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Earth to Falvey: The Window is Wide Open

Posted by mike8791 , 03 May 2019 · 1,497 views

Most of us gnashed our teeth this past offseason when we heard the new team's philosophy that there is no reason to go all in until "the window is open". I say gnashed out teeth because many of us asked the question: how do you open the window wider without adding significant outside talent?

But Falvine stubbornly held the course by passing on virtually every available free agent reliever, despite a woefully undermanned existing bullpen. Surprising to many the Twins got off to a great start, sitting on top of the AL Central by 3 games, 9 games over .500. Hard to criticize the FO now, but looking a bit beyond the results to date, there are certainly some hurdles to overcome if the Twins have hopes of sustaining this early season success.

The batting order has been robust, as hoped, with the new additions filling serious holes in the lineup. Add in positive starts by Polanco, Kepler, Buxton, Garver and the Turtle, one can see why the Twins have been in the top tier of lineups, particularly slugging. With Sano's expected return in a week or so, this lineup should remain in the top 5 in the AL for quite some time. No obvious needs now for supplementing the lineup.

The rotation has been good, as well. Berrios has elevated his game like we all hoped, Odorizzi has made a sizable jump over last year's lackluster season, Gibson seems to be rounding into shape(though we'll hold our breath until he achieves more positive results against top lineups), and Perez has been the most pleasant surprise of all - so kudos to the FO for the results to date. The problem is the team is one major injury away from going from a respectable rotation to a below-average one. Pineda has proven unreliable and there is certainly no one at Rochester who can step in and contribute. Let's face it : Twins' home grown phenoms have phlubbed badly so far - Gonzales, Romero, Stewart. Others expected to provide depth like Mejia, Littell have pretty much fallen on their faces at the big league level. It would be naive, to say the least, to think the Twins have a deep enough rotation to sustain this success over an entire season.

Then we come to the bullpen, a widely recognized(except by the Wonder Boys) achilles heel of the 2019 club. After 29 games in the season, the bullpen has largely held together, but can we expect this to continue thru the long summer months? Looking at the pen realistically, only Rogers seems to have continued to solidify his late-inning role. Parker has been good but the jury is still out on a guy DFAed by a woeful Angels club. Hildenberger has looked like an ace at times, and yet his poor inherited runners scored averages still raises doubt as to his long term dependability. May has been a disappointment and while Harper has looked good, his peripherals are shaky and one doubts whether he could be counted on in the heat of a pennant race. As seen by the revolving door with Rochester, no one else has shown any promise, nor is there anyone on the AAA roster who looks capable of providing needed relief. Amazing how badly this organization has whiffed on their drafted pitchers!

In summary, April has been a pleasant surprise and has obviously opened our window for contention a bit wider than expected. But the major development in the first 30 games has been the Indians' injury problems, especially in their starting staff. No team can sustain losses of a Kluber and Clevinger without a falloff in performance. Their bullpen was not reinforced over the winter(sound familiar), nor was their lineup improved. It is pretty obvious that the AL Central is ripe for the plucking, especially with the continued rebuilding by the Sox, Tigers, and Royals.

So Mr. Falvey, the window is wide open! What are you going to do about it? In baseball, as well as in war, if your opponent is down, you don't go into a defensive shell and hope to hang on. This is the time to capitalize on their misfortune and try to bury them! While it is early in the season, the FO should be planning to go full throttle as soon as possible. First, by trade or by signing, they need to add at least two late-inning relievers to slot at or above Rogers. Obviously, Kimbrel is still available, but at this point, most teams are in a waiting mode until the June draft, after which Kimbrel will not cost a draft choice. Then, let the bidding begin. A far more proactive approach would be to use some of our surplus(outfielders, catchers, lower level minor league prospects) to pry loose one or two relievers from obvious non-contenders. All it takes is resolve and ability to take some risks. Better sooner rather than later if we want to build on our lead rather than tread water. Failure to bolster the bullpen will almost surely result in the FO's early season prophecy of the window not being open yet to come true.

