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Matt Braun

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Matt Braun last won the day on October 17 2020

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  1. Farmer played 75 innings of Shortstop in the Dodgers organization. Although, he did man the position more at Georgia and while playing in the Cape Cod league.
  2. There’s no time for a traditional intro paragraph; let’s talk about what Kyle Farmer can bring to the Minnesota Twins. Image courtesy of Albert Cesare/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK Kyle Farmer is, to be kind, an obscure baseball presence. A former catcher, raised in the blue-blood Dodgers farm system—something he has in common with his Twins garlicky brother in Kyle—Farmer’s major league impact has been a ripple, not a wave. There was the time he walked off the Giants in his major league debut, but two full seasons OPSing at a below-average rate with the Reds doesn’t place you on many radars. At least, not worthwhile ones. At a cursory glance, the Twins may have sent away Gio Urshela just to acquire an older, cheaper, and slightly worse Gio Urshela. But that narrative sells Farmer short; his OPS over the past two seasons is nearly bang-on league average for a shortstop (.716 for Farmer, .714 for the league), while, at least in 2021, Statcast’s OAA measure clocked Farmer as one of the finest glovemen at his position, crediting him with six outs above average while handling shortstop. That placed him as the 9th-best fielding shortstop that year. His defense in 2022 was not as sparkling, though, and which Farmer the Twins will receive defensively appears to be an open question—one made murkier with shift-aided success in 2021. With new rules limiting where infielders are allowed to stand, those bonus outs to the right of 2nd base will no longer exist; whether Farmer can regain his form at the traditional shortstop position will be up to him. His bat, however, has remained consistent, especially against lefties. As the great Tom Froemming has pointed out, Farmer is infield Kyle Garlick, pillaging southpaw villages while leaving fire and rubble in his wake. Lefties loathed facing Farmer, allowing a .948 OPS against him in 2022, a significant step up from his already hefty career line of .288/.345/.492 against them. The Twins, as pointed out by this author, have struggled against lefties since the 2019 season; any extra boost rounds out the team offensively. The debate now focuses on where he fits on the team. While he could technically start as the everyday shortstop, a certain 28-year-old Puerto Rican is the preferred target of Twins fans. The Great Carlos Correa Question remains unanswered, and until his pen touches paper once again, the Twins’ shortstop position will operate with split-pea soup haziness. It’s unlikely that the team will open business in late March with Farmer as the starting shortstop; instead, this author guesses he will operate as a super-utility infielder focusing on playing against lefties. Farmer has played every position in the infield—indeed, that means every position—and even subbed in for four frames in the outfield. The Twins lack a player in that mold, especially one who has flashed an ability to hold down shortstop at an exceptional level. But who knows? The Twins relish acquiring baseline players early to set up bigger splashes later. Trying to guess Farmer’s roster contribution in November is like being a stockbroker in 1929. More moves will fill in the roster, creating a much clearer picture, but for now, the Twins appear to have a helpful infielder who can mash lefties, something they have needed for years. View full article
  3. Kyle Farmer is, to be kind, an obscure baseball presence. A former catcher, raised in the blue-blood Dodgers farm system—something he has in common with his Twins garlicky brother in Kyle—Farmer’s major league impact has been a ripple, not a wave. There was the time he walked off the Giants in his major league debut, but two full seasons OPSing at a below-average rate with the Reds doesn’t place you on many radars. At least, not worthwhile ones. At a cursory glance, the Twins may have sent away Gio Urshela just to acquire an older, cheaper, and slightly worse Gio Urshela. But that narrative sells Farmer short; his OPS over the past two seasons is nearly bang-on league average for a shortstop (.716 for Farmer, .714 for the league), while, at least in 2021, Statcast’s OAA measure clocked Farmer as one of the finest glovemen at his position, crediting him with six outs above average while handling shortstop. That placed him as the 9th-best fielding shortstop that year. His defense in 2022 was not as sparkling, though, and which Farmer the Twins will receive defensively appears to be an open question—one made murkier with shift-aided success in 2021. With new rules limiting where infielders are allowed to stand, those bonus outs to the right of 2nd base will no longer exist; whether Farmer can regain his form at the traditional shortstop position will be up to him. His bat, however, has remained consistent, especially against lefties. As the great Tom Froemming has pointed out, Farmer is infield Kyle Garlick, pillaging southpaw villages while leaving fire and rubble in his wake. Lefties loathed facing Farmer, allowing a .948 OPS against him in 2022, a significant step up from his already hefty career line of .288/.345/.492 against them. The Twins, as pointed out by this author, have struggled against lefties since the 2019 season; any extra boost rounds out the team offensively. The debate now focuses on where he fits on the team. While he could technically start as the everyday shortstop, a certain 28-year-old Puerto Rican is the preferred target of Twins fans. The Great Carlos Correa Question remains unanswered, and until his pen touches paper once again, the Twins’ shortstop position will operate with split-pea soup haziness. It’s unlikely that the team will open business in late March with Farmer as the starting shortstop; instead, this author guesses he will operate as a super-utility infielder focusing on playing against lefties. Farmer has played every position in the infield—indeed, that means every position—and even subbed in for four frames in the outfield. The Twins lack a player in that mold, especially one who has flashed an ability to hold down shortstop at an exceptional level. But who knows? The Twins relish acquiring baseline players early to set up bigger splashes later. Trying to guess Farmer’s roster contribution in November is like being a stockbroker in 1929. More moves will fill in the roster, creating a much clearer picture, but for now, the Twins appear to have a helpful infielder who can mash lefties, something they have needed for years.
