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Here's Why the Twins Haven't Gone Hard After Pitching


Nick Nelson
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Great article, Nick, thanks.

I understand the FO bristling at comments that they are entering a 'rebuild' period.  At least to me, rebuild would indicate a longer period of cutting back to young kids with an eye on competing three, four or five years down the road.  I understand and agree that isn't and shouldn't be the case for the Twins.  Yet, that doesn't mean that 2022 won't be an off year.

But do they also have information leading them to believe that the 2022 season is going to either not exist or be significantly affected by the lockout/pending strike?  If so, it would be smart to focus on 2023 and beyond.

If baseball does have a shutdown for part/all of 2022, the minor leagues will keep playing...right?  I am not certain, but would all the 40-man roster guys also be shut down?  But several of those prospects listed above aren't on the 40-man and would keep playing this summer.  That would put the Twins in much better shape to fill a significant part of their rotation with some of these young arms come 2023 with guys like Canterino, Varland and SWR having a full 2022 season behind them.

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The 2022 Twins offense, led by Byron Buxon, Jorge Polanco and others, will have a chance to win if they get any help from the pitching. Why can't that help come primarily from the internal pipeline? It's happened before.

When have the Twins created an entire rotation out of prospects in one season? I can't think of that happening before in this organization. This team has been lucky to get a decent starter once every 5 seasons (Berrios, Gibson, Liriano). Out of the pitchers you listed above only one is on the MLB top 100 list - Balazovic - and he can't stay healthy enough to pitch a full season.

This organization believes it's own press releases.

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2 minutes ago, Nick Nelson said:

They were basically all injured, and/or trying to build their stamina back up after the lost season. That's kind of the underlying point in this post ... the lost season in 2020 was hugely disruptive to prospect development so last year was basically spent getting everyone back on track. That's why the coming season feels pivotal. Now it's go time.

2020 is not an excuse. 2020 happened two years ago, I know, I've been working from home for two years and not working in my factory.

Thad Levine knew 2020 happened two years ago when he watched all of the good free agent pitchers go the last week of November and he knew at the time that he had a plethora of pitching prospects that were injured or still building stamina in September 2021... that wasn't going to change in April 2022.

There's no plan B, the guys that should be plan B, getting their taste of the majors when injuries strike in 2022 are getting thrust into opening day, while still recovering from lost time.

 

To that end, I agree with your assessment Nick, I think you are right, it's just terrible execution of a good strategy

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1 hour ago, Nashvilletwin said:

Nick, you are spot on: the Twins are not only going to see what they have this year among their burgeoning staff options, but also are not necessarily writing off the year. If our pen is strong, there is no reason we can’t compete.

A couple of points:

1. Of the 13 possibilities (I include Jax), there is a high likelihood that most, if not all of them, barring injury or unexpected poor development/performance, get a shot in the majors this year.

2. The MO of this FO and coaching staff is all about 4-6 inning, two + times thru the order starters anyway. None of them need to be a shutdown, innings eater next year (or even further into the future for that matter, but it would be nice if one or two became that eventually). 

3. The goal should be that by ‘23 we see hopefully at least 3-4 of them develop into legitimate #2-4 starters. The beauty of that is they would all be on LEAGUE MINIMUM!  Think about that for a second. We take 13 legitimate prospects and turn them into 4 legitimate starters under team control for multiple years at a total sum of under $10MM/year. That is an incredibly strong place to be as a mid market team.
 

4. The FO then uses the cash saved to build a killer pen and, if desired, add a more true #1 and/or a key position player or two to fill a hole. Building a killer pen is cheaper, and way less risky, than signing multiple FA starters on longer term deals.

I’ve written this before on the TD and I’ll write it again: I hope the Twins win as many games as possible in ‘22, but this organization (with the resigning of Buxton, the core young positional talent both up and on the way, this cadre of emerging starters/pitchers, and the low cost of the core coupled with an owner willing to spend when the window is open) has a unique chance next year to position the team for several successful, fun, exciting years. I’m more than willing to be patient in ‘22 with that ultimate goal in mind if need be.

 

#3 &#4 are huge!  People may not like it but I believe the FO is managing toward this goal.  It's going to be really exciting to see if they can transition multiple pitchers this year.  It's going to be a lot of fun because there is going to be much more than that day's game on the line when these prospects take the mound.

