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Snarkier Than Reusse

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  1. Thad Levine here. My 2022 Brutal Self-Assessment (BSA) includes the key areas that I think are important to Twins front office and coaching staff success. Twins Daily readers should offer solutions or point out things I have missed. Space limits stop me from listing all areas that need to be addressed. #1. We arrived in 2016 touting our ability to identify, draft and develop players, especially pitching. How have we done in six drafts? My quick BSA shows that in 2022, three pitchers we drafted and developed (Winder, Sands, and Varland) will have pitched about 120 of the nearly 1,500 innings pitched. Five position players we drafted and developed will make roughly 500 of nearly 6,000 plate appearances. Those same players (Jeffers, Larnach, Lewis, Contreras and Wallner) will have produced about 60 of the 650 RBI in 2022. After six seasons, we still don’t have a homegrown MLB pitcher or position players considered a difference maker. I admit we have spent too many high picks on power bats with no obvious defensive position. Is there potential? Yes! But potential means you ain’t done it yet. I’m also concerned about our minor league development system. A good example is Kirilloff, who has a great swing tool, but as an outfielder, he is in mortal peril of being overtaken and crushed by a glacier. Great bat, average arm, and slow equals 1B. But we didn’t play him much at 1B until AAA. I give kudos to Gordon and Miranda in 2022. Throughout their minor league careers, they didn’t play the most innings at the position we put them at in the Bigs. We do a disservice to players to promote them, then ask them to adjust to MLB pitching, AND, play a new position at MLB level. Gordon was never the system’s best SS or 2B. We did should have groomed him early for a utility role. We need to make the call on the MLB position(s) we think they can play, and then we school them deeply. If they balk, we help them find a team who thinks they can be something else. When we’re wrong, we try to get smarter. In business, the only bad decision is when you fail to make one. Don’t be a squirrel in the middle of the road, zigzagging, and then getting run over. Make a decision. If it’s wrong, fix it. Grade: D #2. We have talked ad nauseum about our superior abilities in advanced analytics. Looking back on 2022 and previous seasons, it appears we are letting analyses make rather than guide our decisions. An old Sparky Anderson managing guideline was that career or season-long numbers didn’t matter nearly as much as how any player had been doing the past three weeks. Hard and fast rules based on analyses of old data for pitching, hitting or evaluating players is like driving a car forward while looking in the rearview mirror. It works fine until the road curves. There are a lot of curves in the road of baseball. Grade: C #3. Our love affair with young, cute analytics made us kick old, reliable baseball fundamentals to the curb. This seems to be a problem throughout our system. I am told that in olden days, players were reprimanded and sometimes lost playing time for missing cutoffs, throwing to the wrong base, missing signs, not holding runners, not hitting the ball to the opposite field, lousy baserunning or not being able to put down a sacrifice bunt. Our third-base coach seems to struggle with the concept that slow runners should not be sent home with one out just to surprise the other team. One old timer told me that if Tom Kelly was dead, thank goodness he is not, his grave would always appear freshly rototilled due to a full summer of spinning. We fired Paul Molitor because he didn’t use our analytics. Perhaps we need to add someone to our staff who suspects that baseball is more than homeruns, strikeouts, pitch MPH and exit velocity. We will need to discuss these new, difficult concepts internally. Grade D #4. We are a medium budget team. That means we don’t have much margin for error in player development, trades or free agent acquisitions. We’ve had to cover our weak record on producing relatively low-cost, high output young players. We were forced to promote players who aren’t ready, make questionable trades and chase affordable free agents. Joe Ryan was a great trade. Dumping Donaldson, a free agent error, luckily got us two much-needed, reliable regulars in 2022. But it cost us a low-cost reliable SS. If we had kept Escobar at $8M/yr., who put up similar numbers as Donaldson, we could have kept Kiner-Falefa for 2 years at $7.5M. Yes, we would not have Duran. But we wouldn’t have needed Correa at $35M/yr., thus we could have afforded better pitching. Using a $M/WAR basis, Escobar and Kiner-Falefa were bargains. If we could draft and develop better as well as not make big free agent mistakes, we would not have to go dumpster diving for 3-4 level starting pitchers and further deplete our farm system to get #2-3 starters and relievers via trades. We still don’t