  4. The Good Lord put Kyle Garlick on this Earth to do one thing: mash left-handed pitching. The 30-year-old isn’t a great fielder, has never taken more than 200 plate appearances in a season at the major league level, and consistently fails to hold a Duolingo streak (allegedly). But, he can put a hurt on a ball thrown from a southpaw like few players in MLB. Garlick’s career slash line against lefties is a lopsided .251/.301/.538, almost a mirror image of Byron Buxton’s .224/.306/.526 total effort in 2022, and a hearty upgrade over the average AL slash line against lefties in 2022 (.246/.315/.399). I tried typing Garlick’s line against right-handers, but the power ominously flicked on and off while a ghastly voice told me the day of my death. For Minnesota, the fit is obvious; the team is 21st in MLB in OPS against lefties dating back to the 2020 season, as core players like Max Kepler and, strangely, Miguel Sanó have found themselves flummoxed when facing southpaws. While other lefty killers like Mitch Garver and C.J. Cron have exited stage right, the Twins have struggled to find replacements, and the team that dominated lefties in 2019 (.872 OPS!!) needs aid against them. This is an aside, but Nelson Cruz hit .361/.438/.730 against lefties while in a Twins uniform. Man, that guy rocked. For Garlick, the deal is a nice safety net; players who break into the league at the age of 27 don’t usually become roster fixtures, and Garlick’s two-year tenure with the Twins has so far represented the heftiest playing time any major-league franchise has offered him. Health has also failed Garlick. The outfielder suffered four separate injuries in 2022 while a sports hernia knocked out most of his 2021 campaign. His new contract worth $750,000 is now a little over the veteran minimum of $700,000, making the deal a slight perk up to his paycheck. Garlick will never be an impact player, but every team needs tertiary specialists, and the Twins have been significantly lacking in players who can thump a lefty. It’s easy to imagine a late-game scenario where Rocco Baldelli pinch-hits Garlick with a lefty reliever stuck on the mound, giving the Twins a better chance to nab an extra-base hit, potentially securing a crucial run. Or, maybe, Garlick starts against a tough lefty, cranking two homers in a rousing effort. You don’t even need to imagine that one because he did it last year against Shane McClanahan. In any case, the deal is a low-stakes buy-in for a player who helps fix a desperate roster need. If healthy, Garlick could be a useful piece against a niche, yet important, variety of pitcher. If he isn't healthy, the team is down a sum of money any good accountant could wipe away with ease.
  5. On Monday Night, news broke that the Twins agreed to a one-year deal with outfielder Kyle Garlick for $750,000. Let’s talk about it. Image courtesy of Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports The Good Lord put Kyle Garlick on this Earth to do one thing: mash left-handed pitching. The 30-year-old isn’t a great fielder, has never taken more than 200 plate appearances in a season at the major league level, and consistently fails to hold a Duolingo streak (allegedly). But, he can put a hurt on a ball thrown from a southpaw like few players in MLB. Garlick’s career slash line against lefties is a lopsided .251/.301/.538, almost a mirror image of Byron Buxton’s .224/.306/.526 total effort in 2022, and a hearty upgrade over the average AL slash line against lefties in 2022 (.246/.315/.399). I tried typing Garlick’s line against right-handers, but the power ominously flicked on and off while a ghastly voice told me the day of my death. For Minnesota, the fit is obvious; the team is 21st in MLB in OPS against lefties dating back to the 2020 season, as core players like Max Kepler and, strangely, Miguel Sanó have found themselves flummoxed when facing southpaws. While other lefty killers like Mitch Garver and C.J. Cron have exited stage right, the Twins have struggled to find replacements, and the team that dominated lefties in 2019 (.872 OPS!!) needs aid against them. This is an aside, but Nelson Cruz hit .361/.438/.730 against lefties while in a Twins uniform. Man, that guy rocked. For Garlick, the deal is a nice safety net; players who break into the league at the age of 27 don’t usually become roster fixtures, and Garlick’s two-year tenure with the Twins has so far represented the heftiest playing time any major-league franchise has offered him. Health has also failed Garlick. The outfielder suffered four separate injuries in 2022 while a sports hernia knocked out most of his 2021 campaign. His new contract worth $750,000 is now a little over the veteran minimum of $700,000, making the deal a slight perk up to his paycheck. Garlick will never be an impact player, but every team needs tertiary specialists, and the Twins have been significantly lacking in players who can thump a lefty. It’s easy to imagine a late-game scenario where Rocco Baldelli pinch-hits Garlick with a lefty reliever stuck on the mound, giving the Twins a better chance to nab an extra-base hit, potentially securing a crucial run. Or, maybe, Garlick starts against a tough lefty, cranking two homers in a rousing effort. You don’t even need to imagine that one because he did it last year against Shane McClanahan. In any case, the deal is a low-stakes buy-in for a player who helps fix a desperate roster need. If healthy, Garlick could be a useful piece against a niche, yet important, variety of pitcher. If he isn't healthy, the team is down a sum of money any good accountant could wipe away with ease. View full article
  6. The World Series remains in motion, at least for a time, so what better thing to do than to analyze postseason catchers? You know it will be fun. Image courtesy of Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports I looked at the playoff catchers—no need to thank me, it’s all in a day’s work—and one glaring, obvious, apparent, unmistakable, overt trend exists: framing wins ballgames. This isn’t news. At least, it shouldn’t be. Through a combo platter of decreased stealing, increased stuff, and the realization that those extra strikes actually do matter, the catching position has evolved to fit the framing niche. MLB has shifted towards a homogenized framing aesthetic so dominant that the Houston Astros actively happily stomach watching Martin Maldonado hit just to enjoy his defense rewards. If you’ve stumbled onto a broadcast, any broadcast over the last few seasons, you’ve likely noticed the catcher kneeling in a position that would give Sparky Anderson a heart attack. Even with a man on first base, the catcher will remain touching the ground, utterly unphased by whatever threat the runner poses while focusing on receiving the ball with masterful precision. A stolen base is palatable; a missed strike is not. It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that