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Are the Twins Flipping 9 Coins in 2019?

Posted by jtkoupal , 18 December 2018 · 1,395 views

The offseason has been slow thus far for the Twins. The only notable additions have been Jonathan Schoop, C.J. Cron, and Ronald Torreyes. There have been some rumblings about Nelson Cruz heading to Minnesota in 2019, but thus far, no notable additions have been made. If the season started today, Minnesota's lineup would look something like this:

C: Jason Castro
1B: C.J. Cron
2B: Jonathan Schoop
SS: Jorge Polanco
3B: Miguel Sanó
LF: Eddie Rosario
CF: Byron Buxton
RF: Max Kepler
DH: Tyler Austin

Looking up and down that lineup, there are reasons for optimism. There is also plenty of room for concern. There are no sure bets in that lineup. The Twins are hoping for a lot of breakthroughs, and they will need to happen in order for the Twins offense to be competitive in 2019.

Jason Castro is not an offensive catcher, but catcher has become a starved offensive position in Major League Baseball. He has a career wRC+ of 92, very similar to his 2017 mark of 93. Castro only played in 19 games last year, so a return to health would be huge for the Twins. That being said, it's far from a guarantee that he will be healthy and productive. Castro could be the first of many coin flips in the Twins lineup next season.

C.J. Cron is a solid player who jacked 30 homers for the Rays in 2018 while posting a wRC+ of 122. However, his OBP was pretty low at .323 and his career wRC+ is only 111. It's possible that playing in the AL East boosted his power numbers. Cron is a decent player, but it would be hard to count on him being more than just decent.

Jonathan Schoop belted 32 for Baltimore in 2017, but the total dipped to just 21 bombs in 131 games in 2018. The Twins are taking a chance on Schoop, hoping he regains his 2017 form. If this is starting to sound familiar, I promise it's not going to get any better. The Twins are flipping a coin with Schoop, hoping he bounces back and fills the void left by Brian Dozier at Second Base.

Jorge Polanco had an underrated half-season in 2018. He put up 1.3 WAR despite missing the first 80 games due to suspension. I believe Polanco may be destined for Second Base in the future, and I don't imagine him being a star offensive player, but for now, he will be close to average at shortstop defensively while putting up a decent OBP (such as the .345 he posted in 2018).

Miguel Sanó might be the most frustrating player the Twins have had in recent years. Not just because of his underperformance in 2018, but also due to the continuing questions about his character and drive. It is likely that his poor fitness affected his performance last year. It is difficult to be optimistic about his future with the information we have now.

Eddie Rosario was an elite player in the second half of 2017 through the first half of 2018. Unfortunately, his production fell off a cliff after that (wRC+ of just 64 in the second half, compared to 137 in the first half, and 127 in the second half of 2017). Hopefully, his dip was due to injuries and he will be ready to go. However, it is not out of the question that he crashed back to earth after about a year of elite production.

Byron Buxton is much like Miguel Sanó from the standpoint that they have been counting on him since 2012 to resurrect the franchise. I am not comparing Buxton's character and work-ethic to Sanó's, but I am comparing their importance to the franchise. Buxton has had a calamity of injuries and has struggled to gain any consistency on offense. His defense is never in question, but the career wRC+ of 76 and the piling injuries is legitimate cause for concern now that he is almost four years into his Major League career.

Max Kepler has the organization, and fan base, in purgatory almost as much as any other player. We keep waiting. And Waiting. And Waiting. But the breakout hasn't happened. He has a hot streak, like he did to start 2018. Then he sleepwalks. Then he has a miserable month. Then he heats up. Then he sleepwalks again. Kepler isn't going to put up a 147 wRC+ every month (April 2018), but he needs to avoid the 28 wRC+ month (June 2018). Sooner or later, some consistency is necessary.

Tyler Austin may be the odd man out if the Twins do land Nelson Cruz, who would be huge for this lineup. It's possible the Twins will find somebody else for 1B/DH anyhow. That being said, if the season started today, it is likely that Austin would get the bulk of the workload at DH. Austin has talent, but he is probably a platoon player at best.

I'm not trying to be too much of a cynic, but it is hard to look at the lineup and be too optimistic about everything going right. A lot has to go in the Twins favor for this offense, as it is today, to be competitive in 2019. Falvine has their work cut out for them, time to spend a few bucks (or maybe a few more).

  • LA VIkes Fan, mikelink45, Dman and 3 others like this



I don't disagree with the coin flip analogy at all. That said you could be short a few coins, since no pitchers were included. But, is it time for Falvine to dig up some of JP's coffee cans full of moldy cash? Despite the last paragraph your OP would indicate it is not. If, as opined all these guys are coin flips, exactly what would Jims money be spent on? And after you bought some expensive replacements, what does one do with their predecessor? Trading a "coin flip" will not bring a return, and one doesn't release players like this. I think, through no fault of their own, Falvine is stuck with an evaluation year, yet again. Injuries to Castro, Sano, and Buxton all bear individual tales of woe. They need a last chance? Replacements have been purchased at 1B and 2B. It would be foolish to trade Rosario for a poor half season, especially after keeping Dozier for 4 years. Rosario will end up being more consistent than Dozier in all likelihood. That leaves you upgrading right field with an offensive player over a defensive one. and if there is one thing MN does not need, it's one less glove. Someone in the OF is going to have to chase down all the ground balls that filter through that IF sieve!
    • mikelink45, jtkoupal and tarheeltwinsfan like this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Dec 19 2018 07:41 PM

yeah I'm not optimistic either. I do think you're being hard on Kepler.

