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  1. Like
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Area Cranks on High Alert with Mauer Hall of Fame Candidacy   
    It may seem like just yesterday that Joe Mauer donned his catching equipment one last time before saying farewell to a roaring Target Field crowd. But it’s now been five years since his 2018 retirement, meaning the lifelong Twin is eligible for Baseball’s Hall of Fame.
    And for the most miserable bastards in Minnesota, it couldn’t come soon enough.
    “As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve missed him since he retired,” said Tom Hanson, 58. The Anoka resident and classic North Metro redass has been banned from every social media website ever created. “He’s the worst baseball player I’ve ever seen and he should be in jail for stealing money from hard-working Minnesotans. But all the same, I’ve missed sending angry emails about him to our bought-and-paid-for local media shills.”
    Hanson, who is no longer welcome in the IHOP family of breakfast restaurants, foresees a multi-year campaign against the former American League MVP.
    “The first year, I expect the baseball writers to step up and keep him out because they do that to good players, too,” said Hanson. “Patriots will do the heavy lifting after that. A sustained barrage of complaints to talk radio, comments left in newspaper comment sections, skywriting. My stepson who no longer talks to me does raps on the internet, it would be nice to bring him into the fold if (ex-fourth wife) Bonnie would quit being such a [INCREDIBLY VILE EXPLETIVE].”
    Hanson isn’t alone.
    “All I know is players used to play hurt or they didn’t play,” said Bruce Schafer, 62, of Dayton. “Mauer didn’t even play when he was healthy and now the woke mob wants me to act like he’s a Hall of Famer? Hell no.”
    Schafer, who frequently shares inaccurate stories about vaccine efficacy and Barack Obama’s long-form birth certificate on Facebook, said the opportunity to set the record straight about the three-time batting champ is one he welcomes.
    “This is like Christmas and the 4th of July all in one,” said the unloved man. “There are kids out there who’ve never heard the term ‘bilateral leg weakness’ used to mock someone with a brain injury. Just another example of cancel culture going too far.”
  2. Like
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to Alex Boxwell for an article, Keeping the Rolls Royce in the Garage   
    Advanced analytics love Byron Buxton . The eye test screams even louder. If you sit down next to a random person in Target Field who has never watched baseball on a day Lord Byron is in center field, ask them in the 5th inning, “Hey, who do you think the best player on the field is?” Anyone that can focus on the game will see the undeniability of Buxton’s baseball ability. 
    Inconsistent playing time will never equal a .300 batting average at the Major League level with the stuff guys are throwing now. I felt it myself as a player dealing with wrist and hamstring issues. Being in one day and out the next, a week on and a week off, hitting big-league caliber stuff is based on comfort, rhythm, and timing. 
    That comfort, rhythm, and timing are so fragile at the highest levels, and we saw what happened last year to a player with all-world ability. Byron looked like the MVP front-runner, but then the knee injury led to sporadic playing time, a strange playing time structure, and a dip in his performance at the plate. 
    We got a flaccid Buxton last year. An ambivalent playing schedule alternating center field, designated hitter, and off-days isn’t suitable for Byron Buxton or his performance. The less time he spends in the outfield, the more it feels like we’re declawing a jungle cat. He was born to roam the outfield and steal bases, so why deny it? 
    The one glaring thing that can and has denied Buxton and his ability is injury. Buxton is well worth his contract if he plays 80-90 games a season. So why not write him in the lineup every day? 
    The risk is worth the reward, and 80 games of linear playing time in center field is more valuable than 90 of intermittent playing time. Baseball is not a dangerous sport. Some of his injury history can be attributed to happenstance. If the baseball gods smile on us, he will keep pace and play those 145-150 games, likely leading to an MVP or, at the least, a top-five finish.
    We will get a much better Buxton if he stays on pace for 150 games and plays center field. If he gets hurt at the all-star break after playing 80 games, or plays 90 games sporadically and gets shut down in August, what’s the difference? I want us to unleash the glass cannon that is Byron Buxton. Even if it’s just by sheer good fortune, he will stay healthy eventually. 
    Luxury is meant to be lived in. Keeping the Rolls Royce in the garage isn’t good for the engine. We have to let Buck buck!
  3. Like
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Spend on Bats, Bank on Arms: This Front Office's Strategy Is Clear   
    Earlier this month, the Twins shocked the baseball world by signing Carlos Correa to a $200 million contract. The move would've seemed inconceivable for this franchise as recently as five years ago, but in recent offseasons, Minnesota has signaled its willingness to start wading into the deeper end of the spending pool.
    After all, they first signed Correa just a year ago, albeit to a short interstitial deal that paved way for this one. Months earlier, the Twins had extended Byron Buxton with a $100 million contract, two years after handing free agent Josh Donaldson a then-record $92 million.
    Compared to the previous regime, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have shown a drastically greater willingness to profer these kinds of large-scale contracts, which are somewhat rare for teams in their class. (For context, Chicago's $75 million deal for Andrew Benintendi last month was the largest free agent commitment in White Sox history.)
    Notably, however, this appetite has been limited entirely to the position player side. Minnesota's current front office has been comparatively averse to investing dollars on the pitching side. Pablo López falls in line with a distinct pattern when it comes to acquiring rotation help: they trade talent (in this case Luis Arraez) for a cost-controlled starter who fits snugly into the budgeting forecast for multiple seasons.
    Minnesota did the same thing with Tyler Mahle at the deadline last year, and with Sonny Gray the prior offseason. They did it with Chris Paddack, and Kenta Maeda, and Jake Odorizzi. They traded away José Berríos, in part, because he was reaching the end of that cost-controlled window.
    Only in one case have these situations ever led to the Twins paying a remotely market-rate salary for one of these frontline starters: in 2020, when Odorizzi accepted the qualifying offer to earn around $18 million. Of course, the club ended up paying out less than half that amount due to the truncated COVID season.
    Outside of that instance, Gray's $12.5 million salary this year will supplant Lance Lynn in 2018 ($12 million) as the highest salary paid to any pitcher acquired by this front office in seven years. Michael Pineda's two-year, $20 million contract signed in December of 2019 – also prorated down, because of his carryover suspension – remains the largest Falvey has given a pitcher. It's 10% of the amount they just guaranteed Correa.
    So like I said, the pattern is pretty stark. The question is, what's driving it? Why are the Twins comfortable allocating such an outsized proportion of their available budget to position players while persistently minimizing money tied up in arms?
    I think it comes down to volatility and risk.
    Back in November, I wrote an article on the troubling realities of buying high on free agent pitching. I was citing a dynamic that I believe prevents the Twins – and really, the vast majority of mid-market teams – from winning bids for top free agent pitchers available at their peak.
    Namely: you are paying the utmost long-term premium for pitchers in their late 20s or early 30s who are hitting the sharp downward slope of the aging curve. Look back no further than last year's free-agent class to see the pitfalls of this buy-high philosophy: Robbie Ray, for example, got a $115 million deal from the Mariners coming off a breakout Cy Young year and then reverted right back to his previous ordinary form. The contract already looks like a hindrance for them.
    There are worse outcomes. Signing up commit pay big bucks to starting pitchers, who've already often logged 1,000+ innings, through their mid-30s is flat-out hazardous. The Yankees bought high on Carlos Rodón and earmarked $162 million to lock him up through age 35. The upside he brings as a true ace exceeds almost any bat you can buy on the market, but it's counterbalanced by the tremendous risk of his shoulder issues flaring up and making him a non-factor.
    With their financial inhibitions, New York can afford to assume that risk without catastrophic collateral downside. Most teams operating in lesser markets can't or won't. 
    Of course, there's even more risk in simply not acquiring pitching talent. It's not an option if you want to compete, and you lack the elite development machines of a Tampa or Cleveland.
    For Minnesota, the preferred course has been to trade for second-tier starters in their prime. This prevents risky long-term commitments and keeps the rotation's budget share in check, enabling the Twins to invest in building around the likes of Correa and Buxton, who now occupy a third of the payroll with almost 300 million in combined dollars owed.
    I'm not going to say staking the franchise's future on Correa and Buxton is WITHOUT RISK, of course, but star position players tend to age a bit more reliably than standout starting pitchers, in part because they have more "outs."
    If injuries continue to impact Buxton, he can still make a real difference while spending time at DH, as we saw last year. If Correa's ankle forces him off shortstop, he can move to third, as he planned to with the Mets.
    When you're paying top dollar for a starting pitcher and they get struck by injuries that keep them off the mound or diminish their performance, it's harder to maintain that value equation. For teams with finite spending capabilities (self-imposed as they may be), that matters.
    Continually trading quality prospects to replenish their rotation will not necessarily be a viable strategy for the Twins going forward, so the success of this approach really comes down to how well their efforts with the pitching pipeline come together. 
    The front office has put in place a potential lineage to support sustained rotation success – with Louie Varland and Simeon Woods Richardson followed by the likes of Marco Raya, Connor Prieilipp, and more – but pressure is rising to see it pay off and embed some legitimate fixtures so they don't have to keep trading their way to patchwork solutions.
    In theory, allocating your funds to superstar everyday players and relying on a sustained and regenerative pipeline of younger, fresher, lower-cost pitchers is a savvy strategy. In theory.
  4. Haha
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, The Worst Promos and Ticket Deals at Target Field   
    On Thursday, Twins Daily’s Melissa Berman explored some of the most exciting promos and ticket deals at Target Field this season. Today, we look at some of the less popular ones.
    TOMMY HERR BOBBLEHEAD NIGHT: The wildly unpopular return in the trade for beloved World Series champion Tom Brunansky gets his own tribute on May 14th! The first 5,000 fans will receive a bobblehead that sulks, pouts, and has a remarkably lifelike “I don’t even want to be here” setting. “It’s as off-putting as the real thing,” said a clubhouse source. “Like a rag doll you find in an abandoned hospital.”
    ALL YOU CAN EAT DOME DOG NIGHT: “While clearing out one of the team’s storage units in Maplewood, we discovered freezers full of Dome Dogs from 2009,” said Twins President Dave St. Peter. “Food waste is a real problem in this country, and we’re doing our part to address it.” On August 4th, adventurous foodies can purchase a standing-room seat plus a lanyard giving them unfettered access to 14-year-old meats for $25. HCMC, the Minnesota Department of Health, and The Vatican have already issued statements condemning the promotion.
    SIT NEXT TO AN UNPLEASANT MAN FOR $7: “We always have a stray spot available in our premium sections behind home plate and in the suites,” said a front office source. “Without exception, they’re near a very loud man with too much money and too many opinions. But the seats are awesome.” Available in packages of 5, 10, or 20 games, these tickets are priced to move and will be especially appealing to those who have a high tolerance for hearing about who the real racists are.
    THE BULLPEN BUDDY: With the team’s relief pitching still in need of upgrades, not a lot of free agent options, and a significant outlay of cash for Carlos Correa, the Twins are getting creative. This $1000 ticket allows you to sit in the home bullpen for any of the 81 games. The only catch: you’re pitching the 6th inning. “We’re getting money in the coffers and letting some folks live their dream of pitching against Mike Trout and Aaron Judge,” said a source with knowledge of the front office’s thinking. “There is some downside risk in that it violates league rules and a line drive will likely kill the ticketholder instantly, but we need to look at the big picture and let our legal team hash it out.” PECOTA projects an average Twins ticket buyer to have an ERA of infinity, making them roughly equivalent to Emilio Pagan “at a team-friendly price,” said the source.
    Image license here.
  5. Like
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to Alex Boxwell for an article, The Era of the “Woe is Me” Twins fan is Over   
    As Twins fans, we have an unfortunate reputation for being ungrateful and being a group that says, “well, it’s Minnesota sports. What do you expect?”. We should expect that for the next six years, the Twins will push the payroll and the trade market to put a championship-caliber ballclub on the field for this window.
    What does this mean for the fan base? As a fan base, we owe this front office an apology and patience leading up to spring training. Carlos Correa is no doubt a significant domino that has fallen. Our emotions over the last 20 years with our playoff misfortune are justified, but it has to stop here.
    As a former player, I can tell you a fanbase’s attitude bleeds into a clubhouse. Players hear you, players are human, and our attitude as losers needs to be adjusted. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. 
    A great example of our impact is the Vikings kicking situation. Imagine being a 22-year-old kicker for the Vikings; everyone tells you that you are supposed to stink and miss the big kick because you are a Viking. 
    Let’s think about it on the micro level as well. Everyone has a friend or family member who blames everything on their ‘bad luck.’ Those people are exhausting to be around, and for lack of a better term, “they end up living in a van down by the river” - Matt Foley. 
    You put that unfortunate attitude into a large group of people, and it can have power over a group of athletes no matter how confident they are. It’s human nature. There needs to be a shift in the attitude of the Minnesota sports fan that contributes to the success rather than them having success despite us.
    If our journey as Twins fans was a romantic comedy, we would be the girl with the glasses who gets overlooked by everyone. The Correa signing was Minnesota taking off the glasses, and the world has realized we are pretty desirable. We landed arguably the best shortstop in baseball, and it doesn’t matter how. He is a Twin, and the narrative must shift that we are a mid-market team at worst.
    We may not be the belle of the ball, but Minnesota has announced its commitment to championship-level baseball for the next six years. It’s a wonderful time to be a Twins fan, and we should celebrate, but now the creativity of this front office needs to show its power and acquire the remaining pieces to compete for a World Series.
