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Buxton: "Pissed" at Twins for No Call-Up Decision...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 04:47 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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Derek Falvey Interview on 1500 ESPN

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 01:08 AM
Falvey discusses Sano, payroll, etc. http://www.1500espn....an-mackey-judd/
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Twins Minor League Coaches/Coordinators

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 01:01 AM
The Twins made some changes this offseason already in their minor league system. Pitching coaches Ivan Arteaga and Henry Bonilla were let...
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Harold Baines and Lee Smith are Hall of Famers

Other Baseball Yesterday, 11:33 PM
MLB announced tonight that a 16-person committee decided that DH Harold Baines and RP Lee Smith are now Hall of Famers.   Here is th...
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Article: Standing Pat as a Strategy

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:24 PM
'As we speak cruel time is fleeing. Seize the day, believing as little as possible in the morrow.' – HoraceBy all appearances, this is go...
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Where Can the Twins Find Some OBP for Their Lineup?

It is well understood (and intuitively obvious) that on-base percentage correlates highly with run-scoring. In fact, looking at this year's MLB results, you'd conclude it simply correlates with winning. Thirteen of the top 14 teams in OBP finished above .500, and 10 made the playoffs.

The Twins now find themselves with a dire scarcity of this treasured resource. Where can they acquire it?
Image courtesy of Isaiah J. Downing, USA Today (D.J. LeMahieu)
It wasn't a big surprise when the team non-tendered Robbie Grossman on Friday, nor was it an especially controversial move. But while Minnesota won't miss his lack of power or defensive prowess, they will absolutely miss his on-base proficiency. Among Twins players to make 500+ PA since 2016, Grossman led all with a .377 OBP.

In fact, here's what that list looks like:

1. Robbie Grossman – .377 OBP
2. Joe Mauer – .366 OBP
3. Brian Dozier – .339 OBP
4. Jorge Polanco – .327 OBP
5. Miguel Sano – .323 OBP

The top three guys on that list are gone, and Sano is coming off a 2018 campaign where he posted a .281 mark. Needless to say, the Twins are looking at a real deficiency in the on-base category. Of course they're hoping that rebounds and better health will trigger some improvement, but the fact remains: This is a roster full of free swingers with pop, and right now it is very short on disciplined hitters who can draw a walk.

The addition of C.J. Cron, who agreed to terms Friday on a one-year, $4.8 millon deal and appears penciled in at first base, doesn't help in this department. He has a .311 career OBP, and even in his career year of 2018 still struck out four times for every walk.

It's a weakness the front office will need to address with its remaining offseason moves. Perusing the Offseason Handbook and beyond, let's take a look at nine free agent options that might help move the needle.

Justin Bour, 1B
This is the kind of player the Twins should have been seeking at first base, in my opinion. With his .853 career OPS against right-handed pitchers, Bour would've been an ideal complement to Tyler Austin (.937 OPS vs. LHP). It's still possible the Twins will seek such an arrangement alongside Cron – also a righty – but that's not likely, which is too bad. In addition to his platooning fit, Bour would bring sorely needed patience to this offensive unit. His BB rates over the past three seasons: 11.8%, 11.0%, 14.6%. His 2018 mark would've led the Twins (Grossman and Mauer included).

D.J. LeMahieu, 2B
The two-time All-Star and 2016 NL batting champ is hitting the open market for the first time, and has been popular as a theoretical target for the Twins. It isn't hard to see why; over the past three years LeMahieu has slashed .309/.369/.429, and that middle number is especially attractive. In the Handbook, we added this caution: "Like many products of Coors Field, there are questions about his offensive numbers translating elsewhere. His career OPS is 160 points lower on the road than at home." If the Twins were to get an OBP closer to his .277 lifetime mark away from Coors, that would obviously not be helpful.

Jed Lowrie, 2B
I haven't seen Lowrie's name connected to Minnesota in reports yet, but I have to assume we will. He's a switch-hitter who's proven very adept in Oakland over the past two seasons – even making the All-Star team this year. He also turns 35 in April, so he won't require a long-term deal. If Lowrie's late-career surge with the A's (.356 OBP and .804 OPS in 2017-18) can sustain, he's very appealing. If he reverts to his previous form (.326 OBP and .726 OPS from 2008-16), less so.

Logan Forsythe, 2B
Should the Twins turn their gaze toward the lower end of the second base pool, they could go with Forsythe on a one-year deal and hope he provides some on-base juice to go along with his solid defense. The veteran posted a .359 OBP in 2015 with Tampa, and a .351 mark in 2017 with LA. He also turned in a .356 OBP in 50 games with the Twins after he was acquired this summer. But that figure stood at a .270 when the Dodgers dealt him, and his .327 career OBP is mediocre. Forsythe's bat has also been anemic the last two years: .228 AVG and .309 SLG. The ability to take walks becomes somewhat trivial at that rate.

