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  1. Twins All-Decade Team, the '10s (The Pitchers)

    The 2010s were a rough decade for the Minnesota Twins overall, though they have some fair seasons and a couple of playoff appearances. The final season of the decade was a 102-win season that gives fans hope for the coming decade of baseball.

    Pitching continued to be a huge question mark for the Twins throughout the decade. However, they did draft and develop Jose Berrios who, at 25, has already pitched in two All-Star Games. With Derek Falvey in charge, the hope is that he will help the organization develop pitching the same way he did in Cleveland.

    For now, take a look at the choices for five starting pitchers and five relief pitchers of the Twins decade.

    SP - Ervin Santana (2015-2018)
    85 games, 85 starts, 30-25 with 0 saves and a 3.68 ERA in 525 1/3 innings. 414 K. 159 BB.

    The Twins signed Santana in December 2014 after ten MLB seasons, eight with the Angels. He got a four year, $55 million deal. However, before the 2015 season, he was suspended for 80 games. He pitched the second half of that season and made 30 starts in 2016. Though he went just 7-11, his 3.38 ERA was 25% better than league average. He got off to a great start in 2017 and earned his second career All- Star appearance. Overall, he went 16-8 with a 3.28 ERA (35% better than league average). He led the league with five complete games and three shutouts. He hurt a finger late in the season and it just didn’t heal in 2018. He tried to come back but it didn’t work.

    SP - Kyle Gibson (2013-2019)
    193 games, 188 starts, 67-68 with 0 saves and a 4.52 ERA in 1,087 innings. 845 K. 392 BB.

    Gibson was the Twins first-round pick in 2009 out of Missouri. In 2010, he pitched at Ft. Myers, New Britain and Rochester. He was on his way to debuting in 2010, but his elbow didn’t agree. He had Tommy John and returned late in 2012. He made his debut in June 2013 and spent the rest of the decade in a Twins uniform. Gibson remained mostly healthy and provided over 1000 innings. He fit into a category of “generally kept his team in the game” and because of that, he finished with a record right around .500. He won 10 or more games in five of his six full seasons, winning 13 games in 2014 and 2019. His best season was in 2018 when he went just 10-13 but had a 3.62 ERA, 18% better than league average. He fought with ulcerative colitis in 2019, but he took the mound whenever asked. After a dozen years in the Twins organization, Gibson signed a three-year deal with the Rangers in the offseason.

    SP - Jose Berrios (2016-2019)
    104 games, 103 starts, 43-34 with 0 saves and a 4.21 ERA in 596 2/3 innings. 585 K. 195 BB.

    Berrios was the 32nd-overall pick in the 2012, draft out of Puerto Rico. He was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year in both 2014 and 2015. At just 21, he made his MLB debut in April 2016. He really struggled in his rookie season, posting an ERA over 8 in 14 starts. In 2017, he went 14-8 with a 3.89 ERA. He made his first All-Star appearance in 2018 when he went 12-11 with a 3.84 ERA in 32 starts. Last season, he returned to the All-Star Game. In 32 starts, he went 14-8 with a 3.68 ERA. He reached 200 innings for the first time in his career. He was set to be the Twins Opening Day starting pitcher again in 2020.

    SP - Phil Hughes (2014-2018)
    92 games, 79 starts, 32-29 with 0 saves and a 4.43 ERA in 489 2/3 innings. 360 K. 63 BB.

    Hughes was the 23rd overall pick in the 2004 MLB Draft. After parts of seven seasons with the Yankees, he signed a three-year deal with the Twins about a week before they signed Santana. He put together an incredible 2014 season. He went 16-10 with a 3.52 ERA. In 209 2/3 innings, he walked just 16 batters. His 0.7 BB/9 and 11.63 K/BB led the league. The latter was an MLB record. Just one out from reaching 210 innings, and a big incentive, his final start ended when there was a rain delay. The Twins ripped up his three-year deal and made it a five-year deal. He went 11-9 with a 4.40 ERA in 27 games in 2015. After that, he struggled with his shoulder and had thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. He was unable to pitch consistently from 2016 until he was traded to the Padres early in the 2018 season.

    SP - Scott Baker (2010-11)
    52 games, 50 starts, 20-15 with 0 saves and a 3.90 ERA in 305 innings. 271 K. 75 BB.

    While Baker’s best season was in 2009, he was still quite productive the first two years of the next decade. In 2010, he went 12-9 with a 4.49 ERA in 29 starts. In 2011, he went 8-6 with a 3.14 ERA in 21 starts before his season came to an end. He ended up needing Tommy John surgery and missed the 2012 season. Between 2013 and 2015, he pitched for the Cubs, Rangers and Dodgers.

    RP - Glen Perkins (2010-2017)
    342 games, 1 start, 17-14 with 120 saves and a 3.18 ERA in 342 2/3 innings. 359 K. 84 BB.

    The Twins drafted Gopher great Glen Perkins with the 22nd overall pick of the 2004 draft. He came up through the minor league system as a starter and debuted late in 2006. He was a starter (and went 12-4 with a 4.41 ERA) in 2008. By 2010, he made the move to the bullpen. He took off in 2011. He posted ERAs of 2.48, 2.56 and 2.30 over the next three years, becoming one of the top left-handed relievers in the game. He became the closer midway through the 2012 season. He was an All-Star in 2013, 2014, and 2015, compiling 102 of his 120 saves in those three seasons.

    RP - Taylor Rogers (2016-2019)
    258 games, 0 starts, 13-10 with 32 saves and a 3.04 ERA in 254 1/3 innings. 278 K. 64 BB.

    Rogers was the Twins 11th-round pick in 2012 out of the University of Kentucky. He climbed the Twins ladder as a starting pitcher. However, early in 2016, Glen Perkins was hurt and Rogers was called up to work out of the bullpen. He’s been there since, and he has continued to get better as his role has gained leverage. In 2017, he posted a 3.07 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. In 2018, he had a 2.63 ERA anda 0.95 WHIP. Last season, he had a 2.61 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. His strikeout rate over the last three seasons has gone from 7.5 K/9 to 9.9 K/9 to 11.7 K/9 in 2019. He began the 2019 season being used in any late-inning, high-leverage situation. As other options struggled, he began getting more opportunities in the closer’s role. He often worked multiple-innings to record saves. He was also named an all-pro after the season.

    RP - Brian Duensing (2010-2015)
    330 games, 52 starts, 36-35 with 2 saves and a 4.20 ERA in 565 1/3 innings. 375 K. 177 BB.

    Duensing was the Twins third-round pick in 2015 out of the University of Nebraska. He made his MLB debut in 2009. In 2010, he went 10-3 with a 2.62 ERA in 53 games and 130 2/3 innings. He moved into the starting rotation for the 2011 season, and struggled. By mid-2012, he moved to the bullpen full time and became a reliable left-handed option for the next three seasons. He was called upon to get one out, pitch an inning or even pitch a couple of innings at a time. He left after the 2015 season and pitched one season with the Orioles before pitching in the Cubs bullpen in 2017 and 2018.

    RP - Ryan Pressly (2013-2018)
    281 games, 0 starts, 17-16 with 1 save and a 3.75 ERA in 317 innings. 282 K. 108 BB.

    Pressly was a starting pitching prospect with the Red Sox when the Twins picked him with their Rule 5 selection in December of 2012. He impressed in spring training 2013 and made the team. He had a 3.87 ERA in 49 games that season. He was able to be sent to Rochester the next year and split the season between AAA and the big leagues. By 2016, he was an oft-used reliever in the Twins bullpen. He continued to show great stuff so as he worked more, he became a high strikeout pitcher. He was traded to the Astros at the July deadline in 2018 and became even more dominant. Before the trade, he had 69 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings. He was an All-Star in 2019.

    RP - Casey Fien (2012-2016)
    257 games, 0 starts, 17-15 with 1 save and a 4.21 ERA in 237 1/3 innings. 209 K. 42 BB.

    Fien pitched in 11 games for the Tigers between 2009 and 2010. He spent 2011 in the minor leagues. The Twins signed him to a minor league deal before the 2012 season. He began in Rochester, but something clicked for him midway through the season, and he took off and earned a call to the Twins where he finished the season posting a 2.06 ERA in 35 games. He spent three seasons as a reliable reliever for the Twins. He struggled early in 2016 and was claimed by the Dodgers. He pitched for Seattle and Philadelphia in 2018.

    For more from this series, see below.

    Previous Installments
    Twins All-Decade Team, the '60s (The Hitters)
    Twins All-Decade Team, the '60s (The Pitchers)
    Episode 15: Get t o Know the 1960s Twins (with Dave Mona)
    Twins All-Decade Team, the '70s (The Hitters)
    Twins All-Decade Team, the '70s (The Pitchers)
    Episode 16: Get to Know the 1970s Twins (with Patrick Reusse)
    Twins All-Decade Team: the '80s (The Hitters)
    Twins All-Decade Team: the '80s (The Pitchers)
    Episode 17: Get to know the 1980s Twins (with Howard Sinker)
    Twins All-Decade Team: the '90s (The Hitters)
    Twins All-Decade Team: the '90s (The Pitchers)
    Twins All-Decade Team: the '00s (The Hitters)
    Twins All-Decade Team: the '00s (The Pitchers)
    Twins All-Decade Team, the '10s (The Hitters)

    • May 14 2020 08:17 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  2. 10 Years at Target Field: The Best Moments of the Decade

    10: Outdoor baseball returns to Minnesota (4/12/10)

    On April 12th, 2010, the Twins christened their new ballpark, hosting the Red Sox on a cloudy and cool Monday afternoon. It wasn't the team's first game at Target Field (a pair of exhibitions against the Cards had been played there 10 days earlier) but this one made it official. For the first time in almost 30 years, Twins fans were able to watch meaningful baseball at home under blue skies rather than a Teflon roof.

    It was a crisply played 5-2 victory for Minnesota, keyed by Carl Pavano's six strong innings along with three-hit games from Jason Kubel and reigning MVP Joe Mauer. The Twins went on to win their first four series at Target Field and finished 53-28 (.654) at home in the new stadium's inaugural season.

    9: Byron Buxton races for record-setting inside-the-park home run (8/18/17)

    As with many of the moments on this list, I picked this one because it is emblematic of the man behind it. Buxton has had plenty of amazing moments at Target Field since debuting there in 2015, but his inside-the-parker against Arizona in August of 2017 epitomizes the electricity and incredible athleticism that make him such a tremendous joy to watch.

    Blazing around the bases in 13.85 seconds after his towering drive caromed off the wall in right-center, Buxton set a new Statcast record for the feat, breaking... his own. (Of course.)

    8: Ben Revere channels Willie Mays in center field (8/22/11)

    Target Field has seen its share of phenomenal defensive plays, and Mr. Buxton has been responsible for quite a few of them. In my humble opinion, however, none can top this dazzling catch from Revere, which to me is one of those "You remember where you were and who were you with when you saw it" kinds of moments. Defensive play of the decade for Minnesota, from my view.

    7: The Rally Squirrel becomes legendary (8/21/19)

    The beauty of outdoor baseball is that it brings so many variables into play: wind, weather, and the occasional wildlife.

    In the first year at Target Field, there was the famous moth-eating falcon, which came to be known as Kirby the Kestrel. But the most beloved unticketed visitor waited nearly until the end of the decade to make its appearance: The Rally Squirrel.

    He (or a cohort) had scampered out the previous night, during a losing effort, but this time the squirrel's appearance coincided with a big comeback and flurry of runs for the Twins, who rallied to blow out the White Sox and earn the newly minted mascot its nickname.

    6: Eddie Rosario homers on first MLB pitch (5/6/15)

    From the Department of Can't-Make-This-Stuff-Up: Rosario's big-league debut. Stepping up for his first major-league at-bat in 2015, with his family watching from the Target Field stands, Eddie offered at the first pitch he saw from A's lefty Scott Kazmir and sent it over the left-field wall.

    For fans, it was the perfect introduction to Rosario, conveying his confidence, aggressive approach, and flare for theatrics.

    5: Brian Dozier caps epic comeback against Tigers (7/10/15)

    Two months after his splashy arrival, Rosario played a role in one of the most exhilarating victories of the decade, setting the stage for Dozier's heroics.

    The Twins, flirting with contention for the first time in years, were looking to finish out the first half strong with a series against Detroit heading into the break. They'd fallen in the first game and were at risk of another setback, with a 6-1 deficit entering the bottom of the ninth.

    Rosario delivered an RBI single to bring Minnesota within four. A bases-loaded HBP from Kurt Suzuki and two-run single from Danny Santana trimmed the Tigers' lead to one. Then the lineup turned over and up came Dozier – days away from his first All-Star Game – with two on and one out. Joakim Soria hung a breaking ball, and he paid for it.

    Any "Best Twins Player of the Decade" discussion should probably start with Dozier. He was the beating heart of those upstart, fringy playoff teams in 2015 and 2017. His 42-homer outburst in 2016 was one of the sole positives in a trainwreck campaign. Twins Daily named Dozier team MVP three straight times. That walk-off shot was perhaps the most transcendent moment in a career full of special ones.

    4: Johan Santana is elected to Twins Hall of Fame (8/4/18)

    While it's fun reminiscing about the last 10 years, and thinking back to the days of Ben Revere catching a Vladimir Guerrero drive off of Carl Pavano, it does emphasize just how LONG ago that was. As we head into the 2020s, distance grows from a bygone era of Twins baseball filled with so many great players, moments, and memories.

    Johan's Hall of Fame induction in August of 2018 was a big highlight of this decade for me, because it channeled so much of the franchise's past into Target Field – if for one fleeting ceremony. Santana will forever be one of the great success stories in Twins history, and to see him celebrated alongside many of those cherished fellow fixtures from the late Metrodome run – Brad Radke, Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, Eddie Guardado – was cool. Especially on a day where Jose Berrios, who is striving to inherit Santana's mantle (an ace that can ACTUALLY beat the Yankees in October), was Minnesota's starting pitcher.

    3: Glen Perkins closes out the 2014 All-Star Game (7/15/14)

    When he retired after the 2017 season, I wrote that if a Twins Daily Hall of Fame were ever established, Perkins would be the first inductee. He was one of the team's best players throughout the site's early years of existence. He once bought a round of beers from the bullpen for TD Pub Crawl attendees. He's an amazing homegrown success story. Oh, and in his post-playing days he's now being described as "Minnesota's Ron Swanson."

    Sadly, Perk's career peak aligned directly with the grimmest part of the decade for the club. He was an elite closer on a terrible team, and his shoulder gave out just as the Twins began to finally emerge from the struggle. Perkins flat-out deserved to have things play out exactly as they did when the All-Star Game came to Minneapolis in 2014 and shined a national spotlight on Target Field.

    Trailing early, the American League came back to take a two-run lead, setting up a save opportunity for Minnesota's shutdown closer. Perkins trotted out to his mound, with Twins batterymate and fellow All-Star Kurt Suzuki on the other end, and retired the side in order to seal a win for the AL. You could have hardly scripted a better sequence for his All-Star appearance in front of the home crowd.

    2: Jim Thome blasts first Target Field walk-off HR against White Sox (8/17/10)

    Choosing just one Thome moment (Thoment?) for inclusion on this list was a challenge. In his brief but spectacular Target Field tenure to start the decade, the Hall of Famer gave us plenty of lasting memories, which would largely come to define the ballpark's early legacy.

    There was the mammoth flagpole dinger against the Royals in September of 2010. There was his epic moonshot to right-center the next summer, estimated at the time as the longest in the stadium's short history at 490 feet. There were his two jacks against Tampa Bay in July of 2010 to tie and then surpass Harmon Killebrew on the all-time home run list.

    But for me, nothing can beat the clutch tater that Thome thumped against the White Sox in August of 2010. With the Twins down by a run in the bottom of the 10th, the slugger launched a majestic two-run bomb into the plaza, notching the first walk-off home run in Target Field history. That legendary blast sealed a key division win for a team just three games up in the standings, and led to one of the best photos in Twins history.

    It's a tough moment for any other to top. More than eight years would pass before it finally happened.

    1: Joe Mauer dons catcher's gear for one last time (9/30/18)

    A lot of things needed to go right, and an array of carefully crafted plans had to reach fruition, for Mauer's farewell to play out as it did. Dan Hayes meticulously detailed the story for The Athletic, and it's one of my favorite things he's written.

