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Article: Week in Review: Little to Like

alex kirilloff royce lewis jorge polanco stephen gonsalves
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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 09 September 2018 - 06:07 PM

No Byron Buxton. No Fernando Romero. Robbie Grossman and Logan Forsythe batting cleanup. Chris Gimenez starting at first base. Negative vibes surrounding a front office that may have taken a costly misstep with arguably its most critical asset.

The Twins aren't really giving fans a lot of reason to be excited or invested as this season winds down, so if you've mostly tuned out, I can't blame you. But there are still important developments taking place, and you'll find them all covered below the fold.

Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 9/3 through Sun, 9/9

***

Record Last Week: 2-4 (Overall: 65-77)

Run Differential Last Week: -11 (Overall: -70)

Standing: 2nd Place in AL Central (15.5 GB)

HIGHLIGHTS

Although it started on a rough note with a costly error, his fourth in a five-game span, Jorge Polanco did end up having a pretty nice week. He collected hits in five of six games while striking out only twice. The shortstop continues to be one of Minnesota's most consistent offensive performers, earning his regular nods in the second, third and fourth spots in the order.

While it's a bit disenchanting to see him batting cleanup, as he did Sunday, Grossman is quietly enjoying a solid late-season run. His eye at the plate has been immaculate of late; last week he drew six walks with no strikeouts, registering a .478 on-base percentage over six games.

Since returning from a hamstring injury in mid-August, Grossman is slashing .306/.433/.388 in 17 contests. His production hasn't been all that meaningful for the irrelevant Twins, but the 28-year-old is importantly building his own personal stock for a likely date with the open market this offseason.

On Tuesday, Kohl Stewart enjoyed his finest outing as a big-leaguer. Having failed to get through five innings in any of his four August starts, the rookie crossed that threshold by delivering five scoreless frames after following up Trevor May's clunky effort as the "opener" in the first. It still wasn't the most impressive showing for Stewart, who induced only four swinging strikes on 73 pitches and relied on some luck, but he got it done.

Making his Twins debut on Sunday, Chase De Jong (acquired via the Zach Duke trade) turned in a fine effort, holding the Royals scoreless on one hit over four frames, with five strikeouts. The 23-year-old showed some decent stuff, though he also struggled with control in issuing four walks.

De Jong joins Stewart and others as fringey 40-man roster holds during the offseason, so these late impressions do matter.

Speaking of making impressions, how about Willians Astudillo?! The lovable 26-year-old is not getting many chances, but he's certainly making the most of them. He entered Wednesday's game and homered before being pulled for Mauer in the seventh. On Sunday he started again, and went 2-for-4 with a walk-off two-run blast in the ninth.

It seems evident, based on their sparing usage of him, that the Twins don't see Astudillo as part of their future plans. I guess he is sort of an odd fit despite his unique talents. But I'll miss watching that dude play.

LOWLIGHTS

It's just not clicking for Stephen Gonsalves. Making his fourth MLB start on Friday against the Royals, the lefty was pulled after just 2 1/3 innings, having coughed up five runs on five hits and three walks, with just one strikeout.

This marked the third time in four starts Gonsalves has failed to complete even four frames. His overall MLB numbers are nothing short of brutal: 11.68 ERA, 6-to-13 K/BB ratio, 6% swinging strike rate, and opponents slashing .414/.528/.621.

The Twins might as well keep running him out every fifth day in the final weeks, but the 24-year-old's performance is serving to validate widespread doubt that suppressed his national prospect rankings despite amazing minor-league stats.

The stuff is hittable and the command flashes too inconsistently. Gonsalves' long limbs and quirky delivery aren't doing nearly enough to cover up these vital flaws.

Tyler Austin has cooled off considerably following his torrid start as a Twin. After going 1-for-10 with five strikeouts against the Astros, he missed the Royals series with a stiff back. Austin is hitting just .107/.219/.214 since his two-homer outburst against Oakland, and maybe the ailing back has something to do with it. Or maybe it's just his sky-high K-rate catching up to him.

