h2oface reacted to TwerkTwonkTwins for a blog entry, Falvine's Waiver Claim Game
Critique of a front office is easy to make in the midst of a deeply disappointing season. While many fans are languishing over the incoming July trade deadline, I've heard a lot of complaints about the lack of waiver claims made this season by the Minnesota Twins.
Why are the Twins continuing to trot out the likes of Colomé, Happ, and (formerly) Shoemaker, when the front office can claim replacement-level players from other teams for essentially nothing?
The outright waiver transaction process is a deeply complicated one. Whenever a team wants to remove a player that is already on the 40-man roster, that player must first be offered to each of the other 29 major league teams. If another team claims that player, the player goes on that new team's 40-man roster. The full definition from MLB can be found here.
Because I'm insane, and this season is awful, I decided to compile a list of every player that the Falvey/Levine front office has claimed from other organizations, in addition to players they've lost via waiver claims.
How have they fared in the waiver claim game? Should they pick up the pace, now that they have nothing to lose? Do these claims actually amount to anything?
These questions are important... but so is the trip down memory lane, once you read some of these names.
Players Acquired Via Waiver Claim
Date of Claim Player Claimed Position Team Claimed From fWAR in Minnesota 2/6/2017 Ehire Adrianza UTL IF San Francisco Giants 2.1 5/10/2017 Adam Wilk LHP New York Mets -0.2 6/7/2017 Chris Heston RHP Los Angeles Dodgers 0.0 3/24/2018 Kenny Vargas 1B Cincinatti Reds - 4/26/2018 David Hale RHP New York Yankees -0.2 5/28/2018 Taylor Motter UTL Seattle Mariners -0.3 8/3/2018 Johnny Field RF Cleveland Indians 0.1 8/3/2018 Oliver Drake RHP Cleveland Indians 0.2 10/31/2018 Michael Reed CF Atlanta Braves - 11/26/2018 C.J. Cron 1B Tampa Bay Rays 0.3 10/29/2019 Matt Wisler RHP Seattle Mariners 0.6 10/30/2020 Ian Gibault RHP Texas Rangers - 10/30/2020 Brandon Waddell LHP Pittsburgh Pirates -0.3 2/5/2021 Ian Hamilton RHP Philadelphia Phillies - 2/11/2021 Kyle Garlick RF Atlanta Braves 0.3 6/22/2021 Beau Burrows RHP Detroit Tigers - Total fWAR 2.6 The Twins have claimed a total of 16 players from opposing organizations since Falvey/Levine took over after the 2016 World Series. Of these 16 claims, their most consequential claim was their very first one. Ehire Adrianza was never a star, but a very productive role player for a number of contending Twins teams.
After that, the list isn't so impressive. Matt Wisler was great at slinging sliders in the bullpen during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, but the Twins cut him last offseason in a puzzling move. C.J. Cron and the currently-injured Kyle Garlick have been the largest "successes" outside of Adrianza and Wisler, each account for 0.3 fWAR as right-handed hitters that were acquired to mash left-handed pitching.
Most of these players did not remain on the 40-man roster for a long time. Quite a few were lost to waivers shortly after the Twins acquired them, which include Kenny Vargas, Johnny Field, Oliver Drake, and Brandon Waddell. Such is the life on the waiver wire for many MLB players.
Players Lost Via Waiver Claim
Date of Claim Player Position Team Claimed By fWAR after Minnesota 11/18/2016 Adam Brett Walker LF Milwaukee Brewers - 8/26/2017 Tim Melville RHP San Diego Padres -0.2 9/14/2017 Engelb Vielma SS San Francisco Giants -0.1 11/3/2017 Randy Rosario LHP Chicago Cubs -0.3 11/3/2017 Daniel Palka OF Chicago White Sox -0.7 11/6/2017 Nik Turley LHP Pittsburgh Pirates 0.2 1/22/2018 Buddy Boshers LHP Houston Astros 0.1 2/23/2018 JT Chargois RHP Los Angeles Dodgers 0.5 3/22/2018 Kenny Vargas 1B Cincinatti Reds - 7/9/2018 Ryan LaMarre CF Chicago White Sox 0.4 10/10/2018 Juan Graterol C Cincinatti Reds -0.2 11/1/2018 Johnny Field RF Chicago Cubs - 11/1/2018 Oliver Drake RHP Tampa Bay Rays 0.4 1/11/2019 Aaron Slegers RHP Pittsburgh Pirates 0.4 5/26/2019 Austin Adams RHP Detroit Tigers -0.1 7/20/2019 Adalberto Mejia LHP Los Angeles Angels 0.0 8/14/2019 Ryan Eades RHP Baltimore Orioles -0.2 9/16/2019 Marcos Diplan RHP Detroit Tigers - 11/4/2019 Stephen Gonsalves LHP New York Mets - 9/5/2020 Ildemaro Vargas 2B Chicago Cubs -0.5 10/1/2020 Sean Poppen RHP Pittsburgh Pirates -0.1 5/8/2021 Brandon Waddell LHP Baltimore Orioles 0 5/14/2021 Travis Blankenhorn 2B Los Angeles Dodgers -0.1 6/5/2021 Dakota Chalmers RHP Chicago Cubs - 6/18/2021 Shaun Anderson RHP Texas Rangers - Total fWAR -0.5 You'll immediately notice this list of players lost via waivers during the Falvyey/Levine regime is a lot longer than the list of players they've acquired via waivers. All together, they have lost 25 players, which is 9 more players than they've claimed from other teams.
The good news for the organization, is that this cumulative list has not come back to bite them. 10 of the 25 claimed players provided negative value for their new teams, after departing Minnesota. Daniel Palka's 2017 season really sunk this group, as he posted a -1.4 fWAR in only 93 plate appearances for the White Sox (after he provided 0.7 fWAR and a 109 wRC+ in 2018).
The largest losses from this group have definitely been in the relief category, highlighted by JT Chargois, Oliver Drake, and Aaron Slegers. However, most of these players have had inconsistent careers, injuries, or both, in their time after playing for Minnesota.
Even when factoring in some bullpen pieces this organization might regret losing, the total fWAR from these players after departing the Twins is -0.5 fWAR. The current front office has been right far more than wrong, when deciding how to churn the 40-man roster.
Yearly Trends And Overall Takeaway
Year Players Claimed From Other Teams Players Claimed By Other Teams 2016/2017 3 6 2018 7 7 2019 1 6 2020 2 2 2021 3 4 Total Players 16 25 Total fWAR 2.6 -0.5 fWAR Difference 3.1 Overall, the Twins have gained 3.1 fWAR from their decisions to gain and lose players from the waiver wire. That's a pretty decent result for a type of front office transaction that is often overlooked. It averages out to about 0.69 fWAR per season, factoring in the 4.5 seasons of the Falvey/Levine regime.
Most of that waiver activity came in 2017 and 2018, when the front office was still adjusting to their inherited players from the previous front office. Successful teams don't always gamble roster spots on players exposed to outright waivers, which is evident in the 2019 team.
One major caveat to point out across the yearly trend is that teams were probably hesitant to claim players from other organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic, so 2020 and early 2021 should be viewed through that lens.
However, that didn't stop the Twins from claiming 3 bullpen arms (Ian Gibault, Brandon Waddell, and Ian Hamilton), and Kyle Garlick this offseason. The jury is still out on these claims, but Waddell did not go well.
The most interesting thing about 2021 is that the Twins lost 4 players during their early season free-fall (Brandon Waddell, Travis Blankenhorn, Dakota Chalmers, and Shaun Anderson), before claiming Beau Burrows a few weeks ago from the Detroit Tigers.
Is former first-round draft pick Beau Burrows the tip of the iceberg? Now that 2021 is officially kaput, will the front office be more aggressive?
I sure hope so. Moves will be made in the next few weeks, and this 40-man roster will be significantly different as we approach the trade deadline. The 40-man roster will likely be smaller, and the Twins will be in front of the line when contenders have to cut players to account for their deadline additions.
Waiver claims are rarely sexy transactions, but sometimes you stumble into a Ehire Adrianza or a Matt Wisler. The Twins have proven to be more successful than not when it comes to their waiver claim game. It's time to play, because there's simply nothing to lose.
h2oface reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Keep Your Unwritten Rules, Let the Kids Play
Last night Fernando Tatis Jr. got a grooved fastball in a 3-0 count and sent it into orbit. The San Diego Padres were already up seven late in the game, and with the bases loaded, his grand slam put it way out of reach. Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward, he of the crotchety old age of 44, took exception to it.
Woodward told reporters after the game, "I didn't like it personally. You're up by 7 in the 8th inning, it's typically not a good time 3-0. It's kind of the way we were all raised in the game. But ... the norms are being challenged." He literally was asking for his opponent to quit playing. After Major League Baseball marketed their young talent wonderfully during the 2019 season with the slogan “Let the kids play” this is where we’re at.
I have no problem with baseball having unwritten rules. I think there’s a certain level of affection I have reserved specifically for the nuances in the sport. By and large though, the vast majority of said unwritten rules are dated and should be re-evaluated. Retaliation in the form of beanballs has long been silly. Bunting late in a game solely to break up a no-hit bid is one I think should draw some ire. If a pitcher wants to get on you for walking unnecessarily over his mound, so be it. Suggesting there’s counts in which the pitcher should know what the batter is doing though, and even further, completely expecting them to give up, is not a good look.
More often than not a 3-0 count results in a take due to the game scenario. Unless the pitch is absolutely grooved, that’s not a situation in which you want to miss and make an out. If a pitcher is going to throw a get-me-over fastball though, by all means the batter should be locked in and ready to ride it into orbit.
When Fernando Tatis Jr. did just that, his own manager Jayce Tingler missed the mark in defending him. Instead of noting that there was a sign missed, he simply could’ve said that he put a great swing on the pitch. Sure, missing signs is suboptimal, but that’s not the talking point in that specific spot. It’s like the basketball coach wanting the guard to work the offense, but he steps back and drains a three, which then causes exhale anyways.
There were takes all over the place in the wake of Tatis’ performance. Many of them correctly called out Woodward as off base and old school. Former Twins pitcher Phil Hughes chimed in comparing the situation to that of a football team taking a knee. The difference between all of those types of comparisons however is that baseball is the lone sport not dictated by time. When you’re up against a clock, strategy involved suggests killing the seconds and minutes in order to get you closer to victory. Baseball has outs, 27 of them, all finite. The only strategy when it comes to results in baseball is scoring more than the opposition before your self-inflicted missed opportunities run out.
If you want to be mad at a guy for swinging 3-0 at a bad pitch and giving up an opportunity to get on base, so be it. If you want to get mad at a guy for putting the ball in the seats, under any circumstances, by all means hop aboard the leather and ride it right on outta here.
For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
h2oface reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Names and players - yes I am bored
I just went through the roster of everyone who ever played for the Senators/Twins franchise. Only with Coronavirus would I do that. Well it was kind of fun and I put together a 26 man roster of the best names - from my perspective. These were last names only and it was hard to ignore the nicknames. Vic Power led off at first for the Twins since Power is our calling card and Early Wynn (perfect names) is our starting pitcher. Some are a little more obscure - actually I never heard of many of them. But here it is. Have at it - add and subtract as you like.
1B Vic Power
2B Jimmy Bloodworth
3B Rocky Bridges
SS Sam Crane
C Earl Battey
OF Steve Braun
OF Eric Bullock
OF Goose Goslin
P Early Wynn
P Red Bird
P Boof Bonser
P John Butcher
P Matt Capps
P Jim Constable
P Skipper Friday
P Eric Hacker
P Jim Hoey
P Jim Kaat
P Joe Klink
P Spencer Pumpelly
B Brian Dinkelman – 2B
B Jake Early – C
B Butch Huskey – OF
B Clyde Kluttz – C
B Elmer Klumpp – C
B Bob Unglaub - U
I also played with individual letters. This meant letters with a lot of names like "S". The weakness in this is apparent right away - the players were not Senator/Twins for their entire career so their numbers are inflated. For my exercise it is as if they were potentially on our teams their entire career and if they were this is how they stacked up.
1B George Sisler HOF 56.4
2b Germany Schaefer 8.9
3b Miquel Sano 7.8
Ss Roy Smalley 27.9
C Terry Steinbach 28
Of Tris Speaker HOF 134.2
Of Al Simmons HOF 68
Of Roy Sievers 25.5
P Jack Sandford 18.6
P Johann Santana 51.7
P Ervin Santana 26.6
P Bill Singer 18.7
p Lee Stange 9.2
464.5 total WAR
The R team does not have a total WAR because you will see that the list does not have enough potential to be beat the S team.
