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This week, Byung Ho Park came to Minnesota, agreed to a deal, and yesterday met the Twin Cities media in a press conference. Since news broke that the Twins had signed Park to a four year, $12 million contract (with a fifth-year option that could make it 5 years, $18 million) plus incentives, there have been a lot of interesting topics discussed. I think there are also quite a few misconceptions out there that I thought I would touch on briefly today and encourage more discussion.Here are a few of the misconceptions that I’ve noted in recent days.

 

Expectations Should Be Lowered For Park Based On His Contract

 

Should they be lowered? No. Will some lower them? Certainly. In my opinion, he is the same player whether he signed for $3 million a year, as he did, or would haive signed for $8-10 mllion a year, which was rumored. He is the same player. He will go through the same struggles as he adjusts to life in the States, playing with a new team, playing in a new league.

It’s like expecting Joe Mauer would suddenly become an even better player because he signed a huge contract at age 27. Expectations based on contract are hardly ever fair.

 

The Twins Low-Balled Park

 

That was the first reaction of some Twins fans. It was also the reaction of many in Korea who thought he would make more coming to MLB. That showed in yesterday’s press conference when two members of Korean media started with questions about the contract.

 

The reality is that the Twins worked within the current rules set up for players who are posted from Korea. Even Park’s agent, Alan Nero from Octagon, said that they played by the rules. He was a better player than Jung Ho Kang who signed a year earlier after putting up great numbers in Korea, and he got a little bit more than him.

 

Was the contract fair? That could be debated. Is any contract fair when one party is negotiating solely with one other party? But that’s not the Twins fault. If anything is to blame, blame the system.

 

We Have a Good Idea of How Productive Park Will Be

 

Like any player, or especially any free agent, we have no idea how productive Byung Ho Park will be for the Twins in 2016 and beyond. Can we compare his stats in the KBO to the stats of Jung Ho Kang’s numbers in the KBO and then consider Kang’s number in MLB last year and assume that Park’s will be a little better than that? Sure, we can do that. Does it mean anything? Maybe, but probably not.

 

Park could come in and put up the types of numbers that Jose Abreu did in his rookie season for the White Sox two years ago. He could run away with rookie of the year votes. He could become a fixture in the middle of a strong Twins lineup. Who knows? He could hit 40 home runs every year.

 

Or, he could hit .185, strike out 210 times a year, and really struggle in the adjustment.

 

I hope people are already over the misconception that we can compare Park coming to the Twins with Tsuyoshi Nishioka coming to the Twins half a decade ago. However, it is fair to say that Nishioka’s resume in Japan (in the NPB which is generally considered a better, more talented league than the KBO) was almost as impressive as Park’s in Korea.

 

Nishioka was an All-Star, a batting champ, a gold glove winner. He had a ton of accolades. Park has been an MVP, a gold glove winner, a home run champion and more.

 

I think this signing will be great, but clearly, time will tell.

 

The Twins Have To Trade Trevor Plouffe

 

Terry Ryan surprised several people yesterday at the news conference when he flatly said that he would keep the rest of the lineup intact. He said Plouffe would be his third baseman, and Miguel Sano would move to the outfield.

 

Most have been working under an assumption that the Twins would deal Plouffe for pitching (or other talent) and clear the way for Miguel Sano to play third base. There is this thought that Miguel Sano can’t play in the outfield.

 

He’s too big. Not fast enough. Hasn’t played the position in his life.

 

Of those three things, only the last one is probably true. Yes, he weighed in at 268 pounds at the end of the season. Yes, that is a number that he and the Twins will need to watch closely as he moves forward. It’s likely a weight that will hold him back as he ages. But for 2016, he is a great athlete. He can get going.

 

There are many slower outfielders out there. I mean, Oswaldo Arcia and Josh Willingham come to mind. Michael Cuddyer was not any faster than Miguel Sano is, and he was able to handle right field. The phrase “once he gets going” would likely be uttered a lot.