The guy ahead of Austin in line at first hasn't been much better of late. Joe Mauer is dragging toward the finish line in what might be his final season. Last week he went 2-for-18 with a walk and two singles, and he now finds his OPS sliding toward the 600s.

The Twins need to be making other plans at first base for next year, awkward as it may feel.

We've already seen the last of another veteran staple on his way out. Ervin Santana won't pitch again this season after receiving PRP treatment in a finger that continues to give him trouble. The Twins will surely decline his $14 million option for 2019, and Santana may in fact struggle to land a major-league deal this offseason.

Staying in the Dept. of Lingering Injury Concerns: If there was any question that Miguel Sano's surgically repaired leg was going to be an ongoing problem, we may have gotten our answer Wednesday. On a poorly executed – yet seemingly innocuous – slide into second base, Sano wound up writhing in pain on the ground, grabbing that left leg, before being carted off the field.

Thankfully, he was diagnosed with only a contusion and not something more serious. But the incident served as a sobering reminder of the lasting ramifications a serious injury and surgery can carry. Given that Sano was scuffling badly at the plate before getting hurt (.087 average in his past 14 games), the Twins might be best off shutting him down regardless.

TRENDING STORYLINE

At this point, Minnesota's primary concern is protecting its key assets, and sending players into the offseason healthy. That's why they shut down Romero and it's (ostensibly) part of why they shut down Buxton.

With this in mind, how much do they push it with Gonsalves, who's working some high-stress innings here in September after logging 120 in the minors? Or Jose Berrios, who's approaching a career-high workload? Or any number of relievers who've gone through long seasons of heavy usage, and could plainly benefit more from resting their arms than throwing meaningless innings?

DOWN ON THE FARM

While the Twins won't be in the playoffs, followers of the organization's minor-league system are being treated to plenty of thrilling postseason action. The Fort Myers Miracle (High-A), Cedar Rapids Kernels (Low-A) and Elizabethton Twins (Advanced Rookie) have all been making their runs, powered by premium prospects.

Alex Kirilloff has been absolutely sensational. He tallied two hits, including a homer, in the Miracle's Game 1 win on Tuesday, then added five knocks in a Game 2 victory, which propelled Fort Myers to the Florida State League Championship. In that best-of-five series, Fort Myers jumped to a 2-1 lead over the weekend, with Royce Lewis launching three home runs.

In the Midwest League, Cedar Rapids made quick work of Beloit in the first round, with Ryan Jeffers' two home runs helping lift them in Game 1, before falling to Peoria in the finals over the weekend. Blayne Enlow gave up five runs over three innings in Sunday's elimination game.

Meanwhile, Elizabethton swept its best-of-three series against Princeton to repeat as Appalachian League champs. Plenty of good young talent on that roster to monitor going forward, especially uber-talented infielder Yunior Severino.

LOOKING AHEAD

The Yankees come to town for what figures to be a lopsided affair, and then Minnesota heads to KC for four more games against the Royals. Only three weeks left to go.

MONDAY, 9/10: YANKEES @ TWINS – LHP J.A. Happ v. RHP Kyle Gibson
TUESDAY, 9/11: YANKEES @ TWINS – RHP Luis Severino v. RHP Kohl Stewart
WEDNESDAY, 9/12: YANKEES @ TWINS – RHP Masahiro Tanaka v. RHP Jake Odorizzi
THURSDAY, 9/13: TWINS @ ROYALS – LHP Stephen Gonsalves v. RHP Jorge Lopez
FRIDAY, 9/14: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Jose Berrios v. RHP Ian Kennedy
SATURDAY, 9/15: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Zack Littell v. RHP Jakob Junis
SUNDAY, 9/16: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Kyle Gibson v. RHP Brad Keller

Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps


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#2 Mike Sixel

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Posted 09 September 2018 - 06:57 PM

They have no good backup plan all over the field, no idea why Astudillo is not pay of the plan. But then, I don't get why they like Grossman, who doesn't hit enough for his fielding, or Belisle, or Gimenez at first. Really a lot of odd decisions right now. Why anyone is paying attention, I have no idea.
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There's always next year, or the next, or maybe by the time I'm Chief's age, I guess....


