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Article: Mailbag: Buxton’s Leash, Likely Lineup, Ticket Sales

byron buxton cj cron tyler austin manny machado dave st. peter
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#1 Cody Christie

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Posted 28 January 2019 - 09:31 PM

TwinsFest is done and the Winter Meltdown was a resounding success. Thank you to everyone who was able to attend and make this event a great gathering of fans from throughout Twins Territory.

Even with the sub-arctic temperatures across the upper Midwest, spring training is quickly approaching. There are plenty of unanswered questions left about the Twins before the season starts.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter so you can be part of next week's mailbag.
Ideally, Byron Buxton’s leash won’t have to be tested this season. Last week, I identified Buxton’s emergence as one of the keys to the 2019 club. It’s easy to be discouraged after his 2018 season. Buxton rebuilt his body this off-season by adding 21 pounds of muscle. The extra weight can hopefully increase his durability and keep him on the field when he is bouncing off the outfield grass and crashing into centerfield walls.

Even if Buxton’s bat struggles again, he continues to provide value through his defense and base running abilities. I believe the team will bat him near the bottom of the order to keep some of the pressure off him. He needs to figure it out at the big-league level, so I think the team is going to sink or swim with Buxton in the line-up this year.


Minnesota will likely use a few different players at first base this season and the starter could be tied to the player with the hottest bat. Each of the most likely first base options were added to the roster in the last year. C.J. Cron was claimed off waivers this off-season despite a 30-home run campaign in 2018. Tyler Austin saw some action for the Twins last year after being traded from the Yankees. Miguel Sano and Mitch Garver are also possibilities to see time at first. If I’m picking the Opening Day starter now, Cron would be my pick.

As far as a replacement for Robbie Grossman, Jake Cave seems like he already started to do that last year. Cave played in 91 big league games and racked up over 300 plate appearances. He hit .269/.316/.481 with 32 extra-base hits. The club also used him at all three outfield positions, so it seems likely for him to continue to be used in a fourth outfielder role.


If the Twins are done adding players, there seems to be a pretty clear starting situation for the Twins. No one knows how Rocco Baldelli is going to approach lineup construction, but Minnesota has nine players that should be regulars.

Here’s how I would construct the Opening Day lineup:
1. Jorge Polanco- SS
2. Eddie Rosario- LF
3. Nelson Cruz- DH
4. Miguel Sano- 3B
5. CJ Cron- 1B
6. Jonathan Schoop- 2B
7. Max Kepler- RF
8. Jason Castro- C
9. Byron Buxton- CF

As I mentioned before, Tyler Austin will probably get some at-bats at first base. The second half of the lineup could be altered depending on who has the hot hand. Buxton might start the year at the bottom of the order, but it will be key for him to be batting near the top by season’s end.


This is certainly an intriguing question. In three of the last four seasons, Manny Machado has posted a WAR greater than 6.0. For the Twins, you also need to consider the players he would be replacing. Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco are currently penciled in to play on Machado’s side of the infield. As Thieres Rabelo wrote about last week, Polanco might be as potent on offense as Machado.

Polanco could slide over to second base but then he would be taking Jonathan Schoop’s spot in the line-up. Schoop was only worth 0.5 WAR last season and his career high WAR total was 3.8 back in 2017. That being said, Machado is one of the best players in the game. Over the course of 162 games, he could add 2-3 wins to the club. This might all be purely hypothetical because it sounds like the front office isn’t adding Machado or Bryce Harper.


Season ticket sales are usually tied to the team’s performance in the previous season. Last year, the Twins were coming off a playoff appearance and their young players seemed poised to take the next step. The club also had veteran stars like Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier that can help to drive sales. Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano were a disappointment in 2018 and Mauer and Dozier are no longer with the club. Also, the team didn’t make the playoffs.

Nothing drives ticket sales like having a consistently winning product on the field. Season ticket data won’t be released until later in the year. It seems likely that sales will be down, and the demand will be low for the current team. However, winning cures everything.


