MMMordabito reacted to LastOnePicked for a blog entry, Why Winning Matters
There’s a great scene in the first season of Ted Lasso. Coach Lasso is sitting and mulling over end of season strategy with his assistant, Coach Beard. Lasso realizes that his approach with his players might not give the team the best shot at winning, but smiles and reassures Coach Beard that “winning ain’t how we measure success.”
Coach Beard turns red. He slams his fist on the table and hollers, “DAMN IT, IT IS!”
Winning matters. Which brings us, ironically enough, back to the Minnesota Twins. In the last 18 years of baseball, only two MLB teams have failed to win a postseason game. One of those teams, the Seattle Mariners, are a virtual lock to win a Wild Card spot. That may soon leave the Twins alone at the bottom of the postseason winning heap for this stretch. Last in success, out of all 30 major league teams.
“C’mon,” you’ll argue. “Stop blowing this out of proportion. Just look at those division pennants waving atop Target Field. One of them is even as recent as 2020. That’s success.” Sure, I know they’re there. I just can’t shake the feeling that they just don’t matter all that much. Sure, the Twins have had some success in a weak division - the children’s table of baseball - building up midseason leads and slipping ahead of marginal competition. But when the heat is on, when the top teams are in town, when the playoff bunting flies, the Twins aren’t much of a ballclub. They don’t win when it really counts, when it would generate excitement, when it would really bring the state together. They are a professional organization run and staffed by what seem to be genuinely decent and otherwise competent people.
But they don’t win … and that matters.
In 1986, I fell head over heels for the Minnesota Twins. They were a bad ballclub, but I loved the game and I loved the team and I loved the Metrodome (yeah, I know). My dad took me to ten games or so that year, taking time from a very busy work schedule to indulge me. He even took me to Fan Appreciation Night, where Bert Blyleven apologized to the crowd for a disappointing season, adding that he saw the core of a talented club that could bring a World Series to Minnesota in 1987.
My father audibly groaned. “It’ll never happen,” he said.
“What if it does,” I asked.
“Look, if the Twins go to the World Series next year, I’ll buy us both tickets. But it won’t happen, kid.”
You know the rest. Like magic, it did happen. And we were there. And my father, a serious man, hooted and cheered and waved like a kid. He loved the Twins more than I had realized, and he’d waited his life for this. When they won Game 7, he paraded me through the streets of Minneapolis on his shoulders. We hugged and high-fived strangers and police officers. We celebrated the success of our local team, a scrappy small market underdog.
“Enjoy it” he told me. “Because it’ll never happen again.”
We did not buy tickets to the 1991 series. We watched all the drama from the comfort of home. But I grew up with an embarrassment of baseball riches. More than that, I have memories of my father - the stoic US Navy veteran and successful man of business - that are priceless. I got to see my father become a kid, just like me, bursting with joy over the game of baseball.
The years are wearing on him now, and it's hard to know how much time we have left together. We don’t talk Twins much anymore, my father and me. He never watches games and rarely reads the box scores. I tried to sit him down to watch the 2019 Twins take on the Marlins on TV. I hyped him up for the “Bomba Squad” and chose an opponent I was sure the Twins could beat. I wanted him back on the bandwagon with me. I thought a special season was coming together again.
Newly acquired Sam Dyson blew the lead. Buxton injured his shoulder. The Twins lost 5-4 in extras. But my dad didn’t see it end - he had gone to the garage to tinker with the lawn mower engine. Somehow, he knew that team wasn’t anything special. “Wake me up when they look like a winner again,” he told me.
So here we are, three years removed from the 2019 season which ended in another postseason whimper. The consolation at the time was that the Twins appeared on the cusp of a breakout - a potential string of AL Central dominance that might lead them deep into the playoffs. Instead, we’ve just witnessed an absolutely epic late-season collapse that will leave them in third place and likely below .500 for the second straight year. Worst to third in the AL Central, particularly after signing the #1 free agent in baseball in the offseason, hardly inspires much hope.
It’s not that these things don’t happen in baseball, or in all professional sports. It would be foolish to expect the Twins - a mid-market team - to win back-to-back championships every decade, or to be angered by occasional rough seasons or disappointing endings. It’s not so much that the Twins lose, but how they lose - and that they lose when it matters most and even when they seemingly have what they need to succeed - that is so hard to stomach. It’s a culture of losing that has essentially destroyed fan morale and widespread interest in the game here in Minnesota.
Here’s what I’m trying to say: It’s not just that the Twins lose, it’s how losing no longer seems to be a problem for the organization.
No one who represents the Twins really seems disappointed or upset by what's happened this season. There’s no visible sense of urgency or frustration. The club’s director of communication admonishes critics for any negativity and tells fans to “ride with us,” without acknowledging that the club’s trainwreck bullpen failures made getting back in the fandom car seem like a death wish. “We played our game, we played hard,” is Baldelli’s general mantra after bitter losses, as though professionals being paid hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars shouldn’t be expected to “play hard” as a basic condition of their employment. Instead of playoff wins, we’ve gotten endless strings of excuses: injuries, payroll limitations, called strikes that only seem to pinch our batters, and platitudes about being “almost there” and busy “reloading.”
What’s that old saying? Sound and fury, signifying nothing. Though scratch that - what I wouldn’t give for even a little well-placed fury from this club. They endlessly preach process, but seem to have no real interest in results.
Meanwhile, there is an entire generation of young people who have never once seen a Twins playoff victory. They’ve never seen their friends or family members turn giddy at the prospect of coming out on top, of beating the big boys of baseball in late autumn.They’ve never seen the way a playoff run can pull people together and shake up the routine of life. Winning inspires chatter and energy. It changes dull small talk about the weather into tales of late-inning heroics. The perfect throw to the plate to preserve a close lead. The seeing-eye single that brought in the tying run. The walk-off home run that electrifies a city.
Minnesota is a beautiful state. The Twin Cities represent two vibrant metropolitan centers within a short cross-river drive. Greater Minnesota features majestic beauty and kind-hearted communities. At times, we become two very different kinds of people living in the same state. We sometimes lose a common worldview and a common cause. On top of that, we’ve weathered a pandemic, civil unrest, extreme political division and economic instability. Any of the top professional teams in this state that actually commits to winning - and actually does win when it counts - will find that, beyond their own satisfaction, they’ve added a stitch or two to a sense of unity and pride in the state.
Winning gives people relief and hope - even in small ways - and it gives them moments and stories with those they love. Yes, baseball is only a sport and maybe even a dying one, but winning is symbolic. Winning inspires.
I know I’m cranky. There will soon be any number of articles coming from people who are less cranky about how the Twins had some positive developments this year, and that the FO gave their trades and signings their best shot, and that some prospects took major steps forward, and that winning at the professional level isn’t the only thing that matters. I’m going to shake my head when I read those stories. I may even pound my fist on the table.
Because damn it, it is.
Winning is how you measure success in MLB. Winning is the only thing that matters at this level (and please don’t counter with “playing the game fairly is more important,” because that, too, is a basic professional expectation that should go without saying). And the Twins don’t win when it counts. And that matters. And anyone who does not make this the top priority for this team should no longer be involved with this organization. Find out why injuries keep derailing promising prospects. Find out why high-leverage situations at the plate and on the mound keep resulting in failure. Find out why the team looks like roadkill when the Yankees come to town. Find out why the team lacks fundamental skills on the bases and in the field. Focus less on mundane processes and more on getting situational results. Put the team through high-stress drills. Get the players ready for battle, rather than stocked with excuses when they fail.
Because Coach Beard is right. Winning matters. And it’s been far, far, far too long since the Twins have won anything when it counts.
MMMordabito reacted to Mill1634 for a blog entry, Mill1634's Trade Deadline Blueprint: Going for It
Welcome back to another Mill1634 blog entry. I've been away for a while as I just finished up my degree and started out my first job, but I've still been hanging around in the game threads. Like many Twins'' fans, I am thrilled with the way things have gone so far but am also realistic that this team is not in a position to threaten the true top teams in the league. However, I do not believe that they are all that far away. It's no secret that the bullpen has been horrendous outside of Griffin Jax and Jhoan Duran, and the rotation has been surprisingly productive despite being with Bailey Ober, Chris Paddack, and Kenta Maeda for a large portion of the year while also getting poor performance from Dylan Bundy and losing Sonny Gray to the IL twice. Part of the reason that the starting pitcher's have performed so well is because of the leash Rocco has had on his pitchers. However, this isn't as effective when the bullpen is terrible. Today, I'll attempt to fix both the rotation and the bullpen. I believe that it is realistic for the Twins to trade for two relievers and one starter, but today I'm going to be aggressive and add two starters and three relievers. I'll also add a surprising bat that would have many Twins fans excited.
Identifying the Sellers
The first thing to do as the fake front office is to identify the sellers. I've put these teams into three separate categories: Will sell, should sell, and could sell. The first category is the true bottom teams in the league that I would be shocked if they don't have a selloff. The middle category are teams that are sticking around but don't have enough talent to really go for it. The final category, could sell, features a small set of teams that are either near or above .500 but are either over performing or play in a great division.
I don't think that any of this list is shocking or controversial at all. None of these teams have a shot at the playoffs, and a fair amount of them are at least another year from competing. The one team on here who will maybe hold onto some pieces is the Orioles, who have been playing good baseball as of late and are nearing a contention window. For that reason, I would be uber shocked if they trade someone with team control like reliever Felix Bautista. However, I think players that are expiring can be had.
Again, this is a small set of teams that I think should sell, and probably will end up selling. The Marlins feature a great rotation and are near .500 for the first time in forever, but are in 4th place in the NLE, and really have no path to the playoffs. The DBacks are another team similar to the Orioles, where they are playing better baseball than they have in a long time, but have some pieces that can be sold off to future on 2023 and beyond. The final team, the Rangers, spent a ton of money this off-season but still aren't in a position to push for the playoffs.
Two AL central foes here in the final section in the White Sox and Guardians. I do not expect either of these teams to sell, but could see it. The White Sox have been playing poorly all year and certainly have some pieces that would get a haul at the deadline like Liam Hendricks or Lucas Giolito. The Guardians, who got insanely hot last month, have settled back to earth and aren't really a true thread in my mind. Their owner refuses to spend money which is the main reason that I have them in this section, but I think it would take a run of poor play leading up to the trade deadline to truly see a sell off. The Angels, who have been terrible despite having two of the best players on the planet, are a prime team that should sell but I don't think they will.
The goal of this trade deadline is to make the team a true contender. This is going to be tough for some fans as I am going to trade some prospects that are highly thought of, including by myself. However, I believe that this may be the best team the Twins will have with Byron Buxton on it, as Carlos Correa is unlikely to stick around. The goal is to add one starter that is better than both Joe Ryan and Sonny Gray, and another starter that I am comfortable starting in game 4 of the divisional series. As far as the bullpen, I want to add an arm that I am comfortable throwing in the 8th or 9th inning, and arm that is in the Griffin Jax/Caleb Thielbar tier, and a left handed pitcher, as I'm not uber high on Jovani Moran's control issues playing out well in the playoffs.
Acquire RH SP Tyler Mahle from Cincinnati for IF Austin Martin, IF Keoni Cavaco, and IF Yunior Severino
This is clearly the biggest acquisition I'll be making as the GM of the Twins, acquiring Tyler Mahle from the Reds. Mahle has great stuff and another year of team control remaining. He's certainly better than Joe Ryan, and is probably a half-step up from Sonny Gray. Mahle is likely to be one of the more sought after pitchers at the deadline, but isn't even the best starter the Reds will trade this deadline, as that title belongs to Luis Castillo. However, I prefer Mahle as I believe the cost will be a lot less. In the deal, we give up Austin Martin, who has struggled this year but still has all the talent in the world. The Reds may not view Martin as a centerpiece, but there is a chance that they do. Keoni Cavaco was a first round pick a few years ago and has finally started to come around for Fort Myers this year. Severino is a young middle infield prospect who is thrown is a lottery ticket. Predicting these types of guys is nearly impossible as all organizations value different things.
Acquire RH SP Merrill Kelly and LH RP Joe Mantiply from Arizona for SP Blayne Enlow, OF Matt Wallner, IF/OF Edouard Julien, and OF Mark Contreras
Kelly, who dominated the Twins earlier this year, is one of the least talked about names at the deadline. He doesn't have elite stuff and he probably isn't going to dominate a playoff caliber lineup, but he's a veteran that knows how to pitch similar to Sonny Gray. He's signed through 2024, although that may not be a great negotiation tool for the DBacks as he's likely not going to age all that well. He has an ERA in the mid-3's with the FIP numbers to back that up. Mantiply is another pitcher that isn't talked about nearly enough, and is the left hander that I would be seeking out if I was in an MLB front office. Mantiply has an ERA below 2 and isn't arb eligible until 2027. However, he's already 31 years old and with the volatility of relievers I would expect the DBacks to strike while the iron is hot. The headliner in this deal is Matt Wallner, who's been crushing the baseball at Wichita and is likely MLB ready. Blayne Enlow and Mark Contreras are both included to clear space off the 40 man, but both does have a small amount of value. Enlow is working his way back from injury, and Contreras is probably a 4th OF. Edouard Julien has an OPS of .876 for Wichita and has an OBP in the .420s.
Acquire RH RP Daniel Bard from Colorado for RHP Ronny Henriquez
Daniel Bard is one of the better stories in baseball. He left the game for quite some time but returned last season and is now a fireballing reliever who has found success in Colorado, which is not something to take for granted. The main reason the return on Bard is so light is because he is already 37 years old and is expiring after this season is over. He's struck out 38 hitters in just 30.2 innings of work, and has 16 saves with an ERA of 2.35. Bard would immediately slot in as the teams 2nd best reliever behind Jhoan Duran, and could slide everyone down in the pecking order. Henqiuez was acquired in the Mitch Garver trade and has had an up and down season for St Paul. I believe that he is destined for the bullpen, and could maybe even help the Twins, but I'd rather acquire someone who I know can help the Twins in the year we're "going for it."
Acquire RH RP David Robertson from Chicago for OF Yesser Mercedes
Similar to Bard, Robertson is a 37 year old reliever on a bad team that was out of baseball for a year and came back as a lights out bullpen weapon. He too becomes a free agent after this season. This is your classic lottery ticker prospect in Yesser Mercedes, who was an IAFA signing a few years ago and not much is known about him, although he is a top 30 prospect in the Twins system. Robertson too would become one of the better arms in the Twins bullpen, although I would have him 4th in the hierarchy behind Duran, Bard, and Jax.
Acquire 1B/DH S Josh Bell from Washington for IF Spencer Steer, 1B Aaron Sabato, and RHP Drew Strotman
This would easily be the 2nd biggest trade pulled off with myself in the GM chair, adding a game changing bat in Josh Bell. Bell boast in OPS+ of 158 this season in his expiring contract year, and will be one of the most sought after bats on the market. He hits for average and power and would provide power from both sides of the plate and would hit in the middle of the order. Of course, this requires us to give up rising prospect Spencer Steer, who I think should've been included on the top 100 prospects list at mid-season update. We also include former first rounder Aaron Sabato, who has huge power and draws walks, but also has a ton of swing and miss stuff. We also send back Drew Strotman who is a lottery type of guy in this deal as the Nats may believe he can still start, or be a weapon out of a terrible Nationals bullpen.
