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Showing content with the highest reputation since 01/22/2021 in Articles

  1. Remember Steve Carlton? The not-very-integral member of the 1987 World Champion Minnesota Twins was, at one time, the best pitcher in baseball. Four Cy Youngs, five years leading the National League in strikeouts (the fifth time at age 38), last pitcher to throw 300 innings a season, led the Phillies to their first title in 1980. A remarkable career. He was also completely out of his mind. Carlton never spoke to the media, which means we didn’t learn until he was long retired that he built a mountain lair with a 7000-foot storage cellar loaded to the gills with guns and bottled water for “The Revolution.” That revolution was coming thanks to Russian sound waves, the Skull and Bones Society, the Elders of Zion, the National Education Association, and more. I’m aware this qualifies him to represent the state of Georgia in Congress today, but in 1994 this was wild stuff. One assumes that the Phillies knew that Steve was off his nut, but when you can produce like he did, you let that stuff slide a little bit, especially if he keeps it quiet. By the time he was failing to make the Minnesota Twins playoff roster because he wasn’t as good as Lester Straker, he was just a cooked 43-year-old with weirdly anti-Semitic ideas about how the world works. He never pitched again. Which brings me to Andrelton Simmons. Already the COVID patient zero of the Twins locker room, he took to social media on Thursday to let the world know, and I quote: I’m not going to debate the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines with Simmons or anyone else, as there is no debate to be had. They work. Please shut up and let the horses have their wormer paste. (Also, it’s “effects.”) Across town, the Vikings are dealing with a similar situation. A handful of their best players (Adam Thielen, Harrison Smith, I guess Kirk Cousins if you squint hard enough) apparently won’t get the vacc either. It presents some hard choices for them, as they don’t have quality replacements for any of them as the regular season looms, and the NFL will make teams forfeit games if they can’t field a lineup due to COVID quarantines. The Twins face no such dilemma. The season is over. Simmons is an offensive liability and a good-to-excellent defender, which basically makes him a better Jeff Reboulet, if Jeff Reboulet thought Jurassic Park was real. He’s on a one-year deal. Maybe if he was the standout player in a disappointing season you could let his idiocy slide. Or maybe if it was something less harmful and kind of quirky, like thinking the earth was flat or dedicating his Instagram Stories to proving that birds are a deep-fake. He’s not good enough to get away with this. Let the summer of Drew Maggi begin. Image license here.
    28 points
  2. Since Buxton first joined the team in 2015, he’s only had one year with 500 plate appearances, and indeed only one with over 331. His injuries have ranged from seemingly self-inflicted problems due to his aggressive defense in center field, to worrisome nagging injuries like hip strains and foot injuries, to flukey injuries like a broken finger from being hit by a pitch. On the other hand, he’s been absolutely elite defensively throughout his time with the Twins, and recently his offense has reached a similar level. This year he hit .306 with 19 home runs in just 61 games, a pace that makes him a 50-home run threat over a full season. He’s also only 27 years old, entering the peak period of many players' careers. He is due to be a free agent next offseason, compelling the Twins to either sign him to an extension or trade him this offseason, lest they risk having him leave next year for nothing more than a compensatory draft pick. That urgency is further heightened by the threat of an impending work stoppage starting as soon as Wednesday night. If an extension or trade iss not made by then, there is a chance any such move would be delayed until some unknown point in a potentially compressed offseason, or thwarted altogether. A deal would likely represent the biggest deal the Twins have made since they signed Joe Mauer to a contract extension in 2010 for $184 million dollars. That deal was also for a rare talent who contributed defensively, was at the peak of his ability, and on the verge of free agency. The deal with Mauer aged poorly, as leg problems and concussions limited his ability to stay at catcher and stay in the lineup. With Buxton having more health questions, the reality is it makes him more affordable; it’s unlikely the Twins could complete a deal without the built-in discount his health history affords them. The Mauer deal also took place as the Twins were completing a run of division-winning seasons and trying to lengthen their competitive window. Twins’ management’s next to-do for this offseason is to find some starting pitchers whom Buxton’s Gold Glove can assist with his range in center field. While the size of Buxton’s deal is likely significant, the Twins entered the offseason with as much as $50M or so to spend on free agents. A deal with Buxton is likely to maintain that capability. Indeed, Ken Rosenthal has just published contract details: The extension guarantees $15M per year (except this year, when he still would've been under arbitration) plus very large bonuses for MVP bonuses and a series of $500K bonuses if he stays healthy for over 500 plate appearances. It is a very creative contract. I can't think of any that has had a bonus structure remotely similar to it. The deal essentially rewards Buxton extra money for staying healthy for a full season, handsomely for MVP-caliber production, but still guarantees him base salary commensurate to a top center fielder. If the Twins had traded Buxton instead, it would be hard for them to pretend that they could expect to be competitive in 2022. They would have lost their best offensive and defensive player, while also trying to replace 60% of their starting rotation. Retaining Buxton keeps the option of competing in 2022 alive. It should also make him one of the core pieces of the next competitive Twins team. Further pieces will still need to be assembled, but the deal represents a serious effort by the Twins to compete by locking up high-end home-grown talent for a long time. We'll add details as they emerge. In the meantime, give us your initial thoughts below.
    26 points
  3. The Twins hired Derek Falvey (who hired Thad Levine) in the wake of a disastrous 103-loss season in 2016. By that point, the Twins had gone six straight years without making the playoffs, and during that span they lost more games than any team in baseball. The following year, Minnesota stunningly reached the postseason as a wild-card team. Then they missed out in 2018, still finishing second, before rebounding in 2019 with one of the greatest seasons in franchise history. The Twins followed in 2020 with another division title. To run all that back: this front office took over a team that had gone 407-565 (.419) with zero playoff appearances in its previous six years, and went 300-246 (.549) with three playoff appearances in the next four. Does their success owe somewhat to the foundation built before they arrived? Of course. No one would deny that Terry Ryan and Co. had cultivated an impressive nucleus before being ousted. But during those years, the Twins repeatedly failed in the draft, failed in acquisitions, and failed in player development. The results bore that out. Let's be clear about something here: This current regime was so successful and so impressive through four years that they were repeatedly poached of talent, both in the front office and the coaching staffs they assembled. Not only that, but Falvey and Levine themselves have been courted by big-name franchises like the Red Sox and Phillies. What did they say, according to publicized reports on the matter? "No thanks, we're going to see through what we're building here." And so, to see flocks of fans calling for their heads because of one bad season, which is no worse than the ones we saw repeatedly before they arrived ... it's a little hard to take. Falvey became the youngest head exec in the league when he took Minnesota's top job. Currently he is 38 years old, which is three years younger than the DH he traded to Tampa Bay last month. Up until now he never experienced serious adversity during his tenure, which speaks to how smoothly things have gone in the first four years. The same could be said, by the way, for his managerial choice Rocco Baldelli, who was named Manager of the Year in 2019 (as the youngest skipper in baseball, with no experience in the role) and then won a second straight division title in his second season. These people have shown their mettle. They've won. A lot. I realize they haven't won in the playoffs, and that sucks, but they haven't had nearly the opportunity of their predecessors. Are we not going to give them a chance to learn from failure? Obviously the free agent pitching additions from the past winter have failed at every level. But this front office has made plenty of good and savvy pickups in the past, which helped fuel the success of high-quality staffs the last two years. And in any case, Falvey wasn't really hired to sign pitchers. He was hired to develop them. On that front, the jury is still out. This operation was four years in when a pandemic came along and wiped out an entire minor-league season. The fact that Minnesota's upper minors are currently loaded with intriguing high-upside arms would suggest the mission was on track, and is just now getting back on the rails. Soon we'll start seeing those arms (along with the ones acquired at the deadline this year) ushered into majors, and at that point we'll be able to make real assessments. But until then, you're judging an incomplete project. This reassembled baseball ops department has been working ahead of schedule basically since they took over a moribund franchise in despair. They hit a setback this year, and it's been painful. Let's give them a chance to get back on track in the wake of a major disruptive event and humbling follow-up season. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
    22 points
  4. Aaron Gleeman penned a great piece for The Athletic last week addressing the team's hesitance to spend on pitching. This has been a trend for years, and now has become a glaring oddity, given the severe need for rotation help. Unless they sign Carlos Rodón (unlikely), it is clear the Twins have actively decided to bow out of the high-end free agent pitching market this offseason. They had money in hand, and yet they let every frontline type fall off the board, with no signs of serious pursuit. Why? Part of it undoubtedly ties to a fundamental aversion to risk, but I think there are deeper strategic underpinnings. When you look at the organization's pitching pipeline, and the number of MLB-ready arms that need to be evaluated, it becomes a bit easier to understand the desire for extreme flexibility. A pipeline ready to pay off It's no secret: this front office was brought in to develop pitching. That was Cleveland's specialization when Derek Falvey was there, and it's been a calling card of successful mid-market organizations over the years. There seems to be a sense that Falvey has fallen short in this regard, but we're judging an incomplete picture. Realistically it takes around five years or so to draft-and-develop a pitcher. This regime had a minor-league season wiped out by COVID in their fourth. When you look at the proliferation of intriguing arms in the system that are approaching MLB-readiness, the plan appears to be on track following a jarring disruption. All of these pitching prospects could feasibly be listed with an ETA of 2022: Jordan Balazovic, RHP (23 next season) Jhoan Duran, RHP (24) Josh Winder, RHP (25) Cole Sands, RHP (24) Chris Vallimont, RHP (25) Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP (21) Drew Strotman, RHP (25) Matt Canterino, RHP (24) Louie Varland, RHP (24) When I say these are "interesting" pitching prospects, I don't mean, "These are guys with raw stuff who could put up numbers if they figure things out." They've all put up numbers. In some cases, ridiculous numbers. Most of them have reached the high minors, and nearly all are at an age where good prospects tend to take the big-league step. Are the Twins viewing 2022 as a season to fully evaluate the quality of these pitchers and assess the strategy they've been developing for half a decade? It seems that way to me. What to expect after the lockout If this theory is correct, it doesn't mean the Twins are going to stand idly and let Dylan Bundy be their only pitching addition. None of the prospects mentioned above will be ready to go out of the gates, barring an unforeseen spring development. But it does mean they'll likely continue to avoid larger investments in pitchers, and the commitments those entail. I wouldn't be surprised to see them sign one or two of the better mid-tier starters remaining – say, Zack Greinke or Michael Pineda – and then round out the staff with a bunch of hybrid starter/reliever types who can contribute bulk innings while offering some upside. I outlined what a model might look like in practice back in early November. This model would be ideal for gradually bringing along young rookie starters in a controlled setting. You're not asking them to go out and throw six innings every fifth day, which none are physically built up to do. You're simply asking them to let loose and impact games. Maybe even win some games. Is this a "rebuild"? Falvey has bristled at the notion his team is headed for a rebuild in 2022. "I'm not using that word," he told reporters. Is he off base? Even if the approach I've put forth above is accurate, I think it's fair to steer away from such a characterization. "Rebuild" implies having no real aspiration to contend, but rather starting anew with a long-term scope. The Twins aren't starting anew. They're sticking with the rebuilding plan that's already been in place throughout this front office's tenure. These internally-developed arms were always going to the hold the key to Falvey and Thad Levine's vision for a sustainable winner. It's time to get a gauge on the validity of that vision. A prototype to follow Looking back through franchise history, we can find a pretty decent parallel for what a youthful takeover of the rotation could look like: the 2008 season. That season, too, had the makings of a rebuild on the surface. Minnesota traded Johan Santana for prospects during the previous offseason, while letting Torii Hunter walk. They didn't go out and make any big moves in free agency. The rotation ended up being led by Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey, and Glen Perkins. Of those four, only Baker had more than 100 innings of major-league experience coming into the campaign. All were between 24 and 26 years old. Ironically, the biggest misstep by the front office that year was signing Liván Hernández under the pretense that this young group of starters needed a veteran leader. Hernández posted a 5.48 ERA over 23 starts before being cut in August to make room for Francisco Liriano – another young starter who rounded out the youth-led rotation. That youth-led rotation proved very capable. The Twins came within a game of a postseason berth, thanks in part to a solid offense led by a pair of MVP contenders in Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. The 2022 Twins offense, led by Byron Buxon, Jorge Polanco and others, will have a chance to win if they get any help from the pitching. Why can't that help come primarily from the internal pipeline? It's happened before. A learning year Despite my efforts here to understand and justify the front office's lack of aggressiveness on the pitching market, I can't deny that the youth movement plan is a long shot. For every example like the 2008 Twins, there are plenty more where inexperience doomed a young rotation. But I'd argue that even in that scenario, the coming season can be a valuable one. They can throw numerous guys into the fire, take stock of what they've got, and assess their needs going forward more accurately. Ideally, they'll add at least one more moderately good free agent starter and another impact arm via trade, so as to improve their odds and lessen the total reliance on unknowns. But as a general course of action, I don't hate the idea of letting the pipeline produce. It's not the start of a rebuild. It's the summation of a rebuild that was initiated six years ago when Falvey and Levine first took over. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
    19 points
  5. I love baseball in all of its dissectible minutiae. I delight in overthinking every at-bat, sweating every intense moment, and debating pointless frivolities. I get a kick out of analyzing and opining on the many twists and turns of a marathon season. And offseason. (If you frequent this site, you might have noticed.) But more than all that, I just love the baseball experience. Removing all of the stats, trends, trades, analytics, and hot takes, I am plain and simply a baseball fan to the core. I feel at peace in the ballpark, or with sounds of the game droning on my TV or radio. When I was a young pup riding the bus down Cedar Avenue to the Metrodome, I didn't care much about Kirby Puckett's OPS or Brad Radke's trade value. I was just happy to be wandering through this majestic Dome, eating a hot dog and staring on at the action alongside thousands of other contented folks. If the game went long, maybe I'd even get to stay out late on a school night. Much has changed since those days, but the fundamental source of my passion has not. And I was reminded of this very starkly in 2020, when a cherished annual summer routine – uninterrupted since I could remember (mind you, I was 9 years old when the '94 strike took place) – fell apart. As the pandemic unfolded two springs ago, I was highly skeptical a season of record could be salvaged. Happily I was wrong. Major League Baseball managed to pull off a shortened 60-game season, and it was entirely fine. Much better than nothing. But it never quite felt authentic, and was over almost as quickly as it began. (The Twins played their 60th game of this season five weeks ago.) Most crucially, like so many diehards across the country, I never got to attend a game. It's an irrelevant footnote in the face of all the tragedy and trauma faced by so many last year, but losing the ballpark experience was a bummer. I promised myself that when we emerged from it all and congregated once again at the stadium, I'd savor the hell out of it. And that I have. I've attended more Twins games at Target Field in the first half of this season than any previous. (And a couple at Kauffman Stadium!) I've run into random friends, heckled opposing outfielders, inhaled messy brats, beat the buzzer on bottom-of-seventh beers, and gazed wordlessly from my seat for indefinite stretches at the beautifully bland cadence of baseball, in all of its calm and rhythmic glory. Lord, did I miss it. I attended two games this past weekend, during a sweep of the Tigers to close out the first half. Let's just say it cemented my deep gratitude for the return of (relative) normalcy in the realm of baseball. On Friday I grabbed bleacher seats with high school friends and felt the electricity of the year's biggest crowd. The place was alive. Sunday, I joined up with a whole gaggle of Twins Daily writers – many of whom I'd scarcely had met before, what with the absence of events for 16 months – and we had a ball milling about on the Gray Duck Deck. Considerable Bomba Juice was consumed. These times are golden. They're what fuel my fandom and love for the sport, through thick and thin. I don't know if this year's Twins season would be described as thick or thin (kinda weird descriptors?), but what matters is we're all trudging through it together, and Sunday was an excellent reminder of that: a perfect punctuation to the best and worst damn first half of Twins baseball ever. The return of baseball as we know and love it would be way more fun, obviously, if our favorite team did not fall flat and completely erase any pretense of contention by the All-Star Game. But them's the breaks. The home team hasn't won much, and it's a shame. Still, those eternal words ring truer than ever: Take me out to the ballgame. Take me out with the crowd.
    18 points
  6. The owners of Major League Baseball locked out the players just after midnight on Thursday morning, ensuring baseball’s first work stoppage in over a quarter century. And Shad Browne knows who to blame. “These players are greedy and entitled, I’m sick of ‘em,” said the Fairmont landscaper. “They get paid money to play a game and sometimes you’ve gotta take a stand.” The owners, wealthier than the players by a monstrous degree and living lives of unimaginable luxury, do not receive the same level of disdain from Browne. “Lotta these owners are entrepreneurs who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps to make their money,” said Browne incorrectly. “Meanwhile, the modern player just takes a day off when they feel like it. The way I see it, you don’t play, you don’t get paid.” Browne, who took PTO last Monday because the Vikings lost and he was “super hungover,” said he sees a lot of himself in owners, despite this being remarkably untrue. “They’re just trying to run a business same as anyone else,” he said with the steady resolve that only the deeply ignorant possess. “I guess I’d just like to see a little more gratitude and a little less attitude from the millennial generation.” Browne, who used the word “meritocracy” in reference to a country where you don’t have to work a day in your life if your great-granddad sold mustard gas to Kaiser Wilhelm, dismissed the notion that the owners should take some of the blame for instigating the lockout they instigated. “At the end of the day, they’ve got a business to run,” said Browne, for whom the concept of generational wealth has never so much as registered for one second of one day. “If the players can’t handle that, they can get a job just like anyone else. “It’s just not right,” said the cornfed rube.
    17 points
  7. In Minnesota baseball lore, David Ortiz is the equivalent of Boston's Bambino, or Wrigleyville's billy goat. The very mention of Big Papi causes a visceral shudder for any Twins fan within earshot, surfacing deep feelings of regret and lament. How differently things might have gone for the Twins had Ortiz stayed in Minnesota. (Aaron Gleeman wrote a fun "what if" article about this last year.) Naturally, the Ortiz example is invoked any time a promising Twins player departs unduly – the sports fan's equivalent of a PTSD reaction. Lingering fear of a recurrence envelopes us, clouding our judgment. In most cases, this apprehension proves unwarranted. Nonetheless, the Curse of Papi persists. You all know where I'm going with this: Is Byron Buxton the next David Ortiz?? In some ways, it's a fitting parallel. Ortiz left Minnesota in his late 20s, having shown flashes of standout ability, before immediately blossoming elsewhere. In Boston, he emerged as a perennial MVP contender, postseason legend, and franchise icon. It's all too easy to envision the same path for Buxton, except therein lies the difference: you don't need to imagine it. Buxton already IS that guy. He was the AL Player of the Month in April and has been one of the game's best players on a per-game basis for the last three years. After a long and meandering path, he has finally reached his true potential as a top-shelf elite MLB player. Yes, the injuries have remained a constant. But that's exactly why a long-term extension with Buxton would even be attainable right now for a team like the Twins. If not for the implications and associated risk of his health history, he'd likely be eyeing a deal outside of Minnesota's realistic scope. It might seem odd when you're talking about offering more than $100 million to a player whose track record is as sparse as Buxton's, but the Twins should theoretically be able to secure a relative bargain here due to the circumstances. Alas, the front office seems a tad too ambitious in its hunt for a bargain. The allure of signing Buxton long-term is that he can offer a potential impact on the level of a Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, or Fernando Tatis Jr., but at a fraction of the guaranteed commitment. That said, the clear value needs to be there for Buxton, who knows his level of ability, and it is evidently not. His camp rejected Minnesota's offer, which reportedly elevated from $73 million to $80 million in guaranteed money with a "unique incentive package." Sounds like those incentives were the sticking point. At this juncture we don't what was proposed or countered, so analyzing the negotiation is murky. Then again, it's also difficult to fathom what kind of request or suggested terms from Buxton's agent would make the Twins balk to the point they're giving up on an opportunity to secure this generational talent, at the precipice of true superstardom. A somewhat similar dynamic is at play with José Berríos, who was drafted the same year as Buxton and is also looking ahead to free agency at the end of 2022. One can certainly argue that Berríos is more critical to the Twins' future, given their scarcity of high-quality arms. But in a way, he is the antithesis of Buxton: ultra-reliable with a capped ceiling. Berríos has been one of the most durable and consistent pitchers in the game – steadily very good, just short of great, always available. Meanwhile, Buxton has improved every season in a setback-riddled career that's been full of ups and downs. He's just now reaching his full form, displaying game-changing greatness that is almost unparalleled. Yes, Berríos will be difficult to replace, in that arms like his don't come along often. The Twins certainly haven't proven adept at finding or developing them. But Buxton is irreplaceable in a more absolute sense. Athletes and human beings like him almost NEVER come along. His speed, power, and defense are off-the-charts good. He's one of the most entertaining players I've ever seen. And he's still getting better. I can see the rationale in moving on from Berríos. He's clearly intent on testing free agency and maximizing his earnings. There will be no discount or bonus-contingent contract in play there. And it's awfully hard for a mid-market team to build balanced contending rosters when paying one of their five starting pitchers $25+ million annually. Their everyday center fielder, though? One who's proven to be an MVP-caliber talent while on the field? And who won't even be reaching that salary range unless he's staying on the field enough to trigger incentives? I'm struggling to understand why the Twins aren't stepping up here. Target Field was ostensibly built for the exact purpose of keeping a player like this. From available evidence, it doesn't seem like the team is making a particularly hearty effort to do what it takes to retain him. Whatever Buxton's side is asking for – $30-plus million in annual achievable salary, an early opt-out clause, lower-than-desired bonus thresholds – none of those should be deal-breakers. Maybe there's still a way. Buxton said on Monday "it's not the end," leaving some faint cause for hope. But at this point, the outlook is grim. It's true that signing Buxton long-term would entail some risk. But it pales in comparison to the risk of watching him go elsewhere, shake off the snakebitten injury luck, and emerge as a late-blooming legend while Twins fans spend another decade lamenting the one that got away. In this case, it'd be a much less excusable gaffe than releasing David Ortiz. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
    15 points
  8. When NASA astronomer Steve Bland observed a new asteroid hurtling through space earlier this month, he was alarmed. The object was clearly on a path that would send it directly towards Earth. “Obviously, that’s a nightmare scenario,” said Bland. “Even a relatively small object could wreak havoc on the impact area.” Further study relieved Bland and his co-workers when it was determined that the asteroid, named 2021 SB, would disintegrate rapidly upon entering the planet’s atmosphere. However, there was one note of concern. “Just from following the course it’s travelling through our solar system, there is zero doubt in my mind that it’s definitely going to land on top of Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton,” said Bland. It’s estimated that 2021 SB will be the size of a golf ball once it reaches Buxton and will likely end its grand celestial journey on his throwing shoulder or right big toe. “I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like this before,” admitted Bland. "Most asteroids do not target individuals." The Twins say they’ve been notified by NASA of the situation. “It’s not an existential threat to all human life but Byron is for sure going to be out indefinitely,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli. “We spoke with Byron and he’s as disappointed as we are.” Officials say the asteroid will likely reach Buxton immediately after his left hand is fully healed from the fracture suffered during Monday’s game versus Cincinnati. “2021 SB actually appeared to slow down on Monday evening,” said Bland. “It was on pace to get here on Wednesday but now looks like it’s taking its sweet time. Yes, that’s unusual.” Although Bland didn’t want to speculate on the actual date, time, and location, sources close to the team say they expect the space object to injure Buxton on his first day back with the Twins or on a St. Paul rehab assignment when he’s signing autographs for impressionable young children.
