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Article: Rundown: Cruz, Cahill, Soria and Ramos

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:55 AM
FanCred's Jon Heyman reported Monday that the Twins were in the mix for Nelson Cruz. New Twins beat writer for MLB.com Do-Hyoung Park con...
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Jonathan Schoop or Ian Kinsler?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:32 AM
Did the Twins make a mistake jumping the gun on the Schoop signing?   Ian Kinsler just signed with San Diego for 2 years $8M total....
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Where does the talent come from

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:44 AM
So I did back of the napkin math only here but looked at three recent WS teams to see how they constructed their teams. I only added up t...
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Buxton: "Pissed" at Twins for No Call-Up Decision...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:55 AM
According to the Star Tribune, Byron Buxton is displeased with the Twins after not being called up in September of 2018. According to Byr...
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Article: Official Rule 5 Draft Day Thread

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 08:52 AM
The Winter Meetings in Las Vegas have been fairly quiet against in 2018. Certainly there are meetings, but there haven't been a lot of si...
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Welcome to the New School

Major League Baseball is changing before our eyes, with its fabric being rewoven in the age of analytics and forward thinking. Against all odds, this Twins franchise has become a poster child for the game's ongoing evolution, and so we find ourselves in a rather extraordinary time as fans.

Any rising trend in the game, you can now expect to see on display within Minnesota's philosophically unencumbered baseball operation.
In building out their coaching staff, the Twins embraced ultra-modern ideologies at every turn. Every new hiring reflects a recognizable larger shift that's either already underway, or on the verge.

Young manager with no experience in the role, known for his sharpness, relatability and communication skills? Check. Rocco Baldelli follows directly in the footsteps of guys like Dave Roberts, Alex Cora and Kevin Cash.

Technology-driven pitching coach pulled straight out of the collegiate ranks? Check. Wes Johnson is actually the first to be hired straight from college in this era, but as Baseball America noted last week, there's been budding momentum in that direction. (The Twins also hired Billy Boyer out of Seattle University to become their minor league infield and baserunning coordinator, after adding Duke's Pete Maki as minor-league pitching coordinator a year ago.)

Bullpen coach who is more peer than mentor? Check. Jeremy Hefner is 31 and will almost certainly be younger than some of the pitchers he's overseeing next season. The thinking here is similar to Baldelli, with his intelligence and resonance superseding formal experience as an instructor. Hefner represents a different kind of coach: not the seasoned conveyor of anecdotes and sage wisdom, but rather the readily available source of digestible information, eye-opening data and actionable insights.

These selections further exemplify the organization's all-in commitment to cutting-edge methods for team-building. I think we can fairly assume the same will translate to their roster construction efforts this offseason, with the flexibility to do pretty much whatever they want in charting a new course. What might that look like?

The Twins have all kinds of budget available, but – while the idea of a free-spending offseason is fun to dream on – this front office wasn't brought in to dole out FA mega-contracts. Instead, they're tasked with uncovering hidden values and gaining advantage by outsmarting the pack. I suspect we'll see a team built to the specifications of the modern winner: deep on situational arms and specialized role players.

With several needs to fill, I also believe we'll see GM Thad Levine try stretch his dollars as far as he can. Last week Jon Heyman put together a list of under-the-radar free agents that may end up being cost-efficient additions – worth a look if you want to size up some likely Twins targets, especially because it includes a number of middle infielders and relievers. Jed Lowrie and Josh Harrison, the top two names listed, strike me as very plausible matches.

During his September Q&A with Baseball Prospectus at Target Field, Levine said the following: "As we sit here today, it’s not to say we’re not going to get aggressive in this free agent market, but we may actually shift our attention to the trade market."

Making predictions on this front is tricky business. "The trade market is a mysterious beast," as Tom Froemming astutely put it when patching together a theoretical trade-heavy offseason blueprint last month. Who would've guessed that last winter, the Twins would be able to acquire Jake Odorizzi – who gave them 165 solid innings as a starter and is now penciled in for 2019 – for one fringey Single-A prospect? From a Rays organization they are tailoring themselves after, no less!

As I see it, there's a strong chance Minnesota deals away at least one of its "core players" in the coming months, pivoting after the established plan ran awry. Which player they choose, and what they get in return, will tell us a lot about how the "new market" values these assets.

If last year's precedent holds, we may not see Hot Stove activity ramp up for a while yet; the Winter Meetings are still three weeks away, and it was long afterward that dominoes really started to click.

Then again, if we look back one year further, Falvey and Levine struck quickly on their first big move, signing free agent Jason Castro before Thanksgiving. And while this year's MLB market has yet to see any major movements, there are signs of Hot Stove percolation (for instance, it sounds like a Sonny Gray trade is imminent for the Yankees).

