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  • Rotten at the Core: 2022 Twins Were Let Down by Their Own Nucleus


    Nicholas Nelson

    You can't do it without your core. No amount of managerial savvy or front office maneuvering can offset the devastating impact of a foundational core that simply doesn't show up. 

    That will go down as the lasting epitaph for the 2022 Minnesota Twins, who were officially eliminated from division contention over the weekend.

     

    Image courtesy of Charles LeClaire, USA Today Sports

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    So: the front office. They've had more than their fair share of missteps, and it's natural to focus on underwhelming acquisitions like Dylan Bundy, Chris Archer, and Emilio Pagán. But there's a dirty little secret: their two biggest moves of the offseason paid off handsomely.

    Minnesota traded its best young pitching prospect for a frontline starter in Sonny Gray to stabilize the top of the rotation in the absence of José Berríos. Gray, despite missing time on a few occasions, came through with an excellent season, posting a 3.08 ERA over 119.2 IP while leading all Twins pitchers in fWAR (2.4).

    By investing modestly in pitching and clearing out Josh Donaldon's salary, the Twins were able to acquire the top free agent on the market late in the offseason. That move also has been successful – Carlos Correa has put together a customarily excellent year, leading the team overall in fWAR (4.1) while slashing .289/.365/.468 through 128 games. 

    True to his rep, Correa's been stepping up his production here in the stretch run. The idea was that those contributions would be meaningful because he'd be melding with a greater veteran core to lead the charge for a contending team. Correa wasn't supposed to carry the load single-handedly, as he mostly has been throughout the second half. He was supposed to be combining powers with the likes of Byron Buxton, Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler and Ryan Jeffers.

    Among position players who are still here, those five led all Twins in fWAR between 2020 and 2021. They are homegrown talents the organization has been cultivating for many years. Three are under long-term contracts – the only extensions this front office has handed out to inherited players from the previous regime. All are in the heart of their prototypical primes, with ages ranging from 25 to 29. 

    These were the building blocks. They've earned that standing. 

    And you know what? The plan was working for a while. As recently as July 13th, the Twins were eight games above .500 at 49-41, and 4 ½  games up in the AL Central. By that point, the five players mentioned above had combined to be worth 10.3 fWAR, and the first two – Buxton and Arraez – were days away from appearing in their first All-Star Game.

    Since then, the Twins have gone 25-38, with all five combining for 1.6 fWAR in well over a third of the season. That includes 1.2 fWAR from Buxton, who somehow managed to put up .275/.370/.513 in 23 more games before succumbing to his knee and hip injuries – meaning the other four franchise staples have collectively been barely above replacement level over a prolonged stretch of the season where the team experienced a 15-game freefall in the standings.

    What more is there to say? Yes, injuries are the main headline of this season and they certainly played a big role in the drop-off from this group, but all that aside: the core came up woefully short when it counted most. Again. So the question is: where do we go from here? 

    The front office's strategy was structured around supplementing this tenured nucleus to make a push in 2022-23, while waiting for the next wave – Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff, Austin Martin, Brooks Lee – to hopefully take center stage. But none of those players can really be counted on heading into 2023, for various reasons, so the Twins might need to consider making some short-term adjustments.

    Max Kepler stands out as the clearest candidate to be displanted. He presents quite the conundrum, under contract for one more year at $8.5 million (with a $10 million team option for 2024). 

    On the one hand, he was clearly one of the single biggest culprits in the Twins' implosion, slashing a Sandy Leon-esque .179/.241/.226 since the All-Star break with a negative WPA.

    Despite showing flashes of greatness at times, Kepler has made a habit out of not showing up for the Twins when they need him. He's a career .056 hitter in the playoffs, with one hit in 18 at-bats. He's been at his absolute worst this year when the team has been forced to rely on him heavily amidst a barrage of injuries. 

    On the other hand, Kepler still has undeniably intriguing traits. He remains an elite defensive right fielder. Before completely unraveling in the second half, he appeared to be on his way to an excellent year, pacing the team in fWAR with 1.6 for the first two months. It's reasonable to think that the new defensive shifting limitations will be positive for his hitting results. 

