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Minnesota Twins (78-72) at New York Yankees (83-67) -- Yankee Stadium   Season Series -- Tied at 2   Last time out -- Yankees 2...
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Twins fire Dougie Baseball

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http://m.startribune...?section=sports   Bummer. He sounds pretty pissed about it. Best of luck to him in the future.
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Let's remember some "Twins guys" thread

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This signing was lauded by a lot this off season, but at this point it looks like a disaster that we are going to be stuck with for anoth...
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Real Or Pretender?

It seems like the baseball season just began. But by the end of the week, the Twins will have completed over 20% of their schedule.

Following Monday's off-day, the Twins sit in a cluster at the top of the AL Central. Besides Kansas City, the rest of the division is separated by a mere 2.0 games. Cleveland might start to separate itself from the pack but for the most part, the AL Central was mired in mediocrity throughout April.

If the Twins are going to stay in the playoff race, there are plenty of pieces that will need to fall into place. Each player mentioned below is going to need to decide if he is really playing up to his full potential or pretending to be something he can't sustain.

So you make the call... Are they real or pretenders?
Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson, USA Today Sports
Miguel Sano
Sano is off to a torrid start at the plate and he has shown some strong defensive skills at third base. Entering play on Monday, he only trailed Mike Trout and Aaron Judge in the American League WAR standings. He's also hitting the ball with authority. According to MLB's Statcast data, Sano is leading the big leagues in average exit velocity. One has to worry about the Sano that slumped during his sophomore season. He wasn't able to draw as many walks and his power wasn't as regular as his rookie campaign. However, the 24-year old slugger seems primed to make his mark this season. RESULT: REAL

Ervin Santana
Santana ran into his first hiccup on Sunday after nearly a perfect month of April. Even after allowing a season high six runs, his ERA only rose to 1.72. It seems highly unlikely for Santana to be able to sustain this level of the course of an entire season. His best ERA total for any season was 3.24 and he has a career ERA north of 4.00. He leads both leagues with a 0.79 WHIP while allowing 4.0 hits per nine. His career hits per nine average is more than twice his total this season and he has a career 1.27 WHIP. Santana might not turn into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight but there's no way he can be this good for all of 2017. RESULT: PRETENDER

Brian Dozier
After a record-breaking 2016 season, Dozier hasn't exactly set the world on fire to start 2017. His batting average is down to .229 but he is getting on base over 32% of the time. Dozier ranks second on the team with four home runs and he has a team leading six stolen bases. He ranks in the bottom half of AL when it comes to WAR for second basemen. There's nothing stopping Dozier from going on another hot streak as the season progresses. However, it seems more likely that he will be back to the .245/.320/.440 career hitter while averaging 23 home runs. This is the real version of Dozier even after his monster 2016 season. RESULT: REAL

Hector Santiago
While Santana has been getting a lot of pitching headlines, Santiago is quietly off to a great start. He ranks 13th in the AL in ERA and 16th in WHIP. He's pitched his entire seven year career in the AL and never posted an ERA under 3.33. He's striking out fewer batters per nine innings but he's also walking fewer batters and keeping the ball in the park. As a 29-year old, he has been part of three different organizations and he has been traded twice. He might be a veteran coming into his own or he could be taking advantage of some early struggles from opposing hitters. RESULT: THE JURY IS STILL OUT

So who gets your vote for being real or being a pretender? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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142 Comments

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TheLeviathan
May 08 2017 09:05 PM

It's too bad we couldn't con someone into taking Inflated Dozier.

 

Maybe he has a July binge coming, let's hope.

    • Platoon, d-mac, KirbyDome89 and 2 others like this

I mean, obviously Santana isn't going to have a low 1.00's ERA, but I wouldn't call him a pretender. I think he is more than capable of being an "ace" for this club and one of the top 20 pitchers in all of baseball this year. 

Sano is as "real" as they get.

Dozier will be fine, he seems to have been hitting the ball harder lately IMO.

Santiago will settle in as a solid #3.

