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Article: Mailbag: Available Pitchers, Buxton Hype, Baseball Time Machine

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#21 spycake

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 10:31 AM

 

ah, 2006. Man, those years between Corey Koskie and Trevor Plouffe at 3B were a little rough, huh? And why has this franchise had so many crappy DHs?!?

 

That team had the pitching to win a title if Liriano doesn't get hurt, but did they have enough offense? We were still relying on Rondell White (who somehow actually hit in the playoffs, just not in the season), Jason Tyner, the corpse of Phil Nevin...

Liriano would have improved the staff, no doubt, but would that have been enough pitching to actually win a title? Maybe if they go Schilling-Johnson circa 2001. Otherwise, even with Liriano, the playoff rotation still includes rookie Boof Bonser and Brad Radke's arm duct-taped to his shoulder. We had a few more relievers, but even they weren't a dominant group -- 8 runs allowed in 8 IP during the Oakland series (granted, 2 of those runs were on the inside-the-park HR that Torii allowed).

 

Rondell White actually hit in the second half of 2006 -- 130 wRC+. (After a wRC+ of 4 in the first half!) But my great what-if for that team, beyond Liriano staying healthy, is acquiring Jim Thome before the 2006 season...

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#22 cardsfan

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 10:36 AM

Snow continues to pile up. My snow blower was brand new this year and it’s already asking for an early retirement. Reports from Fort Myers say there is less snow near the Gulf of Mexico. Maybe all of Twins Territory can relocated to Florida for a couple weeks.While we have all been stuck inside, there were some great questions sent my way. Follow me on Twitter so you can be part of the next Twins Daily mailbag.Last year, the Twins signed players late into the spring as free agents were still available. Last week the club added Marwin Gonzalez, which might have seemed like a stretch at the beginning of the off-season. Instead, he was available and fell into the Twins laps. This is a phrase that has been thrown out multiple times by the front office. So… could a pitcher fall into the team’s lap?Dallas Keuchel was the top free agent starter on the market, and he has yet to sign. As a 31-year old, he is coming off a year where he posted a 3.74 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP in 204.2 innings. It seems logical that plenty of teams would be interested in his services. My guess is he ends up back in Houston to solidify their rotation.That being said, it sounds like he was good friends with Gonzales during their time in Houston. Maybe a reunion could be in the works. The Minneapolis Star Tribune doesn’t believe Keuchel will be coming to Minnesota. It seems most likely for the team to start the season with the current pitchers on the roster.Gio Gonzalez does little to excite me as a free agent. Last year as a 32-year old, he posted a 4.21 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP in 171.0 innings. He could be a nice veteran presence at the back of the rotation, but I’d rather give those innings to a younger arm. Minnesota will start the year with Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Michael Pineda, and Jake Odorizzi occupying the top four spots in the rotation. Innings that could be allotted to Gonzalez should go to the likes of Martin Perez, Adalberto Mejia, Kohl Stewart, and Stephen Gonsalves.Even with the strong reports about Stephen Gonsalves, I doubt there is any way he makes the team out of spring training. The early weeks of the season are full of extra off-days and Minnesota will likely have some weather delays, sine the Home Opener is scheduled before the calendar turns to April. With that in mind, the club won’t need a fifth starter near the beginning of the year. This allows the team to carry an extra bullpen arm or an extra bat for the bench.Without an injury to one of the top starters, there is almost no chance Gonsalves breaks camp with the club. He will start the year in Rochester and be only a phone call away.I would love to buy into all of the Byron Buxton spring training hype. Unfortunately, spring training numbers mean little for the regular season. It’s great for his confidence to be finding consistent success, but fans haven’t seen him put it all together at the big-league level. Until he can do it consistently with the Twins, there will be a lot of fans that wonder if the Twins made the right choice with Buxton.However, many fans were disappointed with Joe Mauer for the majority of his career and he could end up being a Hall of Fame player. Earlier this off-season, I identified Buxton’s emergence as one of the keys to 2019. I still believe that to be true. He could end up being an All-Star. He could end up struggling. It seems more likely that he falls somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.This question took me the longest because of all of the options. Some of the options that popped into my head were Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, Justin Morneau’s concussions, and Joe Mauer’s concussions. All three of these injuries deprived Twins Territory of some tremendous years of Hall of Fame caliber baseball.My answer might be a little off the beaten path, but I am going to say Francisco Liriano’s Tommy John surgery in 2006. I fully believe the Twins could have won the World Series that season had Liriano stayed healthy. No team was going to beat Liriano and Johan Santana multiple times in the same series. It might have been one of the most dominant one-two punches in playoff history.I think Liriano’s arm injury deprived the Twins organization of their third World Series title.I think the Twins have made it clear this off-season. They don’t want to be known as the club that battles their tails off. They want to hit home runs and they want to hit a lot of home runs. Minnesota’s 2019 roster is going to hit the ball over the fence and the club is going to strike out a lot. This might be good and it might be bad, but it’s a far cry from the Nick Punto days back in the Metrodome.Thanks to all of those that submitted questions this week. Leave a COMMENT with your own answers to all of these questions.Click here to view the article