eight of the top nine catchers by Baseball Prospectus’ framing stat belong to playoff teams. The tenth was a 27-year-old rookie in Colorado named Brian Serven. Hi, Brian. In contrast, only two of the worst 10 framers—Austin Nola and Francisco Mejia —started for a playoff team. The other fascinating trend had to do with playing time: almost no team relies on a singular catcher anymore. Outside of J.T. Realmuto, a true athletic freak who can do everything well, Alejandro Kirk, a well-rounded youngster in Toronto, and Cal Raleigh, the big dumper, playoff teams rely on a tandem of framers, eschewing ideas of one star in favor of a two-headed team. Although, the star-catcher approach may have returned somewhat amongst the MLB landscape as a whole; there were five primary catchers with more than 500 plate appearances in 2022, the highest total in a full season since 2018. That’s great and all, but what can the Twins glean from this? They may already have one of their pieces in Ryan Jeffers. He can frame with the best of them (24th out of 120 catchers, according to Baseball Prospectus), and his .208/.285/.363 slash line in 2022 is in the ballpark of your average major league catcher, as backstops collectively hit .226/.295/.363. He may have more in his bat; Baseball Savant thinks he underperformed his batted-ball data, and his top-end exit velocity is elite. Still, he’s just one player—one not nearly good enough to carry a team like Realmuto. The Twins need a sidekick. There are a few names available at the peak—Omar Narvaez, Christian Vazquez , Sean Murphy if they’re feeling spicy—who can provide varying degrees of batting prowess, but the middle of the free-agent pack provides defensive gurus like Tucker Barnhart and Austin Hedges. Although, offensive capabilities in this group drop from “acceptable” to “Lovecraftian horror.” Of course, there’s a wrench that MLB will toss into this: new rule changes next season will encourage and likely boost the run game. With bigger bases and a pitch clock entering the fold, players might release their inner Vince Coleman, pushing teams to find a happy medium between hyper-focused framing and stolen base watchdogging. Or maybe stolen bases remain stagnant. Baseball moves like that sometimes. If the steal does return, the Twins may be wise to anticipate the trend and sign a gun-slinger to catch beside Jeffers. Really, this entire article could read as “Gary Sanchez was not the answer.” Backstops with offensive upside—and only offensive upside—must reach some sort of Willson Contreras plateau before serious playoff teams consider them a legitimate option. That’s just the game these days. Sanchez was a potentially explosive addition—ushering him away from the New York media seemed wise—but the move didn’t work, and the team should learn that lesson. The Twins will probably need to find Jason Castro 2.0 if they want to play meaningful baseball beyond September. View full article
  7. I looked at the playoff catchers—no need to thank me, it’s all in a day’s work—and one glaring, obvious, apparent, unmistakable, overt trend exists: framing wins ballgames. This isn’t news. At least, it shouldn’t be. Through a combo platter of decreased stealing, increased stuff, and the realization that those extra strikes actually do matter, the catching position has evolved to fit the framing niche. MLB has shifted towards a homogenized framing aesthetic so dominant that the Houston Astros actively happily stomach watching Martin Maldonado hit just to enjoy his defense rewards. If you’ve stumbled onto a broadcast, any broadcast over the last few seasons, you’ve likely noticed the catcher kneeling in a position that would give Sparky Anderson a heart attack. Even with a man on first base, the catcher will remain touching the ground, utterly unphased by whatever threat the runner poses while focusing on receiving the ball with masterful precision. A stolen base is palatable; a missed strike is not. It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that eight of the top nine catchers by Baseball Prospectus’ framing stat belong to playoff teams. The tenth was a 27-year-old rookie in Colorado named Brian Serven. Hi, Brian. In contrast, only two of the worst 10 framers—Austin Nola and Francisco Mejia —started for a playoff team. The other fascinating trend had to do with playing time: almost no team relies on a singular catcher anymore. Outside of J.T. Realmuto, a true athletic freak who can do everything well, Alejandro Kirk, a well-rounded youngster in Toronto, and Cal Raleigh, the big dumper, playoff teams rely on a tandem of framers, eschewing ideas of one star in favor of a two-headed team. Although, the star-catcher approach may have returned somewhat amongst the MLB landscape as a whole; there were five primary catchers with more than 500 plate appearances in 2022, the highest total in a full season since 2018. That’s great and all, but what can the Twins glean from this? They may already have one of their pieces in Ryan Jeffers. He can frame with the best of them (24th out of 120 catchers, according to Baseball Prospectus), and his .208/.285/.363 slash line in 2022 is in the ballpark of your average major league catcher, as backstops collectively hit .226/.295/.363. He may have more in his bat; Baseball Savant thinks he underperformed his batted-ball data, and his top-end exit velocity is elite. Still, he’s just one player—one not nearly good enough to carry a team like Realmuto. The Twins need a sidekick. There are a few names available at the peak—Omar Narvaez, Christian Vazquez , Sean Murphy if they’re feeling spicy—who can provide varying degrees of batting prowess, but the middle of the free-agent pack provides defensive gurus like Tucker Barnhart and Austin Hedges. Although, offensive capabilities in this group drop from “acceptable” to “Lovecraftian horror.” Of course, there’s a wrench that MLB will toss into this: new rule changes next season will encourage and likely boost the run game. With bigger bases and a pitch clock entering the fold, players might release their inner Vince Coleman, pushing teams to find a happy medium between hyper-focused framing and stolen base watchdogging. Or maybe stolen bases remain stagnant. Baseball moves like that sometimes. If the steal does return, the Twins may be wise to anticipate the trend and sign a gun-slinger to catch beside Jeffers. Really, this entire article could read as “Gary Sanchez was not the answer.” Backstops with offensive upside—and only offensive upside—must reach some sort of Willson Contreras plateau before serious playoff teams consider them a legitimate option. That’s just the game these days. Sanchez was a potentially explosive addition—ushering him away from the New York media seemed wise—but the move didn’t work, and the team should learn that lesson. The Twins will probably need to find Jason Castro 2.0 if they want to play meaningful baseball beyond September.
