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Patrick Wozniak

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Everything posted by Patrick Wozniak

  1. From the album: Zac Gallen

    © AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

  2. The Minnesota Twins decided not to add another starter at the trade deadline and given the current rotation there are a few possibilities to consider when configuring the postseason rotation. Jose Berrios is firmly implanted at the top of the rotation, but after Jose things get a bit murkier.Which four starters should make up the postseason rotation? Should they send Martin Perez to the pen? Is their game-two starter the hot hand in Michael Pineda or All-Star Jake Odorizzi, who has had trouble going deep into ball games? Where does Kyle Gibson fit in? He seems to thrive against weaker opponents while coming up short against playoff caliber teams. Finally, could Devin Smeltzer force his way into the rotation with continued success? One thing we do know for certain is that if the Twins do make the postseason, they will be facing teams with winning records. To get an idea of both who belongs in the rotation and a potential pecking-order, it may be worthwhile to check-in on how Minnesota’s starters have fared against some of the better teams in baseball. The following chart shows how Twin’s pitchers have performed against teams with an above .500 record. Download attachment: Rotation1.png As expected, Jose Berrios is the clear “ace” of this staff. His numbers hold up remarkably well against the better teams and he is able to go deep into ball games. In his most recent start he struggled against the Atlanta Braves (sending his ERA against winning teams from 2.37 to 3.45), but Berrios has generally been at his best while facing the best. His ability to pitch well against good teams bodes well for his chances of pitching successfully in the postseason. After Berrios, Pineda looks like he should be the game-two starter. Not only has he been much better in the second half, his overall numbers against tough teams make Pineda appear to be the second best option. Pineda generally doesn’t go deep into his starts, but this is partially to limit the number of pitches he throws since he is coming off of Tommy John surgery. In the postseason it seems reasonable to give Pineda a little longer leash. Pineda is currently on the 10-day IL, but the Twins seem to simply be using this trip to the IL as a chance to get Pineda some extra rest as they did earlier in the season. Odorizzi has pitched the most games against winning clubs this season and his overall numbers have been okay. His second half slide is concerning, but it seemed to coincide with a blister injury. He has improved in his last two starts (against Miami and Atlanta) so hopefully he is headed in the right direction. However, Odorizzi has a knack for accumulating high pitch counts even when he is pitching well, so he generally can’t be counted on for more than five or six innings. Still, he seems to be a step above Gibson or Perez. Gibson and Perez round out the bottom of the Twins rotation. After joining the rotation early in the season Perez was lights out for the first couple of months but has been fairly disastrous since. Gibson has been up and down throughout the year and as can be seen from his numbers, he really struggles against better competition. Gibson continued to struggle in his most recent start against Cleveland, walking six and giving up five earned runs in just 4 1/3 innings. However, for the time being, it looks like Gibson should probably be the fourth starter with Perez moving to the pen for the postseason. Perez pitched out of the pen for Texas last season, having some success, and also started this season as a reliever. Devin Smeltzer is a bit of a wildcard here. His sample size is small, but he has really turned it on against some good teams. He has already pitched against Milwaukee, Cleveland, Texas, and the Yankees with his only hiccup against Cleveland. In his last start he faced off against the Royals (spoiler alert: they won’t be playing October baseball) and pitched six shutout innings (he was facing Cleveland again on the day of this article). There are still a lot of regular season games to be played and it will be interesting whether Smeltzer can avoid regression, assuming he continues to get some big league starts. Based on their ability to succeed against good teams, it looks like Minnesota’s rotation should be Berrios-Pineda-Odorizzi-Gibson, with Perez adding another lefty to the pen. If Smeltzer continues to succeed, he could also enter into the mix. Supposing that Perez’s struggles continue as Pineda comes off the IL, it may even be prudent for the Twins to keep Smeltzer in the rotation and get Perez in the bullpen sooner rather than later. This gives Minnesota a chance to get extra looks at Smeltzer as a starter and Perez as a reliever and gives Perez time to adjust to relieving again. The Twins would then have the luxury of adding Gibson to the pen (or having Smelter out of the pen if they stick with Gibson). One last factor to consider when constructing the postseason rotation is the ideal amount of rest between starts for each pitcher. The Twins would obviously love to ride Berrios as much as possible and by looking at the numbers we may be able to see the most effective way to structure the rotation. Let’s take a look at how Minnesota’s rotation has performed on four, five, and six days of rest (through Aug. 4th). Download attachment: BerriosSheet.png Berrios has pitched very well on regular rest and a bit worse when getting an extra day off between starts. This may imply that Berrios doesn’t need as much rest and may be able to pitch with three days of rest if the Twins want to ride him. If not, the Twins can pitch him on the normal rest period of four days (allowing Berrios to stick to his regular routine as much as possible) and juggle the remainder of the rotation around Berrios. Download attachment: PinedaSheet.png Pineda has pitched much better when given more than four days of rest between starts. He has been most effective with five days between starts. Download attachment: OdorizziSheet.png Like Pineda, Odorizzi has pitched better with additional rest. He has been almost unhittable in his six starts with six or more days of rest. He recently pitched well against Atlanta on five days of rest. Download attachment: GibsonSheet.png Gibby’s results with four and more than six days of rest are both pretty ugly and he really struggled in his last start against Cleveland on four days of rest. The numbers are much better with 5 days between starts. Download attachment: PerezSheet.png Perez’s numbers are pretty bad no matter how much rest he gets. He was bad again against Atlanta and it is hard to imagine Perez making the playoff rotation at this point. It is unclear how much stock can be put into these numbers as the sample size is admittedly small, but the extra days off in the postseason could play to Minnesota’s advantage. Berrios is the only pitcher who has thrived on the normal rest period, with Pineda, Odorizzi, and Gibson pitching remarkably better with extra rest. The Twins obviously want to ride Berrios as much as possible, so the Twins can keep Berrios pitching on four days rest (or possibly three) and slot the remaining three starters around Berrios starts, allowing them to generally get five or more days of rest between starts (because of all the days off and Berrios occasionally sliding up). If the Twins are able to win the division, their starters should have plenty of rest. The season wraps up on September 29th with the wildcard games being played on the 1st and 2nd and the NLDS Game 1 on the 3rd. The Twins could potentially roll with the following rotation: ALDS Game 1 (10/4) – Jose Berrios ALDS Game 2 (10/5) – Michael Pineda ALDS Game 3 (10/7) – Jake Odorrizi Now the Twins have to decide whether to pitch Berrios on three days of rest or wait until the 10th for five days. For the purpose of this exercise let’s suppose the Twins play it safe and give Berrios five days off. ALDS Game 4 (10/8) – Kyle Gibson / Devin Smeltzer ALDS Game 5 (10/10) – Jose Berrios (5 days rest) ALCS Game 1 (10/12) – Michael Pineda (6 days rest) ALCS Game 2 (10/13) – Jake Odorrizi (5 days rest) ALCS Game 3 (10/15) – Jose Berrios (4 days rest) ALCS Game 4 (10/16) – Kyle Gibson / Devin Smeltzer (7 days rest) ALCS Game 5 (10/17) – Michael Pineda (4 days rest) ALCS Game 6 (10/19) – Jake Odorrizi (5 days rest) ALCS Game 7 (10/20) – Jose Berrios (4 days rest) The cart has undeniably been put ahead of the horse with this exercise and there are a lot of variables at play. It is unknown how many games each series will take, how far the Twins will go (or more importantly if they will win the division to avoid the wildcard game), or whether the starters will remain healthy. Given the Twins historic offense, however, it’s good to know that theoretically our best pitcher is the one who thrives with the least amount of rest and the remainder of the rotation can be afforded the extra rest that furthers their chances of success. Minnesota’s rotation is unlikely to strike fear into their opponent’s hearts, but hopefully they can do enough (along with the bullpen) to afford the offense the opportunity to carry the team. Click here to view the article
  3. Which four starters should make up the postseason rotation? Should they send Martin Perez to the pen? Is their game-two starter the hot hand in Michael Pineda or All-Star Jake Odorizzi, who has had trouble going deep into ball games? Where does Kyle Gibson fit in? He seems to thrive against weaker opponents while coming up short against playoff caliber teams. Finally, could Devin Smeltzer force his way into the rotation with continued success? One thing we do know for certain is that if the Twins do make the postseason, they will be facing teams with winning records. To get an idea of both who belongs in the rotation and a potential pecking-order, it may be worthwhile to check-in on how Minnesota’s starters have fared against some of the better teams in baseball. The following chart shows how Twin’s pitchers have performed against teams with an above .500 record. As expected, Jose Berrios is the clear “ace” of this staff. His numbers hold up remarkably well against the better teams and he is able to go deep into ball games. In his most recent start he struggled against the Atlanta Braves (sending his ERA against winning teams from 2.37 to 3.45), but Berrios has generally been at his best while facing the best. His ability to pitch well against good teams bodes well for his chances of pitching successfully in the postseason. After Berrios, Pineda looks like he should be the game-two starter. Not only has he been much better in the second half, his overall numbers against tough teams make Pineda appear to be the second best option. Pineda generally doesn’t go deep into his starts, but this is partially to limit the number of pitches he throws since he is coming off of Tommy John surgery. In the postseason it seems reasonable to give Pineda a little longer leash. Pineda is currently on the 10-day IL, but the Twins seem to simply be using this trip to the IL as a chance to