Age: 18 (DOB: 6-2-2001)
2019 Stats (GCL): 92 PA, .172/.217/.253, 4-2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI
2019 Ranking: NR
National Top 100 Rankings
BA: NR |MLB: NR | ATH: NR |BP: NR
What’s To Like
There’s no hiding the reality that the Twins have had a history of drafting, signing and developing many toolsy, talented high school athletes with early-round picks. Torii Hunter. Michael Cuddyer. Joe Mauer, Denard Span. Ben Revere. Joe Benson. Byron Buxton and Royce Lewis in recent years. When it comes to tools and athleticism, Keoni Cavaco can match up with any of these players.
Cavaco was drafted from Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, California. The school has several players go Division I every year as well as get drafted. Cavaco only played infield his final two years of high school and wasn’t a known commodity on the national scene until after the summer of his junior year. Like several others from his school, he was committed to San Diego State.
Cavaco has a very strong, athletic build. He’s already 6-2 and hovers around 200 pounds. He’s got quick hands and has the potential to hit a lot of home runs, in time. He also has speed that can match up with most anyone in the organization. In fact, he was clocked at 3.9 seconds to first base from the right-hand batters box.
Right now, his defense is ahead of his offense. The Twins had him play shortstop through the short-season following the draft, but he had spent most of his high school career playing third base. His team’s shortstop was hurt during the season so Cavaco had an opportunity to show scouts that he could play the position as well. Reports from Ft. Myers indicate that he’s got great footwork, soft hands, good range and a strong arm.
What’s Left To Work On
When Cavaco came to Target Field to sign his contract, FSN’s Marney Gellner interviewed him on the TV broadcast. He said that he wanted to be in the major leagues in “four years or less.” Well, Twins fans, and Cavaco himself, will need to have more patience than that. The tools are all there, but many of them are quite raw.
First and foremost, Cavaco’s “hit” tool is going to take some time. It’s all there. He’s got the size and strength. He’s got the quick hands. He’s got good vision. In his professional debut, he missed some time with some minor injuries which kept him from getting into a groove. He also had a lot of swing-and-miss, striking out in 35 of his 92 plate appearances (38%) while walking just four times.
And as you would expect from any player that is just 18 years old, he’s got a lot of work to do across the board. His swing is just one of those things. He’s got work to do in terms of base running, and defense, and control of the strike zone. He’s also learning how to work properly in the gym, and before games, and dietary, and more.
After just 25 games and his struggles in the GCL following the draft, expect that Cavaco will spend the first half of the season in Ft. Myers at extended spring training continuing to work on his all-around game.
At that point, it will be interesting to see if Cavaco is pushed up to Elizabethton (likely) or starts the short season in the GCL again. It’s also possible, if he picks things up quickly, he could spend some time in the second half of the season with the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
Twins Daily 2020 Top 20 Prospects
20. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B
19. Cole Sands, RHP
18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF
17. Misael Urbina, OF
16. Edwar Colina, RP
15. Matt Canterino, RHP
14. Matt Wallner, OF
13. Wander Javier, SS
12. Gilberto Celestino, OF
11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP
10. Blayne Enlow, RHP
9. Brent Rooker, OF
8. Keoni Cavaco, SS
Stop by tomorrow for prospect #7!
Get to know more about Keoni Cavaco and about another 170 minor league players (and two Dodgers prospects too - Graterol and Raley) in the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook.
ORDER NOW: 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $17.99)
ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (eBook, $12.99)
The 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook goes in-depth and provides player bios, scouting reports, statistics and much more on about 170 Twins minor leaguers.
- Feb 10 2020 06:52 AM
- by Seth Stohs
Hall of Fame players are not one-size fits all and, for many, the path to the Hall includes excellence over a long period of time. Nelson Cruz’s play over the last decade is certainly going to warrant some consideration for the Hall, but there could be some obstacle awaiting him on his path to enshrinement.
Obstacles Facing Cruz
Designated hitters have struggled to be elected by the baseball writers and Cruz has been a DH for a large chunk of his career. Entering the 2020 campaign, he has played 970 games in the outfield and he has been a DH for 696 games. Minnesota will likely use him as a DH for over 100 games this season and that could put those numbers even closer together.
Cruz was also a late bloomer in terms of MLB players and that will hurt his career numbers because of his lack of longevity. At the onset of his big-league career, it seemed almost impossible for him to hit over 400 home runs, but he crossed that mark last season. He didn’t debut until age 24, his first home run came at age-26, and he wouldn’t be a full-time player until age 28.
The other elephant in the room is the fact Cruz was part of the largest mass suspension in baseball history. Back in 2013, he was part of the Biogenesis drug case and he was forced to miss 50 games. His excuse for taking a banned substance was an “error in judgment.” He had lost 40 pounds due to a stomach infection and he was trying to get ready for the 2012 season.
JAWS and Peak Performance
One way to measure a player’s Hall of Fame worthiness is the scoring system known as JAWS. According to Baseball Reference, a player’s JAWS is their career WAR averaged with their 7-year peak WAR. To examine Cruz, one must compare him to other players at his primary position, right field.
There are 26 Hall of Fame players at this position, the most of any non-pitching position, and their averages are a career WAR of 71.5, a seven-year peak WAR of 42.1, and a JAWS of 56.8. Cruz falls well below all those numbers because of his late debut. He has a career WAR of 37.9, a seven-year peak WAR of 30.0, and a JAWS score of 33.9. JAWS ranks him closely to Juan Gonzalez, Kirk Gibson, David Justice and Roger Maris.
During the 2010’s, it’s hard to argue with the numbers compiled by Cruz. MLB.com named him as the DH on the All-Decade Team. Among players over 30, he has the 10th most home runs all-time and the list includes some of the game’s most prolific home runs hitters like Bonds, Ruth, Aaron and Mays.
Cruz was the best player at his position for most of a decade, but his late arrival as a full-time player likely means his Hall of Fame chances are slim. He might continue his late-career renaissance and play well into his 40s and that would still likely leave him on the outside of the Hall.
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- Jan 08 2020 10:17 PM
- by Cody Christie
Over the last decade Minnesota compiled a 765-855 record (.472 winning percentage) while failing to win a postseason game (0-7). They competed in October baseball just three times, and won the AL Central Division twice. Long-time General Manager Terry Ryan was ushered out, and so too was long-standing skipper Ron Gardenhire. Concluding with a 101 victories in their final 162 games, a change appears to be on the horizon.
In the decade ahead, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will look to assert themselves from a wins and losses perspective. Having established a new culture and blueprinted a strong foundation, the big league club is now beginning to see the fruits of that labor. We can’t accurately predict what will assuredly take place in the years ahead, but there’re some benchmarks that seem plausible to be cleared.
$100 million and $150 million will be spent
There will never be a time, until proven otherwise, that Minnesota won’t be viewed as a thrift-store organization. Despite spending significant resources on internal positions and developmental initiatives, the checks have not been cashed directly towards major league payroll. This should be the most straightforward slam dunk of all projections. Within the next ten years, as baseball continues to thrive, the Twins will ink both a $100 million free agent as well a team payroll of $150 million. They are entering a competitive window immediately in 2020, and allocating dollars to supplement in-house talent is only logical.
Major award drought comes to an end
No Twins player has won either the Cy Young or MVP since Joe Mauer in 2009. Mike Trout will continue to roll up his tally there through the 2020’s, but someone like Byron Buxton could pop up in contention for a year or two. Where I think it’s most likely is on the mound. Six different organizations captured Cy Young awards in the American League this past decade. Four times since 2007, a Cleveland pitcher has won the award. Having entrusted a former part of that brain trust with running the organization, and seeing the growth from a pitching development standpoint, I’d be far from shocked if the infrastructure bears fruit. Jose Berrios could get there. Maybe Brusdar Graterol or Jordan Balazovic emerges. An acquired arm looking to unlock that next level could be the key as well.
Playing for it all sounds fun
We are closing in on 30 years since the Twins even played in a World Series. The organizational failed to win a single postseason game in the last decade, and the one before featured a 6-16 record over five different playoff appearances. At this point, Minnesota looks poised to be a consistent threat for the immediate future, and painting them solely as a division winner seems foolish. If the current momentum is expanded upon and harnessed correctly, a couple of series victories could quickly turn into a deep run that winds up either with a parade or heartbreak, but a showing in the Fall Classic regardless.
Prospect breakout finally comes through
No Minnesota Twins prospect has broken onto the scene with a Rookie of the Year victory since Marty Cordova captured the trophy in 1995. Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton had all of the pedigree but lacked some of the early results. Luis Arraez looked the part but didn’t have sufficient at-bats behind his body of work. With what Minnesota has built on the farm, it’s a good bet the drought will come to an end soon. Throw a dart between Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Jordan Balazovic, and Brusdar Graterol to claim which is going to make the biggest immediate impact in the near future. Then note the developmental prowess and drafting history of the organization as it stands today, and the reality is quickly apparent that high-quality graduating youth in this system will be an enticing proposition for quite some time.
Without wanting to venture out on a limb incapable of holding the weight, these select suggestions seem monumental in action even if they aren’t substantial in number. Defining where the Twins are, and where they are headed, seems to be as simple as this: The future is bright and the direction is sound. Baseball is not at all a sprint, and this journey is one Twins Territorians should be giddy about.