#3 D.C Twins

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Posted 09 September 2018 - 07:28 PM

The negatives are obvious and plentiful (and inexplicable). 

 

I would like to point out two good things the FO has done IMHO

 

1. The Draft:They are 2 for 2 no doubt

2. They are rolling out Stewart multiple times to make very sure they know what to do with him this off season. 

3. They are giving Gonslaves and extended look which will prove to him how much he needs to work on his control (ie not enough players in the bigs are going to chase his nibbling)

 

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#4 D.C Twins

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Posted 09 September 2018 - 07:29 PM

...I pulled the reverse Rick Perry :)

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#5 ashburyjohn

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Posted 09 September 2018 - 08:15 PM

...I pulled the reverse Rick Perry :)

... which nobody expected!

 

spanish-inquisition.jpg

 

("Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our *three* weapons are fear, and surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope")

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#6 BBAM

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Posted 09 September 2018 - 08:44 PM

I think it is important to bring back Santana.He is a good pitcher (better than anything they would go out and get in free agency).Doesn't seem like there is much ready in the minors.Santana is a great mentor for the young Latino pitching staff. 

 

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#7 Winston Smith

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Posted 09 September 2018 - 10:12 PM

 

They have no good backup plan all over the field, no idea why Astudillo is not pay of the plan. But then, I don't get why they like Grossman, who doesn't hit enough for his fielding, or Belisle, or Gimenez at first. Really a lot of odd decisions right now. Why anyone is paying attention, I have no idea.

Maybe the hope is nobody is paying attention?

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#8 beckmt

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Posted 10 September 2018 - 02:12 AM

Some of it is trying the young players before either keeping them on the 40 man roster or letting them go to fill the 40 man with players that have to be kept.Problem with this approach is I see little hope for 2019 without a big turnaround by some players who where expected to be the core of the Twins going forward.  

Not a good position to be in. 

Biggest issues seem to be whether either Sano or Buxton will be more than their absolute floor here before hitting FA, or in my mind whether the minor league coaching staff is totally inept at fixing holes in players games.


#9 mikelink45

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Posted 10 September 2018 - 06:17 AM

Nice summary. I know it must get harder and harder as the season winds down. The storylines are limited and we can complain about belisle only so much because the explanation for him being here it's just out of the Twilight Zone. Why field played in Buxton didn't will stay with us for a long time. It appears that our brief and colossal failure at openers is gone for now goodbye I won't miss you.Astudillo has been our one really fun end-of-the-season treat and if the twins front office has the brains that so many of you claim they do they would recognize that he is an asset to keep fans interested and perhaps buying tickets.

#10 MN_ExPat

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Posted 10 September 2018 - 07:08 AM

 

Why anyone is paying attention, I have no idea.

Because we're Twins fans... and we enjoy suffering :).

 

Also because my son is in the offseason for his high school baseball team and we have nothing else to watch.


#11 BBAM

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Posted 10 September 2018 - 07:32 AM

Can anyone tell me who will replace Santana both in pitching and mentoring?He is still good.I am hoping Berrios, Romero and Gibson can be very good and not just average.Who else?

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#12 Nick Nelson

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Posted 10 September 2018 - 07:47 AM

 

Can anyone tell me who will replace Santana both in pitching and mentoring?He is still good.I am hoping Berrios, Romero and Gibson can be very good and not just average.Who else?

He was good last year, before this injury. I'm not sure what reason we have to be confident that'll still be true next year. He'll be 36 and coming off a very problematic injury that cost him an entire season. 

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#13 lukeduke1980

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Posted 10 September 2018 - 07:49 AM

This has never been my take...but the season is too long and they should start the playoffs in the middle of September.All of this irrelevant September baseball is a drag on the sport 

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#14 Tomj14

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Posted 10 September 2018 - 08:07 AM

Regardless of the outcome, I love what they did with De Jong and Littell on Sunday.

I couldn't hate any more thethe decision to start Gimenez at first. Put Feld in the OF and Kepler at first.