    And even here in what's clearly been the worst season of his career from a production standpoint ... Kepler's measurables via Statcast are still really, really good:

    keplerstatcast2022.png

    Personally I feel ready to move on from Kepler despite all of the above, especially with Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, and Matt Wallner all on hand as promising young RF options. The $8.5 million owed to Kepler could be better used elsewhere, and perhaps he'd benefit from a change of scenery as his game stagnates here in Minnesota.

    The redeeming qualities of his profile make it likely that some team will be open to taking on Kepler and his relatively favorable contract. The Twins might actually be able to get some value in return, although the 29-year-old's bottomed-out stock position doesn't help. 

    Odds of Kepler being traded this offseason could probably be set at around 50:50. Everyone else is much less likely to move. 

    The Twins could possibly find a suitor for Arraez or Polanco. Their contractual situations are even more team-friendly than Kepler's – Arraez has three years of arbitration ahead, while Polanco is owed $7.5 million next year followed by two team options. But to me, the backup options behind both of them are less compelling, and their impact is less replaceable than Kepler's. I don't find my faith in either shaken to the same degree. 

    Jeffers won't be traded, since he's the sole major-league catching depth in the organization. Where he's concerned, the key decision – as Gary Sánchez heads to free agency – is whether the Twins should remain committed to him as their 1A catcher, seeking out a León-esque caddy for the minor timeshare. I'm not sure Jeffers has shown the ability or durability to be viewed as a cornerstone at the position, and at age 25 it's hard to project a lot of additional upside. 

    The Twins will have a lot of spending money available this offseason if they're unable to retain Carlos Correa, with no especially obvious places to spend it. That is, unless they decide to set their sights on top free agent catcher Willson Contreras and completely reshape their future behind the plate.

    These are the kinds of pivots that need to be on the table as the Twins re-evaluate their fundamental makeup of a roster that has now failed to get it done in back-to-back seasons.

     

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    "Arraez has three years of arbitration ahead, while Polanco is owed $7.5 million next year followed by two team options. But to me, the backup options behind both of them are less compelling, and their impact is less replaceable than Kepler's. I don't find my faith in either shaken to the same degree."

    I know most disagree, but the Twins should have traded Polanco earlier this year. They should trade him this off-season before his value declines farther. Moving him to 2B kept him healthier and on the field for a while. I just think his injuries will continue to increase as he ages. I disagree that we don't have anyone to replace people at 2B. I love Arraez and would put him there if Polanco is traded. We have Julien and Martin on the way. They will increase the team speed of this sedentary group. Also, we have many SS's in the system now and not all of them will stay at SS. One of the reasons we traded Steer is because we have so many infielders in our system.

    Great article.

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    So one stint to a the IL for Jeffers due to wild pitch in pregame bullpen warmup that led to a fracture in his throwing hand and you question durability.  Farther from the truth on that weak statement.  Plus you failed to mention that was his hottest streak of hitting during that stretch leading up to the team doctors finally figuring out he had a broken bone in his hand for 2 weeks since the original injury occurrence.  Sanchez showed flashes but he is basically a veteran Jeffers that has multiple years in the bigs.  Not a big time hitter, had maybe 2 really decent years early in his career.  Yankees were pleased to get rid of him so let's not kid ourselves on Sanchez.  Leon as a rental was awful.  Hamilton has 1 hit and isn't big league material.  Depth at catcher has to be addressed, as the minor league options are not impressive for developing in house.

    My biggest concern is the Trainers/Team doctors as a let down for this season.  Seems like some failed diagnosis multiple times this year with a bunch of guys.  

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    The new core is in?

    Arraez, Jeffers, Kirilloff, Gordon, Miranda, Lewis, Wallner, Celestino, and Larnach are all under 27, and 7 of them now have significant MLB experience.