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- Dec 30 2019 05:46 PM
- by Ted Schwerzler
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
[NOTE: This was written prior to reports of a possible Michael Pineda deal. Please ignore that for the purposes of these locally-made, handcrafted jokes.]
“He just had a post on Facebook that said ‘Bet the Pohlads had a balloon payment due to Mauer but good luck getting the media to report it’ or something like that,” said John Cushman, Galligan’s nephew and one of the few relatives who hasn’t muted Galligan on the social media platform due to the latter’s constant sharing of stories from something called LibertyPatriot.USA. “Uncle Bert is pretty clearly on fire about this, because he just called my mom (Barbara, Galligan’s sister) for the first time since May and that was the first thing he brought up.”
There is no indication that the Twins owe Mauer, who retired in 2018, any money. Uncle Bert is undeterred.
“I'm Catholic and my partner’s family is Jewish, so we like to have a combination Hanukkah/Christmas party for anyone in our extended families who wants to attend,” said Teri Klobes, Galligan’s niece. “Here’s the text Bert sent me last night: ‘INSTEAD OF THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS, I BET THE TWINS HAVE A FESTIVAL OF LIGHT WALLETS!’ Then there’s a bunch of emojis, then a curse word, then ‘MAUER’S A BUM!’ Then he said he’d bring chips and a handle of brown liquor.”
Galligan, who listens to AM radio 6-8 hours per weekday, has also reached out to strangers to spread his theory. Tabitha Washington, a Salvation Army volunteer at a Mendota Heights grocery store, characterized her conversation with Uncle Bert as “one-sided.”
“I’m ringing the bell and humming ‘We Three Kings,’ and he strides up with a $5 bill,” said Washington. “I was about to thank him, but before I could get a word out he says ‘Here’s five bucks more than the Pohlads have spent this Christmas. Suppose you can’t when you gotta pay Mauer’s butler.’ Then he snorted and walked in the store. Who are the Pohlads?”
- Dec 06 2019 06:37 AM
- by RandBalls Stu
In the 2003-04 off-season, Mauer was coming off a tremendous minor league season. Between High- and Double-A, he hit .338/.398/.434 (.832) with 37 extra-base hits in 135 games. Baseball America awarded him the Minor League Player of the Year and he would be named the number one prospect that off-season. St. Paul’s hometown boy seemed destined to take his place behind the plate at the Metrodome.
Blocking Mauer was Minnesota’s starting catcher in 2003, AJ Pierzynski, and he was coming off a strong season himself. He had an All-Star season in 2002, but the 2003 campaign might have been his best in a Twins uniform. He slashed .312/.360/.464 (.824) with 49 extra-base hits in 137 games. He would only have one other season with a higher OPS in his entire 19-year career.
Minnesota was ready to hand the reins to Mauer, which left Pierzynski as a tradeable commodity.
From the Giants perspective, the trade didn’t look that bad on paper. Pierzynski was in the prime of his career as a 26-year old catcher that was coming off a 4.5 WAR season. To top it off, he had three years of arbitration left, so he wasn’t just a rental player. Regardless of his attitude problems, he was a very good player at a tough position that should have gotten quite the return.
From the Twins perspective, well… it’s tough to know what they were thinking at the time. Joe Nathan was a 28-year old reliever that was coming off his first decent season in the bullpen. There had been previous concerns about his shoulder and the possibility of those things lingering. Liriano hadn’t pitched more than 80 innings in any season of his professional career and he had injury concerns of his own. Boof Bonser saw his strikeout rate and velocity drop in the year before the trade.
At the time of the trade it looked like San Francisco had fleeced the Twins, but baseball is a funny game.
Hindsight is 20-20
Twins fans know what happened after the trade. AJ Pierzynski played one season in San Francisco and hit .272/.319/.410 with 41 extra-base hits. He was worth 0.3 WAR that season. Even though, he could have been arbitration eligible for two more seasons, he had caused so many headaches for the Giants that they let him go at season’s end. He ended up in Chicago and helped the White Sox to the 2005 World Series title.
Minnesota got quite the value from their cast-off pitching trio. Nathan would turn into one of the best relievers in the game and accumulate 18.4 WAR during his seven years with the Twins. Liriano exploded onto the scene in 2006 and it looked like the Twins would be unstoppable with a Johan Santana and Liriano combo. Tommy John surgery stopped that dream from becoming a reality, but Liriano was still able to accumulate 9.3 WAR in his Twins tenure. Bonser pitched over 390 innings for the Twins, including one playoff start, and was worth -0.3 WAR.
Terry Ryan and Minnesota’s scouting department must have known what they were getting in Nathan, Liriano, and Bonser. They also knew what they were giving up in Pierzynski.
What do you remember about this trade? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
- Dec 02 2019 08:57 AM
- by Cody Christie
The decade of 2010-19 brought two division pennants, three playoff berths and a zero playoff wins. In total, the Twins finished the decade with a record of 765-855 and -438 run differential, both good for 23rd in the Majors.
Here's my take on the Twins All-Decade team from the 2010s. After reading through my team, I would love to hear your thoughts what gripes you have with my selections. Without further ado ...
C: Joe Mauer (2010-18)
- 1,159 Games
- .788 OPS
- 24.0 fWAR
Honorable Mention: Mitch Garver
1B: Justin Morneau (2010-13)
- 411 Games
- .791 OPS
- 5.3 fWAR
Honorable Mention: Joe Mauer
2B: Brian Dozier (2012-18)
- 955 Games
- .772 OPS
- 22.5 fWAR
Honorable mention: Luis Arraez
SS: Jorge Polanco (2014-19)
- 441 Games
- .783 OPS
- 7.2 fWAR
Honorable mention: Eduardo Escobar
3B: Miguel Sano (2015-19)
- 486 Games
- .836 OPS
- 8.5 fWAR
Honorable mention: Trevor Plouffe
LF: Eddie Rosario (2015-19)
- 640 Games
- .788 OPS
- 10.5 fWAR
Honorable mention: Josh Willingham
CF: Byron Buxton (2015-19)
- 393 Games
- .706 OPS
- 7.4 fWAR
Honorable mention: Denard Span
RF: Max Kepler (2015-19)
- 553 Games
- .763 OPS
- 9.8 fWAR
Honorable mention: Michael Cuddyer
DH: Nelson Cruz (2019)
- 120 Games
- 1.031 OPS
- 4.3 fWAR
Honorable mention: Jim Thome
Util: Eduardo Escobar (2012-18)
- 671 Games
- .729 OPS
- 8.5 fWAR
Honorable mention: Eduardo Núñez
Starting Pitcher: Jose Berrios (2016-19)
- 596.2 Innings Pitched
- 4.21 ERA
- 9.9 fWAR
Honorable mention: Kyle Gibson, Ervin Santana
Relief Pitcher: Glen Perkins (2010-17)
- 342.2 Innings Pitched
- 3.18 ERA
- 120 Saves
- 6.2 fWAR
Honorable mention: Taylor Rogers, Ryan Pressly
Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Not registered? Click here to create an account. To stay up to date, follow Twins Daily on Twitter and Facebook.
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- Nov 03 2019 07:24 AM
- by Matthew Taylor
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
Odorizzi: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 71.7% strikes (66 of 92 pitches)
Bullpen: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
Home Runs: Kepler (17), Gonzalez (9)
Multi-Hit Games: Gonzalez (2-for-4, HR)
WPA of +0.1: Gonzalez .205, Rogers .170, Cron .120, Polanco .102
WPA of -0.1: Odorizzi -.111, Schoop -.122, Cruz -.126
(chart via FanGraphs)
No Lead is Safe
The Twins fell behind 4-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth. They were within a run of the Royals by the time an out was recorded that inning. Mitch Garver singled and Marwin Gonzalez socked a two-run bomba.
Later that inning, Jorge Polanco provided a game-tying RBI double with two outs. The comeback was complete when C.J. Cron hit an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Bullpen Secures Victory
Sometimes that “no lead is safe” statement applies to the Twins’ bullpen, but not tonight. After the bats stormed back, the bullpen managed to protect that lead.
Trevor May pitched around an error to record a scoreless seventh inning. There was another error committed in the eighth, but Blake Parker and Ryne Harper combined to keep Kansas City off the board that inning. Taylor Rogers gave up a one-out single and issued a two-out walk in the ninth, but worked around them to earn his eighth save.
Odorizzi is Human
Jake Odorizzi gave up as many earned runs tonight, four, as he had in those previous eight outings. He looked a little more human tonight, though he did still provide the Twins with six innings.
Odorizzi gave up seven hits, walked two batters and struck out seven. He gave up multiple home runs for the second time this season, but to his credit, never flew completely off the rails.
I’ve Got a Riddle for You
Who’s the most underrated Twin? I started brainstorming an article around this question, but it was too difficult. There are so many guys on this 2019 teams that are doing so well, but still have such low profiles across the landscape of baseball.
Now of course, if you’re here at Twins Daily reading a game recap, you’re obviously more invested than the average sports fan. But how many people actually realize that, say, Max Kepler is doing what he’s doing?
