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Report: Twins To Sign LHP J.A. Happ


 

Why do Twins fans think every off-season the team will turn into the Yankees or Dodgers. No one went to games last year and probably won't this year either.

I love this signing! Happy isn't a Cy candidate, but he is very good and very reliable. Anyone remember the rag arms we had at the 4 & 5 spots in our WS years? Now please go out and resign Cruz, get a backup MI and another RP

 

Name one poster that suggested they spend like the Yankees.....

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The Twins could always acquire someone in July to fit above him in the rotation, if they're in playoff position.  So I wonder if that's what the FO is doing here, trying to shore up the rotation and see if they can bring in someone with a bigger impact possibility at a lower cost than now (whether that's trading cost or $ cost).

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The Twins could always acquire someone in July to fit above him in the rotation, if they're in playoff position.  So I wonder if that's what the FO is doing here, trying to shore up the rotation and see if they can bring in someone with a bigger impact possibility at a lower cost than now (whether that's trading cost or $ cost).

 

Wouldn't they be more likely to be in that position if they acquired the great player now?

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Seth is absolutely right--this move is about having 4 proven MLB starters that will hopefully cover 80% of your games.  It's also about improving leverage (Falvine no longer HAS to get a starter), and putting the Twins in a position where Duran and Balazovic can be brought up when ready, as opposed to when needed.

 

John Bonnes has pointed out several times on the GATG podcast that Falvine seems to prefer setting a floor early, and then raising the ceiling late.  I would very much expect that the Twins are still in the market for upgrades to the starting staff, and while I'm not saying they will for sure make one, I wouldn't be surprised if they did.

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John Bonnes has pointed out several times on the GATG podcast that Falvine seems to prefer setting a floor early, and then raising the ceiling late.  I would very much expect that the Twins are still in the market for upgrades to the starting staff, and while I'm not saying they will for sure make one, I wouldn't be surprised if they did.

 

I have no clue if the Twins plan on another Meada caliber kind of move, but if the Twins DID want to improve their floor by signing a couple of vet arms, like they did last year with Hill, Bailey and Chacin, you kind of have to do that first. I don't know that those guys would have all been as excited to sign with the Twins if they knew the team was going to continue to add to the competition for rotation spots.

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Problem with your reasoning is that you're assuming for him to be the best pitcher on the staff it means the guys you perceive as better than him have to come down to the level you perceive him at. I think Seth was suggesting he has shown the ability to pitch above the level you expect those ahead of him in the rotation to pitch at. And getting out of Yankee stadium should be a natural boost to his stats.

 

I don't know if your comment on the minor leaguers means you think if they can't outperform him this year they're not really prospects, but I hope that isn't the case. These comment sections get so many "call up the young guys and see what we have in them" comments it's insane. You don't take someone with a 7th grade education, put them in college, watch them fail and say "see, not actually that smart." Prospects having missed an entire season shouldn't be relied upon to perform to MLB standards early this year. Calling up prospects to "see what you have in them" is a recipe for disaster. Promoting young players is a very tough balancing act. Everyone wanted Buxton up to "see what he can do" and that was a complete disaster. 

 

If your comment on the minor leaguers was referring to Dobnak, Thorpe, and Smeltzer type younger pitchers who have debuted I guess all I can say is they've shown the level they're currently at and relying on them for big roles this year would not be a move many teams with World Series aspirations would make.

 

I'm not thrilled by this signing, but a deeper dive into Happ shows he has been more than serviceable even at his advanced age. Don't agree with Seth that he could be their #1, but #3 Pineda type seems like a reasonable expectation.

Wow! I gotta make my "IF’s" bigger I guess. I didn’t say the guy couldn’t pitch in the middle of the order, and I certainly hope he can pitch at the bottom of it. Nor did I say our minor leaguers should be there in place of him. 

 

I SAID that IF he ends up as a #1 as someone speculated was possible, which was not me btw, and IF our milb pitchers do not have the talent to exceed his level, then it could be a long year.  I didn’t suggest any of the milb pitchers be brought up, I was solely expressing the opinion that the level down there must not be awe inspiring if we can’t fill the 5 hole with one of them.