We'll be watching with great curiosity around here. And I think the baseball world at large will also take a keen interest in seeing how things unfold with this brazen excursion into (we hope) the future of baseball.

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32 Comments

And Zach Bove comes from Central Florida this year too. 

 

Definitely a trend happening. 

    • MN_ExPat likes this
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theBOMisthebomb
Nov 19 2018 06:23 AM
My feelings on the the Twins situation is that they haven't been relevant for at least nearly one decade. Possibly longer depending how you define relevant. It's finally time to really jump in with both feet and shake things up and upset the apple cart. Isn't that what most nearly everyone wanted near the end of the Ryan regime.
    • Sconnie likes this
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theBOMisthebomb
Nov 19 2018 06:25 AM
It will definitely be interesting to see how the college experience translates to MLB. There are potential bumps in the road that are concerning.
    • peterb18 likes this
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ashburyjohn
Nov 19 2018 07:11 AM

These certainly haven't been "safe" picks, and could be career killers for the higher-ups if they collectively work out badly - whereas you can kind of survive more traditional picks who don't work out, for a few cycles. So give them credit for courage.

    • peterb18, nicksaviking, PseudoSABR and 8 others like this
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tarheeltwinsfan
Nov 19 2018 07:56 AM

Whoever said "Doing the same things over and over and expecting different results is insanity" had a good point. I don't know that I would define it as "insanity", however I would agree that repetitive actions usually produce similar results. As a result of the Twins' young front office making radical changes with the manager and coaches, and the obvious "youth movement" in the field leaders who were recently hired, and their "somewhat unconventional for major league baseball" backgrounds,has lead me to one certain conclusion, which is this: I don't think we're in Kansas any more Toto.

    • brvama, Danchat, mikelink45 and 7 others like this

I expect there to be a pretty steep learning curve this season, so Im not expecting much in early 2019, but hopefully they have a good finish to the season and 2020 we are truly competitive. 

I dont look forward to our first losing streak and all the old-school nay-sayers talking about how this approach doesnt work. 

    • ashburyjohn, nicksaviking, kenbuddha and 3 others like this

This will be interesting:Will Falvey and Levine become Superman and Captain Marvel, OR Laurel and Hardy??

    • peterb18 likes this
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Old Twins Cap
Nov 19 2018 08:02 AM

As a longtime Twins fan, it makes me MORE interested to follow the team in 2019, just because I will have multiple individuals to follow and rout for -- from young coaches, to young players, to new strategies, new approaches -- there will be a lot to look at, analyze and cheer for.

 

Just have the feeling that some of these guys will have success and we will want to celebrate that as a cutting edge improvement, not just for our Club, but maybe a trend-setter in the industry of baseball.

 

And, it is an industry.

    • Nick Nelson, Twins33, brvama and 6 others like this

One outcome I am hoping for with all the changes is that the Twins will play a fundamentally sound game, and take more from other teams than they give away. I hate sloppy, lackadaisical baseball.

    • USAFChief, diehardtwinsfan, mikelink45 and 4 others like this
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ashburyjohn
Nov 19 2018 09:01 AM

One outcome I am hoping for with all the changes is that the Twins will play a fundamentally sound game, and take more from other teams than they give away. I hate sloppy, lackadaisical baseball.

Is that what wins ballgames, though? When you see it on the field, you know it played a role - but what you don't see is that if instead we had a big bopper who plays sloppy, lackadaisical baseball, you might have 3 more runs from his homer that would have made the run saved by a fundamentally sound play irrelevant. I just don't know.

    • Monkeypaws, Sconnie, Minny505 and 1 other like this

As a college instructor I can applaud taking men from the collegiate ranks.They are teachers and this young group of players needs some teaching.Those skills might work because the players are young.I would not try this with a veteran group.But, while I find this interesting, I am not sure that I expect our current roster to become significantly better.Of course, that means, I am not sure that Buxton can get his concentration on the ball and get basehits, that Sano can rein in that big swing and miss, or that Polanco can get his concentration on every ball hit to him.I do not know if Kepler has gotten comfortable with the plateau he is on - he shouldn't be.  

 

I am not an advocate of openers - I loved seeing those starting pitchers go deep in the playoffs, and I am especially cynical if we are using mediocre pitchers from a lousy bull pen to be the openers. Openers did not shine in the playoffs. 

 

Having a big bullpen of failed starters and not quite sterling relievers does not want me to throw out the bench and fill the rosters with questionable arms.Nor does it make me excited to see these relief pitchers come in every 2 - 3 games.Ten years from now I expect to read how this generation of stat geeks blew out the arms of the bullpen throwers and that the league is desperately seeking the new wave of relievers.

