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  • Game Recap: Astros 6, Twins 4


    Thiéres Rabelo

    Bailey Ober had his best outing in the majors and the Twins once again showed they had some fight in them late, but the now reliever Matt Shoemaker allowed Houston to regain the lead with a two-run ninth and Minnesota drops the series opener against the Astros at Target Field.

    Image courtesy of Image courtesy of © Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

    Box Score
    Ober: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K (71,2% strikes)
    Home Runs: Cruz (12), Sanó (13), Donaldson 2 (10)
    Bottom 3 WPA: Shoemaker -.352, Duffey -.174, Larnach -.130

    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    chart.png.976704c1a2d4a2703f9070d7de08804f.png

    Some great news brought in some optimism for Twins fans earlier today. The club announced that struggling starter Matt Shoemaker would be sent to the bullpen and rookie Bailey Ober would start tonight’s game. Could this mean that Shoemaker’s stint in Minnesota is close to an end?

    Ober took advantage of another opportunity, making his third start of the season. It didn’t take very long for this one to become special for him. He pitched through the first two innings quickly, on only 28 pitches. After giving up a leadoff single to Martín Maldonado in the third, he struck out the next batter, then his fifth punchout of the game, already his career-high.

    However, he did pitch himself into a small jam during that same inning. Michael Brantley doubled on a 0-2 curveball, putting two runners in scoring position right away. No team in baseball has allowed more 0-2 hits than the Twins this season. Alex Bregman pushed a run across on a sac-fly, but Ober limited the damage to that one run.

    Fortunately, while Ober navigated through his ups and downs, he got some early run support to make things a bit less difficult for him. Minnesota hit a solo home run in each of the first three innings. Nelson Cruz picked up right where he left off on Thursday night, taking José Urquidy deep after a nice, seven-pitch at-bat. With that dinger, his 12th of the year, he tied Miguel Sanó for the team-lead.

    But Miggy wouldn’t just sit there and take that. He had something to say about that.

    Then, when Houston cut the Twins’ lead in half in the top of the third, Josh Donaldson brought the rain and with a solo shot of his own, he gave Ober the two-run lead back, making it 3-1 Minnesota.

    After pitching a quick, scoreless fourth, Ober’s pitch count was still under 60. He earned himself the chance to pitch into the fifth inning for the first time in his big league career. José Altuve homered to the corner of the left field, on a ball that ricocheted off the foul pole into the limestone. Immediately after that, Brantley singled and suddenly Ober was in a potentially tough situation.

    Ober didn’t shy away from the challenge, as he managed to retire both batters that followed, including a strikeout against red-hot Yordan Álvarez (Ober’s seventh in the game) to close the inning, after a tough seven-pitch at-bat with a man on. You couldn’t ask for a better learning opportunity for the rookie, who was pulled right after this, in line for his first major league win.

    Rocco Baldelli decided not to bring Ober back to the sixth, even though he was still at 73 pitches (52 for strikes). Jorge Alcalá took over, making his fourth appearance in the last five days. After falling behind 3-0 on the count, he was later taken deep by Yuli Gurriel, who tied the game with a leadoff home run. He retired the side on ten pitches next. In spite of the game-tying home run, Alcalá is still having a very positive month of June, in which he has as many strikeouts as innings pitched (five) and has yet to give up a walk.

    While the offense struggled to produce baserunners, Tyler Duffey took over to pitch the seventh. He looked off from the beginning and even got one of the trainers to check on him on the mound after he retired the leadoff man. Command started to elude him and the inning became really sloppy. He walked Altuve and hit Brantley just before Bregman grounded out to bring Altuve home, making it 4-3 Astros.

    Donaldson ties the game, Shoemaker chokes it

    After the offense went down in order in the bottom of the seventh, it was time for Shoemaker’s first appearance out of the bullpen in a Twins uniform. Very convincingly, he pitched a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 inning. Which immediately raised the question: could the Twins find value (or trade value, for that matter) for him in relief pitching?

    Donaldson decided he wasn’t done being on fire, so in the bottom of the eighth, he brought the rain again. That’s three home runs in less than 24 hours for him, or five at-bats, to be more precise.

