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Article: Miguel Sano Promoted to Triple-A Rochester

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 01:58 PM
Miguel Sano’s time in Fort Myers is over and he is being promoted directly to Triple-A Rochester. Sano had left the Miracle to tend to so...
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Twins, OAK a good match? Gibson & Odorizzi available

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 01:57 PM
Some interesting trade news floating around this morning.   -Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle seems to be connecting the...
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Game Thread: Twins @ Kansas City, 7/20/18 @ 5:15 PM PT (7...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 01:57 PM
The home town nine went into All Star break on a roll, having gone 9-2 on this home stand. The Twins going 9-2 was enough, that it made t...
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Article: Twins Owe it to Themselves to Look at Existing T...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 01:56 PM
It’s been a much more enjoyable homestand for the Twins heading into the All-Star break. A 9-2 record against the inept Royals and Oriole...
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Strib Update on Sano and Buxton

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 01:52 PM
Joe Christensen gives an update on Sano and Buxton in today's StarTribune.   RE: Sano   "As of early this week, Sano had lost n...
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Week in Review: DEFCON 1

There's still time left for Minnesota to salvage this wayward campaign, but here in mid-June we're approaching a point of no return if the losses don't quit piling up.

Accordingly, the Twins set into motion last week a series of moves aimed at saving their season. These included activating Joe Mauer from the disabled list, lining up Byron Buxton for a rehab stint, sliding Brian Dozier to a very unfamiliar lineup spot, and – most drastically – shipping Miguel Sano to Ft. Myers for a full-on professional and personal reboot.
Image courtesy of Rick Osentoski, USA Today

Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 6/11 through Sun, 6/17

***

Record Last Week: 3-3 (Overall: 31-37)

Run Differential Last Week: +3 (Overall: -8)

Standing: 3rd Place in AL Central (5.0 GB)


HIGHLIGHTS

Heading into the series opener against Minnesota on Friday, Corey Kluber was hot as could be, with a 5-0 record and 1.09 ERA in his past six starts.

The first man to step into the box against him was Mauer, thankfully back after losing a month to a scary recurrence of concussion symptoms.

Second was Eddie Rosario, who jumped on the first pitch he saw and launched it over the fence. It proved to be the tone-setter in a big game for the offense, which scored more runs against Kluber (4) than any other opponent has this year, while also becoming the first to send Klubot to the showers before reaching the sixth inning.

Rosario followed up on Saturday with a four-hit game, which included his 16th home run. He finished the week as the 12th-best hitter in the majors by OPS.

One spot behind him was Eduardo "Double or Nothing" Escobar, who tallied three two-baggers on Sunday but failed to score a single time thanks to the Nos. 4 and 5 hitters going 0-for-7. Escobar has collected an incredible 30 doubles through the team's first 68 games, putting him in rare territory:



He went 10-for-23 (.435) last week while driving in six runs in six games. Escobar's inability to cross the plate on Sunday epitomizes a flabbergasting trend: he leads the majors in extra-base hits, but ranks 68th – SIXTY-EIGHTH – in runs scored. The guy they call "Mighty Mouse" is doing everything he can to power this offense, and being let down tremendously by his teammates. But hey, let's stick to the highlights for now.

Kyle Gibson provided his own. On a rare night where he didn't have much on his pitches, Gibby still motored through seven innings in Cleveland, allowing just one run on three hits in a victorious effort. He issued four walks, induced only seven swinging strikes, and tied a season-low with three strikeouts, but Gibson still came through. He has allowed more than three runs only once in his past nine starts, despite completing five or more innings in all of them.

It might sound like hyperbole, but Gibson has legitimately been one of the AL's best pitchers, ranking among the top 20 starters in WAR while consistently giving his team a very good chance. (Of course, he's earned only two "wins," speaking to the offense's lackluster contributions, but again, we're covering highlights here.)

Others in that category last week included Trevor Hildenberger, who delivered two scoreless outings and has quietly been lights-out in his past 20 appearances (1.14 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, .188 OBA). Lance Lynn logged his fifth straight quality start, although it ended in ugly fashion.

And we've gotta give some props to Matt Magill, the rarely-used last man in the bullpen who continues to step up when called upon. After Fernando Romero's short start on Saturday, Magill tossed three hitless innings to help seal a W that was in question before he entered.

Magill has pitched only three times in the past three weeks, throwing three or more innings in each appearance and allowing zero runs on one hit. As a low-leverage long man, he ranks first among Twins relievers – and third among all pitchers, after Gibson and Jose Berrios – in Win Probability Added.

