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Article: Rundown: Judy From Big Lake, Baldelli-Buxton Meeting and More

byron buxton miguel sano willians astudillo brian dozier j.a. happ
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#1 Tom Froemming

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 11:00 AM

The Twins held a Fan Forum for season ticket holders last week and made the audio available on their site. The entire forum lasted more than an hour and included some really great contributions from the fans, but the final question fielded was particularly strong. At about the 59-minute mark Judy from Big Lake asked this:

“First of all, I wanted to tell you what a horribly disappointing season this was for season-ticket holders; and I want to know how long do you think it’s going to be before you put a competitive team back on the field?”Wow, Judy bringing it! That’s both scorching and direct, exactly the kind of stuff that makes these fan forums unique. The team deserves some credit for allowing that question to come through. They could have very easily rejected her request, I’m sure there were many more fans waiting in the queue who didn’t have the opportunity to ask their questions.

Thad Levine apologized for what transpired last season and admitted the season didn’t go the way they had hoped it would. He added this:

“Our goal and our commitment to the fans is we want to put together a team that has the ability to complete year-in and year-out and have a long window for success. So we’re clearly in the building process – we’re not rebuilding, we’re building – and I think we’re building off of the successes of each of the last two seasons with the hope that we’ll take a meaningful step here in 2019.”

I’m not sure how Judy from Big Lake received that, but I’m guessing any Twins fans thirsty for success weren’t exactly swept off their feet by that answer.

Derek Falvey and new Twins manager Rocco Baldelli were also on the call. One of my favorite exchanges from Baldelli included this quote: “I tend to be curious and like to surround myself with curious people who like to stay open minded.” He also stressed creating a fun atmosphere and making sure the players enjoy showing up to work every day.

Here are some other interesting items of note to come out of the forum:
-Baldelli is going to try to get down to Georgia over the winter to visit with Byron Buxton.
-Miguel Sano will continue to get every chance to play third base.
-While Levine rained praise upon Willians Astudillo for both his performance and clubhouse presence, he also said “he’s going to need to earn it again,” implying he’s not being penciled into the Opening Day roster.
-Falvey anticipates some changes revolving pace of play going into next year. He didn’t make any predictions as to what they may be, but he made it sound like nothing was off the table for the upcoming Winter Meetings.

In his column for the Pioneer Press over the weekend, Charley Walters had some quotes from Jim Pohlad that should temper expectations for this offseason. Here’s what Pohlad said regarding Joe Mauer’s contract coming off the books: “It’s not like ‘OK, we’ve got this money now, and we didn’t have it before, so we can do so much more. I don’t feel that way.”

The stove has been extremely cold so far this offseason, but since there have been so few moves, the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook remains very fresh. Just a reminder that the handbook is available as a PDF at whatever price you’re willing to pay.

I’m also very happy to report that the Twins Prospect Handbook is progressing along quite nicely. There were a ton of additions to the minor league system at the trade deadline, so you’re definitely going to want to pick up a copy of this year’s edition to study up on all the new names.

Speaking of prospects, Mike Berardino recorded a podcast for Baseball America in which he and Kyle Glaser reviewed his top 10 prospect list. Of course there was a lot of talk about the individual prospects on the list, but they also opened things up for a big-picture discussion on where the Twins are headed and made some good observations.

Paul Sporer of FanGraphs took a look at what went wrong for Brian Dozier in 2018. I doubt a reunion with the Twins is in the cards, but Dozier does seem to be a really good buy-low option among this year’s crop of free agents.

The first huge move of the offseason went down last night (no offense, Eduardo Escobar), as Jeff Passan of Yahoo reported the Yankees had a deal in place to acquire lefty starter James Paxton from the Mariners. Seattle won 89 games last season and Paxton still has two seasons of team control, though he’s projected to make $9 million through arbitration this upcoming year and obviously more than that in 2020. Still, I don’t think it’s a good thing in the grand scheme of things that a competitive team from the prior year is already apparently throwing in the towel for 2019.

The Yankees gave up MLB Pipeline’s No. 31 overall prospect in baseball Justus Sheffield and two more players in Erik Swanson and Dom Thompson-Williams who both slot in as top-15 prospects in the Mariners’ system. Given Sheffield’s prospect status and the fact that he already reached the Major Leagues it’s difficult to come up with a similar package the Twins could have offered had they been interested in Paxton.

