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Article: Twins Owe it to Themselves to Look at Existing Talent in Second Half

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#1 Jamie Cameron

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 08:36 PM

It’s been a much more enjoyable homestand for the Twins heading into the All-Star break. A 9-2 record against the inept Royals and Orioles and the solid Rays have muddied the waters surrounding the Twins inevitable sell-off ever so slightly. It’s still highly unlikely the Twins make significant noise in the second half, mostly because their margin for error is now so small. Barring a herculean effort in head-to-head games against Cleveland, Twins fans won’t be looking back on 2018 with the same sepia toned glasses of 2017.I argued in my notes on a hypothetical plan for the Twins’ second half that they need to look inward at their talent pool to assess what they have and what they need going forwards. There are three prime examples of the necessity of this practice; Niko Goodrum, Randy Rosario, and Dereck Rodriguez.

Niko Goodrum was the Twins second-round pick in 2010. After grinding for seven plus seasons in MiLB, he finally broke into the majors last season with the Twins at age 25. Goodrum received only 18 PA for Minnesota before finding his way onto the Tigers roster in 2018. While it seemed Goodrum was blocked in Minnesota as a middle infielder by Brian Dozier, Jorge Polanco and Ehire Adrianza, he has performed admirably with Detroit, putting together a solid .250/.319/.456 line with a .206 ISO. Goodrum’s isolated power would put him fourth on the Twins, behind only Jake Cave, Eddie Rosario and Eduardo Escobar. Crucially, he’s a RH bat in a very LH dominant lineup, and might have found significant ABs at DH this year with Miguel Sano in Single A, and Logan Morrison a non-contributor. Goodrum is currently a one-win player with Detroit (fWAR) and on his way to a solid first season in the majors.

Randy Rosario pitched just 2 1/3 innings with the Twins, struggling mightily in doing so. Rosario was picked up by the Cubs and has logged close to 30 innings for them this year, putting together an impressive 1.95 ERA and stranding an improbable 94 percent of base runners. I will say that Rosario’s peripheral numbers look far less impressive. It seems that early in 2018 he has been extremely lucky. It would appear that he is due for a fairly significant regression with the Cubs in the second half, but with lefty pitchers in such short supply, would it not have served the Twins to take a longer look?

Dereck Rodriguez (son of Pudge) put together strong numbers as a starting pitcher throughout his time in the Twins minor league system. He was simply blocked from an opportunity with the Twins and found his way into the Giants organization. In seven starts and some relief work with the Giants, Rodriguez has pitched close to 50 innings to the tune of a 2.89 ERA (3.42 FIP) is striking out a solid 7.14 K/9 and is worth 1.0 fWAR in his limited time. Clearly the Giants see something in Rodriguez the Twins did not, it’s just unfortunate that there are so many players who have left the Twins organization without getting a big league opportunity, who seem to be seizing it elsewhere.

There’re plenty of players who would also have made good examples for this article. Aaron Hicks is not a good example. He’s actually a great example of the Twins being patient with a young hitter and giving him ample opportunities at the plate. He just figured it out after the Twins moved on. The Twins gave Hicks 928 plate appearances in Minnesota, in which he put together a 2.5 fWAR. In 361 2018 plate appearances with the Yankees, he already has a 3.3 fWAR. Sometimes things just don’t work out in your favor.

With regard to Goodrum, Rosario and Rodriguez, I’m not saying they should have kept one, two, or all of them. Teams don’t always have the luxury of being able to give marginal hitters a few hundred plate appearances, marginal relievers forty major league innings, or marginal starters a five start stretch to prove their worth (particularly in a playoff race in 2017). My point is simply when you do have the opportunity, you should seize it. It seems highly likely the Twins will have that opportunity in the second half of 2018.

Moving into 2019. The Twins will likely have core starting pitching arms of Berrios, Gibson, Romero and Odorizzi. They should establish if Aaron Slegers, Zach Littell, Adalberto Mejia, Stephen Gonsalves, or even Trevor May is well positioned to occupy a back end role in 2019. Additionally, they should establish their pecking order for sixth, seventh,and eighth starters (form and health aside) who will inevitably be called on over the course of a long season.

