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27-29

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#1 stringer bell

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 06:06 AM

I want to start with a little Debbie Downer note: the Twins are last in the AL Central. Of course they are only a game out of second and five games behind the suddenly vincible Detroit Tigers.

27-29 is far better than their record last year and according the mlb.com, their RPI is 13th best, testifying to a tough schedule through the first 2+ months.

It seems every team has a gaping hole or two. The Twins are no exception. They have gotten short-term productivity from three players (Kubel, Colabello and Parmelee), but none of the three looks like a productive major league hitter right now. The corner OF/DH position has no one unless the Twins use Pinto there. Center field continues to be a huge negative as well. Santana clearly is out of position and Hicks can't crack the Mendoza barrier. The Twins, despite improvement from the rotation, remain last in the AL in team ERA. I continue to fret about a bullpen that is full of veterans who don't overpower hitters, but the bullpen has been pretty effective.

Despite the team's weaknesses, they have stayed competitive. With the return of Arcia and Willingham, it looks like we will see more power displayed as was demonstrated on the just-completed road trip. Danny Santana has earned his keep in the majors and isn't in jeopardy of returning to Rochester any time soon. Eduardo Escobar has played credibly at short and although his average is slipping, he's still above .300. Trevor Plouffe has shown great improvement in run producing and defense. Brian Dozier has solidified his status as a good player and is a borderline All-Star despite a just completed ugly slump. Joe Mauer is showing signs of coming out of one of the worst funks of his career. Starting pitching has improved, with Phil Hughes stepping forward as an ace. Finally, there is a lot of pitching help available in the top levels of the minors.

When I saw this team in Spring Training, I thought it was a 100-loss team. With the proper reinforcements, they could be a .500 team, maybe a touch better. Maybe they can contend as soon as next year.

#2 CRArko

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 06:14 AM

Really it's a matter of avoiding the kind of long losing streaks that killed them the past few years. Then at or near .500 is within reach. That should motivate the guys in September to keep those tails battled off, and the after its gotten.
Verrrrrry Interesting!

#3 stringer bell

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 06:21 AM

The Twins have a -21 run differential. There are four teams with a worse number: Tampa (-41), Houston (-40), Texas (-28) and New York (-26). Most would have thought Houston would be bad, but the other three? No team is immune to a plague of injuries.

#4 Gernzy

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 06:24 AM

There is no reason this team cannot finish second in this division. If everything goes right we might even have an outside chance of winning it, especially if Detroit continues to struggle.
I bent my wookie...

#5 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 06:25 AM

Really it's a matter of avoiding the kind of long losing streaks that killed them the past few years. Then at or near .500 is within reach. That should motivate the guys in September to keep those tails battled off, and the after its gotten.


It's simple. In order to avoid long losing streaks, a team needs two or more starters who consistently pitch outstanding games of 7 + innings and even a complete game every now and then. When was the last time a Twins pitcher pitched a complete game shutout? Successful teams have several pitchers capable of this...the Twins do not.

#6 CRArko

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 06:35 AM

It's simple. In order to avoid long losing streaks, a team needs two or more starters who consistently pitch outstanding games of 7 + innings and even a complete game every now and then. When was the last time a Twins pitcher pitched a complete game shutout? Successful teams have several pitchers capable of this...the Twins do not.


So we should get Andrew Albers back.
Verrrrrry Interesting!

#7 Kirby_waved_at_me

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 06:41 AM

It's been fun to watch the rubber band so far! May its stretchiness know no bounds.

#8 CRArko

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 06:50 AM

It's been fun to watch the rubber band so far! May its stretchiness know no bounds.


You got me thinking about Hooke's Law for a rubberband. Found this as a starting place:

http://c21.phas.ubc....nd_write_up.pdf
Verrrrrry Interesting!

#9 Kirby_waved_at_me

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 06:54 AM

So, the larger the cross sectional area, the greater stress/strain the band can withstand. Is Jose Mijares available?

#10 JB_Iowa

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 09:15 AM

27-29 is far better than their record last year


Not to pick nits -- and I do agree that they are better this year -- but according to Baseball Reference, the 2013 Twins were 26-29 on June 4.

