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  • The Time Has Come to Begin Phasing Out Eddie Rosario


    Nick Nelson

    It's been clear for some time that Eddie Rosario's days with the Twins are numbered, as a result of several converging factors: top prospects on the rise, impending free agency, and – most significantly – his own declining performance.

    The latter of these issues is becoming so unignorable it should be accelerating his exit timeline. The Twins can start making preparations now.

    Image courtesy of Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

    His gaudy HR and RBI numbers on a historically explosive offense last year obscured the reality: he was a mediocre player showing some seriously diminished skills. Rosario's .300 on-base percentage ranked as the eight-lowest among MLB hitters and his defense rated near the bottom of all outfielders.

    Among 135 qualified big-league position players last year, Rosario ranked 114th in fWAR.

    This was a big year for the left fielder, who knew he needed to turn around his declining performance trend and build his case for free agency. Before the season he announced his intentions to address weaknesses in the statistical categories that modern front offices care about.

    "Defense, walks, OPS, those are the numbers in the game right now that are bad for me. OK. I want to try to change that. That's it," he said.

    To his credit, Rosario has made definitive improvements to his plate patience. He's chasing out of the zone less, whiffing less, and has more than doubled his paltry 3.7% BB rate from a year ago. Unfortunately, this hasn't led to an uptick in overall production – quite the contrary, in fact. His OPS is down 70 points, and his defense rates as poorly as ever. The notion that last year's drop-off owed to an ankle injury hasn't been substantiated (unless the ankle is still bothering him, which is possible but hardly reaffirming). He's a below-average runner and Statcast's Outs Above Average metric places him in the 5th percentile among all fielders.

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    His range is awful and the strong arm doesn't come close to making up for it. It all adds up to this:

    Among 158 qualified big league position players this year, Rosario ranks 122nd in fWAR.

    On top of this, he continues to be a maddeningly undisciplined and reckless player on the field; on Sunday he blatantly blew through a stop sign at third, getting thrown out easily to stifle a big rally, and then later watched a caromed ball sit in front of him in left field as runners circled the bases because he (wrongly) assumed it was a ground rule double. On Monday he ran into another out on the bases, attempting to stretch a double into a triple and getting thrown out by a mile.

    He's doing all this for a prorated salary of $7.75 million this year, and figures to command a similar amount in 2021, his final year of arbitration. How do you justify that expense with multiple top prospects waiting in the wings behind him?

    You don't. Eddie is on his way out.

    So why keep feeding him everyday playing time when you could be prepping those future fixtures who do not have the benefit of playing minor-league games this year? To an extent, this becomes a moot point with Max Kepler sidelined, but if he returns – and even up until then – it would behoove the Twins to start mixing in Rosario's replacements to both get them familiar and, frankly, improve the production from left field. A bit of exposure to an intense September stretch run atmosphere in the majors could benefit Alex Kirilloff or Trevor Larnach greatly, if they are expected to be a big part of Minnesota's championship plans for 2021. Brent Rooker is of course already here, and demonstrating that it's possible to acclimate quickly from the alternate site.

    I get that Rosario is a streaky player. It's entirely possible he'll get on a roll and validate his consistent nods at the heart of the batting order. But it's also very possible he won't. There's only so much time left to turn around his lackluster performance, and many underlying signs suggest that Rosario's decline is more attributable to diminishing athleticism than bad luck or the standard ebbs and flows of baseball.

    The Rosie ride has been a wild one over these past six years, filled with plenty of thrills and frustrations. Now, as that ride reaches an end, it's time for the Twins to prep themselves for the future in left field.

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    You don't start testing unproven prospects in the middle of a pennant race when you have a proven producer who's healthy. Yes, Eddie makes stupid outs on the basepaths - though from what I saw and heard about the one today, it helped secure the run by drawing the throw to third instead of home. He also delivered with the bat.

