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Article: MIN 18, SEA 4: Sharks Eat Mariners

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Is it too early to talk about Twins 2019 All Stars?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 09:16 AM
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Article: Twins Minor League Report (5/18): Sands, Kernels...

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 09:16 AM
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Article: Could the Twins Be the New 2015 Royals?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 08:55 AM
Even though I'm not a Minnesotan, nor do I live in this beautiful state, I've been observing you guys for years. I see a lot of pessimism...
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Twins Blogosphere


Report From The Fort: Marwin Gonzalez Fixes A Problem. (We Just Don't Know Which One Yet.)

FORT MYERS - The Twins reported signing of Marwin Gonzalez is not a traditional free agent signing. But that’s why it works.

Gonazalez had a monster year in 2017 when the Astros won the World Series, putting up a .900+ OPS while playing a utility infield. The 29-year-old slid back to his previous form last year, but that was still good for a .733 OPS while playing literally every position but catcher.
Image courtesy of © Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
So he’s a really interesting player - a plus bat with extreme versatility - and going into the offseason, everyone kind of assumed that a team would sign him as a starting player in one of the many positions at which he has played. That’s the traditional way to sign a player. If you think of this signing through that lens, the signing doesn’t make a lot of sense.

The Twins already have a lineup full of mid .700 OPS players. Gonzalez bumping one of them is just redundant. And if you take a second look at Gonzalez’ skill set, it doesn’t match any of this team’s perceived needs. The team could use more on-base percentage, and Gonzalez helps with that a little, but he’s not Joe Mauer or even Robbie Grossman.

One could argue that he could be penciled in as a leadoff or top-of-the-order hitter, but he doesn’t complement Jorge Polanco’s skills as much as he matches them. And the Twins just signed Polanco to a five-year guaranteed contract last week. Why spend almost as much on a two-year deal with Gonzalez?

In short, he doesn’t fill an obvious need. So the traditional reason for signing Gonzalez doesn’t make a lot of sense.

But on second thought, it also doesn’t make sense for him to sign as a regular position player. Why would he want to strip away that trait which makes him truly valuable, his versatility? His value is that he can be a competent fill-in at any position. That is unique.

Most backups with that versatility can’t really hit. If they can hit, they can only back up one or two positions, which is great up until a different position is the one that gets hurt or struggles. Gonzalez provides an insurance policy for seven of the Twins regulars, including players who are trying to bounce back from tough seasons (Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Jonathan Schoop), trying to break through (Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler) or repeat career years (Eddie Rosario, CJ Cron).

His unique ability is to fill in for whichever spot becomes a problem as the season progresses. The Twins are not going to have seven success stories for those players. We’re Minnesota sports fans - we know there is going to be a problem. Gonzalez is the team’s “Get Out Of Trouble Free” card.

So don’t worry where he’s going to play. That problem will solve itself - as soon as there is another problem. He’ll play where he’s needed, when he’s needed, providing passable (or even good) defense and solid (sometimes spectacular) offense.

The Gonzalez signing isn’t a good signing just because the Twins spent some leftover money, or because they added some depth, or because it seems like a reasonable contract. It’s a great signing because it leverages what Gonzalez does best, while giving the Twins a head start on reacting to a long baseball season’s challenges.

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49 Comments

This signing seems to make some current player redundant. Who drops off the 25-man roster? I’ll wager Adrianza.

 

This signing seems to make some current player redundant. Who drops off the 25-man roster? I’ll wager Adrianza.

 

I think its between Adrianza and Cave.Cave is way more promising a player but Adrianza is the only real + glove shortstop on the team.I prefer Cave but they may want the defense.

    • Minny505 likes this
At this point, the 2019 Twins are 100% Based on rebounds from players to their 2017 forms. In order to have a successful club this yr.
Gibson , Rosario and maybe Berrios May are some examples that we're great in '18... But nearly everyone else, including the newcomers need to go back in time.

I have the White Sox 2nd in division right now:

Cleveland 89-73
Chicago. 84-78
Minnesota 82-80
Detroit. 75-87
K.c. 72-90

Dylan Cease and Eloy Jimenez are unfathomably good young players that can take the Rodons, Nova's and Erv Santana's to next level...

Kopech could help them Late season as well...

Also Chicago probably has best bullpen in division. If healthy , fairly easily.
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John Bonnes
Feb 23 2019 08:06 AM

 

This signing seems to make some current player redundant. Who drops off the 25-man roster? I’ll wager Adrianza.

 

I agree on this. I've seen some folks speculate that this makes it harder for Astudillo to make the roster, and it probably hurts him slightly. I still think Tyler Austin being out of options is the bigger issue there. 

