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Fun With Numbers 2019

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Questions About Miguel Sanó's Return

Miguel Sanó is nearing his return to full-time activity. After going through so much since being named an All-Star, I don’t think there’s anything that would make him happier right now. But, looking back at all the events in the past 18 months of his career, Twins fans should ask themselves a list of questions about his return to the team. Trying to anticipate every possible scenario could be a good way for Twins fans not to overreact if he doesn’t play very well at first and to have an opinion on how to assemble an even stronger lineup if he does.
Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
How is Sanó going to return?
Nobody can know for sure which Sanó the Twins will get when he returns. In 2017, everybody believed he had had his breakout season and was bound to be the stud of the lineup. In early August of that year, though, shortly after an All-Star Game appearance, he was hit in the shin and was sidelined for the better part of the remainder of the season. He got back in late September, but Paul Molitor chose not to put him on the wild card roster.

He had surgery in November of that year to insert a permanent titanium rod into the shinbone and was expected to be ready to play by spring training. Well, he barely was. Sanó could only start his spring participation in the last day of February. Plus, he reported to camp a bit out of shape, which caused some concern among some fans. In spite of all that, he was cleared to open the season with the team.

Then, maybe because of his conditioning or perhaps because he wasn’t confident enough to be back at that point because of his procedure, he developed a new injury during the first full month of regular season. In early May he was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left hamstring strain. At that point, it was clear that he was not even a little bit close to the All-Star he had been months earlier. Even though he posted a not terrible .739 OPS and hit five home runs, he was batting only .212 and struck out 36 times in 90 plate appearances, which represented a 40.0 K%, a league-worst among all major league hitters with that many PA.

He got back from the DL and things only got worse. His first game out of the DL was on May 25th and he went on to play another 17 games. In that span, he had 73 PA, batted .191 and struck out even more than before, a 41.1 K%. Before the middle of June he was optioned to Single-A Fort Myers, where he spent the rest of June and almost the entire month of July. He returned to MLB in late July for a third stint, but it was basically all of the same. His K% dropped to 36% during the 34 remaining games of his season and he batted only .195 with six home runs.

After by far his worst season as a major leaguer, Sanó was poised to turn things around. He started his path to redemption by playing for his hometown club Estrellas Orientales to claim its first national title of the Dominican Winter League since 1968. He made some Instagram posts in which he was much thinner than what he had been when he finished last season and raised a lot of questions. But when he showed up at camp this year all the suspicions were confirmed. It was reported that he had lost roughly 25 pounds, after finishing 2018 at 290 pounds, according to MLB.com.

But apparently he couldn’t just catch a break. During the celebrations of his hometown team title, Sanó suffered a heel laceration. At first, he was expected to miss only the first week of spring training, but he ended up missing the whole thing. Since the healing of the wound didn’t go according to plan, he needed to undergo a procedure that would most likely have him sidelined until May.

Which brings us to today and our first question: how will Sanó come back from all this? Will the Twins have the same 2018 version of him? After all, he did miss out on the entire spring training and hasn’t seen actual everyday activity for months. Some might be scared that he will have this year the same kind of year that Ervin Santana had last year. It would be terrible for us fans to witness that, but even worse for Sanó himself.

On the other hand, what if none of those setbacks were able to break his spirits? What if he was hungry enough to prove himself that he dedicated himself twice as much? What if, instead of having an Ervin Santana’s 2018-like year he will destroy all the skepticism, like his teammate Byron Buxton is doing right now? That could turn the Twins lineup into an even scarier threat.

If he struggles, what should be done?
Let us work with all the scenarios now. Say he struggles when he comes back. What then? Do you trade him? Do you give him another chance? Each fan would have his own opinion here, so it would be difficult to predict a definite outcome. A number of fans are looking at this year as Sanó’s last chance in Minnesota and if he comes back in May and doesn’t play at the same level that the Twins hitters are playing right now, I don’t see a lot of those fans wanting him around.