Now let's take a look at where the pitching staff as a whole stands assuming we are in the playoffs. I'll assume we're only going to use 4 starters in the playoffs, as most teams do. I will also assume that everyone is healthy, but I am assuming that Jorge Alcala does not make a comeback this year. I am also assuming that Kenta Maeda does not show enough to make an impact on the staff so he will be left off of this hypothetical playoff pitching staff, as well as what the lineup would look like with Josh Bell in the middle of it.
1. Tyler Mahle
2. Sonny Gray
3. Joe Ryan
4. Merrill Kelly
CL - RH Jhoan Duran
SU - RH Daniel Bard
SU - RH Griffin Jax
MR - LH Joe Mantiply
MR - LH Caleb Thielbar
MR - RH Emilio Pagan
MR - RH David Roberson
LR - RH Josh Winder
LR/Spot Starter - RH Chris Archer
Left off: RH Dylan Bundy, LH Jovani Moran, RH Bailey Ober, RH Kenta Maeda, RH Trevor Megill, RH Jharrel Cotton, RH Jorge Alcala, RH Tyler Duffey
This gives us a 9 man bullpen and a 13 man pitching staff with a great mix of right handed relievers that can blow hitters away. It also features two crafty lefties in Joe Mantiply and Caleb Thielbar, both of whom are deadly against left handed hitters. It also slides Emilio Pagan way down in the pecking order where I think he's best suited, and allows Tyler Duffey to throw mop up duty. Josh Winder can come in in the playoffs and give you multiple innings of effective relief. Chris Archer is a guy who can do similar things to Winder. I left off Bundy because he isn't playoff quality, Moran because I don't see the club carrying 3 lefties, Ober because he isn't good enough for the rotation and don't think his stuff plays up out of the bullpen, and Kenta because I don't know how his rehab will shake out so we won't count on him, as well as Jorge Alcala for similar reason. Megill and Cotton are both left off as I do not see them remaining on the 40 man roster if all these moves were to come to fruition.
DH Luis Arraez
CF Byron Buxton
SS Carlos Correa
1B Josh Bell
LF Alex Kirilloff
2B Jorge Polanco
3B Jose Miranda
RF Max Kepler
C Ryan Jeffers
Bench: C Gary Sanchez, 3B Gio Urshella, IF/OF Nick Gordon, OF Kyle Garlick
Left off: 1B Miguel Sano, OF Gilberto Celestino, OF Trevor Larnach
This gives the Twins a potent lineup with that adds depth in Josh Bell pushing Jorge Polanco to the 6 spot with Alex Kirilloff being the lefty that hits in the middle of the order, and Jose Miranda getting the start at 3rd over Urshella because he is such a better hitter than Gio. Jeffers gets the start at catcher as he's much better defensively, but both would play in the playoffs. Nick Gordon is taken on the playoff roster over Trevor Larnach as he provides speed off the bench and also the ability to play CF without Gilberto Celestino on the roster, whos off because of Josh Bell's arrival. Kyle Garlick is obviously kept on the roster to start against left handed pitchers.
How would you grade this deadline? Drop a comment below! Thanks for reading, and Go Twins!
MMMordabito reacted to bean5302 for a blog entry, The Most Important Blog - What to Eat at Target Field?
Since I've already stirred enough pots in regard to heated on the field debates, it's time to take it off the field to the stands! There have been a number of posts regarding the cost of food and drink at Target Field scaring away the fans, but I'm going to give a run down on many of the items and locations and whether you should eat or avoid!
First off, beer. If you fancy a pint at the game, there is an enormous selection of craft beers to pair with foods along with old-timey American style lagers perfect for a hot day at the park. I'm not going to list them all because... yeah, that's a lot. Location wise, the best concentration of craft options is right at Gate 34. Selections from Bent Paddle Cold Press Black Ale to Surly Furious and Goose Island Beer Hug IPAs and smooth sessionable Vienna (basically a red) style's like Schell's Firebrick are on tap here. If you're a Surly fan, right behind the left field bleachers and Gray Goose bar is a Surly stand with options you won't find elsewhere like Surly Hell. There are also "Minnesota Brews" stands around the stadium behind the Diamond Box areas where you can find a Grain Belt for nostalgia's sake. Other options are scattered around as well. The selection on the upper deck is much more limited to the usual suspects. My favorites: Bent Paddle Cold Press Black Ale (Gate 34), Beer Hug Hazy IPA (Gate 34), Surly Hell (behind Section 128) and Grain Belt (behind section 126).
Best Full Belly Deal at the Game:
Burger and fries basket. It's $15 at Hennepin Grill locations around the stadium, but the burger is big, tastes flame grilled and a solid enough choice. The fries are medium cut, crispy-ish outside, fluffy inside and taste rich like they've been fried in peanut oil. It's a good sized meal.
Senior Smokes: (105, 305) Barbacoa burrito. $10.50. It's not quite the gut stretcher the burger and fries is, but it's also only $10.50 in comparison to $15. It's a solid burrito near burrito specialty chain quality.
Best Budget Option: The hot dog or soft pretzel at various locations. They're $4.00 out the door and are enough to tide you over for a bit. Bring an empty water bottle in with you and get free water from various stations as well.
Red Cow 60/40 Bacon (2) Sliders w/chips. $15.50 located behind section 126 Why the chips that nobody wants? I don't know. Anyway, the sliders themselves are Red Cow name worthy. They're absolutely excellent and pretty filling. Could use a little something vinegary like mustard or ketchup to break up the fatty flavor.
Blue Door Pub a 2nd place finish here goes to the $13.50 "Jucy Blusy" Cease and Desist Burger located at Gate 34 at the Jack Daniels Bar. It's very good and full sized, but the combo of thousand island and mayo is a bit sticky and bland.
Don't expect fast service for either of these burgers. There's always a line for the sliders (and they frequently run out for a bit of time at 126) and it seems like Jucy Blusy is cooked to order.
Kramarczuk's Bratwurst. $10 (behind field box 101, home plate box 112 and upstairs 312). It's a much better quality brat than the $8.50 standard option around the stadium. The polish is so greasy and salty (like polish sausage is) it makes for a real gut-bomb in my opinion.
Other Sandwich Options:
Turkey to Go sandwich $11 next to Hrbek's (114). Make sure you get one fresh made and they press the jerked turkey hard to get the juice out. Otherwise, you'll get a rather disgusting pile of slop bun. If made right, Turkey to Go is fantastic. Use the BBQ sauce if you want or skip it if you don't want it. Good either way. Side note, this is like the only station at the stadium which doesn't have an option to tip in the checkout app. What a bummer for the staff.
Philly Cheesesteak. $11. I think I stumbled across this one over behind section 110ish. Gross. Virtually inedible. While the grilled onions and peppers are very good and the cheese sauce is okay, the meat? (is it meat??) is like unseasoned sloppy joe mix or something. It's not right, best described as slop, and I didn't finish it. I like just about all food for the record.
Murray's Smoked Beef Sandwich (103). $15. Very high quality roast beef, but with no au juis and weak horseradish sauce, the sandwich is disappointingly bland. Skip it, this coming from a big fan of Murray's Restaurant.
Senior Smokes: $10.50 (105, 305) barbacoa beef burrito. Filling, maybe not quite as good as Chipotle, Pancheros and Qdoba, but certainly not far off. There are veggie options too, if you want. A far, far better deal than the nachos as this burrito will fill you up.
Tony O's Cubano: $13 (114). Gotta be honest here, a lot of people rant about this one, but it really didn't impress me compared to other options around the stadium. It's not that it's bad, it's just not that it was great.
Hot Indian (120): Chicken tikka (pronounced tick-a, not teek-a) masala. It's legitimately good and very mild + gluten free. They have some spicy sauce condiment which kicks 'er up a notch or two if you like. The cabbage veggie blend on the top is okay. Rice was a little undercooked, but all in all, I liked it. Note: I expect the chana masala will also be very good and it's vegan + gluten free. Haven't had Indian food before? Think a rich, thick, very savory and complex creamy tomato soup with tender chunks of chicken poured over rice and garnished with thin chopped cabbage here.
Cheese curds: $8 (109, 305). The portion is pretty good, but $8 still feels a little pricey. The curds are small sized, coated and deep fried mozzarella. They have good flavor, if not a bit salty. They're not truly as good as the ones you'll get at the State Fair as the batter used at Target Field is kinda meh, but they're still great if cheese is what you're craving.
Herbivorous Butcher Vegan Bratwurst (129). It's okay. You're not going to mistake it for the real deal and the aftertaste is decidedly veggie wheat thin flavor, but for the vegan/vegetarian folks, it's not bad.
Hot Indian (120): Chana masala... okay, I haven't had this dish yet, but when Indian is good, it's universally good and the tikka masala was solid here.
What about dessert?:
Tiny Tim's Mini Donuts: (135) $6 for a bag. Excellent mini-donuts take my vote for the best sweet/dessert at the game. Cooked fresh, sprinkled hot with sugar, they're everything you hope for in mini donuts. Be aware, get them before the 7th inning, I've seen them run out more than once. I'd choose them over the expensive, and mediocre, soft serve ice cream in the helmet or the waffle cone any day.
A lot of high quality options are tucked away at Hrbek's or inside the Town Ball Tavern, but a couple have been moved exclusively into the Truly On Deck (formerly Metropolitan Club). I didn't list these even though some are certified good. Good options if you want to sit, you don't want to do the walk of shame and you have SRO tickets, though!
MMMordabito reacted to Andrew Mahlke for a blog entry, Checking in on the Twins 2021 Draft Class: Part 1
The MLB draft is not nearly as popular as the NFL or NBA drafts. In 2021, 12.6 million people tuned in to watch Roger Goodell announce the first round of draft picks. Over the last 10 years, the NBA draft has had between 2 and 4 million viewers. The MLB however, had barely over 1 million viewers in 2021. However, the MLB draft remains very important.
Since 1965 (when the first MLB draft was held), 9 of the Twins top 13 players in terms of WAR were drafted by the Twins. These players include Joe Mauer, Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, Chuck Knoblauch, Gary Gaetti, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau, Brian Dozier, and Corey Koskie. As you can see, most of our franchise’s best players were drafted by us and that stresses the importance of drafting well.
Without further ado, let’s jump in to checking in on our 2021 draft class
Round 1, Pick 26: Chase Petty, RHP, Mainland Regional HS (NJ)
Chase Petty was one of the most electrifying players drafted in 2021. Petty was the third high school pitcher taken in the draft. High school pitchers are generally riskier selections than college pitchers just because they haven’t proven themselves at a higher level yet.
Petty is worth the risk. He has a fastball that sits in the upper 90s and it has been up to 100 mph. He also has a firm slider that sits in the upper 80s and has a spin rate between 2600 and 2700 RPM. Lookout Landing does a great job breaking down Petty’s stuff and mechanics here.
Petty is a high-octane arm who only throws three pitches, so I foresee him as the Twins closer of the future. Petty is one of the most exciting players in the Twins farm system, ranking as our 7th best prospect.
Petty saw very limited action in the 2021 minor league season, making 2 appearances (one start) for the FCL Twins in the Florida Complex League. Between these 2 appearances, he threw 5 innings, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits and one walk while striking out 6. He only faced 21 batters so obviously this is a small sample size, but Petty had a solid start to his professional baseball career. Look for Petty to make some noise in 2022.
Comp Round A, Pick 36: Noah Miller, SS, Ozaukee HS (WI)
It is often said that shortstops are the best athletes on the field. Most MLB infielders were shortstops on their high school or college teams. It is always a good thing to have too many shortstops because you can move them around the field.
Seth Stohs wrote a great article about Noah Miller that really highlights everything about him. The Twins loved his makeup, athleticism, and rare ability to hit at a high level from both sides of the plate. In Miller's senior year of high school, he hit .608 with 6 home runs and 21 RBI’s. Miller currently ranks as the Twins number 13 prospect.
In Miller’s first taste of pro-ball, he was assigned to the FCL Twins and in 96 plate appearances, he slashed .238/.316/.369 with 3 doubles, a triple, and 2 home runs. He had 9 walks to 26 strikeouts and committed 4 errors out of 86 chances, good for a .952 fielding percentage.
Miller struggled in his first taste of pro ball this season but he was only an 18 year old and he still has a very bright future ahead of him.
Round 2, Pick 61: Steve Hajjar, LHP, Michigan
Steve Hajjar is a 6’5” 215 lb pitcher from the University of Michigan. He throws a fastball in the low 90s and it has been up to 95 mph. His best pitch is his changeup, and MLB Pipeline says that he does a very good job of selling his changeup with fastball arm speed, which can be very deceptive to hitters. Hajjar is ranked as the number 22 prospect in the Twins system.
Hajjar did not pitch professionally in 2021. In 81.2 innings at Michigan, he was 4-2 with a 3.09 ERA. His K/9 was very impressive at 12.2, while having a BB/9 of 3.2. He was named All-Big Ten Conference First Team. He also led the Big Ten in strikeouts.
Hajjar is a 21 year old so he will probably progress a little quicker through the minor leagues than Petty and Miller. Hajjar will be a fun prospect to watch develop and I am excited to hopefully see him at Target Field soon.
Round 3, Pick 98: Cade Povich, LHP, Nebraska
Cade Povich is a 6’3” 185 lb pitcher from the University of Nebraska. He has a fastball that tops out around 91 MPH. Povich does not have a whole lot available on him or his pitch repertoire, but he seems like a crafty lefty who really understands how to pitch.
Povich, initially from Bellevue West High School, went to South Mountain CC in Phoenix for one year and excelled. He went 10-1 with a 1.52 ERA before transferring to Nebraska. Along with Hajjar, Povich was also named All-Big Ten Conference First Team in 2021. He went 6-1 with a 3.11 ERA. He also had 9.8K/9 and 2.4BB/9.
In professional ball, Povich made one start with the FCL Twins and went 2 innings, allowing one hit and striking out 3. He also made 3 appearances for Low-A affiliate Fort Myers and pitched very well, compiling 8 innings and allowing only 1 earned run, 6 hits, 2 walks, and 2 HBP while striking out 16 (!!).
Povich was dominant in his limited 10 innings of work this year and he will definitely be a prospect to follow if he continues his success in the minors.
Round 4, Pick 128: Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 3B, Oklahoma State
Christian Encarnacion-Strand is a 6’0” 224 lb 3B from Oklahoma State University. Encarnacion-Strand has a very talented bat and extremely strong throwing arm. He is a little limited on his feet as the Twins will probably move him to 1B eventually.
Encarnacion-Strand, initially from Pleasant Hill, CA, went to Yavapai CC for his first two years of eligibility. At Yavapai, Encarnacion-Strand absolutely mashed, hitting .410 with 31 doubles and 33 home runs in just 81 career games. At Oklahoma State, he slashed .361/.442/.661 with 15 home runs and 66 RBI’s in his one year there. He was named Big 12 newcomer of the year and was unanimously selected to the All-Big Twelve Conference First Team.
In his first taste of professional baseball, Encarnacion-Strand slashed .391/.424/.598 with 4 home runs in 92 plate appearances for the Twins low-A affiliate Fort Myers. He did have 5 walks compared to 26 strikeouts, which could be an area of concern as he progresses, but he is still young and has shown a lot of potential with his bat so far. He will be a fun prospect to watch crush opposing pitching and hopefully he continues this impressive offensive start.