     

    Is his OBP worse this year, despite the improved walk rate? Yes. Kepler, Garver, and Polanco are also down - you want to dump them too? No, you don't. And Eddie IS heating up. After the season, if you're convinced Kiriloff or Larnach will step up - maybe. But don't forget how long it took Buxton to figure out hitting at the MLB-level. Be careful what you wish for.

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    I am just amazed at how far his defensive range has fallen!  He continues to make bone headed plays.  He has a big arm but makes the wrong throw as many times as he makes a outfield assist.  I believe this offseason when they spoke of an ankle injury that robbed his range but clearly that wasn't the case with his play this year.

     

    This year he is trying to be more patient but all it has done is taken away the swing aggression.  Which appears to must make him unsure and role over balls to the right side. 

     

    Im ok with Platooning Rooker Wade and Rosario for the rest of the year.  At seasons end you just wave him and run with one of the many outfield options in 2021. 

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    Kansas City has some exciting young ballplayers with potential. The Twins could easily go the route of Kansas City today.

    I get some frustration with Rosario but he is simply the Twins best outfielder. Yesterday, Eddie plated three runs and drew the throw to 3B. We could have had a young player who hustles hit into a double play and dive into first base trying to beat out the DP. Some fans love that furious hustle type. I'm enjoying watching a team that has a chance to win every day above loving the Detroits and KCs that come close.

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    If Eddie was a youngster I'd give him a pass but given the fact he's a veteran on a team trying to win a championship, his bone-head plays should have ended years ago. You may like his aggressiveness at the plate and on the bases but when it costs your team outs it's going to cost you games as well. Will everyone be so forgiving when he plays like that in the playoffs and it costs them a game or series? I'd like to see what Kirilloff or Larnach can give us in his place.

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    There is no comparing the hit tool of Byron Buxton to Kiriloff or Larnach.  Buxton has MANY wonderful talents, but the biggest question mark is putting the bat on the ball.  There's no question Kiriloff and Larnach can put the bat on the ball...with authority.  The Twins are who they're going to be THIS YEAR.  They will not call up Kiriloff or Larnach this year.  But in 2021 Eddie will be somewhere else and Kiriloff will be playing LF and MASHING !!

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    I agree in concept, Nick. However, I am not so sure his poor performance is a product of "diminished  skills". He still stings the ball when he gets a hit to pitch. Of course, thats not too often. While he has quit swinging at pitches 16 inches off the plate but he still swings at anything close even when he is ahead in the count. Therefore, pitchers have no reason to give him anything to hit even when they are behind. He ends up with a lot of weak contact. Most of the time when he is ahead it's because the first two pitches are no where near the zone. Then, he swings at anything close instead of getting a good pitch to hit.

     

    I think he would be significantly above league average if he had average plate discipline. He has demonstrated he is either unwilling or unable to apply an approach that gets him decent pitches to hit. My guess is Rooker and Cave take his playing time next year until Kirilloff or Larnach show they are ready. At least we have Rooker for LH pitching the rest of this year.

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    If we get rid of Eddie, who will become the player we all focus on and complain about?  Every team has someone who frustrates and it seems like fans need to vent.  Eddie has won some games for us this year too so he is not a bust.  His bonehead plays just stick out and make the post game videos.  Maybe it will be Kepler next - his consistently low BA would seem to be a target for complaints or will it be Polanco who received some criticism already this year for lack of power? 

     

    I am all for Kiriloff and Larnach, but not sure that their defense is going to rate any higher than Eddie. 

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    Trading Eddie after a down year for most our lineup doesn’t sound like the best plan to win in 2021. Wouldn’t extend him, but I also wouldn’t rely on a rookie to pick up where he left off. My preference would be to have him play out one more season and then QO him; which at 30 years old I’d expect him to reject in favor multi year deal.

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    Anyone else think that if Eddie's name were "Matt Johnson" we might be calling him a hard-nosed ballplayer that leaves everything on the field day-in-and-day out?