1B Rich Rollins
2b Luis Rivas
3b Rich Reese
Ss Pete Runnels
C Phil Roof
Of Ben Revere
Of Sam Rice HOF
Of Eddie Rosario
P Brad Radtke
P Pedro Ramos
P Jeff Reardon
P Kenny Rogers
p Dutch Reuther
The P team had 302.9 WAR but lacked the total star power.
1B Vic Power 15.3
2b Trevor Plouffe 7.2
3b Mike Pagliarulo 10.6
Ss Roger Peckinpaugh 44.9
C A J Pierzynski 23.8
Of Wally Post 18.2
Of Kirby Puckett 51.1
Of Albie Pearson 13.1
P Jim Perry 41.6
P Camilo Pascual 40.9
P Carl Pavano 16.4
P Mike Pineda 10.9
p Glen Perkins 8.9
The M's make a big push with 378.8 WAR
1B Justin Morneau 27
2b Buddy Myer 47.8
3b David McKay 0.1
Ss Pat Meares 4.8
C Joe Mauer 55.3
Of Paul Molitor HOF 75.7
Of Heinie Manush HOF 47.2
Of Shane Mack 21.6
P Firpo Marberry 30.3
P Tippy Martinez 8.6
P Joe Mays 9.4
P Eric Milton 16.5
p Jack Morris HOF 43.5
1B Ron Coomer 1.4
2b Rod Carew HOF 81.3
3b John Castino 15.2
Ss Joe Cronin 64.1
C Juan Castro -5.4
Of Ben Chapman 41.9
Of Marty Cordova 7.7
Of Michael Cuddyer 17.8
P Steve Carlton HOF 90.2
P Stan Coveleski HOF 61.4
P Dean Chance 29.9
P Al Cicotte 0.3
p Bartolo Colon 45.8
451.6 comes in second thanks to the HOF players
Those were the letters I chose. K has Killebrew and Kaat, but not enough supporting cast. B has a lot of players but only Blyleven is HOF. D has only Ed Delehanty. W does not have as many players, but Walter Johnson has 164 WAR by himself.
I cannot continue - my boredom has been replaced by being tired.
h2oface reacted to Heezy1323 for a blog entry, Rich Hill Elbow Surgery Discussion
Rich Hill Elbow Surgery Discussion
Happy Supposed-To-Be Opening Day everyone. Since the baseball season is (unfortunately) on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, about the only recent baseball-related news to report has been that both Chris Sale and Noah Syndergaard (in addition to Luis Severino earlier this spring) are in need of Tommy John surgery. I covered some information about Sale’s injury and some discussion regarding techniques used in UCL reconstruction in previous blog posts. In the comment section of the latter post, TD user wabene asked an astute question about Rich Hill’s surgery and how it is similar or different from typical UCL reconstruction. Hill’s surgery is indeed different from a typical Tommy John surgery, and I thought a post about it might be interesting to some readers.
As usual, my disclaimer: I am not an MLB team physician. I have not seen or examined Hill or reviewed his imaging studies. I am not speaking on behalf of the Twins or MLB. I am only planning to cover general information about this type of surgery and my take on what it might mean.
Twins Daily contributor Lucas Seehafer posted an excellent article about Hill’s surgery back in January that was a good look into the surgery basics and some background about UCL primary repair. There was some additional discussion in the comments as well. Since Lucas did such a nice job covering the surgery, I won’t go into excessive detail in this post, but I’ll give my version of the basics, and then cover how Hill’s surgery is similar and different.
Basics of UCL Primary Repair
As covered in my post about Sale, the UCL is a strong ligament at the inside of the elbow that resists the stretching forces that occur when trying to throw a baseball. Obviously, hurling a baseball 90+ mph can take a toll on this ligament and it can, in some cases, result in a tear. These tears can occur at the top (humeral) end, bottom (ulnar) end or in the middle (called midsubstance).
The figure above is from a study we did when I was in fellowship indicating the location of the ligament injury in 302 patients who had undergone surgery with Dr. Andrews. The most common areas of injury are at either end of the ligament, with the humeral end being slightly more common (at least in this series) than the ulnar end. These patients all underwent UCL reconstruction, which is the standard operation to treat these injuries when non-surgery treatments have failed to result in adequate improvement.
More recently (I would say within the past 5-7 years), there has been emerging interest in performing a different operation for a subset of these patients called UCL Primary Repair. This operation differs from UCL Reconstruction in that when the repair is chosen, the injured ligament is reattached back to the bone at the site of the injury using special anchors. There is typically also a strong stitch called an ‘internal brace’ that is passed across the joint along the path of the repaired UCL as well. I often refer to this internal brace as a ‘seat belt’ stitch. The idea behind the internal brace is that early in the healing process, before it has re-developed strong attachments to the bone, the ligament is susceptible to reinjury which could cause failure to heal (or compromised strength of healing). The internal brace (theoretically) helps protect the healing ligament and allows for development of a stronger attachment back to the bone. Once healing has occurred, the internal brace is thought to act like ‘rebar’, adding some strength to the ligament (though the exact magnitude of this contribution is unclear).
This figure illustrates the repair technique with the blue ‘internal brace’ also in place.
This is different from UCL reconstruction, where tissue from elsewhere in the body (typically either a forearm tendon called palmaris or a hamstring tendon called gracilis) is passed through bone tunnels and used to create a ‘new’ ligament.
One of the reasons for the interest in primary repair of the UCL has to do with the length of time needed for recovery from UCL reconstruction. As many of us know from having watched numerous pitchers undergo (and subsequently return from) Tommy John surgery, there is usually around 12-18 months needed for full return to pitching at the major league level. There are a number of reasons for this long time frame, but a major contributor is that this is the amount of time needed for the graft to fully heal. Recall, we are taking a tendon (which normally attaches muscle to bone) and putting it in the place of a ligament (which normally attaches one bone to another bone). Though tendons and ligaments are similar, there are differences in their microscopic structure. Over time, as the graft starts to heal and have new stresses placed on it (namely throwing), it begins to change its microscopic structure and actually becomes a ligament. In fact, there have been animal studies done that have shown that a biopsy of a sheep ACL graft (which was originally a tendon) over time evolves into what is nearly indistinguishable from a ligament. We call this process ‘ligamentization’, and it is probably the most important part of what allows the new ligament to withstand the stresses of throwing.
This process, however, takes time. And because of this, the recovery from UCL reconstruction is lengthy. With primary repair of the UCL, this process of conversion of the tendon to ligament is not necessary since we are repairing the patient’s own ligament back to its normal position. Some healing is still required; namely the healing of the detached ligament back to the bone where it tore away. But this process does not typically require the same amount of time as the ligamentization process.
So why, then, wouldn’t everyone who needed surgery for this injury just have a primary repair? In practice, there are a few issues that require consideration when choosing what surgery is most suitable for a particular athlete. The first brings us back to the first graph from this post regarding location of injury to the UCL. It turns out that asking an injured ligament to heal back to bone is a much different thing than asking a torn ligament to heal back to itself. Specifically, trying to heal a tear in the midsubstance of the UCL (which requires the two torn edges of the ligament to heal back together) results in a much less strong situation than a ligament healing to bone. That makes those injuries that involve the midsubstance of the UCL (about 12% in our study) not suitable for primary repair. It can only be realistically considered in those athletes who have an injury at one end of the ligament or the other.
In addition, there is significant consideration given to the overall condition of the ligament. One can imagine that repairing a nearly pristine ligament that has a single area of injury (one end pulled away from the bone) is a different situation than trying to successfully repair a ligament that has a poorer overall condition. Imagine looking at a piece of rope that is suspending a swing from a tree branch- if the rope is basically brand new, but for some reason breaks at its attachment to the swing, it seems logical that reattaching the rope to the swing securely is likely to result in a well-functioning swing with less cause for concern about repeat failure. Conversely, if you examine the rope in the same situation and notice that it is thin and frayed in a number of places, but just happened to fail at its attachment to the swing, you would be much less likely to try and repair the existing rope. More likely, you would go to the store and buy a new rope to reattach the swing (analogous to reconstruction). Similarly, when we are considering surgical options, we examine the overall health of the ligament on the MRI scan, and also during the surgery to determine whether repair is suitable or whether a reconstruction is needed. If there is a significant amount of damage to the UCL on MRI, primary repair may not be presented to the athlete as an option.
Also, consideration is given to the particulars of an athlete’s situation. For example, let’s say I see a high school junior pitcher who has injured his elbow during the spring season. Let’s also say that he wants to return to pitching for his senior year but has no interest in playing baseball competitively beyond high school. In this case, the athlete is trying to return relatively quickly (the next spring) and is not planning to place long term throwing stress on the UCL beyond the next season. If this athlete fails to improve without surgery (such that all agree a surgery is needed), and his MRI is favorable- he is a good candidate for UCL primary repair. This would hopefully allow him to return in a shorter time frame (6-9 months) for his senior season, which would not be possible if a reconstruction was performed. Indeed, this is the exact type of patient that first underwent this type of surgery by Dr. Jeff Dugas at American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, AL. Dr. Dugas is a protégé of Dr. James Andrews and has been instrumental in pioneering the research behind UCL primary repair.
As you can probably imagine, the longer players (and pitchers in particular) play baseball, the more likely it is that there is an accumulation of damage to the UCL over time. This is the factor that most commonly eliminates the option of primary repair of the UCL in many of these players.
So how does any of this relate to Twins pitcher Rich Hill? Let’s discuss.
Hill underwent UCL reconstruction of his left elbow in 2011. He was able to successfully return from his surgery but has certainly faced his share of injury concerns since then (as described nicely in Lucas Seehafer’s article). This past season he began to have elbow pain once again and was placed on the 60-day IL as a result. He then underwent surgery on the elbow in October 2019 by Dr. Dugas (noted above). The procedure performed was a repair procedure, but in this case instead of repairing Hill’s own UCL, the repair was performed to reattach the previously placed UCL graft. I don’t have any first-hand knowledge of Hill’s surgery, but my best guess is that the technique was very similar to what was described above for a typical primary repair with internal brace. To my knowledge, this has not been attempted before in a major league pitcher.
There is data showing a relatively good return to play rate with primary repair that is very similar to UCL reconstruction. However, most UCL repair patients are much younger than Hill and the vast majority that have been studied to this point are not major league pitchers. There are a couple of ways you can interpret this data when it comes to Hill. One perspective is that he had a repair of a ‘ligament’ (his UCL graft) that was only 8 years old (since his TJ was done in 2011), and as such it likely doesn’t have as much cumulative damage as his UCL might otherwise have if he had not had any prior surgery. An opposing perspective would be that this is his second UCL operation, and even though his most recent surgery was not a reconstruction, the data that would be most applicable to him would be data regarding athletes who have undergone revision UCL reconstruction (meaning they have had a repeat TJ procedure after the UCL failed a second time). This data is less optimistic. Most studies would put the rate of return to play after normal UCL reconstruction around 85% (depending on exactly how you define successful return to play). In most studies, the rate of return to play after revision UCL reconstruction is much lower, around 60-70%. There are two MLB pitchers that I am aware of that have undergone primary repair of the UCL (Seth Maness and Jesse Hahn). Maness has yet to return to MLB and Hahn didn’t fare very well in 6 appearances in 2019.
Finally, my last input on this topic as it pertains to Hill is to imagine the specific position he is/was in. He is likely nearing the end of his career (he turned 40 in March 2020). He had a significant elbow injury that was not getting better without surgery. Presumably his choices were four:
1) Continue trying to rehab without surgery and see how it goes, understanding that the possibility exists that rehab may not be successful. (Perhaps a PRP injection could be tried)
3) Undergo revision UCL reconstruction with its associated 12-18 month recovery timeline, likely putting him out for all of 2020 with a possible return in 2021 at age 41.
4) Undergo this relatively new primary repair procedure with the possibility of allowing him to return to play for part of the 2020 season, but with a much less known track record. In fact, a basically completely unknown track record for his specific situation.
If that doesn’t seem like a list filled with great options, it’s because it isn’t. If I’m being honest, I think Hill probably made the best choice (presuming that he still has a desire to play), even with the unknowns regarding his recovery. He obviously couldn’t have seen this virus pandemic coming, but that would seem to make the choice even better since he is not missing any games (because none are being played).
For Hill’s and the Twins sake, I hope his recovery goes smoothly and he is able to return and pitch at the high level he is used to. He sure seems like a warrior and is certainly the kind of person that is easy to root for. But based on what we know about his situation, there is an element of uncertainty. If I were Hill’s surgeon, I likely would have told him that he had around a 50-60% chance to return and pitch meaningful innings after this type of surgery. Let’s hope the coin falls his way, and also that we can figure out how to best handle this virus and get everyone back to their normal way of life as soon and safely as possible.
