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Avoiding disaster


No question the first 89 games of the 2021 season have been disappointing. However the Twins did manage to avoid total disaster by walking back from the edge of the cliff with a 5 game streak and finishing pre All Star with a 4 game sweep of the Tigers when they absolutely had to at least win that series. So what do they do now with 73 games left and on a 72 win pace?

Many trades and other moves have been suggested but the main question is do they go all out and try to salvage a .500 or better season or do they strictly look ahead to 2022? Even dealing with the possible return of Byron Buxton is not simple because it may be best to sit him for the rest of the year. I do wish they would play Sano in the great majority of games because the plan for him was not to be a platoon player. I personally would like to see them try to win every game and do what they can in the off season unless they get an offer they can't refuse. The rest of the July schedule could get them in range of the .500 mark. If not maybe go to plan B.

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The lineup will mostly be the same, if not better with the return of Garver and Buxton from injury. Cruz is the most likely departure. I’m not sure which contender, if any, will think Simmons is more than a defensive replacement during their pennant run. Wouldn’t surprise me if we see a progression to the mean with timely hitting and performance to win more games…

The pitching staff focus should be on 2022, since that’s more likely to get worse than improve. Keep starting Ober, get Winder up in August, get an Uber XL shuttle of bullpen arms to run through and see what sticks. 
 


 

 

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2 hours ago, Number3 said:

Many trades and other moves have been suggested but the main question is do they go all out and try to salvage a .500 or better season or do they strictly look ahead to 2022?

Depending what kind of offers I'm fielding for Berríos, I may not even look ahead to 2022... though I'd probably make an attempt to be moderately competitive next year no matter who I trade.

It's going to be really hard to be competitive without Berríos but I'm not sure I'd be able to resist two top 100 prospects for 1.5 years of the guy, only one year of which might be even a little bit useful to this team.

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Just now, Vanimal46 said:

To answer the other point in the OP, I too want them winning as many games as possible, draft slot be damned! We’re not going to finish anywhere close to the #1 pick, and frankly, where you draft in MLB isn’t as significant as other sports like NBA and NFL. 

Actually, it is MORE important to draft early in MLB, since there are so few elite talents. But I get your point.....

If you want a detailed reader....

https://blogs.fangraphs.com/an-update-on-how-to-value-draft-picks/

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Just now, Mike Sixel said:

Actually, it is MORE important to draft early in MLB, since there are so few elite talents. But I get your point.....

If you want a detailed reader....

https://blogs.fangraphs.com/an-update-on-how-to-value-draft-picks/

Yeah, if we had a shot at a top 5 pick I say go for it and tank. Mid 70s wins probably gets us in 10-15 range so might as well try to win instead. 

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Just now, Vanimal46 said:

Yeah, if we had a shot at a top 5 pick I say go for it and tank. Mid 70s wins probably gets us in 10-15 range so might as well try to win instead. 

Fair. I really do think they'll be ok the rest of the year, not good, but ok.

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22 minutes ago, Vanimal46 said:

Yeah, if we had a shot at a top 5 pick I say go for it and tank. Mid 70s wins probably gets us in 10-15 range so might as well try to win instead. 

Right now we are absolutely in the mix for top 5.  Even with improvements or status quo we are looking at top 10.  I guess I don't see our odds of "successfully compete with short term vets" as nearly as good a bet as "sell, play the kids and go from 8th to top 5".  Vegas would make your track the heavy dog.

I understand as a fan leaning that way, but I'm a cold pragmatist. August has a brutal schedule and .500 means nothing to me.

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18 minutes ago, TheLeviathan said:

Right now we are absolutely in the mix for top 5.  Even with improvements or status quo we are looking at top 10.  I guess I don't see our odds of "successfully compete with short term vets" as nearly as good a bet as "sell, play the kids and go from 8th to top 5".  Vegas would make your track the heavy dog.

I understand as a fan leaning that way, but I'm a cold pragmatist. August has a brutal schedule and .500 means nothing to me.

Top 10, I suppose. We’re not going to finish worse than Arizona, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Texas. I don’t think KC will finish better than us. Depends if we do end up trading someone under contract beyond this year. The rotation will be decimated for the rest of 2021 and probably 2022 without Berrios. Trading away Rogers will hurt the least. 

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16 minutes ago, Vanimal46 said:

Top 10, I suppose. We’re not going to finish worse than Arizona, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Texas. I don’t think KC will finish better than us. Depends if we do end up trading someone under contract beyond this year. The rotation will be decimated for the rest of 2021 and probably 2022 without Berrios. Trading away Rogers will hurt the least. 

