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The Dust Has Settled - What's Next, Part 2


mike8791

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Before we look into our crystal balls post-deadline, a quick review of what's just transpired might be in order.  First, we lost our best hitter and best pitcher.  For this very reason, chances are this season is going to get even worse.  Three of our new starters will likely be Ober, Jax and Barnes, none of whom figures to be better than a #5 starter.  The bullpen has arguably gotten worse without Rogers and Robles.  And the offense will likely continue to be erratic -  some big run production outings against below average pitching, but more likely low run production against even average pitching.  And with a very difficult August schedule, the likelihood of the Twins climbing out of the cellar looks mighty slim.

But let's look at the bright side.  The Twins prospect depth greatly improved.  We've added at least 3 top 10 prospects, probably catapulting our depleted, injury-stricken minor league system into the top ten in MLB, at least on paper anyway.  And just as importantly, we kept several players who can be building blocks going forward.  You cannot underestimate the importance of Maeda and Pineda, solid #2 and #3 starters in leading a reenergized rotation in 2021.  Nor can you ignore the importance of having a Donaldson and hopefully healthy Buxton leading the offense next year.  Which brings me to my first point :  they need to resign both Pineda and Buxton if this team has any chance of jumping into contention in 2023.   This team will likely not be a playoff contender next year but for them to bounce back to at least a .500 record and set the stage for contention in 2023, these 4 players must be kept..

Continuing on the bright side, this FO did a great job in the trade department.  They received at least 3-4 players who should be playing in the big leagues as soon as next year, but most likely by 2023.  The rotation's future looks much brighter with guys like Joe Ryan and SWR, not to mention our top prospects, Winder and Balozavic, should yield one or two rotation mainstays by 2023.  Which brings me to point#2:  Sign a FA with ace potential this offseason.  My first choice is Syndergaard who should be more affordable due to injury but still young enough to lead a contending staff.  He should be an offseason priority.  This is a risk but one well worth taking if the team is committed to rebounding quickly.  The new additions will also mitigate against rushing some of our younger prospects and perhaps switching some to relievers.

Which brings me to the bullpen.  We added some middling prospects, one of whom might prove valuable in the pen.  We still have Rogers, Duffy and Thielbar, with a few minor leaguers on the verge.  Let;s bring up guys like Cano, Hamilton, and Moran and see how they do.  Coulombe has looked decent.  Point #3:  they must spend the $ for a top FA reliever.  Any suggestions?  I'm at a loss here.  And let's try to get Alcala straightened out at AAA now, as well as transitioning Duran to the pen.  This is still a dumpster fire but at least it can't get much worse than it is now.

So count me as positive for the retool.  It sure beats a long rebuild!!

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Gotta get that #1 stopper relief pitcher. I am excited about Moran, Cano and possibly Hamilton. The question is how gets cycled (or recycled) for the rest of the season. The sooner the Twins part ways with Colome the better.

 

A top of the order starter. Yes, Noah would be fine by me. I have faith that the Twins will look at Balazovic and Winder still. Remember, we also have Dobnak! And Smeltzer and Thorpe are still in the mix, I guess.

 

Catcher is fine with Garver also able to play first base or DH. DH is fine with Rooker, and Garver/Sano as relief. Maybe even a resting place for Donaldson.

 

Arraez, Polanco, Gordon, Lewis should be able to hold down the infield. I might like a better backup body that Alstudillo for third base, but....

 

An outfield of Kepler, larnach and Buxton is fine. Kirillof needs to be a regular, and maybe bump Sano more to the bench or DH (or Miguel can stay in shape and be our third base backstop). I'm not seeing an issue with a backup in the outfield. I hope we maybe see more of Refsnyder. Maybe not too much more of Cave. Maybe time to see Contreras. But the Twins showed that for outfield depth you can troll AAA free agents: Garlick, Reysnyder, Broxton...shouldn't be a problem to find a fourth outfielder.

 

Two questions: who are the Twins pending minor league free agents of note?

 

Who are the names the Twins have to look at hard for the Rule 5 draft. Wander Javier back in the plans?