    14 points
  9. Before we get into those three items, here’s a video that takes a bit of a deeper look at where the Giants and Red Sox were the past couple years and how they re-emerged after quiet offseasons. You Don’t Need A Rebuild All that recent success makes it easy to forget neither the Giants or Red Sox made the postseason the past two years (four years for the Giants). That’s especially noteworthy since 16 teams qualified for the playoffs in last year’s shortened season. With aging rosters and former stars on bloated contracts, both orgs were in the type of position where rebuilding had to have been considered. Yes, Boston traded away Mookie Betts prior to last season, but they never turned it into a full-on tear down, throw in the towel type situation. Meanwhile, several of the league’s bottom teams repeat their place in the standings year after year. Some organizations like the Houston Astros have made rebuilds work in the not-so-distant past, but they are looking more like the exception than the rule. Re-tooling can work. You Don’t Need A Flashy Offseason The Twins spent more on free agents this past offseason than both the Giants and Red Sox. The Twins shelled out $41.75 million while the Giants spent $41.35 million and the Red Sox were at $38.95 million. On the flip side, those teams actually acquired a greater number of players (10 signed for the Giants and eight for Boston), choosing to spread the wealth more than the Twins (six players). Meanwhile, the top two spending teams last winter (the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies) and three of the top-five spenders (adding the New York Mets) all missed the playoffs. And if there’s any team that “won” the 2020-21 offseason it was the San Diego Padres. That’s where their winning streak ended. The offseason most definitely matters — the 2021 Twins are as much proof of that as any team — but big splashes and flashy signings (or lack thereof) still don’t guarantee anything. You Don’t Need A Lavish Bullpen There are some expensive, big-name bullpens among this year’s playoff participants but Boston and San Francisco are not among them. The Red Sox have a couple of highly-paid members of their bullpen, but Garrett Richards isn’t there by design (he was signed as a starter) and Adam Ottavino was acquired as a salary dump. It’s not as if either of those guys is exactly a difference-maker, either. In fact, the Red Sox bullpen leader in WAR was Garrett Whitlock, their Rule 5 pick. They had eight different pitchers record saves in the second half alone, including former Twins great Hansel Robles. The Giants have done even more with a great deal less invested. They signed Jake McGee to a modest two-year, $7 million deal, just $2 million of which was paid this season. Oh, and he was their highest-paid reliever. McGee ended up as one of only nine pitchers to save 30 games this season. San Francisco had a handful of underpaid studs in their pen including Tyler Rogers, Jarlin Garcia, Jose Alvarez, Zack Littell (ouch) and Dominic Leone. When McGee went down, however, it was rookie Camilo Doval who stepped up and was the National League reliever of the month for September. He had a 4.99 ERA and a 7.0 BB/9 in 28 games at Triple-A this season! Sometimes a reliever just happens. That’s exactly the kind of thing the Twins need next year. The Giants ranked sixth in bullpen WAR (per FanGraphs) and the Red Sox were ninth, a spot ahead of the Mets, who ended the year with four of the top-20 paid relievers in baseball (Jeurys Familia, Brad Hand, Trevor May and Edwin Diaz). The Mets also only won four more games than the Twins this year. The Twins have a long way to go from 89 losses back to contention, but they don’t need to tear it down, have an extravagant offseason or spend big on risky bullpen arms to do so. The Giants and Red Sox are proof of that.
    13 points
  10. Classic North Metro halfwit Tom Hanson has seen enough. With the Twins allegedly looking to move Byron Buxton, the self-taught expert on epidemiology thinks the franchise is overlooking the best path forward. “He oughta pay them to play centerfield,” said the frequently-divorced electrician. “Bet he lands on the injured list reaching for his wallet, lol.” Hanson, who frequently interrupted his interview to speculate on the accuracy of Dominion Voting Systems machinery, credits Buxton’s injury history with this outside-the-box notion. “He’s hurt all the time, and the whole insurance game is a racket,” mused Hanson. “I bet they’ve paid more on premiums for him than salary. And I bet he hasn’t thanked them for either one.” Hanson, who has been banned from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, the Star Tribune comments section, Rube Chat, YouTube, and the Perkins chain of family restaurants, said Buxton reminds him of another Twins great, and not in a good way. “Joe Mauer must have taught (Buxton) that if you say you’re hurt, these suckers will believe you every time,” said Hanson. “I almost respect it. Must be nice to make $23 million a year to hit singles and then not even do that because your quote-unquote concussion hurts. Must be real nice.” When told that one of the quoted figures for a potential Byron Buxton deal was 7 years for $100 million, Hanson was livid. “You could have a lunch pail, 110% effort guy like Zach Granite or Jake Cave who’ll go out there every day and compete for a fraction of that, or you could have a prima donna like Buxton,” exclaimed Hanson. “The fact that they’d choose the latter is just another example of the woke cancel culture infecting our society.” Hanson would not elaborate on what that meant but did say it also applied to his local school board, KARE 11 meteorologist Belinda Jensen, maternity leave, paternity leave, rap music, Home Depot, his first, third, and fourth wives, and Little Free Libraries.
    12 points
  11. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 9/27 thru Sun, 10/3 *** Record Last Week: 4-2 (Overall: 73-89) Run Differential Last Week: +4 (Overall: -105) Standing: 5th Place in AL Central (20.0 GB) Last Week's Game Recaps: Game 157 | MIN 3, DET 2: Twins Edge Tigers in Pitchers' Duel Game 158 | MIN 5, DET 2: Polanco and Pineda Propel Twins Game 159 | DET 10, MIN 7: Buxton's 2 HR Not Enough as Ryan Struggles Game 160 | KC 11, MIN 6: Pitching Plastered as Royals Pound Twins Game 161 | MIN 4, KC 0: Arms Rebound, Blank Kansas City Game 162 | MIN 7, KC 3: Twins Close Losing Year with a Win NEWS & NOTES It turns out that Bailey Ober's start the previous week would be the last of his rookie season. He was shut down ahead of his scheduled final turn with a right hip strain, although the move surely had more to do with workload management than real injury concern. Ober completes his first MLB campaign with a 4.19 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 96-to-19 K/BB ratio in 92 ⅓ innings spread across 20 starts. A tremendously encouraging year from the big righty, who has vaulted directly into the club's rotation plans. HIGHLIGHTS With an offseason ahead that may prove decisive in shaping his big-league future, Byron Buxton ended his season on a high note. Generally speaking, he hasn't been quite the same offensively since returning from his broken hand, but Buxton's final week looked more like his first month. He went 11-for-25 with three home runs, five doubles, and 11 runs scored, mixing in a couple of stolen bases for good measure. We're seeing something special here, folks. The question now is whether we'll have the opportunity to keep watching Buxton's magic happen in a Twins uniform. He's got one year ahead until free agency and if Minnesota can't extend him, his trade market will be too hot to ignore. The decision with Buxton this offseason will primarily dictate whether the Twins actually aspire to contend in 2022, and will likely determine whether a lot of fans choose to stick with the team or tune out for the time being. I've written in the past where I stand: pay the man, or regret it forever. You cannot let a talent like this get away. Joining Buxton with strong finishes at the plate: Josh Donaldson went 6-for-21 with four walks, two homers, and five RBIs. He started all six games, which is pretty much par for the course by now. It was a huge proving year durability-wise for the 35-year-old, who returned from an immediate IL stint to play in 133 of the club's final 150 games, starting 125. The production was there too. While he still carries plenty of risk at this point, JD looks like a much more dependable building block than he did one year ago. The late drop-off of Luis Arraez was an under-discussed storyline in the second half for the Twins. From August 19th through September 19th, he batted just .176 in 99 plate appearances, sinking his average from .318 to .284. Given the lack of real defensive value, and the absence of power or patience in his game, Arraez's value plummets pretty quickly when he's not hitting for average, and we've never seen him slump in that department quite like he did during this late stretch. So it was nice to see him snap out of it with an excellent final week, in which Arraez notched 11 hits in 20 at-bats, lifting his final average to .294. It'll be very interesting to see what the team's plan is with him going forward. Miguel Sanó went 7-for-22 with a home run, a double, and four RBIs. He rebounded from a brutal April with production the rest of the way that was basically in line with his quality career norms. He also put up the lowest overall K-rate of his career (34.3%) after leading the league in strikeouts a year ago. It was ultimately a disappointing year for Sanó but offered some promising signs, and he's vowed to focus harder than ever on his body this winter, setting a goal of losing 20-30 pounds. With Alex Kirilloff looking more like a first baseman than outfielder, Sanó is another intriguing piece in the organization's future planning. He has one more guaranteed season under team control. On the pitching side, Michael Pineda wrapped his walk year with 5 ⅔ innings of one-run ball in a win over Detroit. He returned quickly from an August oblique injury to register a 5-0 record and 1.85 ERA in five outings. That'll give the pending free agency market a boost. Griffin Jax finished a rough rookie season in a positive way, delivering his best performance as a big-leaguer on Saturday with five innings of shutout ball against Kansas City. He was hardly dominant, striking out three and walking two, but he allowed only one hit. Jax showed some promise after the All-Star break, but in his final eight starts he went 1-4 with a 7.82 ERA, erasing any chance of factoring into the Twins' rotation plans next year. That said, with his effective fastball-slider combo, he's definitely earned a look in the bullpen. Speaking of which, the Twins received impressive final weeks from a trio of key relievers. Tyler Duffey, Caleb Thielbar, and Jorge Alcala combined to allow zero earned runs over 11 frames. Tough to overstate how impactful these three are for the Twins' bullpen outlook. At the All-Star break, it wasn't clear that any of them were going to be names to comfortably write into the 2022 plans. None pitched especially well in the first half. But since the break, they've collectively posted a 2.48 ERA and 85-to-24 K/BB ratio in 83 ⅓ innings. All three are expected to return in 2022, at a little over $5 million in total salary. It's not an amazing bullpen foundation to build around, but if Taylor Rogers can return to form following his finger injury, it's certainly a viable starting point for a contending relief corps. LOWLIGHTS He's been a beaming beacon in the Highlights section nearly every week since arriving in the majors, but in his final turn as a rookie, Joe Ryan finally hit a road bump for the first time. Facing the Tigers at Target Field on Thursday, Ryan was knocked around for six earned runs in 4 ⅔ innings, with a pair of homers by Niko Goodrum accounting for much of the damage. The poor finale may diminish a bit of Ryan's shine, but hardly removes the luster from a tremendous showing in September for the rookie. He finishes with a 4.05 ERA, 3.43 FIP, 0.79 WHIP, and 30-to-5 K/BB ratio in 26 ⅔ innings. Small sample and lack of experience aside, it's tough to imagine he won't be at least tentatively penciled into a rotation spot come next spring. Will Max Kepler still be the man in right field at that time? He closed out one of the worst offensive seasons of his career with a 3-for-19 week, leaving him with a pedestrian final slash line of .211/.306/.413. Just flat-out sub-mediocre production from a right fielder. It does bear noting that Kepler supplements his value in other ways, like on the bases (10-for-10 on steals this year) and in the outfield, but with emerging corner outfield depth in the Twins system, Kepler and his favorable contract will likely be shopped on the trade market. Andrelton Simmons put the finishing touches on an all-time dud of an offensive season, going 2-for-11 with a couple of singles. He posted a .480 OPS in the second half, managing three total extra-base hits (all doubles) in 189 plate appearances. Most Twins fans will be more than happy to be rid of the pending free agent, and while his defense was customarily good this year (albeit unspectacular), I do wonder if any team will view him as a starting-caliber player on the offseason market. In an interesting trend, Simmons finally started losing some his playing time at shortstop to Nick Gordon toward the end of the year, much to the pleasure of fans who'd been clamoring for such a shift. Gordon first start at short didn't come until September 11th, by which time he'd been in the majors for three months and appeared in 55 games. From that point forward, however, he started eight of the team's final 21 games, including three times in the final week. Gordon's bat went cold during this final stretch, producing just one hit in 13 at-bats, and his overall production for the season was underwhelming (.647 OPS, 0.2 fWAR), but if he's viewed as a credible option at short, that cements his value as a utility guy. The team's usage late in the season inspires optimism on that front. TRENDING STORYLINE There are plenty of trending storylines ahead as we turn our attention to the offseason. Once a World Series champion is crowned in about one month's time, the page will turn and Hot Stove season will officially get underway. (Theoretically, anyway ... a looming CBA expiration could throw a wrench in things.) As they seek to rebound from a terrible season, the Twins face a number of key decisions this winter. Will Buxton be traded? What about dealing a semi-redundant yet valuable fixture such as Kepler, Arraez, or Sanó? Who will survive the 40-man roster crunch? How hard will Minnesota attack the free agent markets at pitcher and shortstop? There's plenty to explore as we size up a critical offseason. I'm pleased to say we'll have an exciting announcement on that topic dropping on Monday morning. Make sure you tune in for it. On a final note: a heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who has consumed, commented on, or complimented these Week in Review columns over the course of the year. It's been fun, and for me, a good way to stay plugged into a season that was often difficult to find motivation to care about. Hopefully these weekly recaps served a similar purpose for many of you. We'll be back next year. Here's to much happier weeks to break down in 2022. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
    12 points
  12. #3 Reason to Like This Deal – The Timing Congrats, Minnesota. You're kind of a big deal. Your team just made the biggest trade of the trade deadline so far because Cruz was the best bat on the trade market. That market was a bit limited, given that he can't play in the National League, but he was still the big dog. And believe it or not, the question you should be asking was, "Why did they make the deal so early?" The Twins have been out of the postseason race for a month, but often a deal like this is not made until a day or two before the deadline. Sometimes it's not made until the afternoon of the trade deadline. Seeing a deal come together a week early suggests one of two things, both positive for the Twins: They got an offer they could not refuse. That's good news. They gave "buyers" a deadline for their best deal. I suspect the latter. The Twins looked at the market and decided to push the first domino. They still have at least Michael Pineda, Andrelton Simmons, and Hansel Robles to move, and they want to start fielding offers. It also might be that they saw teams waiting on making offers for someone like Cubs' third baseman Kris Bryant until Cruz had found a landing spot. That's important because the Twins are likely trying to move Josh Donaldson. That's more difficult until Bryant is traded, since Bryant doesn't have $50M attached to him as Donaldson does. So even if the Twins insisted on the timing, it's a ploy that suits their needs. #3 Reason to Hate This Deal - Beware the Rays The Rays have earned the title of the Smartest Team in Any Deal. It's happened over and over, even when the names involved were premier players like Blake Snell or Chris Archer. It's hard to win a trade with the Rays. That said, the last deal the Twins made with the Rays has turned out great. Before the 2018 season, the Rays traded Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for prospect Jermaine Palacio. Odorizzi only had one good year with the Twins – but it was a terrific year, posting a 3.51 ERA in 2019 and resurrecting his career. Meanwhile, Palacios is back in the Twins organization. He's playing at AA-Witchita this year. He's 24 years old and having a breakout season, posting a 782 OPS as a shortstop after leaving the Rays' farm system. So, at the very least, the Twins weren't fleeced in that deal. #2 – Reason to Like the Deal – The Twins NAILED a Need Was the Twins' starting pitching the biggest reason for this year's disappointing season? Maybe not. But it's within the top four for sure, and feel free to debate the order in the comments. (Your candidates: starting pitching, injuries, [insert your favorite rant here], Alex Colome). But if the Twins want to take advantage of the competitive window they have from 2022-2024, they need major-league ready (and preferably cost-controlled) pitching. That's precisely what they got in this trade. The Twins only have two starting pitchers returning next year – Kenta Maeda and Jose Berrios. This year's backup plans - Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, and Lewis Thorpe – have been injured. So have all three of the top pitching prospects in the organization: Jhoan Duran, Matt Canterino, and Jordan Balozovic. Plus, the Twins likely have only about $40M to spend on the free agent market next year. Getting back cost-controlled but solid major league pitching is no easy task in Major League Baseball. Looking at the other players the Twins could trade, very few could field that return. Nelson Cruz was their best (and maybe last) chance to do so, and they pulled it off. #2 Reason to Hate It – Nelly's Gone Losing Nelson Cruz sucks. He was a perfect fit for this team, and the team ended up being a perfect fit for him. Even though he played for the Twins from when he was 38 to 41 years old, he posted the highest OPS (984) of his career for any team. Read that again. Texas (823 OPS) and Seattle (908 OPS) revere him. But Cruz never played better for any team – unless he does so for the Rays. And I hope he does. Kick some ass, Nelly. Plus, of course, the whole leadership thing. Cruz was the MVP for both full seasons he played for the Twins, and while his performance certainly justified it, it was his teammates' testimonials that made that choice a no-doubter. He doesn't call attention to himself with histrionics or conspicuous public displays. He just led. The media didn't hear that from Cruz. They learned about it from his teammates. That's how you know it was real. Which brings us to the best reason to dislike this trade... #1 Reason to Hate It – And He Ain't Coming Back Sometimes you have to leave the past behind, and I suspect the Twins recognize that. Cruz will turn 42 years old next year, and that presents a significant risk. They also have younger bats, like Brent Rooker and maybe even Mitch Garver or Luis Arraez, that they would like to try as a designated hitter. Plus, he will likely cost any team over $10M to sign, and we've already covered the potential payroll squeeze that awaits this team. It's not impossible. The Twins love him, clearly. Cruz loves them right back. So never say never. But this season revealed so many leaks in the Twins' ship that I'll be surprised if they expend resources to bring Nellie back for one more year. It would have been nice to have him around a few more months, given that reality. #1 Reason to Like The Trade – They Did Pretty Good If you screw up the players you get back, none of it means a damn thing. We won't know for sure about these guys until their Twins' careers are over, but there are some things to be excited about with the players the Twins got in return. The lesser (right now) of the two prospects is Drew Strotman. It's worth noting that he's the higher draft pick of the two, so he was not always second fiddle. He's also on the Rays' 40-man roster, which is a negative to his value in terms of roster management, but shows just how impressed the Rays were with him just last year. He has a mid-90s fastball, a plus slider, and added an impressive cutter last year to complete the package. That potential hasn't been displayed yet this year in AAA. He's had decent results (3.39 ERA) but is walking way too many batters. But he's also just 24 years old, and this is his first taste of AAA after skipping AA altogether. The more intriguing prospect is Joe Ryan. He wasn't particularly near a top 100 prospect in preseason rankings, but it'll be interesting to see if that has changed given his performance this year in AAA. Tallying 75K in 57 IP, with just ten walks and a 0.789(!) WHIP, can change expectations. His profile is funky enough to either cast doubt or raise eyebrows. He has a mid-90s fastball that batters have trouble picking up due to his delivery. The COVID year allowed him to work with the Rays coaching staff on his secondary offerings, which seem to have improved. Plus, he is a bit of a free spirit, based on this profile of his development in Sports Illustrated. If Twins fans want a preview of him, check out the US Olympic Baseball team. He's on it. Or make your way to CHS Field in St. Paul in August. Or maybe you won't need to cross the river. He might be ready for a trial at Target Field before the year is over. The Twins did reasonably well in their first move of the trade deadline season. They made a solid and aggressive move at a good time, getting quality players and filling a need. It also sets them up nicely for more moves before the July 30th deadline. But yeah, it's a shame it had to come to this. And the team will need to wait and see if their move turns out as well as they hope.
