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#1 Thieres Rabelo

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Posted 17 August 2019 - 11:21 AM

Rocco Baldelli has been great. That’s indisputable. The Twins are still on pace to win the most games since 1970 and maybe win the division for the first time in nine years. I don’t believe many Twins fans are anything but satisfied with that. But recent struggles may have disappointed a number of fans. So we put together a letter to future Rocco, to help him avoid his rookie managing season mistakes.Dear future Rocco,

Twins Territory is grateful and maybe surprised by how good our team has been with you behind the wheel. We thank you for such a fun season, for putting together, alongside your coaching staff, the best offense in baseball and maybe one of the best of all time. So many smiles after each record-breaking Bomba are priceless.

At this point, we’re really hoping you can pull an Alex Cora-type rookie season as a manager. Some of us have believed that for awhile now. But even if that doesn’t happen, it’s OK. This young core is here for the long haul and we’re looking forward to the next decade as Twins fans.

In the past couple of months, though, the Twins have slowed down a lot, at some points struggling to remain above .500 since the first week of June. At the same time, Cleveland has reached the Twins, coming back from an eleven and a half game deficit, which made things even more bitter. So, every mistake has been blown out of proportion, whether that’s fair or not. So here’s a short list of obstacles you could work on avoiding in the years to come.

Fix the infield defense
As of late, the Twins fielding hasn’t been the best. As a team, they’ve committed 86 errors, the sixth-most in MLB. Among those, 43 were throwing errors, which is the fourth-highest in baseball. Earlier this week Twins Daily’s Parker Hageman tweeted an ugly fact about Minnesota’s infielders:



Basically, all the Twins everyday infielders can be held accountable for that. Jonathan Schoop is tied for most errors in the league among second basemen with 12. Jorge Polanco is tied at third among shortstops with 15 errors. Miguel Sanó is tied for sixth among third basemen with 12. Even C.J. Cron, who has had some very good defensive plays throughout the year, makes this list. He is the fourth among first basemen with nine.

Overall, the Twins defense isn’t one of the league’s worst. For instance, they rank 10th in Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), according to FanGraphs, with 24. But that’s mostly because of their outfield. FanGraphs briefly breaks down how they calculate DRS here and when you look at the fielding calculations, you find that it uses rARM (Outfield Arms Runs Saved). The Twins outfielders are responsible for 11 (highest in baseball!) of those 24 runs saved. In other words, the infield defense has been bringing the defensive numbers down.

You were able to put together such a good team of coaches to help transform this team in such an exciting unit. We trust you to find professionals who will help fix this infield defense. Of course, there’s always the option of replacing a player here or there as well. But, I’m sure you’ll figure that out.

Give the bullpen a rest
The Twins bullpen has suffered a lot this season when relievers were used with no days of rest. It’s not that Minnesota is one of the teams who’s done that the most frequently (they’re only 14th in the league at 73 games). But, even so, they have one of the worst outcomes. When pitching in back-to-back days, Twins relievers have allowed the fourth-most runs in MLB, 50, and have the second-highest OPS against, with .926. That is simply unbelievable.

Not even Taylor Rogers, Minnesota’s best reliever, escapes this pattern. After he gave up a grand slam against Cleveland last Sunday, Aaron Gleeman posted how much worse his numbers are when pitching with no rest:



Other pitchers who have suffered because of this include Ryne Harper and Tyler Duffey, as well as trade deadline acquisitions Sergio Romo and Sam Dyson. Since this is your first year with these players, you’re still getting to know them. It’s understandable. Maybe you and the front office should work next offseason on adding arms you trust as much as you trust Rogers.

Maybe do something about the injuries
Injuries have been one of the smallest problems for the Twins as a team this year, at least if compared to last year. And, let’s face it, what can a manager do to prevent them from happening? Very little, we assume. But, if there’s anything in your power to change the frequency with which they happen to this team, we ask you, please do it.

Almost every position has suffered from the consequences of injuries this year. Position players who hit the IL include Willians Astudillo (67 days), Mitch Garver (19 days), Cron, Marwin Gonzalez, Ehire Adrianza (each one of them 11 days) and Eddie Rosario (19 days). Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda (11 days each) were sidelined starters and José Berríos has shown signs that possibly something is not quite right with him in the past few weeks.

