a diamond in the rough. 

    • USAFChief, TheLeviathan, Hosken Bombo Disco and 1 other like this
Why did no one mention Belisle! I’m sure he’ll be available. On a more serious note, Familia and Ottavino led the majors in WAR per mlb.com And I think Hildenberger will be better next year with more judicious use. I also see nothing wrong with trying out a few of the AAA starters as relievers as an intro to the majors with the thought of promoting them to starter in 2020. Don’t one or two of them have 100 mph fastballs?
    • Bill Lumbergh likes this
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nicksaviking
Oct 08 2018 11:04 AM

 

Been saying this for a long time...the "bullpen guys are easy to find" theory was always wrong, and a dominant pen is the simplest way to gain a significant advantage.

Find and acquire at least two legit dominant arms, and another flyer or three.

I also believe a manager more adept at managing his pen, and more adept at knowing when to remove his starter, will boost the pens performance all by itself.

 

I'd think the third paragraph would be easier should the second paragraph be realized. I'm in no way giving Molior a pass for his bullpen usage, but I'd guess if the manager had more than two relievers at any given time who were reliable it would be easier to play matchups, give quick hooks and not to overwork.

    • lukeduke1980 likes this
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Kelly Vance
Oct 08 2018 11:34 AM

In other news, Harmon Killebrew Award winner Jake Reed continues to get no love from the FO, despite having better numbers than all other guys called up last month.... and better than everyone not named Rogers on the big staff.

 

What's the deal? Is it a control issue, or do they just not like him?

    • caninatl04 and Original Whizzinator like this

The Twins had a really nice set of relief pitchers in 2018, but for some reason they chose to use arms that were not as good. They didn't know who they had. I'm not sure what metrics they were looking at but it wasn't anything common and each move made the staff worse overall.

 

Maybe Molitor going will fix the problem. I would give caution to the team to not overreact but I suspect overreacting is the plan. They should add two relievers but they don't need a complete overhaul. They still need a top shelf starter and a couple of nice vets to slap the ball around.

In other news, Harmon Killebrew Award winner Jake Reed continues to get no love from the FO, despite having better numbers than all other guys called up last month.... and better than everyone not named Rogers on the big staff.

What's the deal? Is it a control issue, or do they just not like him?


I think the FO just doesn’t see anything in him. They didn’t protect him for the rule 5 draft and didn’t give him a call up, so I think he’ll be pitching more somebody else next year. I guess they’re going with the ‘AAA stats don’t transition to mlb’ theory... hasn’t worked for Busenitz.
    • TheLeviathan and Vanimal46 like this
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nicksaviking
Oct 08 2018 01:32 PM

 

In other news, Harmon Killebrew Award winner Jake Reed continues to get no love from the FO, despite having better numbers than all other guys called up last month.... and better than everyone not named Rogers on the big staff.

 

What's the deal? Is it a control issue, or do they just not like him?

 

It looks to me like the front office values control with the young arms. Over the last two years Rogers and Hildenberger have gotten very long leashes, Busenitz and Moya get repeated looks throughout the season and Slegers and Stewart have gotten rather surprising promotions.

 

Meanwhile Burdi and Chargois are gone and Bard is only back because the Angels handed him back, he also Reed sits on the sideline with Reed. John Curtis has largely been in the same boat, he's gotten a September call up both of the past two years but was only given a token look both times and never got a mid year promotion despite his options.

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ChrisKnutson
Oct 08 2018 02:59 PM
“Pay up” for Kimbrel, and then “pay down” for Allen.

“Pay up” for Kimbrel, and then “pay down” for Allen.


Allen lost future money after every appearance this post season. Not to mention he was pretty bad throughout the regular season. Certainly a buy low candidate on a 1 year make good deal. 2 years tops.
    • USAFChief, Mike Sixel and ChrisKnutson like this
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TheLeviathan
Oct 08 2018 03:57 PM

What do people think is "buy low" on Allen exactly?

 

Agree completely, but I was thinking in terms of finding the Joe Nathan type of guys already on other rosters having years of control but not being utilized to their fullest extent.

 

I imagine every team is always searching for a Joe Nathan, no?

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yarnivek1972
Oct 08 2018 04:17 PM

Been saying this for a long time...the "bullpen guys are easy to find" theory was always wrong, and a dominant pen is the simplest way to gain a significant advantage.

Find and acquire at least two legit dominant arms, and another flyer or three.

I also believe a manager more adept at managing his pen, and more adept at knowing when to remove his starter, will boost the pens performance all by itself.


Bullpen guys are easy to find. If you aren’t picky as to how good they are.
Bad news about Hildenberger and Reed? Bad seasons! The good news? Supposedly nothing physically wrong with either and we've seen what each is clearly capable of previously. At least one bouncing back is huge.

Part of the problem is not knowing how the rotation shakes out yet. For example, will they bring someone else on board, or does someone like Mejia get the opportunity and take the 5th spot?

Clearly upgrades are needed. But I doubt you will see the farm traded for a couple of RP, nor 2 big contracts, especially with Reed on the books. One big move I'm sure. Then a smaller 1 or 2 for bounce back seasons and the such, but better arms than Drake or Magill to be sure.

I'm hoping to go to ST with 4 guys we really feel good about, a couple guys who could be good with a bounce back, and then sort through the rest to find the best 1 or 2 guys for the job. Is it a guaranteed method for success? No, but its practical, doesn't break any financial or prospect bank, allows for opportunity, and could turn out to be very solid.
Nick Anderson? In AAA last year he had K/W of 88/19 and a nice whip of 1.13 Might he be a sixth or seventh piece?
    • DocBauer likes this

Would this Badass bullpen ultimately be more successful than the Kickass offense of Brad Childress

    • Hosken Bombo Disco likes this
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yarnivek1972
Oct 08 2018 05:30 PM

Nick Anderson? In AAA last year he had K/W of 88/19 and a nice whip of 1.13 Might he be a sixth or seventh piece?


Alan Busenitz had similarly stellar AAA numbers too. He likely will be taken off the 40 man roster at some point prior to the beginning of the season.

Would this Badass bullpen ultimately be more successful than the Kickass offense of Brad Childress?


Thanks. Thanks a lot
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twinssporto
Oct 08 2018 05:54 PM

 

They need 3 bullpen signings, and at least 1 has to be a dominant arm. I would look to upgrade every "fringe" arm the Twins have. If there's any 40 man crunch problems, the first people I'd cut from the roster is Duffey, Busenitz, Curtiss, and Drake.

How much longer do we need to keep talking about Duffey? Hopefully you are right and we have a 40 man crunch and dump him.


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