    But the question some of us were asking ourselves about Shoemaker after the eight was quickly answered in the ninth. Looking completely lost, he gave up two runs on three hits, in what seemed to be one of his worst outings as a Twin. A leadoff single to Myles Straw, followed by an RBI-double to Maldonado, and an RBI-single to Brantley later, while recording only one out. Former Twin Ryan Pressly didn’t have an easy task, as it took him 20 pitches to close out the game, but he did manage to retire Minnesota batters in order.

    Postgame Interviews
    Bailey Ober:

    Rocco Baldelli:

    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

      SUN TUE WED THU FRI TOT
    Jax 0 23 51 0 0 74
    Duffey 14 0 0 20 22 56
    Farrell 13 19 0 23 0 55
    Alcalá 10 21 0 7 15 53
    Shoemaker 0 0 0 0 35 35
    Colomé 0 9 25 0 0 34
    Robles 15 0 0 11 0 26
    Rogers 0 20 0 0 3 23
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    1 hour ago, GNess said:

    Of course, if Twins had brought someone up that pitcher (X) could have pitched the 6th or 7th allowing for different choices in the highest leverage situations in 8th and 9th assuming of course this Pitcher X could have pitched a clean 6th or 7th.

    Who would you have brought up? Every healthy pitcher on the 40-man is already on the 26-man roster, except starting prospects Duran and Balazovic who are still stretching out. There’s not even an obvious non-40 man candidate to replace Shoemaker at the moment.

    Also, the 6th inning pitcher was protecting a lead; the 8th inning pitcher was facing a deficit. The earlier situation was actually higher leverage — by gmLI, it was 1.45, compared to 0.92 for the later situation.

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    1 hour ago, VivaBomboRivera! said:

    This earlier reply should help.

    The Twins are in desperation mode, or at least should be as this botched season slowly slips through their fingers. They have to beat teams like the Astros when they have a chance. Shoemaker doesn't make sense in this context as I don't think the Twins can worry about tomorrow. I was at CHS to enjoy the fireworks so didn't see the Twins game so don't have all the details and refused to watch the replay.

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    2 minutes ago, theBOMisthebomb said:

    The Twins are in desperation mode, or at least should be as this botched season slowly slips through their fingers. They have to beat teams like the Astros when they have a chance. Shoemaker doesn't make sense in this context as I don't think the Twins can worry about tomorrow. I was at CHS to enjoy the fireworks so didn't see the Twins game so don't have all the details and refused to watch the replay.

    That's just it.  In a 162-game season, you have to think about today and tomorrow.  Makes your brain hurt, don't it?

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    Twins get 5 total hits - 4 them are HRs. Frankly, this was exactly how the Front Office drew it up. This is what they want to happen - close your eyes and swing hard and it might go over the fence. And it did. Alas, the lab experiment has mutated. Nobody can hit a line drive with a low launch angle. Nobody can bunt, slap the ball the other way - nobody can get on base. And, of course, they forgot about pitching.

    Kirilloff and Larnach haven't done much lately. Are they pressing or is scouting catching up to them? Or both?

    Shoemaker - ya gotta just cut bait at this point, right? Let another team pick him up for nothing, because nobody's going to give you anything for him. He's toast, probably will never pitch again in the majors after this year.

    Rocco - what the hell was that?

     

     

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    47 minutes ago, spycake said:

    Who would you have brought up? Every healthy pitcher on the 40-man is already on the 26-man roster, except starting prospects Duran and Balazovic who are still stretching out. There’s not even an obvious non-40 man candidate to replace Shoemaker at the moment.

    Also, the 6th inning pitcher was protecting a lead; the 8th inning pitcher was facing a deficit. The earlier situation was actually higher leverage — by gmLI, it was 1.45, compared to 0.92 for the later situation.

    People really need to realize there literally isn’t anyone ready to call up, as spy just pointed out.

    At this point, it’s either Shoemaker or a waiver claim, someone who’s also going to look and perform a lot like Matt Shoemaker. 

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    I had said that Shoe would be ok for long relief if the starter doesn't cut it. So bringing him in with the game on the line is a mistake. Bringing Alcala and Duffy in on consecutive nights was a mistake as well. So Rocco takes the blame for this one. Hopefully we can win the next 2 though the bullpen remains an issue. 

