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Is the Window Closing?

Posted by mike8791 , 26 August 2019 · 1,975 views

2019 has been an exhilarating ride. This is easily the best Twins team since 2010(and arguably, since 2006). While success is by no means assured this year, suffice it to say that 2019 has brought us to the cusp of serious playoff contention. While recent erratic play, particularly in the rotation and in the field, has tempered our chances for advancement , most of us still feel pretty comfortable about seeing playoff games in Target Field this year. We have a whole month to go, but as of today, I believe our chances of making the playoffs are better than 50%.

With that said, my concerns are for the future. Is this success sustainable? Right now, I have my doubts, for several reasons:

1. In a way 2019 is a fluke in the AL Central. The Indians have been beset by horrific injuries: Kluber, Carrasco, Lindos, now Ramirez. They traded away Bauer, easily their #1 or 2 starter this year, and yet still have enough minor league pitching depth to take 3 of 4 from the Twins in Minnesota and are hanging in there despite 7 straight games against the NY teams. They lost Brantley to FA and yet they have managed to have one of the major's top offenses post All Star. Kudos to Francona and the Indians' player development staff for surviving such hits and still be a solid contender for the playoffs. Next year, with better health, this is still a formidable team!

2. The remainder of the AL Central is woeful, but this is not likely next year. The Sox, with some great young hitters(Roberts could be the best of them all), some solid holdovers(Abreu, Anderson, McCann), and an emerging rotation with a bonafide ace in Giolito, a rapidly improving Lopez, a solid veteran in Nova and two potential stars in Kopech and Cease, are bound to be more competitive next year. They are no longer pushovers and will be a contender at least for a WC in 2020. You heard it here first.

3. The Twins historic offense year is just not sustainable. Too many players are having career years. Is it likely this will reoccur next year? Sure, the Twins have rising stars in Buxton, Sano and Kepler, but who else do we consider future stars? Is Garver really this good? Is Polanco's first half as good as it's going to get. Nelson Cruz will be 40 next year, etc., etc. Yes, we will likely have a solid lineup next year, but hardly the overpowering one that showed up in 2019. This type of home run surge is just unsustainable. I would feel much better if we had more consistent hitting rather than an all or nothing attack. Arraez has been a great new addition, but he's already sliding a bit. Has the league started figuring him out? Are there any other minor leaguers who figure to have the same impact next year as Arraez has?

4. As most TD readers have noted, the Twins' rotation looks very shaky for 2020. Berrios is showing his true colors as a good but inconsistent starter. He is nowhere near an ace, which is why I and others pleaded with the FO to pull out all the stops to acquire a top starter at the trade deadline. Does anyone expect the Twins rotation to hold up to the Yankees or Astros' lineups in October? Next year is far shakier without Odorizzi and Pineda, arguably our two best starters now. Heaven help us if the FO decides not to re-sign both these guys. Gibson doesn't deserve an extension and the jury is still out on Perez. Has anyone stood out in the upper minors this year? The Ryan regime was a colossal failure in developing pitching and while Falvine hasn't been around long enough, their decision to sacrifice a #1 pitcher for Lewis was a real leap of faith to an organization with a lack of big-time pitching prospects. Sure we have some promising position-player prospects in the minors now but pitching wins championships - a fact proven over and over again. This organization's lack of success in developing either rotation stalwarts or lights-out stoppers must give even the most optimistic doubt they can do it in the future. Too bad spending money on a free agent or two is just not in this franchise's DNA!

All this is not to say that the Twins will not be competitive next year, but do you really think their chances will be better than the present? The window was wide open this year, but Falvey decided to be cautious at the trade deadline despite having sizable payroll space and a nice surplus of prospects to trade. You don't have many chances in this game for the brass ring - a fact that Falvey and company might rue in future years.

  • DannySD likes this

I wish Falvey ahd ben less cautious at the trade deadline and actually traded ffor some pieces that could be here in 2020, especially more pitching.


The rotation will have two starters and 6-8 guys on the 40-man with limited experience but no one lights out. There are a couple of prospects, but expecting any of them to throw 150 innings is a dream.


