Jump to content
Twins Daily
  • Create Account
Twins Daily Contributor

Minnesota entered the season as a clear underdog in the AL Central, but other teams have struggled to start the year. Where can the Twins make the biggest improvement to help separate themselves in the standings?

 

Every contending team looks to make improvements throughout the season. Sometimes those changes come from within the farm system and other times the front office must supplement the roster with talent from other organizations. With nearly a fourth of the schedule complete, here are the three biggest weaknesses on the Twins roster. 

First Base
No team has gotten less production out of first base than the Minnesota Twins. According to fWAR, Minnesota’s -1.5 WAR at first base is baseball’s lowest total. Miguel Sanó’s well-documented poor start played a role in the team’s lack of production. However, Alex Kirilloff’s wrist injury and poor production are also tied to the position. Luis Arraez continues to get opportunities at first, but he doesn’t fit the mold of prototypical first basemen. 

Improvement Options: Earlier in the week, MLB.com claimed the Twins need to find a player similar to Daniel Vogelbach, because power-hitting first basemen/DH are easy to find. For the Twins, it seems most likely for the team to continue to use Arraez at the position until a better option presents itself. 

Left Field
Unlike first base, left field hasn’t been a black hole in the Twins lineup, but there is room for improvement. Alex Kirilloff was the Opening Day starter, but he was demoted earlier this week to try and rediscover his swing at Triple-A. Trevor Larnach was swinging the bat well before a groin strain put him on the injured list. Nick Gordon has played the most games in left field this season, but his value is in being used in a utility role

Improvement Options: Larnach should return from injury in the coming days, and the team hopes he can pick up where he left off at the plate. However, Royce Lewis is back at Triple-A to work on other defensive positions and left field might be his best shot at a big-league role.

Starting Pitching
Minnesota’s front office bet on the organization’s young pitchers this winter and so far, that decision has worked out in the team’s favor. Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober have proven they are more than capable of holding down a big-league role. The Twins pitching staff ranks in the top-10 in multiple statistical categories, but it is still early in the season. Unfortunately, injuries and illness have hit the starting pitcher group with Dylan Bundy, Bailey Ober, and Chris Paddock all missing time. It doesn’t seem as though Minnesota’s current pitching core is built for October success.

Improvement Options: Even with strong early-season numbers, the Twins are going to have to make some additions to the big-league roster. At least four veteran starting pitchers will be available before the trade deadline, but there are questions surrounding all of these players. Jordan Balazovic, one of Minnesota’s top pitching prospects, is in the Triple-A rotation, so he can be a second-half call-up. 

There are plenty of games left to be played before the trade deadline, but more flaws tend to present themselves throughout the season. Which of these weaknesses do you feel most needs to be addressed? Are there other internal options to fix the team’s flaws? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

 


View full article

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Recommended Posts

Verified Member

quit knocking on Arraez..i'm perfectly fine with him at 1st or DH..don't care if he doesn't knock it out of the park. what this team does too often is K....i'd rather have a guy up there batting .300 + than a guy batting .220 and hitting a HR every 20 AB's and K-ing 10 times. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The best solutions to the first two concerns are named Kirilloff, Larnach and maybe Lewis.  Kirilloff showed some promise last night, let's hope it continues.  Larnach was playing very well prior to the injury, and it seems he has adjusted to the steady diet of off speed stuff that has been thrown his way.  Lewis could play left if Larnach stumbles and I suspect that is part of the plan in sending him down.  I wouldn't add anyone at first base until I was sure Kirilloff is out of the picture.  If he is, maybe Josh Bell will be available as the Nationals are dead in the water and he is a free agent after this year.  Finally, we do need pitching, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if the FO adds someone sooner than later, especially if Bundy shows signs of being erratic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Verified Member

I fully agree that first is our biggest issue.  Arraez has the general hitting ability, not the power you expect from first, but he lacks defense right now.  Kiriloff may figure out the wrist issue, but if not I think they should look to bring in someone.  

Left is only an issue because no one has stepped in to be the every day guy, but rotating different guys has not been terrible.  

Every team can say they need more starting pitching.  So far this year starting pitching has not been an issue, so to just assume it will be in the second half seems odd to me.  Maybe it will, but to just say that it will be, when we have run 8 out there so far, down to 7 total healthy now with Paddock out, but we have internal options if some regress, get hurt.  I would not agree we need to trade for a vet.  I also disagree we need an ace to win in the playoffs.  There are times an ace can make a huge difference, but rarely do they make the full difference, even more this day in age. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't see much of a problem in LF with Larnach being very close to returning and Celstino playing very well and Garlick as a LH platoon option.