    As for the person saying to "dump Simmons", I say NEVER, NEVER, NEVER.

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    dang, reading this thread the Twins should just cut everybody it sounds like. I get that everyone is frustrated and disappointed in this team (I am too), but there's a level of overreaction going on that's just silly. The team is bad. The bullpen has been bad all year, but they're not the only problem, not by a long shot.

    You've got a ton of injuries, horrid defense (and this team by any assessment should have improved on D), problematic pitching (worst ERA+ in baseball; it's not just the bullpen), and an unlucky offense (they're 12th in runs scored but 3rd in OPS+). That's a total breakdown that's frankly not predictable. This should have been a good team, but instead it's trash because literally everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.

    That doesn't take anyone off the hook for their personal performances but it also means you have to be careful about overreacting. Is firing the manager really going to do anything? (doubtful, because firing Rocco won't get anyone off the injured list) Is cutting Shoemaker going to help? (marginal at best; he only stuck in the rotation as long as he did because of injuries and it's not like there's much left to replace him in the 'pen until more people get healthy) 

    Ober did a solid job last night, but let's not pretend he wasn't hittable; dude gave up 7 hits in 5 innings. More importantly, he's barely pitched in the last two years. only 16 innings in the minors this year, none last year (not even in the Saint Paul camp). So pulling him at 75 pitches was hardly outrageous.

    Alcala had been death against RHB all season...and he gives up a HR. another move that didn't work out. But do you blame Rocco for going to him against a righty? Lefties have been his problem and where he's been homer-happy.

    Leaving in Shoemaker for a second inning in a tied game makes sense considering the bullpen option and the fact that you're looking at a potential 10th inning if the team doesn't score. Even if we were using a traditional closer role, I'm not sure you see your closer come in at that point. It didn't work out, but in a vacuum it's not an unreasonable decision. It just didn't work out. Like damn near everything this year.

    Hell Kirilloff ripped the ball hard a couple of times and it ended up running right at guys. But he only got 1 hit, so maybe we should cut him too.

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    9 hours ago, IndianaTwin said:

    I'm not going to debate whether they should have made any roster moves, but let's look at the bullpen decisions: 

    First, based on the pitch chart above, Jax and Farrell are likely not available. More on that later.

    After five innings, Ober has thrown 75 pitches, has gotten hit harder in the fifth, and is in the third time through the order. He's in position to win, and can leave with confidence in having a solid start. 

    So you go to Alcala. That's a logical decision, though he's pitched three of the previous four nights. Unfortunately, he gives up a run and it's now tied. 

    You don't score in the sixth. Alcala has now pitched four of the last five nights and had 15 pitches in the sixth, so you can't run him out for the seventh, so you go to Duffey. Again, a logical decision, though less than ideal given that he'd thrown 20 pitches Thursday night, but he'd had the two previous days off. Unfortunately, he gives up a run and is looking like he could give up more. 

    So you go to Rogers to keep yourself in the game. He gets you out of the inning with no more damage, but you're down a run thanks to Duffey. 

    You don't score in the seventh, so what do you do? It's still a one-run game, but do you want to use your best reliever when you're down a run, certainly shooting that bullet for tomorrow night? No. 

    Your choices are a rested Shoemaker, a tired Colome, and Robles, who also pitched last night. You don't want to use your other closer down a run, and you don't fully trust Colome. Besides, it would have been his third game in four days. 

    So you go to Shoemaker, which seems logical given the options. Though less than an ideal situation for him, it's also a chance to see how he does in a new role. He does well, getting the 5-6-7 hitters in order. 

    Donaldson homers to tie the score. So for the ninth, here's your options, in a tie game: 

    • Colome, who would be pitching his third game in four days.
    • Jax, who threw 23 pitches on Tuesday and 53 on Wednesday.
    • Farrell, who threw 19 on Tuesday and 23 on Thursday.
    • Robles, reasonably rested, though he threw 11 pitches Thursday. But if you don't score in the ninth, your options for the 10th are Colome, Jax, or Farrell. And you've also shot yourself for Saturday. 
    • Or Shoemaker, who has just thrown a solid eighth, is accustomed to going multiple innings, who hasn't thrown in several days, and who will be facing 8-9-1 in the order. 