I have difficulty seeing how 27-29 is "far better" than 26-29. The 2013 Twins managed to stay within striking distance of .500 until about June 23 (34-38) then had a horrible stretch before the All-Star break and ended up at 39-53 at the break.

They seemingly have a better base this year and I do expect that the starting pitching may have stabilized somewhat ... but I also think it is better not to take anything for granted.

Sit back and enjoy the ride and hope that the rubber band holds (at least from the downward side).

Edited by JB_Iowa, 04 June 2014 - 09:22 AM.


#11 JB_Iowa

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 09:21 AM

And just to clarify, the 2011 team was 20-37 on June 4; the 2012 team was 21-33 while the 2013 team was 26-29.

Yet 2011 ended at 63-99; 2012 team ended at 66-96 and 2013 team ended at 66-96.

Their routes to the 95+ losing seasons may not have been the same (abysmal starts in 2011 & 2012; so-so start in 2013) but they all ended up in a similar place.

That DOESN'T mean that the same thing will happen to the 2014 team. It's just a precautionary note not to get too confident about anything.

#12 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 09:32 AM

And just to clarify, the 2011 team was 20-37 on June 4; the 2012 team was 21-33 while the 2013 team was 26-29.

Yet 2011 ended at 63-99; 2012 team ended at 66-96 and 2013 team ended at 66-96.

Their routes to the 95+ losing seasons may not have been the same (abysmal starts in 2011 & 2012; so-so start in 2013) but they all ended up in a similar place.

That DOESN'T mean that the same thing will happen to the 2014 team. It's just a precautionary note not to get too confident about anything.


Very true, but even last year you could see the team winning early through smoke and mirrors. The pitching was awful. That isn't really the case this season. The pitching staff is better and young players are starting to emerge as legitimate starters going forward.

And all of this happened while Joe Mauer played like Juan Castro.

#13 Brandon

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 09:35 AM

Not to pick nits -- and I do agree that they are better this year -- but according to Baseball Reference, the 2013 Twins were 26-29 on June 4.

I have difficulty seeing how 27-29 is "far better" than 26-29. The 2013 Twins managed to stay within striking distance of .500 until about June 23 (34-38) then had a horrible stretch before the All-Star break and ended up at 39-53 at the break.

They seemingly have a better base this year and I do expect that the starting pitching may have stabilized somewhat ... but I also think it is better not to take anything for granted.

Sit back and enjoy the ride and hope that the rubber band holds (at least from the downward side).


last year this team was worthless when Joe Mauer went down. THis season we are competitive despite his slump. (meaning we are not dependant on Joe being a super star not joe sux)

#14 Beezer07

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 10:15 AM

It's simple. In order to avoid long losing streaks, a team needs two or more starters who consistently pitch outstanding games of 7 + innings and even a complete game every now and then. When was the last time a Twins pitcher pitched a complete game shutout? Successful teams have several pitchers capable of this...the Twins do not.


Just FYI, 24 shutouts across all of MLB thus far, with 11 of those coming from 5 guys (17 different teams have a pitcher with a shutout). 39 CGs across all of MLB thus far, with 16 of those coming from 7 guys.

Nolasco threw the last CG for the Twins on 5/2/14. No shutouts for the Twins this year (at least not by a single pitcher).

#15 TheLeviathan

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 10:23 AM

Very true, but even last year you could see the team winning early through smoke and mirrors. The pitching was awful. That isn't really the case this season. The pitching staff is better and young players are starting to emerge as legitimate starters going forward.

And all of this happened while Joe Mauer played like Juan Castro.


There has been plenty of smoke and mirrors here. Suzuki, Colabello, Dozier outperforming even optimistic projections, etc. The pitching was also god-awful the first month.

I don't think this team is clearly better because their identity isn't clear yet. Are they the May pitching staff or the April? Are they the April hitters or the May? Is it somewhere in-between?

I don't think we can make those assumptions yet, because while you may feel things are better going forward I still see plenty of things that could pull the rug out from under this group and it wouldn't require anything catastrophic to happen.

#16 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 10:24 AM

Yeah the Twins have handed some games away, but had some handed to them. The rotation is better and the lineup is maturing as expected. We've remained healthy. Not bad so far.