Thanks for reading. Be safe everyone. Feel free to leave any questions in the comment section.
h2oface reacted to Heezy1323 for a blog entry, UCL Reconstruction Techniques
UCL Reconstruction Surgery
I recently posted a blog about Chris Sale and the news that he was set to undergo UCL reconstruction. That post covered some questions surrounding the diagnosis and decision-making that occurs when players/teams are faced with this dilemma. That post got a little lengthy, and I chose not to delve into the surgery itself, as I felt that may be better presented as a separate entry. My intention with this post is to discuss some of the different techniques that are used to perform UCL reconstruction. This does get fairly technical, and I apologize in advance if it is more than people would like to know.
First, we should revisit the anatomy. The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) is a small but strong ligament on the medial (or inner) part of the elbow. It is around the size of a small paper clip. Ligaments (by definition) connect one bone to an adjacent bone. The UCL spans from the medial epicondyle of the humerus (the bump you can likely feel on the inside of your elbow) to the sublime tubercle of the ulna (one of the two forearm bones). (As an aside, sublime tubercle is one of my favorite terms in all of anatomy).
As with nearly any reconstructive surgery in orthopedics, our aim is to recreate the native/normal anatomy as closely as possible. In order to do this, most techniques utilize small tunnels that are drilled into the bone at the ligament attachment sites. The tissue that is used to reconstruct the ligament is then woven through these tunnels and tightened to create a secure new ‘ligament’ that heals and strengthens over time.
The primary differences between different techniques are the ‘approach’ (or how tissues are moved aside to see the damaged areas), the specifics of how the tunnels are made and used, the type of tissue (or graft) that is used to make the new ligament, and the way that the graft is secured in place. There are a number of variations that exist, but I’ll cover a few of the most commonly used methods.
First, some history may be in order. The first UCL reconstruction was, famously, performed on Tommy John. Tommy John was an outstanding pitcher for the LA Dodgers in the early 1970’s, and had compiled a 13-3 record in 1974 when he had a sudden injury to his elbow and was unable to throw. Imaging was performed, and the diagnosis of a UCL tear was made by pioneering orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Frank Jobe (of the famous Kerlan Jobe clinic in LA). Dr. Jobe had an idea to perform a reconstruction of the UCL, and practiced on several cadavers until he felt he had worked out a promising technique. He told Tommy that he thought he had a 1 in 100 chance of a successful return to MLB pitching. John decided to go ahead. The surgery was ultimately successful, and John returned to pitching in 1976. Though Tommy made it back, he did have a temporary palsy of his ulnar nerve after surgery, which is the ‘funny bone’ nerve that is near the UCL. This caused him significant weakness in his hand at first, but fortunately the strength returned over time and Tommy was able to return to pitching. Interestingly, he won more MLB games after surgery than he did before surgery, and pitched until 1989. There is a story that Jose Canseco hit a homer off John late in his career. Apparently Canseco’s father was Tommy’s dentist, and Tommy said something to the effect of “When your dentist’s kid starts hitting home runs off you, it’s time to retire.”
The technique used for this first surgery was termed the Jobe Technique (for obvious reasons). It involved removing the attachment of the muscles to the inner part of the elbow and pulling the muscles toward the wrist to get a good look at the UCL itself. Tunnels were drilled in the bone at the normal attachment sites of the ligament, and a small tendon from the forearm (called the palmaris) was used to weave through the tunnels making a ‘figure-8’ in order to make a new ligament. (The palmaris is a non-necessary tendon that is located in the forearm of about 2/3 of the population. For those patients who don’t have a palmaris, we usually use a hamstring tendon called the gracilis for this procedure.) The old ligament was left in place and sewed into the graft. The nerve was also moved from its normal location (behind the bump) to in front of the bump to take some of the tension off. This is called a ‘transposition’ of the ulnar nerve.
This technique was used for a while, but it did have some drawbacks, such as a high percentage of patients having ulnar nerve problems after surgery and some weakness resulting from detaching and reattaching the muscles of the forearm. Because of this, other surgeons sought new ways to perform this surgery.
One commonly used technique was termed the ASMI-modification of the Jobe Technique. ASMI stand for American Sports Medicine Institute (in Birmingham, AL) and this modification was initially described by Dr. James Andrews and colleagues. This involved similar bone tunnels, but the main difference was in the way that the muscles were treated. Rather than detaching the muscle and reattaching at the end of the surgery, in the ASMI technique the muscle was lifted up (and not detached) and the work was done underneath the muscle. The ulnar nerve is transposed when this technique is used (like the Jobe technique). The passing and fixation of the graft is essentially identical to the Jobe Technique as well.
Another commonly used technique is called the ‘docking method’. There are a couple of main differences between the docking method and ASMI method. First, the docking method utilizes a ‘muscle-splitting’ approach rather than a ‘muscle-lifting’ approach like the AMSI technique (see figure). This means that the muscle is divided between its fibers and a ‘window’ is created in the muscle in order to see the torn UCL and make the tunnels. There is also a difference in the way the tunnels are made. In the ASMI technique, the tunnels are the same size all the way through, and the graft tissue is passed all the way through the tunnels. In the docking technique, the tunnel on the ulna side is the same. But on the humeral side, the tunnels are sort-of half tunnels with smaller tunnels continuing on through the back side of the bone. This is because the graft is fixed in a different way- there are strong stitches that are attached to the ends of the graft that pull each end into the large tunnels. The stitches then pass through the small portion of the tunnels and are tied behind the bone, which secures the graft in place.
This technique does not require transposition of the ulnar nerve, which is an advantage because less handling of the nerve generally means less risk of trouble with the nerve after surgery.
There are a handful of other techniques that are slight variations on these themes, primarily using different devices such as anchors, interference screws or metal buttons to achieve graft fixation. There have been a number of cadaver biomechanical studies done that have compared methods, and they have been found to be largely equivalent. There seems to be a smaller incidence of ulnar nerve symptoms after surgery when the nerve is not handled/transposed (which makes some sense). The return to play rates are very similar regardless of which technique is used, with perhaps a slight favor to docking technique depending on the study.
I trained with Dr. Andrews, and performed nearly 100 UCL reconstruction cases during my fellowship using the ASMI technique. In my own practice, I tend to use the docking technique most commonly. I do this because I would prefer not to transpose the nerve if I don’t have to in order to decrease the likelihood of nerve problems after surgery. We also saw some problems with fracture of the bone near the humeral tunnels when using the ASMI technique, and using the docking technique allows us to make smaller tunnels. This makes fracture in this area less likely. That said, Dr. Andrews has had (and continues to have) tremendous success using this technique. As we have learned more about this type of surgery, it has become clear that it is important that the bone tunnels be made very accurately, as improperly placed tunnels seem to be a risk factor for inability to return to full participation. There has also been some investigation as to whether addition of PRP or other biologics to the reconstruction area at the time of surgery makes a difference in healing speed or strength. At this time, I am not aware that any research has shown a difference.
If anyone has managed to make it this far without falling asleep, I hope you found this discussion interesting. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have additional questions. Thanks for reading. Safe wishes to you and your families.
h2oface reacted to Heezy1323 for a blog entry, Chris Sale UCL Q&A
Chris Sale Tommy John Q&A
It has been reported that Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox will undergo UCL reconstruction surgery, also known as Tommy John surgery. Sale has not pitched in a live game since August 13, 2019. He then went on the Injured List on August 17 and did not return for the remainder of the 2019 campaign. He was reportedly seen at that time by several of the best-known US surgeons who care for pitchers and a decision was made to hold off on surgery, and instead try a platelet rich plasma (PRP) injection. He finished the 2019 season with a 6-11 record and ERA north of 4.00, significantly below the standard he had established throughout his excellent career. This is on top of the fact that Sale has yet to even begin his 5-year, $145 million contract extension. Sale will now miss whatever portion of the MLB season is played this year, as well as potentially some part of the 2021 season.
A number of questions can often surround a decision such as this, so let’s cover a few things that readers may find helpful.
(Disclaimer: As per the usual, I am not an MLB team physician. I have not examined Sale or seen his imaging studies. I am not speaking on behalf of the Red Sox or any other team. This article is for educational purposes only for those who might want to know more about this injury/surgery or about how these types of decisions get made.)
Question 1: What is this injury? How does it occur?
The ulnar collateral ligament (or UCL) is a strong band of tissue that connects the inner (medial) part of the elbow joint. (Figure 1)
Though it is relatively small (about the size of a small paper clip), it is strong. The native UCL is able to withstand around 35 Nm (or about 25 foot pounds) of force. However, by available calculations the force placed on the elbow when throwing a 90mph fastball exceeds this, at around 64 Nm. How, then, does the UCL not tear with each pitch? Fortunately, there are other additional structures around the elbow that are able to ‘share’ this load and allow the UCL to continue to function normally (in most cases). The flexor/pronator muscles in the forearm are the most significant contributor. The geometry of the bones of the elbow also help.
In many cases, the UCL is not injured all at once (acutely), but rather by a gradual accumulation of smaller injuries which lead to deterioration and eventual failure of this ligament. When the ligament is injured, it obviously does not function at 100% of its normal capacity- in which case the other structures around the elbow are required to ‘pick up the slack’ in order to continue throwing at the same speed. This is why when a pitcher reports a ‘flexor strain’, there is concern that the UCL is not functioning properly – the muscles of the forearm are being forced to work overtime to compensate for a damaged UCL.
There are also cases where the ligament does fail suddenly. These are often accompanied by a ‘pop’ and immediate significant pain.
Question 2: What do players report as the problem when their UCL is injured?
Most commonly, players report pain with throwing at the inner part of the elbow as the most pronounced symptom. However, other symptoms can also be present including loss of throwing control/accuracy, inability to fully move the elbow, swelling, numbness or tingling of the hand and more. Symptoms can be significant almost immediately, or they can begin very subtly and slowly increase over time. Once they have reached higher levels of baseball, most players are aware of this type of injury (thanks to efforts toward education for coaches, athletic trainers and others) and are able to recognize symptoms and report them to the appropriate personnel.
Question 3: Once the player is concerned about an injury to the UCL, what happens next?
Most commonly the player will be examined by an athletic trainer or team physician to assess the injury and direct further treatment. Often, xrays will be performed of the elbow to assess the bones of the elbow joint for any abnormalities. There can sometimes be bone spurs, small fractures, bone fragments or other findings on these xrays. However, much of the time the xrays are normal and an MRI may be performed to further assess the situation. An MRI allows us to see the soft tissues around the elbow in addition to the bones. Specifically, we are able to look more closely at the actual UCL itself, the surrounding muscles as well as get a closer look at the nearby bone. (Figure 2)
The MRI helps the treatment team get a sense of the integrity of the ligament, which allows for the next step in the process: deciding how to treat the injury.
Question 4: How are UCL injuries treated?
This is where the challenges often really begin. Much of the time, the UCL will appear abnormal on MRI. There are a handful of grading systems that are used to classify these injuries (one of which, incidentally, I helped create), though there isn’t one that is universally used or agreed upon. Generally speaking, they try to separate injuries into those that are partial tears or complete tears and also try to identify the specific location of the damage. The damage can occur at the upper end of the ligament (called the humeral end), the middle (called midsubstance) or at the lower end of the ligament (called the ulnar end). In those cases where there is a complete tear of the ligament (meaning that the ligament is no longer in continuity and attached at both ends), there is near universal agreement that surgery is typically necessary to allow that athlete to return to competitive throwing activities. The problem, however, is that most MRI’s show a partial injury to the UCL. These injuries can be extremely difficult to predict how they are going to respond to a chosen treatment. In addition, athlete A can have an MRI that looks much more abnormal than athlete B, yet the symptoms of athlete B are substantially worse. This is the basic cause of the uncertainty as it pertains to treatment for this injury.
There has been tremendous research performed attempting to quickly identify ways to reliably separate those throwers that are going to need surgery from those that will not. Indeed, with pitchers such as Sale, there can be tens or even a hundred million dollars plus at stake. However, to date there is not a perfected method that can be used for every athlete to make this surgery vs. no surgery decision.
Question 5: What non-surgical options are available?
There are primarily two non-surgery options available to these athletes, and I’ll attempt to briefly cover them here.
A) Physical therapy- the commonly used ‘rest and rehab’ method. This is probably the most important component of any treatment plan, and a good therapist who has specialized training in the care of overhead athletes is critical. Often, the athlete is prescribed rest from throwing in order to allow the UCL an opportunity to ‘settle down’ any inflammation and perhaps perform some healing of the injured tissue. In addition, as we discussed above, the muscles of the forearm contribute to stability of the elbow joint. Strengthening these muscles (along with a number of other muscles throughout the body) contributes to ‘protecting’ the UCL from further injury. As the recovery progresses, a return to throwing program is initiated, usually starting with a small number of throws from a short distance and gradually progressing to longer throws with greater effort and eventually throwing from the mound (for pitchers). This hopefully results in a more well-balanced and mechanically sound athlete who is more evenly distributing the forces of throwing across the various anatomic structures involved.
