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  1. Like
    MMMordabito reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, So You're Trying to Cope with Carlos Correa Signing Elsewhere   
    Late on Tuesday night, it was announced that Carlos Correa has agreed to a 13-year, $350 million contract with the San Francisco Giants. 
    In our hearts, most of us expected this. Correa is a top-tier free agent who landed in Minnesota last year by pure happenstance, and whose ultimate new contract eclipsed the Twins' (historically unprecedented!) offer by roughly 80 mil. 
    Let us work our way through the five stages of grief.
    It can't be! Carlos said he loved it here! The Twins were hanging in there and Correa's market was seemingly shaping up in disappointing fashion. Perhaps this report is all part of some elaborate ploy from Boras to increase Minnesota's offer.
    Sorry, but nah. This looks pretty official. 
    What a jerk. He said he liked it here but all he really wanted was the money. In any case, the Pohlads could have spent enough to make it happen if they really wanted to -- they're billionaires!
    Oh great, the Twins came in second place once again for a premier free agent. Hoist the freaking banner. 
    You know what? Screw Correa. He's a cheater. He didn't really want to be here that much anyway; he and Scott Boras were only using the Twins as leverage to get the deal they wanted from San Francisco. Good riddance to 'em. Plenty of other fish in the sea!
    In fact, I'm actually GLAD the Twins didn't sign Correa to the contract they finally offered. Who needs to be committing that kind of money to a guy into his late 30s? Besides, if they want to make a big free agent splash, Carlos Rodon and Dansby Swanson are still out there!
    Ugh. Do we really want Rodon or Swanson? Is there any feasible chance either of them signs here anyway? Correa was a unique situation: a player who the Twins had an opportunity to test-drive, a superstar who acclimated well to a smaller market, and someone the organization valued for traits well beyond his on-field ability. He was our guy.
    He's gone, and it's highly unlikely the Twins will sign either of the other remaining impact free agents. This offseason is doomed. From this vantage, it's hard to see the front office running out a significantly improved roster for 2023. I'm going to Arby's.
    We knew from the start that realistically the Twins probably weren't going to sign Correa, or Swanson, or Rodon. They're going to need to move on and find other ways to improve. There is still a wave of mid-tier free agents on the market, as well as any number of trade opportunities. 
    Right now the offseason outlook is rather bleak for the Twins, but they've had a tendency to rally late and surprise us in the past. All we can do is stay tuned and see where they go from here.
    Our community here at Twins Daily will be here to help you celebrate, or grieve, no matter what happens next.
  2. Haha
    MMMordabito reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, The 2022 Twins Are Now Built For October   
    Let’s preface this with an adjustment of expectations. Are the Minnesota Twins legitimate World Series contenders? No, absolutely not. Unless something significant changes, this club will be lucky to win the division. However, if you’re hoping for an end to the nearly two-decade-long drought for a Postseason victory, that could set up well.
    Rocco Baldelli’s club has next to no healthy bodies left. Jorge Polanco was left on the active roster for nearly a week without another player being added because there was not an obvious choice. Tyler Mahle is on the injured list again and won’t be eligible to return until roughly the final two weeks of the season. Sonny Gray has been held back at times, and the return of Byron Buxton does not appear close. All of that said, fighting through one game at a time makes sense for a battered squad.
    Should the Twins find a way to outlast the Guardians and White Sox while they match up plenty over the final month, they can be as good as anyone during a short series. Should Gray find a clean bill of health by the end of the month, Mahle return, or Joe Ryan step up, the top three for the Twins can keep them competitive against any lineup.
    On the offensive side of things, it’d seem likely that Buxton could return for a short term boost. Trevor Larnach will be back, and Polanco is ideally healthy by then. A lineup of mostly Minnesota’s best bats should be a fearsome foe to virtually any opposing pitcher.
    Then there’s the reality that a Twins opponent likely wouldn’t be the New York Yankees. With a 12-team Postseason format, and Minnesota being the third seed in the American League, they’d face the six seed in a three-game Wild Card series. Right now the Seattle Mariners hold that spot, although it could also be the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, or Baltimore Orioles. None of those teams are bottom-feeders as you’d expect, but they should present a good opportunity to win given Minnesota would get three straight home games.
    It’d be great to see Minnesota make a run through the month of September, health or otherwise, to establish a stranglehold on the division. Without their depth, it just doesn’t seem like a thought based in reality. If they can hold serve and squeak out a division win while their competition also looks weak, then circumstances could turn in their favor.
    A team lacking health and depth will get exposed in a seven-game series, and probably in a five-game series as well. In a three-game series though, the talent this Twins team has should be enough for a win in October, and even an opportunity to advance.
    Threading the needle between health and positioning will be a tough task for Minnesota’s staff the next few weeks, but this should be seen as an opportunity where getting in could be just enough.
  3. Like
    MMMordabito reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Did The Twins Manufacture a Top Pitching Prospect?   
    Last season the Twins saw Canadian right-hander Jordan Balazovic show up on multiple top 100 prospect lists. He was a sleeper pick to rocket up those same rankings in 2022, and there’s no denying Derek Falvey and Thad Levine had dreams of him slotting into Rocco Baldelli’s rotation.
    Balazovic started the season late after a knee injury, and nothing has gone right since. There’s been no indication that he’s still injured, but you certainly have to hope that something has been off. The former 5th round pick in 2016 now owns a 9.06 ERA across 49 2/3 innings at Triple-A this year, and he’s gone from a double-digit strikeout pitcher to one with declining numbers and the ball leaving the park at an alarming rate.
    No matter how the rest of the string plays out, Minnesota has to figure out a way for Balazovic to get right next season.
    In his place, you could have assumed Cole Sands, Simeon Woods-Richardson, Matt Canterino or any number of other top prospects in the upper levels may have stepped up. Instead, the arm that won Minnesota’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year a season ago just kept going about his business.