    I implore you to fight every instinct to bring up injuries and playoff failures this year. In the immortal words of George Costanza, “My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have in every aspect of life, be it something to wear, something to eat… It’s often wrong.” 
    Costanza then announces how he will change, “Yes, I will do the opposite. I used to sit here and do nothing and regret it for the rest of the day, so now I will do the opposite, and I will do something!” 
    We have the same opportunity as Twins fans. We love being miserable, and our instinct is to be a bummer. The Correa signing goes against all those preconceived notions. It’s time to enjoy arguably the most talented duo in baseball besides Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani (Byron Buxton/Correa) and the creativity of a front office that will not be done with just the Correa signing. 
    It’s time to support a team rather than being the thing the team has to conquer. We are the Minnesota Twins, and we are a good baseball team, and it’s time to show up at Target field in 2023.
  6. Like
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Hipster Twins Fan More Excited about A.J. Alexy Trade   
    The shocking return of Carlos Correa and the circumstances surrounding it are THE topic of conversation in Twins Territory. Except for one irritating man.
    “Maybe it’s just me, but I guess I want to see how A.J. Alexy fits in to the team’s bullpen plans for 2023,” said Xander Greene, a 29-year-old systems analyst from Minneapolis. “It’s a pretty obscure transaction, you probably haven’t heard of it.”
    The Twins acquired Alexy, 24, from the Nationals in exchange for fellow righthander Christian Jimenez, mere hours before the Correa bombshell. And it’s all Greene wants to talk about.
    “I mean, everyone wants to talk about Correa’s leg and how his contract is structured,” sneered Greene, who will tell you he doesn’t own a television even if you don’t ask. “I guess I’m just built different. The bullpen is pretty important and the Twins had a bad one last year.”
    Greene, who brings a typewriter to the coffee shop because apparently that’s a thing, says he’s barely read about the Correa signing.
    “Is it a long-term deal,” asked the grown man with a pocket watch. “I honestly don’t know. I don’t regret not having a smartphone, but I can see its utility for queries like this.
    “What I can tell you is that Alexy’s control problems are probably why the Twins were able to get him for an 18-year-old (Jimenez) who still plays in the Dominican Republic. The risk was worth taking if the team can fix him, he has the stuff to be in the discussion for high-leverage work. But nobody wants to talk about that, they just want to talk about the same old, same old.”
    While putting a new cassette in his Walkman, Greene had one more thing to add.
    “Did anyone know they DFA’d Kyle Garlick on Wednesday? I could talk for 25 minutes about how he destroys left-handed pitching and would be a great fit in, say, Toronto. But I guess everyone wants to talk about the new old shortstop. That’s fine. It’s fine.”
    Greene got on his unicycle and pedaled away.
  7. Like
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to Matt Braun for an article, The Twins' Road to Nowhere   
    One-year deals are an admission of fault. Either the market lacked quality, all trade routes fell through, or the internal options were so hideous that the team felt it necessary to promise a player pay for just a single year of their time. 
    For the athlete, a one-year-deal represents one of two things: an opportunity to bounce back from a dreadful season, perhaps re-inflating one’s value before hitting the free market with a prettier sheen, or an acceptance of age, an understanding that father time’s inevitable march will render your talents useless. No team wants to lose out in a nebulous contract musical chairs, so the player Nelson Cruz’s it and agrees to one-year pacts before slithering away into retirement. Or he’ll sign with Pittsburgh.
    Teams love diving into these waters. If the contract busts, they don’t have to be the poor souls legally stuck to an albatross, and their job security only takes the slightest hit. It was a good bet, after all. If the deal works, they look like genius, clairvoyant decision-makers who can reap the benefits of a productive player while raking in compliments. In a land where Xander Bogaerts signs for 11 years, that’s a reasonable pool to visit. 
    There’s an emptiness to these deals, though. While professional sports is a business, we like to create connections with players, perhaps fooling ourselves into ignoring the massive amounts of money that exchange hands to allow their athletic ability to shine. When Max Kepler mans right field for the millionth time in a Twins uniform, our shared experience builds a connection, one that draws people closer to their romantic idea of a hometown sports team. What relationship will we have with Joey Gallo? How can we fully love a player destined to leave?
    The player’s intentions become evident in this scenario. While Carlos Correa may become hands-on—which may not reflect well on him given the 2022 Twins’ record—other athletes may embody their hitman spirit, poisoning the clubhouse spirit with a selfish demeanor. 
    The Twins, oddly, acknowledged this issue. Following the disappointing 2018 season, Derek Falvey admitted that their clubhouse grew a funky stink stemming from grouchy veterans on short-term deals. Logan Morrison and Lance Lynn were whiny and bad—that was what he wanted to say. 
    In response to their problem, the Twins turned around and acted like they didn’t hear their own words. Nelson Cruz, Jonathan Schoop, and Martín Pérez signed up for a ride on the 2019 Twins bus—a booming home run tour of the United States—but that season appears fluky. A hyper-juiced ball? Two full seasons of below .500 play afterward? The only thing right about that year was the Yankees immediately spanking them the second October entered the equation.
    Once COVID neutered the 2020 season, the Twins hopped back onto the ball, signing a litany of average talent to one-year deals, setting themselves up for a disastrous season the team is still reeling from. J.A. Happ almost threw 100 innings for the team. He made Dylan Bundy sound like a good idea.
    The ultimate question is this: what’s the end goal? One-year contracts are supposed to plug holes, not dominate the team's structure; imagine a dam constructed out of duct tape. The guess is that the team is saving for some future move, but few long-term deals of that nature have come to fruition, and the only significant splash players—Josh Donaldson and Carlos Correa—are no longer Twins. Ehire Adrianza entered the batter’s box donning a Minnesota jersey more times than either of those players. 
    They were able to nail down a Byron Buxton contract, although they seemed disappointed that they couldn’t trade him to Philadelphia for scraps beforehand. The Twins deserve credit for that signing, but his deal pays him $15 million a season—far less than the market rate for superstar talent. If anything, the agreement should fuel a spending spree: they have their star locked down for relatively little, add as many great players as you can.
    Even with little tied down in their books, the Twins remained hesitant to drop enough money to coax Correa back home. There’s no purpose to their choices. They’re saving money for a future in which they save more money. Maybe they’re looking even further forward, but there’s no guarantee that free agents down the road—enjoy all that money, Rafael Devers—actually become available. 
    Until that big, non-opt-outable deal occurs, they’ll remain in this loop, always saving for a someday that never comes.
  8. Like
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, 5 Reasons the Minnesota Twins Will Win in 2023   
    As Derek Falvey and Thad Levine look to reinvigorate Rocco Baldelli’s clubhouse, the goal for Minnesota will be to have their first winning season since 2020. While Covid gave Major League Baseball just a 60-game season, the Twins were still riding high from the 2019 Bomba Squad. That luster has now long worn off, and the fan base responded by generating the worst attendance since 2001.
    There is reason to believe, even in losing Carlos Correa, that the 2023 Twins will turn the tide and finish with a winning record. Here’s a few reasons to get on board with that notion:
    1. Better Health
    There may be no team that had a worse case of injury luck than the Twins. The injured list could’ve won a considerable amount of games on its own as a team, and each time someone got healthy someone else got hurt. The organization decided to turn the page for the training staff and brought in Nick Paparesta with hopes of better results. We will have to take a wait and see approach when deciding what the actual impact is, but it’s unlikely that the same level of injury will be replicated year over year. Luck isn’t something Minnesota sports teams typically have on their side, but even a bit less bad luck would be welcomed in the year ahead.
    2. Youth Development
    As much as the Twins need to bring in new talent, much of their internal pipeline has graduated to the big league roster. Alex Kirilloff and Royce Lewis are two of the most highly anticipated prospects for the franchise, and while both have yet to see health at the Major League level, they have the talent to compete. Combined with Trevor Larnach, Jose Miranda, and potentially even Brooks Lee in 2023, there is a substantial amount of home-grown contributors. The success of this organization in the immediate future will be largely reflective of how much each young player can tap into their ceiling.
    3. Redo Tight Ones
    In 2022, the Twins went 20-28 in one-run games. Despite nearly an identical overall record in 2021, Baldelli’s club went 25-19 in one-run games. Obviously winning close games comes down to a multitude of factors. Minnesota did a poor job closing out games last season, and they also failed quite often with runners in scoring position. The former is a reflection of bullpen talent, but the latter is more likely an outlier given the overall lineup ability. When the Bomba Squad pulled off their 101-win season, they went 23-12 in one-run games. Being on the right side of tight ones obviously raises the water level as a whole, but it doesn’t have to be a substantial amount. Minnesota being .500 in one-run games a season ago would’ve kept them in the division and afforded a winning record.
    4. Pitching Depth
    For the first time in quite a while the Twins have a pitching pipeline that we haven’t seen. Kenta Maeda returns to an Opening Day rotation alongside Tyler Mahle, Sonny Gray, and Joe Ryan. The front office should really add another impact starter, but having arms like Bailey Ober, Josh WInder, Simeon Woods Richardson, and Louie Varland provides a nice safety blanket. One would hope that 38 different arms aren’t needed in 2023, but we also shouldn’t see a scenario in which a Chi Chi Gonzalez type is called upon.
    5. Division Door Open
    As has been the case for the past few years, there should be no clear favorite in the AL Central. While the Chicago White Sox have found themselves in the driver’s seat at times, and Minnesota has won it twice in the past four years, Cleveland surprised in 2022. With Tony La Russa out Chicago should be better managed, but the talent level could be argued to have slipped some. The Guardians are a team to be reckoned with as they have developed talent, but they certainly aren’t a juggernaut. Both the Tigers and Royals will want to take a step forward, but neither should pose a huge threat yet. A three-team race for the division crown will likely be tightly contested for the better part of the season.
    Everyone involved with the organization is hoping for a tide-turning season. The offseason plans may not have gone to perfection thus far, but results on the field could be drastically different simply because of who is already employed by this team. Minnesota didn't fall off a cliff talent-wise in a season, and righting the ship in 2023 remains a solid possibility.
  9. Like
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Latest on Carlos Correa's Chaotic Free Agent Saga: Could the Twins Get Back In It?   
    First, a quick recap of the events leading up to this point. On December 13th, Carlos Correa reached agreement with the San Francisco Giants on a 13-year, $350 million contract. It would've ranked as the second-largest for any free agent in MLB history.
    Alas, it was not to be. 
    Just before it was scheduled to take place, the Giants postponed a press conference to make the deal official, citing concerns raised in Correa's physical. Scott Boras balked at the request and quickly returned to the market, rushing into an overnight agreement with Steve Cohen and the New York Mets for 12 years and $315 million.
    Soon after, we learned that Correa's agreement with Mets was ALSO in question, because their medical staff ran into similar concerns as San Francisco when going through a physical. The point of contention allegedly relates to an old ankle injury from 2014 -- controversial in that it hasn't affected him on the field in nine years since, but is evidently raising red flags for long-term risk. 
    Reports of the Mets' concerns generally came with the caveat that New York and Correa were expected to work through the issue and ultimately agree on a deal. Alas, three days later -- albeit with a holiday break mixed in -- the two sides have yet to settle on agreeable terms.
    Meanwhile, it sounds as if confidence is waning, at least somewhat. A column from Mike Puma in the New York Post on Monday indicates that while there is "optimism a deal can still be completed," that optimism could hardly be described as emphatic, with "one source on Monday placing the likelihood at 55 percent that the two sides find common ground." 
    Correa "isn’t open to restructuring the length or financial terms of the contract," according to Puma. 
    The question now bouncing around every Twins fan's mind is: what does the other 45 percent side of this scenario look like? If Correa's deal with New York fizzles, where do he and Boras go? Back to the Giants? Re-engage the Twins? Connect with an outside suitor, as they did originally with the Mets?
    Puma reports that "at least three teams have been in contact with Correa’s camp in recent days," and the Twins are presumably among them. The team's stance, at last check, was that they remained open to sticking with their original offer of 10 years and $285 million, but only under the condition they could review his medical situation and feel comfortable with what they saw.
    Theoretically that conversation could fire back up as Correa and Boras push to complete a deal and put an end this two-year free agent odyssey once and for all. 
    The thing I can't quite get past is this: If two of the most impulsive and free-spending owners/franchises in baseball are unwilling to go 13 or 12 years with Correa based on what they've seen with a deeper look, what are the chances that one of the shrewdest and least impulsive will go 10 or more? 
    Can we really conceive that the Twins -- mired in a litany of pivotal health questions as they already are -- will emerge the winners in what's quickly becoming one of the most prominently publicized high-risk ventures in the history of free agency? Do we even honestly believe they should?
    At the same time, I can't stop circling back to another burning question: If ever there was a series of events that was going to play out and give the Twins a serious chance to "get creative" and sign a deal that is legitimately within their targeted range ... this would seem to be it, right?
  10. Like
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Projecting the 2026 Twins Line-Up   
    Below you will see Minnesota's projected line-up and each player's age during the 2026 campaign. Only some top prospects will become big-league regulars, making these projections challenging. A lot can happen with a franchise in a short amount of time. In 2019, I projected the 2023 line-up , and a few names have switched positions or aren't part of the team's long-term plans. 