 

But Adtrianza is screwed if everyone remains healthy. (That's always a big if.) Gonzalez takes all of his skills and adds a bat. The only way it doesn't affect Adrianza is if the Twins feel like Gonzalez defense at shortstop is not adequate.

 

    • PseudoSABR, DocBauer, dbminn and 2 others like this

Should be Astudillo if baseball is what's important (as opposed to keeping around a popular player). Adrianza gives them a real backup at SS. Gonzalez can play 7 positions OK. Cave can play 3. Adrianza can play 5. 

 

Astudillo has played 5, but C and 3B are really the only that he can be adequate at. And, remember the days when having a 3rd catcher was about the worst thing that Gardy could do? Ha!

 

Also of note... We're assuming a four-man bench but at some point they're likely to go to a 13-man pitching staff which means three bench spots. Taht's when it gets really interesting. 

    • DocBauer, dbminn and ewen21 like this

 

But Adtrianza is screwed if everyone remains healthy. (That's always a big if.) Gonzalez takes all of his skills and adds a bat. The only way it doesn't affect Adrianza is if the Twins feel like Gonzalez defense at shortstop is not adequate.

I just posted in the other thread that, by far, Gonzalez's biggest value to the Twins looks like 3B alternative to Sano. That's the spot where there is the most uncertainty and potential for terrible performance.

 

And it's not hard to imagine whole games or even stretches of games where the team doesn't want Sano at 3B, even in the early going, and they're probably going to want another "real" infielder on the roster. So I suspect Adrianza and his arbitration salary are relatively safe for now, although Torreyes has an option left and can be stashed at AAA.

 

I hope you're right that Astudillo still has a chance, though.

I just posted in the other thread that, by far, Gonzalez's biggest value to the Twins looks like 3B alternative to Sano. That's the spot where there is the most uncertainty and potential for terrible performance.

And it's not hard to imagine whole games or even stretches of games where the team doesn't want Sano at 3B, even in the early going, and they're probably going to want another "real" infielder on the roster. So I suspect Adrianza and his arbitration salary are relatively safe for now, although Torreyes has an option left and can be stashed at AAA.

I hope you're right that Astudillo still has a chance, though.

agreed, there are significant IF questions.

there are also significant outfield questions. My hunch is Granite comes off the 40 to make room for Gonzalez. Counting on Cave to repeat .800 OPS (or even .730) while sporting 30% k rate and 6% bb rate with only one season of showing any power seems foolish.

Buxton has been hurt every major league season. Rosario had his breakout, and has been known to leave his head in the clubhouse during games. Kepler seems on the verge of breaking out and has been the model of consistency. So 1 out of 4 is really reliable and one seems pretty close. Kepler is doomed to be injured for large stretches of 2019. That’s just how it works for Twins fans.

My guess is Cave, and Big Toe get stashed in AAA to start the season. Astudillo starts the season on the bench but gets sent down when a 8th reliever is needed, and if Polanco or Schoop get injured significantly, Big Toe comes up. Austin gets DFA’d and they’ll try to sneak him through waivers during the crush at the end of ST.
    • DocBauer likes this
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clutterheart
Feb 23 2019 09:20 AM
It seems to me like they just paid more money for Eduardo Escobar without fogo de chao sponsorship.
    • Sconnie, Dman and Minny505 like this
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MileHighTwinsFan
Feb 23 2019 09:40 AM

It seems to me like they just paid more money for Eduardo Escobar without fogo de chao sponsorship.


. . . And that’s a good thing. We know how many plate appearances Escobar got as the super utility player. I really don’t think Twins compete for AL Central without a player with Gonzalez’s ability on the roster. Adrianza is a stop gap for an injured player at best. Gonzalez allows starters to get regular rest and the option to fill in when one of them gets hurt. The lineup is not downgraded when Marwin is in the lineup.

Having a ring and the experience that goes along with it doesn’t hurt either.


    • birdwatcher, DocBauer, Vanimal46 and 3 others like this

 

At this point, the 2019 Twins are 100% Based on rebounds from players to their 2017 forms. In order to have a successful club this yr.
Gibson , Rosario and maybe Berrios May are some examples that we're great in '18... But nearly everyone else, including the newcomers need to go back in time.

I have the White Sox 2nd in division right now:

Cleveland 89-73
Chicago. 84-78
Minnesota 82-80
Detroit. 75-87
K.c. 72-90

Dylan Cease and Eloy Jimenez are unfathomably good young players that can take the Rodons, Nova's and Erv Santana's to next level...

Kopech could help them Late season as well...

Also Chicago probably has best bullpen in division. If healthy , fairly easily.

Kopech had TJ surgery on Sept. 19 of last year. He's not pitching for the White Sox this year.

