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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

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Brandon Warne
Dec 03 2018 05:35 PM

 

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

 

Hard pass.

    • gunnarthor, DocBauer, SF Twins Fan and 2 others like this

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.


Sure was. We don’t need 1-out surprise bunts, either. Time to wake up the bats.

 

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. 

I'm suggesting he could swing at a pitch that might be 1/4" inch out of the strike zone rather than hope that a lesser hitter drives in the run. His anemic RBI totals show that. Escobar drove in more runs and Garver & Cave drove in almost as many in far fewer AB.

 

Hard pass.

 

That's a fair stance, but Buxton has 4 years left, and Segura 3. Which one is more likely to be good during that time?

    • Winston Smith likes this
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Brandon Warne
Dec 03 2018 06:20 PM

 

That's a fair stance, but Buxton has 4 years left, and Segura 3. Which one is more likely to be good during that time?

 

I'm not going to commit $60 million, move Lewis off short and sell low on Buxton.

    • birdwatcher, gunnarthor and DocBauer like this

 

I'm not going to commit $60 million, move Lewis off short and sell low on Buxton.

 

That wasn't the question, but again, fair answer.......how would you suggest they get better, if you won't commit money for FAs, because that's what the good ones cost? I am assuming you aren't trading off Lewis or Kiriloff either.....

 

Great question B Good. I'm utterly disappointed in the off-season so far for our Twins.

Really? They've claimed one guy off waivers and several teams have made zero moves thus far. There is a ton of time for things to happen.

 

Oh, and do you remember how Twins Daily's general opinions regarding the offseason have usually gone?

 

2016 Offseason - "They only signed Jason Castro! We're gonna lose 100 games again!"

Result: The Twins were close to clinching a wildcard spot, finished above .500 somehow

 

2017 Offseason - "The Twins failed to sign Yu Darvish and haven't picked up anybody - only the awful Anibal Sanchez ! It's a failure of an offseason!"

Result: Avoiding Darvish was a godsend. Sanchez pitched great for Atlanta... whoops.

 

2017 Spring Training - "We signed Logan Morrison, Addison Reed, and Lance Lynn for cheap! We can win the division this year!" (I'll admit I was on this bandwagon)

Result: All three players were major flops and contributed to a poor season 

 

2018 Nov/Dec - "We shouldn't have claimed C. J. Cron!"

 

 

Do we really have any idea how things are going to play out? I'm at the point where I'm going to expect the opposite of what seems reasonable to us.

    • DocBauer and Original Whizzinator like this

Really? They've claimed one guy off waivers and several teams have made zero moves thus far. There is a ton of time for things to happen.

Oh, and do you remember how Twins Daily's general opinions regarding the offseason have usually gone?

2016 Offseason - "They only signed Jason Castro! We're gonna lose 100 games again!"
Result: The Twins were close to clinching a wildcard spot, finished above .500 somehow

2017 Offseason - "The Twins failed to sign Yu Darvish and haven't picked up anybody - only the awful Anibal Sanchez ! It's a failure of an offseason!"
Result: Avoiding Darvish was a godsend. Sanchez pitched great for Atlanta... whoops.

2017 Spring Training - "We signed Logan Morrison, Addison Reed, and Lance Lynn for cheap! We can win the division this year!" (I'll admit I was on this bandwagon)
Result: All three players were major flops and contributed to a poor season

2018 Nov/Dec - "We shouldn't have claimed C. J. Cron!"


Do we really have any idea how things are going to play out? I'm at the point where I'm going to expect the opposite of what seems reasonable to us.


The missing strategy seems to be "signed good help."
    • Mike Sixel and SF Twins Fan like this

Really? They've claimed one guy off waivers and several teams have made zero moves thus far. There is a ton of time for things to happen.

Oh, and do you remember how Twins Daily's general opinions regarding the offseason have usually gone?

2016 Offseason - "They only signed Jason Castro! We're gonna lose 100 games again!"
Result: The Twins were close to clinching a wildcard spot, finished above .500 somehow

2017 Offseason - "The Twins failed to sign Yu Darvish and haven't picked up anybody - only the awful Anibal Sanchez ! It's a failure of an offseason!"
Result: Avoiding Darvish was a godsend. Sanchez pitched great for Atlanta... whoops.

2017 Spring Training - "We signed Logan Morrison, Addison Reed, and Lance Lynn for cheap! We can win the division this year!" (I'll admit I was on this bandwagon)
Result: All three players were major flops and contributed to a poor season

2018 Nov/Dec - "We shouldn't have claimed C. J. Cron!"


Do we really have any idea how things are going to play out? I'm at the point where I'm going to expect the opposite of what seems reasonable to us.


And, here we are again, with no holes filled for all those moves. Because they are all short term, meh, signings.
    • SF Twins Fan likes this
So far not much. This is a hard time of year for me watching all the wheeling and dealing for the top players and we have to wait to see what is left over. Probably more this year because they have enough money to at least be in the game.
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TheLeviathan
Dec 03 2018 08:37 PM

 

So far not much. This is a hard time of year for me watching all the wheeling and dealing for the top players and we have to wait to see what is left over. Probably more this year because they have enough money to at least be in’s the game.

 

In fairness, the whole league has been really, really slow.

 

Doesn't excuse inaction by the Twins, but it's hardly isolated at this point.

    • birdwatcher, Twins33, Danchat and 4 others like this

Last year was incredibly slow, too.