    Catcher: Ryan Jeffers (29)
    Entering the 2022 season, Jeffers stock is low, and that’s why the Twins invested in Christian Vazquez. The Twins still believe Jeffers can be a contributor at the big-league level because he has shown positive signs over the last three seasons. Injuries have played a role in Jeffers' struggles to be a consistent hitter at the big-league level. Offensively, Jeffers thrives against left-handed pitchers, with a .794 OPS for his career. He might be able to make offensive improvements if the Twins can find him appropriate match-ups in future seasons.

    First Base: Alex Kirilloff (28)
    Kirilloff has only played more than 95 games in one professional season. Wrist injuries prematurely ended his last two seasons, and he had a unique surgery to shorten his ulna. Minnesota hopes he can return to the hitter he was in 2018 when he was the organization’s Minor League Hitter of the Year. Kirilloff has strong defensive skills at first base that can be a valuable asset considering the defensive limitations of others in this projected line-up. 

    Second Base: Luis Arraez (29)
    Arraez’s name has been swirling in the rumor mill this winter, so there is no guarantee he is still on the roster in four years. He is coming off an excellent season where he was a first-time All-Star and won the AL Batting Title and a Silver Slugger. In recent years, Arraez has struggled with knee issues, so he might not regularly play in the field by 2026. Edouard Julien is another option at second base after he posted a .931 OPS at Double-A last season. 

    Shortstop: Royce Lewis (27)
    After missing out on Carlos Correa, the Twins hope Royce Lewis is the team’s long-term solution at one of baseball’s most important positions. Minnesota has had a revolving door at shortstop in recent seasons, and Lewis might be the organization’s best chance to stop the door from spinning. Last season, he returned strongly from ACL surgery with a .940 OPS in 34 Triple-A games before posting a .867 OPS in his big-league debut. Minnesota hopes he returns just as strong from his second ACL surgery in the last two years. 

    Third Base: Brooks Lee (25)
    Many evaluators pegged Lee as the best college bat in the 2022 MLB Draft. He impressed many during his professional debut by hitting .303/.389/.451 (.839) with six doubles and four home runs while finishing the year at Double-A. He’s played shortstop so far in his professional career, but many expect him to move to third base as he adds to his frame. He will enter the 2023 season as the Twins’ top prospect on all three national prospect rankings, and there is a chance he will make his big-league debut next year in the second half. 

    Left Field: Emmanuel Rodriguez (23)
    Rodriguez continues to rise in Twins prospect rankings after a solid full-season debut in Fort Myers. In 47 games, he hit .272/.493/.552 (1.044) with five doubles, three triples, and nine home runs. He was 11-for-16 in stolen base attempts and had more walks (57) and strikeouts (52). His season ended prematurely after he tore his meniscus, which required surgery. He has the potential to be a five-tool talent, but he is multiple levels away from Target Field. 

    Center Field: Byron Buxton (32)
    After last winter’s extension, Buxton is under contract through the 2028 season. He’s been limited to 92 games or less in all but one big-league season. It will be interesting to see how Buxton ages in the coming years. The Twins tried to keep him healthy last season by giving him regular at-bats as a designated hitter. Buxton’s defense is still among baseball’s best in center field, but his speed will likely decline as he ages. 

    Right Field: Matt Wallner (28)
    Minnesota has three young outfielders that are a similar age and have upside. Kirilloff is listed above as the team’s potential first baseman, so right field comes down to Wallner versus Trevor Larnach. Wallner’s stock has risen significantly over the last year, so he gets the nod over Larnach. He was named the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year. Rodriguez is not guaranteed to make it to the big-league level by 2026, so Larnach can be penciled into the other corner outfield spot until a younger player pushes him to the side. 

    Designated Hitter: Jose Miranda (28)
    The Twins traded Gio Urshela to clear a spot at third base for Miranda. Last season, he had some up-and-down moments but finished the year with a 116 OPS+. His defense is already considered below average at third, which is why he is projected to be the team’s DH in 2026. His bat is good enough to be in the line-up at multiple positions, and he will get time at first base later in his career. 

    Who do you think fits into the team’s 2026 line-up? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

    — 2025 Line-Up
    — 2024 Line-Up
    — 2023 Line-Up
  11. Like
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to jdgoin for an article, A Former Insider's Thoughts on Losing the Big Fish   
    I've been listening and reading reactions from media, fans, this blog, etc. since FA opened. I'm pretty sure the front office went home pissed, bummed out, confused, and with all sorts of mixed emotions when Carlos Correa signed with the San Francisco Giants. It's deflating when an agent calls to say their client is going to go in another direction. 
    I know this is the job we/they have signed up for, so it comes with criticism. You put a lot of time, effort, and emotions into something and must have it play out the way you want. It's even more exhausting when your job is evaluated every which way by outsiders, and you truly are doing what you think is best. You're not trying to be cheap or make it look like you're just putting in effort for show. You honestly are trying the best you can, given your circumstances. For fans and media, the armchair quarterback stuff is fun. I get it.
    Did the Twins get played in this Correa saga? 
    Were they played? A little by Correa's actions throughout 2022, but Derek and Thad are smart. They have dealt with Boras plenty. They know his playbook. They took a shot with the initial contract and tried to make the best of it. They knew it was a one-year deal unless Correa had a TERRIBLE year in 2022. 
    They wanted to sell him and his family on the area, the culture, and the ballpark and show him what he could have. A season-long recruiting visit, so to speak. Before NIL, that stuff used to work in college. It can work in capped leagues where you must find advantages outside player salaries. You take care of the players' families. You upgrade the travel accommodations, nutrition, etc. -- things that don't count against a salary cap. It's a little more challenging in baseball. Those two knew the risks they assumed when entering this contract.
    Plenty of comments claim the Twins should have known that 10 years for $285 would not get it done. A couple of points here:
    Minnesota knew they would not be the highest bidder in the end. They were hoping to keep it close enough to stay in the race. Like many businesses, they hoped the relationship between the manager, club, ownership, and player meant something. 
    Also, having been involved in player negotiations for many years, Boras took his best offers to San Francisco Giants and whoever else and told them you had 24 to 72 hours to match or beat it. San Francisco chose to be the highest bidder, for better or worse. Only time will tell. 
    The Twins didn't get beat because ownership is cheap. They aren't cheap - they are disciplined. And I realize that makes fans upset. Some fans want the emotional owner who will do "whatever it takes." 
    Were they aggressive enough while having Correa?
    Phil Mackey had a little rant on YouTube yesterday saying the Twins should have been more aggressive in other areas, particularly pitching, for the one season they knew they had Correa. 
    At first, I thought Phil was correct. But I thought about it more. 
    You can argue with the results, but they were aggressive in acquiring starting pitching. They traded for the three of them for the 2022 season. If you want to debate the individual pitchers, I can understand that. Or, if you're going to argue trading for injured pitchers because they cost less, you can do that, too. The results were mixed from poor, to below average, to solid. But they were aggressive. We have yet to learn who else they tried to acquire via trade. We know the end results.
    When players hire Boras in a situation as Correa did, they hire him to be a fixer. Here's how: 
    In that first contract, he works on finding the best fit so the player can reestablish his value. Boras calls it a "pillow contract." Then he usually searches for the most significant deal he can find, either by Average Annual Value (AAV) or by total guaranteed money. Sometimes a big-time Boras free agent takes a little less to go where they want to go, but not often. That's the inherent risk of chasing "big fish," particularly chasing Boras clients. 
    If you plan contingencies, you can avoid getting stuck holding the bag at the end. The Twins planned contingencies. It does not mean they will work out, but it's been reported they've met with Swanson and Rodon already. We don't know what options C, D, and E are. 
    The focus on Correa
    Aaron Gleeman wrote a fantastic article on The Athletic, laying it all out there. You should read it if you still need to. There are a lot of areas to fix on the Major League roster for 2023. 
    They still need a shortstop. They need pitching. They need offense. They need pitching. (Yes, I know I listed it already). 
    There are ways to work the roster without Correa and still improve it. It's still only December.
    Jack Goin served in various roles in Baseball Operations with the Minnesota Twins from 2003-2017, including Director of Baseball Research and Director of Pro Scouting. He most recently served as a Pro Scout and Player Personnel Analyst with the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2018-2021
  12. Like
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Offseason Status Update: Time to Pivot   
    Carlos Correa Signs Mega-Deal with San Francisco Giants
    Sadly, the biggest headline of the Minnesota Twins offseason thus far has been their heartbreak: Correa, whom the team pursued with a level of intention and aggressiveness that far surpasses any free agent target in franchise history, opted for the San Francisco Giants. Thirteen years, $350 million. Whew.
    In the end, despite pushing themselves to (or past) their limit, the Twins ultimately fell vastly short of the big-market Giants, who made Correa the second highest-paid free agent in MLB history. 
    It was a level the Twins were never going to realistically reach. Although they made an adamant effort and were, by all accounts, the runner-up for Correa, they came nowhere near matching the giant offer. Now the front office must regroup and figure out what's next. High-end options have dwindled and impact trade options are limited. 
    On the bright side, they do have the luxury of aiming basically wherever they please in terms of making upgrades, because the Twins checked off their last essential need from the shopping the list earlier in the week by signing a new catcher.
    Twins Sign Christian Vazquez to Three-Year Deal
    The front office was able to confidently address its top non-Correa priority of the offseason: signing a catcher who can not only share time with Ryan Jeffers at catcher, but take over as the lead dog if needed.
    On Monday we learned that the Twins agreed to terms with Vazquez on a three-year deal worth $30 million. While it barely registers in comparison to the mammoth $285 million offer to Correa, Vazquez's new contract amazingly ranks as the third-largest signed by any free agent under this front office. 
    While certainly not to be confused with a viable "big splash of the offseason," the Vazquez signing is a bold and assertive one from the front office. He's no star, but he's a respected, reliable, experienced backstop who offers tremendous stability at a position that had little, and adds credibility to Minnesota's position player unit.
    That's all well and good, but a downtrodden fan base needs more than a solid catcher who fills a need. The Twins need a signature move or two to salvage this wayward offseason. Unfortunately, one of the few remaining star-caliber assets on the market was snatched up on Thursday night.
    Yankees Reel in Carlos Rodon on Six-Year Contract
    It's unclear how hard they tried, but Minnesota's hopes of acquiring a frontline starter from free agency have officially gone kaput. The last ace-caliber arm is now off the board after Rodon agreed to a six-year, $162 million contract with the Yankees. 
    I'll be honest: I'd want no part of that deal. As great as he's been over the past couple seasons, Rodon is an extremely volatile property and the idea of entering a six-year guaranteed pact with those kinds of AAVs makes me all kinda nervous. If they're gonna spend that kind of money on a starting pitcher it shouldn't be out of leveraged desperation.
    Still, it would've been a major statement move, and now there aren't many such opportunities for one. In fact, on the free agent market, there's only one.
    Twins Turn Their Attention to Dansby Swanson. Then What?
    The Twins have been connected via rumors to Swanson but I always suspected it to be a negotiating ploy to gain leverage in Correa talks. My skepticism mainly stems from the fact that he seems like the type of high-risk long-term investment this front office avidly avoids. 
    However, from talking to a few trusted people, I do get the sense the Twins are legitimate in their pursuit, contradicting a Jon Heyman report that they "appear to be regrouping after losing out on Carlos Correa, so Swanson’s likely out."
    I can't say I'm at all confident they'll sign the former Braves shortstop, but I do believe they're going to give a real shot. They'll face stiff competition because they're not the only club that missed out on numerous top targets and has money left to burn.
    Should they miss out on Swanson, it'll be interesting to see if the Twins can find a way to spend their way back to the 2022 threshold. Or if they even care to do so.
    Roster and Payroll Projection: v3
    The specific breakdown of Vazquez's $30 million deal haven't been revealed yet, to my knowledge. But assuming it's split evenly at $10 million/year, his addition pushes the projected 2023 payroll up above 100 mil by just a hair. 

