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Off Season BluePrint: Money Laundering

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 01:26 AM
Seeings how it's not my money and I'd just as soon see a major shakeup of any of our Pro Sports teams, rather than be stuck in the middle...
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I'm Bored of the Offseason

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:08 AM
Why is it in baseball we have to wait for weeks on end for anything to happen in free agency? In other sports like football and basketbal...
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Article: Offseason Blueprint: Bargain Bin Shopping (Part 2)

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:28 PM
As of 8 AM on Thursday, yesterday's story about bargain bin free agent hitters had eight comments, and none of them were "the Twins/Pohla...
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Article: Rundown: Target Field Security, Offseason Expect...

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 10:54 PM
Target Field is undergoing yet another fairly major update this offseason, the focus being around Gate 34. Rochelle Olson of the Star Tri...
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2019 Twins Minor League Signings

Twins Minor League Talk Yesterday, 08:44 PM
The Rochester Red Wings today announced five Twins minor league signings. RHP Zach Harper and C Wynston Sawyer returned. Also,, they have...
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Twins Bullpen Overview by the Numbers

From the Kansas City Royals bullpenning their way to the World Series to the Tampa Bay Rays breaking out the opener, reliever usage has become the most revolutionized element of baseball over the past five years. No matter how a manager decides to deploy his relief corps, one thing is certain: You need a good bullpen to win.

Earlier, Nick Nelson took stock of the Twins relievers and detailed the importance of building a badass bullpen. Today, we’re going to take a deeper look into the numbers and try to identify some potential upgrades.
Image courtesy of Rogers photo - © Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Where Were They Last Year and Previously?
It would behoove the Minnesota Twins to focus on improving their bullpen significantly in advance of 2019. By fWAR, the Twins 2018 bullpen was their best unit (3.0) since the 2013 iteration (5.1). Surprising? Not really. In recent seasons, the Twins have been a perpetual 2-3 fWAR bullpen team. Their off-season acquisitions performed fairly well before they were traded away.

The Twins 2018 pen made some significant shifts in cumulative performance reflecting the organizational pitching direction (more velocity, more strikeouts). Consider the following:
Attached Image: Bullpen1.png
Despite achieving similar overall value, the pen went from almost last to almost top ten in strikeouts. While the Twins bullpen wasn’t a strength in 2018, it was improved. Significantly, if the Twins hadn’t been so remarkably out of contention by the trade deadline and had benefited from a full season of Trevor May, they would have ended up with four top 50 relievers (Taylor Rogers, Ryan Pressly, Trevor May, and Zach Duke).

A Note on Elite Bullpens
A cumulative fWAR of 4.3 or higher will land you a top 10 bullpen, pretty much every year, pretty much without fail. While the super elite bullpens (Yankees, Astros) typically net an fWAR of 8+ the Twins aren’t far from having a top third pen.

Two Elite Options
The Twins have two elite options at the end of their pen. For the purposes of this hypothetical, let’s assume two things; Trevor May pitches an entire season, and both he and Taylor Rogers replicate their 2018 performance in 2019.

Rogers turned himself into an exceptional bullpen arm in the second half with a tweak to his pitch mix that resulted in the third best FIP in MLB (2.33) and tied him for 10th in MLB in fWAR (1.9 – tied with one Aroldis Chapman). Rogers has outstanding control (2.11 BB/9 – good for 16th in MLB), a solid 9.88 K/9, respectable numbers against RHH, sporting a .220/.267/.377 line against opposite-handed hitters. In short, Rogers is an ideal candidate for all high leverage situations in which the Twins need a LHP.

May was another spectacular surprise. After returning from TJ surgery, May initially struggled at AAA. When he finally made it back to the Twins, May put up 0.6 fWAR in just 24.1 IP. May had a ridiculous K/9 (13.32 – good for 11th in MLB among relievers who threw at least 20 innings). May also had the 11th best swinging strike rate (16.4%). Over a full season of work, he gives the Twins pen another 1.5 fWAR pitcher, a right handed, high leverage bullpen option (who should not be solely tied down to a ninth inning role).

What They Need
While the Twins have two great options at the back end of the pen, they have little else. Trevor Hildenberger regressed to a replacement level pitcher in 2018 (although there was a one run differential between his ERA and FIP, and a 1.6 run differential between his ERA and xFIP). All the aforementioned top 10 bullpens from the last few years of MLB play have one thing in common: nine to 10 guys who put up some positive value (I’m using a fWAR of 0.2 or higher as my proxy here), in other words, depth. The Twins had only seven such pitchers last year, including Duke, Pressly, Fernando Rodney, Oliver Drake, and Kohl Stewart (who amassed some of his value in a unique bullpen role).

After those seven, the Twins essentially had a slew of replacement level guys (Andrew Vasquez in limited work, Hildy, John Curtiss), or guys who amassed negative value (Addison Reed, Matt Magill, Tyler Duffey, Alan Busenitz), almost all of who suffered from problematic home run rates (a pain point for the Twins pen in general). The Twins could use one more excellent bullpen piece, but mostly, they need some solid depth (part of the reason not looking at Nick Anderson or Jake Reed at the end of last season was so criminal).