    When everything fell into place on the final day of the 2018 season, pure magic was the result. Mauer hadn't explicitly confirmed he was playing his last game as a big-leaguer, but that sense was palpable throughout the afternoon, and became crystal-clear in the bottom of the ninth inning.

    With the Twins leading 5-4, Mauer stepped onto the diamond in catcher's gear for the first time in more than five years. He tearfully saluted fans during a lengthy ovation, received one pitch from Matt Belisle, and then walked off Target Field into the proverbial sunset, leaving behind an extraordinary 15-year career.

    Mauer's best days came in the Metrodome, no doubt. When Target Field was built, he was widely viewed as the best player in the AL, if not in all of baseball, a distinction he wouldn't hold onto for long. In the eyes of many, the portion of his career spent in Target Field will always be associated more with bilateral leg weakness and concussions and production that failed to live up to his mega-contract, signed a month before the park opened.

    But don't overlook the many moments he left his mark on Target Field. There was the walk-off homer against Boston in May of 2017. The ridiculous catch behind the foul net in 2010. The tallying of his 2,000th career hit in 2018 – a seeing-eye single up the middle, naturally.

    It's only right that from 2020 forward, no Twins player will ever wear No. 7 again. Joe was one-of-a-kind, up until his last day and heartfelt final moments in the uniform.


    I'd love to hear you all sound off. Did I miss any of your favorite moments? Would you change the order? Let's think back to our most cherished summer days as we experience the full brunt of Minnesota's winter.

    • Dec 29 2019 07:47 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  3. Is Taylor Rogers the AL’s Most Valuable Reliever?

    Minor Leagues
    With his college experience, it made sense for Rogers to try to stick as a starting pitcher. During his professional debut (15 appearances), he split time between Elizabethton and Beloit with a 2.27 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP, and a 74 to 17 strikeout to walk ratio. In 2013, he continued to be utilized as a starter. Between Low- and High-A, he posted good numbers as he made 24 starts and posted a 2.88 ERA with a 1.20 WHIP.

    Over the next two seasons, he would continue to start, and he made multiple trips to the Arizona Fall League. New Britain was his home for all of 2014 as he had a 3.29 ERA and a 1.29 ERA. He made only three appearances in the AFL that season, but he limited batters to four hits and one earned run. He continued to climb the ladder in 2015 as he pitched to a 3.98 ERA at Triple-A. A return trip to the AFL saw him start six games with a 2.88 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP.

    It was time to see what he could do at the big-league level, but it would come with a new role as a relief pitcher.

    Rough Transition
    During his rookie season, Rogers made 57 relief appearances (61 1/3 innings) and had a 3.96 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. Batters were making solid contact against him on a regular basis. His 89.7 exit velocity and 40.8% hard hit percentage were in the bottom 6% of the league. Opponents hit .260/.318/.401 (.719) against him that year as he surrendered a career high seven home runs.

    The 2017 campaign saw Rogers still trying to acclimate to life as a reliever. His WHIP rose to 1.31 and his strikeouts per nine dipped from 9.4 to 7.9. Obviously, this isn’t a good sign in the transition to the bullpen. However, opponent's exit velocity dropped nearly three miles per hour (89.7 to 86.9) and his hard-hit percentage finished at 35.4%. One of the biggest intentional changes was his decreased use of his fastball. He used his four seamer 3.9% of the time, which was a steep drop from 17% in 2016 (see chart below).

    From this point forward, Rogers made other pitching changes to transform into one of baseball’s best relievers.

    Among Baseball’s Best
    Besides his fastball usage, Rogers made two other pitching changes to become dominant. He implemented a slider in 2018 and it has become his second most used pitch during the 2019 campaign. Other than that, his curveball has almost disappeared. He used this pitch over 33% of the time last year and he has only used it 1.3% of the time this season.
    [attachment=12816:Tayor Rogers chart.jpeg]
    Rogers has provided unbelievable value to the Twins this season. His 2.78 win probability added (WPA) leads all Twins pitchers. It’s almost a full win higher than Minnesota’s All-Star starters Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi. No position player has a higher total than Rogers. He also might be on pace for one of the best relief seasons in Twins history.

    Since Target Field opened in 2010, Glen Perkins (2.79 WPA) has the best WPA of any Twin reliever. Jared Burton (2.41 WPA) and Glen Perkins (1.85 WPA) in 2012 have the other top totals. Doug Corbett’s 1980 season was Minnesota’s all-time best WPA mark from a reliever. His 7.58 total is likely untouchable for Rogers, but he could have enough to catch Joe Nathan’s 5.77 WPA for second place all-time.

    During a record-setting year, Rogers might be the AL’s most valuable reliever. He is the lone AL relief pitcher with a WPA over 2.0 and he is closing in on 3.0. He’s up 0.85 WPA over Alex Colome, the second-place relief arm. Former Twins Liam Hendricks (1.87 WPA) and Ryan Pressly (1.78 WPA) round out the top-four.

    It’s been quite the journey, but Rogers could end this season as the most valuable reliever in the American League. Do you think Taylor Rogers is the most valuable reliever in the AL? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Jul 15 2019 08:40 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  4. Joe Mauer Buys Fireworks at His Local Target

    It was always fun to go to the park and watch the fireworks shows when I was a kid, or when Uncle Ken came over with his special fireworks from South Dakota and Mom would yell at him. Now that I’m home with the kids, I wanted to make sure they got to experience a real 4th of July celebration.

    Here’s what I found out: They have fireworks at Target now. Did you know about this? At first I thought it was a set-up, like when (former Twin Justin) Morneau told me I had to grow sideburns or Ron Gardenhire wouldn’t let me on the team plane for road trips. I didn’t know he was kidding me about that until 2016. Pretty funny deal, but I wish he’d told me sooner. I don’t even like sideburns, but I sure as heck didn’t want to drive to Tampa all the time.

    Anyway, I go to Target, and there’s this big shelf of fireworks right out in the open by the birthday cards. I look around, and I don’t see any hidden cameras or police officers. I pick up a couple roman candles and take them to the register. I even asked the clerk if it was ok for me to buy these, because Mom would get pretty steamed if I was on the news for breaking the law. The clerk looked at me kinda funny, but said sure. And I walked out of Target with a bag of fireworks. It was a pretty neat deal.

    I took out my flip phone and sent a text to (former Twin Glen) Perkins and asked him if he knew that you could get fireworks in Minnesota now. He said yeah, they changed the law a couple years ago, but the good s-word was still in Wisconsin. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to Hudson to buy some bottle rockets and then get held up in fireworks customs at the border. Unless Morneau was kidding about that too. I should probably check on that.

    Have a great weekend, Twins fans.

    • Jul 05 2019 07:44 AM
    • by RandBalls Stu
  5. Twins Weekly for Jan. 19-25: It’s a Celebration!

    Let’s take a quick look back at all the articles from the front page in the order they were published. This edition of Twins Weekly covers Friday, Jan. 19 to Thursday, Jan. 25.

    Diamond Awards A Big Success | John Bonnes
    Players’ Union Rejects Pace Of Play Proposals | Cody Christie
    Johan Santana Elected To Twins Hall of Fame | Seth Stohs
    The Twins Almanac for January 21–27 | Matt Johnson
    Gleeman & The Geek, Ep 352: Winter Meltdown 2018 | John Bonnes
    Can Addison Reed Become Minnesota's Bullpen Ace? | Nick Nelson
    Twins On Deck With Seth Podcast (Episode 3) | Seth Stohs
    Top Ten Twins Players Under 25 (6-10) | Cody Christie
    Overheard at TwinsFest: Granite Wants to Kick Yankee @!# | Tom Froemming
    Fernando Romero Is Healthy, Ready To Compete | Seth Stohs
    Glen Perkins: Tribute To A Twins Daily Hall Of Famer | Nick Nelson
    Would You Rather: Darvish or a Cobb/Lynn Combo? | Tom Froemming
    5 Challenges The Twins Should Be Prepared To Face In 2018 | Nick Nelson
    Report: Darvish Decision Expected This Week, Twins In Consideration | Cody Christie
    Video: Slowing Things Down To See Jason Castro’s Silent Skill | Tom Froemming
    Get To Know Rule 5 Pick Tyler Kinley | Seth Stohs
    The Minnesota Twins Said No To Jim Thome | Parker Hageman
    Dollars Make Sense for 2018 Twins | Ted Schwerzler

    Twins Daily Blogs
    Below are some additional items of note from the blog area. I've pulled excerpts from each piece in an attempt to hook you in.

    The Sport of Immigrants
    By mikelink45

    From the start the Minnesota Twins had an international connection. In the 1960’s before the recent surge in Foreign born players, the Twins had a Cuban connection that brought us Camilo Pascual, Tony Oliva, Zoilo Versalles, Sandy Valdespino, and Luis Tiant. And from Venezuela – Cesar Tovar who took us to the 1965 World Series. In their first years, when I was an usher, I always tried to get near the first base bag as the game moved on and the seats were full so I could watch my favorite player – Vic Power from Puerto Rico. I loved Pedro Ramos who complimented Pascual on the mound and does anyone remember Elmer Valo from Slovakia? Or Reno Bertoia from Italy who lived in Canada and is in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame? There were 9 foreign born players on our first Minnesota Twins team.

    Twins Analytics Infrastructure
    By jharaldson

    This Twins have had a bit of a tortured history with analytics. In 2010 Rob Antony did an interview with TwinsDaily’s own Parker Hageman and revealed some interesting facts about the Twins and Sabermetrics. Antony stated this about their analytics department, “we're probably one of the last, if not the last, team to address it with a person dedicated solely to that.”. He went on further to fail to understand some fairly basic concepts about Sabermetrics. He thought FIP was “first strike in inning pitched” and was unable to guess about BABIP. He then revealed they had just hired their analytics guy and stated he would be “Gathering information and creating databases. This will be his first year. The guy that we brought in will start creating systems to build a foundation of our own that we can look at.” This is what I primarily want to get into as I have a background in IT.

    WAR on Twins Hall of Fame
    By sethmoko

    The announcement of Johan Santana's well-deserved selection to the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame as well as the round-and-round Twitter and blog conversation about MLB Hall of Fame selections got me thinking: Who is in the Twins Hall of Fame that might surprise and who are other deserving candidates.

    Twins Showing Interest in Wade Miley
    By Andrew Thares

    Wade Miley isn’t the sexiest name out there on the starting pitcher market, but he could be a value grab for the Twins as they look to add depth to their rotation. One thing the Twins will be able to count on in Miley is his durability, as he has averaged 186 innings per season over the last six years. Miley has a respectable 4.38 ERA, and 3.95 xFIP, over his career, though he has been suspect of late with a 5.48 ERA over the past two seasons. This will make Miley a cheap signing, that the Twins could take a flyer on.

    Bullish - The Upside of the 2018 Bullpen
    By Jamie Cameron

    Looking at the most effective bullpens of 2017, an even more integral stat is K/9. This makes a ton of sense, not much can go wrong if you’re striking hitters out on a consistent basis. In 2017, there were 9 teams with a bullpen K/9 of at least 9.5. Between them, these clubs averaged a WAR of 6.5 for their bullpen. The Twins bullpen WAR in 2017 was 2.2, not a disaster, good for 22nd in MLB. By K/9, the Twins ranked 29th, with just 7.66 strikeouts per nine innings. Hardly surprising, when you are cycling through nearly 30 relievers over the course of the season. So how do the Twins new additions stack up in generating more strikeouts?

    What does one of the newest predictive measurements tell about the Twins' bats in 2018?
    By Thrylos

    As indicated only Joe Mauer, and in a lesser degree, Jason Castro are projected to improve, as far as the 2018 startling 9 of the Twins go. Pretty much everyone else is projected to decline.

    If one looks at several projections about what the 2018 will do, which are based on xwOBA, expect them to show an overall decline in wins.

    Video of the Week
    New Hall of Famer Jim Thome was only with the Twins for two seasons, but he sure gave us some tall tales during his time here.

    eBay Item of the Week
    It’s too bad Glen Perkins’ prime coincided with a down period for the Twins, but Perk closing out the All-Star Game at Target Field was one of the highlights of that period. Check out this sweet program from that game with the hometown boy on the cover:
    This isn’t on eBay, but if you’re looking to score some other sweet Twins memorabilia and support a good cause, check out the listings at the Darrell and Merry’s Cancer Fund charity auction. There are 14 items up for grabs from Twins legends like Tony Oliva to prospects like Royce Lewis and everybody in between.

    Additional Links

    Baseball: Twins' Curtiss saves the day in relief
    By the Duluth News Tribune

    John Curtiss took the call on Monday in Dallas asking if he could fill in for fellow Minnesota Twins pitcher Jose Berrios on the team's annual Winter Caravan after Berrios returned home to Puerto Rico to attend to a family matter.

    Curtiss sprang into action, but his flight to Minneapolis on Monday was delayed due to the blizzard that hit the Twin Cities. He even offered to fly to Omaha, Neb., and then drive the rest of the way, but he instead ended up flying out Tuesday morning, where he joined the Winter Caravan later that day.

    Target Field renovations for 2018 unveiled
    By Maija Varda of Twinkie Town

    The biggest change happening is that the Metropolitan Club — the big glass area in right field reserved exclusively for season ticket holders — will be no more. Instead, it will be replaced by a new club called Bat & Barrel, and will be open to all ticket holders. It’ll have bar, table, and lounge seating, a bunch of TVs, alcohol, new food, and all the other things you’d expect the Twins to put in there. More unexpectedly, the club will also be the home for various team awards, including both World Series Championship trophies! Woo! Unfortunately, the team didn’t say whether these would be the real World Series trophies, or replicas like the ones they already display in the Champions Club behind home plate (the real trophies are kept in the team offices).

    Torres, Tatis Jr. lead Top 10 SS Prospects list (includes Royce Lewis and Nick Gordon)
    By Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com

    Keep an eye on - Wander Javier, Twins

    By the end of the year, it's possible that Javier will be getting more of the attention among Twins shortstops. Signed for $4 million in 2015, he had a strong United States debut in the Rookie-level Appalachian League in 2017 and could really break out with a move to the Midwest League this season.

    Minnesota Twins Spring Training Countdown: 22, Brad Radke
    By Benjamin Chase of Puckett’s Pond

    The Minnesota Twins are preparing for a 2018 season with expectations after making the playoffs in 2017 as a Wild Card. We will have bring out numbers from team history that represent the number of days until spring training from now until pitchers and catchers report on February 13th.

    Some pitchers put up incredible ERA numbers, some pitchers put up incredible strikeout numbers, and some pitchers simply put up consistent numbers year-after-year to create their value over time. One of the best examples of that model is Twins Hall of Fame starter Brad Radke, who wore #22.

    Baseball is Good
    By Cory Engelhardt

    I had my 32nd episode last night. I was my own guest. It was really interesting/unusual doing a show all on my own, and I felt at times like I was rambling on a bit. Outside of that, I enjoyed doing the show and asking myself some of the questions that I have asked other people in previous podcast. I touched on how I grew to love the sport, why I enjoy still talking about baseball, what I see as the future of Baseball is Good, and lastly I ended the show going over some memories I had from TwinsFest this past weekend. Please give it a listen!

    Calling All Bloggers!!!
    Reminder: Anyone can start a blog at Twins Daily. If you're interested in being a regular writer for the site, the blog section is how you get your foot in the door. The only reason you're reading my words right now is because I started my own blog at Twins Daily.

    Calling All Readers!!!
    I don’t want to leave you out, either. If there's anything you'd love to read about next week, please let us know in the comments.

    That does it for this edition of Twins Weekly, have a great weekend everyone.

    • Jan 26 2018 06:39 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  6. Glen Perkins: Tribute To A Twins Daily Hall Of Famer

    Why do I say Perk is an easy choice for this hypothetical TD Hall of Fame? The biggest reason is obvious enough: his play. Our site launched in 2012, and during the first several years of its existence, he was easily one of the team's brightest stars.

    Perkins first took over the closer role midway through that campaign, relieving us all of Matt Capps. From that point through the end of the 2015 season, the left-hander was one of the best relief pitchers in all of baseball, a three-time All Star and a dominant force.

    His best years coincided directly with the rise of our community. They also coincided directly with one of the darkest chapters in this franchise's modern history, which is a true shame. I do wonder how much differently Perkins might be viewed if more than a handful of his 120 career saves were actually meaningful.