have a #1 playoff caliber pitcher. For you cheerleaders, take September performances and statistics vs non-contenders with a grain of salt. It would also help if our front office could prevent trades for guys who are hurt. But this all feeds off our weakness in #1. We have to get better as scouts and get better player information. Desperate time yield desperate trades and signings. That was us in 2022. Grade C- #5. Our in-stadium and TV product needs to improve. The players in the dugout appeared to be having fun in 2022. That was an improvement. We understand our quality of play needs much improvement. I’m considering having a frank discussion with some of our fans. An opposing pitcher should not be showered with boos every time he chases a Twins runner back to first base. It makes us look like fools who don’t know baseball. It may also be contributing to our pitchers’ reluctance to hold runners. Silly prefab noise like “Everybody Clap Your Hands” is now ruined for me once somebody asked, “Why do you want everybody to crap their pants.” We’ll fix that. We are also going to revisit contracts with our announcers. We may remove the “And Never is Heard, A Discouraging Word” clause and allow them to speak freely. That may also educate our fans, stop the booing when pitcher chase runners back, and maybe our pitchers will start holding runners. Dick Bremer will no longer be required to hand out verbal participation ribbons. An example is after a wild throw home from the outfield that is too late but allows two runners to advance a base, Bremer doesn’t have to comment on how strong the throw was. He can tell the truth. In a similar vein, Justin Morneau will no longer be required fill each inning with three to five “Justinifications” about how the same or any play could have been good baseball if the player was thinking about this, or that, or ifs to the fifth. We will also stop paying Morneau per word uttered. We did not anticipate he could talk without stopping to breathe. Sadly, Fernando Valenzuela taught him how to breathe through his eyelids like a lava lizard. Latroy Hawkins taught me that during a baseball telecast, a few moments of silence can be golden. Grade C Thank you Twins fans for your support and your patience, which we know we can’t expect to continue much longer. Hang in there Mr. and Mrs. STR. I smell a playoff victory in 2023.
  2. After the Twins abysmal 2021 season ended, Twins GM Thad Levine summed it up by spewing this line of business-speak (BS). Honest to God, the Star-Tribune really quoted him. With enough clicks on https://www.atrixnet.com/bs-generator.html, I suspect one could generate a similar BS statement. “We try to be as responsible as we can in forecasting the scope of possible outcomes, and the performance our team had on that spectrum,” Levine said the other day. “I can guarantee you it wasn’t an outcome that we spent a lot of time scrutinizing and preparing for because we were expecting the much better end of the spectrum of outcomes. It certainly was not on our radar screen of possible or even likely outcomes.” “Then you layer on all the early challenges associated with COVID and our team actually having a bit of an outbreak early in the season,” Levine said. “Then the civil strife in our community. Those are all things above and beyond baseball that are meaningfully more important in the grand scheme of life.” That’s not meant as an excuse, he said. “I’m certainly not trying to make any excuses. But the rash of injuries we’ve had, some performances that we certainly were not expecting or anticipating, I do think if we’re being completely transparent and aware, those things have had an impact on our franchise and our community at large, and I think as well they should.” What is different in 2022? STR (yours truly) is now faced in 2023 with a fourth consecutive season of protest by not wearing any of my Twins gear or attending a game until they win a playoff game. Mrs. STR may have cheated and donned her Punto jersey, but I can’t prove that and she’s not confessing. Unsubstantiated rumors have Twins owner Jim Pohlad, apparently in awe of such BS when he hired Levine, is considering saving some money and replacing him with an online BS generator. In a spirit of helpfulness, I humbly submit to Mr. Levine the following 2022 season assessment in an unfamiliar language called Brutal Self-Assessment (BSA). (Thad Levine steps up to the podium.) Hello Twins fans! Thank you for being loyal despite our team not having won a playoff game since Oct. 5, 2004. Really? The iPhone hadn’t been invented yet. There are people old enough to vote who haven’t seen a Twins playoff win. I was hired in late 2016 to change that, and after six seasons we are still oh-fer. One definition of progress is not having to deal with the same problems as last year. My 2022 BSA is that we haven’t made much progress in my six years. I am sorry. The 2022 American League Central was very winnable. Yes, injuries did rob us of winning performances from many players. But it