    Unless the Twins can pull a stunner and sign Swanson, or pull a rabbit out of their hat with a big trade, it's going be a dreary and bleak holiday for baseball fans in Minnesota, who've had to sit idly by while watching everyone else open up their awesome presents.
    New uniforms and Christian Vazquez ain't gonna cut it. The front office needs to step up and take action unless they want a large portion of their followers to simply check out.
  13. Like
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Minnesota Twins Sign Catcher Christian Vazquez   
    It wasn’t long ago that the Minnesota Twins employed a veteran alongside Ryan Jeffers in the form of Mitch Garver. When he was traded to the Texas Rangers last offseason, Derek Falvey targeted Gary Sanchez in a deal that sent Josh Donaldson and Ben Rortvedt to the Yankees. Sanchez wasn’t awful, but didn’t make the strides that would’ve warranted a return.
    While the catching market looked thin behind All-Star Willson Contreras, the Twins keyed in all along on former Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros backstop Christian Vazquez. Having spent the entirety of his professional career in Boston up until 2022, Vazquez was dealt at the trade deadline with the Red Sox falling out of contention.
    At the time he was dealt, Vazquez owned a 109 OPS+ for Boston and was a solid defender with a great clubhouse presence. The position is not one that is often seen as a strong offensive contributor, but he’s remained slightly above-average in each full season since 2019.
    Coming off a World Series victory with the Houston Astros, Vazquez has worked with every type of pitcher including future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander. He’ll look to handle a Twins pitching staff headlined by the trio of Sonny Gray, Tyler Mahle, and Joe Ryan. Kenta Maeda will also start the season in the rotation, and it’s well documented that Minnesota would like to add another starter.

    Behind the plate, Vazquez has been a solid defender for the majority of his career. He ranked 22nd in pop time last season per Statscast and generated an additional framing run for his efforts. His 47.8% strike rate ranks just below former Astros teammate Martin Maldonado.
    In signing Vazquez, Minnesota puts Jeffers back on the smaller end of a split. Similar to the scenario he was in with Garver, it should be expected that Vazquez operates as the 1A option among the pair. The Twins front office still has plenty of belief in Jeffers’ bat, and he’s come a long way defensively since the draft. If he can stay healthy, there’s a good chance he gets significant work against lefties and can raise his overall numbers.
    The front office made their first substantial move of the offseason in addressing the catcher situation. They’ll now refocus their efforts on Carlos Correa at shortstop and what they can find on the starting pitching market.
  14. Like
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to Matt Braun for an article, The History of Fifth Overall Picks   
    For the Twins, the history of the 5th overall pick is short and straightforward: Nick Gordon and B.J. Garbe. Garbe—an outfielder drafted out of Moses Lake, Washington, in 1999—quickly flamed out in the minors with a bat made of balsa wood. Gordon, however, scrapped through some disappointing minor league seasons to break out with a 113 OPS+ on the Twins last season. He looks to be a future consistent big league ballplayer. 
    Side ramble: that Moses Lake team in 1999 also featured future Twin and negative WAR enthusiast Ryan Doumit who went in the 2nd round that year. Jason Cooper, an outfielder also on that team, eschewed a 2nd round selection from the Phillies for Stanford and eventually ended up with the St. Paul Saints. As someone who has frequently driven through that town, Moses Lake is worthwhile only for the gas you need to make it beyond Spokane. To have three legitimate MLB prospects is unheard of. What a weird time.
    For major league history as a whole, the 5th overall pick contains fascinating pitchers and hitters, names whose baseball influence flows into the present day and who are necessary to tell baseball’s story. There are three MVP winners, two Cy Young winners, and six players with more than 40 rWAR. But, oddly, no player drafted 5th overall has made the hall of fame.
    Let’s look at the list of players with more than 10 rWAR:

    That top six is as strong of a collection of players as you’ll find; add them up, and you have 4 MVP awards, 1 Cy Young award, 28 All-Star selections, 18 Silver Sluggers, 11 Gold Gloves, and 3 Rookie of Year awards. Again, no player resides in the hall—although Dale Murphy owns a strong case, and Buster Posey will surely enter when he’s eligible—but these are all memorable and great players. 
    Taking off the nostalgia glasses and looking at only recent picks tells a far less impressive tale:

