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A Look Back at April

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#1 stringer bell

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 12:37 PM

The Twins finished April of 2017 with a 12-11 record. They had one winning month in 2016 and only two in 2015 when they finished over .500. Here's my take on a decent first 23 games:

Sano--The single biggest reason the Twins are above .500 is the hitting a fielding of Miguel Sano. He's been fine at third base and he's been a force with the bat. He crushed it on the recently completed road trip and was mostly responsible for both wins against the Royals, hitting two homers and driving in nine runs in two games.

Defense--There has been an overall improvement. The starting outfield of Kepler, Buxton and Rosario covers a lot of ground and they all have good throwing arms. There hasn't been much time in the outfield for Grossman or Danny Santana. As mentioned above Sano has been more than OK at third and Jorge Polanco has been very good at shortstop. Brian Dozier and Mauer have been about was expected at second and first, so overall the infield has been pretty good. Catching defense has been upgraded with the twosome of Jason Castro and Chris Gimenez. All in all the Twins have gone from one of the worst defensive teams in MLB to pretty good and beside one notable botched rundown, they have been fundamentally sound.

Starting pitching--Ervin Santana is a candidate for Pitcher of the Month. He's been beyond outstanding. Hector Santiago has also pitched over his head in April. The rest of the rotation? Blech! Supposed second starter Kyle Gibson is winless and hasn't reached six innings in a start. Phil Hughes looks like an end-of-the line veteran getting by on substandard pitches with the help of fast outfielders and pretty good command. Fifth starter A. Meija didn't make it through April although it looks like he has enough stuff to stick in a rotation eventually.

Bullpen--While most of the numbers don't look gaudy, the Twins have survived with a bullpen full of question marks. "Closer" Brandon Kintzler has been fine and for the most point the setup guys have held the lead. Ryan Pressly got knocked around early, but seems to be coming out of it. There isn't a lot of talent or upside in the bullpen, but so far they've been OK, although just about every reliever has had a bad outing that skews their stats.

Disappointments--The aforementioned Kyle Gibson has been bad nearing brutal. "Established" players Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer have done little in the first 23 games and Byron Buxton is far below the Mendoza Line. Buxton seems to be coming out of his early season funk and Dozier had a slow start last year before exploding for the final four months of the season. Mauer doesn't even walk that much anymore. It appears Mauer's decline is continuing.

In summary, the pitching staff looks ripe for regression (a bad thing for the team), but quite a few things have gone well and would appear to bode well for the future. Sano, in particular, looks like he has taken the leap to star or superstar. There should much more to cheer for and talk about in the coming months and years.
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#2 Vanimal46

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 12:44 PM

Nice assessment stringer!

I'd sure love to see a month where both Sano and Dozier are feeling it at the plate.... Those guys could wreak havoc on opposing pitchers. 

 

The pitching is scary.... Don't like a whole lot in the bullpen right now, and they certainly need Erv and Hector the K collector to keep it up in the rotation. This is probably going to be the month where we start seeing turnover in the pen. Hopefully Burdi/Melotakis/Hilldenberger are ready to go. 

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#3 TNTwinsFan

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 12:54 PM

Pitching is really the #1 concern. Perhaps the addition of Berrios would help provide more consistency (tough thing to ask of a young pitcher with some learning to do.) Already mentioned are the bullpen studs in AAA and AA. Those guys may or may not provide more stability to the pen as well. If (a big if) Berrios can find some consistency, Santana doesn't regress too much, and Santiago continues to work his magic then I think the Twins will continue to flirt with .500 ball and potentially find themselves in the hunt come September. But...those are some BIG ifs.

#4 Oldgoat_MN

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 12:55 PM

FanGraphs has the Twins as the 3rd best fielding team in MLB at this point.

Going by individual stats defensively, Byron Buxton leads the way.

A very nice change of pace from last year, when we were 29th.

Teams

Individual players

 

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#5 gunnarthor

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 12:55 PM

Polanco's defense at short has been a lot better than I would have expected, Grossman has been the professional hitter that we wanted Mauer to be, Kepler's line .280/.370/.470 130+ OPS+, I think, is something he can be close to all year.  Rosario has been pretty hot lately, too.  He's never going to be a high walk guy which means he'll always have ups and downs but when he's hot, he's really fun to watch.

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#6 TNTwinsFan

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 01:06 PM

Polanco's defense at short has been a lot better than I would have expected, Grossman has been the professional hitter that we wanted Mauer to be, Kepler's line .280/.370/.470 130+ OPS+, I think, is something he can be close to all year.  Rosario has been pretty hot lately, too.  He's never going to be a high walk guy which means he'll always have ups and downs but when he's hot, he's really fun to watch.


How much do you love Kepler!?!? What a great kid! Really enjoy watching him play too! Really excited about all the young kids getting time in the field this year and finding some success (I am thinking Buck will come around in a couple weeks.) Its going to be a very fun 4-6 years for Twins Fans!
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#7 drjim

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 01:15 PM

After Sano, Kepler would be my top extension guy this offseason. Would probably consider Polanco too. Both in the sweet spot of being good enough to warrant it, but not so good they'll pass.

