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Twins May Pick a Postseason Specialty

When the calendar turns in just over a week the Minnesota Twins will play postseason baseball. They’ll host a game at Target Field for the first time since 2010. Rocco Baldelli will be looking to guide the franchise to its first October win since October 5, 2004. When constructing a 25-man roster for the playoffs teams often look to exploit opportunity on the fringes. An extra pen arm here, or a specific skill set off the bench. For the Twins, they could have a decision to make when it comes to the last position player.
Image courtesy of © David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
As the Houston Astros and New York Yankees battle back and forth for the number one seed, it’s the Bronx Bombers that Minnesotans should be welcoming. History can be cast aside as no one currently on this roster cares about previous futility. Aaron Boone’s squad has plenty of warts on the bump and the Twins lineup can go toe-to-toe with anyone. No matter who they face though, what happens in a late game situation when Baldelli needs to work some magic? Is it speed, or is it patience?

Minnesota acquired Ian Miller from the Seattle Mariners in early August. He was a 14th-round pick in the 2013 draft and had yet to debut in the big leagues at 27-years-old. Not a top prospect by any means, Miller provided outfield depth on the farm but this move was about a specific asset. He’s fast and can steal a base. Even before Byron Buxton had his season come to an end due to shoulder surgery, the likelihood that he’d be available in a late game situation off the bench isn’t good (because he’d be starting). Miller fits the mold of a Terrance Gore type, and that’s exactly why the speedy outfielder (Gore) finds late season opportunity again in 2019, with the Yankees.

Miller has stolen 243 bases in the minor leagues while being caught 51 times. That’s a success rate of 83% and puts him into the threshold of the additional 90 feet being a worthy gamble. Unfortunately he also has just a .340 OBP on the farm and isn’t typically heralded for his ability to get on base. Taking over on the basepaths may be beneficial, but could come at the cost of an additional at-bat later in the game. Despite being capable in the outfield there are a good deal of question marks outside of his ability to swipe bags. The aforementioned Gore has been inserted into nine playoff games over seven seasons. He’s stolen five bases, being caught once and has scored three runs.

The Twins made the prudent move by adding him to the 40-man roster. He’s now eligible for the postseason, and they continued down their forward-thinking path at the beginning of September. Baldelli’s squad has stolen just three bases since the All-Star break though, and a team so capable of scoring from first base may not deem the gamble to second as a risk worth taking.



On the flip side of the coin, I can’t help but be reminded of the at-bat Luis Arraez took in mid-July against Edwin Diaz. Regardless of the closer’s struggles this season, Minnesota’s rookie stepped in at an 0-2 count against a dominant arm and took a walk. Having the ability to generate a very strong at-bat against some of baseball’s best pen arms could prove invaluable during a big situation in October. Fortunately for Minnesota Arraez has worked his way into the starting lineup, but LaMonte Wade could represent a similar asset to consider.

Despite missing a significant portion of his big league time this year due to injury, he hasn’t missed a beat in the time that he has played. Wade owns a career .389 OBP in the minors and has walked in 20% of his big league plate appearances. He’s struck out just three times in 41 opportunities, and has faced three-ball counts 32% of the time he’s stepped in. Despite a .161 batting average, he’s bolstered it with a .366 OBP and routinely makes pitchers work.

Like Miller, Wade too plays the outfield and could take over for a starter as a defensive replacement. He’s got the ability to play all three outfield spots, and despite not being a speedster, can hold down all three roles at an above average clip.

The decision here is an interesting one because it deals with two parts of the game that Minnesota has left largely unattended in 2019. The Twins have the fifth best OBP in baseball, but they’ve taken only the 18th most walks in the game. When constructing this lineup over the winter it was apparent that power production was a focus, and we’ve seen that play out at a record setting pace. No one has stolen fewer bases than Minnesota’s 26, and is postseason play the time to start looking for 90 extra feet?

Both of these players probably found themselves on the outside looking in when the outfield was in its healthiest state. Now with some holes, the Twins will look to create opportunity through utility on the fringes. Miller and Wade present opportunity, but which way will Minnesota go, and will they consider either of them at all?