And after (hopefully) addressing the pen issues, the FO will figure out a way to pry loose a veteran starter who can slot into the #1 position in the rotation. This is important not only to guard against a lack of depth but also provide the team a much better chance of succeeding in the playoffs(think back to 1991 to remember what that feels like). There are pitchers like Greinke, Baumgartner, Stroman, perhaps Thor or Wheeler who will be available as we approach the trading deadline. All it takes is an agressiveness on the part of Falvey to pull the trigger, trade one or two of our top prospects(in a pretty deep system, at least at lower levels) and give this team a chance to go well into October, for the first time in almost 30 years.

It's time, Mr. Falvey. You've made a lot of progress but don't sit on your laurels. The window of contention is now wide open! Do something!!!




I disagree that we need two or more relievers that are at least as good as Rogers (who is one of the best relievers out there).

 

In reality we need someone to step up and fill the last 2 spots with something resembling average output.Maybe Reed, Moya, Magill, Morin, Romero or someone else will eventually do that.It is likely we pursue relievers in July but its not a life or death situation where we need to overhaul the bullpen ASAP. 

 

I would say wait until July and reassess our needs then.With the best record in the AL and seemingly no challengers for the division there is no dire need to do anything until the deadline.

    • wallyrichards and IAMNFan like this

Thanks for your response! I agree there is no dire need now, but good managment necessitates looking ahead and with the window now wide open, this is what a proactive FO should be doing.

 

Yes, it's early(though 20% of season is gone), but certain obvious trends have emerged, not the least of which is an erratic bullpen.The stronger than expected rotation, supplemented by one of the most robust lineups in the league, have tended to mask some troubling trends in the bullpen.No doubt it has been okay, but that won't be enough in the heat of a pennant race.Guys like Rogers will run down if overused and no one else(with the possible exception of Parker) has been consistent, especially in late innings.I've had tp hold my breath every time Hildy or May come in, and they are the best of the rest.

 

No, for sustained success, this team needs two more shutdown-type relievers.True, one might emerge from the current collection(Romero maybe?), so maybe only one outside addition in May might do it, but the depth is worrying and as many have pointed out could torpedo our chances to sustain our early season success.

 

The point is, Falvey needs to be proactive now.The window is as open as it's going to get for now.Why wait until the Indians injured return and their two all stars heat up?Post season success is not for the meek(just ask Terry Ryan!).

I just hope we don't do anything drastic at the trade deadline.Like put together an overwhelming package for 2 months of the declining Bumgarner etc.Hopefully we get a decent player(s) for a fair package(s) of prospects.We built a great foundation and I would hate to see us go all or nothing on the first whiff of success.With the current on-field product and the farm system, we could be really good for a long period.We will need to be smart about who we sacrifice and for what.

What is drastic?If we wait until trade deadline, it would mean getting 2 months of Baumgartner.Would I include Kiriloff or Lewis or Graterol?No, but anyone else would be on the table.Doubtful we would have to overpay for 2 mos. of a pitcher destined for free agency.But Baumgartner would just be 30, and while he slipped a bit the past two years, would easily slot in as a #2, and probably a leadoff starter in the playoffs.He is an experienced winner, just what we need in October.And if he proves valuable, we should try signing him to a longer term contract.What's wrong with tieing up someone who could be as valuable as Verlander?It worked for the Astros.

 

I believe the minor leagues are for stockpiling talent, either to supplement the major league team or used as trade bait.If we could land a controllable starter for 2-3 years like a Stroman or THor, yes, I would overpay by including one of our top prospects.That's how valuable an ace is.And given the dearth of home-developed starters in this organization, who is to say how any of these prospects will perform at the Major League level?That's why taking a big risk when the window is wide open makes sense on somany levels, especiallyfor a moribund franchise with dwindling attendance and 30 years of futility.

 

A solid reliever wojuld not cost as much but is even more sorely needed sooner rather than later.For the right guy, I would overpay, not with one of our top 3 prospects, but certainly one top 10 prospect, especially in an area of surplus like outfielders or A/AA starter.It would be worth it to overpay more now than stick with the current bullpen thru July.Games lost in May, June and July are just as costly as later in the year.