    Louie Varland was grabbed in the 15th round during the 2019 Major League Baseball draft. Concordia St. Paul is a Division 2 school right down the street from Target Field. Gus Varland, Louie’s brother, was selected a year earlier by the Oakland Athletics. Bryan Lippincott and Jake Schmidt were drafted from legendary coach Mark McKenzie’s program before them. It’s maybe not the most glorious path, but with talent, it won’t ever matter.
    Varland has been a lunch-pail type of pitcher since the moment he joined the Twins organization. He posted a 2.10 ERA across his first 100 professional innings in Single-A ball, and followed it up with a 3.34 ERA for Double-A Wichita in 105 innings this season. Now knocking on the doorstep playing for the St. Paul Saints, Varland has been nothing short of magical in three turns.
    With 17 Triple-A innings under his belt, Varland has a 24/3 K/BB while allowing just three runs (two earned) on 11 hits. He’s never been one to give up the long ball, he’ll mow down batters in bunches, and he’s remained stingy with free passes. There isn’t a ton of deception at play here either, and Varland has worked to push his velocity into the triple-digits during offseason workouts.
    Nearing a 25th birthday it’s fair to understand that Varland doesn’t have the luster brought on by some of the teenage hitting prospects. He is about to capture a second-straight Minor League Pitcher of the Year award though, and it will be because he’s earned it in the most dominating fashion. With Minnesota needing to infuse the starting rotation with homegrown talent, it’s hard to get better than a kid from their own backyard, that’s taken the path less traveled, and beaten the odds.
    Maybe the organization can right whatever went wrong with Balazovic this season, but they have to be ecstatic with the found money and developmental progress Varland has displayed. The next stop will be on a mound with slightly more fans than Barnes Field.
  4. Like
    MMMordabito reacted to Lucas Seehafer PT for an article, Understanding Alex Kirilloff's Wrist Surgery   
    The Pioneer Press’s Betsy Helfand—among others—relayed that Alex Kirilloff will have his ulna bone shortened during the procedure. The ulna is one of the two bones of the forearm and sits on the inner side when your palms are facing forward and hands are at your side. 
    Kirilloff recently received a cortisone injection into his right wrist in an effort to reduce the pain he experienced while swinging and underwent surgery last summer to “separate a bone” from his ulna due to the forearm bone being atypically long as well as the presence of cartilage damage.
    The Twins and Kirilloff had been adamant since Spring Training that there has been no evidence of damage in his wrist since he underwent his first procedure despite lingering pain. As such, he was likely dealing with ideopathic ulnar impaction syndrome, a condition in which an individual experiences ulnar-sided wrist pain and reduced wrist range of motion despite a lack of anatomical damage.
    As a left-handed batter, Kirilloff’s right wrist undergoes ulnar deviation during each swing. This action pushes the bones of the wrist—specifically the lunate and triquetrum—against the ulna. Additionally, a structure known as the triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC)—a mix of dense cartilage and ligaments—sits between the lunate, triquetrum, and ulna. In essence, the TFCC gets sandwiched between the three bones and is subjected to shearing and torsional forces during each swing, which increases the odds of tearing. An abnormally long ulna would only serve to increase the force placed on the TFCC, at least in theory.
    The most likely procedure that Kirilloff will have is known as ulnar shortening osteotomy, during which the ulna is fractured, manually shortened, and re-connected with plates and screws. (He will likely also have the TFCC either repaired or shaved.) This procedure reduces pressure on the TFCC and should, again theoretically, reduce the pain Kirilloff experiences with each swing. 
    Ulnar shortening osteotomies have shown good promise in the general population, but there exists a dearth of evidence among athletes. As such, it’s unclear how long Kirilloff will remain sidelined, though the Twins are reportedly hopefully he will be ready by Spring Training 2023.
    Kirilloff joins Royce Lewis as top Twins prospects who have had back-to-back seasons compromised by season-ending surgery. Kirilloff also missed the 2017 season with Tommy John surgery and the 2020 campaign due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  5. Like
    MMMordabito reacted to Tom Ciaccio for an article, Series Preview: Brewers' Starters Look Vulnerable   
    Few things were nearly unanimous in the pre-season predictions, but among them was which team perched atop the AL Central was selected by nearly everyone to win the division. Appropriately black and white. Stated plainly. The consensus pick: the Chicago White Sox. The halfway point of the 2022 has proven the paradoxical axiom of baseball, which is that despite every metric and system built to hone prediction, there are no truths in this wild and beautiful game. 
    We've asked Tom Ciaccio, who writes up series previews for our sister site, Brewer Fanatic, to give us a preview of the two-game Brewers series. Meanwhile, we had John Bonnes do the same over on our sister site. If you would like to see that, click here. Despite their differences, these fan bases have at least one thing in common: they both really dislike the respective Chicago-based teams. 
    Sitting in sole possession of both first place and the only winning record in the division are the Minnesota Twins. Contending against them in a brief two-game series is the team leading the other league’s central division, the Milwaukee Brewers. Both teams have solidified themselves as tough customers built on atypical means. The Brewers strength is run prevention led by a multi-ace rotation, where the Twins are arguably more well-rounded, anchored by elite players like Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa and supplemented by revitalized talents like Sonny Gray and Chris Archer. 
    The two-game interleague matchup often evokes a lower stakes and slightly deflated feeling, but these two teams are charismatic baseball enigmas who are holding fast atop their divisions. While attention normally gravitates toward the titans on the coasts, they should be fixed on the flyovers for this intriguing series. Let’s check out the match-ups.
    Tuesday July 12th
    Jason Alexander (2-1 4.75 ERA)
    Josh Winder (4-2 3.12 ERA)
    29-year-old rookie Jason Alexander has had an unorthodox path to the bigs and is now enduring a fittingly wonky beginning of his career. After a decent enough job starting as a fill-in piece for a banged up Brewers rotation he was shifted back to the bullpen. Working in relief has not been a strong spot for Alexander in his brief sample, giving up three earned runs in 2.1 innings over two showings. With Adrian Houser going down with an elbow injury, Alexander will have another chance to show what he can do on the mound.
