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Article: 4 Creative Tweaks the Twins Can Make to Get Better

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#41 SomeGuy

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 09:03 AM

Instead of having Kepler play 1B and signing an OF/DH, wouldn't we be better off signing someone who could play a position other than 1B or RF?Seems silly to have a "versatile" player playing positions that we are already flush at.

 

Someone like Jed Lowrie, who closely resembles Bellingers ouput last year, would get us someone who can play 2B and 3B.A position of need and a position of doubt.

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#42 Mike Sixel

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 09:06 AM

 

Romero only got to 145 innings last year. I think a plan that targets more than 165 or so is unlikely to come to fruition. If he’s in the rotation for 32 starts, that’s only 5 innings per start, which is less than ideal.

In an earlier post, I suggested using him as the designated reliever for Odorizzi’s first 10 or so starts, with the intention of him finishing the game. Assuming he’s been effective, then slide him into the rotation at the next appropriate time (the next injury or suckage on the part of one of the starters). It may take a couple of starts to restretch him out from 3-4 innings to being a full-time starter, since he was probably throwing about 60 pitches or so, but that’s not insurmountable. Maybe a time or two in those first 10 games, you pull Odo after 4 innings to keep Romero stretched out a bit.

That’s probably about 35 innings in relief, leaving about 130 innings for the remaining 22 times through the rotation, which is close to 6 innings per start, closer to what we’re looking for. It also holds out the opportunity of him still being available in a playoff run. If he’s in the rotation from the beginning, I don’t think it’s realistic to have much left in October if we get there.

Berrios, Odo, Pineda, Gibson, Mejia, by the way. I’ve separated Berrios and Gibson since they are the most likely to go deep enough to give the bullpen a break. I’d be glad to upgrade from Mejia. I’d also be okay with targeting this group as the rotation for the first 50 games or so, which gives enough time to see whether it’s worth going after a rental.

And while I’m at it, I’ll take David Robertson (3/$33M) as my highest priority and one more from among Familia, Britton, and Ottovino (same), plus a flier on Soria (1/$10 + option 1/$8M).

Offensively, success largely rises and falls on Buxton and Sano, so my primary focus is on 2B with Cron in the hopper.

 

I have no idea why he couldn't pitch more innings than that......but, here is something to consider.....only 50 pitchers pitched more than 170 innings last year.....so pitching 170 isn't some demerit. It just is how the league works. There is no reason to not use him as a starter, from an innings perspective at least.

 

 

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


#43 Nick Nelson

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 09:10 AM

 

May started missing time once he went to the pen... That's why some of us want him starting :)

He was sidelined for a bit with back issues (for the first time) but still made 48 total appearances that season. Prior to the Twins trying him in the bullpen he'd pretty much never missed a start in his pro career (I think he had a minor calf injury in like 2014). So the previous comment about a "career of breakdowns" seems quite off-the-mark to me. I'm not sure everyone fully understands just how durable May has been in his career outside of those two (arguably fluky) injuries. And he looked as strong as ever by the end of this year.

 

 

Instead of having Kepler play 1B and signing an OF/DH, wouldn't we be better off signing someone who could play a position other than 1B or RF?Seems silly to have a "versatile" player playing positions that we are already flush at.

They're not mutually exclusive ideas. I would hardly say the Twins are "flush" at 1B.

 

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#44 Mike Sixel

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 09:11 AM

 

May and Romero (along with Mejia) can be very good starters for 5 innings but then they break down. This puts loads of pressure on the bullpen. Thus, they can all be used either as short starters or long (middle) relievers. My biggest problem is the manager taking a relief pitcher out after pitching a solid inning. You use up your bullpen that way and they eventually become tired and ineffective. That has happened to us over the past years. I like Astudillo as a super sub type guy who can lead off for us.

 

the median start in the majors last year was 5.1 innings......starters don't go long anymore. They just don't.

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


#45 Steve Lein

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 09:12 AM

I'm on board with 3.5 of these ideas.

 

1. Being someone who has campaigned for Kepler to play some at 1B, I like this. He wouldn't primarily play there, but a platoon doesn't have to equal one of the guys sitting on the bench every game. You could have Austin/Cron at 1B vs. lefties, Kepler there some days vs. righties. I'm thinking 110 games in the OF, 40 at 1B type of thing. Versatility is a good thing and would let someone like Cave get more run.