    Kyle Tucker is good! Very good, in fact. Drew Pomeranz has been inconsistent, but an 11-season MLB career is far from disappointing. Then, errr, Jonathan India had a great rookie season in 2021! And Kyle Wright finally broke out in 2022!
    Alright, it’s a mixed class; there are two firmly established big league regulars with a sprinkling of talented players held back by a few flaws they have yet to shed. If you want to be optimistic, every player drafted 5th overall between 2004 and 2019—except for Matt Hobgood in 2009—has at least made the majors, so there’s a good chance the player the Twins draft will impact the big-league club in some fashion. 
    While this article is fun, it means almost nothing; invisible forces don’t grip the 5th overall pick, cursing whomever the Twins take to be a Hall of Very Good player. Whoever that player is, their story is up to them, not based on a hex placed by Bubba Starling or Kyle Zimmer. There’s a good chance that player ends up a quality, everyday ballplayer for the Twins, and that’s something to be excited for.
  15. Like
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to Matt Braun for an article, The Argument Against Trading Max Kepler   
    Perhaps no Twins player draws more ire than Max Kepler; the long-time right-fielder has disappointed over his eight-season MLB career as—with the exception of 2019—his offensive numbers fall below his potential. Season after season, the German product produces a .225/.317/.422 line, flashes an offensive profile with upside and fails to fulfill that promise in the following season. It’s madness.
    Naturally, the restless fans remain exhausted. They don’t boo—this isn’t New York, after all—but if there were some sort of passive-aggressive method to indicate disapproval, Minnesota fans would embrace it. Instead, we read yearly articles detailing all the teams interested in Kepler, watch him enter the season as a Twin, and endure the same style of season he has played since 2016. It’s madness.
    But maybe the Twins should hold onto Kepler for one more year. It’s crazy—madness, even—but it could make sense.
    One of the strongest arguments for Kepler’s exit rests on the internal options. The Twins possess about 20,000 left-handed hitting outfielders capable of catching a flyball at an adequate level, rendering Kepler’s skillset redundant in a sea of similarity.
    Those options may be weaker than we believe; neither Alex Kirilloff nor Trevor Larnach has played more than 80 games in an MLB season, so far always succumbing to an injury that cuts their year short. Matt Wallner may have the bat, but his outfield flopping netted him -4 DRS over just 138 2/3 MLB innings, 14th worst 91 players with 130 innings in right field. DRS is a cumulative stat. That’s bad. Nick Gordon may be best suited for the role, but he is more valuable as a jack-of-all-trades positionless weapon, not a locked-in everyday player. 
    Kepler, on the other hand, is an elite defender in right field and can cover center at an above-average level, perhaps not an easy skill to find with Target Field’s unusual characteristics in that section of the field. Maybe he’ll never break through the 100 wRC+ glass ceiling, but he’ll also never outright bust with the bat. And, sigh, there might be optimism for Kepler’s bat.
    It’s folly to analyze Kepler’s hitting; his BABIP baffles the wisest of sabermetricians, and this author swore an oath years ago never to attempt to understand it. More innovative writers have tried and failed, and there’s a good chance the answer to his mysterious hit tool lies wherever Jimmy Hoffa is buried.
    But let’s go.
    Kepler’s under-the-hood numbers improved drastically in 2022; his max exit velocity reached 113.8 MPH, his xwOBA stood in the 74th percentile of all batters, and he cut his already-low strikeout rate while holding steady with his walks. His Baseball Savant page has enough red to drive Joseph McCarthy crazy. Even in his weirdest batting seasons, Kepler’s batted-ball data never looked this pristine; there’s a chance he truly experienced bad luck in 2022. 
    If those improvements are here to stay—it would be weird if he suddenly fell off at 30 years old—the new limits to shifting combined with his changes in 2022 may finally unluck his offensive profile. Remember all those times he hit a sharp groundball directly into short right field for an out? Those days are gone; instead, he’ll earn a well-fought single for his efforts, not an out. 
    It makes sense to deal Kepler; the team has plenty of backup options, and if the team is pinching its pennies to sign Carlos Correa and a top-tier starter, Kepler is the obvious candidate for heaving. The logic is there. But there are worse things than having a guaranteed solid player on your roster, and Kepler’s defensive acumen will be difficult to replace. Maybe this sounds like Stockholm Syndrome, but Kepler should stay.
  16. Like
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to Theo Tollefson for an article, How the Twins Top 30 Prospects from 2017 Performed in 2022   
    It’s been six seasons since the Derek Falvey and Thad Levine regime in the Twins Front Office began. When they took over in 2017, they inherited a farm system that Baseball America ranked as 21 out of 30 in Major League Baseball. A system ranked 10th best in 2016 during Terry Ryan’s last season as the general manager. 
    The top 30 Twins prospects from 2017 on MLB.com’s list have all made their way to different levels of the game. Some finished their season at the Major League level, others hurt but played at the Major League level for the season, or found themselves out of professional baseball completely this year.
    Here’s how the top 30 Twins prospects from 2017 had their 2022 seasons end up. 
    On Active Rosters for the end of 2022
    1. Nick Gordon
    The Twins' top prospect in 2017 had his best season in the Major Leagues for 2022 during his sophomore season. For a while, it seemed that the Twins’ first-round pick in 2014 might not make it to the big leagues. 
    Fortunately, Gordon appears to have reached his potential this season. He played in 138 games around the diamond for the Twins and had a triple slash of .272/.316/.427 (.743).
    Gordon’s future with the Twins seems all but secured until his free agency year in 2028. The team will likely look to him to be their super utility player. 
    10. Lewin Diaz 
    The Twins parted ways with Lewin Diaz in July of 2019 when they acquired Sergio Romo from the Miami Marlins. Diaz has remained in the Marlins system since that time and played in 58 big-league games this season. 
    Diaz has not seen too much success at the Major League level since first being called up in 2020. Although he played his most career games this season, Diaz had a .169 batting average in 174 plate appearances with five home runs and 11 RBI. He is a plus-plus defensive first baseman.
    Diaz has yet to find success in the Majors, but it's possible he can turn his career around at age 26 with the Marlins in 2023. 
    11. JT Chargois 
    JT Chargois made his MLB debut with the Twins in 2016 and pitched in 25 games with 23 innings of work that season. However, the low amount of innings kept him qualifying as a rookie in 2017 and on the Twins' top prospect list. 
    Chargois was claimed off waivers to the Dodgers in 2018 and made a career as a journeyman reliever including spending time in Japan. This season he spent with the Tampa Bay Rays and had his best year yet. Chargois pitched in only 21 games but posted a 2.42 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and walked only five batters in 22.1 innings of work with the Rays. Knowing how the Rays are with improving random relievers, Chargois may continue thriving in Florida as long as he remains with the Rays. 
    13. LaMonte Wade Jr.
    The Twins traded LaMonte Wade Jr. to the San Francisco Giants for reliever Shaun Anderson. The deal was certainly was a flop in 2021. Wade Jr.’s 2022 didn’t pan out as well as the previous season. He played in only 77 games and posted a triple slash of .207/.305/.359 (.665). 
    Wade Jr. seems to remain in the Giants' plans as a backup outfielder and first baseman which may soon include the likes of Aaron Judge. He’ll certainly hope to improve in 2023 as he enters his final season in his 20s. 
    24. Jose Miranda
    Jose Miranda turned into the biggest rookie asset to the Twins' offense in 2022. He played in 125 games and split time between first and third base. Even with a slow start in his first 19 games, Miranda still slugged 15 home runs and led the Twins in RBI with 66. Miranda has lived up to expectations of being one of the Twins' top prospects in recent years but exceeded the expectations of someone ranked 24th in the system in 2017. 
    There is still room for growth for Miranda as he looks to continue splitting time at the corners for the Twins in 2023. 
    25. Akil Baddoo 
    The Twins left Baddoo off their 40-man roster after the 2020 season. He was lost in the December 2020 Rule 5 Draft to the Detroit Tigers. After a strong rookie campaign with Detroit in 2021, Akil Baddoo came victim to the sophomore slump.  Baddoo played in just 73 games for the Tigers in 2022. His numbers completely plummeted, dropping to a triple slash of .204/.289/.269 (.558) in 225 plate appearances. The athletic outfielder is still very young and has much time ahead of his career having just turned 24 in August.
    28. Luis Arraez
    Luis Arraez used to be an overlooked prospect in the Twins farm system. Now he is an American League Batting Champion. 
    With one batting title now on his resume, many expect more from Arraez. The only question surrounding Arraez for 2023 is where he will play in the field? His versatility at different positions is not the same caliber as Nick Gordon, but he is proven capable at multiple positions. 
    30. Griffin Jax
    The most improved pitcher on the Twins 2022 staff, Captain Jax made a complete turnaround in the Twins bullpen this season. Pitching in 65 games for the Twins, Jax posted a 3.36 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 3.17 FIP in 72 1/3 innings pitched. He will certainly be a key asset to the Twins' bullpen plans for 2023, likely continuing his role of high-leverage opportunities to start the season. 
    Played in 2022 but were mainly hurt
    3. Alex Kirilloff
    His wrist injury continued to plague Alex Kirilloff in 2022. It kept him at St. Paul for some time in May and June. Having played in only 45 major-league games this year, Hopefully, Kirilloff's July surgery will have him ready for everyday play in 2023. The health of Kirilloff’s wrist will be the biggest concern in 2023, but as long as he remains strong, he can expect his first season with over 100 games in the big leagues. 
    15. Mitch Garver 
    Garver was traded to the Texas Rangers before the season for Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Ronny Henriquez. The former Silver Slugger had season-ending surgery in July to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right forearm. Prior to being sidelined with the torn tendon, Garver played in 54 games with the Rangers having caught in only 14 of those games. 
    23. Huascar Ynoa (Braves)
    Only making two starts with the Atlanta Braves, the former Elizabethton Twins pitcher that was traded for Twin-for-a-day, Jaime Garcia, had his 2022 season end with Tommy John surgery. Having the surgery done on September 7, Ynoa will not be returning to the Braves pitching rotation until 2024 in hopes of resurging his career from a successful 2021. 
    Played in 2022, mostly in the Minors, Japan, or Indy Ball
    2. Stephen Gonsalves 
    This former top Twins pitching prospect had a short-lived 2022 season in the minors pitching in only eight games Triple AAA for the Iowa Cubs. His season ended early with Tommy John surgery. Gonsalves last pitched in the big leagues with the Red Sox for three games in 2021. 
    4. Fernando Romero 
    Fernando Romero was once a high-hope pitching prospect for the Twins rotation. His 2022 was spent between Japan's Central League and Eastern League. Romero pitched in 28 games between the leagues with a 4.49 ERA. 
    5. Tyler Jay 
    The Twins' top pick from 2015 had taken a leave of absence from baseball in 2020 and 2021. This year he found himself in Indy Ball playing in the Frontier League. He worked in 22 games and posted a 2.05 ERA with the Joilet Slammers. 
    7. Travis Blankenhorn 
    Travis Blankenhorn got a cup of coffee with the New York Mets this season, playing in one game in July. Other than that, the majority of his season was spent at Triple AAA Syracuse where he played in 91 games. 
    12. Ben Rortvedt 
    Flipped with Josh Donaldson to the New York Yankees in March, Ben Rortvedt battled injuries that kept him off the Major League active roster all season. When he was healthy, he spent his time between three of the Yankees Minor League affiliates playing in 48 games across the minors. 
    14. Daniel Palka 
    Daniel Palka hasn’t played in the Major Leagues since 2019. He spent 2020 in Korea and has been working his way back to the big leagues in 2021 and 2022. This season Palka was with the Mets organization and played 109 games with Syracuse. 
    17. Wander Javier 
    Wander Javier remains the only player from the Twins top 30 prospect list in 2017 that is in their farm system and has yet to make his major-league debut. Javier spent the majority of the year at High-A Cedar Rapids and finished the season playing seven games with the St. Paul Saints. He will become a minor-league free agent. Will the Twins bring him back? 
    18. Lewis Thorpe 
    This former farmhand’s story isn’t pretty in 2022. Lewis Thorpe made one start with the St. Paul Saints in April and found himself let go by the organization he joined in 2012. After being cut, Thorpe spent the remainder of the season with the Kansas City Monarchs (American Association). He made 16 starts and posted a 4.96 ERA for the season.
    19. Trevor Hildenberger
    One of the better minor-league stories of the season belongs to Trevor Hildenberger. Although he did pitch six games across the Giants system, he played a larger role toward the season’s end helping in the unionization of Minor League Baseball players. Hildenberger has been an active advocate in the unionization of Minor League Baseball for years and over the course of August, he spoke with many other minor league players to help advocate for them to vote yes for an election to make the unionization official. 
    20. Jake Reed
    Another former prospect who spent some time in the Majors this season with three teams, the Mets, Dodgers, and Orioles. In his 18 games in the big leagues, Reed posted an ERA north of 7.00. He pitched in 20 games between the Dodgers and Orioles minor league affiliates this season. He recorded his first MLB Save with the Dodgers this year. 
    Out of Baseball by 2022
    The list of players here did not play professionally at all in 2022 and have listed their last season playing professionally. 
    6. Kohl Stewart (Hasn’t pitched since 2021)
    8. Adalberto Mejia (Hasn’t pitched since 2021)
    9. Felix Jorge (Hasn’t pitched since 2018)
    16. Nick Burdi (Hasn’t pitched since 2020), spent 2022 on the IL. 
    21. Mason Melotakis (Hasn’t pitched since 2021)
    22. Zack Granite (Hasn’t played since 2021)
    26. Lachlan Wells (Hasn’t pitched since 2019)
    27. Randy Rosario (Hasn’t pitched since 2021)
    29. Engelb Vielma (Hasn’t played since 2019)
    Here are the totals for where the Twins top 30 prospects of 2017 ended up with their careers in 2022. 
    8 players on Active MLB rosters
    3 players who could be on Active Rosters but are hurt
    10 players who are in the Minors, Japan, or Independent Ball
    9 players completely out of baseball in 2022
    The majority of these players are still in professional baseball, but only around a third of them (11 total) played roles on Major League rosters this season. 
    Some of these players still have great chances of long careers (Arraez and Gordon). Others, not so much, but how do the current career payouts of these 30 players so far look to Twins fans? Leave your thoughts below.
  17. Like
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, If You Want Bold and Aggressive Moves, You've Got to Live with the Risk   
    Frankie Montas was one of the hottest names on the market at the trade deadline, and was known to be pursued by Minnesota last offseason. The Yankees acquired him alongside reliever Lou Trivino in exchange for four prospects on August 1st. The results have not been as hoped.
    Montas posted a 6.35 ERA in eight turns, including just one quality start, before undergoing an MRI on his shoulder this week. He landed on the injured list and there's a pretty good chance he won't pitch again for the Yankees in 2022. Barring further clarity around what's affecting him, Montas figures to be a bit of a question mark heading into next season, too.
    The Twins can obviously relate. They've gone through a similar ordeal with their own prized deadline pickup. Like Montas, Tyler Mahle had some known shoulder issues when he was acquired. Like Montas, those issues have now grown more problematic, even though – in both cases – MRI results revealed no structural damage, before or after the trades.
    This is what differentiates the Mahle outcome from, say, the Chris Paddack move, where the Twins accepted a rather extreme level of risk in the name of acquiring extended control of a good starter. That was a measured risk on its own, but it shouldn't be grouped with the one they took on Mahle, who (like Montas) was more typical of a deadline gambit.
    It's the nature of the beast: as a leveraged buyer in a seller's market, under big pressure to improve, you're going to have to take risks – like ponying up big prospect capital for a talented arm with ambiguous health concerns, or buying high on a breakout All-Star reliever who lacks a convincing track record. 
    Those who constantly advocate for these types of assertive showings from the front office now sound rather toothless when criticizing them in hindsight. While we can all see the overall results have been unsatisfactory – albeit hardly disastrous for a reigning last-place team – this front office was audacious in shaking things up. Isn't that what we want?
    The big deadline moves. Locking down Byron Buxton with a creative extension. Trading their highest-upside pitching prospect for Sonny Gray. Unloading Josh Donaldson's contract. Signing Carlos Correa to a historic deal (albeit at the expense of investment in pitching). 
    And going back a bit further, let's not forget about trading José Berríos to Toronto at the 2021 deadline, thus letting the Blue Jays sign him to a massive extension while flipping him into one of their breakthrough pitching prospects. 
    That one looks pretty good now. Others don't. And it's beyond valid to criticize the front office for these many moves that haven't panned out, especially those like the Paddack trade, which carried huge red flags from the start. (Although, if we're being honest, they were kinda right about Taylor Rogers, just as they were Berríos?)
    There's a big gap between "merits criticism" and "needs replacement." I'm not close to the latter point with Derek Falvey or Thad Levine, although changes at various levels of the organization are well warranted. In terms of leadership vision, we've experienced the opposite approach – one characterized by risk aversion and playing it safe. I dare say that's what sunk them last year when their biggest additions were Alex Colomé and JA Happ. 
    As the saying goes, scared money don't make money. Sometimes those bold gambles don't turn out as hoped, and you've got to live with the consequences. It happens even to the Yankees. That won't stop them from staying aggressive and shooting their shots in the future. It shouldn't stop the Twins either, albeit at a different scale given their resources.
  18. Like
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to Melissa Berman for an article, Pros and Cons of a Pitch Clock   
    During Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations, the MLB Players Association reportedly agreed to allow MLB to ban shifts, to implement a pitch clock, and to make bases larger (not XL pizza box size- from 15” to 18”) effective the 2023 season, subject to those agreements fitting into a total deal. Though the MLBPA appears to be on board with these changes, baseball fans as a whole are not known as being a particularly flexible folk that is eager to embrace change. Needless to say, these potential changes have sparked some conversation. 
    Regarding a pitch clock, in particular, there has been serious talk surrounding adding one for years now (since 2014 specifically), but it was ultimately not adopted in 2018 when the MLB implemented a host of other rule changes with the goal to increase the pace of play. MLB's plan is to implement a 14-second pitch clock with the bases empty and a 19-second clock with runners on base.
    Here are the pros and cons of each side of the pitch clock argument as well as my personal take: 