    12 points
  13. Let's begin with a brief anatomy and biomechanics lesson. The ulnar collateral ligament — more frequently referred to as the UCL — is a robust and triangular sheet of tissue that helps support the inner elbow against valgus stress. The elbow experiences the most valgus stress during a baseball game when the arm is driven forward at high rates of speed while throwing a ball. Damage to the UCL occurs when the torque produced as the arm is thrust forward — the technical term is internal rotation — is more significant than what the structure can compensate. Injury can occur chronically as well as acutely and is generally described as a sprain. The degree of damage is graded on a scale of 1-3. Grade 1 sprains are usually minor injuries that heal within a week or two. Grade 2 sprains — also referred to as partial tears — cause instability in the joint as some 50% of the ligament fibers have been damaged; the most frequently reported symptoms are pain and swelling. The recovery timeline for grade 2 sprains generally extends into months. Grade 3 sprains — or ruptures — result in significant instability and require Tommy John surgery to address. Grade 2 sprains are where the best route of treatment is murkiest. As the UCL is technically an extension of the joint capsule — a larger sheet of tissue that envelops a joint and provides stability and nourishment — it has a relatively good blood supply, meaning it is technically capable of healing on its own without surgery. (Side note: This is why ACL injuries require surgery in most instances. Although the ACL is inside the knee, it is technically separate from the joint capsule, and, thus, has almost no blood supply.) However, the UCL does not have the same blood supply throughout its structure. A recent study found evidence to suggest that the blood supply is best nearer where it connects to the upper arm bone — proximal — and decreases as the ligament extends to the forearm — distal. This finding may suggest that grade 2 sprains of the UCL that occur proximally are more likely to heal without surgery than those that are distal (or, read another way, Tommy John surgeries that treat proximal tears are more likely to be "successful" than their distal counterparts.) (Another side note: Interestingly, a study conducted in 2020 found data to suggest the opposite, though it should be noted that the study had a small sample size and was retrospective; both factors limit the findings' strength.) Rest and anti-inflammatory medication are most often the first two steps in treating a grade 2 UCL sprains followed by physical therapy to improve range of motion and increase the strength of the surrounding muscles. While the UCL provides static stability for the inner elbow (i.e., its fibers don't contract and act as a brace), the forearm musculature provides dynamic stability (i.e., its fibers do contract and pull the inner elbow together). Having strong forearm muscles is vital for protecting the healing UCL. Another treatment often reported after an athlete is diagnosed with a UCL sprain is platelet-rich plasma (PRP). The theory behind PRP is sound. The process involves drawing blood into a test tube, spinning it around rapidly in a centrifuge to separate the blood into plasma and red blood cells, sucking the plasma into a syringe, and injecting the plasma into the injured tissue. Plasma contains a variety of cells and other substances, one of which are platelets. Platelets help form the foundation on which new tissue grows and secret substances that help aid the healing process. Again, theoretically. The results surrounding PRP injections and return to play in baseball are … inconclusive, at best. Read one study, and you may come away believing that they work exceptionally well. Read another, and you may think they're just a bunch of hocus pocus. The fact of the matter is this: Despite being relatively well studied, there is little evidence, at this point, to suggest that PRP injections are the medical savior they were once considered to be. So, back to the original question. Why should Maeda and the Twins even pursue a second opinion? Well, the short answer is "Why not?" If the injury Maeda suffered is a UCL sprain, and if he ultimately undergoes surgery, he'll miss the entirety of the 2022 season anyway. Waiting another week or two to gather more information won't prevent him from playing next year. The longer answer is that the most appropriate course of treatment may or may not be surgery, depending on various factors, including grade, location, and, frankly, a specific doctor's training and treatment philosophy. Again, if Maeda is dealing with UCL damage and if it is partial and proximal, it may have a chance to heal on its own. Also, and this bears repeating, what's the harm in trying conservative rehabilitation and waiting on surgery? Best case scenario: Maeda can pitch again in relatively short order and definitely be next season. Worst case scenario: Maeda has to undergo surgery, which, again, would keep him out of 2022 anyway. At this stage, there is minimal downside for the Twins and Maeda in gathering as much information as possible. The team isn't going to the playoffs, he's under contract next year, and he's one of the more critical pitching pieces in the Twins' system. I'll pose the question again. Why should Maeda and the Twins seek a second opinion? Because it's the right thing to do.
    11 points
  14. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 8/2 thru Sun, 8/8 *** Record Last Week: 4-2 (Overall: 48-64) Run Differential Last Week: +2 (Overall: -73) Standing: 5th Place in AL Central (17.5 GB) Last Week's Game Recaps: Game 107 | MIN 7, CIN 5: Garver, Polanco Power Exciting Win Game 108 | CIN 6, MIN 5: Twins Comeback Falls Short Game 109 | MIN 5, HOU 3: Jax Earns First MLB Win as Starter Game 110 | MIN 5, HOU 4: Twins Rally from Early Deficit Game 111 | HOU 4, MIN 0: Lineup Has No Answers for Houston Pitching Game 112 | MIN 7, HOU 5: Polanco's 2 Homers Lift Twins to Series Win NEWS & NOTES Sidelined since early June by a bad hammy strain, Rob Refsnyder finally returned from the Injured List on Thursday, and has since resumed his role as semi-regular center fielder in Byron Buxton's absence. Refsnyder's activation led to Nick Gordon being optioned to Triple-A, which caused some consternation among fans who wished to see Gordon get a real shot. I get it. I like Gordon as a person and would love to see him succeed. It can feel hard to understand what's holding him back from more playing time on a bad team that's going nowhere. But this move makes it all the clearer how the Twins view him, and ... can you really blame them? While the speed is nice, Gordon has simply shown no signs that he can be an impactful contributor on a major-league team. He's a capable defender at several spots, but nowhere is he a standout, and the Twins seem to have zero interest in playing him at short. When you combine that defensive profile with a completely punchless bat, there isn't much value to be found. During his time in the majors, Gordon put 70 balls in play and recorded one barrel. He slashed .176/.263/.235 in his final 20 games. He lacks any discipline at the plate, offering at 45.8% pitches outside the zone, which is second on the team behind (of course) Willians Astudillo. It's not happening for Gordon this year. Now that doesn't preclude the possibility that he works his ass off during the winter, bulks up, and comes out next spring with a significantly bolstered skill set. We'll see if the Twins hold him on the 40-man roster and pursue that avenue. For now, the sad fact is that Refsnyder has a better chance of being a valuable contributor on the 2022 Twins. In other roster news of the week: Another right-handed reliever picked up off waivers. Just days after snagging Edgar Garcia following his DFA from Cincinnati, the Twins claimed former Astro Ralph Garza Jr., who was immediately optioned to Triple-A to join Garcia on the Saints. Garza, like many pitchers the Twins have added of late, has intriguing attributes and big strikeout rates in the minors, but also some clear flaws. There's no particular reason to think he or Garcia – discarded cast-offs from other organizations – will turn to anything useful. But then again, the same thing applies in the bullpen as in the rotation: the Twins are going to need help from the minors and every lottery ticket helps. It's a numbers game and the team is improving its odds. HIGHLIGHTS With veterans José Berríos and J.A. Happ departing at the deadline, Minnesota plugged in Griffin Jax and Charlie Barnes, who join incumbent rookie Bailey Ober in a suddenly very inexperienced rotation. It's quite the departure from Opening Day, when Berríos was their youngest starter. While veteran holdovers Kenta Maeda and Michael Pineda are interesting to track for their own reasons, the youth movement is now the central focus for the starting corps. None of the three rookies currently in the rotation are top prospects, but in the numbers game, it's all about letting them run and seeing if one emerges. This past week, the numbers showed some things to like from Jax and Ober: Jax spun 5 ⅓ innings of one-run ball in Houston on Thursday against the highest-scoring offense in the majors. (Albeit one missing several key bats.) He allowed only three hits and one walk in an efficient and impressive performance. Jax recorded zero strikeouts and only three swinging strikes in the outing, which is concerning, but he did pile up six strikeouts on 16 whiffs against the White Sox two starts prior, so he has at least shown the capability to miss bats. In his past three starts dating back to that one, Jax has a 1.88 ERA with six hits allowed in 14 ⅓ frames. Ober's start on Saturday was a mixed bag. On the one hand, we saw his strengths on display, with five strikeouts and one walk pushing his outstanding seasonal ratio to 56-to-15 ratio in 52 ⅓ innings. Ober's 3.7 K/BB ranks second among Twins starters behind Pineda. Ober also gave up two home runs in his five innings of work, surfacing his biggest weakness, but in general he too has been on a good track. In his past three starts, Ober has a 3.77 ERA and 15-to-3 K/BB ratio in 14 ⅓ frames. Several relievers also had strong showings as the bullpen rebounded from a very ugly run the previous week. Jorge Alcala allowed one hit (a home run) in three innings of work, striking out six of the 11 batters he faced. Alex Colomé worked four scoreless appearances and picked up three saves. Juan Minaya struck out eight over 4 ⅓ shutout innings between three appearances, allowing just two hits. On the offensive side, it was a relatively quiet week with a few standout performances. In spite of his barking knees, Luis Arraez continues to rake; he notched hits in every game he played and went 10-for-17 overall to raise his average to .318, which would rank sixth in baseball if qualified. Jorge Polanco drilled three more homers, and leads the American League in long balls over the past month. It's a remarkable turnaround from a player whose power had been totally sapped. Miguel Sanó did not have a particularly strong week overall, but he did make a game-saving defensive play at third on Friday night, and did this to a baseball on Sunday: LOWLIGHTS While Jax and Ober came through with encouraging performances, Barnes was less inspiring. Facing Cincinnati on Wednesday, the left-hander was knocked around for five earned runs on seven hits and two walks in four innings of work. Through two major-league starts he has a 6.23 ERA with three strikeouts and three walks in 8 ⅔ innings. He has induced only seven swinging strikes on 148 pitches between the two outings (5%). Barnes isn't embarrassing as a spot-starter type but it'd be nice to get someone in that fifth rotation slot with a little more upside. The Twins are slowly starting to get healthier in their starting pitching ranks, so maybe a few options will emerge in the coming weeks. Lewis Thorpe was activated from a lengthy IL stint and started Sunday for the Saints. Randy Dobnak was reportedly doing some "light throwing at Target Field" on Sunday morning, suggesting he's on the comeback trail. I realize these names aren't going to have folks leaping with excitement but they both have a better chance of factoring significantly into the 2022 rotation than Barnes. Brent Rooker cooled off following a red-hot start to his second stint with the Twins this year, going just 3-for-22, although he continued to flash power with all three hits going for doubles. Selectiveness at the plate will be the key thing to watch from Rooker, and he's leaving much to be desired in that area. He's not working into enough favorable counts and when at-bats end with pitchers ahead, he's just 1-for-29 this season. Alas, Rooker looks like an unstoppable offensive force in comparison to Andrelton Simmons. Anyone does. Simmons just continues sinking to new depths, with a 2-for-18 week dropping his slash line to a pitiful .216/.280/.275. His last extra-base hit came on July 2nd, 30 games ago, and since then he has a .355 OPS. There's no point in continuing to run him out there. Remaining money owed is unfortunately a sunk cost. The Twins would be better off sliding Polanco back over to short for the rest of the season and giving the reps at second base to someone like Arraez or Gordon or even Jose Miranda. TRENDING STORYLINE When they acquired him as the headliner in the Berríos trade, I wrote about why Austin Martin is a prospect very much worth getting excited about. Since the trade, he's been doing plenty to fuel the hype. Following a three-hit game for the Wichita Wind Surge on Sunday, Martin is now batting .400 with a .571 on-base percentage since coming over to the Twins organization. His eye at the plate is outrageously good, as illustrated by a 1-to-6 K/BB ratio in six games with Wichita. He has proven already to be a playmaker in the outfield and on the basepaths. Since the start of July, Martin has reached base in 52% of his plate appearances. That's no tiny sample. The idea of him complementing Arraez at the top of order, in front of a proven pack of power hitters, is beyond tantalizing. How far is it from becoming a reality? Next year seems likely, and maybe even from the start. But in order to make Martin a viable candidate for Opening Day, the Twins will need to take some preparatory steps. I'll be quite curious to see if he joins the club as a September call-up, or at least gets a late-season look in Triple-A. His defensive profile makes Martin an especially intriguing piece in the team's planning. Could he take over in center field if Buxton is traded this offseason? Maybe Martin steps in at second with Polanco pivoting back to short. Or perhaps, as I posited in my theoretical 2022 lineup on Twitter, left field is Martin's best initial entry point into the majors. LOOKING AHEAD It bums me out to look ahead at the schedule right now. If things had gone as planned, this would've been an absolutely crucial and thrilling stretch: The Twins, returning home from their longest road trip of the year, face off against the White Sox, Rays, and Cleveland, in consecutive series at Target Field. Could you imagine the stakes and intensity if Minnesota was in contention?! Alas, they are not. So all we can really look forward to is the return of Nelson Cruz to Target Field in another uniform. Hooray. MONDAY, 8/9: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Lucas Giolito v. LHP Charlie Barnes TUESDAY, 8/10: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – LHP Dallas Keuchel v. RHP Griffin Jax WEDNESDAY, 8/11: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Lance Lynn v. RHP Bailey Ober FRIDAY, 8/13: RAYS @ TWINS – LHP Shane McClanahan v. RHP Michael Pineda SATURDAY, 8/14: RAYS @ TWINS – RHP Michael Wacha v. RHP Kenta Maeda SUNDAY, 8/15: RAYS @ TWINS – LHP Josh Fleming v. LHP Charlie Barnes MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
    11 points
  15. The Twins have apparently begun to explore Donaldson's trade market, with a report out of SNY last week suggesting "very preliminary talks" have taken place with the Mets. JD makes sense for a team like that: in the championship mix, and capable of benefiting from a brashly confident former MVP who's shown he can still play at a high level. Donaldson's presence does little for the irrelevant 2021 Twins, so in assessing the sensibility of trading him to New York or elsewhere, the question becomes one of his future fit. Are the Twins doing themselves a great disservice by unloading Donaldson's 2022 and 2023 seasons – along with a 2024 team option – when all they're likely to get back is some level of salary relief and an unspectacular prospect or two? I would suggest: no, probably not. Let us consider the two aforementioned scenarios. If the front office decides that its current collection of talent is fundamentally insufficient, and the next wave of prospects won't be ready quickly enough to fuel a return to championship contention within the next two years, then keeping Donaldson and his $21 million annual salary simply doesn't make sense, on any level. Not only is it an illogical expense, begrudged by ownership, but JD himself will likely become discontented by a non-competitive approach in what may be his final productive seasons. So what if they choose instead to rebuild on the fly and make another go of it in 2022? I think this is the right approach, and the most likely one. Here it becomes a little harder to argue that the Twins are better off without Donaldson, who's been a high-quality player when on the field. Nonetheless, three reasons I believe it's the right call: Donaldson is at high risk for injury and regression. I think we need to divorce ourselves from not only the idea of who Donaldson used to be – a 40-HR MVP-caliber superstar – and maybe even the image of Donaldson as he is now. Turning 36 in December, he's at a stage where rapid physical decline is commonplace, and that's evident enough from what we've witnessed on the field. His offensive skills are mostly holding up – albeit not at the level of his late-20s prime – but Donaldson's defense has gone from great to good, and his speed from bad to "yikes." The injury issues, recurring and localized in his legs, seem unlikely to dissipate as he ages toward 40. The nature of a long-term deal for a mid-30s player like Donaldson is that you expect to get the best value up-front, and deal with the likelihood of regression as a cost of doing business. The Twins have already moved past the ostensible good part of JD's contract, with fruitless results for the team. Now they're moving into a back end carrying more risk and less upside. Granted, these facts are plainly evident to any suitor for Donaldson, which is why the Twins aren't exactly in a position of ideal leverage. But a team like the free-spending Mets is more well-suited to take on that risk and the associated financial commitment than Minnesota. The Twins have depth at third base. The indispensability of Donaldson is contingent on the quality of his potential replacements. When they signed him, third base was a position of clear organizational scarcity. Today, that's not quite so true. First and foremost, you have the emergence of José Miranda as a top prospect. He raked in Double-A, he's now raking in Triple-A, and he's 23. Miranda is on the verge of big-league readiness and his contact-heavy profile lends itself to at least staying afloat in his early exposure to the majors, if not quickly taking off. It wouldn't be a matter of putting all eggs in the meteoric Miranda's basket, either. Luis Arraez has played 250 career innings at third in the majors. Royce Lewis played primarily there in his last competitive baseball action during the 2019 Arizona Fall League. Miguel Sanó will still presumably be around next year. The Twins have options. And while none are Donaldson-caliber players, it's not entirely clear that any would be all that drastic a drop-off from the version you're getting at ages 36 and 37, to whatever extent his health makes him available. The Twins have bigger priorities and JD at third base was always a luxury. The Twins never needed Josh Donaldson. They signed him late in the 2019-20 offseason because they had spending flexibility, missed out on their free agent pitching targets, and saw an opportunity to level-up an already great offense. He was a luxury they could afford at the time, but much has changed since, and now you really wonder if he's one they can still afford. Even without Donaldson and Nelson Cruz, the Twins would be poised to field a solid offensive unit next year. The pitching staff is another story. They're going to need all the help and resources they can get. While no other team is going to take on the entirety of Donaldson's remaining ~$60 million commitment, any fraction of that spending flexibility will be useful to the front office as it addresses a needy rotation and bullpen, not to mention shortstop. In the event he's traded, whatever the Twins are able to get back in exchange for Donaldson is going to look underwhelming on its face. It won't be a fun situation to navigate from a PR perspective. But when you look at the realities of a team that currently figures to have about $40 million in hand for the offseason, the logic of trading Donaldson is difficult to deny. They're staring down a wealth of key vacancies and he's a risk-laden expensive veteran. The Twins have their work cut out if they want to turn around a last-place team and bring it back to respectability, much less World Series contention, in short order. Popularity can't be the guiding principle in the difficult decisions that lie ahead. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
    11 points
  16. Again, I certainly think that the Twins system is strong. It likely won’t be a Top 10 organization by the national publications, but I legitimately think that as many as 25 or more from each of the lists can play in the big leagues with continued development, health, and of course a little luck. Before getting too far, let’s take a look at the two lists... And before I do that, I will acknowledge my mistakes. (Yes, I make them from time to time...) 1.) I switched shortstops Jermaine Palacios and Wander Javier in my rankings. I showed Palacios ranking as the #25 hitter with Javier checking in at #15. Those should be reversed. 2.) I was looking at my living Twins Top 152 prospect rankings (Yes, I have one, and no, not going to share it) for this summary and realized that I just missed RHP Austin Schulfer. I have placed him in where I had ranked him among pitchers and overall in the below charts. I acknowledged in one of the pitcher articles that while it is a good start to split up the Hitters and Pitchers, there was a logical additional separation that is needed... Starting Pitchers and Relief Pitchers. You see, right or wrong, I still have it in my head that a #3 of #4 starter is still going to through 150-160 innings a season while even the best relievers will throw 60-70 innings in a season. Fair? Not necessarily because no one is questioning the importance of a quality bullpen. Twins fans certainly understand that need. And, maybe it's something that will change in time. If we're being honest, we have seen pitching roles change over the past few years and I would expect that will continue. Aside from the top starting pitchers, most starters are only going through the batting order twice, pitching four or five innings. That is making the value of relievers much more important. So, I did want to take a few minutes and also provide my list of the top 15 Twins relief pitching prospects. Top 15 Relief Pitching Prospects 1. Jovani Moran, LHP 2. Osiris German, RHP 3. Yennier Cano, RHP 4. Jordan Gore, RHP 5. Steven Cruz, RHP 6. Ryan Mason, RHP 7. Alex Scherff, RHP 8. Denny Bentley, LHP 9. Zach Featherstone, LHP 10. Ryan Shreve, RHP 11. Derek Molina, RHP 12. Zach Neff, LHP 13. David Festa, RHP 14. Josh Mitchell, LHP 15. Melvi Acosta, RHP Again, that is a really good group. The top five were included among the Top 30 Pitching Prospects, and likely #6 through #12 on this list would have appeared very soon. Seth's Top 50 Twins Prospects (Clicking on the player links will bring you to a list of any article that player has been tagged in on Twins Daily. It's fun to look back and see how they've progressed, and other interesting information from their careers.) Royce Lewis, SS (Hitter 1) Jose Miranda, IF (H2) Austin Martin, SS/OF (H3) Matt Canterino, RHP (Pitcher 1) Joe Ryan, RHP (P2) Jordan Balazovic, RHP (P3) Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP (P4) Josh Winder, RHP (P5) Chase Petty, RHP (P6) Marco Raya, RHP (P7) Jhoan Duran, RHP (P8) Cade Povich, LHP (P9) Noah Miller, SS (H4) Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF (H5) Steve Hajjar, LHP (P10) Kala’I Rosario, OF (H6) Blayne Enlow, RHP (P11) Gilberto Celestino, OF (H7) Louie Varland, RHP (P12) Spencer Steer, IF (H8) Cole Sands, RHP (P13) Edouard Julien, IF (H9) Sawyer Gipson-Long, RHP (P14) Drew Strotman, RHP (P15) Aaron Sabato, 1B (H10) Matt Wallner, OF (H11) Misael Urbina, OF (H12) Jovani Moran, LHP (P16) Casey Legumina, RHP (P17) Keoni Cavaco, SS (H13) Chris Vallimont, RHP (P18) Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 3B (H14) Jermaine Palacios, SS (H15) Regi Grace, RHP (P19) Yunior Severino, IF (H16) Alerick Soularie, OF (H17) Jair Camargo, C (H18) Osiris German, RHP (P20) Christian MacLeod, LHP (P21) Alex Isola, C/1B (H19) Sean Mooney, RHP (P22) Yennier Cano, RHP (P23) Austin Schulfer, RHP (P24) Jeferson Morales, C/OF (H20) Seth Gray, 3B (H21) Will Holland, SS/CF (H22) Cody Laweryson, RHP (P24) Jordan Gore, RHP (P25) Mark Contreras, OF (H23) Charlie Mack, C (H24) Notes It is hard not to notice that the top three prospects are hitters. However, prospects four through 12 are all pitchers. Frankly, an argument could be made that those nine pitchers could be fairly interchangeable. If you were to tell me that Jhoan Duran or Josh Winder or Chase Petty should rank fourth, I'm not going to argue too vehemently. More important than the actual ranking is that the Twins have a lot of pitchers with not only big-league potential, but they have potential to be playoff starters in the future. I noted this throughout the series, particularly in the comments, but it's important to note who is no longer eligible for prospect status. On the mound, Bailey Ober, Griffin Jax , and Ralph Garza, Jr. surpassed rookie qualifications. Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Ryan Jeffers, Brent Rooker, Ben Rortvedt, and Nick Gordon are no longer "prospects" either. For those curious, Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smeltzer, Randy Dobnak, Cody Stashak and Jorge Alcala were not rookies in 2021 after their big-league time in 2020. Breakdown (Pitchers): Right-Handed Starting Pitchers (19), Left-Handed Starting Pitchers (3), Right-Handed Relief Pitchers (3), Left-Handed Relief Pitchers (1). All three left-handed starters were drafted in 2021. Breakdown (Position Players): Catchers (4), Infielders (13), Outfielders (7). Obviously versatility is important in the organization and several players got time in multiple spots. I tried to include them where they played most often. How Acquired: Drafted by Twins (35), Acquired in Trade (8), International Signing (6), Minor League Signing (1, Jermaine Palacios). This is a large number, but more important, three of the top 7 prospects were acquired in July. 13 of these 50 players are on the Twins 40-man roster, so if there is no new Collective Bargaining Agreement, they will not be able to start spring training. They can't just go to minor league spring training. Several have told me (in the Twins organization and elsewhere ) that Covid could potentially have rippling negative impact on organizations and player development for a couple of years. Obviously that is primarily regarding pitchers, but there can also be hitters who will hopefully get their groove back again in 2022. It's also important to remember that a pitcher drafted out of college in 2019 was likely 21-22 years old. With the missed 2020 season, they pitched in 2021 at 23-24. Four-year college players even a year older. While age-to-level of competition is often a factor in prospect rankings, and it needs to be, it's my opinion that it has almost no bearing right now on what a pitcher can be as we move forward, and if they come up at 24 or 26 isn't a very big deal. So when I read comments like, "Well, Pitcher A is already 24, he has to be rushed up now..." I can't disagree more. As always, what makes doing these rankings fun is the interaction with the readers. Here at Twins Daily, I believe we have the best Twins minor league coverage around, and we have a lot of our readers and writers that have a strong interest in learning more. These lists serve many purposes. First, it's to highlight players that deserve to be talked about. Second, it's fun to think we are smart and that there is some science to these prospect rankings. I've done Twins prospect rankings going back to 2003 or 2004 online. It is not a science. These are kids, working their way up an organizational ladder, just like many kids just out of high school or college. The develop at different rates. They work hard. They get hurt. Things happen and they don't always pan out. So, we need to give them credit when we can, and we can dream on them helping our favorite team become a viable, consistent winning team. I enjoy the comments section. I enjoy being challenged. I try not to run from questions you ask while also being respectful of the players and their families. So please discuss these players and more in the comments. And also, please let us know what you want to see from Twins Daily's minor league coverage in 2022? What can we do better? What would you like to see more of, or less of? Your feedback helps us so much and we want to continue to improve. Twins Spotlight Several of these Twins players have been a guest on Twins Spotlight over the past two offseasons. We have now had 51 episodes. To look back and see who we have interviewed and listen back to them, click here. Previous Rankings (To look back at what I wrote about the 60 players, click below) Hitters Part 1: 26-30 Hitters Part 2: 21-25 Hitters Part 3: 16-20 Hitters Part 4: 11-15 Hitters Part 5: 6-10 Hitters Part 6: 1-5 Pitchers Part 1: 26-30 Pitchers Part 2: 21-25 Pitchers Part 3: 16-20 Pitchers Part 4: 11-15 Pitchers Part 5: 6-10 Pitchers Part 6: 1-5
    10 points
  17. It’s a commonly held maxim that 40 fWAR gives you a pretty consistent opportunity for October baseball. It’s a pretty basic tenet of roster construction. Throughout the Falvey era, the Twins have shown an impressive level of flexibility in ‘how’ they go about trying to construct a 40 fWAR roster. In 2021, there was an increased emphasis on defense, highlighted by the addition of Andrelton Simmons as their starting shortstop. Ultimately, none of that mattered, as everything that could go wrong, did go wrong in 2021. In considering roster construction through the lens of assembling a 40 fWAR team, Minnesota has come up woefully short in a critical area so far this offseason. Before we dig into that. Let’s look at some data from 2021, and projections for 2022. For the sake of this argument, I’ll use fWAR actual totals from 2021 and ZiPS projections for 2022, acknowledging that projections are problematic and often difficult to draw meaningful conclusions from. With those caveats in mind, however, there are some meaningful conclusions to draw from these data: The scale of the 2021 Twins failure was pretty magnificent. Given that they haven’t made significant roster additions, there’s essentially a gap of 10 fWAR between their 2021 projection and actual performance, that’s staggering. A 2022 Minnesota Twins offense that is close to its projection has the team in contention pretty much by itself. The Twins’ success will live or die with its excellent offensive core. The Twins are not as far as it may feel from a team that can challenge for an AL Central crown in 2022. It’s equally obvious where the flaws are. The Twins bullpen was horrendous in the first half of 2021, evidenced by a higher projection with the same fungible relievers in 2022. There’s room for improvement there, but only so much from the bullpen. The Twins’ biggest mistake this offseason was not tapping into the mid-tier starting pitching free agent market, to raise the floor or the rotation. Looking at the Twins’ primary competition in the AL Central tells an interesting tale. The White Sox are as reliant on their rotation as the Twins are on their offense. Their rotation is projected over 14 fWAR in 2022. The up-and-coming Tigers, project 9.7 fWAR from their rotation. A similar mark for the Twins would put them just under a projected 40 fWAR for the 2022 season. Where did the Tigers get this boost to jump their rotation to 10 fWAR? Signing Eduardo Rodriguez. The Twins 2022 rotation is inherently unstable. Dylan Bundy is returning from an incredibly poor 2021, Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober had hugely promising debut’s, but their 2022 outcomes are less stable and predictable than say, a Casey Mize or Tarik Skubal, simply due to their small sample sizes in 2021. Why did the Twins front office not aggressively pursue at least one stabilizing starting arm who lives in the 2.0-3.0 fWAR range to stabilize the rotation? A Blueprint for Success Let’s use the San Francisco Giants as a point of comparison. Upon initial consideration, comparing the Twins to a 107 win team may seem unfair, but I beg to differ. In 2020, the Giants were a sub .500 team in a shortened season, finishing at 29-31. This improvement mirrors (betters) the Twins improvement from 2018 (78-84), to 2019 (101-61). The Giants re-upped with three of their starters from 2021. They signed Alex Wood to a two-year, $25 million contract, Alex Cobb to a two-year, $20 million contract, and Anthony De Sclafani to a three-year $36 million contract. These three pitchers combined for 8.0 fWAR in 2021 and project for 7.8 fWAR in 2022. They average, together, $11.5 million per year when considering their contracts cumulatively. Each of these pitchers is likely to accumulate around $16-20 million in value based on their projections for 2022. There is value to be had in the mid-tier starting pitching market, which the Twins chose to ignore. Even signing one pitcher of this profile takes the teams’ projection to just under 39 fWAR in 2022 and does not inhibit your financial flexibility (they’re not spending big on a shortstop anyway, folks). The Twins front office has built a team that relies on offense and is pre-disposed to take advantage of the value in the mid-tier pitching market. Minnesota is not signing the front of the rotation starting pitchers and has not shown aggression in pursuing pitching upgrades on the trade market. While the lockout has frozen out any additional roster construction since the beginning of December, I’m no closer to understanding their roster construction strategy for pitching, a confounding frustration that may come back to haunt the 2022 Twins.
