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40-Man Issues - The Minors


Rather than look at the whole 40-man roster, let's start with the 14 that will be on minor league rosters. I know it seems bass-ackwards but this year I think it will help clarify.

I think most of us can agree on these 6 who are already there -- Balazovic, Colina, Duran, Strotman, Rortvedt, and Stashak. I see Celestino starting the year as the 4th OF at MLB minimum salary.

Then let's add the 4 prospects guaranteed MiLB berths to start the year -- Lewis, Winder, Sands and Enlow. Enlow can't  be moved from the 40-man roster to the 60-day IL until catchers and pitchers report, so he counts.

Then there is Moran. His results have been a mixed bag and the Twins will need relievers with minor league options, so I see him starting the season in St. Paul

Then there are Miranda and Larnach. The Twins have decided to keep Miranda down for service time reasons. And Larnach did nothing in St. Paul to merit a return. 

That's 13. And the 14th spot goes to Jax or Dobnak. I don't see the Twins giving up on either of them. Again they want someone with options for the 6th starter. And I hope they do better than have both of them targeted for the 26-man roster.

 

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20 minutes ago, Mike Sixel said:

I don't think we all agree on Stashak being there. I wouldn't protect Jax or Dobnak. I might keep Dobnak, but I'm not sure I would. 

I think it's a mistake to expose Jax to be claimed before he gets a shot at the bullpen. He has all the makings of a solid reliever.

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Just now, Brock Beauchamp said:

I think it's a mistake to expose Jax to be claimed before he gets a shot at the bullpen. He has all the makings of a solid reliever.

Fair...and yet, they didn't really do that this year when they should have. I'm not sure I agree he has all the makings, but I'm not sure he doesn't. I've argued all along that if he has any shot, it is in the bullpen.

I've also argued that NOT moving guys like that to the bullpen sooner (in the minors) does them a huge disservice. He has no real shot as a starter, imo, but he does as a RP....a chance to make real money. IF I was ever in that position, I'd ask to move to RP to see if I can make it there.

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15 minutes ago, Mike Sixel said:

Fair...and yet, they didn't really do that this year when they should have. I'm not sure I agree he has all the makings, but I'm not sure he doesn't. I've argued all along that if he has any shot, it is in the bullpen.

I've also argued that NOT moving guys like that to the bullpen sooner (in the minors) does them a huge disservice. He has no real shot as a starter, imo, but he does as a RP....a chance to make real money. IF I was ever in that position, I'd ask to move to RP to see if I can make it there.

If they used him as a reliever, he wouldn’t have accumulated enough innings to make a decision, either. 

It was a difficult situation, as they needed functional arms in the rotation. Was it more useful to give Jax 50 innings of facing MLB hitters as a starter or have him go 15 innings at max effort as a reliever? I honestly don’t know but their decision wasn’t indefensible. I suspect there were advantages and disadvantages to each option. 

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14 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

If they used him as a reliever, he wouldn’t have accumulated enough innings to make a decision, either. 

It was a difficult situation, as they needed functional arms in the rotation. Was it more useful to give Jax 50 innings of facing MLB hitters as a starter or have him go 15 innings at max effort as a reliever? I honestly don’t know but their decision wasn’t indefensible. I suspect there were advantages and disadvantages to each option. 

It was clear in the minors he wasn't a MLB starter, imo. That's where the decision should be made, much, much, earlier. These guys have limited time to throw maximum speed with their bodies, and many waste years in the minors in a role they will never have a chance at realizing in the majors. Jax, imo, was always destined to be a RP (if he was in the majors and successful). I'd guess A LOT of guys are like him. The argument that they should start for 3-5 years and learn to pitch is not, imo, correct. Throwing really hard 3 days a week is very different than throwing less hard once a week. They should learn the latter if they aren't likely starters (though how the minors would then have enough starters, I have no idea).

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What has Strotman done other than stand in the shadow of Joe Ryan that makes him an autolock?  I'm not saying he needs to be cut, but I also don't hold him in any higher regard than Stashak, Jax or Dobnak.  I hope Jax gets a shot in the pen, but I'll admit that's partly a fanboy sentiment.  Stashak and Dobnak need to be evaluated when they're healthy.  