 

You can take stats and make them tell you what you want, but you cannot take the human body and plug it in to a computer.  

    • peterb18, ken and Aerodeliria like this

Here a breakdown of the Red Sox roster by acquisition.

 

https://www.cbssport...-and-the-draft/

 

One thing that stands out is how well there draft picks picks have turned out 17 WAR contribution).In contrast, the entire Twins roster combined for about 15 WAR last year (data is from Fangraphs).

https://www.fangraphs.com/teams/twins

 

This implies that their scouting of amateur talent and/or player development is superior to the Twins.  

 

 

    • ashburyjohn, nicksaviking, Riverbrian and 2 others like this

Great article, Nick. IMO, you're on spot re: free agents and trades. This group isn't set up for 2019. Doesn't mean they can't win this year, just not the priority. 

 

With all the youth on the staff, the FO still salted in Diaz and Watkins - a couple of "been there/done that" guys - for position players (and for Sp. speakers). The surprise hire for me was Hefner. I thought they might add an experienced bullpen coach too. Not against the idea, but coaching a staff through a 162-game season is different from college. 

 

It's going to be interesting.

    • peterb18 and Aerodeliria like this
Time will tell however I AM ENCOURAGED by these moves. Many have been wanting a change in course and here it is. I don't expect a smooth road but do anticipate an advancing program. As the FO said at their hires, the goal was to build a long term model of success. Now the next phase is to unleash the staff onto the players to improve performance and then to build a roster that fits this model. Again I'm encouraged.
    • tarheeltwinsfan and MN_ExPat like this

I find it interesting and funny both with what the Twins are doing with the organization we may win with this new philosphy. The funny thing is that Boston went back to more traditional head of baseball operations when they hired Dave Dombroski meaning more old school baseball people. It doesn't mean they abandonded their metrics side but i believe they were looking for balance between the two different schools in baseball. The look of present club looks like they got it right with how this club performed this past year and their run through the world series. Their new manager is of the new school but looking at way he managed in world series he also can manage like old school too. I have hope for our new manager and my first impressions of him have been good. The problem i see is that we have top management that is so involved in day to day managing that they won't let their people do their jobs. I have a theory the first year here top management had their plan already set in place to take place they were letting team perform which they assumed would fail based on their assessment. The problem is that they won even with no front office help of additional players and even subtracted from the team. So we have last year where they had all these problems injuries and club put together that did not have team chemistry and everyone playing for themselves we got last years results. I just see front office that has all these theories but it's one thing to have theories another to put organization together that can win and has common sense. Speaking of theories i wonder if we haven't overloaded these young players with so much information that we caused regression or lack of development by these young players. Second all these theories are not playing well with veterans to where there not happy getting performances we should out these players explaining why were seeing improved performances once they leave the Twins. Now we have this new approach on pitching i fear what were going to have here playersgetting hurt more to just to get more speed and i am betting where veteran players are have hard time buying into this approach. The only saving grace so far is the Twins play in weakest division in baseball which has allowed us to be competitive on record with other clubs in the division. I just have feeling that is going to change where were not the second best team in the division but we could slip to thirdbecause i have feeling Chicago is about have breakout year and Cleveland still will be very competitive no matter what they do this year. The other thing is i wonder if Detroit may play better than last year with development of some their players. The big question then comes how much is ownership and top management bought into this front office theories and there business plan that they are putting together organization to win long term. Because if we have another failure come next year because of players under performing and now start to see additional injuries to the pitching staff and fans choosing to go else where to spend their money than going to the baseball game. This is one possibility and other is that Sano and Buxton become top players in baseball and pitchers we have good years we contend for division crown.This is make or break year and this Front office I believe heads are on the chopping block nobody wants to say it but I believe it is and they may be given another year after this but would be very much like the previous front office removal.

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jorgenswest
Nov 19 2018 01:04 PM
Was Dombrowski there when they drafted Betts, Bradley, Bogaerts, Devers or Benintendi? The Red Sox did a fantastic job of draft and development. The Twins need to work on that development part. Hopefully the new Twins staff can develop the young talent on the Twins.
    • peterb18, PseudoSABR, tarheeltwinsfan and 2 others like this

 

Was Dombrowski there when they drafted Betts, Bradley, Bogaerts, Devers or Benintendi? The Red Sox did a fantastic job of draft and development. The Twins need to work on that development part. Hopefully the new Twins staff can develop the young talent on the Twins.

 

All were signed/drafted prior to Dombrowski arriving there.Three of above mentioned had made there MLB debuts prior to his arrival.