    10 points
  18. The road has been long and windy for Drew Maggi. The Phoenix native was drafted out of Brophy College Prep by the hometown Diamondbacks in the 47th round of the 2008 draft. Two years later, he was the Pirates 15th round pick out of Arizona State. And that began his pro journey. Maggi spent five seasons with the Pirates organization. He reached Double-A in 2014. He posted a .606 OPS in 125 games for the Angels Double-A affiliate in Arkansas in 2015. In 2016, he went to the Dodgers organization and split the season between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City. There, he was a teammate of Twins minor league director Alex Hassan. He remained in Oklahoma City in 2017. In 2018, he played for Cleveland's Triple-A affiliate in Columbus. Then in 2019, he signed a minor league deal with the Twins. He began that season with 11 games at Double-A Pensacola. He then played 108 games with Triple-A Rochester and hit .258/.384/.405 (.788) with 19 doubles, four triples and 10 homers. In 2020, he was invited to Twins big-league spring training. As we know, the season was delayed and the minor league season was cancelled, but Maggi was invited and worked out at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul. This spring, he was again invited to big-league spring training. He has played in 86 games for the St. Paul Saints. He has hit .261/.364/.486 (.850) with 12 doubles, two triples and 16 home runs. On Saturday morning, he was officially called up to the Twins. Now I know many will ask why I get excited for feel-good stories like this? Many will ask why Maggi instead of top hitting prospect Jose Miranda. I understand that. I initially wondered the same thing, but that dissipated pretty quickly for me. I love feel-good stories. The Twins have done it in the past. All teams have, and I think it's great. Remember five years ago when the Twins called up James Beresford for September. It gave him a chance to make big-league money for a month, but it was also a Thank You from the organization that he called home for ten years. Maggi has only been in the Twins organization for three seasons, but he's been in the game a long time. He's a good player. He's displayed power. He has played wherever he's been asked. He can play all four infield spots and even has spent some time in the outfield. He may rarely play with the Twins. Or, he could come up and get a shot and have a great two-week stretch. Maggi will likely be DFAd at season's end, and that's fine, but forever, he will be able to call himself a big leaguer. From the Twins perspective they have called up several players that they had signed to minor league contracts this year. And, a story like this isn't going to get lost on minor league free agents this offseason, or next offseason. Jose Miranda is a part of the future. He's going to contribute to the Twins for years to come. Drew Maggi is probably playing the final two weeks of his professional career, or maybe he'll be thrilled to come back to the Twins next year because he knows that they have done right by him and others. In a bad season, a dark season, we do need to find the positives. We should be excited for the person, and we should hope for good from Drew Maggi. I know I am happy for him! As mentioned Rob Refsnyder was placed on the Injured List to make room for Maggi on the 28-man roster. Taylor Rogers was placed on the 60-Day IL to make room for Maggi on the 40-man roster.
    10 points
  19. With the trade deadline looming, the Minnesota Twins are acknowledged sellers. And for Benjamin Mason, the awful dread of which future former Twin will become an All-Star in 2023 is consuming his every waking moment. “I’m resigned to Jose Berrios winning the Cy Young next year for someone else,” said Mason, a Glenwood native and licensed pre-owned pontoon dealer. “But it’s the one you don’t see coming that’s going to hurt more. Who is the Akil Baddoo or LaMonte Wade that we’re going to throw in for three pitching prospects who tear the ulnar nerve in their throwing elbows all at once? That’s the one that keeps me up at night.” With a pitching staff in desperate need of, well, everything, Mason is mentally readying himself for the unforeseen kick in the shins that has tormented Twins fans for generations. “My grandpa remembers the Graig Nettles deal,” said Mason. “I think the Rod Carew trade is what finally did him in. My dad quit watching baseball after David Ortiz won a World Series and mom left because he wouldn’t stop swearing to himself in the garage. I was minding my own business on Tuesday night, watching the All-Star Game, and there’s Liam Hendriks and Kyle Gibson. It’s the circle of life and you know what, I hate it.” While Mason agrees that the team must do something, the fact that everyone knows they’re a seller probably impacts any potential return. “We’re not going to get Wander Franco from the Rays,” said Mason. “We’re going to get his roommate. And the Rays will get our 38th best prospect, who will enter Cooperstown in 2047 after leading Tampa to seven straight titles in front of 259 delirious fans at Tropicana Field. He’ll have his own breakfast cereal, videogame, and talk show. I hate baseball, I really do.”
    10 points
  20. While the MLB lockout continues to stagnate the offseason, minor-league players are preparing to travel to Florida and Arizona to begin preparation for their seasons. In this series, I’ll look at some of the Twins' notable picks from the early rounds of the 2021 draft. I’ll dig into scouting reports and storylines to look for ahead of the 2022 season. In the first piece of the season, we'll look at the Twins first pick in the 2021 draft, RHP Chase Petty. Scouting Grades: Fastball: 70 | Slider: 70 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50 | Overall: 55 (scouting grades courtesy of Baseball America). Signing and Scouting The Twins selected Chase Petty with their first-round pick in the 2021 draft (26th overall). Petty, out of Mainland Regional HS in New Jersey, signed for a slightly below slot $2.5 million bonus. Petty was ranked the 29th best available prospect by Baseball America and 27th by MLB.com. Despite the consensus around his overall prospect status, he qualifies as an extremely high variance pick due to being a prep pitcher who throws at extreme velocity. The Falvey regime has never drafted a high school pitching prospect in the first round. The Twins, as an organization, haven’t done so since Kohl Stewart in 2013, generally preferring high floor, college power bats. It’s easy to see what drew them to Petty, whose arm talent is elite. Petty was the most famous prep pitcher in his class, thanks to a fastball he can run up to 102 mph and was compared by some evaluators as the best they had seen from a prep-pitcher since Hunter Greene and one of the best in the history of the draft. Petty’s fastball and slider both have 70-grade potential. Petty’s fastball benefits from a ton of arm-side movement. Petty used his changeup infrequently in high school (he didn’t need to) but the Twins believe this can be developed as a plus pitch also. Petty’s upside is incredible, with two caveats. High school prep pitchers are an inherently risky group of players to draft. Some get injured, some don’t live up to their lofty potential. Petty needs to keep his arm slot in the three-quarter range to maintain consistent control of his fastball. What Makes Him Special? So what does all this arm-talent look like close up? Here’s a clip from the summer of 2020, where Petty was already blowing away his competition. Another clip from March of 2021 shows not only the incredible velocity by the arm-side movement generated by his fastball. This tweet from Ben Brewster (a must-follow if you're interested in player mechanics) is a great breakdown of how Petty generates so much velocity and includes a link to a more in-depth YouTube breakdown of why he is a such a special talent. Offseason Additions By all accounts, in addition to having incredible on-field upside, Petty is an incredibly hard worker, charismatic, and has an effervescent personality, as evidenced by his interview shortly after he was drafted by the Twins. Petty has clearly been working hard on his changeup since being drafted by the Twins, as shown by this recently posted video from his training facility in NJ. While Petty will need significant time to develop, the addition of a plus changeup would give him three plus pitches (two at 70-grade) and the type of arsenal capable of being a front-line MLB caliber starting pitcher. Likely to Start At: Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (A) While Petty will need time to develop and carries inherent prospect risk, the talent and stuff are as good as the Twins have ever had in their system. Petty is a starting pitcher to dream on. The next article in the Prospect Preview series will look more closely at Noah Miller, the Twins competitive balance pick at the end of the first round (36 overall). If there's any additional information you would like to see in these 2022 prospect previews, please let me know in the comments.
    9 points
  21. There was never any question that losing Pressly would hurt the Twins in the short term. He went on to post a 0.77 ERA with Houston over the final half of 2018. In 139 1/3 innings since Pressly has tallied a 2.45 ERA to go with an 11.8 K/9. He had become one of baseball’s best relievers with the Twins and has only ratcheted that up with the Astros. After making 60 appearances in 2021, Pressly’s team option vested into a fully guaranteed $10 million deal for 2022. He’ll hit the open market again before 2023 for his age 34 season. On the Twins side of things, they’ve seen a bit of what both Jorge Alcala and Gilberto Celestino can do, but 2022 should represent an opportunity for both to establish themselves completely. Let’s start in the bullpen with Alcala, as he’s a much more integral piece of the immediate puzzle. Pitching 59 2/3 innings last year for the Twins, Alcala owned a 3.92 ERA to go with a 9.2 K/9. Despite the 0.97 WHIP, his bugaboo was a 1.5 HR/9, pushing his FIP to 4.06. However, what’s worth noting is that it was a tale of two seasons for the Minnesota reliever. Through 40 appearances, he posted a 5.73 ERA and had allowed nine home runs in just 37 2/3 innings. A stretch of 22 innings pitched from that point forward, Alcala owned a 0.82 ERA, keeping opposing batters to a .420 OPS. His 27/3 K/BB was incredible, and only one ball left the yard. That’s what we must hope for coming into 2022. Derek Falvey didn’t flip Ryan Pressly for what Jorge Alcala was at the time, but he did make that move for what he could be now. At just 26-years-old, Alcala is still pre-arbitration and won’t hit free agency until 2026. Getting an elite level of production out of him for pennies on the dollar over the next four seasons would be a massive victory. He looks the part of a late-inning arm and could undoubtedly eat up closer opportunities should they present themselves. That alone would make the deal worth it, and we’ve yet to discuss Celestino. Forced into action early from Double-A after a run on outfield injuries last season, Celestino appeared in 23 games for the Twins. It went as to be expected, and he posted just a .466 OPS. Defensively the skills looked very close, but the bat needed more time to mature. Going to Triple-A St. Paul the rest of the way, Celestino made his case. Over 49 games with the Saints, he slashed .290/.384/.443 with 18 extra-base hits included five home runs. It was unquestionably his best offensive showing in the minors and should help re-establish his confidence in the future. Minnesota is always going to need a solid fourth outfielder behind Byron Buxton. I have some feelings about who they should look at outside of the organization, but Celestino could easily play himself into a better option for that role. Without needing to be an impact player immediately on Opening Day, it’s more than fair to suggest Celestino could parlay his strong finish at Triple-A into a forced promotion early on in 2022. Hitting on both inclusions in the Ryan Pressly trade would be the type of result Falvey had undoubtedly envisioned. It’s never easy to evaluate a baseball trade when it is made with an indication of how it will pan out. You can draw conclusions based on the level of prospect returned, but the real evaluation always takes place once players have had an opportunity to develop. Minnesota has pushed both talents through their system and is now ready to cash them in. It could soon become time to call this swap a victory.
    9 points
  22. The Oakland Athletics drafted Oklahoma outfielder Kyler Murray with the 9th pick in the 2018 Draft. One year and one round later, the Twins drafted Matt Canterino out of Rice. Murray wouldn’t join the A’s, instead opting to quarterback the Arizona Cardinals en route to NFL stardom. Canterino signed with the Twins for $1.1 million. While Murray and Canterino have taken different paths, the two crossed for a duel in Texas. Murray stepped into the box and came up empty against the right-hander. “I struck him out,” Canterino said. Striking hitters out has become a common occurrence for Canterino, who fanned 45 of the 84 batters he faced in a shortened 2021 season. Canterino suffered from elbow tendinitis, ending his dominant campaign prematurely. Canterino, 24, has pitched just 48 Minor League innings since he graduated with a 4.0 GPA in Mechanical Engineering from Rice University. In those 48 innings, he’s struck out 76 and allowed just six total runs for a 1.13 ERA. Rice has a history of pushing pitchers, and the Twins were uber-conservative with Canterino’s workload after the draft in 2019. Then COVID-19 canceled the 2020 Minor League season. Canterino eclipsed 94 or more innings in all three of his seasons in college, which he said shows an aptitude to handle a larger share. So far this offseason, so good. “I’m feeling very healthy and feeling very, very strong.” A herky-jerky, “hitch” delivery helps Canterino generate a fastball in the upper-90s. The 6-foot-2 Texan pairs that fastball, which contains excellent carry, with a sharp, biting slider and an improved changeup. He compared his delivery and mix to future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw. Canterino’s changeup moves like a splitter, with enough depth to dart away from lefties and crowd righties who may be looking fastball or slider. That three-pitch combination held hitters to a minuscule .111/.186/.148 batting line in 2021. “I want to think that with success I had in limited reps this year, I want to think that I can sustain that over a full season.” Sustaining a 0.78 ERA and 54% strikeout rate over an entire season would propel Canterino to the top of prospect lists everywhere and likely to Minnesota. Anything close to those gaudy numbers will undoubtedly move Canterino into the Major League picture for late-2022 and early 2023. Canterino dominated High-A hitters in 2021 and could be slated for the Double-A Wichita rotation in 2022. No matter where he pitches next season, you can bet that Canterino will have a PEZ dispenser or two handy. Often greeting his 2019 teammates and coaches with a “howdy!” prompted a pitching coach to tag Canterino with the nickname Woody, referring to the famous cowboy from Toy Story. In response, Canterino bought a five-pound bag of PEZ candy and handed it out via a Woody-themed dispenser. He carried the tradition into 2021 and plans to run it back in 2022. Canterino said he recently added a Buzz Lightyear PEZ dispenser, Woody’s galactic best friend from the movies. “If you ever catch me on a day I’m not pitching, Woody will be in my left pocket, and Buzz will be in my right.” Canterino is gearing up with his PEZ dispensers for a January return to Fort Myers. “It’s all systems go for 2022.” MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
    9 points
  23. Interior: Target Field. It is December 24th. The snow is falling. It is dark outside and the staff is working in candlelight. A Houston Astros-logoed trash can burns in the corner of the room for heat. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are at their desks, tired and nodding off, poring over the Bill James Handbook from 2018 and a back issue of Baseball America from 2017, looking for pitchers. Always looking for pitchers. An old, chipped rotary phone across the room rings. Falvey stands up, blows warm air on his hands and picks up the receiver. “Well, that certainly is a great deal for us,” Falvey exclaims before his face suddenly drops. “I just don’t think Mr. Pohlad will go for it, certainly not around Christmastime when budgets are even tighter.” Falvey listens to the voice on the other end of the phone before agreeing to ask his boss about this proposition. He tentatively approaches Levine and whispers into his ear. As he listens, Levine begins to perk up and get excited. He agrees that Falvey should approach Mr. Pohlad about this proposition and even offers to accompany him to Pohlad’s office. Behind a cracked door, Minnesota Twins owner Jim Pohlad sits at a large desk in his office. He is carefully counting receipts from hot dog sales and entering them into a primitive counting machine. There is a knock at the door. “WHO IS IT,” Pohlad’s voice booms from behind the door. “It’s us, Thad and Derek, sir,” Levine sheepishly replies. “WELL COME IN, YOU ARE LETTING ALL THE HEAT OUT OF THE OFFICE,” Pohlad impatiently replies. Falvey and Levine hesitate, with each of them wanting the other to enter the room first. Finally, Levine sighs and heads inside, trailed by Falvey. They approach the desk holding a notebook. “Good evening sir and Merry Christmas,” Lavine says before cringing as he hears Pohlad’s response begin to leave his lungs…. “CHRISTMAS?! THE SEASON OF GIVING?! BAH HUMBUG!.” Pohlad snarls through gritted teeth. “I CAN’T STAND THE THOUGHT OF SPENDING THE MONEY I WORKED SO HARD TO EARN. “Do you see these hot dog receipts? EVERY one of these hot dogs sold for $8. Do you know how much they cost us? One dollar!,” Pohlad said with a devilish grin on his face. “Now THAT’s the kind of GIVING I like, people GIVING me their money for MY hot dogs. I call it ‘the Target Field Experience,’” he said before trailing off into a soft cackle. “Never mind that, what is it that you interrupted me for?” “Well, sir, you see, free agency has been really wild this year, and a lot of the top pitchers have already gone off the board…..” Levine began, but he was cut off immediately by a furious Pohlad. “TOP pitchers? TOP?!? Haven’t I already explained to you that we cannot AFFORD TOP PITCHERS,” Pohlad raged. “That’s why I got you the Bill James Handbook from 2018 at a garage sale. You are to find pitchers who performed well during that season and figure out how to make them good again.” “Yes, sir, I understand, but I just got off of the phone with the agent for Kevin Gausman and he wants to sign with the Twins… it’s a Christmas miracle!” Falvey said. “He is willing sign for five years and $125 million… it’s a bargain for us---“ “ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY FIVE MILLION?! DOLLARS?!,” an angry Pohlad replied. “For ONE pitcher? Did I not just give you four million dollars for Dylan Bundy?!” “Yes, sir, you did and that was very, very generous of you,” Levine said. “However, Gausman is a major upgrade over the pitchers we have now and a proven commodity.” Mr. Pohlad frowned and pointed his finger toward the door. “We are a small market club, Derek, and I don’t appreciate you coming in here trying to convince me to spend money we certainly don’t have here.” “But, sir, the fans would really…,” Falvey begins before he is shouted down by Pohlad. “The FANS?! The FANS?!,” Pohlad yells. “The FANS are lucky to have a baseball team at all! I will hear no more of this about the FANS! “The FANS are expected to buy tickets, a jersey to wear to the game, a $12 beer and $8 hot dog and just be happy to be outside watching baseball. ‘Your ticket to summer,’ remember?” Pohlad stands up, puts on his overcoat and summons his butler, Rudy. Rudy emerges from a side room and helps Pohlad put on his gloves, hat and shoes. Falvey and Levine watch out the window as Pohlad climbs into his Porsche and heads to his home in Edina. Falvey and Levine watch to make sure Pohlad is gone then carefully pack up their supplies to head home for the holidays. Falvey puts a grocery-bag book cover on the Bill James Handbook and Levine carefully puts out the fire in the Astros trash can. “Merry Christmas, Thad, “ Falvey says. “Merry Christmas, Derek,” Levine replies. Check back for Part 2, coming soon!