Anyway, Kepler hit his 17th home run tonight. He entered this game with a 134 OPS+ so far. He’s never even cracked 100 before (which is league average).
People around town are definitely starting to take notice of what this team is doing collectively, which is tremendous, but it’s pretty incredible what so many of these guys are doing on an individual basis, as well.
Before tonight’s game, the Twins put together a ceremony that was pretty neat. Joe Mauer’s No. 7 was retired.
Postgame With Baldelli
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
And One More Thing ...
I try really hard to avoid ump talk, but I’m sorry, we have to go there tonight. It’s a tough job, I get that, and both teams are stuck with the same umpire, so things typically even out. But, my word, is Angel Hernandez terrible. If anybody needs a retirement party, it’s that guy.
Here’s a look at the called strikes on Twins hittters:
And below are the called strikes on Royals hitters:
The guy basically made a joke of this game. How can MLB allow this to continue to happen?
- Jun 16 2019 05:43 AM
- by Tom Froemming
Gibson: 8.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 62.5% strikes (55 of 88 pitches)
Bullpen: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Home Runs: Garver (11)
Multi-Hit Games: Adrianza (2-for-3)
WPA of +0.1: Gibson .566, Garver .276
WPA of -0.1: Polanco -.133, Rosario -.133, Schoop -.279
(chart via FanGraphs)
What we witnessed tonight wasn't even new. Gibson has been one of the most solid and trustworthy starters for the Twins in roughly the past two years. However, he was coming off a very rough start in which he gave up five earned runs over five innings against the Tigers last Saturday. That was the fourth time this season he gave up at least four earned runs.
Still, he's got plenty of credit. Entering the game, Gibby already led the Twins starters this year in swinging strike rate, at 13.9%, a career high for him. That ranks 14th among all pitchers in baseball. And this was the version of Kyle that led the Twins in this game, as he got 11 swinging strikes. During the sixth inning, Gibby also became the 11th pitcher in history to toss 1,000 innings in a Twins uniform. A nice addition to go with the night of memories and milestones,
The offense had a rare bad game, as the Twins' lineup struggled against Royals' starter Brad Keller. He gave up only three hits. The Twins went 0-for-5 with men in scoring position and grounded into two double plays. But this is the 2019 Twins offense we're talking about.
They managed to win this game with one swing of the bat late, as Mitch Garver hit a clutch home run in the bottom of the eighth against reliever Jake Diekman.
SETH EDIT/UPDATE: I recorded the interview with Mitch Garver following the game. Check it out here:
Taylor Rogers, the sole superstar in the recently unstable Twins bullpen, earned his seventh save of the season with only ten pitches. He came in to the game in the ninth inning even though Gibson had only 88 pitches at that point. It was Roger’s first outing in over a week and he showed he’s still sharp.
Minnesota improves to 46-22, which is a season-best 24 games over .500. The Twins also maintained a comfortable lead in the AL Central, now sitting at 11 games ahead of Cleveland, and still have the best record in baseball. You couldn’t ask for a better Mauer/Prince celebration.
Postgame With Baldelli
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
- Jun 15 2019 05:06 AM
- by Thiéres Rabelo
The Kansas City Royals are on the field. They already took a round of infield, and now I am watching Alex Gordon launch baseballs into the bleachers. Over the speakers, Prince songs are blaring. Moments ago, Adalberto Mondesi was taking his hacks while "...You sexy m()%#*@($#%" played.
It's Prince Night tonight at Target Field. The Twins took batting practice earlier sporting t-shirts with the Prince symbol on the front and their name and number on the back.
But in the end, this weekend is a celebration of the career of all-time Twins great Joe Mauer.
On Saturday the Twins will officially retire Joe Mauer's uniform number 7 in a pregame celebration. The ceremony will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday so be sure you don't miss that whether you are at the stadium or watching on TV.
Recently, the Twins sent a list of about 40 former players, coaches, Twins Hall of Famers and more who will be in attendance. The list is really impressive and speaks to not only the Hall of Fame-worthy, 15-season career of Mauer, but to the impression that he made on his teammates.
I had the chance to catch up with former Twins GM Terry Ryan for about 10 minutes before the game. He will be here, as will Bill Smith, 15 members of the Twins Hall of Fame (including 5 National Hall of Fame players), and many former teammates including Trevor Plouffe, Nick Punto, Denard Span and Matt Belisle, and a lot more. All seven previously retired numbers will be in attendance or represented (Kirby Puckett's daughter will be here).
I wonder what is behind the covered up circle?
As we know, Mauer also did a ton in the community, and Joe Mauer weekend began with a great event on Friday morning at Target Field. Mauer and a bunch of his friends welcomed kids from the Gillette Children's Hospital to play ball on the field.
There will be opportunities to get photos and autographs with some of the former players throughout the weekend.
And, what is really exciting is going to Target Field and seeing crowds. I know that can be tough in some ways, but people really care about this team. The passion for Twins baseball is back.
Of course, there is also baseball to be played. Tonight Kyle Gibson will be on the mound, taking on Brad Keller. With a huge, sold out crowd, it would sure be fun to see a lot of Twins Bombas!
Keller is making his 15th start of the year for the Royals. The 23-year-old was a Rule 5 draft pick of the Royals from the Reds in 2017. He is 3-8 with a 4.29 ERA. In his most recent start (last Saturday), he went eight innings against the White Sox. He gave up just two runs on five hits, though the big hit was a two-run Eloy Jimenez homer. No Twins hitter has more than six at-bats against Keller.
Kyle Gibson is 6-3 with a 4.14 ERA. The 31-year-old has 71 strikeouts in 67 1/3 innings. If Gibson records the second out of the top of the sixth inning tonight, he will reach 1000 career innings pitched. He comes into the game with 994 1/3 innings. He will become the 11th Twins pitcher to reach that milestone number.
It sure is great to see these big crowds to see the Twins and sell outs throughout the weekend. .
- Jun 14 2019 05:48 PM
- by Seth Stohs
When you think about hotbeds for baseball, which states do you think about? For me, I think of Georgia. I think of southern California and Florida. I don’t necessarily put Minnesota into that same category. However, seemingly each year there are a few Minnesota high school players who get drafted and more who wind up at Division I colleges.
“Any organization will tell you; where the best players are, we will find them. In the past few years, we’ve had a few players from Wisconsin. We have a couple of players from Minnesota this year. We have a player from Wisconsin.” Frank Jagoda continued. “There are good players all over the place. At the PDP League this year specifically, we’re going to be well represented throughout our country with several different states that traditionally don’t see a lot of players involved. That’s exciting. For me, as the 18U national team director, I’m excited to get in those different areas, to dig in the weeds and find those kids, find ways to get them exposure and get them into our program.”
And once they get to the PDP League, those players will be given every opportunity to be invited to the trials. The best players always tend to stand out.
What an opportunity for the kids! First, it’s an opportunity to put on the Red, White and Blue uniform with USA across the chest.
“Any time you get a chance to represent your country, you’re talking about something that’s larger than just the game. You’re talking about an entire nation that gets behind you when you go and do these things. There’s a lot of good baseball players out there. This isn’t just another travel ball tournament at some event. This is something that means much more. These are relationships you’re going to have the rest of your life. These are experiences you’re going to have for the rest of your life, and you may never get to wear the colors again. Or you’re fortunate and you’re like Joe Mauer and get to wear them four times. You just never know. This is just an opportunity. Some kids may never make the big leagues, but they got to wear their nations colors at 18 years old.”
Joe Mauer is obviously the exception to many rules. But he isn’t the only Minnesota player to play for Team USA. Mauer played for Team USA in a couple of tournaments in 2000. Here are other Minnesota players who have made the 18U National Team 20 Man roster and competed internationally.
2012 - Ryan Boldt (Red Wing)
2000 - Joe Mauer (Cretin-Derham Hall)
1994 - Jason Dobis (Little Falls)
1992 - Chris Schwab (Cretin- Derham Hall)
1991 - Ryan Kjos (Hopkins)
1989 - Tom Nevers (Edina)
1989 - Chris Weinke (Cretin-Derham Hall)
1986 - Tom Quinlan (Hill-Murray)
Recently, I was able to touch base with 1989 Team USA National Team member, infielder Tom Nevers. A year later, the Houston Astros selected Nevers with the 21st overall pick in the 1990 draft. He spent 13 seasons playing in affiliated baseball, reaching the Triple-A level, before retiring after the 2002 season.
Nevers’ 1989 team won the gold medal in Trio Riveria, Quebec, beating Cuba in the championship game. “We had a nice blend of players from all around the country. This was back in the Olympic Festival days, and it was at Oklahoma’s college campus.”
He went there to compete for his team, “I never really felt it was a tryout as I was more worried about winning the Gold on the North team, and we did that as well. We had a great, low-ego team. After the last game, they informed the players who made it, and I was fortunately one of them.”
For much of Team USA, the team’s camp was a trip north. For Nevers, he just hopped on Highway 35 and headed south. “We had a camp in Des Moines, Iowa, and played Mexico, I believe, three times before heading to Quebec.”
Representing Team USA meant a lot to Nevers, and he was unique. He was able to do so more than just once. “Wearing the USA colors is like nothing else. I was fortunate to compete internationally in hockey and baseball wearing those colors. Means a lot to me, to say the least.”