 

 

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#15 Nick Nelson

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Posted 10 September 2018 - 08:17 AM

 

This has never been my take...but the season is too long and they should start the playoffs in the middle of September.All of this irrelevant September baseball is a drag on the sport 

I think that speaks more to the current competitive balance of the league than to the length of the schedule. September is great when multiple teams are tightly battling for postseason positioning. This year's race has featured almost no drama, as playoff teams have mostly been established from start to finish. Zzzzzzzz....

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#16 adorduan

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Posted 10 September 2018 - 09:02 AM

In the little that we have got to see him, Gonsalves reminds me of Tommy Milone without the control.That's not a good combination.

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#17 Rosterman

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Posted 10 September 2018 - 09:19 AM

Well, besides Berrios, Gibson and Romero...the Twins have Pineda and Mejia to put into the rotation. Theya re getting good looks at Gonsalves, Littell and Stewart and De Jong. So, they have some choices come spring.

 

At this point, there are probably only 3-4 folks THE TWINS HAVE to add to the 40-man. Look at the rosters of Rochester and Chattanooga. Who would someone gamble a Rule 5 pick to hold on their roster for a year. The Twins have to do some minor league roster shuffling to keep guys from being taken in the minor league part of that draft.

 

So, the Twins need 3-4 roster spots. They also need three roster spots for 60-day guys Pineda, Castro and Mejia.

 

They have free agents: Mauer, Morrison, Santana, Belisle, Forsythe. Only Mauer could be a come backer.

 

I put the following on the bubble for being in team plans for 2019. SOme names will stay because there are roster spots. But my list is: Drake, Duffey, Magill, Slegers, Astudillo, Petit, Field, Gimenez, Granite. Defendng on arbitration, they might not keep Grossman or Adrianza. Both should still be cheap, though...although I don't really see them fitting into a 2020 Twins team, either. 

 

The Twins also have to make decisions on Curtiss, Busenitz and Moya. Expect them all to stay because of age, promise.

 

Yes, the Twins have a lot of starter "candidates" (still have Thorpe in the wings,too).Everyone on the current roster should get 4-multi inning appearances before the end of the season. Would also give the Twins an idea if any could work in long relief (replacing, say, Duffey).

 

I would be playing Austin everyday, at first or DH. Let him get his swings. I would also play Sano at first base (if you want to move him there)instead of everyone else on the bench. Some on field decisions boogle me, as well as the inconsistent line-up construction.

 

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#18 jtkoupal

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Posted 10 September 2018 - 10:20 AM

I have been optimistic about the Twins chances to compete in 2019. That optimism is waining. 

-Good pitchers fading down the stretch.

-Prospect pitchers aren't ready.

-The bullpen is a disaster.

-Fizzling core. 

-Front office isn't on the same page

 

Despite the Buxton drama, it would not be in his best interest to not play hard. The snub could impact his performance and attitude, but that would not work in his favor either. He can still be a productive player for the next four seasons in Minnesota.


#19 baumannmd

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Posted 10 September 2018 - 11:08 AM

 

Can anyone tell me who will replace Santana both in pitching and mentoring?He is still good.I am hoping Berrios, Romero and Gibson can be very good and not just average.Who else?

 

Just about anyone could replace Santana on the mound. Pineda, Mejia, or some middle of the rotation offseason FA. I'm not sure what leads you to believe he's still good. 

 

As far as mentoring, I can't speak to his clubhouse presence because they don't let me in there, but complaining publicly about the front office when he hasn't done anything himself to help the team this year doesn't seem like the behavior of a veteran mentor.

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#20 Nick Nelson

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Posted 10 September 2018 - 11:46 AM

 

As far as mentoring, I can't speak to his clubhouse presence because they don't let me in there, but complaining publicly about the front office when he hasn't done anything himself to help the team this year doesn't seem like the behavior of a veteran mentor.

Especially when that complaint is basically "they traded all our good players, what are we supposed to do?" I'm sure that's a nice thing for the folks seated around him in the clubhouse to hear. 

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