The Twins still have no true closer. Again, there might be a surprise arm or two in the minors, but no one stepping into fulltime work. Romero could find a place because he has to stay and if he works his butt off could shine. But who knows.


The Twins need to replace a catcher (Willians), a second baseman (Arraez or Gordon). That's it. Everyone else returns a year older. No place for a Rooker or Raley yet. Still have an abundance of outfielders (but not in the 40-man). 


Do you resign Odorizzi, Pineda or Gibson? Depends on the price.


Romo will walk. Not sure if you need him back.


But the uncertainity of the rotation and no closer puts the Twins a tad behind this season, where they opened with five dependable starters (who have pitched the majorty of their games) and a depth of #6-10+, which was completely remake from the original group that included Mejia, Slegers, Littell, Gonsalves, Stewart, Thorpe.


We lost Jay, but Jake Reed is still around, isn't he?

I totally agree with the career year offense issue. You know something is too good to be true when Jason Castro looks like Babe Ruth for half a season, and Andrianza looks like the second coming of Rod Carew. While I do like their approach on hitting, way more aggressive, I still think the all or nothing philosophy sooner or later always turns into nothing. Baseball is a pitchers game, the same way blackjack is a dealers game. The numbers always catch up to you. I am not as sure though that the team could have turned this into a Houston/Dodgers/Yankees club. The lower level of SP and the IF defense left holes one seasons acquisitions could likely have not corrected. We could have gotten "better" but could not have made the pitching on this team good enough to consistently stop quality teams. That kind of staff has to be developed by teams like MN in house as a rule.

Rosterman, thanks for comments!Just want to emphasize importance of resigning both Odorizzi and Pineda.The upper minors are barren of major-league-ready starters.This is just reality, I'm afraid.Relying on the minors to provide help for the rotation in 2020(and probably 2021) is really a pipe dream.This organization is not going to be a serious bidder for Gerrit Cole, the only ace-potential FA on the market(refer to Yu Darvish negotiations for relevant history).  


Nor has this FO in 3 years shown any appetite for going big on trades.They remind me of Gibson - nibble, nibble, nibble.Yes, give them credit for buying low on Odorizzi, Pineda and maybe Perez(jury still out on that one).But trading a regular position player or top prospect seems off the board for this group, I'm afraid.Maybe they'll come to their senses this offseason and trade for an established pitcher like Baumgartner or Snell, even if it means giving up a regular like Rosario(first choice), Garver(trade at highest value?) or even Sano(much less likely after his resurgence but should be considered if he fetches a top starter).


Platoon, particularly like your comment on too many holes for one season acquisitions to fill.That is reality, but with the addition of one starter like Greinke or even Baumgartner, there is little doubt that in a one game or short playoff series, our chances to advance would be greatly improved. You win that all-important first game and the odds are in your favor to advance. As things stand now, our odds look slim and none in a short series against Yanks or Astros, either of whom will be our first playoff opponent should we prevail in the AL Central.  


When a season like this occurs, you need to go all in.Reward goes to the brave, not the meek.I understand the FO desire to build a perpetual contender, not a one-trick pony.I just have little faith in a Twins organization, both past and present, that has demonstrated little abilityto draft and develop top notch starting pitching.Hope I'm wrong, but why do so many of our young phenoms flame out at the higher levels?

    • Dome Dogg likes this
Or another way to look at this season is that the Twins have starters age 27 or younger at all 3 outfield spots, 3B, SS, 2B and C. They a 2 time All-Star pitcher that is 25. They have 1 of the best relievers in baseball with 3 years left of team control. They have top prospects coming up in OF/1B (Rooker, Kirilloff, Raley), SS/2B (Lewis, Gordon), C (Rortvedt, Jeffers), Starters (Graterol, Duran, Colina, Gonsalves, Ober, Balazovic, Sands). Everyone of these players has played at least at AA except for Balazovic who has spent most of the year at High A and will most likely start next season at AA. I don’t think the window is closing real soon.
    • kenbuddha likes this

I somewhat agree with the above as the White Sox probably will not be there next year, but certainly by 2021, unless they open the wallet and buy more talent than I think they will. 