get Pineda some extra rest as they did earlier in the season. Odorizzi has pitched the most games against winning clubs this season and his overall numbers have been okay. His second half slide is concerning, but it seemed to coincide with a blister injury. He has improved in his last two starts (against Miami and Atlanta) so hopefully he is headed in the right direction. However, Odorizzi has a knack for accumulating high pitch counts even when he is pitching well, so he generally can’t be counted on for more than five or six innings. Still, he seems to be a step above Gibson or Perez. Gibson and Perez round out the bottom of the Twins rotation. After joining the rotation early in the season Perez was lights out for the first couple of months but has been fairly disastrous since. Gibson has been up and down throughout the year and as can be seen from his numbers, he really struggles against better competition. Gibson continued to struggle in his most recent start against Cleveland, walking six and giving up five earned runs in just 4 1/3 innings. However, for the time being, it looks like Gibson should probably be the fourth starter with Perez moving to the pen for the postseason. Perez pitched out of the pen for Texas last season, having some success, and also started this season as a reliever. Devin Smeltzer is a bit of a wildcard here. His sample size is small, but he has really turned it on against some good teams. He has already pitched against Milwaukee, Cleveland, Texas, and the Yankees with his only hiccup against Cleveland. In his last start he faced off against the Royals (spoiler alert: they won’t be playing October baseball) and pitched six shutout innings (he was facing Cleveland again on the day of this article). There are still a lot of regular season games to be played and it will be interesting whether Smeltzer can avoid regression, assuming he continues to get some big league starts. Based on their ability to succeed against good teams, it looks like Minnesota’s rotation should be Berrios-Pineda-Odorizzi-Gibson, with Perez adding another lefty to the pen. If Smeltzer continues to succeed, he could also enter into the mix. Supposing that Perez’s struggles continue as Pineda comes off the IL, it may even be prudent for the Twins to keep Smeltzer in the rotation and get Perez in the bullpen sooner rather than later. This gives Minnesota a chance to get extra looks at Smeltzer as a starter and Perez as a reliever and gives Perez time to adjust to relieving again. The Twins would then have the luxury of adding Gibson to the pen (or having Smelter out of the pen if they stick with Gibson). One last factor to consider when constructing the postseason rotation is the ideal amount of rest between starts for each pitcher. The Twins would obviously love to ride Berrios as much as possible and by looking at the numbers we may be able to see the most effective way to structure the rotation. Let’s take a look at how Minnesota’s rotation has performed on four, five, and six days of rest (through Aug. 4th). Berrios has pitched very well on regular rest and a bit worse when getting an extra day off between starts. This may imply that Berrios doesn’t need as much rest and may be able to pitch with three days of rest if the Twins want to ride him. If not, the Twins can pitch him on the normal rest period of four days (allowing Berrios to stick to his regular routine as much as possible) and juggle the remainder of the rotation around Berrios. Pineda has pitched much better when given more than four days of rest between starts. He has been most effective with five days between starts. Like Pineda, Odorizzi has pitched better with additional rest. He has been almost unhittable in his six starts with six or more days of rest. He recently pitched well against Atlanta on five days of rest. Gibby’s results with four and more than six days of rest are both pretty ugly and he really struggled in his last start against Cleveland on four days of rest. The numbers are much better with 5 days between starts. Perez’s numbers are pretty bad no matter how much rest he gets. He was bad again against Atlanta and it is hard to imagine Perez making the playoff rotation at this point. It is unclear how much stock can be put into these numbers as the sample size is admittedly small, but the extra days off in the postseason could play to Minnesota’s advantage. Berrios is the only pitcher who has thrived on the normal rest period, with Pineda, Odorizzi, and Gibson pitching remarkably better with extra rest. The Twins obviously want to ride Berrios as much as possible, so the Twins can keep Berrios pitching on four days rest (or possibly three) and slot the remaining three starters around Berrios starts, allowing them to generally get five or more days of rest between starts (because of all the days off and Berrios occasionally sliding up). If the Twins are able to win the division, their starters should have plenty of rest. The season wraps up on September 29th with the wildcard games being played on the 1st and 2nd and the NLDS Game 1 on the 3rd. The Twins could potentially roll with the following rotation: ALDS Game 1 (10/4) – Jose Berrios ALDS Game 2 (10/5) – Michael Pineda ALDS Game 3 (10/7) – Jake Odorrizi Now the Twins have to decide whether to pitch Berrios on three days of rest or wait until the 10th for five days. For the purpose of this exercise let’s suppose the Twins play it safe and give Berrios five days off. ALDS Game 4 (10/8) – Kyle Gibson / Devin Smeltzer ALDS Game 5 (10/10) – Jose Berrios (5 days rest) ALCS Game 1 (10/12) – Michael Pineda (6 days rest) ALCS Game 2 (10/13) – Jake Odorrizi (5 days rest) ALCS Game 3 (10/15) – Jose Berrios (4 days rest) ALCS Game 4 (10/16) – Kyle Gibson / Devin Smeltzer (7 days rest) ALCS Game 5 (10/17) – Michael Pineda (4 days rest) ALCS Game 6 (10/19) – Jake Odorrizi (5 days rest) ALCS Game 7 (10/20) – Jose Berrios (4 days rest) The cart has undeniably been put ahead of the horse with this exercise and there are a lot of variables at play. It is unknown how many games each series will take, how far the Twins will go (or more importantly if they will win the division to avoid the wildcard game), or whether the starters will remain healthy. Given the Twins historic offense, however, it’s good to know that theoretically our best pitcher is the one who thrives with the least amount of rest and the remainder of the rotation can be afforded the extra rest that furthers their chances of success. Minnesota’s rotation is unlikely to strike fear into their opponent’s hearts, but hopefully they can do enough (along with the bullpen) to afford the offense the opportunity to carry the team.
  4. Very well put! I agree that the Twins have been prudent in building this team. They have a chance to be competitive for the next several years and they did a nice job of adding key free agents to the core for this year. I'm okay with them not making a huge splash at the trade deadline. I trust the FO to make a deal without doing anything to greatly harm the future. It will be interesting to see how they add starting pitching this off season.
  5. The Twins made it through the trade deadline without losing any of their top prospects and keeping the farm system largely intact. Although the outfield is a position of strength on the big league club and in the minors, the only outfielder who was traded away was Jaylin Davis. Whatever happens, the outfield is undoubtedly a position of strength for the time being.The Twins have plenty of highly regarded outfielders in the system. Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Brent Rooker, Matt Wallner, Akil Baddoo, and Misael Urbina all made the top 20 of the 2019 Twins Daily midseason prospect rankings. The Twins also have Gilberto Celestino, Luke Raley and LaMonte Wade. Some are further along in their careers than others but they obviously won’t all end up playing in the outfield with the Twins. Some could end up at first (Rooker, Kirlloff and possibly Larnach or Wallner), some may be traded, and some may fizzle out completely. Even with all of the big names listed above, there are a few more lesser-known outfield prospects that are having nice seasons to date and today we will shine the spotlight on them for a change. The outfielders that we will look at are at different points in their Twins careers but all carry some similarities including the ability to play center and hit leadoff. Let’s start off with the prospect that is furthest along in his minor league career, Gabriel Maciel. Calling Maciel “under the radar” is a bit of a stretch as most Twins fans that follow prospects are surely familiar with him, but he is probably less well known than the previously mentioned outfield prospects. He came to the organization from the Arizona Diamondbacks as part of the trade package for Eduardo Escobar during the 2018 trade deadline and currently plays for High-A Fort Myers. Maciel is an interesting prospect as he signed with Arizona out of Brazil for a $90K signing bonus back in October 2015. Brazil is not exactly a hotbed for baseball talent, but Maciel apparently picked up baseball from some Japanese neighbors. Because of his background, Maciel was rawer than most international prospects, but he possesses great speed and has done a good job of controlling the strike zone through his minor league career. Considering his background, it is pretty impressive that Maciel is already playing High-A ball as a 20-year-old. Maciel is a good defender and should stick in center because of his speed. Between Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers Maciel has stolen 20 bases so far in 2019, while being thrown out six times. With his speed, he could certainly become an elite base stealer over time. Although Maciel has yet to hit for much power, he gets on base and controls the strike zone (he is also a switch-hitter). In 79 games this year, Maciel has a 36 walks with 53 strikeouts. Maciel has gotten on base at a .377 clip (.359 career), which combined with his speed makes him an ideal leadoff hitter. He can also put the ball in play as he’s hitting .296 (.292 career). With his small frame (listed at 5’11, 170 by milb.com) Maciel is unlikely to develop much power, but with some added muscle or mechanical changes he may hit for a bit more power. Maciel’s skill set could also lend itself to becoming an effective fourth outfielder. Overall in 2019, Maciel has hit .296/.377/.364, for a .741 OPS. Next we will look at another outfielder who came to the Twins in 2018; this time through the MLB draft. Minnesota selected Willie Joe Garry Jr. in the ninth round out of high school from Pascagoula, Miss. Garry Jr. signed over slot for a $225,000 bonus and played 2018 in the Gulf Coast League. He is listed at 6’1” and 170 lbs and bats and throws left handed. Garry Jr. struggled in his first taste of pro ball as he hit .160/.266/.210 in the Rookie League, but it is not uncommon for young players to struggle out of the gate as we have seen this year with first round pick Keoni Cavaco (currently slashing .169/.234/.237). In 2019 Garry Jr. has moved up to advanced rookie ball, playing for Elizabethton. The numbers have improved as Garry Jr. is hitting .269/.356/.429 for an OPS of.784 in 34 