    But it's not just the performance Perkins delivered at his peak that makes him near-and-dear to this site. He is in so many ways a reflection of everything Twins Daily stands for: a celebration of Minnesota baseball; an embracing of deeper and more thoughtful analysis; a sometimes nerdy level of passion for the game.

    This piece is my attempt to recognize Perkins for all of these things.

    Local Product
    He's the definition of a homegrown talent. Perkins was born in Stillwater, just inside the Minnesota border, in 1983. He grew up and played prep ball there, then attended the University of Minnesota, where he starred for the Gophers. Taken by his hometown MLB team with the 22nd overall pick in 2004, Perkins became the eighth first-round pick out of the U of M, joining – among others – Paul Molitor.

    How fitting that Molitor would eventually be the manager to send Perk out for his emotional curtain call in the season's second-to-last game.

    Obviously our central focus here at Twins Daily is covering the Twins (daily) but we also make efforts to extend our lens to Minnesota hardball at large. Readers could find frequent coverage of the Gophers and St. Paul Saints this summer, and around draft time we always shine a light on the locals. Perkins covers the breadth of our scope.

    When he donned those road jerseys with the "MINNESOTA" lettering across the front, it had quite a bit more meaning for Perkins than most.

    The Reinvention
    After joining the pro ranks, Perkins rose quickly through the minors, making his first big-league appearance two years after being drafted. But in time it became apparent that he wasn't cut out as an MLB starter.

    After working up to 150 innings in 2008, his arm didn't respond well. The following year he battled injuries while his fastball dipped below 90 and his K/9 sank to an untenable nadir. Late in the season, relations between he and the team reached a low point when Perkins filed a grievance against the Twins for optioning him to the minors instead of sending him on a rehab assignment off a DL stint, preventing him qualifying for Super 2 status (and thus, an arbitration raise).

    It was a logical decision for the Twins, but one could understand the lefty's frustration. His budding career momentum had grinded to a halt before yielding any significant money. The next year he pitched terribly in Triple-A but came back up to the majors in August anyway, in a probable last shot with the organization.

    Ron Gardenhire and the Twins saw something they liked as Perkins worked as a reliever in September, posting a 3.09 ERA and averaging a strikeout per inning. They brought him to New York for the playoffs.

    In spring of 2011, he was reportedly close to not making the team before a late-March meeting with Gardenhire in which he told the skipper, “I want to pitch for the Twins. It’s where I grew up. Just give me a chance.”

    They did, and boy was it a good call. Perkins blossomed as a setup man that year, pumping heat in the mid-90s, then took over the closer role in 2012. He would make three straight All Star teams in that capacity, and four years later he'd overtake Eddie Guardado for third on the franchise leaderboard in saves.

    It's the kind of turnaround that should inspire every struggling young player in the game.

    A Studious Mind
    As you may or may not be aware, Perkins wrote the foreword for this year's edition of the Baseball Prospectus Annual. In it, he recounts the story of discovering BP in 2009, and thusly becoming aware of sabermetrics and modernized analysis. Suddenly, he was noticing the negative harbingers in a 12-win 2008 season – a sub par K-rate, a bloated fly ball ratio, a FIP north of 5.00.

    A change in mindset, and reevaluating the factors of his game really worth focusing on, may have played a big role in driving his turnaround.

    By the time he was blooming as an elite relief pitcher in 2013, Perkins was well versed in advanced stats. That May, he participated in a Q&A with David Laurila of FanGraphs where he drilled down into metrics like K/9, Z-Swing%, and HR/FB.

    His assertion in that interview that FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is the most important pitching statistic probably wasn't shared by any of his peers in the majors, but was music to the ears of bloggers and analytical fans.

    This commonality – a fervent curiosity about baseball, extending beyond its traditions and platitudes – helped many of us fans feel an inherent bond with the hurler, and he strengthened it with an engaging and accessible personality. Perk has always been pretty interactive on Twitter. He and his wife Alisha host an annual 5K supporting mental health. He notoriously bought a round of beers from the bullpen for Twins Daily readers at our first Touch Em All Pub Crawl. He has even gone to bat for the value of baseball writing not driven by access:

    Perkins has done much to endear himself to Twins fans – and the hardcore sorts that patronize this site especially – so it's safe to say he wasn't the only one dealing with dust in his eyes as he sat in the dugout after that final appearance of the year.

    One of Us
    Here in Minnesota, the above term is thrown around often in sarcastic tones, teasing the absurd amount of pride we tend to express over athletes with local ties. But Perkins fulfills that descriptor in every sense.

    Thanks, Perk, for being One of Us and representing Us so well.

    • Jan 23 2018 01:47 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  7. DET 3, MIN 2: Twins Lose In Romine Sideshow Game

    Snapshot (chart via Fangraphs)
    Any time a guy plays all nine positions it’s obviously a bit of a stunt. Detroit clearly has nothing to play for at this point, and tonight’s accomplishment by Romine is among the highlights of their season. This was all for fun, and it’s hard to hold anything against the Tigers, but I would assume the Twins weren’t thrilled with how he was used on the mound.

    The only batter Romine pitched to was Sano. That was unfortunate timing.I don’t think the Twins needed to see what Sano could do against 85 mph batting practice. Sano hit a 113.6 mph single in his first at bat of the night, but followed that up with strikeouts in his next two plate appearances. Against Romine, he grounded out to third base.

    Aaron Slegers went 4.1 innings and gave up three runs, but one of them was unearned and another was an inherited runner allowed in by Dillon Gee. Slegers gave up three hits and a walk. He also had three strikeouts.

    Gee gave up a pair of hits over his 0.2 innings. One of those outs was courtesy of a great throw by Eddie Rosario to nap old friend Alex Presley at home. Michael Tonkin pitched 2.0 no-hit innings, John Curtiss followed with 1.2 no-hit innings of his own before Perkins came in to record the final out of the ninth.

    Perkins will surely have his option declined for next season, leaving his future extremely uncertain. But you don’t have to tell that to Glen, it was clear he knew the gravity of tonight’s appearance. He asked for the ball back as he and his teammates left the field and got emotional in the dugout and during postgame interviews (see below).

    Obviously the comeback didn’t go as well as Perkins would have hoped, but if this is the end for his playing career, it’s a pretty good way to go out. It would’ve been a shame if he’d never returned from that injury that costed him most of two seasons.

    Joe Mauer drew three walks and Zack Granite reached base twice, drawing a walk and hitting an RBI single. Max Kepler drew a bases-loaded walk to score the Twins first run.

    Postgame With Perkins

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Looking Ahead
    Sun: Twins (Bartolo Colon) vs. Detroit (Anibal Sanchez), 2:10 pm CT
    Mon: OFF
    Tue: Twins (Ervin Santana) at Yankees (Luis Severino), 6:00 pm CT

    Looking Back
    MIN 6, DET 3: Dozier, Escobar Lead Offense To Victory
    CLE 5, MIN 2: Ervin Caps Banner Year With 5 Shutout Innings
    CLE 4, MIN 2: Twins Lose, Clinch Postseason Berth Anyway

    • Sep 30 2017 09:04 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  8. TB 11, MIN 4: Bullpen Lets Game Get Out Of Hand

    Snapshot (chart via Fangraphs)
    The offense could muster only five hits and Jose Berrios gave up five runs over 5.0 innings. To be fair, the score was just 3-1 when Berrios was removed from the game. Things really fell apart once the bullpen took over. It took five different relievers to get through the final three innings. Yep, must be September.

    It’s really funny how pitching stats work out sometimes. In the box score, Buddy Boshers gave up zero earned runs over 0.1 innings, but he came in and gave up a massive two-run single that increased Tampa’s lead to 6-1 before recording the final out of that inning.

    One big difference between earlier in the year and now is that when the Twins are losing big, early in the season that typically meant we’d get to see Chris Gimenez pitch. Now, it means we get to see Glen Perkins pitch. He walked the first two batters he faced before getting a groundout and maxed out at 90.9 mph tonight. Both those runners eventually came around to score after Perkins had been lifted for Tyler Duffey.

    There was a bit of a scary moment in this one, as Mitch Garver was involved in a collision at home plate with Steve Souza Jr., who is 6-foot-4, 225 pounds. That’s not supposed to happen anymore right? Yes, but sometimes two guys are just in the same place at the same time.

    There is more video available of this game … but you don’t want to see most of it. There were a few bright spots. Brian Dozier hit his 28th homer of the season. His career high is 42, of course, but he’s now tied his second-best home run total in a season. Joe Mauer also hit his 30th double and Byron Buxton stole his 25th base.

    Doing these things every day has helped me realize a bit why “take things one day at a time” is such a baseball cliche. These guys do this everyday. If you think too far ahead or dwell too much on the past, things aren’t going to go well for you in the present.

    This was an ugly loss. The Twins have had quite a few of these over the season, though it’s been a while. They’ve lost three out of four now, but we’ve seen this before and survived worse. And you know what? They’re still in a wild card spot despite all that ugliness.

    But ... it will be very interesting to see how Molitor manages this huge bullpen going forward. There aren't many (if any) guys who have defined roles right now. That can be great in theory, but I'm not so sure the Twins have the personnel or manager to pull that off.

    Another part of the sting from Monday’s loss was the fact that the Yankees and Angels both won. So the Twins trail New York by three games and hold just a 0.5 game lead over Anaheim. Cleveland also won again. That’s 12-straight victories now. They lead the Central by 10 games.

    Postgame With Molitor

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Looking Ahead
    Tue: Twins (Bartolo Colon) at Tampa Bay (Jake Odorizzi), 6:10 pm CT
    Wed: Twins (Aaron Slegers) at Tampa Bay(Blake Snell), 12:10 pm CT
    Thu: Twins (Kyle Gibson) at Kansas City (Sam Gaviglio), 7:15 pm CT

    Looking Back
    KC 5, MIN 4: What Even Is A Swing, Anyway?
    MIN 17, KC 0: What Negative Run Differential?
    KC 7, MIN 6: Oh, So Close

    • Sep 05 2017 05:47 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  9. Recap: Slegers Shines in Debut, Twins Split Doubleheader

    This is like a choose your own adventure recap. If you wanna get to the good stuff, just go ahead and scroll down to Game 2. Otherwise, buckle up for a whole lotta ugliness from Game 1.

    GAME 1
    Win Expectancy (via Fangraphs)
    Top 3 Twins per WPA: Polanco .175, Gee .167, Buxton .088

    The day didn’t get off to a good start for the Twins. Not only did they get beat handily, but they had to use five guys from the bullpen to cover five innings, thanks to another short start from Kyle Gibson. Not what you want to have happen in your first of seven games scheduled over a stretch of just five days.

    Gibson lasted just four innings, and it took him 97 pitches to get that far. He gave up three runs on seven hits and a walk. He also hit two batters and threw a wild pitch. Regardless, the Twins managed to stick around in this game and were trailing 3-2 heading into the eighth inning.

    Ryan Pressly gave up a three-run homer and a solo shot in the eighth, crushing any hopes of a Twins late-inning comeback. What that did allow, however, is a low-leverage spot for Glen Perkins to make his 2017 debut.

    It was a long journey back from torn labrum surgery, and Perk deserves credit just for working his way back to a big league mound, but he’ll hope for better results the next time out. He faced six batters and only got one out, surrendering two runs on a pair of singles, two hit batsmen and a walk. Below are Perkins’ velo readings from the game via Baseball Savant. He averaged 91.3 mph on his fastball. He was at 93.7 back in 2015.
    How about the lineup? Well, they set a team record by striking out 19 times. They got the bases loaded with no outs in the first inning and couldn’t score. And, to top it all off, they made some poor baserunning plays, too. Jorge Polanco got picked off at second base on an odd Max Kepler bunt attempt.

    And Eddie Rosario hit a ball high off the wall that somehow failed to score Joe Mauer from second base and only advanced Miguel Sano 90 feet. The ball hit at least halfway up the wall in right-center field, at least 10 feet up, and neither Cleveland outfielder was faking out the runners. Hard to see why Mauer didn’t get a better read.

    Byron Buxton was a bright spot, as he hit his seventh homer, drew a walk and scored twice.

    GAME 2
    Win Expectancy (via Fangraphs)
    Top 3 Twins per WPA: Slegers .242, Kepler .136, Escobar .101

    The Twins desperately needed a starting pitcher to provide them length, so why not the 6-foot-10 Aaron Slegers? He delivered 6.1 innings, and surely could have gone longer, but Paul Molitor decided to let him end his major league debut on a high note after just 82 pitches.

    The only run Slegers gave up while he was on the hill was on a solo homer, which was also one of just two hits he surrendered. He walked two men and had three strikeouts. Per ESPN Stats & Info, Slegers became the first Twins pitcher to throw at least 6.0 innings and allow two or fewer hits in his debut since Pat Mahomes in 1992.

    Slegers, the Twins fifth-round pick in 2013, opened up the game by setting down Cleveland 1-2-3 in both the first and second innings. He also faced the minimum in the third inning, thanks to a double play. He opened the fourth by retiring the first two batters he faced, then gave up the homer to Jay Bruce, his 30th of the year. Slegers followed that up with a four-pitch walk to Edwin Encarnacion, but just when it looked like he may be unravelling, he got Carlos Santana to ground out to end the inning. Then it was right back to where he started. Slegers again had 1-2-3 innings in both the fifth and sixth innings. Brian Dozier helped out with an web gem on a slow roller that got past the big man.

    He opened the seventh by getting some revenge on Bruce, striking him out, before giving up a single to Encarnacion. That ended Slegers’ night, but unfortunately Trevor Hildenberger allowed Encarnacion to score, tacking on an earned run to Slegers’ line and costing him a shot at picking up the win.

    Below is some data on pitch usage and velocity for Slegers, via Baseball Savant (FF stands for four-seam fastball and FT is the two-seamer).
    The repertoire/usage reminds me a lot of Bartolo Colon, though it’s not a perfect comp. He throws a whole lotta fastballs even though they don’t really light up the radar gun and just enough other stuff to keep hitters honest. Here’s hoping Slegers will be back up and able to soak up some knowledge from Colon. Slegers served as the 26th man for the doubleheader, so he’ll rejoin Rochester.

    Mauer and Eduardo Escobar each had three hits, but Max Kepler came up with the biggest hit of the game, pounding the go-ahead homer in the seventh inning, his 15th of the season.

    Robbie Grossman fractured his thumb in a collision with Buxton (who is just fine) in the outfield. It’s possible this will end Grossman’s season. It was also reported Nik Turley was at Target Field Thursday night, so expect a few transactions coming.

    Postgame With Slegers

    Twins W-L Record
    Overall: 60-59 (.504)
    Last 10: 7-3 (.700)
    Last 20: 11-9 (.550)
    Last 40: 20-20 (.500)
    Last 80: 39-41 (.488)

    AL Central Standings
    Cleveland 66-53
    Kansas City 61-59 (-5.5)
    Minnesota 60-59 (-6.0)

    AL Wild Card Standings
    WC1: Yankees 65-55
    WC2: Angels 62-59
    Kansas City 61-59 (-0.5)
    Minnesota 60-59 (-1.0)
    Seattle 61-61 (-2.0)

    Bullpen Usage
    Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
    Looking Ahead
    FRI: Twins (Ervin Santana) vs. Arizona (Zack Godley), 7:10 pm CT
    SAT: Twins (Jose Berrios) vs. Arizona (Zack Greinke) 6:10 pm CT
    SUN: Twins (Bartolo Colon) vs. Arizona (TBD), 1:10 pm CT

    Question of the Day
    With Grossman injured, would you like to see as the primary DH?

    • Aug 17 2017 08:55 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  10. Bullpen Ramblings

    The Twins bullpen has not been good again this year. Here are the numbers:

    Bullpen ERA: 4.53 (25th)
    Strikeouts: 345 (26th)
    Walks: 132 (7th)
    Batting Average Against: .269 (30th)

    Also, the Twins bullpen ranks seventh in Innings pitched with 407.1 innings. That is largely the fault of the starting rotation. Even with the first halves of Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios, the starters’ ERA is 4.89 (26th). The 625.1 innings the Twins starters have thrown ranks 27th lowest. They are also in the bottom half of MLB in strikeouts, walks, and batting average against. Again, the bullpen has generally been OK (not good, but not horrific either) until they have to throw a lot of innings due to a run of short starts.

