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Twins Need to Take Bold Action on Bullpen Before It's Too Late


Break the glass. Sound the alarm. Mash the panic button.

 

The Twins have a full-on crisis in their bullpen. They don't have the benefit of time to sort it out internally, or wait for a favorable upgrade opportunity. They need to go get help, now.Tuesday night's ugly loss felt like a replay of the same episode with a slightly different script. Alex Colomé, the team's 1A closer coming into the season, had been so inconceivably bad in his first 10 appearances that he was deemed off-limits despite being the most well-rested pitcher in the bullpen. And so, when the Twins reached the ninth inning with a two-run lead, it was closer 1B getting the ball.

 

Naturally, Taylor Rogers gave up two runs, allowing the last-place Rangers to tie the game and force extra innings. Rogers has been the team's best reliever this year but has now given up monster homers while protecting slim leads in back-to-back games. Just the latest in an endless barrage of bullpen misfortunes.

 

These woes of course continued in the 10th, when Brandon Waddell was clobbered for a second straight night to drop the Twins to 0-6 in extra innings. One can quibble with Rocco Baldelli's choice to go with Waddell in that spot, and indeed he was a bad option, but the bottom line is this: they were all bad options. Jorge Alcala has been horrendous against lefties and the team – for whatever reason – doesn't trust him in leverage. Colomé, the bullpen's marquee free agent addition during the offseason, is unusable, but occupying an active roster spot and handcuffing Baldelli.

 

This bullpen is in a dire, dire state.

 

The relief corps is not showing any signs of turning around – quite the contrary. And frankly it's hard to feel like Shaun Anderson or Ian Hamilton or Derek Law or whatever other fringy pickup they made last winter is going to make any significant difference.

 

The Twins have already erased most of their margin for error by banking nonstop losses in the early weeks. They need to take bold action on this bullpen before it's too late.

 

This could mean one (or both) of two things:

 

A: Sign a free agent. Shane Greene is the big remaining name. He inexplicably went unsigned during the offseason, despite posting a 2.39 ERA and 1.04 WHIP over 90 innings in the past two seasons. Greene has a rep as a righty silencer, which the Twins could very much use. Jon Heyman reported on Sunday that Greene "is having ongoing discussions with multiple teams."

 

 

It's an option with its share of appeal. But the 32-year-old Greene isn't an overwhelmingly dominant arm, and bringing him in at this point in the season, hoping he just picks up the ball and quickly assume his top form ... that's a gamble in its own right. The better bet?

 

B: Trade for a bad team's best reliever. It's unusual for trades to happen this early in the season. Buyers almost always opt to wait until the deadline is closer, and asking prices come down. The Twins don't have that luxury. They need to spend what it takes in prospect capital to bring in a difference-maker.

 

The good news is that they've retained almost all of said prospect capital, by passing up any major trades during the winter. It's time for the front office to set aside its value-seeking philosophy and put some of that built-up talent equity to use by making a splash.

 

Waiting until the deadline would be akin to saving your closer until the ninth inning for a save opportunity that may never materialize. At this rate the Twins will be dead in the water by late July.

 

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You're late to the party Nick.  I have been saying this for 2 weeks.  Twins have been outscored like 27 - 3 in the ninth and 10th innings.  They need to sign Greene and send Waddle, Thielbar, and maybe other pitchers with options to the minors. Call up Law, and make a trade or two or this season will be gone by the end of May.  If it is maybe you have to fire the entire management staff to get the message across.  

Trading will be difficult because a good front office will want top flight prospects for mid level relievers.  

Make moves now.

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Who's going to trade a good reliever in early May? Nobody. Very unlikely.

The front office completely blew the offseason, and it can't fix it right now.

I can't claim to have predicted the pen would be THIS bad, but it wasn't hard to predict the pen wasn't going to be good enough.

Yeah, nobody's going to sell a top arm in May. Not even a basement-dweller.

 

By the way, one arm isn't going to change this. Bringing in Green or whoever isn't going to all of a sudden make Rogers, Duffey, or Colome any better. A dominant reliever may help the Twins win - max - a game every 1.5 weeks or so. The Twins need everyone to be above average, and that's not happening.

 

The offense is waking up but it's pretty meaningless if they can't stay consistent.

 

This could very well be a really ugly season that results in a complete tear-down.

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Jorge Alcala has been horrendous against lefties and the team – for whatever reason – doesn't trust him in leverage.

 

With no one to trust due to failure after failure in high leverage spots, why not bring Alcala in and see how he does? His stuff can result in strikeouts, which would help significantly with the runner-on-second rule.

 

I would rather see what Alcala is made of and lose than see Waddell ever take the mound for the Twins again.

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The BP has been ?????s all season. Baldelli has decided to put all his trust in them even though they have shown that they can't be. Dobnak and Thorpe were impressive in ST. There is where his trust should have been in long relief. They should have been used to factor the short relief out of games until they get their acts together as I've advocated from the beginning.