Similarly, with their bullpen. Luke Bard, John Curtiss, Gabriel Moya, Jake Reed and Alan Busenitz should all receive some consistent innings, over a period of time without interruption. If even two of this group can be reliable bullpen arms, the front office can focus on other areas this coming winter. It might feel like a long second half, so let’s see what we have, and what we need.

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#2 Dman

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 08:47 PM

It is just another reason it makes sense to sell.You get prospects back and can give opportunity for other players to break in.Cleveland will fix its bullpen and we will not catch them.Hopefully that becomes obvious sooner than later.

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#3 Seth Stohs

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 08:57 PM

While it would have been nice to see more of those guys, the Twins were in a playoff race last year so giving opportunities late last year made no sense and shouldn't have been done. The Twins need to do whatever they can from Friday until the deadline to try to get back into the race... Atthat point, give some opportunities. 

 

Goodrum. DFAing him after the season made sense. I don't recall anyone being upset about that, and I was a big fan... still am. 

 

I'm a big fan of Randy Rosario and was disappointed that they DFAd him... but it was also understandable since he struggled most of the year in AA. 

 

As for Rodriguez, the Twins made him as good or better an offer than the Giants, but he wisely looked at the pitching depth in the two organizations and wisely selected the Giants. He wasn't going to help the Twins in the playoff chase last year. 

 

Should Palka have been given a chance? Well, he was hurt most of last year. 

 

As for this year, if they're out of it, they'llwant to take a look at guys that they have to consider for 40-man roster spots, for sure those that aren't obvious. For instance, Nick Gordon is obvious. They don't have to make a decision on him by season's end. Jake Reed? Yup. Luke Bard? For sure since he'll be a free agent at year's end if they don't. 

 

There are only 40 spots on the roster, and there are only 25 spots on the roster until September... Have to be strategic. 

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#4 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 09:23 PM

On the other hand, they signed Bartolo Colon in July and rode him to the end. Tim Melville got a start on August 21st.
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#5 nater79a

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 09:40 PM

My guess is if Dozier and/or Escobar are traded, get ready for a whole lot of Gregorio Petit and Taylor Motter.

 

 

 

 

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#6 Mike Sixel

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 10:01 PM

 

While it would have been nice to see more of those guys, the Twins were in a playoff race last year so giving opportunities late last year made no sense and shouldn't have been done. The Twins need to do whatever they can from Friday until the deadline to try to get back into the race... Atthat point, give some opportunities. 

 

Goodrum. DFAing him after the season made sense. I don't recall anyone being upset about that, and I was a big fan... still am. 

 

I'm a big fan of Randy Rosario and was disappointed that they DFAd him... but it was also understandable since he struggled most of the year in AA. 

 

As for Rodriguez, the Twins made him as good or better an offer than the Giants, but he wisely looked at the pitching depth in the two organizations and wisely selected the Giants. He wasn't going to help the Twins in the playoff chase last year. 

 

Should Palka have been given a chance? Well, he was hurt most of last year. 

 

As for this year, if they're out of it, they'llwant to take a look at guys that they have to consider for 40-man roster spots, for sure those that aren't obvious. For instance, Nick Gordon is obvious. They don't have to make a decision on him by season's end. Jake Reed? Yup. Luke Bard? For sure since he'll be a free agent at year's end if they don't. 

 

There are only 40 spots on the roster, and there are only 25 spots on the roster until September... Have to be strategic. 

 

They are out of it....they should be looking at the young guys, and getting them MLB experience...IMO, of course.

 

Well, Belisle could be gone, that would be strategic....how about Morrison, why keep him around at this point? That's 2....and it wasn't hard.

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There's always next year, or the next, or maybe by the time I'm Chief's age, I guess....


#7 Mike Sixel

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 10:01 PM

 

My guess is if Dozier and/or Escobar are traded, get ready for a whole lot of Gregorio Petit and Taylor Motter.

 

giving the team little, if any, useful information, I'd guess.

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There's always next year, or the next, or maybe by the time I'm Chief's age, I guess....