  8. Do you remember where you were on July 27th, 2018? The Twins played the Boston Red Sox in a 4-3 extra innings loss—future former old friend Tyler Thornburg netted the win—and the Twins fanbase was up in arms when Matt Belisle pitched the deciding 10th frame, not Ryan Pressly. Belisle was in a rapid, soon-to-be career-ending decline, while Pressly—always frustrating but still nasty—represented the Twins’ best shot at continuing the game. Mookie Betts crushed a solo homer to win. How could Paul Molitor bungle his bullpen moves so severely? Image courtesy of Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports As it turns out, there are reasons behind decisions like these, as Ryan Pressly soon became a Houston Astro. Shortly after the game, news broke that the well-tattooed righty would re-locate to his home state, signaling the first shoe to drop in an eventful trade deadline for the Twins, one that reverberates into the 2022 World Series. Pressly’s path following the deal is well-known by Twins fans; Houston sprinkled their magic pitching dust over him, eliminating the blow-up outings that plagued his early career while transforming him into one of the more consistent relievers in baseball. Two All-Star games called his name and, without a transition period, Pressly became the final boss in an always-talented Astro bullpen, closing important games with ease as his fastball knocked batters to the ground and his curveball brought them to their knees. So it goes. The Twins are still counting on Gilberto Celestino and Jorge Alcala—the return package in the deal—to embrace their potential. Since 2019, only the Dodgers, Rays, and Guardians have a lower bullpen ERA than Houston’s 3.66 mark; Liam Hendriks is the sole reliever to provide more fWAR than Pressly over that span. The 2018 Twins also shied away from trading away another important player: Kyle Gibson remained on the team following a significant courting process from multiple interested franchises. The Twins front office has never feared holding on to a player if the deal isn’t right—there’s a reason why José De León stayed with the Dodgers during the Great Brian Dozier trade talks of 2016—so Gibson’s staticity wasn’t entirely shocking. That choice seems significant now. Gibson’s path to his current team, the Phillies, is less straightforward; the former first round pick pitched his way out of Minnesota after a brutal sickness-cursed 2019 season before signing a pact with the Texas Rangers. Amid a surprise All-Star campaign in 2021, Texas sent Gibson to Philadelphia in a hearty trade for three players, including top prospect Spencer Howard. The Phillies, so blessed with excellent starting pitching, now utilize Gibson as a tertiary arm, only calling his name once this postseason for a four-out appearance against the Padres in Game 2 of the NLCS. He’s far from a game-changing presence, but Gibson gobbled up nearly 170 innings in the regular season, and one can easily imagine that his veteran status has positively influenced the Phillies clubhouse. What if the Twins trade him at the deadline? Perhaps he nestles in with his new squad long-term, eliminating his future with the Phillies. Maybe the team whiffs on a separate starter, thinning their ranks enough to hold them back from playoff contention in 2022. Although, maybe that doesn’t happen, and baseball continues to be weird and often illogical. These two strings connect to a broad baseball web spun by influential deals and non-deals. The Astros will always be a powerhouse, but precisely how strong would they be without an ace, veteran reliever like Pressly? The Phillies walked a tightrope to make it this far; was Gibson enough of a force to push them into contention? We can only apply conjecture to these questions, but, unquestionably, the Twins' 2018 trade deadline subtlety influenced the upcoming World Series matchup. View full article
  9. As it turns out, there are reasons behind decisions like these, as Ryan Pressly soon became a Houston Astro. Shortly after the game, news broke that the well-tattooed righty would re-locate to his home state, signaling the first shoe to drop in an eventful trade deadline for the Twins, one that reverberates into the 2022 World Series. Pressly’s path following the deal is well-known by Twins fans; Houston sprinkled their magic pitching dust over him, eliminating the blow-up outings that plagued his early career while transforming him into one of the more consistent relievers in baseball. Two All-Star games called his name and, without a transition period, Pressly became the final boss in an always-talented Astro bullpen, closing important games with ease as his fastball knocked batters to the ground and his curveball brought them to their knees. So it goes. The Twins are still counting on Gilberto Celestino and Jorge Alcala—the return package in the deal—to embrace their potential. Since 2019, only the Dodgers, Rays, and Guardians have a lower bullpen ERA than Houston’s 3.66 mark; Liam Hendriks is the sole reliever to provide more fWAR than Pressly over that span. The 2018 Twins also shied away from trading away another important player: Kyle Gibson remained on the team following a significant courting process from multiple interested franchises. The Twins front office has never feared holding on to a player if the deal isn’t right—there’s a reason why José De León stayed with the Dodgers during the Great Brian Dozier trade talks of 2016—so Gibson’s staticity wasn’t entirely shocking. That choice seems significant now. Gibson’s path to his current team, the Phillies, is less straightforward; the former first round pick pitched his way out of Minnesota after a brutal sickness-cursed 2019 season before signing a pact with the Texas Rangers. Amid a surprise All-Star campaign in 2021, Texas sent Gibson to Philadelphia in a hearty trade for three players, including top prospect Spencer Howard. The Phillies, so blessed with excellent starting pitching, now utilize Gibson