    While the Twins were generally healthy during spring training, there were some things that were already known.

    First, while Glen Perkins was trying to throw some bullpens, it was clear that he would miss an extended time at the beginning of the season. Trevor May was going to be transitioned back to a starter before his season ended before it started when he had Tommy John surgery.

    In the offseason, the Twins spent $2 million on veteran Matt Belisle. He had four horrific outings early in the season. But then he was nearly flawless for about six weeks before becoming the team’s closer. He recorded saves in his first three opportunities before blowing one.

    The Twins also brought in some veteran types on minor league contracts. Craig Breslow got the longest big league look before the Twins DLd him and released him. Drew Rucinski has seen some time. Independent ball signing Nik Turley made three starts that didn’t go well, though it looks like his future could be in the bullpen.

    So, why did the Twins sign so few relievers when we knew that there was potential for it to be a huge concern?

    Brandon Kintzler would likely be solid, if not a stereotypical closer. He was much better than anticipated, even earning an All-Star berth and appearance. Taylor Rogers was coming off a solid rookie season and looking to improve upon it. Ryan Pressly’s clearly got the stuff to believe in. Fair to say that hasn’t gone real well much of this season. Tyler Duffey made the move to the bullpen and needed an opportunity to develop in that role.

    It was clear from the get-go that 2017 was going to be an evaluation year for Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. That meant giving extended opportunities to several arms. Could Buddy Boshers be an alternative if (and eventually when) Craig Breslow didn’t pan out? Michael Tonkin got through 2016 without an option. Could he take a step forward in 2017?

    The team also added Justin Haley in the Rule 5 draft and wanted to evaluate him. Just like claiming the likes of Adam Wilk, Chris Heston and Dillon Gee. Add arms and evaluate.

    Already, we have mentioned nine names for eight (and ideally seven) bullpen spots. But then there were other injuries that started piling up toward the end of spring training.

    JT Chargois and his upper-90s fastball had a terrific September for the Twins and could have been a key contributor this season. Instead, 2017 has been the third lost season for Chargois since the Twins drafted him in 2012.

    Nick Burdi had a lost 2016 season, but in the season’s first month, he was throwing hard, and throwing strikes, and seemingly very closer to debuting with the Twins. Instead, he had Tommy John surgery in May and that will likely cost him much of the 2018 season as well.

    Tyler Jay was moved from the role of starting pitcher to relieverin spring training. The idea was that he would be able to move up more quickly. Instead, he’s missed nearly the entire season with biceps tendinitis and thoracic outlet-type symptoms.

    And Jake Reed stayed with the big league club through most of spring training, but in the final spring game, he pulled a muscle in his side and missed the season’s first two months.

    If you want to add Mason Melotakis to this group, that may work because he was supposed to get to the big league club this year. Unfortunately, he pulled an oblique early in the spring and didn’t have an opportunity to pitch in big league camp. While he hasn’t been injured, his velocity is way down. His numbers at AAA Rochester have been quite good. But he was able to be DFAd, went unclaimed and was outrighted to Rochester.

    Each of those guys was likely expected to be a key contributor in the Twins bullpen by this time in the season. Instead, they have received zero innings so far but Reed, and possibly Melotakis, has a shot of getting a call this season.

    However, that has opened up opportunity for others. Alan Busenitz got the call first. He went up and down a few times, but with recent outings, he has shown good improvement. His mid-to-upper 90s fastball is good, and he has a good breaking ball too.

    Trevor Hildenberger was the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year in 2015and 2016. He came up in late June and has shown that he can get big league hitters out. On Sunday, he got four outs to record his first MLB save. While his fastball sits in the upper-80s most of the time, his changeup is really, really good. And he throws each of his pitches from a couple of angles.

    Busenitz and Hildenberger should factor into the 2018 Twins bullpen options. Hopefully Jay and Reed, Chargois and Melotakis, and maybe even Burdi at some point, will get an opportunity and could factor into the bullpen.

    But other names have surfaced for 2018 as well. John Curtiss had a very strong 2016 season, spending a month in Cedar Rapids before moving up to the Miracle. He also performed well in the Arizona Fall League. He’s been absolutely fantastic in 2017, both in Chattanooga and since his move up to Rochester.

    Luke Bard was recently promoted to AAA after putting up huge strikeout numbers at Chattanooga. Ryan Eades has been solid in the bullpen. The Twins also acquired lefty reliever Gabriel Moya from the Diamondbacks in exchange for John Ryan Murphy. He’s put up silly numbers at AA all year. Nick Anderson has been, arguably, quietly, the best reliever in the Twins farm system all season. Todd Van Steensel has put up another year with great numbers, this time at Chattanooga.

    And we don’t know what the ultimate roles will be for the likes of Fernando Romero, Dietrich Enns, Dereck Rodriguez or other starters in the upper levels of the minor leagues.

    The cabinet is certainly not bare, and as Falvey and Levine have said, accumulating arms and talented arms is clearly a focus.

    If you’re looking for a sleeper for 2018, look to the GCL where right-hander Michael Kohn has been pitching the last few weeks. A former teammate of Torii Hunter, Kohn threw for the Twins in a tryout and soon after the Twins offered him a deal. Kohn was eating lunch with another former teammate and former Twins reliever Kevin Jepsen when his agent texted him with the Twins offer. The Twins signed him to a two-year minor league deal that includes an invitation to big league camp in 2018. He hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since May of 2015 due to shoulder surgery. In 115 games (132 games) over parts of five seasons in the big leagues, he struck out 111. He has pitched five innings over five appearances in the GCL over the last two weeks.

    And finally, there is Glen Perkins. The three-time All-Star hasn’t pitched since April of 2016. He had shoulder surgery, reattaching the muscle to the bone. It had to be incredibly painful, and clearly it has taken a ton of work to get back. His rehab stint in entering its final week. The Twins will (presumably) call him up and give him an opportunity. I’m realistic about how much he’ll be able to contribute down the stretch. I hope he can just be solid. This is most likely the final season of his career, unless his plans have changed due to these injuries. The Twins aren’t going to pick up his option. So enjoy what he’s got left. Hope for the best. Appreciate the work he’s put in to get back and remember how great he was for a three or four year stretch.

    The Twins could certainly go out right now and add a reliever or two in a trade. The cost, in terms of dollars or prospects would not be high. Or, they could call up guys like John Curtiss, Mason Melotakis, Luke Bard and Jake Reed in September and give them a shot.

    The cupboard for Twins relief pitching options is far from bare. I would again advocate in the upcoming offseason that they not go crazy on bullpen arms in free agency. Maybe one veteran on a one-year, low cost, low risk deal, and a couple more minor league signings. That’s it. And then find a manager and pitching coach (whether that is Paul Molitor and Neil Allen or not) who will be willing to go with the young arms.

    • Aug 15 2017 05:46 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  11. Twins Minor League Report (8/3): Felix Jorge Rules, Glen Perkins Pitches Clean Inning In Rehab

    Find out everything that happened in the Twins minor league system on Thursday.

    Lehigh Valley 2 @ Rochester 5
    Box Score

    Hector Santiago struck out 9 over 5.2 innings. He gave up a run on five hits, the damage coming via a solo home run. He walked just one. Big league cast-off Michael Tonkin gave the Red Wings 1.2 innings of relief. He gave up a couple of hits and a run, but pitched well enough to earn a hold. John Curtiss came in for a five-out save, gave up a hit, and walked two to earn his sixth save of the season.

    J.B. Shuck led the way for the Red Wings with the bat, he was 3-4 with a double and a run scored. Daniel Palka was 2-4 with a home run, his 10th of the year. ByungHo Park was 2-5 with a run scored and has 13 hits in his last nine games, including a pair of home runs. He’s also struck out 15 times over that same span, so maybe he isn’t hitting his way back to the Twin Cities any time soon.

    Chattanooga 4 @ Montgomery 0
    Box Score

    What a nice day from Felix Jorge. The little stud-muffin gave up just four hits over 7.2 innings, and kept the Montgomery Biscuits off the board. He walked two, and struck out five. After back to back starts in the middle of July when he gave up six earned runs, he’s turned in two great performances, including a complete game one-run game less than a week ago. Nick Anderson came in to help Jorge finish the eighth, and grabbed himself his fifth save of the year by making quick work of Montgomery over 1.1 innings, lowering his ERA to 1.19.

    Ryan Walker did most of the work for the Lookouts, with a run scoring single in the second, and a two-run double in the top of the ninth to extend the lead. Centerfielder Levi Michael added the other RBI for the Lookouts, going 1-4 with a K. He’s hitting well lately and has tallied 17 hits in his last 9 games, raising his average 25 points.

    Jupiter 3 @ Fort Myers 4
    Box Score

    The Miracle won on Thursday in a back and forth game that saw the Miracle take the lead in the fifth, again in the seventh after the game was tied, lose the lead in the top of the eighth, and then walked-off with a Nelson Molina home run to start the ninth! Molina was 2-4 with that home run and a pair of runs scored.

    Following the walk-off, Nelson Molina told Twins Daily, "It's a unique feeling. It's so great really. I just thank God for that great feeling."

    Recent draftee Brent Rooker was 1-4 with two strikeouts.

    On the bump, Glen Perkins pitched a clean first inning in his rehab start. He was replaced by Brady Anderson who gave the Miracle 5.0 innings of one-run baseball, giving up four hits, and he struck out two. Then it was an inning each from Tom Hackimer (one hit, no runs scored), Andrew Vasquez (one hit, two runs scored, a walk, and a blown save), and Alex Muren (a hit, two strikeouts, and the all-important W, thanks to Molina). In giving up a pair of runs, Vasquez broke a 24-inning scoreless streak to start his Miracle career.

    Kane County 6 @ Cedar Rapids 1
    Box Score

    The Kernels gave up 15 (FIFTEEN!) hits to Kane County and fell just 6-1 only because the Cougars were just 2-13 with men in scoring position. Tyler Watson was tagged with the loss after 5.1 innings of seven-hit, four-run baseball. He walked one and struck out four. He was replaced by Patrick McGuff who gave up a pair of runs over 1.2 innings. And Ryan Mason finished the game off with, 2.0 innings, four hits, and three strikeouts.

    Like the Cougars, the Kernels squandered some scoring chances. They were just 2-12 with RISP and stranded 11 runners. The Cedar Rapids 3-4-5 hitters were a combined 1-11 with no walks and three strikeouts. Jimmy Kerrigan was 2-5 at the top of the order, and Travis Blankenhorn was 2-4 with a walk, really the only bright spots on the night.

    E-Twins E-Notes
    Burlington 4 @ Elizabethton 1
    Box Score

    The E-Town Twins were down 4-0 before they pushed a run across in the bottom of the seventh, but ultimately squandered too many chances on Thursday night, going 0-8 with runners in scoring position and stranding six runners. All eight of the Twins’ hits were singles, and they lost another out on the basepaths when Akil Baddoo was caught stealing in the bottom of the sixth. Baddoo, however, led the team offensively, going 2-4 with a walk, reaching three times.

    Starter Edwar Colina turned in a quality start, giving up three runs over 6.0 innings. HE gave up four hits, walked 3three and struck out six. He was replaced by Jared Finkel (or was it Einkorn?*), who gave up a run and two hits in 2.0 innings, also giving up a walk and striking out a pair. Jovani Moran pitched the ninth, giving up no hits, but he walked a pair and struck out a pair.

    GCL Twins Takes
    GCL Rays 2 @ GCL Twins 3
    Box Score

    Tyler Wells started for the Twins and faced just nine batters over 3.0 perfect innings. He struck out three batters as a bonus. He was replaced by Matt Jones, who gave up an unearned run over 3.1 innings of two-hit baseball and collected the win. He walked three and struck out two. Amilcar Cruiz earned a hold and gave up an earned run without giving up a hit when one of his runners scored after he (Cruiz) was lifted from the game after walking the first two batters in the ninth. Zach Featherstone earned his second save of the year coming in for Cruiz in the ninth. He struck out the first batter he faced, then gave up a double that scored two runs to make it a 3-2 game with a man on second and one out. Featherstone promptly struck out the next two batters to preserve the save, and the victory, for the Twins.

    The Twins had just six hits on the night, and no one had more than a pair of hits. Luckily for the Twins, Jean Carlos Arias scored a pair of runs with a two-run home run in the sixth, and Colton Burns accounted for the third run on a solo shot in the seventh.


    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Felix Jorge, Chattanooga Lookouts
    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – J.B. Shuck, Rochester Red Wings


    Rochester @ Syracuse (4:05pm, Double header) – Game 1: TBD, Game 2: Dietrich Enns (1-1, 2.29
    Jackson @ Chattanooga (6:15pm) - Stephen Gonsalves (7-3, 2.90)
    Jupiter @ Fort Myers (6:05pm) – Lewis Thorpe (2-4, 3.06)
    Kane County @ Cedar Rapids (6:35pm) – Clark Beeker (10-3, 2.31)
    Elizabethton (6:00pm) – Brusdar Graterol (0-0, 4.50)
    GCL Twins (11:00am) - TBD

    Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Thursday's games.

    • Aug 04 2017 09:19 AM
    • by Eric R Pleiss
  12. Twins Minor League Report (7/22): Perkins Returns, Hurlbut Rolls

    Rochester 4, Toledo 3
    Box Score
    David Hurlbut twirled a gem and the bullpen was able to barely hold off the charging Mud Hens for the victory. Hurlbut tossed seven innings and allowed one run on six hits. He struck out four and didn't surrender a walk. He's won five of his last six decisions and he hasn't allowed more than three earned runs since the middle of June. Alex Wimmers and John Curtiss each allowed a run in relief but they kept the Red Wings on top.

    Matt Hague didn't need much help to create the team's first run. A one-out double put him in scoring position. He moved to third on a wild pitch and a Kennys Vargas ground out brought him in. Niko Goodrum led off the fifth with his 20th double before advancing to third on a fielding error by the right fielder. Leonardo Reginatto wasted little time bringing him in with a run-scoring single to put Rochester up 2-0.

    After Toledo scored in the top of the seventh, Rochester answered back. Goodrum notched his second double of the game with two outs. Reginatto, JR Murphy and Edgar Corcino strung together three straight singles to push across a pair of runs. Rochester needed all the breathing room they could get and it paid off to put the team at 15 games over .500 on the season.
    Chattanooga 7, Mobile 0
    Box Score
    Fernando Romero was provided early run support in this one and Lookouts bullpen held on to the victory. Romero pitched five shutout frames and struck out six while walking three. He lowered his season ERA to 2.68 but he hasn't pitched more than five innings since the end of June. Randy LeBlanc tossed two scoreless frames including three strikeouts. Raul Fernandez finished off the final two frames to complete the shutout. He struck out two and walked one.

    With one out in the first, LaMonte Wade was hit by a pitch. Jonathan Rodriguez, Andy Wilkins and Max Murphy all followed with singles before TJ White was hit by a pitch to score the third run of the inning. Rodriguez created a run in the third. He walked, stole second and advanced to third on a fly out. White doubled to score Rodriguez. One batter later, White scored on a Perez single. Rodriguez had another big hit in the sixth, a two-run homer, that capped a big night at the plate.

    With the victory, the Lookouts move to 64-34 on the season. They lead the Southern League North division by six games in the second half but they already have won the first half title.

    Fort Myers 2, Tampa 3
    Box Score
    Fort Myers fell one big hit short of a big comeback. The Miracle left the bases loaded in the ninth but fell a run short. David Fischer took his seventh loss as he allowed one run over two innings. He struck out four and walked four. Keaton Steele allowed only one hit over three innings to go along with a strikeout. Williams Ramirez put together two shutout innings with three strikeouts. Alex Muren gave up the two biggest runs in his two innings of work.

    Miracle catcher Brian Navarreto and manager Doug Mientkiewicz were both ejected in the seventh inning after Navarreto was called out on a check swing. Mitchell Kranson collected three hits and an RBI. Jermaine Palacios had the team's only extra-base hit, a double, as part of a multi-hit night. Kevin Garcia reached base three times and came around to score a run.

