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Article: Offseason Primer: Twins Need to Be Prepared to Pivot from Buxton and Sano

byron buxton miguel sano
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#61 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 11:42 AM

 

Also, somewhere someone asked about the lack of excitement or love for Cave. Jake Cave did an okay job this year, certainly a fine performance for what we might have expected, but here's the deal with him.

 

He was dumped by the Yankees. Not the worst thing, but understand what this means. Most other teams dumping him would mean that his chances of steady contribution anywhere are almost nil. The Yankees dumping him doesn't mean that, because the Yankees have stars and really good players. But there's no way that the Yankees just dump a first division starting outfielder. Foremost, another team would easily trade a non-40-man prospect for a first division regular. And they'd probably do the same for a second division regular, if that were basically guaranteed (think Alex Kirilloff's floor. his worst case).

 

Jake Cave's UPSIDE is that of a corner starting OF for a poor baseball team. His age-based stats, advanced and otherwise, state this loudly.He is likely a 4th OF on a mediocre to average team. That's a valuable role, so I don't mean it as a slight, but it's nothing to get excited about, and you don't replace guys with upside with someone like Cave unless it's a very temporary situation.

 

Kepler, Buxton, and even Rosario may not come close to their ceilings, but I would never give up their ABs to someone who's almost certainly an MLB mediocrity. Giving up on Kepler or Buxton in favor of Jake Cave would be exactly the type of mistake the old regime would make (see Aaron Hicks, David Ortiz). I really doubt the new guys are as clueless. Cave was a fine pickup for this team, but if the Twins dropped him from the 40 (don't worry, they won't), I wouldn't blink other than to wonder why we didn't get a little something for him.

 

I'll add: the Yankees would never have dumped Kepler or Buxton. Not a chance in the world.

Disagree with you both conceptually and on the evidence. Cave's stats this year are the most relevant and they don't suggest 4th OF on a mediocre to average team unless you look at Kepler's stats and consider him a AAA player. Cave's stats are substantially BETTER than Kepler has been able to put up in 3 years of starting. You can't upgrade Kepler or downgrade Cave based on their actual performance this year in Cave's case and over 3 years in Kepler's case. The fact Cave couldn't crack the OF in New York where they have 2 legit stars is not really meaningful. Organizations misjudge talent all the time and have different needs and opportunities. The Twins getting him from the Yankees is nothing more than a data point on his abilities and one outweighed by actual performance. 

 

Now there is a legitimate argument over who of the 3 non-established OFs have the highest ceilings and which two get the first crack at starting next year assuming there is no FA added. Buxton has the highest ceiling, no question. Worst performance, but most potential so he needs to start from the get go. So the question is who starts first, Kepler or Cave. If you go by last year's performance, the answer is easily Cave. I think this is especially true because Kepler has performed in a very similar fashion for 3 full time years now and was worse this year than in the past by many measures. Having said that, whoever doesn't start isn't goping to get "dumped" , he's going to be the 4th Of or, if it's Kepler and Mauer retires, he'll be the 1B in tandem with Austin.

 

Let's not move the goal posts here by saying that unless we start a Kepler or Sano every day we are giving up on them. Nobody is arguing that. My argument is that you give players an opportunity aand then play them based on performance. Kepler has had an 3 year opportuity and been consistently blow average at the plate. Cave has had a smaller opportunity and showed himself to be an above average hitter. Kepler is the better fielder but frankly it's pretty close and i would argue that Cave is bettter in CF. Molitor seemed to agree last year. Cave should get the first opportunity to start. Kepler gets a lesser OF opportunity plus some time at 1B and DH. Cave may bomb and Kepler then gets another full itme OF shot. Frankly though, if Kepler continues to be what's he's been the last 3 years - a .737 or less OPS plus a 96 or less OPS+ guy, we need to look for a replacement. That isn't good enough for a corner OF.

 

By the way, if the Yankees gave Kepler 3 years at his stats (they wouldn't have given him that long)they absolutely would have dumped him. They don't tolerate mediocrity over the long term if they can improve. Unfortunately, the Twins do. Maybe that's why the Yankees seem to play better than the Twins.  

Edited by LA VIkes Fan, 05 October 2018 - 11:50 AM.


#62 Teflon

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 01:55 PM

Just curious - what is the actual age when "so-and-so is only X years old" stops being a reasonable rationalization? Does the number of consecutive years it is used matter?

