Rundown: Judy From Big Lake, Baldelli-Buxton Meeting and More
Image courtesy of © Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY SportsWow, Judy bringing it! That’s both scorching and direct, exactly the kind of stuff that makes these fan forums unique. The team deserves some credit for allowing that question to come through. They could have very easily rejected her request, I’m sure there were many more fans waiting in the queue who didn’t have the opportunity to ask their questions.
Thad Levine apologized for what transpired last season and admitted the season didn’t go the way they had hoped it would. He added this:
“Our goal and our commitment to the fans is we want to put together a team that has the ability to complete year-in and year-out and have a long window for success. So we’re clearly in the building process – we’re not rebuilding, we’re building – and I think we’re building off of the successes of each of the last two seasons with the hope that we’ll take a meaningful step here in 2019.”
I’m not sure how Judy from Big Lake received that, but I’m guessing any Twins fans thirsty for success weren’t exactly swept off their feet by that answer.
Derek Falvey and new Twins manager Rocco Baldelli were also on the call. One of my favorite exchanges from Baldelli included this quote: “I tend to be curious and like to surround myself with curious people who like to stay open minded.” He also stressed creating a fun atmosphere and making sure the players enjoy showing up to work every day.
Here are some other interesting items of note to come out of the forum:
-Baldelli is going to try to get down to Georgia over the winter to visit with Byron Buxton.
-Miguel Sano will continue to get every chance to play third base.
-While Levine rained praise upon Willians Astudillo for both his performance and clubhouse presence, he also said “he’s going to need to earn it again,” implying he’s not being penciled into the Opening Day roster.
-Falvey anticipates some changes revolving pace of play going into next year. He didn’t make any predictions as to what they may be, but he made it sound like nothing was off the table for the upcoming Winter Meetings.
In his column for the Pioneer Press over the weekend, Charley Walters had some quotes from Jim Pohlad that should temper expectations for this offseason. Here’s what Pohlad said regarding Joe Mauer’s contract coming off the books: “It’s not like ‘OK, we’ve got this money now, and we didn’t have it before, so we can do so much more. I don’t feel that way.”
The stove has been extremely cold so far this offseason, but since there have been so few moves, the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook remains very fresh. Just a reminder that the handbook is available as a PDF at whatever price you’re willing to pay.
I’m also very happy to report that the Twins Prospect Handbook is progressing along quite nicely. There were a ton of additions to the minor league system at the trade deadline, so you’re definitely going to want to pick up a copy of this year’s edition to study up on all the new names.
Speaking of prospects, Mike Berardino recorded a podcast for Baseball America in which he and Kyle Glaser reviewed his top 10 prospect list. Of course there was a lot of talk about the individual prospects on the list, but they also opened things up for a big-picture discussion on where the Twins are headed and made some good observations.
Paul Sporer of FanGraphs took a look at what went wrong for Brian Dozier in 2018. I doubt a reunion with the Twins is in the cards, but Dozier does seem to be a really good buy-low option among this year’s crop of free agents.
The first huge move of the offseason went down last night (no offense, Eduardo Escobar), as Jeff Passan of Yahoo reported the Yankees had a deal in place to acquire lefty starter James Paxton from the Mariners. Seattle won 89 games last season and Paxton still has two seasons of team control, though he’s projected to make $9 million through arbitration this upcoming year and obviously more than that in 2020. Still, I don’t think it’s a good thing in the grand scheme of things that a competitive team from the prior year is already apparently throwing in the towel for 2019.
The Yankees gave up MLB Pipeline’s No. 31 overall prospect in baseball Justus Sheffield and two more players in Erik Swanson and Dom Thompson-Williams who both slot in as top-15 prospects in the Mariners’ system. Given Sheffield’s prospect status and the fact that he already reached the Major Leagues it’s difficult to come up with a similar package the Twins could have offered had they been interested in Paxton.
MLB Trade Rumors held a reader poll on where the top 10 free agents would sign. More than 6,800 people voted and the only player the Twins had more than two percent on was J.A. Happ. Minnesota was the destination selected for him 3.1 percent of the time, which trailed the Yankees (30.9), Blue Jays (9.2), Angels (8.2), Brewers (6.5), Phillies (4.7), Astros (4.4) and Nationals (3.7).
Along with all the free agents already available on the open market, several more players will be added to the pool of available talent shorty. Brandon Warne highlighted some intriguing names who could be non-tendered over at Zone Coverage. I thought he made a particularly compelling argument for current Marlin Derek Dietrich, pointing out that he’s actually been a better hitter than Marwin Gonzalez over his career and brings comparable positional flexibility.
Former Twins prospect Chih-Wei Hu has joined a division rival. He was traded from the Rays to Cleveland on Monday. Originally sent to Tampa Bay in the Kevin Jepsen trade, Hu has pitched to a 3.52 ERA in 23 innings with the Rays over the past two seasons.
Ballpark Digest honored the Twins with their Best Renovation award for Target Field’s switch from the Metropolitan Club to Bat & Barrel. I know that change rubbed some season-ticket holders the wrong way, understandably, but the difference in utility between the Met Club and Bat & Barrel is night and day.
The Met Club was mostly a giant waste of space and the few times I visited there was very little atmosphere. It was just way too stuffy. The few times I visited Bat & Barrel this past season it was a completely different vibe, it was always buzzing in there. I also love the Adam Turman murals and all the awards on display. Here’s hoping the Twins can be a repeat winner for their renovations taking place at Gate 34.
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