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I am always looking for outside opinions to challenge our home team bias so I was interested in Buster Olney's take on the best players on the field.  His ranking of outfielders  has only Byron Buxton on his top ten for each OF position and only Byron Buxton at 8 in CF is on the list which also includes honorable mention. 

His ranking of IF position players has only Polanco and Donaldson.  Polanco is honorable mention at 2B and SS.  Donaldson is number 9 at 3B.   While we might see lots of potential, this is a sobering listing for a team that thinks last year was a one off.  

And we know about pitching. 

Ranking the top ten teams the White Sox are number 3, but what really hurts is this statement "And let's face it -- the bar is low for the White Sox to be the best team in the relatively weak AL Central. The Tigers and Royals are getting better, and the Guardians have a competitive pitching staff, but the White Sox's talent may overwhelm the division again."  Notice the absence of one central division team? 

Don't knock the messenger - this is not about Olney - tell me why he is wrong.

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IMO overall the Twins are underrated, it's hard to compete w/ big market media. But still there's a lot of holes that need to be filled. Defensively Kepler is right up there but his offense has dragged him down. Polanco is at least 2nd at 2B. Buxton is probably the best CF defensively and his offense is improving every year, even with his problem of staying on the field I'd rank him higher than 8th. Donaldson is pretty close to his ranking because of his reputation. We don't have a SS, LF is unproven and if Sano finds himself and continue not to over-swing like the end of the season, his stock will go way up.

If we get a pretty decent SS, find a decent back up to Buck and find a high end SP via trade and hopefully their rotation experiment works out. Well have a darn good team.

 

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35 minutes ago, dxpavelka said:

I've learned that guys like Olney are NEVER wrong.  Not even sure why the Twins are planning to play this season. 

I hope we do play. I've got to decide shortly whether to cancel my reservations and save almost a thousand bucks at an AirBNB for Fort Myers the first week of 2022 ST games. The last 2 springs it was Covid, now it is disagreements between rich owners and rich players, which are ruining my spring training vacations.

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Why is he wrong about Chicago? Look up last year’s playoff results. 

The article is an opinion piece by a writer who needs ratings and clicks to get paid. If it is as you say and he has Polanco as a SS that should tell you how much he has paid attention. Why is he wrong? I doubt that he is trying to be right.

The Twins lost a lot of time to injuries, on a stat sheet they are going to look bad. To a stat sheet scout 

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14 hours ago, Sean.h said:

Seems about right. I'd probably have Buxton in the top 5, Polanco in the top 10 for sure, Donaldson maybe an honorable mention, and maybe Garver in the top 10? Who else would be in the discussion for top 10?

I was surprised that Garver does not make even honorable mention, but is this because we see him in such a different light?

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12 hours ago, dxpavelka said:

I've learned that guys like Olney are NEVER wrong.  Not even sure why the Twins are planning to play this season. 

Guys like Olney are there to spark interest and conversation.  And his list has a lot of merit, our task is to raise questions with facts and so far we don't have a lot to work with. 

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10 hours ago, old nurse said:

Why is he wrong about Chicago? Look up last year’s playoff results. 

The article is an opinion piece by a writer who needs ratings and clicks to get paid. If it is as you say and he has Polanco as a SS that should tell you how much he has paid attention. Why is he wrong? I doubt that he is trying to be right.

The Twins lost a lot of time to injuries, on a stat sheet they are going to look bad. To a stat sheet scout 

He had Polanco at both SS and 2B - and based on our various writers SS is still a possibility.  I know most of us do not want this, but LaVelle wrote an article proposing this for 2022 right after the season.

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Interesting exercise. The MLB Network top 10 lists are one of my favorite shows they do as spring training gets going. Twins players rarely make the tops of those lists, but the team was winning games the seasons immediately preceding 2021 without having players on those shows regularly. The Twins don't have a ton of players worthy of national attention for greatness, but also lack players worthy of national attention for ineptitude (offensively at least).

Atlanta just won the world series with a playoff roster with 1 superstar (Freeman), 1 star (Albies, who didn't perform well), and a bunch of dudes that don't kill you. I think that's pretty similar to the Twins setup. Now Atlanta had arms, and average players (Eddie) perform quite well, and we know the Twins are going to struggle to get pitching this year, but not having a roster full of guys ranking at the top of their position group doesn't kill a team. Obviously prefer to have as many stars as you can, but isn't needed.