as a tertiary arm, only calling his name once this postseason for a four-out appearance against the Padres in Game 2 of the NLCS. He’s far from a game-changing presence, but Gibson gobbled up nearly 170 innings in the regular season, and one can easily imagine that his veteran status has positively influenced the Phillies clubhouse. What if the Twins trade him at the deadline? Perhaps he nestles in with his new squad long-term, eliminating his future with the Phillies. Maybe the team whiffs on a separate starter, thinning their ranks enough to hold them back from playoff contention in 2022. Although, maybe that doesn’t happen, and baseball continues to be weird and often illogical. These two strings connect to a broad baseball web spun by influential deals and non-deals. The Astros will always be a powerhouse, but precisely how strong would they be without an ace, veteran reliever like Pressly? The Phillies walked a tightrope to make it this far; was Gibson enough of a force to push them into contention? We can only apply conjecture to these questions, but, unquestionably, the Twins' 2018 trade deadline subtlety influenced the upcoming World Series matchup.
  10. For the third offseason in a row, the Twins will venture into the unknown in need of a shortstop. Carlos Correa is technically on the roster—MLB roster rules currently limit premature exits—but he will almost certainly opt out of his contract. If the Twins make the perfectly reasonable move of not re-signing a likely future Hall of Famer in his prime, here are a few under-the-radar players for Minnesota to target. Image courtesy of Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports Miguel Rojas Batting ability eludes Miguel Rojas—the 33-year-old owns a .260/.314/.358 career slash line, after all—but his defensive acumen stands somewhere between “slick” and “wizard-like.” Advanced stats and traditional numbers agree on his ability; Rojas is the 13th-best shortstop by OAA over the last three years, and his .980 career fielding percentage is 7th amongst 23 shortstops who have played at least 5,000 innings since 2014. That first boot drops with extra authority, though; Rojas owns a "stomachable" 85 OPS+, but his line dropped across the board in 2022, and his OPS barely churned water above the .600 mark (.605). If the Twins acquire Rojas, his offensive ceiling will look similar to Andrelton Simmons’, and Simmons only became one of the most disliked Twins in recent memory. According to Jim Bowden, the apparently frugal Yankees targeted Rojas at the trade deadline in 2022 but balked at the Marlins’ high asking price. Although their main target was pitcher Pablo López, not Rojas, New York’s interest reveals that a successful team, one that can undoubtedly aim higher, covets Rojas as a potential starter. Rojas signed an extension with the Marlins that will pay him $4.5 million in 2023, making him a cheap alternative to the expensive shortstops hitting free agency following the World Series. Rojas is a leader in Miami’s clubhouse and acts as their MLBPA representative—two critical skills Rojas could bring to a team potentially losing a well-respected player in Correa. Kyle Farmer The Twins have already poached 40% of the Reds' starting rotation; why not take their starting shortstop as well? Kyle Farmer can hit a touch more than Rojas—he owned an 88 OPS+ in 2021 and a 90 mark in 2022—but his defense remains more enigmatic; OAA loved his work in 2021 (92, very good) but found it repulsive in 2022 (34, not very good). Let’s talk about that bat: Farmer is a tough batter to strike out—his 17.6% K rate over the last two seasons is the 37th lowest amongst 118 hitters with 1,000 plate appearances—and as you can glean from that previous stat, he has been durable as well; Farmer has played in 292 games over that stretch. He won’t wow anyone with his offensive capability, and moving from the Wiffle ball stadium that is Great American Ballpark likely will not help his numbers, but true versatility and availability are skills the Twins have lacked since the excellent 2019 season. Farmer can play every infield position—including catcher—and owns a handful of innings in the outfield, although that should be a “break glass in case of emergency” option. The 31-year-old former Georgia Bulldog will not become a free agent until after the 2024 season. C. Trent Rosecrans, the great Athletic beat writer covering the Reds, writes that “[i]n a clubhouse full of good guys (from the media standpoint), Farmer stood out.” Win or lose, and there were many losses on that Reds team, Farmer was always available to talk to the media. You never know how a guy will fit into a team, but acquiring a player with great character could be an unseen boost to the Twins. Nico Hoerner It’s implausible that the Cubs will trade Nico Hoerner; the 25-year-old enjoyed a true breakout 2022 season slashing .281/.327/.410 with excellent defense on a mediocre Cubs team. A player capable of that production would typically never swap teams, but the Cubs—always lustfully searching for their next terrible contract—could dump a pool of money on Trea Turner or Dansby Swanson and choose to swap Hoerner. This move isn’t likely to happen, but where’s the fun in only thinking logically? Hoerner is a player in the model of the Piranhas of old: a fast, high-batting average infielder with slick handles and a fun name. He could provide the Yin to the power/OBP Yang so prevalent in a modern Twins lineup, creating the peskiest 1-2 punch in baseball when paired with Luis Arraez. Hoerner and Arraez combined struck out at a lower rate than the average MLB hitter in 2022. Hoerner can also play passably in center field. The Twins would have to part with several prospects and young players—4 WAR infielders yet to hit arbitration do not grow on trees—but a package focused on a few redundant young arms and outfielders could do the trick. Ian Happ, Chicago’s main attraction, hits free agency soon, and the Cubs have not developed