    Yes, Celestino, Gordon, and Jeffers may all be stretched as starters. So, you keep Polanco and Buxton, and add a starting catcher

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    Players have career years (Kepler 2019) and off years (Polanco this year). The beauty of this game is how unpredictable it is. Would they be out of the race if they had even an average pen? And the Archer signing, well that didn't go so well either. What about all these injuries? Can anything be done (besides not signing injury prone players) or was it a freak year? 

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    Good insight on what makes a team click.

    I call it having a "career year".  Multiple players in the same year.

    Every time a good team makes a run into the playoffs and the World Series, you look at their team and what do you see?  Guys having one of the best, if not the best year, of their career.

    That's what makes a team click.  Hitters or pitchers,  Check their stats and put those up against their career numbers and you will see that a predominance of players on a team had very strong years.

    Throw in a talented rookie and some unusual contributions from fringe players and suddenly you've got a clubhouse that is having fun, is talented and makes a deep run into the playoffs.

    I tried to get excited about the Twins this year, but you look at their individual numbers in June and it's like:  Who is going to carry this team?   What four or five guys are having good years?

    There was no one there.  Nobody pushed forward with a great season.  You look at that and you know right away that there was no chance, there never was a chance, because no one was having a career year.

    Look at Cleveland.  They had a rookie having a great year, Rosario -- career year, Ramirez -- very strong year, Naylor -- career year, Gimenez -- career year.  Bunch of fringe guys step forward, you don't need much when you have five guys out front pulling.  Boom, a couple clutch hits, a great pitching staff, especially the bullpen, and it never was close to being the Twins' year.

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    I don't understand the constant stream of articles praising some of the disappointing moves made by the FO. Trading your top pitching prospect for a veteran starting pitcher that didn't even throw 120 innings is not a handsome payoff. To me it's disappointing. Adding Correa was shocking and there is no doubt he made the team better but without a better plan for the pitching aspect that they put in place, adding him wasn't going to be the difference maker they needed. His salary would have been better used in acquiring GOOD pitching. As for the nucleus letting them down I disagree as well. I think the Twins got pretty much what they always did have and will have in Buxton, Arraez, Polanco, Kepler and Jeffers. Buxton play part-time true to form. Arraez hit .300 true to form. Kepler hit in the low .200's true to form. Jeffers hit a bit over .200 just like last year. Only Polanco's production was down from previous seasons and anyone could argue they got some or most of his lost production from Gordon. As for the other spots on the field Miranda easily replaced and probably added to lost production from Sano. Urshela filled in very well for replacing Donaldson. The only spot that was lost was left field due to Larnach and Kirilloff not coming through and they weren't considered the nucleus of the team. I've said it before and I'll say it again, If the FO doesn't start putting a priority on getting GOOD healthy pitchers instead of bringing in broken down washed up veterans this team will never make a serious run in the playoffs .... if they even get there.

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    I don't really anticipate many changes this off season even though I think there should be.  When all is said and done the FO will blame the whole season on injuries.  Not the acquisitions of pitchers with dubious injuries, not a manager and GM sticking to a "plan"  even if it costs us games, starting pitchers only going 5 innings and then relying on an inadequate bullpen to save the game.  Not the poorest baserunning in baseball,  not a porous infield, not a manager who has very little in game managing skills, et al. This team plays very boring, lifeless baseball and is weak on fundamentals.  Some organizational changes would be prudent.

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    12 minutes ago, rv78 said:

    I don't understand the constant stream of articles praising some of the disappointing moves made by the FO. Trading your top pitching prospect for a veteran starting pitcher that didn't even throw 120 innings is not a handsome payoff. To me it's disappointing. Adding Correa was shocking and there is no doubt he made the team better but without a better plan for the pitching aspect that they put in place, adding him wasn't going to be the difference maker they needed. His salary would have been better used in acquiring GOOD pitching. As for the nucleus letting them down I disagree as well. I think the Twins got pretty much what they always did have and will have in Buxton, Arraez, Polanco, Kepler and Jeffers. Buxton play part-time true to form. Arraez hit .300 true to form. Kepler hit in the low .200's true to form. Jeffers hit a bit over .200 just like last year. Only Polanco's production was down from previous seasons and anyone could argue they got some or most of his lost production from Gordon. As for the other spots on the field Miranda easily replaced and probably added to lost production from Sano. Urshela filled in very well for replacing Donaldson. The only spot that was lost was left field due to Larnach and Kirilloff not coming through and they weren't considered the nucleus of the team. I've said it before and I'll say it again, If the FO doesn't start putting a priority on getting GOOD healthy pitchers instead of bringing in broken down washed up veterans this team will never make a serious run in the playoffs .... if they even get there.