B ) Platelet rich plasm (PRP)- This is a product that is obtained from the athlete’s own blood which is drawn and then spun in a centrifuge to separate the blood into its components. The portion of the blood which contains the platelets is then taken and injected at the site of injury to the UCL. This injection includes a number of chemical signals (called cytokines) that regulate healing and inflammation (along with many other things). The injections are thought to help with healing of these partial UCL injuries. The available data on this is mixed, with some studies showing improved results with PRP and others showing no difference. In the linked study, the rate of ‘successful’ non-surgical treatment was 54% (including both PRP and non-PRP athletes).
Question 6: How is the decision to proceed with surgery made?
This is probably the most challenging part of the evaluation process of UCL injuries. There are a tremendous number of factors which play a role in this decision. These include the specific characteristics of the athlete (such as age, position, role, contract status, stage of career, desire to continue playing and several others); exam and imaging findings (understanding that these are frequently ambiguous); as well as response to previous non-surgery treatment (to name a few). Often more than one expert opinion is sought, particularly when it is a big name/big contract player. Usually, surgeons will speak with a number of people when considering options including the athlete and family, team doctors and staff, team officials, and other experts (who may or may not have seen the patient themselves). In my experience in these situations, the vast majority of the time there is a consensus amongst those involved how best to proceed. Occasionally there will be differing opinions, in which case the athlete often has to make a choice on how to proceed.
Question 7: Why didn’t Sale just go ahead with surgery last fall?
I suspect that this is a question that many Red Sox fans are wondering about right now. As discussed above, these decisions are typically difficult and have many contributing factors. While it may seem as though ‘rest and rehab’ never works and everyone should just go ahead and have Tommy John surgery at the first sign of trouble, that is not really borne out in the data. There is some variance depending on the definition of ‘successful return to play’ used in any particular study, but for the most part the rate of success of Tommy John surgery in pitchers is around 80-85%. That means about 1 in 5 never make it back to pitch. This may not seem like bad odds, but I submit that your opinion might change if it was your elbow (and livelihood/contract) at risk. As they say, hindsight is always 20/20.
In the case of Sale, I suspect that the season being shortened by the unusual circumstances of coronavirus this year likely also played a role. Once it became clear that a full season would not be played, the decision may have been easier.
I think I’ll stop there for now (if anyone has continued to read this far…). If people are interested in technical aspects of how the surgery is performed, please let me know in the comments an I’d be happy to do another post about it. I have spare time currently, as you might imagine.
Stay safe everyone, and please listen to the medical professionals who are trying to help us combat this virus. It is a serious threat to our way of life, and we need to treat it as such in order to minimize the damage. Thanks for reading.
h2oface reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, What If Jake Odorizzi Is Minnesota’s Impact Arm?
Despite an opportunity to hit the open market after the 2019 season, Jake Odorizzi returned to the Twins on a $17.8 million qualifying offer. It ended up being below market value and could be even more of a coup if Odorizzi continues trending towards the impact arm this rotation covets.
One of the best moves the new regime has made since taking over was flipping middle infield prospect Jermaine Palacios to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Odo. Palacios is 23 years old, still at Double-A, and hasn’t posted an OPS north of .600 since 2017. Jake meanwhile had a career year in 2019, has wholeheartedly embraced data, and could be on the verge of a next step the pushes him into the upper echelon.
Coming off his first All-Star appearance in 2019, Odorizzi posted a 3.51 ERA bolstered by a 3.36 FIP. His 10.1 K/9 was nearly two notches above his career norms, and his 1.208 WHIP was the lowest it’s been since 2016. Despite the Bugs Bunny baseball, the fly ball specialist posted a career low 0.9 HR/9. His 45% career fly ball rate translated into a career low 3.5% HR/FB ratio despite a career high 42% hard hit rate.
How did all that come together? Well, Jake made some key strides in other areas obviously. His 93-mph average velocity was nearly two ticks up from 2018. At 29-years-old, he was adding oomph, and he’s been an early adopter of new technology. With that heavier fastball he was able to post a 12.7% whiff rate (career best) and batters made contact just 74% of the time against him.
Assuming consistent gains is an inexact science. While peak performance falls along different places on a bell curve, Odorizzi’s age 30 season should drop within the realm of peak performance. Looking for competitive advantages as he has been vocal about doing, alongside an infrastructure designed to push the envelope, there should be a perfect storm for Odorizzi and Wes Johnson to marry.
ZiPS projects Odorizzi to be right in line with Jose Berrios at the top of Minnesota’s rotation. His 109 ERA+ would lead the team among players on the Opening Day roster, and a 9.5 K/9 suggests a belief in 2019 performance. A 4.09 ERA would be a step backwards, but the 4.02 FIP holds a level of consistency across the board.
Ultimately Jake has put together back-to-back seasons with a 3.00 ERA just once in his career, and the later was a step off the former. At this point though, I think it’s safe to say we’re dealing with a redesigned set of inputs. Add in the fact that Odorizzi is once again pitching for a contract working on just a one-year deal and squeezing more out of that next opportunity is a very clear goal.
I think you can make a very easy argument that the Twins have a great level of starting pitching depth overall. The focus has always been on acquiring or developing the top tier arm. It’s assumed that Jose Berrios would embody that reality, and that’s a good bet, but Jake Odorizzi being right there with him seems equally as promising.
Zack Wheeler was the guy everyone understandably looked the part of a projectable arm entering this winter. Minnesota brought back the guy that outpitched him and has plenty of momentum in his corner as well.
For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
h2oface reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Pitching Projects Pan Out in Minnesota
Over the past few seasons there have been more than a few guys signed that have drawn a groan from Twins Territory. What the initial analysis doesn’t take into account is that the Twins have generated a juggernaut in terms of infrastructure, and it's paid dividends in recent seasons. This time around, it’s Matt Wisler looking to generate a return.
Early on this winter the front office tabbed former Top 100 prospect Matt Wisler as being worthy of a major league deal. He combined to throw just over 50 innings in the majors last season, and the results generated a 5.61 ERA. Giving up nearly two homers per nine innings, the counting stats were hardly enticing. But then you take a look under the hood.
Wisler posted a 4.23 FIP and an even better 3.83 xFIP. His 14.9% whiff rate and 37% chase rate were career highs, and his 11.0 K/9 wasn’t far off from doubling his career averages. The longball has been an issue for a while, but it’s certainly plausible to see what the Twins like.
A season ago Wisler had his slider averaging nearly 84 mph (you guessed it, a career high) while flipping it a whopping 70% of the time. He’s abandoned the sinker, went to a four-seam, and became a two-pitch pitcher. In targeting Sergio Romo again for 2020, as well as bringing in Jhoulys Chacin, it seems pitching coach Wes Johnson is looking to tinker with slider-dominant arms.
Minnesota is not some sort of a magic cure for the average pitcher, but the infrastructure now in place has produced. Ryne Harper was a 30-year-old rookie when he put up a 3.81 ERA a year ago, and he may be on the outside looking in because of the overall strength shown by the current relief corps. Matt Magill turned sporadic Show time into two consistent years of big-league run. Although he fizzled down the stretch for the Twins, Magill is now in line to be the Seattle Mariners closer after a strong finish.
Things don’t always work out the way you plan. Anibal Sanchez was jettisoned after Lance Lynn was signed, and he went on to have a career year with the Atlanta Braves in 2018. Nick Anderson was never given a shot internally and now is one of the best relievers in baseball. The process being in place does not guarantee a no-fault result. What is true though, is that Minnesota can now be seen as a destination for arms to thrive.
Maybe Matt Wisler will be a slider-fastball pitcher that can’t keep the pill in the yard and the next step won’t be taken. In a bullpen that should be expected to be among the better units in baseball though, it’s worth finding out if he can’t be a dominant middle relief option and venture down that path under the tutelage of Johnson.
We’ve reached the point that assessment of acquisitions shouldn’t be based around what a player was before coming to the Twins organization, but instead what they will become after getting here.
For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
h2oface reacted to Lucas Seehafer PT for a blog entry, Jorge Polanco to resume baseball activities: What is ankle impingement?
According to KSTP's Darren Wolfson, Minnesota Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco will likely resume "baseball activties" - often hitting off a tee, fielding drills, etc. - as early as this week after undergoing an arthroscopic procedure in November to address impingement in his right ankle. This good news follows the report last week by the Minneapolis Star Tribune's Phil Miller that centerfielder Byron Buxton was on track in his recovery from a left shoulder labrum repair.
Ankle impingement is a broad term that refers to structures in the ankle being "pinched" due to soft tissue injury, boney deformity, and/or excessive/restricted joint motion; there are multiple joints in the ankle: the talocrural joint allows for dorsiflexion and plantarflexion (pointing the foot up and down) and the subtalar joint allows for inversion and eversion (rolling the ankle in and out).
There are various locations within the ankle in which tissues can become impinged upon, though the most common locations are at the anterior (front) and posterior (back) ankle, with anterior impingement being the most common.
Anterior impingement - also known as anterior impingement syndrome - often arises due to repetitive microtrauma (many instances of small trauma built up over time) and occasionally after lateral ankle sprains - also known as inversion or "rolling" ankle sprains. Anterior impingement syndrome isn't a very serious diagnosis, though it is often painful and can hinder an athlete's ability to perform at peak levels. Anterior impingement syndrome is often exacerbated by end range and/or repeated bouts of dorsiflexion.
This condition is often treated conservatively (i.e. rehabilitation) at first with emphasis placed on restoring pain-free range of motion, with arthroscopic surgery conducted if conservative rehabilitation fails. The arthroscopic procedure is often termed "debridement" as the structures causing the impingement are resected to open up more space. Outcomes following arthroscopic debridement of anterior impingement syndrome are good.
Posterior impingement syndrome is similar in concept, though it is often exacerbated with end range and/or repeated plantarflexion and may involve the Achilles tendon.
In all, Polanco appears to be recovering in line with the typical timeline following arthroscopic debridement procedures. This isn't a condition that is likely to be a long-term concern for Polanco and he should be return to game action in plenty of time for the beginning of the regular season.
h2oface reacted to scottz for a blog entry, How the Twins Can Improve on 2019 Without Adding A Stud Starting Pitcher
h2oface reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Why the Eddie Rosario hate?
Why am I seeing shots at Eddie Rosario all over TD? No, he is not our best player, but he is a good player. He gets 1.6 WAR this year according to Baseball Reference. He had a line of .276 /.300/.500/.800 this year and in the little aside on the MVP for this year he sounds like he should be LVP. Last year he was .288/.323/.479/.803 and the same site named him MVP. Now we want to trade him for a broken bat and one of the regular season rabbit balls. What is going on.
He is not HOF, but he is good. Who will take his place? Who will hit 32HRs and 109 RBIs if he is gone? Can we guarantee Larnach or Kiriloff are ready to do it? I hate having to be the one to speak up for Eddie, but someone has to question the madness.
Here are some highlights - go ahead 3-run home run https://www.mlb.com/video/eddie-rosario-homers-21-on-a-fly-ball-to-right-center-field-luis-arraez-scores-m
Astudillo and Rosario lead win
Rosario 4 hit game https://www.mlb.com/video/rosario-homers-in-4-hit-game
Garver and Rosario lead win
Home Run 31 https://www.mlb.com/video/eddie-rosario-homers-31-on-a-fly-ball-to-right-center-field
No he is not great - but he is good and if we choose to trade him it should not be because we want to get rid of him, but because we get a player who can do even more to help us win in the post season.
h2oface reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Buying In On Twins Pitching Prospects
Tomorrow is the annual release of Topps’ Bowman Chrome product. Each year there is a Bowman Draft and Bowman Chrome offering during the baseball card collecting calendar. As one would expect, the former highlights some of the top picks in the amateur draft while the latter picks up the slack on some of the others. For the Minnesota Twins, Chrome provides and interesting opportunity this time around.
While collecting baseball cards is traditionally a hobby, it’s also now a robust gambling and investor market. From ripping open a box looking for the next hot player or holding onto a card in hopes of it being the next Mike Trout, there’s money to be made and this isn’t just a child’s corner store pickup anymore. That isn’t more apparent anywhere than within the checklist of a Bowman product. These are all players that are defined as prospects or up and coming. Their elusive first autographs can be the most coveted cards in the hobby.