In his defense, you could say that Marwin Gonzalez, the Twins current everyday third baseman, is not hitting nearly as well as most of the lineup. But he is providing stellar defense. It would be a very tough decision. So, do you try to work out a trade involving him? I guess many people would try that, but it’s hard to imagine a lot of teams interested in Sanó if he doesn’t play well enough during the two months before the trade deadline.

In that case, I believe that the preferred way to go for Derek Falvey and Thad Levine would be to keep him within the organization, especially because he has got one minor league option remaining. There’s no point in letting him go in exchange for nothing. I think it would be wise to take into consideration the fact that a lot that has happened to him earlier this year wasn’t really in his control.

If he plays well, what should be done?
Moving to a more optimistic scenario now. Let’s imagine he has a slow start, but then catches up with the slugfest Twins hitters have been having lately. Do you give him the everyday job? Do you have him share PA’s with Gonzalez and Willians Astudillo at third, or Nelson Cruz at DH?

All those questions are impossible to answer, but let’s imagine La Tortuga’s batting average never drops. Let’s imagine Cruz keeps up the incredible season he’s having. Who do you have? If you make him the everyday 3B, what do you do with the loss on defense, since you won’t have Gonzalez there that much? I’m sure that if Cruz doesn’t slow down, it will be a rarity to see him have more than one or two days off every week.

In the Astudillo end, things aren’t any easier. If Mitch Garver keeps feasting on opposing pitchers the way he is right now (even better than Astudillo, as of late), you won’t have the option to give him some PA at third, because now you have Sanó’s old self and Gonzalez’ defense. Rocco Baldelli and his staff would have to come up with a way in which they would provide all those hitters with regular PA, in order not to affect their productivity. That would be a pickle.

If he does play well, who’s the odd man out?
I believe that if the Twins had anything close to a 2017-like Sanó, no one would think twice about who would be the one to be dropped: Ehire Adrianza. Even nowadays, seeing very little playing time, it’s hard to imagine he will stick around long. But that’s not the hard question here. If you have a good, healthy Sanó and a four-man bench, who’s the odd man out if the club finds itself in need of a thirteenth arm during the season?

A 13-man pitching staff has already become the normal around the league. Do the Twins dare to go with twelve, if all the bats are working? That, to me, is the hardest question so far. And it becomes even harder to think of an answer, if you imagine the Martín Pérez experience not panning out the way the front office planned. If he struggles as a starter, you risk overloading the pitching staff too much if they are carrying twelve arms. Assuming all of them are performing as well as they are right now in this hypothetical future, who do you let go of among Astudillo, Garver, Gonzalez and Jake Cave, the Twins only backup outfielder?

Have your way on the comment section and give your opinion. What would you do?

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46 Comments

Marwin can back up in the OF and at shortstop. Sano starts. Cave to minors. Adrianza waived

    • Thrylos, pbrezeasap, PseudoSABR and 3 others like this
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Brock Beauchamp
Apr 16 2019 11:37 PM

You carve out a roster spot for Miguel Sano because of course you do.

 

All the other stuff comes later because of course it does.

    • ashbury, Thrylos, Jerr and 14 others like this

It is an non issue.

Facts:

a. Marwin Gonzalez is hitting .184/.244/.289 and that is after he went 2 for 4 with 1 HR last night.

b. Miguel Sano had only 1 full month out of his 19 in the majors with OPS under .718

    • Mike Sixel, gunnarthor, Mike Frasier Law and 6 others like this
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Original Whizzinator
Apr 17 2019 07:17 AM
Can he pitch out of the pen?
    • Puckett34, Riverbrian, Dantes929 and 8 others like this

I am fine dropping Cave. Gonzalez, Tortuga, and Cruz (kind of) can all play in the outfield if needed once or twice a week. You can move Rosario or Kepler to CF if Buxton needs a day. 

    • pbrezeasap likes this

I'd keep Cave and send Astudillo to the minors. If La Tortuga doesn't break out of his shell (0 for his last 13) soon, he's on the fast track to Rochester when Sano returns and I'm fine with it. A-Stud has options left and it's realistically the smart and logical move. Call him back up in case of injury or IL stint for any of the regulars. Easy.