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22 minutes ago, Doctor Gast said:

Thanks Nick for your observation of what the FO is doing. We shouldn't shoot the messenger of what he sees. I appreciate your insights of what you trying to make sense of what's going on. I like in theory in what they doing. I think it's great setting up a system of where our AAAA can be rotated in and out of the MLB mix, using them as openers and long relief. Giving a taste of MLB and sending them down to work on their discovered weakness and going with the hot hand. At the same time keeping the rotation and short relief rested.

Flexibility is the key. Last season, it appeared to me that this FO had the mindset that we had a strong rotation, Cave would be our starting LF and Buxton sub, transformation of Dobnak as a SO pitcher and we had a terrific BP led by Colume'. From the very beginning these assessments proved wrong but FO persisted for months. I advocated last season from the beginning to have a strong long relief, rotating AAAA arms because it helps develop young pitchers, supports a weak rotation and a BP when failing.

This season's rotation so far consisting of Bundy, Ober and Ryan, are a very weak rotation. In the beginning I don't see any of them going 5 innings, I expect times where both Ober and Ryan will need time to be sent back down to AAA to figure things out. I'm a firm believer of this system of openers and long relief. That said, I still like to see 1 or 2 veteran, solid top of the rotation pitcher via trade.

Agreed - I really like Nick's analysis and always appreciate that @Nick Nelson frequently engages in the forum.

I really doubt we see a trade for starting pitching. It would likely cost the prospects that the FO has been working so hard to collect and is banking on to be in the MLB pitching staff. I would guess they'll sign Pineda (or another 1 year $10m-ish starting pitcher)

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It's all in the 40-man roster.

 

The Twins have two current open spots. Come spring training, they will probably have two more with Madea and Enlow going on the longer-term disabledroster, although Enlow would come off eventually.

 

The Twins currently have eight bullpen arms: Rogers, Cotton, Duffey, Garza, Moran, Alcala, Stashak, Thielbar. If any go on the short-term IL, they have no one else...unless you factor in Thorpe or Jax. Thorpe has to start the season or the Twins say bye-bue. Does he replace a bullpen arm mentioned above, or open in the rotation.

Dobnak, I have little faith in the guy at the moment. He needs to work out of AAA-again, no matter how promising his spring. And he needs to be considered strictly a rotation arm. Otherwise, let him off the 40-man.

The Twins need innings, and people who can get past the 5th inning, otherwise the bullpen will be an utter mess. Of course, if you are in a "rebuild" and just getting pitchers experience, and you don't need a bonifide closer, the Twins could be set.

 

Bundy has pitched above 150 innings a couple of times, but only reached that number of innings total combined the last two seasons.

 

Ober could easily be pushed to 150. 30 five inning starts. Not what I want to see, but.

 

Ryan will get every opportunity to pitch. He has basically done 100 innings 3 of the past four sesons, so could be pushed. But, still, would like someone to pitch 30 games and more than 5 innings a start. Otherwise, just trade for Jake Odorizzi

 

Griffin Jax has been a workhorse. But, like Bundy, you only want him pitching lots and lots of innings IF he doesn't allow lots and lots of run. You can maybe have one guy giving you bad numbers. But two? And, again, if rebuilding maybe okay. If a guy is pitching this badly, though, what is his future in the orga nization.

 

The youngsters. Duran has basically missed two easons. How many innings can he pitch? You can pull the minor league trick that the Twins used alot last season and had very few starters go more than 3-4 innings at times to build up their game endurance as well as push innings. But even if Duran started the saeson in the majors, how many games could he potentially start. 

 

Balazovic needs to get some AAA games under his belt. I was surprised the Twins didn't bring him up at the end of last season. Give him some of those John Gant games and expose him to what he needs to work on in winter ball/training. It is one thing that upsets one about the Twins. You a

had nothing to lose by elevating Balazovix and Strotman to the majors in the final weeks of the season. You had no need to give innings to Gant and Barnes and Jax if you plan NOT to be in rebuild mode. See what you have. Both Balazovic and Strotman could be on the major league roster and give innings to the team, but will they be clobbered getting experienced and up-and-down to the minors, with still high hopes for 2023 pulling it all together?

 

Sands, Winder and Vallimont will also need exposure to higher caliber players. Now these guys, as well as the aforementioned, are starters. Potential future starting arms for the organizations. Not yet to be considered relief arms. They will hopefully get opportunities at AAA ball, although how much room there will be on that roster if you have Jax and Strotman and Barnes and Shepherd and Sammons fighting for innings? You suddenly have no room in the inn, or who plays and in what situations. Again, these three can all pitch short games, where you double up rotation arms, if the roster permits. But if any of these three made it to the majors, would you get 10-15-20 starts out of them.