For Minnesota the signers this time around are Jorge Alcala and Jhoan Duran. It’s an intriguing duo in that both were acquired during the 2018 season in trades. Both have now spent a year within the organization, and the arrows for each are trending straight up. Alcala has earned his big-league call although he’s yet to debut, while Duran is still working exclusively as a starter topping out at Double-A.
There’s a difference between baseball good, and baseball card good, so let’s explore that within the parameters these two have provided us.
First and foremost, pitchers are a risky investment. The volatility of injury and sample size is truly one you must cope with. Then there’s the reality of a given market, and no one will argue that Twins players would be more coveted than the likes of Dodgers or Yankees. Beyond that you then get into a merit-based discussion.
Alcala is the fireballer acquired in exchange for Ryan Pressly from Houston. He comes from an organization with good developmental traits and is now in one that represents a similar level of execution. Starting didn’t work out well for Alcala this season, but since moving to relief he had a 0.98 ERA and .479 OPS against in 18.1 IP. The 18/4 K/BB is indicative of a guy that should rack up strikeouts, and his promotion to the big leagues during a Postseason run suggests that Minnesota sees him as a future difference maker as well.
The downside here is that Alcala is already 24 and he appears to be destined for the pen. While the opportunity to become a substantial asset for the Twins is real, the upside in the card collecting community is all but nullified. Josh Hader is one of the best arms on the planet, but his cardboard will never be at a premium because of the market and position he finds himself in. Alcala’s ink should be affordable and that will make him fun to collect, but this isn’t a guy that’s going to appreciate substantially.
When fan favorite Eduardo Escobar was traded the clubhouse went pretty sour. He found out on TV first, and it was among the initial moves that had the Twins parting out pieces as sellers. Duran headlined the return and has looked the part of a solid starting arm since coming over to Minnesota. He’s not a top 100 prospect and finds himself in the middle of the Twins top 10, but that doesn’t negate the production we’ve seen.
Still just 21-years-old, Duran reached Double-A Pensacola during 2019. His 3.76 ERA across two levels is plenty respectable, but the 10.6 K/9 is what jumps off the page. He can push it into the upper 90’s and sits comfortably in the mid-90’s. Homers have never been an issue for him, and we’ll see how that changes with the live ball at Triple-A and the big leagues, but this is an arm that could make its way into the Minnesota rotation by next year.
There isn’t ace-type upside here, and he too will have the designation of playing for the Twins, but a mid-rotation starter with upside is a pretty good bet. Duran would need to go on some sort of hot stretch or have a record setting year to vault himself into significant hobby-lore, but the ability for a short burst jump is certainly there. Another guy that should have very affordable autographs, he’s someone that you could see slight gains following a strong showing immediately after his promotion. More baseball good than hobby good, upside does have a bit of presence with him.
Make sure to check out 2019 Bowman Chrome at your local hobby shops when it drops on September 18. Along with these prospects, Minnesota has a few rookie autograph offerings as well as one of Nelson Cruz’s few depictions in a Twins uniform.
For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow at @tlschwerz
h2oface reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Clearing Space - the Infield
I started with the outfield as I look at the Twins current 25 man active roster, 40 man overall roster and the crush of players who are on the field, plus those needing to be added to the 40 man and the potential free agents, and possible trade candidates.
The current Major league infielders and catchers (who ocassionally move to a base):
Cron and Schoop are FA - do we resign them? Schoop has been terrific this past week, but his performance otherwise has been a lesson in low level excellence and high level disappearance. He just turned that around, but does that convince you to keep him? Cron has been injured a lot and yet he has produced .257 .319 .475 .794. Do we resign him? Those are the first two questions that need to be answered before going ahead.
More questions - is Gordon MLB ready? Can he hold up to a full season workload? Is Arraez the 2B of the future or is Polanco moving over since his glove and arm are so often questionable at SS. If Polanco is not at SS who is? Gonzalez is best left to play a little of everywhere and Adrianza had a break out season, but is it sustainable. Lewis is going to AZ, but will he be OF or IF in the future and how soon is he ready? Wander Javier is not ready and still needs to prove himself in MiLB.
Will Sano stay at 3B or does he replace Cron? If so, who plays third? Blankenship seems like the only prospect who actually plays 3B - is he ready?
Does Garver play more at 1B and if so, who catches if Castro is gone as a FA? Is it Astudillo or will we see Jeffers? Does Kiriloff go to the OF or 1B? Is Rooker even a consideration anymore? Has Larnach passed the others and does he stand in line for 1B?
The crystal ball is cracked - this is a mess to sort out. Not too many minor leaguers, but a few important ones. First I predict that we will let Cron go and I feel sorry for him if he is cut two years in a row after productive seasons. Injuries did him in this year. Second I have a feeling Schoop slips away too, but not as positive on this one. I do not believe in the minor leaguers pushing the current infield so I see:
1B - Sano/Garver - maybe Kiriloff by the end of the season
2B - Arraez/Gonzalves - Gordon if Arraez was a mirage this year.
SS - Polanco/Adrianza
3B - Sano/Adrianza/Gonzalves and Blankenship by season end if Sano is moved to 1B
C - Garver/Astudillo/Jeffers by midseason
What do you think? Who do you move?
h2oface reacted to Patrick Wozniak for a blog entry, A Look at the Twins Hitters Who Have Set Career-high HR Totals in 2019, and Who is Still to Come
With the Minnesota Twins on the verge of setting the all-time MLB home run record, they have gotten many great individual home run efforts from their players. Max Kepler and Nelson Cruz have paved the way with 35 and 33 long-balls while Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano are closing in on 30 homers as well. Jorge Polanco’s next dinger will allow the Twins to set the MLB record with the most players hitting at least 20 home runs at eight. Today, we will take a look at which Twins players have set career highs in home runs in 2019 and who still has a chance to do so.
Let’s start with the players who have already set career highs.
Max Kepler - 35
Max Kepler has taken a giant step forward this year and greatly contributed to the Twins winning ways. A big part of that has been his power surge. Kepler has already hit 35 home runs this season, surpassing his career high of 20 which he set last season. His uptake of +15 is second only to the next player we will talk about.
Mitch Garver - 24
In 2018 Mitch Garver hit seven home runs in 103 games. This year has been a completely different story as Garver has demolished the ball, hitting 24 homers in just 75 games. That’s an improvement of +17 while playing in significantly less games up to this point in the season. Like Kepler, Garver’s greatly increased production has been a big part of the Twin’s success in 2019.
Jorge Polanco - 19
Look no further than Jorge Polanco to find another young position player who has taken a huge step forward for Minnesota this year. Polanco’s overall numbers are far and away the best of his MLB career and his 19 home runs on the year surpass his previous high of 13 set in 2017.
Next are three more Twins players who are closing in on career highs.
Eddie Rosario - 27
Eddie Rosario has actually already tied his career high of 27 which he originally reached in 2017, so he is all but certain to set a new career high. Rosario did the bulk of his heavy lifting early in the season, hitting 17 home runs through May, but he has a good chance of reaching 30 this year as he is back in the lineup after a few days off with a hamstring injury. Rosario has tied his career high while only playing in a total of 109 games so far this season. It took him 151 games to get 27 in 2017.
Miguel Sano – 26
Like Rosario, Miguel Sano is nearly a lock to set a new career high in home runs. Sano is just two short of his career high of 28 home runs which he set in 2017. Sano will also probably get it done with less games played as he has played in 82 games so far compared to 114 in 2017. Sano has an even 13/13 split of home runs between the first and second half.
Ehire Adrianza – 4
Forget about Rosario and Sano, Ehire Adrianza’s chase for a new career high is clearly what will captivate Twins Territory down the stretch. Joking aside, Adrianza is deserving of appreciation for the great numbers he has put up in limited duty this season. Adrianza set his career high for home runs last year with six, so he will need three more dingers down the stretch to set a personal best.
Finally, here are the numbers for the remainder of the Twins position players (Luis Arraez is not included since this is his first season). Nelson Cruz has hit 17 homers in 33 games in the second half so he might have a chance. C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop, and Jake Cave have been hot of late, but time is short and their playing time could be somewhat limited. It would take an epic home run binge for any of them to set a career high, but if there was ever a year for an epic binge, it’s 2019.
Player - 2019 total / Career high (year)
Nelson Cruz - 33 / 44 (2015)
C.J. Cron - 22 / 30 (2018)
Jonathan Schoop - 21 / 32 (2017)
Marwin Gonzalez - 15 / 23 (2017)
Jason Castro - 12 / 18 (2013)
Byron Buxton - 10 / 16 (2017)
Jake Cave - 7 / 13 (2018)
Whose power surge has impressed you the most in 2019? Do you think any of the last group has a chance to reach a new career high?
h2oface reacted to the_brute_squad for a blog entry, Time for a lineup change
The Twins hot start this year coincided with Jorge Polanco's. Since Polanco has fallen back to earth the Twins once "insurmountable lead" has turned a division front runner into a division contender. Throughout the season we've seen players move around the lineup based on the usual reasons (opposing pitcher, hot/cold/ other players in lineup), what we haven' consistently seen is Polanco hit anywhere but the two spot. If that spot is reserved for the hottest or best hitter then we should be seeing Kepler or Arraez in that spot. In either case those two should be batting 1 or 2 in the lineup.
This isn't a slight toward Polanco as he's more than a serviceable hitter but the way he's hitting right now isn't a top of of the lineup hitter. Who knows, maybe moving down in the lineup will re-awaken his bat and he can carry the team to the division title.
h2oface reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Blown leads
11 1/2 game lead is huge, losing it by August 10 is terrifying. True, we have time left and Cruz will come back and maybe Buxton too. Jack Cave might be replaced by someone who can do better in MLB from our minor leagues and maybe we will strike gold with one or two pitchers as we allow the entire minor league system to audition for us this year, but still 11.5 games! That is a lead worthy of 7 percent of the season.
So come on Twins. Beat the bad teams. I think most have given up on beat the good teams and get into the playoffs where, I am sorry to say, you will only be playing good teams.
Do you remember the 1969 Cubs 4.5 games up going into September and then winning just 1/3rd of their games to finish 8 behind the miracle Mets? I know NY had a great year, but poor Chicago. By the way they had 4 players on that team go to the HOF.
Or our old manager Gene Mauch and his 1964 team? They led by 6 1/2 games with 12 to play. They had Dick Allen and HOF Jim Bunning. They lost 10 Straight and St Louis went to the series! That hurts.
Tied for the lead on the last day of the season the 2007 Mets blew the pennant and the Phillies won. The Mets had Pedro and Glavine in their rotation but went 1 - 6 to finish the season. Then in 2008 they fired their manager part way through the year and had a 3 1/2 game lead with 17 games to go. But losing 10 of 17 is not the way to the World Series.
The 1951 Dodgers had one of the saddest losses - the NY Giants steam rolled right over them with a 37 - 7 ending to the season to tie and a playoff with the home run heard around the world and still being played every year. The Dodgers had been up 13.5 on August 11! Yes that is tomorrow. And then they went to the playoff game - one game to decide and lead 4 - 1 going into the ninth. Ralph Branca - not a bad pitcher - against Dale Long - not a great hitter - and a three run home run destroyed the Dodger's year.
Lets enjoy 2009, the year the Tigers led by 7 games on September 6 over the MINNESOTA TWINS. We won 10 of 11 and Alexi Casilla put us in the playoffs!
In 1978 the Red Sox led by 9 over the Brewers and 14 over the Yankees on July 19th. The Yankees went 52 - 21 and into a playoff. Anyone heard of Bucky Dent? Well the Red Sox fans will never forget him as he ripped the hearts out the Boston team.
2011 the Red Sox again were leading by 9 games over the Rays on September 1 and then played a 7 - 20 final month and lost the pennant to Tampa Bay.
1995 the Angels, who have been a playoff deprived team, led by a familiar 11.5 on August 9 and then the wheels fell off. going 12 - 27 and were put out of the misery by Randy Johnson in a one-game playoff. 1998 they had a 3 1/2-game lead in the division with 19 to play and lost 13 of their last 19.
In 1987 the Blue Jays held a 3.5 game lead with 7 to go and could not win another game. The Tigers went to the playoffs. Where they would face the Twins.
2003 the Mariners had the best record in baseball, but (does this sound familiar?) they played just under 500 ball for the rest of the season and took the off season off.
The 2010 Padres had a last half season collapse and after having just one three-game losing streak all season, the Padres proceeded to drop 10 straight. (Sounds too close to home). With a 6 1/2 game lead on August 25 they came the closest that the poor team could come to Post Season and watched Arizona go to the series.