games. Garry Jr. has shown more power with six doubles, two triples, and three home runs after only four extra-base hits in 2018 (all doubles). Garry Jr. started the season batting ninth but has recently moved to leadoff. Despite not yet having shown a lot of prowess on the base paths in 2019 (4 SBs, 2 CS), Garry Jr. is athletic enough to have played all of his games in center field so far this season. It will certainly be interesting to see how Garry Jr. performs for the remainder of 2019. He turned 19 on May 29th and will likely spend the rest of the season in Elizabethton. If Garry Jr.’s numbers continue to improve with his first taste of full season ball in 2020, he should begin to creep up the Twins prospect lists. Finally, we will get really far out in prospect land and take a look at some Dominican Summer League prospects. The big Twins prospect in the DSL is Minnesota’s top international signing from 2018, Misael Urbina, is doing great, hitting .294/.398/.485 for an OPS of .883. The 17-year-old has walked 17 times to just 11 strikeouts and has stolen 17 bases, but today we will focus on a lesser known pair of DSL outfield prospects. Urbina will undoubtedly come stateside next year and a couple of his teammates in the outfield are making the case to come with him. Rhodery Diaz and Luis Baez are both listed at 5’11” and 170 lbs as center fielders, but Diaz plays in center more often than Baez (Urbina primarily plays center as well). Diaz comes from the same signing class as Urbina, so this is his first year of pro ball, but Baez is in his second season with the DSL Twins. Baez struggled last season, hitting .188/.320/.257 for an OPS of .577 as a 17-year-old, but he has been his team’s best hitter so far in 2019, with a team leading .976 OPS (.327/.455/.520). Baez has also stolen 13 bases and has walked 20 times with 23 strikeouts. Of course repeating the DSL and gaining another year in maturity undoubtedly aided Baez, but you can’t ask for a much better second season. Baez has played in 32 games this season. Diaz has hit the ground running in 2019. The 17-year-old switch-hitter has hit .313/.389/.464, good for an .854 OPS. Diaz has played all over the outfield, but has played the majority of his games in left (probably indicating that Urbina and Baez are the superior outfielders). Diaz hasn’t been as dangerous as his outfield counterparts on the base paths as he has stolen just four bags. Diaz has drawn 12 walks to 17 strikeouts and has played in 31 games. It would be foolhardy to take too much away from these players’ DSL numbers, as the season is short and the players are very young and inexperienced. Neither Baez nor Diaz have anywhere near the hype or prospect status of Misael Urbina, but if they keep hitting, they could be a couple more names that Twins fans hear about in the future. While none of the prospects discussed are near the top of any prospect lists and all have a long road to travel if they are to reach the majors, they have all had nice seasons to date and give the Twins a bit of organizational depth at center field. Twins fans should be enchanted with their current center fielder, but Buxton’s only under team control for three more seasons after 2019. A lot would have to go right for any of the “under the radar” outfielders to become a future starting center fielder, but the group’s speed could produce an ideal fourth outfielder. Regardless of what the future brings, it’s nice to shine a little light on some young and unheralded outfielders who have produced in 2019. Click here to view the article
  6. The Twins have plenty of highly regarded outfielders in the system. Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Brent Rooker, Matt Wallner, Akil Baddoo, and Misael Urbina all made the top 20 of the 2019 Twins Daily midseason prospect rankings. The Twins also have Gilberto Celestino, Luke Raley and LaMonte Wade. Some are further along in their careers than others but they obviously won’t all end up playing in the outfield with the Twins. Some could end up at first (Rooker, Kirlloff and possibly Larnach or Wallner), some may be traded, and some may fizzle out completely. Even with all of the big names listed above, there are a few more lesser-known outfield prospects that are having nice seasons to date and today we will shine the spotlight on them for a change. The outfielders that we will look at are at different points in their Twins careers but all carry some similarities including the ability to play center and hit leadoff. Let’s start off with the prospect that is furthest along in his minor league career, Gabriel Maciel. Calling Maciel “under the radar” is a bit of a stretch as most Twins fans that follow prospects are surely familiar with him, but he is probably less well known than the previously mentioned outfield prospects. He came to the organization from the Arizona Diamondbacks as part of the trade package for Eduardo Escobar during the 2018 trade deadline and currently plays for High-A Fort Myers. Maciel is an interesting prospect as he signed with Arizona out of Brazil for a $90K signing bonus back in October 2015. Brazil is not exactly a hotbed for baseball talent, but Maciel apparently picked up baseball from some Japanese neighbors. Because of his background, Maciel was rawer than most international prospects, but he possesses great speed and has done a good job of controlling the strike zone through his minor league career. Considering his background, it is pretty impressive that Maciel is already playing High-A ball as a 20-year-old. Maciel is a good defender and should stick in center because of his speed. Between Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers Maciel has stolen 20 bases so far in 2019, while being thrown out six times. With his speed, he could certainly become an elite base stealer over time. Although Maciel has yet to hit for much power, he gets on base and controls the strike zone (he is also a switch-hitter). In 79 games this year, Maciel has a 36 walks with 53 strikeouts. Maciel has gotten on base at a .377 clip (.359 career), which combined with his speed makes him an ideal leadoff hitter. He can also put the ball in play as he’s hitting .296 (.292 career). With his small frame (listed at 5’11, 170 by milb.com) Maciel is unlikely to develop much power, but with some added muscle or mechanical changes he may hit for a bit more power. Maciel’s skill set could also lend itself to becoming an effective fourth outfielder. Overall in 2019, Maciel has hit .296/.377/.364, for a .741 OPS. Next we will look at another outfielder who came to the Twins in 2018; this time through the MLB draft. Minnesota selected Willie Joe Garry Jr. in the ninth round out of high school from Pascagoula, Miss. Garry Jr. signed over slot for a $225,000 bonus and played 2018 in the Gulf Coast League. He is listed at 6’1” and 170 lbs and bats and throws left handed. Garry Jr. struggled in his first taste of pro ball as he hit .160/.266/.210 in the Rookie League, but it is not uncommon for young players to struggle out of the gate as we have seen this year with first round pick Keoni Cavaco (currently slashing .169/.234/.237). In 2019 Garry Jr. has moved up to advanced rookie ball, playing for Elizabethton. The numbers have improved as Garry Jr. is hitting .269/.356/.429 for an OPS of.784 in 34 games. Garry Jr. has shown more power with six doubles, two triples, and three home runs after only four extra-base hits in 2018 (all doubles). Garry Jr. started the season batting ninth but has recently moved to leadoff. Despite not yet having shown a lot of prowess on the base paths in 2019 (4 SBs, 2 CS), Garry Jr. is athletic enough to have played all of his games in center field so far this season. It will certainly be interesting to see how Garry Jr. performs for the remainder of 2019. He turned 19 on May 29th and will likely spend the rest of the season in Elizabethton. If Garry Jr.’s numbers continue to improve with his first taste of full season ball in 2020, he should begin to creep up the Twins prospect lists. Finally, we will get really far out in prospect land and take a look at some Dominican Summer League prospects. The big Twins prospect in the DSL is Minnesota’s top international signing from 2018, Misael Urbina, is doing great, hitting .294/.398/.485 for an OPS of .883. The 17-year-old has walked 17 times to just 11 strikeouts and has stolen 17 bases, but today we will focus on a lesser known pair of DSL outfield prospects. Urbina will undoubtedly come stateside next year and a couple of his teammates in the outfield are making the case to come with him. Rhodery Diaz and Luis Baez are both listed at 5’11” and 170 lbs as center fielders, but Diaz plays in center more often than Baez (Urbina primarily plays center as well). Diaz comes from the same signing class as Urbina, so this is his first year of pro ball, but Baez is in his second season with the DSL Twins. Baez struggled last season, hitting .188/.320/.257 for an OPS of .577 as a 17-year-old, but he has been his team’s best hitter so far in 2019, with a team leading .976 OPS (.327/.455/.520). Baez has also stolen 13 bases and has walked 20 times with 23 strikeouts. Of course repeating the DSL and gaining another year in maturity undoubtedly aided Baez, but you can’t ask for a much better second season. Baez has played in 32 games this season. Diaz has hit the ground running in 2019. The 17-year-old switch-hitter has hit .313/.389/.464, good for an .854 OPS. Diaz has played all over the outfield, but has played the majority of his games in left (probably indicating that Urbina and Baez are the superior outfielders). Diaz hasn’t been as dangerous as his outfield counterparts on the base paths as he has stolen just four bags. Diaz has drawn 12 walks to 17 strikeouts and has played in 31 games. It would be foolhardy to take too much away from these players’ DSL numbers, as the season is short and the players are very young and inexperienced. Neither Baez nor Diaz have anywhere near the hype or prospect status of Misael Urbina, but if they keep hitting, they could be a couple more names that Twins fans hear about in the future. While none of the prospects discussed are near the top of any prospect lists and all have a long road to travel if they are to reach the majors, they have all had nice seasons to date and give the Twins a bit of organizational depth at center field. Twins fans should be enchanted with their current center fielder, but Buxton’s only under team control for three more seasons after 2019. A lot would have to go right for any of the “under the radar” outfielders to become a future starting center fielder, but the group’s speed could produce an ideal fourth outfielder. Regardless of what the future brings, it’s nice to shine a little light on some young and unheralded outfielders who have produced in 2019.
  7. "Home Runs: Garver (20), Rosario (23), Kepler (29)" If someone would have told me those would be their season HR totals at the beginning of the season it would have sounded pretty good. Still a lot of games to add to those totals!
  8. "Bert Blyleven said before Berrios’ start that he would give him a high-five and a pat on the back if he threw a complete game shutout." Not enough hair left to shave his head?