 

If he Twins spend money, they need to do it on a front rotation arm, a proven starter, and maybe bring back Pi9neda. I'm not sure if Cruz really fits into the picture anymore.

 

September will be the time to look at everyone really really hard who you think might play in 2022 and get them on an off-season program to come to spring training strong and hungry.

 

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Gordon and Larnach are not ready for the majors and maybe never will be; Gordon in reality looks like the W. Mays Hays character from the movie in real life, Larnach has a weak arm and is slow.

Refsnyder and Garlick have shown they can play in the majors so if Buxton can stay healthy Refsnyder or Garlick supporting Buxton and Kepler looks OK.

Arreaz is NOT a good fielder he is more show than go; finding a veteran infielder with Simmons ability is extremely important if they do not keep him.

Cruz should be brought back, period, there is no one on the team, that is as good as he was.

Pitching, they need help badly, spend money there.

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The long rebuild can't be helped, I'm afraid. We're one of the five worst MLB teams, and we got significantly worse for 2022 after the Berrios trade. Cruz is also unlikely to resign here next year. So, it's going to have to be a game of patience with a rookie team. Again.

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No question, this is a bad team now.  How can it be anything else when your best hitter and pitcher are traded?  But the FO had little choice but to trade both Cruz and Berrios now while their value was highest.  Berrios made it pretty plain he was going to test FA.  If he wanted to be paid like an ace, Twins had to trade him.  Cruz at 41 is a stud, but to expect him to continue at this high level is just unrealistic.

While yes, the Twins are in a rebuilding mode and as things stand now, contention in 2022 looks like a big stretch, the future does look brighter than it did several days ago, especially in the rotation.  To accelerate the improvement, they need to resign Pineda and hope that one or two of their top 10 prospects can contribute positively by 2023.  They have at least doubled their chances of that happening if we can believe the baseball pundits.  With Jax and Ober pitching reasonably well to date, it's feasible one of them plus one of the other prospects will solidify the #4 and 5 spots by 2023.

Admittedly the offense is a big unknown.  So long as they can escape any major injuries, Donaldson and Buxton are middle lineup, above average hitters.  Guys like Arraez, Polanco, Garver have by and large established their offense.  We should expect at least one of Kirillof or Larnach to contribute to this core,  and I'm not quite ready to write off Sano and Kepler yet.  They still show flashes now and then, though not nearly enough to count on.  With Miranda and possibly Martin showing great promise, additional reinforcement should occur by 2023.

None of the above is any guarantee of a rapid return to contention.  This FO must get a lot smarter in signing FAs.  A FA signing of someone like Thor or Stroman is essential.  This team has no ace and likely will not for the next 2-3 years.  Ditto for bullpen additions.  At least two closer-types needs to be added.  We should also transition a guy like Duran to the pen as soon as he is off the IL and bring up guys like Cano, Hamilton and Moran to see who might stick.

Signing Buxton to a LT contract is an absolute must.  If the FO fails at this very achievable goal, heads should roll.  And speaking of rolling heads, Rocco tops the list.  He and at least a few of his coaches just don't cut it.  If this year has shown nothing else, lack of leadership, lack of stressing fundamentals and poor game management have not been the sole cause of futility, but they certainly haven't helped.

With some smarter FA moves, signings and player development, this team should start making noise by 2023!

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3 hours ago, LastOnePicked said:

The long rebuild can't be helped, I'm afraid. We're one of the five worst MLB teams, and we got significantly worse for 2022 after the Berrios trade. Cruz is also unlikely to resign here next year. So, it's going to have to be a game of patience with a rookie team. Again.

From the results I have seen Cruz is probably not too happy where he is and he already has stated he would like to come back.

2019 had some short terms veterans that truly bolstered the team, maybe they will do that again and then play the rookies on and off to see who has a future.