There are more where these came from. Painful I know but that is baseball. Let's go Twins - this is a list I do not want you to be on.
h2oface reacted to Heezy1323 for a blog entry, Biceps Tendinitis Q&A
Biceps Tendinitis in Pitchers Q&A
A request was made by a poster for me to write a blog covering biceps tendinitis. This is actually a fairly complicated topic with quite a bit of controversy, but I’ll do my best to share some basic info that hopefully TD peeps will find interesting. There are some technical parts, so apologies for that, but I do think a basic understanding of the anatomy is helpful.
Question 1: What is the biceps, exactly?
The biceps is a muscle that we are likely all familiar with, lying in the front of the upper arm and used to perform curls and similar exercises. The word ‘biceps’ has a Latin origin meaning ‘two heads’. This describes the upper (or proximal) end of the biceps where there are two tendon attachments.
The first is the long head of the biceps which attaches to the labrum at the top of the socket in the shoulder. It then curves over the top of the ball (humeral head) where it exits the shoulder joint and begins its course down the front of the upper arm bone (humerus). At the front of the shoulder joint, it travels through what is called the ‘bicipital groove’ which is an area of the bone of the humerus between two bumps (called tuberosities). This groove is often the site of issues in pitchers (more on this below).
The second is the short head of the biceps, which originates from a bony projection off the shoulder blade in the front of your shoulder called the coracoid. It travels straight from here to meet up with the long head of the biceps in the upper 1/3 of the arm. There, the tendons join and form the biceps muscle.
Below this (distally), the muscle turns back into a tendon just above the elbow and a single tendon then travels down to one of the bones of your forearm (called the radius) where it attaches at a bony prominence called the radial tuberosity.
Question 2: How is this tendon involved in throwing?
This is a great question, and a subject of much debate amongst experts. The short head of the biceps likely has a relatively insignificant role in throwing. The long head (which is the one that attaches inside the shoulder joint) is much more involved in the throwing motion. When throwing at MLB speeds, the shoulder rotates at 7000 degrees per second, which is the fastest known human motion. One can imagine the stress this places on the structures that surround the shoulder.
Without delving into the weeds too much, it seems as though the biceps has a role in position sense of the shoulder during throwing, likely a role in stability of the shoulder joint and also helps slow down the arm after ball release.
At the other end of the tendon (distal), the elbow changes rapidly from a bent position to a straight position as the ball is released during a throw. In order to keep the bones of the elbow from jamming into each other at a high speed, the biceps muscle fires to slow down this elbow straightening (what we call an eccentric contraction). This allows some of the force of throwing to be dissipated by the muscle (kind of like a shock absorber).
If it seems like that is a lot of jobs for a small tendon/muscle- it’s because it is…
Question 3: What happens when someone gets biceps tendinitis?
Tendinitis is a fairly broad term and can mean a number of different things depending on the context. With respect to the biceps, a thrower can develop issues at either the upper (proximal) or lower (distal) end of the biceps. The suffix -itis means inflammation, so the general thought is that there is inflammation that develops in or around the tendon.
The reasons ‘why’ are heavily debated, but generally there is probably some combination of overuse/fatigue and altered mechanics or muscle imbalances that contribute. It takes a tremendous amount of efficiency of motion and coordination of muscle movements to throw a baseball in excess of 90mph, and any small abnormality can easily be compounded by the sheer number of repetitions and intensity of a typical pitcher. Over time, this can add up to cause damage to the tendon and result in inflammation and pain.
Arthroscopic image of normal biceps tendon (left) and inflamed biceps (right)
Question 4: How does the player/medical staff separate this injury from other issues that can seem very similar?
This can be VERY difficult. Often the player will have pain at the front of the shoulder (in cases of proximal biceps tendinitis) or just above the elbow (in distal cases). A thorough history and exam is performed in order to hone in on the likely problem area.
An MRI is ordered in some cases. One of the challenges with this type of issue is that in many cases, an MRI of a pitcher already has some abnormalities on it which are likely adaptive and have been present for a long time (and are not the actual cause of pain). In addition, in many cases the inflammation around the bicep isn’t something that can be clearly seen on MRI. So interpreting imaging studies can be a significant challenge.
Usually the exam is (in my experience) the most helpful thing in recognizing biceps tendinitis when it is present. The athlete is usually tender right in the area of the tendon, which is a helpful finding.
Question 5: Once a pitcher is diagnosed with biceps tendinitis, how are they treated?
Again, there are a lot of variables here. But presuming it is significant enough to affect the performance of the pitcher, they would typically be shut down for a period of time to prevent worsening of the condition. Anti-inflammatory medication may be used. In some cases, injections of cortisone are used to try and decrease the inflammation.
With the recent increases in the use of technology, video may be consulted to see if there have been subtle mechanical changes which may have contributed to the issue. Muscle strength can also be tested in various areas around the shoulder to see if weakness is contributing.
In essentially all cases, a rehab program will begin that is likely to include strength and flexibility components. When the pain has subsided, a return to throwing program is begun and once complete, the athlete can return to play.
A group out of Mayo Clinic (led by Dr. Chris Camp) recently did a study of pro baseball players (minor and major league) and causes of injury over a several year period. Tendinitis of the proximal biceps was actually the #4 cause of injury with an average return to play time of about 22 days.
Question 6: Is surgery ever needed?
It is quite uncommon for surgery to be needed for this issue. In fact, in Dr. Camp’s study above surgery was only required in 3% of cases of proximal biceps tendinitis. So clearly most of these cases improve with non-surgical treatment. In addition, surgery for this particular issue has a fairly poor track record and is avoided if at all possible.
Question 7: What can be done to prevent biceps tendinitis?
Great question, reader. If I knew the answer, we could likely both be millionaires given how common this injury is and the dollar figures involved when a high-priced starter or reliever is on the shelf for this reason.
Generally, I believe monitoring the workload of pitchers through the season, doing what you can to ensure they maintain a good off-season program and having a good line of communication with the players are all important. As video analysis and other analytic measures become more popular, my hope is that they can be incorporated into injury prevention as well.
Thanks for humoring me on this complex topic. Please feel free to add a request for a future subject in the comments. GO TWINS!!
h2oface reacted to Heezy1323 for a blog entry, Buxton Shoulder Q&A- What is a shoulder 'subluxation'?
Byron Buxton Shoulder Injury Q&A
Byron Buxton, as we all know, is an outstanding center fielder for our Twins. Unfortunately, he has dealt with a variety of injuries that have cost him significant time over the past few seasons. This weekend he sustained an injury to his left shoulder that was termed a ‘subluxation’ and is headed back to the IL. By the sound of things, he is likely to be away from the big club for at least a few weeks. This is a tough blow for the Twins as the Indians make a push to catch up to a team that has led the division essentially all season.
Medical terminology can be confusing, so I thought a post about shoulder subluxations might be of interest to TD readers. As usual- my disclaimer is that I am not a Twins team physician. I have not examined Byron nor seen any imaging of his injury. I am not speaking on behalf of the Twins. I am only hoping to familiarize TD readers with some of the concerns that may be ahead regarding injuries similar to Buxton’s.
Question 1: How does the shoulder normally work?
The shoulder is considered a ball-and-socket joint. The round ball (humeral head) sits in the socket (glenoid) similar to how a golf ball sits on a golf tee. Around the perimeter of the golf tee is a strong cartilage tissue called a labrum. The labrum surrounds the socket similar to the red gasket on a mason jar lid. Its function is to help act as a ‘bumper’ to hold the golf ball on the golf tee. It is also an attachment point for ligaments around the shoulder that also contribute to shoulder stability. The ligaments make up the ‘capsule’ of the shoulder joint. I often tell patients that the capsule is like a water balloon that surrounds the joint. The ligaments that make up the capsule form the connection between the ball and the socket.
Question 2: What is a shoulder subluxation?
The term ‘subluxation’ is typically used in situations where a joint partially (or nearly) dislocates. This is not specific to the shoulder and can happen in a number of other areas of the body as well (such as the kneecap, for example). This is distinct from a true ‘dislocation’ where the ball comes completely out of the socket and then goes back in.
If someone dislocates their shoulder and it stays dislocated, it is typically clear what has happened. Xrays will show the ball dislocated from the socket and the shoulder will be manipulated to ‘reduce’ the ball back to its normal position. However, in some cases cases the ball can completely dislocate and go back in on its own very quickly. In these cases, an xray would often look normal. In most cases when there is concern about an injury of this type, an MRI is ordered. This of course shows additional details of the bone and soft tissue that cannot be seen on an xray alone. Usually an MRI will allow for a pretty solid conclusion as to whether the injury that occurred was a ‘subluxation’ (less severe) or a true ‘dislocation’ (more severe).
There is, of course, a spectrum of damage that can occur with any injury and this is no exception. It’s possible that there was some minimal stretch to the ligaments around the shoulder and no other significant damage (best case). It’s also possible that there was more significant damage to the ligaments and potentially even a tear of the labrum (more worrisome). The MRI would typically give a good approximation of these issues. In most cases, the damage that occurs with a subluxation is less significant than that which occurs with a dislocation.
Question 3: Does it make a difference that the injury is to his left shoulder rather than his right?
In my opinion, absolutely. Because it is his non-throwing shoulder, the stresses placed on it are less. Even small issues with the ligaments can be problematic in the throwing shoulder- particularly someone who can approach 100mph on throws from the outfield.
That said, the left shoulder is Byron’s front shoulder when hitting. In most hitters it is the front shoulder that is more stressed. It is possible that Buxton’s recovery is more affected at the plate than in the field (though that’s impossible to predict with certainty, of course).
Question 4: Does this injury make it more likely that Byron will dislocate his shoulder in the future?
Possibly. As discussed above, there is a spectrum of damage that can occur with this injury. If the damage is near the minimal end, it probably doesn’t have a significant effect on his likelihood of injuring this shoulder in the future. If there is more significant structural damage, it may place him at higher risk.
Question 5: What is the purpose of the rehab?
In addition to the capsule and labrum discussed above in question 1, the muscles around the shoulder also contribute to stability. I often tell patients to imagine that there is canopy over the top of the golf ball pulling it down onto the golf tee and helping to hold it in place. This is similar to the way your rotator cuff functions. I suspect rehab for Buxton will include strengthening exercises for a number of muscles around the shoulder that contribute to stability.
Also, these muscles can be strained during the injury, so they can sometimes need additional time to recover along with the ligaments.
Question 6: Will Buxton need surgery?
This is essentially impossible to answer right now, likely even for the physicians and training staff involved in Byron’s care. As I sometimes tell my patients, “The crystal ball is a little murky.” Without knowing the extent of any structural issues in Byron’s shoulder, I would say that it is somewhat unlikely this will require surgery. I would expect that even if surgery is required, it would only occur after an attempt at non-surgical treatment has been unsuccessful.
Question 7: How long will it be before he is able to return to play?
This is also a difficult question to answer. The fact that the early word is that he will be out a few weeks is consistent with what I would expect from an injury like this. The rehab often takes time to regain full motion and strength. I would hope he can be back patrolling center field before the end of August, but it’s certainly possible this lingers into September. It seems unlikely that this would be a season-ending injury, but only time will tell.
Clearly this Twins team is better when Byron is on the field rather than on the IL. Let’s hope he heals quickly and can help the Twins down the stretch. GO TWINS!
h2oface reacted to Dome Dogg for a blog entry, Please Stop Telling Me How To Be A Fan
I attended dozens of Twins games every year in the mid-90's as a kid. I sat through lineups composed of Otis Nixon, Butch Huskey, Midre Cummings and Rich Becker. I watched rotations that featured Scott Aldred, Bob Tewksbury and Rich Robertson.
Then, the 2000's happened. On one hand, it was very fun to see the Twins consistently contend for the playoffs and win 85-95 games every year. But the team never went out and traded for that one missing piece that would get them over the top and make them legitimate World Series contenders.
In the Metrodome years, it was understandable that they would be hesitant to take on contracts like those. The revenue streams were not there to support a $125 million payroll. Fine, so be it.
Then Target Field opened and fans were treated to what seemed to be a magical 2010 season. They had everything but a true #1 starter. Rumors flew around at the deadline, with names like Cliff Lee being floated as possibilities for the team to acquire at the deadline. We got Matt Capps, and were promptly swept by the Yankees in the first round.
Then, this time as a season ticket holder, I got to watch such studs as Darin Mastroianni, Chris Parmelee and Doug Bernier at the plate, while Mike Pelfrey, Sam Deduno and Scott Diamond "pitched" during the 2011-2018 seasons.
Meanwhile, the Twins raked in the money with revenue from the new ballpark and a new TV contract.
