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  1. Like
    bdodge22 reacted to Jeremy Nygaard for an article, Get To Know 'Em: Future Twin "PTBNL"   
    So far - and understandably so - there has been very little information released on the future mystery player aside from one tweet from Darren “Doogie” Wolfson. 
    Anything beyond that is complete speculation. 
    But speculation can be fun, so let’s take a closer look at who the Twins might be adding in the next few weeks.
    To give me an idea of players who might be included, I plugged the trade into Baseball Trade Values. Obviously, this isn't an exact science, but it’s probably the least biased way to come up with a list of names.
    Plugging in the trade as it happened, the simulator had the Twins giving up 4.9 more value points than it received. The potential inclusion of any of the Padres top prospects would tip the scale heavily in the Twins favor, but there are a number of prospects in the next tier who could make sense as this “player to be named later.”
    Typically, when a trade like this occurs, the teams agree to a list of players and conditions. It could be as simple as having six names on a list and the Twins get to pick one name off of that list on May 1. It could be something more complex. It could be - and this case might be - something that makes a whole lot of sense.
    Let’s take a look at some names that may be on that list. And why the Twins may want them. Ranked from least likely to most likely to be a Twin, in my opinion. 
    Joshua Mears, Outfield. Ranked in the system’s Top 10 by both MLB.com and Baseball America, Mears was drafted in 2019. His power is his calling card. He already has two home runs in three games this season in high-A, but has struck out in eight of his twelve at bats. As the top-rated prospect on my list and - in my opinion - the likelihood that the Twins prefer pitching, I think the chances of Mears being the player is small.
    Samuel Zavana, Outfield. Zavana checks in on BA’s list at #12, but missed MLB.com’s. Zavala fits the profile of what the Twins like with a scouting report that includes things like “regarded as one of the best pure hitters” in his signing class and having “long possessed a knack for finding the barrel.” The 17-year-old would make a ton of sense. But in trying to sleuth this out, Zavala will be playing in the complex league this year, so the Twins won't even get a chance to scout him between now and then. So if it were to be him, why not just include him in the original deal?
    Victor Acosta, Shortstop. Acosta, like Zavana, will be playing in a complex league this summer. Ranked #11 by MLB and #12 by BA, I put Acosta a notch above Zavana because he has more defensive value. But, again, if you can’t see him in the next month, wouldn’t you have wanted to get him into your complex as soon as possible?
    Robert Gasser, Pitcher. Gasser is ranked #9 on both sites after being selected in the Competitive Balance, B Round in the 2021 draft. After getting 15 innings of pro ball under his belt last year, Gasser, a lefty, made his High-A debut last week. It was brutal. Four walks, four hits, seven outs. I don’t think a single game is a reason the Twins wouldn’t trade for him though, I think it’s because the Padres would be less likely to include him on the list.
    The next guy is a complete wild-card who technically fits Doogie’s profile.
    Adrian Morejon, Pitcher. Morejan, 23, is a highly-regarded Cuban left-hander who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. He’s a “non-roster” guy because he’s on the 60-day Injured List, so he wouldn’t require a 40-man move. Morejan has 16 games of MLB experience under his belt and spent the last five seasons ranked in Baseball America’s Top 100. While not expected to return to the mound until later this season, it’s been a year since his surgery. Being a PTBNL could just be a way of giving the Twins a chance to get a greater feel of how his recovery is going. Remember, this trade all came together very quickly.
    For what it's worth, even though there are over 100 potential players for this to be, I’d bet on it being one of these three over the field. Full disclosure: I like taking long odds. It’s not often successful.
    Victor Lizarraga, Pitcher. Signed out of Mexico last year and ranked #13 by MLB and #15 by BA, Lizarraga is pitching in Low-A ball at 18 this year. He would make a ton of sense as a lottery ticket in a trade such as this. He’s a fastball/curveball/changeup pitcher with shaky command.