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3 hours ago, mikelink45 said:

He had Polanco at both SS and 2B - and based on our various writers SS is still a possibility.  I know most of us do not want this, but LaVelle wrote an article proposing this for 2022 right after the season.

Writers propose a lot. Does not mean it is actually a possibility 

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Great topic. My 2 cents: 73. # of wins. 20. Games behind. 18. Consecutive playoff losses. Ouch. Reality sucks. But past is not determinative of future.

It just says to me our roster is mediocre in comparative talent. I dont take that as a slam. Just reflection where we stand on paper. And we are all still waiting for the Paper Tigers to win it all.  The same exercise applied in oreseasons or 87 and 91 would have yielded similar results.

So go get some decent pitching, play better defense, hit when it counts. No reason why Twins cant compete.

Maybe thats 3 cents worth.

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The national press thought nothing of the Twins in 1987 and 1991, either.

Even if nothing significant is done with the rotation (I still think there will be a Castillo or Montas type of trade when the CBA is ironed out), the Twins are a better team than Olney is giving them credit for, and I look forward to watching them prove it.

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1 hour ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

I can't read the article because I'm not an insider but if Polanco doesn't break the top ten of 2B and there are seven centerfielders in front of Buxton, it's not a good list.

*redacted by admin*

8. Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins

At a time when it feels that management and players seem completely at odds in assessing value -- re: the collective bargaining agreement talks -- the Twins and Buxton threaded a very fine needle collaboratively in working out a long-term deal that both accounts for his extraordinary talent and extensive injury history. Buxton is guaranteed to make at least $100 million, but that number will grow if he can stay on the field and trigger some incentive clauses. At his best, he is a dynamic force.

edit by Brock Beauchamp: I appreciate you trying to help but we ask that users do not post paywall content in its entirety. In this case of this situation, it's perfectly acceptable and welcomed to post the individual snippet for Buxton but we try not to post content for entire pages. Thanks!

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I don't disagree with Buster but the Twins I think were number 11 for offense last year with a shortstop who couldn't hit a softball so I think the offense is just fine.  I disagree with his placement of Buxton but being he has been injured so much I can understand where he is coming from.

Pitching will make or break this team again.  There are just too many question marks when it comes to pitching to determine this teams fate.  If some of the younger arms can pitch well I think we have the offense to compete in our division.  If not then it will be another longer year.  The issue right now is that there are a lot of young arms on the 40 man.  The Twins cannot continue to carry that much dead weight so they will need to find out if some of these guys can make it or not or risk losing more player to rule V etc.

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5 hours ago, mikelink45 said:

He had Polanco at both SS and 2B - and based on our various writers SS is still a possibility.  I know most of us do not want this, but LaVelle wrote an article proposing this for 2022 right after the season.

As of a few days ago, Hayes said Polanco as a shortstop is not likely to happen which is the correct answer 

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Rankings are fun to look at but they don't mean much to me from a win-loss point of view. How many Giants did Buster Olney place on his lists last year? 

The Twins offense will be fine, providing Baldelli manages his options and properly rewards good performance with playing time. 

Everything for this season and the season after that and the season after that, hinges on the young arms and the supporting bullpen. Can Falvey Lavine and Baldelli work together and be flexible enough to move young arms up and down according to performance, manage the work load restrictions that will be in place because of the lost development due to Covid plus not be tethered to a typical 5 man rotation that won't be available to us. Gonna need a much better bullpen this year because the pitch counts for the young starters will be held in check and we didn't have a great bullpen last year. 

It seems like a tall order to me on January 17th, 2022 but I won't say it's not doable. If it doesn't work in 2022, we should be a year closer to it working in 2023.

It's time to see what the young pitchers can do.  