was our decision to build a team around often injured players like Buxton, Sano, Lewis and Kirlilloff. We rolled the dice and lost. We built a pitching staff of a few inexperienced men and older guys past their prime. We dumped one annoying expensive free agent and got one who is a great team guy and played very well. We competed well early. But the season is long and as anyone with open eyes could expect, the young guys had some success and struggles and the older guys were shown for who they were. Injuries may have prevented us from winning the Central, but we would have gone nowhere in the playoffs. I am sorry. There are three things that almost every man thinks he’s better at than the person who is actually doing the job. They are building a fire, running a bar or restaurant, and running or coaching a sports team. In Part 2, I’ll take you through some of our shortcomings as my new BSA sees them and I’ll leave it to Twins Daily commenters to offer helpful suggestions. Because frankly, I could use some help
  3. Erhard, MN – A local litter of puppies is reluctant to get excited about the Twins 2022 season. The litter’s spokespuppy, the only pup awake during the interview said, “To quote Walt Whitman, I sound my barbaric yawn over the roofs of the world.” The spokepuppy stated he had no name as he has yet to be sold to a young, urban couple who will likely give him an embarrassing name. “And I’ll be really bummed if I get sold to some Cubs fans,” he whispered. “We didn’t see the 2021 Twins, but mom has been a huge Twins fan for over 60 years,” said the spokespuppy. “Mom says the 2021 Twins were dog meat by June 1, and she’s not sold on the 2022 Twins either. Mom also says wagging during games will be harder. They cut La Tortuga, so there’s nobody to bark and howl for. They traded Donaldson, so there’s nobody to snarl at. They traded Nellie, so there’s nobody to nap with. We like to eat, so there’s still Sano.” “She’s suspicious of being tossed the Carlos Correa bone,” he growled. “She warned us about free agents who put up career numbers in their free agent year, then don’t produce after signing a big contract. If Correa is just MLB average in 2022, we’re stuck with him for another year. She says look at the teams in the 2021 ALDS. How is the 2022 team going to compete with them? Does a 2023 ALCS caliber team get there with a rookie shortstop and a staff of mostly first- and second-year starters? Young dogs and players struggle their first few years. Even Mike Trout got sent down.” “My littermates see it this way,” stated the spokespuppy. “First, you hit the ball. Second, you catch the ball. We can’t catch yet, but we have fun chasing the ball after we miss it. Mom says we would have loved watching Josh Willingham play left field. Oh yeah, and thirdly, you throw the ball. Who is going to do that? Mom says relying on inexperienced pitchers does not a playoff run make, and the 2022 Twins don’t presently have a pitcher who has won a playoff game. Tom Kelly often said that you’re only as good as tomorrow’s pitcher.” The spokespuppy aired the litter’s final concern. “By September it will have been what, almost 126 years since the Twins last won a playoff game and 140 years since they won a playoff series. Our mom has about 20-30 years left. We want her to see a Twins World Series appearance. Our milk teeth will have fallen out before we can even recognize the 2022 players. Hope springs eternal, but it’s a lousy strategy. It’s time for a nap, get back to us at the All-Star break.”
  4. Unreliable sources report that the Yankees will have former Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson and Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole will be roommates this season during road trips. Baseball insiders remain skeptical due to Donaldson’s and Cole public feud in 2021. After MLB began cracking down on illegal sticky substances like Spider Tack, Donaldson publicly questioned if it was a coincidence that Cole had an immediate drop in spin rate and movement. After the controversy went public Donaldson went 0-6 with four strikeouts in their two 2021 matchups. Donaldson is 0-9 lifetime versus Cole, tied for his longest hitless streak against any pitcher. Yankees GM Brian Cashman says the feud is in the past. He points to a Cole quote from after their 2021 matchups to show Cole has moved on. “I don’t see any need to [talk]. I’m good,” Cole said. “But if he has anything more to say, he’s welcome to reach out or whatever.” Cashman is optimistic the new teammates will become fast friends. “These men are professionals. They don’t let things like their contracts, petty gripes or unwritten rules affect their performance or relations with teammates.” Cashman pointed to past successful Yankee teams like Billy Martin led teams, that had several fist fights but were successful. “I expect Gerrit and Josh will end up as close as Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson were in the 70s,” said Cashman.
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