Twins need to retain at least one of Oderizzi or Pineda, with my choice being Pineda (not expecting both and will not pay Gibson what he will want for his early 30's seasons. Twins have enough trade chips to make one deal for a decent starter and filling one from the minors is probably the plan.Do not see the Twins going away anytime soon (hitting may not be as good, but pitching should be better).bullpen is the biggest need, but you always can find decent bullpen help in the winter.

Responding to Supfin:Thanks for comments!Agree that the lineup basically looks solid going into next year, especially the outfield!Outfield depth in minors looks good,too, which should motivate FO to trade someone like Rosario(and prospects) for a solid rotation guy. I'm not as high on our IF as you, mainly because of the below average D.Sano and Polanco are below average fielders and there are no immediate replacements.Sano is better at 1B and Polanco maybe at 2B, but then who takes over those two vital positions? Arraez deserves a spot, but he is below average at SS/3B.Perhaps if Lewis was ready they could play him at SS, Polanco at 2B and Gonzales at 3B with Arraez the super utility player.Gordon still looks iffy in my judgment.

Where I differ is in our rotation prospects.They need a solid top 3 or 4, so signing Pineda and Odorizzi should be a major offseason goal.They should trade for a solid rotation arm, which is doable with OF and catcher depth.Gibson and Perez do not belong on a contending staff.Not one minor league pitcher at the AA or AAA level has performed at a level, either in the minors or in small major league trials, to justify optimism in their major league future.Gonzales and Romero are no longer prospects.Smelzer and Thorpe are the best chances for 2020 but neither has looked consistent in brief tryouts with the Twins.I suppose Graterol and Balazovisc are the most likely difference makers longer term but certainly not next year and only problematically in following years given the lack of success this organization has had developing top starters.


In closing,just a comment on the bullpen.This is not nearly the problem area it was earlier this season.Given enough rest, Rogers has been a pretty effective closer.Both Dyson and Romo look to me like solid additions, May and Duffy have improved as the season has progressed and Littell has shown promise.This would be a third priority to me, behind rotation and IF defense.With a couple of major additions in the offseason, this team should be strong contenders.Bottom line:I have little confidence this FO will pull off any "big" moves.

The White Sox will most likely be contending next year. They have always been aggressive in making trades and their owner is not afraid of spending money. 2 things that the Twins won't do.

Aug 29 2019 09:25 AM

Our favorite team could win the Central in their sleep next season. The blockbuster trade or trades, everyone is lusting for, will happen in the next year or so, and involves moving at least 2 of Berrios, Rosario, Sano, and Buxton. Those we can not extend will provide at least one mythical ace, with an outside chance of two.

Regarding Gibson and Odorizzi (and Pineda)...it is money. What will $30 million for starting pitchers buy you in 2020. How many years can Gibson and Odorizzi get (remember, Odorizzi is a five inning starter who dazzled THIS year). Can you sign someone equally as good as either of those for less years and less money (seems to be the manta of ANY Twins front office). 


No, the Twins will NOT go with three rookies anchoring the rotation in 2020. The hope it that they will add two pitchers via free agency, and let Perez fight-it-out with rookies for two spots.


This WAS the trading deadline for the Twins to do soemthing BIG. (Or maybe next deadline). I look and see a lot of names that are going to be shoved to the wayside because their time is up in the Twins organization, or the Twins will play the musical chair game, but you will have to remove someone at sometime from the 40-man and they will be claimed (amazed that pretty much everyone the Twins removed from the 40-man, pitching wise, was gobbled up by another organization, and got major league reps in the process). 


The Twins are still where they were at the trading deadline. They need a top flight veteran starter. They need another solid arm in the rotation with some control (that could push Perez to the pen). They need a closer. They GOT the setup guy (Dyson). Romo doesn't could as he was just a patch.


Going into the off-season, they also will need a backup catcher or depth at AAA if Willians can play 1/4-1/3 of the time behind-the-plate.

Aug 29 2019 09:57 AM


The White Sox will most likely be contending next year. They have always been aggressive in making trades and their owner is not afraid of spending money. 2 things that the Twins won't do.

Take a look at the most money Reinsdorf has ever spent on a free agent. It's by far the least of any large market team. Also, I understand King Theo did it, but I'm very leary of any large market team which chooses to go into a full rebuild, instead of taking out the checkbook.