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  • Time for a Changing of the Guard


    Cody Pirkl

    The time has come for the Twins to begin prioritizing their younger players over the struggling one year veterans they brought in. Three prospects in particular are in need of some playing time to see where they stand for 2022.

     

    Image courtesy of Image courtesy of © Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports


    Bailey Ober

    Ober has surpassed Lewis Thorpe as a possible back of the rotation option for 2022 in my eyes. He’s dominated the Minors at every stop including AAA this year where he’s posted a 2.81 ERA and 20% K rate. He doesn’t have ace level stuff but he does have a high spin fastball that appears to play up higher than the 90-92 you see on the radar gun, and his control has been nothing short of impeccable. 

    Ober has gotten just the one start for the Twins so far, but that should change. Happ and Shoemaker are arguably not even eating innings at this point and Ober could emerge as a back of the rotation arm for next season which would be incredibly valuable. The 6 foot 9 righty doesn’t have much left to prove in the Minor Leagues. It’s time for the Twins to see what they have.

     

    Nick Gordon

    Gordon’s main issue the last few years has been health, as he’s flashed his first round upside whenever he’s been able to stay on the field. Gordon absolutely dominated AAA slashing .393/.469/.571 and it appears there just isn’t much more for him to prove there. In the Majors he’s been far from overmatched, as he’s been 73% better than a league average hitter according to wRC+

    Gordon’s staying power is a bit murkier, as he’s essentially up due to an injury to Arraez. The Twins are sure to find a team in need of a boost on defense to take Andrelton Simmons at the deadline however which would open a spot for Gordon for the rest of the season. The Twins have also discussed working on Gordon becoming more familiar with the outfield which would make him a much more valuable player. At 25 years old, Nick Gordon should finally get a chance to make good on his first round selection.


    Brent Rooker 

    Rooker looked like a revelation when he was brought up in 2020 slashing .316/.381/.579 before a broken forearm on a hit by pitch derailed his and the Twins plans. He was quickly brought up in 2021 after failing to make the Opening Day roster but struggled to find his stride, slashing .103/.133/.241 with a 43.3% K rate. Rooker’s approach at the plate makes him a streaky hitter but his offensive profile makes him arguably the best pure power hitter in the Twins system.

    Rooker has no defensive position you feel good about, but we’re likely watching the last of Nelson Cruz in a Twins uniform this season. At the age of 26, it’s time to see if Rooker can approach anywhere near that magical 2020 debut which would put him in the running to at least mix into the DH spot in 2022.

     

    Like it or not, several veterans are likely on their way out in the coming months which creates plenty of opportunity. These three may be the first to get their shot but there are certainly several other young players who will be fighting for a look at the MLB level. Are there any you’re looking forward to?

     

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    I'm fine with Kirilloff, Larnach, Jeffers, Gordon staying on the MLB roster. Absolutely bring up Ober and Rooker too. How about Duran and Balazovic and Canterino? What have we got to lose? Next season, of all the players from 2020, return Berrios and Arraez. Can't think of anyone else on the roster returning in 2022 that would help, maybe Polanco as a bench guy. The rest can go away.

    If I didn't list them above they are:

    1. Under-achievers that need to go

    2. Over-paid for what they bring to the team

    3. Can't stay healthy to matter

    First priority, Start trading for the best prospects you can get. Second priority, Stop acquiring low level reclamation Free Agents hoping they somehow catch lightning in a bottle and answer a prayer. Third priority, Start teaching the fundamentals of baseball and require the players to play like they know them. 

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    Agree on your comments regarding Ober and Gordon.  Ober, imo, showed enough promise is his only start to get a promotion and has pitched solidly in his last 2 starts for Saints (9 IP...4 ER with 13-2 K/BB rate) against I-Cubs.  I also think Gordon deserves a long look as I can't believe the FO has any plans to bring Simmons back next year.  From what I've seen from Gordon in limited ABs looks encouraging.  As for Rooker, I have to ask-----where do you (or others) seeing him play on a regular basis?  Its not at DH, unless Cruz is traded.  Its not at 1B as long as Sano & Kirilloff stay off IL.  Moreover, it shouldn't be in the OF as Larnach, Refsnyder and Arraez (when he comes off IL) have shown to be at least average defensively.  Rooker has a waffle iron for a glove and his set up and throwing mechanics are below average.  In addition, what has Rooker done with his bat at AAA to deserve a promotion?  He has had some decent pop (5 HRs and 11 RBI) and has a good OBP (.366) drawing 15 walks.  What troubles me is his continued low batting average (.227) and propensity to whiff at nearly a "Sano-esque" rate....36% K rate with 24 K's in 66 ABs.  

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    Agreed that playing the young ready players (Kirilloff, Larnach, Jeffers, Gordon) and might be ready (Ober, Rooker, Duran, Canterino) makes sense. These players plus a few others (Lewis?) have a shot to be on team in 2022. 

    But the idea that the Twins should just empty the ML roster is not feasible.

    Bringing back  at least the following 10 would be prudent:

    Arraez, Donaldson, Buxton, Polanco, Garver, Maeda, Berrios, Rogers, Dobnak, Alcala.. 