 

But you need to see pretty much ALL of the names mentioned above in the majors league at some point, deciding who stays and who goes as you end 2022. Are Jax/Thorpe longterm, or a switch to the pen. Why did you trade for Strotman if you didn't feel he was ready...just let Tampa release him and sign him because they didn't see him as part of their future.

 

Balazovic, Sands, Duran could all be in the rotation, joining Maeda and Ober and Ryan for 2023. With Winder still in ther wings (remember how these names change fast every season). You still have Woods-Richardson, Canterino and Varland, all hoping to get a regular turn at AA Wichita and maybe some time in St. Paul.

 

So, in overall 40-man positioning, the Twins do look fairly good...if they leave one roster spot open for the bullpen expressess where you bring him up, release him while repalcing with another new name, releasing him, etc. You have to have flexibility where you don't add names too soon that you would rather have on the farm. The Twins already have that issue with Balazovic, Duran, Strotman, Winder, Vallimont, Jax. All names that IF you are a truly competing team, you would only see them for short-term IL-list replacements. 

 

Are the Twins blowing smoke about being competitive? They have Sano and Donaldson playing...where. No shortstop or left-fielder of note. Arraex and Miranda and Gordon doing what? Catchers that will be catching too many arms trying to impress, and ultimately learning.

 

Who are the five arms you expect to pitch starting in April for the 2022 Twins. Actually, make that 7 or 8 as you have to double up on arms because of lack of innings pitched.

 

If properly managed in 2022, who are the five opening in 2023. Remember that Maeda will be back, but do you still expect 200 innings out of him?

 

Who do you see as longer term keeps out of the dozen of: Balazovic, Duran, Strotman, Winder, Vallimont, Thorpe, Woods-Richardson, Ober, Ryan, Varland, Canterino, Enlow. Who do you see debuting in 2023 and becoming a mainstay in 2024 from even deeper in the minors?

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I don't like articles like this that much for two reasons.

One, the Twins shouldn't be in rebuild mode, they should be contending for the central and the FO has already completely failed in that regard. We shouldn't allow them to move the goalposts to "building a staff from within". 

Second, and tied to the first, they don't have guys like Ryan, Woods-Richardson, Strotman unless they had utterly failed in the first part and had to trade off talent, so I don't think they should get a lot of 'credit' for having those arms as part of their half-decade strategy. That, after five years, the best starting pitching prospect that we have was obtained by the prior front office should be a huge mark against this FO.

The reason the Twins don't go hard after FA starters is because it's extremely tricky. Mostly, the most successful FA pitchers are  the most expensive ones, which the Twins won't go after. Mid-tier FA pitchers aren't usually worth it. So they are left doing dumpster diving for guys like Pineda, Bundy (who I liked), Happ and Homer Bailey types. 

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3 hours ago, Nashvilletwin said:

Nick, you are spot on: the Twins are not only going to see what they have this year among their burgeoning staff options, but also are not necessarily writing off the year. If our pen is strong, there is no reason we can’t compete.

A couple of points:

1. Of the 13 possibilities (I include Jax), there is a high likelihood that most, if not all of them, barring injury or unexpected poor development/performance, get a shot in the majors this year.

2. The MO of this FO and coaching staff is all about 4-6 inning, two + times thru the order starters anyway. None of them need to be a shutdown, innings eater next year (or even further into the future for that matter, but it would be nice if one or two became that eventually). 

3. The goal should be that by ‘23 we see hopefully at least 3-4 of them develop into legitimate #2-4 starters. The beauty of that is they would all be on LEAGUE MINIMUM!  Think about that for a second. We take 13 legitimate prospects and turn them into 4 legitimate starters under team control for multiple years at a total sum of under $10MM/year. That is an incredibly strong place to be as a mid market team.
 

4. The FO then uses the cash saved to build a killer pen and, if desired, add a more true #1 and/or a key position player or two to fill a hole. Building a killer pen is cheaper, and way less risky, than signing multiple FA starters on longer term deals.