#8 Danchat

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 10:03 PM

Yes, yes, more of this. Some guys are simply going to get away from the team and do better elsewhere (Yangervis Solarte comes to mind, Dereck Rodriguez) but I think the Twins should be looking to find out what we have in some players so we can avoid DFA'ing the next Randy Rosario and Chargois. And hey, just because we trade away a few vets doesn't mean we have to stop competing; it didn't stop last year's club. 

 

I'd like to see some more young 'uns in the bullpen - say bye to Belisle and Rodney and get guys like Jake Reed, John Curtiss, and Gabriel Moya up here. That's just a start of a list they should try to exhaust.

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#9 DocBauer

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 10:23 PM

Great post! And fair as both sides are argued well. With a 40 man roster, there has to be some juggling. You just can't keep everyone, unfortunately. Over the years, the Twins have enjoyed the results and contributions of other players left vulnerable from other teams. It's the nature of the game. You just always hope you are smarter and more lucky than the other guys.

I admit I was surprised and disappointed by Rosario. I just had a hunch he would turn out with a little more time.

Goodrum is a sore spot for me. I'm not saying he should have been placed on the 40 man. And maybe the Twins offered him a great deal but he just wanted to move on and saw more opportunity with Detroit and Gardenhire. But when I looked at infield depth, Sano coming off such a rough off season, opportunity, his versatility and recent development, I saw a versatile and talented athlete that was ready to become a super utility guy. Boy would I love to have him back!

But your premise is right on. Let's not re-hash yet again what has gone wrong. There are other threads for that. This is about what is right. As in, what is right to do now, going forward, for the second half of 2018.

How do we know if we have another Hildenberger amongst Bard, Curtiss, Reed and Busentiz if we don't allow for opportunity?

Could Slegers prove he's either a 5th SP or a quality swing man unless he gets more than a game or two to show anything? Remember, not so long ago, when All Star and potential ACE Berrios was a disappointment? What if Gonsalves has a rough go first time out? (As Littell has, though he's been put in weird situations to be sure). Mejia showed real potential last season, has torn up AAA before his last start, and IMO, projects as a high quality LHRP at worst. But you have to take a look and challenge guys!

Same could be said for Gordon. Flat out, he's still very young. He needs to grow a few more man-muscles. He may not be ready yet. But there is real ability and potential. Since he has to be added to the 40 man anyway, why not a look to learn and drive him? Same for Wade.

And for goodness sake, keep playing Cave! You may have found a quality 4th OF who can play and produce.

And for goodness sake Part 2, PLAY GARVER! Look, he may never be a great defensive catcher. But he can't learn or improve without playing! He seems to call a good game. He has a strong arm. He has some real offensive potential. Despite various moves to add milb depth and talent at the catcher position, RIGHT NOW, there is nothing for 2019 but Garver and a rehabbed Castro. I don't care...sorry to sound mean...but Wilson may be a great guy, a quality defensive catcher, but he is a AAA catcher, fill in, coach in waiting maybe, who has no business being the starting catcher on a losing team.

Two things are paramount to the second half of this season:

1] Continuing to develop what you have. This includes everything from Berrios and Rosario to Kepler as well as Sano and Buxton, and yes, Garver.

2] Make the trade moves that make sense, (Lynn, Rodney, Duke, Dozier maybe/probably, Santana, Morrison huge maybes), and open up opportunities in August and September for those guys who are close.

What's more important? Chasing a few more wins in a disappointing season? Or preparing your roster and young talent for 2019?
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#10 curt1965

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Posted 18 July 2018 - 10:48 PM

You can second guess until the cows come home, and never make anyone happy. Win some, lose some.
The 3 guys mentioned in the article will never be cornerstone players. Good on them for having a good year.
Let’s focus on the guys we have and see what we’ve got, especially Garver, Gonsalves, and even Cave.
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#11 beckmt

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 04:36 AM

 

You can second guess until the cows come home, and never make anyone happy. Win some, lose some.
The 3 guys mentioned in the article will never be cornerstone players. Good on them for having a good year.
Let’s focus on the guys we have and see what we’ve got, especially Garver, Gonsalves, and even Cave.