    Cedar Rapids 12, Lansing 4
    Box Score
    The Kernels used an all-out offensive assault to catapult the club to their 52nd victory. Ben Rortvedt launched a three-run home run and Trey Cabbage added a home run of his own. Travis Blankenhorn, Lewin Diaz and Christian Cavaness all finished with multi-hit nights. Cabbage reached base four times in five plate appearances and scored two runs. Diaz drove in three runs and scored twice. Every batter in the Kernels' line-up had a hit with the exception of Joe Cronin but he walked twice.

    Griffen Jax was able to coast to his second victory. He pitched into the seventh inning for the third time in his last four appearances. Overall, he allowed two earned runs on five hits with three strikeouts and three walks. Logan Lombana ran into a little trouble as he allowed two runs on three hits in an inning of relief. Patrick McGuff finished off the final four outs without allowing a hit and striking out three.

    Elizabethton 1, Bluefield 4
    Box Score
    For the fourth time in his last five starts, Edwar Colina pitched at least five innings. However, five errors meant he saw four runs cross the plate and he only allowed two earned runs. He struck out five and walked two. Jared Finkel didn't allow a run over the final 3.2 frames. Only two men reached base and he struck out two.

    Jose Miranda and Shane Carrier each went 2-for-4 at the dish. Robert Molina had the team's lone extra-base hit, a double. Akil Baddoo reached base twice and scored the team's only run. Overall, the team went 2-for-6 with runners in scoring position and they left seven men on base.

    GCL Twins 7, GCL Red Sox 0 (Game 1- 7 Innings)
    Box Score
    Royce Lewis was part of two big scoring innings and Glen Perkins made his return trip to the mound after missing 13 months. Perkins started the game and was asked to get three outs. He struck out the first two batters he faced and fielded a come-backer that ended his clean 1-2-3 inning. It had to be a relief for the former All-Star to get back into game action. There is still a chance he could impact the 2017 Twins but that remains to be seen.

    Lewis and Ricky De La Torre singled to start the first before an Alex Robles ground out brought Lewis in from third. Benjamin Rodriguez cracked his fifth double of the season to plate another run. A Brian Olson ground out and a Victor Tademo single capped a four-run frame. With one out in the second, Lewis singled and came around to score on a Robles single. Rehabbing outfielder Daniel Palka singled to score De La Torre and the Twins were up 6-0.

    Brusdar Graterol pitched five shutout innings after Perkins left the game. He scattered three hits and tallied five strikeouts to improve to 2-0 on the season. Jose Bermudez closed out the final frame with a perfect inning including a strikeout.

    GCL Twins 2, GCL Red Sox 4 (Game 2- 7 Innings)
    Box Score
    For all the offense in the day's first game, the second game didn't go so hot for the GCL Twins. The club only mustered three hits and went 0-for-11 with runnerss in scoring position. Alex Robles finished 1-for-2 with a double and a run scored. Kerby Camacho didn't record an at-bat as he was walked three times. Ricky De La Torre reached base twice.

    Taylor Clemensia struggled as he walked two batters, had a balk, allowed a steal, and didn't record an out. Carlos Suniaga took over and pitched 4.1 scoreless innings with five strikeouts and four walks. Zach Featherstone and Vadim Balan finished the final two frames with each allowing two free passes.

    Pitcher of the Day – David Hurlbut, Rochester Red Wings (7 IP, 1 ER, 4 K, 0 BB)
    Hitter of the Day – Jonathan Rodriguez, Chattanooga Lookouts (2-for-4, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB)

    Rochester vs. Toledo (12:35 CST) - RHP Aaron Slegers (10-4, 3.50 ERA_
    Chattanooga @ Mobile (5:05 CST) - RHP Felix Jorge (8-1, 3.56 ERA)
    Fort Myers vs. Tampa (3:05 CST) - RHP Brady Anderson (4-5, 4.30 ERA)
    Cedar Rapids vs. Lansing (2:05 CST) - LHP Anthony Marzi (3-0, 1.37 ERA)
    Elizabethton vs. Bluefield (5:00 CST) - RHP Huascar Ynoa (0-1, 3.68 ERA)
    GCL Twins - Scheduled Off-Day
    Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Saturday’s games.

    • Jul 22 2017 10:09 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  13. Searching For Relief

    The Injured
    Phil Hughes has been making rehab appearances for Rochester and it sounds like he could be joining the Twins as soon as the end of the this week. He will make one more appearance on Wednesday before being activated by the club. In three Triple-A appearances (3 IP), Hughes has allowed one run on three hits with one strikeout and two walks. He wants to contribute this season and the bullpen is his best option since he has some lingering symptoms of the shoulder weakness that caused him to have surgery last season.

    While Hughes is close to impacting the Twins, former closer Glen Perkins seems much further away from making a return. Manager Paul Molitor told reporters on Monday that Perkins could resume throwing after he receives a cortisone shot. This could come as early as Tuesday but there are no guarantees for Perkins. At this point, it seems like a long-shot for him to make an appearance this season.

    The Minors
    Ryan Pressly has struggled in his big league time this season, posting an 8.18 ERA with a 1.41 WHIP. In five Triple-A appearances (eight IP), he has yet to allow a run while converting all three save opportunities. He has given up more walks (three) than hits (two) to go along with 12 strikeouts and a .080 opponents' batting average. Those numbers might be tough for the front office to ignore.

    Michael Tonkin and John Curtiss are two other names to watch in the second-half. Like Pressly, Tonkin has struggled during his big league action this season. He has a 6.55 ERA and a 13 to 10 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 11 innings. With Rochester, he's posted a 2.81 ERA and a 23 to 9 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Curtiss was dominating as Chattanooga's closer before being promoted to Triple-A. For the season, he has allowed two earned runs (0.99 ERA) with 38 strikeouts over 27.1 innings.

    The Reunion Possibilities
    Former fan favorite Pat Neshek is currently on a bad Philadelphia team and his name has already been surfacing in trade rumors. The side-winding hurler has a 0.59 ERA to go along with a 0.783 WHIP that would be attractive to any team in contention. He is in the final year of a three-year contract so he will be a free agent at season's end. This makes it hard for a team to surrender multiple prospects for a player who will make only a handful of appearances during the stretch run.

    Another former Twin, Anthony Swarzak has been performing very well out of the White Sox bullpen. His 2.94 ERA is his best mark since 2013 with the Twins. Swarzak has also been posting a SO/9 rate higher than his career average and a career-best 1.10 WHIP. Like Neshek, he will be a free agent at the end of the season so trading multiple prospects probably doesn't make sense. He also currently plays on a division rival so that can make a trade less likely.

    Other options are available and it still remains to be seen how the new front office regime will handle the trade deadline. Do they want to go all-in on a club that is surprisingly in the playoff hunt?

    How do you think the front office should sort through the second-half bullpen options? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Jun 27 2017 09:12 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  14. Longest-Tenured Minnesota Twins

    So, here you have it, a look at the 12 longest-tenured players in the Minnesota Twins organization but first, a few honorable mentions.

    Honorable Mentions

    • November 2011 - Fernando Romero
    • September 2011 - Rafael Valera, Engelb Vielma
    • June 2011 Draft - Levi Michael (1st), Travis Harrison (1st supp), Dereck Rodriguez (6th), Jason Wheeler (8th), David Hurlbut (28th)
    • February 2011 - Felix Jorge
    • August 2010 - Randy Rosario
    The Top Ten Longest-Tenured Twins

    #9a, b, c, d - June, 2010, the Twins signed four of their draft picks that remain in the organization. Alex Wimmers was their first-round pick. Niko Goodrum was their second-round pick. Eddie Rosario was their fourth-round pick ,and Ryan O’Rourke was their 12th-round pick. Rosario has become a regular. He and O’Rourke were helpful in the 2015 Twins playoff chase. O’Rourke recently had Tommy John surgery. Wimmers debuted last August and remained with the team this offseason. Goodrum also could have been a free agent, but he also chose to re-sign with the Twins with an invite to spring training. Wimmers and Goodrum are in Rochester.

    #8 – On October 9, 2009, the Twins were playing (another) playoff series against the Yankees, but the big news of the day came off the field. The Twins had signed the #1 ranked international free agent, Miguel Sano, to a $3.15 million signing bonus. Since then, he has been one of the top power hitting prospects in baseball. He looked ready to debut with the Twins in 2014. Unfortunately, he needed Tommy John surgery and missed the entire season. He returned to action in 2015. He struggled for the first month of the season but started hitting soon after. He made his MLB debut in July and played so well he was named the Twins MVP and Rookie of the Year. He finished third in AL Rookie of the Year voting. He mostly DHd as a rookie, and in 2016 he was moved out to the outfield (which didn’t go well) and he struggled with the bat too. He seems to have figured some things out in 2017. He’s back at third base and he’s been a force with the bat also.

    #7 – Within the final hour of the the final day that teams could sign their 2009 draft picks (August 15), the Twins and pitcher Kyle Gibson reached an agreement. He began his professional career with the Miracle in 2010 and got to AAA that season. He returned to Rochester but by midseason, he wasn’t pitching like himself. He had an elbow problem and months later, he had Tommy John surgery. He missed the entire 2012 season. He returned in 2013 and had a ten-start call up with the Twins. He has been in the Twins starting rotation the last two years, making at least 33 starts each season. In 2015, he was named the Twins pitcher of the year. 2016 was injury-plagued for Gibson, and after a rough start in 2017 he is now at Rochester again pitching for the Red Wings.

    #6 – On July 11th, 2009, the Twins signed highly-regarded German outfielder Max Kepler. Though Kepler was always blessed with great tools, it wasn’t until 2015 that everything came together for him. He has worked slowly up the system. He repeated Elizabethton and has moved up one level each year since. He was named the Southern League MVP and led the Chattanooga Lookouts to the league title. While his team was celebrating, Kepler learned that he was heading to the big leagues. On the season’s final day, he got his first MLB hit off of Johnny Cueto. He began 2016 in Rochester and was called up quickly. He played little. He went back down but when he came up in late May, he played nearly every day and held his own. In fact, we all remember the series in Cleveland where he hit four homers, including three in one game. He went to spring training this year as the Twins everyday right fielder, and after a slow start for a week, he’s been solid with the bat too.

    #5 – On July 2nd, the Twins signed highly-regarded defensive shortstop Jorge Polanco from the Dominican Republic. He was brought along slowly, spending two seasons in the GCL. He started hitting in 2012 in Elizabethton. He has been a good batting average and on-base hitter since. He even shows doubles power. It’s on defense now where there are question marks. He received a couple of cups of coffee with the Twins in 2014 becoming the youngest player to debut with the Twins since Joe Mauer in 2004. Polanco played in Chattanooga and Rochester in 2015 with a couple more very short stints in the big leagues. He moved up and down between AAA and the big leagues in 2016 until the July trade of Eduardo Nunez when he came up and played shortstop most days the rest of the season. He’s played the position nearly every day so far this season.

    #4 – The Twins drafted and signed shortstop Brian Dozier in the 8th round of the 2009 draft after four seasons at Southern Mississippi. He was the Twins Minor League Hitter of the Year in 2011 at AA. Days before his 25th birthday he debuted for the Twins in 2012. He really struggled. In 2013, he moved to second base and has been a power hitter since. He participated in the Home Run Derby at Target Field in 2014. In 2015, he made the All-Star team and homered in the game. In 2016, he had one of the most impressive seasons in Twins history. He became the first Twins player not named Harmon Killebrew to hit 40 home runs and ended with 42 homers. He was the subject of rumors throughout the whole offseason, but he remains the team’s leadoff hitter.

    #3 – I bet this one will surprise many readers. Kennys Vargas went undrafted out of high school in Puerto Rico in 2008. In February of 2009, the Twins signed him as an undrafted free agent. He had a 50-game suspension before reaching a full-season team. He worked his way up the system. He was the Twins choice for Minor League Hitter of the Year in 2014 when he played primarily at AA. However on August 1st, his 24th birthday, he was promoted directly to the Twins. He had a nice 53-game showing in 2014. In 2015, he really struggled and was sent down a couple of times. He split his 2016 between the Red Wings and Twins. He got a fourth option season, so the Twins started him in Rochester (in large part because of his time spent with Team Puerto Rico in the WBC). However, he was called up a couple weeks ago and already has four homers.

    #2 – With the 22nd overall pick in '04, the Twins drafted local lefty Glen Perkins from the University of Minnesota. He came through the organization as a starter. In fact, he won 12 games as a rookie in 2008. He moved to the bullpen in 2011 and was the Twins closer by the middle of 2012. He was an All-Star three straight seasons and twice he closed out American League wins. His 2016 season ended before the first week of the season was over. He had surgery, reattaching his labrum. He’s been working to return, but the process has been very slow. He is signed through this year, though he does have an option for 2018.

    #1 – Joe Mauer remains the longest-tenured Twins player, having signed in 2001 after being the #1 overall pick in the draft. That makes 2016 his 16th with the organization. It will be his 13th in the big leagues. No need to get into all of his accolades, like his AL MVP, the three batting titles, the Gold Glove Awards, the Silver Sluggers, etc. He moved to first base in 2014 after his Hall of Fame-caliber first decade in a Twins uniform at catcher. He’s struggled offensively the last three years. Last year, had the Twins shut him down (or Mauer was willing to sit out), he could have ended the season with an OPS over .800. Instead, his numbers dropped tremendously in the final six weeks. He’s off to a slow start in 2017, despite a strong average exit velocity and a very low BABIP. He’s signed through the 2018 season.

    So there it is, the players in the Twins organization who have been in the system the longest, consecutively. I’ll guess that at least a couple of the names may not surprise you. I’m certain that you wouldn’t have guessed everyone on this list.

    Feel free to leave your thoughts, or let me know if I forgot anyone.

    • May 11 2017 09:28 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  15. Tyler Jay and Baseball's Evolving Bullpen

    At the end of January, I wrote about the disappearance of the 200 inning starting pitcher. Managers have pulled starters earlier in games to use team's reliable bullpen arms. Batters are forced to adjust to a new pitcher with a different pitching repertoire. This can be one of the reasons for scoring decreasing across baseball.

    Trevor May was a player I hoped could become the Twins version of Andrew Miller. May and Miller both began their careers as starters before being shifted to the bullpen. Unfortunately, May underwent Tommy John surgery last week and he will miss all of the 2017 campaign. This was devastating news for a young player still looking to establish himself.

    With May out for the season, Jay has the potential to fill an even more important role in the organiztion. Miller and Jay have many things in common. Both pitchers attended college, throw left-handed, and were selected with the sixth pick in the draft. Miller, like Jay, is more comfortable in a relief pitcher role. The move also means Jay could make his way to Minnesota as soon as this summer.

    Jay's "more comfortable in the pen, his stuff plays up and it could put him on the fast track," said Brice Zimmerman, the former radio voice of the Fort Myers Miracle.

    Perhaps Minnesota's new baseball operations will utilize a more progressive approach to bullpen usage in the years to come. FanGraphs explains one part of the shift like this:

    "During the course of a game, some situations are more tense and suspenseful than others. For instance, we know that a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning is more suspenseful than a one-run lead in the top of the third inning. Batting with two runners on and two outs in the eighth inning is filled with more pressure than batting in the same situation in the second inning. Leverage Index (LI) is merely an attempt to quantify this pressure so we can determine if a player has been used primarily in high-leverage or low-leverage situations."

    A team's best pitcher is usually their closer but some teams and managers only use their closer in the ninth inning. What good does it do to leave your best relief arm in the bullpen? (Ask Orioles fans about Zach Britton use in last year's AL Wild Card game) If the opposition has the heart of their line-up coming up in the eighth inning of a one-run game, it makes sense to have your best pitching option on the mound to face their best hitters.

    Tyler Jay has the ability and skills to be a high-leverage pitcher. Fans can expect to see his fastball move back up into the mid-90s and his slider could end up being a devastating pitch. He ceiling could be very similar to what fans saw with Glen Perkins during his All-Star seasons.

    No one knows if he will be the next Andrew Miller but baseball is changing. Bullpens are evolving and Tyler Jay can still end up being one of the most important pieces of Minnesota's march back to respectability.

    • Mar 27 2017 01:21 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  16. Reliever Arbitration Salaries On The Rise?

    We already know teams will delay calling up prospects in an effort to gain an extra year of team of control/delay a player's arbitration eligibility, but should they also make an effort to keep players affordable in their arbitration seasons? Are they already doing this?