    It will speed up games and increase excitement
    The paramount objective of the MLB adding a pitch clock is to improve the pace of play, and there seems to be clear evidence that adding one would accomplish this goal. In 2021, a pitch clock experiment in Low-A cut game times by 20 minutes using 15-second and 17-second clocks. In case you question if time in between pitches actually is the long game culprit here, a 2014 study found it was. A 2014 study found that the primary reason for the longer games was time in between pitches.
    A number of extra seconds here and there for a pitcher to do his best Joe Nathan horse exhale doesn’t seem like much, but when around 280-300 pitches are thrown per game, it adds up. These days, games are 20 minutes longer than they were a decade ago, when the average game length was 2:50. That’s a lot of time to be buying ballpark beers. The MLB clearly thinks the ever-increasing game length is a problem, wants to keep its fanbase engaged, and desires to reel in some of its younger fans (not that canceling games exactly accomplishes these goals, but that’s a separate matter entirely). The MLB has the oldest fans among the major sports, with an average age of 57, according to a 2017 survey by Sports Business Journal. (The average NBA, NHL, and NFL fans are 42, 49, and 50, respectively). Recapturing this younger demographic is crucial to the sport's vitality and despite what baseball purists would like to admit, these young fans are the future of the game. It’s the MLB’s hope that increased game speed might also make games more action-packed; games will theoretically be cramming more offense and more action into a lot less time. At the minor-league level, albeit with small sample size, they have seen more runs, higher batting averages, more home runs, fewer strikeouts, and fewer pitchers throwing ball four After this lockout, an increase in-game action might be just what the MLB needs to return to relevance (or maybe they’ll just juice the balls again).
    Existing pace of play measures are already in place 
    Adding a pitch clock isn’t exactly new territory in the MLB- there are already time parameters set up by the MLB for warmup pitches, inning changes, and limiting mound visits, so adding a pitch clock is the logical next step. In the minor leagues, pitch clocks of some sort have been in place for the last seven seasons- it had only been in Double-A and Triple-A before the 2021 season- and minor leaguers didn’t seem to think it was that big of a deal. In addition, because pitch clocks have already been around in some form for more than a handful of years, the number of MLB hitters who have never played in one of those leagues with a clock is now down to slightly more than two per team. The number of pitchers who have never pitched with a clock is around three per team. Of course, though there are a number of veterans who have never stared down a clock, and they are vocal, but the times are a-changin'.  
    14/19 seconds is enough time for a pitcher to begin his delivery 
    Assuming the MLB keeps with what was implemented in the minor leagues, the pitch clock will not begin to run until the pitcher has the ball on the mound. That should be enough time to check the count and outs, communicate with his catcher, and otherwise go through his established routine.

    Decline in pitching statistics?
    I’ll be curious to see what the effect of an MLB pitch clock is on pitching statistics. According to The Athletic, the average fastball velocity without a 15-second clock is 92.3 mph which is nearly the same as with one at 92.4 mph. However, this data comes from a relatively small sample size of minor league play. There’s also more to pitches than just speed- movement and quality of a pitch. Even if fastball velocity with the clock is the same, which in the MLB it very well might not be, it makes theoretical sense the break or movement of a pitch could be affected because of less recovery time and less time for pitchers to get set. After all, the minor leagues have already seen increased batting statistics like batting average and home runs. Despite initial findings that velocity might not be greatly affected, clearly, something is going on, unless all those statistics are flukes. Could a pitch clock lead to increased arm fatigue in pitchers or the need for pitchers with greater stamina?  All of these thoughts are cons if you’re ya know, a pitcher, or love a good pitcher’s duel. 
    Hitters and pitchers shouldn’t be rushed 
    In the major leagues, every pitch matters, and the pitch type is selected based on the batter and the current game situation. A catcher needs time to work through the current game situation, put down a sign, and potentially put down another sign if the pitcher shakes it off. It’s a chess match, and there is a lot to process. Minor leaguers report hitters too are impacted by pitch clock. Hitters are aware that every at-bat is significant. Big leaguers, especially older veterans, have been raised with the idea that when you’re at the plate, it’s your time; they have established and ingrained routines which yes, might involve messing with their batting gloves between every pitch. Being held to a time clock would be a big mindset switch.
    Pitch clocks are antithetical to baseball 
    Baseball is an inherently slower-paced sport. There isn’t nonstop action and movement and an incessant flurry of scoring- try basketball or hockey. The fact that it is the only North American sport to be played without a clock is one of the things that makes baseball unique. And is 2 hours and 50 minutes that much different than 3 hours and 10 minutes? Because it’s inherently a slower-paced sport, might the people who are bored at 3:10 still be bored at 2:50? Does shaving off 20 minutes justify potentially altering the feel of the game with its ebbs and flows of suspense? Arguably, it’s a case of the MLB adding more unnecessary rules to further regulate the game. Going to the ballpark is an experience, and people who go plan on spending their entire afternoon or evening there anyway. Also, it may sound petty, but installing big blinking pitch blocks where batters and pitchers can each see them sounds like an eyesore.  
    I am such a devout baseball fan that I don’t mind the current length of games or pace of play. I enjoy the relaxed nature of the sport and how there isn’t an omnipresent clock incessantly ticking down like a football play clock. There are other pace of play measures in place and I’m of the opinion that those are enough. The MLB sure isn’t interested in cutting down commercial breaks to shorten game length, that’s for sure. However, now that the MLBPA is on board, I’m curious to see what effect it has on games once implemented, and maybe we won't even notice the change before too long. And besides, it *was* kind of nice walking out of Target Field at 9:30 p.m. on April 23, 2021 (2:17 game duration) when J.A. Happ had a no-hitter going into the 8th inning, and thus caused the game to go hyper-speed.
    So what is your opinion of a pitch clock going in effect? Leave a COMMENT, join the discussion.  
  19. Like
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Minnesota's Top 3 Most Underappreciated Players   
    Last week, MLB.com attempted to name the most underappreciated player on every team. This can be a challenging exercise for a national writer who can't focus on the day-to-day of every MLB team. The Twins have players that have exceeded expectations and others that have struggled to fill their roles. Here are the team's most underappreciated players this season. 

    Gio Urshela, 3B
    MLB.com picked Urshela as the team's most underappreciated player for multiple reasons. Surprisingly, he has a higher OPS than Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Josh Donaldson. That doesn't tell the entire story with Urshela. His defense at third base has dramatically improved in the second half, which helps his overall value to the club. During the offseason, the Twins will need to decide whether or not to offer Urshela arbitration in his final year of eligibility. 

    Urshela's contributions to the team may be underappreciated because of baseball's offensive drop this season. He has an OPS near his career mark of .744, which translates to a 114 OPS+ in 2022. According to FanGraphs, Urshela has provided his second highest amount of value ($10.6 million) in any big-league season. Minnesota may consider this when deciding whether or not to bring him back for 2023. 

    Caleb Thielbar, RP
    It's easy to look at Thielbar's overall numbers for the season and not be impressed with a 3.80 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. However, some poor appearances near the season's start cloud those numbers. Since April 30, Thielbar has posted a 2.36 ERA with a 57-to-12 strikeout to walk ratio in 42 innings. For much of the season, he has also been the team's only left-handed pitcher out of the bullpen. While others have struggled, Thielbar has been invaluable as a late-inning option. 

    Before the 2020 season, Thielbar was close to retiring from baseball as he was going to take a college coaching job. Luckily, the Twins convinced him that he had something left in the tank. Over the last three seasons, Thielbar has provided the Twins with nearly $20 million worth of value, including close to $9 million in 2022. Relievers can go through ups-and-downs with the small sample size of innings they pitch in a season, but Thielbar has continued to be consistent into his mid-30s. 

    Gilberto Celestino, OF
    In 2021, Celestino's first taste of the big leagues couldn't have gone much worse. He hit .136/.177/.288 (.466) with three doubles and two home runs in 23 games. Minnesota rushed him to the MLB level without playing at Triple-A, so the results should have been expected for a 22-year-old. He has improved significantly during the 2022 campaign, including a month when he was one of the team's best hitters. Back in May, he hit .364/.426/.418 (.844) across 19 games. With Byron Buxton getting regular rest, Celestino has been needed to fill the void in center field. 

    Celestino can't compare to Buxton's defensive prowess, but few players can be that good. Defensively, Celestino ranks in the 82nd percentile for Outs Above Average, and his sprint speed is in the 65th percentile. He is an above-average defender that has provided offensive value that impacts the line-up. Some may forget that he is only 23 years old and has played fewer than 120 games at the big-league level. Minnesota will need him to continue to fill an outfield role in the years ahead. 