    Again, I'm not discussing whether someone else should have been called up. And even if you had brought someone, do you want to throw them into this high-leverage situation? So as the game played itself out and with what Rocco had to work with, I think running Shoemaker out for both the eighth and the ninth was the right choice. 

    Like so much of the season, it didn't work out.

    What you have really demonstrated through your accurate summation (except Shoemaker) is the problem that MLB has created with its switch to bullpen games. You have only so many bullpen arms and will you use three to four per night some of them will always be unrested and unavailable. It also shows that we need better quality and the bullpen no matter what arm we turn to and the fact that Shoemaker gets through one inning is hardly a recommendation for the future

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    Those two explanations from Baldelli are a bit contradictory -- part of the reason we could potentially run out of pitchers by the 11th is that he pulled a rested Rogers after only 3 pitches, and used our presumed "long man" Shoemaker to pitch the top of the 8th with a 1-run deficit (and the top of our order due up in the bottom of the 8th).

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    1 hour ago, VivaBomboRivera! said:

    That's just it.  In a 162-game season, you have to think about today and tomorrow.  Makes your brain hurt, don't it?

    I'm blowing out the bullpen Friday night and going with Berrios and Jax on Saturday. If Berrios gets knocked out early on Saturday then Jax is throwing until he hits his pitch limit.  Three pitches from Rogers and zero from Robles and Colome (I can't believe I'm saying that) is unacceptable. Tomorrow will never come if they don't start stringing wins together and if it does it will be meaningless. Screw the stupid win probability chart, one run down is one swing from a tie game. 

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    As others have noted: Four solo homeruns and get no other runs and lose by two. So typical!

    I know it's silly, but if you extrapolate last night to the full season we hit 648 homeruns and go 0-162. That's extreme, but it's the pattern that his team has set.

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    First, this season is over for the Twins.  With that said, I will be listening to some games on CCO and reading TD and the Strib with an eye on finding spots in games where players who can be part of the 2022 Twins perform well.    

    In one of the few games I have actually been able to watch this year, last night that player was Bailey Ober.  Don't know what his future holds, but sure seems like he could work himself into their 2022 rotation.  Totally understand their keeping him on a short leash after not pitching an inning anywhere in 2020.  So for that reason, have zero problem with taking him out after five excellent innings against a very good hitting ballclub.  What I saw, I like a guy who fills the strike zone with pitches and hope like hell he has a good future.

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    3 hours ago, spycake said:

    On bringing Shoemaker into the game, then out for a second inning:

     

    If they have to tie or lead the game before they send him back out there.... why in the hell did they send him out when they were behind in the first place? Rocco 'thinks' his way into a pretzel on a daily basis. He was worried about extra innings so he decided to roll out a player which would end the game on time by getting blown out?! Dude, just because you have a lot of data doesn't mean you know what to do with it....and I'm looking at you with a slow head shake Rocco

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    9 hours ago, TC-D.MajorBaseballFan said:

    To respond to Indiana Twin,

    First, let me say that this is the first time I've commented on this website/thread/etc.  I'm a big Twins fan, but a rookie here.  As such, I'll take my lumps.  If my opinion is worth any salt, then such lumps are required to be taken by experienced veterans.  That's the best way to learn.

    I agree with your in-game analysis, Indiana Twin, about bullpen management.  But my frustration goes beyond just this game.  It gets to Rocco's basic management style.

    He's way too sabermetrics.  Way too attached to the math.  (And, likely, the powers from on-high of Falvey and Levine).

    He has no feel for the game.  If he did, he would've never pulled Ober tonight.  73 pitches and 52 strikes--obviously good command--and had worked through the top of the Astros lineup through the 5th (who are some of the best hitters in the AL, if not all of MLB).  All the while, he had a 3-2 lead and was on the "hook" for the win.

    My mathematics say that 15 pitches per inning is top rate.  Ober was -2 in the right direction after 5 (and again, had retired the top of the Astros lineup through his third time facing them).

    Why not send him out there again?  At least give him a chance before running into trouble.  If his command continues, he can at least get you 6 (notice Urquidy went 7 for the 'Stros . . . and threw 100+ pitches).