    Very well said. Your post was the post I was thinking in my head. 

    Most of the nucleus played pretty close to form. Gordon and Miranda were pleasant surprises, while Lewis and Kirilloff had unpleasant ones. Otherwise, which player can you look back on in 2022 and really be surprised about? 

    I do think they projected more from Correa.

    I don’t think you can call 120 IP from your best starter a handsome payoff either—well put. Until the Twins fix the pitching side of the house, no player projections or promising rookies will matter much. It’s not good enough to cite a pitcher who had a good year in the minors, like we did with Balazovic and his 2021 season and how I fear the expectations will be placed on Woods-Richardson and his 2022 season. Falvey and Levine need to relearn pitching on the fly. Twins Daily throws around adjectives like they’re a dime a dozen. We read words like handsome, stardom, historic, spectacular, devastating, dominating, unstoppable, brilliant, we read those words in just about every minor league recap when someone pitches well, and really, where can you go from there? 

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    Catcher is a big concern. Jeffers can't hit a curveball. He is a 220 hitter at best. Larnach has same issue. Last couple months couldn't hit cutters and is liability in outfield. No range at all. Celestino can't keep track of how many outs there are and like other young Twin Outfielders can't play the wall. Attitude is a concern. But bottom line if Twins don't get an Ace and improve the Pen none of the position moves matter! Stop with the Tommy John projects! Pay for Healthy quality pitching!!

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    1 hour ago, FlyingFinn said:

    We have Julien and Martin on the way. They will increase the team speed of this sedentary group. Also, we have many SS's in the system now and not all of them will stay at SS.

    I so hope this turns out to be true but for us it never quite happens that way.

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    1 hour ago, umterp23 said:

    My biggest concern is the Trainers/Team doctors as a let down for this season.  Seems like some failed diagnosis multiple times this year with a bunch of guys.  

    Huge concern!  Not sure if they do not have solid conditioning plans and almost certain that they are not able to rehab most of the players.  Too many to name!

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    First of all, the Twins didn't do nearly enough to bolster the rotation. Gray worked out reasonably well, yes. Relying on the likes of Bundy and Archer was ridiculous, and ignoring the bullpen was a serious, and costly, mistake. It seems like the FO just assumed that the pitching pipeline was ready to fill in all of the gaps. That was maybe the biggest problem for this team, and it ultimately wasted a good year from Correa.

    But you also raise good points about the core position players, They were counted on, and they couldn't get it done.

    But should they have been counted on?

    Kepler has been a hot mess for three years. Sano hasn't shown an ability to adapt or stay fit. Arraez and Polanco have consistent nagging injuries. We don't even need to say anything about Byron Buxton and his tragic injury history. Yes, the FO saw the instability offered by Donaldson and Garver and made adjustments, but relying on the core that they kept to produce another division title was a questionable call at best.

    That's really my biggest concern going forward: the Twins are just putting too much weight on injury-prone players. The established core mentioned above are going to be another year older and even more prone to injury. The "new" core of Lewis, Kirilloff, Jeffers and Larnach are just starting their careers with exactly the same concerns, if not much worse. You probably don't get an all-star shortstop out of a player with repeatedly torn ACLs, or an all-star slugging LF with a history of chronic wrist pain. And the Twins need all-stars - they need an elite player somewhere on the field. Once Correa leaves, the only position on this team featuring an elite-caliber player will be the platoon/bench CF. Oof.