     

    Maybe it's just me. But let's take a look: the Twins are 5-1 over the past 6 games. During those games, Eddie's batted .285 with 2 HR and 7 RBI. He's struck out once. And now we're calling for his head?!?! Sure he made a bad play in the field and a baserunning error in the loss - but Max Kepler had done the same would this article be published?

     

    Listen, I get that Eddie makes some crazy plays that don't pass the eye test. And in today's world of about a billion stat categories, you can cherry pick a bunch of categories where Rosario is below average. But a lot of these arguments are crazy.

     

    Eddie's a part of the Twins biosphere. Would his skill set be a match for every team? No. But he fits well with the mix here. His numbers - the real ones (HR, AVG, RBI and team wins) speak for themselves.

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    Rosie's gonna go on an insane hot streak now :)

     

    It does feel like he's venturing into that C.J. Cron/Jonathan Schoop zone of definite MLB starter, but probably not a guy who's "worth" his projected arbitration salary. Given the Twins have so many outfielders and so many that hit left-handed definitely contributes to the equation, as highlighted in the article.

     

    But, one thing I expect to be in Eddie's favor is he's among the leaders in the clubhouse. At this time, Cruz is set to depart at season's end, leaving a hole both in the lineup and the clubhouse. I imagine the Twins will want to keep at least one of those two guys around for 2021.

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    You may be right, Nick. But unless you or some of your partners at TD have had conversations with someone in the FO you don't know what their plans are for his future.

     

    It appears that he is part of the heart and soul of this team, at least to someone like me on the outside looking in. As for having multiple prospects ready to replace him, do we? I like Kirilloff, Larnach and Rooker as well as any of you. But until they have shown they can be as productive at least at AAA (yes, Rooker was), the team may want to continue with Eddie.

     

    Yes, if he isn't signed to something longer than next year come winter you will probably be proven correct. But Rocco keeps putting him somewhere in the middle of his lineup, so I'm not so certain the guys running the team believe he is clearly on his way out.

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    Rosario is too good a hitter to just get rid of for nothing. Perhaps he can be traded in the off-season for what we may need (closer, starter, catcher) but to just let him walk would be foolish. As far as the prospects, without actually giving them major league exposure, I would be suspect of them equalling his performance. Why they don't bring these guys up- even for 1 game of a double-header is a mystery to me. But what do I know. With yesterday's lineup, I didn't think the Twins could score more than a run or 2 and look what happened.

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    I can not understand the people defending Rosie anymore at this point. I agree you can not bench him/ replace him right now, but this should be his last year in a Twins uni. The game on Saturday Eddy was -1 in positive or negative runs for the team and that was WITH his 8th inning homer. And thats an average day for him. He WILL cost this team important games. Way more than he helps win. He is a liability, period and we often win in spite of him than because of him. 

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    I don't know, he drives me crazy sometimes and I really want to see Kiriloff and more of Rooker but Eddie isn't quite as bad as you're making him out to be. His improvement this year as far showing more patience seems real. And if his BABIP were normal (.300-ish is normal where Eddie is at .235) I think his slashline would be fairly impressive. His defense is terrible though and that just doesn't make sense. 

     

     

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    I think you make a good point Nick, but like many of the others have said here, I don't think there is a clear cut answer to Eddie right now.

     

    I think we can all agree that he is the type of player that plays wholeheartedly with passion and emotion.  The downside to that being that it costs him greatly at times in the discipline department and often leaves him vulnerable at the plate to pitchers who can exploit it.

     

    The clubhouse presence and leadership qualities that he embodies make him more valuable than his gaffs in the field (for now at least), but hopefully the FO finds a way to mix in the newcomers to maximize everyone's talents and abilities and make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

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    I fully believe this will be his last year with team.  My guess he will not be traded for all the reasons stated.  He will just get DFA and may sign on with a team that is light on OF.  We have too many good prospects that will be better than Eddie to keep running him out there.  

     

    I always liked him, but he has regressed it would seem over the years and not improved.  With not knowing what next year will bring, I bet there is no way the Twins will keep him.  