 

His size isn’t the concern at this time. The fact that he hasn’t played in the outfield is a concern, but that is a concern whether he weighs 268 or 208. It will be an adjustment. He is talented and knows the game enough to catch fly balls. That’s the easy part of the position. But positioning, playing the ball off the wall, knowing where to throw, hitting the cut-off man, adjusting for slices, playing the ball hit directly over your head. Those are not easy.

 

However, there have been a lot of infielders that have moved out to the outfield. Chipper Jones moved from third base to left field. Miguel Cabrera came up for the Marlins as a 20 year old in 2013 and played left field, a position he hadn’t played before on a World Series champion team. Last year, the Cubs played Kris Bryant in the outfield in 16 games, and Kyle Schwarber was an outfielder in the playoffs. These guys weren’t great (or even good) outfielders defensively, but it does show that winning teams can make these types of decisions.

 

The best example, from a positive perspective, might be the Royals Alex Gordon. He was a questionable third baseman who was pushed to left field and has become a multiple Gold Glove winner.

 

The idea of a Rosario, Buxton, Hicks outfield was very exciting for Twins fans (and Twins pitchers), but it's likely that two very good outfielders will be in the outfield.

 

Ryan also said that the offense was a problem in 2015, and I think we would all agree, so trading Plouffe isn’t a great plan. I think we can all agree with that. The team does need to score runs and having Plouffe and Sano in a lineup gives it a better chance to do so.

 

Plouffe Won’t Be Traded

 

I have to add this one as well. While I believe that the Twins won’t be actively looking to deal Trevor Plouffe during the Winter Meetings next week, I don’t believe that they won’t listen to anyone who is interested. If a great package of players that can help the Twins win in 2016 and beyond is offered, it could happen.

 

Terry Ryan shouldn’t trade Trevor Plouffe just to make room at third base for Miguel Sano. However, if he gets an offer that he can’t refuse, well, he shouldn’t refuse it.

 

Some have even said that because of the contract that Park signed, and the fact that it was less than assumed, the Twins no longer have to trade Plouffe. The Park and Plouffe contracts are not restraining the Twins if they’re both around. They can still go out and sign a reliever or two and address other needs with both on the roster. The idea of trading Plouffe is about opening up third base for Sano and adding arms, not about money.

 

 

The Winter Meetings should be interesting for Twins fans. How will it all play out? Well, I guess we’ll find out.

 

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Thanks, Seth.

 

As a moderator, I just want to add that I've been seeing a lot of disrespect floating around ... Ryan lied, Ryan's stupid, the Twins are cheap, etc. You may have strong feelings one way or another about how this team is run; I know I do, and I've stated it many times over the years so it's no secret. But let's be better in our rebuttals and disagreements and not go this easy route.

 

For me, I was shocked at what Park signed for. But he signed it, and his agent worked this deal as much as Ryan. Maybe Park wanted out of Korea and would have taken anything and Ryan knew that? Don't know, and neither do you. Maybe it's truly a fair deal and only time will tell. So when you start making assumptions and stating opinions, be clear about that and leave the disrespect behind.

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Great article, Seth (as always!). 

 

I am excited about the offense with or without Plouffe. I am a fan of Trevor, but if Terry Ryan gets an offer for a quality arm or two, he would be foolish not to take it. Worst case scenario, we can have Max Kepler start in right field or look to the FA market for a right fielder.

 

This current rotation likely won't make a deep playoff push, so another starter is important. That and I really don't want Sano in the outfield. I am open to whatever Terry Ryan wants to do with Trevor, but I almost think a trade would be the best option (depending on the return, of course).

 

 

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Great article, Seth (as always!). 

 

I am excited about the offense with or without Plouffe. I am a fan of Trevor, but if Terry Ryan gets an offer for a quality arm or two, he would be foolish not to take it. Worst case scenario, we can have Max Kepler start in right field or look to the FA market for a right fielder.

 

This current rotation likely won't make a deep playoff push, so another starter is important. That and I really don't want Sano in the outfield. I am open to whatever Terry Ryan wants to do with Trevor, but I almost think a trade would be the best option (depending on the return, of course).