    At some point, this team is going to have to admit that it can't get to a title with this core. Yes, it's sad and maybe even represents some bad luck, but this team is so much closer to being the Tigers than the Yankees. If that doesn't suggest it's time for a total coaching and roster rebuild, I don't know what does.

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    I know this is harsh  and has been repeated quite often since 2021 but it holds truth ....

    Total system failure  , FO's top professionals at every positions in the system  has failed , not the twins players  ...

    The players are following a plan orchestrated  by the FO that isn't working  and is diminishing their players skills  ...

    And that is the core of it ...

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    1 hour ago, Whitey333 said:

    I don't really anticipate many changes this off season even though I think there should be.  When all is said and done the FO will blame the whole season on injuries.  Not the acquisitions of pitchers with dubious injuries, not a manager and GM sticking to a "plan"  even if it costs us games, starting pitchers only going 5 innings and then relying on an inadequate bullpen to save the game.  Not the poorest baserunning in baseball,  not a porous infield, not a manager who has very little in game managing skills, et al. This team plays very boring, lifeless baseball and is weak on fundamentals.  Some organizational changes would be prudent.

    This

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    Buxton, Kirilloff, Larnach...these guys may never totally 'make it back' to be considered 'core'. Correa will probably leave. Polanco and Arraez...who knows what is in store for them. If Lewis can recover fully (and that isn't a given), Polanco is expendable. I would keep Arraez around. Every team can use a guy who makes contact and also hits pretty well. (what we have seen from him the past 2 years is a drop-off in the final month...is that injury or fatigue?) Sano and Kepler should be gone. Celestino should be in AAA. Jeffers needs a full season. Miranda was a pleasant surprise....even with his dropoff in September.

    The pitching? Don't even know where to start or finish on that one.  What's left? Twins could still finish runner-up if they are motivated to do so. Based on how they are playing, that won't happen. This season just needs to go away.

    I'll say it again. When Cruz was here, he provided leadership, glue, mentorship, and enthusiasm....all of which did not exist in 2022. Clearly it mattered. No one picked up the ball...at least that we could see. I also fear, as do others, that they have to be careful not to place too much hope on players who have been seriously injured so far in their careers. I'd also like to see a bit less 'patience' and a bit more urgency from the manager.

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    Say what you want, the whole premise of the season was doomed from the get-go. Scratch and dent starters limping to a mediocre bullpen. What could go wrong? The pure absurdity of it all was cloaked by the other-worldly performance of Duran, certainly something that the FO benefitted from but surely did not expect. 

    They acquired three starting pitchers (Maeda, Paddack, Mahle) with known and notably health issues and surrendered significant assets to do so. The injury bug got us? Really? You don't say.

    I listen to DSP bemoan tepid ticket sales. I listen to Falvey dish the word salad on the season. Does anyone get it? It's a results business. Business has stunk for two years. Stunk like four day old fish or relatives. This was a embarrassing season in an embarrassing division with embarrassing results.

    You can be a fan of the team and still call it what it was; a flim-flam to sell cold hot dogs and warm beer. 

    Ps. Can we stop saying "If Correa leaves?" I am sure the U-Haul (but it's a nice one) is in front of the house right now. There is a better chance that  Bonnes turns down a free beer than Correa stays. There is a better chance that Gladden ends any verb every with a G. Sorry but I've been scufflin' enough. I've got to go whompin'. 

     

         

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    "with no especially obvious places to spend it"

    I'll take a stab at this... um pitching, pitching, and um... I'll take more pitching (real pitching... not what is left over on one-year-squint-hard-to-see-a-mirage-of-talent-cross-fingers-tought-great-2-months-production-in-2019 pitchers)

    Yes, there is some promising young pitchers and some coming back from injuries but there will be injuries and underperformance next year too. We need to start from a better position of strength next year. 

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    1 hour ago, insagt1 said:

    I'll say it again. When Cruz was here, he provided leadership, glue, mentorship, and enthusiasm....all of which did not exist in 2022. Clearly it mattered. No one picked up the ball...at least that we could see. I also fear, as do others, that they have to be careful not to place too much hope on players who have been seriously injured so far in their careers. I'd also like to see a bit less 'patience' and a bit more urgency from the manager.