    Kevin Kopps, Pitcher. Kopps, currently in AA, ranks #14 on BA’s list and  #16 on MLB’s list. Drafted in the 3rd round last year, Kopps spread his 14 ⅔ innings over three levels, striking out 22 and notching three saves. Kopps is serving as a closer using one big weapon: a breaking ball that has been nearly unhittable. Some call it a cutter, some call it a slider. Baseball America calls it the best slider in the system. The Twins, if I had to guess, would deploy whatever it is in the same way they used Sergio Romo’s and Tyler Clippard’s sliders. Kopps, who turns 25 soon, has Tommy John in his rearview and could soon be a bullpen option for whatever team he is on.
    Jarlin Susana, Pitcher. Susana is ranked #18 by MLB.com and the just-turned-18-year-old has an impressive and imposing 6’ 6”, 235-pound frame. Signed in January by the Padres for $1.7 million, Susana has a big-time fastball that can touch 100 and a slider that is next best pitch (among the four he throws). So what separates him from the other complex league pitchers? Because of when he signed, he can’t be traded until later this month. 🤨 Maybe it’s a coincidence. Or maybe Susana is the player to be named later.
    (The Padres also added many other international free agents in mid-January who become eligible to be traded later this month. Among them are two 16-year-old infielders, Yendry Rojas and Rosman Verdugo. Neither are as highly regarded as Susana, though. Rojas, from Cuba, is a very good hitter with decent size (6' 1", 190) and speed and Verdugo, from Mexico, was considered the top prospect from Mexico.)
    What do you think? Who do you prefer?
  2. Like
    bdodge22 reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Simeon Woods Richardson's Baseball Journey Leads Him to the Twins   
    Last week, Simeon Woods Richardson spoke to Twins media about coming to the Twins and the circuitous baseball journey that he hopes and believes will take him to Target Field.
    The New York Mets drafted Simeon Woods Richardson in the second round of the 2018 MLB Draft out of high school in Sugar Land, Texas. He split the remainder of that season between two Mets rookie-level teams. In 2019, he made 20 starts for their Low-A affiliate and went 3-8 with a 4.25 ERA. However, he had 97 strikeouts and just 17 walks in 78 1/3 innings.  
    He had been promoted to High-A St. Lucie and spent three days in their uniform when he found out that he was traded from the Mets to the Blue Jays organization in a trade for Marcus Stroman. He headed to High-A Dunedin, where he made six more starts in 2019. Still just 18, he held his own. He went 3-2 with a 2.54 ERA. In 28 1/3 innings, he had 29 strikeouts and just seven walks.
    Then came 2020. The minor league season was lost to the Covid pandemic. While he wasn’t on the 40-man roster, the Blue Jays had him spend the summer at the team’s alternate site. While he never was considered for a call-up to the big leagues, he was getting valuable work with older, more veteran players.  
    As strange as the 2020 season was, 2021 might have been even more strange Woods Richardson. Just 20, and with just six High-A starts on his belt, he was pushed up to Double-A New Hampshire for the start of the season. He made 11 starts for the Fisher Cats. He went 2-4 with a 5.76 ERA. However, in his 45 1/3 innings, he struck out 67 batters (13.3 K/9). Unfortunately, after averaging about two walks per nine innings previously, he walked 5.2 per nine in those 11 starts (26 batters).  
    However, at that point, he joined Team USA and headed to Tokyo, Japan, for the Olympics. While he didn’t pitch in a game, he enjoyed the experience and took advantage of the opportunity to be a teammate of several major-league veterans on the roster. Edwin Jackson, David Robertson, Homer Bailey, and John Jay were some MLB veterans on the Team USA roster.  
    “We had a bunch of guys that were at your disposal for knowledge. So I took that time just to be a sponge. I was the youngest player there. Take that time. Be a sponge. Ask questions. Pick their brains. Be on the field with them. See how they operate. See how they move. See how they get ready for their day. Just take from them and learn from them.”  
    Just days after fellow Olympic teammate and part-time roommate Joe Ryan was traded to the Twins while he was in Japan, Simeon Woods Richardson got a late-night (or early morning) phone call too. 
    He recalled last week, “I get a call at like 3:30 in the morning. Something told me to answer it. I'd normally just roll back over and go to sleep and answer it in the morning. Turned out to be the GM for the Blue Jays talking about the trade. So, I had to call the family, make some moves back in the States while in Japan, get my life situated over there, and when we got back, hit the ground running.” 