 

Of course, I'd break the bank for Sano and extend Dozier too. Finally a reason to bust out the checkbook this offseason.

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#8 akmanak

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 01:19 PM

Let us not forget the debacle when it came to Joe's contract. I am hoping they will sign Sano to a 4 year contract around 75 million with some type of option for a 5th year and for the love of God do not put in a no trade clause.

#9 Mike Sixel

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 01:56 PM

 

Let us not forget the debacle when it came to Joe's contract. I am hoping they will sign Sano to a 4 year contract around 75 million with some type of option for a 5th year and for the love of God do not put in a no trade clause.

 

he's under control for 4 years, why sign him for four years now? That does no good.

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#10 drjim

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 01:59 PM

he's under control for 4 years, why sign him for four years now? That does no good.


And Sano's not going to sign 4 years and an option.
Papers...business papers.

#11 drjim

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 02:01 PM

Let us not forget the debacle when it came to Joe's contract. I am hoping they will sign Sano to a 4 year contract around 75 million with some type of option for a 5th year and for the love of God do not put in a no trade clause.


The initial big blunder with Mauer was only giving him 4 years in his first contract. If it was 6 or 7 like it should have been, it would have prevented much of the contract fiasco that followed.
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#12 Mike Sixel

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 02:09 PM

 

The initial big blunder with Mauer was only giving him 4 years in his first contract. If it was 6 or 7 like it should have been, it would have prevented much of the contract fiasco that followed.

 

Correct. Very correct.

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#13 Vanimal46

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 02:19 PM

Just because one long term contract didn't work out doesn't mean that all long term contracts are bad.... 

Ideally I'd like to sign him until he's 31 or 32 - so a 7 or 8 year contract. Money is negotiable. 


#14 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 02:32 PM

I'm not sure Sano would want to do a 7-8 year contract...He's probably going to want to hit FA in his late 20s.I'm guessing you're looking more at a 5-6 year deal.

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#15 Mike Sixel

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 02:42 PM

 

I'm not sure Sano would want to do a 7-8 year contract...He's probably going to want to hit FA in his late 20s.I'm guessing you're looking more at a 5-6 year deal.

 

it's not really worth it, if you don't buy out more than 1 year of FA. 

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#16 goulik

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 02:55 PM

The reason players like the long contracts is Guaranteed money. They never know when an injury may shorten their career and take away future dollars. There is a big risk reward thing going on with not accepting the long contracts if offered. That is also why many teams are leery of those big contracts...

 

(Insert Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau comparisons here:)

 

Given his age and our current budget, I would love to see the Twins give him more money now to decrease what we need to give him later. Go NHL on it and front load the contract even.

 

(Insert Zach Parise comparison here)


#17 Taildragger8791

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 03:29 PM

 

After Sano, Kepler would be my top extension guy this offseason. Would probably consider Polanco too. Both in the sweet spot of being good enough to warrant it, but not so good they'll pass.

 

Of course, I'd break the bank for Sano and extend Dozier too. Finally a reason to bust out the checkbook this offseason.

 

Extending Dozier after what was almost certainly a career-best outlier of a season is how you end up with an albatross contract and a player you can't move off of an important starting position for several years. He won't sign cheap right now, especially until he knows if he's getting traded or not. If they don't trade him then I'm totally fine letting him play out his contract and see where his value stands at that point.


#18 drjim

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 03:34 PM

Extending Dozier after what was almost certainly a career-best outlier of a season is how you end up with an albatross contract and a player you can't move off of an important starting position for several years. He won't sign cheap right now, especially until he knows if he's getting traded or not. If they don't trade him then I'm totally fine letting him play out his contract and see where his value stands at that point.


Any extension would come after this season. Perhaps we'll have a better understanding of his baseline.
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#19 Taildragger8791

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 04:17 PM

 

Any extension would come after this season. Perhaps we'll have a better understanding of his baseline.

 

That's possible, and I'm open to it. I just don't see how everything would come together at a point that the Twins both want to sign him and they'd agree on a price they're willing to pay.

 

If we think his baseline is lower than he does based on the way this season played out, then he may want to bet on himself in his contract year to bring his value up. It'll be the only opportunity he ever gets for a big contract. If he establishes his baseline as being sky high then he'd suddenly be worth a mint on the trade market and may be gone anyways. At that point it still might make sense to wait a year and make him prove it again since he won't get any more expensive. Like I said, I just don't see how it all comes together.


#20 Trov

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 05:07 PM

I think as the pitching regresses, the offense should help pick it up.  I know only SSS of 5 games, but the last 5 games Buxton has walked 7 times, and got at least 1 hit in 4 of the 5.  He only had 2 strikeouts as well.  This means at least for 5 games he is having better at bats and if he can start getting on base with some regularity this will help the offense a ton.  Also Dozier should hopefully get on a hot streak, like he normally does at some point.  

 

Lets just hope the pitching is not that terrible, but if the defense keeps it up it will help the pitching stay adequate.

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