  9. The Twins were also able to add two really nice beards, which the bullpen was clearly lacking.
  10. Thanks! Yeah, next year it might be fun to look at how the prospects the Twins traded away have performed.
  11. The Minnesota Twins surprising level of success in 2019 has led to the team being buyers rather than sellers during the trade deadline. This, of course, is a welcome change and has rightfully created great excitement for all of us in Twins territory. With the trade deadline coming to a close, it might be fun to revisit the 2018 deadline trades that the Twins made and look at how the returns have turned out thus far.Chronologically, the first trade was the Eduardo Escobar trade. Escobar was a beloved by Twins fans but trading him made loads of sense because he was an impending free agent and seemed unlikely to resign with the Twins. In return for Escobar the Twins received RHP Jhoan Duran, OF Gabriel Maciel, and OF Ernie De La Trinidad from the Arizona Diamondbacks. At the time of the trade it seemed like a pretty good return as Duran and Maciel were intriguing prospects with some upside. After one year the trade is looking even better. Jhoan Duran has been really good since joining the Twins. After the trade, Duran pitched for Cedar Rapids for the remainder of the 2018 season and was dominant. In 36 innings Duran struck out 44 batters while walking only 10. He finished with a 2.00 ERA and .81 WHIP and opponents hit just .154 off him. It has been more of the same this year, as Durant started in High-A Fort Myers and has pitched to a 3.23 ERA with 95 strikeouts in 78 innings pitched. In the past week Duran was called up to AA Pensacola and is inching closer and closer to the big leagues. He can hit triple digits with his heater and certainly appears to be the top dog of the 2018 trade acquisitions. Duran looks like he may make it as a starter but would certainly be enticing at the back end of a bullpen as well. Duran is 21-years-old. Gabriel Maciel has also done well early in his time with the organization. The Brazilian is a center fielder who has elite speed but has yet to develop much power and is listed as 5’10” and 170 pounds. He held his own last year at Cedar Rapids and began 2019 there as well. After 45 games and an impressive .309/.395/.377 triple slash, Maciel was promoted to High-A Fort Myers. He has done well since joining the Miracle, hitting .288/.366/.360, and is an ideal leadoff hitter with his speed and ability to get on base. Maciel has stolen 20 bases so far this year and is still just 20 years old. Ernie De La Trinidad was more of a throw in and has struggled to a .228/.314/.300 triple slash between Fort Meyers and Pensacola in 2019. He actually started the year in AA Pensacola but was sent back down to Single-A where he played in 2018. He is rather small in stature, has limited upside, and is already 23-years-old. Overall this trade is looking really good as Duran has become one of Minnesota’s top pitching prospects and Maciel has done quite well while flying a bit under the radar. Either one of these two could become important trade chips and have a good chance of reaching the majors. The Twins quickly made another big trade when they traded Ryan Pressly to the Houston Astros for RHP Jorge Alcala and OF Gilberto Celestino. Pressly was having a solid 2018 for Minnesota pitching to a 3.40 ERA (2.95 FIP) and was striking out 13/9 IP. He still had one year of team control left. Pressly has become one of the best relievers in all of baseball since joining the Astros. Pressly has pitched to a 1.60 ERA (2.31 FIP) with a WHIP of .768 for Houston. He has been absolutely filthy and would obviously be really, really nice to have in the current Twins pen. Like Duran, Jorge Alcala is another guy who tops out at over 100 mph. He too joined the Twins organization as a starter but many questioned whether he would remain so. Alcala pitched exclusively as a starter since joining the Twins but very recently shifted to the pen. Alcala has pitched in AA in both seasons with Minnesota and the results have not been pretty. In 2019 he has an ERA of 6.22 with a WHIP of 1.51 but he still gets strikeouts (98 in 94 IP). Walks have always been an issue with Alcala but hopefully Alcala will be able to tone things down in the pen and reach his full potential. Alcala just turned 24. Gilberto Celestino was a big international signing for Houston in 2015. Like Maciel, Celestino is a centerfielder but has a better chance to hit for power than Maciel. After joining the Twins, Celestino spent 2018 playing short season ball in Elizabethton and has played for Cedar Rapids in 2019. Celestino’s numbers on the year are not overly impressive (.249/.324/.366) but he has shown improvement month by month and has really heated up of late (.322/.390/.500 in July). Like Maciel, Celestino will only be 20 for the remainder of the season and contains plenty of upside. Although Alcala and Celestino have plenty of upside, this is probably a trade the Twins would like to take back. Pressly would make quite a 1-2 combo with Taylor Rogers and had the front office known the Twins would be contenders in 2019 this trade likely would not have been made. Next, the Twins traded Zach Duke to the Seattle Mariners for RHP Chase De Jong and 1B/3B Ryan Costello. As a lefty specialist, Duke was unlikely to bring back much and so far the results of this return have been fairly underwhelming. Chase De Jong split time between the minors and the major league club and was not particularly effective in either. For the Twins he did okay it 2018 as he posted a 3.57 ERA in four starts but the outings were short and his FIP was 4.92. 2019 has been a complete disaster for De Jong. He pitched one inning for the big league club and gave up four runs. Unfortunately, he wasn’t much better in Rochester, as he was 0-5 with a 9.73 ERA in 45.1 innings. He was released by the Red Wings on July 12. Ryan Costello is another player without a ton of upside but he did show some “pop” by hitting 20 home runs in 2018 (16 of them came with in low-A ball with Seattle). 2019 has been a struggle for Costello. Between High-A and AA he has hit just .212/.337/.361 for an OPS of .698 with eight long balls. Costello spends the majority of his time at first base so he will need to hit to further his career. He is 23-years-old. On the same day that Duke was traded, Minnesota traded Lance Lynn to the New York Yankees for 1B Tyler Austin and RHP Luis Rijo. Minnesota’s haul in this trade seemed pretty impressive as Lynn had struggled with the Twins and was a rental player. Austin was traded again from the Twins to the San Francisco Giants early this season. His time with the Twins was brief, but he made sense as a depth piece at first base with Joe Mauer’s looming retirement. With the Twins picking up C.J. Cron off of waivers and signing Nelson Cruz to DH, there was no room for Austin in 2019. Austin hit .236/.294/.488 with 9 home runs in 35 games for the Twins last season and since joining San Francisco he has hit just .181/.278/.402 in 68 games. The second piece of this trade is looking really good so far for Minnesota. Luis Rijo finished 2018 pitching for Elizabethton in rookie ball and his numbers were impressive as he was 2-0 with a 1.27 ERA in five starts. He has built upon that success in Low-A Cedar Rapids this year with a 2.55 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 77.2 innings. Rijo’s fastball now sits in the mid-90s and he also throws a curve and changeup. With his success this year and added velocity, Rijo is sure to continue moving up the prospect lists. Rijo is 20-years-old. On the last day of the trade deadline the Twins sent fan favorite Brian Dozier to the Los Angeles Dodgers for 2B Logan Forsythe, OF/1B Luke Raley, and LHP Devin Smeltzer. Dozier was having a down year for the Twins and was also in the last year of his contract so his trade value had greatly diminished. Forsythe, who like Dozier was in the last year of his contract, was thrown in to offset Dozier’s salary and is no longer a Twin. Luke Raley is a strong and athletic outfielder who has raked since joining the organization. He hit .276/.371/.449 in AA for the remained of his 2018 season and joined AAA Rochester for the start of 2019. This year Raley was turning heads by hitting .302/.362/.516 but suffered a dislocated tendon in his left ankle that required surgery and has been out since mid-May. The Twins will need to decide whether or not to add Raley to the 40-man roster this off season as he will be eligible for the Rule-5 draft. Raley is 24-years-old. The other prospect acquired in the Dozier trade is one that Twins fans have become quite familiar with this year. Devin Smeltzer was moved to the bullpen in 2018 while in the Dodger’s minor league system and finished last season in the bullpen after joining the Twins organization as well. However, Smeltzer wanted one more chance to remain a starter and the Twins granted him his wish. In 2019, between AA and AAA Smeltzer has pitched to a 2.21 ERA and .993 WHIP with 92 Ks in 89.2 innings. Smetzer has been up with the Twins three times this season, making two starts and a total of four appearances. So far Smeltzer has done well with the big league club, pitching to a 2.91 ERA and 1.015 WHIP in 21.2 innings of work. Smeltzer is likely to see more time with the Twins this season either as a spot starter or out of the pen. Smeltzer is 23-years-old. The MLB has done away with the August waiver wire trade deadline but the Twins did make one August trade last season. The Twins traded closer Fernando Rodney to the Oakland A’s for Dakota Chalmers. Rodney had a team option for 2019, but exercising the option was far from certain due to Rodney’s age and performance (he has not been good in 2019). Dakota Chalmers is another high upside player who has struggled with control throughout his career. The former third-round pick ($1.2 million signing bonus) recently returned from Tommy John surgery and joined High-A Fort Meyers after a short rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League. Chalmers struck out 19 batters in 13.1 innings in the GCL but also walked eight. Chalmers is more of a lottery ticket at this point, but if he is able to put it all together he could be another player with the potential to shoot up the prospect lists. Overall, the 2018 trade return looks pretty solid. Duran, Maciel, Rijo, Raley, and Smeltzer have all had great starts in their first full year in the organization and Celestino, Alcala, and Chalmers still offer plenty of upside. The Twins were able to add great depth to an already good farm system and the only significant loss was not having Ryan Pressly in the 2019 bullpen. The Twins would love to have Pressly now but they were able to gain plenty of prospect capital and depth. This makes it easier to deal prospects without decimating the farm as well as giving the Twins plenty of hope for the future. Looking back a year later, how do you think the FO did for the 2018 trade deadline? Did all the additions make the loss of Pressly worthwhile? Which of the additions has most impressed you since joining the Twins organization? Click here to view the article