    • jtkoupal and dbminn like this

I think the infield will be closer to average defensivly than you think.Schoop is a quality defender and Polanco at SS and Cron a 1b are around average.Sano is a little below, but not enough to say it is a black hole, like the Yankees with Adjuhar and a few others.  

I do feel like you this club is closer to feast or famine, that is not good, since most times with this lineup a quality starter will be able to shut them down.We are all waiting for money to be spent, but do not think it will be this year.  

Rather than a coin flip I see a lot of young players with a chance to break out and a few guys that had either some injury issues or hopefully just a temporary letdown in there production with a chance to be corrected. But I think they need to find out who can step up before they start attempting to plug any holes. And I think we could perhaps see Tyler Austin in the OF if someone such as Cruz is signed to DH. Austin's bat could be a big factor against LHP, and set either Kepler or Rosario early in games.

I think there is a lot to be worked out as far as roles on the pitching staff. I don't look to see very many outside arms coming in. I think they are comfortable looking to see what they have.

 

 

I don't think its fair to say CJ Cron's .323 OBP was "pretty low."MLB average was .318 in 2018.

 

yeah I'm not optimistic either. I do think you're being hard on Kepler.

You may be correct. I do still have faith in Kepler, I think he has plenty of talent. I'm just saying that it is important that he takes a step forward at the plate. His defense was much better in 2018, but he has been the same offensive player since 2016. 

 

I don't disagree with the coin flip analogy at all. That said you could be short a few coins, since no pitchers were included. But, is it time for Falvine to dig up some of JP's coffee cans full of moldy cash? Despite the last paragraph your OP would indicate it is not. If, as opined all these guys are coin flips, exactly what would Jims money be spent on? And after you bought some expensive replacements, what does one do with their predecessor? Trading a "coin flip" will not bring a return, and one doesn't release players like this. I think, through no fault of their own, Falvine is stuck with an evaluation year, yet again. Injuries to Castro, Sano, and Buxton all bear individual tales of woe. They need a last chance? Replacements have been purchased at 1B and 2B. It would be foolish to trade Rosario for a poor half season, especially after keeping Dozier for 4 years. Rosario will end up being more consistent than Dozier in all likelihood. That leaves you upgrading right field with an offensive player over a defensive one. and if there is one thing MN does not need, it's one less glove. Someone in the OF is going to have to chase down all the ground balls that filter through that IF sieve!

I agree with you. They are stick in limbo to some extent with the offense. However, adding Cron and Schoop just seems they are dumpster diving, and I think the division is too winnable for that. Ultimately, my opinion is meaningless and they know more than I do, but it's hard to look at these moves and not get the impression that they aren't trying to capitalize on a weak division, like they attempted to do last year.

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Thebigalguy
Dec 22 2018 10:05 AM

Thanks for the post. I agree that a lot must go right for improvement at the plate, but hey, with the exception of Rosario and maybe one or two others, the bar isn't set very high right now. I also think the lineup will change with one or more additions before spring training. Buxton is 25. Look what the Yankees did for Hicks. Maybe the new staff will do likewise for Byron. Sano's allegedly getting and staying in shape over the winter, which should help him stay healthy. A breakthrough year for Kepler isn't unthinkable. My bigger worry without Mauer and Grossman is consistency and OBP. You need them on base to knock them in. If they can plate 5 or 6 runs, they can win some games with the pitching staff they'll have. I don't see them winning a lot of 2-1 games, though I prefer to be optimistic until proven otherwise.

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Lee-The-Twins-Fan
Dec 22 2018 01:18 PM

Yes, we need a higher OBP guy who can hit and field. I think Falvey and co. will add that player in January. I like Nelson Cruz, but I suspect he will go elsewhere.

 

We do need a marque name to help promote the team. The unpredictability of this lineup - which is, I believe, the premise of this story – makes me want to get a really good player. The Twins have the pieces to move around - it could be a hitter who plays almost any position. Pieces can be moved. But I think the author is right in that Tyler Austin will be the odd man headed to the bench.

 

The other problem with this whole scenario is that one or two injuries will really derail the season, unless we have guys in the minors who can take over.

I am bothered by the fact that we did not get good players to challenge these young position players.I am not bothered by having too much talent, but I sure do not like having too little. Our team has a lot to prove - including our new second baseman.I know we can tell about Schoops big year in Baltimore.Brady Anderson had a big year too - he hit 50 HRs in 1991 and 150 home runs over the other 14 years.Schoop had 32 in 2017 and 78 total for the other 5 years.Those career years get a lot of attention, but they are not the true player.  

 

You might add a coin for Garver too - will he be the player that he was last year or are we cursed with another concussion.