MLB Trade Rumors held a reader poll on where the top 10 free agents would sign. More than 6,800 people voted and the only player the Twins had more than two percent on was J.A. Happ. Minnesota was the destination selected for him 3.1 percent of the time, which trailed the Yankees (30.9), Blue Jays (9.2), Angels (8.2), Brewers (6.5), Phillies (4.7), Astros (4.4) and Nationals (3.7).

Along with all the free agents already available on the open market, several more players will be added to the pool of available talent shorty. Brandon Warne highlighted some intriguing names who could be non-tendered over at Zone Coverage. I thought he made a particularly compelling argument for current Marlin Derek Dietrich, pointing out that he’s actually been a better hitter than Marwin Gonzalez over his career and brings comparable positional flexibility.

Former Twins prospect Chih-Wei Hu has joined a division rival. He was traded from the Rays to Cleveland on Monday. Originally sent to Tampa Bay in the Kevin Jepsen trade, Hu has pitched to a 3.52 ERA in 23 innings with the Rays over the past two seasons.

Ballpark Digest honored the Twins with their Best Renovation award for Target Field’s switch from the Metropolitan Club to Bat & Barrel. I know that change rubbed some season-ticket holders the wrong way, understandably, but the difference in utility between the Met Club and Bat & Barrel is night and day.

The Met Club was mostly a giant waste of space and the few times I visited there was very little atmosphere. It was just way too stuffy. The few times I visited Bat & Barrel this past season it was a completely different vibe, it was always buzzing in there. I also love the Adam Turman murals and all the awards on display. Here’s hoping the Twins can be a repeat winner for their renovations taking place at Gate 34.

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#2 Vanimal46

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 12:03 PM

People in sports sure know how to spin the word 'rebuilding' into a positive these days... If they're not competing for a playoff spot, they're rebuilding.

Evidently now the Twins are 'building' and the Gophers football team is in 'Year 1 of building.' So positive!

Edited by Vanimal46, 20 November 2018 - 12:04 PM.

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#3 nytwinsfan

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 12:06 PM

 

In his column for the Pioneer Press over the weekend, Charley Walters had some quotes from Jim Pohlad that should temper expectations for this offseason. Here’s what Pohlad said regarding Joe Mauer’s contract coming off the books: “It’s not like ‘OK, we’ve got this money now, and we didn’t have it before, so we can do so much more.”

 

Actually, it is like that.

 

 

"I don’t feel that way.” - Jim Pohlad.

 

#$&% your feelings Jims Pohlad.

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#4 Sconnie

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 12:36 PM

 

Actually, it is like that.

 

 

#$&% your feelings Jims Pohlad.

 

 

Judy from Big Lake was spot on “First of all, I wanted to tell you what a horribly disappointing season this was for season-ticket holders; and I want to know how long do you think it’s going to be before you put a competitive team back on the field?”

 

If Pohlad would rather not spend the money to buy pieces to a good team, then how long will it take to build a good team and will we the fans continue to buy tickets, concessions and shirseys?

 

This really sounds bad in context with Mauer's retirement tribute of something to the effect of "I remember when we extended him, we were in Costa Rica on vacation" or something. 

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#5 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 12:57 PM

 

People in sports sure know how to spin the word 'rebuilding' into a positive these days... If they're not competing for a playoff spot, they're rebuilding.

Evidently now the Twins are 'building' and the Gophers football team is in 'Year 1 of building.' So positive!

First thing I thought of when I read this piece was the material you could use for the whine line... 

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#6 jkcarew

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 12:58 PM

"I don’t think it’s a good thing in the grand scheme of things that a competitive team from the prior year is already apparently throwing in the towel for 2019."

 

Welcome to the unintended, yet completely predictable, consequences of TV contracts and revenue sharing....when combined with no real regulation of team player salaries.

 

The intent of the sharing was to level the field for talent acquisition and development. But no amount of 'revenue sharing' will ever get us to 'revenue equal'. So, sharing doesn't solve for the imbalance without accompanying (and effective) governance of team salaries. Meanwhile, the real-world outcome is that...with less than 30% of revenue (on average, and shrinking) coming from gate receipts, and long-term TV contracts signed/sealed/delivered...there's precious little incentive (in any given year) for a 'small/medium' market owner to do anything other than pocket the money. It'll get worse before it gets better.

 

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#7 Mike Sixel

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 01:30 PM

Well, no surprise there. They have done nothing to make the MLB team better on long term acquisitions in the first two years, and Sano and Buxton's play last year can't make them thrilled to bother trying this year either. 

 

I hope no one buys a single ticket, frankly.