    • Jerr, Mike Sixel, Oldgoat_MN and 10 others like this
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LA VIkes Fan
May 08 2017 09:31 PM

Aren't the real questions whether Polanco, Rosario, Kepler and Buxton are real or pretenders? The only way this team finishes above .500 is if at least 2 of those 4 are real as in at least solid MLB starters and show it this year, 3 if we hope to contend for a Wild Card. FWIW, I say Rosario and Polanco are real, and its too early to tell for Kepler and Buxton. On the guys in the article, Sano - real, Santana - real as in ERA under 3.5, and Santiago and Dozier go back to what we knew they were all along - a solid #3 starter with an ERA around 4 and a .240/.320/.425 2B with 20 HRs. 

    • Jerr, DJSim22, Oldgoat_MN and 5 others like this
At current pace Twins win 84 games......... we can dream!

Sano could be a legit top-tier hitter, but his current .440 BABIP is kinda crazy.

 

Santana has a 4.17 FIP, 4.38 xFIP (not far from his career levels); he's been getting very lucky with the BABIP and LOB%. I've said before, he's a fine mid-rotation guy, but no, he's not a Top 20 pitcher or an "ace."

 

Santiago has an unsustainable 5.8% HR/FB--and as a flyball pitcher, he's been helped a lot by the OF defense. I could see him settling into an ERA just above or below 4, despite an ugly xFIP, if the regular OF trio stays in the lineup all season. But he could also be in real trouble if Buxton goes down (injury or demotion) for awhile.

 

Dozier may heat up a little (ZiPS and Steamer project 107-113 wRC+ RoS), but his current 99 wRC+ isn't far below his performance in 2015. I doubt the 132 wRC+ of last year will return. I've believed for awhile that he's likely to fall off the table in his early 30's, like Dan Uggla. Could the decline already be happening? We'll see.

    • whydidnt and d-mac like this
I think Rosario, Kepler, Buxton and Polanco are all real. My only caveat is that Polanco eventfully will have to move to second. He will someday prove to be a far better hitter than Dozier. Santana is a pretender, as would anyone be with those numbers in the first few games. The real pretenders are Hughes and Kintzler. As bad as the teams pitching is looking, think how it will look when these two come back to earth. To round out the roster Mauer and Castro are sadly, real. Joe will never be Joe again, it is what it is. And Castro seems to be yet another MLB catcher. Competent, throws better than the previous placeholder, and blocks balls worse.
    • hybridbear, bighat and caninatl04 like this

Aren't the real questions whether Polanco, Rosario, Kepler and Buxton are real or pretenders? The only way this team finishes above .500 is if at least 2 of those 4 are real as in at least solid MLB starters and show it this year, 3 if we hope to contend for a Wild Card. FWIW, I say Rosario and Polanco are real, and its too early to tell for Kepler and Buxton. On the guys in the article, Sano - real, Santana - real as in ERA under 3.5, and Santiago and Dozier go back to what we knew they were all along - a solid #3 starter with an ERA around 4 and a .240/.320/.425 2B with 20 HRs.

Polanco? Real: average glove, average bat. Average bat used to play as a SS, but not anymore. I concur he is a future 2B, utility player especially given the strength of the position in the high minors. Rosario? Pretender. Good to very good glove and arm, fair bat. Kepler? Real. A future staple in RF and hitting 6th or 7th. Buxton? Well, there's the (literally) multi-million dollar question.
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Bill Brown69
May 09 2017 08:36 AM

For some reason there seems to be a roller coaster of emotion on the first 20% of a long season. These are mostly young kids and consistency is not going to define your play in your first few seasons.

 

No Santana isn't going to keep pitching to a sub 2 ERA nor will Santiago keep pitching to a 2.78 ERA but Berrios nor Mejia will pitch as bad as before, and they will both get plenty of starts this year. That leaves it up to Hughes to keep his arm attached to his body and the bullpen to keep getting overworked and live on who they are until the young guys get off the DL and are ready. 

As a whole the pitching staff should be much better than last year but are still pretenders.

 

Hitting wise, neither catcher will hit .250, we knew that.

 

Mauer is who he is. I expect him to raise his average and walk totals some, but nowhere close to the good ole days.

 

Dozier will go on a tear for a while sometime. How long will determine if this is another 40 HR year or a 25 HR year. Hopefully his ankle doesn't bother his base running and he scores 100.

 

Polanco will have his ups and downs. With 359 career at bats he is maybe starting his Sophomore slump. Hopefully he can get it out of the way before the season ends and be close to who he will be for next year.

