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Article: Week in Review: Action!

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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 28 July 2019 - 06:50 PM

A frenetic and exhausting series loss against the Yankees at Target Field was followed by an explosive return to form for the Twins in Chicago against the White Sox. Meanwhile, the rumor mill kicked into high gear as the trade deadline bears down, and the front office struck its first big move for veteran relief help.

Catch up on a busy and action-packed week for your Twins, whose lead in the AL Central has narrowed to two games.

Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 7/22 through Sun, 7/28

***

Record Last Week: 4-3 (Overall: 64-41)

Run Differential Last Week: +14 (Overall: +125)

Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (2.0 GA)

Willians Watch: Out Indefinitely

We'll start with the leading headline: Minnesota made a move to address its battered bullpen on Saturday, acquiring 36-year-old right-hander Sergio Romo from the Marlins, along with minor-league pitcher Chris Vallimont and a player to be named later, in exchange for Double-A first baseman Lewin Diaz.

There's no knocking this deal. Diaz has enjoyed a breakout year, regaining his wayward prospect status, but he'll be Rule 5 eligible in the offseason if not added to the 40-man roster, and it's nearly impossible to see him fitting into Minnesota's near-term plans. Meanwhile, he fills a big need in Miami's system and now has a much clearer path to the majors, so good for him.



Romo is not a dominant arm, nor the kind of late-inning difference-maker who will significantly ease Taylor Rogers' burden, but he's a quality reliever and seasoned addition to a unit that was increasingly lacking for MLB experience. He doesn't throw hard, with a fastball that averages just 86.5 MPH, but has always been effective despite his soft-tossing profile, thanks in part to a quality slider he leans on heavily. He'll be a very helpful piece in a bullpen that needs all the help it can get.

Romo essentially serves as the veteran righty replacement for Blake Parker, who was the latest (and most surprising) to be designated for assignment following his brutal outing against New York on Tuesday. While warranted, the move is somewhat startling because Parker was, 1) Minnesota's only major bullpen acquisition during the offseason, and 2) getting solid results for the most part despite troublesome underlying indicators. It's good to see the front office overlooking those caveats and making a decisive move on a clearly declining player.

A quick rundown of other transactions last week:
  • On the same day they DFA'ed Parker, the Twins optioned Kohl Stewart back to Triple-A. Replacing them in the bullpen were Devin Smeltzer (who had an outstanding outing against the Yankees on Wednesday before he being sent back down himself in exchange for the fresher arm of Sean Poppen) and veteran journeyman Carlos Torres. Torres, who never ended up making an appearance for the Twins, was designated over the weekend to make room for Romo.
  • Jake Cave was optioned to Triple-A on Thursday, with Byron Buxton ready to return from his stint on the Injured List. Buxton was in center field for all four games against the White Sox.
  • Back at the beginning of the week (feels like a century ago, doesn't it?), Lewis Thorpe and Cody Stashak joined the bullpen, with Zack Littell heading down and C.J. Cron landing back on IL due to a nagging thumb issue. Stashak and Thorpe combined to allow two runs over 7 2/3 innings, providing the pen with a much-needed boost.
HIGHLIGHTS

The offense reawakened, marching past the 200-homer mark with a barrage of blasts against New York and Chicago. The latest long-ball frenzy was fueled by the likes of:
  • Nelson Cruz, who homered an astounding eight times on the week – including three in Thursday's series opener versus the White Sox. In seven games, he drove in 13 runs in. When he missed most of May with a wrist injury, it seemed as though Cruz would have a tough time reaching his customary total of ~40 home runs, but he's gotten himself right back on track by going deep 19 times in 43 games since returning on June 4th. C.
  • Miguel Sano continues to show sensational power and added four more bombs to the ledger last week. His second one against the Yankees on Tuesday – a go-ahead two-run blast after Minnesota had given up a lead – would've been one of the season's top highlights if not for Rogers blowing the save soon after. Sano has homered 18 times in just 56 games, and sports a .579 slugging percentage – highest on the team after Cruz and this next guy.
  • There's no slowing down for Mitch Garver. He went deep twice in Minnesota's lone victory over New York, pushing his homer total to seven in July and 19 on the season. He's tied for second among MLB catchers, despite playing in far fewer games than anyone nearby him on the leaderboard.
Plenty of others contributed to the run-scoring bonanza as the Twins pushed 55 runs across in seven games. Jorge Polanco was 9-for-30 with three homers, two doubles and seven RBIs. Max Kepler chipped in four homers and a double while driving in eight. Luis Arraez continued to be an on-base machine, reaching via walk or hit in 11 of his 27 plate appearances and scoring six times. Buxton returned with authority, collecting six hits (four of them doubles) against Chicago.