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I remain hopeful on Buxton and Sano.....but I'd not bet the franchise on them.


#8 SD Buhr

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 01:32 PM

It really was a disappointing comment by Pohlad, yet still completely predictable.

 

The bottom line is that he's satisfied with the occasional random good season. It's just so disappointing to have ownership that thinks talking about wanting to have a winning team is the same thing as committing to having a winning team.

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#9 Mike Sixel

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 01:38 PM

 

It really was a disappointing comment by Pohlad, yet still completely predictable.

 

The bottom line is that he's satisfied with the occasional random good season. It's just so disappointing to have ownership that thinks talking about wanting to have a winning team is the same thing as committing to having a winning team.

 

He doesn't even really talk about winning at all.....let alone try to win big. 

 

Maybe Portland will get a team, and I can care about baseball again. I'm only here for the conversation at this point.

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I remain hopeful on Buxton and Sano.....but I'd not bet the franchise on them.


#10 Riverbrian

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 02:09 PM

I don't have a problem with the word "building" from Thad. It's what I want... I want the team to be building every year. If they were the Red Sox... I'd want them building. All in all, the proof will come in their actions... not their words. 

 

If they coast through the off-season with a couple of low level deals and don't make any significant trades for upgrades... I'll be disappointed for sure but I'll survive it.

 

However... If we have another season where a player or players get to play every day with below .200 production at the plate and alternatives are not attempted. I won't survive that. I don't care if we sign Machado and he tanks like that, I don't care if it's Buxton tanking again and I don't care if it's Michael Reed. Every day jobs need to be given to the players who produce at a level deserving of every day play.If they think Michael Reed can do it... I'm all for it... but they better give him a chance to do it and if he fails, they better try something else. 

 

As for Baldeilli's comments on Astudillo. Perfect,,, that's the exact comment I want to hear.... "He's going to have to earn it again". If I got a manager talking about earning the job... I'm beyond happy... now I need the front office to provide that manager with a 40 man roster full of players that are capable of earning the job. 

 

Like Judy from Big Lake... I can't do it again. I can't go through another season of mediocre to terrible play being rewarded. I have never blamed the team for signing Morrison, in hindsight it was a mistake but they went for it by offering him a contract and I'd like them to keep trying that kind of stuff. However... I do blame the team for doubling down on the mistake by allowing him to contribute to the sinking of this team. 

 

Pohlad, actually everyone is just going to be white noise until I see what they actually do. It better be a 40 man roster that is fully utilized to find the players who are "PRODUCING". 

 

Yeah... and the building of a long term model of consistent competitiveness and world peace while they are at it. 

 

I'm not messing around anymore... I've seen other teams give playing time to players who are producing while lessening the playing time of those producing less... it's not hard to believe... but something that simple actually works. Imagine that, productivity increases by turning to more productive things. 

 

And I have been watching teams for decades go down with the ship with struggling players. No more of that... I'm done with it. I don't care how much money they spend... just get some players who will compete for their careers. Let them feel uncomfortable because player Y is breathing down player X's neck. Produce! 

 

They can say anything they want... I'll be watching what they do. They still have my benefit of the doubt. 

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#11 Monkeypaws

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 02:21 PM

Kinda beside the point, but Adam Turman's art is awesome.

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#12 luckylager

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 02:44 PM

 

Here’s what Pohlad said regarding Joe Mauer’s contract coming off the books: “It’s not like ‘OK, we’ve got this money now, and we didn’t have it before, so we can do so much more. I don’t feel that way.”
 

 

He continues to make stupid statements like this. Makes it very hard to continue to be a fan of his ballclub. 

 

Edited by luckylager, 20 November 2018 - 02:44 PM.

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#13 Vanimal46

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 02:53 PM



Here’s what Pohlad said regarding Joe Mauer’s contract coming off the books: “It’s not like ‘OK, we’ve got this money now, and we didn’t have it before, so we can do so much more. I don’t feel that way.”


He continues to make stupid statements like this. Makes it very hard to continue to be a fan of his ballclub.


Agreed. It also doesn't take into consideration the other $20+ million off the books as well releasing Morrison, Erv, Dozier, etc.
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#14 nicksaviking

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 02:57 PM

Baldelli and company are going to need to find a way to get more out his players than what Molitor did from the sound of it. Reinforcements do not appear imminent. 

 

I am a believer that managerial changes can have significant positive yet intangible impacts, so I don't think better baseball is out of the question by any means.