The word is that Houston'

Snow continues to pile up. My snow blower was brand new this year and it’s already asking for an early retirement. Reports from Fort Myers say there is less snow near the Gulf of Mexico. Maybe all of Twins Territory can relocated to Florida for a couple weeks.While we have all been stuck inside, there were some great questions sent my way. Follow me on Twitter so you can be part of the next Twins Daily mailbag.Last year, the Twins signed players late into the spring as free agents were still available. Last week the club added Marwin Gonzalez, which might have seemed like a stretch at the beginning of the off-season. Instead, he was available and fell into the Twins laps. This is a phrase that has been thrown out multiple times by the front office. So… could a pitcher fall into the team’s lap?Dallas Keuchel was the top free agent starter on the market, and he has yet to sign. As a 31-year old, he is coming off a year where he posted a 3.74 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP in 204.2 innings. It seems logical that plenty of teams would be interested in his services. My guess is he ends up back in Houston to solidify their rotation.That being said, it sounds like he was good friends with Gonzales during their time in Houston. Maybe a reunion could be in the works. The Minneapolis Star Tribune doesn’t believe Keuchel will be coming to Minnesota. It seems most likely for the team to start the season with the current pitchers on the roster.Gio Gonzalez does little to excite me as a free agent. Last year as a 32-year old, he posted a 4.21 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP in 171.0 innings. He could be a nice veteran presence at the back of the rotation, but I’d rather give those innings to a younger arm. Minnesota will start the year with Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Michael Pineda, and Jake Odorizzi occupying the top four spots in the rotation. Innings that could be allotted to Gonzalez should go to the likes of Martin Perez, Adalberto Mejia, Kohl Stewart, and Stephen Gonsalves.Even with the strong reports about Stephen Gonsalves, I doubt there is any way he makes the team out of spring training. The early weeks of the season are full of extra off-days and Minnesota will likely have some weather delays, sine the Home Opener is scheduled before the calendar turns to April. With that in mind, the club won’t need a fifth starter near the beginning of the year. This allows the team to carry an extra bullpen arm or an extra bat for the bench.Without an injury to one of the top starters, there is almost no chance Gonsalves breaks camp with the club. He will start the year in Rochester and be only a phone call away.I would love to buy into all of the Byron Buxton spring training hype. Unfortunately, spring training numbers mean little for the regular season. It’s great for his confidence to be finding consistent success, but fans haven’t seen him put it all together at the big-league level. Until he can do it consistently with the Twins, there will be a lot of fans that wonder if the Twins made the right choice with Buxton.However, many fans were disappointed with Joe Mauer for the majority of his career and he could end up being a Hall of Fame player. Earlier this off-season, I identified Buxton’s emergence as one of the keys to 2019. I still believe that to be true. He could end up being an All-Star. He could end up struggling. It seems more likely that he falls somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.This question took me the longest because of all of the options. Some of the options that popped into my head were Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, Justin Morneau’s concussions, and Joe Mauer’s concussions. All three of these injuries deprived Twins Territory of some tremendous years of Hall of Fame caliber baseball.My answer might be a little off the beaten path, but I am going to say Francisco Liriano’s Tommy John surgery in 2006. I fully believe the Twins could have won the World Series that season had Liriano stayed healthy. No team was going to beat Liriano and Johan Santana multiple times in the same series. It might have been one of the most dominant one-two punches in playoff history.I think Liriano’s arm injury deprived the Twins organization of their third World Series title.I think the Twins have made it clear this off-season. They don’t want to be known as the club that battles their tails off. They want to hit home runs and they want to hit a lot of home runs. Minnesota’s 2019 roster is going to hit the ball over the fence and the club is going to strike out a lot. This might be good and it might be bad, but it’s a far cry from the Nick Punto days back in the Metrodome.Thanks to all of those that submitted questions this week. Leave a COMMENT with your own answers to all of these questions.Click here to view the article


