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Twins Can Capitalize on Remaining Schedule

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 09 July 2018 · 902 views

minnesota twins nick gordon mitch garver alan busenitz jake cave
Entering play on July 9, the Minnesota Twins playoff odds sit at just 1.1%. With the sweep of the Baltimore Orioles, the numbers have jumped up from the 0.4% entering the series. At this point of the season however, the writing is on the wall. Paul Molitor's squad is going nowhere, and the focus should turn to process more significantly than results. While the win total may be meaningless at the end, using the slate of games ahead for good is a must.

Going into 2018, there was plenty of optimism surrounding this Twins team. They were coming off a Wild Card game, added more talent, and had another year of development for their young stars. What was also apparent, is that the amount of one-year deals and expiring contracts would allow the club to retool again in 2019. This version won't have a postseason berth to jump off of next year, but the window for opportunity remains open. For the Twins to capitalize on it, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine need to do a much better job utilizing the 25 man roster than they have thus far.

For starters, the lineup should begin to reflect players with a future being prioritized. It took far too long for a superior player in Jake Cave to get real run over a retread like Ryan LaMarre. Mitch Garver clearly has a capable bat, but he's still sitting far too often behind the inept Bobby Wilson. Cave is a 25 year old fringe prospect that could be a nice 4th outfielder and take over Robbie Grossman's role. Garver has concerns behind the plate, but if the feeling is that he can't catch, opportunities should be found at first base. Going into 2019 without a clear idea of what sort of contributions these two are capable of would be a mistake.

Despite the Twins pitching staff having been a significant area of improvement this season, there's going to be a good deal of turnover next year. Zach Duke and Fernando Rodney are on one year deals, while Lance Lynn is an expiring contract as well. Those guys are all trade candidates, but even if they aren't moved, it's a decent assumption they won't be back. Instead of letting someone like Matt Belisle eat innings, relievers such as John Curtiss, Alan Busenitz, Trevor May, Tyler Duffey, and Jake Reed should all make major league appearances.

In the rotation, the Twins will return Jose Berrios and Fernando Romero for certain. Ervin Santana has a year left on his deal, but at this point, can't be counted on. Minnesota can offer Jake Odorizzi arbitration, and Kyle Gibson falls in that group as well. The depth in the rotation remains strong, but finding out who else can rise to the top should be a goal. Zack Littell should return for some consecutive starts that allow him to be comfortable rather than nervous, and Stephen Gonsalves should make his debut for an extended period as well. Getting the jitters out and accomplishing the acclimation process now would be a good idea.

At some point, the Twins should promote Nick Gordon. The 22 year old put up a .906 OPS this season for Double-A Chattanooga. Since moving up to Triple-A Rochester, he's posted just a .609 mark in 45 games. The next level has seen pretty poor results, and that should provide plenty of reason for caution. That said, the Twins are almost certainly going to let Brian Dozier walk this offseason, and Gordon would be expected to then take over. He may not win the job out of spring training, but I'd assume the goal is to have him in the big leagues by June 2019. Using a month of games that don't matter could be a very good way for him to get his feet wet.

Really what it all boils down to is that the front office learn something from what's left. While trying to stay in it, many of the roster moves have trended towards lower ability players that bring an off the field aspect to the clubhouse. With poor performance and injuries having mounted, it's hard to suggest that a different story could have been told even with the most optimal roster decisions. At this point however, the Twins are presented with a desirable situation for future performance.

No one should be expecting a rebuild in Minnesota any time soon, and the division sets up nicely to go for it again next year. Bringing in new parts from the free agent market, and pairing them with internal talent could very likely produce optimal results. As we've seen this season however, there's no guarantees from players within your organization, and even less so with fresh faces. Figuring out who you may be able to promote and count on now, could save a lot of face down the road.

It's common sense that Minnesota will win plenty more games in 2018. It's also a fair suggestion that when the dust settles they won't matter at all. What level of development, process, and groundwork is laid for the future will be the takeaway from this year. It's time to shift the focus to that level of thinking, and hopefully we see the decisions from the top to mimic that sentiment.

For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz

The Twins have three choices:


Keep players, play out the season and their contracts, allow them to walk, get nothing in return, and maybe see some September callups with minimal playing time. )We should all remember the returns the Twins got when Nathan, Cuddyer and Hunter walked instead of signing with the Twins, all could've ben dealt in-season with something coming back).