    One patchwork rookie starter deserves another, and addressing the same dearth of seasoned starting pitchers is Josh Winder . Unlike the Brewers, the Twins didn’t start the season from a particularly enviable level of depth. That Winder would end up in the rotation isn’t particularly surprising, but the measure of his success thus far might be. In 40 innings pitched he’s managed a 3.12 ERA, and even with his FIP almost a full point higher (4.09 to be precise), it still can’t be argued that Winder’s sample to this point is an impressive one. 
    Wednesday July 13th
    Aaron Ashby (2-6 4.52 ERA)
    Joe Ryan (6-3 3.09 ERA)
    After a promising beginning to his 2022 campaign, Aaron Ashby hit a long skid of middling to bad performances before finally notching another win against the Pirates on Friday. Notching a W against the lowly Pirates is a fraught distinction unto itself, and that Ashby still surrendered two runs over five IP in this start doesn’t alleviate concerns surrounding his trajectory.
    This all being said, the resume for Ashby gives a lot of reason to believe. Capitalizing on a five pitch repertoire, Ashby has managed an astonishing 10.75 K/9. The issue lies in that when Ashby isn’t fooling hitters, he’s getting hit hard by them. If he’s going to succeed against a savvy hitting Twins team, he’ll need to be strategic, deliberate and economical.
    A cliche in the baseball world repeated so enthusiastically that it’s nearly axiom-status is that when the Rays make a trade, the Rays win that trade. It’s still early in his career, but 26-year-old righty Joe Ryan is looking to break that mold. Shipped over to Minnesota with prospect Drew Strotman for Nelson Cruz and Calvin Faucher, Ryan has put together a very solid rookie campaign. In just under a hundred combined IP, Ryan has authored a 3.35 ERA with a FIP of 3.86, corroborating the potential of nascent excellence. 
    Players To Watch
    Josh Hader : In the event that the Brewers have a late game lead and their feared closer emerges from the pen, it may not spell certain doom for the Twinkies. In Hader-adjusted terms, the All-Star and arguably best closer in baseball has been having a rough go of it. In his latest appearance, Hader gave up two hits and a walk and incurred an earned run against the Pirates in what would ultimately be a successful save. In the series prior to that one, Seiya Suzuki walked off against Hader on an inside-the-park home run. Adding an extra level of mystique to Hader is that there are rumors that the Brewers are at the very least willing to hear offers for the now four-time All-Star.
    Keston Hiura : After a promising 2019 rookie campaign, Hiura’s value as a player slipped the following year and disintegrated into unsustainability after that. At the end of his 2021 season, Hiura had an abysmal WOBA of .251, and with negative UZR, it almost felt time to ask if the once promising rookie would ever be able to stay in the bigs. As of late, the sudden utility product has found new value for the Brewers. Moving from second to left field, Hiura has flashed some impressive leather. At the plate, the strikeouts are worse than they’ve ever been, but the OPS+ for 2022 is 127, noteworthy because it’s 22 points above his career average. If Hiura can find his form again, he will be a pivotal difference maker for the Brewers this year and for years to come. 
    Luis Arraez : When the Twins extended Buxton and signed Correa, it probably wouldn’t be predicted that by the middle of the 2022 season Twins second basemen Arraez would lead the team in WAR. Not only that, but he’s leading the majors in batting average, adding to the motif that the Twins are unpredictable and, as importantly, extremely fun. Arraez’ crescendo towards excellence doesn’t look like a fluke, and while he’s no stranger to Twins fans, it’s worth appreciating the development of a potential superstar.
    Assessing the teams as a whole would make things feel a lot more competitive, but the fact that the Twins are hosting the Brewers right as the two biggest question marks in their rotation are set to pitch doesn’t bode well for the Crew. I think the Twins grab at least one win here, but a sweep in the brief series feels perfectly reasonable.
  6. Like
    MMMordabito reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Spencer Steer, Matt Wallner Will Represent Twins in Futures Game   
    The 2022 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game will be played at Dodgers Stadium on Saturday, July 16th at 6 pm central time. You can watch Twins prospects Spencer Steer and Matt Wallner live on Peacock and SiriusXM with MLB Network producing the telecast and re-airing the game at 7:30 pm that night. 
    The two Twins representatives are the two hitters with the most home runs in the system.  Wallner has hit 20 homers, and Steer has hit 19. 
    It is a big deal for the players. Not only does it show that they are recognized by their own organization, but they are given the respect of the other organizations too. And finally, their names can become more well known to fans on a national level. 
    "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I'm so excited to get to experience." Steer said following the announcement. 
    It is extra special for him for another reason. "It means so much to me that I get to go play a game so close to my hometown. This will be the first time a lot of my family have seen me play professionally, so I couldn't be more excited about that as well." 
    Spencer Steer, 24, grew up in Long Beach (CA) and went to the University of Oregon to play college ball. The Twins drafted him in the 3rd round of the 2019 draft. He began the 2022 season at Double-A Wichita where he hit .307/.385/.591 (.976) with 13 doubles and eight homers. He was promoted to Triple-A St. Paul where he has now played 36 games. He has hit .243/.330/.533 (.862) with nine doubles and 11 home runs. Just so you don't have to look it up, combined, he has played in 71 games and hit .273/.356/.561 (.916) with 22 doubles, 19 homers and 58 RBI. 
    One more reason for Steer's excitement? "It's awesome that I get to go play with Wallner, who is a great friend of mine." 
    Wallner is a 24-year-old from Forest Lake (MN). He was the Mr. Baseball choice in Minnesota in 2016 and drafted in the 32nd round by the Twins, as a pitcher. He went to Southern Mississippi and became an All-American outfielder with immense power. The Twins drafted him with the 39th overall pick in 2019. 