LOWLIGHTS

That Magill leads the bullpen in WPA, and Escobar has been left standing on base approximately one billion times, both speak to the lack of execution we have seen from this team, time and time again.

The trend carried on this week. Minnesota notched a big victory to open the series in Detroit and then laid down for two lifeless losses. In Cleveland, offensive breakthroughs against Kluber and Carlos Carrasco were followed by a puzzling dud against rookie Shane Bieber, making his second big-league start.

The Twin just can't overcome a complete lack of output from so many contributors. Max Kepler's two-run double off the wall Saturday was nice to see, but it's the only extra-base hit he's mustered in his last 18 games dating back to late May. Logan Morrison's two-hit effort on the same night was helpful, but after turning in another 0-fer on Sunday he's batting .191 and slugging .344 for the season (still hitting cleanup daily, though).

The club's biggest problem child was sent packing after Thursday's loss in Detroit.

Confounded by his total collapse at the plate, the Twins have resorted to extreme measures with Sano, sending the 2017 All-Star down to Single A in what's being framed as essentially a second spring training.

It is telling the front office found Sano's deficiencies so severe that a typical Triple-A demotion wasn't viewed as the solution. They feel he needs a complete rebuild, both on the field and off, so they've sent him to their developmental HQ in Ft. Myers.

Who could argue with the decision?

Since a strong showing in Minnesota's first three series of the season, Sano has been a black hole in the lineup, slashing .182/.237/.331 with 52 strikeouts and nine walks in 131 PA. Worse than the results were the process – ugly AB after ugly AB, marked by constant chases and check swings.

Back in his rookie season, when he took the league by storm with a .916 OPS in 80 games, the most impressive aspect of Sano's performance was his ability to work counts and capitalize. He ran the count full in 28% of his 335 plate appearances, and hit .240/.581/.700 with seven of his 18 homers once he got there, reflecting a tremendously advanced approach.

This year, Sano has reached a full count in only 30 of 163 PA (18%) and has collected two singles. That just about says it all.

He took the demotion in stride, at least publicly, and now Sano will begin the (potentially lengthy) process of trying to find himself, as the Twins try to find themselves without him.

TRENDING STORYLINE

Buxton had a .156 average and .200 slugging percentage in 94 plate appearances before landing back on the disabled list at the end of May. The root of his offensive issues was apparent enough: a terrible approach full of guesses and whiffs.

Fellow young outfielder Kepler, in his last 94 plate appearances, is batting .171 and slugging .268. That includes a .137 average and .157 SLG in June. Unlike Buxton, he doesn't have the unparallelled CF defense to offset his dearth at the dish.

Nor does he have the broken toe, or broken plate approach, to help explain it.

The 25-year-old is taking good at-bats. His 41/32 strikeout-to-walk ratio speaks to a discerning eye; Kepler's BB-rate is third-highest among active Twins and his K-rate is second-lowest. He doesn't get fooled easily. But when he puts the ball in play he's doing no damage. This club just can't afford to be getting nothing from Max with so many others slumping or sidelined.

What to do? At this point there aren't a ton of appealing options.

Send him to the minors, along with so many other members of the team's supposed core? Hardly a likable thought.

Bump him down in the lineup? He already finds himself batting seventh now, even against righties.

I welcome your opinions in the comments. Seems to me that Kepler's swing needs some serious work, given that it's not producing any kind of thunder upon contact. Is James Rowson ready to guide him toward the right path? And is Kepler willing to listen, after showing reluctance to alter his swing during spring training?

DOWN ON THE FARM

While Minnesota's bats have lagged this year, it's been encouraging to see so many promising developments with hitters in the minors. Let's take a quick run through some of the organization's top prospects:

On Thursday, Alex Kirilloff put forth his best effort yet in a season full of strong ones, collecting four hits including a pair of home runs in his second 4-RBI game of June. After clubbing two more doubles on Sunday, he's now slashing .333/.391/.607 for Cedar Rapids, with 38 extra-base hits and 56 RBIs in 65 games, to put himself right back on the national radar following a lengthy absence. I'd expect to see him move up to Ft. Myers within the next month.

Royce Lewis will likely be joining him. The team's No. 1 prospect enjoyed a monster week, going 10-for-24 with four doubles and a home run for the Kernels. We did learn over the weekend that Lewis has been dealing with patellar tendinitis in his knee for the past month, which only makes his resounding success all the more impressive. The rapid development of the teen phenom's power tool this summer has been extremely exciting.

Speaking of power, Travis Blankenhorn won the Florida State League Home Run Derby on Friday by smashing 12 bombs in the final round.