With 205 home runs in the books through week's end, the 2019 Twins are already fourth in franchise history and closing in fast on the record of 225, set back in 1963. At their current pace of 1.9 HR/G, they'll surpass that mark within two weeks, and then they can set their sights on the major-league record of 266, set by last year's Yankees. The Twins could very plausibly eclipse that figure by the end of August. Bonkers.

LOWLIGHTS

The Twins' pitching staff did not fare so well against the Yankees. As the offense kept piling up runs to keep the games tight, Minnesota's arms could not manage to suppress a relentless Yankees lineup. To an extent this is excusable – New York does have one of the league's best offenses – but the nature of these struggles and the continuation of some frustrating trends made the lapses a bit tough to take.

Martin Perez was aided by a triple play in the first inning of the week, and the Twins offense supported him with seven runs through four frames, but he still couldn't record a single out in the fifth, setting the stage for a straining series on the bullpen. While recording 12 outs, Perez allowed seven hits (three homers) and four walks. Ugly. He did bounce back with a decent start on Saturday, allowing three runs over six innings against the Sox.

Kyle Gibson was relatively effective the following day, yielding five runs over five innings. It was a serviceable start but not the kind that's going to build confidence in him facing a top lineup in October (Gibson had nearly identical results in his first start against the Yankees this year, back in early May). He fared much better in his second outing of the week, holding the White Sox to one run over six frames, but no one's really doubting his ability to handle a lower-tier offense like that.

The big dud of the entire week was Jake Odorizzi's complete unraveling on Wednesday. The Twins were leaning hard on their All-Star to give them some innings after New York wore out the relief corps on Monday and Tuesday, but – in what's becoming a recurring theme – he failed to answer the call. Odorizzi was only able to get through four innings, marking the sixth straight turn in which he failed to complete six. In three of those starts he hasn't even pitched into the fifth.

Despite logging only four innings, Odorizzi still managed to give up nine earned runs, digging a hole the Twins offense couldn't escape. His total meltdown stood in stark contrast to Smeltzer, who came on in relief and promptly shut the Yanks down for five innings. Odorizzi's ERA, which stood at 1.92 on June 15th, is now up to 3.84.

An interesting question presents itself: If the Twins are able to make a big splash and acquire a frontline starter to bolster their rotation, who is the odd man out?

There are no obvious answers, but if we're being honest, Odorizzi is probably the most logical choice for a bullpen assignment. That sounds a little crazy for a guy who was at the All-Star Game earlier this month, but he's been struggling for about six weeks and the lack of length is a real issue. Something tells me this decision wouldn't go over well with Odorizzi, who was brilliant in the first half and is an impending free agent. But that's where we are.

Speaking of odd men out, could Jonathan Schoop be heading in that direction? He was one of the few laggards in a strong week for the offense, going just 4-for-20 with a homer, three singles, zero walks and six strikeouts in his five starts. Per his MO, Schoop's highlight of the week – a two-run homer on Sunday with the Twins leading 7-0 – came in what amounts to garbage time. Since the start of June, he has a .274 on-base percentage with 40 strikeouts and only three unintentional walks in 146 plate appearances. The quality of at-bats is consistently poor; he's always seemingly hoping to run into a mistake. Even though his OPS is ninth-best among MLB second-basemen, Schoop's Win Probability Added ranks 10th-worst out of all qualified big-leaguers.

He hasn't been terrible by any means, but his play has been generally uninspiring and that puts him in a tough position. Arraez, Sano, and Marwin Gonzalez are all clearly higher lineup priorities than Schoop. One can argue that even Ehire Adrianza is ahead in the pecking order, especially given his greater likelihood to be a factor for the Twins beyond this year. So, when Cron comes back, if everyone's healthy... how do they really justify keeping Schoop around?