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Great points by many on this topic.  At this point of the cold Minnesota Winter everything is speculation.  Which is fine, because speculation can sometimes warm your feet up.  We will hit and score runs decently.  Buxton, Polanco, Donaldson.  They'll hit.  I expect Kiriloff to break out.  Will Sano be better?  Will Garver ?  Is Kepler hopeless, or will a new hitting coach get thru to him ?  Will we stay healthy ?  Those are all legit questions but in the grand scheme of the 2022 season it comes down to pitching (as it always does for EVERY baseball team).  Will the Twins acquire at least ONE solid major league pitcher to lead the staff ?  Will the young guns stay healthy and show their stuff in 2022 ?  As others pointed out:  Nobody said the Giants were going to be any good in 2021.  They won 107 games !!!  Back when the Royals first returned to the World Series I don't remember any "buzz" about them.  The Braves had young pitching and thus "potential" but then Soroka was lost for the season and many of their "young guns" disappointed.  Olney got ONE thing right.  The A.L. Central is NOT the N.L. West or the A.L. East.  The White Sox are GOOD.  Detroit and KC are improving.  The Guardians will pitch.  But the Twins are not bereft of talent.  With a couple shrewd moves (and shouldn't we EXPECT our FO to be able to make these moves?) the Twins could be right in the thick of it.  Inaction by our FO will result in another last place finish.  Which would (or should) lead to the dismissal of the FO as well as Rocco.   

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Potentially, pretty good if we can add quality pitching.  First off, trade Kepler for some quality pitching, he seems to be a break out candidate the past 3-4 years but never does and experts always have an excuse for him.  He is what he is.  Trade him and that will give right field to Kirilloff, Buxton in center and bring Austin Martin up to play left field.  With Martin in left field Buxton can cheat to right field to help Kirilloff.  Infield, Donaldson and Polonco are penciled in at third and second, play Nick Gordon at short and bring Jose Miranda up to play first with Sano batting DH.  I think thats a pretty competitive offense and defense.  However, again, it's all going to be finding pitching.  Losing the season before last really put us a year behind in pitching.  If we didn't lose that year I think we would have some really good, quality pitching prospects pitching in the bigs this year, as it sits we are one year away, unless you want to push them up anyways.  That's why I sign Carlos Rodon to a 20+ million dollar a year contract for 1 or 2 years, put him on top as the ace and go from there.  If he pitches well and we go nowhere we can trade him at the trade deadline for more prospects.  This is my 2 cents worth

TC from CB

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This is an important point. We Twins fans love our players, but realistically we don't have a single elite player at any position. Which is why the talk of contention in 2022 or 2023 continues to seem odd. A team can win without an elite player, but that team has to pitch extremely well and play fundamentally sound baseball. That's not our Twins.

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5 hours ago, CBtwinsfan said:

Potentially, pretty good if we can add quality pitching.  First off, trade Kepler for some quality pitching, he seems to be a break out candidate the past 3-4 years but never does and experts always have an excuse for him.  He is what he is.  Trade him and that will give right field to Kirilloff, Buxton in center and bring Austin Martin up to play left field.  With Martin in left field Buxton can cheat to right field to help Kirilloff.  Infield, Donaldson and Polonco are penciled in at third and second, play Nick Gordon at short and bring Jose Miranda up to play first with Sano batting DH.  I think thats a pretty competitive offense and defense

 

Having basically unknowns in LF, RF, SS and 1B if considered pretty competitive? It could be, it could be great, it also could be a disaster if Martin/Miranda aren't ready, or AK/Buxton get hurt, and Gordon is the SS everybody said isn't a SS.

With that opening day lineup the back ups are Larnach, Celestino, Rooker, and Arraez. Thanks but no thanks, if that is how the season ends and all or most of those guys are good, then it was probably a decent season. But if even a couple of those guys end up like Larnach, Celestino or AK. It will likely mean 2023 will probably be similiar to 21 and 22.

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1 hour ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

Having basically unknowns in LF, RF, SS and 1B if considered pretty competitive? It could be, it could be great, it also could be a disaster if Martin/Miranda aren't ready, or AK/Buxton get hurt, and Gordon is the SS everybody said isn't a SS.

With that opening day lineup the back ups are Larnach, Celestino, Rooker, and Arraez. Thanks but no thanks, if that is how the season ends and all or most of those guys are good, then it was probably a decent season. But if even a couple of those guys end up like Larnach, Celestino or AK. It will likely mean 2023 will probably be similiar to 21 and 22.

Martin and Miranda making the leap will certainly help but IMO what happens with Ober / Ryan / Winder / Balazovic / Canterino / Duran / SWR and Sands and perhaps Strotman will have a greater impact on the relative ability to contend in 2023.  

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