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Going from a .900 OPS to a .750 OPS with one player doesn't kill the offense.  Our offense is still above average and with the talent coming up I see no reason for our offense to have any issues for the foreseeable future.  We could even sign a top hitting SS to make a super offense again.  That would be fun.  We have enough pitching to build our staff back up both in the pen and rotation.  because of all the low cost players, we should have plenty of money for free agency and or prospect capital for trades.  While Thor is a fun target, I don't know if he is the value a pitcher coming back from injury used to be.  Other teams are bidding on those pitchers now so I don't know if we can get the same value like when we signed Pineda 4 years ago.  That would be fun to resign Cruz.  I don't see how we can with all of our DH bats we already have with Sano, Rooker, Arraez and every now and then Donaldson should get a day there too.  but if we can make it happen that would be cool.  

going into next season we have a competitive lineup and bench with only minor tweaks needed.  

1B Killeroff and Sano

2B Polanco and Arraez

SS Austin Martin and Lewis or FA

3B Donaldson, Miranda

C Garver, Jeffers, and Rortvedt

OF Kepler

OF Larnach

OF Buxton

DH Rooker, Sano, Donaldson

Bench

Cave, Gordon, Celestino, (players listed above not starting)

Our rotation has:

Maeda

Pineda (likely resigning)

Ober, Dobnak, Barnes, Thorpe, Smeltzer, 

and then you have our closest to ready prospects (Balazovich, Duran, Winder, Joe Ryan) followed by the next tier of prospects who could be ready by midseason (Strottman, Vallimont, Woods-Richardson, Sands)

and we could still sign another FA starting Pitcher.  

Bullpen:

Rogers

Duffey

Alcala 

Theilbar

Farrell, Coulombe, Thorpe, Smeltzer, Dobnak, Burrows, Law, Stashak, Moran other starters who are not in the rotation

and we can sign a reliever or 2 this offseason as well.  

This feels like we are only a few players away from competing again next year and some of those players could come from the minors.  The big scare is the rotation.

Does anyone have an update for our 2022 season budget?  What are we committed to spending and what do we have available to sign players?

 

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6 hours ago, RpR said:

2019 had some short terms veterans that truly bolstered the team, maybe they will do that again and then play the rookies on and off to see who has a future.

I'm sad to say it, but trusting this FO to bolster this team to anything resembling contention with FA signings seems like a real stretch after 2021. Plus, as we've seen, a lot of big names don't want to be here ... even when we were good.

The path ahead is a Rays-like restructuring and a hell of a lot of patience. It will help if the FO can avoid giving away the AL Rookie of the Year to a division rivals too.

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6 hours ago, Brandon said:

Going from a .900 OPS to a .750 OPS with one player doesn't kill the offense.  Our offense is still above average and with the talent coming up I see no reason for our offense to have any issues for the foreseeable future.  We could even sign a top hitting SS to make a super offense again.  That would be fun.  We have enough pitching to build our staff back up both in the pen and rotation.  because of all the low cost players, we should have plenty of money for free agency and or prospect capital for trades.  While Thor is a fun target, I don't know if he is the value a pitcher coming back from injury used to be.  Other teams are bidding on those pitchers now so I don't know if we can get the same value like when we signed Pineda 4 years ago.  That would be fun to resign Cruz.  I don't see how we can with all of our DH bats we already have with Sano, Rooker, Arraez and every now and then Donaldson should get a day there too.  but if we can make it happen that would be cool.  

going into next season we have a competitive lineup and bench with only minor tweaks needed.  

1B Killeroff and Sano

2B Polanco and Arraez

SS Austin Martin and Lewis or FA

3B Donaldson, Miranda

C Garver, Jeffers, and Rortvedt

OF Kepler

OF Larnach

OF Buxton

DH Rooker, Sano, Donaldson

Bench

Cave, Gordon, Celestino, (players listed above not starting)

Our rotation has:

Maeda

Pineda (likely resigning)

Ober, Dobnak, Barnes, Thorpe, Smeltzer, 

and then you have our closest to ready prospects (Balazovich, Duran, Winder, Joe Ryan) followed by the next tier of prospects who could be ready by midseason (Strottman, Vallimont, Woods-Richardson, Sands)

and we could still sign another FA starting Pitcher.  