    He came back to the States, silver medal around his neck, and took some time to pack up in New Hampshire and get to the Wichita Wind Surge, the Twins Double-A affiliate.  
    After reporting, the Twins put him on the Wichita ‘development roster.” Essentially, after not pitching for so long, the Twins could have their coaches work bullpens with him while he was rebuilding arm strength.  
    He came back and made four starts for the Wind Surge before the season’s end.  
    It’s no surprise, but when he was asked last week for his goals for 2022, he responded. “Honestly, the goal this year is fewer walks, more strikeouts definitely. Making it to the big leagues this year is definitely a big goal of mine. Wherever I start out, it’s where you finish, and that’s been my goal ever since I started playing this game. That will never stop being a goal. Mechanically, I know myself better than I did last year, know my game better than I did last year, know everything that I can do to help the team win. That’s kind of the goals for this year.”
    While he is engaging, personable, and fun-loving off the mound, he finds a different tone when pitching. “Competitive. Aggressive. Four-plus pitches and can throw them at any time in the count. Just aggressive. Competitor. Fast tempo.”  
    And, that last point is exciting. His average time between pitches has been about 15 seconds. In recent years, the fastest workers in the big leagues have come in at 20 seconds. It’s great for the pace of play, but it’s also great to keep his fielders on their toes.  
    Away from the baseball field, Woods Richardson has an excellent perspective. As with most good advice we get in our lives, it comes from our moms. He said, “My mom told me this at a young age. ‘Baseball is a big part of your life, but it’s not you.’ It clicked for me.”  
    For Simeon, those non-baseball interests include, “I love cooking. I love drawing. I love driving around seeing countryside hills. I love traveling.”  
    What does he cook? "Depends what you want, man. If you want some really good Asian food, some barbecue, Italian, Mexican, street food, it just depends, man. Just depends." 
    As for travel, he and his girlfriend made trips to Mexico, Las Vegas, and then to Disney World.  
    As much as he enjoyed that time in the offseason, he’s excited to be back to work. He reported to Ft. Myers for the team’s pitching camps in mid-January and went right to work. “It was mainly mechanics, cleaning up some stuff from last year, seeing if I could get everything in the zone, cleaning up swing-and-miss stuff, just cleaning up little stuff for the season. It helped tremendously. I’m glad I went to that camp because I do see progress. I do see me going in the right direction, and we’re only going up from here, so I’m glad to go in there and get some early work, get some feedback from those guys, some good one-on-one time.”: 
    What kind of feedback has he heard from teammates after bullpens or Live BP sessions? “Pretty much everybody’s telling me it’s hard to pick up some certain things, which is great on my end because I’ve really been working on that. Mechanically I’ve been working on a bunch of stuff, watching video, watching film, watching everything. It’s starting to all click again, so I’m pretty happy.” 
    As for joining a second new team, Woods Richardson has the personality to thrive. “You go to the new team, and you’re pretty much telling your whole life story over again to a different set of guys. You’re describing yourself pretty much all over again.”
    And, after what can only be described as an interesting baseball journey, Simeon Woods Richardson looks forward to a sense of normalcy, as all baseball fans do. After the trades, the pandemic, the Olympics, and other obstacles, he remains focused on that ultimate goal of pitching - and pitching well - in the big leagues.
    What are your hopes for Simeon Woods Richardson in 2022 and going forward with the Twins? 
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  3. Like
    bdodge22 reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Get Ready for the Opposite of Joe Mauer   
    In March of 2010, Minnesota inked hometown hero Joe Mauer to an eight-year, $184 million contract extension. He’d played in 699 games to that point and tallied three batting titles along with an MVP. With free agency looming, the Twins did the right thing and signed him to a deal that kept him from being paid by the Boston’s or New York’s of the baseball world.
    Because we know that we can’t have nice things as Twins fans, Mauer’s career would be forever changed due to injuries. He’s still a Hall of Famer, and he was still underpaid, but what could’ve been is something we can always wonder about. Due to those injuries changing production Mauer’s contract was long a point of consternation for fans. Working through revisionist history, detractors will often suggest a desire to have let Mauer walk and watch larger markets pay him more. As luck would have it, those same people may now have their day.