It was a good reminder of the 2015 third-round pick's innate power, which hasn't always shown up on the stat sheet; he hasn't hit a homer for the Miracle since May 11th. However, Blankenhorn is batting .333 with a .388 OBP in June.

With first-round draft pick Trevor Larnach – considered one of the best college bats in the country – expected to sign soon, the organization's long-term offensive outlook is bright.

LOOKING AHEAD

After treading water again during their 3-3 road trip, the Twins return home and face a tall task with the 49-24 Red Sox coming to town. Last-place Texas theoretically presents an easier assignment over the weekend.

The Indians are looking ahead to home series against the White Sox and Tigers, so if things go as one would expect this week, the Twins may find themselves in dire straits come next Sunday. They are already five games out, with the season's halfway mark approaching, after failing to seize a prime opportunity for the sweep in Cleveland.

TUESDAY, 6/19: RED SOX @ TWINS – LHP Chris Sale v. RHP Jose Berrios
WEDNESDAY, 6/20: RED SOX @ TWINS – LHP David Price v. RHP Lance Lynn
THURSDAY, 6/21: RED SOX @ TWINS – RHP Rick Porcello v. RHP Kyle Gibson
FRIDAY, 6/22: RANGERS @ TWINS – LHP Mike Minor v. RHP Fernando Romero
SATURDAY, 6/23: RANGERS @ TWINS – RHP Yovani Gallardo v. RHP Jake Odorizzi
SUNDAY, 6/24: RANGERS @ TWINS – RHP Bartolo Colon v. RHP Jose Berrios

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85 Comments

Nice report with lots of ? and what are the answers?Not asked, but I have to wonder - is Rowson the right man for batting coach?Look at the overall batting stats and so far he has two successes and at least 6 failures.  

 

Bringing Buxton back no longer is exciting, can we get a designated fielder position?

 

I am excited by the minor league hitters, but I was excited by Sano, Buxton, Rosario, Kepler, Garver when they were batting in the minors.What happened?

 

Logan Morrison is a poor choice for clean up, but what choice is there?  

 

Who do we call up next and why haven't we done it already?And who do we send down?Why is Adrianza our everyday SS?We lost a good development opportunity with Polanco out.What are the odds that Polanco comes back with a hot bat?

 

Is it time for Magill to get a few more innings?

    • Doctor Wu and Thebigalguy like this
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Old Twins Cap
Jun 18 2018 05:32 AM

An excellent review of a truly execrable mess the Twins find themselves in.

 

Kepler is perhaps the most perplexing of all. Hitting lefties better and improving his K/BB rate, but average plummeting and XBH on the wane.

 

Just don't get it.

 

What looked like a very deep line-up in April is now as shallow as a kiddie pool.

 

So what if Escobar and Rosario are on base, there is no one to bring them home.

 

Garver is a statue, Morrison a mummy and Dozier a zombie.

 

If this were Halloween, people would line up to see these guys.

 

 

    • Han Joelo, Jerr, nokomismod and 9 others like this

Do not have any answers, if this is as bad as it is starting to look Twins are much further away that we thought.I guess here is were I would start.

DFA Morrison, bring up Chris Carter.At least he will hit some HR's.

Send Kepler to Rochester, bring Cave back up as a temporary measure.Hopefully Kepler figures it out down there or Wade gets hot.

Hope that Gordon gets hot in Rochester, we need more offense up here.Mauer at least shows some sign of helping.

    • DocBauer and Doctor Wu like this

Frustrating and bewildering point for me.How many times do we get men on second or third, or both with zero or one outs and we can't advance those runners?Even if someone gets out they should at least move each runner up a base; that's basic baseball.In Sundays game we had 2 on and no outs only to have the next three strike out. 

 

Why such poor execution?

    • brvama, jun and tarheeltwinsfan like this

Excellent report, Nick.Although I thought you missed the biggest disappointment of all, Brian Dozier.And this is his contract year?

 

Perhaps there were just too many to include without having the article become way too long.

 

 

    • Thrylos, TheLeviathan, jun and 4 others like this
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EddieMatthews
Jun 18 2018 06:53 AM

Dozier is a mystery.  He has had bad streaks, and when he breaks out he hits well.  He is due, and again, is there any help from the batting coach?  I like that he is not leading off.  

 

Polanco will be back in a few days.  Hopefully he is getting his swing ready.  He could provide some infield rest to others who are carrying the workload.  

 

Kepler stated out well and continued into late May with a .259 BA.  Maybe he's tired.  Maybe he needs some home cooking.  Our pre-season expectations for the OF have been dashed by both Kepler and Buxton.

 

It's of some solace that the AL Central appears to be weak this year.  The Twins may be able to stay within 5-8 games until the AS break.  