Round 5, Pick 159: Christian Macleod, LHP, Mississippi State
Christian Macleod is a 6’4” 227 lb LHP from Mississippi State University. Macleod has a fastball that ranges from 87 to 93 MPH but is very effective because he commands it well and tunnels it well with his best pitch, an upper 70s curveball with great depth.
Macleod is originally from Huntsville, Alabama. In his collegiate career at Mississippi State, Macleod went 10-6 with a 4.34 ERA. He had a 12.8K/9 and a 3.4BB/9. His ERA for 2021 was not great at 5.23, but before playoffs he had a 3.14 ERA and a few bad outings ballooned that ERA. In the shortened 2020 season, he was named Co-National Freshman Player of the Year by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, going 4-0 with a 0.86 ERA.
Macleod only appeared in one game with the FCL Twins this season, going 1&⅔ innings, allowing no runs, one hit, and two walks while striking out 5. Macleod has a chance to be a back-end starting pitcher and he will be an interesting prospect to follow. If he adds some velocity, he could make a huge jump.
Round 6, Pick 189: Travis Adams, RHP, Sacramento State
Travis Adams is a 6’0” 195 lb RHP from Sacramento State. Contrary to what pitchers are becoming more of as strikeouts and walks are rising league wide, Adams is a control specialist who won’t blow anyone away with his strikeout numbers but he hardly walks anyone.
Adams is originally from Desert Hot Springs, California. In his collegiate career at Sacramento State, Adams went 10-6 with a 3.75 ERA. He had 7.75 K/9 and an impressive 1.49 BB/9. In 2021, the MLB average for BB/9 was 3.3, so Adams thrives in that area of the game.
Adams made one appearance for the FCL Twins, recording 4 outs while allowing 3 earned runs, 2 hits, 2 walks, and struck out 3. If Adams can improve his stuff he could be a good prospect for the Twins going forward.
Round 7, Pick 219: Jake Rucker, 3B, Tennessee
Jake Rucker is a 6’2” 185 lb 3B from the University of Tennessee. He was a very solid player at Tennessee and can play every position in the infield. He is very aggressive at the plate and solid in the field. Rucker lacks an elite trait so it might make it difficult for him to excel in pro ball, but he could be a solid player.
Rucker is originally from Greenbrier, Tennessee. In his collegiate career at Tennessee, he slashed .311/.388/.463 with 12 home runs and 96 RBI’s. In 2021, he really broke out. He had an OPS of .919 and had 21 doubles, 2 triples, and 9 home runs. He was named a 3rd team All-American this year and also garnered First Team All-SEC honors.
Rucker had 85 plate appearances at low-A Fort Myers this year, and slashed .265/.376/.324 with 2 doubles and 1 triple. These numbers are not other-worldly but they are a great starting point for an experienced versatile player like Rucker. It will be fun to see how he progresses into 2022.
Round 8, Pick 249: Noah Cardenas, C, UCLA
Noah Cardenas is a 6’1” 190 lb catcher from UCLA. Cardenas is an outstanding defensive catcher. If Cardenas is going to make an impact in the league, he will have to improve at the plate. Right now he profiles like Ben Rortvedt, an outstanding defender who doesn't stand out offensively.
Cardenas is originally from Saugus, California. In his collegiate career at UCLA, he slashed .302/.407/.426 with 8 home runs and 30 extra base hits. His freshman year, he had an OPS of .976 in 58 games. In 2021, he had a .775 OPS. He also threw out 38% of base-stealers. Cardenas was named to the 2021 Pac-12 All-Conference Team.
Cardenas had 25 plate appearances with the FCL Twins in 2021. He went 6-20 with a double, a home run, and 3 walks. A very small sample size, but if Cardenas could get back to his 2019 self offensively and continues to dominate defensively, he could be a very nice prospect for the Twins.
Round 9, Pick 279: Patrick Winkel, C, Connecticut
Patrick Winkel is a 6’1'' 200 lb catcher from the University of Connecticut. Mlb dot com says that Winkel is a great athlete behind the plate with above average power but needs to improve his hit tool to use his power more regularly.
Winkel is originally from Orange, CT. In his career, he slashed .300/.359/.507 with 18 home runs and 41 extra base hits in 102 games. He also threw out 25% of potential base-stealers. Winkel was named All-BIG East Second Team in 2021.
Winkel had 84 plate appearances at Low-A Fort Myers in 2021. He slashed .243/.369/.357 with 5 doubles and a home run. Beginning his career in Low-A shows that the Twins have confidence in where Winkel could go with his career. He struggled more than he did in college, but that is expected. Hopefully with some experience under his belt he can thrive in 2022.
Round 10, Pick 309: Ernie Yake, SS, Gonzaga
Ernie Yake is a 5’10” 175 lb SS from Gonzaga. Yake was a phenomenal shortstop at Gonzaga and played four years there. Yake is an older prospect, as he will be 24 years old at the start of the 2022 season.
Yake is originally from Bellingham, WA. In his career at Gonzaga, he slashed .320/.392/.419 with 6 home runs and 54 extra base hits. He also walked 71 times compared to only 53 strikeouts, so he controls the zone very well. In 2021, he was a national semifinalist for the Brooks Wallace award, given yearly to the best shortstop in college baseball.
Yake only had 26 plate appearances with the FCL Twins in 2021, slashing .227/.370/.318 with 2 doubles and 3 stolen bases. Yake will be fun to follow as he could be a Luis Arraez type hitter who puts the ball in play and rarely strikes out, while playing great defense at shortstop.
Part 2 highlighting our picks in rounds 11-20 will be coming soon
Thank you for reading and Go Twins!
MMMordabito reacted to Tim for a blog entry, Jorge Polanco and The Twins
For as much as a buzzkill the Twins 2021 season was, Jorge Polanco gave many Twins fans a reason to watch.
Breaking out in 2019, Polanco hit 22 HRs and drove in 79 RBI with a slash line of .295/.356/.485. Polanco scuffled during the 2020 covid shortened season but was also playing with an ankle injury that required offseason surgery and ultimately a shift to second base.
The ankle clean up and position switch seemed to have paid off as Polanco had a career season in 2021. Overall he finished the season with a .269 AVG and an OPS of .826. Oh, and 33 bombs + 98 RBI. That's good for a WAR of 4.8 according to baseballrefrence.
One would think now would be a poor time for the Twins to move Jorge Polanco in a trade. The stacked free agent class includes Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Trevor Story, Marcus Semien, and Javier Baez. Teams looking for a shortstop or second basemen will have plenty of options to chose from.
But at what cost?
Carlos Correa and Corey Seager are 1A and 1B in the class. Both are expected to receive contracts upwards of 260 million. Trevor Story had a down year offensively, but still grades out as one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. He also is only 28 and teams will convince themselves he returns to form at the plate... 150-175 million sound right? Marcus Semien's fantastic 2021 campaign probably netted him a deal north of 115 million, as he was a top 5 hitter in baseball for much of the season. Javier Baez is a complete toss up for me. He is incredibly streaky at the plate, but got hot during his stint with the Mets and switched his approach at the plate. His ability to move around the diamond defensively and play a solid shortstop, second, and third is still a huge asset. You can't deny the flair and energy he brings to a team as well, star power means tickets... I'd guess a team buys in and pays close to 100 million. While there are plenty of options teams can go on the open market, none will sign cheap. Aside from potentially Baez, you aren't bringing any of those players in for less than 100 mil, at the minimum. Fortunately, for the teams hesitant to commit that type of money, there is another option.
**Before I'm slandered below for suggesting the Twins should trade their 2021 MVP, consider the facts.**
Contract - Jorge Polanco, currently 27, is signed through 2025 at what is essentially a 4 year 35.5 million dollar contract. When you stack that up against what the market is going to command for the available options, that deal is an absolute bargain. Internal Replacements - Second Base is really a position of strength for the Twins. Luis Arraez, still only 24 and under team control until 2026, has a career .313 AVG and .374 OBP over 275 games .. Yes, you are missing out on the power, but baseballreference had his 2021 WAR at 3.4, so by no means is it a massive downgrade. He isn't arb. eligible until 2023 as well.. Nick Gordon or the crown jewel in the Berrios deal, Austin Martin, could also be guys that could step into the position at some point next year. State of The Organization - The Twins need to look at this an opportunity to try and expedite the rebuilding process. Reality is 2022 is going to be a lost year, regardless of whether Polanco is on the roster or not. Is 2023 the year? Who knows, a lot will need to go right for the Twins between now and then .. But at that point you've only lost value on a player that will have 2 years remaining on his steal of a contract. If you are hesitant to put Polanco in the same tier as the players in this upcoming FA class, Since 2019, here's where Polanco stacks up against the top middle infielders.
That's a 3 year sample size of productivity that puts him square in the discussion offensively as a top tier middle infielder.
Yes I am aware that some players on the list were injured, but that's apart of the game. Polanco was too.
Who might be interested?
The best fit for Polanco would be an organization that is entering their window to compete for a championship. Given how cheap his contract is, teams would have the ability to sign free agent starting pitching, which typically works out better, than say giving a position player like Javy Baez a 5 year / 100 million dollar deal. That model seems to have paid off for the Astros as well as the Dodgers to some extent.
What teams fit that bill? I highly doubt an organization will trade for Polanco with intentions of playing him at short. So i'll highlight just teams with a second base need, There's a few, here are my favorite options.
The Mariners, who received a 0.3 WAR from the second base position this past year, would be a great trade partner for the Twins. They don't really have a solidified plan at 2nd and on the prospect side it's slim. Ranked with Baseball Americas top farm system, they have plenty of intriguing pitching prospects to deal from. Emerson Hancock, Matt Brash, George Kirby, and Brandon Williamson all look to be be starters long-term.. (I believe Brash will be the best) .... What about Noelvi Marte? one can dream.
Miami has reportedly been getting pressure from ownership to win now and could be a possibility. This would mean they are comfortable moving Jazz Chisholm from 2nd to Short .. If they are, the Marlins hands down have the most pitching prospect depth to deal from in all of baseball. Max Meyer, Edward Cabrera, Eury Perez, and Jack Eder (though recovering from TJ) all could be in play ... (I'll take Perez of the 4 please).
If the Blue Jays prioritize Robbie Ray over Marcus Semien, count them in as a Polanco fit. Toronto is right in their go for it window and may lean toward having a proven veteran to replace the production rather than banking on a prospect. A package of Orlevis Martinez/Jordan Gorshans and Nate Pearson doesn't sound all too bad.
The Twins have a lot of work to do if they wanna get on back on track in the coming years.. This is all speculation, though I think it certainly is a route the Twins have to at least explore this winter.
Regardless, of what you want the Twins to do with Polanco, there is no denying he would bring back a haul. That might be the best thing for the Twins sustaining long-term success.
*Also, don't check Baseballtradevalues.com for the prospects I mentioned. It rarely is correct, as most of us learned with the deals that occurred at the deadline.
MMMordabito reacted to bean5302 for a blog entry, Is Brent Rooker Better Than His Stats?
Among Twins fans, few players have been given a shorter leash despite showing flashes of solid play than Brent Rooker. While Rooker’s results in 2021 have hardly been inspiring, the underlying data says Rooker may be much better than his weak triple slash has shown so far.
So what are his “results” so far? Regardless of the metrics you want to use, be it the traditional triple slash or others: .201/.294/.397, OPS .691, wRC+ 91, wOBA .302 or OPS+ 90, Rooker’s offensive production has been below par. In fact, for somebody who is touted as a glorified DH, way below par. Rooker would really be expected to produce an OPS above .750 to remain viable and over .800 to produce good value. Of the 15 players who qualify as “DH” with more than 300 plate appearances in MLB this year on Fangraphs, the median OPS is Josh Donaldson’s .816.
On his way to the triple slash he’s produced, Rooker has struck out 32.5% of the time while walking in just 7.6% of his plate appearances. That’s not a great ratio, but for a power hitter, 32.5% K rate isn’t unusual and it’s also in only 197 plate appearances so far this year. This is, for all intents and purposes, Rooker’s rookie season and his first taste of MLB action after showing far above average production in the high minors for years now. The question at this point is not whether Brent Rooker is too good for AAA, it’s whether or not he’s destined to be labeled a AAAA player.
I’ve seen some other posts suggesting Brent Rooker may be cooked already, but a dive into some of the advanced metrics show a very different set of numbers.
AVG OBP SLG OPS wOBA Actual .201 .294 .397 .691 .312 Expected* .236 .325 .448 .773 .345 *BaseballSavant has xBA at .237 and xSLG at .449 which result in 41.24 hits and 78.13 total bases. Those aren’t real numbers so I rounded them down to 41 hits and 78 total bases. I used Rookers actual walks and hit by pitch numbers to calculate his new xOBP so I could calculate his xOPS.
So Rooker’s expected batting line numbers are far better than his actual results, but that can be true for a lot of hitters who don’t use the whole field because of the shift; however, Rooker is not the typical dead pull hitter who is helpless against the shift. Of course, Rooker does pull the ball a lot, 44% of the time in fact, but he also goes to the opposite field 26% of the time. Among qualified hitters, Rooker is actually in the top half of hitters going to the opposite field and he’s not in the top 25% in pull hitting. Fangraphs has limited data on Rooker’s plate appearances, but he gets shifted against about 59% of the time vs. say Max Kepler who gets shifted against 97% of the time (yes, 97% is the real number). Another consideration is whether or not the shift should even actually hurt a hitter. Ground ball hitters are hurt the most, then fly ball hitters, then line drive hitters. The shift is less effective against line drive hitters because the balls generally have high exit velocities and hit the ground quickly so even if defenders are “shifted,” the ball really has to be hit directly at the defender in order to have a play. Despite his excellent power, Rooker is more a line drive hitter than a pure fly ball hitter. He very rarely pops the ball up, and Fangraphs has him at 26% line drive and 38% fly ball with Baseball Savant having him at 31% line drive and 31% fly ball. With Rooker’s batted ball profile, the shift should not be highly effective against him.
Beyond Rooker being somewhat shielded from the shift, there are other things to consider when it comes to hitting. Exit velocity, launch angle, hard hit and barrel rates are extremely important when trying to figure out whether or not a hitters bad luck is actually bad luck and not a function of just a lot of weak contact. Rooker’s average exit velocity is very good at 90.9mph (top 82% in baseball). His launch angle is 12.8% this year which reflects the high line drive rate, but it’s not quite high enough to be “optimal” for a hitter with Rooker’s power. There’s a hard core, in depth article on Fangraphs if you’re interested in getting into the deep end of the pool (I’m not, haha). https://fantasy.fangraphs.com/lets-talk-about-launch-angle-generally/ Rooker would probably experience better slash lines and an increase in home runs with a launch angle closer to 20* because of his power, but he should be very close to having his optimal batting average where he is. What about hard hit rate? Fangraphs says Rooker is 35.5% hard hit rate based on Baseball Info Solutions algorithms, which is good for the top 37% of hitters with 300 plate appearances, but BaseballSavant has Rooker with a higher 47.6% hard hit rate (different definition at 95mph+) and puts him in the top 15% of hitters with 100+ batted ball events. When it comes to barrel rate, Rooker is showing up as 11.8% putting him in the top 16% of hitters for Fangraphs and BaseballSavant. Btw, think of barrel rate as absolutely crushing a ball. The baseline is a launch angle of 25-31* and an exit velocity of at least 98mph. For every 1mph of exit velocity you add, you get about 2 degrees more leniency in the launch angle. Like 100mph gets you to 24-33*. It’s that no doubter home run or absolute rocket off the bat where no amount of shift makes any difference because the ball is in the outfield before the infielders even know what happened.