No injuries have had more impact than those to Byron Buxton and Nelson Cruz. They have both had multiple IL stints and are currently combined for 49 IL days on the year. Not only is that a very long time, but they are maybe the most impactful players on this team. When Nelly was sent down last week, he was raking, hitting home runs left and right. Thankfully, earlier this week it was reported that his injury wasn’t serious and that he would be back in action shortly. But, should we be worried for the future? Maybe he should seek a specific treatment for his wrist problems during the offseason.

Buxton’s absence was felt even more. While the Twins have a 53-25 (.679) record when he’s on the field, they have a 21-23 (.477) without him. Although it’s very hard to prove, I can’t believe that’s a simple coincidence. A lot of people have been discussing for years now whether or not he should change his approach to the game, maybe being less aggressive when chasing after warning track fly balls. As a former outfielder, maybe you could guide him through those changes, if they’re really the way to go. Or maybe just better conditioning would do the trick.

Something must be done to change the fact that injuries are becoming the greatest obstacle in Buxton’s career success. The Twins can’t afford to lose a player that maybe represents 20 percent more wins in a season multiple times a year. Like I wrote before, there’s maybe very little a manager can do about that, but we ask you, whatever is in your jurisdiction to do, please do it.

We all hope these tips can help you maintain this team on the right track for years to come.

Love,
Twins fans.

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#2 stringer bell

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Posted 17 August 2019 - 01:05 PM

Future Rocco probably won't be available for awhile, so I'll try to answer for him. Good points! Starting with the last point, injuries are a part of the game and most are unavoidable. Nelson Cruz isn't likely to hold up, even as a DH, for a full season. That said, getting and keeping Byron Buxton healthy is the #1 goal going forward. He means so much to the current team and no one has the skills to replace what he has to offer. Gallons of virtual ink have been spilled detailing and analyzing his injuries. It will be up to the team to find the "sweet spot" of keeping Buck aggressive, without needlessly banging into walls and turf.

 

Buxton's health impacts team defense. Since Buxton has been on the shelf, Marwin Gonzalez has played mostly outfield, and he is a capable outfielder. Gonzalez also happens to be the best corner infield defender on the team and he can't be used in two places at once. This has put Sanó at third and he's a liability there (not terrible) and Cron at first where he is probably average at best. Sanó to first base makes sense next year and perhaps when everyone is healthy this year.

 

Middle infield is another matter. Yesterday's sharp play at short (and two hits) demonstrates Ehire Adrianza's value. Currently he is both hitting better and fielding better than All-Star Jorge Polanco. Jorge is too good a player to be benched, but he was a lot better player when he was hitting .320. Arraez is OK at second base and will continue to get most of the reps there. 

 

Finally, the bullpen. The Twins now have three trusted late-inning bullpen arms. None of them is Mariano Rivera or even Joe Nathan, but all three are capable. Taylor Rogers can be elite, but can't be overused. With Dyson and Romo on board, the urge to use Rogers in every pressure situation can be reduced. Three guys--Harper, Duffey and May--can supplement the late guys, and since there are three of them, they shouldn't have to be overused either. To further reduce overuse of Rogers, a lefty specialist would be helpful. Ryan O'Rourke might be that guy. If the starters can give the club around six innings per start, the bullpen will be much improved and much less of an issue going forward.


#3 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 17 August 2019 - 01:08 PM

Good stats with this article. Thanks.


#4 mikelink45

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Posted 17 August 2019 - 01:14 PM

Buxton will be self-correcting. With each injury and with each year he will get slower and therefore less likely to injure himself my running into walls since the balls will get there first. Of course this means as value goes down but it is one problem solved.

Now we just need starters who can give you that five innings without also giving you five runs you have to come back from.

Fortunately is easy for us as fans to correct all of these things and you must deal with real people in real situations. Good luck.

#5 mrtwinsfan

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Posted 17 August 2019 - 01:25 PM

Buixton is the key to the outfield being above average-great ? Gotta find a way to keep him out there,infield defense- horrible all around,maybe next yearSano at 1st polanco at 2nd and arriaz at third ?with Gonsales-- Shortstop ,??perfect world -Royce lewis, or ??Polanco,s arm is not high quality at s.s.


#6 Riverbrian

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Posted 17 August 2019 - 03:38 PM

 

Future Rocco probably won't be available for awhile, so I'll try to answer for him. Good points! Starting with the last point, injuries are a part of the game and most are unavoidable. Nelson Cruz isn't likely to hold up, even as a DH, for a full season. That said, getting and keeping Byron Buxton healthy is the #1 goal going forward. He means so much to the current team and no one has the skills to replace what he has to offer. Gallons of virtual ink have been spilled detailing and analyzing his injuries. It will be up to the team to find the "sweet spot" of keeping Buck aggressive, without needlessly banging into walls and turf.