    Who do you think have been the most underappreciated Twins players this season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 
  20. Like
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Will Louie Varland Be Falvey's First Pitching Development Success Story?   
    When Twins ownership decided on Derek Falvey as the pick to lead their rebuilt front office, the underlying premise was fairly straightforward: As a mid-market team that can't afford to spend with the big-market heavy hitters, the key to sustainable contention lies in drafting and developing high-quality pitching.
    Falvey had a track record for helping spearhead this model in Cleveland, a franchise that — along with Tampa Bay, another of the new regime's clear aspirational influences — became a standard-bearer for getting it right.
    Specifically, the Twins hoped a Falvey-led front office would find a competitive advantage by uncovering hidden talent in the draft, as well as in other organizations via trade. They've had some success in the latter department, with Joe Ryan and Jhoan Duran emerging as two of the top arms for this year's staff. 
    The Twins' record for drafting and developing homegrown talent is, however, noticeably lacking. They've had a few near-misses — or, I should say, not-yets. 
    Bailey Ober, who was taken in the 12th round of Falvey's first draft in 2017, showed great promise last year in 20 starts as a 25-year-old rookie. But his sophomore season being wiped out by a groin injury sorta puts the brakes on his "success story" narrative.
    Josh Winder, an eighth-rounder in 2018, has also flashed much to like as both a glow-up prospect and — more crucially — a capable big-league rookie. But he too now finds himself spinning in circles due to injury issues. 
    Neither of these guys feels like someone you can really trust as a starter going into 2023. But that is precisely what the Twins need this front office to provide, especially with so many of their more highly-drafted pitching prospects (first-rounder, Chase Petty, second-rounder Steve Hajjar, third-rounder Cade Povich) being dealt away in trades for veterans.
    Louie Varland has the makings of a signature success story under Falvey. Few had eyes on him has a little-known starter at Concordia University in St. Paul. The Twins worked closely with him to improve his mechanics for better durability and increased velocity. He came back after the lost pandemic season with a bang, mowing through two levels of A-ball with a 2.10 ERA and 12.4 K/9 rate to earn Twins minor league player of the year honors.
    Moving up to the high minors this year, while still subject to some outside skepticism (no major prospect ranking had him in their top 100), Varland backed up his performance at Double-A to earn an early-August promotion to Triple-A, where he was was more filthy than ever: 21.IP, 1.69 ERA, .192 BAA, 27 K, 3 BB, 1 HR. 
    Right now, Varland's got everything you could want: outstanding performance at every level, legitimate high-octane stuff, and -- perhaps most critically, where the Twins are concerned -- a seemingly strong bill of health and durability. In his 24 starts between Wichita and St. Paul this year, Varland has thrown 126.1 IP, which would lead all Twins pitchers. 
    Of course, those things were also true of Ober and Winder, and any number of other promising ascendant arms in this organization ... until they weren't. Varland unfortunately carries the burden of so many past disappointments as he steps in and tries to give this unraveling rotation a jolt. 
    I'm not sure how many more near-misses, or even not-yets, this front office can withstand. People can quibble over the wisdom of splashy free agent and trade acquisitions like Carlos Correa, Sonny Gray and Tyler Mahle, but at the end of the day, if this regime can't start yielding some impact from its own pitching development engine, what are they here for? How can fans feel confident in the future? 
    Petty is gone. Matt Canterino's out of the picture until 2024. Winder's health is an ongoing question mark. Jordan Balazovic has seen his stock plunge amidst a nightmare season. 
    The standout pitching depth, which seemed to be such a shining strength of the system coming into this season, has been decimated. Varland is one of the few that remains, and there's a lot riding on his shoulders — from both a macro and micro perspective — as he prepares to make his debut in Yankee Stadium (a park where the Twins have won two of their past 22 games), against Aaron Judge and the Bronx Bombers, their season hanging in the balance.
    Like I said ... no pressure, kid.  
  21. Like
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Did The Twins Manufacture a Top Pitching Prospect?   
    Last season the Twins saw Canadian right-hander Jordan Balazovic show up on multiple top 100 prospect lists. He was a sleeper pick to rocket up those same rankings in 2022, and there’s no denying Derek Falvey and Thad Levine had dreams of him slotting into Rocco Baldelli’s rotation.
    Balazovic started the season late after a knee injury, and nothing has gone right since. There’s been no indication that he’s still injured, but you certainly have to hope that something has been off. The former 5th round pick in 2016 now owns a 9.06 ERA across 49 2/3 innings at Triple-A this year, and he’s gone from a double-digit strikeout pitcher to one with declining numbers and the ball leaving the park at an alarming rate.
    No matter how the rest of the string plays out, Minnesota has to figure out a way for Balazovic to get right next season.
    In his place, you could have assumed Cole Sands, Simeon Woods-Richardson, Matt Canterino or any number of other top prospects in the upper levels may have stepped up. Instead, the arm that won Minnesota’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year a season ago just kept going about his business.
    Louie Varland was grabbed in the 15th round during the 2019 Major League Baseball draft. Concordia St. Paul is a Division 2 school right down the street from Target Field. Gus Varland, Louie’s brother, was selected a year earlier by the Oakland Athletics. Bryan Lippincott and Jake Schmidt were drafted from legendary coach Mark McKenzie’s program before them. It’s maybe not the most glorious path, but with talent, it won’t ever matter.
    Varland has been a lunch-pail type of pitcher since the moment he joined the Twins organization. He posted a 2.10 ERA across his first 100 professional innings in Single-A ball, and followed it up with a 3.34 ERA for Double-A Wichita in 105 innings this season. Now knocking on the doorstep playing for the St. Paul Saints, Varland has been nothing short of magical in three turns.
    With 17 Triple-A innings under his belt, Varland has a 24/3 K/BB while allowing just three runs (two earned) on 11 hits. He’s never been one to give up the long ball, he’ll mow down batters in bunches, and he’s remained stingy with free passes. There isn’t a ton of deception at play here either, and Varland has worked to push his velocity into the triple-digits during offseason workouts.
    Nearing a 25th birthday it’s fair to understand that Varland doesn’t have the luster brought on by some of the teenage hitting prospects. He is about to capture a second-straight Minor League Pitcher of the Year award though, and it will be because he’s earned it in the most dominating fashion. With Minnesota needing to infuse the starting rotation with homegrown talent, it’s hard to get better than a kid from their own backyard, that’s taken the path less traveled, and beaten the odds.
    Maybe the organization can right whatever went wrong with Balazovic this season, but they have to be ecstatic with the found money and developmental progress Varland has displayed. The next stop will be on a mound with slightly more fans than Barnes Field.
  22. Like
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Week in Review: Stayin' Alive   
    Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 8/22 through Sun, 8/28
    Record Last Week: 3-4 (Overall: 65-61)
    Run Differential Last Week: +8 (Overall: +32)
    Standing: 2nd Place in AL Central (2.0 GB)
    Last Week's Game Results:
    Game 120 | TEX 2, MIN 1: Bats Disappear, Buxton Goes Down
    Game 121 | HOU 4, MIN 2: Slumping Offense Hopeless Against Verlander
    Game 122 | HOU 5, MIN 3: Fulmer Falters in Another Lineup No-Show
    Game 123 | HOU 6, MIN 3: Twins Drop Sixth Straight in Familiar Fashion
    Game 124 | MIN 9, SF 0: Offense Awakens as Losing Streak Snaps
    Game 125 | MIN 3, SF 2: Bases-Loaded BB Produces True Walk-Off
    Game 126 | MIN 8, SF 3: Twins Pull Away to Secure Needed Sweep
    Byron Buxton did everything he could to avoid this point. It's not exactly a secret he's been fighting through significant physical ailments all season. That's been apparent in his expressions, his movements, his frequent unavailability, and of course his diminished – albeit still solid – performance. But he's managed to stay active through all of it.
    On Monday, his body finally said 'no more.' Buxton showed clear discomfort on a big swing in the series finale against Texas, then battled through an eventful inning in the field before exiting the game. Turns out it was a lesser-discussed ongoing hip issue that finally overcame Buxton, pushing him to the injured list for the first time all year.
    This pause isn't expected to clear up the hip problems, nor the center fielder's chronic knee pain, but giving Buxton a break feels like the team's best bet to have him available in any capacity for a late push. That is, if the season is still salvageable whenever he returns. 
    With Tyler Mahle sidelined, Aaron Sanchez was recalled to start on Tuesday against the Astros. He held his own in the imposing matchup, allowing two runs over four innings. He also pitched on Sunday against the Giants, yielding two earned runs over 3 ⅔ while struggling to keep his pitch count in check.
    Kyle Garlick was activated from the IL on Friday and wasted no time making his impact felt, batting leadoff against left-hander Alex Wood and going 3-for-4 with a walk. Unfortunately, Wood was the last lefty starter the Twins are lined up to face in quite a while, after running through a ridiculous barrage of southpaws during Garlick's absence. Par for the course this year. 
    Tim Beckham was designated for assignment to make room on the roster for Garlick. Speedster Billy Hamilton, signed to a minor-league deal on Saturday, could soon take over Beckham's previous role as last man on the bench. More on that later.
    It's hard to say the front office's big moves at the trade deadline have paid off much to this point – Mahle is on the IL, Michael Fulmer coughed up three runs in Houston on Wednesday, and Jorge López has blown two of five save attempts. All the same, Minnesota's once-wobbly staff has been significantly stabilized since then. 
    In the month of August, Twins pitchers have collectively posted a 3.24 ERA. They've surrendered only 20 home runs in 25 games after coughing up 38 in 22 July contests, leading to a 5.30 ERA that month and a state of deadline desperation. 
    The arms have been asked to pick up a lot of slack lately, thanks to the sluggishness of the offense, and for the most part, they've been answering the call. The Twins completely shut down Texas and San Francisco this past week, allowing only six total runs in four games against them, keyed by a pair of strong starts from Sonny Gray and a shutdown performance from Joe Ryan on Friday.
    Even the Houston series was relatively impressive from a pitching standpoint. Throwing their bottom three starters at one of the league's best lineups in a very hitter-friendly park, the Twins allowed 15 runs, holding Houston to four, five, and six on successive nights. 
    This couldn't be considered GOOD pitching per se – we're still talking about a 5.63 ERA in the series – but it's the best one could realistically expect given the circumstances. Any kind of life from the Twins offense would've made these competitive and winnable games. Alas, that wasn't in the cards.
    The depths of this offense's despair, as the team's once-bright hopes in the Central faded fast amidst a crushing six-game losing streak, were truly hard to comprehend. Even with so many key hitters on IL – a list Buxton joined early in the week – it was just stunning to see a collection of professional hitters look this flat and fruitless, night in and night out.
    On both August 16th against Kansas City and August 26th against San Francisco, the Twins won 9-0 in games that featured run-scoring explosions rendered unnecessary by the pitching staff's excellence. In eight games between those blowouts, when the team really could've used some of that excess scoring, the offense slashed .182/.246/.289 and averaged just 2.25 runs per game. 
    Clearly the brief awakening against the Royals generated no momentum. The same felt true this time around, as the Twins followed Friday's nine-run outburst by getting shut out through eight innings on Saturday. They managed to turn that around, thankfully, but it's still tough to feel confidence in this lineup.
    Max Kepler has been anchoring the team's downward plunge. He went 4-for-22 with one double and one RBI during the six-game losing streak. His last home run came on July 5th and since then he's slugging .279 in 31 games, as an everyday right fielder. Kepler's inability to pose any real threat at the plate made it all the more puzzling that San Francisco chose to intentionally walk him as part of Saturday's game-winning rally, but, I guess that's why the Giants are where they are.
    Carlos Correa's stat line during the six-game swoon was nearly identical to Kepler's – 4-for-22, one double, one RBI – and it continued a lengthy stretch of underwhelming performance from the shortstop, who by then was slashing .212/.315/.340 with a negative WPA since the end of June. 
    Correa broke out of his slump during the weekend, producing six hits and three RBIs against the Giants. Kepler did too, reaching base five times and scoring the winning run on Saturday night before chipping in a couple of hits on Sunday. It goes to show how much of a difference these guys can make when they're contributing, not to mention some of the role players who've been elevated into bigger roles like Jake Cave and Gilberto Celestino. 
    The Twins badly need all of these guys to keep it up, especially with a couple other reliable offensive fixtures beginning to fade. 
    After managing to hang in the .330-.340 range for much of the season, Luis Arraez has seen his batting average drop precipitously of late as the hits have dried up. He went just 2-for-22 over the past week and is hitting .261 in August. 
    I recently opined that Arraez is the single most important factor in the lineup's – and thus the team's – success down the stretch. The numbers corroborate this belief, as Arraez's drop-off has closely coincided with the team's slide. 
    This split is always pretty stark, but in his case it really jumps out: in Twins victories, Arraez is slashing .387/.456/.495; in losses, .251/.313/.360. He's the straw that stirs the drink.
    Another crucial offensive contributor gone missing is José Miranda, who produced just four singles in 28 at-bats over the past week. He's seen his OPS drop by about 50 points since the start of the Texas series. Part of this is just natural regression, because luck was eventually going to stop favoring the rookie so generously (he had a .436 BABIP in the first month following the All-Star break) but there do appear to be some league adjustments in play. 
    Specifically, pitchers are capitalizing on Miranda's ultra-aggressive approach, with the whiffs beginning to mount. Last week he struck out 12 times with zero walks in 29 plate appearances. His out-of-zone swing rate has been way up lately.
    Miranda has shown a knack for hitting the ball where it's pitched and making quality contact in a variety of different zone locations, but some pitches simply should not be swung at, and he needs to start showing better judgment to get back on track. 
    Perhaps this undisciplined slump stems from the desire of a talented young player to try and do too much while the team languishes and fizzles around him. Or maybe it's just a standard example of major-league scouting reports catching up to a rookie hitter.