I’ve written this before on the TD and I’ll write it again: I hope the Twins win as many games as possible in ‘22, but this organization (with the resigning of Buxton, the core young positional talent both up and on the way, this cadre of emerging starters/pitchers, and the low cost of the core coupled with an owner willing to spend when the window is open) has a unique chance next year to position the team for several successful, fun, exciting years. I’m more than willing to be patient in ‘22 with that ultimate goal in mind if need be.

 

the only problem with the killer pen, is that it seldom works that all relievers have good years. And still no guarantee that one bad pitch here or there does not cost you.  I can see signing one more great reliever (I wanted Knebel), but they should get some fallback options if they intend to compete this year.  If not than this plan if fine, but don't expect a few of the prospects will fail, some will succeed later, and a few will come and do well from the start.  That is a lot of pressure on the young pitchers, but we shall see. 

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I'm generally in favor of letting young arms get a shot at the rotation rather than filling the bottom of the rotation with a veteran who might have just as much downside.  We've seen how poorly that can work out with Shoemaker and Happ. However, I'm not sure I'm ready to give the front office that much credit for this being an intentional strategy at this point.  We don't know what was going on behind the scenes in the past month and I think it's just as likely they were caught off-guard by the quick market and simultaneously undervalued the talent compared to other organizations.

It hasn't really been the M.O. of this front office to leave a spot open in the rotation for young guys.  In 2020, filling out the rotation with Bailey and Hill, they had in theory 6 veteran starters if they had managed to all be healthy at the same point.  And they had also signed Jhoulys Chacin but released him before the season eventually started.  In 2018 they signed Anibal Sanchez to compete for an opening day roster spot with 5 veterans already ahead of him.

Now, the "promising" young arms being blocked in those days were the likes of Kohl Stewart, Stephen Gonsalves, Lewis Thorpe, Fernando Romero, and Randy Dobnak.  With that group it is pretty easy in hindsight to say they were right to be sure they had enough veterans.  We have also seen that the young guys will inevitably find opportunities due to injuries, though that wouldn't really be a point in favor of the strategy of relying on young guys to start the season, if that is what the front office is planning.  Especially since almost none of their current top prospects had a completely clean bill of health last year.

I still think they will eventually fill the rotation in some way to the point where Ryan and Ober will be the two most "unproven" starters on opening day (at least barring a spring training injury to a veteran).  And at this point I'm prepared to not be overly excited about the two other veterans joining Bundy.  We'll just have to wait and see though.

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Of course this is a rebuild. They have no starters from last year’s opening rotation. They have no choice but rebuild the pitching staff. 

There are so many directions they can go but ultimately I hope any investment, whether it be in dollars or prospect capital, goes towards pitchers they control in 2023. They can rebuild the 2022 rotation with one year contracts but all that does is increase the likelihood that they will need to rebuild again next year.

I would strongly prefer the struggles of young pitchers as opposed to pitchers on one year contracts. They need to rebuild but they need to rebuild with a foundation for 2023 as a priority.

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3 hours ago, Rosterman said:

 

The Twins need innings, and people who can get past the 5th inning, otherwise the bullpen will be an utter mess. Of course, if you are in a "rebuild" and just getting pitchers experience, and you don't need a bonifide closer, the Twins could be set.

 

Bundy has pitched above 150 innings a couple of times, but only reached that number of innings total combined the last two seasons.

 

Ober could easily be pushed to 150. 30 five inning starts. Not what I want to see, but.

 

Ryan will get every opportunity to pitch. He has basically done 100 innings 3 of the past four sesons, so could be pushed. But, still, would like someone to pitch 30 games and more than 5 innings a start. Otherwise, just trade for Jake Odorizzi

 

Griffin Jax has been a workhorse. But, like Bundy, you only want him pitching lots and lots of innings IF he doesn't allow lots and lots of run. You can maybe have one guy giving you bad numbers. But two? And, again, if rebuilding maybe okay. If a guy is pitching this badly, though, what is his future in the orga nization.

 

Ober pitched 108 innings last year, do you really think he could increase his innings 150% of last year? 120 to 130 tops

Same for Ryan.. 

As for Bundy, trot him out till his arm falls off

 

Nick referenced a non-traditional rotation article from November that seems prophetic... I bet we see a 6 man rotation or even 8-10 man rotation with extensive use of piggybacking pitchers scheduled to both pitch 4 innings in the same game.

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1 hour ago, Rosterman said:

Are the Twins blowing smoke about being competitive?

They're either lying or they're too incompetent to realize this isn't a contender. I don't really like either option.