#17 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 10:34 AM

There has been plenty of smoke and mirrors here. Suzuki, Colabello, Dozier outperforming even optimistic projections, etc. The pitching was also god-awful the first month.


Dozier's 2014 OPS is .791. Dozier's OPS over the past 365 days is .779. He's not overperforming. This appears to be who he is.

No arguments about Suzuki. Thankfully, the Twins have Pinto just waiting to take ABs from him.

I don't think this team is clearly better because their identity isn't clear yet. Are they the May pitching staff or the April? Are they the April hitters or the May? Is it somewhere in-between?

I don't think we can make those assumptions yet, because while you may feel things are better going forward I still see plenty of things that could pull the rug out from under this group and it wouldn't require anything catastrophic to happen.


They're not the April pitching staff. Every guy except Gibson underperformed. It's very unlikely that we see much regression from the rotation without injury. Hughes might slide but Nolasco will probably improve.

I really don't see anything that can pull the rug out from under this team without several injuries, Dozier and Hughes being the key guys at this point. Even if the rotation falters, the AAA rotation should be able to pick up the slack. We couldn't say that last season.

What the Twins have this season and didn't have last season is redundancy. The rotation should be fine. Catcher should be fine. The outfield is rounding out and if Rosario can get back on track, there's a little backup there as well. The big problem right now is the infield, which could be devastated by an injury to Plouffe or Dozier.

#18 TheDean

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 10:38 AM

On the topic of CG-capable pitchers, I think Hughes and Nolasco are capable. Not sure about likely on a regular basis, but capable. If Hughes can avoid 14-pitch ABs, we've seen him go into the 8th, and Nolasco, as mentioned, has already given a CG. Deduno is obviously not capable of going deep into games; it's just not his pitching style. KC doesn't have the stuff to get a non-fluke CG. With Gibson, I feel like there is a hesitance by the staff to allow him the pitches to seal up a CG, even if his stuff got to the point that he were technically capable.


Still, on the topic of improvement, I think this rotation > (Walters, Hernandez, Hendriks, Pelf, DeVries, Worley, Diamond) at avoiding losing streaks.

#19 TheDean

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 10:44 AM

I really don't see anything that can pull the rug out from under this team without several injuries, Dozier and Hughes being the key guys at this point. Even if the rotation falters, the AAA rotation should be able to pick up the slack. We couldn't say that last season.

What the Twins have this season and didn't have last season is redundancy. The rotation should be fine. Catcher should be fine. The outfield is rounding out and if Rosario can get back on track, there's a little backup there as well. The big problem right now is the infield, which could be devastated by an injury to Plouffe or Dozier.


I agree. Even in the case of IF injuries, I like Nunez and Santana to supplement Escobar a lot better than last year's Escobar and Carroll to supplement Florimon. Not saying that IF injuries wouldn't be devastating, just that I like the depth a little better than last year.

#20 Dave T

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 12:05 PM

If the Twins replaced Kubel with Pinto, and replaced Correia with May, I think they would finish above .500 AND continue the transition to younger players. There is no way in heck they will beat Detroit for the division, but a wild card spot? Why not?

#21 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 12:23 PM

If the Twins replaced Kubel with Pinto, and replaced Correia with May, I think they would finish above .500 AND continue the transition to younger players. There is no way in heck they will beat Detroit for the division, but a wild card spot? Why not?


Over .500? I'm not sure about that. Close to .500? Yeah, I think that's possible.

And I don't think this team has the horses to compete at the 90 win level it requires to win a WC spot.

I'll be very happy if they simply stay in the WC race through July.

#22 MichiganTwins

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 12:39 PM

I don't think it is going to take 90 wins to win the second wild card spot.

#23 mike wants wins

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 12:46 PM

This, to me, is why you should be willing to sign legit FAs even when "they are so bad last year there is NO WAY they could compete this year"......Imagine if they had Garza instead of Pelfrey, and Ellsbury in CF. No get rid of Guerrier and Burton. Now add May or Meyer for whichever starter falters. Put Mauer close to his normal self.

that team is better than this team, maybe 4 or 5 wins better right now. Maybe, come the trade deadline, that team is adding a DH or something to get them over the top.

this team? This team will be in full budget cut/veteran trading mode come the deadline.