Let's revisit 1B in two weeks.  The best possible solution is a nice bounce back with Kirilloff who is showing signs of his old self.  If not, Josh Bell would be a great solution and he could possibly be resigned if Kirilloff's wrists continue to impede his performance.  

The BP is something like 19-0 when we have the lead after the 7th inning so I am not sure the BP is a problem.  We will see how things go when rosters size is reduced.

All of this assumes we have a contender which is not going to be determined in the next 3 weeks given they are playing mostly sub 500 teams.  They are not going to make any trades until they have a much better idea of our needs and contention.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Verified Member

Ryan and Ober with ERA's below 3.    Sonny Gray, Winder and hopefully Balazovic.    I would be fine going to the playoffs with this group, especially if the lineup has Polanco, Arraez, Correa, Buxton and Lewis in it.   None of the pitchers named except maybe the last one would give me any more faith in the rotation than the guys we already have.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, MinnInPa said:

quit knocking on Arraez..i'm perfectly fine with him at 1st or DH..don't care if he doesn't knock it out of the park. what this team does too often is K....i'd rather have a guy up there batting .300 + than a guy batting .220 and hitting a HR every 20 AB's and K-ing 10 times. 

Agreed. Arraez is a spark plug at the top of the order and gets on base, for the Twins not to put him in the lineup is crazy. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 minutes ago, Dantes929 said:

Ryan and Ober with ERA's below 3.    Sonny Gray, Winder and hopefully Balazovic.    I would be fine going to the playoffs with this group, especially if the lineup has Polanco, Arraez, Correa, Buxton and Lewis in it.   None of the pitchers named except maybe the last one would give me any more faith in the rotation than the guys we already have.

My fear is they'll trade some of their core players for a pitcher and that pitcher will bomb and set the team back for several years. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Verified Member

I would say none of these issues need to be addressed right now and aren't likely to be addressed at the deadline either.

 

For 1B, Arraez can hold down the fort just fine. After him it will be some combination of AK when he starts hitting better or Sańo after a lengthy rehab appearance to get his timing back.

LF is Larnach's spot.

The pitching has been above average and aside from an injury I would rather the team stay pat. Don't forget Maeda will be back at some point this year!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder if a lot of Kirilloff's struggle is mental.  From experience, when coming back from a joint injury, I know that there is a hesitancy to go all out because there might be pain or you might reinjure yourself.  Sometimes it just takes time to get it through your thick skull (definitely in my experience) that the doctors have given you the okay to "go for it."  Hopefully, that is the case for Alex and last night is the start of a long career.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Verified Member

They don't have a playoff team yet. But some of these guys tend to heat up late in the season. If those players don't get going, they'll need 2 or 3 pitchers the caliber of Clayton Kershaw who can consistently hold opposing teams to 0 or 1 run if they want to make it anywhere in the playoffs. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Twins need that true ace which they have not had since Santana. Maybe Ryan will continue what he is doing and we can call him an ace. In fact I chose to call him an ace today. But seriously, time will tell about young Joe Ryan. Sure would help to get a healthy Maeda back in the rotation. I really enjoy watching him pitch. He is a pitcher that could be a difference maker. Let me ask this question...Would it be worthwhile to see what Duran can do as a starter next year? Why not? A good starter will pitch two to two and a half times the number of innings as a good reliever. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With a glut of outfielders, I would suggest giving Max Kepler a shot at first. He played in the minors, but last played first in the majors in 2016 (and only 4 innings worth, but with 100% fielding percentage). Give his legs a rest from running around the outfield, give the team a veteran with experience at first, and he's closer to a prototypical slugging first baseman than Arraez or Miranda (who should be back in Triple A to get some mojo back.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Verified Member

they should flip, for example, Martin and SWR for 1.5 years of someone like Berrios or better. We have internal options at LF and 1B. We need to upgrade at the top of the rotation. If only we had held onto Taylor Rogers we would have had a pretty dominant BP with Rogers and Duran at the back end.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are enough options for LF with Celestine and Garlick until Larnarch returns.  Gordon too but it would be nice if he would do a little more with the bat and get on base at a better clip..  

as far as 1B goes we need to give Killeroff a chance to show in the minors he can come back from his injury and hit again.  Otherwise we can pivot and trade for someone like Josh Bell around the trade deadline.  
starting pitching is fine.  We have lots of options with several more about ready for their chance.  
Ryan, Ober, Gray, Bundy, Archer, and Winder is 6. Maeda will be back in late August/ September.  Balazovich, Canterino, Richardson-Woods, Smeltzer should all merit opportunities at some point this year.  Smeltzer appears ready for more opportunities.  
 