No that is 3 misses, almost as many as the TR regime had.Twins have a lot of young talent, yes you are going to lose some, but who have the new FO found to make up for the losses.  

Moya is the only one of the relievers in Rochester, I believe should be here now.The rest we shall see, but relivers are a fickle group.The new FO has a different set of parameters, we will win some and lose some, almost all teams have a player or two that got away. Just so we don't lose a star.

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#12 Riverbrian

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 06:11 AM

While it would have been nice to see more of those guys, the Twins were in a playoff race last year so giving opportunities late last year made no sense and shouldn't have been done. The Twins need to do whatever they can from Friday until the deadline to try to get back into the race... At that point, give some opportunities.

Goodrum. DFAing him after the season made sense. I don't recall anyone being upset about that, and I was a big fan... still am.

I'm a big fan of Randy Rosario and was disappointed that they DFAd him... but it was also understandable since he struggled most of the year in AA.

As for Rodriguez, the Twins made him as good or better an offer than the Giants, but he wisely looked at the pitching depth in the two organizations and wisely selected the Giants. He wasn't going to help the Twins in the playoff chase last year.

Should Palka have been given a chance? Well, he was hurt most of last year.

As for this year, if they're out of it, they'll want to take a look at guys that they have to consider for 40-man roster spots, for sure those that aren't obvious. For instance, Nick Gordon is obvious. They don't have to make a decision on him by season's end. Jake Reed? Yup. Luke Bard? For sure since he'll be a free agent at year's end if they don't.

There are only 40 spots on the roster, and there are only 25 spots on the roster until September... Have to be strategic.

They do have to be strategic and the strategy clearly isn’t working.

This is an organization that will play Plouffe everyday before The rest of the league identifies him as AAAA and not play guys like Palka before they make impacts on other squads.

Something is wrong. The decisions are hard but come on. The Twins need to do a better job of finding and developing depth.
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#13 bighat

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 06:27 AM

 


And for goodness sake, keep playing Cave! You may have found a quality 4th OF who can play and produce.
 

 

I think they may have found a starter in Cave. He could be much more than just a 4th OF - and the Twins need all the talent they can get right now with Kepler struggling and Buxton off the radar.

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#14 Dman

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 07:01 AM

 

While it would have been nice to see more of those guys, the Twins were in a playoff race last year so giving opportunities late last year made no sense and shouldn't have been done. The Twins need to do whatever they can from Friday until the deadline to try to get back into the race... Atthat point, give some opportunities. 

 

 

 

I guess I am at a point where I don't even care if the Twins "catch" Cleveland and win the division.This team as currently constructed even if they won the division would likely be a worse team than the wild card selections.I am tired of just trying be good enough to win the division and living in the land of mediocrity.This team needs to do things to create a greater quality of talent,more depth, more options to acquire great talent. Do things that allow our team to compete with New York, Boston, and Houston. 

 

Sometimes that means sacrificing the present for the future by trading the assets you have to acquire better future talent.To build depth you need to play talent that is nearly ready for MLB to get experience.Personally I hope Cleveland makes the decision easy for us instead of leading us back to mediocrity by keeping the team we have and gaining no value.

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#15 Seth Stohs

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 07:16 AM

 

I guess I am at a point where I don't even care if the Twins "catch" Cleveland and win the division.This team as currently constructed even if they won the division would likely be a worse team than the wild card selections.I am tired of just trying be good enough to win the division and living in the land of mediocrity.This team needs to do things to create a greater quality of talent,more depth, more options to acquire great talent. Do things that allow our team to compete with New York, Boston, and Houston. 

 

Sometimes that means sacrificing the present for the future by trading the assets you have to acquire better future talent.To build depth you need to play talent that is nearly ready for MLB to get experience.Personally I hope Cleveland makes the decision easy for us instead of leading us back to mediocrity by keeping the team we have and gaining no value.

 

Geez... after some really, ,really bad baseball from 2011 through 2016, I would be thrilled to win the division." I mean, Im' the prospect guy and I am at the point now where whatever it takes for the big league club to be a playoff contender is good with me. After so many years of bad... I'm really good with being good at the big league level. That's not to say they shouldn't be smart. I don't think their odds of making the playoffs are real good (2.4% as I read/wrote yesterday). But I have no problem with them going after it for a week before the deadline and seeing where they are. 