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#63 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 02:01 PM

 

Just curious - what is the actual age when "so-and-so is only X years old" stops being a reasonable rationalization? Does the number of consecutive years it is used matter?

 

I'm guessing 27 is still the make or break year, even though some guys break out after that. 


#64 Riverbrian

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 02:34 PM

 

 

He was dumped by the Yankees. Not the worst thing, but understand what this means. Most other teams dumping him would mean that his chances of steady contribution anywhere are almost nil. The Yankees dumping him doesn't mean that, because the Yankees have stars and really good players. But there's no way that the Yankees just dump a first division starting outfielder. 

 

 

The A's dumped Max Muncy. They are kicking themselves right now. 

The Cards would love to Voit back. 

The Astros dumped JD Martinez.

The Mets dumped Justin Turner. 

The Brewers dumped Scooter Gennett

The Indians dumped Jesus Aguilar

The Giants threw in Francisco Liriano. 

The Twins dumped David Ortiz and Aaron Hicks(kinda) as you mentioned. 

 

I'm not claiming that Cave will be any of those guys but teams make mistakes like this all the time. I'm not even claiming that Max Muncy will be one of those guys in the future but Max will be given a fair shot to try again next year. 

 

Personally... I am long past the point of believing that any team has this down cold. I no longer believe that causalities of other organizations is some sort of indicator of future. I believe the margins are razor thin and I believe that opportunity is the key to success or failure and I believe that players get blocked watching some guy with potential struggle wayyy too often... especially in Minnesota.  

 

40 man roster pressure forces teams to make these razor thin decisions constantly and sometimes they spit out the wrong guy. 

 

If Cave beats out Buxton... Cave gets the playing time as far as I'm concerned. 

 

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#65 Jacksson

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 02:58 PM

Each and every Twin who is on the 40 man roster And any Twin projected to the 40 man roster needs to be given an off season to do list. The organization needs to follow-up with each one to ensure that they are indeed working on said list. The Twin's organization needs to have a "PLAN" for each of those players.

#66 TheLeviathan

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 03:05 PM

Just curious - what is the actual age when "so-and-so is only X years old" stops being a reasonable rationalization? Does the number of consecutive years it is used matter?


TK used to say 1,000 PA's is the time to make judgements. I think that is a good bar in general.

Edited by TheLeviathan, 05 October 2018 - 03:05 PM.


#67 birdwatcher

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 03:10 PM

 

Sano and Buxton are two different cases and should not be treated the same. 

 

Apples and pineapples.

 

I think everyone understands that their productivity problems differ. I contend that the Twins need to have the same goal for them, which is to identify the barriers to productivity and remove them to the best of their ability, and then pretty much sink or swim with what they give you for 2018.

 

No one has a grip right now on exactly what those obstacles to performance are. Falvey and Levine have said as much. I think you're understating and oversimplifying the problem when you say Sano is just fine when he's healthy and in shape. Despite the overall career numbers mentioned, Sano has been wildly erratic and he's had some stretches at the plate where you're left wondering when he had the frontal lobotomy. I think too many times he'd be the last player you'd want to see come up with a bat in his hand, times when his cluelessness had nothing to do with being out of shape or injured. Although I certainly could be wrong about this, we heard plenty of comments from Paulie and others criticizing his approach that hint that his hitting issues go beyond the physical.

 

Personally, while I agree that Sano's offensive talent is superior to Buxtons when you gauge it by the measurements you used, I'm not sure solving his issues is any less of a challenge than solving Buxton's.

Edited by birdwatcher, 05 October 2018 - 03:36 PM.

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#68 USAFChief

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 04:00 PM

This is the perfect time to move Sano to first base. The position is open, and while we'd all like to see him remain at 3rd, it's time to just bite the bullet, put him somewhere permanently, and let the process work itself out. He'll either hit, or he won't. That's where his value is at anyway.

 

He'll have fewer physical demands (and the rod in his leg isn't going anywhere), and perhaps can just worry about hitting.

 

Perhaps 150 games/yr at first is physically possible. I wonder if we'll ever see that at third. The simple truth is, the Twins need a healthy and productive Sano in the middle of their lineup, there really aren't many decent alternative. Put him there for the next couple years and let it play out. If he fails, that's bad, but at least they'll know, and hopefully there won't be all these other issues on the side. 

