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Article: What's Wrong with the Twins? A Fizzling Core

miguel sano byron buxton
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#41 Nick Nelson

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 08:52 AM

 

Everything was in place. Coming into this season, Sano and Buxton were both 24 years old, established as successful major-league players. One was coming off an All Star appearance, the other an MVP-caliber second half.

 

The bolded words have no reason being grouped into the same sentence at this point. The "glass half-full" "overflowing" approach with a Buxton outlook is ridiculous now. He caught fire for two months last year and suddenly he is an established MVP-caliber talent. Let's just forget the 2-1/2 seasons of crappiness that preceded last year's second half.

 

Any other player with the same track record and the performance over August and September last year would have been met with a fair share of skepticism. But in the Twins world, Buxton's inevitable rise to stardom is for some reason accepted as a given.

I mean, there's getting hot, and then there is what Buxton did. He was literally one of the most impactful players in the game over the final eight weeks last year, and probably THE single biggest reason for MIN's run to the playoffs. 

 

Also, this isn't some fantasy held by Twins fans. He was the unanimous #1 prospect in the game for multiple years. He's been hailed as a rising superstar by pretty much everyone. His K-rate progressively dropped month by month last season as he started to really straighten things out. To claim this is some narrative manufactured out of thin air ignores the reality of the matter.

 

And even with all the streakiness, he IS an established successful big-leaguer. 1.4 WAR in 2016 and 3.5 WAR last year. 

 

The Twins need him to be a competent hitter, not a world beater (though that'd be nice). Shouldn't really be that much to ask.

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#42 gocgo

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 08:56 AM

To your point Jaleel, if the coaching is to blame for Buxton and Sano, then how do you explain the successes of Rosario, Kepler (hitting lefties well), Escobar?I'm not at all convinced that this is a coaching issue.At some point, the players have to put on their man pants and play like men and own up to the fact that professional athletes need to take care of their bodies and perform in order to remain professional athletes.If I'm a carpenter and I keep hitting my hand with a hammer, I either need to change professions or get better with a hammer.If you're a professional baseball player and you are doing things off the field that affect your play on the field, you need to either find another profession, or stop doing the things that are affecting your play on the field.

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#43 TheLeviathan

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 09:06 AM

To your point Jaleel, if the coaching is to blame for Buxton and Sano, then how do you explain the successes of Rosario, Kepler (hitting lefties well), Escobar?I'm not at all convinced that this is a coaching issue.At some point, the players have to put on their man pants and play like men and own up to the fact that professional athletes need to take care of their bodies and perform in order to remain professional athletes.If I'm a carpenter and I keep hitting my hand with a hammer, I either need to change professions or get better with a hammer.If you're a professional baseball player and you are doing things off the field that affect your play on the field, you need to either find another profession, or stop doing the things that are affecting your play on the field.


Well said.

#44 lukeduke1980

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 09:20 AM

 

Instead of wearing them out over a 2 month period then see them struggle until they recover, he should work in other pitchers. Maybe we could get a full season of good Pressly if that were the case.

Work in other pitchers such as

 

Duke - who's been more effective in a Loogy role

Rodney - 50 year old closer who has come around nicely

Rogers - Has been ineffective all year

Magill - has been brilliant in a mop up role

 

Who am I missing - Busenitz and Curtiss are in Rochester.Maybe you start feeding Magill into some higher leverage situations.  

 

Starting pitchers need to throw more than 5 1/3 innings every night.It also seems like we've played a lot of extra innings - which might only seem like it because they've been painful extra innings.

 

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#45 bighat

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 09:22 AM

Great article and great comments/discussion. So much to chew on.

 

It's so frustrating. When teams struggle, most of them have some top-tier prospects waiting in the wings to provide some hope and excitement. Look at the Braves and Ronald Acuna, the Mets with Brandon Nimmo, etc.

 

The problem is that the Twins already brought up their prized prospect (Buxton) and, frankly, he stinks. They've been optioning him back-and-forth for years now (years!!!) and now they've resorted to stashing him on the infamous "Phantom DL" where the likes of Phil Hughes and Mike Pelfrey spent time during their last gasps with the Twins.

 

At this point I think the management needs to switch gears. Build around Rosario.

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#46 TheLeviathan

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 09:31 AM

Through 58 games, Molitor is constantly relying on 3 pitchers to get the team out of jams...
Ryan Pressly - 32 appearances and consistently relied on to go 1+ innings
Addison Reed - 29 appearances also consistently relied on to go 1+ innings
Hildenberger - 28 appearances 1+ innings at a time
Continuing to ride 3 arms for 50% of games is unsustainable over the course of a season.
This isn't anything new. Molitor does this every single season riding the hot arm(s) until they break down.
Instead of wearing them out over a 2 month period then see them struggle until they recover, he should work in other pitchers..