The word is that teams are aware of Houston's tepid interest in Dallas Keuchel and it may be a factor why he hasn't got the contract he was hoping for. Gio Gonzales is a minor league contract at best.

#23 ahart10

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 10:38 AM

If Gio is a minor league deal why in the heck did this FO give Martin Perez anything?
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#24 mickeymental

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 10:52 AM

easy to forget that buxton finished 18th in 2017 MVP voting.


#25 KGB

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 10:57 AM

 

If Gio is a minor league deal why in the heck did this FO give Martin Perez anything?

Perez is this year's rule 5 pick for the FO. They are determined to show everyone they can find someone nobody else could.

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#26 spycake

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 11:03 AM

 

I thought he was considered to have pretty good wheels, but I don't happen to have a pre-ACL Baseball Prospectus on my bookshelf to re-check that. The 2005 Prospectus certainly is, ahem, measured in its description of his defense - "adequate" is often a left-handed compliment. :) He DH'ed half his games in his September 2004 callup, pre-injury, but that's not unheard of when breaking in a young prospect in September.

 

With his minor league progression, accounting for underperforming at Ft Myers and overperforming at New Britain, and the fact he didn't embarass himself when called up to the majors at age 22, and I don't think it's a stretch to imagine him as an offensive force two years later at age 24, and thereafter.

I don't know. I mean, Kubel tore up the minors in 2004 -- but plenty of guys tear up the minors, and even have a good MLB debut, and don't ultimately go on to become "offensive forces" in MLB. Kubel was ranked #17 by BA after 2004 -- his first top 100 ranking there. That's very good, but it doesn't strike me as can't-miss-elite-in-the-absence-of-injury or anything. Kubel put up a 117 OPS+ from ages 25-30, which seems a perfectly appropriate outcome for that ranking and his minor league record.

 

Beyond DH'ing during his 2004 MLB debut, he was also used in a strict platoon (61 PA vs RHP, 6 vs LHP), which suggests that platoon concerns were already apparent. Kubel ultimately had a 114 wRC+ vs RHP and a 82 wRC+ vs LHP in MLB. I don't like to read too much into small samples, but sometimes it's all we have -- and Kubel seemed pretty exploitable in the postseason too (2 hits, 3 BB, 13 K's, in 32 career PA), with his worst showing coming immediately after the best regular season of his career (2009).

 

Obviously the injury set back his timeline -- he lost 2005, and probably needed 2006 just to get back into form. But how much did it hold him back beyond that? I'm no ACL expert, but Moustakas and Eaton have both recently had ACL surgeries, and returned to hitting form the following seasons. I could understand a notable effect on speed, defense, and durability / games played, but just pure hitting? I don't know.

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#27 ashbury

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 11:26 AM

I don't know.

And I don't know either, and if I had thoughts of Kubel being my #1 guy for the question posed here (I was just throwing him into the mix among other good candidates), I'm definitely backing off. At this point I'm just contemplating the what-ifs for 2006.