As you said the pitching staff is all question marks, shortstop is a giant hole and they're relying on rookies in left field.

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If these pitchers are ready and the reason the front office isn't going after high quality, proven, front end starters is to avoid roadblocking the pitchers we have, then no additional starters should be signed. This article reads like having your cake and eating it, too.

We've got 3 rotation spots locked up already. Signing more would just be log-jamming our prospects behind mediocre pitchers instead of log-jamming them behind elite pitchers. Even more pointless.

No idea why the Twins signed Bundy if they have all these arms ready for 2022, but lets look into them.

  • Balazovic was challenged to make adjustments to use his breaking pitch and changeup more instead of relying so heavily on his fastball. He wound up inconsistent and ineffective down the stretch. He's never spent time at AAA.
  • Duran has arm issues, pitched only 16 innings last year and couldn't get outs or throw strikes at AAA. He shouldn't be considered a starter candidate before 2023, if he doesn't need surgery. If he does, we won't see him as a starter until 2024.
  • Winder seems like he's ready for an MLB rotation spot. He had "dead arm" or a shoulder issue down the stretch and a rough go of things at AAA, but he's honestly probably the most ready of the prospects.
  • Sands, like Balazovic may be ready to make the jump from AA to the big show, but I'm sure the Twins would like him to see action in AAA. He only pitched 80 innings last year due to an undisclosed injury.
  • Vallimont can't throw strikes and can't get outs.
  • Woods Richardson barely pitched for us. I'm really not buying the story on him just needing to work out to pitch again. He had a month off pitching. It doesn't take 2 months to get ready to pitch again. I like him as a prospect, but there's no chance he's ready before the end of 2022 at the earliest. Something's amiss here.
  • Stroatman can't throw strikes and if he tries extra hard to throw them, he gets crushed. 
  • Canterino's elbow is awfully sketchy. He pitched only 23 innings in 2021 and didn't make it above A+. 2023 at the absolute earliest in the rotation.
  • Varland is a great story, but there are a lot of tempered expectations because of what he was when drafted. Does Varland have the stuff or does he just have adequate polish to succeed in the low minors? He hasn't pitched above A+ ball. Listing him as a potential MLB pitcher in 2022 isn't realistic, but I suppose it's theoretically possible.

Of the list, I would say Winder and mayyyyyybe Sands could take a rotation spot day 1. Balazovic could join the rotation in maybe June after a couple months at AAA? Woods-Richardson could get a cup of coffee. I don't see Canterino or Varland joining the rotation before 2023 and Duran, Vallimont, Stroatman are probably bullpen guys.

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There is nothing more dispiriting than listening to a Twins game when someone, like Shoemaker or Happ, blows a lead or pitches a lousy inning and puts the Twins in a hole.

That game against Seattle, way early in the season, I think the Twins were up like 7-1 or something at home, and Shoemaker gives up a 3-run bomb after being lights out.  Loses his cool, gets tossed by the ump and turns out, he never had good stuff in any case.  He's worried about a call?

I can take it from a young pitcher.  It's how they learn.  Next time out, maybe they make an adjustment, but if they can get the job done and learn from mistakes, there's a sense of imminent progress in the clubhouse.  Not so with veterans because you know they are who they are:  they have earned their mediocrity.  There's no higher place for them.

The rooks, who knows what they will become?  Even someone like Liam Hendriks, seemed like a failure as a young Twin, next time you see him, he's one of the best closers in the game.  How'd that happen?  No idea, but that kind of thing doesn't happen with Shoemaker or Happ and never will.

It will certainly make listening to the Twins interesting again.

 

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17 minutes ago, DJL44 said:

They're either lying or they're too incompetent to realize this isn't a contender. I don't really like either option.

As you said the pitching staff is all question marks, shortstop is a giant hole and they're relying on rookies in left field.

The offseason is not over folks! Not even close. Just want to make sure we're all aware of that.

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10 minutes ago, bean5302 said:

If these pitchers are ready and the reason the front office isn't going after high quality, proven, front end starters is to avoid roadblocking the pitchers we have, then no additional starters should be signed. This article reads like having your cake and eating it, too.

Of the list, I would say Winder and mayyyyyybe Sands could take a rotation spot day 1. Balazovic could join the rotation in maybe June after a couple months at AAA? Woods-Richardson could get a cup of coffee. I don't see Canterino or Varland joining the rotation before 2023 and Duran, Vallimont, Stroatman are probably bullpen guys.