I am not a fan of dealing Berrios.  But the disaster already happened....no reason to pretend competing for the sake of it has value. The 6th pick has more value than the 12th.  That's the value that matters now.

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If Garver can prove he is healthy at Catcher I would like to see him moved. As good a hitter as Mitch can be you would think he would bring some value back on the trade front. Catchers are not easy to come by, I know that but to get something, sometimes you have to give up a little something. He is a piece I think the Twins could afford to deal and get by with the catching tandem they currently have in place. This team needs starting pitching, young starting pitching and players like Garver, Kepler those are the type of pieces that still have enough trade value to get you some starting pitching.

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12 hours ago, jaimedude said:

If Garver can prove he is healthy at Catcher I would like to see him moved. As good a hitter as Mitch can be you would think he would bring some value back on the trade front. Catchers are not easy to come by, I know that but to get something, sometimes you have to give up a little something. He is a piece I think the Twins could afford to deal and get by with the catching tandem they currently have in place. This team needs starting pitching, young starting pitching and players like Garver, Kepler those are the type of pieces that still have enough trade value to get you some starting pitching.

I agree and posted something similar, but someone replied and made a good point: I don't think teams are going to be interested in Garver coming off a major injury like that. His value isn't at an all-time low (that was probably last year) but it's unlikely the Twins could win a trade involving Mitch right now.

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Could Berrios' trade value be similar in a year?  I'd like to think it could but that means things look bad in 2022 and he's still performing well and efforts to resign aren't going anywhere.  I guess I'd take that risk that you could get a decent return still.

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12 minutes ago, lukeduke1980 said:

Could Berrios' trade value be similar in a year?  I'd like to think it could but that means things look bad in 2022 and he's still performing well and efforts to resign aren't going anywhere.  I guess I'd take that risk that you could get a decent return still.

Highly unlikely.  Teams pony up for control so losing a year will significantly ding his value.

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27 minutes ago, lukeduke1980 said:

Could Berrios' trade value be similar in a year?  I'd like to think it could but that means things look bad in 2022 and he's still performing well and efforts to resign aren't going anywhere.  I guess I'd take that risk that you could get a decent return still.

His value is absolutely maxed out right now. He's putting together a season to rival 2019 - his best season to date - and he has 1.5 seasons of reasonable cost before free agency. If Berríos is going to be traded at all, it should be in the next two weeks. His value one year from now will be considerably lower.

On the other hand, I won't be heart-broken if they keep Jose and try to compete in 2022 if they feel that is possible.

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What has to be considered, in my opinion, is that at the MLB/NFL/NBA level, there really is not a huge difference between winning and losing. All of the participants have talent or they wouldn't be at that level. 10% improvement in the right area can result in a bunch of wins. Every win is one less loss (how's that for analysis?). How about winning 60% of the games against Tigers, White Sox, and Royals for the rest of the month? Get to about 5 games below .500 with August and Sept. left.

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32 minutes ago, Number3 said:

What has to be considered, in my opinion, is that at the MLB/NFL/NBA level, there really is not a huge difference between winning and losing. All of the participants have talent or they wouldn't be at that level. 10% improvement in the right area can result in a bunch of wins. Every win is one less loss (how's that for analysis?). How about winning 60% of the games against Tigers, White Sox, and Royals for the rest of the month? Get to about 5 games below .500 with August and Sept. left.

Someone did a study a couple of years ago to ascertain why some baseball players do well and some don't.  This was taken a step further too, and they also looked at why some players make it to the majors and some don't.

Skills-wise, as you say, there isn't a big difference between most players.  In many cases, players with worse skills than others end up in the majors or end up doing better in the majors.

What it all came down to is simply mental attitude.  People with a positive attitude play better and rise consistently through the ranks.  In other words, people who don't focus on the negative things that happen in baseball but focus on the positive were able to consistently perform better.

I doubt this is a shock to anybody.  Beyond this study, it's the central theme of every sports movie ever made.  One of the greatest players, Mariano Rivera, said that his skills were no better than anyone else's, in fact he characterized his skills at the beginning of his career as being at the bottom of the pack.  Through hard work and a positive attitude, he became a player that no one will forget.

We all saw the looks on faces of Twins players last year in the playoffs, and in the week before the playoffs.  We all see how they are playing this year.  Snapping out of their mental funk is the first step toward being respectable this year and winning a playoff game in the future.  Sure, the team (and fans) claim The Streak doesn't affect them as it involves past teams, but we can all see it.

Unfortunately, snapping out of a funk is not as easy as it seems, sometimes.  There is no magical cure that works for everybody.  Still, there are things that the Twins can do, because team-building exercises help.

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Money talks in free agency.  Point blank.  Nelson Cruz is an exception in many ways and a poor way to argue the point.  