    He has been on fire this season. In 73 games at Double-A Wichita, he has hit .282/.422/.585 (1.007) with 13 doubles and 20 home runs. He also has 58 RBI. 
    When the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospect rankings were updated on July 1st, Spencer Steer ranked #6 with Matt Wallner ranking #12. 
    Below is an interview with Spencer Steer shortly after his promotion to St. Paul. Check it out! (Then below the interview you can see the players that Steer and Wallner join as Futures Game Twins representatives since the game's first year.)
    Past Twins in the Futures Game
    1999: Michael Cuddyer, JC Romero, 
    2000: Luis Rivas, Brad Thomas, 
    2001: Grant Balfour
    2002: Justin Morneau,  Michael Restovich,  
    2003: JD Durbin, Joe Mauer, 
    2004: Jason Kubel, Justin Morneau, 
    2005: Travis Bowyer, Francisco Liriano, 
    2006: Trent Oeltjen, 
    2007: Matt Garza, Matt Tolbert, 
    2008: Luke Hughes, Denard Span, 
    2009: Rene Tosoni, 
    2010: Liam Hendriks, Ben Revere, Anthony Slama, 
    2011: Kyle Gibson, Liam Hendriks, 
    2012: Oswaldo Arcia, 
    2013: Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, 
    2014: Jose Berrios, Trevor May, Alex Meyer, Kennys Vargas (at Target Field)  
    2015: Jose Berrios, Max Kepler, 
    2016: JT Chargois, 
    2017: Nick Gordon, 
    2018: Alex Kirilloff, Lewis Thorpe, 
    2019: Jordan Balazovic, Royce Lewis,  
    2020: No Futures Game 
    2021: Josh Winder
    2022: Spencer Steer, Matt Wallner
  7. Haha
    MMMordabito reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Chris Archer Will Succeed Where Other Reclamation Projects Failed Because I Need This Very Badly   
    I’ve watched countless veterans get a shot to wake up the echoes of past glory for the Minnesota Twins. In a tale as old as time, those veterans simply didn’t have it anymore, be that “it” talent, youth, conditioning, anabolic steroids, some cocktail of all these things, you name it. I’ve watched Steve Carlton and Sidney Ponson and Rondell White and Butch Huskey and Bret Boone and Joe Crede and Mike Pelfrey and Ricky Nolasco and Ramon Ortiz and Steve Howe and Roberto Kelly and Greg Myers and Pat Borders and Ruben Sierra and Greg Swindell and Mike Morgan and Todd Jones and Mike Fetters and Jesse Orosco and James Baldwin and Phil Nevin.
    I’ve talked myself into Brian Fuentes as a possible closer. It feels good to admit this in a public forum. My shame is yours now.
    Given all that I’ve learned, and knowing that for every Paul Molitor there are 145 Shane Rawleys, I want you to know what I think about Chris Archer.
    I think he’s going to be just fine.
    Given all the names I’ve listed without even mentioning John Candelaria, not even once, you are likely wondering why I think Archer will be perfectly adequate.
    Because I need it very badly.
    I could really use a good, solid Twins season in 2022. I say this knowing extremely well that 40% of the starting rotation are veterans trying to prove something after a bad year or years, 40% are just kids, and 20% is Sonny Gray. It’s challenging to be optimistic!
    And yet. It’s going to be alright. Do I have proof of this? Of course not. But the fact remains, I’d really like for it to happen, and it feels like the universe owes us a kindness. Might that feeling just be a breakfast burrito repeating on me? Absolutely.
    But this time, it’ll be different.
  8. Like
    MMMordabito reacted to Jeremy Nygaard for an article, US Bank to Host Cambria College Classic This Weekend   
    The inaugural event was hosted in 2020 and the 2022 version (following a one-year hiatus) will follow a similar schedule. The three Big Ten teams will rotate playing the non-Big Ten teams over the weekend.
    Friday, March 4
    11:05 am               Michigan State vs. Kansas
    3:05 pm                 Illinois vs. Notre Dame
    7:00 pm                 West Virginia vs. Minnesota
    Saturday, March 5
    11:05 am               Notre Dame vs. Michigan State
    3:05 pm                 West Virginia vs. Illinois
    7:05 pm                 Kansas vs. Minnesota
    Sunday, March 6
    10:05 am               West Virginia vs. Michigan State
    2:05 pm                 Kansas vs. Illinois
    6:05 pm                 Notre Dame vs. Minnesota
    From the view of prospect-watchers, the field doesn't offer too much (right now) in terms of high-end 2022 draftable talent. In fact, only Notre Dame 3B/RHP Jack Brannigan (Baseball America's #85 prospect) shows up in any of the most popular Top 100 lists.
    But that doesn't mean that there won't be talent in Minneapolis this weekend.
    The Gophers, whose roster boasts 16 players from Minnesota and 6 from Wisconsin, are 3-6 on the season and host South Dakota State on Wednesday night. Senior catcher Chase Stanke has five home runs in ten games. Sam Ireland, a junior pitcher, has been the Gophers best starter, but the rest of their pitching staff has been somewhat of a mess.
    Notre Dame, who is 5-1 this season, boasts a lineup that is batting a collective .348 and has an OPS just shy of 1.000 (.959). The offense is currently being led by sophomore CF TJ Williams and senior 1B Carter Putz.  Notre Dame's rotation is a combined 5-0 (in 5 starts), striking out 44 in 34 innings. Notre Dame will play Minnesota in the tournament's finale. Nick Juaire, from Farmington, is a catcher on the team. Also of note, Casey Kmet, brother of Cole, who currently plays for the Chicago Bears, is also on the team. 
    West Virginia is 6-2 and has two wins over Central Michigan, who was ranked #16. They've also been very good offensively so far, batting over .300 as a team.