TRENDING STORYLINE

The trade deadline is nearly upon is. The action is sure to heat up over the next few days ahead of the cutoff, which falls on Wednesday at 3:00 PM. Minnesota has been connected to a variety of big-name targets, from Noah Syndergaard (YAY!) to Lance Lynn (NAY!) and beyond.

I'm confident the Twins will add at least one more impactful reliever, and less confident about a starter. But we've never seen this front office as a bona fide front-running contender, so there's not much precedent to go off. The long-awaited winning window is clearly upon us, so a major move would certainly be warranted.

Stay tuned to Twins Daily over the next days as we cover every substantive rumor and rumbling in real-time leading up to the deadline. Prospect hounds will be sweating over the organization's top talents, whose names are gonna keep bouncing around in speculative discussions. It seems just about anyone could be on the table, though I highly doubt the guy we'll be talking about next is going anywhere.

DOWN ON THE FARM

On the surface, Royce Lewis has had a bit of a disappointing season. Through Saturday, he was batting just .238 with a .665 OPS at Fort Myers. He homered twice for the Miracle last week, but otherwise went just 1-for-19 with zero walks. Despite the scant production, Lewis featured in the Futures Games during All-Star Week, and clearly the Twins aren't too deterred by his performance, because they announced on Sunday he joined the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in Double-A.

It's a bold move, to be sure. Lewis just turned 20 on June 5th. Only one younger player has taken an at-bat in the Southern League this year (Luis Vazquez, a 19-year-old defensive specialist in the Cubs system). While he's had some very nice flashes, Lewis certainly wasn't exhibiting mastery of the Florida State League. But given his maturity, makeup and talent, I don't somehow don't think he'll be overwhelmed or intimidated by the challenge.

A challenge it will be. The average pitcher in his new league is about four years older than he is. Just two years after joining the professional ranks, he'll be facing some of the best arms in the minors, while also working to refine his raw-but-promising skills at shortstop.

In his Pensacola debut on Sunday, Lewis batted leadoff ahead of Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach, finishing 2-for-5 with a double.

LOOKING AHEAD

Two weeks ago in this space I wrote that Cleveland was facing a critical juncture. The Twins had just extended their lead to 7.5 games with a series victory coming out of the break, but were embarking on a far more challenging road ahead.

Well, the Indians have since done their part, taking full advantage. They've gone 11-3 against the lowly Tigers, Royals and Blue Jays, shaving 5 1/2 games off their deficit to draw within striking distance. Now, the dynamic flips.

Cleveland's schedule is about to get MUCH tougher – their next 20 games all come against teams above .500, with a four-gamer at Target Field mixed in. The Twins have a much easier remaining slate, and so now it's their turn to take advantage if they want to reassert themselves in the Central. They'll want to start this week by demonstrating their superiority against two utterly terrible teams.

TUESDAY, 7/30: TWINS @ MARLINS – RHP Jake Odorizzi v. RHP Zac Gallen
WEDNESDAY, 7/31: TWINS @ MARLINS – RHP Jose Berrios v. RHP Sandy Alcantara
THURSDAY, 8/1: TWINS @ MARLINS – RHP Michael Pineda v. RHP Jordan Yamamoto
FRIDAY, 8/2: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Glenn Sparkman v. LHP Martin Perez
SATURDAY, 8/3: ROYALS @ TWINS – LHP Danny Duffy v. RHP Kyle Gibson
SUNDAY, 8/4: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Brad Keller v. RHP Jake Odorizzi

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#2 D.C Twins

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Posted 28 July 2019 - 09:24 PM

Buck is Back! The biggest news!

 

Don't have the exact numbers, but with Buck over the past 2 years winning percent far above 0.500; and without Buck well below.

 

If you don't believe me that his return is by far the most important thing to happen to the Twins this week.... just ask their pitchers :)

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#3 jdoffing11

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Posted 28 July 2019 - 09:35 PM

The reason for having Schoop stick around is that he's solid playing second base, but more importantly depth. Say they get rid of him, and don't get an MLB infielder in return. Arraez becomes the starting second baseman and if he gets hurt then Marwin or Adrianza plays there everyday, leaving you with one utility player. Then, someone from any other position besides catcher could get hurt, and you're left with 9 guys to be the everyday starting lineup. Your bench consists of whoever isn't catching out of Castro and Garver, Astudillo (we all love him but his ABs this year haven't been good and I'm not comfortable with him playing anywhere else but behind the plate come October) and then either Cave if the injury is in the outfield, or Ronald Torreyes who has been hot in Rochester but got DFA'd and cleared waivers and hasn't played in the MLB this year. Usually these mid-season roster crunch things work themselves out with injuries, but in the case everyone is healthy in the lineup, you would either have to go with a 7 man bullpen or, because the only other guys with options are Buxton, Rosario, Sano and Garver, you would have to *gasp* send down Arraez until the expanded rosters in September. 