    Maybe Ober had a pitch count, I don't know.  But he didn't even get to 75!

    Instead, it seemed like Rocco played sabermetrics, which says don't send a starter out to face the lineup for a third time (unless he's got a perfect game or no-hitter going).

    Rocco played the math.  And the first hitter on Alcala (who I really like), blasted a home run to tie the game at 3s.  Good math call, Rocco.

    It's doubtful Rocco will deviate from the math game, but let's just look at the math of where it's left the Twins thus far this season:

    25-38 (.397).  Last place in the AL Central (not to mention 2-time defending division champs).  The fifth worst record in baseball (not just the AL).

    Come on, Rocco, do the math.  Start feeling the game.  Let the starters ride when they're tossing good ball.

    First, you're not going to have to take any lumps from me. I appreciate your insights. Good thought-through responses like this are the best part of Twins Daily. Please don't make this your last post.

    You've pointed to what I think is the one of the biggest challenge managers face. You named it as "math" vs. "feel." Sometimes it gets described as the balance between art and science. Needing to find that balance isn't unique to baseball managers -- in the nonprofit world where I work, I've heard it said that the two biggest complaints about nonprofit boards are "they act too much like a business" and "they don't act enough like a business."

    A second key balancing point, which I think is very related to the first, is the balancing between the immediate (as in, in-game) and the long term. 

    In Rocco's case, I would agree that he does lean to the "math" side and the "long-term" side. In my experience, those traits often go hand-in-hand in people. That also tends to be my orientation to life, which is probably why I actually felt pretty good about the decisions he made along the way. 

    But I also think sometimes guys like Rocco don't get credit for the "feel" that they have. Because we're not in the dugout, and because "feel" is so much harder to accurately get a read on (see, there I go, talking in a math/science mindset), we can't see that part as easily,

    Spycake noted that 81 pitches is the most he's thrown and that he's thrown 29 innings so far this year, when the highest in his career has been 80, give or take. That means that he only has another 11 or 12 starts before he'll match his high from previous years. For him to finish the year in the rotation, even at just five innings per game, would blow past his previous high after not having any game action a year ago. 

    Those are mathy things and offer an explanation for pulling him. But in last night's case, I think it was actually the "feel" that had him pulling Ober.

    Game situations don't always allow for this, but I think Rocco does a good job of bring along young guys and putting them in positions to succeed. Note the way that Alcala has gradually worked into higher-leverage situations, for example. With young guys Ober, Rocco seems to "feel" that it's better to pull them a batter too soon than a batter too late. Combine that with feeling like Ober was starting to get hit a little harder, and I think he felt it better for the next start for Ober to feel like he'd had a good one, rather than to come out saying, "Crap, I got off to a good start, but then the wheels came off."

    We tend to remember our failures MUCH more than we remember our success, and I think his mindset will be better for the next game for having been pulled. I'm sure that's also a conversation that has happened behind closed doors, but we're not privy to that.

    Again, thanks for your thoughts. 

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    5 hours ago, spycake said:

    Who would you have brought up? Every healthy pitcher on the 40-man is already on the 26-man roster, except starting prospects Duran and Balazovic who are still stretching out. There’s not even an obvious non-40 man candidate to replace Shoemaker at the moment.

    Also, the 6th inning pitcher was protecting a lead; the 8th inning pitcher was facing a deficit. The earlier situation was actually higher leverage — by gmLI, it was 1.45, compared to 0.92 for the later situation.

    I would call up Charlie Barnes to replace Shoemaker in an instant, he's pitched well in his past few starts at AAA. Baseball Reference has Shoemaker at -1.4 WAR, so by definition any replacement level pitcher would most likely be better than him. Their faith in him is simply baffling, bordering on Mike Pelfrey levels of delusion.

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    3 hours ago, mikelink45 said:

    What you have really demonstrated through your accurate summation (except Shoemaker) is the problem that MLB has created with its switch to bullpen games. You have only so many bullpen arms and will you use three to four per night some of them will always be unrested and unavailable. It also shows that we need better quality and the bullpen no matter what arm we turn to and the fact that Shoemaker gets through one inning is hardly a recommendation for the future

    While we seem to be disagreeing on Shoemaker, I think your point is exactly right. It seems so obvious on the surface that I'm sure I'm missing something, but it seems like the missing link is the true "long man."