And, the argument will be made not to sign a big time FA next year, because "they weren't good last year, and can't compete this eyar, need to wait until the right time"......the right time comes a lot faster if you add more assets early in the rebuild.

all this is imo, of course
Lighten up Francis....

#24 Beezer07

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 01:11 PM

Saying "what if we had signed XYZ" is fine, if futile. Saying "Put Mauer close to his normal self" is downright absurd. No amount of FAs makes Mauer not slump.

#25 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 01:29 PM

Imagine if they had Garza instead of Pelfrey, and Ellsbury in CF.


While I'm not against signing free agents, neither of those players are very good this season. Garza has only been marginally better than Kevin Correia and there's a very good chance that Ellsbury's contract becomes a laughing stock of baseball within a year or two.

I've been saying it for ten years and it amazes me that teams still do it: the dumbest thing you can do in free agency is sign a speedster in his late 20s to a long-term deal. Ellsbury currently has a .696 OPS outside Yankee Stadium and a .726 OPS overall.

All for the low, low price of $153m.

#26 TheLeviathan

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 02:13 PM

Dozier's 2014 OPS is .791. Dozier's OPS over the past 365 days is .779. He's not overperforming. This appears to be who he is.


Not all OPS are created the same. He's taken another step forward that even most optimists wouldn't have predicted. Also, if Colabello isn't the very definition of "smoke and mirrors" I'm going to need some clarification.

They're not the April pitching staff. Every guy except Gibson underperformed. It's very unlikely that we see much regression from the rotation without injury. Hughes might slide but Nolasco will probably improve.


Aren't you the same person that railed against using regression to the mean to predict backslides but now find it perfectly cushy to use to predict improvements?

Deduno, Nolasco, Correia, and Gibson could all very easily be their less productive versions. We've seen this before and we have data to suggest it's very possible. Plouffe has been known to go pumpkin. Escobar is hardly producing at a level that is easy to count on. Ditto Suzuki. Hammer's health is a constant issue.

All I'm saying is that we've had two bi-polar months. I'm not comfortable saying we know what June will look like.

#27 JB_Iowa

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 02:22 PM

Not all OPS are created the same. He's taken another step forward that even most optimists wouldn't have predicted.


Maybe not but at least there appears to be a basis for the increase in his offensive performance (and defensive as well) rather than just "smoke and mirrors".

This is a good article about the change: http://www.sportsone...ta-twins#!UASXt

A telling paragraph about the work he did with Bruno:

"So we dissected my swing for days upon days, that whole week in Detroit. And we saw I wasn't getting my foot down -- meaning, I was getting my foot down, but my toe. My whole foot wasn't flat, so when I started my swing, my whole foot wasn't down, I started [and] everything kind of collapsed. We made it muscle memory for a week, trying to get the foot down, and ever since then, I started seeing the ball more, creating more power, walks up, strikeouts down, just because I could see the ball better."

He also talks about laying off sliders and the author does a good job of describing his improved approach.

#28 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 02:25 PM

Aren't you the same person that railed against using regression to the mean to predict backslides but now find it perfectly cushy to use to predict improvements?


Where did I predict improvement? I said they all underperformed in April and performed more in line with what was expected in May, excluding Hughes... and any regression by Hughes is likely to be offset by improvement from Nolasco, who is well below his career norm at this point. Sure, all of those pitchers could turn into pumpkins but outside of Gibson, I see no reason to believe that to be the case.

#29 TheLeviathan

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 02:25 PM

Oh no, I'm not implying that Dozier can't keep it up or that it was smoke and mirrors....but it was unexpected. I hate it when people seem to stack their argument and pretend like this Twins team has only positives to look forward to and everything good that has happened was expected and easily maintained. Whereas all the negatives are highly likely to turn the corner while no others take their place.

It likely has a mix of both coming.

#30 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 02:27 PM

Maybe not but at least there appears to be a basis for the increase in his offensive performance (and defensive as well) rather than just "smoke and mirrors".


Nothing about Brian Dozier is smoke and mirrors. The guy turned into a different player the day he changed his swing in May of 2013 and hasn't looked back. He now looks like the guy he was in the minors, only with man muscles (which is a surprise to almost everyone). I was bullish on Dozier in July of last season and every day, he just keeps confirming that he's a different guy who isn't going to regress.