    9 points
  24. To the Commissioner: I first want to ask you why you don’t support the great game of baseball. In this past season, some of the greatest moments in the history of the sport took place. However, there continues to be a long list of issues tied to your time as commissioner. Fans understand that not all commissioners will be loved, but your actions have impacted a generation of fans, and it may be tough to bring these former fans back into the fold. Fans list of grievances against the owners and yourself is long. During the unprecedented 2020 season, the owners and your office tried to paint the players as greedy and unwilling to sacrifice enough during a global pandemic. Baseball was lucky to get through the 2020 campaign, but plenty of teams and players were impacted along the way. As reported in the Washington Post, “The minute it became apparent this season was going to have to be played in empty stadiums, Manfred and the owners began moaning about their losses, even though the game has never been healthier financially than in recent seasons. New contracts with regional television networks have lined the owners’ pockets, and attendance has been strong.” Another grievance fans have against your leadership is tied to the Houston Astros cheating scandal. Multiple managers and a general manager were fired in response to the allegations, but how much did they have to do with the scandal? None of the players involved in the scandal were suspended, and two of the three managers were back in baseball after missing a shortened 2020 campaign. In your letter to fans, you touted the $1.7 million spent on the “broken” free agent system during November. Guess what? Players were willing to strike these deals because of the looming lockout. It’s a fundamental human need to want to know where your family will live and how much income a person can expect. Players want security and to know what the future holds. Also, you said, “By the end of the offseason, Clubs will have committed more money to players than in any offseason in MLB history.” While that may sound good on paper, this shouldn’t be breaking news. Increasing revenues across baseball should allow teams to spend more money. Every offseason should see a new record amount of money being committed to players. Your list of concessions to the players includes some ideas that will fundamentally make the game stronger. There should be a minimum payroll. Teams shouldn’t be able to engage in service time manipulation. Young players should be paid more, including those in the minor leagues. Fans want a universal DH. A new draft system can help to stop teams from trying to be competitive. All of these changes would make baseball more competitive, not less. There is one thing we can agree on; baseball can not afford to cancel games. Baseball’s popularity continues to decline, and losing any part of the 2022 season will push fans further away from this great game. As you referenced regarding the 1994 season, “We owe you, our fans, better than that.” Today is a difficult day for baseball fans. You have made questionable leadership decisions throughout your time as commissioner. What is baseball fans’ biggest problem with you? You don’t appear to be a fan of the game.
    9 points
  25. “When I was growing up, we didn’t just cut a guy loose after a bad year, we kept him on the team for years,” said Stephen Gilchrest, an electrician from Castle Rock Township. “It sucked. I hated every minute of it.” The 50-year-old father of two was in the prime of his Twins-loving life when Minnesota acquired reliever Ron Davis from the New York Yankees. It left a mark on Gilchrest that he says he still feels. “I don’t think you really ever get over something like that,” said Gilchrest, his voice lowering as he battled to keep his emotions in check. “At the same time, it teaches you so many valuable lessons that you can draw on in everyday life.” Such as? “Pain. Life is pain. Keep your expectations low. Understand that the world is not fair, and it will never be fair. Unqualified people will maintain positions of privilege despite flaws so glaring it’ll make your teeth hurt. Ron Davis will be your team’s closer for over four years and there’s nothing you can do about it. Admittedly that last one is super specific, but it still resonates.” Although many might be glad the Twins are opening a new chapter in their search for a 2022 closer, Gilchrest is not among their ranks. “What kind of lesson does it teach the kids of today when the Twins can just go out and make the right decision, just like that,” asked Gilchrest. “I had to suffer for years. I listened to the Jamie Quirk game on the radio and my dog died the next day. I buried Shep and my dreams on the same weekend in 1984. “You know who the closer was in 1985? Ron Davis. That’s when I stopped going to mass.” Gilchrest worries that the move might cause some younger fans to get too confident in the team’s prospects. “They’ll probably get a younger guy on a cheaper deal and he’ll turn out to be OK, maybe even better than OK, and the kids will get their hopes up,” said Gilchrest. “Hope. That’s what always gets you. Hell, I’m thrilled that they’re going in a different direction, but isn’t it even more important to let the children know that nothing gets better? Put Colome out there with a 2-run lead on Opening Day 2022. They’ll learn something that day.”
    9 points
  26. RandBalls Stu

    Joe Mauer Reviews Dune

    Twins Daily usually stays between the lines as regards content. However, when the best catcher in team history sends a movie review to our Friday correspondent, we disregard the baseball aspect. What follows is Joe Mauer’s review of the 2021 film Dune, now available on HBO Max and in theaters nationwide. Hey guys. I watched the movie Dune at mom’s house. She usually gets sore when me or Jake (Mauer, Joe’s younger brother) watch HBO there because they show S-E-X stuff at night, but I told her this was more like the Star Wars so she let it slide. I wasn’t even telling stories to Mom there, I really thought this was a Star Wars movie. Remember when Luke Skywalker was just driving around the desert with his cool grampa and the robots from England? It was a whole bunch of dunes! Easy mistake to make if you’re asking me. I was wrong. No funny robots or Han Solo, I tell you what. I guess this movie involves Timothy Huggybear or whatever and the one young woman from Shake It Up on Disney Channel and they’re trying to find a bunch of spices and get into adventures? I’ll be honest, it was real tough to follow. The thing is, I knew it was going to be a real weirdo beardo, because my friend Glen (Perkins, former Twins pitcher) told me there was a Dune that came out when I was born with the guy from Twin Peaks and the Police rock band and it was super cool. The thing is Glen always mixes his lies with the truth to mess with me so I knew he was busting my chops lol. Also he might be the devil? Mom’s kinda on the fence about him. Anyway, when Timothy Chandelier and Shake It Up Chicago go on their adventure, it’s pretty fun. I couldn’t follow it all that closely because Jake kept hucking wiffle balls at me while I was trying to watch the ding-dang movie. But the parts I could watch before Jake put Bob Seger on the Bluetooth speakers looked really fun. Anyway, I guess I’d watch this again. Have a great weekend, guys. Stay golden, Joe
    9 points
  27. When things are going bad, as they did in 2021, it's easy to get caught up in the mindset that nothing ever goes right. But of course, we all know that's not the case. Twins fans have seen many unanticipated "glow-ups" over the years – players rising above their stations and surpassing expectations to become pivotal game-changers in the team's strategy. Examples would include: Taylor Rogers going from middling SP prospect to All-Star RP; Tyler Duffey doing more or less the same; Mitch Garver emerging as an elite offensive catcher; Jorge Polanco and Brian Dozier developing 30-HR power in the middle infield; and so on, and so on. With these precedents in mind, let's leave the misery of this season behind us and envision some plausible best-case scenarios. If any of these four developments play out, they could significantly ease and expedite the current team's return to contention. 1: Joe Ryan is a frontline starting pitcher During his brief five-start MLB debut, Ryan did some rare things. It's not often you see a major-league pitcher take a perfect game into the eighth, or strike out seven consecutive batters. Even a veteran. There are three possible paths forward for Ryan. The first is that big-league hitters figure him out and he implodes, perhaps shuttling between the minors or shifting to a bullpen role. The second is that he goes through the standard adjustments and reaches his low-end potential as a back-of-rotation arm. The third path is that instead of being adjusted against, he makes the adjustments. He gets better. What if Ryan's best moments were entirely representative of what lies ahead? The 25-year-old posted a 3.43 FIP with the Twins this year, and threw strikes at a rate that you don't really see, from rookies or otherwise. If he can continue to do that while missing bats and keeping the ball in the yard (last part is most in question), Ryan could easily settle in as a legitimate No. 2 starter. Imagine what a difference that would make in the rotation-building initiative going forward. #2: Griffin Jax becomes a relief ace No one would've thought Tyler Duffey was destined to become a dominant major-league pitcher when he was posting a 6.43 ERA in 26 starts during his first full season in 2016. But, you might've looked at certain elements of his game – namely, a clearly excellent breaking ball that was producing great results – and seen the potential for something more. A few years later, Duffey was one of the most dominant relief pitchers in the league. Jax was no better as a starter this year than Duffey in 2016, but he also looked equally miscast in the role. The clearest sign is that he was VASTLY better his first time through a lineup (.197 AVG, .597 OPS) than the second time through (.283, 1.010). Within that, you also have the existence of a clearly excellent breaking ball – Jax's slider generated a 36% whiff rate and .270 xwOBA – but little else. "Relief ace" might be a small stretch, but I almost think "solid reliever" should be the baseline expectation for Jax once the Twins stop letting him get bombed as a starter. Move your gaze a shade in the optimistic direction and you could easily have a prime Duffey-type here. How big of an asset would that be for a bullpen that is currently short on high-quality options? #3: Alex Kirilloff blossoms as a perennial MVP contender at first base Kirilloff's numbers as a rookie were far from spectacular. In 59 games before undergoing wrist surgery, he slashed .251/.299/.423 with eight homers and 34 RBIs. His OPS+ of 98 reflects slightly below-average offensive performance. But he did all this as a 23-year-old with essentially zero previous experience above Double-A, and he was battling through a torn wrist ligament for most of his time on the field. Despite all this, he flashed upside aplenty. Kirilloff shrugged off an 0-for-15 start and went on a tear as April turned to May and he acclimated. In the four games before spraining his wrist, he launched four homers and two doubles, boosting his slugging percentage to .571. His average exit velocity at the time would've ranked third in the majors behind Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge if he qualified. Not only that, but Kirilloff showed to be stunningly smooth and adept defender at first base, which will almost surely be his long-term defensive home. As a sweet-swinging, run-producing lefty whose fielding chops at first can contribute to a sterling overall reputation, Anthony Rizzo stands out as a decent high-end comp for Kirilloff. He never was never named Most Valuable Player, but in his age 24-through-26 seasons (which are the three lying directly ahead of Kirilloff), Rizzo was a three-time All-Star, and twice a top-five MVP finisher. In the last of those three seasons, Rizzo was among the leaders on a championship-winning Cubs team. #4: Royce Lewis makes an immediate and sustained impact The expectation for Lewis should be a slow, methodical return to action, with some rough patches as he regains his footing on the field. By the time spring training rolls around next year, he'll be two years removed from last real competitive baseball action. Most players would need some time to shake off the rust. Of course, Royce Lewis is not most players. He's a former No. 1 overall draft pick who was ranked by MLB.com as the 17th-best prospect in the game before losing his 2020 to a pandemic and his 2021 to a torn ACL. Sometimes natural talent rules out, as we saw with the aforementioned Mr. Kirilloff, who came back after missing all of 2017 due to Tommy John surgery and slashed .348/.392/.578 at Single-A. The idea that Lewis will hit the ground sprinting upon his return feels a bit more far-fetched, given that he had some mechanical issues to iron out even before the injury. At the same time, he hasn't been sitting around doing nothing over the past two years, and he's also had the opportunity to mature mentally and physically. Lewis turns 23 next season, so he'll be the same age or older than fellow top prospects like Kirilloff and Byron Buxton were when they debuted. Lewis' defensive utility makes him a very intriguing figure in the team's planning. He's played primarily shortstop in the minors but some believe he's more likely to end up in center field. Those happen to be perhaps the two biggest positional uncertainties in Minnesota's future outlook (assuming Buxton is not re-signed). If the Twins operate under the belief that Lewis could viably take over at shortstop midway through the 2022 campaign, they can opt for a cheap short-term plug at the position this offseason and channel the brunt of their resources elsewhere. This may require a leap of faith, but Lewis is a guy who warrants it. And if he can stick at short (or even in center), he can be a game-changing factor for the franchise. Just as they planned when they drafted him in 2017. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Preorder the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
    9 points
  28. As entities that predate recorded history, it’s very hard to get something by the Injury Gods. Yet that’s exactly what happened on Tuesday afternoon, as a wicked comebacker found Joe Ryan’s pitching hand without causing lasting damage. “Ryan’s a big part of their future plans so it seems like that’s an ideal place to really put the screws to the player and the Twins,” said a source close to Znon the Wrathful, the unspeakable beast responsible for tweaking Minnesota’s ulnar collateral ligaments. “I can’t explain it. Nor can They. The entire nether world is buzzing. To be clear, that’s mostly because of the bees we’re sending to swarm Byron Buxton next Wednesday, but it’s also the talk of the realm.” It initially appeared that the Gods had done as they always have to the bedeviled franchise, with Ryan immediately storming off the mound and heading to the showers. “Oh yeah, I thought for sure we tagged and bagged him,” said another source who works in Damnations and Accounts Receivable for Langurr The Plague King. “I should have known something wasn’t right when the ball didn’t deflect and hit Jorge Polanco in the eye. Classic double play and we didn’t even get the one? You don’t get surprised around this office too often, but that one put us back on our hooves.” The resulting X-rays were negative, with Ryan diagnosed as having a mere bruise. He might not even miss a start. The lack of traumatic injury is leaving more questions than answers among Those who exist to harm and maraud. “It’s a real stumper,” said a source familiar with Znon’s thinking. “His name is Znon the Wrathful. He just loves Himself some wrath. Lots of speculation that He’s going to make up for it by dropping a house on Ryan’s pinky toe or putting a black bear in his car. No one ever expects the black bear. Bears can’t drive!”
    9 points
  29. May 5th was a bad day. I attended the Twins game at Target Field and watched a lifeless team sink to 11-18 with a 3-1 loss against the last-place Rangers. Polanco and Max Kepler went a combined 0-for-8 with six strikeouts. I came home grumpy, and lamented that the Twins had seemingly founded their team-building strategy upon faulty cornerstones. In my frustration, I may or may not have fired out a tweet labeling Polanco and a couple other laggards "garbage." That same night, I declared I had seen enough, and wrote off the 2021 Twins as contenders. Sadly I was not wrong on the latter assertion, but the unkind assessment of Polanco looks downright silly in the wake of his dramatic and remarkable turnaround. In my defense, there was plenty of validity in the expression of doubt. Polanco became a heightened subject of my scrutiny, in part because his swing looked so blatantly bad and in part because his manager seemed oddly unconcerned. In mid-April, I wrote an article here wondering when Rocco Baldelli's faith in Polanco's bat would be shaken, noting the mounting evidence of his diminished offensive ability. At that point, Polanco owned a .358 OPS and had slashed .260/.313/.393 over his previous 164 games – good for a .303 wOBA that was nearly identical to Andrelton Simmons over the same time period. Given this evidence, there was just no real reason to believe in Polanco. I didn't doubt that his poor production was more a reflection of ongoing health issues than his true talent, but there were no signs of improvement on that front. Even after a second consecutive offseason ankle surgery, he was still unable to put his lower half into his left-handed swing, and thus, his numbers against right-handed pitchers remained abysmal. What's happened since is a good reminder that the body can sometimes take a long time to get right, and patience is generally a good policy. Since my aforementioned cranky tweet on May 5th, Polanco has slashed .290/.351/.533 with 20 home runs in 86 games, and lately he's turned into a walk-off machine. His Statcast metrics look radically different from the ones I shared in April. He's hitting for as much power as anyone in the league. Polanco is not just playing at an All-Star level; he'd be right in the MVP conversation if the Twins weren't so bad. Most importantly, Polanco has re-established himself as a high-quality building block and a key fixture in the club's contention hopes going forward. Hard to remember another time when I've been this delighted to be this wrong. Sorry again, Jorge. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
    9 points
  30. The Los Angeles Angels make their yearly visit to Target Field this weekend, meaning Twins fans will get to see the brilliant Shohei Ohtani. In the other clubhouse, Willians Astudillo returns from St. Paul to take Alex Kirilloff’s place on the roster. And that has some physicians worried. “Quite simply, if you’re in poor health or have underlying conditions, watching these games might be harmful,” said Dr. David Gorman, a heart specialist at Fairview Southdale. “The human body wasn’t meant to experience this much spectacle.” Ohtani, the American League’s starting pitcher in the All-Star Game, also leads the majors with 34 home runs, many of which involve him sending baseballs to hell, where they belong. Astudillo, while not nearly as accomplished a player as Ohtani, plays every game like a bowling ball filled with kerosene, set on fire, and rolled into a Williams-Sonoma. The combination of that much skill and abandon may be too much for some people. “What if Ohtani hits one that lands at, like, the Pizza Luce on 4th Street,” said Gorman. “Then the next inning Astudillo tries to stretch a single to a double? So many people skipped their regular check-ups in the last year or so that we have to be concerned about how the body will react.” Gorman said the true concern comes on Sunday. “The Angels haven’t announced their starting pitcher yet,” said Gorman. “What if they pencil in Ohtani, and the Twins send Astudillo to the plate? What if Astudillo hits a comebacker and they’re racing to the bag? Is that too much joy? You have to ask yourself if the risk is worth it. The teams could do it, but no one is asking if they should do it.”
    9 points
  31. Luis Arraez is an extremely popular player. This is known. Merely bringing up the idea of trading him can stir up considerable emotion and anger, as I've learned here and on Twitter. I get it. It's easy to see why he is so popular. Arraez has earned the affinity of casual fans and hardcores alike. His consistent .300 batting averages, in an era where those are increasingly rare, endear him to the more traditional follower. For those who gravitate more toward sabermetrics and advanced stats, it is the healthy OBPs driven by Arraez's bat and discipline that define his indispensable value. Everyone can agree that his personality and his amusing mannerisms on the field are treasures. Arraez is a joy to behold. But the front office can't make decisions based solely on likability or popularity if they want to steer this ship back into contention. They need to make savvy moves and opportunistic improvements. They need to make hard choices. Trading Arraez would certainly qualify, but the logic is undeniable: The 24-year-old's considerable strengths are balanced by significant detriments. His knees have already proven to be a chronic issue at his young age. He's not a defensive asset anywhere on the field. He doesn't hit for any power. Despite these drawbacks, he'd clearly be a coveted asset on the trade market. Arraez is still at the front end of his physical prime, with three remaining years of team control. He's a bona fide OBP machine at the top of the lineup, and still has a chance to develop some pop. His defensive versatility could be viewed as highly appealing for many teams. However... Arraez is very redundant within the Twins' roster planning. The two positions he's most capable of playing — second and third — are manned by two of the team's best veteran players, who are both under guaranteed contract for the next two years. Meanwhile, top prospects Austin Martin and Jose Miranda also seem destined to end up at one of the three positions Arraez has played most (2B/3B/LF). A year ago, ultra-plugged national reporter Ken Rosenthal mentioned the idea of Arraez being floated as a trade piece, suggesting the Twins had at least entertained such discussions. That was before the arrival of Martin and the emergence of Miranda. In the present situation, there's an urgency to clear a logjam and acquire impact pitching in the process. Arraez doesn't necessarily have to be the guy sent out in such an undertaking, but he sure strikes me as the most likely. Are fans ready for that? Is the front office ready for the reaction that would likely follow? How about ownership, which was reportedly applying pressure for a Byron Buxton contract extension in part because of dwindling fan morale? The Twins and their decision makers aren't exactly on firm footing in the eyes of a fanbase beaten down by a brutal season and totally inactive offseason thus far. If they make a move like this, the return had better be undeniably strong, as well as the messaging. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
    8 points
  32. Byron Buxton The man is the definition of nice. It was nice when St. Pohlad pulled through by resigning Buxton to ten more Christmases. Buxton was a lock for the nice list this year. Joe Ryan During the darkest days of doom and gloom, Joe Ryan’s fastball lit up the room. Without Ryan on the team, we may have burst at the seam. We can’t wait for next season, with Ryan’s continued dominance as the main reason. Thank you for coming to Minnesota, Joe. Our favorite starting pitcher with a sick flow. Bailey Ober Uber is often attached to another Twins’ starting pitcher, but now this term also applies to the savior of the Twins’ starting pitching this season. This young rookie stood up to the test when the entire rotation fell to injury. This made Ober a no-brainer as our Rookie of the Year. Justin Morneau No one said they had to be current Twins. Morneau’s soothing voice of reason pacified the crowds during every blowout. Without Morneau behind the booth, chaos may have erupted among Twins fans. Each game without him felt more like a grind than some of the worst games of the season. Even years after retirement, Morneau continues to be the MVP. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen You may be wondering to yourself, where are the Olsen twins? The notoriously anonymous sisters have been quietly building their fashion empire, Elizabeth and James, behind the scenes. We miss seeing the sisters together on screen, but we respect their wishes for confidentiality. Taylor and Tyler Rogers Tyler isn’t a Twin, but it felt appropriate to include him on the list as well. The warm and fuzzies that fans felt watching Taylor and Tyler support each other throughout the season warranted a spot for both twins. In addition, Taylor’s All-Star season and Tyler’s snubbed All-Star season made them a lock on every baseball fan’s list. Jorge Polanco No explanation needed Ralph Garza Jr. He’s simply Santa’s favorite. (Author's Edit: We’re wondering if there’s some nepotism at play.) Gray Duck Tavern at Target Field Maybe not a Twin on paper, but this is Santa’s list, and he will do whatever he darn pleases. Without Gray Duck Tavern, the Twins Daily staff’s summer get-together would’ve been about 100 bomba juices short, which actually might’ve been a good thing. Thank you all for reading this year. May you all have a wonderful holiday and only receive season’s wishes for baseball purposes.
