Initially saddled with a holdover manager, Falvey and Levine weren’t going to be able to make their mark from the start. They waded in the shallow end and allowed an acclimation process of sorts to take place. Prior to the 2019 season they jumped right off the high dive straight into the deep end. Regardless of the fanfare created by roster reinforcements, it was the infrastructure that seemed so valuable last winter.
Having spent time down in Fort Myers for Spring Training, it was immediately evident that this collection was going to do things differently. The Twins can’t change how they’re viewed by potential free agents overnight, but they can position themselves as an industry leader other teams will quickly want to emulate. The former carries a significant monetary cost while the latter is generally accompanied by a level of commitment towards a strong belief in process. Over the past year Minnesota’s front office has reinvigorated the organization to levels it’s likely never seen.
Without having yet signed any free agents, there’s been a flurry of activity from the Twins ranks this offseason. Something like five coaches will have been poached when the dust settles, and a five-year extension will have been handed out to the two head men. Those two combining realities are the defining moments of where Minnesota is now, and how they’ll want to operate in the future. Talent has been plucked from the organization to take promotions elsewhere, while the men who picked them for those roles are now tasked with getting it right again.
There’s no denying that the Twins have a substantial amount of money to spend this offseason, and coming off a 101-win season, a responsibility to write those checks. What they also must get right is the replacements for the now goner developers of that talent, and a blueprint that continues to make the overall infrastructure an environment conducive of producing success.
Minnesota should be looking to add everyone from Gerrit Cole to Anthony Rendon on the diamond over the next handful of months. Jim Pohlad also realizes that it’s equally important Falvey finds the next James Rowson, Jeremy Hefner, or Tanner Swanson as well. Coming over from an Indians organization that generated some steam as being progressive, the Twins head man has left no stone unturned. Plucking a pitching coach from the collegiate ranks and adding support staff based on success rather than tenure, it’s been in the advancements Minnesota has made that ultimately generated hot commodities for other big-league clubs.
I’ll be the first to admit disappointment if a certain payroll threshold isn’t reached before Opening Day in 2020. I also believe that the Twins front office duo of Falvey and Levine are the best equipped to construct a process-oriented blueprint both on the field and off it. The Twins seem to believe this as well, evidenced by the lengthy pact made to the tandem, and that’s a very key development.
With a window open, and execution at the forefront, I’m not sure we’ve ever had reason to feel so confident in a Minnesota Twins management group at any point in history. It will be on Derek Falvey and Thad Levine to hit on those beliefs, but for now, there’s no stopping this train.
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- Nov 14 2019 10:57 AM
- by Ted Schwerzler
Let’s rewind over a half decade and land back in 2013. The Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros both employed top five farm systems but were among the worst teams in baseball. Chicago won just 66 games while Houston joined the American League and punted on the season to the tune of 51 victories. The next year both clubs remained in the top five on the farm but also showed life in the majors to the tune of 73 and 70 wins respectively. Pairing their development success with what was happening at the highest level, it became evident that it was time to go.
In 2015 the Cubs opened with a $106.6 million payroll, 98% increase from the $53.6 million a year prior. Houston was not as drastic, going from $41.6 million to $64.8 million (a 56% increase). Both teams jumped up in wins, most notably Chicago parlaying their 97 into an NLCS appearance (in which they were swept by the Mets). 2016 saw the Cubs fully realize their goal with a World Series victory, the first since 1908. To get there Theo pushed payroll to $161.3 million, another 51% increase, or jump of 200% since 2014.
Image Credit: Forbes
To be fair, Minnesota will never operate on the same revenue stream that a national brand like the Cubs benefit from. Houston is a much more feasible example though, and while they likely have a more lucrative TV deal as well, 2019 revenues highlight the gap being relatively insignificant. The Astros also saw an 86-win successful year in 2015, only to take a step backwards (84 wins) in 2016. That is largely reflective of the cycle Minnesota endured popping up for a one-game Wild Card loss.
Payroll growth in Houston has been noteworthy as well. Coming out of the 86-win campaign in 2015 the Astros operated differently than the Twins (who went from $130MM in 2018 to $114MM in 2019) by increasing payroll to $75.4 million, a slight 16% increase. They finished third in the division, but the dam was clearly ready to break. Still with a top farm system, and so much big-league talent, Houston went gangbusters spending $132.5 million in 2017, a 76% increase that culminated in a World Series.
Despite being an uncapped sport teams all have a spending threshold. Chicago suggests they’re near theirs and have begun to scale back. The additional funs provided them a window of five straight winning seasons, 90 wins in all but one of them, and the ultimate goal. Houston is in the midst of a stretch where they’ve won three straight division titles, 100 games in three straight seasons, and have gone to the World Series in two of the past three years.
Infrastructure and development in baseball is about creating a backbone capable of sustaining excellence at the highest level. Whether prospects contribute to maturing on the biggest stage, or being parlayed into veteran talent, the goal is not a constant state of hording. Minnesota’s window is now fully open, paired with ideal opportunity around them, and the financial flexibility to make waves. You could, and I have, made the argument that significant spending would have provided marginal gains in recent seasons. That is no longer on the table, and the blueprint has already been draw up for these Twins.
2020 isn’t about dabbling at $130 million. This franchise now needs to show up at the checkout counter and make use of what it has built these past few years.
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- Nov 06 2019 01:45 PM
- by Ted Schwerzler
Coming into last season Minnesota took a step backward in the payroll department. After being just shy of $130 million in 2017, they began 2018 with a $114 million tab suggesting that the next step was largely reliant on seeing what they then had. We are now in a position, for the first time in nearly a decade, that the Minnesota Twins know exactly what they have. This organization has a forward-thinking front office that has hired an infrastructure designed to push development. They have a manager capable of getting execution at the highest level. They have a prospect stream filled with both quality and quantity. Maybe most important, they are division winners with a clear path to opportunity both immediately and into the future.
It is in that perfect storm that you can adequately gripe about payroll needing to be where revenues suggest it should be.
Now let’s apply this to actual commodities and what the dollars represent. Despite making a silly suggestion that Zack Greinke didn’t win the Astros a World Series, the reality is that the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals played on the biggest stage because they both employed three pitchers that could trump virtually any competition. The Twins hit a boatload of bombas in 2019, and the lineup will continue to play, but the rotation must be filled with arms capable of competing against the upper echelon.
For the first time in franchise history the Twins have handed out a qualifying offer (there was an argument to be made that a second could have been made) insuring Jake Odorizzi will agree to nothing worse than a one-year, $17.8 million deal. That’d be a strong start to free agency for Minnesota, but if he rejects the offer in the next nine days, working out a long-term deal with the help of draft pick compensation warding off other suitors would be a fine result as well.
Different publications have tied Minnesota to a handful of options, but there have been suggestions of arms starting with Bumgarner and Wheeler, and trickling down from there. Although Falvey needs to be a player on the Cole and Strasburg market, they both could very well have more exciting destinations in play. Regardless of how the four rotation spots are accounted for, a final tally of something near $70 million should be enough to create a strong group.
If Minnesota can’t allocate all their funds to the pitching market, then supplementing with an offensive addition is hardly an egregious ask. Holding back some of the discretionary dollars a year ago made some sense but making sure every effort possible is made for 2020 and beyond now should be in all systems go mode. There are more than a few ways for the Twins to tack on significant money while avoiding risk and poor contracts, and this is their opportunity to do it.
$140 million would be a bit north of $10 million into the uncharted waters territory. While $135 million is a nice bump from 2019, the $140MM mark would likely land them just outside of the top 10. At this stage of the cycle Minnesota could comfortably be closer to $150MM than $130MM and things would be just fine. No matter how they get there though, the training wheels need to come off this time around.
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- Nov 06 2019 06:55 AM
- by Ted Schwerzler
According to D1 Baseball's Kendall Rogers, the Yankees have made "college pitching coaches a high priority" for the position. Rogers says that the Yankees have interviewed Michigan's Chris Fetter and Johnson's replacement at Arkansas, Matt Hobbes. The Yankees also inquired about Arizona's Nate Yeskie (a Driveline favorite) and TCU's Kirk Saarloos but both coaches turned them down.
This past spring, I asked Johnson what he thought were the key differences between the college game and professional ball and what made that appealing for teams.
"I think the college game, we have the resources, we have a smaller number of players, so we are able to go in and do a lot of research with biomechanics and Trackman and write those individual plans," Johnson said. "As you’re seeing that’s just where the game is going and so these guys have the experience doing it, so it makes it easier. You look, basketball, in the NBA and the NFL, that’s not uncommon but for some reason it is uncommon in baseball. In the NFL you have great head coaches who never played a day of college football or anything of that nature, and they are phenomenal. Same way in basketball."
That's a huge factor for major league teams. College ball is where the forefront of development lies and the technology aspect was embraced heavily. Major league teams were late to utilize and some teams recognized that they didn't have the coaching infrastructure to incorporate the changes. Pitching coaches like Rothchild, while unbelievably knowledgeable about the craft, lacked the experience working with the advancements.
"I think that college baseball has been slightly ahead of professional baseball in some regard," said the Twins' minor league catching instructor Tanner Swanson. "I think from an educational standpoint there’s just more people in that space who understand how this stuff works and we’re seeing how it is utilized now and implement it in a professional environment."
As this continues to unfold and more college coaches are picked from the amateur ranks, keep in mind that this was Derek Falvey vision all along when he assumed the position of Chief Baseball Officer with the Minnesota Twins.
“When I came here, one of the things I thought about over my career in baseball was where are the people learning and growing and developing as coaches," Falvey told me. "I found when I was in different positions I would go to different conventions, college conventions or off-sites or these events, and I met these different people from college and thought wow, these people really have curious minds, they are high character individuals, they care about baseball deeply."
You may be surprised by the amount of money college pitching coaches at large universities make. Before leaving Arkansas, Johnson was making $250,000 a year and the Twins reportedly offered him a deal that is "well north" of $350,000 per year. The Yankees obviously have the biggest pocketbook so they could throw money at whoever they feel is the top coach but, for many teams, they typically pay between $150,000 to $300,000 for a pitching coach. Not everyone is as bold as the Twins when it comes to handing out money to unproven coaches. So you can see why some coaches, like Nate Yeskie who is earning “elite SEC school range” income, might turn down the opportunity. After all, most SEC head coaches make over a million a year and pitching coaches have a payday of half of that.