    Michigan State is 3-4 on the season. Illinois (2-4) and Kansas (3-3) just played three games against each other a couple of weeks ago.
    At any rate, if you're a fan of baseball who needs a fix, nine games in a controlled climate might be what you need.
    Tickets for this weekend's event are available here. 
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  9. Like
    MMMordabito reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, No Half Measures   
    In a vacuum, Josh Donaldson is not overpaid despite what some frustrated fans may tell you. His time missed in 2020 was frustrating albeit not as costly as it appears considering his prorated salary in the 60 game season. In 2021, he was actually one of the regulars in the lineup day in and day out. As a whole, Donaldson has slashed .243/.355/.474 with the Twins, far from the “wasted payroll” reputation some have pinned on him.
    That being said, he’s 35 years old with a tremendous injury history in addition to having about $50m remaining on his salary over the next two years. The result of all of these factors leave the Twins with a fantastic player with an enormous ceiling and about as low of a floor a player can have. For that very reason, it’s difficult to blame them for at least exploring the trade market given the year they just came off of. They shouldn’t be so quick to pull the trigger on a deal without lining themselves up for a slam dunk however. 
    This was a recently reported idea for a trade between the Twins and Milwaukee who will likely need an impact third base option in 2022. It’s a perfect example of the type of trade the Twins shouldn’t do. There’s almost no scenario where the Twins don’t pay down significant money to get Donaldson’s contract off the books. The issue is trades like this make the Twins worse in the present and offer little payoff for the future.
    Dumping about $35m in future payroll would likely look appealing to ownership. That being said, doing so probably lands them in a situation like this one where the Twins take on money of their own in Jackie Bradley Jr.’s $9.5m and $6.5m buyout in 2023. JBJ slashed .163/.236/.261 en route to a -0.8 fWAR finish on the season. Worse than Matt Shoemaker, Andrelton Simmons etc.
    Perhaps taking on money isn’t out of the question, but the younger pieces in the deal have to be at least somewhat appealing. In this scenario, they receive 19 year old RHP Logan Henderson and 22 year old outfielder Joey Wiemer, #21 and 23 in the Brewers system respectively. Prospects from the 20s range aren’t very exciting for most teams, but the Brewers in particular are a bottom 5 system by most prospect sites. 
    So in review, the Twins get to save a bunch of money in the future, although not a ton after taking on a much less valuable player. Their lineup and team as a whole takes a significant downgrade in regards to the 2022 Opening Day lineup. They also get two prospects who have a very insignificant chance of making any impact on the team in the future. This type of trade would be a mistake.
    The Twins have two options in my opinion. They may very well be gearing up to spend big this winter and acquire some legitimate pieces via free agency and trade. In which case, gamble on the health of Josh Donaldson who will still be one of the premier players on the team if healthy. His salary doesn’t impede their spending plans nearly as much as it gets credit for.
    The second option is to come to terms with 2022 not being the year. If you don’t want to spend down immediately for a comeback season, paying most if not all of that contract in a trade should be the goal. It’s already on the payroll and one way or another, they’ll pay some sort of price on it. Might as well write a fat check to a competing team in a deal where the recipient gets instantly better and the Twins can command some impactful prospect capital in return.
    One way or another, the Twins need to commit 100% when it comes to the Josh Donaldson decision. There’s no point in taking half measures for a team whose winter will have an enormous tilt not only on the 2022 season, but the next few years to come. Should they hold onto their star third baseman or sell him off for the best trade package? Let us know below!
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  10. Like
    MMMordabito reacted to Lucas Seehafer PT for an article, Scouting Twins Prospects: Gilberto Celestino   
    Still, the outfielder acquired from the Houston Astros as part of the Ryan Pressly trade displayed enough talent, particularly at the minor league level, in 2021 to warrant excitement about his prospects.

    Celestino is an athletic and speedy outfielder whose defense projects best in centerfield but would be a viable option in right. Across the three levels (Double-A, Triple-A, and MLB), he played at this season, he appeared in 57 games in center, 25 in right, and five in left. With Byron Buxton (temporarily?), Austin Martin, and perhaps even Royce Lewis either in or near the majors, Celestino’s long-term outfield home remains up in the air.

    While his defense was worth -2 outs above average — albeit with a small sample size — while with the Twins, he made several two- and three-star caliber catches, which is suggestive for possessing good range. This assessment is backed up with the eye test as he made many highlight-reel catches during Spring Training and in the minors.
    Celestino boasts solid doubles power at the plate (29.3 per 140 game pace for his career), but his home run power remains a work in progress; his .153 ISO was the third-best of his career, while his nine home runs in 93 games pace represented a career-best. Although his average exit velocity (87.2 mph) and launch angle (5.4 degrees) were both below the MLB average, he achieved a maximum exit velocity of 111.4 mph — good for the 80th percentile — which suggests he may have hidden power potential.
    He possesses a decent eye and approach to batting, as evidenced by his walk rate (11.5% at Double-A; 11.4% at Triple-A), which is above average. His strikeout rate (25.0%; 20.4%), by comparison, hovers closer to the mean. 

    Celestino’s bat-to-ball skills — as indicated by his average exit velocity — could use some refinement. This was particularly exposed at the major league level, where he had difficulty catching up to higher speed fastballs and could not hit offspeed or breaking ball offerings to save his life (combined: 2-for-20, 10 K).

    To their credit, the Twins recognized this and often made in-game adjustments to Celestino's stance, likely in an attempt to better position his hands to catch up to the increased velocity.
    As things currently stand, Celestino's median outcome would likely be the fourth outfielder on a playoff-caliber Twins team. He can play all three positions at least an average clip, which makes him a suitable replacement for the likes of Buxton, Trevor Larnach, and Max Kepler in 1-3 game intervals. However, hitting from the right side of the plate limits some of his and the Twins' lineup versatility as the roster is currently constructed. 