Some charts to help folks who don’t follow metrics closely. This data was pulled from Fangraphs using Statcast numbers for the 252 players with at least 300 plate appearances this year prior to today. Rooker himself was not included as he only has 197.
Now we can discuss his plate discipline. Does Rooker have the hit tool to play at the MLB level? How do opposing pitchers view him? BaseballSavant shows pitchers have become wary of testing Rooker, throwing him fewer fastballs and more breaking balls while avoiding the strike zone as much as possible. Interestingly enough, Rooker has better results against the breaking balls than fastballs, but according to the expected data, it should be the exact opposite. Rooker against the fastball is batting just .177 with a SLG of .375, but his xBA is 80 points higher at .256 and his xSLG is .487. Rooker’s performance against breaking balls is closer to where it should be with a .245 AVG vs. xBA of .225 and a SLG of .434 vs. an xSLG of .418. His bat is not a black hole against breaking pitches in practice or theory and his bat looks like it should be downright dangerous against fastballs and changeups. In regard to plate discipline, Fangraphs shows his O-swing% (swing percentage of pitches outside the zone) at 30.6-32.3% depending on the source, but that’s not bad at all. His PitchFX data shows Rooker swinging outside the zone at 32.3%, which would rank as better than 43.5% of MLB hitters with more than 300 plate appearances so far this year. A tick below average. His contact rate on balls outside the zone does need some work suggesting he can be completely fooled a bit too easily. His Z-swing% (swing percentage of pitches inside the zone) rates are a little lower than they should be and Rooker takes too many called strikes because he’s not aggressive enough when he gets a pitch in the zone. Again, based on players with 300+ plate appearances from PitchFX data on Fangraphs.
Lastly, something pretty interesting to me. Defense. While Rooker carries with him the expectation he’s a lost cause at the corners, BaseballSavant hints at Rooker not being a guaranteed waste in the outfield. Rooker’s sprint speed is above average. Yes. You read that right. His sprint speed on BaseballSavant shows 27.3 ft/sec, above average for an MLB player or left fielder for that matter. His defensive metrics show Rooker is above average when it comes to route running, but his reaction is terrible (feet in 0 to 1.5 seconds) with Rooker’s acceleration in sprint speed being iffy. The combination of Rooker not recognizing the ball off the bat quickly enough and his mediocre acceleration is what is hurting Rooker defensively. Some of that can be improved with work and experience, though it’s a little bit late for Rooker to take an active role in becoming a better fielder.
In summary, What does all of this mean? Well, for starters, we don’t have a ton of data on Brent Rooker. He’s only at 197 plate appearances this season and a paltry 21 from 2020. At about 200 plate appearances in a season is where the first set of luck metrics just start stabilizing and they move quite a bit to 300 plate appearances where things start to get pretty stable. Rooker shows adequate plate discipline, his batted ball profile suggests he’s having terrible luck, but he’s frequently shown off his power. Opposing pitchers have formed enough respect for Rooker that they’ve made the adjustment to try to avoid throwing him anything decent to hit and Rooker hasn’t turned into a strikeout machine in the process. Rooker is primarily a pull hitter, but he’s gone to the opposite field enough to keep defenses semi-honest on the shift. Rooker also hits the ball much harder than the average major leaguer, he barrels up the ball well enough and doesn’t make a lot of weak contact. It seems like Rooker needs to be more aggressive when he gets a strike rather than waiting for a meatball because MLB pitchers are definitely being extra careful not to give him something easy to hit and MLB pitchers do not make mistakes like MiLB pitchers do. An MLB hitter might see 1 mistake pitch per game vs seeing several in the minors. Defensively, he waits a little too long to make a jump on the ball and he could work on improving his running technique to get better off the line acceleration, but he has the speed to cover a corner outfield position. With a little opportunity for his luck to even out and some minor adjustments, Rooker may turn into a real force at the plate with adequate corner outfield defense. Despite his limitations, it’s too soon to pull the plug on Rooker as he’s definitely got the potential to be a legitimate every day starting MLB player.
MMMordabito reacted to Brandon for a blog entry, Pineda's return for 2022? What is his contract like?
I have seen several overtures to Pineda wanting to stay in Minnesota. That is a hard find in the market and with our need of several starting pitchers, we should take a good look at what it should take to resign the veteran. Here is the article from MlbTraderumors.com I just saw which spurred this blog post. Baldelli Hopes Pineda Will Return To Twins In 2022 - MLB Trade Rumors. I would think its either a 1 or 2 year contract. Since we need money in the budget to sign others its probably in the 8-12 million base guarantee per season. There should be incentives for IP. The size of the guarantee will determine what the incentives should be. I think that with incentives should be able to make in 13-15 million range if he hits 180 innings and that should max out his incentives as he likely will not reach 200 innings.So for my guess I will go with a 2 year 22 million contract with 500,000 incentives starting at 120 innings, 140 innings, 160 innings and 180 innings. for a possible 13 million per season. Do you think he will resign with the Twins and if so how much?
MMMordabito reacted to bean5302 for a blog entry, Grading Falvey's Drafts
Grading Derek Falvey's Drafts
With the minor leagues essentially done for the year, it’s a fair time to review the Derek Falvey’s performance through the drafts. Falvey has been in charge of the Twins’ front office for 5 drafts now, though there’s not close to enough data to judge the 2021 draft group’s actual playing performance.
I believe Derek Falvey’s job has 6 major components, in no particular order. 1. MLB on field performance. 2. Free agency signings. 3. Trades. 4. Player conduct. 5. Drafting. 6. Player development.
Drafting should be considered separate from player development as they’re not the same thing. Drafting involves identifying pre-professional talent while players are outside the organization and player development is all about finding the ways to improve players while in the system. For example, getting a 10th rounder to produce at the MLB level has almost nothing to do with the draft; that’s all player development.
I’m concentrated on the first 3 rounds of the draft, which include Competitive Balance A and Competitive Balance B picks and works out to just about 100 players even in most years. Obviously, a 1st round / CBA is much more important than a 2nd round / CBB pick and then a 3rd rounder drops off more. I’ve chosen to grade the overall draft results on that scale. First Round/CBA = a multiplier of 2.00. Second Round/CBB = a multiplier of 1.50. 3rd Round = a multiplier of 1.00. My grades are subjective, based on performance of the pick, whether or not the front office reached to get the pick, how quickly the pick has advanced and my opinion of the projected performance of the pick at this point. I didn’t ding the Twins for any of the lost CBA/CBB picks due to free agency signings or trades except Hughes. The Twins essentially traded their late 2nd rounder, a CBB pick in 2019 for a little cash; that’s an absolute dereliction of duty and it’s worth a grade.
Huge Reach = 2+ rounds ahead of MLB.com projection Reach = 1 round ahead of MLB.com projection Aggressive = ½ round ahead of MLB.com projection (i.e. CBA instead of 2nd round) On Par = In the round where projected, within a reasonable distance of expected. (i.e. picked 20th overall when projected at 25th) Deal = 1 round behind MLB.com projection Steal = 2+ rounds behind MLB.com projection
2017 Player Grade MLB Draft # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perf. Progress Projection 1st Royce Lewis C 5 1 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par High School 22 AA D C B CBA Brent Rooker C 50 35 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive College 26 MLB B D C 2nd Landon Leach F 101 37 37-67 (Rnd2) Reach High School 21 A- F F F 3rd Blayne Enlow C 29 76 76-105 (Rnd3) Steal High School 22 A+ C D C 2018 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Trevor Larnach C 26 20 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par College 24 MLB C B D 2nd Ryan Jeffers B >200 59 44-78 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 24 MLB D A C 3rd Forfeit for Lynn 1yr N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2019 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Keoni Cavaco F 28 13 1-30 (Rnd1) Aggressive High School 20 A- F C F CBA Matt Wallner D 60 39 31-41 (CBA) Aggressive College 23 A+ C C F 2nd Matt Canterino B 46 54 42-69 (Rnd2) On Par College 23 A+ A C A CBB Forefeit (to trade Hughes) F Total Failure N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Spencer Steer C >200 90 79-107 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 23 AA C A C 2020 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Aaron Sabato C 41 27 1-29 (Rnd1) Reach College 22 A+ B B D 2nd Alerick Soularie D 105 59 38-60 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 22 A- D C C CBB Forefit in Maeda Trade N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Forefit for Donaldson N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2021 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Progress Projection 1st Chase Petty A 27 26 1-29 (Rnd1) On Par High School 18 Rk Pass C N/A CBA Noah Miller C 62 36 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive High School 18 Rk Pass C N/A 2nd Steve Hajjar C 100 61 37-63 (Rnd2) Reach College 20 N/A Inc. D N/A 3rd Cade Povich D >250 98 72-101 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 21 A- Pass B N/A
When reviewing the drafts, it seems apparent Derek Falvey believes his front office is a significantly better judge of player talent than MLB.com as he frequently drafts players well ahead of MLB.com’s projections. This doesn’t mean Falvey is wrong. MLB.com is just one source and it would be expected the Twins scouts could be superior to MLB.com’s. Draft picks routinely shift around during the season depending on their performance leading right up to the draft. Regardless, MLB.com’s projections are usually pretty close to other sources which makes for a good baseline as to the scouting world in general. If Falvey’s front office and scouting department is better, it should show up in the advancement and development of players.
So how do things look? Well, in a nutshell, I’d give the front office a C- overall with a GPA of 1.76, but it’s a very incomplete picture. I believe 2022 will be critical to evaluating Falvey’s drafts. Lewis, Rooker, Larnach and Cavaco are on their last year of grace period to “prove it.” While Rooker and Larnach get major points for making it to the big show, neither has performed well enough to stick around.
From a pitching standpoint, Falvey has only drafted 1 first round pitcher in 5 years and 8 chances. For the most part, Falvey has chosen guys with good breaking pitch offerings who were down the rankings a bit and focused on hitters with the highest picks. The only 1st rounder choice was 100mph high school flame thrower Chase Petty earlier this year. Petty received mixed rankings, but MLB was about as bullish on him as anybody else and Petty made his 1 start at the FCL Twins this year. Landon Leach, Matt Canterino and Steve Hajjar make up the 2nd round pitching selections. 2 of the 3 are big reaches and Leach is already a total bust. Canterino’s performance is a saving grace here as his injury history has slowed his advancement while Hajjar didn’t make a competitive appearance this year. 3rd rounders include Blayne Enlow and Cade Povich. Enlow was projected high, but velocity drops and concerns over signing him let the Twins save up some slot money and get the chance to make a run at him. Enlow’s situation sort of mirror’s Canterino’s. Injuries have derailed his advancement. Povich is just a head scratcher. He was way, way down almost all prospect lists if he even appeared at all. Prospectslive.com had him at 537, but the Twins apparently liked enough of what they saw to send him to the Low-A Ft. Myers Miracle.
Falvey has shown a strong affinity for aggressively pursuing bat only players with lots of power and not a lot of anything else. Rooker, Wallner and Sabato are all one tool wonders and all were a bit of a reach. Larnach is now in the same boat after his advanced eye at the plate turned out to be outmatched against more talented pitching. If they don’t rake, they’re busts and finding spots for all of those guys would be impossible on the roster, but it would also mean the drafts were hugely successful. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. Rooker and Larnach are not getting the job done with Wallner advancing too slowly for his draft position and experience and Sabato narrowly avoiding a “bust” moniker this year with a hot last couple months. Soularie, another bat heavy big reach, has a little more defensive potential so the Twins are trying to see if he can stick at 2B. The Twins have also gone for the athleticism over everything approach a couple times with Royce Lewis and Keoni Cavaco. Lewis is the one Falvey really can’t afford to miss on. Lewis was a first overall pick who hasn’t played competitively in 2 years and wasn’t nearly good enough when he did play, but he’s such a gifted athlete with such a great character that it’s believed he can still turn the corner. Cavaco… well, the best thing which can honestly be said about him right now is it’s still a little too early to call him a bust. That said, if Cavaco doesn’t pick it up big time, he will wear the title by mid 2022. The Twins reached a bit with him, and if you’re reaching for your first rounder, it’s important to pay off and the Twins doubled down by reaching for Wallner for the same draft. Spencer Steer completed the 3/3 reaches for hitters in 2019 and was an out of the park, 6 run, grand slam style reach for good measure, but at least he’s still showing a glimmer of promise with some fast promotions. I’m not sure who was driving the car in 2019 is what I’m sayin’ here. Thank goodness Canterino pitched well in between his injury woes or the 2019 draft would honestly be looking potentially catastrophic here.
Truthfully, draft results are finicky things to analyze, especially in the first 3-4 years and the loss of 2020's MiLB season really tightens the sample size here. Many quality MLB players have their hiccups in the minors or develop a little slower so the draft grades could really swing wildly next year. It would take quite a few things working out, but I could see the Falvey front office draft grade swinging all the way up into the C+ range next year… or tanking straight into F territory for that matter. I think it’s also important to consider this isn’t graded on a curve and a 2.00 GPA and a C grade for “average” isn’t a call to fire the front office; it means the front office is competent enough and doing their job well enough in a crazy competitive marketplace where many pieces have to fall into place to grade higher.
MMMordabito reacted to Sherry Cerny for a blog entry, Nick "Clutch" Gordon - Solidifying His Place on the Team
When the Twins brought on Andrelton Simmons, I was not impressed by the Gold Glove awards or the 10 Million dollar contract. Since coming to the team, Gordon has been a utility player that is able to cover portions of the infield, as well as, the outfield. With the season basically over, the Twins have been playing with a lot of the guys from the minors and with the rotation of talent that we keep seeing, Gordon could easily be a permanent fixture in 2022. Gordon certainly is not the savior, but compared to Andrelton Simmons, he has more potential for growth and certainly would not be as huge of a dent in the Pohlad’s wallet.
Nick Gordon spent seven years in the minors. Since 2014 he has continued to climb the ranks since being a 5th overall draft pick. He wasn’t expected to go as far as he did, but he continued to work hard, and by 2019 was pulling a .298 average in Rochester. According to Matthew Taylor of Twins Daily, the second baseman suffered from Covid-19 which derailed his entire 2020 season. Prior to his illness, even if he didn’t move through the minors like others expected, he continued to work hard, improve his plate and field performance and his only hope was to make it to the majors, and make it he did.
Nick Gordon had a slow start to the beginning of the season, like any minor leaguer would coming up to the Show, but he continues to grow and acclimate along with a few of his comrades. When he is brought up from St. Paul, he is able to cover 2B, 3B, SS, CF and LF. He is not a rock star at all positions, but he can cover them if need be. His performances at CF, 2B and SS show that his speed, agility and focus are an asset to this team. He has had 2 errors this season, one at 2B and one at 3B, but in comparison to Andrelton Simmons, his infield play is more accurate with Simmons garnering a 12-error season, where in a smaller sample, Gordon has had “0”. The more appearances Gordon makes, the more he improves.