Selling at the deadline is just an acknowledgement that the disaster already happened.  Sell off what makes sense to sell off, field the best roster you have, and continue to play.  No one is suggesting you sit healthy players or send Buxton down to AAA or deal Maeda for a bag of peanuts, merely that scrounging to get .500 shouldn't be the aim here.  That has a demonstrably negative effect going forward (worse draft position) and sets the sights on the wrong kind of value to find in a lost season.  Yeah....get Maeda right.  That's what you do when your season is lost.  Get and keep Buxton on the field.  But also be willing to experiment with young players and let them work through their struggles without caring about wins and losses.  Play hard and put guys out there that represent the future of the team.  Slogging through Andrelton Simmons and JA Happ so we can win 80 games instead of 78 has a price too.

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Teams generally don't "tank" for draft picks.  Would you tank what you own for a lottery ticket?  Probably not.

"Winning the top draft pick" is something that fans think of.  For professionals, it's a very pale consolation prize for failing for an entire year.

For anyone who thinks the Twins should tank and make taking the top draft pick as their goal for the year, have comfort in the fact that when the Twins start selling, the Twins will begin to play even worse.  Very likely, the younger guys will get better by October, so don't be too disappointed if the run to the bottom doesn't quite work out.  But don't worry, I guess, the Twins will be in the mix.

In my opinion, if you advocate for the Twins tanking, you probably no longer have a right to act disappointed when the Twins play poorly over the course of the rest of the year.

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30 minutes ago, Dodecahedron said:

 

In my opinion, if you advocate for the Twins tanking, you probably no longer have a right to act disappointed when the Twins play poorly over the course of the rest of the year.

This. 100% this. 

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36 minutes ago, TheLeviathan said:

Money talks in free agency.  Point blank.  Nelson Cruz is an exception in many ways and a poor way to argue the point.

There are a lot of variables, but I'm guessing team record (and perceived team quality) has some correlation with the ability to sign more desirable free agents. Most guys are deciding between multiple comparable offers. To the extent that this is a problem that can be overcome by offering even more money, that leaves fewer resources available for other spots/moves.

42 minutes ago, TheLeviathan said:

Selling at the deadline is just an acknowledgement that the disaster already happened.  Sell off what makes sense to sell off, field the best roster you have, and continue to play.  No one is suggesting you sit healthy players or send Buxton down to AAA or deal Maeda for a bag of peanuts, merely that scrounging to get .500 shouldn't be the aim here.  That has a demonstrably negative effect going forward (worse draft position) and sets the sights on the wrong kind of value to find in a lost season.  Yeah....get Maeda right.  That's what you do when your season is lost.  Get and keep Buxton on the field.  But also be willing to experiment with young players and let them work through their struggles without caring about wins and losses.  Play hard and put guys out there that represent the future of the team.  Slogging through Andrelton Simmons and JA Happ so we can win 80 games instead of 78 has a price too.

This is all fair, but of course the difference between 78 and 80 wins in terms of draft position is pretty meaningless too. I think we're basically on the same page, but I don't think the draft position really enters the equation at all right now -- maybe once we get to the last week of the season.

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Just now, Otto von Ballpark said:

There are a lot of variables, but I'm guessing team record (and perceived team quality) has some correlation with the ability to sign more desirable free agents. Most guys are deciding between multiple comparable offers. To the extent that this is a problem that can be overcome by offering even more money, that leaves fewer resources available for other spots/moves.

This is all fair, but of course the difference between 78 and 80 wins in terms of draft position is pretty meaningless too. I think we're basically on the same page, but I don't think the draft position really enters the equation at all right now -- maybe once we get to the last week of the season.

The difference between 73 wins and 80 losses can literally be the difference in 6th and 12th.  Being a 73 win and a 78 win team is also not nearly tangible enough to decide anything for a free agent if we're being blunt.  That point isn't a variable that is going to matter.

It's about mentality.  "All out" and "finish strong" are bad ideas.  "Emphasize player development" and "let players struggle and work through it" and "sell what makes sense to sell" are good ideas.  The disaster already happened.  This about rebuilding, not trying to decorate our burned out condo so we feel better about ourselves.

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53 minutes ago, Dodecahedron said:

Teams generally don't "tank" for draft picks.  Would you tank what you own for a lottery ticket?  Probably not.

Some teams have absolutely decided not to invest in chasing marginal MLB wins, with improved draft position as one of the benefits. Of course, this is a longer-range strategy, over a several year period, in the face of a longer-range negative outlook. Not a switch you'd throw (or even be able to throw) after a disappointing half-season like the 2021 Twins.

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