    Counting stats still weigh heavily in arbitration cases, and one of the biggest gaps in arbitration salaries is between relievers with saves and those without. A lot of Twins fans are holding out hope that J.T. Chargois can elevate himself to be the team's closer at some point in 2017. But if that were to happen, and Chargois spends something like two and a half seasons as a closer, he's going to be very expensive by the time he becomes arbitration eligible.

    Brandon Kintzler is still in arbitration as well, so in terms of future salary considerations, Glen Perkins taking back over as closer would be the ideal scenario. The Twins have a $6.5M option on Perkins for 2018 whether he gets four saves or 40.

    Even going forward from next year and beyond, this issue of whether or not to put a pre-arb or arb-elligible pitcher in the closer role will be interesting to follow.

    Stop me if you've heard this before, but the Twins have a number of relievers in the minors who should be ready to make an impact soon. Will the team thrust one of them into the ninth inning, or opt to sign affordable vetetans to fill that role instead?

    Maybe by then it's not going to matter.

    The case of Betances v. Yankees

    On Friday, there's a baseball player in Florida who is challenging the system. It's not at a spring training complex, but rather at an arbitration hearing.

    Yankee reliever Dellin Betances became arbitration eligible for the first time this off season. He filed for $5 million, the team for $3 million. Often these differences are resolved and both parties agree to a salary somewhere in the middle (as the Twins did with all their arb guys), but not in this case. In an arbitration hearing, one side wins the other loses. There is no compromise in the middle.

    Typically another team's arbitration case wouldn't garner even the faintest interest from me, but I've been looking forward to this one.

    Having guys like David Robertson, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman around have made it pretty difficult for Betances to get saves. He has 22 of them over his career. It's clear by looking at his ERA and ratios that Betances is a rare bird no matter what inning he pitches, but those things don't typically play up in arbitration.

    Back in 2014, Kenley Jansen asked the Dodgers for $5.05M in his first year of arbitration, they offered $3.5M. Jansen eventually agreed to a $4.3M contract. Given the similarities of 2014 Kenley Jansen and current day Betances, I'd say it's a good bet he could have gotten $4.3M.

    But Betances has dug in his heels, and even delayed his arrival at spring training (with approval from the team) so he can prepare for and attend his hearing. If he wins, it could represent a victory for setup men and middle relievers across the league. There aren't many other pitchers on Betances' level, but a rising tide lifts all boats.

    • Feb 16 2017 08:14 PM
    • by Tom Froemming
  17. 2017 Minnesota Twins Roster Projections - The Relief Pitchers

    If you missed any of the other parts in this series, you can find them here: The Catchers, The Outfielders, The Middle Infielders, The Corner Infielders, and The Starting Pitchers.

    Minnesota Twins
    RHP - Brandon Kintzler (32), JT Chargois (26), Ryan Pressly (28), Matt Belisle (36), Tyler Duffey (26), Trevor May (27), Justin Haley (25), Ryan Vogelsong (39), Michael Tonkin (27)
    LHP - Taylor Rogers (26), Ryan O’Rourke (28), Craig Breslow (36), Glen Perkins (33-DL)

    The Givens: All right, let’s try to clear this up, if even just a little. These pitchers are ‘Givens’ to make the Opening Day roster, assuming health. Brandon Kintzler will likely start the season as the closer. Maybe he’s not the prototype for a big league closer, but he survived (and maybe even thrived?) in the role in the second half. Matt Belisle signed recently and is also a given to fill a role in the Twins bullpen. Ryan Pressly is a given. He was pretty solid in the 8th inning last year until he got overused. The other given is lefty Taylor Rogers who had a very solid rookie season last year. In my mind, JT Chargois should be a given. I don’t think that he necessarily is, but he needs to be in the big leagues.

    To Start Or Relieve: Tyler Duffey and Trevor May head to spring training with the same set of circumstances. Both have started in the past, and both have spent a lot of time in the big leagues. Duffey has started. May has primarily been in the bullpen the last couple of seasons. Both could be in the rotation. Both should probably be in the big leagues. However, each has an option remaining which could be used if the new regime thinks that they could develop into solid starters by spending any time in the bullpen.

    To Start Or Relieve (Part 2): The Twins have a few more players who could start or relieve, though the odds of starting are lower. Justin Haley was the Twins Rule 5 pick. As you know, that means that he has to stick on the Twins 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the Red Sox (or kept via a trade). Veteran Ryan Vogelsong was signed to a minor league deal. The 39-year-old could fit into the fifth starter competition or, like Haley, he could fill a long-relief type of role.

    The Lefties: There should be some good competition for the second lefty in the bullpen, alongside Taylor Rogers. If Glen Perkins is healthy and able, he will be in the bullpen, a given. More likely, he’ll start the season on the disabled list or rehabbing. Ryan O’Rourke is the best lefty in the organization against left-handed batters. If used in that role, he has a ton of value. However, depending on how well the starters pitch in 2017, the team may decide to go with someone else. Buddy Boshers signed out of the indy leagues last offseason and pitched well through 2016. Mason Melotakis will be ready at some point in 2017. It’s also possible that due to numbers the team could go with just one left-hander.

    Rochester Red Wings
    RHP - Jake Reed (24), Alex Wimmers (28), Trevor Hildenberger (26), Alan Busenitz (26), DJ Baxendale (26), Jim Miller (34)
    LHP - Buddy Boshers (28), Mason Melotakis (25)

    There are some guys coming through the system that we should see in 2017 (as we said in 2016). It will be interesting to see which guys come up, and in what order. Of the eight names mentioned here, only Boshers and Melotakis are currently on the 40-man roster, and they both have a legitimate chance to make the big league roster. Melotakis is at about the same point in his post-Tommy John surgery that JT Chargois was last year.

    Wimmers’ road to the big leagues was long and winding, but he got there last August and pitched pretty well the final month of the season. He came off the 40-man roster, but he signed back with the team quite quickly. Jim Miller has big league time with the Orioles, Rockies, A’s and Yankees going back to 2008. The 35-year-old signed a minor league deal with the Twins recently.

    DJ Baxendale could get another opportunity to start, but he pitched very well out of the bullpen once he was promoted to Rochester. It’s a role that fits his stuff well. Alan Busenitz came to the Twins last August 1st in the trade that sent Alex Meyer and Ricky Nolasco to the Angels. Busenitz isn’t a big guy, but he has the ability to reach 100 mph at times.

    Jake Reed and Trevor Hildenberger are the two that we’ll likely be hearing a lot about early in the season. They are two guys who could be ready at any time to help in the big leagues. Both were drafted in 2014, Reed in the fifth round and Hildenberger in the 22nd round. Hildenberger was the Twins Daily Relief PItcher of the Year in both 2015 and 2016.

    Chattanooga Lookouts
    RHP - Nick Burdi(23), Raul Fernandez (26), John Curtiss (23), Ryan Eades (25), Brandon Peterson (25), Luke Bard (26), Alex Muren (25), Todd Van Steensel (26), Matt Tracy (28), Zack Jones (26 - DL)
    LHP - Nik Turley (27), Cam Booser (24)

    2016 was a very frustrating season for Nick Burdi. If healthy, he will likely return to the Lookouts to start over in 2017. Also if healthy, he has a good chance to debut in 2017. Speaking of healthy returns, Alex Muren missed the 2016 season after having thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. Zack Jones unfortunately will miss the 2017 season (or at least a large part of it) after shoulder surgery.

    Matt Tracy signed as a free agent. He pitched in one game for the Yankees in 2015. Raul Fernandez re-signed with the Twins this year and got an invitation to big league camp. He split 2016 between Ft. Myers and Chattanooga. The same can be said of Brandon Peterson, the Minnesotan, who has been one of the best relievers in the Twins system since he was drafted in 2013. Luke Bard spent some time with the Lookouts last year as well. His fastball reaches 97 mph, so with some improved control he could move up as well. Todd Van Steensel finally got called up to AA at the end of the 2016 season. He will be pitching for Team Australia in the upcoming WBC.

    Ryan Eades pitched for the Lookouts last year. Halfway through the season he moved into the bullpen. While he could still start, his stuff may play out well for him in the 'pen. John Curtiss suffered through a couple of injuries in 2015. He began 2016 in Cedar Rapids, but after dominating for a month, he moved up to Ft. Myers. He pitched well in the Arizona Fall League as well.

    Ft. Myers Miracle
    RHP - Nick Anderson (26), Williams Ramirez (24), Michael Cederoth (24), Thomas Hackimer (22), Confesor Lara (26), Max Cordy (23), Zach Tillery (24), Logan Lombana (22)
    LHP - Michael Theofanopoulos (24), Anthony McIver (24), Sam Clay(23)

    Nick Anderson signed late in the 2015 season out of the independent leagues. The Brainerd area native has pitched very well since signing and came on strong late in 2016 with the Miracle. Thomas Hackimer was a closer at St. John’s. After signing, he spent the remainder of last season with the Kernels. He should make the move up to Ft. Myers. Michael Cederoth stayed healthy in Cedar Rapids and is now ready to move up. Williams Ramirez came on last year with the Kernels and has the ability to throw very hard with a good slider. Max Cordy throws 95 as well, and he did well after moving up from extended spring. Zach Tillery missed most of the 2016 season with injury, but he’ll need to make the move up to Ft. Myers. Logan Lombana served a 50-game suspension last year. Late in the season, he moved up and ended the season with the Miracle. Confesor Lara signed with the Twins for the last couple of weeks of the season after being let go by the Tigers organization.

    Michael Theofanopoulos repeated in Cedar Rapids during the first half of the 2016 season. He pitched well and then did well in the second half with the Miracle. McIver spent the season with the Kernels and very quietly put together a strong season. Sam Clay pitched in the Midwest League All-Star Game for the Kernels. He did move up to Ft. Myers to end the season. Drafted out of Georgia Tech where he was a reliever, it’s likely Clay moves to the bullpen at some point during the season.

    Cedar Rapids Kernels
    RHP - Colton Davis (23), Johan Quezada (22), Alex Schik (22), Clark Beeker(24), Patrick McGuff (22), Quin Grogan(23), Hector Lujan (22)
    LHP - Andrew Vasquez (23), Alex Robinson (22)

    It becomes really difficult to project who will be in the lower level bullpens. Several of these pitchers were starters in college at this time last year. That group includes Colton Davis, Alex Schik, Clark Beeker, Patrick McGuff and Quin Grogan. Davis and Beeker ended the season in Cedar Rapids’ bullpen. McGuff joined the Kernels for their playoff run last year after dominating the GCL and at Elizabethton.

    Johan Quezada became quite popular last year when it came out that he grew a bunch and started throwing fastballs that occasionally touched triple digits. Hector Lujan was a 2015 draft pick. He pitched in Elizabethton, and he actually made one appearance in Ft. Myers too.

    Andrew Vasquez made a couple of appearances in Elizabethton before moving up to Cedar Rapids where he dominated.. In 38.1 innings, he struck out 51 batters (12.4 per nine). Alex Robinson was used as a starter at the start of the 2016 E-Twins season, but he completely lacked control. He’s likely a bullpen guy, but he’ll have to get a lot better control to do that.

    Extended Spring Training
    RHP - Moises Gomez (20), Juan Gamez (22), Blair Lasko (23), Callan Pearce (21), Matz Schutte (19), Garrett Kelly (22), Zach Strecker (23), Vadim Balan (23), Petru Balan (20)
    LHP - Domenick Carlini (23), Austin Tribby (22)

    Unlike many years, the Twins signed several undrafted players after the draft. Zach Strecker went to Kentucky and then pitched out of the GCL bullpen. Blair Lasko couldn’t throw strikes at Buffalo, but he found some control in the summer league and threw well, and hard, and the Twins took a shot. Garrett Kelly went to Wake Forest where he was a catcher, but he moved to the mound. He throws 95, but he’s got a lot of room to grow. Juan Gamez was drafted in 2016, but he has a similar story. He was a catcher in college, but the Twins quickly moved him to the mound as well.

    This offseason, the Twins signed Petru Balan, the younger brother of the Vadim Balan. The two are from Moldova. Vadim Balan pitched just a couple of times in the GCL in 2015 before having some back issues that caused him to miss all of 2016. Callan Pearce, from South Africa, has pitched in the GCL the last three years. He’ll jump up to Elizabethton. Matz Schutte is from The Netherlands and has pitched in the GCL the last two years. The 20-year-old Moises Gomez pitched the last two seasons in the GCL. In 2016, he was 4-0 with a 1.19 ERA.

    Lefties Domenick Carlini and Austin Tribby were drafted in 2016 and pitched in Elizabethton. They could pitch in Cedar Rapids in 2017 as well.

    Top Prospects
    1.) JT Chargois
    2.) Jake Reed
    3.) Nick Burdi
    4.) Trevor Hildenberger
    5.) Mason Melotakis
    6.) Thomas Hackimer
    7.) John Curtiss
    8.) Andrew Vasquez
    9.) Alan Busenitz
    10.) Alex Wimmers

    So what do you think? Who will comprise the Twins bullpen, and how will things trickle down the system? Which prospects are you most looking forward to seeing perform in 2017?

    • Feb 15 2017 10:21 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  18. Camp Opens: Twins News Rundown

    * Byung Ho Park passed through waivers so he will be among the non-roster invites in camp. Ostensibly he'll be competing with Kennys Vargas and others for the DH job, but it would seem that Park will have a tough hill to climb.

    When we were recording a podcast shortly after the new front office leadership was installed, I recall Parker making a point about how this regime will view certain players very differently from the last one. They didn't scout and acquire any of these assets, so Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have minimal personal investment.'

    Park appears to be a clear case of this. Last offseason, the Twins were so high on the Korean star they coughed up a $12.8 million posting fee, made a four-year contractual commitment, and ultimately pigeonholed one of their best young players out of position to make room for him.

    Now, after one season in the States, Park has evidently lost all luster in the eyes of team decision-makers. When the Twins signed veteran reliever Matt Belisle, they could have designated Michael Tonkin or Danny Santana, either of whom will be exposed to waivers at the end of March if they don't make the roster. Instead, they chose Park. If he were claimed it would have taken $9 million off the books, but also would have meant chalking up the $15 million upfront investment as a complete loss.

    That doesn't sound like something Terry Ryan would do, especially if he harbored a belief that Park's disappointing rookie season was hindered by a wrist injury that eventually required surgery.

    But we're not in Terry Ryan territory anymore. And Park passed through waivers, indicating that the rest of the league's teams share a similar view to Falvey and Levine. One wonders what the 30-year-old would need to do this spring to change it.

    * Rehabbing from last June's shoulder surgery, Glen Perkins was playing catch in Ft. Myers by January and hoped to take another important step last week: throwing from a mound. One day before the planned bullpen session, though, he and his trainers decided to push it back, citing renewed soreness.

    This development is not encouraging, but also not surprising. Labrum surgery can generally carry a lengthy recovery window of nine months or more; Perkins is a 33-year-old whose operation was more extensive than most. Bumps in the road are to be expected, and the southpaw himself acknowledges that. He'll give it a go on Tuesday and could generate some nice early-spring positivity if it goes well.

    On another note, whenever Perkins hangs up the cleats, he might have a future in writing. His foreword for the Baseball Prospectus 2017 Annual was an excellent read. The book also includes a Twins feature from Parker, and was all put together by our friend Aaron Gleeman, so I definitely recommend grabbing a copy to prep yourself for the coming season.

    * Speaking of strong writing, over the weekend the imitable Phil Miller had a great piece in the Star Tribune examining the odd dynamic between an aging lame duck manager and a fresh, young executive duo that is transparently future-focused.

    For Molitor, winning in 2017 is vital. For Falvey and Levine, this year is nothing but a step to where they want to get. It's a learning experience and an opportunity to actively assess all that they've inherited. One of those things is a manager on a one-year contract.

    When a team that, on paper, looks perfectly capable of competing and playing .500 ball goes on to lose 103 games... well, Molitor says it best in the story: "That doesn't reflect very well on the manager."

    But the truth is, it doesn't reflect well on anyone. And while some are flummoxed by Jim Pohlad's continuing allegiance to the Hall of Famer, I will say I'm glad that he and Falvey will have a chance to overlap. You can take issue with Molitor's managing from up close or afar, but if you spend any time talking to the man you will not doubt his intuition for the game. Pairing him with an analytical mind like Falvey on day-to-day operations – especially at a time where Molitor will necessarily be very open to new approaches – could yield fruitful results. I'm curious to see how it plays out.

