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Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 07:49 PM
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What Can Be Done to Awaken Slumbering Twins Offense?

That the Twins are playing mediocre baseball here in the early portion of the season is disappointing, but not entirely surprising. We knew this was still a young club on the rise, not a bona fide contender. Slumps and downspells are to be expected.

But it was the pitching staff that figured to take lumps. A lineup stacked with established hitters and solid depth seemed to be the least of Paul Molitor's worries.

And yet, as the Twins have fallen back into a listless spell after being revived by a five-game winning streak, it is the bats that are lagging and languishing.
Image courtesy of Rick Osentoski, USA Today
For a time, scorching hot streaks from Eduardo Escobar and Eddie Rosario served to cover up for an offense that was just never really clicking.

The Twins scored at least four runs in each of their first 11 games in May but never more than eight. We still haven't seen a double-digit run total all year. The anticipated explosiveness hasn't been there for this unit. A team that led the American League in scoring down the stretch last season entered play on Tuesday ranked 10th in runs/game and 12th in OPS.

While the AL's prime contenders are doing their things – New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Cleveland rank first through fourth in R/G – the Twins offense has sputtered, showing only sporadic flashes of its dazzling upside.

What's to be done? Well, to a large extent, all we can do is wait. If this group is gonna turn around it will be because Brian Dozier discovers his next gear, and Miguel Sano comes back to mash, and Joe Mauer finds some semblance of power, and Byron Buxton snaps out of his typical early-season funk, and Eddie Rosario settles into a sustainable approach at the plate.

History tells us at least some of these things will happen. But as the Central continues to look eminently winnable, patience is starting to wear thin. At some point the Twins need to take action in an effort to jolt this offense awake.

Here are a few options they could consider. Note that I'm not endorsing all of these solutions, only suggesting they should be on the table.

Call Up Nick Gordon and LaMonte Wade from Class-AA Chattanooga

The Twins pitching staff was in a freefall before Fernando Romero arrived on May 2nd and propelled the team to a shutout victory, snapping a losing streak and sparking a 7-1 run. Since then, the rotation and bullpen have both had a noticeably renewed swagger, and results have reflected it.

It's not a simple cause-and-effect, but there is something to be said about the contagious energy that a talented and highly motivated young talent can infuse.

Granted, Romero was in Triple-A and not Double-A, but the argument can easily be made that Gordon and Wade should've started in Rochester as well. At Chattanooga, 22-year-old shortstop Gordon entered play Tuesday slashing .350/.392/.526 while the 24-year-old outfielder Wade was at .300/.401/.442.

Both prospects need to be added to the 40-man roster, complicating matters, but each offers something the Twins could really use. Gordon brings sneaky power from a wiry athletic frame and would represent a big upgrade over the scuffling Ehire Adrianza (whose play has arguably earned him a DFA). Wade is one of the most disciplined hitters in the system and has consistently been a .400 OBP guy in the minors.

These are the two most MLB-ready hitting prospects in the high minors, and each has been making his case since spring training, where Gordon batted .417 and Wade had a .441 OBP.

Option Byron Buxton to Triple-A

As much as Molitor – and all of us, really – would love to believe otherwise, it's clear that Buxton is not a naturally adept hitter who can quickly acclimate and get rolling at the plate. Not at this stage of his career anyway.

Despite his tremendous finish in 2017, the center fielder once again came out of the gates flat this season. Then he had a bout with migraines. Then he broke his toe. Now, the Twins have curiously activated him directly from the disabled list, so he can try and play with a bum digit and a month's worth of rust.

I guess we shouldn't be surprised by the outcome. Since returning, Buxton has been at his worst offensively, which is an exceedingly low bar. In five games, he is 2-for-16 with six strikeouts. The two hits, while both big, came in the form of a bloop double off the end of the bat and a bunt single that traveled five feet.

Even with a bad toe, Buxton's defense is irreplaceable, and he's probably just as well trying to solve his hitting woes against MLB pitching. But if you're looking to quickly jump-start the lineup, there's no more obvious candidate for removal. He has been an almost automatic out.

To replace him, you could call up Wade and shift Rosario or Max Kepler to center. Or you could call up Ryan LaMarre or Jake Cave or Zack Granite from Rochester as short-term plugs.