 

I think people are way too quick to assume that Sano is a terrible fielder. Not sure if that's just because he's big, or because he's easy to criticize, or both. But it's simply not true. He's not Brooks Robinson, and he may even be a bit below average, but his defense isn't something that should keep him out of the lineup. He's a great athlete and I think he'll improve with more playing time there.

 

The Twins are going to need to score 8 runs per game if they want to win games when Berrios isn't on the mound. Sano should be given every opportunity to get into the lineup full time. With Sano, this lineup could prove to be one of the most dominant in MLB.

 

 

    • Carole Keller, tarheeltwinsfan and Original Whizzinator like this

Before being called up I would like to see him perform with some level of success in the minors keeping in mind he has missed full ST.Maybe at least a week of batting .300 before being called up. 

    • tarheeltwinsfan and Original Whizzinator like this
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lukeduke1980
Apr 17 2019 08:57 AM

 

I am fine dropping Cave. Gonzalez, Tortuga, and Cruz (kind of) can all play in the outfield if needed once or twice a week. You can move Rosario or Kepler to CF if Buxton needs a day. 

I know Cave has options but I'd rather move on from Adrianza.Gonzalez can get some at bats at all infield positions.

    • LA VIkes Fan likes this

You have to make room at 3B for Sano as our full time starter. What I am hoping for is a trade of Castro. With his pathetic bat, I don't see much of a demand for him--defensive catchers who can't hit are in huge supply. Maybe Astudillo needs to go to the minors for a bit, but even though he's not getting hits lately he is still making his usual good contact. I think he proved he is at least adequate as a catcher, which makes him more of an asset than Castro. I would love to see a trade with Castro packaged with a decent prospect to get at least a semi-dependable reliever. 

A week ago Austudillo was better than Ty Cobb. The Twins signed Gonzalez to be a utility player. They signed Torres as Adrianza insurance.

 

This will work itself out. Absolutely no worries here, except that Sano not getting a full Spring Training may cause some painful rust for everyone. I think he needs a quick start for his confidence and that's even harder without ST.

Can he pitch out of the pen?

He’s already had tommy john surgery, so he’s got that put of the way!
    • spycake, Original Whizzinator and wallyrichards like this

With Marwin on the roster, Cave is expendable. With Big Toe in AAA, Adrianza is expendable. Considering all of the uncertainties, hold on to everyone as long as you can. Injury or ineffectiveness will sort this out. 

 

I believe the first crack to show up will be 13th pitcher before Sano is ready to return. At that point option Cave before DFAing Adrianza.

Cave hits now as it has taken years for other recent young Twins to hit.

 

It's a shame but, yes, he's probably the odd man out.

 

    • Original Whizzinator likes this

Cave hits now as it has taken years for other recent young Twins to hit.

It's a shame but, yes, he's probably the odd man out.


Possibly. Unless Tortuga continues this 0-fer slide. Not as much excitement about him on this site the last week or 2...
    • LA VIkes Fan and bighat like this
Drop Adrianza, let Schoop or Marwin backup Jorge. Sano/Marwin platoon 3rd with Astudillo getting a start or two a week. Sano covers the Cruz offdays. Or just drop Castro.
    • LA VIkes Fan likes this

 

Drop Adrianza, let Schoop or Marwin backup Jorge. Sano/Marwin platoon 3rd with Astudillo getting a start or two a week. Sano covers the Cruz offdays. Or just drop Castro.

Let's hope not. As 'horrible' as Sano's performance has been...or I should probably say, the perception of his performance...I don't think many of us are quite ready to have the 26 year-old Sano sit 70% of the games to platoon his career .802 OPS against right-handed pitching for 30 year-old Gonzalez's .737 against right-handed pitching.