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25 Comments

I have seen more of Wade than Miller, so my perception might a skewed a bit, but I am really impressed with Wade's at bats. I think, between his defensive versatility and how he approaches his ABs, Wade should be put on the post season roster before Miller.

 

I hope the Twins season does not come down to needing a stolen base in a situation where everyone is expecting a stolen base. That isn't exactly how the Twins roster has been constructed.

    • Oldgoat_MN, 70charger, mikelink45 and 3 others like this
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bunt_vs_the_shift
Sep 20 2019 09:17 AM

 

I have seen more of Wade than Miller, so my perception might a skewed a bit, but I am really impressed with Wade's at bats. I think, between his defensive versatility and how he approaches his ABs, Wade should be put on the post season roster before Miller.

 

I hope the Twins season does not come down to needing a stolen base in a situation where everyone is expecting a stolen base. That isn't exactly how the Twins roster has been constructed.

Completely agree. As a young player, Wade has come in and had professional at bats. Without having enough data on his defensive metrics or speed vs. others, he seems to be an above average fielder with above average speed. To me, the net sum of his skills will be more useful in more instances than Miller's flat out speed, so I'd give the nod to Wade over Miller. That said, we will need a ton of pitching with the increasing likelihood of opener/bullpen games in play and I don't know if they feel we can get by with Kepler, Rosie, Cave and have Marwin and Arraez as depth?... That makes me nervous with so many guys coming off injuries, but with bullpen depth being such a part of playoff baseball I don't know how much they want to load up on that and ride with fewer position players. 

    • mikelink45 likes this
Wade, and it’s not even close. The Twins need guys to get on base so they can be driven in, not guys to go from 1st to 2nd. Given the Twins OF situation, you may also need Wade to be your 3rd OF, as Cave hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since getting hurt.
    • mikelink45 likes this

 

Wade, and it’s not even close. The Twins need guys to get on base so they can be driven in, not guys to go from 1st to 2nd. Given the Twins OF situation, you may also need Wade to be your 3rd OF, as Cave hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since getting hurt.

The way Cave was hitting prior to getting hurt will ensure he is on the post season roster ahead of Wade. Cave's July and August numbers in 70 ABs were incredible. Sure, it is a small sample size, but it shows he is capable of being a major contributor at times.

    • LA VIkes Fan, DannySD and etwink like this

The way Cave was hitting prior to getting hurt will ensure he is on the post season roster ahead of Wade. Cave's July and August numbers in 70 ABs were incredible. Sure, it is a small sample size, but it shows he is capable of being a major contributor at times.


Love your optimism, and totally hope you are right! I like Cave and hope he switches back on. You’ve just got to be ruthless in the playoffs and so, unless Cave snaps out of it, Wade might be the better option.

Having said that, the post was a decision for Wade or Miller, sorry about muddying the water!
    • JW24 likes this
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SpicyGarvSauce
Sep 20 2019 09:41 AM

The Twins don't steal bases, so that takes a bit of the lust away from Miller. Wade has at least shown the capability of having quality ABs, albeit SSS.

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Only Here in Negative
Sep 20 2019 10:16 AM

Given the likelihood that the Twins pen is covering the last four innings of an Odorizzi start, the last five of a Perez start, and then potentially a whole game since Gibby looks sick/lost, I'm hoping the Twins carry as many pitchers as possible. They'll need the starting 9 plus Schoop and Castro. Cave is a 4th OF because you don't want Arraez out there. But then, I want 13 pitchers. Yeah Wade and Miller are nice weapons but the Twins may need all the arms they can get, especially if any game goes to extras.

    • USAFChief, Sconnie, tarheeltwinsfan and 1 other like this

 

Given the likelihood that the Twins pen is covering the last four innings of an Odorizzi start, the last five of a Perez start, and then potentially a whole game since Gibby looks sick/lost, I'm hoping the Twins carry as many pitchers as possible. They'll need the starting 9 plus Schoop and Castro. Cave is a 4th OF because you don't want Arraez out there. But then, I want 13 pitchers. Yeah Wade and Miller are nice weapons but the Twins may need all the arms they can get, especially if any game goes to extras.