Nevers, now 47, remains busy. He sells real estate for Edina Realty in Edina. He also has a baseball training facility with two-time World Series champion Gene Larkin called Nevers Larkin Baseball (Twitter). This is their 11th year of working together and he really enjoys it. He also does some coaching on his son’s baseball team and still tries to help out the Edina Legion program when he has time.
2019 Player Development Pipeline Invitations
As alluded to yesterday and above, two players from Minnesota have accepted invitations to play in the PDP League in June. Burnsville High School junior OF/P Max Carlson and Rochester Century High School SS/P Mac Horvath will head to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, in mid-June.
Horvath has been playing on the national summer baseball circuit for several years already. He has incredible speed. He is playing mostly shortstop now, but some scouts can see him shifting to centerfield in the future if it is needed because his speed will play there. He is not a bulky kid, by any means, but he has a real short stroke and can surprise by producing quite a bit of power. He also has a very strong arm with a fastball (or throw from shortstop) that can top 90 mph as well.
Max Carlson is another player who has been known nationally for a few years already. While he is a good outfielder and one of Burnsville’s top hitters, he is very intriguing as a pitcher. A scouting report might indicate that he can have real electric stuff at times. He has a fastball in the low-90s with a sharp slider. He profiles as a starter because he also have a good changeup with fade. He has a smooth delivery.
Carlson is the younger brother of Sam Carlson who was a second-round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners in 2017. He had Tommy John surgery in 2018 and recently began throwing bullpens again. He was a part of USA Baseball in 2016. He played in the 40-player trials but was cut when the 20-man roster was set.
In 2017, Carlson was playing for the Minnesota Blizzard and they scrimmaged the 18U national team.
Carlson said, “I played against the 18U Team USA team with (Ethan) Hankins, (Kumar) Rocker, (Triston) Casas, and that is kind of what led me to wanting to represent my country in the USA uniform. I was 15 at the time, and I looked up to those guys. The PDP League is the first step on that journey to making Team USA and I'm extremely excited to compete at IMG.”
While ultimately the goal for these two and the others going to Bradenton is to make the final 20 player roster and play for Team USA in South Korea in August, it’s equally important to know that these players are going to be given a great opportunity to further develop their skills.
Jagoda says, “We’re confident with what we have developmentally, the programs and processes that we have in place as an organization, we’re developing a true developmental organization for these kids as well as an opportunity to represent their country overseas.”
Much has been written at Twins Daily and elsewhere about how much technology is used on the back fields and in player development. Jagoda points out that these players at the PDP League will have the same opportunities.
Jagoda explained, “Yes, they are there to compete for their national team, but also to get better. We’re going to be using all the new data and technology initiatives. We’re going to be able to streamline and personalize developmental plans. We’ll be able to provide them feedback and instruction based on them, and we’re not going to blanket those things. Our players are really going to be able to tap in on the development side of things. We’re trying to provide a first-class development experience, and at the end of it, you might have a chance to compete for your country.”
Players will get an iPad and be sent their data and video in real time. They will be provided an experience not unlike what they might experience in professional baseball.
It is great to know that players from Minnesota have competed in international competitions and more continue to get that opportunity. The future is bright for Horvath and Carlson. Both have committed to the University of North Carolina. Both could be high draft picks in the 2020 MLB Draft. And we wish both the best as they compete and develop with Team USA in the PDP League.
- May 16 2019 08:46 AM
- by Seth Stohs
Slugging and OPS attempt this also, but both stats assume that the value of hits is linear, which is to say that OPS believes a homer is exactly twice as valuable as a double or a triple is exactly three times as a good as a single.
While OPS thinks this, wOBA understands that this is simply not true and instead calculates the importance of these outcomes with their correct value. If you want to read a piece that goes into more detail about wOBA and how it is calculated, Fangraphs has a great article about it that can be found here and I would highly suggest reading it before moving on in my article. As a quick rule of thumb, an average wOBA is about .320 while an above average wOBA is about .340 and a below average wOBA is .310.
But we aren’t just talking about wOBA here, we’re talking about xwOBA! What the hell is that x doing there and what does it signify? Thanks to Statcast data, we can calculate more precisely how much luck is involved in the game. xwOBA only cares about the quality of the contact being made and couldn’t give a rats ass about the actual outcomes of the hits. So a screaming line drive that finds the right fielder's glove may not count for anything during the game, but xwOBA thinks that the guy who hit the ball got unlucky and probably will not continue being unlucky going forward if he is capable of hitting the ball like he currently is. xwOBA specifically uses the term “quality of contact” which encompasses exit velocity along with launch angle to determine how lucky or unlucky a certain hitter was. If you want to read more about it, I have another article for your curious mind that will extend the length of time you spend on my article.
Now that all of that is out the way, let’s take a look at what xwOBA says about some choice Twins and their 2018 seasons. I’ll be looking at a handful of the most successful Twins players along with whom I have deemed their “brother” or someone who had the same or a very similar 2018 xwOBA as them. Numbers are pulled from Baseball Savant here.
Nelson Cruz and Aaron Judge
Isn’t that a tasty comparison? The defier of Father Time put up a ridiculous .392 xwOBA in 2018, a number just a hair north of noted destroyer of baseballs, Aaron Judge. Despite putting up a wRC+ that was his lowest since 2014, there should be nothing to worry about for Cruz as he continued to annihilate balls at a ridiculous rate and he should provide some serious production in the middle of a Twins lineup that has more power in three spots than any of the mid 2000’s teams had in the entire lineup. They might have to start handing out helmets in the left field bleachers for safety reasons.
Joe Mauer and J.T. Realmuto
While it is great to see Mauer’s name here, it came with some decent scrolling down the list. Cruz was ranked seventh in MLB by xwOBA, but the next Twin comes in at 56th place and he doesn’t even play for the Twins anymore. Wow, that got really sad, let’s spin this in a more positive light. Mauer’s xwOBA says that the dude got robbed hardcore last year as he only put up a .319 wOBA compared to an xwOBA of .350. An unusual feat mainly because hitters like Mauer are prime candidates to be enemies of xwOBA due to their ability to hit the ball to the opposite field. These more “well-rounded” hitters tend to have lower xwOBA numbers because xwOBA does not account for defensive positioning and at the game level, well-hit balls that xwOBA would like are generally pulled and can be gobbled up consistently by the shift. Although, Mauer was such an extreme opposite field guy that the consistency of his hits actually ended up biting him. Oh yeah, and he was as good as J.T. Realmuto in this category, so go trade for that, Philly.
C.J. Cron and Giancarlo Stanton
You hear that, Yankees fans? Cron is as good as Stanton, open and shut case. Even though probably just about everyone and their mother forgot that Cron was traded from the Angels to the Rays before the 2018 season, he saw a good amount of success with his new team as he translated his “looks like a guy who can whack the crap out of the ball” skills into “actually is a guy that can whack the crap out of the ball” skills. The Rays DFA’d Cron after the season in an effort to recreate the Corey Dickerson fiasco the year before, which led to Derek Falvey waking up from his slumber immediately and punching the “Get Old Rays 1st Baseman Button” he keeps near his bed. Cron put up a respectable .345 xwOBA in 2018 and looks to continue his success with the Twins into the future.
Logan Morrison and Daniel Murphy
So far, we have two guys that are no longer on the Twins and two guys who just got here, I don’t know what to make of that. As mentioned before, xwOBA feels pretty bad about Morrison’s 2018 and wants to cheer him up with some Jameson, a high-quality steak, a movie on Netflix, and some decent exit velocity numbers. His xwOBA of .340 is a good .057 higher than what his wOBA actually was. As mentioned before with Mauer, Morrison is a prime case of why these numbers aren’t exactly perfect. We all saw him last year refuse to hit the ball the other way and instead ground out to the second baseman directly into the shift over and over. And while the quality of the contact might have been good, the assumption that his luck would change was false. He probably deserved a little better, but I am really glad that he is off the team now.
Jake Cave and Whit Merrifield
We have quite an interesting pairing here, like when a high school jock starts dating a band girl. Jake Cave was acquired in an incredibly low-profile trade before the season but then forced his way onto the major league team and is now probably in the future plans for the Twins due to his ability to hit the snot out of the ball. Despite a hilariously lopsided 33.0% K percent and a BABIP that would make Christian Yelich blush, Cave’s ability to hit the ball a country mile could hold up and allow for him to grow into a more well-rounded batter. With Whit Merrifield as his xwOBA sidekick, Jake Cave will continue to swing hard and hit hard or not at all.
Eddie Rosario and ... Ian Kinsler?
For a stat that is called “expected wOBA”, this pairing sure is unexpected. Rosario was easily the most productive Twins hitter in 2018 as he continued to put up solid wRC+ numbers while Kinsler was… not productive at all. Kinsler’s hitting went even farther into the toilet following an already disappointing 2017 year as he put up a wRC+ of 93 in 2017 and followed that up with an 87 wRC+ in 2018. Despite this pretty serious disparity, xwOBA has both guys pegged at a .299 clip that would be consistent for Kinsler but incredibly concerning for Rosario. Also, despite similar numbers in 2017 and 2018 for Rosario, xwOBA was much more of a fan of him in 2017 when they had him pegged at a .334 clip that was more in line with how he actually performed that year.