    Relievers are conditioned to throw 60-70 innings for the season. Barring injury, starters are conditioned to throw 160. No one is conditioned to throw 100. Think of the difference it would make to preserving a bullpen if someone is conditioned to give you 30-32 games per year at an average of three innings per outing. I'm thinking of the guy you bring in:

    • in the sixth when you're up two, hoping for even two innings, but then you tack on a couple more runs and ride him to the four-inning save.
    • in the fourth when you're getting blown out, hoping he can get you three innings, by when you can decide whether to ride out the last two (if you're on the road) or three innings with your lower-leverage guys or go to the high-leverage guys because your bats had come alive. 

    It just seems like there's a place for that guy. Rocco wouldn't have gotten excoriated for it on TD, but if they had gotten a run in the bottom of the fifth to make it 4-2, that's where I would have preferred seeing Shoemaker last night.

     

     

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    6 hours ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

    People really need to realize there literally isn’t anyone ready to call up, as spy just pointed out.

    At this point, it’s either Shoemaker or a waiver claim, someone who’s also going to look and perform a lot like Matt Shoemaker. 

    Why not take the chance that the FO can identify a pitcher and salvage something, even if it's only temporary? That was a large part of their selling point. Worst case scenario, as you put it, we watch a Shoemaker-esque performance in the short term. If there isn't anybody on the 40 man at this exact moment there are 5ish arms that'll be available in the near future that can at minimum eat some innings. 

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    "Nothing left on the 40 man" isn't an excuse for the frontoffice, it's a condemnation. 

     

    Rocco's pretzel logic on the pitching moves leaves me shaking my head. "Well, we couldn't keep up with the changing game situation." That's literally your job...in fact, it's to be AHEAD of the game situation. You "put your players in the best chance to succeed" by thinking ahead. Not by reaction to events.

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    17 minutes ago, spycake said:

    They could be trying to salvage something from Shoemaker as a reliever.

    Maybe, but I think that has more to do with a reluctance to admit failure than a belief he can be an actual asset in the pen. At best he's on mop up duty and there isn't much to suggest he'll be able to handle even that. 

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    4 minutes ago, USAFChief said:

    "Nothing left on the 40 man" isn't an excuse for the frontoffice, it's a condemnation. 

    It is a little tricky because there are so many injured pitchers on the 40-man right now. And you can’t outright an injured player to the minors, only trade or release.

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    16 minutes ago, KirbyDome89 said:

    Maybe, but I think that has more to do with a reluctance to admit failure than a belief he can be an actual asset in the pen. At best he's on mop up duty and there isn't much to suggest he'll be able to handle even that. 

    I don’t know that I’d be any more confident in Barnes right now than Shoemaker in relief, for example. And of course, if Barnes struggles but you still think he could potentially be useful down the road with some more work in the minors, he can be optioned but he can’t be replaced on the 40-man roster. On the other hand, if/when Shoemaker is deemed unviable in the pen, he can be cut and replaced.

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    There's considerable opinion here that the FO does carry the ultimate blame for the lack of options in yesterday's game.  If so, it's asking a little much of Rocco to throw his bosses under the bus. 

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    1 hour ago, USAFChief said:

    Rocco's pretzel logic on the pitching moves leaves me shaking my head. "

    ISWYDT.

    I could be wrong but I have seen his face before
    He was the man that I saw at the bullpen door
    We owe him money and he gave us something more
    Two more runs
    Two more runs
    He will be what he is just the same

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    3 hours ago, spycake said:

    I don’t know that I’d be any more confident in Barnes right now than Shoemaker in relief, for example. And of course, if Barnes struggles but you still think he could potentially be useful down the road with some more work in the minors, he can be optioned but he can’t be replaced on the 40-man roster. On the other hand, if/when Shoemaker is deemed unviable in the pen, he can be cut and replaced.

    Me neither, but in the specific case you brought up we're talking about a 26 year old college arm that's a fringe prospect at best. I think the 3.5 months remaining are more valuable than the likely limited opportunities he'd likely get if the Twins were to wait and bring him up when they had to add him. 

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