 

2. I think people have fallen too much in love with Romero's "stuff" or the things they read about it. I think he's going to end up in the bullpen anyway. He barely averaged 5 innings per start MLB last year, and only 5 1/2 innings in his MiLB ones. This is what his entire career has been, solid numbers in limited innings because he doesn't get deep into games as he can't consistently maintain that stuff (he only struck out 6.8/9IP at Triple A last year...). Switch the premises of Romero and the next guy's point, and you might be onto something though.

 

3. Rather than starting or using May as a "primary," I'd just unleash him as your fireman. Need multiple innings from him after a short start? Use him. Need to shut down a threat in the 6th or 7th? Use him. Up by one in the 8th facing heart of an order? Use him. I think you could get 80-100 innings out of him this way if you wanted. But I like him in the 'pen.

 

4. Yes. Do it.

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Scouting Report: Power: 30, Hitting: 50, Arm: 60, Defense: 45, Speed: 45. "Line drive swing and shows good contact and on-base abilities. Double's power at his peak. Strong arm from 2B or the OF, stiff hands. Not a fast runner, but above average instincts on the bases. Skinny body doesn't look the part, but will sneak up on you. ACL surgery sapped much of his athleticism." (Probably)

#46 Mike Sixel

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 09:13 AM

I like how people believe in Cron, but have decided a much younger Kepler is a finished product offensively.....

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


#47 Tom Froemming

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 09:13 AM

Fun article.

 

If the Twins are trying to win in 2019, Fernando Romero to the bullpen makes a ton of sense. Long term? That's really difficult to say without knowing whether they're going to be willing to extend Gibson, sign free agents or trade for starters. The 2020 rotation is looking really thin (no Gibby, no Odorizzi, no Pineda).

 

I'd do it. If your season goes down the tank, you can always send Romero back down, stretch him out and get him ready to start again in 2020.

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#48 Riverbrian

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 09:16 AM

May started missing time once he went to the pen... That's why some of us want him starting :)



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#49 Sconnie

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 09:42 AM

 

I use Kepler as an example of the idea. If Rosario could play IF it wouldn’t be necessary to move Kepler. If Austin could play OF. DH opens for a bunch of different matchup moves. I’m not going to get tied to one specific player but I am tied to the concept.

On Astudillo. I love the guy. He should have gotten at least a hundred more AB’s with us last year. I want the team stacked with enough talent that players with options have to Knock down the door to make the roster.

Rosario (2B), Austin (OF), and Cron (3B OF) all have history of playing on other parts of the field in the minor leagues. Curious why that stopped when they got to the bigs...


#50 ashburyjohn

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 09:46 AM

Cody Bellinger is not a very good comp for Kepler. Bellinger's a first baseman who hits like one; if you put him in CF as a tactical move, say to get Max Muncy's bat into the game, the hope is that Bellinger's bat really outshines other CFers and compensates for a marginal glove. (I still don't understand LA's roster well enough to see why you wouldn't put him in a corner OF spot and use someone else in CF, but it may just go to show that all of this is second-order effects.)

 

Kepler may yet achieve that level of hitting, but right now he's pretty much the opposite player. If he's not using his OF skills, a lot of his value is wasted.

 

I am all for positional flexibility. But from a given player's perspective, it's to give him somewhere to play when the team has 3 better outfielders, say, than himself. We aren't close to that in the case of Kepler, or at least I don't like Cave or Rosario better than him.

 

Flexibility is good in the abstract, and if (say) Cron goes down with an injury mid-game, and Austin is DHing already, telling Kep to go grab a first-baseman's glove for the remainder of the game sits just fine with me.

 

But while an overall flexible strategy is fine, it still comes down to specific games. And if I'm writing out a lineup that has Kep at 1B, an instant improvement is to swap him to an outfield spot and let the other outfielder be positionally-flexible and handle 1B duties that game. That will remain true, even if Kep improves at bat and starts to hit like a first-baseman too, until the day his OF skill eventually erodes.

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#51 Riverbrian

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 09:56 AM

Rosario (2B), Austin (OF), and Cron (3B OF) all have history of playing on other parts of the field in the minor leagues. Curious why that stopped when they got to the bigs...