The good news is that there aren’t that many Twins players that look due for regression in 2019 based off their 2018 numbers, but the bad news is that the reason for that is because their xwOBA numbers were poor across the board. Even though some players like Cruz and Kepler should see bumps in their production, using past performance to predict future success is an inconsistently successful measurement and let’s be honest, using the eye test is just much easier to do instead. And my eyes are telling me that the Twins offense in 2019 should be pretty tasty.
- Feb 17 2019 04:25 PM
- by Matt Braun
Clyde decided to have Joe unpack the bag and take the group through what each item was and talk about his career. We didn't know this when we bid on the tour and I suspect had folks known, it would have gone higher.
This flickr album has all the photos with detailed descriptions. I wasn't supposed to video anything but recorded a few before I was scolded. The lady next to me took a bunch more so if you know her, you can hear more. I recommend looking at the album on a laptop or a tablet since the descriptions are more easily viewed on a full -size browser. They explain many of the markings in or on his equipment and give the details he shared about each piece. The bat and batting gloves are from his 2000th hit. I was at Target Field that night so it was special to get to hold them. He talked through how he chose his bats and explained how he listened to the sound a bat makes when tapped on the barrel. The higher the pitch the better. The 2000th hit bat had a pretty high pitch.
After holding the bat and lowering it to tap his shoes, as we've seen him do thousands of times, he explained the pre-at-bat ritual of raking the dirt with his cleats then tapping his shoes. It was so he was able to see precisely where his feet went during a plate appearance. It gave him an immediate visual clue if something was off. He also raked the dirt in front of home plate as a catcher to prevent a bad hop on a ball in the dirt. Same for the semi-circles while waiting on batters at first base. His process was all about doing every little thing he could to prevent as many 1-in-a-1000 events that might negatively impact his ability to make the play or get a hit.
Joe has given some less than engaging post-game interviews over the years, but he talked with ease Friday night and seems to be genuinely at peace with deciding to retire. I'm still in denial he won't take the field on Opening Day, but really enjoyed the hour hearing him talk about baseball. I'm so going to miss watching him play.
- Feb 02 2019 07:16 PM
- by TCAnelle
ESPN’s Buster Olney is reporting the Twins could be one of a handful of mystery teams interested in signing either Machado or Harper. Olney’s biggest reasons for identifying the Twins is their lack of free agent spending, which gives the club an opportunity to pull off this kind of contract.
Over the last week, Minnesota’s payroll has been a hot button topic in Twins Territory. (I wrote a little about it in this week’s Twins Daily mailbag and you can listen to Gleeman and the Geek discuss it in their latest episode). Joe Mauer’s contract came off the books and the organization has few contractual commitments moving forward.
According to Forbes, Minnesota ranks 22nd in MLB team valuations. The club made $261 million in revenue last year and spent $133 million on player expenses. Currently, the Twins are projected to start next season with a payroll around $100 million.
If it takes longer for these two players to sign, their asking price could continue to drop. It could also drop the length of the contract. Both players are relatively young for reaching free agency since they made their debuts as teenagers. This could allow teams to sign them to a longer contract because the prime of their careers would be throughout most of the new deal.
Since these two players debuted in 2012, Harper has the 12th highest WAR total, while Machado comes in at 15th. These are two of the best players of this generation and they are reaching free agency in their prime. All of baseball should be interested… why not the Twins?
Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
- Jan 23 2019 11:03 AM
- by Cody Christie
1st Inning - Miguel Sano homers
On Tuesday night, Miguel Sano played his first game in the Dominican Winter League of the year, and his first game in the DWL in over three years. He DHd and batted third. He went 1-for-3 with two walks and the three-run homer. The homer came off of right-hander Tristan Archer who spent most of 2018 in the Brewers’ AAA bullpen.
He seemed to enjoy his trek around the bases as well as watching it while walking down the first base line.
You can’t help but love seeing the passion of the players in the Dominican leagues.
2nd Inning - Willians Astudillo homers
It’s fair to say that Astudillo admired his work on that one. The Venezuelan Winter League MVP candidate homered to give his team a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the eighth. That proved to be the final score. The homer came off of former Twins prospect Deolis Guerra. Astudillo went 2-for-4 in the game.
You have to love Deadspin referring to Astudillo as the “Beefy Baseball Hero.”
3rd Inning - New Minor League Hitting Coordinator
On Twitter, Peter Fatse announced that he has been hired by the Twins as their new Minor League Hitter Coordinator.
Fatse was drafted by the Brewers in the 2009 draft out of the University of Connecticut. He spent two years in their system, peaking at High-A. He played two seasons in independent leagues.
He founded Advanced Performance Academy in western Massachusetts. If you’re looking for a minor league hitting coordinator, having this on your website is a good thing, “Developing Hitters that have the ability to compete at their peak potential is what I aim to do.”
Fatse takes over the job vacated by Rick Eckstein earlier this offseason when he was named the hitting coach of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
4th Inning - Twins to Sign Telis?
According to Carlos Rodriguez, the Twins may be close to signing catcher Tomas Telis. I would assume (comfortably) that it would be a minor league contract with an invitation to Twins spring training. Admittedly, he is a player I had not heard of in the past which is strange because he has spent at least part of each of the past five seasons in the big leagues.
Telis was originally signed by the Texas Rangers - make your Thad Levine connection here - and played in that system from 2008 through the July 2015 trade deadline when he was traded to the Marlins. He was with Miami through the 2018 season. He has about one-and-a-half years of service time over the five years. In 122 major-league games, he has hit .230/.267/298 (.565).
My assumption is that his role will be that of fourth catcher. Jason Castro and Mitch Garver will be the Twins Opening Day catchers, assuming health. Willians Astudillo should be the top catcher in Rochester, and then Telis could be the next guy. Astudillo’s ability to play several positions will help him, and it will get Telis more time behind the plate. Telis also played quite a bit of first base for the Marlins the last couple of years.
5th Inning - Caesars Palace Puts Twins at 84 Wins
According to the above tweet, Caesars Palace placed the over-under of Twins wins at 84. In my opinion, that is a pretty good number. If guys like Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton are healthy, and Max Kepler takes the next step, 84 could be low. If not, or other things go wrong, it could be under. But with the current roster, that feels like a good number. What do you think?
The 84 wins would place the Twins in second place according to Caesars. Their over-under for Cleveland is 91 ½. They have the White Sox in third place at 74 ½ wins. Kansas City’s over-under is listed at 69, and the Tigers are at 67.
6th Inning - Twins to Retire Mauer’s Number 7
The Twins announced last month that they would be retiring Joe Mauer’s number 7 at a ceremony sometime in 2019. On Tuesday morning, the Twins announced that the ceremony would be on June 15th.
7th Inning - Mauer Four-Pack Bobblehead Series
The Twins also announced that they will be having four Joe Mauer bobblehead games during the 2019 season. By purchasing the “Mauer Bobblehead Four-Pack” package, fans can also get a fifth Mauer bobblehead. Below are the dates of the four bobblehead games and what the bobblehead will depict. (per team press release)
- May 24 vs. Chicago White Sox – The first in the bobblehead series features Mauer’s signature swing, as depicted in the Cretin Derham Hall High School “Raiders” jersey in which he hit .567.
- July 19 vs. Oakland – The second takes us back to April 5, 2004, when a 21-year-old Mauer was the Twins’ starting catcher in his major league debut, going 2-for-3 in a 7-4, Opening Day victory over Cleveland at the Metrodome.
- Aug. 24 vs. Detroit – The third honors the legacy of Mauer’s sensational 2009 season, in which he captured the American League MVP, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards for the AL Central champion Twins.
- Sept. 7 vs. Cleveland – The last in the series commemorates the final game of Mauer’s career, Sept. 30, 2018 – a day that will forever be remembered in Twins lore.
For more information or to order tickets, click here.
8th Inning - Nelson Cruz on MLB Network
On Tuesday, new Twins DH Nelson Cruz appeared on MLB Network’s Hot Stove show with Matt Vasgersian and Harold Reynolds. Cruz called in live from the Dominican Republic and talked about his preparation, his workouts, his routine and much, much more.
As interesting, he was just finished hitting, and you can see several 13-14 year old Domincan prospects working out. Maybe some guys that will sign in a couple of Julys.
9th Inning - Twins Birthdays
A new Twitter page, Twins Birthdays, started on New Years Day. Through the first week of the year, it has wished a Happy Birthday to Twins players from the past, the present and the future. For those on Twitter, it appears to be a good follow for Twins fans.
- Jan 09 2019 05:36 AM
- by Seth Stohs
Goldschmidt has been one of the most consistent players in the National League over the better part of the last decade. He’s been an All-Star for six straight seasons and added three Gold Gloves and four Silver Sluggers. During that same stretch, he’s finished in the top-3 for MVP voting three times.
Entering his age-31 season, Goldschmidt hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. Last year, he hit .290/.389/.533 with 33 home runs and 35 doubles. Since 2013, he has the third highest fWAR in all of baseball. Only Mike Trout and Josh Donaldson are higher than him on that list.