I just hope the FO has conviction with their direction.  If they're going to compete and go for it, then they probably shouldn't spend much time on fringe evaluations and should probably keep role players and maybe trade someone like Miranda for someone like Means (obviously it would have to be a package).

If they're going to build toward a '23-24 window, then there better not be Cave, Refsnyder, Garlick and Minaya types taking up spots.  That's where you give a guy like Jax or Stashak a chance to be part of a four or five year solution.

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41 minutes ago, MMMordabito said:

What has Strotman done other than stand in the shadow of Joe Ryan that makes him an autolock?  I'm not saying he needs to be cut, but I also don't hold him in any higher regard than Stashak, Jax or Dobnak. 

That's fair, though with the volatility of pitchers and prospects, I wouldn't be surprised if he has a rebound year in 2022. He could be a DFA candidate in mid 2022 if he continues to stink.

2 hours ago, Mike Sixel said:

Jax, imo, was always destined to be a RP (if he was in the majors and successful). I'd guess A LOT of guys are like him. The argument that they should start for 3-5 years and learn to pitch is not, imo, correct. Throwing really hard 3 days a week is very different than throwing less hard once a week. They should learn the latter if they aren't likely starters (though how the minors would then have enough starters, I have no idea).

Agreed, I was actually saying this about Alcala right around when we acquired him - just looking at the scouting reports, it was evident he would become a reliever in the majors, so I didn't like how they kept using him as a starter. If Jax is going to be moved to the pen, I would have at least liked to see him got a shot at that in September. I know we were short on arms, but isn't September the time for experimenting with what you have on the roster for future seasons? 

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17 hours ago, Mike Sixel said:

It was clear in the minors he wasn't a MLB starter, imo. That's where the decision should be made, much, much, earlier. These guys have limited time to throw maximum speed with their bodies, and many waste years in the minors in a role they will never have a chance at realizing in the majors. Jax, imo, was always destined to be a RP (if he was in the majors and successful). I'd guess A LOT of guys are like him. The argument that they should start for 3-5 years and learn to pitch is not, imo, correct. Throwing really hard 3 days a week is very different than throwing less hard once a week. They should learn the latter if they aren't likely starters (though how the minors would then have enough starters, I have no idea).

I agree that the plug should be pulled on starting these guys a little more quickly in some cases but that was a tough decision to make after 2020. The Twins hadn't really seen Jax pitch since 2019 and if you make the case that Jax should have been pulled from the MiLB rotation, the same case could be made for Ober, though for different reasons (better peripheral numbers but also wayyyyy more injury prone under a starting workload).

The vast majority of MLB relief pitchers make substantial efforts to be starters, often up through MLB. That number has decreased slightly in recent years as teams wise up to the need for more capable relievers and the understanding how many of these guys won't cut it as MLB starters but guys toiling through the minors as starters before switching to relief is still the standard.

Which I understand. Even in the age of the reliever, a good starter's value is substantially higher than any reliever. While the value of a starter has decreased, the inherent value of one reliever has not increased in the modern game... you just need more of them but they all still pitch one inning, give or take.

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19 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

I agree that the plug should be pulled on starting these guys a little more quickly in some cases but that was a tough decision to make after 2020. The Twins hadn't really seen Jax pitch since 2019 and if you make the case that Jax should have been pulled from the MiLB rotation, the same case could be made for Ober, though for different reasons (better peripheral numbers but also wayyyyy more injury prone under a starting workload).

The vast majority of MLB relief pitchers make substantial efforts to be starters, often up through MLB. That number has decreased slightly in recent years as teams wise up to the need for more capable relievers and the understanding how many of these guys won't cut it as MLB starters but guys toiling through the minors as starters before switching to relief is still the standard.

Which I understand. Even in the age of the reliever, a good starter's value is substantially higher than any reliever. While the value of a starter has decreased, the inherent value of one reliever has not increased in the modern game... you just need more of them but they all still pitch one inning, give or take.