Beyond just income, the time dedicated to the job is significantly different and could favor a switch to the professional ranks. While pro baseball coaches have higher scrutiny (although you could argue SEC coaches are constantly under the microscope), college coaching requires a year-round commitment and does not have the luxury of regrouping during the offseason.
The Twins hired their Gulf Coast League pitching coach, Zach Bove, out of the College of Central Florida (you can read more about him in my article in the Offseason Handbook). Bove noted that the main difference between pro and college ball for coaches is the extra downtime pro coaches receive.
“In college you have practices and games and then you are going out on the weekends to recruit or have phone calls to make,” said Bove.
“People ask me how my time’s been and you have no idea,” said Johnson. “It’s 365 days a year in college. You’re on the phone with advisers, agents, parents and kids. Then you got your guys. You put it all into a funnel and let it come out on a calendar and you definitely have more free time in professional baseball than coaching in the SEC.”
It is odd to live in a world where the Minnesota Twins are the trend-setters and organization like the New York Yankees are trying to follow suit. The Twins did well in capitalizing on a market inefficiency but that avenue might be closing soon as other teams pillage college programs.
- Nov 01 2019 09:36 PM
- by Parker Hageman
Reports have suggested that the 2020 qualifying offer amount will drop to $17.8 million, which is a $100,000 step back from 2019. Determined by the average of the top 125 salaries in the game, it’s the first season that the amount has taken a step backwards. That alone is just another bullet point in a long list that the MLBPA must attack in upcoming CBA discussions.
Minnesota organized a shrewd pact with the former Yankees starter prior to the 2018 season. Paying him $2 million to watch over his Tommy John rehab, he then made another $8 million as a fully healthy starter in 2019. Posting one of the best seasons in his career, Pineda was estimated to be worth $21.1 million after accumulating 2.7 fWAR. His season came to an abrupt halt after failing a PED test for taking a diuretic he noted as being for weight loss. At least in part, an appeals process deemed his reasoning sufficient, as his suspension was reduced to 60 games and would not have carried postseason ineligibility.
From a merit-based standpoint, Pineda has plenty going in his favor. The 4.01 ERA was the best he had posted since his rookie season, and his 1.7 BB/9 established command not seen since 2015. After an ugly first month of the season, Minnesota got a 3.46 ERA in 117.0 IP from Pineda and he allowed opposing batters just a .670 OPS against him. Prior to his suspension, there was serious steam to him being the Game One starter in the American League Division Series.
Looking ahead we see a soon-to-be 31-year-old that has had some health concerns. Pineda is now well distanced from Tommy John surgery, but he’s never pitched more than 175 innings in a given year, and (as evidenced by the intentions of weight loss) is not slight in stature. The body of work and physical profile make him somewhat of a risk on a long-term contract, but that’s mitigated on a one-year deal, and even moreso through the 2020 qualifying offer implications.
The Twins have a substantial cash flow going into the upcoming offseason, and while they could certainly afford to pay Pineda nearly $18 million for a single year, that’s probably not the best plan of action. Fortunately, because of his remaining suspension, that’s not what the bill would look like. Having something north of 35 games left to serve for 2020, Pineda’s deal would be a prorated portion of that total QO. Rough math indicates a bill resembling something just shy of $14 million, which would be more enticing.
Again, there’s no denying that an arm like Pineda’s can’t be the premiere acquisition, but we saw how important a strong back-end starter can be with the revolving door in 2019. Allowing an internal option or two an avenue to hold down the fort until Pineda is reinstated would be a solid blueprint, and there’s no long-term commitment here either. If the QO gets rejected, Minnesota gets draft pick compensation and wins either way.
What do you think? Does Pineda get a QO if you’re in charge?
- Oct 16 2019 06:08 AM
- by Ted Schwerzler
Rocco Baldelli took over a Twins team that had little direction, and even less certainty. Moving on from Paul Molitor and creating an infrastructure geared towards sustainable progression the Minnesota front office had set forth to blaze a new trail. Not only were we treated to a record-breaking performance, but it was done with a core that remains intact and reinforcements soon to follow.
For much of the last offseason we heard about a timid approach reliant on the emergence of Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton. Both had strong 2019 campaigns (for Buxton, while he was on the field), but it was the unexpected development of players like Luis Arraez and Zack Littell that defined the growth we saw on the field. Process and practice have fostered a team that will allow the expected to rise, but the unexpected to also seize opportunity.
2019 was significantly more than a record -etting home run total, a win total mirroring that of the mid-1960’s, or even an American League Central Division title. It was a season that provides a launching point into the future and gives us a glimpse of what is not only possible, but what is yet to come. Although the bar has been raised across much of the record book, the result is now a future more hopeful than it has been since Torii Hunter was chasing down baseballs at the Metrodome.
I’m not here to tell you that losing in the postseason isn’t a bummer, or that dropping a series to the New York Yankees doesn’t stink. Reality hits us in clarifying that only one team ends their season with a victory however, and that being in the final pool for that annual opportunity is a must. Terry Ryan was not able to position the Pohlad’s team for that scenario at the end of his tenure in Twins Territory. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have hit nearly as many bombas as their on-field product, and now should begin a stretch of yearly October baseball.
There will be time to discuss the size of a blank check Gerrit Cole may eventually turn down, and whether Nelson Cruz repeats his 2019 performance as a 40-year-old. There can be a moment of frustration hurled at the Yankees, and unfortunate history can even receive its run. Looking back, and beyond the final three games, it’s hard to be anything but excitedly hopeful for what is yet to come.
The Minnesota Twins didn’t provide us with a “there’s always next year” type of theme in their exit. Instead we are faced with a “look out” and “we’ll be back.” It won’t be uncommon to see the team that calls Target Field home assumed as the division favorite next March, and they’ll get another shot at rolling the dice in October.
A sport that celebrates failure occurring only 70% of the time is quite a difficult beast, and humility can often be dished out in small sample sizes., but this was a season of excitement for what is yet to come. To Derek, Thad, Rocco, and the 50 guys that put that Twins script across their chest this season, thank you for months of enjoyment. Soak up the well-deserved rest, and we’ll all still be waiting for the next October opportunity to get unhinged in downtown Minneapolis. We all know it won’t be long.
- Oct 08 2019 02:56 PM
- by Ted Schwerzler
In 2011, the film adaptation of Moneyball hit theaters, bringing Michael Lewis's non-fiction work to the big screen.
Near the end of the movie, Red Sox owner John Henry invites Billy Beane to Fenway Park for a conversation. Beane had freshly guided small-market Oakland through back-to-back 100-win seasons, overcoming a limited budget by championing innovative strategies and cutting-edge analytics. His success caught the attention of one of baseball's most storied and respected franchises.
When Henry (portrayed by Arliss Howard) and Beane (Brad Pitt) sit down to chat, Henry says he heard about Beane receiving an extension offer from A's ownership.
"So why did you return my call?" he asks.
"Because it's the Red Sox," Beane replies matter-of-factly.
Ultimately, Beane turned down a lucrative $12.5 million offer from Boston to stick with Oakland, where he remains today. But the temptation was evident and understandable.
You don't have to look hard to find parallels between the Athletics front office of that era, and the current Twins regime. Since taking over a club that had freshly lost 103 games, and hadn't reached the playoffs in six years, Derek Falvey has overseen a complete turnaround for the Twins, who are on the verge of their second postseason berth in three years since Falvey's arrival.
Falvey isn't quite working with the budgetary constraints of the A's circa Y2K, but he has brought sophistication to a dated baseball operation, ushering in a rapid analytical awakening. Suddenly, the Twins find themselves mentioned among baseball's most enlightened franchises.
As Matthew Trueblood wrote at Baseball Prospectus on Monday:
"Most importantly, what the Red Sox need isn't a technological catch-up or an extra fleet of interns in research and development. What they need is, in all likelihood, a top-level change in philosophy, one that aligns them with the Dodgers, Astros, Yankees, Rays, Twins, and Diamondbacks, who now represent the state of the art."
Seeing the Twins mentioned alongside the game's most respected front offices feels surreal, but here we are. Falvey's vision has quickly come to fruition and he – along with his handpicked GM Thad Levine – has this franchise as geared for long-term success as any in baseball. It's no secret that I've long been a fan of the way these guys operate, and the rest of the league has quickly taken notice as well.
Unsurprisingly, Minnesota's Chief Baseball Officer has been mentioned as a candidate for the Boston GM vacancy by numerous outlets, including the Boston Globe. Still only 36 years old, Falvey could be viewed as a long-term fixture atop the Red Sox, in the same way Henry fancied Beane (who was 40 back in 2002).
So let's just assume that the Sox come calling. How tempted would Falvey be? There are a few things to keep in mind.
- Falvey grew up in Lynn, MA – roughly 30 minutes from Fenway Park.
- The Red Sox GM gig brings with it almost unlimited resources.
- It also brings a level of prestige nearly unmatched in the profession.
- Boston will undoubtedly be able to dangle a significant raise if they so choose.
- Falvey and his family have planted roots here.
- He's building something special, and is likely only getting started.
- The Boston job, while glamorous, brings far more scrutiny and stress.
- It also doesn't necessarily offer much job security. (Dombrowski was fired less than one year after winning a World Series!)
If Boston misses on Falvey, they could conceivably turn their attention to Levine, who deserves his own share of credit for the spiffy roster construction in Minnesota. In his case, unlike Falvey's, it'd be a clear step up in terms of role – becoming the No. 1 guy.
But on that note, I guess the Twins are in better position than most in this regard, given that they have a two-headed monster atop their front office depth chart. Both Falvey and Levine seem capable of handling the head job solo. Maybe that would make one of them more amenable to leaving. Maybe it'd make the Twins more at peace with such a defection.
All I know is that Falvey and Levine appear to have great chemistry, and they've jointly built a hell of a roster in Minnesota, as well as a hell of a baseball ops department. Personally speaking, I've never had more trust in the people running this team in my life than I do right now. So thinking about a big-market shark coming in and pilfering away from what is currently the Twins' foremost competitive advantage?
Well, to borrow another line from Moneyball... "It's incredibly hard."
- Sep 12 2019 09:05 PM
- by Nick Nelson
On Tuesday night, Cleveland finally traded All Star starting pitcher Trevor Bauer. Typically that move would be seen as the team selling, but in this case, I do believe that they got better. They have pitching, and seem to keep calling pitchers up who do well. Shane Bieber and Zach Plesac are two guys who fit into that mold. They also should be getting Corey Kluber back in the near future.