Goldschmidt has one more year remaining on his contract and he is due to make $14.5 million next season. Minnesota would likely need to surrender multiple top prospects in a Goldschmidt deal. It’s also tough to paint the team in “win-now mode.” There’s no guarantee Goldschmidt re-signs with the team trading for him and he will likely want to test the free agent waters.
Goldschmidt might be keeping an eye on some of the big free agents this off-season to see what kind of market develops. Last year, there were multiple instances of players having to settle for contracts that might have been deemed below average. Goldschmidt might want the security of a long-term deal before hitting free agency, especially since he will be in his early 30s.
If Minnesota trades for him now, they would still be able to offer him a qualifying offer. He’d turn it down and then the club could get compensatory draft pick if he decided to sign elsewhere. If they waited to acquire him in the season, Goldschmidt wouldn’t be eligible for a qualifying offer.
Lots of teams might be interested in trading for Goldschmidt, but the Twins interest might not be all that serious.
There’s no denying that Goldschmidt is a great player but only one year of team control is definitely a deterrent.
What do you think it would take to get Goldschmidt? Do the Twins need him for next season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
- Nov 21 2018 05:19 AM
- by Cody Christie
You can create your own blueprint using Twins Daily's Offseason Handbook, which you can download immediately and name your own price.
Philosophy - This is the easiest position to fill. The Twins have a desperate need, but also have several middle infield prospects approaching the majors. The free agent market is deep, especially with second basemen. It makes sense to sign someone to a short contract, filling the need for the present and giving the future the time it needs to develop.
Targets - I’d look to the more competitive shortstop market initially, moving Jorge Polanco to second base. Put shortstop Freddy Galvis at the top of the list, who is 29 years old, cost $15M over two years (per the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook) and brings a solid glove to help out the left side of the infield along with a little (13 HR in 2018) pop. I’d also stay involved in the bidding for shortstops Jose Iglesias and Jordy Mercer.
If that doesn’t work, there are a ton of second basemen to consider even if the team is determined not to guarantee more than two years at a cost of $7M or so per year. Candidates include Ascrubal Cabrera, Ian Kinsler and even old friend Brian Dozier. (Hey, he and that left field porch were a good match.) This is the one area it’s almost impossible to screw up. The market will come to the Twins.
Philosophy - In an ideal world, this is the area that the Twins will spend a lot of money. They need a middle-of-the-order hitter, and with spots open at first base and designated hitter, they should be thinking bat first and figure out where to play them later. Plus, this free agency has some bats, even beyond Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, that fit that bill. (Nelson Cruz seems like an ideal fit.)
But this is supposed to be a frugal list, so I’m going to focus on strategy that leads to a couple of budget options. And those options start in-house, because after a few big names, this free agency class falls off a cliff.
Targets - I expect the Twins will keep Tyler Austin in their plans for next year. Acquired from the Yankees, he is 27 years old and has posted a 937 OPS against southpaws over his career. Adding a left-handed bat to pair with him makes sense, even if it costs a bench spot.
At the top of my wish list is 30-year-old Matt Adams, who slugged 21 home runs in only 306 AB - and twenty of those came against right-handed pitching. ‘Nuff said. He costs about $8M. A backup plan is Lucas Duda (~$4M), who is 32 years old and posted a 813 OPS against right-handers last year.
I’ll tell you who I would’ve liked the second name to be: Joe Mauer. I wish him the best in his next career, but it’s a bummer that he is moving on when he was such a good fit for the Twins. He is cheap ($7M), gets on-base, good defensively, a veteran role model and hungry for the postseason. He would've been a nice fit.
Instead, I suspect the Twins could just hang onto Robbie Grossman who can be sort of a Joe Mauer Lite: he gets on base (.355 OBP over his career, .367 last year), is just 29 years old, can play outfield in a pinch, and most importantly for this list, is still relatively cheap (~$4M).
Those names likely will not generate any High Fives at your favorite watering hole, but such is the life of the bargain shopper. Tomorrow we'll look at two other markets that look promising as well: starting pitcher and relievers.
- Nov 15 2018 11:02 AM
- by John Bonnes
There were so many great Mauer articles, and I’m sure there will be more to come, but one of my favorite pieces from yesterday came from Scott Merkin of MLB.com. It may seem weird to include something from a White Sox beat writer, but I’ve really enjoyed hearing the reactions to Mauer’s retirement from sources outside of the Twins organization/Twin Cities.
Merkin asked former Twins pitcher and longtime White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper about Joe. Cooper called Mauer the best left-handed hitter he’s seen in the 15 years he’s been with Chicago and added “he became a pain in the ass.” I don’t know if you can get a higher compliment than that coming from a very well-respected pitching guru. There are several other glowing quotes from Cooper on Mauer in that piece.
It was prospect list mania last week. Seth shared his preliminary top 30 here at the site. Also, Mike Berardino’s top 10 list for Baseball America was unveiled. Lance Brozdowski shared his own top 30 at Prospects Live.
Jhoan Duran, who was acquired in the Eduardo Escobar trade, has some serious steam. He was inside the top 10 in each of the lists linked above. I get it, Duran has good size, a smooth delivery and sits 96 mph easy and the secondary stuff is also getting rave reviews. I do think it’s curious that he had relatively little success in his three and a half seasons in the Diamondbacks system, at least in comparison to how he broke out with the Twins.
I’m also surprised at the lack of love for Lewis Thorpe. Seth had him at No. 8, which feels about right, but he didn’t make the BA top 10 and Prospects Live had him at 22. I guess in some ways I can understand that too, as Thorpe’s overall athleticism doesn’t stand out like some of the other pitchers in the system. A lot of scouts also believe Thorpe will end up in the bullpen.
As with all prospects, you can see a lot of potential future outcomes with these two, but it seems to me like these rankings are generally bumping Duran more for his ceiling while knocking Thorpe down for his floor. I may end up the high man on Thorpe and the lowest on Duran (you’ll be able to find my list in the Twins Prospect Handbook, which comes out later this winter), but all that really means is I’m more comfortable with Thorpe, who’s a much more realized product. If Duran puts up the kind of numbers Thorpe already has in the high minors, I think we’d all be thrilled.
Over at FanGraphs, Craig Edwards both ranked and put a dollar value on all the farm systems across baseball. The Twins slotted in at seventh behind only the Padres, Braves, White Sox, Rays, Blue Jays and Reds.
Among the many notes in his latest piece, Ken Rosenthal passed along that the Phillies are pushing Carlos Santana aggressively on the trade market. Santana is coming off somewhat of a down year by his standards, but he still had a .352 OBP and more walks than strikeouts. He’s owed more than $35 million total over the next two seasons, then has a $17.5 million option in 2021. A switch-hitter with good on-base skills would look really good in the Twins lineup, and Derek Falvey is obviously very familiar with Santana after all the years they spent together in Cleveland.
Over at MLB.com, Mike Petriello listed the Twins as one of the four logical trade destinations for Santana. The other teams listed were the Rockies, Mariners and Angels.
Late last week over at The Athletic, Dan Hayes wrote an article about how Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton have put the Twins at a crossroads. There are a lot of interesting parallels drawn between the Twins and some of the most successful teams in baseball right now, along with some interesting quotes from members of the Astros and Cubs front offices. But something Thad Levine said was a bit deflating to me.
Levine told Hayes that if Sano and Buxton take a step forward “I think we have primed ownership to then give us the green light to take more of an aggressive step forward with this unit of players.” We’ll see how the offseason unfolds, but that quote leads me to believe there’s going to be more of a holding pattern this upcoming season. That they'll wait for a Sano/Buxton breakout before really getting aggressive. That’s the last thing I want to see. Be buyers or sellers. You’re either in or you’re out. No more middle ground.
Looking for a job in baseball? The Twins are hiring a Baseball Research Analyst. Duties include “statistical modeling and quantitative analysis to aid in the creation and improvement of models/tools for decision making in player development, game strategy, scouting, trades and free agency.” I sure hope they hire somebody soon!
MLB Trade Rumors released its list of non-tender candidates and there are a number of interesting middle infielders included. They’re on the list for a reason, but guys like Devon Travis, Jonathan Schoop and Tim Beckham are still fairly young and have shown some flashes. Old friend Yangervis Solarte is also on the list.
Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that there’s nearly zero chance Michael Brantley returns to the Indians. He adds that the starting outfield as it stands would be some combination of Jason Kipnis, Leonys Martin, Greg Allen or Tyler Naquin. In other words, not good.
Jon Heyman of Fancred reported that Cleveland had talks with the Yankees about potential Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco trades. It’s hard to really make any conclusions until actual transactions start to happen, but it’s certainly sounding like Cleveland is more likely to sell off pieces than it is to make any big additions.
Six of the seven players who were extended qualifying offers rejected them. The only player to accept was Hyun-Jin Ryu, who will return to the Dodgers. I’m not sure if the Twins would have had a realistic shot to land Ryu, but his absence from the free agent market will create some more competition for the left-handed starters who are available.
- Nov 14 2018 08:15 AM
- by Tom Froemming
Michael Cuddyer on MLB Network:
Todd Van Steensel:
Chase De Jong:
This list will continue to be updated as other online tributes are discovered. If you are aware of one, please include them in the comments below.