 

Sano wont have an OPS of 1070 or hit .300 but he is legit and a huge threat.

 

All of the outfielders have less than 900 career at bats. If you react to every series, get ready for a large and twisty roller coaster. They all have the tools to be at least very productive, if not All Stars.

 

I am ready for the Vargas train to roll but he only has just over 500 At bats. Grossman has just over 1000, so he is only just getting established as a hitter.

 

Overall the team is pretenders, but in a good way. I still think 82 wins. 76 if things break poorly and who knows what a little luck,,,,,86? 88? Regardless this is a fun team to follow right now. There will be frustrating moments but stay calm and enjoy the ride.

    • birdwatcher, goulik, DocBauer and 1 other like this

Team as a whole contending for the pennant? Pretenders. This year is the last year of preparing for next year. Next year I EXPECT contenders. This year, I see them remaining right around 500 and selling a couple pieces at the All Star Break/Trade Deadline in preparation for next years run.

 

This is also still the first year of Falvey/Lavine and they are still putting the pieces in place for their grand scheme. I don't think they are even pretending that they are doing anything more than establishing the groundwork for what we all hope will be a long run of contention behind Berrios, Gonsalves, and McKay.

    • bighat likes this

For some reason there seems to be a roller coaster of emotion on the first 20% of a long season. These are mostly young kids and consistency is not going to define your play in your first few seasons.
 
No Santana isn't going to keep pitching to a sub 2 ERA nor will Santiago keep pitching to a 2.78 ERA but Berrios nor Mejia will pitch as bad as before, and they will both get plenty of starts this year. That leaves it up to Hughes to keep his arm attached to his body and the bullpen to keep getting overworked and live on who they are until the young guys get off the DL and are ready. 
As a whole the pitching staff should be much better than last year but are still pretenders.
 
Hitting wise, neither catcher will hit .250, we knew that.
 
Mauer is who he is. I expect him to raise his average and walk totals some, but nowhere close to the good ole days.
 
Dozier will go on a tear for a while sometime. How long will determine if this is another 40 HR year or a 25 HR year. Hopefully his ankle doesn't bother his base running and he scores 100.
 
Polanco will have his ups and downs. With 359 career at bats he is maybe starting his Sophomore slump. Hopefully he can get it out of the way before the season ends and be close to who he will be for next year.
 
Sano wont have an OPS of 1070 or hit .300 but he is legit and a huge threat.
 
All of the outfielders have less than 900 career at bats. If you react to every series, get ready for a large and twisty roller coaster. They all have the tools to be at least very productive, if not All Stars.
 
I am ready for the Vargas train to roll but he only has just over 500 At bats. Grossman has just over 1000, so he is only just getting established as a hitter.
 
Overall the team is pretenders, but in a good way. I still think 82 wins. 76 if things break poorly and who knows what a little luck,,,,,86? 88? Regardless this is a fun team to follow right now. There will be frustrating moments but stay calm and enjoy the ride.

I have no idea if Sano will hit .300 or OPS 1.070. But in general he will terrorize AL pitching for years, he is scary. Vargas has definite impact potential. I am surprised that RG has so few AB? He has a great eye, but when thrown a lot of strikes still seems benign. Dozier will likely go on a tear. But will it be when the games count, or after the seasons finish is decided? Time will tell.

Why we really wouldn't have suffered if someone, anyone had offered worth for Dozier. But he wasn't THAT sought after, in reality. Ervin Santana...if he continues to show...you fliphim...DON'T make him part of the future. Same with Santiago. At this point, you probably have zilch of a chance to sign him if he does excel. If he is traded and excels, you MIGHT be able to sign him then, if you want.

 

The trouble with the team is that you have a lot of prospects you do wish to keep, some who might draw some interest (Rosario) and lots and lots of guys who shouldn't be here or on any team, but you have the slimest of hope that they might generate something, anything, in return (i.e. Santana) ratehr than just cutting and walk.

 

The new kings need to draft well this round, hope the talent stays of the disabled list in the minors, and TAKE THE CHANCE by forcing them to play above-their-levels and getting them to the majors sooner rather than later. We don't need 36-year-old rookies.