As far as closers goes, I'd try to trade for one 1st.

 

#1- FAs which are left, they are left over for some reason.

#2- FAs are rusty and will take some time to get them game ready.

#3- we desperately need to make trades to free space on our 40 man to make appropriate moves, like bringing up Broxton. It's a shame we couldn't bring him up when camp broke. Instead they sent him down to cool off.

If we look we could probably find a trading partner. Some one who needs to shore up an area where we can help or a team that has conceded to rebuild even if they have shown some promise if they like the deal.

The problem is we need to look.

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If we cannot have good relievers to shore up the BP how about a different strategy.  Piggly Back starters all the way.  Have a second starter ready every game - drop the relievers, call up good arms and see if we cannot fill the game with two pitchers rather than the assembly we have now.  

Sorry Saints but you would get the BP arms and we will steal your starters. 

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Trading a prospect or two is going to be really costly this time of year.

Sign Greene, DFA Colome and put that in the "Don't make moves like Terry Ryan Hope and a Prayer" file. When you have a pitcher that you can't use there is no point in having him on the roster. Shoemaker fits in that file as well. Why does this team always think they can slide by with remakes, projects and has-beens? I saw 2 people sitting in the stands behind homeplate in last nights game. If they think they are going to get more people to come watch these guys than that, the way this bullpen is and the way they are playing they better think again. It's sad to be wishing for more Dobnak, Smeltzer, maybe Law but there aren't any other options.

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 I find this baseball unwatchable. Lucky the Wild is still playing and golf is enjoyable. Does front office think their the smartest guys in the room now? And the Pohlad’s trying to cut corners with a potentially good team. And too much analytics....just play the best players. And I don’t think Rocco thinks like winner.

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The Twins need more than one long Bullpen arm. Right now they have none with both Smeltzer and Dobnak optioned. The two best options available without a trade are Balazovic and Duran. That is what pushing the panic button will look like.

 

Shoemaker also needs to be DFA as ineffective starting pitching is also part of the problem.

 

It was painful to listen to the game with Waddel pitching in the 10th knowing he had been hammered the night before.

 

Hope and praying is never a good option. Unfortunately that is where we are today.

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Another option, which the late minor league start has complicated:

 

Use one of the starter prospects, probably Duran, as a short reliever for this season.

 

Yes, I know it has risks. But it alleviates the crowding of the 40-man and of the bullpen with unusable arms. And it's better than trading them. Starting pitching depth was supposed to be a thing we have, right?

 

We always intended to need more relievers. Well, it's not convenient, but time to see what Law, Hamilton, Gibaut can do.

 

And another thing: not all analytics-driven strategies work. Pulling your starters when they struggle in the fourth or fifth may need to be re-evaluated. Especially when the quality of pitcher available is so far below the starting corps.

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You're late to the party Nick.  I have been saying this for 2 weeks.  Twins have been outscored like 27 - 3 in the ninth and 10th innings.  They need to sign Greene and send Waddle, Thielbar, and maybe other pitchers with options to the minors. Call up Law, and make a trade or two or this season will be gone by the end of May.  If it is maybe you have to fire the entire management staff to get the message across.  

Trading will be difficult because a good front office will want top flight prospects for mid level relievers.  

Make moves now.

Holy cow I did not know that exact 9th/10th inning stat,,,from the you can't make it up department!

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Who's going to trade a good reliever in early May? Nobody. Very unlikely.

The front office completely blew the offseason, and it can't fix it right now.

I can't claim to have predicted the pen would be THIS bad, but it wasn't hard to predict the pen wasn't going to be good enough.

 

The Mariners traded for Colome in May, back in the day.

Of course, it appears Colome is a hot potato.

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There are about four relievers who are somewhat trustworthy:

 

Duffey (who doesn't look nearly as dominant as last year)

Robles

Rogers (who got horrifically unlucky last night)

Thielbar

 

Then there's the rest.

 

Alcala has promise, but he just gets hammered by lefties, which is why he wasn't usable last night. I'm not sure the solution there, besides hoping for the best, or having him develop a pitch against lefties.

 

Stashak, I don't know. Great strikeout numbers, but if he's not striking someone out, he's getting hit hard. His walks are way up. His BABIP and FIP suggest he's getting unlucky on batted balls, and the Twins are using him that way, but he's not a high leverage option.

 

Colomé, I mean, what else is there to say? You've got to start working him into low leverage situations and hope that he figures something out. But it's untenable to keep him around all season as a nearly useless arm. Eventually they need to decide he's turned it around, or cut bait.

 

So at this point, the  Twins have to be kicking the tires on Greene. But they also should be aggressively cycling through their AAA options to see if anyone can stick. Law looked good in the spring, and I'm surprised they haven't tried him yet. Ryan Mason looked good in past minor league seasons, he could quickly emerge as an option. But the Twins need to get aggressive.