    8 points
  33. Prospect lists are always fun to do, and they’re fun because they can be questioned and discussed. Sure, we’ve separated the pitchers and hitters to get right of one question, that being how do you compare pitchers to hitters? But still, how do you compare or rank an 18-year-old who played in the FCL to a 25-year-old at Double-A? Prospect rankings are far from a perfect science, but if nothing else, it gives us the opportunity to discuss more players and give them the recognition that they deserve. #30 Gregory Duran 2021 STATS: .267/.389/.367, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 36.1 K%, 13.9 BB%, 0/3 SB Gregory Duran was signed as an international free agent in July of 2019 from the Dominican Republic. As you would expect in an 18-year-old’s professional debut in the FCL (after a missed season), Duran struggled. He struck out too much. However, he has a smooth, strong, left-handed swing that projects some power. He is a strong outfielder who could play in center but profiles more to the corners. Duran, who will play the full 2022 season at age 19, is likely to get lots of playing time in the FCL in 2022. #29 Wander Valdez 2021 STATS: .225/.339/.350, 8 2B, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 32.3 K%, 12.2 BB%, 4/4 SB Wander Valdez is not an everyday name for those who follow Twins prospects, and yet he signed with the organization from the Dominican Republic way back in 2016. He began 2021 with the Mighty Mussels, but with other prospects there, he wasn’t playing often, or well. He spent time with the FCL Twins where he was able to show some of his power. Valdez is big and strong, so it is his power that remains intriguing. He is a little shorter, but built like former Twins DH Kennys Vargas. Valdez remains fairly athletic and can play third base, though he may be better at first base, and ultimately at DH. #28 Jesus Feliz 2021 STATS: .238/.300/.420, 8 2B, 9 HR, 26.2 K%, 4.3 BB%, 3/3 SB Jesus Feliz is a difficult prospect for me to rank. I am really high on him and his potential. Having seen him in spring training in 2020, I came away impressed with his athleticism and especially his power potential. While he would have missed much of a 2020 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, he returned in 2021 ready to play. He may be too big and strong to remain at shortstop and actually played more third base with the Mighty Mussels. But again, for him to have eight doubles and nine home runs in the League Formerly Known as Florida State is really impressive. It’s been a slow trek up the Twins ladder since he signed back in 2016, so 2022 will be a big season in determining what his future could be. That said, he’s still just 21 years old until June. #27 Andrew Bechtold 2021 STATS: .239/.328/.459, 23 2B, 18 HR, 48 RBI, 32.3 K%, 11.3 BB%, 1/2 SB 2021 was a big year for Andrew Bechtold. He had some struggles offensively in 2019 between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers, and with the lost season, it was interesting to see him jump straight to Double-A Wichita to start the season. He split time pretty evenly between first base and third base, where his arm is a major asset. He also really found his power stroke in 2021 with 23 doubles and 18 home runs. In addition, he spent time all season working behind the plate. After the Wind Surge clinched a playoff spot, he got one start behind the plate and got good reviews. The Twins sent him to the Arizona Fall League where he got one start each week behind the plate as well as time at the infield corners and as the DH. Adding the ability to be a viable catching option certainly makes him more valuable to his team. The team’s 2017 fifth-round draft pick from Chipola College will turn 26 in April. #26 Michael Helman 2021 STATS: .246/.336/.462, 21 2B, 19 HR, 57 RBI, 19.2 K%, 11.3 BB%, 21/26 SB Michael Helman was the team’s 11th round pick in 2018 out of Texas A&M. He had an injury-plagued season in 2019 with the Ft. Myers Miracle. So missing 2020 was not ideal for him. The Twins sent him back to High-A for the 2021 season, this time in Cedar Rapids. Always able to play the middle infield positions, Helman proved very valuable by playing three infield positions and all three outfield spots too. He showed a strong, accurate arm, and he also showed good range and improved routes as the season continued. In addition, he really performed well with the bat too. He always took quality plate appearances, and he continued to do so, but he also showed power with 21 doubles and 19 home runs. He then went to the Arizona Fall League and continued to play all over the diamond. In addition, he walked nine times and struck out six times. He will turn 26 in May. (go to 4:00 mark for Helman video.) Again, I think this is an interesting group of players ranked, and maybe you agree. Michael Helman and Andrew Bechtold are guys who could (and I think CAN) be major-league utility players. Their floor is fairly high for a minor leaguer, especially with Bechtold who had success in Double-A), and yet their ceiling is that of role player. The other three players are younger and further from the big leagues. I do think that Jesus Feliz has a very high ceiling. Gregory Duran has a very high ceiling. Wander Valdez has a few more question marks, so his ceiling may not be quite as high as those two. All three have floors that could find them topping out in A-ball, and not even get to the point where Helman and Bechtold are now. Please feel free to add comments to this discussion and ask questions about players or rankings.
    8 points
  34. The show was taped earlier this offseason, but until today Park has been forbidden from admitting he was a contestant, and is still bound to secrecy about how the episode turns out. He prepared throughout spring training and the season for the competition, and even coaxed the producers of the show to delay his appearance until after the Twins’ season ended. Park will compete against “Jeopardamy”, Amy Schneider, who has dominated the competition recently. She has already won $536,400 during her 13-game win streak, moving her into 4th place in Jeopardy! all-time winnings list for regular players. TheJeopardyFan.com predicts a 24-game win streak for her, which would give her a 91.956% chance of continuing her streak through 14 games, which would of course mean a one-and-done for Do. But don’t count our guy Do out. Park graduated in 2017 from Stanford with both a master’s and bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and another master’s in computer science. He also graduated from St. Paul Central early . The kid has some serious game. Can he perform a Twins-vs-the-Yankees level upset? Tune in this Monday (locally) at 4:30 PM on KARE11 to find out.
    8 points
  35. Cody Pirkl

    The Twins NEED a Shortstop

    This winter is likely the greatest in terms of free agent shortstops in the history of baseball. Corey Seager, Javier Baez, Carlos Correa etc. A perfect scenario for the Minnesota Twins who have an opening at the position and a farm system whose two most obvious candidates to grab that role are questionable at best. It’s unclear whether the Twins were ever open to blocking Royce Lewis and Austin Martin with a long term signing of a star free agent, but it appears the market has likely priced them out of it regardless. The Twins just simply were never going to pay this kind of money for any player of any caliber. It is what it is. It’s more likely that their plan was to hope that one of the stud shortstops waited out the market too long and were open to a shorter deal as we neared Spring Training. Something very unlikely when discussing such high profile players. As we enter the lockout and take the temperature of the market, things are continuing to look more and more bleak in terms of adding a shortstop. There are low end names such as a reunion with Andrelton Simmons, bringing in the recently DFAed Jose Iglesias, or checking in on the solid but unspectacular Freddy Galvis if his rumors of signing overseas aren’t true. Think these options are gross? All of them should be preferred to the alternative. It’s certainly a possibility that the Twins refuse to pay up for the studs and don’t see the point in bringing in another Andrelton Simmons type. After all, Jorge Polanco is coming off a year where he was the Twins best all-around player, and technically he could move right back over to being the quarterback of the infield. They could even move Luis Arraez back to second base. At face value this sounds just fine. I’d argue, however, that it would be an absolute disaster. Much of Jorge Polanco’s value in 2021 came from finally being healthy. Perhaps it’s a coincidence, but there were talks attributing his improved health to not having as much wear and tear on his recurring ankle injury at second base. He also was much more valuable due to his ability to effectively play his new position. He posted -1 Outs Above Average at second base and flashed some gold glove caliber plays as he adjusted. He was much improved from his last full season (2019) at shortstop when he posted -22 Outs Above Average. Luis Arraez is also a significantly worse second baseman than Polanco, meaning a significant defensive downgrade at both positions. The Twins quite simply did not make many good decisions in 2021. Moving Polanco to second was probably their best. He reestablished himself as a core piece of the team and appeared to overcome his health issues with a move to a less demanding position. Moving Arraez into a utility role also turned him into a much more valuable player than if he were pitted at a position that he struggles at defensively. If the Twins decide that they don’t want to pay for a top-tier shortstop, that’s fine. If they decide the bottom tier isn’t impactful enough to spend on, that’s fine as well. They can’t do both. Walking back two of the better developments the team made in 2021 could carry consequences far beyond 2022. At this point in regards to Jorge Polanco, the Twins found something that works for both him and the team. He’s reemerged as a star player who’s under team control and can be a force for years to come at only 28 years old. He would immediately lose value by becoming one of the worst defensive shortstops in baseball. He could lose a lot more than that if he moves back to a more physically-demanding position and reinjures his ankle which has been surgically repaired twice. Not worth saving a few bucks in my opinion. The Twins had few bright spots in 2021. They should be taking their shortstop search incredibly seriously to avoid wiping away one of those bright spots in 2022. The Twins don’t need a second baseman moving across the second base bag. They need a shortstop. MORE TWINS CONTENT — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
    8 points
  36. Cody Pirkl

    One Team's Trash...

    For a pitching needy team like the Twins, the non tender deadline is like Christmas. Position players do get cut loose, but they’re oftentimes much less interesting than the arms that find themselves looking for teams for a multitude of reasons. There are three arms in particular that could go a long way in helping fill a needy pitching staff. LH SP Matthew Boyd Boyd was once a highly-coveted arm that would have brought in a king's ransom. On Tuesday, the Tigers officially decided to ship him out. One can only assume they’d like a do-over as they’ve now let him go for free. Boyd’s home run issues have simply become too much to overcome these last few years, and he’s now recovering from surgery on his forearm. The projected $7.3m turned out to be enough for the Tigers to finally cut bait. 2021 was a resurgent year for Boyd when he was on the field. He posted a 3.89 ERA in 78 innings. His breaking ball and changeup combo was impressive and more than enough to overcome a flawed fastball that has been crushed in his career. He may not be an arm the Twins can lean on too heavily coming off injury, but with so many rotation openings there would be nothing wrong with taking a flier on a cheap arm with significant upside who just turned 30 years old. RH RP Richard Rodriguez This may have been the most surprising non-tender of the day as Rodriguez was only projected to make $3.1m. He would have cost a heavy prospect package as recently as last offseason, but the Pirates held onto him, eventually dealing him to Atlanta for significantly less down the line. His 2.94 ERA was not indicative of his performance under the hood, as his strikeouts completely dried up, dropping from 36.6% in 2020 to an absurd 16.7% in 2021. It’s hard to fathom such a drop off in a pitcher with such incredible raw stuff. The Twins should be heavy on Rodriguez who gutted his way through a successful 2021 in terms of final outcomes and has a history of closing out games. Any return to form on the strikeout rate would give them a tremendous force on the back end of games in a bullpen that let so many opportunities slip away in the last year. RH SP Chad Kuhl The moment we’ve all been waiting for. I actually proposed a package deal last winter for both Richard Rodriguez and Kuhl, and here they are for free! (Well, not free, only dollars rather than prospects and dollars.) I may not be GM material, but I do know that the reason I liked Kuhl last winter is still very much relevant. He did not have a good season, still mostly starting games and posting an ERA north of 4.80. He still had a 33.5% whiff rate on his slider and a 44% whiff rate on a changeup that he should probably be throwing more often. The ship has sailed on Chad Kuhl, the starting pitcher in my mind. Maybe Wes Johnson has other ideas. That being said, he has a five-pitch mix that could easily be trimmed down to two or three with a move to the bullpen. His 94 mph fastball should play up in shorter stints, and he has at least one devastating pitch in the slider, as well as a changeup to mix in. At the very least, Kuhl could be a multi-inning reliever with his pitch mix and still shows signs of being able to figure out how to develop into much more. It's a low risk gamble to take on a pitcher that does a few things extremely well and was cut loose over a projected $2.2m. While these three stand out as obvious options, there is no shortage of players looking for new teams following tonight's deadline. See the full list of non-tendered players who are now free agents below: Diamondbacks: Taylor Clark-RHRP Braves: Johan Camargo-UTIL, Richard Rodriguez, RHRP Red Sox: Tim Locastro-CF Tigers: Matt Boyd-LHSP Angels: Phil Gosselin-2B Brewers: Dan Vogelbach-1B Twins: Danny Coulombe-LHRP, Juan Minaya-RHRP, Trevor Megill-RHRP Marlins: Lewis Brinson-CF (DFAed) Mets: Robert Gsellman-RHRP Pirates: Chad Kuhl-RHP Padres: Jose Castillo-LHRP, Matt Strahm-LHRP, Trey Wingenter-RHRP Nationals: Ryne Harper-RHRP, Wander Suero-LHRP Are there any other non-tendered players you’d like to see the Twins take a flier on? Let us know below! FOR MORE TWINS COVERAGE... — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
    8 points
  37. Twins Protect Prospects, Fill 40-Man Roster Last Friday marked the deadline for teams to add players to their 40-man rosters in order to block them from being claimed in the Rule 5 draft. Minnesota elected to protect six prospects. IN: Royce Lewis, SS Jose Miranda, 3B Josh Winder, RHP Cole Sands, RHP Blayne Enlow, RHP Chris Vallimont, RHP While the first four adds above were essentially considered locks, the Twins went the extra mile by adding Enlow (recovering from Tommy John surgery) and Vallimont (24-year-old with no success yet above Single-A). After getting burned on the loss of Akil Baddoo last year, it seems Minnesota wanted to take no undue risks this time around, especially when it comes to their critical minor-league pitching depth. In order to facilitate this wave of additions, the team also cleared room by offloading four players. OUT: Devin Smeltzer, LHP (Outrighted) Kyle Garlick, OF (Outrighted) Charlie Barnes, LHP (DFA) Willians Astudillo, UTIL (DFA) These moves leave the 40-man roster full, with 17 position players and 23 pitchers. Here's the makeup as it currently stands. From here on out, the Twins will need to remove a player and risk losing him for each new addition. Any of Danny Coulombe, Ralph Garza Jr., Juan Minaya, Cody Stashak, Drew Strotman, and Lewis Thorpe could be on the chopping block. It's hard to envision any more drops on the positional side (barring trades), after one clear candidate got himself a controversial new contract for 2022. Cave Lands Deal for 2022 It was widely expected the Twins would move on from Jake Cave this offseason. He produced a total of 0.2 fWAR in 118 games over the past two seasons, his performance progressively worsening. Alas, the team agreed to terms with him Friday on a one-year, $800K contract. It's a bit less than Cave was projected to earn in arbitration this winter, but still could hardly be considered much of a value, considering how awful his play has been. My read on this is that the Twins are simply trying to preserve some experienced outfield depth, with both Byron Buxton and Max Kepler ranking among their most likely players to be traded this offseason. Still, Jake Cave? It bears noting that arbitration contracts are not guaranteed. The Twins can still cut Cave before the next season starts while shedding most of his salary commitment. That rarely happens, but it may be somewhat more likely in this case given the circumstances. Here's a look at the updated 2022 roster and payroll projection, with Cave (for now) penciled in as fourth outfielder: Rotation Options Fly Off the Free Agency Board Free agent starters Noah Syndergaard, Justin Verlander and Eduardo Rodriguez have all signed with aspiring 2022 contenders from the American League. None of those teams are the Twins. Detroit made an emphatic statement about its status as a reborn legit player in the AL Central, signing Rodriguez to a five-year, $77 million contract. Not only is E-Rod a quality arm added atop a talented young Tigers rotation, but he was also one of the more realistic high-end starter targets for the Twins. (Though they reportedly were not in on him.) Syndergaard got a one-year, $21.5 million contract from the Angels, while Verlander re-signed with Houston on a one-year deal worth $25 million, plus a 2023 player option. It's likely that neither of these ace-caliber hurlers had much interest in signing with the reigning last-place finishers in the Central, but those kinds of short-term commitments are in the wheelhouse of the flexibility-focused Twins. With that trio off the board, here's what remains at the top end of the free agent starting pitching market (* denotes QO and draft pick compensation): Max Scherzer, RHP Kevin Gausman, RHP Robbie Ray, LHP* Marcus Stroman, RHP Clayton Kershaw, LHP Carlos Rodón, LHP Anthony DeSclafani, RHP Steven Matz, LHP Zack Greinke, RHP Alex Cobb, RHP Yusei Kikuchi, LHP Jon Gray, RHP Alex Wood, LHP Still plenty of quantity out there, but if the Twins want to score a name from this list they might want to act quickly, because other clubs aren't wasting time. One lower-level name also came off the board on Sunday when José Quintana signed with the Pirates for $2 million. Winter of Discontent? We all knew this was likely to be an unusual offseason, given the looming labor strife. Plenty of organizations seem to be biding their time. The Twins front office, especially, has had a habit of waiting out the market and treating patience as an asset, so their general lack of activity comes as no big surprise. With that said, the early events of this offseason have done nothing but fuel the sour vibes of frustrated fans who are eager for a turnaround, and a showing of intention. Since wrapping up one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history, here's what we've witnessed: Three top free agent starters signing with other teams, including one with a division rival. An unpopular player in Cave re-signing for 2022. José Berríos signing a long-term extension with Toronto, and more or less indicating that his prior dedication to reaching free agency was largely due to Minnesota never making an offer that seriously tempted him. Reports of Buxton negotiations inexplicably remaining fruitless despite the apparent presence of a reasonable framework, with a trade considered likely. None of these are necessarily unforgivable offenses on their own (the Buxton thing might be, if it plays out like it's trending). But they all feed into negative narratives around the Twins: a team that is unwilling to do what it takes to keep premier homegrown talent, or to sign high-end free agent pitching. A team that's overly committed to perceived "bargains," and maintaining the status quo rather than taking bold action. There's time to turn the tides on these narratives yet, but if the Twins stand still until the CBA expires midway through next week, they're staring down the prospect of letting this sourness and discontent fester through an extended lockout, which will already be alienating enough for fans on its own. If that's the case, well... good luck with those season ticket sales. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
    8 points
  38. Last offseason, the Twins made the decision to move Jorge Polanco to second base. They wanted better defense at the shortstop position. With that in mind, the Twins signed Andrelton Simmons to a one-year deal. It didn’t go well. While Simmons provided the solid defense, he did very little with the bat. His .558 OPS was over .100 lower than it had been in all but one of his previous nine MLB seasons. His previous low was .617 in 2014. Even after his rough 2021 season, his career OPS of .683 should make the Twins consider bringing him back on a much lower contract, maybe in the $3 million range. courtesy Byron Buxton Instagram However, there was a shortstop that became available due to Friday’s roster transactions. One would be a player returning to the organization that he spent nearly a decade in and made his big-league debut with. Let’s discuss both, and then in the comments you can tell me if this player should be considered. But before that, I want to point out that my personal opinion is that the Twins need to spend available dollars this offseason on pitching. So while I would love to see the Twins grab one of those big-name, big-dollar free agent shortstops, I’m going to assume that they won’t and that they will spend big on pitching. (maybe not a fair assumption, but one that I will go with for this article.) Niko Goodrum According to MLB Trade Rumors, Niko Goodrum was projected to make $2.9 million in 2022 through arbitration. He wasn’t going to get that coming off of an injury-plagued 2021 season in which he hit just .214/.292/.359 (.651) with 11 doubles and nine home runs. He had several stints on the Injured List with calf and groin injuries. In the Covid-shortened 2020 season, he hit just .184/.263/.335 (.598) with seven doubles and five home runs. These two seasons have been rough for Goodrum offensively, no doubt, but still 10-20% better than what Simmons provided in 2021. That’s obviously a low bar. So why would I personally be interested in bringing Goodrum back to the organization where he debuted in 2017 and went 1-for-17 (.059) in September. He signed with the Tigers and had two really strong seasons. In 2018, he hit .245/.315/.432 (.749) with 29 doubles and 16 homers. In 2019, he hit .248/.322/.421 (.743) with 27 doubles, five triples and 12 homers. He stole 12 bases in 2018 and 2019, and 14 bases in 2021. Goodrum will turn 30 early in spring training 2022. While the upside may be somewhat limited and include a lot of swing-and more,, there is also great athleticism, tools, speed and power with Goodrum. The Twins drafted and signed Cartier “Niko” Goodrum out of high school in Georgia in 2010. Jorge Polanco had signed a year earlier. The two climbed up the organization ladder together. Goodrum played mostly shortstop while Polanco played shortstop. Could the keystone combination exist again? In 2020, Goodrum was a finalist for an AL Gold Glove at shortstop. He is a natural shortstop with good range and a strong arm. If the Twins signed him and told him to prepare to compete for the team’s starting shortstop job, he might be a terrific choice. Hey, if the other choices right now include a return of Simmons, then I would certainly support giving Goodrum a shot. What would it cost? I would think a one-year, $1.5 to $2.0 million would do it, especially if he was given the opportunity to start most days at shortstop. If he’s given an opportunity to start most every day at shortstop, it’s likely he would just want a one year deal, hope it goes well, and enter free agency again after the 2022 season when it isn’t the greatest free agent shortstop class ever. Because of the dollars, it would be a low-risk deal. Because of his defense, speed and power potential, there is a chance for reward. If it doesn’t go well, he can finish the year as a utility player, capable of playing seven positions (yes, all better than Willians Astudillo). If Royce Lewis is deemed ready-to-go sometime in 2021, Goodrum can become a utility player. In addition, Goodrum might have interest in a return because he has several former teammates from his minor league days with the. He played over his years with Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, Mitch Garver, Tyler Duffey, Taylor Rogers, and Tommy Watkins was a coach and manager. An added bonus is that Goodrum has always been great in the community, going back to his Twins days when he was a Harmon Killebrew Community Service Award recipient in 2013 with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Many times the concept of “Bring Back the Gang” gets a negative connotation. Sometimes that is fair. Other times, it just makes sense. If healthy, Niko Goodrum can provide really good defense at shortstop, some power at the plate and speed. Yes, that comes with some injury risk and a lot of strikeouts. But at the price tag, it is certainly worth strong consideration. So what do you think? Should the Twins consider a reunion with Niko Goodrum?