    If his power progresses to the point where he's hitting home runs at a 20 per 130-140 game pace, his ceiling progresses to that of a solid everyday centerfielder. 
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  11. Like
    MMMordabito reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Pitching Prospect Louie Varland Tells All   
    Varland was selected in the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft, and after just a brief debut in that season, he showed out in a big way this year. Putting in a ton of work during the shutdown for minor league baseball in 2020, results showed in a big way for the up-and-coming pitcher.
    I checked in with him to see why he thought there was so much success this season, talk baseball, the offseason, and pick his brain. Here’s what he had to say:
    Twins Daily: You didn't get much of a debut for Elizabethton following your selection in the 2019 draft. With minor league baseball shut down last season, how did you go about improving and gearing up for the season?
    Louie Varland: After pitching 8 2/3 innings and the season getting canceled, I really did exactly what the Twins asked of me, and it spiraled into improving my mechanics and staying healthy. I threw pretty much all COVID year with two short shutdown periods. When I was throwing, I was working on stuff, whether it was mechanics or pitch development. I worked with Richard Salazar, Mark Moriarty, Martijn Verhoeven, the Twins coordinators, and Kevin Walsh with Starters. 
    TD: With the dust settled in 2021, you were among the best minor league pitchers in baseball. What was your focus, and what did you feel helped you take the most significant step forwards?
    LV: My focus was getting outs and putting my team in a position to win. In order to do that, I had to throw my pitches in my strikeout zones; Fastball top of the zone, changeup bottom right and slider bottom left. What really helped me take that next step and making it easy for me was an arm path fix. Working a lot with Martijn, Zach Bove, and my pitching coaches, I was able to clean it up and make it more efficient and easily repeatable.

    TD: Having pitched at two levels this season, you saw equal success in both places. What did you feel was the most significant difference at Low-A and High-A?

    LV: The biggest difference that I noticed was the batters not swinging at balls out of the zone as much. I got away with more balls out of the zone being swung at in Low-A than High-A. Batters also had a better approach looking for specific pitches during different innings depending on what pitches I have working. A little more patience, I would say. They barreled more balls as well. 
    TD: You've now picked up a few different Pitcher of the Year awards, both from the Twins and Twins Daily. What do those mean to you?
    LV: It’s always nice to get awards. I look at them as a reward for my hard work. I do have to give credit to my fielders making great plays behind me. Nonetheless, it is a satisfying feeling even though I have a lot more work to do and more to prove.
    TD: As someone from Minnesota and played their college career at Concordia in St. Paul, what would it mean for you to make the big leagues with your hometown team? What steps do you need to take in preparation for Double and Triple-A next season?

    LV: It would mean a lot. It was a dream come true to be drafted by the Twins, but it would be more of a dream come true to make the big leagues with them. I need to fine-tune some pitches and continue to improve my pitching in general. Like I said earlier, I need to dial in my pitches and throw them in the strike-out zones when I want. Consistency with my three pitches.
    TD: How much of the Major League Baseball postseason are you tuning into? Is there a guy or two you like to key in on and try to learn from their stuff?
    LV: I need to be watching more, but I’ve tuned in a little here and there. I always love watching (Gerrit) Cole, (Max) Scherzer, (Liam) Hendriks, and (Josh) Hader.  
    TD: Although the offseason doesn't mean the work ends, what are you most looking forward to in terms of recharging and relaxation?
    LV: I like to fish, so I will be fishing around Minnesota. Also, a little hunting. I took a couple of weeks off, and I’m back to training now, but I will enjoy the outdoors in the weekends to come before the snow flies. Then I’ll be ice fishing.
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  12. Like
    MMMordabito reacted to Jamie Cameron for an article, Three Indicators that Jorge Alcala has Broken Out   
    This week, Brock Beauchamp posted in the Twins Daily forums on the increasing value of the Ryan Pressly trade. While the irony of the Twins bullpen performing strongly long after they were out of contention is not lost on most Twins fans, Alcala’s breakout may have been. In the second half of 2021, he made the leap to bona-fide high-leverage relief pitcher.
    Let’s begin by considering the big picture before we dive into the minutiae. Alcala may not have remained with the big league team all season given his first half if the rest of the Twins pitching wasn’t struggling so much. He put up a 4.67 ERA, 2.3 HR/9, 5.53 FIP, and just a 23% K%, pretty underwhelming for someone who can throw 100 mph. The second half, however, was a different story, Alcala managed a 2.88 ERA, 0.36 HR/9, 2.01 FIP, and a 32% K%, (Wow!) Alcala massively improved his ability to limit hard contact, keep the ball in the ballpark, and strike opposing hitters out, so, what changes led to this development?
    Tweaking his Pitch Mix
    Let’s start with Alcala’s pitch mix. In order for him to become a consistent back-end bullpen arm, Alcala has been working on incorporating a changeup into his pitching repertoire since the beginning of the 2020 season. Early in his career (and the first half of 2021), Alcala’s fastball was prone to be hit hard due to poor control and command.
    Alcala has reduced his use of his fastball from around 65% when he broke into the league in 2019 to just 36.6% at the end of the 2021 season. Similarly, he has increased his changeup usage to 16%, as his comfort with the pitch has grown.

    The value and effectiveness of Alcala’s changeup has increased significantly, due to his improved command and ability to keep the pitch down in the zone, and his ability to develop arm-side run when throwing it.
    A More Effective 4-Seam Fastball
    In addition to tweaking his pitch mix, Alcala’s fastball has become significantly more effective in 2021. Alcala has pushed the location of his four seam fastball further up the strike zone.

    Additionally, Alcala has developed over three inches more horizontal movement when throwing this pitch. Velocity in the high 90s with no lateral movement is one thing. Velocity in the high 90s with four inches of horizontal movement is another. This is leading to less consistent contact on the pitch.