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Yes, yes, yes. Do something, anything.

 

Unfortunately, they haven't had the advantage of AAA beginning its season on April 1 to see what relievers have a great first month at St. Paul. Maybe, hopefully, someone will be lights out the next couple weeks and provide some help. I also like the idea from above about piggy backing a starter in for a 3-4 inning outing every fourth or fifth day. Bring up two of the young starters...Dobnak, Thorpe, Smeltzer, and you could do that two out of five days. Can one of you young guys with all the computer knowledge hack Baldelli's computer to tell him to consider that?

 

But Waddell in the 10th after his outing the night before....you know what Soucheray used to say....B as in B, S as in S.

 

Time for this front office to begin working their magic. If they don't plan on selling come July.

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I don't know about getting aggressive at 11-17.  At some point, Happ will have to pitch against an actual offense, and he's going to get shelled.  Maeda smoked and mirrored his way to not even a quality start.  We know Berrios will be terrible after the AS break.  Shoemaker is toast. And, last but not least,  Big Mike isn't going to be a 30 start guy.

 

I won't be surprised if this team gets swept in Chicago next week, then, hopefully, reality will set in.  

 

Now it looks like Kirilloff may be headed for the IL.

 

May be time for a blow-up.

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Need some major BP adjustments, may need to DFA someone to allow a roster addition. Unfortunately, doubt the next dominant closer is sitting at St. Paul and anyone still unsigned will not be the answer either. FO may have gotten overconfident this offseason with recent good luck picking up other teams cast offs.  

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Rogers (who got horrifically unlucky last night)

He pitched ball one and ball two to Calhoun to begin the ninth. I was watching a minor league game or something, at that moment, so I don't know whether those two pitches were unlucky.

 

The home run that followed did not beat him, but if you reconstruct the inning it seems very likely that no runs at all would have scored despite a couple of unlucky turns of events, had Rogers managed to retire Calhoun instead of giving up a dinger.

 

Sometimes you make your own luck.

 

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Yeah, nobody's going to sell a top arm in May. Not even a basement-dweller.

 

By the way, one arm isn't going to change this. Bringing in Green or whoever isn't going to all of a sudden make Rogers, Duffey, or Colome any better. A dominant reliever may help the Twins win - max - a game every 1.5 weeks or so. The Twins need everyone to be above average, and that's not happening.

 

The offense is waking up but it's pretty meaningless if they can't stay consistent.

 

This could very well be a really ugly season that results in a complete tear-down.

 Twins could probably receive a good haul for Buxton....only one year of team control after this year and he's not signing an extension here. 

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I just don't get what happened to this bullpen.  It was one of baseballs best the past two years.  Clean innings were the norm and not the exception until this year.  It is like direct Karmic payback for the last two years of success.

 

One guy is not going to fix the mess they have.  I can't ever remember total system failure like this year and such consistent failure.  The silver lining is maybe the FO looks for more velocity and better K9 guys for the pen instead of castoffs.  The pens they have put together have not been good in the playoffs either.  Maybe something like this will force them to look at things differently.

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If the BP sucks....the next step is to go longer with the starters. If that doesn't work.....your team is no good. Re-group over the winter or at the trade deadline to get better. Rocco keeps going by the "numbers" or something. Stop that!

 

But about last night-----The idea that Duffey could not get that one batter out....so Rocco brought in Rogers [for one batter and a 2 run lead in the 8th..stupid]....then let him sit....so he could tighten up enough to suck in the ninth....and give up 2 runs and now we are tied. Who the hell is Waddell??

 

More musings...........

Where is Pressley and May?

Prospects are over rated.

Winning today at all costs is all that matters [ask the player crashing into a wall].

Why is Escobar and Eddie not still on the team??

Why spend $23 million a year on Josh Donaldson and go cheap and stupid elsewhere??

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I think part of the solution, as @ToddlerHarmon gets at, is letting Maeda and Berrios pitch deeper into games. Happ, Dobnak and Pineda if they are breezing.

In most seasons yes but I think because of the shortened season last year teams are looking for ways to limit innings somewhat to prevent fatigue/injury. If they pitch deeper in games now does that mean missing starts later in the year? Tough call.

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I rip this team a lot for not spending....but I'm not sure who they could/should have signed this off season other than one good SP, rather than two cheap ones. But, so far, Happ has been quite good.....

 

They actually spent a lot of money on Colome....

 

There is not one non-pitcing position where, given this roster and the minors, that you'd bring in a player other than SS, which they did.

 

That leaves the bullpen and SP.....They weren't signing Bauer. Not sure who else you'd sign after signing Happ.

 

As for the bullpen....which expensive RP was a realistic sign?

 

Maybe they are leaving space to sign Buxton and/or Berrios? But, really, there weren't a lot of players that were realistic at all, that they have space for.

 

I guess you could argue C, but I doubt any FO gives up on Garver after last year's short season, not with Jeffers in the minors.

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