Their need was offense, and they added two powerful outfielders in Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes in the three-team swap. They also added LHP Logan Allen, a Top 100 prospect, and two more minor leaguers.
It was a very creative move for Cleveland. The Twins were very creative in their acquisition of Sergio Romo over the weekend. Not only did the Twins receive the veteran reliever, but they also received hard-throwing RHP Chris Vallimont and a Player to be Named Later for slugging first base prospect Lewin Diaz.
On its own, the Twins made a really, creative, savvy move to improve their bullpen and improve the team. Twins fans have generally felt that the trade was good for the Twins, though that thought always comes with the “as long as it isn’t the only move they make by the deadline.”
But what if it is? What if Sergio Romo is the only player that the Twins add? What will it mean? Here are my thoughts.
First and foremost, Twins fans will and rightfully should feel disappointment. On the basic level, it’s always fun to acquire talent. It doesn’t even have to be elite talent, but just make the team better. Let's just say, #TwinsTwitter will not handle it well, for sure!
On another level, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have consistently said that when the Twins window to compete for championships opens, they will pounce. Well, the window is wide open. This team has the talent to compete, not only for the American League Central title but also for a World Series. They have won two of six games against the Yankees this year, and probably should have won two more of those games. They won four of their seven matchups with the Astros this year. They currently have an edge on Cleveland this year too. Those are the top teams in the American League, and the team should absolutely feel like they can compete for an American League pennant. And hey, if you get to the World Series, you have a chance.
So Twins fans will absolutely have every right to be disappointed and even upset if nothing is done.
This is a very good team as is, as shown by their performance so far this year against the top teams in the league. Their lineup can compete with anyone. They can slug with the best. Pitching has been the issue although even that hasn’t been as bad as we may think. The starters rank in the top the top third of the league in most statistics. Some of that is because their #4 (Perez) and #5 (Pineda) have been better than most 4s and 5s around the league. Jose Berrios is approaching Ace level. Jake Odorizzi was an All Star for his strong start, but he has been more inconsistent of late. Kyle Gibson’s been good at times but also a bit inconsistent. Not adding a starter would just mean that these guys would need to step it up down the stretch. But would the Twins have a top three or top four that you could feel good about going into the playoffs?
And the bullpen has been better than expected, though a lot of that is because of Taylor Rogers. Sergio Romo stepped in as the 8th inning guy last night in his Twins debut. Tyler Duffey has returned to an intriguing bullpen option. Ryne Harper has been a big surprise. Trevor May was doing well until the 0-2 curveball in Cleveland, but he has the stuff to dominate and will need to find that again.
And then some young guys. Cody Stashak had a moment in the Yankees series. Sean Poppen reeling off 96-97 mph fastballs with a strong slider could be great for the team down the stretch. And if Will Smith and Felipe Vasquez are unavailable, I don’t think there is an available left-handed reliever that I would feel better about than giving Lewis Thorpe an opportunity. And Devin Smeltzer is available as well. The concern with them is their lack of MLB experience, obviously.
In addition, Fernando Romero has been much improved of late in Rochester. And as it appears the odds of Cody Allen helping the Twins down the stretch is waning, flamethrower Brusdar Graterol returned to the mound on Monday for his first rehab appearance. Maybe he and his 101-mph fastball can help. Jorge Alcala and his triple-digit fastball pitched out of the bullpen in his most-recent outing.
So, while I still think it is very likely that the Twins make one or two moves before the trade deadline, and this article will be all for naught, it is important for Twins fans to stand by a team that has put themselves in this position. Absolutely, be disappointed that nothing was done, but hopefully you’ll be able to quickly shift your attention back to the fact that this team, as it is currently put together, can win the division. And, if you are under the opinion (as I mostly am) that the playoffs are mostly a crapshoot, then you should still believe that the Twins can win in the playoffs too.
All that said… Come On, Twins… Make a Move!
- Jul 31 2019 07:49 AM
- by Seth Stohs
Friday, La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported that the Mets asking price for Noah Syndergaard is sky high. According Neal’s sources, the Mets are “eyeing both Lewis and Kirilloff as part of a package for Syndergaard.”
Wow. Royce Lewis AND Alex Kirilloff ... and that’s just PART of the package?
Last night, La Velle passed along another trade tidbit, saying that the Mets’ asking price included Byron Buxton.
It’s not at all surprising the Twins were “turned off” by that price, but from the Mets’ perspective, the worst thing that could happen is the Twins say no. Why not ask, right?
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that an executive who has communicated with the Mets said “They are definitely trading Syndergaard.” If that truly is the case, the Mets front office will need to lower its asking price, but they can certainly expect to command a hefty return for the 26-year-old Syndergaard, who still has two more seasons of team control.
The beauty of the deadline is this will all have to be resolved one way or another by 3 pm CT tomorrow afternoon.
La Velle’s piece called Syndergaard a target “no longer viable,” but only time will tell. That price may drop. Among the bullpen targets the Twins could pivot to, Neal listed Kirby Yates, Greg Holland, Archie Bradley and Mychal Givens.
What do I think is going to happen? Well, here’s nearly 15 minutes of me sharing my thoughts on the deadline, the front office’s intentions and some of what my expectations are. This could end up looking really, really bad. It’s so difficult to even guess what may happen, since this is the first real contending Twins team of the Derek Falvey era.
To answer my own question purposed in the headline, the furthest I’d personally go to trade for an ace-calibur pitcher would be Alex Kirilloff as the marquee piece. Cody wrote an article last night that asked Is Alex Kirilloff Expendale? I think to a certain degree he is. That’s much less of a shot at Alex as it is an indication of how stacked this organization is with corner outfield/first base options right now.
It’s not that I view Lewis as completely untouchable, but it’d take multiple good, long-term pieces coming back. There’s a chance Royce both reaches his ceiling and stays at shortstop. If that happens, he’ll be among the most valuable players in the league. It’d take a lot to walk away from that.
Not that I don’t believe in Alex. There’s no questioning his feel for hitting, and I think he’s more athletic than most people give him credit for, but corner outfielders or first basemen are easy to find, relatively speaking. C.J. Cron hit 30 homers and was non-tendered. The entire current Twins outfield will remain in tact for multiple seasons and there are some other attractive outfielders in the pipeline as well.
If the Twins end up aiming lower on the trade market, there are reasons why I could understand that. This is the first year on the job for Rocco Baldelli, Wes Johnson and Jeremy Hefner. This is a franchise on the rise, not one who sees its window closing.
A lot of the players carrying this team right now will be around for years to come and the minor league system ranks among the best in the game. That doesn’t guarantee you anything, but I feel like there’s a very good chance we’re entering an extended period of sustained winning baseball in Twins Territory.
Even if they aim gets lower, this front office still has plenty of incentive to make some moves. In mid-June, I wrote about the potential impending roster crunch this offseason. Lewin Diaz was among the guys I mentioned who needed to be added to the 40-man roster at the end of the season. He’s already been shipped out to Miami.
Beyond all the top prospects is a nice tier of players that should be attractive to a team who has a barren system. Ben Rortvedt, Ryan Jeffers, Jose Miranda and (though he’s injured right now) Travis Blankenhorn could be dangled for more pitching help. Guys performing in Triple-A like Nick Gordon or Jaylin Davis would have some appeal to certain teams. And those are just some of the bats.
This is going to sound harsh, but it wouldn’t take a lot to improve the outlook of the Twins bullpen right now. Even marginal upgrades would go a long way. They’ve looked good at times, but it’s just not realistic to roll with rookies Lewis Thorpe, Sean Poppen and Cody Stashak in the bullpen down the stretch.
So while the market for a top of the rotation starter may seem steep right now, there’s still time for things to change. If prices don't come down, I still fully expect the Twins to make multiple moves between now and the deadline, given their incentive to clear some room.
I still can’t believe how quiet things have been league-wide to this point. Things could get nuts leading up to tomorrow’s 3 pm CT deadline.
MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
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Could the Twins Afford to Take on Zack Greinke’s Contract?
Trade Deadline Thread: The Rumor Mill is Working Overtime
Trade Deadline Topics: Prospects, Scouting, Rumors
Trade Deadline Thread: What To Do About the Rotation?
The Gauntlet 1.2; A Complete Breakdown of the Top Relief Arms
For Enlow and Other Minor Leaguers, “No One Is Safe” At Trade Deadline
Twins Won't Rule Out Trading For Lance Lynn
JEREMY'S DEADLINE SERIES (Part VI Coming Soon)
Let's Make A Deal, Part V: Are We Getting Noah Syndergaard or Someone Else?
Let's Make A Deal, Part IV: The Sellers
Let's Make A Deal, Part III: The Ammunition
Let's Make A Deal, Part II: Payroll
Let's Make A Deal, Part I: 2020
- Jul 30 2019 05:43 AM
- by Tom Froemming
The Twins enter play on Thursday with a three-game lead in the AL Central. At the beginning of June, the Twins were up 10.5 games as Cleveland had squeaked out a .500 record up to that point. By the end of June, Minnesota still had a comfortable eight game lead, but then Cleveland really turned on the heat. The Indians have gone 13-4 in July with two of their losses coming against the Twins. Some will point to Cleveland’s recent opponents as the reasons for their success, but they are winning the games in front of them.
According to Baseball Reference, the Twins have a 96.2% chance of making the playoffs and a 90.9% chance of winning the division. They put Cleveland’s odds at 9.1% to win the division and 41.1% to make the playoffs. Also, the site projects Minnesota’s best possible record as 104-58 and their worst record as 91-71. On the flip side, Cleveland’s best record is projected as 96-66 and their worst record could be 83-79. Cleveland’s best and Minnesota’s worst would put the Twins back into the AL Wild Card Game.
Cleveland currently sits in the first Wild Card spot with Oakland trailing by one game. Twins fans saw how good Oakland has been in their recent match-up and the A’s have a 7-3 record over their last 10 games. Boston and Tampa Bay sit two games behind the A’s, which means the Twins are six games up from being on the outside looking in.
Minnesota has been running through a steady group of relievers from Rochester over the last couple weeks. This comes on the heels of the club parting ways with Matt Magill, Mike Morin and Adalberto Mejia. Minnesota cleared multiple roster spots without making any immediate additions to the bullpen. Cody Stashak made his MLB debut last night and he might have been the most effective Twins pitcher in a crazy game. Other players like Lewis Thorpe and Kohl Stewart are also getting some relief opportunities.