#4 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 28 July 2019 - 09:59 PM

 

Buck is Back! The biggest news!

 

Don't have the exact numbers, but with Buck over the past 2 years winning percent far above 0.500; and without Buck well below.

 

If you don't believe me that his return is by far the most important thing to happen to the Twins this week.... just ask their pitchers :)

The Twins win the Yankees series with Buxton in center.

 

He's just that kind of guy. During those close games when he's missing, it feels like at least once every game you say "damn, Buxton catches that".

 

And it happened approximately 59 times during the Yankees series.

 

Damn, that series was ugly.

 

Also, I hate Jake Cave.

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#5 Nick Nelson

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Posted 28 July 2019 - 10:41 PM

 

The reason for having Schoop stick around is that he's solid playing second base, but more importantly depth.

I definitely feel this. But I'm just wondering, functionally, how do you make room for all these guys on the roster? I don't think they can afford to roll with one fewer reliever. Someone's gotta go when Cron returns. Right?

 

And also, how is Schoop going to feel sitting on the bench regularly when he's been a productive all-around piece and is playing for a contract? There are practical realities at play that make this situation a tricky one to navigate.

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#6 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 28 July 2019 - 10:51 PM

Tricky indeed. Arraez has arguably won a starting job, but there's no spot available. The worst 3 guys on the 25 man are Schoop, Adrianza, and Gonzalez. It's just hard to see any of them going because Gonzalez has the contract and versatility and Adrianza is the only real backup shortstop, leaving Schoop or Arreaz as the odd man out because I just don't see us going to a 7 man bullpen with this starting staff. Injuries may solve the problem but if everyone's healthy, have to believe that Arraez goes back to AAA unless someone gets traded.

Edited by LA VIkes Fan, 28 July 2019 - 10:52 PM.


#7 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 28 July 2019 - 10:51 PM

 

I definitely feel this. But I'm just wondering, functionally, how do you make room for all these guys on the roster? I don't think they can afford to roll with one fewer reliever. Someone's gotta go when Cron returns. Right?

 

And also, how is Schoop going to feel sitting on the bench regularly when he's been a productive all-around piece and is playing for a contract? There are practical realities at play that make this situation a tricky one to navigate.

Though, as someone else pointed out on the forum, swapping a reliever with the Giants for Schoop makes a hell of a lot of sense. They have Solano playing well right now but Schoop is a better player.

 

If the Giants are going to make a push, that could be a good way to do it.

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#8 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 28 July 2019 - 10:55 PM

Interesting thought. It does make sense but I'm not sure why the Giants would give us anything we want for this year and still take Schoop. He only helps if you're going for it this year since he's on an expiring contract. maybee they would give us Sam Dyson for him and a minor leaguer? Can't see Schoop as part of a trade for Smith. also, now we're messing with the clubhouse chemistry of a contending team. Always makes me a bit nervous.

Edited by LA VIkes Fan, 28 July 2019 - 10:59 PM.

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#9 Nick Nelson

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Posted 28 July 2019 - 10:55 PM

 

Injuries may solve the problem but if everyone's healthy, have to believe that Arraez goes back to AAA unless someone gets traded.

Man. You might be right but that would just be insane. He's been so good and everyone loves him (teammates, fans, and clearly Baldelli who writes him into the lineup everyday – more than Schoop). 

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#10 Otwins

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Posted 28 July 2019 - 10:56 PM

Any chance they can trade Schoop by Wednesday? If someone gets hurt we can call up Gordon.

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#11 howeda7

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Posted 28 July 2019 - 11:04 PM

If there is any market for Schoop, trade him before Wednesday. 


#12 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 28 July 2019 - 11:09 PM

Man. You might be right but that would just be insane. He's been so good and everyone loves him (teammates, fans, and clearly Baldelli who writes him into the lineup everyday – more than Schoop).