    And Eddie. 

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    Hate to say it, but could the prudent move in 2023 be to essentially rebuild?

    I’m not necessarily advocating for it, but there might be some logic to the strategy. Hear me out.

    1. Correa is gone - huge hole at SS to be filled by possibly three young players - Polacios, Lewis, and Lee. Let those three play as much as possible and as time is earned. 

    2. The new “core” all need rehab and/or seasoning to see what we really have. This might take some time. The new core includes Kiriloff, Larnach, Jeffers, Miranda, Gordon, and, yes, Wallner. Maybe Celestino.

    3. Mahle and Maeda are big ifs. Several up and comer starters need to time to prove themselves. Don’t want to waste a season of Gray and Ryan, but Gray seems a bit unhappy anyway and will probably be moved by the deadline (could be the same with Mahle and Maeda too once we are not contending).

    4. The prior core - Buxton, Kepler, Sano, and Polanco - will likely only contribute 80-100 or so games next year. The transition is past full swing - it’s actually nearing its conclusion.

    5. Great time to reset with a new manager and maybe FO too. The Pohlads have to recognise that Rocco is not the guy to lead a young, mid market club - just not enough fundamentals, ongoing player development, confidence against good teams and solid in-game managerial decisions.  Bring in a new leader to get a year under his belt and start to put a new stamp on this team.

    6. Can we realistically expect to beat an ascending, young, well-managed Guardians team next year? Hate to say it, but we are not one or two players away from achieving competitive advantage vs. Cleveland or several of the big spending teams.

    Lets see what Correa does, because this may be the fulcrum on which the decision to retool or not in 2023 turns. But it might not be silly to run a much younger team under new management up the flagpole next season. Couldn’t do any worse than this year, And besides, we will have new uniforms and scoreboard to add to the fun…

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    That didn't take long.

    On 9/22/2022 at 11:22 AM, MMMordabito said:

    Dumping Kepler in favor of outfield slugs Larnach, Kirilloff and Wallner and $8.5 mill is likely to be a reoccurring theme in off-season posts.  I would also expect assumptions that Miami would love to have Kepler and will trade Lopez or Alcantara for him and some 10 to 20s level prospects.

    Larnach and Kirilloff will then get hurt, and Wallner will pull a Parmelee.  Rinse and repeat.

     

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    55 minutes ago, Nashvilletwin said:

    Hate to say it, but could the prudent move in 2023 be to essentially rebuild?

    I don't hate to say it at all. I want this team to win a World Series. There is no path forward to that goal with this core, this coaching staff and/or this FO. If anything, last year was the time to begin a rebuild and we're already a year off schedule. I'm drafting a blog post on this exact issue.

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    5 hours ago, rv78 said:

    I don't understand the constant stream of articles praising some of the disappointing moves made by the FO. 

    I can only speak for myself but I don't see this "constant stream," here or elsewhere. I mostly see criticism of the front office as this lost season plays out, which is warranted. Mostly I'm trying to add some counterbalance and perspective. I liked most of the moves they made, when they made them, so I'm not gonna sit here and whine about them in hindsight.

    If you were expecting more from Correa or Gray, you probably weren't being realistic. Frankly if you were expecting much from the pitching staff, you probably weren't being realistic. Building a great staff out of an essentially empty cupboard is a lot to ask. If the Twins were going to be good, it was gonna need to be driven largely by the 5 guys I wrote about. They came up short and need to be shouldering this season as much as anyone. That's something I don't see people talking enough about. There is 10X more complaining about the Twins signing Dylan Bundy, which had a VASTLY smaller effect on the team's failure than 5 core "everyday" players doing NOTHING in the second half.