 

Buxton's health impacts team defense. Since Buxton has been on the shelf, Marwin Gonzalez has played mostly outfield, and he is a capable outfielder. Gonzalez also happens to be the best corner infield defender on the team and he can't be used in two places at once. This has put Sanó at third and he's a liability there (not terrible) and Cron at first where he is probably average at best. Sanó to first base makes sense next year and perhaps when everyone is healthy this year.

 

Middle infield is another matter. Yesterday's sharp play at short (and two hits) demonstrates Ehire Adrianza's value. Currently he is both hitting better and fielding better than All-Star Jorge Polanco. Jorge is too good a player to be benched, but he was a lot better player when he was hitting .320. Arraez is OK at second base and will continue to get most of the reps there. 

 

Finally, the bullpen. The Twins now have three trusted late-inning bullpen arms. None of them is Mariano Rivera or even Joe Nathan, but all three are capable. Taylor Rogers can be elite, but can't be overused. With Dyson and Romo on board, the urge to use Rogers in every pressure situation can be reduced. Three guys--Harper, Duffey and May--can supplement the late guys, and since there are three of them, they shouldn't have to be overused either. To further reduce overuse of Rogers, a lefty specialist would be helpful. Ryan O'Rourke might be that guy. If the starters can give the club around six innings per start, the bullpen will be much improved and much less of an issue going forward.

 

Imposter!!!

 

Rocco asked me to answer for him.:)

 

Dear Thieres Rabelo,

 

Thank you for the thoughtful letter, I can't express how grateful I am to be part of this organization. We are blessed to have such talented bloggers along with a devout passionate fan base. 

 

You raise some great points and rest assured we are constantly working on improvement in all areas.  

 

Infield Defense:

 

I agree that infield defense along with defense in general is very important. Any play not made creates an extra out, each extra out creates the potential for big innings against you, along with plays made that take away outs, which make scoring runs that much harder for the other team. Rest assured that we work hard every day to improve our defense but I want to make sure you understand that I have full confidence in the abilities of all of our defenders.

 

However, you must consider that there are always trade-offs. Could we find a better defender than Miguel Sano at 3B, I'm sure we could, but I'm not sure that we could find one that hits the ball as far as he does. Jorge Polanco has come a long way defensively and he can still get better but the combination of his bat and defense makes us a better team.

 

We believe in our team defense, we believe in our offense and you better believe that we believe in the total combination.  

 

Bullpen: 

 

Wes Johnson and the entire Twins organization has done a nice job working with our pitching staff. The job is without end because of seemingly brand new challenges to address every day. It's kind of a moving target. Ultimately, when it comes to the bullpen (entire pitching staff for that matter), we need to listen to Riverbrian more. We have to find a way to become less reliant on a small core of performers by creating depth on the pitching mound much like we have done with our offense. This is what he terms as getting "bullpen serious". Depth is created by opportunity, we need to stop preventing opportunity of potentially better arms by filling up roster spots with average arms. In hindsight, we feel that we made a mistake using up valuable roster space with arms that were ultimately released in July. They were great teammates, great competitors but we should be further along in the identification process of talent that will help us win games in the upcoming playoffs. Rest assured this organization will continue to work with our pitching staff to meet any future challenge. 

 

Injuries:

 

The Twins organization recognizes the importance of keeping our players on the field and in full health. To help us in this regard, we employ consultants, doctors, physical therapists and others, who work directly with our coaching staff, to provide everything humanly possible, in pursuit of an extremely difficult goal of total health at all times. The truth of the matter, it's a long season. Over 162 games, players are going to get hurt, history has taught us that this is something that we must expect and plan for. As an organization we mitigate the injuries that will naturally occur with depth up and down the roster. We use our depth for occasional rest to heal small issues before they become bigger issues. We use our depth to not become overly reliant on a single player. Anytime one of our players goes on the injured list or is unavailable to us due to injury, we will miss the talent that they bring to the table... however, as we have demonstrated this year, we have multiple players that also bring talent to the table in their absence. 

 

Thank you for your steadfast, honest and loyal reporting. Keep pushing us onward. 