    Improved Command
    If you want overall indicators of improved control from Alcala in 2021, they are everywhere. His first-pitch strike% improved 11.4%, his in-zone% improved 6.7%. What the Twins now have on their hands is a reliever who throws in the high 90s, has two strong complimentary pitches, an excellent BB%, and has shown the ability to implement changes which improve his command, and the movement of his pitches. A dominant Jorge Alcala, coming to a bullpen near you in 2022.
  13. Like
    MMMordabito reacted to David Youngs for an article, Twins Daily 2021 Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year: Louie Varland   
    Louie Varland spent his childhood on the dirt of ballfields across the northeast sector of the Twin Cities. The Maplewood native turned his successful tenure at North St. Paul High School into an even better pitching career at Concordia-St. Paul. After that? A 15th round selection in the 2019 MLB Draft by his hometown Minnesota Twins. 
    And after a sprinkle of 2019 games in rookie ball and just one full season of pro ball, Varland has distinguished himself as one of the most prolific pitchers in the entire Twins organization. For that, he's been voted as our 2021 Starting Pitcher of the Month.
    Varland started the 2021 season with Low-A Fort Myers where he posted a 4-2 record and 2.09 ERA in ten appearances (eight starts). In that span he struck out 76 men and opposing batters hit a meager .208 against Varland. Those numbers earned him a promotion to High-A Cedar Rapids, just four hours from home. With his family able to finally attend games, Varland did not disappoint, going 6-2 with a 2.10 ERA in ten starts with the Kernels. While he didn't post as many strikeouts as he did in Fort Myers, Varland was more efficient, posting a stellar 0.99 WHIP and only 14 walks while holding opponents to just a .202 batting average. 
    Varland joined a talented Cedar Rapids rotation of Ben Gross and company upon being called up. That rotation was amplified towards the end of the season with Sawyer Gipson-Long, Cody Lawyerson, and Casey Legumina joining the rotation. Yet despite the addition of talented arms, Varland was the clear choice to start Game 1 of the High-A Central Championship Series against Quad Cities. Following a career-high 11 strikeout performance against Peoria on September 16, Varland dazzled in his postseason debut, tossing seven innings of six-hit, one-run ball while striking out four and walking one en route to a 2-1 Cedar Rapids victory. 
    There's no doubt that Varland's 2021 stat line makes him a clear-cut selection for this award. A 10-4 record and 2.10 ERA is pretty darn great at any level. For a pitcher to tally those numbers in his first full season?
    Prior to this season Varland only had three professional baseball appearances, all with the Elizabethton Twins in 2019. Varland only started one of those games and compiled a slim 8 2/3 innings in that three game span. With the 2020 minor league season scrapped due to COVID-19, it's truly incredible that Varland was able to trailblaze such an incredible 2021 season. Congrats, Louie!
    Varland wasn't the only pitcher in the Twins' farm system to have a standout season. In addition to Varland, these five pitchers round out the top six starting pitchers in 2021 per the Twins Daily Minor League staff.
    1. RHP Louie Varland, Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids (18 GS, 10-4, 2.10 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 103 IP, 82 H, 24 ER,  30 BB, 142 K)
    Check out Seth Stohs' interview with Louie prior to his electric season and other Twins Daily content on Varland!
    St Paul to Stardom: Louie Varland is the Real Deal Twins Prospect Varland Won't Stop at Pretty Good 2. RHP Cole Sands, Wichita (18 GS, 4-2, 2.46 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 80.1 IP, 59 H, 22 ER, 35 BB, 96 K)
    Despite loads of movement in the organization, Cole Sands was an absolute workhorse for the Wind Surge all season. While many of his starts did not surpass five innings, it wasn't because of poor performance. Sands was as efficient as could be, holding opposing hitters to a .203 average on the year and touting seven scoreless starts. Ironically enough, one of Sands' two losses came on August 14 against Tulsa in a start where he recorded a season-high ten strikeouts. 
    3. RHP Jordan Balazovic, Wichita (20 GS, 5-4, 3.62 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 97 IP, 98 H, 39 ER, 38 BB, 102 K)
    Arguably the most notable pitching prospect in the organization, Jordan Balazovic had a season full of ups and downs. When he's on, the 2016 5th round pick is unstoppable with his blazing fastball and deceptive off-speed pitches. We saw that on July 15th when the Ontario-native lit up the Tulsa Drillers with 11 strikeouts in seven scoreless innings of one-hit ball.
    On the flipside, Balazovic has struggled with control, command, and pitch selection at times leading to a few bad outings that have deflated his stat line. It's clear that the talent is there, Balazovic will continue to hone in on consistency as he reflects on his first season of Double-A ball. 
    4. RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long, Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids (19 GS, 8-8, 4.55 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 97 IP, 99 H, 49 ER, 27 BB, 137 K)
    After a rocky month of May with Fort Myers, Sawyer Gipson-Long flipped a switch and was rock-solid through the summer, posting a combined 2.76 ERA in June, July, and August. 
    That stellar summer in the Sunshine State earned Gipson-Long a promotion to High-A Cedar Rapids on August 9th. Gipson-Long has qualities that resemble both Balazovic and Varland. Similar to Balazovic, Gipson-Long had some incredible outings this season but also saw a few outings get out of hand. Like Varland, Gipson-Long was drafted in 2019 out of Mercer and had just a few opportunities to get his feet wet in pro ball that year. After his first full-season of pro ball, Gipson-Long should be happy with his quality performance. Yet like any other young pitcher, experience and innings on the mound will help garner the young pitcher's consistency. 
    5. RHP Josh Winder, Wichita/St. Paul (14 GS, 4-0, 2.63 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 72 IP, 55 H, 21 ER, 13 BB, 80 K)
    If it were not for injuries and bad luck, there's a good chance that Josh Winder would be higher on this list. After an amazing two months in Wichita, Winder was promoted to Triple-A St. Paul on June 28th. Winder dazzled in his first start with the Saints, throwing 5 2/3 innings of eight-strikeout ball while giving up one run. With all the momentum stacked his way, Winder was struck by a line drive in his next outing that removed him from the game. Two starts later, he was placed on the 7-Day IL for a shoulder injury and has not pitched since. 
