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Twins Offseason Grade Saved by Rain

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#1 Ted Schwerzler

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 09:00 PM

Going into the offseason Derek Falvey and Thad Levine used the word impact. Specifically, they were talking about pitching. When that market went sideways on them, the refrain turned to making an impact on the roster overall, and it was the Bringer of Rain that saved their grade.Thad Levine has gone on record noting the Twins interest in Zack Wheeler. They were reportedly in on Hyun-Jin Ryu, and there was question about a few other arms that may make sense. Ultimately though, Minnesota never landed that big fish pitcher. When they decided that Plan A was no longer the preferred route, a shift in focus became necessary. In doing so, it cemented everything else they did, and helped to establish an offseason of success with 2020 square in their sights.

Instead of giving just a singular grade to the work as a whole, let’s break things down individually:

Backup Catcher- Alex Avila replaces Jason Castro

In 2019 Mitch Garver emerged as one of the game’s best. He took massive steps forward behind the dish and was unquestionably the best with the bat. Needing a new battery mate, the decision was made to move on from Castro. Alex Avila posted a .775 OPS and was exactly average by OPS+ standards last year. He is an adequate defender and is just two years removed from a career season with the divisional for Tigers. This wasn’t flashy by any means, but it’s a fair swap by all measures.

Grade C

Corner Infielder- Josh Donaldson replaces C.J. Cron

With Cron being non-tendered by Minnesota, it was time to decide if first or third base was the position being addressed. Once the pitching market shifted, the Twins best opportunity for impact came from one of the best players to hit the open market. Josh Donaldson significantly elevates the infield defense, Miguel Sano could arguably be better suited for first base, and Rocco Baldelli will now write out a lineup card that features the best nine in baseball. Donaldson is a star, and the richest Twins' free agent deal in history was more than well deserved. This one was as much a bomba as those he’ll hit this year at Target Field.

Grade A+

Starting Pitcher- Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda retained. Homer Bailey and Rich Hill replace Kyle Gibson and Martin Perez

These moves received plenty of consternation in the scope of the offseason as a whole, but viewed individually, they seem pretty great. Odorizzi was arguably Minnesota’s best pitcher last season, and Pineda was lights out down the stretch. Getting that duo back at what equates to less than market value is a good deal.

Grade B

Bailey isn’t a sexy name, but neither was Kyle Gibson. The longtime Reds ace posted a 4.57 ERA last year but had a 3.65 FIP with Oakland in his final 73.1 IP. As a third or fourth starter with an assist from Wes Johnson, I think you could do a lot worse.

Grade C-

Arguably the biggest win here is in the form of a guy who could definitely be considered “impact.” Despite a 15-year major league pitching career, Rich Hill has accumulated only 937 innings while making 156 starts. The bad is that he’s a 40-year-old with an extensive injury history. The good news though, is essentially everything else. Hill hasn’t seen a dip in his stuff, he mows down opposing hitters, and he’s got 12 postseason starts under his belt. The 4.10 FIP last year is reason for pause, but if he can go back to limiting the long ball, he’ll be great down the stretch.

Grade B+

Relief Pitching- Sergio Romo retained. Tyler Clippard replaced Sam Dyson.

At the trade deadline Minnesota made a swap with the Miami Marlins for the veteran righty. Now a slider specialist, Romo was having a plenty fine year for the fish. After producing to the tune of a 3.35 FIP and 10.7 K/9 in 22.2 IP, his presence in the clubhouse was one that made sense to welcome back. He gets a slight bump in pay with a team option for 2022. He’ll be 39, but he still looks the part of a guy that can contribute high-leverage innings.
Grade C+

Coming over from a division rival in Cleveland, Clippard had his best year since 2014. The 2.90 ERA is sparkly, and the 3.89 FIP suggests it’s at least somewhat for real. He can rack up strikeouts, limits hits, and actually saw a slight decrease in the long ball a year ago. Sam Dyson was supposed to be a bit better based on his Giants numbers, but that blew up and his shoulder is done. Clippard provides plenty of reason to believe in a similar or better level of success.