Gordon’s largest improvement, however, has been at the plate. He continues to impress and work hard and show why he deserves to be a part of the permanent roster. His discipline at the plate has created more confidence and is now hitting a solid .239. This week, on September 5th, the Twins were in a battle with Tampa Bay and the illustrious Nelson Cruz. Early in the game, Gordon doubled into helping himself score on a Jake Cave single in the 2nd inning. In the 7th, he singled in a line drive and stole second - pushing the Twins to tying the Rays. He wasn’t done though! Gordon, who affectionately would be called “Clutch” after hitting a single in the 9th in a two out rally bringing the Twins to a “W” over the Rays. In every situation - Gordon - would come up clutch for the Twins, solidifying why his presence on the squad would be an advantageous move for the Twins front office.
The journey from the minors to the Show can be arderougus. Players like Gordon show how hard work and dedication to improvement can make your dreams a reality. With his exit velocity as impressive as his career trajectory, it’s safe to say that Nick Gordon would be a great addition to the roster with the Twins in 2022.
MMMordabito reacted to BaseballGenius123 for a blog entry, Why Am I a Twins Fan, And a Little About Myself
This post will be about why I am a Twins fan and some memories of the Twins, and a little about me. My name is Levi Hansen, I am 24 years old and I am from Rochester, Minnesota. I went to high school at Mayo High School and graduated in 2016. When I was in high school I knew that after I graduated I wanted to go to college and major in something that involved sports, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to go for. My senior year I decided I wanted to go to school and major in Athletic Training, after a couple years of doing this I found out that this wasn’t right for me, so I switched my major to Mass Communications, I graduated from Rochester Community and Technical College for my Associates Degree this last Spring Semester after I was done with my internship. For my internship I did play-by-play for the Yellowjackets at Rochester Community and Technical College men’s and women’s basketball team’s. At first I was really scared to do play-by-play because I am not a huge basketball fan in general, but halfway through the season the Athletic Director at school stopped me in the hallway after one of the games and told me that an assistant coach from one of the team’s really enjoyed listening to my play-by-play announcing, but the one thing I could change is to say the player’s names more instead of saying the jersey number. At the end of season I was really mad because I think I improved a lot throughout the season and I didn’t want the season to end.
I think I got the love of sports, mostly baseball and football from my father, both my parents are from Trempealeau, Wisconsin, my dad grew up a huge Vikings fan, and when my mom was pregnant with me my dad would read the sports section of the newspaper to my mom’s growing stomach. I like to thank my dad for doing that because I love my Minnesota Twins no matter if they are one of the best teams in the regular season and sadly 0-18 in the last 18 playoff games, or if they are having a disappointing season like they are having this season. Ever since I was in Kindergarten my dad would ask myself, along with my younger brother and sister if we wanted to play youth sports, I played baseball, football, from Kindergarten thru my freshman year of high school and I wrestled from Kindergarten thru my 8th grade year, I truly miss playing all these sports. I also did Boy Scouts for a couple years and they would do a fun night at the Metrodome watching the Twins game and have some fun activities and at the end of the night the Boy Scouts could sleep on the turf. Those times were very fun.
All good things come to an end. I decided I didn’t want to play football anymore after my freshman year, and I wasn’t good enough to make the high school team my freshman year, the players wanted me to stay and be the student manager my Sophomore year, I knew this was an easy choice I ended up managing the baseball team my sophomore year through my senior year for the baseball team and I ended up managing the football team my senior year both of them were so much fun being around a good group of guys and some good coaches. A little story. The Twins drafted Bradley Mathiowetz in the 2014 draft in one of the later rounds. Bradley was a couple years older than me in high school. I thought that was pretty cool that I went to high school and knew a Twins draftee either though he ended up not signing. Bradley ended up being Mr. Baseball for Minnesota in 2014, Bradley was a treat to watch it seemed he hit a home run every at bat and he was a pretty great defensive catcher as well.
Over my 24 years of being a Twins fan, there have been several good players, however my favorite Twins fan of all time is power hitting, gods defensive first basemen Justin Morneau. I think Justin could’ve been in the Hall Of Fame if it wasn’t for all the concussions he suffered while playing the game tough. Justin ended his playing career with 1,545 games played, 5,699 at- bats, 247 Home Runs with a .281 Batting Average, those are pretty good career numbers if you ask me. There was a time I got to meet Justin Morneau at the Metrodome. Years ago there was a reading contest through Cub Foods and people had to read a certain number of minutes to meet Justin, I completed the assignment not because I love to read (I only like to read sports books.) It was because I wanted to meet my favorite player. I remember going through the line as a little kid telling him he was my favorite player it was very fun meeting my favorite player.
The year 2020 was a very sad year with COVID making the world a not so very fun place to live. Spring Training was cut short because of it. When I heard there might not be baseball played last year I felt sick to my stomach and didn’t know what to do in my free time. When there wasn’t any baseball I found some fun baseball podcasts to listen to, I really enjoy Nash Walker’s podcasts and really like Aaron Gleeman and John Bonnes’s podcasts both podcasts are a treat to listen to, another podcast I love listening to are Twins Daily offseason podcasts. If there is ever a time that I could join a Twins Daily offseason podcast it would be so fun. I like listening to the podcasts because I just really like listening to people’s takes on my favorite sports team, most of their takes I agree with but, some I don’t. I wanted to pick up my blog I took a break off from writing on Twins Daily, but a couple months ago I stated blogging again. I love to blog on Twins Daily because I can write whatever comes to mind about the Twins, and people can comment on posts. When I found out there was going to be baseball, but only 60 games, without any fans I was really happy that ”America’s Favorite Pastime” was coming back. Other Twins fans can follow me on Twitter my handle is LeviHansen11
Hopefully you guys like this post. My next post will be about the trades the Twins made at the trade deadline and if I like them or not.
MMMordabito reacted to TwerkTwonkTwins for a blog entry, Falvine's Waiver Claim Game
Critique of a front office is easy to make in the midst of a deeply disappointing season. While many fans are languishing over the incoming July trade deadline, I've heard a lot of complaints about the lack of waiver claims made this season by the Minnesota Twins.
Why are the Twins continuing to trot out the likes of Colomé, Happ, and (formerly) Shoemaker, when the front office can claim replacement-level players from other teams for essentially nothing?
The outright waiver transaction process is a deeply complicated one. Whenever a team wants to remove a player that is already on the 40-man roster, that player must first be offered to each of the other 29 major league teams. If another team claims that player, the player goes on that new team's 40-man roster. The full definition from MLB can be found here.
Because I'm insane, and this season is awful, I decided to compile a list of every player that the Falvey/Levine front office has claimed from other organizations, in addition to players they've lost via waiver claims.
How have they fared in the waiver claim game? Should they pick up the pace, now that they have nothing to lose? Do these claims actually amount to anything?
These questions are important... but so is the trip down memory lane, once you read some of these names.
Players Acquired Via Waiver Claim
Date of Claim Player Claimed Position Team Claimed From fWAR in Minnesota 2/6/2017 Ehire Adrianza UTL IF San Francisco Giants 2.1 5/10/2017 Adam Wilk LHP New York Mets -0.2 6/7/2017 Chris Heston RHP Los Angeles Dodgers 0.0 3/24/2018 Kenny Vargas 1B Cincinatti Reds - 4/26/2018 David Hale RHP New York Yankees -0.2 5/28/2018 Taylor Motter UTL Seattle Mariners -0.3 8/3/2018 Johnny Field RF Cleveland Indians 0.1 8/3/2018 Oliver Drake RHP Cleveland Indians 0.2 10/31/2018 Michael Reed CF Atlanta Braves - 11/26/2018 C.J. Cron 1B Tampa Bay Rays 0.3 10/29/2019 Matt Wisler RHP Seattle Mariners 0.6 10/30/2020 Ian Gibault RHP Texas Rangers - 10/30/2020 Brandon Waddell LHP Pittsburgh Pirates -0.3 2/5/2021 Ian Hamilton RHP Philadelphia Phillies - 2/11/2021 Kyle Garlick RF Atlanta Braves 0.3 6/22/2021 Beau Burrows RHP Detroit Tigers - Total fWAR 2.6 The Twins have claimed a total of 16 players from opposing organizations since Falvey/Levine took over after the 2016 World Series. Of these 16 claims, their most consequential claim was their very first one. Ehire Adrianza was never a star, but a very productive role player for a number of contending Twins teams.
After that, the list isn't so impressive. Matt Wisler was great at slinging sliders in the bullpen during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, but the Twins cut him last offseason in a puzzling move. C.J. Cron and the currently-injured Kyle Garlick have been the largest "successes" outside of Adrianza and Wisler, each account for 0.3 fWAR as right-handed hitters that were acquired to mash left-handed pitching.
Most of these players did not remain on the 40-man roster for a long time. Quite a few were lost to waivers shortly after the Twins acquired them, which include Kenny Vargas, Johnny Field, Oliver Drake, and Brandon Waddell. Such is the life on the waiver wire for many MLB players.
Players Lost Via Waiver Claim
Date of Claim Player Position Team Claimed By fWAR after Minnesota 11/18/2016 Adam Brett Walker LF Milwaukee Brewers - 8/26/2017 Tim Melville RHP San Diego Padres -0.2 9/14/2017 Engelb Vielma SS San Francisco Giants -0.1 11/3/2017 Randy Rosario LHP Chicago Cubs -0.3 11/3/2017 Daniel Palka OF Chicago White Sox -0.7 11/6/2017 Nik Turley LHP Pittsburgh Pirates 0.2 1/22/2018 Buddy Boshers LHP Houston Astros 0.1 2/23/2018 JT Chargois RHP Los Angeles Dodgers 0.5 3/22/2018 Kenny Vargas 1B Cincinatti Reds - 7/9/2018 Ryan LaMarre CF Chicago White Sox 0.4 10/10/2018 Juan Graterol C Cincinatti Reds -0.2 11/1/2018 Johnny Field RF Chicago Cubs - 11/1/2018 Oliver Drake RHP Tampa Bay Rays 0.4 1/11/2019 Aaron Slegers RHP Pittsburgh Pirates 0.4 5/26/2019 Austin Adams RHP Detroit Tigers -0.1 7/20/2019 Adalberto Mejia LHP Los Angeles Angels 0.0 8/14/2019 Ryan Eades RHP Baltimore Orioles -0.2 9/16/2019 Marcos Diplan RHP Detroit Tigers - 11/4/2019 Stephen Gonsalves LHP New York Mets - 9/5/2020 Ildemaro Vargas 2B Chicago Cubs -0.5 10/1/2020 Sean Poppen RHP Pittsburgh Pirates -0.1 5/8/2021 Brandon Waddell LHP Baltimore Orioles 0 5/14/2021 Travis Blankenhorn 2B Los Angeles Dodgers -0.1 6/5/2021 Dakota Chalmers RHP Chicago Cubs - 6/18/2021 Shaun Anderson RHP Texas Rangers - Total fWAR -0.5 You'll immediately notice this list of players lost via waivers during the Falvyey/Levine regime is a lot longer than the list of players they've acquired via waivers. All together, they have lost 25 players, which is 9 more players than they've claimed from other teams.
The good news for the organization, is that this cumulative list has not come back to bite them. 10 of the 25 claimed players provided negative value for their new teams, after departing Minnesota. Daniel Palka's 2017 season really sunk this group, as he posted a -1.4 fWAR in only 93 plate appearances for the White Sox (after he provided 0.7 fWAR and a 109 wRC+ in 2018).
The largest losses from this group have definitely been in the relief category, highlighted by JT Chargois, Oliver Drake, and Aaron Slegers. However, most of these players have had inconsistent careers, injuries, or both, in their time after playing for Minnesota.
Even when factoring in some bullpen pieces this organization might regret losing, the total fWAR from these players after departing the Twins is -0.5 fWAR. The current front office has been right far more than wrong, when deciding how to churn the 40-man roster.
Yearly Trends And Overall Takeaway
Year Players Claimed From Other Teams Players Claimed By Other Teams 2016/2017 3 6 2018 7 7 2019 1 6 2020 2 2 2021 3 4 Total Players 16 25 Total fWAR 2.6 -0.5 fWAR Difference 3.1 Overall, the Twins have gained 3.1 fWAR from their decisions to gain and lose players from the waiver wire. That's a pretty decent result for a type of front office transaction that is often overlooked. It averages out to about 0.69 fWAR per season, factoring in the 4.5 seasons of the Falvey/Levine regime.
Most of that waiver activity came in 2017 and 2018, when the front office was still adjusting to their inherited players from the previous front office. Successful teams don't always gamble roster spots on players exposed to outright waivers, which is evident in the 2019 team.
One major caveat to point out across the yearly trend is that teams were probably hesitant to claim players from other organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic, so 2020 and early 2021 should be viewed through that lens.
However, that didn't stop the Twins from claiming 3 bullpen arms (Ian Gibault, Brandon Waddell, and Ian Hamilton), and Kyle Garlick this offseason. The jury is still out on these claims, but Waddell did not go well.
The most interesting thing about 2021 is that the Twins lost 4 players during their early season free-fall (Brandon Waddell, Travis Blankenhorn, Dakota Chalmers, and Shaun Anderson), before claiming Beau Burrows a few weeks ago from the Detroit Tigers.
Is former first-round draft pick Beau Burrows the tip of the iceberg? Now that 2021 is officially kaput, will the front office be more aggressive?
I sure hope so. Moves will be made in the next few weeks, and this 40-man roster will be significantly different as we approach the trade deadline. The 40-man roster will likely be smaller, and the Twins will be in front of the line when contenders have to cut players to account for their deadline additions.
Waiver claims are rarely sexy transactions, but sometimes you stumble into a Ehire Adrianza or a Matt Wisler. The Twins have proven to be more successful than not when it comes to their waiver claim game. It's time to play, because there's simply nothing to lose.
MMMordabito reacted to Danchat for a blog entry, Top 30 Prospects - Summer 2021 Update
Continuing from my Top 30 Prospect Rankings in the winter, I have updated my standings in accordance to how well things have gone for the individual players. I'll try to keep this brief, but I can promise nothing!
#Num - Pos Player (Winter Rating)
Current Level - Quick Summary
#1 OF Trevor Larnach
#2 C Ryan Jeffers
#3 OF Alex Kirilloff
#18 2B Travis Blankenhorn
#35 SP Dakota Chalmers
Top 30 Prospects
#30 - 2B Edouard Julien (Not Ranked)
A - A former 18th round pick, Julien is raking at Fort Myers. Has a long way to go, but he's on my radar now.
#29 - CF Gabriel Maciel (#24)
A+ - Maciel got off to a rough start and has shown zero pop in his bat. He profiles as a Ben Revere type.
#28 - 3B Seth Gray (#32)
A+ - Gray has shown improvement at the plate and has a high .368 OBP. Part of that is because of 9 HBPs (hit by pitches).
#27 - 2B Will Holland (#26)
A - Got a late start and has been a bit shaky in a small sample size.
#26 - SP Luis Rijo (#23)
A+ - Got a late start, pitched in one game, and hit the IL with a forearm strain. This reeks of a lost season.