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#16 Seth Stohs

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 07:20 AM

 

They are out of it....they should be looking at the young guys, and getting them MLB experience...IMO, of course.

 

Well, Belisle could be gone, that would be strategic....how about Morrison, why keep him around at this point? That's 2....and it wasn't hard.

 

I'm 100% on board with Belisle being release, and Morrison is in the release discussion at this point too. I''d' be fine with a AAA reliever taking Belisle's spot... and Morrison can be replaced by anyone. They can do all that. I also have no problem with them giving Morrison a week of at bats before the deadline and hope he hits 3-4 homers and one team is willing to give up a C prospect for him. Likely? No. Worth taking a shot? Sure. 

 

Once they sell, assuming they try to, it should be all about playing the guys who either will be in the 2019 picture or could be in the 2019 picture. 

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#17 Dman

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 07:40 AM

 

Geez... after some really, ,really bad baseball from 2011 through 2016, I would be thrilled to win the division." I mean, Im' the prospect guy and I am at the point now where whatever it takes for the big league club to be a playoff contender is good with me. After so many years of bad... I'm really good with being good at the big league level. That's not to say they shouldn't be smart. I don't think their odds of making the playoffs are real good (2.4% as I read/wrote yesterday). But I have no problem with them going after it for a week before the deadline and seeing where they are. 

 

Winning the division is a nice feeling no doubt and it means the team was fun to watch the entire season but I am more greedy than you are as I would like to win the division and feel like the team has a very good chance to win a playoff series or the World Series.I don't feel that way about this team and don't see how they can change that at this point in the season.So I just want them to do things that might help them get to that larger goal.

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#18 Andrew Thares

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 07:42 AM

I think we overplay how bad Hicks actually was in Minnesota. 928 plate appearances is roughly a season and a half worth. If you put up 2.5 fWAR over a season and a half that is barley below league average, and league average players have quite a bit of value.

 

I've always thought that getting rid of Hicks was a bad idea, which is why I think the people that think the Twins should dump Buxton are silly. Hicks was showing signs of improvement in 2015 before they traded him. In just 97 games he put up a 2.0 fWAR season. When you have players in your organization who have a bunch of talent like Hicks, why would you trade him away right as he is starting to show you that talent? Especially when he was under cheap team control for another 4 years at that point.

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#19 Number3

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 08:09 AM

The front office seems unable to commit to any strategy; long term or short term. If the Astros are the model, then you have back to back to back horrible seasons as you build the roster into possible World Series winners. The Twins were off to a good start with that after 2016 but what did they do to really build the team into contenders especially with the #1 pick in all of MLB? Nothing that stands out; just a bunch of ifs, ands, buts or maybes. Then they have a winning 2017 and act like they are trying to improve for 2018 which is fine but totally blows the Astros model. Now its same old approach of simply making it through the season and trying to keep attendance up. A simple commitment to winning is what I have never heard from the Twins' ownership/management. If they are true professionals in the field of MLB management, they should be able to stay competitive and improve at the same time. The fact that it is always either one or the other, to me, is a cob out and just the perpetual excuse for not winning.

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#20 Respy

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 08:10 AM

I'm going to go ahead and agree with most posters above regarding the 'hindsight is 20/20' and such.

 

I'll add that one thing to always keep in mind (and my pessimistic nature at its best), is we need to realize that in many instances of these players, if they stayed in the Minnesota system, they very likely would not have performed as well.Many of these players will struggle or underperform in one system, then do much better in a different system.Whether it's because of a fire/chip on their shoulder, or a certain coach or player/mentor got through to them, we'll never know.

 

Sometimes a player turns out to be so great, we have to admit that the Twins likely messed up either in their development or in getting rid of them too early (e.g. David Ortiz).In most other cases, the players may have had toxic personalities and I say 'good riddance,' or they just needed an opportunity elsewhere to which I say 'best of luck to you.'

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