- Nov 13 2018 09:54 AM
- by Seth Stohs
A foul tip off of the bat of the Mets Ike Davis in a game that was made up on what should have been an off day hit Joe Mauer's face mask and altered the trajectory of his career. In a letter to fans, Mauer said that it changed him professionally and personally.
When Mauer dove into foul territory in an attempt to catch a pop up earlier this season, another concussion cost him over 30 games. It was at that point really where Mauer started to know what would happen following the season as his historic Twins contract came to an end.
Joe Mauer wrote an emotional, heartfelt letter to fans. In it, he discussed why he needed to take this month after the season to feel at peace with his decision. He also opened up about the reason for his decision to retire, family. Mauer is the father of twin girls, and his wife Maddie is soon to have the couple's third child. They factored into this decision.
Here is the full transcript of Mauer's Letter to Fans.
Dear Twins Territory,
After much consideration, I have decided to retire from playing baseball. This decision did not come easily as baseball always has been, and always will be, one of my greatest passions. The last few months of this season were very emotional for me and I wanted to take time to separate some of those emotions and think with a clear frame of mind.
The decision came down to my health and my family. The risk of concussion is always there, and I was reminded of that this season after missing over 30 games as a result of diving for a foul ball. That’s all it took this time around and it was all I needed to bring me back to the struggles I faced in 2013. The concussion I experienced that season not only changed my life professionally with a move to first base but changed me personally as well. I am soon to be a father of three and I find myself thinking about my future health and its impact on my family more than I had years ago. People always told me how much things change when you become a parent, and they were right. After my concussion this season I found myself wondering about “what if” situations. If I were to continue playing this game I would want to do so without reservation and I no longer feel that is possible. There is a part of me that will always want to compete, but I have reached a point where my desire to play is outweighed by the possibility of another injury. Experiencing a concussion looks different for everyone, but my personal experience forced me to look beyond baseball at what is best for me as a husband and father.
As each day of this season passed and the end of my contract became more of a reality, I began to reflect on all that has happened over the years as well as what the future might look like. The thought of retiring, even with my health related concerns, was still a very difficult and emotional subject for me. Leading up to the last day of the season, I talked with several people who I respect in this game and in my life and thought about all angles of this decision. I also turned to God and prayed for clarity and direction. The answer I was searching for came into sharper focus during my last game, a game I will never forget and a day where I felt like everything I was questioning started to become clear. As I stood on the field in my catcher’s gear, something I never thought would be possible again, I realized in that moment that this is how I wanted to finish my career. I wanted to finish on my home field in front of our amazing fans, my family, my friends, my teammates, and the organization that means so much to me. Being able to do that for a brief moment as a catcher, made that day even more incredible than I could have imagined. That day also had me reflecting on how baseball is about so much more than winning or losing. It’s about so much more than stats and personal accolades. For me it’s about the life lessons I have learned along the way. It’s about the struggles and triumphs that put things into perspective, and about all of the people I have met who have helped mold me into the person I am today.
I left the stadium after that game with 18 years worth of amazing memories playing for a team and organization that has become family, and to me that is worth more than I can express. I will always be grateful to the Twins and to the fans for their love and support all these years. I walked into the clubhouse every day with pride and never once took for granted the opportunity to put on that uniform. I have never wavered that playing for this team was exactly where I wanted to be.
Thank you Minnesota Twins, and thank you fans, for making my career as special and memorable as it was. Because of you I can leave the game I love with a full and grateful heart.
All the best,
- Nov 09 2018 10:48 PM
- by Seth Stohs
When the Twins selected the local high school star Mauer first overall in 2001, opting for the Cretin Derham Hall star over vaunted USC ace Mark Prior, it was a controversial choice. But it would ultimately be prove to be the correct one.
Mauer developed into one of the best-hitting catchers in big-league history, winning three batting titles and batting .323/.405/.468 through 2013. Late in that season, he endured a jarring blow to his mask on a foul tip, and was never the same after. Lingering concussion effects led to a position switch, and Mauer was never the same standout asset as a first baseman.
We'll surely be in for some heated Hall of Fame debates five years from now, but for the time being, let us reflect upon one of the greatest careers in this franchise's history.
- Nov 09 2018 05:20 PM
- by Nick Nelson
THE 2013-14 OFFSEASON
Mauer Makes His Move
Ahh, what a prescient cover design this turned out to be from our guy Brock Beauchamp: Joe Mauer, staring pensively off into the distance with his catcher's mask pulled over his head, symbolically walking off the field as backstop for the last time (well, not quite last, it turns out).
When we published the 2014 Offseason Handbook, it wasn't yet known whether Mauer would change positions in the wake of a serious concussion with lasting effects. When questioned on the topic in our interview with him (Parker wasted no time), Terry Ryan responded with the following:
TD: Are you preparing for a season in which Joe Mauer is catching less and playing the field more in 2014?
TR: Not really. I’m not preparing for anything different than we prepared for last year. That decision’s still coming down to whether or not he wants to catch for sure. The good thing is he’s, I would say he’s 95 percent right now, which is good. That’s a decision that’s going to come down on whether or not he wants to stay back there, and how much he wants to stay back there. But right now I’m preparing for him to be back there.
It wasn't long before Mauer did indeed make the call, smartly recognizing the serious health hazards of remaining behind the plate.
"When I kept gathering information, to be honest with you, it wasn't really even a decision," Mauer told reporters in mid-November. "I kept searching to see if it was going to be OK, if it was going to be safe for me to go back there and catch, and I just wasn't finding that."
Ryan obliged and changed course.
In Comes Kurt
Although he got a big feature image on his respective page in the Free Agent Catchers section, it's safe to say we didn't think a ton of Kurt Suzuki heading into this offseason, dedicating him this entire in-depth scouting report: "Hasn't had an OPS above .700 since 2009."
It was true: Suzuki had settled in comfortably as a light-hitting gamer capable of maybe helping out in a part-time role.
Signed on the cheap ($2.75 million) to fill an unexpected need, Suzuki was a classic bargain-bin find by TR, and one of his finest. Out of nowhere, the veteran catcher emerged as an All-Star in his first year with the Twins, sparking a mid-career renaissance with the bat. He would go on to post an OPS above .700 in four of the next five seasons, and now has become – against all odds – a legitimate slugger for the Braves. Wild stuff.
Here's what we wrote in our free agent profile on Ricky Nolasco, a 31-year-old righty hitting the open market for the first time:
Nolasco has been a decidedly average pitcher over his career. In terms of ERA+, where the stat is equalized and 100 is average, Nolasco has a career ERA+ of 94. His value comes in the form of innings pitched; he throws approximately 202 innings per season. He misses some bats but not a ton, though he is coming off a career-best strikeout rate and he has been stingy when it comes to serving up the long ball. He hasn’t had many injuries lately so a long-term deal isn’t out of the question, but he really is more a No. 3 starter.
Estimated Contract: 4 years, $52 million
The Twins signed Nolasco to a four-year, $49 million deal and boy did he come up well short of that entirely underwhelming forecast.
Nolasco was lousy in his first year (6-12, 5.38 ERA), and threw only 37 innings amidst injury woes in the second. Midway through Year 3, the Twins were ready to wipe their hands clean, trading Nolasco alongside Alex Meyer to the Angels.
Getting Their Phil
Coming off a mediocre season with the Yankees, Phil Hughes was another of the free agent starters we wrote up:
Hughes is sort of the darling among the stat people. Yes, he suffered in Yankee Stadium (.909 OPS, 6.32 ERA in ’12) versus the road (.735 OPS, 3.88 ERA), which may suggest that he would be a different pitcher in, say, spacious Target Field and its fly ball-killing gaps. Plus, he’s so full of youth he knew what “twerking” was long before you Googled it. On one hand he has never been consistent; on the other he has been jerked around by the Yankees his entire career. A change of scenery could get him on the right track.
Estimated Contract: 3 years, $30 million
A change of scenery did just that. Hughes signed with the Twins for three years and $24 million, a deal that looked like a bargain even before he turned in a career year in 2014. The combination of an ill-advised extension and debilitating shoulder issues would turn Hughes' contract from gift to hindrance, and Minnesota will still be paying on the tail end of it in 2019 (about $6.5 million), but this was a tremendous initial signing.
The letter grade assigned to Glen Perkins coming off what'd prove to be his best season. It remains the only time this Report Card score (traditionally on an A-F scale) has ever been awarded.
THE 2014-15 OFFSEASON
When Parker conducted this year's interview with Terry Ryan for the Handbook, Ron Gardenhire had been dismissed but his replacement hadn't yet been hired. I found this portion of the Q&A session, regarding the lines of questioning with candidates for the gig, quite interesting in retrospect:
PH: Do you ask them if they use defensive shifts?
PH: Is that an emphasis on the next manager?
TR: Defensive shifts?
PH: Defensive shifts. Strategy.
TR: It’s a piece. Strategy is more important than some. Yeah, that would be important. The most important thing out of many managerial interviews is how they handle the pitching staff.
As it turns out, the guy Ryan selected – Paul Molitor – was big on shifts and strategy, but perpetually questionable in his handling of the pitching staff.