 

It seems to me like they just paid more money for Eduardo Escobar without fogo de chao sponsorship.

 

That's mostly true. IMO, you have to look at the trade too. The Twins have:

 

2 yr Marwin + Jhoan Duran + Gabriel Maciel + Ernie de la Trinidad = 3 yr Escobar

 

= $21M

 

The Minnesota Fogo de Chao is a clear loser.

    • Dman and DannySD like this

It seems to me like they just paid more money for Eduardo Escobar without fogo de chao sponsorship.

That's my first reaction too. But - they did get a pretty good return in the form of prospects when they traded him. And it's far from a 100% chance that they could have signed him - he played pretty much as a regular for Arizona as a third-baseman, whereas at MN the evidence is pretty clear that he's viewed as a backup. Maybe he's been promised a starting 3B role for 2019 at Arizona. It might have taken nearly the same money as for Marwin, to convince Eduardo to sign an extension last July (or to lure him back as a free agent, which I think he never became). And, we do have those prospects.

 

I just worry that by mid-season there's going to be a lot of carping here about Marwin's fielding, unless he is confined to corner-defense duty. I haven't watched him and I could be wrong about that.

 

/ edit - I took too long typing, and basically repeated dbminn :)

    • dbminn likes this

Followup: ha, I brought up Eduardo Escobar's b-r.com page while checking something for the above post, and guess who shows up #2 in the Similarity Score career rankings, and #1 through age-29 seasons? Marwin. Small world. Maybe this was already been brought up?

    • Sconnie, dbminn, Minny505 and 1 other like this

 

Followup: ha, I brought up Eduardo Escobar's b-r.com page while checking something for the above post, and guess who shows up #2 in the Similarity Score career rankings, and #1 through age-29 seasons? Marwin. Small world. Maybe this was already been brought up?

Come to think of it, I've never seen Escobar and Gonzalez in the same place, at the same time....

    • ashbury, birdwatcher, diehardtwinsfan and 8 others like this

I think the Twins would have loved to have re-signed Escobar (and stayed out of the Marwin Sweepstakes), but AZ took advantage of their exclusive negotiating period and locked him down. But I like this deal for the Twins, especially as it's clear they're valuing Gonzalez for his versatility and not looking to him to lock down a particular starting role.

 

John has this absolutely right: Marwin solves a problem when one of their younger players doesn't take that next step, have that bounceback year, or someone has a significant injury. He sweeps up all these games and ABs from guys we really don't have any interest in playing too. If this means we're not giving ABs to guys like Petit, Field, or Motter...that's a good thing. It should mean we don't end up sliding Adrianza into LF or 1B either. It's game-day protection against the stupidity of having 13 pitchers too, which sadly will happen (and I maintain is a total waste) because you can shuffle Marwin in if someone comes off for an injury and feel good about wherever he plays.

 

You always want to be playing great players at as many positions as possible, but there's also significant value to not giving playing time to terrible players too. This move raises the floor for this team and buys nice insurance against bad slumps, injuries, or lack of development. I'm a fan. 

    • DocBauer, Minny505 and Original Whizzinator like this

 

Should be Astudillo if baseball is what's important (as opposed to keeping around a popular player). Adrianza gives them a real backup at SS. Gonzalez can play 7 positions OK. Cave can play 3. Adrianza can play 5. 

 

Astudillo has played 5, but C and 3B are really the only that he can be adequate at. And, remember the days when having a 3rd catcher was about the worst thing that Gardy could do? Ha!

 

 

 

Yeah but Austudillo is the only player that has an elite skill, he doesn't strike out much.He puts the ball in play better than almost anyone in baseball. Also he has decent power (800 OPS) and his BA was pretty darn good last year. Granted all in a small sample size but he played well this winter too.I don't think it is popularity that keeps him around but his skill set.  

 

So I'd argue the opposite of what you are.As a baseball decision he seems to be the best option out of all those guys to me.

 

I do agree first and third are really the only two positions he can play reasonably well defensively.Maybe catcher but the Twins don't seem to trust him much there.He is limited defensively but his offense has been really good so far.Find him a spot he can play and I think his ceiling is higher than any of the guys you listed.

    • Hosken Bombo Disco, DocBauer, Minny505 and 2 others like this

Come to think of it, I've never seen Escobar and Gonzalez in the same place, at the same time....

Yeah, those road trips to Houston and Eduardo's mysterious "visa problems" preventing him from making the flight... both from Venezuela... the pieces are starting to come together.

    • Danchat likes this
If Gonzales is passable in the corner outfield spots Cave could be the short term looser in this. With Kepler showing us last year that he’s not bad in center to spell Buxton, Gonzales could take the 4th outfielder roll as long as the three regulars are all healthy.