    * Our 2017 Minnesota Twins Top Prospect series kicked off last week with my profiles of our choices for 16 through 20 and Seth's takes on 11 through 15.

    Today, Parker kicks off our one-by-one countdown of the Top 10 with a look at 20-year-old Dominican slugger Lewin Diaz. Make sure to give it a read, and tune in each day over the next two weeks to learn all about the organization's brightest upcoming talents.

    * For a fifth straight year, Twins Daily will be providing on-site coverage of Minnesota Twins spring training from Fort Myers, FL throughout the month of March. Parker, Seth, John and myself will alternately be on hand to cover games, snap photos/videos, and chat with players and personnel. Unrestrained by column inches or any concept of what is too minute or trivial to print, we promise to deliver the deepest and most comprehensive reporting from Twins camp that you will find anywhere.

    With temperatures rising and snow melting in Minnesota, it looks like Mother Nature is taking her cue from the baseball calendar. Spring is coming.

    • Feb 13 2017 02:34 PM
    • by Nick Nelson
  19. Five Pitcher And Catcher Headlines

    Can Castro Make An Immediate Impact?
    Minnesota's biggest off-season move was signing catcher Jason Castro after parting ways with Kurt Suzuki. Castro comes to the Twins with a reputation for being a strong defensive catcher. Minnesota's pitching was lackluster in 2016 and the new front office hopes Castro can make an immediate impact on the staff. Castro will get his first chance to work with Twins pitchers this spring. It might take a good chunk of the season to notice the "Castro Effect" but a shift should start in the weeks ahead.

    May Moves Back To Starting
    Even before the new regime took over, it sounded like May would be moving back into a starting role. This plan became even more evident at TwinsFest as the new front office and May talked about the transition back into the rotation. When the Twins were in the 2015 wild card race, May pitched very well in relief. So well in fact, that the club left him there for 2016 as he dealt with an injury plagued season. Minnesota hopes that normal days off between starts will keep May healthy and help him to earn a starting spot for years to come.

    Hughes And Perkins Coming Back From Injury
    Phil Hughes and Glen Perkins were two of the most important pitchers on the 2015 squad. Perkins made his third straight All-Star Game and Hughes led a rotation that was in the playoff hunt until the season's final weekend. Hughes has been throwing bullpens and the hope is he enters spring training with no limitations. Perkins has all ready experienced renewed discomfort in his throwing shoulder. With a set-back, it's likely that Perkins won't be ready for the season to start. Brandon Kintzler should open the year as the team's closer.

    Berrios Back To the Minors
    Minnesota's starting rotation looks crowded as the team heads to Fort Myers. Ervin Santana and Kyle Gibson might be the only locks as camp opens. If the aforementioned Hughes is healthy, he would be the third rotation member. This leaves two spots for the likes of Hector Santiago, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May, and Jose Berrios. Berrios has been dominant in his time in the minors and it seems likely for him to start the year in Rochester. This leaves him one injury away from making it back to the big leagues where he will hopefully find more success.

    Crowded Bullpen
    Because of some poor starting pitching over the last couple of years, Minnesota's bullpen has been taxed. This leaves an opportunity for a few new faces to earn their place. Brandon Kintzler should enter the year as the team's closer. If May shifts back to starting, there will be a lot of open spots to fill. The Twins just signed Matt Belisle to join returning arms like J.T. Chargois, Buddy Boshers, Ryan O'Rourke, Ryan Pressly, Adalberto Mejia, Taylor Rogers and Michael Tonkin. There isn't going to be room for all of these arms so the weeks ahead will decide who fills each role for the club.

    What pitcher and catcher headlines will you follow in the weeks ahead? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Feb 12 2017 10:34 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  20. How The Twins Could Lose Another 100 Games

    It takes a whole lot bad baseball and bad luck to lose over 100 games. Right now, it's hard to imagine the Twins repeating that feat, but nobody was predicting they'd be that bad last season, either. Here are some things that could lead to another 100-loss season for the Twins.

    Ervin Santana fails to repeat (like he always does)

    When pointing to the unaddressed issue of the pitching staff, most of the Twins hope dealers are quick to point to Santana as if he is some kind of bankable commodity. They'll say things like "well at the top of the rotation we've got Ervin, and we know he'll be solid." Really? Ask Angles fans about the reliability of Santana.

    Santana is coming off a great season, but prior to coming to Minnesota he was terribly inconsistent. He appeared to break out in 2008, his fourth season in the majors, by posting a 3.49 ERA. The next year it was at 5.03. He appeared to have another breakout in 2011, finishing that season with a 3.38 ERA. The next year it was 5.16.

    The yo-yo nature of Ervin's production continued in 2013 when he came back with another strong performance, posting a 3.24 ERA. Then came two mediocre seasons. He was great last year, but if the pattern continues things don't look good for 2017. He has five seasons in which his ERA+ has been over 105, but he's never done it back-to-back.

    Beyond Santana's inconsistent track record, there's also the fact that he turned 34 last month. There are only ten active pitchers who've made more starts than Santana's 343, and that includes free agents Kyle Lohse, Jake Peavy and Bronson Arroyo. Father time will catch up to him eventually.

    Jason Castro is a mere mortal

    Many of the optimists point to Castro, the only major addition this offseason, as the sole reason to believe the Twins' pitching woes will be fixed. As if he is a magic wand that will somehow mend basically the same pitching staff that gave up 128 more runs than any other American League team.

    In my opinion, framing numbers should to be taken with a grain of salt. In order for a catcher to intentionally try to steal strikes, it helps if his pitcher has the command to put a pitch just outside the zone. Does the Houston pitching staff deserve more credit for Castro's impressive framing marks? I think it's certainly possible.

    Also, I suspect there may be umpire backlash against catchers who have reputations as plus framers. I do believe strongly that being a good framer is a skill. Castro has that skill, however, the positive impact he can make greatly depends on the guy he's looking at on the mound and the guy behind him calling strikes.

    And I know he wasn't brought in for his bat, but Castro has hit .173/.240/.257 (.497 OPS) against lefties over the past two seasons. Travis Wood has a better career OPS (.522) than that. He's a pitcher. Just sayin'.

    Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco both look like they should be DHing

    We've only seen limited samples of both Sano at third base and Polanco at shortstop in the majors, but things haven't exactly looked promising. Of 39 players to have logged 350 innings at third base last year, Sano ranked 22nd in defensive runs above average. That's not horrendous, but also not great. Using that same threshold, Polanco ranked 35th at shortstop, ahead of only Alexei Ramirez. Ick.

    Putting them together could be a complete disaster. Whatever upgrade Castro will be behind the plate may be negated by poor defense on the left side of the infield.

    Phil Hughes and Glen Perkins are finished

    In 214 1/3 innings pitched between 2015 & '16, Phil Hughes had a 4.83 ERA. He gave up 52 doubles and 40 home runs. Opposing hitters had an .822 OPS against him. He only mustered 5.4 K/9. That's real bad.

    After the 2015 All-Star break, Perkins had a 7.32 ERA and gave up seven home runs in just 19 2/3 innings pitched. That's real bad too. Optimists are hoping those ugly numbers came because both were pitching hurt. But the fact remains we haven't seen either Hughes or Perkins healthy or productive for a while now. It's possible we never do.

    Brian Dozier regresses (duh)

    Dozier hit as many home runs in the second half of 2016 (28) as he had in any previous full season. He's as good of a regression candidate as anybody in baseball. It would be hard to envision some kind of complete collapse from Dozier, but even if he fades back to the player he was pre-2016 it'll hurt this team's chances of getting out of the basement.

    If the team lost 100 with Dozier going completely nuts, what could happen if he has a down year?

    Max Kepler falls victim to the sophomore slump

    Lost in the jubilee of the Dozier homer derby was the fact that Kepler struggled down the stretch. After the break, he hit just .233/.304/.391. We've seen our share of Twins struggle to make adjustments in the majors and it's easy to forget Max hasn't even turned 24 yet. There may be some growing pains ahead.

    No, Kepler doesn't have some of the same, obvious contact issues that plagued Danny Santana, Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano, but he also struggled to drive the ball late in the year. He'll need to react to how pitchers will be attacking him.

    Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios fail to materialize

    That last month of Buxton sure was fun to see, but he didn't do much to solve his biggest issues. He still struck out in over a third of his plate appearances. But at least Buxton had a nice stretch of productive baseball. Of Berrios' 14 starts, there's really not a one that stands out as a strong performance. He was hittable (11.4 H/9) and struggled with control (5.4 BB/9).

    Both Buxton, 23, and Berrios, 22, showed us so much in the minors and have impressive prospect pedigrees, but, like Kepler, it's likely they still have some struggles to endure on the road to establishing themselves. I have little doubt all three of those guys will have fine major league careers, but I'm not so sure they all take off in 2017.

    And there we have it, my reasons why the Twins could have another 100-loss season in 2017. I'm sure I've overlooked a few other things that could also cripple the team. If you're willing to take a stroll down Negativity Lane, post your nightmare scenarios in the comments.

    • Jan 26 2017 09:06 AM
    • by Tom Froemming
  21. How The Twins Drafts Stack Up

    I went to old reliable, Baseball-Reference, and used their draft page to do some digging. I looked at the 2003 through 2012 drafts, a ten year period, and broke out the data in several ways.

    • >2 bWAR: It’s hard to get to the big leagues, so to be able to find players who get there and have some positive impact on a team is terrific. This isn’t a high threshold, but it gives a good look at the scouting to be able to find big leaguers. This includes some non-closing relievers who have been good for a couple of years. This includes Byron Buxton, the Twins top pick in 2012, and a guy who certainly should rack up bWAR in the next decade and be on much higher bWAR lists.
    • >6 bWAR: Mackey mentioned Brian Duensing as a guy who sits on the borderline of impact type of player. He’s had a nice, solid, long-lasting MLB career as mostly a middle reliever. He has 6.4 bWAR accumulated to this point, so I thought I’d find out how many have hit that level.
    • >10 bWAR: Now we’re getting to some guys who have had really solid careers. They’ve either been solid for several years or they have had a major impact pretty quickly.
    • >20 bWAR: If you’re past 20 bWAR you’ve had a really good career. Sure, that’s two Mike Trout seasons… or it’s a nice, solid, steady career like Aaron Hill or Chase Headley.
    • >8 bWAR but drafted AFTER the 5th round. The MLB draft is more than five rounds. It is now 40 (and used to be 50). In reality, if scouts find guys after the 5th round that get to AAA, that should give them bonus points. But a lot of diamonds in the rough can be found in these late rounds. To be honest we should probably count any and all post-5th round draft picks who make it to the big leagues as wins.
    Also, please note that I am including players even if they did not sign with the team at that time. For instance, the Angels drafted Matt Harvey in the third round out of high school. He went to North Carolina instead of signing and then the Mets made him a top pick three years later. In my mind, the Angels and their scouts get credit for that too.

    GREATER THAN TWO bWAR (First Five Rounds)

    15 - Blue Jays, Diamondbacks
    14 - Reds
    13 - Red Sox, Padres, Nationals
    12 - Braves
    11 - Twins, Royals, Rockies, Orioles, Rays, Cardinals, A’s, Angels
    10 - Pirates
    9 - White Sox, Marlins, Mariners, Cleveland, Brewers, Astros
    8 - Cubs, Dodgers
    7 - Yankees, Tigers, Mets, Giants
    4 - Phillies, Rangers

    So, the Twins are basically tied for 8th in MLB in number of players drafted who have achieved two bWAR. I’ll have some summary comments at the end.

    GREATER THAN 6 bWAR (First Five Rounds)

    9 - Nationals, Red Sox, Reds
    8 - A’s, Blue Jays, Braves, Diamondbacks
    7 - Angels, Brewers
    6 - Twins, Rays, Mariners, Orioles, Pirates, Royals
    5 - Astros, Cardinals, Giants, Cleveland, Marlins, Padres, Rockies, Tigers, Yankees.
    4 - Cubs, Dodgers
    3 - Mets, Phillies, Rangers
    2 - White Sox

    The Twins are tied with five other teams for tenth. As happened with the two bWAR data, that tie pushed right to 15, so they are just above the halfway point among the 30 MLB teams.

    The Twins that made the list of 6 bWAR: Scott Baker, Trevor Plouffe, Glen Perkins, Matt Garza, Brian Duensing, Ben Revere.

    GREATER THAN 10 bWAR (First Five Rounds)

    6 - Nationals, Red Sox
    5 - A’s, Brewers, Braves, Diamondbacks, Giants, Orioles
    4 - Cubs, Marlins, Mariners, Padres, Reds, Rockies, Royals, Tigers
    3 - Angels, Astros, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Rays, Cleveland, Pirates, Yankees
    2 - Twins, Dodgers, Mets, Phillies, Rangers, White Sox

    This is where the Twins can be faulted. They have not had many big impact draft picks from that decade (yet). The two Twins that made this list were Scott Baker (15.7) and Matt Garza (12.5).

    GREATER THAN 20 bWAR (First Five Rounds)

    Another group that I looked at was the players over 20 bWAR. As you can see above, the Twins did not have any. Most teams have just one. The Atlanta Braves have four, Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Yunel Escobar and Andrelton Simmons. The Red Sox had three, Jonathan Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury. The Nationals had Ryan Zimmerman, Jordan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper.

    The Mets and Cardinals joined the Twins with zero, which may surprise many as the Cardinals are generally looked at as one of the top drafting teams in baseball. Their highest bWAR player for that time frame is Colby Rasmus at 18.7.


    (players over 10 bWAR in parentheses)

    Angels: 7 (Chris Davis, Buster Posey, Kole Calhoun)
    Astros: 2 (Dallas Keuchel, JD Martinez)
    A’s: 1 (Mike Leake)
    Blue Jays: 2 (Kris Bryant)
    Braves: 4 (Craig Kimbrel, Anthony Rendon)
    Brewers: 3 (Lorenzo Cain, Michael Brantley, Jake Arrieta)
    Cardinals: 5 (Brendan Ryan, Ian Kennedy, Max Scherzer, Matt Carpenter)
    Cubs: 4 (Tim Lincecum, Josh Harrison)
    Rays: 5 (John Jaso, Desmond Jennings, Kevin Kiermeier)
    Diamondbacks: 3 (Paul Goldschmidt, Adam Eaton)
    Dodgers: 4 (Matt Kemp, David Price, Paul Goldschmidt)
    Giants: 2 (Doug Fister)
    Cleveland: 2 (Desmond Jennings, Tim Lincecum)
    Mariners: 1 (Doug Fister)
    Marlins: 2
    Mets: 3 (Daniel Murphy, Jacob DeGrom)
    Nationals: 1 (Marco Estrada)
    Orioles: 3 (Wil Venable)
    Padres: 3 (Wil Venable, David Friese, Mat Latos)
    Phillies: 1 (Brad Ziegler)
    Pirates: 2
    Rangers: 6 (Ian Kinsler, Derek Holland, Tanner Roark)
    Red Sox: 7 (Brandon Belt, Josh Reddick, Anthony Rizzo)
    Reds: 2 (Jake Arrieta, Justin Turner)
    Rockies: 3 (Dexter Fowler, Todd Frazier, Chris Sale)
    Royals: 2 (Jarrod Dyson, Greg Holland)
    Tigers: 3 (Matt Joyce, Alex Avila, DJ LeMahieu)
    White Sox: 0
    Yankees: 8 (Tyler Clippard, Chris Davis, Doug Fister, Austin Jackson, Justin Turner, David Robertson)
    Twins: 4 (JD Martinez, George Springer, Brian Dozier)