I disagree on the importance of adding another starter, especially on a mediocre one that would be received for Plouffe. I think Plouffe would probably only net a reliever with some upside.

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I don’t love the idea of Sano in the outfield but I also don’t know how good or bad he will be out there yet.

 

Do the Twins really need to keep Plouffe?  I don’t think so.  Even if Sano got hurt and needed to DH Nunez could play third and probably be close to as productive as Plouffe was.

 

If the Twins want to maximize their return for Plouffe I would think trading him now or before the deadline would be the best value you could get for him.  At the same time there isn’t a burning need to maximize Plouffe’s trade value as the 40 man is filling up with young players and we are gonna have a hard time keeping everyone we currently have as it is.  Also the rumored Trade with the Angels doesn’t appear to bring back anything outstanding either.  Given those scenarios maybe Plouffe just has more value staying with the Twins. 

 

The other thing brought up on this board is that an injury to Mauer, Park, Plouffe or Sano and there is no real log jam there.  Odds are someone will get injured and be out for a while.

 

So to keep or not keep I could go either way.  Maybe depth is the better way to go this year I don’t know.  At the same time I don’t think it matters much what they do right now.  If things are going well or poorly for the team in June they can trade him then.  If he ends up being a key cog in their success then they made the right choice hanging onto him.  If someone offers the Twins a deal too good to pass up then go for it.  I doubt the offers will be good to great for an average third baseman but who knows.

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The other thing brought up on this board is that an injury to Mauer, Park, Plouffe or Sano and there is no real log jam there.  Odds are someone will get injured and be out for a while.

 

 

If I'm not mistaken I think the Pirates limited Kang's exposure in the first few months.   Giving him regular time off to get acclimated to the new surroundings and league.   If the Twins use the Pirates/Kang model then these 4 can be used in a rotation for DH/1B/3B leaving Sano's exposure to the OF to maybe just 1-2 games a week.

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I never criticized the Nishioka signing and won't criticize this one   At least we didn't let go of Hardy because of this signing.    :We have some depth in case it doesn't work out.    I do hope Sano in the outfield is temporary because I am hoping to see an outfield of Rosario, Buxton and Kepler

That's what's odd here. If they don't trade Plouffe now, there doesn't seem to be a time when they will. That leaves one of those three on the bench, traded, or in Rochester. And means Arcia and likely Vargas is gone. It also means our biggest trade chip for pitching is off the table.

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Comment:  I thought the Nishioka deal was very questionable at the time, as (if I recall correctly) he had one great year in Japan.  Prior to that, he was a good, not great player, esp BA wise.

Question:  For a large man, Sano has decent speed (when he's not hobbling around with a hammy), so i don't see OF speed as a problem.  However, does anyone know what Sano is doing right now?  Is he back home or here in the US?  Is he playing winter ball, and if so, what position?  Or is he just practicing buffets?

 

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I hope that Terry Ryan works a package of Plouffe and Nolasco and can ship them to a team that is willing to offer a prospect in return.  I don't see Nolasco fitting into the starting 5, so he needs to go.  The starting rotation needs to make room for Berrios and doesn't need another starter in return for Plouffe.  

 

The 2016 Twins will have a few question marks, but that's what makes spring training fun.  They can see if Park can hit ML pitching, if Buxton can hit ML pitching, find a place (or trade) D. Santana, and see if Berrios is ready to make the big leagues out of Spring Training.  

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Comment:  I thought the Nishioka deal was very questionable at the time, as (if I recall correctly) he had one great year in Japan.  Prior to that, he was a good, not great player, esp BA wise.

Question:  For a large man, Sano has decent speed (when he's not hobbling around with a hammy), so i don't see OF speed as a problem.  However, does anyone know what Sano is doing right now?  Is he back home or here in the US?  Is he playing winter ball, and if so, what position?  Or is he just practicing buffets?

Last seen at the Old Country Buffet in Richfield, training for the up coming move to the outfield.