Twins relievers have seen some struggles in recent weeks albeit it has come against some strong opponents. Trevor May has given up multiple leads with some hanging breaking balls that ended up over the fence. He was even asked to pitch over 50 pitches in one game. On Thursday, Blake Parker was designated for assignment or release. Ryne Harper and Tyler Duffey have also had some blemishes on their record as of late. Even the team’s best reliever, Taylor Rogers, has seen some leads slip through his hands. Realistically, the bullpen needs some help and Rochester might not have the pieces the team needs.
The bullpen hasn’t been Minnesota’s only weakness. Fans have been frustrated with the Twins inability to get clutch hits with runners in scoring position, especially with the bases loaded. Twins batters have combined for an .820 OPS with runners in scoring position. However, the club has had 91 at-bats with the bases loaded this season while hitting .195/.213/.286 with only four extra-base hits. There seems to be some kind of hang-up when three men are on base instead of just having runners in scoring position.
Looming Trade Deadline
Minnesota could address some of their issues through trades in the next seven days. Earlier this week, Derek Falvey joined Darren Wolfson on his podcast to discuss the upcoming trade deadline. This year’s deadline is different since team’s cant make waiver trades after July 31. Falvey believes there will be a flurry of moves right before the deadline. Minnesota has given some consideration to being the first team to pull the trigger on a big trade, but that likely would mean the team is going to have to overpay to set the market.
Falvey went on to say, the Twins are interested in improving “overall pitching depth.” This could be starters, relievers or maybe the team can get creative. He mentioned, “If there are ways to add to our starting rotation, our pitching depth, is there a way to add to the bullpen at the same time?”
Fans might not want to hold out for any blockbuster trade. He believes the team is most likely looking for “supplements” to the current roster. If the team is going to win this year, it is going to be because of “the group that’s in the clubhouse right now.”
To some, that might not exactly be a vote of confidence. However, the Twins need to avoid doing anything brash, because those type of trades can come back to haunt an organization.
Do you think there’s a chance the Twins don’t make the playoffs? What would the repercussions be for the organization? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
Other Stories of Interest
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- Jul 24 2019 05:49 PM
- by Cody Christie
For the Twins, they find themselves solidly on the other side of the table this year as they will not be looking to shed veterans for prospects but instead they will be adding veterans in exchange for their much-coveted prospects. Essentially, this will be the first deadline under the new front office headed by Derek Falvey and Thad Levine where their play is obvious and on the spectrum that involves making a World Series contender instead of aiding another team in their efforts to win the title. I phrase it that way with the odd 2017 deadline in mind where Jaime García was acquired just to be shipped off to the Yankees a week later and Brandon Kintzler was sent to the Nationals. But that was hardly a team looking to become true World Series contenders and the fact that they made the playoffs that year at all was a minor miracle.
This year is different, the fruits of Falvey and Levine’s efforts (along the many coaches and players) have blossomed and the Twins sit at the top of the AL Central with a 5.5 game lead. Since the introduction of the new front office, basically everything that was ever synonymous with Twins’ baseball has been stomped on and thrown out the window. Long gone are the days of small ball and pitching to contact and in are the days of slugging and striking out other batters. The results have been pretty decent if you ask me as Stage 1 of the plan has been a success but Stage 2 emerges and the question now is; how will the Twins attack the trade deadline?
We all have our own personal beliefs for whom the Twins should acquire (I say a top-tier starter, a top-tier reliever, and a mid-tier reliever for depth but that’s a different topic), but as I mentioned before, we are heading into uncharted territory as the Twins go into the deadline as kings with a vast bounty in front of them to choose from, something that has not happened under this front office. Shoot, the last time you could really even say they were in a similar place was 2010 when they last took the division, but even that team was only at 58 wins at the deadline (the current Twins are already at 56) and the only big move at the deadline then was the addition of Matt Capps which was… Yeah let’s just leave that topic alone.
Without any recent Twins history of deadline moves as World Series favorites, I looked to the history of Derek Falvey during his tenure with the Indians and Thad Levine when he was with the Rangers in order to get a good feel for how those teams acted when they were in a similar spot as the Twins are now and then use that information to predict what they will do in the coming weeks.
Falvey first joined the Indians in 2007 but was promoted to co-director of baseball operations after the 2011 season so that is where I will start my investigation. In the season immediately following his promotion, the Indians won just 68 games as they continued to wander aimlessly through the baseball landscape like the Israelities when they left Egypt but with fewer curses, or maybe more actually ... anyway, they were bad for a while.
It was a different story in 2013 for the Indians, as they won 92 games and made it to the Wild Card game. They would eventually lose that game but they finally reversed course toward a successful future and the groundwork was set. At the deadline the Indians were at 59 wins and their lone move was acquiring reliever Mark Rzepczynski who definitely made me check my spelling no less than four times when typing his name.
The Indians were really boring for the next two years so let’s skip those.
The 2016 Indians is where stuff gets really fun. That team won 94 games and not only won the division but made it to Game 7 of the World Series where they lost in heartbreaking fashion, a shame. That Cleveland team had 60 wins at the deadline and shocked the baseball world by acquiring a little known reliever named Andrew Miller at the deadline. They also were on the verge of acquiring catcher Jonathan Lucroy but he exercised his no-trade clause and the trade died.
What can be learned from this? Well, unfortunately there was only one year where the Indians were in a position much like the 2019 Twins. But what is really interesting is the addition of Andrew Miller as he proved to be a key cog in their bullpen and was an instance where the Indians bought high on a controllable reliever who would help the team that year and a few years down the road. What possibly is frightening is that the one weakness of that Indians squad was their bench depth that was half-heartedly addressed by adding Brandon Guyer and journeyman Michael Martinez who of course happened to be the final out of that World Series. The 2019 Twins currently hold a better bench than the 2016 Indians, but it will be pushed to the limit in every capacity during the playoffs and Derek Falvey would be wise to remember what happened in 2016.
Thad Levine was brought on as an assistant to the general manager for the Rangers following the 2005 season. Since he was there was that many years ago, I’ll cut out some seasons that amounted to nothing, you’re very welcome.
For the first few years, the Rangers really didn’t do much winning but in 2010 they won 90 games and made it all the way to the World Series. With 61 wins heading into the trade deadline, the Rangers were big buyers, as they traded for starter Cliff Lee and reliever Mark Lowe along with some depth pieces like Bengie Molina, Jeff Francoeur, Jorge Cantu, and Christian Guzmán during July and August. Cliff Lee was a hired gun as his contract was up after the year, Mark Lowe was a controllable reliever who stuck around for two years following the 2010 season and the other players mostly didn’t stick around long.
What I find very interesting is that the Rangers in 2010 had no previous history of success leading into the season but saw what unfolded in front of them and were very aggressive in acquiring the pieces necessary to make a run not just that year but for years in the future. They covered all their bases (pun most certainly intended) and just happened to run into the buzzsaw that was the Giants that year in the World Series. Speaking of the future, though …
The 2011 Rangers didn’t like losing the World Series in 2010 so they went and made it again! This year they won 96 games and had another aggressive trade deadline by acquiring relievers Mike Adams, Koji Uehara, and Mike Gonzalez in order to boost a bullpen that was the third worst in baseball by fWAR before the deadline (it was then the sixth best bullpen by fWAR in baseball after the deadline). The Rangers after the deadline were again a very well-rounded squad but just couldn’t seal the deal against a scrappy Cardinals club and they again lost the World Series.
What I really like is that the Rangers again showed that they were willing to aggressively attack what they saw as the biggest weakness on the team in order to put themselves in the best place possible to win a championship.
The next two years, the Rangers still fielded good teams but not quite good enough to make more deep playoff runs and they made a number of trades for veterans in which they gave up prospects who eventually would become quality players in a desperate attempt to continue their run (guys like Kyle Hendricks, Carl Edwards Jr., and Leury Garcia). Their contention window with that core was over after 2013.
Now knowing how each team conducted their deadline when in a position to succeed, I am even more looking forward to the deadline as it could be a combination of the Indians' pragmatism in 2016 for quality players who would stick around for more than just that season (Andrew Miller and almost Jonathan Lucroy), and the Rangers' aggressiveness in 2010 and 2011 where positions of need were identified and addressed and depth was made a priority in order for their squad to best make their playoff run. I can’t know for certain what the plan is, but I am damn excited to see it unfold.
- Jul 11 2019 09:11 AM
- by Matt Braun
Minnesota has been linked to players like Marcus Stroman and Madison Bumgarner. The Twins have ties to any number of relievers, and you can bet the front office has no desire to leave any stone unturned. We’re soon getting to decision time though, and what they acquire will matter almost as much as who they acquire.
The bare minimum here is two relief pitchers. Taylor Rogers has been nothing short of exceptional this season, but he needs to continue with an ability to operate as a hybrid pitcher. Keeping him solely locked into the ninth inning or late inning work isn’t necessarily ideal. He benefits Baldelli most by working as the fireman, and being able to work multiple innings is a massive boost.
Ideally one of the arms acquired should be a southpaw and finding an impending free agent over 30 years-old with an ERA right around the mid-3.00 range shouldn’t be a difficult task. Realistically hat type of get isn’t going to cost any significant prospect and the boost could be substantial.
On top of relief help a starter would be a definite bonus. Minnesota has just Jose Berrios and Martin Perez locked down for the rotation in 2020, and a controllable asset there makes a ton of sense. Giving up prospects for relief help is never an enticing plan of action but tying in a controllable starter would help to lessen that blow.
When the deadline comes and goes on July 31st success should be measured for Minnesota numerically. At least two relief arms would represent a job well done, and an additional starter could tip things over the top.
Derek Falvey is going to need prospect capital in order to make any move. I’d imagine, and probably suggest, that both Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff be non-starters in almost any package. From there though the Twins will have significant depth at their disposal. Finding a way to both utilize and conserve talent at the same time would provide an optimal crossroads.
Opposing organizations are likely going to want trades completed for one big-league asset at a time. If I’m Minnesota however, pairing the starter with a reliever is a way to mitigate risk. Working to pass on parting with real prospects for a rental or relief arm, adding in controllable starting talent opens the door to more coveted names.
There’s a handful of selling teams that have assets in both areas Rocco Baldelli’s club currently needs to upgrade. There should be no reason that any deal with those clubs doesn’t go down the path of two players at once when discussions start. Settling on one at a time is fine but look to pair a maximized return with a protected parting.