Some Free Agent Options
Whom might the Twins target? As you might expect in a particularly juicy free agent year, the relief pitching market is resplendent with options. To highlight some of these, I filtered through FA relief pitchers who are right-handed, assuming that between the elite Rogers, and the replacement level Moya, the Twins are about set with left-handed relievers. For the purposes of outlining some options, I also left out pitchers who have options remaining, like Nate Jones, Pedro Strop, Brandon Kintzler, in addition to pitchers I felt were way out of the Twins reach, like Craig Kimbrel (probably should have left Ottavino off too).
Attached Image: Bullpen2.png
The Twins have a ton of options for upgrading their pen, including internal options, trade, or targeting upgrades through free agency. What are your thoughts on the bullpen heading into 2019? Who would you pursue in free agency if you were running the front office?

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28 Comments

I'd open up the checkbook and acquire Jeurys Familia.  He earned nearly $8MM last year on a one-year contract.  I am a little hesitant, though, because of the domestic abuse cloud surrounding him.

I feel the Twins should sign one of the pitchers you feel are out of reach,Britton, Miller, Kimbell, Familia, Herrera.Also monitor the trade market for relievers from teams that do not expect to content in 2019.

Go back and check the very definition of fwar. It is not designed to be a finite number.Openers, Starters, Primary Pitchers, Relievers Got to love the ways baseball comes up with innovations to screw up the stat classifications

 

So many relievers have a big ear followed by a bad that I am always fearful of the signing the big believer. Watching the playoffs I keep hearing how a picture turn there career around by changing their pitch mix or emphasize in a different pitch which means that it isn't so much the pitcher as the coaching they can take a good arm (and they are all good arms) and make them better in their performance. I like the idea of getting young live arms and not the established and already old relievers that have amassed a long resume.
    • tarheeltwinsfan and Doctor Wu like this

 

So many relievers have a big ear followed by a bad that I am always fearful of the signing the big believer. Watching the playoffs I keep hearing how a picture turn there career around by changing their pitch mix or emphasize in a different pitch which means that it isn't so much the pitcher as the coaching they can take a good arm (and they are all good arms) and make them better in their performance. I like the idea of getting young live arms and not the established and already old relievers that have amassed a long resume.

I agree, Instead of shelling out big money for a "proven" reliever, I'd prefer they seek some of those "live arms" that could turn into valuable bullpen pieces. Much more cost effective, and will possibly produce better overall results.

    • Danchat and tarheeltwinsfan like this
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ashburyjohn
Oct 14 2018 07:55 AM

So many relievers have a big ear

91dfc217763f59b708808927953e86bc.jpg

 

Don Mossi had two.

/ sorry

    • USAFChief, glunn, birdwatcher and 12 others like this
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ashburyjohn
Oct 14 2018 08:27 AM

Compared to the parade of shutdown guys I see this post-season, I have to say that the Twins currently have not one bullpen piece that would figure prominently for any of these teams. Not one. I like Rogers but he'd be a LOOGY for a winner. I like May but he hasn't put it together.

 

WAR is a counting stat, so I don't think it's useful to look at WAR totals for a bullpen unless it's in the context of innings pitched. You can rack up higher WAR total due to overuse, and indeed the Twins starters went less deep into games than, say, the Yankees.

 

The Twins bullpen is solidly below average, and I don't even see the pieces currently available that will change that. Fundamental changes, like catching lightning in a bottle by converting a failed starter, or by signing big-time free agents, are needed.

    • glunn, beckmt, Danchat and 2 others like this

Relievers are always a crap shoot. They seem to go from great to awful and vice versa with the flip of a switch.

I'm not sure why we are worried about cost effective for a 2-3 year deal for a RP.....they are flush with money, and every single veteran on the roster (3?) is a FA after next year.

 

It's about picking the right 1-2 guys, not about money. Even for a mid market team, given the context of their current players, they can afford 1-2 "expensive" RPs imo.

 

As for variability, that is largely driven by sample size issues. It doesn't take many bad breaks, when you only pitch 40-60 innings, to have bad outcomes. 

 

I'm happy to read someone that thinks they can develop RPs (based on what history), and that those players will somehow be more consistent and better than guys that have been successful. Or, do they need to pick all new RPs every year, since it is variable? 

    • Twins33 and mngopherguy like this
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mngopherguy
Oct 14 2018 10:59 AM

I agree with Mike that they should have the money to do so.It's a risky move though as we all know how relievers fluctuate year to year and so many pieces they need to acquire.  

 

Of course if we had owners who actually cared about winning more than the bottom line, we wouldn't have to pick and choose.  

 

I'm not sure why we are worried about cost effective for a 2-3 year deal for a RP.....they are flush with money, and every single veteran on the roster (3?) is a FA after next year.

