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Ch-ch-changes?


stringer bell

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The Twins play their 30th game this afternoon and are currently 11-18. They've been beset by bad luck, bad play and have taken a beating with two rule changes (extra-inning runner on second, 7-inning games for doubleheaders). How do they get out of this funk? I'm sure many in the organization will preach patience and they may be right, but that isn't any fun. Here are some possibilities for change that might help the team:

 

Role change. We've already seen one role change. At least temporarily Alexander Columé is not going to see high-leverage innings. Columé has been a huge disappointment and even when he has worked scoreless innings, he's been shaky. The problem is that taking Columé out of high leverage situations leaves the Twins with few good options, particularly when going 6 or more innings for a starter is a rarity. I think one pitching role change that should be made is to use Taylor Rogers in non-save high leverage situations as happened early in 2019 and sometimes use him for multiple innings. Rogers shouldn't be used in back-to-back days. Moving Alcala to high leverage situations seems to be gradually happening. If things continue to go bad, it makes sense to have him give a shot as a closer. Position players--it seems to me that both Polanco and Kepler should have their roles diminished from full-time regular to something different. Kepler can play a corner and center and Polanco has played short and second, maybe Max should be slotted as the fourth OF or at least platooned with Garlick. I think giving Polanco the role of three-position infielder wouldn't be a stretch. He could get some at-bats as a platoon partner for my choice of regular second baseman (Arraez) and left-handed at-bats in place of Simmons and when Donaldson takes a day off (or is injured).

 

Promotions/demotions. Assuming that Alex Kirilloff is in the big leagues to stay, when healthy the Twins have one extra position player and someone will have to be sent to the minor leagues or released. Discussion has centered on Jake Cave. Several others could be sent down and that doesn't begin to discuss the pitching staff. Many pitchers'performances could merit their demotion.

 

Trades. It is unlikely that anyone will make a significant trade this early in the year. However, the Twins would be a good candidate for a major trade nearer the trade deadline. They have some redundancy (left handed hitting corner outfielders) and holes that need patching (bullpen, perhaps catching) and many candidates to trade. They also have a lot of players who would be free agents after this season. I do wonder if someone who was considered a cornerstone (Polanco, Kepler, Sanó) could be traded. None of these guys have performed remotely well so far but an uptick could make them more marketable. I have to believe that the Twins will bring in new pitchers either in the bullpen or the rotation. What they have at this time in the bullpen just hasn't worked.

 

Personally, I think the Twins will need to do a little bit of everything to turn the corner. I am a proponent of changing roles. I think Kepler and Polanco could be candidates to have limited roles. The Twins need to add at least one strong arm in the bullpen, most likely by trade and Trevor Larnach is reputed to be nearly as much a sure thing as a hitter as Alex Kirilloff, plus he is a better outfielder. There is too much talent for the club to continue to play sub.400 baseball, but I think they need to make changes immediately.

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We need Arraez, Buck and Kirilloff playing ever day. We need Donaldson to run out his groundouts. I know some may say, why should he risk injury running out a ground out? I say because it is the way the game should be played, "The Twins Way" and it sets a poor example for the younger players when the see Donaldson dogging it.  I told the FO not to sign Donaldson, due to his long history as a catcher and his resulting   recurrent leg injuries. Did they listen? Nope. Sano needed to be traded several years ago . His   excessive strikeouts will continue to stifle rallies the rest of his career. The Tigers will love to have another ex-Twin.   For the love of all that is good and true and to honor the Hall of Fame player with a .341 career BA, Wee Willie Keeler, every player who faces a shift should be able to hit the ball  " where they ain't", and get on base 50 % of   the time there is a shift. Finally every pitcher who walks the first batter he faces in an inning should be fined $100 for his first offense, to be increased by $100 for each subsequent offense. Thanks for reading this. I feel better now.

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The three position players I most enjoy watching are Arraez, Buxton and Kirilloff. To have all three on the IL just shows what a trainwreck has occurred so far. 

 

I don't quite go so far in criticizing particularly Donaldson for lack of hustle. He goes down the line, but doesn't "bust it" like a majority of players. He probably has more justification for not sprinting hard because of the leg injuries he has suffered. It's not a good look especially if a ball is bobbled.

 

Cave is probably the only guy I see sprint all-out to first on every ground ball. 

 

As far as beating the shift, I would like to see more lefty hitters put down bunts in appropriate situations. It doesn't have to be a precise bunt oftentimes, just past the pitcher and if it forces the third baseman in an closer to the line, then there is a real gap to shoot for in the infield. Trying to hit a grounder to the non-pull side would probably mess with most swings. A lot of hitters are shifted in the infield, but played close to straight away in the outfield, Buxton and Kepler being two examples. 

 

Finally, walking hitters. No one tries to walk hitters, but sometimes pitchers try to be too fine (I think of Kyle Gibson in this regard). To me, it is one thing to walk a guy after a long battle--every pitcher misses his spot once in a while--rather than a four-pitch walk with not one pitch being competitive. The difference between success and failure is so small and sometimes arbitrary. Right now it seems that everything close is going against the Twins. One would expect things to turn around, but waiting for a turnaround is brutal.

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On 5/9/2021 at 10:52 AM, tarheeltwinsfan said:

We need Arraez, Buck and Kirilloff playing ever day. We need Donaldson to run out his groundouts. I know some may say, why should he risk injury running out a ground out? I say because it is the way the game should be played, "The Twins Way" and it sets a poor example for the younger players when the see Donaldson dogging it.  I told the FO not to sign Donaldson, due to his long history as a catcher and his resulting   recurrent leg injuries. Did they listen? Nope. Sano needed to be traded several years ago . His   excessive strikeouts will continue to stifle rallies the rest of his career. The Tigers will love to have another ex-Twin.   For the love of all that is good and true and to honor the Hall of Fame player with a .341 career BA, Wee Willie Keeler, every player who faces a shift should be able to hit the ball  " where they ain't", and get on base 50 % of   the time there is a shift. Finally every pitcher who walks the first batter he faces in an inning should be fined $100 for his first offense, to be increased by $100 for each subsequent offense. Thanks for reading this. I feel better now.

I couldn't disagree more about sprinting on a routine ground ball.

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