Grade C

Overall:

Minnesota needed pitching this offseason, and while they didn’t get the top-of-the-rotation arm, they did take steps forward. On top of that, the team found a way to improve an already lethal lineup and adding further run support is another avenue to success. Minnesota looked pretty dead in the water up until the Donaldson signing, even if it was enough to hold serve in the division. That should be a reminder that situations are consistently fluid, and the front office is actively trying to get better. They are soon closing the door on an opportunity to spend dollars, but they remain incredibly rich in prospect capital.

Before the leaves fall and October baseball begins, the Twins have more work to do. Not only is there a need to win games and position themselves for postseason baseball, they’ll need a reinforcement or two in order to stack up. The top-tier pitcher is what holds the grade back, but it’s hard to be anything less than pleased by the overall result.

Grade B+

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- Ted Schwerzler
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#2 IndianaTwin

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Posted 23 January 2020 - 09:12 PM

If this is the end, I’ll agree with your B+ overall, though I’d flip-flop your Odorizzi/Pineda and Hill grades, primarily because we can get up to 1.75 seasons out of the former and something like a half-season out of Hill. 

 

But it’s still only Jan. 23, so I still give it an “incomplete.” Odorizzi joined the team in February, for example, so there could easily still be more in the works with good-quality minor league signings and whatnot.*

 

 

*I hope we get more good-quality minor league signings than whatnot. We’ve had too many seasons of whatnot.

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#3 JoshDungan1

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 01:01 AM

Can't say I agree with most of these grades, though I'd probably only move them up (not sure I'd move any down) by a grade or two, so it's probably nothing significant that won't eventually change once we see these guys out on the field!

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#4 Doctor Gast

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 08:58 AM

We were definitely saved by the Rain because up to then we were definitely below par. Using grade C as no change, looking at SP where was the greater change & impact. Grading Gibson- Bailey at no higher than D+. Gibson had shown great progress in the last 2yrs. if not for illness last year would have been phenomenal. Now that he has that under control he has much more upside. Perez-Hall both you won`t get a full year but because of more uncertainty I rate C- . Castro-Avila are similarbut I rate Castro better C-. Les impactDyson- Clippard I give a B+. Donaldson although he`s a A+ player for me to give this trade-off an A+ Cron would have to be a dog off, & def. which he isn`t. Because of the Donaldson-Cron impact I`d rate it a B+ . Overall a B-, very happy overall

 SP as I see a bigger regression, we could use an upgrade


#5 Thegrin

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 11:13 AM

Overall I'd rate this offseason as a C+ . The pitching gets a C+ for retaining Jake, Big Mike & Romo.Otherwise there is much to be negative about.

The hitting grade gets only a C+ from me because, although Donaldson has been a great hitter, he is 34 years old and we hardly need another bat.Maybe Cruz van teach him a few tricks on how to hit past 35, but that seems to be a rare talant.:)


#6 Major League Ready

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 01:05 PM

 

Overall I'd rate this offseason as a C+ . The pitching gets a C+ for retaining Jake, Big Mike & Romo.Otherwise there is much to be negative about.

The hitting grade gets only a C+ from me because, although Donaldson has been a great hitter, he is 34 years old and we hardly need another bat.Maybe Cruz van teach him a few tricks on how to hit past 35, but that seems to be a rare talant.:)

 

That must make the Cruz signing an F because he was 38 when they signed him. Power ages well. Donaldson was a lot better risk than RYU IMO. I like the Avila signing too. Darn good back-up and he takes quality ABs. Resigning Castro would have been fine too but I bet he was holding out for a multi year deal and we should have a prospect ready to step into that role next year.

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#7 Riverbrian

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 01:43 PM

The Off-Season Grade will be dependent on the performances of the group of youngsters who will make up 40% of the starting rotation until Pineda and Hill throw a pitch.:)

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#8 Minny505

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 03:39 PM

I disagree with the pitcher grades a bit. I would give Bailey a D, while I would give both reliever signings a B.

 

The Statcast Podcast guys called the Donaldson signing the best signing of the offseason. His statcast numbers in 2019 were outrageous.
 
The Twins now have 5 of the top 6 guys in hard hit rate in 2019 in all of MLB (someone correct me if it's only 4). That's one of those "normalizes quickly" stats that is very predictive. I'll take the Twins against the field on a straight up prop bet to be the best offense in MLB in 2020 by several measures.


#9 h2oface

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 04:07 PM

B minus overall.