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    4 hours ago, LastOnePicked said:

    That's really my biggest concern going forward: the Twins are just putting too much weight on injury-prone players. The established core mentioned above are going to be another year older and even more prone to injury. The "new" core of Lewis, Kirilloff, Jeffers and Larnach are just starting their careers with exactly the same concerns, if not much worse. You probably don't get an all-star shortstop out of a player with repeatedly torn ACLs, or an all-star slugging LF with a history of chronic wrist pain. And the Twins need all-stars - they need an elite player somewhere on the field. Once Correa leaves, the only position on this team featuring an elite-caliber player will be the platoon/bench CF. Oof.

    If you don't build and succeed around your own top draft picks turned top prospects, then what are you going to do? There is no path to contention unless you play in Los Angeles or New York (and even the Dodgers/Yankees are built primarily upon internally developed talent). 

    The Twins can't just compile a championship roster out of free agency. It is not possible in practical terms. They also can't trade for a bunch of value when their best players have the injury issues to which you allude. So what do you suggest if not to get behind the core(s) and hope for better returns?

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    53 minutes ago, Nick Nelson said:

    Building a great staff out of an essentially empty cupboard is a lot to ask.

    And just who was responsible for the empty cupboard?

    I realize that your article wasn't meant to be Yet Another Referendum on the FO.  But turns of phrase in the article itself, and then in comments, go ahead and invite exactly that.  It comes across as a apology for the FO, and begs rebuttal.

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    I have been hammering on pitching from day one (the lack of it)

    Yes the window on the core group has closed. While the bullpen actually looks reasonably competitive at the moment, the only good move the FO made all year was acquiring Fulmer. His slider is truly  unhittable! Sign him please!

    Lopez was a Hugh mistake. Gave up way too much for a guy with minimal success until this year. Paddock & Mahle as well.

    Lewis was an unexpected surprise and as I have also said, they should have rolled the dice with Lewis & Miranda from the start and spent the 35M on pitching. 

    Lewis only got hurt playing out of position because they had Correa. If not, he is in the rookie of the year convo and with 35M in pitching we would have been looking at a playoff run until everyone else got hurt and flamed out.

    This team needs a top starter & Gray & Ryan and IF Maeda & Mahle can pitch,  great. Then we need a veteran presence. 

    Hosmer would be a great fit if we can somehow acquire him. The Padres paid his salary and sent along prospects to move him. Yet 276/ 16 hr at the deadline with excellent fielding skills would have been a godsend. We had zero 1B all year and it showed. Obviously can't count on Kiriloff or Sano.

    But yes, somebody has to step up and the front office needs to go. Not a Hugh Baldelli fan,but give him a good team like he had in 2019 and he seems to do a good enough job of staying out of their way. I look forward to the end of the shift next year and the over reliance on metrics.

     

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    Injuries were the biggest problem. Buxton was made to play at far less than 100% for far too long. He should have been placed on IL more often or had the surgury done before All-Star break to be ready to impact the team Aug-Oct.

    Polanco was worn ragged which induced his injury at the same time playing hurt for too long before he was totally shut down. Early detection and normal rest scheduling would have prevented any time on the IL, and he'd be around to impact the team. Much like Correa, Polanco is a very good player which pours it on in Aug.-Oct.. 

    Arraez, with his poor knees was asked to play beyond his limits. They even had him play 2B & bat against LHPs when they didn't need to. He too seems to be playing hurt & tired thru out Aug & Sept. If they were better managed this could have been a different story. Arraez could still have a commanding lead for the batting title & the team locked as division champions.

    About a change? I'd say yes. Kepler for sure. He still has good trade value (his defense, rule change, remaining good contract) and we have Kiriloff, Larnach, Wallner, Celestino, Gordon with Garlic & Cave available to replace him now. Kepler is superior defensively but at RF that's less important where the other options bats could be better.

    I never saw Jeffers as our starting catcher, lacking in his arm & bat, besides our catching situation is very weak now. I'd definitely like the Twins to pursue 2 excellent catchers Contreras (superior bat) & Narvaez (superior glove). Jeffers trade value is still good so injunction w/ other good value players, I'd be in favor for a trade for a front-line SP & pick up Garver as back up.