    Coming into 2022, Byron Buxton will have played 493 games for the Minnesota Twins. He’s owned an .897 OPS over the past three seasons and has a Platinum Glove to his credit before turning 28-years-old. An expected prime still ahead of him, this is a player that’s one of the ten best in the sport when he’s healthy. That’s where we pick up this story. Unlike Mauer, Buxton has experienced injury issues early on in his career. Also, unlike Joe, those injuries are the only reason Minnesota has a chance to sign the superstar in the first place.
    Reportedly offering an $80 million deal, Minnesota has not yet pushed to the $100 million asking price even with a valuation that would far exceed that number with an average bill of health. Instead of being asked to pay $250 million or more to keep their home-grown talent, the Twins are being asked to pay pennies on the dollar to factor in the availability, or lack thereof, that comes with Buxton. Instead of jumping at that chance, they are said to be leaning in the opposite direction.
    This isn’t a scenario in which history can be aligned to Terry Ryan’s ultimate gaffe regarding David Ortiz. No one is getting released, and the Twins will undoubtedly get something in exchange for Byron. The problem is that no player as valuable can be had for the same dollar amount, and a move regarding someone so intertwined with the fan base will forever cause ripple effects that only Mauer could’ve mirrored.
    We should know soon how the front office is going to play this situation. Maybe they’ve purposely been leaking misinformation to increase their negotiating stance. However, time is running out on wondering what may happen as we are less than a year from knowing what will.
    Byron Buxton might not be from St. Paul, Minnesota. Still, the Baxley, Georgia, native is every bit as Twins Territory as it gets and there isn’t an opportunity to put the band-aid back on this bullet wound once the trigger is pulled. Target Field was sold as an opportunity to keep the internal stars. That rung hollow when flipping Jose Berrios, and it hits rock bottom in moving on from Buxton. Whether he stays healthy or not isn’t the question for now. It’s whether or not you are willing to keep your best talent or continually recycle it.
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  4. Like
    bdodge22 reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, In Defense of the Twins Front Office   
    The Twins hired Derek Falvey (who hired Thad Levine) in the wake of a disastrous 103-loss season in 2016. By that point, the Twins had gone six straight years without making the playoffs, and during that span they lost more games than any team in baseball. 
    The following year, Minnesota stunningly reached the postseason as a wild-card team. Then they missed out in 2018, still finishing second, before rebounding in 2019 with one of the greatest seasons in franchise history. The Twins followed in 2020 with another division title. 
    To run all that back: this front office took over a team that had gone 407-565 (.419) with zero playoff appearances in its previous six years, and went 300-246 (.549) with three playoff appearances in the next four. 
    Does their success owe somewhat to the foundation built before they arrived? Of course. No one would deny that Terry Ryan and Co. had cultivated an impressive nucleus before being ousted. But during those years, the Twins repeatedly failed in the draft, failed in acquisitions, and failed in player development. The results bore that out.
    Let's be clear about something here: This current regime was so successful and so impressive through four years that they were repeatedly poached of talent, both in the front office and the coaching staffs they assembled. Not only that, but Falvey and Levine themselves have been courted by big-name franchises like the Red Sox and Phillies. 
    What did they say, according to publicized reports on the matter? 
    "No thanks, we're going to see through what we're building here."
    And so, to see flocks of fans calling for their heads because of one bad season, which is no worse than the ones we saw repeatedly before they arrived ... it's a little hard to take. 
    Falvey became the youngest head exec in the league when he took Minnesota's top job. Currently he is 38 years old, which is three years younger than the DH he traded to Tampa Bay last month. Up until now he never experienced serious adversity during his tenure, which speaks to how smoothly things have gone in the first four years. 
    The same could be said, by the way, for his managerial choice Rocco Baldelli, who was named Manager of the Year in 2019 (as the youngest skipper in baseball, with no experience in the role) and then won a second straight division title in his second season.
    These people have shown their mettle. They've won. A lot. I realize they haven't won in the playoffs, and that sucks, but they haven't had nearly the opportunity of their predecessors. 
    Are we not going to give them a chance to learn from failure?