It’s true that there’re specific areas on the farm that you’ll never have too many prospects. Up the middle and on the mound, teams will forever find a way to utilize talent. For the Twins, in their current situation, one of the best ways may be in using said players as trade chips.
Falvey has a system chock full of middle infield prospects and corner outfielders. Although there’s not a significant number of upper-tier arms, there are a select few that have significant upside. Most of this talent is still at or below Double-A which makes the future risk carry a hefty amount of uncertainty. Using a trade partner to thin out some of that talent and turn it into big league commodities is hardly a bad blueprint.
This offseason the Twins will also be up against a 40-man roster crunch that will put some bigger names in a position where they could be exposed. Utilizing them now in a way that draws a return is a significantly better decision than seeing them lost in the Rule 5 Draft.
At its core the trade deadline should be a ton of fun for fans of the Minnesota Twins. This team is in position to be a legitimate player for the first time in nearly a decade. Good at the big-league level and on the farm, there’s opportunity to make some serious noise. The goal should be to acquire at least two assets, attempt to engage big with one partner, and work through some of your similar assets. How it all shakes out remains to be seen, but we’ll have answers soon enough.
- Jul 09 2019 08:40 PM
- by Ted Schwerzler
By the end of the All-Star break Minnesota will have all eyes focused on what reinforcements can be brought in to help the big league club. Derek Falvey faces just one trade deadline this season, July 31. All goals from here on out will be related to improving the length of time spent playing October baseball. Although the Twins did grab a one-game cup of coffee two seasons ago, this level of expectation is largely unprecedented for the current collective.
When it comes to those big games in October there have been to consistent story lines drawing repeated dialogue in 2019. How will the Twins handle the Yankees and is Madison Bumgarner the guy for the Minnesota?
The former is a question rooted in a deep spell of futility. New York has had the number of this organization for years. During the Ron Gardenhire run of division titles there was no ability to get beyond The Evil Empire. New York had their way with Minnesota and the 2-12 record says as much. There’s no way to paint a pretty picture on those results, but it’s hardly relevant today.
For the 2017 Wild Card game only five of the starting players still remain in a Minnesota uniform. Pitching in relief of starter Ervin Santana that game were names like Hildenberger, Busenitz and Belisle. As the new regime has transformed the roster, and in 2018 purged ineffectiveness, this current crop of Twins likely could care less how the “last time” played out.
Right now the New York Yankees are one of the best teams in baseball and that is an accurate reflection of how they’ve played this season. If and when Minnesota sees them in the opposite dugout during the postseason it will be a dogfight because of that reality as opposed to any hardship the local franchise has previously experienced.
On the opposite end of this same discussion Minnesota could use pitching help. While it’s the bullpen that’s a focus, a starting arm slotting in behind Jose Berrios would be welcomed. Madison Bumgarner will be available and his name carries significant weight but will the opposition truly worry about a guy because of his track record in 2014?
When talking up the Giants starter you often hear of his World Series and postseason dominance. Those exploits are nearly a decade old, his last go-round in 2016 was hardly as effective, and he’s dealt with major injury and declining effectiveness since that point.
Past experience will certainly afford the thought of Bumgarner in a Twins uniform a calming aura, but it’s hardly relevant and intellectually dishonest to suggest that his previous World Series experiences trump the pitcher he is today. His ERA is in the land of mediocrity, and similar WHIP, H/9, and FIP numbers back that. He’ll leave the easiest park to pitch in, but bring a heightened velocity and strikeout rate.
At the end of the day the Twins will need to ask themselves if the juice is worth the squeeze. Bumgarner is not the same pitcher that twirled innings during the 2014 World Series. He’s a serviceable veteran that could be had to improve the overall strength down the stretch. Going all in on a move with the Giants hoping that the previous postseason success plays a trump card is quite the foolhardy gamble.
Following the well-deserved All-Star rest Rocco Baldelli will have a refocused Twins team keyed in on making waves when it matters most. The front office will work to bring in reinforcements that can help put this club in a better position. When the dust settles and October begins, you can bet that this team isn’t going to be worried about the failures of yesteryear, and they shouldn’t be holding out hope to capture performances based on history either.
- Jul 05 2019 06:51 PM
- by Ted Schwerzler
Thus far Derek Falvey has cycled through more than a handful of minor league relief options while trying to sort out Rocco Baldelli’s bullpen. A few wild cards were drawn to start the year, and while some have stuck, others have flopped. The lineup is a monster from top to bottom, so it remains on the mound that this team can get better. With roughly a month to the trade deadline, not only is the belief that they will, but with no hesitations they absolutely should.
Coming into 2019 the AL Central was never going to be more winnable for the Twins than it is right now. Cleveland had clearly peaked, and without having an influx of talent, their only opportunity was to go backwards. Only the White Sox are trending toward a mature state in their rebuild, and even they are going to experience growing pains over the next year or so. Taking advantage of virtually a free pass to the postseason was an absolute must as the Twins' window opened.
As noted above, Baldelli’s lineup is arguably the best in baseball. Without being made up of names like Judge and Stanton, a collection of homegrown talent and scrap heap pickups have come together in an effort to pound a baseball more juiced than it has ever been. Wes Johnson and the Twins entire infrastructure on the pitching side of the game has allowed the staff to take steps forward, and though they may not receive the same praise, the group has certainly been among the game’s best.
Because of how good Minnesota has been there’s also not a significant amount of need to take the club to the next level. While the bullpen certainly needs to be addressed and the rotation could use a boost, we aren’t talking about an overhaul here. Minnesota’s active roster is legitimately a few players away from being a sustainable and serious threat in October. This isn’t the NBA where one guy can transform a team, but the Twins are so close that one or two additions can be what puts them over the top.
Never in the history of major league baseball have fewer organizations been trying at any giving time. There’s a handful of clubs tanking in an effort to supplement their lagging systems and move out of the dreaded middle ground. Because of this reality it’s a wonderful time to be a buyer. Clubs are parting with big league assets and there are only so many places for those players to land. In a trade market that will be influenced by an earlier and single transaction date, competing offers aren’t solely in the form of dollars as is the case in the offseason.
If there’s one thing Minnesota fans consistently ride the organization for, it is its payroll. Without touching on that subject, the only other capital in the game is in the form of players. Given the front office’s decision to hold onto dollars this winter, and the impending 40-man crunch coming up, there’s an abundance of prospect capital to be doled out. Not only are the Twins loaded at the top with some of the game’s best prospects, but the system's depth is also impressive and backs their organizational prospect ranking.
By no means should the suggestion be that Minnesota attempt to throw away their long-term window for one run at the World Series. That said the opportunity to make bold acquisitions that will impact this team and those of the future lies ahead. The cost will be substantial, but the reward is also tangible through these same means. I don’t know if Minnesota will ever be in position to sign a free agent like Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard, but right now they’re certainly positioned to trade for one.
As the organization bides its time and collects more depth in the form of big league vets such as Cody Allen and Carlos Torres, the time to pounce looms large. It’s a bonus if any of those guys work out to be serviceable arms down the stretch. In the month ahead engaging teams on the outs and swapping future assets for current ones is where Falvey finds himself, and given all of the factors, it should be the most comfortable storm he’s ever stood in.
- Jun 25 2019 09:14 PM
- by Ted Schwerzler
Cody Allen had a few really good years in Cleveland. Many assumed that his connection with Twins CBO Derek Falvey made him a realistic offseason target for the Twins. Instead he signed with the Angels.
Things did not go well for Allen in Anaheim. He was designated for assignment before being given his outright release last week.
In 25 games for the Halos, he posted a 6.26 ERA and a 1.91 WHIP. In just 23 innings, he had 29 strikeouts but also walked 20 batters.
From 2013 to 2017 (five seasons), he never posted an ERA over 2.99. He was Cleveland's closer a couple of those years and a key late-inning reliever. He posted 145 saves for them
Jon Heyman was the first to tweet the news.
Dan Hayes posts an update with a good reason for the signing.
"There is no timeline."
The Twins don't have to push him to the big leagues to see value.
"They want to get their hands on him."
Derek Falvey came to the Twins with a reputation as being a pitcher guru from his days in Cleveland. Wes Johnson is being given a lot of credit for the Twins pitching successes in 2019.
It will be interesting to see when Allen arrives with a Twins affiliate and which affiliate that is. How quickly will he get to Rochester? And, the strikeouts certainly indicate that there is some stuff remaining for the still-just-30-year-old.
As with RHP Drew Hutchinson, who signed a minor league deal with the Twins on Friday, signing Allen to a minor league deal is a no-risk, potentially good reward deal. If he never finds his velocity and isn't good in the minors, the Twins are not obligated to call him up. If he finds his stuff again, the Twins could have added a low-cost late inning reliever for the season's final weeks.
- Jun 23 2019 02:34 PM
- by Seth Stohs
Minnesota’s Changing Perspective
Before spring training started, Minnesota wasn’t exactly sure of what this season would bring. The front office was happy with the additions of players like Nelson Cruz, Marwin Gonzalez, CJ Cron, and Martin Perez. However, it was tough to know if the Twins were going to be able to outlast Cleveland in a division the Indians have dominated for the last three seasons.
Flash-forward to the present and Minnesota has a very clear view of the division and of their current roster. The Twins entered play on Saturday atop of the AL Central by 10.5 games. Cleveland, the division favorite this spring, sits tied with the White Sox for second place and they are actually closer to the bottom of the division than the top of the division.
Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have also seen the strengths and weaknesses of the current roster. Minnesota offense is one of the best in the game. There doesn’t seem to be a weak spot from the top to the bottom. On the pitching side, Minnesota’s has outperformed many of the expectations entering the season but Kimbrel or Keuchel would certainly be welcomed in the Twin Cities.
Locally, Judd Zulgad of SKOR North said the Twins could be in on one of the pitchers once draft pick compensation was no longer part of the equation. Kimbrel might be a better fit in Minnesota even though he’s coming off a postseason where he had a 5.91 ERA in nine appearances. He has over 330 career saves and an ERA under 2.00.
It remains to be seen if Kimbrel would be willing to accept a non-closer role on a playoff contending team. Minnesota hasn’t used a traditional closer this year and they may not want to mess with a good thing. There are also questions about how long it will take for either pitcher to be prepared for pitching in a big-league game.