Concur.

    • mikelink45 and bighat like this

 

Given the likelihood that the Twins pen is covering the last four innings of an Odorizzi start, the last five of a Perez start, and then potentially a whole game since Gibby looks sick/lost, I'm hoping the Twins carry as many pitchers as possible. They'll need the starting 9 plus Schoop and Castro. Cave is a 4th OF because you don't want Arraez out there. But then, I want 13 pitchers. Yeah Wade and Miller are nice weapons but the Twins may need all the arms they can get, especially if any game goes to extras.

There was a thread a month ago or so trying to predict the Twins playoff roster. I was firmly in the 12 pitcher camp at the time, but without Pineda or a reliable Gibson, I don't see how the Twins can go into the playoffs with only 12 arms at this point.

 

Adrianza's injury and Astudillo's recent lack of offensive production makes the position player roster crunch a little easier too. The bench will be thin, but I think this is the right idea now.

    • Sconnie and Only Here in Negative like this

They'll need the starting 9 plus Schoop and Castro. Cave is a 4th OF because you don't want Arraez out there.

is Marwin your starting RF? I think you need to plan on carrying one more position player (Wade or Astudillo) until Cron and Kepler prove healthy.

Agreed on the “as many pitchers as possible” concept. Even games with a solid start will be more or less bullpen games.
    • bighat likes this

 

is Marwin your starting RF? I think you need to plan on carrying one more position player (Wade or Astudillo) until Cron proves healthy.

Agreed on the “as many pitchers as possible” concept. Even games with a solid start will be more or less bullpen games.

Marwin in left, Eddie in right, Arraez at 3rd, Sano at 1st (if Cron isn't playing). Maybe not ideal, but certainly nothing the Twins aren't prepared for.

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Only Here in Negative
Sep 20 2019 10:42 AM

 

is Marwin your starting RF? I think you need to plan on carrying one more position player (Wade or Astudillo) until Cron and Kepler prove healthy.

Agreed on the “as many pitchers as possible” concept. Even games with a solid start will be more or less bullpen games.

 

This does assume health for Cron and Kepler. Both seem pretty reasonable expectations given the amount of rest they can get. And yes, I think Marwin in RF is the way to go.

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SpicyGarvSauce
Sep 20 2019 10:43 AM

 

Marwin in left, Eddie in right, Arraez at 3rd, Sano at 1st (if Cron isn't playing). Maybe not ideal, but certainly nothing the Twins aren't prepared for.

 

No chance, considering Arraez has rarely played third and the Twins have been more likely to play Astudillo and Marwin at first instead of Sano.

    • Sconnie likes this
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puckstopper1
Sep 20 2019 10:47 AM

Does LaMarre get any consideration if the opponent is loaded with left handed pitching - especially if Cron is unable to go?Dude has an OPS of around 1100 against lefties this season (minors and majors combined).

 

No chance, considering Arraez has rarely played third and the Twins have been more likely to play Astudillo and Marwin at first instead of Sano.

Ok, that's fine. Marwin at first, Arraez in LF. Same players playing defense.

    • Sconnie likes this
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Only Here in Negative
Sep 20 2019 10:48 AM

It actually also might impact when you throw your bullpen game. There's some sense to doing the bullpen game first and then using the Berrios start in Game 2 to hopefully rest the pen before getting into the Odorizzi and Perez games. That also lines up Berrios for Game 5 on normal rest. Otherwise you may tax the pen to throw three straight games (though there is a day off between 2 and 3). It also perhaps accurately reflects the general feeling that the Twins pen is a stronger game than Perez starting.

    • 70charger and mikelink45 like this

They'll need the starting 9 plus Schoop and Castro. Cave is a 4th OF because you don't want Arraez out there.


Who's the "starting 9"?
With Schoop as one of your 2-man bench, I only assume Arraez starts at second. Which probably means MarGo is the RF and Cron at first. With both of them having very lingering injuries I think that's asking for playing the series effectively without a bench at all. Is Castro anything more than injury protection for Garver at this point?