a good, young starter since Jake Arrieta grew out his beard. Again, this move is unlikely, but baseball is always good for a shocking transaction or two every off-season. Digging for unexpected players is always a fun activity, but this practice left a single impression: the Twins need to re-sign Correa. With as much respect as possible, players like Rojas and Farmer seem like great clubhouse fits, but neither moves the needle much for on-field ability, and these were some of the better players apparently available. The Twins should probably act on Correa instead; good shortstops don’t grow on trees, and the ones that do like it when their paycheck reads “$300 million.” Rojas and Farmer are fun, upstanding players, but they feel like re-arranging one’s room rather than buying new furniture. We shall see what the Twins decide to do in the off-season, but these are a few players to keep your eye on View full article
  11. Miguel Rojas Batting ability eludes Miguel Rojas—the 33-year-old owns a .260/.314/.358 career slash line, after all—but his defensive acumen stands somewhere between “slick” and “wizard-like.” Advanced stats and traditional numbers agree on his ability; Rojas is the 13th-best shortstop by OAA over the last three years, and his .980 career fielding percentage is 7th amongst 23 shortstops who have played at least 5,000 innings since 2014. That first boot drops with extra authority, though; Rojas owns a "stomachable" 85 OPS+, but his line dropped across the board in 2022, and his OPS barely churned water above the .600 mark (.605). If the Twins acquire Rojas, his offensive ceiling will look similar to Andrelton Simmons’, and Simmons only became one of the most disliked Twins in recent memory. According to Jim Bowden, the apparently frugal Yankees targeted Rojas at the trade deadline in 2022 but balked at the Marlins’ high asking price. Although their main target was pitcher Pablo López, not Rojas, New York’s interest reveals that a successful team, one that can undoubtedly aim higher, covets Rojas as a potential starter. Rojas signed an extension with the Marlins that will pay him $4.5 million in 2023, making him a cheap alternative to the expensive shortstops hitting free agency following the World Series. Rojas is a leader in Miami’s clubhouse and acts as their MLBPA representative—two critical skills Rojas could bring to a team potentially losing a well-respected player in Correa. Kyle Farmer The Twins have already poached 40% of the Reds' starting rotation; why not take their starting shortstop as well? Kyle Farmer can hit a touch more than Rojas—he owned an 88 OPS+ in 2021 and a 90 mark in 2022—but his defense remains more enigmatic; OAA loved his work in 2021 (92, very good) but found it repulsive in 2022 (34, not very good). Let’s talk about that bat: Farmer is a tough batter to strike out—his 17.6% K rate over the last two seasons is the 37th lowest amongst 118 hitters with 1,000 plate appearances—and as you can glean from that previous stat, he has been durable as well; Farmer has played in 292 games over that stretch. He won’t wow anyone with his offensive capability, and moving from the Wiffle ball stadium that is Great American Ballpark likely will not help his numbers, but true versatility and availability are skills the Twins have lacked since the excellent 2019 season. Farmer can play every infield position—including catcher—and owns a handful of innings in the outfield, although that should be a “break glass in case of emergency” option. The 31-year-old former Georgia Bulldog will not become a free agent until after the 2024 season. C. Trent Rosecrans, the great Athletic beat writer covering the Reds, writes that “[i]n a clubhouse full of good guys (from the media standpoint), Farmer stood out.” Win or lose, and there were many losses on that Reds team, Farmer was always available to talk to the media. You never know how a guy will fit into a team, but acquiring a player with great character could be an unseen boost to the Twins. Nico Hoerner It’s implausible that the Cubs will trade Nico Hoerner; the 25-year-old enjoyed a true breakout 2022 season slashing .281/.327/.410 with excellent defense on a mediocre Cubs team. A player capable of that production would typically never swap teams, but the Cubs—always lustfully searching for their next terrible contract—could dump a pool of money on Trea Turner or Dansby Swanson and choose to swap Hoerner. This move isn’t likely to happen, but where’s the fun in only thinking logically? Hoerner is a player in the model of the Piranhas of old: a fast, high-batting average infielder with slick handles and a fun name. He could provide the Yin to the power/OBP Yang so prevalent in a modern Twins lineup, creating the peskiest 1-2 punch in baseball when paired with Luis Arraez. Hoerner and Arraez combined struck out at a lower rate than the average MLB hitter in 2022. Hoerner can also play passably in center field. The Twins would have to part with several prospects and young players—4 WAR infielders yet to hit arbitration do not grow on trees—but a package focused on a few redundant young arms and outfielders could do the trick. Ian Happ, Chicago’s main attraction, hits free agency soon, and the Cubs have not developed a good, young starter since Jake Arrieta grew out his beard. Again, this move is unlikely, but baseball is always good for a shocking transaction or two every off-season. Digging for unexpected players is always a fun activity, but this practice left a single impression: the Twins need to re-sign Correa. With as much respect as possible, players like Rojas and Farmer seem like great clubhouse fits, but neither moves the needle much for on-field ability, and these were some of the better players apparently available. The Twins should probably act on Correa instead; good shortstops don’t grow on trees, and the ones that do like it when their paycheck reads “$300 million.” Rojas and Farmer are fun, upstanding players, but they feel like re-arranging one’s room rather than buying new furniture. We shall see what the Twins decide to do in the off-season, but these are a few players to keep your eye on