    Polanco & Arraez would be greatly missed, yet with high quality of INF players coming up ready for MLB it could cause a dilema which makes both dispensible especially since their low flexibility defensive.

     

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    23 minutes ago, Nick Nelson said:

    If you don't build and succeed around your own top draft picks turned top prospects, then what are you going to do? There is no path to contention unless you play in Los Angeles or New York (and even the Dodgers/Yankees are built primarily upon internally developed talent). 

    I think you misunderstood my point, or I didn't make it well. A team like the Twins absolutely has to build and succeed through drafting and building a core. The issue is that this core - the players who are currently in this organization - are either a) not likely to be reliable due to injury concerns or b) not anywhere close to elite.

    Where is this farm system ranked at this point? 20th? 25th? Which pitchers project to be top-of-the-rotation starters? Which internally-ranked arms project to throw 150-200 quality innings per year? How about position players? Who projects to be a 30-40 HR hitter? Who can seriously contend for a batting title? Who looks like they've got Gold Glove range? Who can steal 25-30 bases in a season?

    The answer to all of these questions is this: no one. While there have been some promising seasons and some compelling minor league storylines, this team can't hold a candle to the talent that is acquired and developed by the big boys of baseball. And not even to the dregs who have used the last few years to rebuild.

    So what are we even doing here? Why are we even asking this FO to stay? They've been touted as a supremely intelligent group with the ability to build a sustainable pitching pipeline PLUS augment that staff with veteran reclamation projects that can rebound and anchor the rotation and pen. None of this has happened, and there are no signs to indicate that it ever will.

    It's sad and it's frustrating, but this team is going to have to take a few steps back into the cellar before it can take confident steps towards a title. And it's going to have to involve a new FO and new voices in the dugout. And the longer we wait, the harder its going to get to keep fans on board. In fact, that may already be too late.

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    34 minutes ago, LastOnePicked said:

    I think you misunderstood my point, or I didn't make it well. A team like the Twins absolutely has to build and succeed through drafting and building a core. The issue is that this core - the players who are currently in this organization - are either a) not likely to be reliable due to injury concerns or b) not anywhere close to elite.

    Where is this farm system ranked at this point? 20th? 25th? Which pitchers project to be top-of-the-rotation starters? Which internally-ranked arms project to throw 150-200 quality innings per year? How about position players? Who projects to be a 30-40 HR hitter? Who can seriously contend for a batting title? Who looks like they've got Gold Glove range? Who can steal 25-30 bases in a season?

    The answer to all of these questions is this: no one. While there have been some promising seasons and some compelling minor league storylines, this team can't hold a candle to the talent that is acquired and developed by the big boys of baseball. And not even to the dregs who have used the last few years to rebuild.

    So what are we even doing here? Why are we even asking this FO to stay? They've been touted as a supremely intelligent group with the ability to build a sustainable pitching pipeline PLUS augment that staff with veteran reclamation projects that can rebound and anchor the rotation and pen. None of this has happened, and there are no signs to indicate that it ever will.

    It's sad and it's frustrating, but this team is going to have to take a few steps back into the cellar before it can take confident steps towards a title. And it's going to have to involve a new FO and new voices in the dugout. And the longer we wait, the harder its going to get to keep fans on board. In fact, that may already be too late.

    Arraez is seriously contending for a batting title this year. Lewis or Martin will/can steal 20 bases if they want to do that. Wallner could hit 30 home runs in a year. That's without me even thinking for a second about anyone else.

    The farm system ranking reflects that the following top players aren't in the farm anymore: Miranda, Arraez, Ryan, Duran, Jax, Larncach, Jeffers, Kiriloff (even Gordon), Ober. Then there is Varland, that the systems rate lower than a likely 4/5. 

    The last two years are a real downer. But anyone that thinks a team can contend when they play half the year w/o their top 5 outfielders, one of whom is their best player, is likely to be disappointed.

    Fans only care about winning. Whether it is this front office or not. Eventually they'll start winning, then the fans will be back.

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