A bunch of people are going to hate or be real sad on your realistic view of the prospects.

and lets not forget Ryan only has 26.2 major league innings, and Ober has only pitched in 20 MLB games

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Q How many legs does a dog have if you call his tail a leg?

A: Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg.

Terry Ryan never called his 2013 rebuild a rebuild either.  Didn't change the situation. You could tell what it was by the moves - the Clete Thomas Era said it all.

I'd be more enamored of the vaunted pitching pipeline that is supposed to be our salvation, if the national prospect rankers out there had our guys higher on their lists.  They don't have their knives out for our Twins, and they see both teams when they scout one of our guys - what they seem to be saying is, yeah, maybe, on most of our arms.  And our list of guys contains a lot of 24-25 year olds who still are only knocking at the door.  Our guys look like they could pitch in the majors, but maybe not stand out.  We need to hit big, on more than just a couple, if this strategy is going to pan out.  If not, where are our championships actually going to come from?

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3 hours ago, Sconnie said:

Agreed - I really like Nick's analysis and always appreciate that @Nick Nelson frequently engages in the forum.

I really doubt we see a trade for starting pitching. It would likely cost the prospects that the FO has been working so hard to collect and is banking on to be in the MLB pitching staff. I would guess they'll sign Pineda (or another 1 year $10m-ish starting pitcher)

I agree w/ Gleeman and the Geek that rebuilding doesn't make sense so they have to competently  fill our holes. Although this FO have difficulty making big trades so I tend to agree w/ you that they won't. But depending on bunch of weak pitchers to pitch around 3 innings and try to juggle them around will be a challenge for them to compete. Gleeman and the Geek also stated how FO doesn't like to gamble on big $ FA pitchers so trade makes a lot of sense. Hording prospects and players which are redundant (right now we have an abundance of pitching prospect which they can evaluate and spare a prospect or 2) is counter productive especially when gaining a much needed current pitching.

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I definitely don't like the undertone that its acceptable that if they go for a "mid rotation guy like Michael Pineda" that is considered an acceptable approach. Pineda was on this team last year. Extending Buxton, re-signing Pineda, and bringing in a lottery pick like Bundy is not improving on what they had last year. It's not even attempting to. And the fact that us Twins fans are ok with that approach is why they continue to do it. Why spend and go after a legit championship when the fans will support the team no matter what you throw out there? I'm having a hard time finding a reason to be interested in the upcoming season.

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3 hours ago, jorgenswest said:

Of course this is a rebuild. They have no starters from last year’s opening rotation. They have no choice but rebuild the pitching staff. 

There are so many directions they can go but ultimately I hope any investment, whether it be in dollars or prospect capital, goes towards pitchers they control in 2023. They can rebuild the 2022 rotation with one year contracts but all that does is increase the likelihood that they will need to rebuild again next year.

I would strongly prefer the struggles of young pitchers as opposed to pitchers on one year contracts. They need to rebuild but they need to rebuild with a foundation for 2023 as a priority.

I'd say it is a "partial rebuild" from what the Twins ended with last year. Ober and Ryan were part of last years rebuild, since they were not starters for the Twinkies at the beginning of 2021, but during the 2021 year, they became starters and were regular starters at the end of the season.  Maeda and Pineda are gone and who knows who the 5th starter was when the season ended last year? I sure don't. So we can take Ober and Ryan as 2 starters from the end of last year and they shall be called, "Holdovers" and the other 3-5 starters for 2022 will be new, and therefore can be part of a rebuilt rotation, therefore they shall be called  "Rebuildables".  

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Well, the rationalizations for doing nothing about the rotation before the lockout are in full swing now.

And it's not that you're wrong, Nick, it's just that we again seem to be rushing right in to make excuses for this organization. Excuses they aren't even making - they've said next-to-nothing to the fans about their seemingly-changed plans for 2022. Though, as you point out, they might never have been planning to sign a top FA starter.

I get the sense that lots of teams have pitching prospects like the Twins. Our pitching prospects are not particularly exceptional, and we currently have a mid-tier farm system, and most have been seriously hurt. Like you, I have *hope" that they'll pan out, but there are no guarantees that even one of them will become an impact starter.

And this organization needs an impact starter - multiple impact starters. There was nothing wrong with signing a few reliable, established veterans, even if 2022 seems lost. They could have served as mentors for younger pitchers, OR they could possibly be traded at the deadline if they overperform and the younger pitchers prove to be ready.