    8 points
  39. For years the Minnesota Twins organization has suggested that the goal would be to keep homegrown stars. Yes, they paid Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, and Miguel Sano. None of those deals were substantial, however. Instead of paying Jose Berrios, who was reportedly intent on reaching free agency, they flipped him for two top-100 prospects. Now with the Blue Jays handing out a seven-year deal worth $140 million, it’s clear that it wasn’t about paying Berrios, but probably more about how long they would. Despite Berrios suggesting he wanted to reach free agency, he was perhaps more interested in finding a deal that compensated him correctly. That’s where this begins to break down. Before getting into what the front office is trying to do, or more appropriately failing to do, we need to look at Buxton. Dan Hayes and Ken Rosenthal reported, “Talks about an incentive-laden extension in July broke down because of the Twins’ unwillingness to push the potential total value to $100 million.” That’s an awful look for the front office as well. Seven years or not, Minnesota is looking to nickel and dime a superstar they are only invited to the table because he’s been injured. Assuming Buxton was a free agent, Minnesota wouldn’t be in the realm of his possible destinations, and if an injury bug hadn’t hit him, the price tag would be well north of $250 million. Trying to piece together a salary that goes long on years and short on average annual value for a talent like Buxton is the exact opposite of the message sent to Berrios. The needle Falvey and Levine are trying to thread is a seemingly hopeless one. They appear intent on avoiding long-term deals but also are expecting to play at or below market value. There’s no give and take in that negotiating style, and the alternative is one we’ve yet to hear them dabble in. Should you opt to avoid length, the result has to be higher than the market average annual value. No player will take fewer years for the same amount of money, but they might be lured by a more lucrative deal that makes up for the lacking security. There’s no denying that this front office has done a great job establishing a strong culture and organizational structure. Minnesota’s farm system may not be as loaded as it’s ever been, but it’s undoubtedly as deep. The developmental talent is there to push players towards realizing their potential, but there has not been a good enough job done supplementing the talent at the top. Now faced with the opportunity to keep some of their best, Falvey already chose to forgo length on one and is seemingly leaning towards passing up on dollars for the other. Should Minnesota sign a top-tier pitcher with the money ticketed for Berrios, then the addition of two top prospects makes a ton of sense as an alternative. There isn’t a situation where Buxton will be replaceable at a similar valuation, though, and skimping on dollars to contradict their length stance could be something that looks like a David Ortiz-esque mistake. It’s time to stop stepping toes in the water when filling out the roster and make more than one splash move, then suggesting it’s enough. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
    8 points
  40. On Tuesday, Dan Hayes and Ken Rosenthal bylined a report in The Athletic with the headline: Byron Buxton’s future with the Twins remains in limbo as team gauges trade interest, potential extension offers. The article depicts a team struggling to decide whether it should trade its best player with one year remaining under contract, or hold him for the 2022 season. The option that seems most obvious and desirable — striking a long-term extension with this generational talent in his prime — doesn't really seem to be on the table, even if it hasn't been ruled out. "Chairman Jim Pohlad, according to major-league sources, is reluctant to move Buxton, knowing such a decision potentially would upset a fan base tired of seeing the team part with homegrown stars," per The Athletic. Pohlad's absolutely right in his assessment of how trading Buxton will be perceived by Twins fans, who just watched Jose Berrios sign an extension with Toronto. Fortunately, it would seem nobody is in better position than he to ensure Buxton sticks around. Pohlad and his ownership group have the power to greenlight an offer that keeps Buxton in Minnesota long-term, and such a framework — from all indications — is extremely achievable under team-friendly terms. The article from Hayes and Rosenthal reiterates that a 7-year, $80 million offer was extended in July, which we've heard before, but later offers up this detail: "Sources said talks about an incentive-laden extension in July broke down because of the Twins’ unwillingness to push the potential total value to $100 million." Back in July, reports indicated Buxton's side was amenable to that guaranteed amount of $80 million (which surprised me), but that an agreement couldn't be reached over the incentive structure. In my mind, I figured Buxton's camp must have been demanding some extravagant bonuses that could've done something like double the base amount. Yet, the wording of this new report — talks about an incentive-laden extension in July broke down because of the Twins’ unwillingness to push the potential total value to $100 million — well, that sure sounds like the team was not open to a contract that would maximize at $100 million. And if true, that's nothing short of embarrassing. Shameful. And egregiously foolish. I mean, come on, that would average out to about $14 million per year. That's Ricky Nolasco money, for a homegrown MVP-caliber player in his prime years. I'm having a really hard time connecting the dots here. If Twins ownership is adamant about keeping Buxton, and the center fielder's side is open to a reasonable deal, then what is the hold-up? Why are the Twins mired in internal debate over whether to trade Buxton or let him leave as a free agent, rather than opting for the best choice, which is neither of those? Here are a few possibilities I can conjure. If you have others, I'd love to hear them in the comments. The reported numbers are inaccurate. Hayes and Rosenthal are two of the more respected writers in the biz, and I trust they're providing a realistic view of the overall dynamic, but that doesn't mean every single detail is spot-on. Perhaps there are some specifics getting obscured in the communication loop. Or maybe they're receiving false info from a biased source with an agenda. (Ostensibly, this would be Buxton's agent, but I'm not sure what their end-game would be in leaking a low-ball offer?) Also: the numbers that've been reported would have be a loooong ways off to not make sense for the Twins. The Twins front office doesn't believe in Buxton. Or at least doesn't have enough confidence in his durability and aging regression to feel that a long-term extension is in their interest. I find this kind of hard to believe, but when you look at the evidence available to us — an owner expressing his desire to retain a player who is seemingly open to reasonable terms, and a front office that isn't making it happen — it's a plausible explanation. Buxton has no interest in signing an extension in Minnesota. This would run contrary to what he's said publicly, but it'd hardly be the first time a pro athlete gave lip service to appease fans. Maybe the bridge truly was burned when the Twins held Buxton in the minors in September of 2018. Or maybe Buck has a yearning to return to the South where he was raised. Or maybe he simply recognizes an opportunity to earn a much bigger payday one year from now if he can deliver in 2022. Sadly, I think this is probably the most likely answer behind everything, and also the only one that completely ties the Twins' hands. Pohlad is bluffing, and doesn't really want to pay up. It's the favored explanation for many, I'm sure. Maybe it's true, and Pohlad is portraying himself to media as the good guy who fought for Buxton before an inevitable trade. But if the reported number he's targeting is anywhere close to correct, there's no reason that Twins shouldn't be able to keep Buxton while building a quality team around him under the payroll parameters that have become standard under this ownership. One thing I will say: if Pohlad is pushing to prevent a Buxton trade solely to mitigate fan blowback, knowing the team won't be able to re-sign him (which is one way to read the opening in the Athletic article), the front office needs to shut him out and not listen. Team strategy cannot be dictated by such factors. Trading Buxton will be a bitter pill to swallow, but it may result in making the best of a bad situation. A totally self-inflicted bad situation, if reports around these negotiations are to be believed. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
    8 points
  41. Roster and Payroll Outlook as of Nov 10th, 2021 In each of these "status update" posts, we'll share an up-to-the-moment look at the 40-man roster as well as the projected 2022 roster/payroll. On the 40-man front, we've already seen a cascade of cuts, with the Twins needing to create significant room for new acquisitions, 60-day Injured List activations, and protecting key prospects from the Rule 5 draft. Since season's end, the team has already removed Drew Maggi, Rob Refsnyder, John Gant, Andrew Albers, Kyle Barraclough, Nick Vincent, Ian Gibaut and Luke Farrell. That's in addition to Andrelton Simmons, Alex Colome and Michael Pineda, who all exited via free agency. That's eight cuts to go along with one addition (which we'll cover shortly), leaving the number of spaces currently occupied at 30. However, this doesn't account for players who will need to be re-added from the 60-day IL (Dobnak, Kirilloff and Maeda at the very least) nor the prospects who need to be added (Lewis, Miranda, Sands, Winder -- jury's out on Enlow). Several key questions emerge in looking at this current breakdown. Will any of Smeltzer, Stashak or Thorpe be re-added after totally lost years? Are the Twins going to retain Garlick? Will any prospects other than the aforementioned handful be protected? Regardless, it's clear that there are still cuts yet to come, because one way or another, the front office will need more than 2-3 open spots to work with. Astudillo, Cave, Barnes, and Strotman strike me as players who are especially at risk, on the fringe of the team's plans. Here's a look at the 2022 squad as it currently projects, from my view (courtesy of our Roster & Payroll tool Cotton Claimed Off Waivers The Twins added the former Rangers reliever on Friday, and as you'll notice above, we've now got Jharel Cotton penciled into the 2022 bullpen. That's not a lock by any means, but I don't think Minnesota would've committed a roster spot to him unless they intended to keep him. The right-hander is projected to make around $1.2M in his coming first year of arbitration eligibility. That price tag likely compelled Texas to part ways. Cotton is coming off a solid but shortened season in the majors (30.2 IP, 3.52 ERA, 3.72 FIP) and his track record is riddled with injuries, so he's far from a sure thing. It would be tremendously disappointing if he turns out to be anywhere near the club's biggest bullpen addition, but Cotton's a clear upgrade over much of the flotsam that comprised their relief depth in 2021. It's a bold strategy, Cotton. We'll see if it pays off. Twins Exploring SS Market No surprise here, but Jon Heyman reports that Minnesota is among the 13 teams "at least gauging the SS market." As Heyman notes, the level of early competition for this group is good news for an historically great class of free agent shortstops, but less so for any needy team like the Twins that might've hoped to strike a bargain. Aaron Gleeman has a great new piece at The Athletic analyzing this winter's SS class in depth. Oakland Open for Business Another development that Twins fans should have eyes on: the Athletics appear ready to blow it up. This became somewhat evident when they let their world-class manager leave for San Diego, and quotes from their GM only serve to confirm that an offseason of scaled-back spending and talent-dumping is ahead. For teams like the Twins that are in the market for pitching and possessing robust farm systems, this is a big moment of opportunity. Oakland, as usual, is deep on arms, and there are a few specific names that jump out as candidates for immediate and dramatic impact in the rotation. Per Heyman, Chris Bassitt, Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea are all on the table. Montas and Bassitt bordered on ace status in 2021. Manaea was one step behind, but still very good with a 3.91 ERA, 3.66 FIP and 9.7 K/9 rate. Because he's entering his final year of team control, and will be fairly expensive next year (~$10M), Manaea is someone the A's will be motivated to move, and will come at a lower price than the other two. Regardless of whom they're targeting, it's a no-brainer for the Twins to engage in talks and make a push for at least one of these quality starters. The more they can reduce their reliance on the free agent pitching market, the better. Heaney Comes Off the SP Market There was a sense that free agency would remain in mostly a holding pattern throughout November as teams brace for an expected lockout in December. But while there certainly has been no rush out of the gates, there's already been one significant starting pitcher signing that puts the Twins on notice: Andrew Heaney inked a one-year, $8.5M deal with the Dodgers. I don't know if Heaney was a target of particular interest to the Twins, but he's certainly the type of guy they should be eyeing as a secondary free agent addition for the rotation, given his age and upside. The fact that Los Angeles jumped on him so aggressively hints that it may not be wise to wait on other players in this range, who won't be as inclined to wait out a slow offseason as the top names. Speaking of which, that top tier of potential FA starters might get thinned out a bit more in the coming week. Robbie Ray, Noah Syndergaard, Justin Verlander and Eduardo Rodriguez were among the 14 players to receive qualifying offers. If any of them take it, they'll cease to be options for the Twins and others. Their deadline to make a decision is November 17th. 2 Key Additions to the Coaching Staff Finally, in non-roster news, the Twins have already filled the two biggest needs on their coaching staff, adding a bench coach and hitting coach to replace Mike Bell (R.I.P.) and Edgar Varela. The addition of David Popkins leaked in late October but was made official on Monday, when the Twins also announced the hiring of former Padres manager Jayce Tingler. Tingler, 40, is of a similar ilk to Rocco Baldelli in that he's relatively young (40) and was considered a rising managerial star in the game before things went sideways in 2021. He was NL Manager of the Year runner-up in 2020. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
    8 points
  42. The prospect of a Major League Baseball lockout is growing by the day. While impacts on free agency and the 2022 season are only speculative at this point, some segments of the economy are already facing the consequences of a potential work stoppage head-on. “The male beat writers aren’t buying their new Spring Training shirts,” said a source close to the Minnesota chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. “Can’t justify the expense if there won’t be a spring training.” Replacing the previous year’s shirts, often marred by sweat, spilled coffee, missing buttons, and stains from a staggering variety of dipping sauces, is a hallowed tradition for writers both old and new. Right now, this tradition is riding the pine. “The whole market, be it staid Target golf polos or hideous button downs from brands with names like Panama Beachcomber, is in shambles,” said Steve Mediate, a consumer goods analyst for Forbes. “Clearly, they’re holding off until there’s more clarity from MLB and the players union.” Mediate is concerned that, even if an agreement is reached and a lockout avoided, it’ll be too late for the journalists to acquire their repulsive garments. “There’s a textile factory in Vietnam that specializes in the more garish designs certain baseball writers favor,” said Mediate. “They’ve been shuttered for a month. If he wants a shirt that looks like an educational film about farm accidents, they’re not even making them right now. His best bet for a button down designed by someone who hates the gift of sight and the concept of beauty is a vintage store or Goodwill.” Mediate confirmed that similar impacts are being felt in sectors like sandals and dumb-looking hats. “There are warehouses full of hats that keep the sun off your neck and also make you look like a real chump, a cosmic dorkwad who frankly should be bullied,” said Mediate. “They’re gathering dust and not going anywhere. It’s a mess.” Image license for photo of grotesque shirts here.
    8 points
  43. Before we dig into some of the numbers, here’s a quick video on a handful of harder-throwing starting pitchers who could be value targets for the Twins this offseason: Here is a team-by-team breakdown sorted by average four-seam fastball velocity. It’s color coded, so green is good and red is bad. The information below was gathered from FanGraphs. Team vFA ERA FIP xFIP WAR CHW 95.5 3.73 3.74 3.85 27.1 NYY 94.9 3.76 3.90 4.00 22.3 BOS 94.8 4.27 3.95 4.07 19.2 NYM 94.5 3.90 4.04 3.99 16.4 COL 94.5 4.83 4.47 4.38 13.4 SDP 94.4 4.10 4.18 4.08 12.8 CIN 94.3 4.41 4.34 4.18 16.2 ATL 94.3 3.89 4.08 4.09 15.9 LAD 94.1 3.03 3.54 3.75 26.9 TBR 94.1 3.67 3.79 3.97 18.7 PHI 94.1 4.39 4.15 4.02 17.9 DET 94.1 4.32 4.60 4.65 10.2 KCR 94.0 4.65 4.39 4.52 12.5 CLE 93.9 4.34 4.43 4.27 10.2 MIA 93.8 3.96 4.01 4.21 15.1 SFG 93.7 3.25 3.55 3.87 21.9 TEX 93.6 4.80 4.76 4.57 4.5 TOR 93.5 3.91 4.18 4.06 14.6 STL 93.4 4.00 4.30 4.66 12.1 PIT 93.4 5.08 4.74 4.70 5.0 WSN 93.3 4.82 4.87 4.53 6.5 MIL 93.2 3.50 3.72 3.75 23.5 HOU 93.2 3.78 4.12 4.12 16.9 OAK 93.2 4.02 4.10 4.35 15.1 SEA 93.2 4.30 4.26 4.47 14.3 CHC 93.0 4.88 4.88 4.43 4.9 LAA 92.9 4.68 4.25 4.26 15.4 BAL 92.9 5.85 5.15 4.91 7.9 MIN 92.2 4.83 4.66 4.44 8.2 ARI 92.2 5.15 4.88 4.85 4.0 As you can see, there’s a fairly strong correlation between teams that throw harder and success. Not only are the Twins near the bottom, there’s also a significant gap between them and the Orioles. That 0.7 mph gap is the same as what separates the fourth-place team from the 15th. Let’s switch things up a bit and look at pitches in excess of 95.0 mph instead of average fastball velocity. The information below was gathered from Baseball Savant. The color-coded column is percent of pitches thrown at least 95.0 mph. CWS 27.9 6626 23713 NYY 21.5 5112 23761 BOS 20.8 5033 24193 MIL 20.7 4966 23967 NYM 21.4 4799 22405 PHI 20.0 4745 23739 MIA 20.5 4704 22990 COL 20.0 4603 22960 DET 18.1 4339 23914 CIN 17.6 4316 24548 ATL 18.5 4294 23228 LAD 18.3 4187 22927 TB 17.4 4027 23169 KC 16.5 4017 24307 TOR 16.6 3911 23549 SD 14.0 3386 24196 OAK 14.4 3325 23102 STL 14.1 3299 23419 WSH 13.2 3125 23732 SEA 13.0 3111 23859 CLE 13.0 3057 23459 BAL 10.6 2598 24474 SF 10.4 2386 22859 HOU 9.9 2368 23917 CHC 9.4 2238 23877 PIT 9.3 2225 24045 TEX 8.3 1967 23586 LAA 7.6 1847 24415 MIN 6.4 1516 23714 ARI 5.0 1188 23827 Being 29th is bad enough, but even if the Twins were to double the number of pitches that were 95+ mph they’d still only rank 22nd. The Kansas City Royals threw 2,501 more pitches 95+ mph than the Twins — or 15 more per game played — and they barely rank in the top half of the league themselves. Do the Twins have an aversion to high-velocity pitchers? That seems like a crazy question to ask, but let’s take a look at some former Twins prospects who were shipped out in trades. 2021 % of Pitches 95.0+ mph 66.0 Brusdar Graterol 44.2 Luis Gil 38.4 Huascar Ynoa 15.1 MLB Average 6.4 Minnesota Twins Graterol (Kenta Maeda trade), Gil (Jake Cave trade) and Ynoa (Jaime Garcia trade) all have well above average velo, all were traded away. They also just lost Edwar Colina and his triple-digit heat to waivers. Are the Twins actively avoiding high-octane pitchers? At the very least it sure doesn't feel like they’re making them a priority. This seems like a great time to revisit the Twins carpool commercial from 2007 featuring Johan Santana and Joe Nathan. That’s how you win Cy Youngs, baby! While this ia a velocity-obsessed article, pitching in the big leagues is obviously about more than just throwing hard. It sure does seem to help, though. While the lack of velo is nothing new for the Twins, to be fair, it didn’t prevent them from having successful pitching staffs the previous couple years. Here’s a look at some the numbers throughout the Falvey-era: Minnesota Twins Four-Seam Fastball Velo 2021: 29th, 92.2 mph (26th in ERA) 2020: 30th, 92.0 mph (4th in ERA) 2019: 24th, 93.0 mph (9th in ERA) 2018: 21st, 92.7 mph (22nd in ERA) 2017: 30th, 92.4 mph (19th in ERA) Still, any pitcher who tells you he wouldn’t like to throw harder is either a liar or in denial.