 

Once we get a handle on prospects, once Mauer is figured out in the future equation, you can spend money (still a gamble) in the free agent market.

 

Happily the division is proving to be quite week. You still HAVE TO BEAT the teams in your division  -- all of them, not just KC -- to be competitive.

 

This year Twins are pretenders, just don't blow it and try to be more.In the next couple of years you need to sign an ace to get to the next level.

Twins need this year to see which young BP pieces will be here and which will not.That will take most of this year.

    • birdwatcher and Loosey like this
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diehardtwinsfan
May 09 2017 12:58 PM

I think the team as a whole is more of a pretender at the moment.Too much risk in SP....

Serious contenders have lots of good pitching. We have Ervin Santana, who is a good pitcher but not nearly as good as he has been so far this season. And then after that we have Santiago, who is not that good of a pitcher and not as good as he has been so far this season. They will regress. I expect Santana will level out as a solid #2/3 type of guy, as he has been. And Santiago will likely level out to a 4/5 guy, as he has been. Beyond that, we have jack **** for pitching on our current team. Teams with Ervin Santana as their ace, Santiago as their #2, Phil Hughes as their #3 and a nightmare of a bullpen don't go far in the playoffs, if they even make the playoffs.

 

Don't get me wrong, we have a lot of things to be happy and excited about, but it would be a huge mistake in my opinion for this team to convince themselves they're serious contenders and not be sellers at the deadline. 

    • birdwatcher, Mike Sixel, frightwig and 3 others like this
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yarnivek1972
May 09 2017 02:19 PM

Serious contenders have lots of good pitching. We have Ervin Santana, who is a good pitcher but not nearly as good as he has been so far this season. And then after that we have Santiago, who is not that good of a pitcher and not as good as he has been so far this season. They will regress. I expect Santana will level out as a solid #2/3 type of guy, as he has been. And Santiago will likely level out to a 4/5 guy, as he has been. Beyond that, we have jack **** for pitching on our current team. Teams with Ervin Santana as their ace, Santiago as their #2, Phil Hughes as their #3 and a nightmare of a bullpen don't go far in the playoffs, if they even make the playoffs.

Don't get me wrong, we have a lot of things to be happy and excited about, but it would be a huge mistake in my opinion for this team to convince themselves they're serious contenders and not be sellers at the deadline.


You have an awfully unrealistic opinion of what the state of pitching is. How is a guy with a career ERA under 4 considered a 4 or 5 starter? Santiago's career ERA is better than league average. Doesn't that make him a solid 3, almost by definition?

 

You have an awfully unrealistic opinion of what the state of pitching is. How is a guy with a career ERA under 4 considered a 4 or 5 starter? Santiago's career ERA is better than league average. Doesn't that make him a solid 3, almost by definition?

If you want to call Santiago a 3/4 or a 3, thats fine but the point still stands. Santana, Santiago, Hughes and a garbage bullpen aren't the kind of pitching staff that you can count on to make a strong playoff push. Could it happen? Yeah, certainly. Stranger things have happened plenty. But If you're looking at our pitching staff and thinking, "these are serious world series contenders," then you've lost your mind.

 

Edit: Basically my entire point was our pitchers who are pitching well are very likely to regress, at which point we have a horrible pitching staff + Ervin Santana and a few middle of the rotation guys, at best. I would not want this team to be a buyer at the deadline, as that is basically selling your future for the tiny chance of catching lightning in a bottle. That is a bad trade off in my book. 

    • birdwatcher, frightwig and h2oface like this

Agree on Santiago - he's been playing with fire all year and doesn't pitch deep into games.I think we'll see a cross between this year's Santiago and last year's Santiago when it's all said and done.Around 10 wins, a 4.80 ERA.He's a #5 starter on a decent team but on the Twins he's their #2 guy. Santana might just have a great year, not a sub 2 ERA year but a 15-20 win season is certainly in reach.

 

 

Pretender. They could get lucky, though. Pitching pitching pitching. Kintzler is the biggest pretender in a most important role. Triple A roster looks so unremarkable. This is the rebuild (that really never was) in the show now. And it came with no pitching.

    • frightwig likes this
Meyer, May, and Stewart were projected to be here when the rebuild began along with Gibson Hughes and Ervin. Then we added Berrios and Gonsalves and Romero and Jay... who'd have guessed we'd get a net negative value for starts by that group?