 

He isn’t a bad pitcher, or at least hasn’t been. But really, the thought of him as the best pitcher on a team makes one easily and likely correctly assume that the rest of the staff is nothing to hang your hat on. Nor does even the hint of him being a #1 bring forth any optimism for this team to bring a halt to our current playoff streak. Do I think he will ever achieve that lofty status on the Twins? I sure hope not. But yes, he can fill the 5 hole nicely on a contender. He will be a piece, but  there had best be a separation above him to allow you to contend.  Like I said, it ain’t a godawful move! 
 

 

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This seems like a typical 21st century Twins signing. 

 

I'm more worried about the lost bats this offseason than the pitching. The Twins starting pitchers already have the potential to carry the team. Maybe the Twins agree, and this is just an "insurance" or "depth" move.

 

I don't care about the money spent, nor should any Twins fan.

 

I'm sure the Twins will work on the offense soon.

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...  I like this signing. He's probably the Twins #3. He could be their top guy. Yes, he's 38, but he's not reliant on velocity. If he stays healthy, which he has, I think this is a really solid signing for the Twins. 

 

I would agree with this if the goal were only to win the division during the regular season.

 

Happ has 27.2 IP in 15 playoff games, with 4 starts. So plenty of those innings are in relief, without showing how many inherited runners scored. 

 

Which might be why his WHIP is a ghastly 1.880 (yes, over all those separate appearances) but his cumulative ERA is a far less horrifying ... 5.82.

 

What is the goal? 

 

To add average to slightly better than average pitching to just win enough regular season games to be satisfied with a division title?

 

Or to find pitching that can beat the best teams in MLB during the post-season?

 

I really, really hope those who like this signing are saying I-told-you-so in nine months as the Twins dominate the playoffs. I really hope I'm wrong. But if we were to acquire pitching capable of dominating in the playoffs, it should *also* be able to dominate in the regular season, yeah?

 

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Wow! I gotta make my "IF’s" bigger I guess. I didn’t say the guy couldn’t pitch in the middle of the order, and I certainly hope he can pitch at the bottom of it. Nor did I say our minor leaguers should be there in place of him. 

 

I SAID that IF he ends up as a #1 as someone speculated was possible, which was not me btw, and IF our milb pitchers do not have the talent to exceed his level, then it could be a long year.  I didn’t suggest any of the milb pitchers be brought up, I was solely expressing the opinion that the level down there must not be awe inspiring if we can’t fill the 5 hole with one of them.

 

He isn’t a bad pitcher, or at least hasn’t been. But really, the thought of him as the best pitcher on a team makes one easily and likely correctly assume that the rest of the staff is nothing to hang your hat on. Nor does even the hint of him being a #1 bring forth any optimism for this team to bring a halt to our current playoff streak. Do I think he will ever achieve that lofty status on the Twins? I sure hope not. But yes, he can fill the 5 hole nicely on a contender. He will be a piece, but  there had best be a separation above him to allow you to contend.  Like I said, it ain’t a godawful move! 
 

Nope, I saw the Ifs and understood all that. I just disagreed and disputed it. You replied to Seth's comment where he suggests Happ is likely the #3 and could possibly be their #1. I agreed with you that he's likely not their #1 as Seth said was possible, but being the #3 is entirely possible. 

 

I never said you said he WAS their #1 or the prospects ARE subpar. I took your IFS and refuted them. Your assumption is that IF he turns out to be their #1 it means the guys ahead of him, in your mind, coming into the year failed. That wasn't the argument Seth was trying to make that you refuted. He was suggesting that based on Happ's career, even recent years, Happ has proven to be a talented MLB pitcher and has it in him to put up very good numbers. Likely more of #3 numbers, but, like Maeda did last year, he has it in him to surprise and put up #1 numbers. What I'm saying is even your IF is not what Seth was suggesting. And you didn't say it "could be a long year" if he's their #1, you said its "gonna be."