I get all that....but if I have a real shot to make millions, I want that shot. But then, I'm not an uber competitive professional athlete that thinks I can't fail.....Anyway, I think we mostly agree.

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You lay out the problems the Twins have going into the off-season. 

 

With Alcala, Barnes, Duffey, Maeda, Minaya, Ober, Rogers, Ryan guaranteed roster spots, as well as Jeffers, Garver, Sano, Arraez, Polanco, Gordon, Donaldson, Buxton, Kepler, Kirilloff, That leaves you two rotation arms, four bullpen arms, and three bench bats short.

 

Maeda starts on the 60-man IL. 

 

We have Colina and Enlow...where do they start. Balazovic, Duran WInder, Sands, Strotman - not a one looks ready to break camp for the team. Which is WHY is might've been important to give some major league innings to Strotman , or at least a game to Balazovic in what ended up a horrid losing season. Give them that taste, something to experience and works towards entering spring camp strong. But right now Strotman would be the only arm you MIGHT trust to call up early with a staff injury. All of the others need minor league innings.

 

Amazing that there are only two relievers I see the Twins adding to the above. Moran, who will need a powerful spring, or will go back to the minors to work on his pitches. Of course, he could also throw in the winter league. I also picture the Twins adding Judson Gore to the possible roster, as well as Ryan Mason. But, again, if you are putting a competitive team on the field, neither look to break camp with the team. 

 

So that is one helluva a lot of pitchers. And, remember, 40-man adds in the Fall can't be waived until spring training. They can be traded, though.

 

Happily players on the field show a bit more promise. Celestino shined in AAA. He could have a rung up on Rooker because HE can play centerfield. Rooker is still a possibility in the whole mix, because he could be a DH bat. We hope Royce Lewis will be able to start at AAA St. Paul. Rortvedt is the back up catcher in the minor league wings for now. The power gams on this guy...we should expect him to hit better than the Butera-line. Don't anyone give up on Larnach. He made the jump from AA to the majors and he hit better than most of the guys on the team, and didn't strikeout as bad as a couple.

 

Miranda, again....why didn't they promote this guy and get some looks of him as a major league hitter. Especially when you had Josh Donaldson as the designated hitter. Sure, Saint Paul was hoping to finish the season strong and above .500. But you could've also elevated Trey Cabbage to St. Paul and got a better look at him...another name you have to think about adding to the 40-man. He can walk to another organization. (Boy, that missed 2020 season is looking bad, except that EVERY organization faces the same situation).

 

We are looking at a helluva a lot of roster spots of guys who SHOULD start in the minors coming into 2022. If the Twins were a rebuilding team, instead of a competitive icon as the "front office" says in recent press releases, then we have to ask out of all of these names WHO can we afford to lose because of the Rule 5 draft, minor league free agency, or what. This is where you suddenly look at your organizational charts and figure out a way to deal some of these guys for needs (which you can still do to get a decent top of the rotation arm, possible shortstop, or even a quality bench bat...rather than just pay outrageous free agent monies that make you drop one of these guys from the roster anyways).

 

Some of the guys that seem out are Stashak (what IS his injury situation). Jax and Dobnak. All three could start on the 40-man but be jettisoned if you replace them with someone from outside the organization. Dobnak WILL NOT be claimed because of his contract and would not be a free agent if waived.

 

That's not saying much for all the others not mentioned above: Colome, Pineda and SImmons are free agents. There is NO need for the Twins to leap into the fire and sign them early.

 

Coulombe, Barraclough, Farrell, Gant, Gibaut, Smeltzer, Garza, Law, Thielbar, Thorpe, Vincent, Hamilton, Albers...and add in Cave, Garlick, Refsnyder, Astudillo, Maggi (or Riddle or Lin), even Telis. Sadly you have to look at the future of a team, not just guys that get you by. In some ways, looking at all the names that DID get service time with the Twins in a losing season, I wonder where the prospects were, and why didn't the few that did make it to AAA ball NOT get a chance to struggle or shine at the majors. Kudos to letting Jax, Barnes, Ober and Ryan pitch, Rortvedt to swing and miss, Celestino to be challenged, Larnach to learn on the job. But the Twins could've recalled Moran earlier and sent him back and forth, and same with Miranda, and Strotman (if they care about the guy). 