 

GO TWINS!!!:)

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#7 Linus

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Posted 17 August 2019 - 03:53 PM

I don’t think it is “indisputable “ that Rocco has been great. The Twins have played some really sloppy baseball over the last two months and it doesn’t seem to be changing. That reflects on the manager to some degree. I don’t blame him for the bullpen issues any more than I blamed Molly. Falvine gave both managers bad bullpens-can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear
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#8 DocBauer

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Posted 17 August 2019 - 06:06 PM

I'm not going to write a letter, but I am going to address the various points:

Defense:

I agree with trade offs defensively in regard to the infield, particularly at SS and 3B. IMO, Polanco and Sano are solid. They make most all routine plays as well as some great ones. They also just throw the ball away or drop a ball at times. I believe each is very capable of developing over time as they gain experience. I believe each are still only 25/26yo. We've already seen improvement from both.

But I'd like to add, there is nothing wrong with Adrianza giving Polanco a day off here or there. I think he may be getting a little fatigued from the grind.

No matter what the error totals show, I've really liked Cron at 1B.

Bullpen:

I loved Brian's comments, tongue in cheek or not, about good teammates and nice guys that should have been gone sooner.

But to be real, a few things just didn't work like they were supposed to. The Dyson and Romo moves should prove excellent. But I sure wish they could have been done earlier. The entire complexion of the one might have different if the quality young arms of Mejia and Romero had come through as hoped.

I applaud the Rochester shuttle auditions and feel there are a couple young arms that could help shape and deepen the pen going forward. And Romo could even be back next season. Regardless, I'd like 1 more quality arm before 2020 starts to go with what we have on hand.

Largely, I've been pleased with the way Rocco has used his pen. The exception maybe being Rogers. Hopefully, going forward, there can be far fewer games of 5-6 outs on consecutive days.

I would add, however, even with a lead, I have been a bit frustrated when a RP has come in and just looks like he doesnt have it and Rocco stuck with him too long.

Injuries:

You just can't stop them. But this year and last are night and day different. And depth has allowed us to weather the few we have had. The entire pitching staff has been very healthy.

The Buxton situation is a tricky one to be sure. I still like the idea of him playing deeper this season. And I think his hard offseason work to get stronger will continue to pay dividends.

I'm still a bit dumbfounded I have never heard anything about Hunter being used as an experienced sounding board for him.

"Nice catch Hayes...don't ever f*****g do it again."

 

--Lou Brown


#9 Riverbrian

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Posted 17 August 2019 - 08:29 PM

 


I'm still a bit dumbfounded I have never heard anything about Hunter being used as an experienced sounding board for him.

 

Hunter was in the radio booth last night. He spoke about Buxton and style of play.

 

Hunter said (paraphrasing). It's how he plays and it's what makes him special. Yes there are things you can do but you got to play the game how you play it. 

 

He also mentioned his long strides... said that the guys with long strides have a hard time slowing down. 

  • DocBauer likes this

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I'm not a starting 9 guy!!!


#10 Bomba2026

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Posted 17 August 2019 - 09:01 PM

Well can't they practice? Playing Texas is a start...

#11 rv78

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Posted 18 August 2019 - 06:53 AM

My biggest gripe with Baldelli is his use of the bullpen, followed by his batting order lineup. With all of the data that is at his disposal nowadays he should know NOT to use Rogers in back-to-back games, especially when he uses him for more than 1 inning the first game. He's been Matt Craps-tacular in those 2nd games. 

As for his lineup why does he have two of his best HR hitters batting leadoff? Kepler and Garver should be batting 3rd, 4th or 5th behind guys like Polanco, Arraez, Gonzalez. Especially with Cruz out of the lineup. 

Arraez and Polanco should be hitting 1st or 2nd followed by either Garver/Kepler then fill in with Cruz, Sano, Cron, and so on...

 

Yes, Polanco looks to be wearing down and Adrianza should be getting more reps in his spot to keep him fresh. Might also be time to give Berrios some rest as well, as he has looked awful his last 3 starts.


#12 Don Walcott

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Posted 18 August 2019 - 09:08 AM

Thanks for the good work, Rocco. But, maybe consider using someone else as 3rd base coach.


#13 spanman2

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Posted 18 August 2019 - 10:18 AM

I would submit this to Dear Dr.Dan...
I WAS TOLD I WOULD NEVER MAKE IT BECAUSE I AM TOO SHORT. WELL, I'M STILL TOO SHORT. IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOUR HEIGHT IS. IT'S WHAT'S IN YOUR HEART.

KIRBY PUCKETT