 

And I refuted your suggestion that IF the prospects in the minors can't come up and be top 40 pitchers in baseball the minors don't really have any prospects. I say top 40 because since 2016 Happ is #38 in fWAR. Berrios is #35 for a reference point. He's had the 28th best ERA in baseball since 2015 (minimum 100 starts). Reference points: Sonny Gray, James Paxton, JA Happ, Kenta Maeda, Marcus Stroman (stole that from this article https://theathletic.com/2335396/2021/01/21/j-a-happ-twins-free-agency-needs/). My point was that, even with IF in there, the idea that prospects, who didn't have a season last year, should be counted on to come up, fill the 5 spot, and be able to outdo those numbers shows a complete lack of understanding of how prospects should be handled and how the minors work. It's weird that you suggest a pitcher with those kinds of numbers shouldn't be relied on for more than the 5th spot on a contender, but you think a team should be able to count on rookies to fill the 5th spot on a contender.

 

And if instead of the prospects you meant the Dobnak, Thorpe, Smeltzer type group it is still unreasonable to expect them to be that when they haven't shown they can be. Although Dobnak has had some promising stretches.

 

I took your IFS into consideration when disagreeing. I disagreed with it even with the ifs. Happ is not a sexy signing. When I first heard about it and saw it was 8 mil I wasn't a fan. Deeper diving into his numbers shows its actually a very reasonable deal and Seth was pretty reasonable with saying he's got a real shot at being their #3 and an outside shot at going Maeda on things and being their #1 by having a top of his ability year.

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I would agree with this if the goal were only to win the division during the regular season.

 

Happ has 27.2 IP in 15 playoff games, with 4 starts. So plenty of those innings are in relief, without showing how many inherited runners scored. 

 

Which might be why his WHIP is a ghastly 1.880 (yes, over all those separate appearances) but his cumulative ERA is a far less horrifying ... 5.82.

 

What is the goal? 

 

To just win enough regular season games to be satisfied with a division title?

 

Or to find pitching that can beat the best teams in MLB during the post-season?

 

I really, really hope those who like this signing are saying I-told-you-so in nine months as the Twins dominate the playoffs. I really hope I'm wrong. But if we were to acquire pitching capable of dominating in the playoffs, it should *also* be able to dominate in the regular season, yeah?

 

A playoff rotation is generally 3.5 pitchers, so if J. A. Happ is our number 4, he'll be asked to make only a couple of starts, and by starts, I mean pitch 4-5 innings before the bullpen takes over.

 

It's also worth pointing out that 15 appearances and 27 innings is fairly small sample size, and it would only take one or two good performances to completely flip those numbers.

 

At any rate, the purpose of this move is not as much to win in the playoffs, as it is to make it easier to get to the playoffs.  It's very hard to win in the playoffs if you had to ride your horses hard all the way to get there, and very much harder to win in the playoffs if you don't get there at all.

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Problem with your reasoning is that you're assuming for him to be the best pitcher on the staff it means the guys you perceive as better than him have to come down to the level you perceive him at. I think Seth was suggesting he has shown the ability to pitch above the level you expect those ahead of him in the rotation to pitch at. And getting out of Yankee stadium should be a natural boost to his stats.

 

How many pitchers have had career years at age 38? Unless he's going to be (probably) the first, that would absolutely mean that Maeda and Berrios took steps backward.

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The Twins could always acquire someone in July to fit above him in the rotation, if they're in playoff position.  So I wonder if that's what the FO is doing here, trying to shore up the rotation and see if they can bring in someone with a bigger impact possibility at a lower cost than now (whether that's trading cost or $ cost).

The Twins in general, and this current FO, haven't really shown anything to make us think they'll do that though.

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How many pitchers have had career years at age 38? Unless he's going to be (probably) the first, that would absolutely mean that Maeda and Berrios took steps backward.

You conveniently didn't include the part of my posts where I listed stats and information. Like since 2016 Berrios being #35 in fWAR to Happ's #38. Or where I mentioned he's #28 in best ERA in the game since 2015. Right after Sonny Gray and James Paxton and ahead of Maeda. 2 guys many on here are begging to be signed or traded for and ahead of the guy most everyone lists as the Twins current #1. He doesn't need to do anything but what he has been doing. Including last year where he had an ERA+ of 123 compared to Berrios' 109. He doesn't strike people out like Berrios, but basically every other stat goes to Happ. Sorry the numbers don't reflect your perception of how things are, but he's been a very good pitcher for a long time and has had 1 ERA+ under 100 since 2015.