    • birdwatcher, Danchat and DocBauer like this
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Winston Smith
Dec 03 2018 09:02 PM

 

That's a fair stance, but Buxton has 4 years left, and Segura 3. Which one is more likely to be good during that time?

Segura has 4 years left and a 5th year option.

In fairness, the whole league has been really, really slow.
 
Doesn't excuse inaction by the Twins, but it's hardly isolated at this point.


Yep.

We are all frustrated because we want to know NOW what's going to happen, and there just isn't anything really relevant that's happened at this point other than Grossman gone and the Cron signing.

I tell you what does excite me...POSSIBILITIES. Between FA available for the infield and bullpen, and now additional options that appear at least interesting, especially in a slow moving market, I am more encouraged about ootions/additions for both areas to be addressed. I still feel the Twins will make one major pen signing. But I think it is becoming more and more likely they will also look at a second pair of signings on 1 or 1+1 deals to create additional depth and competition. All the numbers are in their favor.

There are also legitimate options for the infield. No rumors, of course, but I really hope they identify the right guy for team need and make their move and get it done! Still torn, IMO, who that guy is, but were it up to me, I'd sure be looking at Gonzalez and Lowrie for both the same and different reasons. Lowrie would probably provide more OB potential, as per the original post, but I'm really torn.

Maybe I'm whistling in the wind, or doing something else, but I'd sure love to see them bite the bullet, keep the payroll about the same, and bring in McCutchen, or possibly Brantley, and continue to build strength.

Side note: Concerning the OB issue, I think we've seen enough from Kepler and Polanco to believe that a full season from both, without suddenly, necessarily turning in to All Star caliber players, that either or both could raise the team OB.
    • BBAM likes this

 

The missing strategy seems to be "signed good help."

Fair enough, but my problem is that teams overpay guys who "should" be good help. Lance Lynn and Yu Darvish looked like solid bets and they weren't. This year, Patrick Corbin and Nathan Eovaldi look like good bets, and the Twins would be lauded if they gave Corbin $120M, but I doubt either of the two will live up to their contracts. I don't want move that will satisfy the crowd, I want deals that will actually improve the team. Even if it means making unpopular moves like picking up Anibal Sanchez.

    • DocBauer, ChrisKnutson and Original Whizzinator like this
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ChrisKnutson
Dec 03 2018 09:29 PM
I know Cutch, Brantley, and Markakis are more preferable options, but don’t count out a Denard Span reunion (.341 OBP in 2018). Not a flashy move, but a quality addition nonetheless. However, in order to make any kind of move like this possible, Kepler will likely have to play some 1B and Rosario will need to split time between LF and DH (perhaps 2B too).
    • DocBauer likes this

Fair enough, but my problem is that teams overpay guys who "should" be good help. Lance Lynn and Yu Darvish looked like solid bets and they weren't. This year, Patrick Corbin and Nathan Eovaldi look like good bets, and the Twins would be lauded if they gave Corbin $120M, but I doubt either of the two will live up to their contracts. I don't want move that will satisfy the crowd, I want deals that will actually improve the team. Even if it means making unpopular moves like picking up Anibal Sanchez.


I don't think Sanchez Is the right move, but I see your point.

This the "weirdest" off season I have ever seen. You appear to have a pair of record breaking contract players available. And it would appear you have a second level of guys looking at potentially big contracts. Most notably Evoldi and Corbin. And while each offers tantalizing opportunity, what are you banking on?
Potential in their late 20's after solid but not great careers thus far? HIGH upside but bad downside.

The FA list is very long for where the Twins need it most, infield and bullpen. And if they are smart, and maybe a bit lucky, as they were last year, they can pounce on a couple of guys, and then sign a couple guys to really friendly deals. Depth and opportunity seems to indicate this may happen.
    • ChrisKnutson likes this
Would anyone really have a problem with a guy who goes .745 OPS(splitting the difference between his Home vs. Away splits in his 2018 campaign) and plays Gold Glove defense at 2B??? It's not flashy but it gets the job done at 2B...sign Lemahieu and move on to the Bull Pen already.

In fairness, the whole league has been really, really slow.
 
Doesn't excuse inaction by the Twins, but it's hardly isolated at this point.

I know not much has officially happened but tons of predictions and talk and nothing the Twins are involved in.
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operation mindcrime
Dec 04 2018 01:22 AM
I'm sure we'll find it in a dumpster somewhere! :)

Would anyone really have a problem with a guy who goes .745 OPS(splitting the difference between his Home vs. Away splits in his 2018 campaign) and plays Gold Glove defense at 2B??? It's not flashy but it gets the job done at 2B...sign Lemahieu and move on to the Bull Pen already.


Why are you splitting the difference?
.673 career OPS away from Coors Field, .698 last year.
    • Twins33, Danchat and SF Twins Fan like this

Why are you splitting the difference?
.673 career OPS away from Coors Field, .698 last year.


Ok. Fine. I'm assuming for an uptick due to some potential adjustment and positive standard deviation. Let's say he OPSs .725? I think the Twins can live with that and his much needed Gold Glove on the right side of the infield. Although he doesn't have a high OPS away from Coors Field, he did hit 11 of his 15 home runs away from Coors Field last year. He had a much lower BA and walk rate away from Coors Field and that's why I believe he could make an appropriate adjustment.
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birdwatcher
Dec 04 2018 07:56 AM

 

78 wins in 2019?Wooooohooo. 

 

 

Only if they follow your suggestion and start the season with Rooker and Gordon in the lineup.

 

Segura has 4 years left and a 5th year option.

 

Then I'd do it. Can someone convince why not?