  12. Box Score Louie Varland: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Caleb Thielbar (-.280), Jose Miranda (-.178), Matt Wallner (-.128) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The game’s action started quickly; as fans looked for seats, ordered popcorn, and organized their children, the Twins' offense clocked in for work, plating a pair of runs off Lucas Giolito in the 1st inning. Three straight singles from Carlos Correa, Luis Arraez, and Gio Urshela loaded the bases—and while a Gary Sánchez strikeout incited groans from an often apathetic crowd—Nick Gordon broke the mold, delivering a ringing two-run double into the right field corner. Giolito was in trouble early. On the flipside, Louie Varland easily settled into his start; the St. Paul native breezed through the opening frame and worked around a walk in the 2nd inning, supporting the two-run advantage his offense had gifted him. Trouble brewed in the 3rd inning, however; Matt Wallner awkwardly misplayed a line drive, allowing Josh Harrison to score from first base while Romy Gonzalez—the fortunate individual who hit the ball—scampered safely to third base. Gonzalez traveled home two batters later thanks to a Mark Payton single. The game remained a stalemate through the middle innings; neither starter found their dominant stuff, but they were both effective, resiliently tamping down minor attempts at scoring. The White Sox found the upper hand in the 6th inning, ambushing a freshly minted Griffin Jax for two singles and a run off an Andrew Vaughn sacrifice fly. The Twins struck back in the bottom half of the inning with some old-school small-ball. After Sánchez walked to begin the inning, Billy Hamilton—always the speed demon—took his spot at first base. In perhaps the least surprising move of all-time, Hamilton stole 2nd base and then claimed 3rd after Gordon struck out. Gilberto Celestino worked a mature plate appearance, walking in a full count to set up Ryan Jeffers in a pinch-hitting scenario. With a strike to his name, Jeffers laid down a perfect push-bunt towards 1st base, a play so masterful that he even beat out the throw to 1st base. The game was now tied. After an uneventful 7th inning, action began in the 8th; Caleb Thielbar entered the game in relief of Jorge López and coaxed a sky-high pop-up from Payton. Unfortunately, Gordon never comfortably found the ball, and it slipped out of his glove, allowing Payton to dash to second base safely. The White Sox pounced immediately; José Abreu—as he always does—struck a double off the wall in right-center field, scoring the go-ahead run. That final score proved to be the dagger; the Twins fell to Kendall Graveman in the 8th, and—despite a walk from Correa in the 9th—Liam Hendriks silenced their bats in the final frame, halting Minnesota from sweeping their final home series. Notes: Louie Varland has struck out three batters in three straight starts; he remains winless in his MLB career The Twins netted two hits outside of the 1st innings Luis Arraez stands atop of the AL batting race with a .315 mark; Aaron Judge is 2nd at .313 Caleb Thielbar received his first loss since August 20th against Texas Matt Wallner earned his first MLB steal in the 4th inning Post-Game Interview: What’s Next? The Twins will head to Detroit to start a three-game series on Friday; Joe Ryan will start opposite Tyler Alexander. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet:
  13. Not ideal. Image courtesy of Nick Wosika, USA TODAY Sports Box Score Louie Varland: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Caleb Thielbar (-.280), Jose Miranda (-.178), Matt Wallner (-.128) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The game’s action started quickly; as fans looked for seats, ordered popcorn, and organized their children, the Twins' offense clocked in for work, plating a pair of runs off Lucas Giolito in the 1st inning. Three straight singles from Carlos Correa, Luis Arraez, and Gio Urshela loaded the bases—and while a Gary Sánchez strikeout incited groans from an often apathetic crowd—Nick Gordon broke the mold, delivering a ringing two-run double into the right field corner. Giolito was in trouble early. On the flipside, Louie Varland easily settled into his start; the St. Paul native breezed through the opening frame and worked around a walk in the 2nd inning, supporting the two-run advantage his offense had gifted him. Trouble brewed in the 3rd inning, however; Matt Wallner awkwardly misplayed a line drive, allowing Josh Harrison to score from first base while Romy Gonzalez—the fortunate individual who hit the ball—scampered safely to third base. Gonzalez traveled home two batters later thanks to a Mark Payton single. The game remained a stalemate through the middle innings; neither starter found their dominant stuff, but they were both effective, resiliently tamping down minor attempts at scoring. The White Sox found the upper hand in the 6th inning, ambushing a freshly minted Griffin Jax for two singles and a run off an Andrew Vaughn sacrifice fly. The Twins struck back in the bottom half of the inning with some old-school small-ball. After Sánchez walked to begin the inning, Billy Hamilton—always the speed demon—took his spot at first base. In perhaps the least surprising move of all-time, Hamilton stole 2nd base and then claimed 3rd after Gordon struck out. Gilberto Celestino worked a mature plate appearance, walking in a full count to set up Ryan Jeffers in a pinch-hitting scenario. With a strike to his name, Jeffers laid down a perfect push-bunt towards 1st base, a play so masterful that he even beat out the throw to 1st base. The game was now tied. After an uneventful 7th inning, action began in the 8th; Caleb Thielbar entered the game in relief of Jorge López and coaxed a sky-high pop-up from