MLB Network’s Jon Heyman also listed the Twins as a possible destination for Keuchel. He also included other teams like the Braves, Brewers, Cardinals, Rays and Yankees. Last season in Houston, Keuchel made 34 stars and went 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA. Scouts have been watching Keuchel throw simulated games in the weeks leading up to the draft.
As recently as Saturday, Ken Rosenthal reported that the Cubs are showing interest in Kimbrel. One of the difficulties for them is their lack of payroll flexibility, because Chicago wants to stay under the luxury tax thresholds. Other teams might be able to outbid the Cubs or Chicago would need to get creative with Kimbrel’s contract.
Jim Bowden of SiriusXM reports that the Braves have legitimate interest in both free agent pitchers. Atlanta currently sits in second place in the AL East and they are tied with San Diego for the second Wild Card spot.
Tampa Bay, Minnesota’s opponent this weekend, is also interested in adding Keuchel or Kimbrel. Ken Rosenthal and Josh Tolentino report the Yankees remain interested in Keuchel. The AL East can be a beast especially with the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays all vying to be the king of the hill. Kimbrel is well familiar with the AL East, and he might want a revenge tour against Boston. Tampa is usually a little strapped for cash, so this might not be the best fit.
Do you see either pitcher ending up in a Twins uniform this week? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
- Jun 01 2019 12:26 PM
- by Cody Christie
In January, I wrote a piece here remarking about how drastically the Twins transformed their identity in just a five-year span, and how jarring this felt for an organization so steeped in stability. My primary focus there was the pitching staff, which has evolved from a group of contact-heavy soft-tossers to an amalgamation of stuff, velocity, and whiffs.
But I also made note that in 2013, Minnesota had zero players hit 20 home runs. It was par for the course; the previous year they hit the fewest homers in the league, and for almost the entirety of Terry Ryan's tenure as GM, they were always reliably in the bottom half. This is team that went from 1988 through 2005 without seeing a single 30-HR season. Whether it wasn't a priority or they just didn't know how to teach it (likely a combination of both), the Twins never featured power as a true strength.
The new front office signaled early on their intent to alter this distinction. With an analytical new-age mindset, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine started populating the org's ranks with analytical thinkers and Ivy League degrees. The new braintrust studied league-wide trends deeply, and slowly began to optimize the roster for what it saw as the future.
“The uppercut swing is like the three-point shot in the NBA,” director of baseball operations Daniel Adler told Adam Platt of Twin Cities Business ahead of the 2018 season. "When they go in, you get 50 percent more points. Fly-ball-based hits become home runs, which justify [a swing that gives up the opportunity for] ground-ball-based hits.”
Makes sense! But of course, deciding you want to hit a lot of home runs isn't the same as actualizing such a plan. Efforts to translate these beliefs to the field obviously came up short last year, sabotaged by Logan Morrison flaming out and various mishaps afflicting the team's core. Here in 2019, it's all coming together.
Through 52 games, the Twins are on pace to shatter the league's precedent for home runs in a season. Last year the Yankees set a new MLB benchmark with 267 bombs, topping the long-standing record of 264 set by the 1997 Mariners. At their current rate, the Twins will finish this year with 324.
With those previous standard-bearers, you could look at the rosters beforehand and envision historical home run totals. The '97 M's featured Ken Griffey Jr., Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez, Alex Rodriguez. Last year's Yanks had Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius.
But the 2019 Twins? I mean sure, many of us contended this group could challenge the franchise home run record. But to suggest they might blow past that number by 100? It was inconceivable. It still feels inconceivable, even as I watch it play out before my very eyes – the scrappy little Twins outbombing the Bombers. Such a scenario would require almost every hitter on on the roster to either max out or redefine his slugging prowess and, well, that's exactly what is happening.
Nearly each Twins regular is on track for a career-high in homers. Some cases are flat-out stunning, like Mitch Garver (already at nine after totaling seven as a rookie) and Eddie Rosario (presently on pace for 50). Others are more or less culminations of best-case scenarios – we all plausibly hoped that Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler and Byron Buxton could sometime join the ranks of top sluggers at their respective positions – but to see it all happen at once? While C.J. Cron brings in a 40-HR pace and Jonathan Schoop recaptures his prime production?
Like I said, inconceivable. I keep using that word, and I'm starting to think it doesn't mean what I think it means. Because this is happening. The Twins just keep bombing away, night after night, with a lineup that shows no relent. They have seven or eight different position players who could plausibly garner All-Star consideration.
Such a confluence of outstanding results requires a medley of contributions. So many factors have played a role, from the unseen to the more obvious, like coaches who get through and talented players who execute. But ultimately, it all ties back to a front office that had a vision and saw it through. They put data analysts and instructors in place who could materially elevate performance. They inherited a roster and customized it to their own specifications, removing final traces of the previous regime's imprint when Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier completed their contracts last year.
This front office's influence has even made an impact on those purportedly uncontrollable variables – namely, health. It's been a key driver of the offense's success, and while luck obviously plays a big part in that, the new leadership has totally retooled Minnesota's training and medical staffs. Worth noting as we see Garver preparing to return in about half of his estimated timeline.
Meanwhile, it's not entirely coincidental we've seen so few players go down to begin with. Rocco Baldelli makes a point of giving his players ample rest, and has championed the idea of rotating three catchers to keep all their legs fresh. The conservative approaches to bringing Sano and Nelson Cruz back from their ailments have been emblematic. Then there are the subtler things, like Buxton being asked to play a little further back in center field, lessening the frequency of blindsidings from the wall.
I've been a vocal fan of this front office since very early on, and they continually reaffirm my faith. Falvey and Levine have built a cutting-edge baseball operation where useful data guides the ship, and advantages are sought in every element, from every corner. It's impossible for an outsider to even divvy up credit amongst Falvey, Levine, Adler, Baldelli, and the many others involved. This has truly become a collaborative administration, as promised – one that's reinventing the Twins as a modern championship contender, out-slugging every club to come before it. To try and keep this article somewhat focused, I haven't even mentioned the organization's pitching turnaround, which is arguably even more impressive.
For those of us who spent years lamenting the Twins' relative antiquation and insularity, begging for an increased emphasis on analytics, this is especially rewarding to watch. Much credit belongs to Jim Pohlad, Dave St. Peter, and other top executives who embraced this thinking and orchestrated a miraculous transition: from lagging behind the pack to leading it in just a few short years. Plenty of baseball clubs have looked admiringly at teams like the Astros, hoping to replicate their success, but no one's done it this well.
The good vibes ringing out around the Twins right now are well deserved. And the folks who set this machine into motion, by putting their faith in the right people and providing the necessary resources, will themselves be richly rewarded as fans pour into Target Field this summer. What we saw this past weekend was only the beginning.
These 2019 Minnesota Twins aren't assured anything with two-thirds of the season left to go. But by now we can safely label them a power to be reckoned with, risen from a prolonged era of perpetual irrelevance.
- May 27 2019 08:10 PM
- by Nick Nelson
Maybe fans shouldn’t have doubted the Twins front office. Thad Levine was very familiar with Perez from his own days in the Rangers front office. Before joining the Twins, Derek Falvey might have been best known for what he was able to do with the Cleveland pitching staff.
Everything’s Bigger in Texas
Perez was a regular part of the Ranger’s rotation from 2016-2017. During that time, he averaged over 190 innings per season, but he struggled to get consistent outs. He ranked near the top of the league in earned runs allowed and walks. Also, he wasn’t striking out batters on a consistent basis. He averaged just over five strikeouts per nine innings pitched.
Statcast paints an even bleaker picture of what he was doing on the mound. His XBA ranked in the bottom 6% in the league for three consecutive seasons. In his last full season as a starter, his XSLG was in the bottom 7% of the league and his WOBA was in the bottom 1% of league. His strikeout percentage was also in the bottom 7% of the league for three straight seasons.
Moving to the bullpen in 2018 didn’t help many of his numbers. His WHIP ballooned to 1.78, a career high. His strikeout and walk rates also stayed nearly the same. Perez’s hits per nine and home runs per nine average jumped to twice his career average.
It was time for a change.
The Birth of a Cutter
During spring training, Perez got some advice from Johan Santana and Jake Odorizzi. From this advice, he was able to add a cut fastball that has kept batters off-balance. This pitch has become a secret weapon as hitters have been unable to solve this new addition to his pitching repertoire.
Perez has thrown his new found pitch 34.8% of the time this season. He has 39 strikeouts and 13 of them have been as a result of the cutter. When facing Houston’s potent line-up, he limited the Astros to four hits over eight shutout innings. In that start, he threw his cutter on 43 of his 100 pitches.
Perez seemed to put it all together on Monday night against Toronto. He collected a season high nine strikeouts in seven shutout innings. Five of his nine strikeouts came on the cutter. Out of his 102 pitches against the Blue Jays, he threw his cutter 34 times. Blue Jays hitters only managed one hit against the cutter.
Will Perez be able to keep this up in the months and weeks ahead? Will the league eventually be able to figure him out? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
- May 09 2019 05:38 AM
- by Cody Christie
Avengers: Endgame premieres in theaters next week, and has been the subject of much online speculation, along with requests from the studio to not spoil the film's ending. Falvey is unconcerned.
“I know what happens,” said the Twins Executive Vice President and Chief of Baseball Operations as he addressed reporters following yesterday’s 7-4 loss to the Blue Jays. “I saw it on Reddit. You wanna dance? I’ll tell you who dies right now. I’ll call your kids and grandkids too. Try me.”
The Twins were dogged by questions all off-season about their lack of bullpen spending. After a disappointing home series versus Toronto that saw relievers blow two games, the chatter only intensified. Falvey was having none of it.
“Do you want to know if Spider-Man and Black Panther come back? Do you want to know if Iron Man dies? Ask me about Craig Kimbrel,” said Falvey. “I will absolutely do it.”
Disputes over the bullpen upgrades (and lack thereof) rankled the team’s fanbase and media members alike, with unconfirmed reports of Twins Daily’s own Nick Nelson challenging ESPN’s Phil Mackey to a sabermetrics-themed rap battle at the Buffalo Wild Wings on Snelling Avenue.
For his part, Falvey was resolute in defending the team’s approach.
“We’re not as stable as we’d like to be this early in the season, but we like the guys we have,” said an agitated Falvey. “We’ve had some injuries. Are they the mortal injuries that Ant-Man and The Hulk suffer at the hand of Thanos? No.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Did I say too much? How rude of me. I know how the new Star Wars ends too. Keep asking questions. See what happens.”