It seems like a lot of folks have written off Granite but going into training camp last year it appeared the 4th outfielder job was his to loose and he did through injury, not performance. While he didn’t perform great when he returned it seems like he was never fully healthy last season. Also, he is the best defensive outfielder in the system after Buxton. I would be surprised if the Twins dropped him from the 40 man. I suspect it will be a pitcher or Austin. I think the Twins are still interested in Austin but are clearly not ready to put a starting job on him and without that, and with Cruz, he has no roll on the 25 man and no options remaining.

I think Adrianza still has a role in this team as the backup who is good at short, but with a whole new school coaching staff that will surely use defensive positioning to maximize defensive production Gonzales might be a good enough backup.

Whoever gets dropped, I feel there is a good chance they won’t slide through waivers.
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stringer bell
Feb 23 2019 11:31 AM

Escobar and Gonzales are similar players, but Gonzales is more versatile. He played more 1B and LF than anything else last year. The lack of depth at second, short, and third in the high minors would mean trouble if Sano, Polanco or Schoop is injured or ineffective, it could be a season-killer. Marwin covers all of those spots and more and can be a platoon partner with anyone who struggles against same-side pitching. 

    • Sconnie, DocBauer, Vanimal46 and 2 others like this

 

Yeah but Austudillo is the only player that has an elite skill, he doesn't strike out much.He puts the ball in play better than almost anyone in baseball. Also he has decent power (800 OPS) and his BA was pretty darn good last year. Granted all in a small sample size but he played well this winter too.I don't think it is popularity that keeps him around but his skill set.  

 

So I'd argue the opposite of what you are.As a baseball decision he seems to be the best option out of all those guys to me.

 

I do agree first and third are really the only two positions he can play reasonably well defensively.Maybe catcher but the Twins don't seem to trust him much there.He is limited defensively but his offense has been really good so far.Find him a spot he can play and I think his ceiling is higher than any of the guys you listed.

I have to agree with Dman here. Prior to this move I thought there was really no chance Astudillo makes the roster if everyone is healthy on Opening Day. I'd say this raises his odds significantly. 

 

There is no need to carry Cave or Adrianza with Gonzalez on the 25 man. He can reliably play every position on the diamond except CF, which Kepler can do. That gives you the opportunity to start take Astudillo or Austin north with the squad. You'd still have Cave and Adrianza (if we elects to stay with the Twins) or Torreyes if you need to call someone up for a DL stint.

 

And this is more hypothesis than fact, but I wonder if Astudillo, because of his eye hand coordination, has a naturally high floor for fielding grounders and thrown balls (fly balls don't really require the same skill). Anyone ever seen a study on contact rate and fielding pct? (His range is still an issue of course)

    • Hosken Bombo Disco and Original Whizzinator like this
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sweetmusicviola16
Feb 23 2019 11:40 AM

 

Should be Astudillo if baseball is what's important (as opposed to keeping around a popular player). Adrianza gives them a real backup at SS. Gonzalez can play 7 positions OK. Cave can play 3. Adrianza can play 5. 

 

Astudillo has played 5, but C and 3B are really the only that he can be adequate at. And, remember the days when having a 3rd catcher was about the worst thing that Gardy could do? Ha!

 

Also of note... We're assuming a four-man bench but at some point they're likely to go to a 13-man pitching staff which means three bench spots. Taht's when it gets really interesting. 

What has made Astudillo popular? Could it be his .355 BA? This from a career .306 milb player. Could it be from the amazing plays he made as a C and a 3B? Could it be because he plays every play hard and with grit and determination? Could it be from his 0.8 WAR in a very short time of season for him?

 

I'll take Astudillo for the reasons I mentioned over Adrianza, Cave, Gonzalez, Austin and Cron any day. Perhaps he's only a flash in the pan. But perhaps he is better than a number of other players vying for a spot on the team and playing time. I don't think he should be denied a spot just because he is "popular" either.

    • Dman and DocBauer like this

The Twins signed a good backup/utility player without putting star talent in any of the starting positions. Congrats?

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RaymondLuxuryYacht
Feb 23 2019 01:09 PM

 

The Twins signed a good backup/utility player without putting star talent in any of the starting positions. Congrats?

Calling Marwin a "good backup/utility player" seems disingenuous/agenda driven to me. 

    • birdwatcher, gagu and Original Whizzinator like this
I love me some Marwin! Quality versatility is underrated.
    • dbminn likes this

 

Calling Marwin a "good backup/utility player" seems disingenuous/agenda driven to me. 

 

Whose agenda? What's the conspiracy here?

 

Backup = one that serves as a substitute or support.

utility player = one who can play several positions competently.

 

This seems exactly right.


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