Payton. Unfortunately, Gordon never comfortably found the ball, and it slipped out of his glove, allowing Payton to dash to second base safely. The White Sox pounced immediately; José Abreu—as he always does—struck a double off the wall in right-center field, scoring the go-ahead run. That final score proved to be the dagger; the Twins fell to Kendall Graveman in the 8th, and—despite a walk from Correa in the 9th—Liam Hendriks silenced their bats in the final frame, halting Minnesota from sweeping their final home series. Notes: Louie Varland has struck out three batters in three straight starts; he remains winless in his MLB career The Twins netted two hits outside of the 1st innings Luis Arraez stands atop of the AL batting race with a .315 mark; Aaron Judge is 2nd at .313 Caleb Thielbar received his first loss since August 20th against Texas Matt Wallner earned his first MLB steal in the 4th inning Post-Game Interview: What’s Next? The Twins will head to Detroit to start a three-game series on Friday; Joe Ryan will start opposite Tyler Alexander. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet: View full article
  14. TRANSACTIONS None Saints Sentinel St. Paul 3, Omaha 1 Box Score Randy Dobnak: 4 2/3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Nash Knight (2-for-4, 2B, R, RBI) The Saints won their final game of the season on Wednesday. It had been an inconsistent and bumpy year—one similar to the season their parent franchise underwent—but the team gathered their ability and sent the fans home happy with a triumphant ending. Randy Dobnak manned the mound; the righty sinkerball specialist—so used to harvesting command at will—found success through unpredictable chaos; he walked three but allowed a single hit against seven strikeouts. Dobnak missed a quality start by an out. The man known for his tremendous mustache may no longer reside on the 40-man roster, but he has an entire off-season to iron out deficiencies, and he could contribute positively to a future Twins team. St. Paul’s offense remained as dormant as their enemy; Saints batters continuously walked back to the dugout, befuddled at Alec Marsh’s stuff for inning after inning until the 5th frame. There—Nash Knight ripped a double down the right-field line, scoring Andrew Bechtold. The game remained quiet until Knight—yet again a thorn in Omaha’s side—dashed home on a wild pitch, adding a run to the lead. The inning did not end there, however; St. Paul nabbed a third and final run when Cole Sturgeon singled in Frank Nigro. Mario Sanchez worked 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Dobnak, striking out three while allowing a pair of hits and walks. The Saints end the year 74-75, tied for 4th in the IL West division; a slight step down from their 67-63 record in 2021, although in a different divisional context. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Randy Dobnak Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Nash Knight PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #9 - Matt Wallner (Minnesota) - 2-3, 2B, 3 RBI, BB, K THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS None! FEEDBACK Thank you for always being so supportive of the minor league report, as well as your participation in some great discussions in the comments. As you know, there will be a lot of minor league coverage here throughout the offseason. Next week, Twins Spotlight will return for its third Off(season). Let us know what more you would like to see.
  15. Another minor league season sent to the history books. Image courtesy of Rob Thompson, St. Paul Saints TRANSACTIONS None Saints Sentinel St. Paul 3, Omaha 1 Box Score Randy Dobnak: 4 2/3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Nash Knight (2-for-4, 2B, R, RBI) The Saints won their final game of the season on Wednesday. It had been an inconsistent and bumpy year—one similar to the season their parent franchise underwent—but the team gathered their ability and sent the fans home happy with a triumphant ending. Randy Dobnak manned the mound; the righty sinkerball specialist—so used to harvesting command at will—found success through unpredictable chaos; he walked three but allowed a single hit against seven strikeouts. Dobnak missed a quality start by an out. The man known for his tremendous mustache may no longer reside on the 40-man roster, but he has an entire off-season to iron out deficiencies, and he could contribute positively to a future Twins team. St. Paul’s offense remained as dormant as their enemy; Saints batters continuously walked back to the dugout, befuddled at Alec Marsh’s stuff for inning after inning until the 5th frame. There—Nash Knight ripped a double down the right-field line, scoring Andrew Bechtold. The game remained quiet until Knight—yet again a thorn in Omaha’s side—dashed home on a wild pitch, adding a run to the lead. The inning did not end there, however; St. Paul nabbed a third and final run when Cole Sturgeon singled in Frank Nigro. Mario Sanchez worked 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Dobnak, striking out three while allowing a pair of hits and walks. The Saints end the year 74-75, tied for 4th in the IL West division; a slight step down from their 67-63 record in 2021, although in a different divisional context. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Randy Dobnak Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Nash Knight PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #9 - Matt Wallner (Minnesota) - 2-3, 2B, 3 RBI, BB, K THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS None! FEEDBACK Thank you for always being so supportive of the minor league report, as well as your participation in some great discussions in the comments. As you know, there will be a lot of minor league coverage here throughout the offseason. Next week, Twins Spotlight will return for its third Off(season). Let us know what more you would like to see. View full article
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