- Apr 19 2019 06:07 AM
- by RandBalls Stu
According to the Twins' Executive Vice President and Chief Baseball Officer, Derek Falvey, Sano was flown back to Minnesota on Monday to have his wound readdressed by doctors at the Mayo Clinic.
“He’s out of the picture right now for Opening Day, that’s the most noteworthy piece,” said Falvey. "This was the right step to proceed, to have the healing going a little more the way we had hoped, we’re looking at baseball activity again in the middle of April.”
Factor in a rehab stint and the Twins are projecting an early May return.
The procedure, performed by Dr. Nho Tran at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, will keep Sano off his feet for several days at which point he will be placed in a hard cast to restrict movement. When that is removed, if the healing has progressed, he will return to the walking boot for another week. In all, he could be back on the field and going through an abbreviated spring training process by early April.
Sano initially cut his foot while celebrating his team's Dominican Winter League championship in San Pedro de Macoris.
"The entire town came out. [At the stage], the president of the team called every player up, one by one, to say thank you for the support," Sano told the Star Tribune. "Someone dropped liquid on the stage, someone else slipped, that person pushed me, I slipped down the starts and I caught my [heel] on them."
The initial wound, which required stitches, eventually had a low grade infection that the Twins treated.
The area around the wound, which was more of a blunt cut than a clean one, is taut and the movement prior to the placement of the walking boot damaged the sutures from the stress. At that time, the Twins medical staff consulted numerous specialists and determined that the best course of action was to reinsert sutures, attack it aggressively with treatment, and wait to see how it responded. Reassessed after ten days and not seeing the results they desired, the team's medical staff felt that it was in Sano's best interest to clean and close the wound again.
During this process, the Twins have been pleased with the amount of work Sano has continued to put in despite being limited in a boot. He has spent significant time in the weight room.
"I saw him sweating more frequently than I thought I would given that he’s wearing a boot," Falvey said.
"There is not a disappointment in anything about Miguel," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "There’s more of a disappointment for him, I actually feel bad that he’s dealing with what he’s dealing with."
With a stint on the injury list, it is likely that Marwin Gonzalez will go forward as the team's Opening Day starting third baseman.
"I think we said when we signed Marwin, one of the benefits to having Marwin is that he will play multiple positions and fill for you if there is an issue in one spot," said Falvey. "This is an issue in one spot right now.”
- Mar 05 2019 04:03 PM
- by Parker Hageman
Projection systems are built on input parameters; there’s no emotion or belief in what could be possible. Although the Twins front office has carried the water that 2019 almost solely relies on Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, the computer isn’t playing with that same fire. Sano and Buxton both project to be right around 2.0 fWAR players, but an All-Star emergence like that dreamed up at 1 Twins Way, would equate to something more along the lines of a 4.0 fWAR.
Acquired over the offseason, Nelson Cruz and his bat are projected to pace the Twins. A 2.6 fWAR leads the team and a 127 OPS+ is really the only mark of offensive substance. Tabbed for 30 dingers, he’d be doing more than enough as a 38-year-old designated hitter. It’s the help that he’ll need which causes reason for pause.
There’s no denying that C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop are upgrades over their predecessors, ZiPS agrees with this notion. What that duo doesn’t do is push the envelope forward in any drastic way. Adding just enough offensive firepower to be a bit better leaves Rocco Baldelli’s pitching staff to be exposed as well. Jose Berrios is staring at the lone 3+ fWAR projection (3.2), and there’s quite the drop off behind him.
At this point Kyle Gibson appears to have rounded in to the starter many hoped he would be, but he’ll deal with some uncertainty entering spring training fresh off a bout with E Coli. Average is what can best describe ZiPS feelings on both Michael Pineda and Martin Perez, while bullpen addition Blake Parker ends up being just a guy. Further development for Taylor Rogers looks exciting (3.22 ERA) but questions on how the pen will be pieced together remain aplenty.
After the San Diego Padres signed Manny Machado on Tuesday, Szymborski tweeted praise towards the decision. Jump-starting what should be a competitive window has always made sense, and San Diego accomplished that with one of the best assets they’ll ever have a chance to acquire. I found myself suggesting that Minnesota found themselves in the exact same boat, but instead turned away from spending and acquiring talent this winter. Jiving with commentary on the Twins ZiPS projections, Szymborski noted, “the Twins are one of the teams I'm most disappointed in this offseason. *This* was the prime offseason to make a huge play.”
Swimming in the middle ground leaves room for a wide range of outcomes for the Twins in 2019. The downside is that there’s plenty of chances for things to go negatively. With opportunity to step above average staring them in the face, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine balked, and the computers suggest that it’ll be interesting to see how that works out.
- Feb 21 2019 12:34 PM
- by Ted Schwerzler
Why do the Twins need to make a determination on Fernando Romero so quickly? We’ll get to that, but first, let’s take a look at his background, why he should remain a starter, and why the bullpen could be an option for him as well.
Regardless, it will be interesting to see what Derek Falvey, Thad Levine, Rocco Baldelli, Wes Johnson and Jeremy Heffner end up doing with Fernando Romero and the pitching staff in 2010.
Fernando Romero burst on the prospect scene way back in 2013 when he debuted stateside with the GCL Twins. Over 45 innings, Romero posted a 1.60 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, and struck out 47 batters while walking just 13. In 2014, he was quickly promoted to Cedar Rapids. However, after just three starts he was shut down and had to undergo Tommy John surgery. He missed the rest of 2014 and all of 2015. His return was slowed by a knee injury in 2015.
Early in 2016, Romero returned and went to the Kernels. However, he made just five starts and went 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA. In 28 innings, he walked just five and struck out 25 batters. He moved up to Ft. Myers and continued to pitch well. In 11 starts, he went 5-2 with a 1.88 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP. Over 62 1/3 innings, he walked 10 and struck out 65 batters.
With the strong showing and his prospect status, it was an easy decision to add him to the 40-man roster in November of 2016. Twins Daily named him the #1 Twins Prospect heading into the 2017 season.
In 2017, Romero spent the season at Double-A Chattanooga. He pitched 125 innings over 24 games (23 starts). He went 11-9 with a 3.53 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP. He walked 45 and struck out 120. Prior to the 2018 season, he was ranked by Twins Daily as the #2 Twins Prospect. (It took having the #1 overall draft pick to move Romero down to #2.)
For the second straight year, Romero began the season by impressing the Twins coaching staff and front office with a strong spring training. He began the season in Rochester. On May 2nd, Romero was called up to make his major league debut. He tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the Toronto Blue Jays to earn his first win. His next outing was in St. Louis and he threw six shutout frames to improve to 2-0. After making ten starts, he was optioned to Rochester and made just one start for the Twins the rest of the season (mid-July). Overall with the Twins, he went 3-3 with a 4.69 ERA, a 1.42 WHIP. At Rochester, he went 5-6 with a 3.57 ERA but a 1.29 WHIP. Combined, he worked 146 1/3 innings.
So why should the Twins continue to give him an opportunity to start? There are several reasons. First, he had a pretty good showing early in his big-league career as a starter. In his first five starts, he went 2-1 with a 1.88 ERA. In 28 2/3 innings, he struck out 29 batters.
Not only did he put up solid numbers, he showed really good stuff. His fastball sat between 92 and 95 mph and touched 96 and even 97 at times, and he maintained that through the first five innings. He did show a good breaking ball early, something that those who watched his Triple-A didn’t see consistently. He also showed a solid changeup most of the time. He spent the full season at age 23. One thought would be to continue the development as a starter, hoping that he could find more consistency with his breaking pitches and changeup.
Despite missing two years, Romero was able to reach 146 1/3 innings in 2018. Ideally, with a 20% increase, he could jump up to 175 innings, a real solid number for a mid-to-late, young starting pitcher.
Over Romero’s final six starts with the team, he went 1-2 with a 7.67 ERA and a 1.74 WHIP in 27 innings.
2019 is a crucial season for this decision to be made thanks to the rules of the Rule 5 draft. The Twins had to add Romero to their 40-man roster in November of 2016, so he used up option years in 2017 and 2018. If optioned in 2019, he would be out of options starting in 2020.
At Twins Fest, Derek Falvey would not commit to Romero being moved to the bullpen, even after the addition of Martin Perez. “I wouldn’t say that’s a definite at this point, but I would say that he is definitely an option (for the bullpen).”
There are several factors that go into this kind of decision, but the eye test tells people that Romero could be a force in the bullpen. And that’s something that Falvey acknowledged as well. “Fernando is someone who you watch the first few innings and you think, ‘that could be pretty special out of the bullpen.’ That’s something we’ve always talked about.”
There are varying opinions on what is best for pitchers who have had Tommy John surgery, so that’s another factor according to the Twins Chief Baseball Officer. “It’s a balance. You want to think about what’s best for his health. What’s best for his long-term? He is somebody who has history with Tommy John surgery. Is there some benefit to him working out of the bullpen?”
That’s part of it, but Falvey continued with the other part of the balance. “Certainly developing third pitch and getting some more variation to his repertoire is important if he is going to continue being a starter.”
Don’t forget, as so many Twins fans recall, the Johan Santana spent a couple of seasons in the Twins bullpen, used in a variety of roles, before joining the starting rotation in 2004 (his first Cy Young season).
There is a lot of truth to the old saying that most of the best relief pitchers in baseball were starters early in their career. A look at some of the top relievers in Twins history certainly shows that. Joe Nathan, Rick Aguilera, Eddie Guardado and Glen Perkins were all starting pitchers early in their careers. Even top relievers such as JC Romero, Juan Rincon, LaTroy Hawkins and others made starts early in their big league years.
THE FIFTH STARTER SPOT
I think most would agree that Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda are at least penciled into the Opening Day starting rotation. They may not need a fifth starter for a little while either, but at some point, they will need one. Martin Perez will most likely be on the Opening Day roster and is the favorite for the fifth starter spot as we speak. But there are several candidates for that spot. Some will certainly head to Rochester to start the season, but the bullpen just might be an opportunity for some of the pitchers as well.
As the Twins CBO, Falvey needs to think about the big picture to the 2019 season and beyond. He needs to factor in a lot of things such as contracts, options, injuries and more. He notes, “We don’t know exactly what our team will look like on Opening Day. The reality is we’ll have injuries - hopefully less than last year - but we’ll have injuries. We’ll have struggles. We’re going to have to find ways to get those guys to step up. I think about someone like Stephen Gonsalves, or Kohl Stewart, or Fernando Romero, or Zack Littell, or Adalberto Mejia. All those guys will compete to be potential starting options for us, but if we stay healthy, maybe there’s an opportunity for those guys in the ‘pen.”