Michael Brantley, LF
Brantley is past his lengthy bout with shoulder issues and back in All-Star form. This year he played in 143 games for Cleveland and posted a fantastic .309/.364/.468 slash line with a 60-to-48 K/BB ratio. He has a .351 career OBP and has been above that number every year since 2014 (except '16, when he played only 11 games). The problem is that he's a lefty-swinging left fielder, so he doesn't really fit with the roster as currently constructed. The Twins would need to shake things up – say, with an Eddie Rosario trade.

Nelson Cruz, DH
The premier slugger brings OBP (.342 career, .362 the past four seasons) as well as prodigious power, averaging 40 home runs since 2015. He'd be more lineup centerpiece than need-filling pickup, but the Twins could seemingly use one of those. That said, as a 38-year-old with zero defensive value and a big payday on the way, he's very unlikely.

Nick Markakis, RF
The uber-durable 13-year veteran is entering the market at an opportune time, coming off his best campaign in years. He played all 162 games for Atlanta, posting a .297/.366/.440 line with a 80-to-62 K/BB ratio, and helping push an upstart young squad to a surprise postseason appearance. Sounds like the kind of guy that Minnesota would really benefit from. Markakis has always been a patient hitter, with a .358 career OBP and 10.2% BB rate. But like Brantley, he's a lefty-swinging corner outfielder. Tough to see how that makes sense on a team with Rosario, Max Kepler and Jake Cave – unless the Twins were to, say, have Kepler split time between right and first, with Markakis splitting between right and DH.

Andrew McCutchen, RF
We now come to my absolute favorite option on this list (and perhaps on the entire offseason market). McCutchen is a former MVP and five time All-Star hitting the market at age 32. In recent years he hasn't been quite the same top-tier superstar, averaging 2.5 WAR the last three seasons compared to 6.9 from 2011 through 2015, but that'll keep his price tag reasonable and he's still a damn fine player. He has a .378 OBP and has been at or above .363 in nine of 10 MLB seasons. His 12.0% career BB rate is higher than Mauer's. Rotating his right-handed bat with the lefty-swinging corner outfielders and at DH would give McCutchen a regular role. He'd be an excellent leadoff guy.

Bryce Harper, RF
You want OBP? Here's a .388 career OBP and the game's second-highest BB rate since 2015, just sitting there for the taking. How fortuitous! I'm sure he won't cost all the much either. Nope, very affordable and plausible.

Who on this list would you like to see the Twins pursue? Are there other OBP-focused additions you'd be targeting?

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113 Comments

If Rosario is going to be moved to the IF, I think it would be third at this point.

    • glunn, Sconnie and Original Whizzinator like this

Just pay Harper, please.

 

Also, Nelly Cruz would be huge for that lineup. 

 

Those are the players that only cost money, and not prospects, to get better. What is the alternative? A bad team, and more money in the owner's pocket?

 

No, giving opportunities to young players like Brent Rooker or Nick Gordon, and keeping the payroll flexible for when the Twins are actually competitive.Why commit money to players that will be here today, not really do much, and then be gone tomorrow.

 

None of these guys are going to swing the needle much so why not lose while developing and evaulating the prospects?

Pay for power, develop OBP guys. There are internal options with the OB potential. LaMonte Wade has always been a guy to draw walks and limit Ks.
    • ChrisKnutson and d-mac like this

 

2019

 

78 wins in 2019?Wooooohooo. 

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Nick Nelson
Dec 03 2018 11:17 AM

 

No, giving opportunities to young players like Brent Rooker or Nick Gordon, and keeping the payroll flexible for when the Twins are actually competitive.Why commit money to players that will be here today, not really do much, and then be gone tomorrow.

 

None of these guys are going to swing the needle much so why not lose while developing and evaulating the prospects?

This is a weirdly defeatist attitude. The AL Central is going to be eminently there for the taking next year, and the Twins should be right in the thick if Buxton & Sano rebound. I'm not sure I understand tanking while staking your future on unspectacular prospects like Rooker and Gordon. Sounds like a recipe for remaining in the perpetual cycle of rebuilding.

 

There are moves on this list that align with a long-term thinking. Bour and LeMahieu are 30. McCutchen would be helpful on a 3-year deal, creating veteran entrenchment. If these kinds of players are holding prospects back any time soon, it's a good problem to have.  

    • birdwatcher, brvama, Winston Smith and 4 others like this
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Winston Smith
Dec 03 2018 11:22 AM

 

No, giving opportunities to young players like Brent Rooker or Nick Gordon, and keeping the payroll flexible for when the Twins are actually competitive.Why commit money to players that will be here today, not really do much, and then be gone tomorrow.

 

None of these guys are going to swing the needle much so why not lose while developing and evaulating the prospects?