Are you there to defend him when he uses those guys and they blow games and the chorus is "why not use your best guys"?
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#47 beckmt

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 09:36 AM

You cannot continue to burn relievers and expect good results to happen.Top managers know sometimes you have to use a different person to get key outs and if they fail it is only one game.Not use the same ones all the time and when they fail you see the Indians current bullpen (they fail most of the time).Twins hitting until some of the DL players return is not good enough to carry this club, pitching is going to have to.Either the FO is going to have to pull up other relievers from the minors and let some talent go, or Molly has to go and find a manager who knows how to manage to run the Twins.

Some relievers do not show up the overuse until the next year.That may be the case now with Rogers.If this continues the fire sale should be interesting.

It is also interesting the Gardy with a much worse club has them ahead of the Twins.He is a much better manager than some of us gave him credit for.

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#48 d-mac

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 09:39 AM

I've been saying it since 2012... I would have drafted Gausman over Buxton and the Astros ran circles around us during that draft.

The concerns with Buxton's bat have always been there- as an amateur he was extremely raw and came from a high school conference devoid of any talent (other than himself)- he had probably never seen a breaking ball before pro ball. One should always be wary of the uber athlete with contact deficiencies- the power won't play in a game if they can't make contact and the speed won't play on the bases if they can't get on base. Furthermore, age and injuries can make athleticism fleeting.

None of that means he couldn't have become the player we had all hoped he would. The previous development team had absolutely destroyed any chance he had to be come a productive major league hitter. He should have been moved at the glacial "one level a year" pace. His speed inflates BABIPs in the minors- many of those infield singles turn to outs and doubles and triples turn to singles and doubles at the major league level. He never learned to control the strike zone- his best BB/K ratio was .79 at A ball in 2013. His BB/K in AA in 2015 was .51. He was recovering from a major concussion. He should have stayed there for the entire season. He should have stayed in AAA for all of not most of 2016. Instead they chose to cash in on his hype for short term gain instead of focusing on his long term success as a player.

Sadly, with 1074 PAs at the major league level he probably is who he is at this point- an often injured 4th outfielder with a .230/.285/.387 triple slash and an abysmal .21 BB/K rate.

As far as Sano goes- I was a believer until this year. The events of these past 7-8 months have really caused me to sour on him. Maybe shipping him to AAA will be the wake up call he needs to get his s*** straightened out.

Kepler is at 1257 PAs and is probably is who he is at this point- he hits too many ground balls and pop ups- doesn't drive the ball enough- either he's got to add more launch angle or he's going to be a fairly fungible player for the remainder of his career.

As far as Dozier, Mauer, Santana go- getting old sucks.

That's a lot of hope on unproven players and players on the wrong side of 30.

Here's to hoping this development team won't f*** up our next core of position players coming up.
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#49 Vanimal46

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 09:43 AM

Are you there to defend him when he uses those guys and they blow games and the chorus is "why not use your best guys"?


I would push back if I saw it on threads I read... Unfortunately with the new job and life responsibilities I don't have the time I once did posting on the site!
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#50 Don Walcott

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 09:45 AM

Buxton started having migraines early in the season, then fouled a ball off his toe. Bad luck. I'm not writing him off until he gets healthy and plays for a while.

 

I'm really tired of the Sano bashing on this site. There's another way to look at what's been going on with Sano. Last year he fouled a ball off his leg and fractured a bone. He tried to play through it without surgery so he could contribute to this team. That was probably painful and difficult, but he tried. He ultimately needed surgery and a rod in his leg.So he did not have a normal off-season to prepare himself for this year physically. Everyone on this site claimed he wouldn't be ready for the start of the season, and he wouldn't be able to play third base. He got himself ready to start the season at third base. He started out pretty well, but pulled a hamstring, which is a very difficult injury to play through and recovery times are different for everyone. Now, he's getting back to form slowly, which would be expected of any player who's gone through what he's gone through. From my perspective, he's shown nothing but admirable desire to be on the field and contribute, despite some tough breaks (pun intended).

 

The plate discipline issues for both Sano and Buxton are troubling, and have been for a few years. We can only hope they work through those issues as they are healthy and playing regularly. But I wouldn't question the desire or attitudes of either of these players without more information.

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#51 Thrylos

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 09:46 AM

 

Vastly improved rotation and bullpen. Eddie Rosario and Eduardo Escobar playing out of their minds. A truly terrible division. Insert the versions of Buxton and Sano that we all expected – or even close, or even one or the other – into that equation, and the team is winning this division right now. Maybe handily.

 

Sadly, this is so very true.

Funny game, baseball.

 

 

Not.So.True.

 

The "vastly improved" pitching staff is 9th in AL in ERA.In 2017, it was also 9th in the AL in ERA.

 

So Not.That.Improved.

 

Unless the pitching is in the top 5 in the AL, no matter who hits how, this team will be around .500 at best

Edited by Thrylos, 07 June 2018 - 09:48 AM.

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#52 yarnivek1972

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 09:48 AM

Rogers appeared in 69 games and had 55 IP. That's not even close to overuse.
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#53 yarnivek1972

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 09:52 AM

Buxton started having migraines early in the season, then fouled a ball off his toe. Bad luck. I'm not writing him off until he gets healthy and plays for a while.