    Obviously the free agent pitching additions from the past winter have failed at every level. But this front office has made plenty of good and savvy pickups in the past, which helped fuel the success of high-quality staffs the last two years. And in any case, Falvey wasn't really hired to sign pitchers. He was hired to develop them.
    On that front, the jury is still out. This operation was four years in when a pandemic came along and wiped out an entire minor-league season. The fact that Minnesota's upper minors are currently loaded with intriguing high-upside arms would suggest the mission was on track, and is just now getting back on the rails. 
    Soon we'll start seeing those arms (along with the ones acquired at the deadline this year) ushered into majors, and at that point we'll be able to make real assessments. But until then, you're judging an incomplete project. 
    This reassembled baseball ops department has been working ahead of schedule basically since they took over a moribund franchise in despair. They hit a setback this year, and it's been painful. Let's give them a chance to get back on track in the wake of a major disruptive event and humbling follow-up season.
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  5. Like
    bdodge22 reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Reflecting on the Best and Worst First Half Ever   
    I love baseball in all of its dissectible minutiae. I delight in overthinking every at-bat, sweating every intense moment, and debating pointless frivolities. I get a kick out of analyzing and opining on the many twists and turns of a marathon season. And offseason. (If you frequent this site, you might have noticed.)
    But more than all that, I just love the baseball experience. Removing all of the stats, trends, trades, analytics, and hot takes, I am plain and simply a baseball fan to the core. I feel at peace in the ballpark, or with sounds of the game droning on my TV or radio.
    When I was a young pup riding the bus down Cedar Avenue to the Metrodome, I didn't care much about Kirby Puckett's OPS or Brad Radke's trade value. I was just happy to be wandering through this majestic Dome, eating a hot dog and staring on at the action alongside thousands of other contented folks. If the game went long, maybe I'd even get to stay out late on a school night.
    Much has changed since those days, but the fundamental source of my passion has not. And I was reminded of this very starkly in 2020, when a cherished annual summer routine – uninterrupted since I could remember (mind you, I was 9 years old when the '94 strike took place) – fell apart.
    As the pandemic unfolded two springs ago, I was highly skeptical a season of record could be salvaged. Happily I was wrong. Major League Baseball managed to pull off a shortened 60-game season, and it was entirely fine. Much better than nothing. 
    But it never quite felt authentic, and was over almost as quickly as it began. (The Twins played their 60th game of this season five weeks ago.) Most crucially, like so many diehards across the country, I never got to attend a game. It's an irrelevant footnote in the face of all the tragedy and trauma faced by so many last year, but losing the ballpark experience was a bummer. I promised myself that when we emerged from it all and congregated once again at the stadium, I'd savor the hell out of it.
    And that I have. I've attended more Twins games at Target Field in the first half of this season than any previous. (And a couple at Kauffman Stadium!) I've run into random friends, heckled opposing outfielders, inhaled messy brats, beat the buzzer on bottom-of-seventh beers, and gazed wordlessly from my seat for indefinite stretches at the beautifully bland cadence of baseball, in all of its calm and rhythmic glory. 
    Lord, did I miss it.
    I attended two games this past weekend, during a sweep of the Tigers to close out the first half. Let's just say it cemented my deep gratitude for the return of (relative) normalcy in the realm of baseball. On Friday I grabbed bleacher seats with high school friends and felt the electricity of the year's biggest crowd. The place was alive. Sunday, I joined up with a whole gaggle of Twins Daily writers – many of whom I'd scarcely had met before, what with the absence of events for 16 months – and we had a ball milling about on the Gray Duck Deck. Considerable Bomba Juice was consumed. 
    These times are golden. They're what fuel my fandom and love for the sport, through thick and thin. I don't know if this year's Twins season would be described as thick or thin (kinda weird descriptors?), but what matters is we're all trudging through it together, and Sunday was an excellent reminder of that: a perfect punctuation to the best and worst damn first half of Twins baseball ever. 
    The return of baseball as we know and love it would be way more fun, obviously, if our favorite team did not fall flat and completely erase any pretense of contention by the All-Star Game. But them's the breaks. 
    The home team hasn't won much, and it's a shame.
    Still, those eternal words ring truer than ever: Take me out to the ballgame. Take me out with the crowd.
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