TwinsFest is a wonderful weekend of events and activities for the entire family. Yes, the organization covers the traveling cost for players to attend. While the players are in town, the club usually completes some of the players' physicals so they can save time when players get to Florida.

Twins President Dave St. Peter has done a good job of building relationships with former players. Luckily, the dates for the event are almost always the last weekend in January. This can make it easy for players to plan their attendance at the event. That being said, a lot of fans want to get autographs from the newer players and the former players aren’t as big of a draw. (Ask Corey Koskie about that.)

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#2 Mike Sixel

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Posted 28 January 2019 - 11:19 PM

I'd rather Garver was the main catcher, but otherwise agree with all this. Great stuff, as always.
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Have. Not of. Have a great day.

#3 miracleb

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 06:06 AM

I hope the front office doesn't botch things with Tyler Austin like they did with Daniel Palka.Guess who is a left handed power hitter that the Twin's front office let go last year and immediately led the White Sox in home runs last year with 100 fewer at bats than the next closest guy?Yup.....Palka! (Palka does have some flaws...but left handed power hitter who is only 27 years old.......)

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#4 rv78

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 07:32 AM

Machado is only worth 2 to 3 more wins to this club? I think you are miscalculating somewhere. His power alone would add 3 times that. Polonco might hit right with him for average but HR and RBI's Machado has a huge edge. That means run production. Run Production means winning games.

Edited by rv78, 29 January 2019 - 07:32 AM.


#5 ashbury

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 07:59 AM

I hope they don't replace Robbie Grossman at all. Robbie had no useful role on the team.

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It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into. -- Jonathan Swift


#6 SomeGuy

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 08:33 AM

 

I hope the front office doesn't botch things with Tyler Austin like they did with Daniel Palka.Guess who is a left handed power hitter that the Twin's front office let go last year and immediately led the White Sox in home runs last year with 100 fewer at bats than the next closest guy?Yup.....Palka! (Palka does have some flaws...but left handed power hitter who is only 27 years old.......)

Where would we play Palka in our lineup if we still had him?He is a bad outfielder with limited experience anywhere else.It would likely be between Cave, Cruz and him.Sorry Palka, I'll take the other two.Finding a poor fielding, power hitter with a .240 batting average and under .300 OBP is not that hard to find. 

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#7 Shaitan

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 08:57 AM

 

I hope the front office doesn't botch things with Tyler Austin like they did with Daniel Palka.Guess who is a left handed power hitter that the Twin's front office let go last year and immediately led the White Sox in home runs last year with 100 fewer at bats than the next closest guy?Yup.....Palka! (Palka does have some flaws...but left handed power hitter who is only 27 years old.......)

The Sox finished behind the Twins in the standings too. Palka can hit the ball a long way, but he's a fringe MLB player. Players like that tend to get at bats on last place teams. (See the Twins box scores of the past few years.)


#8 Shaitan

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 08:58 AM

I don't know Schoop well, but I question why so many lineup predictions have him in the 6 spot. His numbers last year suggest 8-9 hole to me, unless he turns it around anyway.


#9 Tomj14

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 09:01 AM

 

I hope they don't replace Robbie Grossman at all. Robbie had no useful role on the team.

 

Where would we play Palka in our lineup if we still had him?He is a bad outfielder with limited experience anywhere else.It would likely be between Cave, Cruz and him.Sorry Palka, I'll take the other two.Finding a poor fielding, power hitter with a .240 batting average and under .300 OBP is not that hard to find. 

Grossman had a WAR of 1.5 in 129, Palka had a WAR of .6 in 124 games and the fans (rightfully so) can't get Grossman out of town quit enough.

As fans we really need to quick worrying about the average at best minor leagues players that the Twins have given up on worry about getting the best talent possible on the Roster.

Edited by Tomj14, 29 January 2019 - 09:27 AM.