  12. Chronologically, the first trade was the Eduardo Escobar trade. Escobar was a beloved by Twins fans but trading him made loads of sense because he was an impending free agent and seemed unlikely to resign with the Twins. In return for Escobar the Twins received RHP Jhoan Duran, OF Gabriel Maciel, and OF Ernie De La Trinidad from the Arizona Diamondbacks. At the time of the trade it seemed like a pretty good return as Duran and Maciel were intriguing prospects with some upside. After one year the trade is looking even better. Jhoan Duran has been really good since joining the Twins. After the trade, Duran pitched for Cedar Rapids for the remainder of the 2018 season and was dominant. In 36 innings Duran struck out 44 batters while walking only 10. He finished with a 2.00 ERA and .81 WHIP and opponents hit just .154 off him. It has been more of the same this year, as Durant started in High-A Fort Myers and has pitched to a 3.23 ERA with 95 strikeouts in 78 innings pitched. In the past week Duran was called up to AA Pensacola and is inching closer and closer to the big leagues. He can hit triple digits with his heater and certainly appears to be the top dog of the 2018 trade acquisitions. Duran looks like he may make it as a starter but would certainly be enticing at the back end of a bullpen as well. Duran is 21-years-old. Gabriel Maciel has also done well early in his time with the organization. The Brazilian is a center fielder who has elite speed but has yet to develop much power and is listed as 5’10” and 170 pounds. He held his own last year at Cedar Rapids and began 2019 there as well. After 45 games and an impressive .309/.395/.377 triple slash, Maciel was promoted to High-A Fort Myers. He has done well since joining the Miracle, hitting .288/.366/.360, and is an ideal leadoff hitter with his speed and ability to get on base. Maciel has stolen 20 bases so far this year and is still just 20 years old. Ernie De La Trinidad was more of a throw in and has struggled to a .228/.314/.300 triple slash between Fort Meyers and Pensacola in 2019. He actually started the year in AA Pensacola but was sent back down to Single-A where he played in 2018. He is rather small in stature, has limited upside, and is already 23-years-old. Overall this trade is looking really good as Duran has become one of Minnesota’s top pitching prospects and Maciel has done quite well while flying a bit under the radar. Either one of these two could become important trade chips and have a good chance of reaching the majors. The Twins quickly made another big trade when they traded Ryan Pressly to the Houston Astros for RHP Jorge Alcala and OF Gilberto Celestino. Pressly was having a solid 2018 for Minnesota pitching to a 3.40 ERA (2.95 FIP) and was striking out 13/9 IP. He still had one year of team control left. Pressly has become one of the best relievers in all of baseball since joining the Astros. Pressly has pitched to a 1.60 ERA (2.31 FIP) with a WHIP of .768 for Houston. He has been absolutely filthy and would obviously be really, really nice to have in the current Twins pen. Like Duran, Jorge Alcala is another guy who tops out at over 100 mph. He too joined the Twins organization as a starter but many questioned whether he would remain so. Alcala pitched exclusively as a starter since joining the Twins but very recently shifted to the pen. Alcala has pitched in AA in both seasons with Minnesota and the results have not been pretty. In 2019 he has an ERA of 6.22 with a WHIP of 1.51 but he still gets strikeouts (98 in 94 IP). Walks have always been an issue with Alcala but hopefully Alcala will be able to tone things down in the pen and reach his full potential. Alcala just turned 24. Gilberto Celestino was a big international signing for Houston in 2015. Like Maciel, Celestino is a centerfielder but has a better chance to hit for power than Maciel. After joining the Twins, Celestino spent 2018 playing short season ball in Elizabethton and has played for Cedar Rapids in 2019. Celestino’s numbers on the year are not overly impressive (.249/.324/.366) but he has shown improvement month by month and has really heated up of late (.322/.390/.500 in July). Like Maciel, Celestino will only be 20 for the remainder of the season and contains plenty of upside. Although Alcala and Celestino have plenty of upside, this is probably a trade the Twins would like to take back. Pressly would make quite a 1-2 combo with Taylor Rogers and had the front office known the Twins would be contenders in 2019 this trade likely would not have been made. Next, the Twins traded Zach Duke to the Seattle Mariners for RHP Chase De Jong and 1B/3B Ryan Costello. As a lefty specialist, Duke was unlikely to bring back much and so far the results of this return have been fairly underwhelming. Chase De Jong split time between the minors and the major league club and was not particularly effective in either. For the Twins he did okay it 2018 as he posted a 3.57 ERA in four starts but the outings were short and his FIP was 4.92. 2019 has been a complete disaster for De Jong. He pitched one inning for the big league club and gave up four runs. Unfortunately, he wasn’t much better in Rochester, as he was 0-5 with a 9.73 ERA in 45.1 innings. He was released by the Red Wings on July 12. Ryan Costello is another player without a ton of upside but he did show some “pop” by hitting 20 home runs in 2018 (16 of them came with in low-A ball with Seattle). 2019 has been a struggle for Costello. Between High-A and AA he has hit just .212/.337/.361 for an OPS of .698 with eight long balls. Costello spends the majority of his time at first base so he will need to hit to further his career. He is 23-years-old. On the same day that Duke was traded, Minnesota traded Lance Lynn to the New York Yankees for 1B Tyler Austin and RHP Luis Rijo. Minnesota’s haul in this trade seemed pretty impressive as Lynn had struggled with the Twins and was a rental player. Austin was traded again from the Twins to the San Francisco Giants early this season. His time with the Twins was brief, but he made sense as a depth piece at first base with Joe Mauer’s looming retirement. With the Twins picking up C.J. Cron off of waivers and signing Nelson Cruz to DH, there was no room for Austin in 2019. Austin hit .236/.294/.488 with 9 home runs in 35 games for the Twins last season and since joining San Francisco he has hit just .181/.278/.402 in 68 games. The second piece of this trade is looking really good so far for Minnesota. Luis Rijo finished 2018 pitching for Elizabethton in rookie ball and his numbers were impressive as he was 2-0 with a 1.27 ERA in five starts. He has built upon that success in Low-A Cedar Rapids this year with a 2.55 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 77.2 innings. Rijo’s fastball now sits in the mid-90s and he also throws a curve and changeup. With his success this year and added velocity, Rijo is sure to continue moving up the prospect lists. Rijo is 20-years-old. On the last day of the trade deadline the Twins sent fan favorite Brian Dozier to the Los Angeles Dodgers for 2B Logan Forsythe, OF/1B Luke Raley, and LHP Devin Smeltzer. Dozier was having a down year for the Twins and was also in the last year of his contract so his trade value had greatly diminished. Forsythe, who like Dozier was in the last year of his contract, was thrown in to offset Dozier’s salary and is no longer a Twin. Luke Raley is a strong and athletic outfielder who has raked since joining the organization. He hit .276/.371/.449 in AA for the remained of his 2018 season and joined AAA Rochester for the start of 2019. This year Raley was turning heads by hitting .302/.362/.516 but suffered a dislocated tendon in his left ankle that required surgery and has been out since mid-May. The Twins will need to decide whether or not to add Raley to the 40-man roster this off season as he will be eligible for the Rule-5 draft. Raley is 24-years-old. The other prospect acquired in the Dozier trade is one that Twins fans have become quite familiar with this year. Devin Smeltzer was moved to the bullpen in 2018 while in the Dodger’s minor league system and finished last season in the bullpen after joining the Twins organization as well. However, Smeltzer wanted one more chance to remain a starter and the Twins granted him his wish. In 2019, between AA and AAA Smeltzer has pitched to a 2.21 ERA and .993 WHIP with 92 Ks in 89.2 innings. Smetzer has been up with the Twins three times this season, making two starts and a total of four appearances. So far Smeltzer has done well with the big league club, pitching to a 2.91 ERA and 1.015 WHIP in 21.2 innings of work. Smeltzer is likely to see more time with the Twins this season either as a spot starter or out of the pen. Smeltzer is 23-years-old. The MLB has done away with the August waiver wire trade deadline but the Twins did make one August trade last season. The Twins traded closer Fernando Rodney to the Oakland A’s for Dakota Chalmers. Rodney had a team option for 2019, but exercising the option was far from certain due to Rodney’s age and performance (he has not been good in 2019). Dakota Chalmers is another high upside player who has struggled with control throughout his career. The former third-round pick ($1.2 million signing bonus) recently returned from Tommy John surgery and joined High-A Fort Meyers after a short rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League. Chalmers struck out 19 batters in 13.1 innings in the GCL but also walked eight. Chalmers is more of a lottery ticket at this point, but if he is able to put it all together he could be another player with the potential to shoot up the prospect lists. Overall, the 2018 trade return looks pretty solid. Duran, Maciel, Rijo, Raley, and Smeltzer have all had great starts in their first full year in the organization and Celestino, Alcala, and Chalmers still offer plenty of upside. The Twins were able to add great depth to an already good farm system and the only significant loss was not having Ryan Pressly in the 2019 bullpen. The Twins would love to have Pressly now but they were able to gain plenty of prospect capital and depth. This makes it easier to deal prospects without decimating the farm as well as giving the Twins plenty of hope for the future. Looking back a year later, how do you think the FO did for the 2018 trade deadline? Did all the additions make the loss of Pressly worthwhile? Which of the additions has most impressed you since joining the Twins organization?
  13. Thanks, Doc! I really agree with you on the patience aspect. I feel like with the big league team struggling for so many years a lot of us focused in on the minors and grew huge expectations for the players you mentioned, expecting immediate stardom. Baseball is a really hard game and there's only one Mike Trout. Now the young guys are really starting to hit their groove. These next few years should be really fun!