 

A helluva a lot of minor league guys, and everyone could be like Colina, Duran and Balazovic were for 2021...three pitchers that you hoped would make their debut, but none of them did. And looking at them for 2022, you wonder if/when they would do so.

 

 

 

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On 10/4/2021 at 4:39 PM, Brock Beauchamp said:

I think it's a mistake to expose Jax to be claimed before he gets a shot at the bullpen. He has all the makings of a solid reliever.

Jax was available in the last two Rule 5 drafts, at age 25 and 26, with upper minors experience, and no team selected him. I don't know that he has "the makings of a solid reliever" any more than most arms in the upper minors.

That said, there probably isn't an urgent need to remove him from the 40-man either.

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6 minutes ago, Otto von Ballpark said:

Jax was available in the last two Rule 5 drafts, at age 25 and 26, with upper minors experience, and no team selected him. I don't know that he has "the makings of a solid reliever" any more than most arms in the upper minors.

That said, there probably isn't an urgent need to remove him from the 40-man either.

His slider profiles very well and his fastball is solid. Given how the Twins love to take good sliders and turn them into heavily-used out pitches, I think there's potential for Jax should they go that route.

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Perhaps we would be better off if we completely forget about the 2021 numbers. Everything that has happened since the pandemic makes 2021 a year like no other. Of course, there are some obvious cuts the FO should make, but overall the stats for '21 are affected by too many variables that have never happened before and are unlikely to happen again. :)

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 10/4/2021 at 4:42 PM, Mike Sixel said:

Fair...and yet, they didn't really do that this year when they should have. I'm not sure I agree he has all the makings, but I'm not sure he doesn't. I've argued all along that if he has any shot, it is in the bullpen.

I've also argued that NOT moving guys like that to the bullpen sooner (in the minors) does them a huge disservice. He has no real shot as a starter, imo, but he does as a RP....a chance to make real money. IF I was ever in that position, I'd ask to move to RP to see if I can make it there.

Good point. And I think an opposing team would be less likely to select a non-developed RP than a SP on waivers. I guess Colina doesn't count

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On 10/4/2021 at 5:18 PM, Mike Sixel said:

It was clear in the minors he wasn't a MLB starter, imo. That's where the decision should be made, much, much, earlier. These guys have limited time to throw maximum speed with their bodies, and many waste years in the minors in a role they will never have a chance at realizing in the majors. Jax, imo, was always destined to be a RP (if he was in the majors and successful). I'd guess A LOT of guys are like him. The argument that they should start for 3-5 years and learn to pitch is not, imo, correct. Throwing really hard 3 days a week is very different than throwing less hard once a week. They should learn the latter if they aren't likely starters (though how the minors would then have enough starters, I have no idea).

As relievers still bring it at 38, I would guess that the limit is because they wasted so much time starting

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On 10/4/2021 at 7:09 PM, MMMordabito said:

Dobnak needs to be evaluated when healthy.  

He's been AAAA at best over the last 50+ innings. We need to move away from the notion that Dobnak's struggles the last 2 seasons are due to injury. 

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I was surprised at the lack of quality starts in the minors this season. Of course, in developing a pitcher, you like to see if they can get thru one whole batting order, where they face both righties and lefties. In this day and age, starters that can comfortably get thru a batting order twice seems to be the sad norm. You actually want pitchers to see if they can fool batter three times to be an effective starter, although with 8-man bullpen (maybe 9) you only need to pitch five innings. What has this game become.

 

Also, when you look at a pitcher like Jax, wouldn't it be nice to have a guy who can always pitch at least two innings, maybe three, and do it without multi-day rest?

 

Yes, we forget the Guardado, Hawkins, Perkins, Nathan, Aguilera amongst others all started at rotation arms (and mostly failed, compared to bullpen numbers). Heck didn't the Twins have a guy named Hendriks recently?

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