 

And truthfully, without both Buxton and Sano performing pretty well, I don't see how the Twins get anywhere over the next few seasons. They need help, of course, but there just aren't enough way above average players on hand to overcome these two failing.

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#69 Thrylos

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 05:25 PM

 

Career bWAR:
Sano: 5.0
Buxton 6.9

Defense, baserunning, and position matter too.

 

WAR is positional.It uses different constants for different positions. Thus comparing centerfielders with third basemen is like comparing applesauce with guacamole.

Edited by Thrylos, 05 October 2018 - 05:25 PM.

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#70 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 06:44 PM

 

Of 458 MLB players who had 90 PA or more, Buxton was 457th in OPS.

He was 458th in wRC+ and wOBA. Dead last.

He is a great fielder, but something extraordinary needs to happen with his bat in order for him to be an asset to this team. No team in the AL can afford to have an automatic out in the lineup.

 

*edit - he was 457th in all 3 categories. Alas...

How about requiring Buxton to learn how to bunt better in spring training and then insist that he do so at least once a game.? Would that be extraordinary enough? With his speed, I think so.

Edited by tarheeltwinsfan, 05 October 2018 - 06:45 PM.

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#71 Riverbrian

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 07:07 PM

 

How about requiring Buxton to learn how to bunt better in spring training and then insist that he do so at least once a game.? Would that be extraordinary enough? With his speed, I think so.

 

I don't know about the once a game requirement but he certainly has to let the other team know that the club is in his bag and he knows how to use it. 

 

He's a pull hitter. Making a 3B creep up out of respect will open up more space to shoot balls through. 

 

First and foremost though. Contact... the guy has to improve his contact rate immensely. 

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#72 jorgenswest

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 07:14 PM

If anyone is projecting Cave based on his OPS and WAR they should add that the sample in his half season is not enough to be reliable.

His strike out and walk ratios should be a concern. We have to wonder if he can hit lefties well. Scaling his numbers to a full season makes even less sense when his data is disproportionately skewed to right handed pitching.

He is a reasonable fall back option for Kepler or Buxton but his OPS/WAR do not project reliably forward.
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#73 Thrylos

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 07:15 PM

 

If anyone is projecting Cave based on his OPS and WAR they should add that the sample in his half season is not enough to be reliable.

His strike out and walk ratios should be a concern. We have to wonder if he can hit lefties well. Scaling his numbers to a full season makes even less sense when his data is disproportionately skewed to right handed pitching.

He is a reasonable fall back option for Kepler or Buxton but his OPS/WAR do not project reliably forward.

 

I hope that you realize that the size of Buxton's "good" sample is even smaller than Cave's...

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#74 jorgenswest

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 07:40 PM

 

I hope that you realize that the size of Buxton's "good" sample is even smaller than Cave's...

I do know that both his strike out rate and walk rates over his full 2017 season were better than Cave's 2018 rates. I do know that he is far superior defensively. I would guess if you could go back and pull a sample from the end of the 2017 season back to match Cave's sample size he would have more WAR but I don't think WAR should support any argument at that sample. I do know that Buxton's sample would not be selective like Cave's where his data is skewed due to sitting disproportionately against left handed pitching.

 

 

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#75 Riverbrian

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Posted 06 October 2018 - 07:03 AM

 

If anyone is projecting Cave based on his OPS and WAR they should add that the sample in his half season is not enough to be reliable.

His strike out and walk ratios should be a concern. We have to wonder if he can hit lefties well. Scaling his numbers to a full season makes even less sense when his data is disproportionately skewed to right handed pitching.

He is a reasonable fall back option for Kepler or Buxton but his OPS/WAR do not project reliably forward.

 

This isn't quite fair to Jake Cave. 

 

You are absolutely correct when you say that his sample is not reliable. 

 

But then you go on to say that he does not project reliably forward? Based on an unreliable sample?

 

You were correct... the sample is not reliable. 

 

Buxton on the other hand... 979 AB's... He's entering arbitration. Much more reliable data in my opinion. 

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#76 jorgenswest

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Posted 06 October 2018 - 07:37 AM

This isn't quite fair to Jake Cave. 
 
You are absolutely correct when you say that his sample is not reliable. 
 
But then you go on to say that he does not project reliably forward? Based on an unreliable sample?
 
You were correct... the sample is not reliable. 
 
Buxton on the other hand... 979 AB's... He's entering arbitration. Much more reliable data in my opinion.