 

How many hitters have had career years at age 38? Cruz seems to have done alright at 38, 39, and 40. By your logic that was a bad signing to make. And we REALLY shouldn't bring him back at age 41. Right?

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It's also worth pointing out that 15 appearances and 27 innings is fairly small sample size, and it would only take one or two good performances to completely flip those numbers.

 

At any rate, the purpose of this move is not as much to win in the playoffs, as it is to make it easier to get to the playoffs.  It's very hard to win in the playoffs if you had to ride your horses hard all the way to get there, and very much harder to win in the playoffs if you don't get there at all.

 

I would agree with you that 15 appearances and 27.2 IP is a small *regular season* sample size.

 

But playoff baseball is pretty different. The average to mediocre teams are gone. Managers are no longer using their roster to complete 162 games, the long season grind. It's all on the line, which makes it a different game. They're pulling out the stops. Pitchers are now facing the best hitters their opponent has.

 

"One or two good performances" to flip those numbers? Pretend Happ has it in him to pitch at a 1.00 clip for his playoff WHIP moving forward. (Which would be sweet!) How many playoff innings would he have to pitch to "completely flip" those numbers? Just to take 1.880 down to nearly 1.660 would be a complete game, right?

 

I'll agree with you that the purpose of this move is to win regular season games. What is frustrating is that that is the status quo for this team. We've got guys of this caliber.

 

Yes, we need arms to eat innings during the regular season, but I would like to hear or read that someone in the FO takes that business of the longest playoff losing streak in North American sports history seriously.

 

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I would agree with you that 15 appearances and 27.2 IP is a small *regular season* sample size.

 

But playoff baseball is pretty different. The average to mediocre teams are gone. Managers are no longer using their roster to complete 162 games, the long season grind. It's all on the line, which makes it a different game. They're pulling out the stops. Pitchers are now facing the best hitters their opponent has.

 

"One or two good performances" to flip those numbers? Pretend Happ has it in him to pitch at a 1.00 clip for his playoff WHIP moving forward. (Which would be sweet!) How many playoff innings would he have to pitch to "completely flip" those numbers? Just to take 1.880 down to nearly 1.660 would be a complete game, right?

 

I'll agree with you that the purpose of this move is to win regular season games. What is frustrating is that that is the status quo for this team. We've got guys of this caliber.

 

Yes, we need arms to eat innings during the regular season, but I would like to hear or read that someone in the FO takes that business of the longest playoff losing streak in North American sports history seriously.

The longest playoff losing streak in North American sports history is driven way more by the failure of the offense in the postseason than the pitching. Look no further than last year where the "guys of this caliber" gave the Twins every chance in the world to win both of those games.

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I would agree with you that 15 appearances and 27.2 IP is a small *regular season* sample size.

 

But playoff baseball is pretty different. The average to mediocre teams are gone. Managers are no longer using their roster to complete 162 games, the long season grind. It's all on the line, which makes it a different game. They're pulling out the stops. Pitchers are now facing the best hitters their opponent has.

 

"One or two good performances" to flip those numbers? Pretend Happ has it in him to pitch at a 1.00 clip for his playoff WHIP moving forward. (Which would be sweet!) How many playoff innings would he have to pitch to "completely flip" those numbers? Just to take 1.880 down to nearly 1.660 would be a complete game, right?

 

I'll agree with you that the purpose of this move is to win regular season games. What is frustrating is that that is the status quo for this team. We've got guys of this caliber.

 

Yes, we need arms to eat innings during the regular season, but I would like to hear or read that someone in the FO takes that business of the longest playoff losing streak in North American sports history seriously.

 

Just because it happens in the postseason doesn't make it any smaller of a sample size.  It's still very few appearances, and while I probably exaggerated with the "completely flip" statement, his numbers can still dramatically change pretty quickly.  Let's say he made 4 postseason starts for the Twins this year, and pitched 20 innings, at a 1.00 WHIP.  His career postseason WHIP would drop to 1.51--still not great, but a 20% reduction.  Any time you can alter a number by 20%, you're dealing with small samples, or outlier occurrences.