Bullpen:

Rogers

Duffey

Alcala 

Theilbar

Farrell, Coulombe, Thorpe, Smeltzer, Dobnak, Burrows, Law, Stashak, Moran other starters who are not in the rotation

and we can sign a reliever or 2 this offseason as well.  

This feels like we are only a few players away from competing again next year and some of those players could come from the minors.  The big scare is the rotation.

Does anyone have an update for our 2022 season budget?  What are we committed to spending and what do we have available to sign players?

 

Thank you! You said it much better than I could. There is NO reason the '22 Twins can't compete. Our Lineup is too stacked. We just need average pitching and our above average lineup will carry us to contention. Then as we develop the pitching and supplement our lineup with young cheap talent, watch out WS!

 

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On 7/31/2021 at 5:28 PM, Brandon said:

going into next season we have a competitive lineup and bench with only minor tweaks needed.  

 

I don't think a team that consists of half to over half of its roster being rookies or guys that barely have gotten their feet wet can compete in the Major Leagues.
Kirilloff, Austin Martin, Royce Lewis, Miranda, Jeffers, Rortvedt, Larnach, Rooker, Gordon, Celestino, Ober, Barnes, Moran, and all the minor league pitchers mentioned.
Not sure how they can go into 22 with complete unknowns at SS, unproven outfielder, unproven DH, and a bench and back up players of rookies.
Also have 60% of the rotation of pitches coming off injury and or/rookies. Then a bullpen of two vets and bunch of absolute question marks.
If this is the plan for 22, I believe the front office should be fired and good luck selling fans on this, because if those pitches fail at the expected probability -Balazovic, Duran, Winder, Ryan, Strottman, Vallimont, Woods-Richardson, and Sands, they are in for another long rebuild.

 

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32 minutes ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

I don't think a team that consists of half to over half of its roster being rookies or guys that barely have gotten their feet wet can compete in the Major Leagues.
Kirilloff, Austin Martin, Royce Lewis, Miranda, Jeffers, Rortvedt, Larnach, Rooker, Gordon, Celestino, Ober, Barnes, Moran, and all the minor league pitchers mentioned.
Not sure how they can go into 22 with complete unknowns at SS, unproven outfielder, unproven DH, and a bench and back up players of rookies.
Also have 60% of the rotation of pitches coming off injury and or/rookies. Then a bullpen of two vets and bunch of absolute question marks.
If this is the plan for 22, I believe the front office should be fired and good luck selling fans on this, because if those pitches fail at the expected probability -Balazovic, Duran, Winder, Ryan, Strottman, Vallimont, Woods-Richardson, and Sands, they are in for another long rebuild.

 

The Twins are currently tied for 11th in MLB in runs scored. So suggesting the offense can't compete next year seems a little more pessimistic than necessary. Pitching is a whole different mess, but the offense has been good enough to compete for the division this year. Losing Cruz obviously hurts (I don't think they resign him), but that's the only bat that won't be back next year (I don't think Simmons is back either, but losing him isn't hurting the offense). If Buxton returns and can play 100 games (not holding my breath, but there's a chance) the offense is more than good enough. That's what I read "going into next season we have a competitive lineup and bench" to mean. Think that's a more than reasonable stance.

The pitching is the question. Harder to see them turning that around by next year, but with 50m(ish) to spend and a prospect or 2 contributing there's a path to contention for the division. Even if they don't get someone as good or better than Berrios, there's more than ample opportunity to raise the performance of the staff as a whole. Not to WS good, but it wouldn't take much to improve them to a league average pitching staff. I'm not predicting they catch Chicago next year, but I think there's a very decent chance next year is drastically better than this one with an outside chance of a SF style surprise contention year. Big offseason for the FO, though. Have to hit on a number of arms.