Because losing sucks!

    • kab21 and SF Twins Fan like this

 

No doubt that we’re in need of two high OBP guys, but I don’t want the very same empty OBP that both Mauer and Grossman provided. What we need are guys who not only get on-base, but can hit the ball with some authority, which is why I’m still holding out hope that the FO can come to their senses and sign both Cruz and Lowrie.

It was always disappointing when Mauer would work a walk with RISP.How about trying to drive in a run once in awhile? They need to be more aggressive at the plate.

    • darin617 and ChrisKnutson like this
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Nick Nelson
Dec 03 2018 12:56 PM

 

It was always disappointing when Mauer would work a walk with RISP.How about trying to drive in a run once in awhile? They need to be more aggressive at the plate.

Are you suggesting he swing at balls? Mauer has one of the highest batting averages with RISP in modern MLB history so criticizing him on this front seems off base. 

 

This team ain't lacking for guys who will reach for one and try to drive in a run. 

    • Twins33, bluechipper, gagu and 3 others like this

 

If Rosario is going to be moved to the IF, I think it would be third at this point.

Yeah, don't waste that arm at 2nd base.....

    • glunn and Original Whizzinator like this
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yarnivek1972
Dec 03 2018 01:00 PM
Regarding McCutchen and his BB rate. It is worth noting that for most of his career he had zero protection around him. Quick, without looking name any other Pirate all star hitter during his tenure.

McCutchen drew a dozen intentional walks three times as a Pirate. Keep in mind, he hit third almost all the time. So, someone walked him to bring up a 4th place hitter. Frequently. I’m sure his plate discipline is better than most, but I would expect his BB rate to decline if he were in the middle of a good offensive team simply because teams would be less inclined to pitch around him. Of course, whether or not the 2019 Twins will be a good offensive team is still undetermined.
    • glunn likes this
I vacillate between Gonzalez on a 4yr deal and Lowrie on a 2yr deal to man 2B. Both offer offense and flexibility. Obviously, Gonzalez is younger, even more flexible position wise, but Lowrie would probably provide the higher OB. Really torn.

I've been banging the drum for McCutchen for weeks now. He provides hitting, OB, power and decent defense for the next 2-3yrs. Too many Of? Especially with 2 1B/DH types, a couple utility guys, and maybe even another guy brought to camp like Solarte? I dont see it that way. Someone can start in the minors. Someone could be hurt. Someone could be traded.

Can you really have too much talent and too much depth? Get the guys on the roster and let Rocco and his staff figure out how to use them.
    • glunn, Twins33, Danchat and 1 other like this
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ChrisKnutson
Dec 03 2018 01:27 PM

No, giving opportunities to young players like Brent Rooker or Nick Gordon, and keeping the payroll flexible for when the Twins are actually competitive.Why commit money to players that will be here today, not really do much, and then be gone tomorrow.
 
None of these guys are going to swing the needle much so why not lose while developing and evaulating the prospects?


I get what you’re saying, but when you’ve got two all-star veterans like Lowrie and Cruz readily available for a relatively affordable price ($60M total), mixed in with fact that Cleveland is “retooling,” why not sign them? Could it possibly be for naught? Sure, but it also could win us the division.
    • birdwatcher, Twins33, brvama and 1 other like this

 

No, giving opportunities to young players like Brent Rooker or Nick Gordon, and keeping the payroll flexible for when the Twins are actually competitive.Why commit money to players that will be here today, not really do much, and then be gone tomorrow.

 

None of these guys are going to swing the needle much so why not lose while developing and evaulating the prospects?

 

so, yes, have a bad team and more profit....while Buxton and Sano just, what, use all their service time in a lost cause?

 

I like Gordon, but he's not ready. I doubt they think Rooker is close, or they wouldn't bring in Cron. 

 

I'm not sure how acquiring players on 2-3 year deals hinders payroll, if you don't think they'll be good fro 2-3 years. Help me understand.

    • Twins33, brvama and SF Twins Fan like this
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Brandon Warne
Dec 03 2018 01:38 PM

 

 

I was just going to say this. Launch angle and all these new metrics are garbage. They may be fine for power hitters but not for everyone. A little more patience at the plate and hitting the ball where it's pitched to would help.

 

The biggest thing that has killed me lately that the "professional hitters" can't beat a shift. A half swing for a lefty where the 3rd basemen is supposed to play is an easy double.

 

If it was that easy, hitters would do it. 

    • Twins33, gagu and d-mac like this

Daniel Murphy has a career .344 OBP (and .299 BA). He might sign a reasonable 2-3 year deal...

 

I like the Bour idea...except platoon him with Cron, not Austin. 