  14. Great article! Garver has been amazing. It would be really nice to get his bat in the line up a bit more by putting him at first but I also think the amount of rest he has gotten has helped him stay fresh and sustain his high level of performance. As with Buxton, I really hope he can stay clear of future concussions as he is such a large part of the Twins success.
  15. Byron Buxton is back! After missing time due to concussion-like symptoms the Minnesota Twins and their fan base are certainly glad to have Buxton on the field again. As Cody Christie recently pointed out, Buxton’s value to the Twins is no secret. He is undoubtedly one of the best defenders in the game and has made great strides with the bat as well. Buxton seems to be putting it all together and is still just 25 years old.This naturally leads one to wonder just how great Buxton could become. Obviously, steering clear of injuries and staying off the IL will be crucial for Buxton to reach his ceiling. The injury-plagued disaster of 2018 may have caused some Twins fans to sour on Buxton, but he has bounced back strongly in 2019. The expectations for Buxton have always been sky high as he was the number one overall prospect in baseball and made his major league debut at the age of 21. If he does stay fairly healthy throughout his career he could easily become one of if not the best Twins center fielder of all-time. It is obviously premature, but let’s take a look at how Buxton stacks up against three Twins greats (according to WAR) and how his future might project if he follows a similar trajectory. According to Baseball Reference, the three Twins center fielders with the highest WAR in their Twins career are Kirby Puckett, Torii Hunter, and Denard Span. Let’s take a closer look at their Twins careers and compare them with Buxton. For this exercise I am using Baseball Reference’s WAR. Career with the Twins: Download attachment: Buxton1.png To no one’s surprise Kirby Puckett is the Twin’s leader in WAR by a large margin. Even though his career was cut short by injury, he also played the most games as a Twin of this group. For this reason, I calculated WAR per game and the results are fairly interesting. The fact that Denard Span leads this group is somewhat surprising. Span only played five seasons with the Twins and didn’t play the majority of his games in center field until his third season due to playing alongside Carlos Gomez, but he was a really good player for Minnesota. Also of interest is the fact that Buxton has the second highest single-season WAR total and it came at the age of 23! Buxton is having a similar season in 2019 and if he can come back healthy he has a chance to come close to that mark again. Although Buxton’s career Twins WAR per game compares nicely to the greats and even bests Hunter (by a significant margin); it may be better to look at the players’ careers through age 25 to get a better idea of where Buxton fits in. Though Age 25 Season: Download attachment: Buxton2.png Suddenly Buxton’s numbers are looking really good. He already leads the group in total WAR and is sure to accumulate more through the remainder of 2019. His 2017 season is also the best single season of the group and in WAR per game he now trails only Span (who started his career with a bang, putting up a 4.3 and 3.8 WAR in his first two seasons). Span is a bit of an interesting case as his first two seasons were the best two year stretch of his career (his .390 OBP during that time made him an ideal lead-off hitter). Although Span was the 20th overall pick in the 2002 draft he really didn’t break out in the minors until his final year (2008) when he was repeating AAA (he was called up after 40 games). Span was a good prospect but he was never the elite prospect that Buxton was and Buxton certainly has a much higher ceiling. It’s possible that Span was overachieving in those first couple of seasons but his career serves as a precautionary tale for ominous reasons that we will come to later. That fact that Buxton has put up better numbers than Puckett and Hunter up to this point in his career is certainly encouraging. Hunter is similar to Span in that he was the Twins 20th overall pick in 1993 and wasn’t overly impressive in the minors. Early in his major league career he was shuffled back and forth between the majors and minors, but he was called up for good after crushing AAA to the tune of a 1.130 OPS in 2000. Of the four players, Hunter certainly had the slowest start to his career with a .0136 WAR per game. Fortunately, things turned around for Hunter in his age 25 season as he put up a 4.7 WAR (his best as a Twin). Buxton has had his ups and downs but it is important to remember that Torii Hunter had much greater struggles early in his career. Puckett was the third overall pick of the now-extinct January draft. Unlike the others, he played college ball and was 22 years of age when he began his minor league career. However, Puckett was a quick study and debuted with the Twins as a 24 year old. Puckett’s first two seasons with the Twins weren’t overly impressive as he hadn’t found his power stroke yet (His OPS+ was only 86 but he the little speedster did steal 35 bases in those first two years!). Of course, great things were to come. Projecting how Buxton’s career with the Twins will end up is naturally highly speculative. We do know that Buxton is under team control for three more seasons, so let’s take a look at how the others stacked up for their age 26-28 seasons. Age 26-28 Seasons: Download attachment: Buxton3.png I think this Puckett kid might be pretty good. In three seasons Puckett slashed .339/.369 /.539, good for a .908 OPS and a 142 OPS+. Puckett flexed some muscle as well as he was good for 83 dingers in those three years. Can we hope for the same with Buxton? Buxton reportedly hit the weights hard this off season, adding 21 pounds of muscle and currently holds a career high .490 slugging percentage, so he is trending in the right direction. Puckett helped the Twins win their first World Series in 1987 and followed that up with his finest season in 1988 with a 7.8 WAR. Hunter built upon his breakout in 2001 and had three solid seasons from 2002-2004. He played in his first all-star game in 2002 (famously robbing Barry Bonds of a homerun) and put up a .859 OPS. Hunter greatly improved, but his WAR per game during this stretch was only .001 better than Buxton’s early career WAR as a younger player. Span’s career got off to a much hotter start than the others, but he did come down to earth a bit in the next leg of his career. From 2010-2012, Span hit for just a .702 OPS with a 94 OPS+. His OBP dropped from .390 in his first two seasons to .334 for his next three, taking away some of his luster as a leadoff hitter. Most relevant to Buxton, Span suffered a severe concussion in 2011 and was only able to play in 70 games. This would not be the last concussion of Span’s career. He did come back with his best year of the three in 2012, when he slashed .283/.342/.395 for an OPS+ of 104, but once again he was hampered by injuries and played just 128 games. Note that each player’s best season in this frame came in their age 28 season. This makes sense as a player should be coming into his prime at that age and will not yet have lost a step to the detriment of their defense. If the Twins are unable or unwilling to extend Buxton (they clearly upset Buxton by not calling his up in September last year), his age 28 season will be his final year of arbitration. It will be interesting to see how or if being in a contract year will affect Buxton. This leaves us with the question of what Buxton’s potential final years with the Twin’s will be like. Since he is already performing at the level that Hunter and Span did during their age 26-28 seasons is it safe to assume that Buxton will be better? Although it may be a fruitless exercise, let’s take a look at what Buxton’s numbers may look like if he has a similar rate of improvement (in Puckett and Hunter’s case) or regression (in Span’s case) as our “greats.” First, let’s look at the player’s rate of change between the seasons up to age 25 and their age 26-28 seasons: Download attachment: Buxton4.png Now let’s project those “growth rates” to Buxton with some arbitrary amounts of games played. Buxton Projections for Age 26-28 Seasons: Download attachment: Buxton5.png We can safely disregard the 162 games a year projections as Buxton will get days off even if he stays 100% healthy (we can dream right?). I think averaging somewhere around the 140 mark is possible for Buxton. With the exclusion of last season Buxton has played in around 140 games a year when you factor in both his minor and major league games thus far (since his MLB debut season). If Buxton stays healthy for the remainder of the season he will come close to that mark again. If Buxton improves at a Puckett or Hunter-like rate and plays in the neighborhood of 140 games a year we are looking at a 6 WAR a year player. As we’ve seen, Buxton has already had a 5 WAR season in 2017 and is on a similar pace this year. It seems within reason that a mostly healthy Buxton could challenge the 17.7 WAR that Puckett put up in his ’86-’88 seasons. This would also edge him ahead of Hunter on the Twin’s career WAR list. As crazy as it sounds, over the next three seasons, Buxton could be even better than Puckett. He is far and away the best defensive center fielder of the group and his defense is unlikely to significantly decline over the next three years. Buxton certainly has the potential to become a better offensive player, and if he does he will be an MVP-caliber player. Now let’s get really speculative and look at what Buxton’s career could look like. First, let’s take a look at the career totals of all four players. MLB Career: Download attachment: Buxton6.png Obviously, Puckett and Hunter went on to have great careers. Hunter was able to remain a good player for a long time. He played 19 seasons and was an all-star as recently as 2013. Puckett’s career was cut short by a career ending injury at age 35, but he managed to lead the Twins to two World Series victories, is a MLB hall of famer, and is undoubtedly the best a Twins center fielder of all time. He will always be fondly remembered by Twins fans for his heroics in the ’91 World Series and his legendary status is firmly implanted in Twins history. Span’s career is another story. He certainly had a respectable career and some good years after being traded to Washington (for the recently retired Alex Meyer) after five seasons with the Twins. However, his best years were early in his career with the Twins and injuries took their toll on Span. Span suffered another concussion in 2014 and battled some other injuries throughout his career, reducing both his time and the field and presumably his effectiveness as a player. His career WAR per game is still in the same neighborhood as Hunter’s but he was unable to accumulate as many games and the course of Span’s career went in the opposite direction of Hunter’s. Injuries are a serious concern for Buxton as well. In his AA debut back in August of 2014, Buxton collided with another outfielder leaving him unconscious on the outfield grass for ten minutes and ending his season. Buxton is returning from another IL stint with “concussion like symptoms” after hitting his head on the turf while making a great diving catch. Buxton has also had his share of less career-threatening injuries including thumb, wrist, toe, and migraines (along with numerous scrapes and bruises due to collisions with the wall). Buxton’s aggressive all-out effort on defense is a big part of what makes him so great. However, if Buxton is to stay on the field he may need to dial it back a bit. Manager Rocky Baldelli could be instrumental in keeping Buxton healthy. As a former center fielder that had his own career cut short by injury, Baldelli should take great care with Buxton. Baldelli has prioritized giving his players regular rest and the Twins have been extra cautious in making sure injured players are healthy before sending them back onto the field. With innovative player management and a little luck hopefully Buxton will be able to stay relatively healthy throughout his MLB career. Without further ado, I give you Buxton’s career projections. Download attachment: Buxton7.png Buxton is unlikely to reach the number of games played that Hunter did and also is unlikely to improve at Hunter’s rate (because of Hunter’s much slower start), so 90 career WAR seems overly optimistic at a minimum and possibly ludicrous. Improving at the Puckett rate definitely seems like the best case scenario for Buxton (though he could conceivably play in 1,500 more games, it will require good overall health) and would make him a potential Hall of Famer with over 60 WAR. Regressing at the rate that Span did also seems highly unlikely. For Buxton to accumulate only 13 more WAR for his career would be a massive disappointment, to say the least (injuries would have to take a heavy toll). As a final step, let’s combine these projections and see what we get. Composite Buxton: Download attachment: Buxton8.png There you have it. Buxton is able to finish his career playing at a Puckett-like WAR per game level and slightly edges out Puckett in games played, giving him the highest career WAR of the group. This seems possible as speedy players and/or elite defenders tend to accumulate a lot of WAR (some examples: Kenny Lofton 68.3, Ricky Henderson 111.2!, Tim Raines 69.4) Needless to say a lot would have to go right for Buxton to reach these levels. Continued improvement, good year-to-year health, and overall longevity will be paramount to Buxton reaching these projections. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best! Click here to view the article