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#28 Mike Sixel

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 11:46 AM

Mauer, Morneau
Kubel
Oliva

In some order. Probably Mauer first for me. I guess to me, brain injuries come first.
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#29 cardsfan

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 11:47 AM

Liriano would have improved the staff, no doubt, but would that have been enough pitching to actually win a title? Maybe if they go Schilling-Johnson circa 2001. Otherwise, even with Liriano, the playoff rotation still includes rookie Boof Bonser and Brad Radke's arm duct-taped to his shoulder. We had a few more relievers, but even they weren't a dominant group -- 8 runs allowed in 8 IP during the Oakland series (granted, 2 of those runs were on the inside-the-park HR that Torii allowed).
 
Rondell White actually hit in the second half of 2006 -- 130 wRC+. (After a wRC+ of 4 in the first half!) But my great what-if for that team, beyond Liriano staying healthy, is acquiring Jim Thome before the 2006 season...

2006 was a missed opportunity considering an 82 win team won it after getting healthy at the end of the year. You don't want to let those get away. Luck is involved more than just stats.

#30 spycake

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 11:48 AM

 

And I don't know either, and if I had thoughts of Kubel being my #1 guy for the question posed here (I was just throwing him into the mix among other good candidates), I'm definitely backing off. At this point I'm just contemplating the what-ifs for 2006.

No worries! Obviously the whole thing is what-ifs, but to me, Kubel seems to stack two separate what-ifs -- health and performance.

 

But I also remember getting excited for Kubel after this game in 2006 -- I guess I've sobered up since then :)
https://www.baseball...200606130.shtml

 

Doesn't help that Kubel is on the negative side of one of my own personal what-ifs -- what if we had started (or at least pinch-hit) Lew Ford instead of Kubel in 2004 ALDS Game 2? (Ideally, putting Ford in LF ahead of Stewart.)

 

Which leads to another injury what-if from the same time period: what if Mauer stayed healthy in 2004? I don't know if that rookie power was real, but darn he looked good, and we actually played the Yankees pretty close that postseason. Henry Blanco actually did hit a dinger in game 4, but Pat Borders played in both of our extra inning losses too...

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#31 spycake

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 11:51 AM

 

2006 was a missed opportunity considering an 82 win team won it after getting healthy at the end of the year. You don't want to let those get away. Luck is involved more than just stats.

Oh, I know. The Twins just had regularly bad postseason "luck" from 2002-2010.


#32 Riverbrian

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 11:58 AM

Perez is this year's rule 5 pick for the FO. They are determined to show everyone they can find someone nobody else could.


I hope they never stop trying to do that.

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#33 Riverbrian

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 12:00 PM

Oh, I know. The Twins just had regularly bad postseason "luck" from 2002-2010.


Small sample size to small sample size to small sample size to small sample size.

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#34 nicksaviking

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 12:04 PM

 

Dave Boswell (and Luis Tiant) injuries sped the demise of the 1969-70 Twins powerhouse.

 

Boswell won 20 games at age 24 in 1969 (after being punched out by none other than our manager, Billy Martin). 2 years and only 4 wins later he was out of baseball after an arm injury pitching to Frank Robinson in the playoffs that year.

 

Tiant was acquired from Cleveland only to suffer from surgery and recovery related arm issues and was released. Who else but Boston enjoyed his recovery.

 

Yeah Boswell is a forgotten guy sometimes. 64 wins by the age of 24 and 37 complete games! He was on his way to a great career.

 

Maybe not with the Twins though, they were approaching their "trade everyone" era and while no one liked Billy Martin so getting knocked out by him might not be a great determination of character, just previous to his KO, he himself knocked out Bobby Allison, so, he may not have been a beloved teammate.

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#35 ashbury

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 12:04 PM

Small sample size to small sample size to small sample size to small sample size.

It's like George Carlin's observation about breaking a crumb in half. You don't have two half-crumbs, they're just two crumbs now, in seeming violation of the laws of physics.

 

Similarly, putting together small sample sizes remain small sample sizes, no matter how long you keep doing it. :)

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#36 patterj

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 12:22 PM

Significant injuries.