Choice number two is to explore trades. The problem here is that a team needs the talent the Twins have to offer, and are they willing to pay for that talent. Except for Escobar, and maybe Gibson and Odorizzi, the majority of playrs the Twins have to offer are role or bench guys who would only see playing time if a contending team comes up with an injury. And maybe some bullpen arms would add veteran depth going into post season play. But the return would be minimal for the few bodies that might attract a suitor (unless it is Gibson or Escobar), the Twins would get some salary relief, although they might have to eat some to get rid of the player/s, and someone new could come up from the minors and get some field time.


Likely scenario is number three. The Twins flood the waiver wire come August 1 andthey allow a gaggle of players to be claimed, getting nothing in return but salary relief, as well as the opportunity to play the future.


Now who should the Twins say so long, goodbye and who can replace.


Bobby WIlson catching. You'd think anyone in the system (at Rochester) could replace him, as well as maybe WIllians. ANy reason not to work Garver harder behind the plate? Remember, Cstro will be returning in 2019 and the Twins won't let him walk away...as he does have skills working with pitchers.


Joe Mauer and Logan Morrison. The 1B and DH place. Joe is in a swan song. Yes, he is a Minnesota boy. Sad if he ends his career similar to Killebrew in a one-stop in a flyover town (or a playoff bound team). But his time has come. Morrison contributed, barely. Argue with me that you may not get equal results from the bats of Sano and Vargas holding down these positions, and even an early advancement of Rooker could pay better dividens that Morrison this season (shades of Chris "remember my hot September" Parmelee)


Dozier needs to go. Can Gordon replicate his average, his base running? Most likely. Maybe a bit less power, but Polanco might just shine. And if all else fails, you move Polanco to second and have Adrianza at short for the remainder of the season, with Motter as the backup infielder. But give Gordon some reps in the big league level. See if he is hungry, if he listens and learns.


Now Escobar is the elephant in the room. You need to keep him. He is shining at third, putting up comparable numbers of leaue average and showing THIS is his position. Unfortunately, he is not worth a qualifying offer. You have to ask "is he worth a 2-3 year extension" and for how much. Do you trade and tread water, return Sano to the bag, bring up someone like Leonardo Reginalto or Petit to finish the season? Tough call. You want to reward the guy, but is anyone else going to do that, and can you get some unexpected riches from him leaving the team in a trade and then approaching him for a return in 2019?


Cave is holidng his own. Can Buxton do as well as Kepler? Or, Grossman. I think Grossman, for sure. You keep Buxton down on the farm as long as Cave hits. If you need to replace Grossman, if someone comes knocking for his services or claims him in August, you give Zack Granite one more looksee. Granite is either in the mix for 2018 or a 40-man removal.


The rotation. You let Lynn go. When Santana comes back, you let anyone claim him, too. Maybe get back some organizational depth. But better to play out two rotation positions for most of august and maybe add a third (and go with a six-man rotation) come September. Littell, Goncalves, Mejia are hungry. May is in the wings. Pineada may be sparking a comeback. Heck, you could even give Thorpe a start!


If the bullpen was minus Rodney and Duke and Reed, can you be served by Curtiss, Moya, Jake Reed, Busenitz, and maybe Duffey and a couple of 40-man ads like Nick Anderson and Luke Bard. I think so. I think they will produce. But besiddes Rodney MAYBE bringing back some good returns, and maybe REED because he ahs another year on a contract, you are basically getting rid of age for salary relief.


You have to make a strong decision on Rogers and Duffey for keeping on the 40-man and in the organization.


Yes, I think the Twins COULD replace numerous parts of their 25-man roster with guys currently in the minors who would produce on par with the players they are replacing. Maybe even better, if they are hungry for major league work.


The Twins would be well served to NOT block future looks. They would get back umpteen millions in payroll. The guys leaving really wouldn't be missed...including, sadly, Joe Mauer.


Garver C

Vargas 1B

Polanco 2B

Gordon SS

Escobar 3B

Kepler/Cave RF

Buxton CF

Rosario LF

Vargas DH
















Jake Reed




(man, you got too many already)




a catcher

one of he four ourfielders


Rooker comes into the mix in September

so does LaMonte Wade





Nice post. But when I saw the headline, I thought it was another "if we play enough lousier teams than us, we can catch Cleveland". And as this recent run demonstrates, that horrid possibility could occur. Even if they simply clean up on this current stretch before the ASG puts the Twins in a position which makes all of your conjectures above irrelevant. They then become tweeners. Too good to sell, too bad to buy, and probably to afraid to evaluate. That may fit somes rose colored glasses of competitiveness, to me it makes a poor team simply a longer term poor team. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.