    8 points
  44. 1. Pitching Depth is the Strength... For years, the Twins were known for producing soft-tossing pitchers and preaching a pitch-to-contact approach. However, if one needs an example to display that is no longer the case, it would be challenging to produce a more blatant example than the 2021 season. Partially due to the natural evolution of the game as well as the Derek Falvey and Thad Levine regime's propensity to select hard-throwing high schoolers and college arms with solid reputations, the Twins farm system is currently replete with pitching talent. Jhoan Duran and Chase Petty are among those who sit in the upper 90s and touch 100 mph with regularity. Sawyer Gipson-Long, Matt Canterino, and Louie Varland all boasted K% north of 30%. There's so much talent in the system that top prospects Jordan Balazovic, Josh Winder, Cole Sands, and Simeon Woods Richardson couldn't even be bothered to pop up until the fifth paragraph of this article! And the talent doesn't stop at the backend of the starting rotation. While Jovani Moran and his 42% strikeout rate earned a promotion to the big league club by the end of the season, he was only one of a handful of genuine bullpen arms that excelled over the summer. Zach Featherstone, Jordan Gore, Osiris German, Aaron Rozek, Yennier Cano, and Denny Bentley put up huge strikeout numbers across various levels, and all boasted ERAs below 3.40. Ian Hamilton, a former top prospect in the White Sox system, put together a strong season at Triple-A, and it could be argued that he deserved a call-up at multiple points this season. In short, this is no longer your Dad's Twins farm system. Their approach to acquiring and developing pitching is night and day from 5-10 years ago. In short order, the team will be reaping the benefits of what they sowed, whether by advancing critical pieces to the majors or by swapping prospects for MLB-ready talent. 2. …, However, Offensive Depth is Lacking It's well known at this point that infield prospect Jose Miranda had one of the best seasons in all of MiLB this past summer. The 23-year-old slashed .344/.401/.572 to go along with 30 home runs, 32 doubles, and a 158 wRC+ across Double- and Triple-A en route to garnering numerous awards. Besides Miranda, who could play a prominent role on the Twins as early as next spring, the system lacks definite MLB-caliber offensive talent, particularly up the middle. Top prospects Royce Lewis and Austin Martin possess the raw talent to succeed at the MLB level for years to come. However, Lewis has not played organized baseball for nearly two years due to COVID and injury, and neither are guaranteed to stick at shortstop. (In fact, Martin played the majority of his innings in centerfield after coming over from the Toronto Blue Jays in the Jose Berrios trade.) Utility guy Edouard Julien put together arguably the most potent offensive season besides Miranda — he posted a 154 wRC+ due largely to his absurd 21.4% walk rate. He also showed more pop (18 home runs, 28 doubles) and base stealing ability (34 in 39 attempts) at Low- and High-A than he did while at Auburn University. However, he lacks a true defensive home, having appeared all over the diamond this past summer, though he is most robust at second base. Beyond the two, the Twins top offensive performers, according to FanGraphs, were a who’s-who of borderline top 30 prospects and minor league veterans. Luckily for the Twins, the majority of their offense at the big league level comprises established athletes who are under contract, so the need for prospects to reach the majors next summer is at a minimum. However, beyond the summer of 2022, the lack of offensive depth in the system may begin to rear its head unless key pieces are retained or a few of the borderline prospects breakout. 3. Watching Minor League Ball was a Good Distraction Perhaps distraction isn't the correct term here. The Twins were terrible this year and, at many points, virtually unwatchable. But their minor league teams all performed well this year and served as an excellent alternative for the baseball hungry. There are many issues with minor league baseball — the players are poorly compensated, the life is a grind, the production value of non-Twins streams was often pretty bad, etc. — but baseball is baseball at the end of the day. Few teams across MLB put forth a better minor league product than the Twins, which made the summer much more enjoyable. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
    8 points
  45. (For the record, I did not intend for this to be a pseudo-response to Nick Nelson’s article from the other day, but it worked out like that.) In all likelihood, Kenta Maeda’s Tommy John surgery has ended any chance he has of pitching to any significant degree in 2022. There remains an outside chance that he can return in nine months, but even that heavily optimistic prediction shortens his 2022 season. Because of this, the potential Twins starting rotation in 2022 as of this very moment will consist solely of players with little MLB playing time and John Gant. And John Gant is not a starter. You, yes, you, my good reader, have about as much playing time as any of these other guys. Sure, Bailey Ober has flashed some ability; but the names after him are either questionable or dreadful. It is an unsustainable rotation. The natural thought would be then to sign an entire stable of starters. Just line up pitchers and send them through in such rapid fashion that FDR’s 100 days would appear to have run at a snail’s pace. But this would not be a good idea. First, which teams have built a successful starting rotation on such short notice? Yes, the Giants have found success this season with this method, but they are the exceptions. Look down the list of the top rotations by fWAR. Almost every team has a foundation of starters who were either developed internally or acquired before this last off-season. Teams like the Giants are relatively rare in building a starting rotation; most great units require a more solid base. The Twins, by comparison, would have to sign four starters (or three and pray that someone fixed Randy Dobnak) and assume that Bailey Ober will be available for 160+ quality innings next season. Not a great plan. Secondly, let’s think big picture. What good would a patchwork rotation be in 2022? There remain significant questions regarding the stability of this current core of players. The central nucleus of names is getting older. Considering that this same group of players has struggled early in 2021, why should we believe the situation will suddenly be any better? Will Miguel Sanó abruptly learn plate discipline? Will Max Kepler’s BABIP finally go above .250? I think not. The moves made by the front office signal to me that they do not plan on seriously competing until 2023. They traded José Berríos, a starter under control for 2022, for prospects. Yes, it was also because the deal was great for them, but the main driver, I believe, was a fundamental belief that this team, as currently constructed, will come up short in any effort in 2022 without heavenly intervention. Why else would they also peddle core players like Byron Buxton and Kepler? One of the other main tenants in the belief of a 2022 surrender is the prospect situation. It isn’t the lack of quality of prospects; they have those. It’s when they should make their MLB debuts. According to MLB.com, nine of their top 10 prospects will likely debut this year or next year. According to Fangraphs, it is nine of 11. Neither of these lists includes Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach, who, while no longer prospects, will become long-term players in their own right who can (and will) replace current names. These soon-to-be-Twins reflect a conscious effort to have 2022 be a messy season in which the Twins can figure out which players will contribute in 2022 and beyond. Call up all the kids, see what they can do, then decide from there. There will be no competing next season. Now, while this should prevent the Twins from going all-in on starters, they should not utterly abstain from signing. They should target a younger long-term arm like Jon Gray, Eduardo Rodriguez, or even a more prominent name like Marcus Stroman. These players can bring an essential veteran presence while not presenting the same risks that an older (but probably better) pitcher like Zack Greinke or Justin Verlander will have. If the team wants to sign a player of that magnitude, it makes more sense to do so after 2022, when the genetic makeup of the team makes more sense. This line of thought does raise one more important question. If the team only signs one major starter, where does the rest of the money go? Their theoretical spending limit will be significant after this season. While I would love to give Mr. Pohlad a chance to purchase another absurd yacht or buy off a state senator or something, I don’t believe that money should go to waste. Perhaps the team could look towards signing one of the many All-Star shortstops available this off-season or decide to hand out an early extension to one of their numerous pre-arb players. I know that advocating for minimal movement on the rotation front while inking a high-caliber position player to a long-term deal seems like a strange idea, and it is. The key phrase is “long-term”; I’m thinking about building a better 2023 team, not a better 2022 team, and a burnt contract year is just the cost of investing. I get it, though. This team has not won a playoff game since the Bush administration, and it feels that it may be asking the world of some to hold off another season before diving headfirst back into the fray. No one wants to do that. This idea comes from the same desire that every other Twins fan possesses; we want this team to succeed. We want to finally shed the pressure that is years of unmatched playoff ineptitude. All I am asking is that the team realizes the poor situation that 2022 will likely be and instead decide to take a better-calculated shot at playoff success with a more solid foundation underneath them. What good will one more poorly constructed hopeful playoff run do? Plan for a better future.
    8 points
  46. When the Twins take on the Cubs on Wednesday night against the Cubs, we will be able to watch the major-league debut of Joe Ryan. Darren Wolfson reports that Ryan is being promoted tomorrow, with rosters expanding on September 1st, and the expectation is that he'll take the hill at Target Field in Kenta Maeda's place on Wednesday. It's been a pretty crazy travel schedule for the former Rays prospect the past two months. In late June, he headed to the Olympics in Tokyo. Upon his return to the States, he went to North Carolina to pack up and move to the Twin Cities. He has spent the past couple of weeks with the Saints, making starts at CHS Field, and in Toledo. He was in Columbus, Ohio, when he learned that he got The Call. And now he will be back in Minneapolis, excited for his debut. Scouting Report Joe Ryan is a fastball pitcher. He throws, literally, at least 70% fastballs. But it’s not because he has huge velocity; his fastball sits between 90 and 93 mph. Like another Twins pitcher, it has proved more effective than the radar gun readings. Bailey Ober sits 91-93 mph with his fastball, his length allows him to release the ball closer to home plate. In essence, he can make 91 look like 94 just because of that release point. Joe Ryan is only 6-2, but he still has some deception in his delivery. He throws from a lower release point. While the average pitcher’s release point is 5.9 feet, Ryan’s average release point is just 4.8 feet from the ground. Not one starting pitcher in the big leagues throws from that low. He also gets Ober-like extension in front of the mound. It’s something that he credits his water polo background with helping him. He told Verducci in a Sports Illustrated article: Here's a breakdown of Joe Ryan by Twins Daily's own Nash Walker: “"In water polo you learn how to skip the ball,” he says. “I spent 10 years trying to skip the ball in water polo, and it’s the same concept as throwing a fastball: Get the shoulder in position and then let the hand work and get it out front. Throwing a baseball feels the same way. You get that zip right at the end.” He has always had supreme confidence in his fastball, even though he doesn’t throw it real hard. He has a swagger. He believes that his movement and location will make it difficult for the hitter to square up. When he gets ahead, he - again like Ober - can get a lot of swings-and-missed up in or just above the strike zone. In fact, in his two starts with the Saints, he struck out 17 batters in just nine innings. In 2019, Ryan was pitching in High-A Charlotte. His pitching coach was Doc Watson. In a 2019 Baseball America article, he shared a story about facing then-Miracle outfielder Trevor Larnach, who was the Florida State League MVP that season: “Several guys kept saying ‘I’ve not seen a fastball like that in my career, “High Class A Charlotte pitching coach Doc Watson said. “Even when we were playing Fort Myers, (Trevor) Larnach, who’s their best hitter, in my opinion, he made a comment … he said ‘Doc, I’m gonna tell you what, that arm is electric. It comes through and you do not see the baseball until it’s on top of you.’ so I’ll take it from them and just say that it is an electric arm.”” But Ryan has also shown a solid slider. In his two starts since joining the Saints, he has been able to locate it at the knees and near the outside corner very consistently. It will obviously be an important second pitch for him to keep hitters off balance. Even within that, he throws a couple different sliders. Sometimes it acts like a cutter, and just moves enough to stay off a barrel. Other times, he’ll throw the slider with a bigger break. He will also throw a slower, more 12-to-6 curveball. Joe Ryan turned 25 years old in June, and he sits on the precipice of a lifelong dream and goal, the big leagues. It’s been a somewhat unusual path to get here, and to land with the Twins. Background Joe Ryan grew up in Northern California, miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. He led a unique early life. From a Tom Verducci article in Sports Illustrated, Ryan “grew up without travel ball, video games or cable while living an old-fashioned Tom Sawyer life in the shadow of Mount Tamalpais and Muir Woods in Marin County, California” His father, Kurtis, was “an extreme athlete and runner.” The family didn’t have cable TV. He didn’t play video games until middle school. At age 8, he entered a 7.2 mile cross-country race with his dad. He and his dad went into the mountains to camp, fish and hunt. He played water polo competitively, even during the baseball season. He attended Sir Francis Drake High School in San Anselmo, California. As a senior, he went 12-1 with a 0.76 ERA. He was drafted in the 39th round by his hometown San Francisco Giants. Instead of signing, Ryan headed to Los Angeles to attend Cal State - Northridge. As a freshman, he pitched in 13 games (9 out of the bullpen) and posted a 1.48 ERA in 30 1/3 innings. As a sophomore, seven of his 11 appearances were starts. He went 1-2 with a 3.35 ERA in 40 1/3 innings. As a junior in 2017, he posted a 12.79 ERA in just 6 1/3 innings due to lat injury. At the end of that season, he decided to transfer. If he had gone to another Division I school, he would have had to sit out a year. The Twins and other teams tried to sign him as a non-drafted free agent that summer. Instead, he headed back to northern California and went to Division II Cal State - Stanislaus. It proved to be a great decision for him. In 14 starts - and with health - Ryan went 8-1 with a 1.65 ERA in 98 1/3 innings. He had 127 strikeouts with just 13 walks. In June of 2018, the Tampa Bay Rays selected him with their seventh-round draft pick. Because he had received a medical redshirt that junior season, he had some leverage and signed for just shy of $150,000, about $60,000 under slot value. He spent that summer in the New York-Penn League, but in 2019 he raced through three levels of the minors, making it to AA. He also led the entire minor leagues in strikeouts (183) in just 123 2/3 innings, while walking only 27 batters. He didn’t pitch officially in 2020 due to the pandemic, but he did work out at the Rays alternate site and continued to progress under the Rays’ strong pitcher development program. He began the 2021 season at Triple-A Durham. He pitched in 12 games (11 starts) and went 4-3 with a 3.63 ERA. In 57 innings, he walked just ten and struck out 75 batters. He then was named to the Team USA Olympic team and had a fantastic run. He started the team’s first game in the tournament. He then was the starting pitcher against Korea in the semi-finals, a win that put USA into the Gold Medal game. The team won the silver medal, but Ryan really impressed. While in Japan, he learned that he had been traded (along with RHP Drew Strotman) and has made two starts for the St. Paul Saints. In the first start, he struck out the first six batters he faced and nine batters over four innings of work. In his second start, last Thursday, he struck out nine batters in five innings. In his two starts, he only gave up five hits and two runs over nine innings, to go with seventeen strikeouts. Turns out that was enough to prove to the Twins brass that it was time to call him up. On Wednesday, Joe Ryan will make his long-anticipated Twins debut (long-awaited in this case being since the July 31st trade) at Target Field against the Chicago Cubs. It's always fun to watch an MLB debut, but Twins fans should be excited about seeing Ryan for the season's final month.
    8 points
  47. 10. SS Keoni Cavaco (20-years-old) Season Stats (Low-A): .242/.314/.332, 49 G, 7 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 21 RBI, 6 SB, 63/18 K:BB Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: #6 It's been a rough year for the Fort Myers offense. Cavaco's .242 batting average is something that will need to improve. Yet before we double down on the guy, let's remember, he's 20-years-old! While he played 25 games in 2019, this is Cavaco's first 'true' season. The guy is an incredible athlete and has shown moments of brilliance in the field and at the plate. Plagued by injuries this season, Cavaco's 2022 season will be a big indicator of his future with the Twins. There's a lot of potential if he can stay healthy. Check out his interview with Seth Stohs from earlier this year! 9. RHP Chase Petty (18-years-old) Season Stats: No Stats Previous Rankings: Not ranked, Minnesota Twins 2021 Top Draft Pick Chase Petty may have been the most electrifying pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. The New Jersey-native can hit triple digits, has good off-speed, and name dropped Mike Trout in post-draft interview. Petty was named Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of New Jersey this past year. His fastball speaks volumes but he's also got an excellent slider in his arsenal. Yes, Petty is only 18. Yet he has the confidence of an MLB ballplayer and that is going to work miracles for him as he navigates professional baseball. Expect the Jersey boy to climb the ladder quickly. 8. RHP Matt Canterino (23-years-old) Season Stats (Low-A + High-A): 5 GS, 20 IP, 0.90 ERA, 0.65 ERA, 16.7 K/9, 1.4 BB/9 Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: #4 Matt Canterino didn't drop on our rankings because of poor performance. The Twins' 2019 second-round draft pick was sidelined by an elbow injury for a majority of the summer and just recently hit the bump again. Canterino recently began rehabbing at Low-A Fort Myers. In his August 8th return he was perfect, striking out two and giving up zero hits or walks in two innings. Prior to his injury Canterino was electric, giving up only two earned runs in 10 innings. In that span, hitters racked up a meager .154 batting average against him. In his young professional career Canterino has a 1.20 ERA and 0.64 WHIP. At 23, the young man has an unbelievable upside and a healthy 2022 season will benefit him as much as anyone on this list. 7. RHP Joe Ryan (25-years-old) Season Stats (Triple-A): 57 IP, 3.63 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 11.8/1.6 K:BB Previous Rankings: N/A (previously in Rays organization) A product of the Nelson Cruz trade with Tampa Bay, Joe Ryan was previously unknown to most Twins fans. That changed when Ryan grabbed the attention of the nation when he helped guide the United States Olympic team to a Silver Medal in Tokyo. Ryan started two games for Team USA, tossing 10 1/3 innings of nine-hit, two-run baseball, while striking out eight and only surrendering one walk. It's clear that Ryan can deal. The 2018 seventh-round draft pick has touted a sub-four ERA in each season since his professional debut. Before being traded to the Twins the San Francisco native was 4-3 with a 3.63 ERA on the Durham Bulls staff. Ryan has started 11 games this season with opposing batters hitting .175 against him. With the Olympics serving as a confidence booster, it will be exciting to see what Ryan can do with the Saints for the remainder of the season. 6. 3B Jose Miranda (23-years-old) Season Stats (Double-A + Triple-A): .342/.406/.596, 21 2B, 23 HR, 4 SB, 65 RBI Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: #5 Don't be fooled that Miranda is a spot lower than he was a few months back. In fact, Miranda has been as good as he's been all season in the past few days. Miranda recorded a multi-hit game on Thursday night and knocked the go-ahead homer to push the Saints to a win in extra-innings on Wednesday. Miranda has slashed an impressive .338/.402/.606 in just 38 games at Triple-A this season. His numbers were just as strong (if not better) at Double-A Wichita. The best part? Miranda is improving as he increases levels of play. Don't be surprised if the best story of the 2021 Twins organization gets a shot at the MLB level before the 2021 season ends.
    8 points
  48. Last Saturday’s 6-3 loss to Kansas City was already another unremarkable defeat in a wildly disappointing 2021 Twins campaign. But in a stunning revelation confirmed by team and league officials, it also marked the halfway point of the MLB season. “There are 162 games in the season,” said a Twins executive who asked not to be identified. “Saturday’s loss was the 81st game. Half of 162 is 81.” Reaction in Twins Territory ranged from disgust and anger to a world-weary resignation often only found in ER nurses, veterans of war, and Vikings fans. “You mean I’ve got another 75-80 games of this [expletive],” said Rev. Marshall Lemire of Forestview Presbyterian Church in Baxter. “Unbelievable. I’m a man of faith, but this is a profound test of it. [Expletive.]” “You know how when a good high school basketball team drills some podunk team from the sticks and they keep the clocks running,” asked Thom Sprouls of Cook. “Can they do that in baseball? Why don’t they? They should totally do that. This is a travesty.” MLB officials say there are no plans to cancel any games or enforce a slaughter rule for teams like the Twins and Diamondbacks who still have a frankly shocking number of games left to play. “We get that it seems like there are a remarkable amount of days left in the season,” said Ethan Nguyen, a spokesperson for the Commissioner’s office. “But what if you took the family on a vacation all August, like they do in Europe? Just disconnect, bring some books and board games to the cabin, and when you get back you’ve just wiped out like a third of it, slugger. You can see the finish line from there.” This is cold comfort to fans like Maggie Dietmann of Worthington. “I don’t even remember when I switched from optimism about this team to wondering how much we could get back for (Jose) Berrios,” said Dietmann. “It seems like a hundred years ago. And now these people have the gall, the absolute, unfounded gall, to tell me there’s almost half a season of this left. They’ve got some brass.” In a written statement to the media, the team said that there are 162 games in a standard major league season. Twins Daily has confirmed that this is accurate. Still, the sheer burden of three more months of poor pitching, injuries, and regression weighs heavy on a sullen fanbase. “[Expletive] that,” said Rev. Lemire.
    8 points
  49. Yes, Berrios wants a hefty payday, and no, he isn’t one of the top 10 pitchers in baseball. The three players he’s most closely tied to in this contract situation are Luis Severino, Aaron Nola, and Lance McCullers. The former two got paid prior to the 2019 season. McCullers just got his payday. They are all 27 years old, save for Nola who just recently had a birthday. None of that trio would qualify as top 10 pitchers in the game either. Nola and Severino took four-year deals at $45M and $40M, respectively. McCullers agreed to a five-year deal that starts in 2022 and is for $85M. Jose reportedly wanted something close to what the Phillies and Yankees did for their starters; that isn’t happening now. He’s going to get something closer to what the Astros paid out, and that’s more than a fair valuation. I don’t think Berrios would find a $17M AAV on the open market, but I’d be shocked if he couldn’t get something in the $12-15M range. Really though, this conversation is less about dollars and more about sense. Over the winter Minnesota paid J.A. Happ $8M and Matt Shoemaker $2M both on one-year deals. That $10M has immediately become a sunk cost as both have been downright terrible, and the stability intended for the back of the rotation has been non-existent. I’d have preferred to see the Twins aim higher when rounding out the group, but we’ve seen that troubles there as guys like James Paxton haven’t even thrown a pitch for their new team. I think the point with Berrios is this, you already have a commodity that you know, he should be entering his prime, and there’s never been a question of his durability. Sure, he’s faltered in August and September, but it hasn’t ever been injury related. He’s not an ace, and he may be a borderline number two at times, but it’s fair to say he’s a top-half of the rotation arm that flashes even more when he’s on. The alternative is one of unknown, or one I think we can bet against. Touching again on the unknown, you’re dealing with bargain bin arms hoping that a middle-of-the-road veteran is enough for the sake of stability. Maybe they’re injured, ineffective, or both. The option we can probably bet against is a big ticket purchase. Trevor Bauer made a good deal of sense from a roster construction standpoint, but he was never going to be interested in Minnesota, and the Twins were never going to drop that kind of coin. Nothing precludes the Twins from spending, but top free agents don’t see this as a destination either. Looking ahead to the upcoming offseason, there’s more than a few veteran arms that should hit the market. Plenty of them will be paid handsomely, and some of them may even be interested in talking with the Twins. Giving Jose Berrios something like $80M over the next five years isn’t going to stop any opportunity to engage those arms either. If development continues to happen, you’d hope this rotation has a desire to include Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran as soon as next season. Maybe one of them turns out to be an ace, and maybe neither do. Either way, pitching being a focus, moving on from Berrios solely to pay someone in hopes of replicating his production seems silly. Finding an ace is among the most difficult things to do in baseball. There’s maybe 10 of those guys in the game, most are developed internally, and if they do ever hit the open market Minnesota isn’t the first choice they’ve got on their list. Building a rotation with guys that all have the ability to pitch like an ace on any given night is a much more attainable goal, and both Kenta Maeda and Berrios fit that bill. Beyond there the Twins don’t have answers. Michael Pineda has been a steadying presence, and maybe they bring him back again this winter, but Berrios should be inked into that future as much as anyone. It's easy to spend someone else’s money, and the Pohlad’s have plenty of it, but the thought process runs deeper than that. Plenty of money comes off the books again this winter, and while 2021 has been a disaster, a new opportunity to reload will be in front of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. Including someone like Berrios as part of that makes more sense than it does finding the next guy discarded from another organization to replace him. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
    8 points
  50. Caleb “Meat Raffle” Thielbar landed on the Minnesota Twins injured list Thursday with a strained groin, joining Byron Buxton, Mitch Garver, Kenta Maeda, Max Kepler, Luis Arraez, Devin Smeltzer, Rob Refsnyder, Jake Cave, and Edwar Colina. While this staggering list of casualties is alarming for both the front office and Twins fans, it’s a blessing in disguise for the team’s accountants. “We have ten players on the injured list,” said a senior employee with knowledge of the situation. “Next one’s free.” Multiple sources confirmed that the Minnesota Twins purchased the Major League Baseball Silver Plan for health insurance, which contains a codicil for catastrophic injuries stating that every player over the tenth on a team’s injured list will have all medical expenses covered. “It’s supposed to be triggered by acts of god, a tornado landing in the bullpen, Kent Hrbek bringing room temperature ‘guaca-mayo’ to the clubhouse, things like that,” said the source. “But the rapid accumulation of injuries did the trick.” This is a major change from previous years, when the notoriously thrifty team stuck with MLB’s Mild Bronze Plan, in which snake handlers, disgraced veterinarians, and bloodletters were considered primary care physicians, Tylenol cost $800 per bottle, and the only in-network hospital was the abandoned church in Stull, Kansas. “Given the pace of injuries, we expect at least 1-3 more Twins to be eligible for free care before players return to the active list,” said the source. “Did that Chinese satellite ever land? You’ve gotta figure it’s gonna fall right on Josh Donaldson’s calf. Hell, I’m calling it now.” NOTE: The interview with the source was cut short when a swarm of cicadas attacked J.A. Happ’s face.
    8 points
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