I was a young kid in Maine (Reds Soxterritory) in 1967. I painfully recall the Red Sox beating the twins in the final game of the regular season to win the the pennant.Two minor injuries that year cost the twins a chance to go to their second world series. Gary Bell, a Boston pitcher, plunked Killebrew on the left upper arm on August 4th. The arm swelled up terribly. He didn't hit a homer for about two weeks and the Twins slumped. The twins probably lost a couple of games as a result. That same year Jim Kaat was hot and the starting pitcherin that final two game series.:

"A disappointing 9-13 through August that year. Kaat in September produced what he said was the best pitching of his career: Going 7-0 in seven starts, averaging nine innings per outing, heading into his start at Fenway Park on Sept. 30.

He remembers talking to Koufax, then a TV analyst, in the trainer’s room before that game. “I was as confident at the time as any pitcher could be,” he said.

Kaat lasted only 2-1/3 innings. But it wasn’t the Sox who knocked him out of the game.

Pitching with a 1-0 lead, Kaat in the third inning injured a ligament in his throwing elbow, an injury which these days is corrected with Tommy John surgery. To that point, he had surrendered three harmless hits, walked one, and struck out four.

Many years later, after their baseball playing days, Kaat and Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski both lived in Boca Raton, Fla. Kaat was out for a bike ride one day and came by Yaz who told him if the lefty hadn’t gotten hurt that day, the Sox weren’t going to win the game.

“We wouldn’t have beaten him,” echoed Swansea’s Russ Gibson, the Sox’s starting catcher that day and one of Kaat’s four strikeout victims. “You couldn’t believe the stuff he had. He was pin-point. He was on the black. His breaking ball was working.”

 

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#37 KGB

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 01:23 PM

 

I hope they never stop trying to do that.

Agreed, as long as they don't stubbornly hold on to that player and gift them a roster spot.

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#38 Dantes929

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 01:49 PM

Sure looked like Liriano was heading for Cy Young that year.I agree that having Liriano would not have made the playoffs any sure thing because the Twins didn't score more than 3 runs in any of those games but on the other hand if they had Liriano for more games maybe they wouldn't have been a little more rested and if they just won one of those first three games because of Liriano then you probably have Santana and Liriano for the next two games.Just cuz they have Liriano doesn't mean they would have won.Just because they got swept mean they would have lost the series with Liriano. Its like the series over the years with the Yankees. If they just won one of those heart breakers maybe it changes everything else. 

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#39 USAFChief

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 01:59 PM

 

It's like George Carlin's observation about breaking a crumb in half. You don't have two half-crumbs, they're just two crumbs now, in seeming violation of the laws of physics.

 

Similarly, putting together small sample sizes remain small sample sizes, no matter how long you keep doing it. :)

Tell that to the defensive metrics fans. 

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#40 Dantes929

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Posted 05 March 2019 - 02:05 PM

I'd like to talk a little bit more about Morneau.His 2010 concussion halted an absolute monster year where he would have been a really strong candidate for MVP and might have made a difference in the season and the playoffs. However, if I could go back in time I maybe go back to 2008 and at a minimum keep him out of the home run derby and maybe the all star game itself. Then I rest him as much as I can the rest of the way.He had a sub par August and a very poor September.Later we found out he had been playing with a stress fracture in his back.A healthy Morneau for those last two months very likely makes a game 163 with the White Sox unnecessary and we would have played the Rays who we matched up ok with. Maybe that was the year things would have fallen our way. Who knows? 

 

 Onan individual level we talk about how injuries have derailed or dimmed Oliva and Mauer's chances for HOF. How about Morneau?Without playing 163 games and the stress fracture he would have been a shoo in for MVP that year if he had a strong September and the Twins made the playoffs. Couple that with a possible MVP in 2010 if he did not have the concussion and now you have a guy that wins 3 MVP's.Just on the surface that should get him into the Hall.Add in his performance after 2010 if he never suffered from that concussion just makes an already easy pick that much easier.No one talks about him and the Hall but if things break a different way he definitely had the ability.

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