    It's likely that the Twins are taking the safe route when it comes to Winder's rehab. And why shouldn't they? The 2018 draft pick has been impressive each season since signing and will only continue to improve. If Winder continues his progress once healthy it wouldn't be shocking to see him at Target Field at some point next season. 
    6. RHP Ben Gross, Cedar Rapids/Wichita (17 GS, 5-4, 4.06 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 95.1 IP, 99 H, 43 ER, 32 BB, 122 K)
    Ben Gross closes out a talented crop of 2019 draft picks on this list. Gross was the heart and soul of the Kernels rotation prior to his late-summer promotion to Wichita. The 10th round pick has shown versatility on the mound with his pitch arsenal but also through how he retires hitters. Most of Gross' starts feature 4-8 strikeouts and a plethora of groundouts and pop flies. However, the 24-year-old diced on August 11th against Peoria when he struck out a career-high 13 batters. 
    While there's certainly work to be done, Gross has shown that he can be a consistent starter day in and day out. If things continue the way they are, he'll have the opportunity to showcase that consistency at a higher level.
    RHP Tyler Beck, Cedar Rapids/Wichita (13 GS, 3-4, 3.00 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 84 IP, 64 H, 28 ER, 30 BB, 91 K)
    LHP Charlie Barnes, St. Paul (16 GS, 6-4, 3.79 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 76 IP, 73 H, 32 ER, 24 BB, 62 K)
    LHP Andrew Albers, St. Paul (16 GS, 7-4, 3.75 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 96 IP, 113 H, 40 ER, 11 BB, 85 K)
    RHP Austin Schulfer, Wichita (24 GS, 6-8, 4.34 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 110 IP, 109 H, 53 ER, 49 BB, 105 K)
    LHP Kody Funderburk, Cedar Rapids/Wichita (10 GS, 4-3, 2.55 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 67 IP, 46 H, 19 ER, 28 BB, 82 K)
    RHP Sean Mooney, Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids (12 GS, 0-2, 2.79 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 42 IP, 22 H, 13 ER, 23 BB, 71 K)
    Previous Starting Pitcher of the Year Winners:
    2019 winner- Randy Dobnak
    2018 winner - Tyler Wells
    2017 winner - Stephen Gonsalves
    2016 winner - Stephen Gonsalves
    2015 winner - Jose Berrios
    2014 winner - Jose Berrios
    2013 winner - Taylor Rogers
    2012 winner - BJ Hermsen
    Congrats to all those mentioned! Comment your thoughts below!
  14. Like
    MMMordabito reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, 2021 is an Outlier for the Minnesota Twins   
    There’s no way of putting this lightly, the Twins have been awful in 2021. After starting 5-2 they have fallen, tripped, and smacked their faces right on the proverbial sidewalk. Rocco, the front office, and players all deserve a differing part of the blame, but the results have been nothing short of terrible. I don’t expect that to continue over a full 162 games, but regardless of what happens, this strikes me more as outlier than indicative of the future.
    Why is that important? Looking at 2022, the Twins will need to decide a path forward. That starts now and the groundwork begins to be laid. Someone very likely needs to be fired for this debacle. Maybe that’s the hitting coach, or maybe it’s a clubhouse attendant. I don’t really care who it is, and I’m not sure it’s productive in many veins other than sending a message. That said, unless the analysis by so many was so wrong, then there’s plenty to build from here.
    Could the front office have done more this offseason? Potentially, but the landmines are all over the place there. Trevor May would be nice, but goodbye to Andrelton Simmons or Nelson Cruz then. Other bullpen pieces with ties have all been bad save for Liam Hendriks, who would’ve been a substantial cost in only helping one area. Maybe a better 4th starter made sense, but hey, James Paxton is already done for the year and Corey Kluber has been a bit more lucky than good despite his recent no hitter. What they could’ve done and what they did on the open market isn’t too wide of a divide.
    That brings us to the reality moving forward. What the Twins have in terms of relevance still banks heavily on pieces that were committed to on the basis of assumed production. Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, and Miguel Sano were all signed to extensions on the basis of upward trajectory. It’s fair to assess all three as having fallen short of expectations, but where do they fit going forward. Is it so bad that they aren’t lineup fixtures at all? If so, that’d be damning for the front office and quite a fall in terms of development. Jose Berrios and Byron Buxton remain as key pieces, while Josh Donaldson still has multiple years left on his deal.
    From there Minnesota was always going to be in a place of opportunity. Cruz, J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker, and Simmons are all on one-year deals. So too is Alex Colome and Hansel Robles. The front office gave themselves flexibility in this roster construction to re-tool rather than rebuild. Alex Kirilloff has an opportunity to establish himself, as does Trevor Larnach. Down the stretch guys like Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic should become potential solutions, and they’ll all provide a clearer picture heading into 2022.
    If there’s uncertainty for the year ahead, it’s whether the season happens at all given the MLBPA and MLB’s looming CBA discussions. Should cooler heads prevail though, tearing this down and starting over would seem like a rash over reaction by this front office. They’ve put the right developmental and coaching pieces in place, and we’ve seen that bear fruit throughout the organization. Rather than second guessing that at this point, it makes sense to crumple up this calendar, toss it out, and recalibrate with new assets from a position that should be relatively similar to where they found themselves after 2020.
    A weird year interrupted by pandemic issues likely hid some of the more notable regression we may have seen from some major league contributors. Now having that rear its head, deciding whether it’s a small sample or indicative of more remains the key focus going forward. This ship will turn some the rest of the way, and although the Twins won’t make the Postseason, they shouldn’t embark on an offseason with any less certainty as to who they are than they entered 2021 with initially.
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