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    6 minutes ago, GNess said:

    Agreed that playing the young ready players (Kirilloff, Larnach, Jeffers, Gordon) and might be ready (Ober, Rooker, Duran, Canterino) makes sense. These players plus a few others (Lewis?) have a shot to be on team in 2022. 

    But the idea that the Twins should just empty the ML roster is not feasible.

    Bringing back  at least the following 10 would be prudent:

    Arraez, Donaldson, Buxton, Polanco, Garver, Maeda, Berrios, Rogers, Dobnak, Alcala.. 

    Without a long time investment, I can agree with that group of 10.

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    41 minutes ago, rv78 said:

    I'm fine with Kirilloff, Larnach, Jeffers, Gordon staying on the MLB roster. Absolutely bring up Ober and Rooker too. How about Duran and Balazovic and Canterino? What have we got to lose? Next season, of all the players from 2020, return Berrios and Arraez. Can't think of anyone else on the roster returning in 2022 that would help, maybe Polanco as a bench guy. The rest can go away.

    If I didn't list them above they are:

    1. Under-achievers that need to go

    2. Over-paid for what they bring to the team

    3. Can't stay healthy to matter

    First priority, Start trading for the best prospects you can get. Second priority, Stop acquiring low level reclamation Free Agents hoping they somehow catch lightning in a bottle and answer a prayer. Third priority, Start teaching the fundamentals of baseball and require the players to play like they know them. 

    Good analysis on current state of affairs.  For what its worth, Balazovic had a strong (pitch limited) 1st start of season tonight against Arkansas (AA-Diamonbacks) going 3.1 IP while allowing only 1 hit, 2 walks and recording 5 K's.  Hopefully, he stays healthy and earns a call up by the end of the season.

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    Simmons was brought in to provide SS defense, he has done that.  None of the Polanco, Arraez or Gordon trio would be an upgrade.

    Rooker hasn’t been very good or all that healthy at AAA, he does not look to be an upgrade to anyone on the current active roster at this time.

    Looks like Ober and Jax will be first in line to get major league looks.  I like these moves, but don’t think Happ or Shoemaker are, or should be, done getting starts.

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    1 hour ago, GNess said:

    Agreed that playing the young ready players (Kirilloff, Larnach, Jeffers, Gordon) and might be ready (Ober, Rooker, Duran, Canterino) makes sense. These players plus a few others (Lewis?) have a shot to be on team in 2022. 

    But the idea that the Twins should just empty the ML roster is not feasible.

    Bringing back  at least the following 10 would be prudent:

    Arraez, Donaldson, Buxton, Polanco, Garver, Maeda, Berrios, Rogers, Dobnak, Alcala.. 

    I would add Kepler to that list, but everyone else is fair game.  I'm afraid we are stuck with Sano for another year.

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    5 hours ago, KirbyDome89 said:

    What is gained from Shoemaker starting another game for the Twins?

    I have to agree.  Use that spot to take a look at Ober / Jax.  Happ and Pineda hopefully pitch really well and get traded for something of value between now and the deadline opening two more spots.  Watching the pitching prospects will be a reason  to tune-in to the games.  Maybe they can give us hope for the future.

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    I would definitely keep Simmons and trade Donaldson if we get value for him. With money saved we could sign a good and healthy player. I'd also keep Pineda and maybe trade Polanco (again for value). As for Sano, I guess we may have no choice.

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    All pending FAs should be on the trading block, except Shoemaker, who should be DFA'd. Happ needs to continue in the rotation to see if he can build back value. I'd understand if the Twins keep Pineda if they extend him for one more year. There would still be two SP openings in 2022.

    I don't see the Twins trading any core players unless someone comes asking for Donaldson or Sano. The bigger decisions will probably come at the end of the season. Four starting position players are on the IL (6 total), the top two SP prospects have just started their season, and Lewis is done for the year. Hard to make big in-season trades with this much uncertainty.

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    Now that the cold, hard reality of this Twins season is sinking in (and it's a bitter taste, for sure) the FO has to determine to what extent do they re-tool.  You can't trade or release EVERYONE, even though it seems like we're all just fed up with them.

    Sano needs to go.  I don't care how little they get back, he is a prime example of addition by subtraction.  SOMEBODY should be intrigued with his power potential.  Maybe the Rockies after their one year look at CJ Cron is done would have some interest.   I don't really care what we would get back.  I just want to spend his $12 million or so next season more effectively.

    Kepler has been a BIG disappointment to me.  I really thought he'd reach a level that he would make it tough for a Larnach or Kiriloff to dislodge him..  Not so anymore for me.  

    But the position that is the biggest hole going into next season is SS.  Simmons will be gone.  Polanco is better off staying at 2B.  Gordon is not the answer, and Lewis (in my opinion) will not stick at SS and will be our CF'er replacing Buxton eventually.  With that in mind, and looking at only Berrios, Maeda and Dobnak in the rotation for sure in 2022, I think the biggest FA target should be a solid, veteran SS.  With Cruz gone, Pineda gone, (hopefully Sano gone), possibly Kepler gone, there would be some $$$ to spend on a SS.  I'm not going to advocate for a specific SS but Story, Baez, and others will be out there.  Get one.  I'm interested in seeing some of the young arms fill out the rotation and bullpen in 2022.  Balazovic, Duran, Canterino, Jax, Ober.  There are guys there with potential.  I don't think any of us want to see the FO concede anything for 2022, but the White Sox have set the bar and the entire division is improving.  The FO has really got their work cut out.