 

Question is: "when can we expect Sano and Buxton back?"  

 

Do not have any answers, if this is as bad as it is starting to look Twins are much further away that we thought.I guess here is were I would start.

DFA Morrison, bring up Chris Carter.At least he will hit some HR's.

Send Kepler to Rochester, bring Cave back up as a temporary measure.Hopefully Kepler figures it out down there or Wade gets hot.

Hope that Gordon gets hot in Rochester, we need more offense up here.Mauer at least shows some sign of helping.

Cave and Carter? Why not! They certainly can't be any worse than what we are currently trotting out there each day. Thinking of the letter "C", whatever happened to Chris Colabello?

    • Minny505 likes this

 

 

Excellent report, Nick.Although I thought you missed the biggest disappointment of all, Brian Dozier.And this is his contract year?

 

Perhaps there were just too many to include without having the article become way too long.

Yes indeed. Dozier is about a year too late to take advantage of being a free agent. Even if he has another strong second half, as he is prone to do, I doubt that will enhance his free agent prospects very much at this point.

And on the subject of Buxton, when does he start his next rehab stint? And where and for how long?

Apathy is setting in for this team. Hard to get worked up anymore when this is what they do week in and week out.

They gave Morrison 2.5 months to figure it out and he's still playing bad. It's time to get rid of him.

Kepler's struggles against RH pitching is something no one wants to talk about. They don't have 9 MLB-ready replacements on the farm. I guess just let him try to hit through the slump.
    • Minny505 and DannySD like this

I think it's time Carter got a chance at the Major league level.He will never hit for average but who on this team is?His power might help a few others see better pitches.It's worth a shot for now.Seems to me Morrison is a "minor"injury away from the disabled list and that could help him rest too.

    • Minny505 and DannySD like this

Do not have any answers, if this is as bad as it is starting to look Twins are much further away that we thought. I guess here is were I would start.
DFA Morrison, bring up Chris Carter. At least he will hit some HR's.
Send Kepler to Rochester, bring Cave back up as a temporary measure. Hopefully Kepler figures it out down there or Wade gets hot.
Hope that Gordon gets hot in Rochester, we need more offense up here. Mauer at least shows some sign of helping.

i think you just gotta be patient.

Keplers k% down, bb% up, hard hit % up, soft hit % down, BABIP down.... he’s doing everything right but hitting into slight shifts. I don’t think a minor league assignment will help, and sure don’t think Cave will be better.

BTW the strib article said Kep was reluctant to change his stroke for more homers, but his flyball rate is up. I think Kepler was trying say the cliched, “coaches think and I implement” type of phrase. It just came out wrong. Maybe he needs to flatten out a bit to try to raise his LD% rate a bit?

I’m not feeling good about Carter. At least Morrison brings a little defense to first. Gotta spell Mauer once in a while.
    • brvama, 70charger, Kelly Vance and 1 other like this

 

They gave Morrison 2.5 months to figure it out and he's still playing bad. It's time to get rid of him.
 

Sadly Morrison looks like the Kendrys experiment.

As for calling up people, nobody in AAA does anything for me. (except maybe a catcher)

Carter - .198, and 23 K's in 74 at bats, no thanks.

Wade is the guy I want to see up.

 

    • jun, mikelink45 and Sconnie like this
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Brock Beauchamp
Jun 18 2018 07:35 AM

Question about WPA: is it score +/- neutral? For example, does it care whether the team is ahead by three runs or behind by three runs, provided the differential is three runs?

 

Curious about Magill and whether his WPA is hurt because he pitches from behind regularly.

 

Also, it's friggin' ridiculous that Magill is leading the bullpen in WPA.

    • Sconnie and Minny505 like this

Nothing makes any sense. 5-2 against Cleveland which I thought would be a defining 7 games so should be great. Unfortunately, 9 games under against everybody else. 3-3 road trip....ok. Do it by losing the Detroit series and winning the Cleveland series? Go figure. So now they will probably take 2 of 3 against the Red Sox and lose 2 of 3 against the Rangers. As stated inthis thread, the Twins are hanging by a thread thanks to the "supporting cast" and getting absolutely no help from the so called stars.Good news is that other than Seattle, Houston, NY and Boston everyone else is kind of floundering around .500 or worse.

    • Dantes929 and 70charger like this

Excellent article. You've made clear what has to happen - other hitters need to support Eduardo and Eddie. Kepler, Dozier and Morrison have to be better. Mauer needs to be healthy. They all have hit before but they need to start again... soon.

 

Cleveland has nicely offered to run in place. Buxton and Polanco should be back just before the All-Star Break. Sano will hopefully return shortly after. The Twins need to stay within five until that happens. Otherwise, they don't have a chance. 

