Twins Owe it to Themselves to Look at Existing Talent in Second Half
Image courtesy of © Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports (photo of Dereck Rodriguez)I argued in my notes on a hypothetical plan for the Twins’ second half that they need to look inward at their talent pool to assess what they have and what they need going forwards. There are three prime examples of the necessity of this practice; Niko Goodrum, Randy Rosario, and Dereck Rodriguez.
Niko Goodrum was the Twins second-round pick in 2010. After grinding for seven plus seasons in MiLB, he finally broke into the majors last season with the Twins at age 25. Goodrum received only 18 PA for Minnesota before finding his way onto the Tigers roster in 2018. While it seemed Goodrum was blocked in Minnesota as a middle infielder by Brian Dozier, Jorge Polanco and Ehire Adrianza, he has performed admirably with Detroit, putting together a solid .250/.319/.456 line with a .206 ISO. Goodrum’s isolated power would put him fourth on the Twins, behind only Jake Cave, Eddie Rosario and Eduardo Escobar. Crucially, he’s a RH bat in a very LH dominant lineup, and might have found significant ABs at DH this year with Miguel Sano in Single A, and Logan Morrison a non-contributor. Goodrum is currently a one-win player with Detroit (fWAR) and on his way to a solid first season in the majors.
Randy Rosario pitched just 2 1/3 innings with the Twins, struggling mightily in doing so. Rosario was picked up by the Cubs and has logged close to 30 innings for them this year, putting together an impressive 1.95 ERA and stranding an improbable 94 percent of base runners. I will say that Rosario’s peripheral numbers look far less impressive. It seems that early in 2018 he has been extremely lucky. It would appear that he is due for a fairly significant regression with the Cubs in the second half, but with lefty pitchers in such short supply, would it not have served the Twins to take a longer look?
Dereck Rodriguez (son of Pudge) put together strong numbers as a starting pitcher throughout his time in the Twins minor league system. He was simply blocked from an opportunity with the Twins and found his way into the Giants organization. In seven starts and some relief work with the Giants, Rodriguez has pitched close to 50 innings to the tune of a 2.89 ERA (3.42 FIP) is striking out a solid 7.14 K/9 and is worth 1.0 fWAR in his limited time. Clearly the Giants see something in Rodriguez the Twins did not, it’s just unfortunate that there are so many players who have left the Twins organization without getting a big league opportunity, who seem to be seizing it elsewhere.
There’re plenty of players who would also have made good examples for this article. Aaron Hicks is not a good example. He’s actually a great example of the Twins being patient with a young hitter and giving him ample opportunities at the plate. He just figured it out after the Twins moved on. The Twins gave Hicks 928 plate appearances in Minnesota, in which he put together a 2.5 fWAR. In 361 2018 plate appearances with the Yankees, he already has a 3.3 fWAR. Sometimes things just don’t work out in your favor.
With regard to Goodrum, Rosario and Rodriguez, I’m not saying they should have kept one, two, or all of them. Teams don’t always have the luxury of being able to give marginal hitters a few hundred plate appearances, marginal relievers forty major league innings, or marginal starters a five start stretch to prove their worth (particularly in a playoff race in 2017). My point is simply when you do have the opportunity, you should seize it. It seems highly likely the Twins will have that opportunity in the second half of 2018.
Moving into 2019. The Twins will likely have core starting pitching arms of Berrios, Gibson, Romero and Odorizzi. They should establish if Aaron Slegers, Zach Littell, Adalberto Mejia, Stephen Gonsalves, or even Trevor May is well positioned to occupy a back end role in 2019. Additionally, they should establish their pecking order for sixth, seventh,and eighth starters (form and health aside) who will inevitably be called on over the course of a long season.
Similarly, with their bullpen. Luke Bard, John Curtiss, Gabriel Moya, Jake Reed and Alan Busenitz should all receive some consistent innings, over a period of time without interruption. If even two of this group can be reliable bullpen arms, the front office can focus on other areas this coming winter. It might feel like a long second half, so let’s see what we have, and what we need.
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