    • Thrylos likes this
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Channing1964
Apr 17 2019 12:11 PM
I think we have considered all of these options before we learned about the mysterious heel injury. My answer was the same as it is now. Sano, Cave, and Astudillo all have options(as does Garver I believe). Whoever is swinging a hot bat and helping the team in other ways (i.e. defensively, chemistry wise, clutch performance) stays and whoever is the odd guy(s) out goes to Rochester. This is not a bad situation to have. Depth is a good thing.
    • Sconnie, Original Whizzinator and Aerodeliria like this
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wallyrichards
Apr 17 2019 01:48 PM

Sano can get healthy in the minors and when he proves he can stay healthy than call him up. Until then we go with what we have. If he does get back to the majors then drop Castro who brings nothing to the table. If we need to drop anyone else it should be Adrianza. I have a feeling things will work there way out. Someone will get injured so we'll probably need everyone. I'll add that Garner is playing great. He's learned how to frame pitches which Castro doesn't do and Garner's bat is working real well right now. Castro on the other hand is brutal. When it comes to Turtle the guy can flat out hit. Don't send him down he is our spark plug and he can play. Yea he is in a little slump right now but only because the ball is being hit right at people. He is making great contact and its only a mater of time before he breaks out of the slump. I'm more concerned with our middle relievers. Trevor May can't keep blowing games like he did last night.  

Sano can get healthy in the minors and when he proves he can stay healthy than call him up. Until then we go with what we have. If he does get back to the majors then drop Castro who brings nothing to the table. If we need to drop anyone else it should be Adrianza. I have a feeling things will work there way out. Someone will get injured so we'll probably need everyone. I'll add that Garner is playing great. He's learned how to frame pitches which Castro doesn't do and Garner's bat is working real well right now. Castro on the other hand is brutal. When it comes to Turtle the guy can flat out hit. Don't send him down he is our spark plug and he can play. Yea he is in a little slump right now but only because the ball is being hit right at people. He is making great contact and its only a mater of time before he breaks out of the slump. I'm more concerned with our middle relievers. Trevor May can't keep blowing games like he did last night.


Since when does Castro not frame pitches? I thought he was the pitch framing wizard.

Let's hope not. As 'horrible' as Sano's performance has been...or I should probably say, the perception of his performance...I don't think many of us are quite ready to have the 26 year-old Sano sit 70% of the games to platoon his career .802 OPS against right-handed pitching for 30 year-old Gonzalez's .737 against right-handed pitching.


How about split time instead of a true platoon. Sano gets 4-5 starts a week at 3rd and 1 at DH.
    • jkcarew likes this
With Castro hitting my weight in 7th grade, why is he getting a free pass? He is a solid C, but his bat was a fungo bat last year before he was injured. To me it is Cave or Castro gone.
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Brock Beauchamp
Apr 17 2019 02:39 PM

With Castro hitting my weight in 7th grade, why is he getting a free pass? He is a solid C, but his bat was a fungo bat last year before he was injured. To me it is Cave or Castro gone.

He barely played last year. I don’t get why people are assuming a 90 OPS+ catcher is now a 40 OPS+ catcher going forward.

Sure, it’s possible that’s the case but there’s little evidence to suggest it is.
    • howieramone2 likes this
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Halsey Hall
Apr 17 2019 02:41 PM
I've felt all spring Gonzales would be a flop and so far he's shown it. He would be my first to go and Castro right behind him.
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yarnivek1972
Apr 17 2019 03:24 PM

I've felt all spring Gonzales would be a flop and so far he's shown it. He would be my first to go and Castro right behind him.



Gonzales is signed through next season. He isn’t going anywhere.

btw, I just noticed that his contract is also front loaded. He’s making $12 mil this year and just $9 mil next year.
    • diehardtwinsfan and Original Whizzinator like this

 

Before being called up I would like to see him perform with some level of success in the minors keeping in mind he has missed full ST.Maybe at least a week of batting .300 before being called up. 

.300? That seems arbitrary, esp since who cares? I want doubles and HRs and walks......from Sano. 


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