#25 - SS Jermaine Palacios (NR)
AA - Palacios is quite the story. He was the only prospect in the Odorizzi trade with the Rays, but he completely flopped in AA Montgomery. He signed back with the Twins in free agency and is hitting up a storm (.850 OPS with great OBP and some power) and he already profiles well as a defender. He always had a high ceiling, which earns him a spot in the top 30.
#24 - OF Emmanuel Rodriguez (#29)
Not playing yet.
#23 - OF Alerick Soularie (#28)
Not playing yet / injured.
#22 - RP Yennier Cano (NR)
AAA - Cano crushed AA with a 13.7 K/9 ratio and doesn't hand out too many walks. The 27 year old Cuban is now pitching at AAA and should debut in August/September for the Twins as a reliever.
#21 - RP Edwar Colina (#15)
On the 60 day IL after having bone spurs removed from his elbow. Still the organization's best reliever prospect, Colina missing a year of development is awful for both him and the Twins.
#20 - C Ben Rortvedt (#20)
MLB - He's filling in as the backup catcher, and as I speculated before, he's a strong defender who can't hit. He'll do better than .140, but he's always going to be a liability at the plate.
#19 - SS Danny De Andrade (#25)
Not playing yet
#18 - 2B/CF Nick Gordon (#22)
MLB - Gordon went from potential DFA candidate to a quality bench player. Even with almost 2 years off, his swing looks good and his speed gives him SB opportunities and can fill in as a CF. This is likely his ceiling, though.
#17 - SS Wander Javier (#19)
AA - Javier is looking better at the plate, but is still only hitting .692 OPS. His future may be as a backup SS who can field better than most, but can't hit.
#16 - 2B Spencer Steer (#21)
A+ - Steer is absolutely raking at Cedar Rapids with a .915 OPS, 10 HRs, and .405 OBP. He may earn a late promotion to AA and has potential to climb higher if he keeps hitting.
#15 - SP Blayne Enlow (#16)
A+ - Looked great in 3 starts, but then needed Tommy John surgery. The first of a bundle of quality starting pitcher prospects, this injury sets him back at least a year.
#14 - 1B/DH Brent Rooker (#7)
AAA - Rooker plummets down the rankings after looking terrible in his short MLB stint and getting passed up by the likes of Garlick, Refsnyder, Gordon (for MLB ABs, not outfield play). He's hit well in St. Paul (.925 OPS 11 HRs), but he turns 27 soon, and if he can't hit MLB pitching, he has no place on any roster.
#13 - CF Misael Urbina (#14)
A - Urbina has struggled at Fort Myers, but he's only 19. It's too early to be concerned.
#12 - 3B Keoni Cavaco (#13)
A - Cavaco is hitting better, though with no power and too many Ks. At just 20, he has a long ways to go.
#11 - SP Bailey Ober (#33)
MLB - Ober takes a massive leap up as I originally projected him as a reliever. He's looked better than expected in the Twins' rotation, and while he has been hittable and given a strict inning limit, he's been able to strike out some of the league's best hitters. If he get more innings under his belt, he could solidify himself as a decent MLB starter.
#10 - SP Josh Winder (#27)
AA - I initially rated Winder too low, as he's now dominating AA with a WHIP under 1.0, 10.7 K/9, and 5.4 innings per start. At this rate he will be able to graduate in 2022 and he profiles as a mid-rotation starter, not just a back-end guy.
#9 - 1B Aaron Sabato (#9)
A - Many thought Sabato might start at A+, but instead he starts at the bottom and he's been bad at the plate. A 33 K% in the minors is a big red flag. It is early, but like Rooker you have to wonder if his power-first approach will sink him at the plate.
#8 - CF Gilberto Celestino (#10)
MLB - Celestino went from AA to MLB in the span of two days, and unsurprisingly looked shaky at the plate. He needs more time to work on his bat, but 2022 will be his final option year (had to be protected from Rule 5 draft). It'd be nice to use Celestino as a Buxton substitute.
#7 - SP Cole Sands (#12)
AA - Like Winder, Sands looked very good at AA, albeit with a few too many walks. Unfortunately, he's on the IL with an undisclosed injury.
#6 - OF/1B Matt Wallner (#8)
A+ - Wallner was hitting at a ridiculous 1.005 OPS (.333/.384) before hitting the IL with a hamate bone injury. He did have a 38% K rate in that small sample size.
#5 - 3B Jose Miranda (#17)
AA - I mentioned last time that Miranda needed to take a big step forward, and that's exactly what he did. With an insane 1.0006 OPS (.348/.415), 12 HRs, and a microscopic 10% K rate, Miranda looks like the real deal despite his struggles in the lower minors. It's fair to debate if he can stay at 3B full-time, but his bat looks like it has MLB staying power.
#4 - SP Matt Canterino (#11)
A+ - Canterino looked flat-out unhittable until hitting the IL with elbow issues. Hope for the best, everyone.
#3 - SP Jhoan Duran (#5)
AAA - Duran has struggled with injuries and command so far, and has now been shut down with an elbow problem. This is looking like a lost season.
#2 - SP Jordan Balazovic (#6)
AA - After missing time with a back problem, Balazovic is ramping up and has been a bit shaky. He has nasty stuff, but needs to get more innings under his belt.
#1 - SS/CF Royce Lewis (#4)
Torn ACL - With my top three graduated, Lewis took over the top spot, but of course blew his ACL in Spring Training. He should be ready for the 2022 season where he will likely start in AAA.
Rule 5 Eligible Prospects for Winter 2021:
MMMordabito reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, The Moment Randy Dobnak Has Earned
You could call him a former Uber driver, but you’d be selling it short. You could call him a prospect, but he probably never garnered that status. Instead, Randy Dobnak is a self-made grinder that went from small-college West Virginia to one of the best pitchers on a staff that supports one of Major League Baseball’s best teams.
After spending the better part of three seasons in the minor leagues as an undrafted free agent, Dobnak will toe the rubber tonight in what equates to his backyard. From South Park, Pennsylvania, Dobnak takes the ball for the Minnesota Twins against his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates. Something out of a storybook, this narrative couldn’t have played out better, but if you haven’t been expecting it you might also have not been watching.
Pitching for three different levels in the Minnesota Twins minor league system last season Dobnak posted a 2.07 ERA 7.3 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9. No level was too big for him, and each stop he made the job continued to get done. Then he was promoted to the majors and got even better. With the Twins a year ago Dobnak owned a 1.59 ERA 7.3 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9. After putting just 28.1 IP under his belt at the highest level, he was called upon to pitch game two of the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees.
Despite all of the success a year ago, nothing was guaranteed for 2020. Dobnak was on the outside looking in when it came to a rotation spot or even a big-league job. The Twins had acquired the likes of Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill, and Homer Bailey to round out the rotation. COVID-19 had threatened the season as a whole, and the man with the mustache became somewhat of a forgotten commodity once again.
Now two turns through the rotation in 2020, Dobnak is reminding those around the sport once again, his title is Major League Pitcher. He owns a 1.00 ERA allowing a single run in nine innings on six hits. He’s fanned seven and given up an uncharacteristic four walks. When he steps on the mound in the bottom half of the first inning at PNC Park however, none of that will matter. It’ll be another night of work for a guy that’s become a lunch pail type ready to get the job done each time he’s tasked with doing so.
Although every team is looking for their ace that throws 100 mph and blows the doors of every batter they see, it’s clear there’s different ways to get the job done at the highest level. Dobnak knows who he is as a pitcher, and that’s probably why he continues to see success. One of the most light-hearted personalities you’ll see postgame, Randy genuinely enjoys playing baseball and his mental makeup allows him to never let the moment get too big.
Tonight, some of his biggest fans including his wife and dad won’t be in attendance. In fact, no one will be. I can’t imagine that Randy envisioned his first start in Pittsburgh to be without anyone in the stadium, but you can bet there will be plenty of eyes glued on him attending from their couches. It’s a moment he’s earned, one that he won’t allow to get bigger than him, and if any previous indications are to be believed, one he’ll rise to the occasion of.
Every team in baseball would like to have a Randy Dobnak. Someone unphased by the situation, routinely able to produce, and always willing to soak it all in. Unfortunately, not all Uber drivers turn out to be Major League Pitchers.
For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
MMMordabito reacted to Cody Pirkl for a blog entry, Bounceback Candidate: Marwin Gonzalez
Marwin Gonzalez was an absolute God send in 2019 for the Minnesota Twins. The front office locked up the utility man on February 25th to a 2 year $21 million contract. His ability to play all over the diamond was priceless as it turned out, as we saw him start the year at 3B to fill in for an injured Sano. We saw him go on to fill in all over the field as we saw injuries from C.J. Cron, Max Kepler, Byron Buxton, as well as plenty others. Marwin's value goes beyond the statistics. The Twins would have been lost without him in 2019, who despite the depth and versatility within the organization, found themselves relying on guys like Ronald Torreyes down the stretch as the injuries piled up. Despite the value Marwin Gonzalez provided in 2019, I think there's reason to believe that his 2020 could prove to be even more valuable.
As previously mentioned, Gonzalez was signed on February 25th, two days after the Twins began their spring training games.
The slow progression of the free agent market caused him to wait around on a longer term contract that would never come. The Twins being ever opportunistic, took advantage of the market and signed Gonzalez to a team friendly deal. Gonzalez had waited long enough. He reported right away, but still had to ramp up before being game ready. When he finally did finish playing catchup, he managed a line of .115/.179/.397 by the end of the spring. He had struck out in 13 of his 26 at bats. We hear all the time about the importance of the spring training routine for pitching, but why wouldn't the same be true for hitting? Gonzalez had a triple slash of .167/.244/.256 through the first month of the season, good for a 33 wRC+. He struck out about 24% of the time. His offseason was clearly out of the ordinary for him to that point in his career, and his spring training was a rushed and shortened experience that I would argue carried into the season. 2020 is an opportunity for Marwin to settle in and have a normal spring training again, hopefully leading to a more consistent start to the season.
At just 30 years old, Marwin shouldn't be on the decline quite yet. His 93 wRC+ however was his worst since 2016, and well below the benchmark he had set for himself on average over the last 5 years. When looking at why this may have been, I saw that Marwin had an IL stint from 6/19-6/29 for a hamstring injury. This itself is an injury that's known to linger for what can be weeks. I was searching however for the IL stint for the oblique injury I remembered Marwin having, but it doesn't exist. He was scratched on September 24th as a precautionary measure for an oblique injury having played in 6 of the last 8 games. However, he didn't play a single game from August 28th-September 15th for the same oblique injury. He was likely playing through this oblique strain (those are not fun) for weeks.
Marwin's 2019 was far from a lost season. He was worth 1.4 wins according to fangraphs measures and filled in admirably at just about every position. He's likely to be the same super utility man in 2020 as well, as the Twins are returning a solid lineup only currently missing a full time corner infielder. While he will be another year older, Marwin Gonzalez stands to benefit from the normal spring training routine this year unlike in 2019. Not only might this get him more prepared to perform come the regular season, it may even mean he will be in better shape to avoid the soft tissue injuries that plagued him in 2020. Despite the rough start mentioned above, from April 29th forward Marwin seemed to get back into the swing of things to the tune of a .283/.337/.446 triple slash. Penciling that into the bottom 1/3 of our lineup is simply ridiculous, and I believe that in 2020 we will see Marwin Gonzalez thrive in a similar way for much of the season.
MMMordabito reacted to Cody Pirkl for a blog entry, Jimmy for the Back End
As December winds down, the Minnesota Twins have two established starters in their rotation penciled in for opening day. As Michael Pineda serves his remaining 39 games of suspension, the Twins will look to fill those innings with more than the 2019 group of rookies consisting of Dobnak, Smeltzer and Thorpe. I am still a believer in the front offices ability to swing a trade that brings in the prized arm that we've been hoping for all winter. However, I am 100% certain that we will see them take some dart throws on a pitcher or two to fill in or cover the back end of the rotation. In 2019 we saw them sign Martin Perez who despite his struggles to finish the season, set the world on fire to begin the year. A similar reclamation project I would love to see the Twins make for 2020 is Jimmy Nelson from the Brewers.
Jimmy Nelson had a career year in 2017, striking out 10.21/9 and only walking 2.46. While it admittedly wasn't anything like the year of the juiced ball in 2019, his .82 HR/9 was absurd. He finished with a 3.49 ERA and 3.05 FIP and an fWAR of 4.8 in 175.1 innings. It was his third consecutive year of 175+ innings pitched. So why haven't we heard Jimmy Nelson's name in 2018 and 2019?
Jimmy Nelson was running the bases on September 8th 2017 when he had to dive back into first base, tearing his rotator cuff and labrum in his shoulder. Just like that the Brewers lost their ace for the remainder of the season. It's a devastating injury for a pitcher, and wound up costing Nelson his 2018 and most of 2019 season as well. His return to the mound didn't inspire much confidence in the Brewers for the price he was due to earn, as they non tendered him, leaving him as a free agent.
Nelson's 2019 was ugly to say the least. He walked 6.95/9, allowed a crippling 1.64 HR/9, leading to a 6.95 ERA. It was a lost season for Nelson. I can't lie and say I have confidence in Nelson's 2020 bounceback looking at those numbers, but I do think he would be worth the low risk gamble. A high walk rate isn't completely unexpected following an almost two year layoff. While his average FB velocity was down almost 2 MPH from his last full season, his 10.64 K/9 suggests the talent is still in there somewhere, as visually represented by a rehab start from earlier in 2019.
Jimmy Nelson is still only 30 years old and should still have plenty in the tank if that shoulder is healthy, which it appeared to be in 2019 despite poor results. He would likely be healthy for the start of spring training and may benefit from his first regular preseason routine since 2017. The Twins coaching staff would likely afford him plenty of rest as we've seen in the past, and may be able to offer some adjustments as he continues to build back into a reliable pitcher. To expect another 2017 Jimmy Nelson is a mistake, but the Twins need innings, especially to begin the season. Whether you like where the rotation is at or not, it's time to consider these options at the back end. In terms of pitchers in Nelson's tier of lottery picks that would cost little and have little expectation, Nelson is the most exciting option. It would tell me our front office has identified potential in a pitcher who was previously very successful but whose numbers have suffered due to injury. Announcement of a Jimmy Nelson signing wouldn't do much to silence the fears of fans, but I would love to let him compete for a spot at the back end of our rotation in 2020. What do you think?
MMMordabito reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Pineda and the PED Stupidity
Why can't we have nice things? Maybe that's a common refrain, but then again shouldn't it be why does common sense escape so many? As Michael Pineda now faces a 60 game suspension, ending his season and ability to help the Minnesota Twins in the Postseason, we're left shaking our heads as to why cheating is always defined as a mistake.
There's zero denying that Michael Pineda knew what he was doing. Ingesting a diuretic that he obtained from a "close acquaintance" is the same tired excuse we're often fed. You see, those that lack common sense also have this belief the world around them follows suit. Here's the reality, Pineda got caught and still can't own it so he's going down with the ship.
If there was no ill intentions in taking the drug, Pineda could have quickly reached out to team doctors or trainers for an opinion. He made a choice to forego that route because of the assumed answer. Whether Pineda believed there would be substantial helpful effects for whatever he was trying to mask or not, he chose to turn from a protocol that would've been in the best interest of himself and moreso his team.