 

The number one goal was a pitcher that could challenge or take over the top spot from Berrios. Massive fail.

 

The starters = treading water, (Odorizzi, Pineda - partial year due to suspension, Bailey ~ Gibson) and one - Hill - may not even pitch all year.

 

The relievers - treading water - and I hope Clippard can repeat his last year instead of doing a Dyson of some sort. The bolster gomes from Grateral

 

Catcher? I hope Jeffers comes up and force benches Avila (ala Arreaz/Schoop) when Avila goes out with injury. So average move.

 

Bringer of Rain (thankyouthankyouthankyou) is a godsend makes it all above average, but the thing we needed most, the top of the line pitcher (and really, we needed 1 top pitcher and one 2-3, but one would be a top grade, just with no +) is the limiting factor, and I mean limiting.


#10 jorgenswest

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 08:17 AM

The Off-Season Grade will be dependent on the performances of the group of youngsters who will make up 40% of the starting rotation until Pineda and Hill throw a pitch.:)


I like the off-season plan to give them the opportunity over an older back end option. It really seems ideal. Two pitchers get 8 or so starts to win one spot when it narrows to one opportunity of likely 8 more starts. By the all star break they would have around 25 starts from their hope for the near future.

Even if they all struggle I think this part of the plan is solid and deserves a solid grade. In that case by the all star break They should have a good indication on whether or not to pursue a Robbie Ray rental type at the deadline.

#11 Riverbrian

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 10:14 AM

 

I like the off-season plan to give them the opportunity over an older back end option. It really seems ideal. Two pitchers get 8 or so starts to win one spot when it narrows to one opportunity of likely 8 more starts. By the all star break they would have around 25 starts from their hope for the near future.

Even if they all struggle I think this part of the plan is solid and deserves a solid grade. In that case by the all star break They should have a good indication on whether or not to pursue a Robbie Ray rental type at the deadline.

 

I agree... we can't go into next off-season needing to either sign or trade for 3 starters again. The development of internal options with multi years of control is almost more important than the 38 million dollars committed to 1 year contracts in the rotation this season and the current set-up is going to provide opportunity. 

 

Signing and trading has gone how it has gone and we have all been living witnesses to the results. How it has gone has got us to the point of committing to talent development so the talent we need must be developed. Starting now.

 

I just have two concerns and the two concerns will seem to conflict each other but it's the path we must travel regardless. 

 

1. Having options can't be the reason a young pitcher doesn't remain in the rotation when other pitchers return. This is a preemptive/precautionary concern but until I see different... I am concerned. 

 

Simply sending someone with options to the minors is the easy way out. They can't do that. If everyone is healthy when Pineda returns... Bailey better be better. The $7M investment in Bailey can't mean he keeps his job with a 5.00 ERA just to protect that investment. The development of a multi-year major league quality pitcher is more important than relentless tolerance of a well paid under performing pitcher. 

 

2. How can they trust Dobnak or Smeltzer or Thorpe or whoever it is after not trusting them last season? Not enough has changed in the off-season to feel differently. Yeah... this is a direct conflict to my concern #1... but I can't help it... How can they? 

 

It could be argued that they trusted Dobnak enough to start a playoff game but most of us know that they ran out of choices. Pineda was suspended and Gibson and Perez were pitching awful.

 

They trusted Dobnak enough to give him 28 innings but only gave him those innings after Pineda got suspended and Gibson had an E Coli flareup. They trusted Dobnak in the playoffs enough to hold back our best relievers in Game One under the assumption that they will be needed in Game Two to cover for the short start that Dobnak (in their mind) was sure to make. 

 

But now... it's magically fine in 2020. We can trust Dobnak now?

 

I'm OK trusting Dobnak... I'm saying they should have started to trust him back in August until he showed he shouldn't be trusted.

 

But... they didn't trust him then... so now I don't trust this (where did it come from) new found trust to open our season.:)

 

But yeah... I agree with you. It is ideal... to give them the opportunity over an older back end option.

 

We didn't get Stroman or Ray last deadline... We are going to have to make our own. 

We did't get Wheeler, Bumgarner or Ryu this off-season... We are going to have to make our own. 

 

Bailey can't get in the way like Perez did.:)

 

 

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