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Good stuff Seth (although "able to handle right field" might need to be clarified, as Cuddy really struggled at Target Field).  However, I do agree that Sano is the better athlete and could play RF from an athletic standpoint.

 

I also tend to agree with Platoon and a few others when it comes to Ploufe.  It just feels like there is not going to be a better time to move him.  Maybe we don't get that much, but how will that change moving forward?

 

Terry appears pretty adamant on this though.  I guess we will see.

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After reading this article:

http://www.hardballtimes.com/positional-case-study-minnesota-twins-third-basemen/

 

I am strongly in favor of maintaining depth (keep Plouffe). Organizational depth at third base goes Plouffe, Sano...Nunez...Escobar............????

 

I like the win now mentality. The Twins "getaway" day lineup will be just as good as the regular. With Polanco, Kepler, and Vargas as depth, the injury depleted lineup won't look bad either.

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I never criticized the Nishioka signing and won't criticize this one   At least we didn't let go of Hardy because of this signing.    :We have some depth in case it doesn't work out.    I do hope Sano in the outfield is temporary because I am hoping to see an outfield of Rosario, Buxton and Kepler

 

If Plouffe is traded and then Park fails, then the Nishioka comparisons can be made...

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After reading this article:
http://www.hardballtimes.com/positional-case-study-minnesota-twins-third-basemen/

I am strongly in favor of maintaining depth (keep Plouffe). Organizational depth at third base goes Plouffe, Sano...Nunez...Escobar............????

I like the win now mentality. The Twins "getaway" day lineup will be just as good as the regular. With Polanco, Kepler, and Vargas as depth, the injury depleted lineup won't look bad either.

 

Ok I could be on board with this, but the key quote from your link is:

 

 

Based on past history, odds are long that the Twins will try to lock down Plouffe long term. Instead, they’ll probably just get an inexpensive veteran as a stopgap before handing the job to a prospect.

 

Throughout the article, he fails to mention who that "prospect" might be...  :) 

 

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Per Gleeman, nobody has played a 100 games at a listed weight above 250lbs in over 50 years (in RF)....I know I wrote earlier that I think Sano is athletic enough, but...that is an interesting observation he makes.

 

I also like his point about why make iffy moves for a guy who has a career .245 ba, .308 OBP, and a .420 SLG? 

I think we may be over valuing Ploufe both on the trade market and his value to the team...

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Per Gleeman, nobody has played a 100 games at a listed weight above 250lbs in over 50 years (in RF)....I know I wrote earlier that I think Sano is athletic enough, but...that is an interesting observation he makes.

 

I also like his point about why make iffy moves for a guy who has a career .245 ba, .308 OBP, and a .420 SLG? 

I think we may be over valuing Ploufe both on the trade market and his value to the team...

How many baseball players have BEEN over 250 pounds (not counting pitchers and first basemen)?  I bet there haven't been very many third basemen who played more than 100 games while over 250 pounds either, so this stat argues he shouldn't be there either.

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Ok I could be on board with this, but the key quote from your link is:

 

 

Throughout the article, he fails to mention who that "prospect" might be...   :)

Yeah, I admit I found that odd.  I got the impression he isn't a Twins fan and somehow didn't know anything about Sano--he was just writing an article highlighting the past two decades of near-futility at the position.

 

At any rate, Plouffe provides short-term depth and experience.  Unless his trade value is sky-high, might as well keep him, imo.

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How many baseball players have BEEN over 250 pounds (not counting pitchers and first basemen)?  I bet there haven't been very many third basemen who played more than 100 games while over 250 pounds either, so this stat argues he shouldn't be there either.

 

You make a good point.. it would be an incredibly SSS so the stat you replied to doesn't have a whole lot of merit. Only a very short list of people I can think of....

 

Pablo Sandoval - guy has to be pushing 275 these days and still plays 100+ games a season at 3B

Jason Heyward - Also helps that he's 6'5" so he's just a large man in general

Nelson Cruz - Another big guy in the OF

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