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#10 JLease

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 09:16 AM

 

I hope the front office doesn't botch things with Tyler Austin like they did with Daniel Palka.Guess who is a left handed power hitter that the Twin's front office let go last year and immediately led the White Sox in home runs last year with 100 fewer at bats than the next closest guy?Yup.....Palka! (Palka does have some flaws...but left handed power hitter who is only 27 years old.......)

 

Meh. I just don't understand the love for Austin. He's a big swinger who adds little defense and doesn't get on base nearly enough to be significant asset. 

 

Palka? I certainly see the comp to Austin, but it doesn't speak all that well of either of them. Palka got a shot last year and despite 27 dingers he was still posted a measly bWAR of 0.6. Austin didn't get as much PT, but was roughly the same player. These are ok players to have on the roster if you have room, but in today's game they're getting cut as soon as they cost any money, because they have limited skills, no real positional flexibility, and are replaceable.

 

Austin is a better defensive player than Palka, but not much. CJ Cron is better than either of them. Hopefully Brent Rooker will be better than any of them.

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#11 brvama

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 09:17 AM

Always enjoy these, Cody. Thanks. The lineup really looks promising. Could be a strong run producer. Here's hoping.

#12 woolywoolhouse

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 10:10 AM

Can't bat either Castro nor Garver in front of Buxton, unless you want to see some triples turning into doubles, or some runs from first base having to be held up at third.

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#13 adorduan

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 10:15 AM

 

I hope the front office doesn't botch things with Tyler Austin like they did with Daniel Palka.Guess who is a left handed power hitter that the Twin's front office let go last year and immediately led the White Sox in home runs last year with 100 fewer at bats than the next closest guy?Yup.....Palka! (Palka does have some flaws...but left handed power hitter who is only 27 years old.......)

Palka, OBP south of .300 k rate at 36.6%and bad defense. Meh, he's basically another Oswaldo Arcia......

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#14 Taildragger8791

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 11:09 AM

 

Can't bat either Castro nor Garver in front of Buxton, unless you want to see some triples turning into doubles, or some runs from first base having to be held up at third.

 

The tradeoff is Buxton serves as a second lead-off hitter when the lineup turns over. His potential for causing chaos on the basepaths serves as a distraction to the pitcher, giving the hitters behind him a better opportunity at the plate. If he can get on base, that is.

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#15 ewen21

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 11:35 AM

"Even if Buxton’s bat struggles again, he continues to provide value through his defense and base running abilities."

 

His 162 game average in 518 at bats is a .230 batting average, .285 OBP, .672 OPS and 180 Ks.That is like having a black hole in the lineup.He is too easy an out for the other team if he isn't going to get on base AND he's going to strike out so often.Anything worse than his historical average and he does more harm than good by being in the everyday lineup.  

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#16 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 11:43 AM

I don't know Schoop well, but I question why so many lineup predictions have him in the 6 spot. His numbers last year suggest 8-9 hole to me, unless he turns it around anyway.


I don't think the FO signed Schoop with the expectation of repeating last year's numbers.
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#17 djvang

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 12:18 PM

 

I hope they don't replace Robbie Grossman at all. Robbie had no useful role on the team.

Castro will pick up the slack in taking called third strikes and then complaining. 


#18 spycake

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 12:38 PM

"Even if Buxton’s bat struggles again, he continues to provide value through his defense and base running abilities."

His 162 game average in 518 at bats is a .230 batting average, .285 OBP, .672 OPS and 180 Ks. That is like having a black hole in the lineup. He is too easy an out for the other team if he isn't going to get on base AND he's going to strike out so often. Anything worse than his historical average and he does more harm than good by being in the everyday lineup.


Buxton's 162 game average is also 3.7 WAR. That seems like more good than harm.
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#19 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 01:27 PM

Bunt Buck Bunt.


#20 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 01:32 PM

I like your lineup, however I would switch Sano and Kepler. Then it will be like marching in basic training in the army. Switch, left, right, left, right, left, right, left, right. "Double time, harch" !




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