So forgive me if my patience has worn thin, and I am not content to just "enjoy the ride." I have been a loyal, money-paying, tv-watching, jersey-wearing fan for 35 years. It's time for the ownership to reward me, and the others who have been through the same thing, by unlocking the money bin and making some serious moves to become an actual World Series contender, not just a division crown contender.
I think the Twins need upgrades in the rotation and the bullpen. The team has the money and the prospects to get it done, right now. I personally don't give a crap if Trevor Larnach turns out to be a 10 time all star after he is traded if he brings back a player that can help the team win right now. Think of Shields/Davis coming to the Royals for Wil Meyers. Do any Royals fans really care if Meyers becomes a Hall of Famer after they traded him? I doubt it.
Don't think Madison Bumgarner is an upgrade over Kyle Gibson? Great. I can respectfully disagree with your opinion. However, calling fans who would like a trade "barbarians" (as Reusse did today) or talking down to people who aren't content to stand pat and see what happens, is just so frustrating.
It's great if you are fine to let the Pohlads rake in the dough and try to back their way into titles, that's your prerogative. I just think the narrative of fans who would like to see moves made being idiots, or bad fans, is growing tiresome.
Despite what Patrick Reusse, Jim Souhan or even commenters here might say, I personally think it's okay for fans to want more. We have waited long enough, and some of us aren't content with division championships.
h2oface reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Buxton Ticketed for Big Time Votes
The year was 2017 and the month was August. Byron Buxton had just been shelved since mid-July, entered with a .604 OPS, and was ready to get back on the field. The Minnesota Twins needed a jolt to push towards the playoffs and man did his month of August provide it. A .973 OPS across 29 games ended up vaulting him onto the national scene and he was rewarded with an 18th place finish in the American League MVP voting. Fast forward to 2019 and we’re watching it happen again.
Right now, Buxton doesn’t own a .973 OPS, and no 29-game sample size has jumped off the page quite like that final month of summer did. However, it’s what Byron Buxton has done this season that is getting deserved recognition across the sport. He isn’t going to win an MVP award because Mike Trout exists, but behind arguably the greatest player to ever step on the diamond, Buxton is currently the second-best centerfielder in the game.
On May 13th Buxton had played 37 games for the Twins and his 17 doubles led all of baseball. He had just one homer, but his .275 average and .806 OPS were plenty promising. This date is significant as it was then that I offered the following thoughts on Twitter:
We’re now roughly a month out from that Tweet, and things have gone as expected. Buxton’s hard-hit rate since that date is 38.6%. He has jumped the 2% HR/FB rate all the way up to 25% and has six dingers. He still leads the American League with 21 doubles (trailing only Josh Bell’s 25 across baseball), but the longball is now being incorporated back into his game. I have long believed Buxton won’t hit for average as much as he’ll combine to hit for power. If the .270 sticks, so be it, but the .500+ SLG is exactly what I’d like to see.
You already know about the defensive acumen. Buxton leads baseball in Outs Above Average (10) and Actual Catch Percentage (94%). His 9 DRS is third in the big leagues, and his UZR is also off the charts. It’s fair to suggest that, when healthy, he’s the most dynamic player on defense that the sport currently employs.
What is great, and maybe less known, is that the offensive outburst looks sustainable. He’s decreased his chase and whiff rates. His contact rate is a career high, and the hard-hit rate is a substantial improvement. The ball is on the ground nearly 10% less than career averages, and he’s not just trying to beat out ground balls as has been previously suggested to him. This is a good hitter that allowing his tools to work and is creating absolute nightmares for opposing pitchers because of it.
It really doesn’t matter where he hits in Rocco Baldelli’s lineup. I’ve talked about moving him up previously, and something like 6th or 7th seems to make sense. Even if he stays in the 9-hole though, this is a guy that’s settled in and finally comfortable showing off the ability that has been there all along.
While he won’t win the MVP award, he’s a top 10 candidate at this point in the season, and even that may be a bit too light.
h2oface reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Water on La Tortuga
If you’ve followed me for any amount of time on Twitter, you know that I’m skeptical when it comes to the Minnesota Twins cult hero. Willians Astudillo made his MLB debut last season, and after a September explosion, fans around Twins Territory lost their collective minds. Both from a conceptual and statistical perspective he’s been a lightning rod player for me, and someone I’ve struggled to get on board with.
Rather than tweeting in short bursts I thought it pertinent to organize my thoughts in a single blog post with supporting facts and use this as a point of reference. Maybe some number of months from now this will be something that you can point to as a massive miss for me. If that ends up being the case, Minnesota likely benefits, so we all win in that case.
To date Astudillo has 62 games in his major league career. 29 of those games came during September 2018 in which he posted an .887 OPS. He swatted eight extra-base hits (three homers), .379 wOBA and 139 wRC+. On top of his offensive contributions, he also played six defensive positions for Minnesota. The next 33 games came to open the 2019 season, in which he posted a .630 OPS, .267 wOBA, and a 62 wRC+.
As Twins Daily’s Nick Nelson alluded to me on Twitter, we’re dealing with two sample sizes spanning roughly 100 plate appearances. Generating definitive conclusions off either scenario is not entirely fair, but I’m attempting to tie feelings into statistical output. Without being completely dismissive of those 97 September plate appearances, they took place during the most watered-down portion of the big-league schedule. His slump or injury has been credited with the slide in 2019, but the reality is that aside from his first three games (6-for-9), he owns a .537 OPS across 110 plate appearances.
My belief is that Astudillo must entirely shift his approach at the plate in order to see sustained big-league success. Astudillo saw 2.93 P/PA this season, the lowest in baseball, with the next closest being the Angels Andrelton Simmons (3.03). It’s not that swinging early and often isn’t a viable process, it’s the way in which Astudillo uses it that’s the problem.
Minnesota’s utility man owned just a 28.8% hard hit rate this season (31.9% in 2018) and puts the ball on the ground 40% of the time. He also popped up on one-fifth of his batted balls. With as much swinging as Astudillo does, while avoiding strikeouts and walks, it’s not a surprise he has a 95% contact rate. Unfortunately, he also has chased 47% of the time (40% in 2018). The summary of his plate discipline and approach is a guy who doesn’t hit the ball hard, puts it on the ground, and isn’t fast enough to make a difference.
If there’s going to be a successful career ahead with the Twins or elsewhere, something must give for Astudillo. He’s done this swing early, avoid strikeouts, and don’t walk for the entirety of his pro career. A pop-up season in the PCL saw a strong OPS, but his minor league OPS is .759. There’s some pop in the bat, but he doesn’t work counts enough to find good pitches. Major league hurlers make him eat out of their hand, and he obliges regularly. This profile is the exact representation of why strikeouts aren’t bad and are arguably worse than any other out.
I touched on a guy who isn’t patient earlier. The Angels Simba swings often too, but he’s become a strong hitter (for average) with a hard-hit rate in the upper 30’s. The ground ball rate isn’t good (and it’s why his SLG will never be favorable), but he only chases pitches out of the zone roughly 30% of the time. Not a slugger by any means, Simmons finds a strike and attacks it while Astudillo attacks almost any pitch thrown his way.
The greatest asset Astudillo provided Minnesota in the early going this year was that he had positional flexibility. He’s able to stand almost anywhere on the diamond but grades out as roughly average at all those places. Lacking a standout defensive skill, and currently employing an approach not conducive to big league success, there’s an uphill battle ahead of him.
It’s great when players like this excite a fanbase or represent a polarizing figure in the clubhouse. What’s worth keeping in perspective, however, is that there’s still a game being played between the lines and casting aside reality, or the merits of other players is something that will only make the letdown that much more difficult. Here’s to hoping an overhaul can be made during his stint on the farm. The more contributors Rocco Baldelli has, the better.
For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
h2oface reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Minnesota Becoming Spoiled in the Fifth?
Michael Pineda made a start for the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night in California against the Los Angeles Angels. He gave up a home run to Mike Trout during the second at bat of the game, the opposition was leading 3-0 entering the 3rd inning. That was your que to go and do a quick Twitter search, and it wouldn’t have been pretty. The reality is we’re seeing a shift in expectations.
Entering play on May 22 the Twins pitching staff owned the 7th best fWAR in baseball. The 3.68 ERA of Minnesota starters was 7th in the sport and 4th in the American League. No longer is this group the pitch to contact, look for worm burners, pray for rain type of collection. There are strikeout arms at the disposal of Rocco Baldelli everyone stands to benefit from a systemic change throughout the organization.
This isn’t to give Michael Pineda a pass. His first six starts in a Twins uniform were to the tune of a 6.21 ERA and .913 OPS against. He made it through the sixth inning just once and failed to advance beyond the fourth on two separate occasions. Having missed all the 2018 season, and over half of 2017, some level of rust was to be expected. Add in that three of those starts came against the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies and it’s fair to see where danger may have been hiding.
Since his lackluster start Pineda has turned a significant corner. There’s no one foolish enough to suggest he’s a staff ace but a 4.50 ERA across 24.0 IP (four starts) is more than enough from the fifth guy in your rotation. He’s cut the opposing OPS down to .757 and while the homers still plague him, the 22/5 K/BB is plenty respectable.
Over the course of his career Pineda has always been a guy to get bitten by the longball. He’s got a career 1.3 HR/9 and has been at 1.7 dating back to 2016. He’s also always posted strong strikeout numbers and limited the number of walks. Avoiding damage by making a good number of longballs fall into the solo variety is a safe way to give them up if you’re going to toe that line.
There’s also a velocity decrease at play that could be hampering some of Pineda’s output. On the season he owns a 92.5 mph average, which is down from his 94.6 mph career mark. He didn’t see much warmth during Minnesota’s April, and the 93.3 mph averaging representing a season high came during an away game in Houston. As the summer trudges on, that will be something to monitor.
The rest of his peripherals suggest that we’re looking at a pitcher simply being dogged by the big blast. His 42.9% hard hit rate is a career worst by quite a bit, and it’s spiked the 46% fly ball rate and 18% HR/FB mark. He needs to keep the ball in the yard more, but so far has danced around danger well. A .286 BABIP is workable, and more fly balls kept in the yard should be convertible outs.
We’ll have to wait and see how future starts play out, but this is currently trending in the right direction. A 4.50 ERA isn’t going to have fans putting him in the discussion of Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, or Martin Perez, but it’s a solid mark you can be happy with. We aren’t looking at a Ricky Nolasco, Tommy Milone, or Hector Santiago situation here. Despite a fanbase that seems to still be treading carefully and waiting for the bottom to fall out, there’s a lot of handwringing over the production of a 5th starter that’s doing his job appropriately.
If you want to go out and throw your hands up each time Pineda toes the rubber and gives up three or four runs, be my guest. As much as I won’t be the one to stop those claims, I’ll also caution that he’s not an ideal fit for the bullpen, the depth behind him is currently uninspiring, and the most important factor is that he’s doing his job just fine. Minnesota could certainly afford to upgrade the fringes of its pitching staff, but that’s more matter of practice than it is an indictment on any one player.
For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
h2oface reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Relief Rallying out of Nowhere
Over the course of the winter the Minnesota Twins did a lot of good things. The front office continued bringing in top tier developmental talent. They added pop to the lineup, and Rocco Baldelli looks the part of an exciting big-league manager. What they didn’t do was address a pitching staff, and namely a bullpen, that looked like it could use some help. Now with the depth being tested, an unexpected stalwart has emerged. Can Ryne Harper be the hero no one knew they were expecting.
Entering Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, Harper looked like a long shot to make the 25-man roster. Despite once having his contract selected, he’s never played in a big-league game, and has something like three days of service time accrued. The 29-year-old turned in a nice 2.54 ERA across 39 IP at Double-A last season but stumbled to the tune of a 5.19 ERA with Triple-A Rochester.
The surface numbers have been mostly good for Harper, but it’s the ratios that jump off the page for me. Across 65 IP on the farm last season, he posted an 11.9 K/9 with a sparkling 1.4 BB/9. In just over 450 innings of minor league relief, Harper owns an 11.0 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. Should that hold up at the big-league level any club would find themselves in a state of ecstasy.
Having not gotten any major league time to date in his career, it’s been on the back of an exceptional Spring Training that will likely get Ryne over the hump. Working 11 innings down in Fort Myers, Harper turned in a flawless 0.00 ERA allowing just two unearned runs. He’s given up only seven hits while fanning 14 and walking none.
Look at the Twitter feed of Twins Daily’s Tom Froemming and you’ll find a barrage of benders that are certainly Pitching Ninja worthy. It’s on the back of this pitch that Harper has burst onto the scene, and he’s had hitters of all abilities looking plenty foolish the past few weeks. Pairing his curveball with pinpoint command has added up to a blueprint that should translate just fine when the games start to matter later this week. He’ll likely take home the coveted Sire of Fort Myers trophy, but a big-league payday should be a nice secondary prize as well.