Acquire a Catcher

Jason Castro underwent surgery on Tuesday and is expected to miss 4-for-6 weeks (or, as this team's estimations have gone, 8-to-12). Mitch Garver and Bobby Wilson don't present the kind of catcher duo that inspires huge confidence offensively.

It is obviously slim pickings out there among the remaining free agents.

Carlos Ruiz is 39 and put up a .665 OPS in 53 games with Seattle last year. He went unsigned during the offseason despite expressing an interest in continuing to play. If he's stayed in shape he might be worth a flier. Geovany Soto, 35, is also still out there.

Neither of these guys are enticing options, and they'd also take time to ramp up, potentially pushing an arrival close to Castro's return. But it's no given that Castro will be able to come back strong; he's nine years older than a spry young Mauer whose rookie season at catcher was ruined by a torn knee meniscus.

* UPDATE: The Twins announced on Wednesday that Castro will miss the rest of the season after his surgery proved more extensive than expected. Go figure. *

This is where the organization's lack of high-level catching depth is quickly becoming an issue, which isn't entire surprising. It wouldn't hurt to add someone capable, even if that means giving up a bit in trade. Considering that two-thirds of the league are in blatant tanking mode, it shouldn't be all that hard to find a seller.

Shake Up the Batting Order

Get weird. Try Kepler in the leadoff spot. Move Dozier to cleanup. Escobar in the two-hole. Whatever. Perhaps a different type of sequencing or dynamic will stir something up. It couldn't really hurt at this point.

I'd like to hear some other ideas. What would you do to inject life into a Twins offense that simply isn't getting it done?


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62 Comments

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howieramone2
May 17 2018 09:09 AM

 

They aren't young. Mauer, Dozier, Morrison, Castro, Escobar.... And it isn't like Rosario and Buxton are in year two of being MLB players. They aren't even in the top ten in being young. The Yankees and Red Sox are younger, on offense, for example.

They just aren't good enough. That said, trading for an actual hitter would be helpful. What position would you replace? You aren't getting a first baseman or DH. Or a second baseman, or third, or outfielder....

Did you know last year at this time they were the second youngest team in all of baseball, based on weighted playing time? I saw it on this very board. I don't agree with you that they have suddenly become old and decrepit. 

Did you know last year at this time they were the second youngest team in all of baseball, based on weighted playing time? I saw it on this very board. I don't agree with you that they have suddenly become old and decrepit.


I didn't say they were old. There is space between old and young. These aren't numbers I made up, all you have to do is read fangraphs or follow one of their former writers on Twitter. Or, run the numbers like I did. They aren't young. They are about median.

The Red Sox have five regulars 26 or younger. Including a 21 year old, for example, but no one thinks of them as young.

I ran the numbers. I read others that did the same. It's a fact, not an opinion.

The other teams are not stagnant. Many of them called up young players since the start of last year. The Twins have not added any young position players in the last two years. That's not a criticism, it just is.
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Brock Beauchamp
May 17 2018 09:23 AM

 

The Red Sox have five regulars 26 or younger. Including a 21 year old, for example, but no one thinks of them as young.

Why wouldn't anyone think of the Red Sox as young? I sure do. Like you said, they have five regulars 26 or younger. It causes me a lot of pain to see how young the BoSox and Yankees have become over the past couple of years.

 

When Polanco and Sano return, the Twins will have the same number of guys 26 or younger in the lineup.

    • howieramone2 likes this

Why wouldn't anyone think of the Red Sox as young? I sure do. Like you said, they have five regulars 26 or younger.

When Polanco and Sano return, the Twins will have the same number of guys 26 or younger in the lineup.


That's my point.... The Twins seem young, until you start looking at other teams. They are just like most other teams. Unless people are arguing most teams are young, but then I don't know what young means, as I consider it a comparative term
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howieramone2
May 17 2018 09:26 AM

 

I didn't say they were old. There is space between old and young. These aren't numbers I made up, all you have to do is read fangraphs or follow one of their former writers on Twitter. Or, run the numbers like I did. They aren't young. They are about median.

The Red Sox have five regulars 26 or younger. Including a 21 year old, for example, but no one thinks of them as young.

I ran the numbers. I read others that did the same. It's a fact, not an opinion.

The other teams are not stagnant. Many of them called up young players since the start of last year. The Twins have not added any young position players in the last two years. That's not a criticism, it just is.