    • DocBauer likes this

For all of you posting we should sign Harper we have a better chance of winning the lottery than we signing him to come play for the Twins.First is the Twins would never spend than kind of money one player that he's asking for and second is he would never come to the Twins a small market club and one that is not competitive. The Truth be told i don't think we have shot at any of the top free agents right now they don't want to noncompetitive team like the Twins. Also the Twins are in no position to sign this type of free agent until they better idea of structure of this team.

This team has regressed from last year at this time with only hope is that Buxton, Sano, Kepler, and Rosario continue to improve from their peak performances past couple of years. Second that Gordon can make the leap to majors this year and make some impact at the major league level. Also that young pitchers can come up provide quality major league pitching. All these things considered there are lot of ifs which usually equates in not that great a season ahead of us. I look at this club were going to really struggle to score runs not good thing with young pitching staff and more middle of row starters. Look at this team by position 1st. base Cron more power hitting but not the on base percentage of Mauer and definite down grade at fielding. Second base hasn't been filled but longterm probably Gordon; SS we have Polanco viable fielding and overall above average hitting ss; Sano at third base not sure what we have could be all star 3rd baseman or total flop if he doesn't figure out how to hit consistently; Catcher we have Castro adequate but still big question if he can come back from injury, and Garver who could become good backup catcher; LF we have Rosario a major league ready player that overall is slightly above average; CF we have Buxton already best defensive center fielder in the game but can he learn to hit in the Major leagues; RF Kepler above average defensive fielding right fielder and could become above average hitting right fielder. Cave 4 outfielder could be above average both fielding and hitting but here again very short sample size for fielder that has struggled to staying with organizations; DH position that still open but could be filled by several of the current players.This is not team that is poised win it all its a team that could be torn down by August if players have repeatof next year. The funny thing is that these players have won all way up through baseball until they have reached majors. If they fail this year will it because of the players or is it the organization that has failed to help these players win at this level by overloading them with information and new theories on how to play baseball. I think ownership and business people of Twins are going to be tested this year because the decline of attendance and fans following this club are going to continue to decline. Here again were following Cleveland model even when they been winning they have not had increase in attendance. The new baseball people are ruing the game by making it boring to watch and for ever to get games played in normal amount of time. 

They need to get rules on number pitching changes in game and how positional players are positioned during the game for starters and penalties for teams that are tanking to get better draft picks. These changes would add more offense and teams would go back to caring more positional players than pitchers and finally teams would have to try to win or they would loose their draft picks because of it. If not were going see gradual decline of baseball further and especially with younger generation.

Why were we not in on Jean Segura?.353 OBP over the past 3 seasons, and would've filled a positional need. 

    • USAFChief, birdwatcher, TheLeviathan and 3 others like this

Why were we not in on Jean Segura? .353 OBP over the past 3 seasons, and would've filled a positional need.


Great question B Good. I'm utterly disappointed in the off-season so far for our Twins.
    • birdwatcher, Mike Sixel, KGB and 1 other like this
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birdwatcher
Dec 03 2018 03:52 PM

 

None of these guys are going to swing the needle much so why not lose while developing and evaulating the prospects?

 

A two-point response:

 

The prospects ARE being developed and evaluated, and it won't require the MLB team to suck as badly as it would with the likes of Gordon and Rooker flailing away at the plate before they're ready, if they ever are.

 

The right additions, all very doable ones for cash money with no prospect loss, WILL potentially move the needle. Two premium RP's, and maybe Cutch, Lowrie, and possibly Bour.

    • Mike Sixel, Twins33, DocBauer and 1 other like this
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birdwatcher
Dec 03 2018 03:54 PM

 

Why were we not in on Jean Segura?.353 OBP over the past 3 seasons, and would've filled a positional need. 

 

 

Can't wait for LaVelle E. Neal's incisive questioning on this. Falvey's sweating bullets.

    • USAFChief, Mike Sixel, Vanimal46 and 1 other like this

Can't wait for LaVelle E. Neal's incisive questioning on this. Falvey's sweating bullets.


He only works part time so he's watching the Chicago Bears. He starts his job again in spring training.
    • birdwatcher and SF Twins Fan like this
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birdwatcher
Dec 03 2018 04:38 PM

 

He only works part time so he's watching the Chicago Bears. He starts his job again in spring training.

 

 

Who's gonna notice?

    • Mike Sixel, nicksaviking and Vanimal46 like this
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Brandon Warne
Dec 03 2018 05:08 PM

 

Why were we not in on Jean Segura?.353 OBP over the past 3 seasons, and would've filled a positional need. 

 

...because the closest thing the Twins have to Crawford is probably Byron Buxton, and the Twins probably aren't looking at a four-year solution at shortstop. 

    • Danchat likes this

 

...because the closest thing the Twins have to Crawford is probably Byron Buxton, and the Twins probably aren't looking at a four-year solution at shortstop. 

Buxton for Segura. Move Lewis to CF......problem solved.