Nevertheless, the Twins have some positional talent. If we're not contenders this year, why would we be contenders next year? Big FA signing? Yeah right. Our best chance at an ace is through trade. Why next year instead of this year? If not this year, then not next year either, so then why not trade Sano for a haul since he's literally the only player capable of bringing back premium arm talent. Trade them all and build toward kiriloff and Hunter Greene in 2021. If we stick around, play it out or add now. If Dozier and Sano got hot for a series, and Buxton gets it going... If you're good enough to luck into 88 wins, you're good enough to luck into 7 more in the playoffs.
    • h2oface and PseudoSABR like this
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LA VIkes Fan
May 09 2017 04:49 PM

Read an interesting article on the Cubs rebuild. The basic premise was that they rebuilt around position players, not pitching, because it is more likely to pan out. They first drafted position players and put a better team in the field and then went out to get pitching by trading surplus position players and signing free agents.  This maximized the likelihood of success while they had high draft picks since position players tend to work out more often than pitchers. This approach (1) requires patience and a willingness to endure losing for awhile, and (2) money to get free agent pitching. It's kind of the opposite of the "draft pitching when you have high draft picks because you have to draft your own ace". Interesting thinking.  

    • USAFChief, birdwatcher, h2oface and 5 others like this

Read an interesting article on the Cubs rebuild. The basic premise was that they rebuilt around position players, not pitching, because it is more likely to pan out. They first drafted position players and put a better team in the field and then went out to get pitching by trading surplus position players and signing free agents. This maximized the likelihood of success while they had high draft picks since position players tend to work out more often than pitchers. This approach (1) requires patience and a willingness to endure losing for awhile, and (2) money to get free agent pitching. It's kind of the opposite of the "draft pitching when you have high draft picks because you have to draft your own ace". Interesting thinking.


I generally support this view, but the draft this year just doesn't fall that way. Top 3 guys are all pitchers. Can't jump the board that much.

But on a related note, does make me feel somewhat optimistic about the current state of the team, they have the makings of a solid, young core of position players.
    • birdwatcher, LA VIkes Fan, howieramone2 and 1 other like this

Read an interesting article on the Cubs rebuild. The basic premise was that they rebuilt around position players, not pitching, because it is more likely to pan out. They first drafted position players and put a better team in the field and then went out to get pitching by trading surplus position players and signing free agents. This maximized the likelihood of success while they had high draft picks since position players tend to work out more often than pitchers. This approach (1) requires patience and a willingness to endure losing for awhile, and (2) money to get free agent pitching. It's kind of the opposite of the "draft pitching when you have high draft picks because you have to draft your own ace". Interesting thinking.


Royals won with the same model except traded for pitching instead of buying it. Trading provides lower risk, immediate return, and shorter contracts for less total money. Also, prospects with good numbers and avg results or big tools worth lousy results... actually pretty much all prospects tend to be overrated.
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Brock Beauchamp
May 12 2017 07:28 AM

 

Royals won with the same model except traded for pitching instead of buying it. Trading provides lower risk, immediate return, and shorter contracts for less total money. Also, prospects with good numbers and avg results or big tools worth lousy results... actually pretty much all prospects tend to be overrated.

The Royals made some good moves to open their window of contention but I hope to God the Twins aren't going to emulate their strategy. Sure, they won a WS and appeared in another but they had to go through an elimination game to get there once and barely skated out of the first round the second time.

 

And that was their window. Two seasons. The ultimate outcome - a World Series championship - was great after the fact but looking only at results and ignoring how one bounce eliminates the Royals in both their postseason appearances puts me on edge. I'd like the Twins to have both a larger window of contention and be more dominant in at least one regular season.

 

Theoretically, the Twins should have more money to play with than the Royals so there's less of a reason to trade the farm over plunging into free agency.

    • birdwatcher, beckmt, howieramone2 and 1 other like this
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Willihammer
May 12 2017 09:01 AM

I don't know if the Twins are real or pretender but there's no doubt in my mind our club is in a better spot than the White Sox. A lot better spot. They made it close last night but they are a lousy group of players except for one or two guys in the bullpen.

    • Mike Sixel likes this

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