 

For example, a pitcher who has thrown 150 innings would need 4 consecutive perfect games to lower his WHIP by 20%.  Put another way, that pitcher would need 108 innings of 1 WHIP pitching to lower their WHIP by 20%.

 

I believe you're right when you point out that the hitters are better in the playoffs.  I'm sure that's a large factor in why Happ's postseason WHIP is higher.  But this move isn't about finding a starter for the playoffs--it's about enduring the 162 game marathon to get there.  It raises the floor, expands the depth, and allows the Twins to have a slightly stronger negotiating position, both with free agents, and potential trades.  This was a good move, not a great one, but I don't see anyone calling this a great move.

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The longest playoff losing streak in North American sports history is driven way more by the failure of the offense in the postseason than the pitching. Look no further than last year where the "guys of this caliber" gave the Twins every chance in the world to win both of those games.

 

Yes, and that was painful to watch, but it also was only two games. There were plenty more.

 

Remember when the offense staked E. Santana and Berrios to a 3-0 first inning wild card lead at Yankee Stadium and we lost 8-4?

 

How about getting swept 6-4, 5-2, and 6-1 in 2010?

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...  But this move isn't about finding a starter for the playoffs--it's about enduring the 162 game marathon to get there.  It raises the floor, expands the depth, and allows the Twins to have a slightly stronger negotiating position, both with free agents, and potential trades.  This was a good move, not a great one, but I don't see anyone calling this a great move.

 

I will agree with you there, it is more about the regular season. I just think we have a lot of those guys already in house, capable of beating average to bottom-feeder MLB teams.  While I think a lot of Twins fans would like to see solid improvement (ala the Chisox this winter, who finished only one game behind us), this feels like treading water.

 

But honestly, I would pay good money if, come late October, the Twins were advancing in the playoffs and you had a chance to say I told you so. February approaches.  Spring training is near. (Oh, thank god.) 

 

When I see the stellar rotations of other teams that look to be built to go deep into the playoffs, I'm a bit concerned--maybe I'm too skeptical. 

 

 

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A playoff rotation is generally 3.5 pitchers, so if J. A. Happ is our number 4, he'll be asked to make only a couple of starts, and by starts, I mean pitch 4-5 innings before the bullpen takes over.

He's one PIneda DL stint (not unlikely) away from being a guy that needs to give the Twins at least 5 innings in a playoff game. A 38 year old, soft tossing lefty, with a track record of postseason struggles, and the expectation is 5 or more solid innings? Pass. He's only a depth piece if he's used as such, and as the current number 4 I doubt that's the case. Hopefully it changes by opening day.  

 

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Look at the Twins best pitchers. I mean where in the Dodgers rotation does Maeda fit in? He is probably the Twins best pitcher at least last year he was. Think about that for a second, the guy who is the Twins best probably doesn't even fit into the Dodgers rotation at all. In fact, Maeda didn't like pitching for the dodgers because he spent so much time in the bullpen. Now the Twins try to solve their rotation issues with a dude who likely slots in 4th behind Maeda? So either the Twins need to figure out a way to get a stud in a trade such as Castillo, etc.... Or they need to focus on getting their hitting and defense better. You can't really compete against the Dodgers and the Yankees by taking their pitchers that they don't really want and then using them against their Aces?? I think the Twins would be better off looking for more hitting or more defense or something else that you can out do those teams with? Or go big and get a real Ace to try and match up with their Aces. I like Happ, but he won't be the guy that helps the Twins win playoff games, they better hope Duran or Balazovic develop and can come up at the end of the year and surprise teams which would have a lack of information on some new guys.

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Think about that for a second, the guy who is the Twins best probably doesn't even fit into the Dodgers rotation at all.

The 2020 version of Maeda fits into 30 MLB rotations. The Twins changed his approach and he took a huge step forward last season. The question is whether that is sustainable and in what capacity but had the Dodgers controlled a version of Maeda that good, there's a zero percent chance they deal him for as little as they did.

 

The guy finished second in Cy Young voting, for crying out loud. Let's not downplay how good he was or suggest 29 other teams wouldn't love to have him.

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