I’m some cases it may be ability and some cases it is about the quickest access but the majority of cases (in my opinion) its because of an arcane sense of specialization.
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#52 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 09:58 AM

 

I'm not really interested in moving Romero to the bullpen or having May start. He's was mediocre as a starter to begin with and has shown a lot of promise in the bullpen.  Plus the Twins have a ton of 4 - 5 type starters so they don't need another one.

 

I'd love to see Kepler at first against righties which would allow Cave to start in right. I would also love to see Astudillo get regular playing time next season. Sounds like he's playing well in during winter ball. 

This. It would be great to add another OF/DH bat, but let's not forget about Cave. He was better than Kepler last year and frankly if merit is the basis for playing time - Cave starts in RF or CF next season and Kepler or Buxton sits on the bench. Realistically, that means Kepler sits at least until Buxton gets hurt again and/or flames out at the plate. 

 

Moving Kepler to 1B at least part time is a great idea. It's really the only way we can get 500 plus ABS for four players who deserve them in this order based on past performance- Cave, Cron, Kepler and Austin. Those 4 are your RF/1B/DH grouping unless we can get a McCutchen or Brantley type and then we use one of the 4 as part of a trade for pitching or try to sneak Austin through waivers as AAA insurance/depth. Bottom line is if Cave plays like last year (and he gets the first shot at showing well since he was a better player than Kepler last year) and Buxton hits enough to be the everyday CF, Kepler is the odd man out. Playing him as a 4th OF/DH/1B gives him enough ABs to show that he's a better hitter than he's shown so far - something he needs to show THIS year. If he's not, he's a great 4th OF/depth guy on a good team or starting OF on a mediocre or worse team. Guys like Kepler whose last 3 years OPS are .734, .737 and .727 are NOT starting qulaity corner OFs on a contending team.  

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#53 Mike Sixel

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 10:00 AM

 

This. It would be great to add another OF/DH bat, but let's not forget about Cave. He was better than Kepler last year and frankly if merit is the basis for playing time - Cave starts in RF or CF next season and Kepler or Buxton sits on the bench. Realistically, that means Kepler sits at least until Buxton gets hurt again and/or flames out at the plate. 

 

Moving Kepler to 1B at least part time is a great idea. It's really the only way we can get 500 plus ABS for four players who deserve them in this order based on past performance- Cave, Cron, Kepler and Austin. Those 4 are your RF/1B/DH grouping unless we can get a McCutchen or Brantley type and then we use one of the 4 as part of a trade for pitching or try to sneak Austin through waivers as AAA insurance/depth. Bottom line is if Cave plays like last year (and he gets the first shot at showing well since he was a better player than Kepler last year) and Buxton hits enough to be the everyday CF, Kepler is the odd man out. Playing him as a 4th OF/DH/1B gives him enough ABs to show that he's a better hitter than he's shown so far - something he needs to show THIS year. If he's not, he's a great 4th OF/depth guy on a good team or starting OF on a mediocre or worse team. Guys like Kepler whose last 3 years OPS are .734, .737 and .727 are NOT starting qulaity corner OFs on a contending team.  

 

I hope they are making decsions based on the future, not past.......this team isn't winning squat if Buxton isn't great and playing. Cron and Cave combined can't produce what a great Buxton can. And, if Buxton is bad, those two can't produce enough to make up for it....not for a playoff team.

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


#54 B Good

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 10:05 AM

I'm late to the game and didn't have time to read thru all the comments, but love the idea of Romero in the bullpen for a season or two.Johan Santana did not become a full-time starter until his 5th season with the Twins.Seemed to work out pretty well for him and the Twins.Let Romero learn in the pen and mature, and if things work out, move him back to a starter down the road.  

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#55 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 10:12 AM

 

I hope they are making decsions based on the future, not past.......this team isn't winning squat if Buxton isn't great and playing. Cron and Cave combined can't produce what a great Buxton can. And, if Buxton is bad, those two can't produce enough to make up for it....not for a playoff team.

I don't disagree. Buxton and Sano are still the keys to having a good team. When we talk about Cave, Kepler, Cron and Austin we're talking about complimentary peices - guys who hit in the 5, 6 ,7 holes behind a strong 2-3-4 Combo. Sano has to be an integral part of the that 2-3-4 combo with Rosario and Polanco(?) and we need Buxton in the OF. What i'm really talking about is who amongst the 4 or 5 complimentary peices we now have for the 5-7 slots should get the time. Based BOTH on past perfomance and projected future I think it's Cave, then Cron, then Kepler, then Austin and I'd like to see us pick up someone better than all of them and move them all down a notch. None of that changes the reality that for this team to have a championship caliber offense Sano needs to be a strong middle of the order bat and play a decent 3B, and for this team to have a championship caliber defense Buxton needs to play CF, not get hurt all the time, and hit enough not be a drag on the lineup.  

