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Game Thread: Twins @ Angels, 5/21/19, 9:07 CT

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Grading the Offseason

Posted by mike8791 , 23 February 2019 · 823 views

Now that Marwin is on board, thought it would be a good idea to review the Twins' grade for the 18/19 offseason. Prior to this latest move, I would have given the FO a solid C for their efforts to date. A very positive step was taken by the Cruz signing, estimably their biggest FA signing of the winter. Finally, the team has a bona fide DH. When is the last time we can say that?

Their signing of 2B Schoop also was a positive one, given his age and previous ML success, at least up until 2018. Who can object to a medium risk/high reward guy, especially when the Twins' 2018 2B production was so putrid. The fact that it was only a one year contract was also wise in that it doesn't block a Gordon or Lewis from making the 25 man roster should their minor league efforts demand it.

The Gonzalez signing is also a plus, given his versatility and offensive advantages over Adrianza. More importantly, he provides much needed insurance against another subpar season by Sano or Schoop. Plaudits to the FO on this one.

So why just a "C" grade? Good question. We can look at Cron and Parker's signings as positives but in reality they don't move the needle much, at least for me. Cron is nothing more than a journeyman who had one above average offensive year; likewise with Parker who at best is a middle inning filler in the bullpen, not the shutdown reliever needed.

But the real reason for a meh "C" Grade is that the FO has not filled the team's two biggest needs - a proven shutdown closer and a #1 0r 2 starter who would give the team a reasonable chance of winning a playoff game. The bullpen need is the most glaring in that everyone currently on the roster is either inexperienced or coming off a shaky 2018 season. As currently constructed, this is a high risk collection that gives no assurance of any improvement over last year's mediocre group. Yes, it seems a no-brainer would be the addition of Craig Kimbel to fill the closer role. Such an addition would move the offseason grade up to a "B". That's how critical the gap is now. Bewilderingly, the FO is playing coy, again waiting for the price to fall to a bargain bin level. The Twins are fortunate one dominant reliever remains unsigned. It would be a dereliction of duties not to get this done!

And yes, even in the unlikely event that Kimbrel signs with the Twins(and let's be clear, he is the only one left who would move the needle), the Twins offseason grade would still be no higher than a B. Why? Because their rotation is average at best - loaded with question marks. Berrios has not proven to be an ace, Gibson is a #3 at best, Odorizzi and Pineda are big question marks, and the #5 spot is a crap shoot. With Romero slated for the bullpen(perhaps the offseason's biggest disappointment) the team has no promising pitcher in the high minors who might be considered a future ace.

Falvey/Lavine indicated earlier in the fall that, with the improvement in their minor league system, they would be inclined to look to the trade market rather than FA to fill some holes. Well, that ship seems to have sailed! No, free agency did not offer much(I'm looking at you Dallas) but there were some possible trade candidates who might have been pried loose given an attractive package of prospects. True, this is all speculation for now, but the FO if really intending to be playoff-bound needed to take some bold moves here and didn't. We can only hope the team will somehow rebound, be in contention at the trade deadline and be unafraid to pull the trigger to acquire a top-of-the rotation starter, like Greinke, Baumgartner, Thor, Wheeler, even Snell, if these teams are noncontenders.

I am not too hopeful that this FO will take these two necessary steps but, like with the Marwin signing, here's hoping they have a few surprises in store. If so, it would be a refreshing break from the mediocrity we have come to expect from the Twins' organization over the past 27 years!

  • blindeke likes this



Well thought out, well written. In brief, I am going to disagree with your grade. I am calling it a solid B to B+ grade. Selfishly, I won't go in to specifics as I have a long explanation why that I any be doing as a post so I can get a lot of people to disagree with me. Lol

Thanks Doc!Read your post and agree with your main contention that the Twins FO does not really know who this team is yet.Sano and Buxton's regression last year threw a big monkey wrench into the rebuild.No doubt!

 

But here is where we diverge.An agressive FO would look at the offseason as an opportunity to fill glaring holes in an effort to improve the team, no matter what Sano/Buxton do going forward.They did this to some extent with the Cruz signing(their most positive move), somewhat less so with Marwin's addition(less so because all he really does is replace Escobar), and just a maybe with Cron and Schoop, both of whom are hardly established major leaguers, though with some intriguing upside.So give them a B to B+ grade on the offensive side.

 

But as you point out their biggest weakness is the bullpen and the single addition of Parker, released by a very ordinary Angel's team, hardle answers the question of who will close out games.Yes, there are some potential closers on the roster, but all with big question marks.One might emerge, but how many blown saves will occur until that situation is resolved?Robertsomn or Kimbrel would have filled the void without endangering future years' budgets.Without such a proven closer, Twins' chances to contend for the Central Title still look like a long shot.

 

And even with the addition of such a proven closer, what could we expect with the Twins' rotation in a playoff series?Berrios is simply not an ace.Just look at his record against plus .500 teams last year.Not very assuring for big game success.The Twins needed to add an ace and given their "talk" months ago of using their stronger minor league system to package some top prospects to a rebuilding team, I was hopeful they could pull something off.But they chose to play conservative and as you say their one new starter, Perez, is a slap in the face to Twin fans hopeful of taking a big step forward in 2019.