I agree but I don't see another option unless Adrianza is traded and we roll with Arraez as the backup SS or go to a 7 man bullpen. Will be interesting to watch.

#13 howeda7

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Posted 28 July 2019 - 11:15 PM

 

I definitely feel this. But I'm just wondering, functionally, how do you make room for all these guys on the roster? I don't think they can afford to roll with one fewer reliever. Someone's gotta go when Cron returns. Right?

 

And also, how is Schoop going to feel sitting on the bench regularly when he's been a productive all-around piece and is playing for a contract? There are practical realities at play that make this situation a tricky one to navigate.

If they only acquire one more reliever, the 7th spot can be a Rochester shuttle of Thorpse/Steshak/Smeltzer/Stewart. In an ideal world we acquire another reliever and a starter (say Syndergaard and Kennedy. The bullpen would be:

 

Rogers

Kennedy

Romo

Duffy

Harper

May

Perez


#14 sloopjont

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Posted 29 July 2019 - 07:49 AM

"Injuries may solve the problem but if everyone's healthy, have to believe that Arraez goes back to AAA unless someone gets traded.
Man. You might be right but that would just be insane. He's been so good and everyone loves him (teammates, fans, and clearly Baldelli who writes him into the lineup everyday – more than Schoop)."

 

This one shouldn't be difficult to figure.Arraez is hitting about .370 and Schoop about .250.The former has professional at-bats in critical situations; the latter has, in general, weak at-bats but does well in gravy time.Arraez is exciting to watch and is an igniter, the other is not (his one plus is power). 

 

What team would send down a player who's played like Arraez?


#15 mrtwinsfan

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Posted 29 July 2019 - 09:51 AM

the top teams in the American League only the Yankees, Astros, Twins, and A's have a winning record against teams better than .500:
Astros +17
Yankees +13
A's +7
Twins +5
Rays -4
Red Sox -6
Indians -6
Twins have played 53 +500 teams the Indians 36.

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#16 bighat

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Posted 29 July 2019 - 10:05 AM

At this point you can't justify sending Arraez down. Sure, if he was on fire for a week or two, that's one thing. But the kid is on absolute fire and I don't think anyone in the Twins clubhouse, ownership, or front office are interested in sending him down. It ain't gonna happen.

 

So yeah that leaves Schoop as the odd man out. And that's okay.

 

Remember, the Dodgers unloaded Logan Forsythe on the Twins last year. He had just a half-season remaining on the deal. The Twins got something extra back from Los Angeles by taking him on. So, the Twins can foist Schoop onto another team, but they'll have to probably give up a higher ranked prospect if they do a deal with Schoop included.


#17 Number3

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Posted 29 July 2019 - 12:12 PM

Most disappointing of all in this thread is Royce Lewis, the number 1 pick in all of MLB draft when any pitcher was there for the taking. Hard to understand then Harder to understand now.

 

10 remaining against the Indians will probably decide the Central and maybe playoffs entirely.

 

No way to be dissatisfied with this season no matter what since the Twins don't have a truly dominant player on either side of the ball. Truly a team effort. They will be right there at the end whether regular season or playoff series. Only question is where "right there" is. Out of playoffs all together or game 7 of World Series. The fact that any of those are still options headed into August is all you can ask for.

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#18 strumdatjaguar

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Posted 29 July 2019 - 05:27 PM

There’s a jam in the infield. The team is big on power and light on pitching. Maybe the Mets would trade Thor for Sano. That improves the pitching staff, and makes more at bats available for Adrianza, Arraez, Schoop and Gonzalez (Nick Gordon gets called up in September for additional infield reinforcement).

#19 strumdatjaguar

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Posted 29 July 2019 - 07:10 PM

Just read that there is a strained relationship between Syndergaard and the Mets. I wouldn’t give up a player the caliber of Miguel Sano (unless the Mets give more) when the Mets are on the spot with Thor. The fact that Sano is a team player and Thor is a bit of a complainer means something about their comparative value.

#20 strumdatjaguar

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Posted 29 July 2019 - 07:10 PM

Just read that there is a strained relationship between Syndergaard and the Mets. I wouldn’t give up a player the caliber of Miguel Sano (unless the Mets give more) when the Mets are on the spot with Thor. The fact that Sano is a team player and Thor is a bit of a complainer means something about their comparative value.



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