  16. This naturally leads one to wonder just how great Buxton could become. Obviously, steering clear of injuries and staying off the IL will be crucial for Buxton to reach his ceiling. The injury-plagued disaster of 2018 may have caused some Twins fans to sour on Buxton, but he has bounced back strongly in 2019. The expectations for Buxton have always been sky high as he was the number one overall prospect in baseball and made his major league debut at the age of 21. If he does stay fairly healthy throughout his career he could easily become one of if not the best Twins center fielder of all-time. It is obviously premature, but let’s take a look at how Buxton stacks up against three Twins greats (according to WAR) and how his future might project if he follows a similar trajectory. According to Baseball Reference, the three Twins center fielders with the highest WAR in their Twins career are Kirby Puckett, Torii Hunter, and Denard Span. Let’s take a closer look at their Twins careers and compare them with Buxton. For this exercise I am using Baseball Reference’s WAR. Career with the Twins: To no one’s surprise Kirby Puckett is the Twin’s leader in WAR by a large margin. Even though his career was cut short by injury, he also played the most games as a Twin of this group. For this reason, I calculated WAR per game and the results are fairly interesting. The fact that Denard Span leads this group is somewhat surprising. Span only played five seasons with the Twins and didn’t play the majority of his games in center field until his third season due to playing alongside Carlos Gomez, but he was a really good player for Minnesota. Also of interest is the fact that Buxton has the second highest single-season WAR total and it came at the age of 23! Buxton is having a similar season in 2019 and if he can come back healthy he has a chance to come close to that mark again. Although Buxton’s career Twins WAR per game compares nicely to the greats and even bests Hunter (by a significant margin); it may be better to look at the players’ careers through age 25 to get a better idea of where Buxton fits in. Though Age 25 Season: Suddenly Buxton’s numbers are looking really good. He already leads the group in total WAR and is sure to accumulate more through the remainder of 2019. His 2017 season is also the best single season of the group and in WAR per game he now trails only Span (who started his career with a bang, putting up a 4.3 and 3.8 WAR in his first two seasons). Span is a bit of an interesting case as his first two seasons were the best two year stretch of his career (his .390 OBP during that time made him an ideal lead-off hitter). Although Span was the 20th overall pick in the 2002 draft he really didn’t break out in the minors until his final year (2008) when he was repeating AAA (he was called up after 40 games). Span was a good prospect but he was never the elite prospect that Buxton was and Buxton certainly has a much higher ceiling. It’s possible that Span was overachieving in those first couple of seasons but his career serves as a precautionary tale for ominous reasons that we will come to later. That fact that Buxton has put up better numbers than Puckett and Hunter up to this point in his career is certainly encouraging. Hunter is similar to Span in that he was the Twins 20th overall pick in 1993 and wasn’t overly impressive in the minors. Early in his major league career he was shuffled back and forth between the majors and minors, but he was called up for good after crushing AAA to the tune of a 1.130 OPS in 2000. Of the four players, Hunter certainly had the slowest start to his career with a .0136 WAR per game. Fortunately, things turned around for Hunter in his age 25 season as he put up a 4.7 WAR (his best as a Twin). Buxton has had his ups and downs but it is important to remember that Torii Hunter had much greater struggles early in his career. Puckett was the third overall pick of the now-extinct January draft. Unlike the others, he played college ball and was 22 years of age when he began his minor league career. However, Puckett was a quick study and debuted with the Twins as a 24 year old. Puckett’s first two seasons with the Twins weren’t overly impressive as he hadn’t found his power stroke yet (His OPS+ was only 86 but he the little speedster did steal 35 bases in those first two years!). Of course, great things were to come. Projecting how Buxton’s career with the Twins will end up is naturally highly speculative. We do know that Buxton is under team control for three more seasons, so let’s take a look at how the others stacked up for their age 26-28 seasons. Age 26-28 Seasons: I think this Puckett kid might be pretty good. In three seasons Puckett slashed .339/.369 /.539, good for a .908 OPS and a 142 OPS+. Puckett flexed some muscle as well as he was good for 83 dingers in those three years. Can we hope for the same with Buxton? Buxton reportedly hit the weights hard this off season, adding 21 pounds of muscle and currently holds a career high .490 slugging percentage, so he is trending in the right direction. Puckett helped the Twins win their first World Series in 1987 and followed that up with his finest season in 1988 with a 7.8 WAR. Hunter built upon his breakout in 2001 and had three solid seasons from 2002-2004. He played in his first all-star game in 2002 (famously robbing Barry Bonds of a homerun) and put up a .859 OPS. Hunter greatly improved, but his WAR per game during this stretch was only .001 better than Buxton’s early career WAR as a younger player. Span’s career got off to a much hotter start than the others, but he did come down to earth a bit in the next leg of his career. From 2010-2012, Span hit for just a .702 OPS with a 94 OPS+. His OBP dropped from .390 in his first two seasons to .334 for his next three, taking away some of his luster as a leadoff hitter. Most relevant to Buxton, Span suffered a severe concussion in 2011 and was only able to play in 70 games. This would not be the last concussion of Span’s career. He did come back with his best year of the three in 2012, when he slashed .283/.342/.395 for an OPS+ of 104, but once again he was hampered by injuries and played just 128 games. Note that each player’s best season in this frame came in their age 28 season. This makes sense as a player should be coming into his prime at that age and will not yet have lost a step to the detriment of their defense. If the Twins are unable or unwilling to extend Buxton (they clearly upset Buxton by not calling his up in September last year), his age 28 season will be his final year of arbitration. It will be interesting to see how or if being in a contract year will affect Buxton. This leaves us with the question of what Buxton’s potential final years with the Twin’s will be like. Since he is already performing at the level that Hunter and Span did during their age 26-28 seasons is it safe to assume that Buxton will be better? Although it may be a fruitless exercise, let’s take a look at what Buxton’s numbers may look like if he has a similar rate of improvement (in Puckett and Hunter’s case) or regression (in Span’s case) as our “greats.” First, let’s look at the player’s rate of change between the seasons up to age 25 and their age 26-28 seasons: Now let’s project those “growth rates” to Buxton with some arbitrary amounts of games played. Buxton Projections for Age 26-28 Seasons: We can safely disregard the 162 games a year projections as Buxton will get days off even if he stays 100% healthy (we can dream right?). I think averaging somewhere around the 140 mark is possible for Buxton. With the exclusion of last season Buxton has played in around 140 games a year when you factor in both his minor and major league games thus far (since his MLB debut season). If Buxton stays healthy for the remainder of the season he will come close to that mark again. If Buxton improves at a Puckett or Hunter-like rate and plays in the neighborhood of 140 games a year we are looking at a 6 WAR a year player. As we’ve seen, Buxton has already had a 5 WAR season in 2017 and is on a similar pace this year. It seems within reason that a mostly healthy Buxton could challenge the 17.7 WAR that Puckett put up in his ’86-’88 seasons. This would also edge him ahead of Hunter on the Twin’s career WAR list. As crazy as it sounds, over the next three seasons, Buxton could be even better than Puckett. He is far and away the best defensive center fielder of the group and his defense is unlikely to significantly decline over the next three years. Buxton certainly has the potential to become a better offensive player, and if he does he will be an MVP-caliber player. Now let’s get really speculative and look at what Buxton’s career could look like. First, let’s take a look at the career totals of all four players. MLB Career: Obviously, Puckett and Hunter went on to have great careers. Hunter was able to remain a good player for a long time. He played 19 seasons and was an all-star as recently as 2013. Puckett’s career was cut short by a career ending injury at age 35, but he managed to lead the Twins to two World Series victories, is a MLB hall of famer, and is undoubtedly the best a Twins center fielder of all time. He will always be fondly remembered by Twins fans for his heroics in the ’91 World Series and his legendary status is firmly implanted in Twins history. Span’s career is another story. He certainly had a respectable career and some good years after being traded to Washington (for the recently retired Alex Meyer) after five seasons with the Twins. However, his best years were early in his career with the Twins and injuries took their toll on Span. Span suffered another concussion in 2014 and battled some other injuries throughout his career, reducing both his time and the field and presumably his effectiveness as a player. His career WAR per game is still in the same neighborhood as Hunter’s but he was unable to accumulate as many games and the course of Span’s career went in the opposite direction of Hunter’s. Injuries are a serious concern for Buxton as well. In his AA debut back in August of 2014, Buxton collided with another outfielder leaving him unconscious on the outfield grass for ten minutes and ending his season. Buxton is returning from another IL stint with “concussion like symptoms” after hitting his head on the turf while making a great diving catch. Buxton has also had his share of less career-threatening injuries including thumb, wrist, toe, and migraines (along with numerous scrapes and bruises due to collisions with the wall). Buxton’s aggressive all-out effort on defense is a big part of what makes him so great. However, if Buxton is to stay on the field he may need to dial it back a bit. Manager Rocky Baldelli could be instrumental in keeping Buxton healthy. As a former center fielder that had his own career cut short by injury, Baldelli should take great care with Buxton. Baldelli has prioritized giving his players regular rest and the Twins have been extra cautious in making sure injured players are healthy before sending them back onto the field. With innovative player management and a little luck hopefully Buxton will be able to stay relatively healthy throughout his MLB career. Without further ado, I give you Buxton’s career projections. Buxton is unlikely to reach the number of games played that Hunter did and also is unlikely to improve at Hunter’s rate (because of Hunter’s much slower start), so 90 career WAR seems overly optimistic at a minimum and possibly ludicrous. Improving at the Puckett rate definitely seems like the best case scenario for Buxton (though he could conceivably play in 1,500 more games, it will require good overall health) and would make him a potential Hall of Famer with over 60 WAR. Regressing at the rate that Span did also seems highly unlikely. For Buxton to accumulate only 13 more WAR for his career would be a massive disappointment, to say the least (injuries would have to take a heavy toll). As a final step, let’s combine these projections and see what we get. Composite Buxton: There you have it. Buxton is able to finish his career playing at a Puckett-like WAR per game level and slightly edges out Puckett in games played, giving him the highest career WAR of the group. This seems possible as speedy players and/or elite defenders tend to accumulate a lot of WAR (some examples: Kenny Lofton 68.3, Ricky Henderson 111.2!, Tim Raines 69.4) Needless to say a lot would have to go right for Buxton to reach these levels. Continued improvement, good year-to-year health, and overall longevity will be paramount to Buxton reaching these projections. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best!