In the end it's really the Twins that lose here. After paying $2 million on the belief they'd get to monitor rehab and then get a productive pitcher in 2019, they got an $8 million tab that ran out right when they needed it most. Pineda has been Rocco Baldelli's best starter since being shut down for 10 days on May 27, and Minnesota went 11-4 in the 15 games he started. This was supposed to be Jose Berrios' staff, but it was Big Mike that looked the part of ALDS game one pitcher. Not anymore.
Nothing about this suspension changes the Twins outlook when it comes to playing in October or winning the AL Central division. Both of those things will still happen. Where the fallout comes is in how and what Minnesota does to compete against the best of the best. You can get by with three elite starters or four quality ones in Postseason play, but the Twins now have two wild cards, an ill asset, and a handful of unproven commodities. It's been the Bomba Squad all year, and the pen has stepped up of late, but the need has now never been greater.
An era or so ago when PED usage ran rampant in baseball (thank you Bud Selig), I had no problem with the best looking for that advantage. Now the ball is juiced and the playing field is leveled that way. Testing is stricter than it's ever been though, and the sport has since decided drugs have no place in the game. To continue operating that way is as selfish as it gets, and only hurts your club. Pineda will still get paid next season, and he makes a healthy sum for 2019. The fans and players looking to make a splash this season now all lose.
This is a story we've heard plenty of times before. It's an excuse and apology we'll hear plenty of times again. No amount of money can buy common sense, and unfortunately for the Twins, Michael Pineda's desire to be about himself is the latest example.
For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
MMMordabito reacted to Patrick Wozniak for a blog entry, Is Max Kepler Becoming the Next Christian Yelich?
2019 has been a breakout year for Max Kepler. Kepler’s talent and upside has been on display since his days in the minor leagues but he has seemingly put it all together this season. In the year of the home run, Kepler has been no exception as he has led the best home run-hitting team in baseball with 36 long balls. His previous career high was 20, which Kepler will more than likely double. He will put up career highs in all of the traditional batting stats and has been good for a team best 4.4 fWAR. Defensively he is among the best right fielders in baseball and he has filled in admiringly in center field during Byron Buxton’s trips to the IL.
When dreaming about Max Kepler’s upside a comp that has often been made is to Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich. Like Kepler, Yelich spends the majority of his time in right field, hits for a lot of power despite not having a traditional power hitter’s build, and leads his team in home runs and WAR. Yelich’s contract situation is also very similar to Kepler’s as he is currently signed to a seven year, 49.57 million dollar contract that ends in 2021 with a club option in 2022. Kepler is also signed to a seven million dollar AAV through 2023 with a club option for 2024. Needless to say both Minnesota and Milwaukee can be nothing less than thrilled with those contacts.
While Kepler’s power surge came to fruition this season, Yelich had a similar transformation in 2018. Prior to being traded over to Milwaukee before the 2018 season, Yelich’s previous home run high with the Miami Marlins was 21 in 2016. However, last season Yelich exploded for 36 dingers in his first season with Milwaukee and has hit a career high 43 so far this year. Yelich’s 2018 numbers (.326/.402/.598, 166 wRC+, 7.6 fWAR) were good enough to win the NL MVP award and lead his team to within a game of the World Series. Although Milwaukee is now on the outside looking in for a wild card spot, Yelich has been every bit as good, hitting .326/.421/.672 for a 169 wRC+ and a 7 fWAR.
Kepler’s numbers have not yet reached the level of Yelich’s, but his great leap forward has happened at the same age as Yelich’s. Both players were consistent and above average players in their earlier years, but something clicked in their age-26 seasons. As both players became more familiar with major league pitching and most likely added some strength, there power numbers surged. Both started hitting the ball harder than ever as Yelich’s hard hit percentage went from 35.2% in his age-25 season, to 47.6% at age 26 (and 50.3% this year!), while Kepler has gone from 37.1% to 42.9% (and up from 33% for his first two seasons).
Both players have had similar power trajectories but there are clear differences in their overall skill sets. Kepler and Yelich both have good speed, but Yelich is a very good base stealer (26 SB on the year with only 2 CS) while Kepler very rarely attempts to take a bag. Yelich is also a much better overall hitter than Kepler thus far in their careers. Yelich has a career .301 batting average with a .381 on-base-percentage and a .373 wOBA. Kepler on the other hand has hit just .239 with a .320 OBP and .326 wOBA. Yelich has the advantage of having an extra year of being an elite hitter on Kepler, but his overall numbers would still be much better than Kepler’s.
Their career walk rates are similar (Yelich 11.0%, Kepler 9.9%) and Kepler actually has the better isolated power numbers (.208 ISO to .190) but Yelich has a huge advantage when it comes to batting average on balls in play (BABIP). Kepler has always had a notoriously low BABIP (career .254) and this season has been no different at .246. Contrast that to Yelich who has always been able to “hit it where they ain’t” with a career .358 BABIP. While BABIP can fluctuate a fair amount from season to season and is somewhat luck based, a career difference of over .100 is certainly more than just luck. Yelich’s ability to hit the ball slightly harder than Kepler and his faster sprint speeds probably helps a bit, but Yelich is also less pull-heavy than Kepler which makes him less susceptible to hitting into the shift. Kepler is currently pulling the ball at a 53.7 % clip while going opposite field just 19% of the time. Yelich hits the balls to all fields, pulling 38.5 %, going to center 38.3 %, and going opposite field 23.2 % of the time.
With Kepler hitting for as much power as he has, the Twins are probably loath to change his approach in order to improve his average. There is, however, one area where Kepler already exceeds Yelich – defense. Yelich is not a bad defender per say, but he is probably average at best and is rated negatively by both FanGraphs and Baseball Reference (which could be the deciding factor in Cody Bellinger winning the NL MVP this year). Conversely, Kepler rates as one of the best right fielders in the MLB with a 19.8 UZR/150 and has played well in center with a 12.8 UZP/150. FanGraphs even has Kepler rated as the best defensive outfielder in all of baseball.
Christian Yelich is already one of the top players in all of baseball, but Max Kepler is not so far behind. If Kepler can continue to improve his overall offensive game and maintain his homerun power, he could join the elite few in baseball. MVP awards may be hard to come by with arguably the best player in MLB history also playing in the American League (Mike Trout, in case you’ve been living under a rock), but at the young age of 26 Max Kepler is starting to turn some heads. Minnesota would naturally be happy if Kepler can continue to replicate the success he has had in 2019, but it may even be possible that the best is yet to come.
MMMordabito reacted to JW24 for a blog entry, Miami Marlins
Miami at the end of July! Let's make it happen!
This was the reaction my friends and I had last September when the 2019 MLB schedule was released. July might not be considered the peak time to visit Miami, but there really is not a bad time to go. Plus, the flights were darn cheap.
We originally looked for a weekend trip that would work, but a quick look through the schedule yielded no great choices. We generally do not take this trip prior to Memorial Day weekend, so despite interest in going to Philadelphia, that option was not going to happen. Coupled with prior trips to Seattle, Texas, Kansas City and last year's trip to Chicago, we pivoted to what the most fun location would be. Considering our preference is to attend games at an NL park due to how infrequently the Twins play each NL team, Miami jumped off the schedule.
Like I mentioned previously, it did not cost much to get to Miami from Minnesota in July. I flew in and out of the Rochester, Minnesota airport due to proximity, but both Rochester and Minneapolis offered very affordable flights.
Once in Miami, we used Lyft and Uber to get around, which I would recommend highly for this city. I consider myself to be a pretty good driver, but I would have struggled in Miami. The naming convention of the streets is weird, there was a lot of construction which led to many detours, and every single local driver's vehicles turn signals were broken (or so it seemed) so merging and changing lanes was always an adventure.
We stayed at the YVE Hotel Miami which was perfect for us. We basically used it to sleep and shower. We were across the street from Bayfront Park and Bayside Mall, which are both pretty touristy spots. Lots of good food/drink and shopping opportunities. A couple of the food spots we went to in this area that I would recommend were Station 28 and The Egg Spot.
We spent one morning/afternoon in Miami beach. It was about a $10 Lyft ride to get there from the hotel we stayed at. We had brunch at one of the dozens of places that line Ocean Drive, and later had a couple drinks at a different place. There are so many options for food and drink on Miami beach that I will not name specific places we stopped. The beach itself is beautiful, and was not terribly crowded the day we were there.
After one of the Twins/Marlins games we attended, we went up to the Wynwood Walls area to see the art. There were a lot of people out and about in this part of town, considering it was 11 pm on a Wednesday night. One of our Lyft drivers mentioned it was one of the best places to experience the culture of Miami, and I would say he was right. The graffiti was stunning.
Finally, we spent a little time in the Brickell area, just south of the hotel we stayed at, the final night of our trip. Having spent a little time in Brickell, the only thing about the trip I would change is that I would have looked for a hotel in that area. Granted, it was less than a mile from where we actually stayed, but the nightlife and energy was just a little different.
Marlins Stadium and the games:
My goal here is not to provide game recaps since the writers for Twins Daily already do that and do it much better than I ever could. Instead, this will be my thoughts on the stadium and surrounding areas, and a couple of notes regarding the games themselves.
Prior to game 1, my buddies and I went to Nightlife Brewing Company since it is right next to the stadium ($8 Lyft ride from our hotel). There were less than 10 other people in there. As we were looking for some sort of pregame atmosphere, that was a let down. The beer was fine.
The plaza area around the stadium is really nice! The landscaping looked great, and there were a lot of open areas that, should the Marlins ever draw a decent crowd again, could be a great spot to hang out before and after games.
Marlins Park is a nice stadium as well. It is, perhaps, unconventional in regards to stadium design, but it has a lot to like. There are big glass windows out in left field that provide a great view of the Miami skyline. The Bobblehead Museum was a lot of fun to look through, and the Budweiser Bar in left field offered a really nice vantage point of the games for those who like standing. With wide concourses and small crowds, walking around the stadium was easy. There are a couple of concession stands in right field that offer "deals" on select items. Hot dogs, for instance, were $3 at this location and $6 elsewhere, so there is some affordability of eating at the ballpark if you go to these areas.
Unfortunately, the Marlins removed the home run sculpture after last season, so we did not have a chance to see it in person. I would have loved to see that thing! Additionally, the roof of the stadium was never opened, so we did not get the experience of outdoor baseball, which would have been nice as well.
We did not purchase tickets ahead of game 1, choosing instead to scalp tickets to avoid fees. We got lower level seats for $12, which felt like $11 too much given the attendance, but the cheapest available seats either online or at the box office were $10, so we did alright. Our seats were for a section down the right field line, which we sat in for a couple innings. Those seats were actually quite good. I do not think there is a bad seat to be had in the stadium. We did decide to give ourselves an upgrade and relocated behind home plate about 20 rows up.
Game 2 was easily the best ballpark experience we have ever had on one of our trips. We decided to purchase tickets to the Dex Club, which is the Marlins equivalent to the Champions Club section at Target Field. As we normally spend a good chunk of money for tickets for 1 game per Twins road trip, and then buy cheap seats around the park for the remaining games, this was our big ticket purchase. The seats were $225 each, and worth every penny. The Club itself was beautifully set up with a bit of a beachy vibe; plenty of tables to sit at, a lounge area, and some standing tables all blended together. The food was all excellent, the beer and wine was unlimited, and there is even a view of the Marlins batting cages from inside the club. We sat in seats in the section right next to the Twins dugout, which gave us a great view of the masterpiece Jose Berrios threw that night.
Game 3 was a bit of a repeat of game 1. We scalped our tickets for the same price, but instead of sitting in seats, we hung out in left field at the Budweiser Bar and watched from there until the 8th inning or so. One item of note from this spot is that we had a great view of Buxton crashing into the wall in right-center. He slammed into that wall at full speed, and almost made an incredible catch in the process. I could not believe he stayed in the game after that play, or that his next at bat resulted in a huge 2-run double (we had a good view of the chalk kicked up from the ball landing on the line) given how hard he hit the wall.
Game 3 was also a noon game, and there were about 25 groups of kids from various summer camps at the game. Whenever the stadium scoreboard would call for fans to get loud, these kids went crazy. That was the only time considerable noise was made inside the stadium.
One of the really fun things about these trips are getting to see players making their Twins (or MLB) debuts. I was in Kansas CIty in 2015 for Miguel Sano's debut. I was at Wrigley Field last summer for Willians Astudillo's debut. In Miami, I was able to see Sam Dyson's debut. I will never forget his first game as a member of the Twins, that is a fact.
Miami was a blast! There is a lot of energy and culture in the city (although there is almost none at the ballpark). The ballpark itself was very nice, though not particularly memorable in any way.
MMMordabito reacted to JW24 for a blog entry, Road tripping introduction
Hey everyone, I have been kicking around the idea of starting this blog for a while and decided to just go for it. If there is another blog like this on Twins Daily, I apologize for duplicating any content or stepping on any toes.
Each summer, a group of friends and I take a trip to watch the Twins play in a visiting ballpark, with the goal of seeing the Twins in all 30 MLB stadiums. I am hoping this blog can provide a space for others to share their experiences, either at the ballpark or in the cities of various teams as a reference for others, as well as a way for me to remember the trips taken with my friends.
I have made it to 14 ballparks outside of Minnesota to see the Twins play so far, so I have some catching up to do entry-wise. I just got back from this summer's trip to Miami, so I will try to write about that experience as my first real post while the memories are still fresh.
Some trips were done on tight budgets (started doing this back in college). Some trips were spread out over long weekends, and others were single-game experiences. Some summers were more memorable than others (2015 was my summer of Tommy Milone -- I went to 9 games in 4 different ballparks and Milone started 5 of the games), and some Twins teams were better than others. Through it all, my love for baseball has grown. I hope you all enjoy the future posts and comment with your experiences/recommendations as well.
MMMordabito reacted to Brandon Warne for a blog entry, Observations as the Twins Complete a Sweep of the Royals behind Smeltzer's Gem
This is an excerpt form an article which originates at Zone Coverage. Click here to read it in full.
This isn't the first time Devin Smeltzer has been summoned to the Twin Cities to replace an ailing Michael Pineda on the Minnesota Twins' 25-man roster.
That came back in late May.
But if how the young lefty has thrown in his big-league stints has been any indication, there might not be many more recalls -- he's been that impressive.
The last time we saw the lefty on a big-league mound, he was giving the Twins a massive lift on July 24. Their pitching staff was in tatters, and after Jake Odorizzi was bounced early that night by a powerful Yankees offense, Smeltzer jumped in and cleaned up the final five innings of the game, allowing just a solo homer to Edwin Encarnacion while allowing the offense to claw back and at least make a game of it late.
His reward was being sent back out right after the game in a seemingly endless cycling of pitchers between Rochester and Minnesota leading up to the trade deadline -- but he wasn't there for long.
Smeltzer got word that he would be needed to start on Sunday sometime Saturday and arrived in Minneapolis with plenty of time to prepare for Sunday's start.He couldn't have looked more locked in.
Smeltzer and three relievers combined for a two-hit shutout of the Kansas City Royals in a 3-0 win -- and it was threes across the board.
Three runs scored
Three wins in the series
Three games up in the Central
There was also one very notable one in there as well -- it was Smeltzer's first MLB win.The offense wasn't terrific, as Royals righty Brad Keller held them at bay for much of the afternoon, but they got just enough production -- both in terms of manufacturing runs and driving the ball out of the ballpark -- to steal a sweep and grab their 69th win of the season.