I think having Jake Cave provides more value (if only defensively) and protection of watching the Yankees abuse our makeshift outfield than a 13th pitcher, among the likes of Cody Stashak or Lewis Thorpe type guys. No offense to them, they've earned the innings they have pitched this year, but if it comes down to us relying on a 13th pitcher against the Astros or Yankees, I don't like our odds.

We've gotten here on mashing the ball. The bullpen has come a long way since mid season, and the top 12 guys are either good enough to win in the post season, or they aren't. It comes down to added value in that 25th spot, and to me, surprising as it is, Jake Cave (or based on his last two games worth of at bats :), Ryan LaMarre) provides more value to me than Thorpe.

 

Who's the "starting 9"? 

I think it is something like this:

 

C- Garver

1B- Marwin

2B- Schoop

3B- Sano

SS- Polanco

LF- Arraez

CF- Kepler

RF- Rosario

DH- Cruz

Bench- Cave, Cron, Castro

 

Pitchers:

Berrios

Odorizzi

Perez

Rogers

Duffey

Romo

May

Littell

Smeltzer

Dobnak

Graterol

Thorpe

 

Room for 1 more. Maybe a 13th pitcher isn't needed. I might have forgotten an obvious name in here as well.

    • mikelink45 likes this

By this time of year it would seem that this should be academic, but given injuries and performances this roster challenge is a real puzzler.Since the playoffs have every scouting advantage possible I do not look at Miller or LeMarre as real potential additions, but then if I look back into an old and dusty crystal ball I remember a player named Dusty Rhodes who came out of nowhere and returned to nowhere, but boy did he do a job for Leo Durocher in the world series.As Sabr says - four swings of the bat made him famous. https://sabr.org/bio...person/4503f4caWho can be our Dusty?  

 

“You know what Rhodes was?” his manager, Leo Durocher, asked years later. “He was a buffoon, and I say that affectionately. I loved having him on my ball club because of his personality and the funny things he did that kept everybody loose. But I couldn’t have stood two of him.”-I think I will nominate LaTortuga.Astudillo is the kind of player that can suddenly jump into the spotlight.And for all we know 2019 could be the pinnacle of his career. 

 

“I ain’t much of a fielder and I got a lousy arm,” Rhodes said, “but I sure do love to whack at that ball.”2 For a single triumphant season, he was a devastating hitter, and for three autumn days Dusty Rhodes was king of the baseball world.

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In My La-Z-boy
Sep 20 2019 11:30 AM

 

Given the likelihood that the Twins pen is covering the last four innings of an Odorizzi start, the last five of a Perez start, and then potentially a whole game since Gibby looks sick/lost, I'm hoping the Twins carry as many pitchers as possible. They'll need the starting 9 plus Schoop and Castro. Cave is a 4th OF because you don't want Arraez out there. But then, I want 13 pitchers. Yeah Wade and Miller are nice weapons but the Twins may need all the arms they can get, especially if any game goes to extras.

I totally agree with your premise, but if we need 13 pitchers in a 5 game series we're not winning. I like 14 position players and 11 pitchers. Maximum flexibility in a short series is a must I think. I am counting on Rocco going longer with Jose & Odo - and counting on these 2 guys for 7 or 8 innings - and if the series goes 5, these 2 will pitch 3 of the games. I am also counting on Duffy, Rogers & Romo to appear in all 5. Also, I don't see Rocco playing Arraez in LF in a playoff game. 5 man bench of Castro, Cave, Austudillo, Schoop & Wade. 

 

I totally agree with your premise, but if we need 13 pitchers in a 5 game series we're not winning. I like 14 position players and 11 pitchers. Maximum flexibility in a short series is a must I think. I am counting on Rocco going longer with Jose & Odo - and counting on these 2 guys for 7 or 8 innings - and if the series goes 5, these 2 will pitch 3 of the games. I am also counting on Duffy, Rogers & Romo to appear in all 5. Also, I don't see Rocco playing Arraez in LF in a playoff game. 5 man bench of Castro, Cave, Austudillo, Schoop & Wade. 