What about his history suggests he is capable of doing so?
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#54 Oldgoat_MN

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 09:54 AM

 

Not.So.True.

 

The "vastly improved" pitching staff is 9th in AL in ERA.In 2017, it was also 9th in the AL in ERA.

 

So Not.That.Improved.

 

Unless the pitching is in the top 5 in the AL, no matter who hits how, this team will be around .500 at best

Hmm..

The Cubs are not pitching any better than the Twins (according to FanGraphs), though they are 10 games over .500.

Few here thought the Twins pitching was going to carry the season. We need to hit above average to win, which we can do given the weak division we are in.

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#55 bighat

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 10:05 AM

 

Concur.

 

The fizzling core wouldn't be quite so damaging if the bottom third of the lineup wasn't such a black hole. 

 

Worse yet, the "black hole" are the only guys hitting. Without Garver, LaMarre and Adrianza the Twins would have been shut out last night. This offense has been an embarrassment.

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#56 ThejacKmp

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 10:06 AM

 

If anyone wants to deny that being overweight and out of shape adversely affects athletic performance, you are fully entitled to that opinion.Just the same as anyone who could not disagree more is entitled to that line of thinking.

 

I think it matters when it comes to playing basketball. I think it matters when running the bases.

 

But it doesn't really matter when you're hitting a baseball. Cecil Fielder wouldn't have been any better at hitting a baseball if he was a trim 180lbs. Same thing with Big Papi. The issue is his ability to identify and react to what pitchers are doing. His weight plays no role in that.

 

I also think we look at Sano and say "He's fat, therefore he's out of shape." That's an assumption, not a fact. Body sizes and shapes change as people get older (I know this all too well sadly) and that doesn't mean that Sano is out of shape. I haven't seen him be any worse in the field (maybe the defensive metrics will disagree) and he's the same running the bases by the eye test (he's just not running or trotting them enough).

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#57 Jham

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 10:07 AM

One problem is Buxton even without injury will gradually (or rapidly) lose speed and defensive coverage. Even if healthy. But for all his athleticism, he's not the natural everyone says. he doesn't naturally track a ball like Randy Moss or Torii Hunter who could take their eyes of the ball and run to a spot. Buck runs stuff down with raw speed, sometimes reckless speed. More like Corderrelle Patterson than Moss. I love Buck, but he has to hit and take care of his body.

By the time Sano figures things out, he may be 350 lbs. Cheap and controllable is super valuable. times running on controllable, and soon they won't even be that cheap. I think they both are victims of the hype train.
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#58 ThejacKmp

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 10:08 AM

 

What about his history suggests he is capable of doing so?

 

I can't give you anything from Buxton but I can say that the guy is 24. There are lots of athletes who struggled with injuries early in their career before figuring it out. Steph Curry jumps to mind. Some of that is their body getting stronger as they fully mature. Some of it is figuring out how to take care of their body to maintain a consistently high performance.

 

A guy being injury-prone early doesn't mean he always will be.

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#59 Nick Nelson

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 10:09 AM

 

Not.So.True.

 

The "vastly improved" pitching staff is 9th in AL in ERA.In 2017, it was also 9th in the AL in ERA.

 

So Not.That.Improved.

 

Unless the pitching is in the top 5 in the AL, no matter who hits how, this team will be around .500 at best

Thanks.For.The.Staccato.Analysis.

 

The Twins had a 3.52 ERA in May and still went 13-15. Offense is the problem. The pitching staff is fine.  

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#60 ThejacKmp

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 10:10 AM

 

Buxton started having migraines early in the season, then fouled a ball off his toe. Bad luck. I'm not writing him off until he gets healthy and plays for a while.

 

I'm really tired of the Sano bashing on this site. There's another way to look at what's been going on with Sano. Last year he fouled a ball off his leg and fractured a bone. He tried to play through it without surgery so he could contribute to this team. That was probably painful and difficult, but he tried. He ultimately needed surgery and a rod in his leg.So he did not have a normal off-season to prepare himself for this year physically. Everyone on this site claimed he wouldn't be ready for the start of the season, and he wouldn't be able to play third base. He got himself ready to start the season at third base. He started out pretty well, but pulled a hamstring, which is a very difficult injury to play through and recovery times are different for everyone. Now, he's getting back to form slowly, which would be expected of any player who's gone through what he's gone through. From my perspective, he's shown nothing but admirable desire to be on the field and contribute, despite some tough breaks (pun intended).

 

The plate discipline issues for both Sano and Buxton are troubling, and have been for a few years. We can only hope they work through those issues as they are healthy and playing regularly. But I wouldn't question the desire or attitudes of either of these players without more information.

 

I think there are two big things with Sano.

 

1.) His strikeout rate has jumped to the "oh crap" levels. That's hopefully a matter of comfort or adjustment but that's the part to be worried about.

 

2.) His BABIP is phenomenally low. Maybe he's making worse contact but I haven't seen that. I expect that will normalize as the sample gets larger.

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