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Andrew Gebo
May 06 2019 05:16 PM
There’s really not a whole lot of places to add guys right now. Obviously injuries can happen and there could be a need down the line where there presently isn’t one. Let’s focus on the here and now though. When Sano returns every position is somewhat set in stone. Rosario, Buxton and Keller have more than earned their keep. Polanco, Schoop and Cron aren’t going to be replaced. As Dan Hayes outlined in a recent article in The Athletic, the Twins have gotten tremendous value from every catchier on their roster. Pitching is the only area where there’s room to improve. Berrios, Perez, Oodorizzi, with the way they’ve been throwing so far are a very formidable front end of the rotation. Gibson is very much a solid 4 starter on any team. Pineada, as you mentioned as been shaky at best but it’s not too far out of the question that when the weather warms up and he builds more strength he will be a lot more effective than he is right now. Buumgarner would certainly be nice but unless Perez or Odorizzi sudddenly decline it’s hard to say we truly need another top level arm at the front end. That brings us to the bullpen. As I outlined in a recent blog post, their bullpen has been pretty darn good. Yes adding a quality arm or two would help but it depends at what cost. Recent market trends indicate a top level relief arm commmands about a top 50 prospect. You’re certainly not wrong the Twins have a window to win now but you also gotta think about the future of this club too. Cron, Cruz, Schoop are all on one year deals. The core players we have right now are all still young. Rosario (27), Polanco (25), Buxton (25), Berrios (24). This team is built to win now and in the future. If they make the playoffs this year they’re already “ahead of schedule”, much like the 2015 Astros who won it all a coupe years later. Don’t wanna sell the farm to win now when your window is much larger than just this year.
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Andrew Gebo
May 06 2019 05:23 PM
Kepler* not Keller lol

I get it about not overpaying, but pundits talk about the depth of our minor league system and with the window now wide open, why bot address the admitted weaknesses the team has: the bullpen and a thin rotation.As I mentioned above, no, I wouldn't trade one of our top 3 or 4 prospects fora 2 month rental, but nor should I have to if we waited for the deadline.

 

But we should be floating names around like Gonzales, Gordon, Rooker, maybe Romero and a bunch of AA pitchers that could bring back a late inning reliever - our weakest current position.Maybe it is harder for a seller to pull the trigger earlier in the season, but for the right guy, it's worth overpaying rather than competing in the feeding frenzy that always occurs in late July.

 

My main reasonj for doing something sooner rather than later is to widen the gap between us and the rest of the division before some of our guys fall back to earth.It is that important to keep up this early momentum.And what is wrong with contending for the title before our time?This is a fickle game; we could easily be derailed by injuries, falloff from some regulars, etc. next year.Go for the brass ring when the opportunity arises!

Kuehcle for $25M/3yr. prorated for this season after the draft in June (so we don't lose a draft pick)?Would be a nice addition to the rotation if he is still available.Probably depends on what he thinks fair market value is since he is holding out until someone is willing to pay him what he thinks he is worth.

Keuchel would be a nice addition to any rotation, but he slots in at about a #3 or 4 in the current Twins' rotation.Don't think he's worth to the Twins $25MM/yr or even close to that.Yet he will be available in 4 weeks without giving up a draft pick or prospects, unlike any other starter who might be available.

 

I would rather see the Twins spend money on Kimbrel to solidify the bullpen.Doubtful they will do both!As I've said above, think with the Twins in a strong position for a playoff berth, their second biggest need would be for a veteran starter who gives us a decent chance to win the first playoff game.I would hate to throw Berrios into that situation and expect to come out ahead.I still have visions of his performance in Yankee Stadium in 2017.Rather to give up players(Castro, and at least 2 of our top 10 minor leaguers) for someone like Greinke, Baumgartner or even Stroman(lesser choice).Such an addition could greatly help get us deeper into the playoffs.Overpaying for this one starter would be a small price to pay, IMO, to break a 16 year streak of not getting past the first round!