Starting pitchers tend to have a quicker hook in the post season than in the regular season. It would be nice to count on Berrios and Odo to work deep into games, but recently Berrios has been a bit of a question mark and Odo has gotten outs in the 7th inning just twice this year (and only did it twice last year). I am hoping you are correct, and both Berrios and Odo are capable of turning in great outings, but I think a deep pen will be crucial.

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Only Here in Negative
Sep 20 2019 12:46 PM

These are the 22 givens

 

1. Berrios

2. Odorizzi

3. Perez

4. Rogers

5. Romo

6. Duffey

7. May

8. Littel

9. Smeltzer

10. Thorpe

11. Dobnak

 

1. Sano

2. Polanco

3. Arraez

4. Schoop

5. Cron

6. Garver

7. Castro

8. Cruz

9. Kepler

10. Rosario

11. Gonzalez

 

So you're down to three spots and you're choosing between position players Cave, Astudillo, Wade, Miller, LaMarre, and Torreyes or pitchers Stewart, Hildy, Harper, Romero, Alcala, and Graterol.

 

* We can cross out Hildy and Harper, they've been lapped in the pen.

* Cave is the obvious first choice since they need a 4th OF who played it in the minors.

* If you take two more position players you'd go Astudillo or Wade?

* I have to think the pitchers who are possibilities , ranked in order, would be Graterol and Romero

* Gibson is the wild card. I find it hard to think the Twins won't keep him on the roster if healthy, even as a long reliever in an extra inning game. There's a human factor to this.

 

So I guess I'd bet on Cave, Graterol, and Gibson. If they shut Gibson down, I'd add Wade. But could be very wrong.

    • In My La-Z-boy likes this
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LA VIkes Fan
Sep 20 2019 02:41 PM

I like it. I think the last 3 are Cave (OF/LH PH), Graterol (BP) and Gibson if he plays, Astudillo as a 3rd C and PH if he doesn't. I think Wade only gets in if Cave or Kepler is still hurt.

 

We are going to need at least 12 pitchers in the playoffs. With Gibson and Perexz both faltering we are going to have have at least 2 bullpen games out of 5 (I count the Perez start where he goes 3 or 4 if we're lucky as a bullpen game) so we are going to need all of Dobnak, Smeltzer and Thorpe.With the 3 starters (if you count Perez), the top 5 short guys and those 3, we're still probably one short so I would add Graterol. 

Are LaMarre and Torreyes even eligible? I don't think so.

I'm in favor of 13 position players and 12 pitchers. (3 starters and 9 in the pen) If they can't get it done with 12 pitchers, they probably don't belong in post season. Hindenburg, Harper and Romero are definite 'no's'.

Position players: Miller is a no. Cave might be on the bubble, as is Astudillo and Wade. But if our injuries don't heal, we will need them all. Kepler, Cron and Adrianza may not be ready to play full out.

Cave has stopped hitting. Castro has stopped hitting. Cron has stopped hitting. And the Turtle is struggling. Choose the poison. I want the most versatile players in a 5 game series.

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yarnivek1972
Sep 20 2019 05:35 PM

Are LaMarre and Torreyes even eligible? I don't think so.
I'm in favor of 13 position players and 12 pitchers. (3 starters and 9 in the pen) If they can't get it done with 12 pitchers, they probably don't belong in post season. Hindenburg, Harper and Romero are definite 'no's'.
Position players: Miller is a no. Cave might be on the bubble, as is Astudillo and Wade. But if our injuries don't heal, we will need them all. Kepler, Cron and Adrianza may not be ready to play full out.
Cave has stopped hitting. Castro has stopped hitting. Cron has stopped hitting. And the Turtle is struggling. Choose the poison. I want the most versatile players in a 5 game series.


They would need a waiver for Torreyes, but he should be. I don’t think he makes the roster even if Adrianza doesn’t though. He’ll be kept around in case an infielder gets hurt.

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