#15 Mike Sixel

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 03:08 PM

One thing is for sure, if they don't add talent, people can come here (and will) and say the team wasn't good enough to add to....it's really a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

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I remain hopeful on Buxton and Sano.....but I'd not bet the franchise on them.


#16 ND-Fan

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 03:21 PM

The Pohlad comment is what i have been saying all along that the Twins don't have as much money as to spend as people think. The Pohlads look at the Twins as business investment meaning that priority one is that the Twins maintain there rate of return to the Pohlads based on value of the club. The club in last 10 years has more than triplled in value meaning the amount of money needed to maintain same rate of return has tripled too. I believe if you used 10% rate of return the increased value of the Twins would equate to needing another 60 million dollars from revenues. This may not what people want to hear but that just plain truth about baseball it comes back to business side of the business. 

 

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#17 Mike Sixel

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 03:25 PM

 

The Pohlad comment is what i have been saying all along that the Twins don't have as much money as to spend as people think. The Pohlads look at the Twins as business investment meaning that priority one is that the Twins maintain there rate of return to the Pohlads based on value of the club. The club in last 10 years has more than triplled in value meaning the amount of money needed to maintain same rate of return has tripled too. I believe if you used 10% rate of return the increased value of the Twins would equate to needing another 60 million dollars from revenues. This may not what people want to hear but that just plain truth about baseball it comes back to business side of the business. 

 

They have plenty of money to spend. Teams sell for record amounts every time they sell. The national TV contract just went up. Mauer is off the books, as is another 20-30MM minimum. It hurts my brain how much people defend billionaire owners, who get huge tax subsidies, in not spending on the people that actually produce the product. But then, I'm kind of on the labor side of that discussion....

 

And, no, that's not how rate of return works.....

Edited by Mike Sixel, 20 November 2018 - 03:26 PM.

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I remain hopeful on Buxton and Sano.....but I'd not bet the franchise on them.


#18 gunnarthor

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 03:27 PM

OK, we know the Pohlad's are crap owners. We've always known that. And Falvey and Levine know it too. 

 

Last year, Levine made comments about not being a high-payroll team. Falvey came from Cleveland and saw how the teams were built up without using free agency. These two guys understand the issue and they've both accepted it. It's an open question as to whether they can create something like Terry Ryan managed but I'm not quite ready to give up on them. Yet. But I think we'll have to see some smart trades rather than hope for high priced talent coming in. I'm not going to dump on Levine for his comments about building. It is what it is.

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#19 Major League Ready

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 03:31 PM

We could go after Donaldson but there simply are not real good MI or 1B options that can be bought. 

 

Free agent SP has not been a good bet either. There were several 5+ year contracts in 2016. None of them have been good and now we are going into the years likely to be even less productive. 

 

Price / Age 30 / 7-217 / 4.5 / 1.6 / 2.7 for a total WAR of 8.8 and which is $10.23M/WAR

 

Greinke / Age 32 / 6-206.5 / 2.2 / 5.1 / 3.5 for a total 10.8 which is $9.72M/WAR

 

Cueto / Age 30 / 6/130 / 5.5 / 1.2 / .2 for a total of 6.9 WAR which is $12.6M/WAR

 

Zimmerman / Age 30 / 1.3 / 1.0 .9 for a total of3.2 which is $18.75M/WAR

 

Samardzia / Age 30 / 5-90 / 2.6 / 3.8 / -.2 for a total of 6.2 which is $8.7M/WAR

 

Wei-Yin Chen / Age 31 / 5-80 / .9 / .5 / 1.2 for a total of 2.6 which is $11.8M/WAR

 

Leake / Age 28 / 5-80 /2.5 / 3.2 / 2.3 for a total of 8 which is $5.5M WAR

 

Kennedy / Age 31 / 5-70 / 1.6 / -.2 / 1.0 for a total of 2.4 which is $15.4M/WAR

 

 

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#20 Vanimal46

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Posted 20 November 2018 - 03:32 PM

They have plenty of money to spend. Teams sell for record amounts every time they sell. The national TV contract just went up. Mauer is off the books, as is another 20-30MM minimum. It hurts my brain how much people defend billionaire owners, who get huge tax subsidies, in not spending on the people that actually produce the product. But then, I'm kind of on the labor side of that discussion....

And, no, that's not how rate of return works.....


Most mid-market teams like the Twins are profitable before they even step on the field because of everything you mentioned, plus revenue sharing from the big market teams. Ticket sales, concessions, and merchandise are the cherry on top of already absurd profits.
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