 

Hence, my overall grade of a C.Their passivity in waiting to see what they have is more than frustrating.Why not take advantage of their salary flexibility and add some impact players who could vault this team into real contention, no matter what Sano/Buxton accomplish.They fortified the lineup, have enough bench strength now to fill the holes Sano and Buxton could be again, and just think what their playoff chances would be if even one of these two produced as expected in 2019?This is not farfetched even without a Machado and/or Harper(I never would support such huge long term contracts anyway).My argument is that this FO is risk averse(probably a reflection of ownership's own passivity in going all out to win) and thus, destined to plod along in the dreaded middle of the pack without a good chance to compete with the big boys.This is unacceptable to us Twin fans who still remember the thrill of 1987/1991.Why is mediocrity so acceptable in the Twin Cities.It would never be tolerated here in Chicago!

Solid B from me.Could use 1 more veteran reliever.If this includes the changes to the coaching staff too I would bump it up to B+.

 

Thanks Doc!Read your post and agree with your main contention that the Twins FO does not really know who this team is yet.Sano and Buxton's regression last year threw a big monkey wrench into the rebuild.No doubt!

 

But here is where we diverge.An agressive FO would look at the offseason as an opportunity to fill glaring holes in an effort to improve the team, no matter what Sano/Buxton do going forward.They did this to some extent with the Cruz signing(their most positive move), somewhat less so with Marwin's addition(less so because all he really does is replace Escobar), and just a maybe with Cron and Schoop, both of whom are hardly established major leaguers, though with some intriguing upside.So give them a B to B+ grade on the offensive side.

 

But as you point out their biggest weakness is the bullpen and the single addition of Parker, released by a very ordinary Angel's team, hardle answers the question of who will close out games.Yes, there are some potential closers on the roster, but all with big question marks.One might emerge, but how many blown saves will occur until that situation is resolved?Robertsomn or Kimbrel would have filled the void without endangering future years' budgets.Without such a proven closer, Twins' chances to contend for the Central Title still look like a long shot.

 

And even with the addition of such a proven closer, what could we expect with the Twins' rotation in a playoff series?Berrios is simply not an ace.Just look at his record against plus .500 teams last year.Not very assuring for big game success.The Twins needed to add an ace and given their "talk" months ago of using their stronger minor league system to package some top prospects to a rebuilding team, I was hopeful they could pull something off.But they chose to play conservative and as you say their one new starter, Perez, is a slap in the face to Twin fans hopeful of taking a big step forward in 2019.

 

Hence, my overall grade of a C.Their passivity in waiting to see what they have is more than frustrating.Why not take advantage of their salary flexibility and add some impact players who could vault this team into real contention, no matter what Sano/Buxton accomplish.They fortified the lineup, have enough bench strength now to fill the holes Sano and Buxton could be again, and just think what their playoff chances would be if even one of these two produced as expected in 2019?This is not farfetched even without a Machado and/or Harper(I never would support such huge long term contracts anyway).My argument is that this FO is risk averse(probably a reflection of ownership's own passivity in going all out to win) and thus, destined to plod along in the dreaded middle of the pack without a good chance to compete with the big boys.This is unacceptable to us Twin fans who still remember the thrill of 1987/1991.Why is mediocrity so acceptable in the Twin Cities.It would never be tolerated here in Chicago!

I, too, remember fondly 1987/1991 Twins teams. But you must also remember that those teams were also seriously flawed, but the Twins prevailed to win the WS. In 1991, the Twins brought in Chili Davis, who had been having less than stellar seasons leading up to 1991, and then turned in a career year. Jack Morris, too, had been less than stellar in the previous few seasons, but he also turned in a career year that season. They traded for Steve Bedrosian, but he was far from a major contributor. And lastly, of course, Chuck Knoblauch was a rookie that year at second base and turned in a key performance.

What do you suppose the Twins were given as a chance to win the World Series either one of those 2 seasons when the season began? Probably not much.

Agree that '87 was more of a fluke BUT MacPhail added some key players prior to the season: Jeff Reardon, Juan Berenguer, Dan Gladden, and Al Neumann - each of whom filled some serious holes in their lineup.Would this team have won 85 games without these additions?Very doubtful.Just look at Reardon's and Berenguer's contributions.They were the bullpen.This was by no means a great Twins team, just one that gelled at the right time!

 

After seeing a discouraging last place finish in 1990, MacPhail could have sat on his hands in the offseason; instead, he went out and signed Jack Morris and Chili Davis.Presto, the Twins had their DH and #1 starter added to their core.Didn't hurt that two rookies - Knoblach and Erickson - performed at an all star level.This was a very solid team with three strong starters, outstanding bullpen(remember Carl Willis was an off-season pickup who anchored the bullpen) and strong lineup with very few holes.No, they would not have been preseason favorites but certainly expectations were much higher after these key additions.

 

Are there lessons here for Falvine?I guess that depends on your assessment of the current lineup, but to me an addition like Morris and Reardon would make this team much more competitive than the current roster.Yes, it would be some leap of faith to expect one or two more additions to move the needle considerably, but thatdid not stop MacPhail from pouncing when the opportunity arose.

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howieramone2
Feb 26 2019 02:19 PM

I give them a B. Brought in 3.75 regulars, didn't touch our farm system and still have money to maneuver at the deadline. 

I am going to give them an "A" just as soon as they sign Dallas Keuchel AND Craig Kimbrel.Yes I am a wishful thinker.But they have the money to spend.Do they have the desire to win? This would put them in position to have a solid chance in the playoffs and the favorite to win the division. "Dreeeaaamer!"

 

We have the deepest bench I've seen since I became a fan in 87 at the age of 12. We also have 6 starters in the majors and several more in AAA waiting for an opportunity. It would be helpful to make our pen deeper with a Kimbral signing. As that would make the rotation situation justifiable. Our offense is deep with lots of options in case we loose 6 everyday starters again. Plus we still have a deep system for trade, development and to fill in for injuries. Not bad. But great if we get the Kimbral.