 

I've supported the callup of Gordon. I wouldn't be upset if Wade got some starts in the OF. Maybe they can provide a spark. But IMO, it's up to the established players to turn it around.

    • nclahammer likes this

Question about WPA: is it score +/- neutral? For example, does it care whether the team is ahead by three runs or behind by three runs, provided the differential is three runs?

Curious about Magill and whether his WPA is hurt because he pitches from behind regularly.

Also, it's friggin' ridiculous that Magill is leading the bullpen in WPA.

ftp://ftp.baseballgraphs.com/wpa/WinExp.xls

The linked chart is to calculate Win Expectancy for the WE chart portion of the WPA calculator. Score impacts him negatively, but he can never blow a lead, so it’s mitigated a bit.
    • Brock Beauchamp and Minny505 like this

Good news is that other than Seattle, Houston, NY and Boston everyone else is kind of floundering around .500 or worse.

AL East, West and Wild Cards are locked, all they have to do is win the Central huh?
    • KirbyDome89 likes this

How many Defcon levels are there?  I'm assuming our Defcon's go to 11.  

 

Also, how does Total System Failure work into the Defcon protocols?

 

As crappy as so many guys are playing on offense, it is amazing they are anywhere near Cleveland in the standings.  A lot of people would jettison players, but at this point, I think if I'm in charge (ha!) I roll the dice that Dozier, Morrison, et al, get rolling before its too late.

 

Its been said, but this team could use a Shannon Stewart type spark.  The Mariners and the D-backs have been early traders, and both acquired a Stewart type player.  Now, I realize there are many factors at play, and correlation doesn't equal causation and all that or something, but hey, they're both in first place.

 

With Kepler's struggles, Buxton's uncertainty, and the underwhelming contributions from Grossman, Lamarre, and Cave, a quality veteran OFer would be on my wishlist.

    • markos and Sconnie like this
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ashburyjohn
Jun 18 2018 08:19 AM

Frustrating and bewildering point for me.How many times do we get men on second or third, or both with zero or one outs and we can't advance those runners? 

The situational stats at b-r.com for this season don't directly answer your question, but Twins' batting average and slugging average with men on base are both better than with bases empty, and even better still when runners are in scoring position. This lines up pretty much with league averages, except that the Twins RISP numbers are even a little bit favorable.

 

Twins: https://www.baseball...m=MIN&year=2018

MLB: https://www.baseball...g=MLB&year=2018

 

With Kepler's struggles, Buxton's uncertainty, and the underwhelming contributions from Grossman, Lamarre, and Cave, a quality veteran OFer would be on my wishlist.

A quality veteran OFer (really, a CFer) has been on my wishlist for at least the past two offseasons. It will be again this coming offseason.

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Thebigalguy
Jun 18 2018 08:27 AM

Thanks for the very good situation report. Given how much the offense produced in the last two months of 2017, I didn't understand the decision to fire the hitting coach and bring in Rowson, and now I'm even more perplexed. Does anybody know? Is it a "fortunate son" situation? Did the previous coach resist the new emphasis on technology and computer analysis? As for Buxton and Sano, I have more faith in the B-man, given his attitude and work ethic, than in Sano, and hope the demotion straightens him out. Yesterday I was on the elliptical at the gym watching the game and the runners left on base almost every inning were hard to witness. Second and third, nobody out. Result? Zilch. I turned off the monitor on my machine and instead listened to the wonderful music of the Be Good Tanyas. Doing so improved my mood tenfold. 

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Nick Nelson
Jun 18 2018 08:56 AM

 

Thanks for the very good situation report. Given how much the offense produced in the last two months of 2017, I didn't understand the decision to fire the hitting coach and bring in Rowson, and now I'm even more perplexed. Does anybody know? Is it a "fortunate son" situation? Did the previous coach resist the new emphasis on technology and computer analysis? 

Rowson actually came aboard prior to last year. It was the pitching coach (Garvin Alston) who was hired this past winter, and so far his impact appears positive.

    • ashburyjohn, James, ThejacKmp and 6 others like this

 

Its been said, but this team could use a Shannon Stewart type spark.

Hey, Stewart himself is 9 months younger than Bartolo Colon!

    • mikelink45, Tom Froemming, Doctor Wu and 1 other like this

 

Hey, Stewart himself is 9 months younger than Bartolo Colon!

Turns out Stewart is two months younger than me...which means that despite Ichiro's temporary retirement, there is still a professional baseball player older than me!  It's almost like that thing from The Polar Express, where I can still hear Santa's magic bell ringing.


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