    I won’t sit here and tell you that this is a perfect analysis of the draft or the drafting abilities of the Twins or any other clubs. To get a 40 bWAR player requires a lot of luck and timing and such.The Twins have a lot of very good scouts, guys who have found talent in the lower rounds. Here are some additional notes:
    • Note all first-round picks are made the same. The year the Twins took Levi Michael in the first round, they had the 30th overall pick. Also of note, the Pirates took Gerrit Cole with the first overall pick. The Mariners then took Danny Hultzen with the second overall pick. Also of note, Keith Law ranked Michael in his top 15 players for the draft, so there is no magic formula to this.
    • The Twins highest draft pick (other than Byron Buxton in 2012) was the 14th overall pick in 2008. For the most part, the Twins were in the playoffs during this run and making picks 20 or later in the first round. There is little certainty in top 5 picks many times, much less when you get into the 20s.
    • The first six picks of the 2003 draft were: Delmon Young (2.5), Rickie Weeks (11.4), Kyle Sleeth (No MLB), Tim Stauffer (3.5), Chris Lubanski (No MLB), Ryan Harvey (no MLB). That year, the Twins picked Matt Moses with the 21st overall pick.
    • The Twins did pretty well for themselves in 2004. Trevor Plouffe (8.1) and Glen Perkins (8.8) were the 20th and 22nd overall picks that year in the draft. The 23rd pick was Phil Hughes.
    • In 2005, the Twins got Matt Garza (12.5) with the 25th overall pick, which was good for 10th (so far) in that draft’s first round.
    • Chris Parmelee was the 20th overall pick in the 2006 draft.
    • In the 2007 draft, Ben Revere’s 6.1 bWAR ranks 7th among the 30 first-round picks. He was taken with the 28th pick.
    • Aaron Hicks was the 14th pick in the 2008 draft. His 1.9 bWAR to date ranks 14th of the 30 picks.
    • Kyle Gibson missed at least one year (and probably closer to two years) of time due to Tommy John surgery. He has posted 5.0 bWAR so far in his career. That ranks ninth of the 30 first-round picks in 2009s draft. He was taken with the 22nd pick.
    • The Twins top pick in 2010 also had Tommy John surgery. Alex Wimmers was the 21st overall pick for the Twins. He is right at 0 bWAR, but he made the big leagues, something eight players selected ahead of him can’t say yet.
    • As we already mentioned, Levi Michael was the 30th pick in the 2011 draft.
    • Byron Buxton was the #2 overall pick in the 2012 draft, following Carlos Correa. Buxton’s injury-plagued 2014 season likely slowed his path to the big leagues. He also has struggled early in his career. He’s accumulated 2.1 bWAR. He had a strong September, but defense is also where he will rack up a lot of WAR. Corey Seager and Addison Russell are the two high school picks from that season, along with Correa, who have more big league success so far than Buxton. I believe the odds of Buxton accumulating 20+ bWAR in his career are quite high. I also think there’s a high likelihood that Jose Berrios will improve dramatically over his -1.6 bWAR performance in 2016. Also, Mason Melotakis, JT Chargois and Taylor Rogers come from the 2012 draft and could all achieve at least 6 bWAR if things go well.
    I guess the information presented above shows that the Twins did a “Good” job of drafting for that decade of years. I guess I would say they’ve been pretty middle-of-the-pack, not great (for sure), but certainly not terrible either. I think they’ve done a good job of finding some guys that have the potential to be big leaguers. I would say that, for whatever reason, they haven’t had the luck in finding those big impact players that we’d all like to see. Perkins was a three-time All Star which I would say is pretty impactful, even if bWAR says it's "only" worth 8.8. Scott Baker was better than most people thought at the time. Buxton and Berrios certainly give us hope that they can be those types of players.

    The draft is just one way for teams to accumulate players and talent. The Twins consider themselves a mid-market team, however, and the draft becomes more important in that it is where you can find players at low salary and you can keep under control for six years.

    The Twins have the #1 overall pick in the 2017 draft. It’s a huge pick for the organization. There are a lot of very talented very young players who are just getting to the big leagues or just about to get to the big leagues. Having an elite talent who will be ready in three or four years will help keep that coming and help Derek Falvey toward that long-term, sustainable, championship-caliber organization that he wants to build.

    • Dec 13 2016 02:21 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  22. Turning Trevor May Into Andrew Miller

    One of the most important pieces to Cleveland's playoff run was relief pitcher Andrew Miller, the ALCS MVP. He was once a starting pitching prospect before finding his home as a bullpen arm. Now he might be one of the most valuable assets in baseball.

    Miller was the sixth overall pick by the Detroit Tigers in 2006. He debuted with the club later that same season after making only three minor league appearances. His stay in Detroit was short as he was one of the key prospects sent to the Marlins for Miguel Cabrera. He bounced around to the Red Sox and Orioles organizations before finding himself in Yankee pinstripes.

    After arriving in the Big Apple, he posted a 1.90 ERA with 100 strikeouts in 61.2 IP during the 2015 season,. Opponents hit .151/.237/.239 against him. It was hard to build off that season but the 2016 campaign was even better. He lowered his ERA to 1.45 and increased his SO/9 from 14.6 to 14.9.

    As Miller was dominating the American League, Minnesota's bullpen compiled the league's worst ERA while providing a -2.66 win probability added. Ryan Pressly pitched the most relief innings while Brandon Kintzler had the most saves. Trevor May (12.66 K/9) and Michael Tonkin (10.05 K/9) both posted K/9 totals over 10.0. These small positive signs were overshadowed by a major injury to Glen Perkins and ineffective play from Kevin Jepsen.

    May is an interesting figure in the Twins bullpen. Expectations were high for him heading into last year. He underwhelmed to the tune of a 5.27 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. Under the previous front office, there was talk of turning May back into a starter but another year in the bullpen could give him the chance to adjust to being a full-time reliever.

    Miller's first full season as a reliever came in 2012, his age-27 season. May turned 27 in September and is just coming off his first year without making a start. One of May's biggest issues has always been his command. He walked 17 batters in 42.2 innings pitched (3.6 BB/9). Miller walks almost no one as he issued nine walks in 32 more innings than May.

    Besides the control issues, May would need to continue to miss bats. Miller strikes out batters at a higher rate than May and he makes it tough for batters to reach base. The Twins are clearly in rebuilding mode so May won't likely be recording any big outs in the playoffs anytime soon. This type of environment can allow bullpen arms to develop as they start to figure out their craft in an environment with less pressure.

    Can May be the next Miller? It's a lofty goal and 2017 will be a critical for whatever future role May will fill. What kind of role do you think May should fill? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Nov 21 2016 10:12 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  23. 40-Man Roster Decisions: The Pitchers

    Even with Tommy Milone being outrighted and electing free agency, the Twins have six arbitration-eligible players, including four pitchers. There are other articles on this topic for debate and there will be more in the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook. (Coming soon!).

    Just one player currently on the 40-man roster will automatically become a free agent after the World Series. That player is catcher Kurt Suzuki.

    There are three players who are currently on the 60-day disabled list: Phil Hughes, Glen Perkins and Danny Santana. These players will need to be added back to the 40-man roster before the Rule 5 draft. So the Twins officially have 35 players on their 40-man roster, but with those three added back, there really are 38 spots accounted for.

    So I want to look at the current 38 players on the 40-man roster. How many of them are "givens" to remain on the roster? Any of the arbitration-eligibles? Who are the guys on the proverbial roster bubble? For this, we are going to assume no trades for now. It is, of course, possible that the Twins make a trade or two before the Winter Meetings which may affect this as well.

    • Jose Berrios - Despite his struggles, he is a given to remain on the roster. He is a very important fixture in the Twins future.
    • JT Chargois - He struggled early in his MLB career. However, he figured things out in September and the hope is that he will be a reliable man at the back-end of the Twins bullpen.
    • Tyler Duffey - Again, tough season for the right-hander after he ended 2015 as the Twins best starter. Long-term, can he be a starter, or should he be in the bullpen? That will play itself out, but it’s clear he’s got enough stuff - in the two pitches he has - to at least be a solid reliever.
    • Phil Hughes - He’s got the contract. He’s coming off an injury. He is going to remain on the roster.
    • Pat Light - The numbers in the big leagues have been really non-good. Despite Trackman verifying that he was hitting 100 in Rochester, we didn’t see that in the big leagues. He was hit hard and struggled with secondary pitches. There’s a reason he was available in a trade for Fernando Abad. But there’s still upside here.
    • Trevor May - Starter or bullpen? To be determined, but he’s a given to remain on the roster. Has really good stuff. Can be a dominant reliever, or a mid-rotation starter. We’ll see which.
    • Adalberto Mejia - Acquired in July for Eduardo Nunez, Mejia was in Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects at mid-season. The left-hander made one appearance with the Twins in August before being shut down. He has a chance to be a solid mid-rotation starter.
    • Mason Melotakis - He is essentially one year behind JT Chargois in terms of recovery and return from Tommy John surgery. He got through his first year back, and should be used and developed in 2017 similarly to Chargois was in 2016. Too talented.
    • Glen Perkins - He’s untradeable due to recovery from shoulder injury. He has a contract. If healthy, he can be a terrific reliever in the late innings for the Twins, even if he’s 90% of what he was during his three straight All-Star seasons.
    • Taylor Rogers - He was an easy choice to add to the 40-man roster last year at the time, and he proved the Twins correct by having a very nice rookie season in 2016. It was his first work out of the bullpen, so there’s a good chance he could continue to improve in the role going forward.
    • Ervin Santana - He was the Twins pitcher of the year in 2016, and it was an easy choice. Could he be traded this offseason? Sure.
    There are eleven pitchers who are "givens" to be on the Twins 40-man roster. In addition, of the arbitration-eligible pitchers, it is my opinion that Kyle Gibson, Ryan Pressly and Brandon Kintzler are givens to be offered arbitration. I’d probably put Hector Santiago as more of a 50/50 selection.

    Here are the pitchers remaining on the 40-man roster who remain question marks for the roster at this point. Remember, room still needs to be made on the roster for players who need to be added to the 40-man roster or potentially lost to the Rule 5 draft. Of the below names, the front office will need to determine if they prefer to keep the current guy or go with a potential Rule 5 selection. There are a lot of difficult decisions.

    • Buddy Boshers - A nice story in 2016, he pitched well in AAA and - with the exception of just a couple of appearances - in the big leagues. Left-handed. His improved breaking pitches have to be evaluated to determine if he’s worth a roster spot.
    • Ryan O’Rourke - See Boshers, Buddy. O’Rourke made a concerted effort to improve his numbers against right-handed hitters to make himself more valuable on a roster. However, he was removed from the 40-man roster early in the season, but he did well in AAA and earned his way back on the roster.
    • Randy Rosario - Another left-hander. He has a chance to start, which is what he did the first three-plus months of the season in Ft. Myers. He moved to the bullpen, and that’s where he is pitching in the Arizona Fall League. 2016 was his first full season back from Tommy John. He’s got terrific stuff and potential, but lack of strikeouts make him a question mark.
    • Yorman Landa - In the Florida State League All-Star game, he threw several pitches over 100 mph, and that’s what he can do. However, he didn’t pitch after mid-July because of a shoulder injury, an injury he has missed significant time with before.
    • Michael Tonkin - Simply put, his AAA dominance has not translated to the big leagues in his four years of opportunities. There are certainly times that he showed his upside, but for the most part he really struggled.
    • Alex Wimmers - Former first-round pick who earned an opportunity to pitch in the big leagues the final six weeks of the season. Aside from two consecutive appearances in which he walked a combined six batters, he was very good. But what will the new regime think?

    Real quickly, here is an incomplete list of pitchers who would need to be added to the Twins 40-man roster or risk being lost in the Rule 5 draft (with my thoughts on likelihood of them being added):
    • Fernando Romero - GIVEN
    • Felix Jorge - HIGHLY LIKELY
    • DJ Baxendale - BUBBLE
    • Lewis Thorpe - BUBBLE
    • Jason Wheeler - BUBBLE
    • Zack Jones - BUBBLE
    • Ryan Eades - UNLIKELY
    • Williams Ramirez - UNLIKELY
    So there you have it, a crib sheet review of the pitchers on the Minnesota Twins current 40 (or 38?)-man roster. As I see it, there are 11 easy choices to keep on the roster. There are four pitchers who are arbitration-eligible. In my opinion, three of them are givens. There are six pitchers that I believe are on the 40-man roster bubble. And there are several pitchers who need to be considered for addition to the 40-man roster.

    Tomorrow, I'll do the same thing with the 16 hitters currently on the Twins 40-man roster. For now, discuss your thoughts on the above as well as what you would do. Or, if you prefer, if you were asked to provide Derek Falvey with your roster recommendations, what would you present?

    • Oct 20 2016 01:58 PM
    • by Seth Stohs
  24. Twins Daily Awards 2016: Pitcher Of The Year

    Ervin Santana had something to prove during the 2016 season. This came a year after being suspended for 80 games for PED use, on the heels of a big off-season free agent deal. When he returned from suspension, he allowed four runs or more in six of his first ten games (6.05 ERA) including 11 home runs. He settled in from there, posting a 1.62 ERA and a 5-2 record over his last seven starts.

    Santana was able to build off of this strong finish in 2015 as the 2016 season began. Through his first seven starts, he had an ERA under 3.15 and a 32 to 14 strikeout to walk ratio. Even with these strong numbers, the Twins compiled a 1-6 record (Santana was 1-2). Over his next five starts, he allowed five runs or more in all but one of those games. His season ERA topped out at 5.10 and he had a rough 1-7 record.

    From June 19 through August 21 (11 starts), Santana saw his best stretch of the year and it's likely one of the main reasons he won this award. Across 75.1 innings pitched he limited opponents to 15 earned runs (1.79 ERA). Batters hit .202/.241/.285 against him. This stretch also included two complete games and one complete game shutout against Oakland.

    "I haven't had many decisions in a year-and-a-half of letting a guy go out there to get a shutout," Twins manager Paul Molitor said about his late-inning decision to keep Santana rolling. "But, he was dominant."

    Santana's dominance cooled down as the season wound to a close. In September, he averaged less than six innings per appearance while opponents got on base over 32% of the time against him. He struck out more than a batter an inning (36 SO in 34 IP) and posted a solid 2.65 ERA. However, there was only one start where he was given more than three runs of support and that was his final win of the year.

    While Santana was a lone bright spot in a struggling rotation, there were some other bullpen arms that compiled solid numbers. Minnesota went into the season thinking a back-end trio of Glen Perkins, Trevor May and Kevin Jepsen would be the key to winning games. Perkins missed almost the entire season, May tried to play through an injury, and Jepsen pitched terribly. This allowed other players to claim a role.

    Brandon Kintzler signed with the Twins in December from the Brewers organization. With the trio mentioned above, he likely was uncertain of his role in Minnesota. He wouldn't earn his first save until the beginning of June but he went on quite a stretch after taking over the job. Over his next 19 appearances, he allowed three earned runs (1.50 ERA) as opponents got on base less than 28% of the time. There were some rough appearances over the last month but he set career highs in saves and games finished.

    Other bullpen arms like Ryan Pressly and Fernando Abad were offered opportunities to prove they belonged at the big league level. Pressly set a career high in SO/9 and tossed over 75 innings for only the second time in his career. Abad signed on a minor league deal before the season. He posted a 2.65 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP before being dealt to the Red Sox at the trade deadline for RHP Pat Light.

    In a bad year that included plenty of poor pitching, Santana and part of the bullpen put together strong stretches. There was plenty of talk of trading Santana around this year's trade deadline. It will be interesting to see if the new regime keeps Santana around or uses him as a trade chip to build for the future.

    In an attempt to be transparent, here are the votes from our Twins Daily writers:

    • Seth Stohs – 1.) Ervin Santana, 2.) Brandon Kintzler, 3.) Ryan Pressly/Taylor Rogers
    • Parker Hageman – 1.) Ervin Santana, 2.) Brandon Kintzler, 3.) Fernando Abad
    • Nick Nelson – 1.) Ervin Santana, 2.) Brandon Kintzler, 3.) Ryan Pressly
    • Jeremy Nygaard – 1.) Ervin Santana, 2.) Brandon Kintzler, 3.) Ryan Pressly
    • Cody Christie – 1.) Ervin Santana, 2.) Brandon Kintzler, 3.) Fernando Abad
    • Steve Lien – 1.) Ervin Santana, 2.) Brandon Kintzler, 3.) Ryan Pressly
    • Eric Pleiss – 1.) Ervin Santana, 2.) Ricky Nolasco, 3.) Buddy Boshers
    Ervin Santana- 21
    Brandon Kintzler- 12
    Ryan Pressly- 3.5
    Ricky Nolasco- 2
    Fernando Abad- 2
    Buddy Boshers- 1
    Taylor Rogers- 0.5

    Feel free to discuss. How would your ballot look?

    • Oct 05 2016 07:40 PM
    • by Cody Christie