MMMordabito reacted to jtkoupal for a blog entry, MLB Realignment Doesn't Have to Wait
It seems pretty clear at this point that a realignment is on the horizon in Major League Baseball. Different ideas have been shared, but the most popular and most sensible one is for baseball to realign their divisions so that the teams are in closer proximity to each other. Such an alignment would probably not help any team more than the Seattle Mariners, who currently have to play 6 series in the state of Texas; more than 2,000 miles away from Seattle.
These ideas have arisen in light of the rumors of baseball expanding to 32 teams, with one team likely to be in Portland, Oregon and the other somewhere in the Eastern time zone. Such expansion will necessitate realignment anyhow, so it's possible that the MLB will wait until then to do anything, but in reality, they could start sooner. Indications are that the goal is for the Oakland A's and Tampa Bay Rays to move into new stadiums before expanding. However, negotiations are slow. The Rays are committed to playing at Tropicana Field through 2027 and have made little progress on what to do after, though they have begun to explore a disastrous idea to split time between Tampa and Montreal when their lease on the Trop is up.
The current travel for the players is grueling, especially for the teams in the west, who are vastly outnumbered by teams in the central and eastern time zones. Instead of waiting for the expansion to happen, which will probably be close to a decade from now, if not longer, the MLB could realign AND shorten the season much sooner. Here's how:
The first step is making the rules uniform. This realignment will jumble up the league, so the DH will either have to be universal or banned first.
Then, the MLB could align their divisions as follows (basically, just take the divisions as they are now and shuffle the deck a little bit)
Pacific: Seattle, Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers
Southwest: San Diego, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Houston
Upper Midwest: Kansas City, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, Minnesota, Milwaukee
Rust Belt: Detroit, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh
Metropolitan: Toronto, New York Yankees, New York Mets, Boston, Philadelphia
Southeast: Washington, Baltimore, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Miami
I like this arrangement for a number of reasons, it's not perfect, especially for the southwest, but it's better than what they have. Also, there was no choice but to break up either Chicago's teams or KC and St. Louis. It's unfortunate, but something had to give.
As for the length of season, this schedule would make a ton of sense:
Vs Division opponents: 15 games vs each X 4 teams = 60 Games
Vs Rest of Conference: 6 games X 10 teams = 60 Games
Interleague: 6 games X 5 teams =30 Games (Play a 3 game series at home and on the road vs an entire division)
Total of 150 games
As I mentioned, it's not likely that the MLB will do anything until expansion happens (which I'm pretty indifferent about, honestly). However, in order to give the players a more reasonable travel schedule, and to give fans more chances to travel and see their team in nearby stadiums, this realignment makes a ton of sense.
MMMordabito reacted to Kirby O'Connor for a blog entry, Off Day Assessment
It's been exactly one week since the Twins last off day, an unplanned off day prompted by a wet field in Los Angeles, so now is a good time to assess what has gone right, and what has gone wrong for the team since then.
A 5-1 record since the last day off. Simply put the Twins have been mashing in that time with a convincing win over the Angels, a sweep against the White Sox, and a well-played 2 game split against one of the National League's best teams the Milwaukee Brewers. In those 6 games, the Twins have outscored their opponents 51-23, Max Kepler has collected AL Player of the Week honors, and have increased their divisional lead from 7 games to 10 games. Obviously when you have that record a lot has gone well, but starting pitching has to be the biggest plus in those six games. Starters allowed just 7 earned runs in 36 innings in this time.
Although the team has been playing well, there has been some rough patches, particularly for the Twins bullpen. Austin Adams gave up 5 earned runs while only recording 2 outs in the final game in Los Angeles. Luckily the Twins were up by 14 prior to Adams' appearance and would still win by 9. However, it led to Adams being waived and claimed by the Detroit Tigers. Adams' roster spot was taken by Zack Littell who pitched two clean innings against Chicago in the series opener on the 24th. The other bad out of the Twins pen is Taylor Rodgers being taken deep. Rodgers came into both games against Milwaukee and proceeded to give up a home run in both appearances. In the first game he gave up what would be a game winning 2-run shot to Orlando Arcia, and gave up a harmless solo homer to Yasmani Grandal last night. Of course this is not so bad if the team continues to have three-plus run leads, but Rodgers will be called upon in high leverage situation the rest of the way, and will need to find a way to avoid leaving pitches over the heart of the plate. Rodgers has been one of Minnesota's best relievers and I anticipate him finding himself again.
The Twins have been bitten a bit by the injury bug as of late. Mitch Garver has been on the injured list with a high ankle sprain, but looks to possibly return this weekend. Nelso Cruz has taken his time returning from a sore wrist. Starter Michael Pineda was placed on the injured list yesterday with right knee tendinitis. Finally, center fielder Byron Buxton had a nasty collision with Target Field's center field wall last night and is currently listed as day-to-day with a bruised right knee. All of these things sound benign enough, but the Twins need to remain healthy to continue their torrid pace, and any sort of setback could drastically hurt the team especially a setback to Buxton or Garver who have been among the league's best at their respective positions.
MMMordabito reacted to Heezy1323 for a blog entry, Graterol Shoulder Impingement Q&A
Brusdar Graterol Shoulder Impingement Q&A
Heralded Twins prospect Brusdar Graterol was recently shut down and placed on the IL for ‘shoulder impingement’. This is concerning given how promising a start to the 2019 season Graterol has had and what it could mean for his future.
So what is ‘shoulder impingement’? And when might it need surgery? Let’s see what we can figure out:
[Disclaimer: I am not a team physician for the Twins. I have not treated or examined any Twins players. The information I am using is only that which is publicly available. My goal with these posts is to provide some education to TD readers around general injuries that are peculiar to baseball players.]
Question 1: What is shoulder impingement?
Shoulder impingement is a sort of catch-all term that can be used to mean a number of different things depending on the specifics of the situation. It Is a term that is often used in application to patients who have pain in their shoulders, often without any specific structural damage or a particular injury. Most frequently, people have pain in their shoulder area that gets worse when working above chest level. It is often treated with physical therapy, activity modification, oral medication and occasional cortisone injections. It is uncommon for these patients to require surgery, but it is sometimes needed after the preceding treatments have failed to provide adequate relief. Some also refer to this condition as shoulder bursitis. It involves irritation of the rotator cuff and the bursa, which lies between the rotator cuff tendons and a part of the bone of the shoulder blade (called the acromion). You may have friends or family members who have been told they have ‘impingement’- this is a fairly commonly used diagnosis. More specifically, this condition is referred to as ‘external impingement’.
Shoulder impingement in pitchers, however, often means something entirely different than what is described above. Whereas external impingement occurs between the rotator cuff and the acromion (outside of the ball and socket joint of the shoulder), pitchers more commonly have problems with what is called ‘internal impingement’. This occurs specifically in overhead athletes because of the tremendous motion that is necessary to hurl a baseball 90+ mph accurately. During the course of throwing, the arm is cocked back, placing it in an awkward position. In this position, part of the rotator cuff can get pinched between the bone of the ball and the bone of the socket (also often including pinching of the labrum). This may not seem like a big deal, but over time this repetitive motion can begin to take its toll. Experts agree that some changes/damage to the structures of the shoulder are likely normal and adaptive in pitchers rather than problematic. In some cases, however, these structural changes progress down the spectrum and become an issue- causing pain, lack of velocity and/or control and fatigue of the shoulder.
There is not perfect agreement amongst experts about why exactly these athletes begin to have pain in some cases. Regardless, it is likely a very complex combination of factors ranging from subtle changes in mechanics to core strength to gradual loosening of shoulder ligaments over time (and many others). Each individual case is likely different, and treatment needs to be tailored to the specifics of the athlete.
Question 2: How/when did this injury occur?
Typically, this is not an injury that results from a single trauma (though theoretically it can happen that way). It is much more typical for this to be the result of an accumulation of ‘microtraumas’ over a long period of time.
Question 3: Does this injury always need surgery?
No. As mentioned above, painful shoulder impingement in throwers is likely related to a complex set of factors. Because of this, treating any ONE thing with a surgery is somewhat unlikely to be effective. As a result, treatment is almost always begun by trying to calm down inflamed tissues. This typically involves rest from throwing. It may also involve oral medications and in some instances, cortisone injections. There is some discussion around PRP and so-called ‘stem cell’ injections (what orthopedists refer to as Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate or BMAC) for these types of problems, though this is not yet something I would consider standard of care.
During this time, the athlete is also likely to undergo physical therapy to work on improving some of the other factors mentioned above- core strength, range of motion, rotator cuff strength, etc.
As the pain and inflammation improve, the athlete is likely re-examined by trainers and physicians. This can take anywhere from a week or two to several weeks depending on the case. When things have improved sufficiently, the athlete is likely to begin an interval throwing program, which involves progressively more aggressive throwing sessions. Once they have completed this, they would likely return to the mound and begin throwing from there. Once appropriate progress has been made (and of course presuming no setbacks are encountered), they are likely cleared to return to play.
The success of non-surgical treatment for these types of problems is all over the map in the literature. There are ranges from percents in the teens to 70%+. Again, it likely depends on a large number of factors which makes prognosticating nearly impossible.
Question 4: How do we tell which cases of impingement need surgery and which do not?
This can be among the most difficult decisions to make when dealing with pitchers. One of the problematic elements is that surgery to treat this problem is comparatively not very successful. As noted above, in general there are likely a number of different structural abnormalities in the shoulder that are in play with this injury. Some of them are adaptive and are considered ‘normally abnormal’ for pitchers. Others are problematic. Separating these two is something about which even experts readily disagree.
It is difficult (and perhaps foolish in this setting) to quote surgery success rates, but in general they are not the best. There is a reason behind the old saying that for pitchers “If it’s the elbow, call the surgeon. If it’s the shoulder, call the preacher.”
Question 5: What is done during surgery?
This is widely variable depending on the specific structures that are injured, and (quite honestly) the particular views of the operating surgeon. I was recently watching a lecture on just this subject that featured a panel of a number of the preeminent North American surgeons that treat these problems. The differences of opinion and differences in strategy between surgeons were substantial. Yet another reason to make significant efforts to make non-surgical treatment successful.
Question 6: How concerning is this for Graterol?
This is hard to know from the information available. As stated earlier, the term ‘impingement’ can mean a wide variety of things- some more concerning than others. One of the positives in this case would seem to be that Graterol was pitching very effectively quite recently. Thus, this doesn’t seem to be something that has been festering for months. Hopefully that means they’ve ‘caught it early’ and can get things back on track sooner than later. I would imagine he will be out for a few weeks at least, but I would be surprised if he required any surgery in the near future.
Overall, many pitchers have occasional blips on the radar with things like this that are improved with rest and rehab and don’t recur in the future. Predicting the future is difficult for anything- and this type of issue especially- but hopefully Graterol can get back on the mound throwing gas soon.
MMMordabito reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Eddie Bombing the Baseball
It’s April 24 and the Minnesota Twins have played 21 games during the 2019 Major League Baseball season. In that time, left fielder Eddie Rosario has taken the American League by storm being a co-owner of the home run lead, and he’s spearheading an offensive outburst not generally seen around these parts. It wasn’t long ago that Rosario looked the part of an All Star, but where is all of this coming from?
Through 21 games, Rosario has already tallied ten dingers on the season. That puts him on pace for over 70 on the season, and it’s the fastest any player in Twins history has ever reached double-digits. When you’ve got that much power production this quickly it becomes hard to fly under the radar. At the 2018 All Star break Twins fans saw Rosario own a .311/.353/.537 slash line with 19 homers however, and that story didn’t have an entirely great ending. Figuring out how this may be different is key for the continued success of the budding star.
After racing out to gaudy numbers in 2018, Rosario finished the season owning just a .622 OPS in his final 45 games and sending another five balls out of the park. His year ended in the middle of September and the tale of the first half seemed like a distant memory. Fast forward to today and we’re once again in the midst of a hot start. The .274/.315/.679 slash line is a pretty one, but there’s a couple of inputs to the batted ball profile that should make us smile.
As a free swing who tends to expand the zone, and rarely take walks, we need to view Rosario’s approach through a different lens. He’s chased 42% of the time in 2019 and whiffed on 11% of pitches. Neither of those occurrences are beyond career norms, and his 79% contact rate is a new high. When making contact in the zone, he’s doing so at nearly 90%, essentially daring opponents to throw strikes. It isn’t where he’s swinging though, as much as it is how he’s making contact.
On the season Rosario owns a career best 39.7% hard hit rate. This is a 3% improvement from 2018 and is a 7% jump from his career average. On batted balls, only 39% are being hit on the ground with 50% being fly balls and 10.3% being line drives. Elevating the ball is certainly a positive trend, and it’s a direct reflection of a significant launch angle increase. On base hits during 2018, Rosario had an average launch angle of just 13.5 degrees. This season, that number is all the way up to 22.3 degrees.
From a spray perspective, you could call Rosie the left handed Brian Dozier. All the way up to a 52.9% pull rate, all but one of Eddie’s home runs have been hit to the right side of centerfield. The concentration on power was strong that way in 2018 as well, but the final pull percentage landed at 43.4%. This isn’t to say that Rosario won’t find success going the other way as pitcher’s attack him more on the outside. What we can see immediately is that Eddie is putting strong swings on balls he can yank to his strong side.
For now, we’re dealing with a small sample size. Knowing how much action is left this season, we’ll have plenty of time for this to all normalize. The early season power surge is reflective of a guy getting more loft while hitting the ball significantly harder. That’s a straightforward path to these types of results, but it’s comforting to note that the results aren’t coming with the caveat of an approach that has changed in any negative or impactful way.
Lost in all this offensive narrative is that Rosario has regained a focus in the outfield that rounds himself into something special. Putting up six defensive runs saved through his first 165 innings, and notching four outfield assists in the early going, he’s again a guy you don’t want to test in the grass either.
I’d be willing to bet any sum of money that Rosario won’t wind up with 70 home runs in 2019. He’s not going to hit 10 every 20 games, and there will be a month or weeks in which he experiences a real slump. For a guy that looked to display his absolute ceiling a season ago however, it’s comforting to see that even if that may be the height of things, the floor is a pretty darn good player as well.
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MMMordabito reacted to Supfin99 for a blog entry, Seriously, how bad is that lineup?
Talking about the Indians. When I looked at the opening lineup card I actually thought it was a post from a spring training game. That lineup is putrid. The great thing is the only person they are really missing is Lindor. Lindor is fantastic but he can’t make up for the rest of the poopoo platter that the Indians are going to trot out there on a daily basis. The Indians are going to be great at 2 spots with Lindor and Ramires and average at another with Santana. There is a good chance they will be below average to bad at the rest of the spots in the order. Even with that rotation, it’s hard to win every game 2-1. I wrote about this earlier in the spring, what happens if Lindor or Ramirez miss time or just simply aren’t as great as they’ve been the last 3 years? Then this lineup becomes one of the worst in baseball which is what we saw yesterday. Seriously Tyler Naquin batting 3rd? He wouldn’t even make the Twins roster. Lindor now has to wait for his ankle to heal then basically start spring training over again. He may miss the entire month of April. This division is absolutely for the taking. This isn’t an over reaction to 1 game. And don’t tell me they were missing Jason Kipnis also. Kipnis has been below average for 2 years.