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27 minutes ago, chpettit19 said:

The Twins are currently tied for 11th in MLB in runs scored. So suggesting the offense can't compete next year seems a little more pessimistic than necessary. Pitching is a whole different mess, but the offense has been good enough to compete for the division this year. Losing Cruz obviously hurts (I don't think they resign him), but that's the only bat that won't be back next year (I don't think Simmons is back either, but losing him isn't hurting the offense). If Buxton returns and can play 100 games (not holding my breath, but there's a chance) the offense is more than good enough. That's what I read "going into next season we have a competitive lineup and bench" to mean. Think that's a more than reasonable stance.

 

Sorry I wasn't suggesting the offense couldn't compete next year, I was saying the Team as a whole, when you roster including pitching and non-pitching is over half rookies or partial second year players, plus some of the one that aren't are off of injury.

Plus the team that was mentioned had zero depth except for more rookies, I guess I could have assumed that triple A would have filled with older vets ready to step in when somebody gets hurt or when one of the rookies needs to be sent down. For example it listed Lewis and Martin and possibly a FA for SS. Doesn't it have to be the opposite way? sign a FA with Lewis (I can't imagine him in MN before next Sept) and Martin as possible backups? and if one of them absolutely force their way on the team, that is awesome.

I guess my real point is the FO has to be prepared for injuries and prospects just not being good (Rooker for example at the start of the year), isn't that way they signed Garlick, Refsnyder, and kept Cave or Wade?

 

 

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11 minutes ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

Sorry I wasn't suggesting the offense couldn't compete next year, I was saying the Team as a whole, when you roster including pitching and non-pitching is over half rookies or partial second year players, plus some of the one that aren't are off of injury.

Plus the team that was mentioned had zero depth except for more rookies, I guess I could have assumed that triple A would have filled with older vets ready to step in when somebody gets hurt or when one of the rookies needs to be sent down. For example it listed Lewis and Martin and possibly a FA for SS. Doesn't it have to be the opposite way? sign a FA with Lewis (I can't imagine him in MN before next Sept) and Martin as possible backups? and if one of them absolutely force their way on the team, that is awesome.

I guess my real point is the FO has to be prepared for injuries and prospects just not being good (Rooker for example at the start of the year), isn't that way they signed Garlick, Refsnyder, and kept Cave or Wade?

 

 

For sure. I think it's more likely they slide Polanco back over to SS (or bring back Simmons for less than he's paid this year) until Lewis or Martin can take over as I don't think they want to spend big on one of the big $ FA SS. Their 40 man is really where the questions come in. I'm not totally sure who all needs to be protected, but I know there's a number of guys. They're going to have to make the right decisions there and spend more or less all of their FA $ on pitching. I hope their plan isn't to go into next year with young guys all over the pitching staff. I think the offense stays basically the same and they bring in a bunch of veteran arms and the young guys are the depth and get their chances as the year goes on. Don't know enough about the 40 man to know how many vets they can bring in, but there's plenty of dead weight to be cut from the pitching side right now.

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Again, Buxton is a career .247 hitter. He’s passed 50 RBI’s ONCE. He’s surpassed 20 stolen bases ONCE. He’s surpassed 80 games played ONCE. He’s a LOT closer to Billy Hamilton than Mookie Betts, yet he wants Betts money. The Twins can’t/won’t/shouldn’t give him that kind of money.   Time to trade him for some even better pitching prospects. 

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CHPettit 19: " http://he Twins are currently tied for 11th in MLB in runs scored. So suggesting the offense can't compete next year seems a little more pessimistic than necessary"

Not arguing with these numbers, but I think a few high scoring games( 8 games/96 runs) skews this performance.  Those numbers indicate they scored an average of 4 R/G in the other 98.  I realize you can say this for any team but the lack of consistent offense has plagued this team.  Just too many low scoring affairs where the Twins RISP % was poor.  To me this reflects an all or nothing lineup - lots of HRs(3rd in the majors) but can't string together hits.  With Cruz gone, Twins offense going forward is still a question mark.  At best, this looks like a league average offense, better if some of the newcomers advance, worse if injuries/trades remove Bux and Donaldson from decent ABs.

No question pitching dragged this team down more than offense, but neither is at contender level right now.

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