What will happen? How do you foresee this situation playing out. Consider what might happen as well if there is an injury. Who would you think would be the next in line?
Specifically, what would you do with Fernando Romero? Clearly he’s got good fastball velocity and the potential to have three good pitches. We likely all agree that getting 175 innings out of a pitcher is probably more valuable than getting 60 to 70 innings from a reliever. Obviously Adalberto Mejia being out of options factors into decisions on him. Does Romero having just one option remaining force their hand and push a decision more quickly? Should it? What other factors would be instrumental in your decision?
- Feb 11 2019 06:54 AM
- by Seth Stohs
“He’s my favorite player, and there’s one I can get for $15,” said Evenson. “Mom said we could buy it this weekend.”
Twins Executive Vice President and Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey wants him to reconsider.
“I think he should really take a wait-and-see approach to this purchase,” said Falvey. “He has a solid card collection right now. If it appreciates in value, that’s when he can strike.”
Evenson, who was pulled out of science class to take Falvey’s phone call, was confused.
“It was pretty weird. This man said I should hold onto that $20 if I needed it down the line. I’m 10. I don’t have bills. I like Bryce Harper and I can afford it.
“The last time someone got a call in my class it’s because their dad was in jail,” Evenson added.
Falvey, who said the phone call was part of the team’s new Community Outreach program, understands Evenson’s passion, but urged the youngster to take the long view.
“What if he really gets into Fortnite or comic books? At that age, your tastes are mercurial. All of a sudden, you have this Bryce Harper card that was cool at the time, but now you want to trade it in for some Claremont-era X-Men issues. Then the market isn’t there and all you can get is a cruddy Daredevil that smells like milk.”
Evenson remains adamant.
“I like Spiderman, but Mr. Falvey said he’s not an X Man. I want a Bryce Harper card because I have money and he’s awesome.”
Falvey remains convinced that he can sway the child to his way of thinking.
“Later today we’re sending T.C. Bear to Jake’s after-school program with a dozen pizzas and a personalized t-shirt cannon signed by Jonathan Schoop,” said Falvey. “If he’s still apprehensive, we’ll let him shoot the cannon at TC with whatever he wants: apples, staple guns, you name it. Don’t tell TC that.”
- Feb 08 2019 12:07 PM
- by RandBalls Stu
Twins owner Jim Pohlad said Paul Molitor would continue to manage the club when Derek Falvey and Thad Levine took over the Twins front office. Molitor would win the AL Manager of the Year Award in 2017 as the Twins surprisingly qualified for the final Wild Card spot. It was hard to dump him at that point so Falvey and Levine stuck with him for one more season.
Even with the Twins finishing second in the AL Central, the writing on the wall was clear: The new front office wanted a more forward-thinking manager to steer the Twins back into contention. Molitor was removed from his managerial duties and the Twins went on the hunt for a modern manager.
Enter Rocco Baldelli.
Baldelli’s once promising playing career was cut short by illness and injuries. He joined the Tampa Bay Rays as an assistant and then was a coach in the years since he was forced to retire. Last season, he was given the title of major league field coordinator. This allowed him to work with the manager on in-game strategy while continuing to work to develop the team’s younger players.
Now the 37-year old is tasked with turning around a core of young Twins players that need their own development. Players like Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano underachieved throughout 2018. So far this off-season, Baldelli has visited both of these players at their homes. Just one of the first signs of his abilities to connect with players.
Baldelli should also bring some new ideas to the Twins managerial position. Tampa Bay has long been considered a hotbed for forward-thinking coaches. Baldelli played almost his entire career in the Tampa Bay organization and even played under Joe Maddon, who is considered one of the game’s best managers.
One of the new things Baldelli could bring to the Twins is a comfort with a concept like the opener. This was originated with the Rays last season and Minnesota has some in-house options that could slide nicely into an opener role. Minnesota started using openers throughout their system last season but Baldelli might make this a regular occurrence for big league pitchers.
He’s also mentioned that he wants players to be more mentally prepared for the game. Baldelli even mentioned that the players might not always be ready physically, but he needs them to have their heads in the right place for this team to find success. As a player, he fought through plenty of injuries, so this seems a likely focal point for the new manager.
Baldelli will need to establish his culture in spring training and the early months of the season. He’s been saying all the right things but winning isn’t going to happen overnight. Minnesota’s window of opportunity is just starting to open and the club needs Baldelli to take them to the next level.
What can Baldelli do for the club in 2019? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
- Jan 30 2019 09:39 PM
- by Cody Christie
“For me, I want to make the All-Star Game again,” Berrios said. “I want to make 20 wins and put my team in the playoffs … I want to play in October with my team.”
Alright! I’m already getting excited. Then Park asked Jose about establishing himself as an ace and how his mentality has changed since he was a rookie.
“My mindset and my attitude to work everyday is the same. I want to be the best,” Berrios said.
OK, now I’m getting really hyped. Go on …
“I want to be in the Hall of Fame someday,” Berrios said.
POW! How awesome is that!? I don’t recall ever hearing a player throw that out as one of his goals, let alone a guy who’s only 24-years-old. I love it!
When we talk about leadership, this is true in baseball as well as other aspects of life, we typically are looking toward figures of authority or elders. That’s a relative term. You wouldn’t typically call a 38-year-old an elder, but in baseball terms I think that label fits for Nelson Cruz. Anyway, with his energy, work ethic and optimism, I see no reason to think Jose Berrios can’t be the leader of the Twins pitching staff for years to come.
Of course, there is no substitute for experience, but Berrios is entering this season with 71 starts under his belt. By no means has he seen it all, but it’s also not like it’s his first rodeo, either. And some of the young guys are already looking up to him. Brusdar Graterol has started referring to himself as The Machine Jr. That’s awesome.
Back in June, Mike Berardino asked Graterol about Berrios. Here are some of the things he had to say:
“My favorite pitcher is Jose Berrios. I like the way he throws. I like how he throws his breaking ball. Oh, my God, it's impressive.”
"My focus is to work out every day—every day. I need to keep my arm strong; that's the most important thing. So, every day I work on my arm. I like working hard. That's why Jose Berrios is my favorite. I understand he works every day."
"Every day I watch video of Berrios. That helps me improve. Right now, I'm working on my changeup."
Someday soon there may be two members of the Minnesota Twins rotation trying to pitch themselves to Cooperstown. Am I getting ahead of myself? Of course I am, but can you blame me? Listen to these guys. You gotta love it.
Falvey on WCCO
Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey joined Chad Hartman on WCCO Thursday to preview TwinsFest. Here’s a link to where you can listen to the entire segment. Falvey joins the broadcast at about the seven-minute mark.
At around the 16-minute mark, the conversation really turned interesting and Hartman did an excellent job asking all the kind of questions that are on the minds of Twins fans. Here’s the question Hartman presented:
"If I see a team that wasn’t a factor for the majority of the season in the race and then spends 30 million dollars less in payroll, it makes me think 'is this just a rebuilding year?' Where the organization is in many ways admitting by their actions in the offseason 'we don’t think this is the year we should go all in because we think we’re either not good enough right now, we’re too young,' whatever it might be. Is it fair to say you view this year as a rebuilding season?”
It’s not like Falvey was going to respond by calling the Pohlads cheap and admitting the team is raising the white flag, of course, so he started his response with a lot of things we've heard before about the front office always being backed up when it comes to baseball decisions. But here's was what I thought was the key takeaway from his long response:
“We’ve added to this team,” Falvey said. “We don’t look at this as a rebuilding team. We look at this as a group that, if all those things come together with our young players — that we are putting all kinds of resources around to ensure that happens — if that happens, along with some adds we’ve made, we’re going to continue to have flexibility moving forward. So I don’t fixate solely on the payroll number, I think this is a team that’s growing and developing and getting better. They’re going to have their sights set on Cleveland from the start, I know that.”
Hartman asked about all the one-year deals they’ve been signing and why the team is so willing to go there when things went so poorly with similar deals last season. Falvey said the difference as the players they signed late heading into 2018 were all seeking multi-year deals, whereas the guys they’ve added this year were comfortable and saw some value in signing one-year deals. He said he views them very differently in terms of player desire and interest.
Hartman acknowledge that he saw a lot of potential for the lineup to be good, but expressed concerns about the current pitching staff. He asked if Falvey believes whether or not the pitching staff as it’s currently constructed can play meaningful games in September.
To his credit, Falvey didn’t side step the question, beginning his answer with “I do, and here’s why.” He went on to point out all the seemingly unorthodox ways some really good bullpens have been built of late, and specifically mentioned the 2018 Oakland Athletics. In regard to the closer role, he added that the Twins have five relievers who have closed out games at the big league level.
How about those 2018 A’s? Blake Treinen went from basically your average reliever in terms of production to arguably the most dominant pitcher in baseball. Yusmeiro Petit was sort of the equivalent to a bullpen innings eater, pitching an effective 93 innings, which had to go a long way to keeping everybody else fresh. Rookie Lou Trivino burst onto the scene, Emilio Pagan was death to right-handed hitters and Ryan Buchter was untouchable against lefties. That foundation of those five pitchers ended up blending to be a deadly bullpen.
Nobody could have seen things shaking out the way they did, but everything seemed to magically fall into place for Oakland. They added to that group around the trade deadline and went on to win 97 games last season. I don’t love the idea of the Twins depending on some of that magic finding their way, but if you wanted to point out an unorthodox way an excellent bullpen was built, I think Falvey nailed it with the 2018 A’s.
“Bullpens are made in many different ways, and you certainly have to have different looks and different angles to the group,” Falvey said. “I’m not ruling out that we could have a chance to add to that group of pitchers, but I think that’s a group that could surprise a lot of us because of what they can do, how young they are and the chance that they could take steps forward for us.”
Finally, Chad asked about whether or not Falvey really felt like they’d be making any more additions. Falvey said they have to be open to that possibility and it’s possible they might not even truly know how the team is going to round out until late March. Hartman finished with “will I see Bryce Harper or Manny Machado at TwinsFest this week?”
“Don’t always believe everything you read on the Internet,” Falvey said.
- Jan 25 2019 06:49 AM
- by Tom Froemming