This line from your article sums up this sad attitude that we seem to have as Twins fans: "Maybe even win some games." A year after having WS aspirations, our fan expectations are so embarrassingly low now that we're crossing our fingers hoping that *maybe* some of our hurt pitching prospects might debut next year and win a few games. Good gosh.

But, if you're trying to find or make some sense of reason in all this, your article does seem to get there.

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I agree that is probably what's happening, but for me the biggest issue is that half the guys on this list are already 24 or 25 and haven't really sniffed the big leagues yet.  They are already past peak prime for prospects, so best case is likely a back of the rotation starter anyway.  The Twins have been lacking in front of the rotation starters for so long now, I fear we've all just come to accep that the best we can do is a few 3 or 4s, including the FO. 

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6 minutes ago, whydidnt said:

I agree that is probably what's happening, but for me the biggest issue is that half the guys on this list are already 24 or 25 and haven't really sniffed the big leagues yet.  They are already past peak prime for prospects, so best case is likely a back of the rotation starter anyway.  The Twins have been lacking in front of the rotation starters for so long now, I fear we've all just come to accep that the best we can do is a few 3 or 4s, including the FO. 

I don't think that's a fair way to look at it. They missed an entire minor-league season and then had to try to build back up the following year. You can't treat their development cycle like a typical 24/25 year old's. I do think that point underscores the urgency of getting them looks in the near future, however. 

The widespread injuries, to me, are the foreboding concern. But you've gotta believe some of these guys will see their lack turn around on that front after last summer. And I wonder how many of the IL trips/shutdowns were the result of extreme caution, given the circumstances.

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Thanks for writing this, Nick. Been saying it for years now. The plan has always been to develop a pitching pipeline. It's the only way for the Twins, or any team really (even the big spenders! Go look at the Yankees recent struggles compared to their ability to produce their own arms and the Dodgers success compared to their ability to produce their own arms), to be consistently good. You need to build out your systems for scouting, acquiring, and developing pitching. That didn't happen overnight. It took them a year or 2 to get things in place the way they want them and start getting their staff used to what they're doing and how to do it to get things firing on all cylinders. That's what Falvey was hired for. Take a completely outdated system and turn it into a modern one on the cutting edge. They've had their chance to accomplish that and now it's time to start seeing the results.

Sports are a "what have you done for me lately" industry, and I get that. But if we take a step back and look at the entire Falvine era we can see that this is their approach. They sign veterans to short-term deals with the plan of having their young pitchers come up, establish themselves, and reduce the number of veteran arms they need to bring in. The goal is that you never have to sign a veteran as there's just a constant flow of young arms coming in and replacing guys. It's what makes Cleveland and Tampa teams that can contend (as others have mentioned). If we just look at this offseason (which, as Nick, and others, keep saying, isn't over yet!) on it's own it's awfully frustrating and hard to see any plan since there's clearly a place to bring in veteran arms. But I can respect, and understand, that they've had a plan in place for years and they're not going to change it now. As well they shouldn't. Make a plan and stick to it. That's how a team should be run. Just execute better.

The Twins have built their system and have a whole host of arms reaching the point they need to start protecting them. 2020 covid madness and 2021 injury avalanche pretty well blew things up. I'm certainly not saying I think they've handled the adversity super well, but I don't think you blow up the entire plan, start signing big deals, and trading arms because of unfortunate circumstances. This is their plan. This will always be their plan. And if they are successful with it they can be Cleveland with the money to keep their offense together. If they're successful building their pipeline and can continuously churn out big league arms they can build a great offense with their payroll advantage over the Tampas and Clevelands of the league. The question is whether or not they can develop those arms. We start finding out for real in 2022.

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If I stand outside of being a Twins' fan and look at these pitchers that are supposed to be the future and the saviors of this team and it's seemingly now 7 year plan FO (is that enough time, yet?), I am not impressed at all, and with only  Balazovic raised in our own farm rated in the top 100 of MLB prospects (Ryan is a recent trade), it seems that others outside of being a Twins' fan are equally unimpressed. It is what it is, now, as our guys were trying to figure out how to navigate while others were already sailing, and already caught all the fish that weren't in the home net.

It could all happen. Sure. Maybe it will. I hope it will. That would impress me. Right now, I enjoy the optimism, but am not pretending to be impressed just because I am a Twins' fan. 

We will need a lot of luck. A ton of luck. 

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