My objection is using slash stats and WAR to support an argument for or against Cave’s future value. WAR does a good job of talking about the past but at his sample helps little looking forward.

The Twins need to look forward and there are good reasons (strike outs and walks) to be concerned about both bats. The one valuable asset to count on is Buxton’s defense.
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#77 Riverbrian

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Posted 06 October 2018 - 07:55 AM

 

My objection is using slash stats and WAR to support an argument for or against Cave’s future value. WAR does a good job of talking about the past but at his sample helps little looking forward.

The Twins need to look forward and there are good reasons (strike outs and walks) to be concerned about both bats. The one valuable asset to count on is Buxton’s defense.

 

On that we are agreed. Just making sure you were not trying to have it both ways.:)

 

I'm just in a "what are you doing for us right now" mode and Cave is doing much more right now. 

 

Honestly... Cave has options so we have time with him... Rochester would be the perfect place to start 2019.

 

I'd like to see the Twins bring in a bigger splashier OF name.  

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#78 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 07 October 2018 - 10:55 AM

 

this, I wouldn't write off Kepler just yet. The approach is legit. The results so far have not been. He doesn't seem to make enough good contact. I suspect if he continues on this path, the results will follow... perhaps he should spend some time with AK's dad... and Kepler has shown enough flashes to indicate that he could be much better than a complimentary piece. 

I'm a fan of Cave over Kepler but I agree with you here - it's waaaay too early to write off any of these guys. The "roster flexibility" key here will be to get all of them 500+ ABs next year so they can continue to develop or not. Let's be honest, this team isn't that good. It's time for the turnover of talent and to give the young guys some run. That should be this team's 2019 Number 1 priority. 

 

We need to find 500+ ABs for each of the following - Polanco, Sano, Buxton, Cave, Kepler, Garver and Austin. 2-3 of those guys can get their ABs in the OF along with Rosario, Sano plays 3B, Kepler plays 1B if Mauer retires, if not he's a part time 1B/DH/OF, Cave plays RF/DH, Buxton CF, Garver C/DH and Auston 1B/DH. Polanco plays 2B if we get a real SS, SS if we don't. Add Castro at C and that's your basic lineup for next year. 

 

Here's what we DO do:

 

1.Get a middle infielder to pair with Polanco, with Adrianza on the bench. Igelsias would be great at SS. If not, trade for Starlin Castro from Miami to play 2B with Polanco at SS.  

2.Try to get Escobar back either as the full time 2B or as part of a 3B/1B/DH grouping with some time at 2B or SS to rest guys. If that means no room for Adrianza so be it. 

3. Get PITCHING, PITCHING AND MORE PITCHING. We need Starters, a closer, late inning and middle relief guys. We have half a good staff maybe. Maybe.At best we have 1 top of rotation starter, 1 middle, 1 back end, and 2 young guys who might be 5th starters next year.In the BP, we have 3 relievers and that assumes Hildenberger is better than his last 2 months or Reed comes back strong. That's it. We need a lot more.  

4. Be willing to trade to get what we need, including trading any pitcher not named Romero or Graterol.

 

Here's what we DON'T do. We don't:

 

1. Get an aging DH type - will make it impossible to get everybody enough ABs to develop.  

2. Bring in mediocre or aging vets to fill holes. That means no Dozier, no Forsythe, no Morrison and sadly, no Santana (although I'd love him back if he was healthy and could be the 2016 or 2017 Santana. I just don't think that's possible).

3. Hire an old school manager who sacrifices development for wins. 

 

I see next year as a little like 2017. No real high expectations but the possibility that we could be pleasantly surprised, but at it's core a development year.  

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#79 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 07 October 2018 - 11:14 AM

 

 

 

I'd be fine with Nelson Cruz for DH... He may be aging, but he's aged quite well. 

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#80 Kelly Vance

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Posted 07 October 2018 - 12:11 PM

 

This. Hurts... Badly, it hurts. I am not ready to punt on Buxton-Sano. They need at least two more years. There is no other future at third base and Buxton's defense is enough alone to play him every day.

I know, right? Since when do you pivot from the best defender in baseball and a young bat that made the all star team in 2017 with 28 homers in 2/3 of a season?  I don't get all the hate for two guys that played with injuries and had off seasons. They will be back and those who say they should be ditched will be bragging about having watched them to their grand kids 

Edited by Kelly Vance, 07 October 2018 - 12:12 PM.




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