They were already young enough, why would they want to get younger? The object is to win games right? Do you have any idea, how many teams are in some form of rebuild? If you want to do the rebuid thing some more, feel free. I'm getting ready for the play-offs the next bunch of years.

They were already young enough, why would they want to get younger? The object is to win games right? Do you have any idea, how many teams are in some form of rebuild? If you want to do the rebuid thing some more, feel free. I'm getting ready for the play-offs the next bunch of years.


I didn't say they should do anything. I merely pointed out they aren't young compared to other teams. Nothing more or less. Well, I did say their she and experience shouldn't be an excuse anymore also.

They have a good mix of ages, probably.

My post was, quite literally, pointing out there aren't young. Nothing more or less.
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twinssporto
May 17 2018 09:48 AM

I would continue to let Buxton play.  His bat will come around and his defense is too important to waste in AAA.  I would love to see us bring up Flash Gordon.  That might provide a real spark.

 

Regarding Sano, I hope I'm wrong but I don't think Sano has the durability to be a huge factor on this team this year.  We can pray for a Sano storm but I think the production will be choppy and inconsistent.  A ton of strikeouts then some massive homers, slump, homer, strikeout...

I would continue to let Buxton play.  His bat will come around and his defense is too important to waste in AAA.  I would love to see us bring up Flash Gordon.  That might provide a real spark.
 
Regarding Sano, I hope I'm wrong but I don't think Sano has the durability to be a huge factor on this team this year.  We can pray for a Sano storm but I think the production will be choppy and inconsistent.  A ton of strikeouts then some massive homers, slump, homer, strikeout...


He's about a million times the hitter Buxton is. Sano is the new Mauer.
    • TheLeviathan and twinssporto like this
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twinssporto
May 17 2018 09:58 AM

 

He's about a million times the hitter Buxton is. Sano is the new Mauer.

As I said in my post, I hope I'm wrong about Sano......I do agree that when Sano is playing he's probably two million times the hitter Buxton is.  However, it will be interesting to see how durable Sano (and Buxton for that matter) is this year and what type of production he ends up with. I'm cautiously optimistic.  

    • Mike Sixel likes this
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Brock Beauchamp
May 17 2018 10:28 AM

That's my point.... The Twins seem young, until you start looking at other teams. They are just like most other teams. Unless people are arguing most teams are young, but then I don't know what young means, as I consider it a comparative term

I think we’re just disagreeing that a couple of other good young teams existing makes none of them young. In my mind, I consider the Twins, Yankees, and Red Sox young teams.

And it’s likely the Twins continue to be young for awhile because they are going to add more prospects this season.

 

The Yankees and Red Sox players that age don't seem to need time to warm up. Why should the Twins get this excuse? They aren't a young team.

 

I think the same thing. And it's not just Yanks and Red Sox. Young players (rookies, even!) all over the league come up and can hit right away. And hit well. Here's a list of players that are Buxton's age:

 

Mookie Betts

Carlos Correia

Francisco Lindor

Trea Turner

Alex Bregman

Cody Bellinger

Corey Seager

 

The list goes on and I could go further. But you get the point. We all love Buxton's defense, but having him sitting down in the #9 hole all year, striking out half the time and being removed for PH's after the 7th inning...that's not what we signed up for. The time for patience is long gone. Buxton had a great stretch last year - that is who the Twins need him to be, full time. No more "give him a coupla weeks". The Twins don't have a coupla weeks, because the Indians sure as heck won't be waiting.

 

Buxton has shown flashes of brilliance, but at this point his career has been marred by injuries and excuses. I for one am done giving the guy a pass.

    • Mike Sixel likes this

Simple answer to thread question. Either worse pitching by the opposition or different players. Why anyone would throw Mauer an off speed pitch is beyond me but they do so he still looks decent on paper.

Right now Rosario is the only dangerous situation; repeat; situation hitter in the whole lineup. I think Kepler hopefully is in a normal slump and will still finish ok but is not a top of the order hitter. Neither is anyone they have in the top 5 of the order except Rosario. What we have is a bunch of 6-9 hitters.

Ironically pitching and not great offense by the opposition either is going to have to carry the Twins. That plus the AL Central. Just score enough to play n.500 ball.


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