Right now these are the three areas of concern as well as the offense at third base.  I think the best course of action is to work through our issues internally since we do have the talent to plug the holes.  But if Sano and Killeroff can’t make it back by the trade deadline, then a trade for Bell makes the most sense.  Arreaz could go back and help out at third base fixing 2 holes with 1 player.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Verified Member

Arraez is exactly the kind of guy you want to plug in at first base: A very good bat whose defense can be a liability elsewhere. Doesn't matter in the game's overall math that his calling card is getting on base instead of power. I'm fine with him holding down the fort and waiting to see if Miranda or Kirilloff pops off, especially if Lewis looks like he might spend some time at third base.

Larnach will be back soon for Left Field, and Celestino has been an excellent fourth OF.

I am more than happy with the performance of our young starting pitchers, but I have no idea how many innings they can reasonably cover this year. This might be solvable by the next wave coming up through the pipeline. I really have no idea. It would not hurt at all to get some insurance here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We haven't been so deep in the OF for many years, now. LF I consider as a strength especially defensively. Celestino has been great both offensively & defensively, Gordon does a good job out there, he's up and down offensively but alright against RHPing, Larnach will be back and he can be a hitter although his glove isn't as good as the other 2. And then there is Kiriloff there's a chance he'll return.

I also don't see 1B as a clear weakness, yes we don't have an all star there but do we need one there? The big question is where do we put Arraez? 1B is his best option if we find some one different, where do we put Arraez? He's not that good anywhere else. We will still have that problem when Kiriloff comes back. Arraez isn't a typical 1B but he doesn't need to be. 1B is the least critical position on the field where we don't need to worry about. We do need some depth there, Miranda isn't working out. Lewis has proven he can hit up here, Arraez has been able to learn 1B on the fly, Lewis has the make up and athleticism to learn it faster and better. Miranda should get better with some more time in AAA.

Rotation? For the post season we will need a veteran ace (my definition is a SP that can give you 7+ quality innings) PS experience if possible, but right now I'd like to see where our SPs are in another month. They'll need as much time as we can give them right now. My greatest worry is short relief (closer), the way Baldelli is prioritize them, I'm afraid he'll burn them out along with the rotation. Then we'll need both short RPs & SPs.

Catching which was a strength, I now see as a weakness. Jeffers isn't getting it done hitting and Sanchez isn't that great defensively, not very good platooning option. IDK really what to do for a solution.

P.S. I wouldn't trust Maeda to make an impact even if he starts to pitch towards the post season. He'll need a lot of time to get his stuff back for any amount of time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We saw how unready the Twins are for postseason when the Astros shut them out twice in two days. And the Yankees are red hot, too, right now. The Twins' job now is to get to the postseason with three  quality starters, which is very doable, given the farm, and the ability to score, consistently, more than three runs a game. Arraez is fine; he gets on base. We've seen that one-run homers aren't sufficient often enough.  The team also needs to manufacture runs and get on base so that a dinger nets more than a single run. Many on this thread are right about Larnach and Lewis, who will be back soon if his bat stays hot at either OF or Ist once he gets in some time at those positions. Kiriloff looked good yesterday; he'll figure it out if he's fully healed. I was astonished Miranda wasn't sent down or have I missed something? He may have been the Twins' minor league hitter of the year in 2021, but he needs to go down and figure it out before he comes back up. Yesterday we saw what this team can do even when Buxton doesn't get a hit; everybody else did their part when the Buxster was walking instead of hitting.  I'm enjoying the season; we're winning when we should. We just haven't figured out to win against the league's elite. I'm thinking we'll get there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

The Twins Daily Caretaker Fund
The Twins Daily Caretaker Fund

You all care about this site. The next step is caring for it. We’re asking you to caretake this site so it can remain the premiere Twins community on the internet.

×
×
  • Create New...