    Either way, it underscores the vital need for veteran cornerstones like Kepler, Correa, and Jorge Polanco – 3-for-16 with one RBI last week, and battling a knee issue – to take the lead and relieve some pressure in the final month-plus. 
    When the calendar flips to September this coming Thursday, MLB rosters will expand by two, to 28 players. This gives the Twins an opportunity to add two more players to their existing mix. It'll be interesting to see how those spots are used initially, because the club isn't exactly hard-pressed for roster room right now. In fact they're already rostering at least one bench player (Caleb Hamilton) who they have no real use for. 
    There are a number of players on the comeback trail from injury, hoping to return in the final month – Kenta Maeda, Trevor Larnach, Josh Winder, Randy Dobnak, and Ryan Jeffers among them – but it seems unlikely any will be ready for a call-up quite that soon. This leaves relievers like Jovani Moran and Jake Jewell as candidates to join the bullpen. 
    On the position player side? Assuming he checks out in his workouts at the Twins' Ft. Myers complex, Hamilton (Billy, not Caleb) seems like a good bet to come aboard as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement.
    It's "take care of business" time for the Twins. They need to handle a pretty decent Red Sox team at home – no small order – and then try to create some distance from the White Sox in Chicago. 
    Of note: Mahle will be eligible to return from the injured list for Saturday night's 'TBD' slot. That appears to be the tentative plan, so long as things keep trending right for the right-hander physically. Given the magnitude of that series, the Cy Young-caliber quality of the opposing starter, and the immense drop-off from Mahle to Sanchez ... we'll need to strongly hope that proves to be the case. 
    MONDAY, 8/29: RED SOX @ TWINS – RHP Brayan Bello v. RHP Dylan Bundy
    TUESDAY, 8/30: RED SOX @ TWINS – RHP Kutter Crawford v. RHP Chris Archer
    WEDNESDAY, 8/31: RED SOX @ TWINS – RHP Michael Wacha v. RHP Joe Ryan
    FRIDAY, 9/2: TWINS @ WHITE SOX – RHP Sonny Gray v. RHP Davis Martin
    SATURDAY, 9/3: TWINS @ WHITE SOX – TBD v. RHP Dylan Cease
    SUNDAY, 9/4: TWINS @ WHITE SOX – RHP Dylan Bundy v. RHP Lucas Giolito
  23. Like
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Buxton Diagnosed with Evel Knievelism   
    The Minnesota Twins have done an admirable job getting as much use out of Byron Buxton in 2022 as possible, even leading the star centerfielder to an All-Star berth. Still, with injuries continuing to pile up, the team sought a second opinion after Buxton’s recent trip to the IL. The results aren’t pretty, but they aren't surprising.
    “Byron Buxton has adult-onset Evel Knievelism,” said Dr. Nicole Baumhardt, a physician at Johns Hopkins.
    This incredibly rare condition usually affects only those who jump motorcycles over things and plummet to the unforgiving asphalt, or people who’ve appeared on more than one season of MTV’s Jackass.
    It's named after Robert Craig “Evel” Knievel, a popular stuntman from the 1960s and ‘70s. He’s perhaps best known for failing to land a sick jump over the Caesars Palace fountains in Las Vegas, breaking his pelvis, femur, hip, wrist, and both ankles. Baumhardt says she wishes this was all that was hurting Buxton.
    “All of Byron’s bones are broken,” said Baumhardt. “In addition, he has extra bones that the human body isn’t supposed to have, bones we’ve never seen. Those are also broken.
    “The ligaments that aren’t torn are ruptured. The ligaments that aren’t ruptured are torn. He has diseases that were only on episodes of Little House on the Prairie. We put him in an iron lung and the iron lung fell down a very long flight of stairs with him in it, rebreaking his broken bones harder. We placed him in a full body cast and there is now a wasps’ nest under his right arm, leading to very painful welts. He has COVID-20. You don’t even want to know what that is.”
    “We’ll continue managing (Byron’s) rest,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli. “He’s going to need a day off here and there, but we still hope he can contribute to our playoff drive. The league says his body cast is technically a uniform if we put a name and number on it, which helps.
    “The tough part is that he just got into the trainer’s room and a piano fell on him. We don’t know how a piano ended up in there, but it just up and tipped over on him, rebreaking the rebroken bones that were already broken. He might be a go on Sunday, but we’ll have to wait and see how he responds to treatment or if any other large, heavy objects smash his unique slurry of bone and muscle yet again. Until then, our other guys have to step up.”
    Image license here.
  24. Like
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins Thrilled with Draft's First Night   
    Let’s start with the basics. The draft was filled with surprises at the start. After Jackson Holliday and Druw Jones went with the top two picks, the Rangers messed up a lot of mock draft boards by selecting righty Kumar Rocker with the third overall pick. In addition, the Cubs used the seventh overall pick on Oklahoma right-hander Cade Horton. 
    That left the Twins with several options that we have read a lot about, including Cam Collier (18th, Reds), Gavin Cross (9th, Royals), Kevin Parada (11th, Mets) and others. 
    The Twins scouting department was ecstatic that shortstop Brooks Lee was available. 
    “We see him as a playmaker. He’s a creative, skilled, and instinctual player,” Scouting Director Sean Johnson said following the first day of picks. 
    Lee could have been a very high pick out of high school but, as Johnson noted, “chose to go play for his dad, Larry Lee, who is a heavily decorated college coach, and they have a very close connection. He comes from a really strong baseball family.”
    Interestingly, Johnson noted that in 2021, when the Twins selected Wisconsin prep shortstop Noah Miller, they were comparing him to Brooks Lee, who the Twins have been watching for several years going back to high school. He noted, they both “have really good instincts, elite baseball IQ, great feel for the game, really great feel to hit in the batter’s box.”  
    “We think, whether he plays shortstop, or second or third or wherever he ends up, we think that he has a chance to have impact power to go along with the hit skills that he possesses.”
    Lefty Conner Prielipp was the team’s second-round pick (#48 overall) out of the University of Alabama. He had Tommy John surgery in May of 2021, but he has thrown bullpens and was impressive at the draft combine. Many believe he has the talent to be a top-of-the-rotation starter in time. 
    Several Twins scouts saw him before the injury, but they have been around him a lot. The area scout, Matt Williams, and the supervisor, Derek Dunbar, got the chance to know him. Johnson said, “Our scouting staff has absolutely loved the pitcher, loved the pitches. The uniqueness of the slider is a real draw. It’s a high-velocity breaking ball that you don’t see a lot because his grip on it is pretty unique.” 
    Johnson also said that Alabama head coach Brad Bohanon was very helpful in giving the Twins insight on his makeup and the type of person he is off the field. 
    At the combine, he was up to 95 or 96 mph and the breaking ball was at 90, and he flashed a changeup. It was an impressive outing (just 20 pitches), and it certainly is a signal that he’s tracking toward full health.” 
    In 2021, the Twins drafted Steve Hajjar in the second round. They added Cade Povich in the third round. In the fifth round, they took Christian MacLeod. All three are left-handed, and Prielipp adds another left-handed arm with upside to the mix. Is this a trend? A strategy? Or, just who the best pitcher was on their board at the time. 
    Johnson said, “Our aim is not to acquire left or right-handed pitching, it’s just impact pitching, regardless of which hand they throw with. So obviously it’s a little more unique being left-handed. A guy with his kind of pitches and upside is exciting to turn over to our player development group which has done such an amazing job with a lot of the pitchers we have taken in the last couple of years. To be able to add him into the mix is really exciting for our future, as it pertains to pitching prospects in our system. 
    Finally, with the 68th overall pick, the Twins took infielder Tanner Schobel from Virginia Tech. Now, he is listed at 5-10 and 170 pounds, but his stats might surprise you. This season, he hit .362/.445/.689 with 18 doubles, a triple, 19 home runs, and 74 RBI. He led the Hokies in home runs, RBI and total bases, a team that included Gavin Cross who was taken by the Royals with the ninth overall pick. 
    “He really performed. He’s a guy that grows on you a little bit. He’s not the most physical guy on the board, but he’s got surprising strength and he can jolt the ball farther than you’d ever think he could,” Johnson continued. “His makeup is really good. Comes from a really great background, and family. He’s really competitive. He was the leader on that Virginia Tech team.” 
    The Twins went to watch Gavin Cross a lot, but “The more you see that team play, the more you appreciated Schrobel’s game. He’s got a chance to stay in the middle of the diamond. He’s got a fast swing with some sneaky power. Like Brooks Lee, he’s got plus-intangibles.” 
    Fair to say that the draft couldn’t have gone much better for the Twins. They have two players that probably should have gone higher in the draft fall to them, and their third pick is clearly a guy they really like too and maybe even drafted just a little higher than he might rank, knowing that they don’t have a third-round pick on Monday and he would be gone long before Round 4. 
    The Twins draft room was very happy, according to Johnson. 
    “We were just saying in the room that some years, it feels like you don’t get any bounces falling your way, and some years you feel like some of them go, but you never feel like they all fall that way. But to get the three guys we got tonight, felt like a really good night for our room. We coveted all three players. We were hopeful that ones would make it to certain ranges on the board, and the fact that they did, our room is in a really good spot going into Day 2.”
    Here’s hoping that Sean Johnson and the personnel at Target Field are just as excited about Day 2’s selections. 
    Regarding Day 2, Johnson said,  "Day 2 always seems to be the craziest!" 
  25. Like
    Oldgoat_MN reacted to Melissa Berman for an article, Fans Pack the Park for Twins-Brewers Series   
    Before Tuesday’s three rain delays hit Target Field, the Twins announced an attendance of 37,183 fans. Wednesday’s series finale drew 38,802 fans, the team’s first sellout of the year. Wednesday’s game was also the largest crowd at Target Field since September 21, 2019, when the Bomba Squad Twins played the Kansas City Royals in front of 37,750 fans. 
    While some Twins games this season have drawn decent crowds, especially on Prince Night and the Yankees series in June, the sheer number of fans at the Twins-Brewers games was a bit of a foreign but welcome sight. The Twins have somewhat struggled to draw fans to the ballpark this season despite the solid on-the-field performance, bargain ticket deals, and their perch atop the AL Central standings. Through 44 home games, the Twins were ranked 20th out of 30 teams in attendance, with an average of 21,134 fans per game. 
    Attendance was no issue this week. For the first time this season or even in recent memory, the lower level concourse was wall-to-wall fans, there was hardly any street or surface lot parking to be found around the stadium, concession stands were running out of Dollar Dogs, and fans occupied nearly every stadium seat. 
    Though Twins fans certainly showed up for this series, give credit where it is due: Brewers fans travel remarkably well. At times, Target Field sounded like Miller Park, with “Let’s go Brew Crew!” chants thundering through the stadium and echoing off Target Field’s roof (Twins fans largely answered these chants back with boos). The stadium exploded with cheers with each Brewers hit.
    The large "Brew Crew" presence was especially felt late in the game on Tuesday, the triple rain delay night, when the hardy, mostly-Brewers crowd packed into the lower level for the remaining few innings of the game.
    The Twins also have their youngest fans to thank for the series blockbuster attendance: the upper deck during Wednesday's day game was almost completely youth summer camps wearing matching t-shirts. Their collective "Let's go Twins!" chants were both impressively loud and adorable. 
    So why is the Brewers-Twins series the biggest of the year?
    For many Brewers fans, Target Field is a closer drive than Milwaukee, especially for those who live in western Wisconsin. A quick jaunt down i94 brings these fans to Twins Territory to see their favorite team play in "enemy territory." The Twins and Brewers typically only play each other twice in a season, with each team visiting the other once, so it is a somewhat uncommon, special occurrence.
    It also cannot be overstated how much Minnesota and Wisconsin love to compete in everything. No, it does not matter that the Twins are in the American League and the Brewers in the National League; the interstate rivalry is alive and well. With the Twins and Brewers walking away with a 1-1 series split, both fanbases left with something to feel good about.  
    Other notes
    Wednesday's Twins game was MLB's Game of the Week, and KickliySports, the local artist who paints at every Twins game, was front and center. The YouTube TV crew interviewed Kickliy and showed live clips of him painting. After this weekend's Twins-White Sox series, next up for Kickliy is the 3M Open golf tournament in Blaine, where he has been given an all-access pass to paint. The weather at Tuesday's game was beyond belief. It seemed that no one in attendance had any idea it was even going to rain that evening, much less produce an apocalyptic-looking shelf cloud, high winds, and blowing rain. Fans were instructed to take shelter on the concourse, but with the strong winds blowing the rain from behind, the concourse and roof offered little respite. The concourse floor even began flooding. Apparently, there is a viral TikTok video of a Target Field Dippin' Dots cart that the wind sends flying. During the rain delay, fans crowded into stairwells, bathrooms, and anywhere else they could to wait out the elements. The experience was chaotic and unexpected, but memorable. A piece of advice for my fellow gal Twins fans: Try to not bring a purse for games you anticipate will draw huge crowds, or if you do bring one, arrive early to account for the extra time you will spend in line. Target Field has two types of security lines: a line for those with bags an "express" line for those without. For Tuesday's game, I showed up with a purse slightly before game time and did not get into the stadium until the second inning. The predominately-female purse security line stretched all the way down the light rail track, meanwhile, the express lines had no wait. I asked a Target Field employee if they could start checking purses at the empty express lines and he declined, but they eventually started doing that after I'd waited for about 20 minutes. Wednesday I learned from my mistakes and left my purse at home, and I breezed through the security line in less than a minute. It's been a while since I've been to a packed Target Field; even Opening Day this season did not at all compare to the attendance of these two games, so going forward, I'll try to leave my purse at home for massive games like this one, weekend games, and playoff games. Weekday games draw smaller crowds, so the lines will be less of an issue. Some of these small inconveniences (like tougher parking, lines for the concessions, and a crowded concourse) come along with having a great team that draws big crowds, but if that's the price I have to pay for a successful team, I'll take it. Were you at the Twins-Brewers series? What was your experience like from being at the stadium? Let us know in the comments below. 
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