  17. Great article. Gilberto Celestino could be another outfielder of interest. He started the season slow but has been heating up in July and can handle center.
  18. Coming into the season, I think it is fair to say that most Twins fans were underwhelmed at best with what the front office did to address the bullpen. With the trade deadline fast approaching fans are anxious for the team to upgrade a few relief arms. Assuming the Twins do add a few arms, is it possible that Derrek Falvey and Thad Levine have actually created a new efficiency in creating a bullpen?Aside from adding Blake Parker, who seemed like a rather marginal upgrade, the Twins really didn’t do much to address the bullpen during the offseason. Instead they extended Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler and made several key offensive additions). Rather than adding any big-named, high-priced relievers, the Twins have chosen to roll with minor league free agent signings and their own internal candidates. In some cases it worked remarkably well (as expected with Taylor Rogers and somewhat surprisingly with Ryne Harper), others have been serviceable but haven’t quite taken the step forward that we would have hoped (Trevor May), and some have been a disaster (Fernando Romero and Trevor Hildenberger). The Twins have relied upon the Rochester/Minneapolis shuttle and found some useful pieces, most recently in Zack Littell. Tyler Duffey has also been pretty good for the most part and Devin Smeltzer, Kohl Stewart, and Sean Poppen have provided some useful outings, both starting and in relief. The bullpen is currently sixth in the American League in ERA and first in WPA (Thanks Taylor Rogers!). Although the Twin’s bullpen has been surprisingly effective this year, I don’t think anyone would argue that they couldn’t use at least one more late-inning shut-down reliever along with a quality middle reliever, preferably a lefty. However, not jumping in to make a big off-season reliever signing or two is looking more and more prudent. A quick glance at the stat lines of the top free agent relievers will show how inconsistent the signings were, Well, outside of the Yankees, unfortunately. In general, signing free agent relievers seems to be a crapshoot, as the past couple of seasons have shown. Even with the somewhat suppressed contract amounts of the last two seasons, staying clear of the FA reliever market was shrewd in that Twins avoided the burden of being committed to a potentially ineffective reliever for multiple years. This of course saves the Twins money, but more importantly it keeps them from feeling an obligation to continue running out an ineffective reliever because of money owed, as it is much easier to cut a player who isn’t tied to a large salary (as we’ve seen recently with Matt Magill and Mike Morin). It also makes it more palatable to take on added salary in a trade, whether starter or reliever. This brings us to the potential beauty of the Twins’ plan, if it is in fact their plan. If they do decide to add relievers through trades they have a much better idea of what they are getting than they would through free agency. The Twins are obviously closely monitoring potential trade targets and are aware of how relievers have pitched recently. Although there is always the risk that a player could regress for the remainder of the regular season and/or in the postseason, the odds are certainly lower than that of an off-season acquisition. Plus, relievers who have some years of team control left tend to be younger and therefore less likely for regression than more volatile, older free agents through the remainder of their time with the Twins. Waiting gives the Twins the advantage of seeing the direction in which the potential trade target is trending. They have the luxury of going after the hot hand(s). The Twins are in a great position to make some trades. With a stacked farm system, the Twins can afford to part with a few quality prospects to go after a high-quality reliever or two with some years of team control left, and/or go after upcoming free agents without giving up any top prospects. Falvey and Levine have done a nice job of building the farm system and definitely place a high value on prospects. They undoubtedly have a notion of which prospects are untouchable and seem unlikely to needlessly give away prospects. The front office seems keen to keep the best long- term interests of the team intact (as they should), but with a first place team they are almost obligated to strengthen the pen through some trades. Whether or not this is something the front office cleverly plotted out or just fell into. That is, staying away from free agent relievers, testing/developing internal options, and waiting to make a trade or two (or three) appears ingenious in hindsight. We’ll find out soon enough. Click here to view the article
  19. Aside from adding Blake Parker, who seemed like a rather marginal upgrade, the Twins really didn’t do much to address the bullpen during the offseason. Instead they extended Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler and made several key offensive additions). Rather than adding any big-named, high-priced relievers, the Twins have chosen to roll with minor league free agent signings and their own internal candidates. In some cases it worked remarkably well (as expected with Taylor Rogers and somewhat surprisingly with Ryne Harper), others have been serviceable but haven’t quite taken the step forward that we would have hoped (Trevor May), and some have been a disaster (Fernando Romero and Trevor Hildenberger). The Twins have relied upon the Rochester/Minneapolis shuttle and found some useful pieces, most recently in Zack Littell. Tyler Duffey has also been pretty good for the most part and Devin Smeltzer, Kohl Stewart, and Sean Poppen have provided some useful outings, both starting and in relief. The bullpen is currently sixth in the American League in ERA and first in WPA (Thanks Taylor Rogers!). Although the Twin’s bullpen has been surprisingly effective this year, I don’t think anyone would argue that they couldn’t use at least one more late-inning shut-down reliever along with a quality middle reliever, preferably a lefty. However, not jumping in to make a big off-season reliever signing or two is looking more and more prudent. A quick glance at the stat lines of the top free agent relievers will show how inconsistent the signings were, Well, outside of the Yankees, unfortunately. In general, signing free agent relievers seems to be a crapshoot, as the past couple of seasons have shown. Even with the somewhat suppressed contract amounts of the last two seasons, staying clear of the FA reliever market was shrewd in that Twins avoided the burden of being committed to a potentially ineffective reliever for multiple years. This of course saves the Twins money, but more importantly it keeps them from feeling an obligation to continue running out an ineffective reliever because of money owed, as it is much easier to cut a player who isn’t tied to a large salary (as we’ve seen recently with Matt Magill and Mike Morin). It also makes it more palatable to take on added salary in a trade, whether starter or reliever. This brings us to the potential beauty of the Twins’ plan, if it is in fact their plan. If they do decide to add relievers through trades they have a much better idea of what they are getting than they would through free agency. The Twins are obviously closely monitoring potential trade targets and are aware of how relievers have pitched recently. Although there is always the risk that a player could regress for the remainder of the regular season and/or in the postseason, the odds are certainly lower than that of an off-season acquisition. Plus, relievers who have some years of team control left tend to be younger and therefore less likely for regression than more volatile, older free agents through the remainder of their time with the Twins. Waiting gives the Twins the advantage of seeing the direction in which the potential trade target is trending. They have the luxury of going after the hot hand(s). The Twins are in a great position to make some trades. With a stacked farm system, the Twins can afford to part with a few quality prospects to go after a high-quality reliever or two with some years of team control left, and/or go after upcoming free agents without giving up any top prospects. Falvey and Levine have done a nice job of building the farm system and definitely place a high value on prospects. They undoubtedly have a notion of which prospects are untouchable and seem unlikely to needlessly give away prospects. The front office seems keen to keep the best long- term interests of the team intact (as they should), but with a first place team they are almost obligated to strengthen the pen through some trades. Whether or not this is something the front office cleverly plotted out or just fell into. That is, staying away from free agent relievers, testing/developing internal options, and waiting to make a trade or two (or three) appears ingenious in hindsight. We’ll find out soon enough.
  20. Cole Sands and Kai-Wei Teng have really seemed to emerge. Do you see either of them as future big league starters?
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