It’s always great when an unexpected talent pops up and can make a big-league impact. It’s never going to be expected from a late blooming, career minor leaguer. Minnesota is also banking on this kind of situation with Matt Magill. Whether or not Harper and Magill can provide consistency over the course of a full season remains to be seen, however. There should be some level of fear or caution regarding how the pen fares for the Twins, but these glimmers of hope are feel-good stories in the present.
Maybe Harper was a guy that the front office knew they could count on all along. Maybe Baldelli and Wes Johnson saw a moldable piece that was just waiting to be unleashed. We’ve seen the results in exhibition contents. The next piece of this puzzle is putting up numbers when it counts.
For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
h2oface reacted to Thiéres Rabelo for a blog entry, March Madness - how did current Twins did in college?
March Madness is upon us. I’m nothing close to a college basketball specialist, but it seems to me that not even the most optimistic Minnesotan believes that the Golden Gophers will go far in the Big Ten Tournament -- but, who knows? Either way, with or without the presence of the UMN boys, a number of people will hop on the Bracketology train and have a lot of fun during the month of March.
Motivated by the school spirit brought by this event, I decided to look at how some Minnesota Twins did while they were playing in college. I came across a lot of interesting facts and numbers from the time that these now Major Leaguers were just a bunch of hopeful kids attending classes everyday. Here’s a list that I’ve put together, with a personal experience shared at the end.
Kyle Gibson was a vital part of the Twins rotation last year, after struggling in his first years in the Majors. And that's actually a bit similar to how his college career went down. He was off to a slow start, coming out of the bullpen during his freshman year for the Missouri Tigers, in 2007. But then, when he started being used as a starter in 2008, he turned the corner and pitched at a good level in the following two seasons. In his last year in college, he posted a 3.21 ERA and 11.05 K/9. Gibby and the Tigers played the NCAA Regionals in all of the three years he was there.
Kyle Gibson (Missouri, NCAA-1, three seasons)
63 games (29 starts)
304 K (10.48 K/9)
61 BB (2.10 BB/9)
Tyler Duffey was Drafted by the Twins in 2012 out of his hometown college, Rice University, in Houston. He spent three full seasons playing for the Owls, between 2010 and 2012, helping the school to claim its fourth conference championship, in 2011. Curiously enough, do you know who was elected the conference MVP that year? That’s right. Duffey. He helped the Owls to finish the regular season in first place (16-8 conference record), with the highest number of wins (42-21 overall record) and to be the #24 program in the nation. He shared closing duties with former Twin J.T. Chargois.
Tyler Duffey (Rice, NCAA-1, three seasons)
92 games (1 start)
189 K (11.12 K/9)
14 HR (0.82 HR/9)
55 BB (3.24 BB/9)
Trevor Hildenberger also spent three seasons in college ball, but his overall numbers weren’t nearly as impressive as his stellar Minor League totals nor his first months in MLB. Coming out of high school, he pitched for the University of California, Berkeley starting in 2010, but he was redshirted during the 2011 season. His best season was during his senior year, in which he posted a 2.83 ERA and tied the school record of ten single-season saves. On May 10th, 2014 he pitched 3.0 innings to earn a save, striking out six batters, his career high.
Trevor Hildenberger (California, NCAA-1, three seasons)
56 games (5 starts)
95 K (7.97 K/9)
3 HR (0.25 HR/9)
33 BB (2.77 BB/9)
Veteran relief pitcher Blake Parker wasn’t always a pitcher. During his three seasons playing for the Arkansas Razorbacks, from 2004 to 2006, Parker served as the team third baseman. Drafted in 2006, he had a very slow start as a position player on Rookie and A ball and started his transition to the mound in 2007, to never turn back. As a position player in college, his best season was during his sophomore year, when he had a .865 OPS and was an extra-base maniac, with a 54.55% XBH%. After maintaining a 2.85 ERA in ten years pitching in the Minors, he knew he made the right call for his career.
Blake Parker (Arkansas, NCAA-1, three seasons)
.266/.344/.417 (.761 OPS)
51 BB (8.79% BB%)
118 K (20.34% k%)
Taylor Rogers is a superstar in the making right now. But his college career was nowhere near an indication of that. After being drafted by the Baltimore Orioles out of high school in 2009, he decided not to sign with them and to attend the University of Kentucky. He was a starting pitcher for the Wildcats for three seasons and when we look back at his performance there, we get shocked. Look at what his Wikipedia page has to say about his college career: “In 2010, he tied for the Southeastern Conference lead in losses (7) and runs allowed (68), as he went 4-7 with a 6.40 ERA. In 2011, he tied for second in the Southeastern Conference in losses (7), and was third-highest in runs allowed (56). In 2012, he was fourth in the Southeastern Conference in runs allowed (45)”. Can you believe this?
Taylor Rogers (Kentucky, NCAA-1, three seasons)
45 games (42 starts)
172 K (6.21 K/9)
25 HR (0.90 HR/9)
55 BB (1.99 BB/9)
Addison Reed MLB career is pretty respectable. His college career? It was monstrous. In three seasons pitching for the San Diego State Aztecs, Reed was one of the best pitchers in the country. During his sophomore year, in 2009, he led the nation with 20 saves in 20 save opportunities, striking out 38 batters in 27.2 IP (12.36 K/9) and finishing with a 0.65 ERA. He was named the 2009 National Stopper of the Year by the NCBWA.
Addison Reed (San Diego State, NCAA-1, three seasons)
60 games (11 starts)
154 K (10.40 K/9)
10 HR (0.68 HR/9)
31 BB (2.09 BB/9)
Another player who had an astonishing college career was C.J. Cron. In three years playing for the Utah Utes, between 2009 and 2011, Cron was acknowledged as one of the best first basemen in the nation. Not only did he have extraordinary individual numbers, but he also helped the Utes to reach the regional finals in 2009, his freshman year. During his junior year, the last one before being drafted, he was “named a first-team All-American at first base by Baseball America, NCBWA, ABCA, Perfect Game, ESPN, and the Collegiate Baseball newspaper (Louisville Slugger)”, after slashing .434/.517/.803 (1.320 OPS).
C.J. Cron (Utah, NCAA-1, three seasons)
.396/.459/.713 (1.172 OPS)
62 BB (8.46% BB%)
75 K (10.23% K%)
When the Twins signed Jason Castro to a three-year, $24,5 million contract in 2017, they did it mostly because of his defensive skills. As a major leaguer he hasn’t lived up to his minor league offensive numbers and certainly hasn’t for his college numbers either. Castro played very well offensively for Stanford, especially during his junior year. Not only did he lead the Cardinal in batting average (.376), hits (105), doubles (18) and RBI (73), he also “earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors, second-team All-America accolades from Rivals.com and third-team All-America recognition by Baseball America, ABCA/Rawlings and Ping!Baseball, while he was a finalist for the Johnny Bench award honoring college baseball's top catcher”. With Stanford reaching the College World Series that year, Castro was named to the All-College World Series team, after hitting 6-for-18 (.333) on that series.
Jason Castro (Stanford, NCAA-1, three seasons)
.309/.381/.476 (.857 OPS)
62 BB (9.94% BB%)
83 K (13.30% k%)
Last, but not least (especially for me, but I’ll get to that in a minute), there’s Mitch Garver, who played for four years for the University of New Mexico, in his hometown of Albuquerque, between 2010 and 2013. Garver was one of the best catchers in the nation. In his senior year, he slashed .390/.458/.589 (1.047 OPS) and led the team in multiple stats. But not only did he succeed individually, but he’s also led UNM to two of its three Mountain West Conference titles (2011 and 2012), including the very first one in history, making him one of the best Lobos of all-time. Garver also takes much pride in his state’s roots. I don’t know if many of you will remember, but during Players Weekend last year, he used a New Mexico flag bat.
Mitch Garver (New Mexico, NCAA-1, four seasons)
.351/.421/.527 (.948 OPS)
88 BB (9.51% BB%)
104 K (11.24% k%)
What makes Garver’s college career so special to me? In 2013 I was granted a scholarship from my university in Brazil and I managed to spend six months in the US, studying at UNM. At the time, basketball was my main passion and I took every opportunity I had to go watch the Lobos basketball team, which was pretty good at that year (until a tragedy at March Madness ruined everything…). But I took one chance to go to the Isotopes Park, home field of the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, and attended the very first (and only) baseball game of my life, when the Lobos hosted Oklahoma State.
Back then, I didn’t follow baseball nearly as much as I do today. So I had no idea who any of those players were. It only occured to me last year, when Garver started to get his first Major League chances, that he was much likely there, behind the plate, during that particular game. I checked, and, yes. He was at that game (look at the picture above, which I took on that day). The Lobos trailed 4-2 on that February evening, the ballpark was empty before the game was finished and the pitcher I actually went there to watch (because we took one class together) didn’t even play (I think). But, in retrospect, I can see how meaningful that day was to me and Garver was a part of that.
h2oface reacted to MnTwinsTalk for a blog entry, Does Jonathan Schoop have a future on the Twins?
The Minnesota Twins signed Jonathan Schoop to a one year $7.5 million contract this offseason in a bridge deal to prepare for Royce Lewis among others.
It seems like fans and people around the game have already written off seeing Schoop anywhere with the Twins past 2019, but the question has to be asked, what if Jonathan Schoop returns to his 2017 form?
In 2017 Jonathan Schoop was one of the best second basemen in baseball. He ranked like this among them (min of 120 PA):
2nd in home runs (32)
1st in RBI (105)
10th in AVG (.293)
6th in SLG (.503)
8th in wOBA (.355)
8th in wRC+ (122)
5th in WAR (3.6)
Fielding wasn't as good but it was good enough to pass as long as you are hitting like he was.
14th in UZR (-3.2)
8th in DRS (0)
12th In FLD% (.981)
5th in 10-40% chance to make play (27.3)
Overall the hitting alone puts him in the top 5-10 second basemen in baseball. He is on the Twins and is a great player to have a potential bounce back campaign. The Twins were able to grab him as an under the radar pick up because he struggled so much in 2018. Obviously there is something with his swing that the front office was confident can be fixed. He was also dealing with a leg injury throughout all of 2018 that limited his abilities. So hypothetically if Schoop were to repeat 2017 or even be better, what would his outlook be for remaining on the Twins in 2020 and beyond? I think there are three options.
1.) Jonathan Schoop resigns on a multi-year contract and a middle infield prospect is traded.
2.)The Twins let him walk in order to make room for Lewis, Javier, Gordon etc.
3.)The Twins have a bad year and trade him at the deadline.
4.) Schoop resigns and moves to third, Polanco to 2B, Lewis/Gordon/Javier to SS and Sano to 1B
I think al of these options except number three could really work in the Twins favor. Recent contracts for second basemen have been looking like this:
D.J. LeMahieu 2 years $24 million
Jed Lowrie 2 years $20 million
Brian Dozier 1 year $9 million
Jean Segura 5 years $70 million
Dee Gordon 5 year $50 million
Andrelton Simmons 7 years $58 million
I would imagine that if Schoop can repeat 2017 or get even better that he would get somewhere around the Jean Segura deal of 5 years $70 million. Schoop will only be 26 or 27 so signing an impact second basemen into his early 30's couldn't hurt. I would imagine if he is resigned he will have to eventually have to move over to third base in order to make room for Royce Lewis and Jorge Polanco. The second option the Twins have will be to let him just go to free agency so the Twins keep their money and can spend it elsewhere. This wouldn't be a crazy move even if Schoop has a great year, just based on the fact that Royce Lewis, Wander Javier, Nick Gordon and others are in the minors.
Another possibility is one that would hurt the most but is still possible. The Twins could have another down year and swap Schoop for a few prospects. I would much rather see the Twins trading prospects for impact players at the deadline but we will just have to wait and see.
If Schoop is resigned it's likely he would play one more year at second base while waiting for someone like Royce Lewis to emerge. The infield would eventually be shifted all around and look something like Schoop at third, Lewis at shortstop, Polanco at second and Sano at first. . Four offensive weapons with slight defensive liability at 3 positions, but with great outfielders it balances out, right?
Overall I've never been so hyped or just excited about a one year contract for a player coming off a really bad year but Schoop could just be really good. If the Twins are right and they are able to pinpoint something he was messing up with his swing and get him back to his strengths, this $7.5 million contract could be a great deal.
Thank you for reading my Jonathan Schoop post. Go check out my seperate blog @EverydayTwinsTalk.com I would love to do more interactive articles with fans, so go visit my Twitter. (@EverydayTwins). If you enjoyed please leave a like and share with your friends.