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    The above quote from Rocco is baffling.  No matter how bad the Twins are playing you've got to recognize that "Shoe" just ain't the present or the future.  If I was forced to keep him around I'd move him to the BP and give someone else a chance at his rotation spot.

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    1b - Kirilloff, Sano

    2b- Arraez, Gordon, Polanco

    SS- Polanco, Gordon (Needs Upgrading, hopefully we hit on something in the second tier of the "Big SS FA" run,)

    3b- Donaldson, Sano

    DH- Rooker, Sano, Arraez

    LF- Larnach

    CF-Buxton, Refsnyder(If he has options left)

    RF- Kepler, Garlick

    C- Jeffers, Garver, Astudillo

    Gone- Cruz, Simmons 

    Total = 15 (Injuries should keep this fluid)

    SP- Berrios, Maeda, Duran, Balzovic, Ober(Canterino waiting for an opening by June) THorpe as filler for injury, though I'm sure they will sign something "Happ-like" as well.  If Pineda is affordable, fine, just live with the fact you get 16-20 starts a season of about 5ip each, though they are usually decent enough outings.

    Swing- Dobnak

    RP- Spend your money wisely here!!!  You can flush most everything, I like T. Rogers and Duffey the most, Robles depending on contract.  I'll help Colome pack; I hated him on CWS, and now he's killing me again, lol. When the dust settles I expect Thelibar, Alcala and Jax to be around, which is fine, everybody else is meh.  RPs are so volatile, it's tough to truly "assemble" a pen; for example I couldn't tell you how good Stashak really is, and I don't think anyone else can, either, lol!

    Bottom line- let go of the old and expensive, get a core that works together so they don't look like the keystone cops in the field, and I still think the team has enough talent (I like Sano more than most, admittedly) to go places, though competition-wise, this should have been the year, it's only going to be harder in 22 with all the other teams in the AL Central on the upswing.

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    From the far distant Northeast (Maine), it is my understanding that there is an almost zero chance that either Berrios or Buxton sign any extension.  If that is accurate, now is the time to try to trade them.  Every day closer to free agency reduces their trade value.  Beyond that, anyone "earning" over $1M a year should be available via trade if the return is acceptable.

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    I am guessing the FO is both taking and making calls on just about any vet on the team.  If you feel the value is there, make the moves I say.  Do not have a fire sale give away though for guys that can be traded in offseason or provide something to team next year.  

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    Four categories:

    1.  The Core (players to play now and 2022 - promising prospects to play NOW, worthy veterans and others we are simply stuck with / ie no trade value ):   
    Kirilloff, Larnach, Arraez, Polanco, Sano, Donaldson, Garver, Jeffers OR Rortvedt, Kepler, Rogers, Duffy.  
    2.  Trade for Value or Keep if No Value in Return:  Berrios, Buxton, Maeda, Pineda, Cruz, Simmons, Robles, (Extend Berrios and Buxton for a good price)   
     

    3.  Young starters and relievers at AAA and maybe AA: Ober, Thorpe, Smeltzer etc  (see if any can produce)

    4.  Who cares?   Everybody else.  
     

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    1 hour ago, jorgenswest said:

    Rogers and Garver are both 30. I would try to sell high.

    That leaves the Twins cupboard bare in the pen.   They need to retain Rogers, Duffy and Alcala and then try to piece something together via trade, FA, or promoting prospects for the rest of the spots.   Maybe they can still get something out of Thielbar and others in The Who Cares category.  

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    9 hours ago, KirbyDome89 said:

    What is gained from Shoemaker starting another game for the Twins?

    Like it not or not he may still be the best option in the short run.  Several of the other options that many are trying to rush to the major leagues are either hurt, coming off injuries, or simply too inexperienced.  Shoemaker has had major league success in the past, granted it has been a few years.

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    55 minutes ago, darwin22 said:

    Absolutely disgraceful.  Saying that, coming from Bal-dummy, I can't say I'm surprised as his "trust the process" mantra is his standard comment.  

    It's almost as if Baldelli doesn't have complete control over who is on the roster and has to use the players he's given. So rather than trash talk one of his players he gives a non-answer.

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    1 hour ago, yeahyabetcha said:

    Like it not or not he may still be the best option in the short run.  Several of the other options that many are trying to rush to the major leagues are either hurt, coming off injuries, or simply too inexperienced.  Shoemaker has had major league success in the past, granted it has been a few years.

    Jax falls into none of those categories and he was just called up. If Pineda isn't out any extended period of time, Ober is an option as well. Duran should be considered before too long. If the argument is that the Twins just need an arm to throw innings, then play the waiver wire carousel. Honestly, the results can't be any worse than what they're getting from Shoemaker. 

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