 

The essential reality at the moment is that the Twins need Sano and Buxton to step way up while the rest don't step back or we'll be stuck in mediocrity land again. Nothing that's happened this offseason so far changes that. 

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#56 terrydactyls1947

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 10:22 AM

For all who insist that RF defensive is more important than 1B defense, here is something to ponder. In 2018, major league right fielders averaged 2.04 chances per nine innings and 1.95 outs. Also in 2018, major league first basemen averaged 8.65 chances per nine innings and 8.00 outs. Four times the chances and four times the outs. Please don't underestimate the importance of a good first baseman.
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#57 Nick Nelson

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 10:27 AM

 

For all who insist that RF defensive is more important than 1B defense, here is something to ponder. In 2018, major league right fielders averaged 2.04 chances per nine innings and 1.95 outs. Also in 2018, major league first basemen averaged 8.65 chances per nine innings and 8.00 outs. Four times the chances and four times the outs. Please don't underestimate the importance of a good first baseman.

Good point that's being downplayed here. Neither Cron nor Austin are very good defensively. So while you might lose a bit in the outfield on days Kepler plays first, the gains you're likely making in the infield matter -- especially if there's a GB-centric pitcher on the mound.


#58 Mike Sixel

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 10:38 AM

 

For all who insist that RF defensive is more important than 1B defense, here is something to ponder. In 2018, major league right fielders averaged 2.04 chances per nine innings and 1.95 outs. Also in 2018, major league first basemen averaged 8.65 chances per nine innings and 8.00 outs. Four times the chances and four times the outs. Please don't underestimate the importance of a good first baseman.

 

That's not how it works........plays in the OF are MUCH more difficult than plays at 1B. The data is clear, there just isn't much difference between ok defense at 1B, and great defense at first, but there are huge discrepancies in the OF.

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


#59 ashburyjohn

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 10:46 AM

For all who insist that RF defensive is more important than 1B defense, here is something to ponder. In 2018, major league right fielders averaged 2.04 chances per nine innings and 1.95 outs. Also in 2018, major league first basemen averaged 8.65 chances per nine innings and 8.00 outs. Four times the chances and four times the outs. Please don't underestimate the importance of a good first baseman.

 

Good point that's being downplayed here. Neither Cron nor Austin are very good defensively. So while you might lose a bit in the outfield on days Kepler plays first, the gains you're likely making in the infield matter -- especially if there's a GB-centric pitcher on the mound.

I think the flaw here is that not all chances are equal. It's true that a majority of RF chances are cans of corn. But the majority of chances at 1B are also routine. The batter at least is trying to hit something that a RFer can't get to; the shortstop throwing to first is trying to give the 1Bman something he can handle.

 

Also, the consequences of a poor play at 1B are not as great as in RF. The batter could easily end up on third base with a muff in RF, or sometimes go all the way home. Also anyone already on base has a better chance of grabbing an extra base if the missed ball has to come in from the outfield, than if the first baseman can somewhat corral it or if (say) the catcher is backing things up.

 

If I can't have both, I'll trade 1B prowess for RF prowess any day of the week.

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#60 JLease

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Posted 28 November 2018 - 10:48 AM

Yeah, just not loving the idea of putting Kepler at 1B, I mean I guess it might be better than having him DH as a way to get more LH hitters in the lineup because his size and athleticism should translate well there, but man...we're doing it for Jake Cave?

 

I guess I wouldn't care about it for 10-12 games, but I'm hoping Kepler improves offensively and coupled with his elite D can be a mainstay in the OF. but he needs to hit, because if his hitting doesn't improve it's hard to justify his bat at any other position. People haven't been happy with Mauer's production at 1B, and Joe was elite defensively. We don't know if Max could match that D (maybe with enough play time?) and he's hit worse than Mauer the last three years and it's not really close.

 

I do like the idea of letting Astudillo get 500 ABs, though. This lineup could use another high BA guy and it'd be fun as hell to see if he can be one of those guys who can get away with hacking at everything because he just hits it. Super utility guy who can hit over .300? sign me up.

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