     

    I would like to defend his base running yesterday.  It was not a bad decision to try and take third.  If the throw goes home, like most of the time it will, he gets praised for a great heads up running play, but the defense decided get the sure out and let run score.  Chances of scoring from third go up a lot with less than 2 outs.  If there were no out or 2 outs I would feel different but with 1 out I am okay with him trying to sneak in there thinking the throw would be going home.  Now, that being said, if he had just ran hard the whole way he may have just made it outright. 

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    Wait.... What? Has he specifically discussed retiring at the end of this season?

    No, but Cruz is a free agent this winter. If the universal DH is here to stay, all the sudden his market is much bigger than it previously was. I'd expect he'd prefer to stay with the Twins, but what if a team like the Dodgers decides they need him? Once he hits the open market, there's no telling what might happen.

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    No, but Cruz is a free agent this winter. If the universal DH is here to stay, all the sudden his market is much bigger than it previously was. I'd expect he'd prefer to stay with the Twins, but what if a team like the Dodgers decides they need him? Once he hits the open market, there's no telling what might happen.

    Phew! You had me worried for a second. The way he's been playing the last 2 seasons with the Twins I hope they back up the Brinks trucks and give him whatever he feels he's worth to stay another year. 

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    The first topic of this show from aftwatch?v=H6TKuIzxcEger Monday's game was Eddie Rosario. I think it was a good back and forth about what there is to like about Rosario, and what can be frustrating. Ultimately, I think most probably agree on the direction it should go in this offseason. 

     

    watch?v=H6TKuIzxcEg

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    Anyone else think that if Eddie's name were "Matt Johnson" we might be calling him a hard-nosed ballplayer that leaves everything on the field day-in-and-day out?

     

    Maybe it's just me. But let's take a look: the Twins are 5-1 over the past 6 games. During those games, Eddie's batted .285 with 2 HR and 7 RBI. He's struck out once. And now we're calling for his head?!?! Sure he made a bad play in the field and a baserunning error in the loss - but Max Kepler had done the same would this article be published?

     

    Listen, I get that Eddie makes some crazy plays that don't pass the eye test. And in today's world of about a billion stat categories, you can cherry pick a bunch of categories where Rosario is below average. But a lot of these arguments are crazy.

     

    Eddie's a part of the Twins biosphere. Would his skill set be a match for every team? No. But he fits well with the mix here. His numbers - the real ones (HR, AVG, RBI and team wins) speak for themselves.

    I see what you're alleging here, but if you're going to make that point, you had better come with some better receipts than that. You accuse people of cherry picking stats, to make Rosario look bad, but then you use a 6 game sample to back up your point?

     

    Also, let's go ahead and compare him to Kepler: Kepler doesn't run himself into outs on the basepaths consistently like Rosario does, he doesn't throw to the wrong base nearly as often as Rosario does, and he has much better range (when healthy) than Rosario does. And Kepler's fWAR in 2019 was more than three times higher than Rosario's! Sure, Rosario had more RBI than Kepler, but that's very much a function of Rosario always hitting in the heart of a great lineup where he had a ton of RBI opportunities vs. Kepler most often hitting leadoff. That's precisely why we tend to look at things like WAR instead of RBI when we're trying to predict future performance.

     

    I can understand the argument that he's a "glue guy" in the clubhouse, but it seems to me that the author provided plenty of solid numbers to show why the Twins should part with Eddie, and you're the one that's basing your argument on emotion.

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    I would like to defend his base running yesterday.  It was not a bad decision to try and take third.  If the throw goes home, like most of the time it will, he gets praised for a great heads up running play, but the defense decided get the sure out and let run score.  Chances of scoring from third go up a lot with less than 2 outs.  If there were no out or 2 outs I would feel different but with 1 out I am okay with him trying to sneak in there thinking the throw would be going home.  Now, that being said, if he had just ran hard the whole way he may have just made it outright. 

    That's why the runner is supposed to pick up the ball when he's rounding second and watch where the throw is going instead of making an assumption...

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