Is that what wins ballgames, though? When you see it on the field, you know it played a role - but what you don't see is that if instead we had a big bopper who plays sloppy, lackadaisical baseball, you might have 3 more runs from his homer that would have made the run saved by a fundamentally sound play irrelevant. I just don't know.


I definitely won’t argue that point, but while a slick/solid defensive play may not win every game, the polar opposite will cost a team more games than they would like, and often at the worst times.
    • USAFChief and Aerodeliria like this
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Buddy Holly
Nov 19 2018 05:57 PM

Analytical Hijacking!!!Strikeouts, a few HR's, launch angle, exit speed, shifts, openers, more strikeouts. James Rowson got that strikeout thing down real good, really they kept him. Hefner scouts from video's really, he doesn't watch the game in person. Why do the Falvine whiz kids, remind me of the GM from "Trouble with the Curve". Who is the Baseball Guy in the room. 

Oh, and the Twins need to steal Tim Hyers from Boston to be their Hitting Coach. He’s a fantastic coach (just look at the approach of Boston’s hitters, especially in the postseason) and he gets results from his guys.


Yes I’m biased... he’s worked with my sons high school team (they all love him) .
    • nicksaviking likes this

 

Here a breakdown of the Red Sox roster by acquisition.

 

https://www.cbssport...-and-the-draft/

 

One thing that stands out is how well there draft picks picks have turned out 17 WAR contribution).In contrast, the entire Twins roster combined for about 15 WAR last year (data is from Fangraphs).

https://www.fangraphs.com/teams/twins

 

This implies that their scouting of amateur talent and/or player development is superior to the Twins.  

 

Yep and it's not like the Red Sox have been drafting in the top ten either. I've been asking out loud... "Where are our Superstars"?

 

I think there is no question that the Twins have done a poor job in this very important area and it needs immediate attention for the repair work needed.

 

I'm hoping that a new school approach is the surgical procedure to start us toward healing and long term health. 

    • nicksaviking and MN_ExPat like this

At the very least... this website should be interesting, as some of our posters trying to come to grips with the new stuff. 

    • MN_ExPat likes this

Yep and it's not like the Red Sox have been drafting in the top ten either. I've been asking out loud... "Where are our Superstars"?

I think there is no question that the Twins have done a poor job in this very important area and it needs immediate attention for the repair work needed.

I'm hoping that a new school approach is the surgical procedure to start us toward healing and long term health.

This is a snapshot in time. A couple of years ago when all the young studs in Boston were breaking in they didn't look all that special. Now they are in their prime and were healthy this year. Maybe they will continue to look like this for a long time, maybe injuries or down years will screw them up.

If Buxton and Sano are both healthy and show consistency in performance instead merely flashes you might sing a different tune. Combine that with improvement from the other young core guys and early appearances from the next wave and everyone will will be praising the boy geniuses. Even though it a normal process that most players and teams need to go thro.
    • Nick Nelson, Riverbrian, ChrisKnutson and 2 others like this

 

This is a snapshot in time. A couple of years ago when all the young studs in Boston were breaking in they didn't look all that special. Now they are in their prime and were healthy this year. Maybe they will continue to look like this for a long time, maybe injuries or down years will screw them up.

If Buxton and Sano are both healthy and show consistency in performance instead merely flashes you might sing a different tune. Combine that with improvement from the other young core guys and early appearances from the next wave and everyone will will be praising the boy geniuses. Even though it a normal process that most players and teams need to go thro.

 

I'm capable of singing a lot of songs... So, you are right... my tune will change. I've stated that I'd like the Twins to support this core... this off-season, in the possibility of my tune changing because I still think this core could make it happen and make it happen with the speed of a light switch. 

 

But... This process isn't as normal as you describe. We have been consistently failing for a long time. We should have our own Judge, Bellinger, Betts, Altuve, Lindor, Goldschmidt or Jose Ramirez type player on our roster by now.:)

    • MN_ExPat likes this
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Aerodeliria
Nov 19 2018 11:43 PM

Hitting can salvage some games, but certainly poor fielding can lose tight games especially in the playoffs where the differences between the clubs is often minuscule. The Red Sox have a spotted history of losing critical games because of miscues in the field, but now they have a team that can hit and field and voile, they are the champs--deservedly so.

 

Here in Japan, the Japanese champion Softbank (Fukuoka) Hawks were a much weaker hitting team but matched the Hiroshima Carp in pitching and were far superior to the Carp in fielding. In my opinion, the Carp coughed up two games because of fielding miscues and another ended in a tie (yes, we still have tie games here in Japan), so the Hawks ended up winning the best of seven rather easily (4-1-1).

    • MN_ExPat likes this