The Twins entered this offseason with a pretty clear need for a starting corner outfielder. Torii Hunter was among the options we highlighted:
Still producing at age 39, Hunter has become something of an ageless wonder. He took a bit of a step back in 2014 after back-to-back seasons with an 800-plus OPS, but still batted .286/.319/.446 with 17 homers and 83 RBI. His numbers over the years have been extremely consistent but his defensive skills have diminished, even in the corners. The Twins might like the idea of a familiar veteran joining their young outfield group, but would Hunter be interested in joining a non-contender?
Estimated Contract: 1 year, $8 million
Hunter was indeed interested, inking a one-year deal worth $10.5 million. And with his help, the Twins returned to (fringe) contender status, broaching the .500 mark for the first time in five years. But while he was credited with making a big clubhouse impact, Hunter's production took another step backward as he finished with a .702 OPS, lowest since he was an overmatched rookie in Minnesota 17 years earlier. After the season, Hunter hung up his cleats.
Swervin' Toward Ervin
In the two preceding offseasons, our Handbooks had identified Ervin Santana as a logical free agent target, but in both cases he signed one-year deals elsewhere (Kansas City, then Atlanta). This time around, as if by fate, the two sides finally met with Erv signing a four-year, $55 million contract that was very close to what we projected in sizing him up:
After that abysmal season in 2012 with the Angels, Santana has posted two quality seasons with the Royals and Braves on one-year deals. This past year in Atlanta, he reduced the number of long balls allowed and used his deadly slider more effectively against an unsuspecting group of National Leaguers. He also pitched inside with his fastball more, helping to lower his home run totals -- allowing just six dingers on his heater after averaging 18 a year the past three seasons. The Braves will likely submit a qualifying offer of $15.3 million which, odds are, he will turn down to seek a multi-year deal after the one year with the Braves. Nobody wants to part with draft pool money -- especially a rebuilding franchise -- but Santana could provide solid pitching depth.
Estimated Contract: 4 years, $50 million
Recipient of the most lucrative free agent investment in franchise history, Santana's anticipated debut with the Twins would ultimately be delayed by an 80-game PED suspension. But he pitched well in the second half of 2015 and then performed like a frontline starter over the next two seasons with a 3.32 ERA over nearly 400 innings. His 2018 was a complete loss, but when Santana was actually healthy and on the mound, he was arguably the best starting pitcher Minnesota's had since the last guy to sport the same name on his jersey.
(The story of this Twins offseason has yet to be written, but you'll be ready to expertly follow along with the 2019 Offseason Handbook. Order your copy of this digital product now!)
- Oct 11 2019 11:59 AM
- by Nick Nelson
The latest in the season the Twins held a record over .500 was April 21 when they were 8-7. Being basically a non-factor for so much of the summer put a strain on a fan base hungry for a contender. While the team never really found its footing, Mauer provided some nice alternate story lines to follow in his race to the top of several lists.
A lot of the season’s brightest moments were provided courtesy of No. 7, but there was a time earlier in the season when I wasn’t convinced Mauer was ever going to play again. Joe made a few dives in the field on May 11, one of them particularly jarring, but passed concussion tests after that game. A little over a week later, he was experiencing balance issues and light sensitivity.
Mauer was placed on the disabled list May 19 with what the team described as a cervical strain and concussion-like symptoms. The team made it sound like it was a precautionary move, but brain injuries are so mysterious and elusive. Even the team didn’t have a solid grasp on why the symptoms were ongoing.
With his history of concussions, expiring contract and a growing family, I thought there was a chance that was the last we were going to see Joe in uniform. Looking from the outside in, it was easy to see plenty of reasons why he might just hang ‘em up right there and then.
Thankfully, the issues subsided and Mauer was able to return to the Twins June 15. It took him some time to get back up to speed, but he went on to hit .298/.342/.411 (.753) over his final 78 games of the season. He capped it all off by hitting .379/.455/.488 (.903) over an emotional final home stand in which Twins Territory made sure it’s homegrown star knew he was appreciated.
Here’s a quick look back at some of the milestone moments and big hits Mauer provided in 2018:
Oh man, it just got really dusty in here. What? I’m not crying, you’re crying.
This feels like a great moment to drop in a joke to lighten the mood, but unfortunately I’m fresh out. Instead, here’s a collection of light-hearted moments from the 2018 season guaranteed to put a smile on your face:
More 2018 Highlights
Super Rosario and La Tortuga
Top Pitching Performances
Longest Home Runs
- Oct 26 2018 07:52 PM
- by Tom Froemming
The Twins Daily Offseason Handbook can be yours on this coming Tuesday if you preorder here for just $10.
Not a lot of players who end up at first start their careers there. Mauer’s the perfect example of that himself. These days, it’s also becoming more and more common that teams use some kind of a timeshare at the position. There are a couple of good examples on teams still playing in October.
Yuli Gurriel was the primary guy at first for Houston, making 99 starts there, but he also started 13 games at third base, another 11 at second and even made a start at shortstop. His flexibility helped the Astros cover for injuries to their other infielders and allowed slugger Tyler White to come up from the minors for regular time at first base.
Cody Bellinger started 85 games at first base for the Dodgers, but he also made another 50 starts in center field, of all places. That allowed Los Angeles to find playing time for incredible diamond in the rough pickup Max Muncy and his .973 OPS. Muncy made 58 starts at first base.
In Wednesday night’s NLCS game, the Dodgers used two different first basemen, neither of them Bellinger, and four different players at second base. That team has some pretty incredible flexibility.
Keeping those two examples in mind, let’s take a look at how the Twins might fill the potential opening at first base.
Taking a look back at 2018, the player with the most innings at first base behind Mauer was actually Logan Morrison. I guess it’s worth mentioning that the Twins do hold an $8 million option for LoMo with a $1 million buyout, but there are much better investments to be made.
Tyler Austin was the only other player to see as many as 100 innings at first base for Minnesota last year. He showed impressive power, but he’s also struck out in 36.6 percent of his plate appearances in the majors. On the other hand, Austin has a .937 OPS against lefties, making him at the very least an attractive platoon partner. He played much more outfield than first over his minor league career, but Austin didn’t play a single inning out there in 2018.
After Austin you’ve got Miguel Sano, who played 87 innings of first base this season. He’s certainly someone to keep in mind, but shifting him across the diamond just creates another hole at third base, which is already a weak spot in the org.
With Jason Castro expected to return to health and Willians Astudillo establishing himself as a player of interest, there’s a chance the Twins could roll with three catchers next year. In that case, Mitch Garver could be a candidate for regular time at first base. He has some experience there.
Max Kepler is a very strong defensive outfielder and hasn’t seen time at first since he played there regularly for Chattanooga back in 2015, but he’s a candidate. If Byron Buxton finds his footing and the Twins add another outfielder, Kepler could make a lot of sense as someone who forms a left-right platoon with Austin. Yes, Max did much better against same-sided pitchers last year, but his career splits still show a fairly significant split (.776 OPS vs. RHP, .605 OPS vs. LHP).
Robbie Grossman’s never played an inning of infield in his entire pro career — majors or minors — but he does throw left handed. Considering how uninspiring his defense is in the outfield, maybe someone ought to buy him a first baseman’s mitt ...
Down on the farm, Brent Rooker is the big name at the position. It wouldn’t be a shock to see him knocking down the door next season, though he’s certainly not a realistic option for Opening Day. Zander Wiel isn’t as big a name in prospect circles, but he actually had a higher OPS than Rooker last year. Both Rooker and Wiel played quite a bit of outfield, as well.
If you really want to go outside the box, LaMonte Wade played a lot of first base in his early years at Maryland, but he’s only played outfield these past four years in the Twins org.
So, as you can see, even if we focus solely on internal options there’s no shortage of options. Since first base is the bottom position on the defensive spectrum, in reality anybody could be thrown out there.
This is the first time in a very long time that the Twins (appear to) have an opening at first base. Mauer took the reins from Justin Morneau, who succeeded Doug Mientkiewicz. That’s an impressive run of stability — three guys covering 18 seasons — but my suggestion is to end it here.
Don’t get me wrong, offensive upgrades are needed, but the front office should simply be focused first on adding a bat. They have enough in-house options and players with defensive flexibility to figure out positioning.
How should the Twins fill the (potential) first base opening? They shouldn’t feel the need to.
Here’s a look back at what we’ve covered in these Offseason Primers so far:
Offseason Primer: Corner Infield Free Agents
Offseason Primer: Twins Need to Be Prepared to Pivot from Buxton and Sano
Offseason Primer: Building a Badass Bullpen
Offseason Primer: Twins Should Stick With Jorge Polanco at Shortstop
Offseason Primer: Can Minnesota Mimic Milwaukee's Success?
Offseason Primer: The Core Seven (?)
If you like what you’ve been reading at the site so far, you’re going to LOVE the handbook. One of the key features included is a full organization depth analysis for not just first base, but every position on the diamond plus the pitching staff. Also included are profile on all the free agent options, a discussion regarding potential trade targets and much more.
Click here for more on the handbook, a sneak peek at the cover and the list of special guest contributors.
- Oct 18 2018 07:20 AM
- by Tom Froemming