 

It's about picking the right 1-2 guys, not about money. Even for a mid market team, given the context of their current players, they can afford 1-2 "expensive" RPs imo.

 

As for variability, that is largely driven by sample size issues. It doesn't take many bad breaks, when you only pitch 40-60 innings, to have bad outcomes. 

 

I'm happy to read someone that thinks they can develop RPs (based on what history), and that those players will somehow be more consistent and better than guys that have been successful. Or, do they need to pick all new RPs every year, since it is variable? 

They may be flush with cash but there is no need to just flush the cash

 

 

They may be flush with cash but there is no need to just flush the cash

 

signing a good RP is flushing the cash? you have that little faith in the FO?

 

Who is more likely to be good as a RP next year, DeJong, or a guy that has been good in the majors?

The Twins could use one more excellent bullpen piece, but mostly, they need some solid depth (part of the reason not looking at Nick Anderson or Jake Reed at the end of last season was so criminal).

I'm one of the biggest Anderson fans on the board and would have loved to see him in 2018, but it was not a crime to take one last look at Busenitz, Duffey, and Curtiss. But if they let him go in Rule 5, it will be a crime.

They should sign a reliever maybe two this offseason. There are several mid relievers I like from the list on a 2 year deal. Though I wonder who is available in a trade?
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IndianaTwin
Oct 14 2018 01:47 PM

David Robertson. 

 

He's been about as consistently excellent as they come for about about eight years.

This team is not set anywhere in the bullpen. I hope Rogers keeps it up but his numbers are great because he was lights out in the 2nd half. In the 1st half he had a pedestrian 3.86 ERA and if we see 1st half Rogers we're no where near set for LH relievers.

They need 2 relievers who can be fireman types, and another 1-2 bargain bin relievers.
    • Mike Sixel likes this

Relievers are always a crap shoot.


Non concur.

Relievers with great stuff aren't a crap shoot. Quite the contrary.

The crap shoot comes in when you think relievers are a crap shoot, so you spend no resources or make no effort to get good ones.
    • glunn, Danchat, Vanimal46 and 1 other like this

 

signing a good RP is flushing the cash? you have that little faith in the FO?

 

Who is more likely to be good as a RP next year, DeJong, or a guy that has been good in the majors?

Did I say anywhere mot to sign a good free agent reliever? Did I say DeJong was the answer?With a maybe 90 mph FB DeJong would be the long man in blow outs. Nere is a reminder on spending for relievers https://www.fangraph...nt-working-out/

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yarnivek1972
Oct 14 2018 04:13 PM

This team is not set anywhere in the bullpen. I hope Rogers keeps it up but his numbers are great because he was lights out in the 2nd half. In the 1st half he had a pedestrian 3.86 ERA and if we see 1st half Rogers we're no where near set for LH relievers.

They need 2 relievers who can be fireman types, and another 1-2 bargain bin relievers.

Rogers has never not been lights out against LHB. There is no reason to believe that won’t continue.

(Wow, quadruple negative. Follow that?)


He likely won’t be as effective against RHB as he was in the second half. However, he has improved against RHB every year he’s been in the league. No one is saying he’s Andrew Miller in his prime, but he’s a guy that can get lefties for sure and hold his own against righties. I’d be wary of using him in high leverage situations against higher quality RHB though.

Did I say anywhere mot to sign a good free agent reliever? Did I say DeJong was the answer? With a maybe 90 mph FB DeJong would be the long man in blow outs. Nere is a reminder on spending for relievers https://www.fangraph...nt-working-out/

What did your post mean, then? Because it sure seemed like you said it was flushing cash.

Also, that article fails to examine the alternative, of using pitchers that never even saw the majors. Because of you don't acquire new pitchers, you have to use your minor league pitchers.
Rogers second half appears mostly babip and (lack of) HR driven. Those numbers aren't likely sustainable.

 

Rogers second half appears mostly babip and (lack of) HR driven. Those numbers aren't likely sustainable.

Well, yeah, when you put up something like a 0.80 ERA in that stretch, it's going to be unsustainable. You'd hope he'd regress to a 2.00-3.00 ERA with more normal BABIP/HR numbers. 

    • Original Whizzinator likes this

 

91dfc217763f59b708808927953e86bc.jpg

 

Don Mossi had two.

/ sorry

I love it!Yes he did.When I do the voice post - just returned from a trip - there are these ridiculous errors, but your response makes it worth it.

 

    • ashburyjohn likes this

Well, yeah, when you put up something like a 0.80 ERA in that stretch, it's going to be unsustainable. You'd hope he'd regress to a 2.00-3.00 ERA with more normal BABIP/HR numbers.


I think high 3's are more likely, as that's what he put up in the first half with similar k and bb numbers.
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tarheeltwinsfan
Oct 14 2018 06:07 PM

 

David Robertson. 

 

He's been about as consistently excellent as they come for about about eight years.

I bet he won't be for the next 8 years.


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