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  1. Like
    Tim reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Andrelton Simmons Isn’t Good Enough to Get Away with This   
    Remember Steve Carlton? The not-very-integral member of the 1987 World Champion Minnesota Twins was, at one time, the best pitcher in baseball. Four Cy Youngs, five years leading the National League in strikeouts (the fifth time at age 38), last pitcher to throw 300 innings a season, led the Phillies to their first title in 1980. A remarkable career.
    He was also completely out of his mind.
    Carlton never spoke to the media, which means we didn’t learn until he was long retired that he built a mountain lair with a 7000-foot storage cellar loaded to the gills with guns and bottled water for “The Revolution.” That revolution was coming thanks to Russian sound waves, the Skull and Bones Society, the Elders of Zion, the National Education Association, and more. I’m aware this qualifies him to represent the state of Georgia in Congress today, but in 1994 this was wild stuff.
    One assumes that the Phillies knew that Steve was off his nut, but when you can produce like he did, you let that stuff slide a little bit, especially if he keeps it quiet. By the time he was failing to make the Minnesota Twins playoff roster because he wasn’t as good as Lester Straker, he was just a cooked 43-year-old with weirdly anti-Semitic ideas about how the world works. He never pitched again.
    Which brings me to Andrelton Simmons.
    Already the COVID patient zero of the Twins locker room, he took to social media on Thursday to let the world know, and I quote:
    I’m not going to debate the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines with Simmons or anyone else, as there is no debate to be had. They work. Please shut up and let the horses have their wormer paste. (Also, it’s “effects.”)
    Across town, the Vikings are dealing with a similar situation. A handful of their best players (Adam Thielen, Harrison Smith, I guess Kirk Cousins if you squint hard enough) apparently won’t get the vacc either. It presents some hard choices for them, as they don’t have quality replacements for any of them as the regular season looms, and the NFL will make teams forfeit games if they can’t field a lineup due to COVID quarantines.
    The Twins face no such dilemma.
    The season is over. Simmons is an offensive liability and a good-to-excellent defender, which basically makes him a better Jeff Reboulet, if Jeff Reboulet thought Jurassic Park was real. He’s on a one-year deal. Maybe if he was the standout player in a disappointing season you could let his idiocy slide. Or maybe if it was something less harmful and kind of quirky, like thinking the earth was flat or dedicating his Instagram Stories to proving that birds are a deep-fake.
    He’s not good enough to get away with this. Let the summer of Drew Maggi begin.
    Image license here.
  2. Like
    Tim reacted to Jeremy Nygaard for an article, Trade Deadline: GM For A Day   
    The Twins made their first big move sending Nelson Cruz to Tampa Bay in exchange for two pitching prospects. 
    There were reports over the weekend that Byron Buxton won't be signing a contract extension with the club and rumors of willingness to listen on team-controlled players such as Jose Berrios, Taylor Rogers, and Max Kepler.
    So, where do we go from here?
    We're going to start with the players on expiring contracts.
    Trade Andrelton Simmons to the Reds for SS Gus Steiger. Steiger, who is from Minnetonka and played collegiately at South Dakota State, signed with the Reds as an undrafted free agent in 2020 and would provide organizational depth in Fort Myers. The Twins would send no cash in the deal, leaving the Reds on the hook for the remaining $3.5 million on Simmons' contract.
    Trade Michael Pineda to the Astros for P Misaell Tamarez. Tamarez has less than 75 professional innings under his belt and has a walk rate over six, but he also strikes out more than a hitter per inning and has some ceiling. Tamarez would join the Fort Myers staff, where he could start or relieve. The Twins would get all of next year to evaluate Tamarez before deciding whether or not to add him to the 40-man roster. Pineda has $3.4 million left on his contract, which the Astros would pick up. I'd also expect Big Mike to be back with the Twins on a two-year deal this offseason.
    Trade Hansel Robles to the Red Sox for RP Durbin Feltman. Boston will give up Feltman, who may help in a bullpen someday, for Robles, who will help them in the bullpen for the rest of the year. Robles is owed less than $700,000 for the remainder of the year. Feltman, who has seen his velocity dip since turning pro in 2018, is the type of prospect on who the Twins could take a chance. If they can unlock some of that lost velocity, there is a chance he could be added to the 40-man when first eligible this upcoming offseason.
    Trade J.A. Happ to the Phillies for a PTBNL or cash. Happ broke into the big leagues with Philadelphia in 2007 and can provide rotational depth. The return for Happ would likely be a little bit of cash to offset his contract. He's still owed just shy of $3 million. The Twins would stay on the hook for almost all of that. 
    The only other impending free agent is Alex Colome, who has been bad this year. If there's a team interested, he could be had for a meager price. Even if the Twins pay the remainder of his salary, the return will be low… in fact, it would be a win if someone else would be responsible for buying out his option.
    Before going on to the next - and definitely more debatable - part, one thing that needs to be discussed (because it will get a lot of consideration) is the 40-man roster. Except for Drew Strotman, none of the actual or projected returns to this point include someone on the 40-man roster. The Twins also have five players on the 60-day IL that will need to be activated this offseason. 
    Now, granted, the roster has several fringe-40-man players that can be removed, but the organization has to be very careful about the position they put themselves in with acquiring players. Part of the reason Tampa Bay was ok giving up two of their top prospects for Cruz likely had to do with the crunch they were going to face this offseason. (They probably would have lost Strotman on outright waivers.)
    Just by my quick estimation, there are eight players (seven pitchers!) that I think are more likely to get added to the 40-man than not either later this season or in the offseason. If the Twins are going to rebuild, they would be wise to acquire prospects who are at least a year away from needing to be added to the 40-man roster. 
    Whatever Taylor Rogers did to his finger last night puts his status on the trade market in question. If healthy - and if I were calling the shots - I would have him very available. But for this exercise, he will remain with the Twins.
    I'm not going to trade Josh Donaldson either. My stance would be that I would make him available, but I want a fair prospect return. The money complicates that. The Twins, in my opinion, will move Donaldson if someone is willing to take on the remainder of his contract. That will minimize the return. Josh Donaldson is too good of a baseball player just to give away.
    I'll listen on Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco, but I don't see either getting moved. Kenta Maeda as well. For an overpay, I'd move every one of them.
    Now for the big dogs…
    Not only do I think Byron Buxton will not be moved, I believe a whirlwind Trade Deadline Week is going to be capped off with a Byron Buxton extension. Maybe it won't be Friday because the front office will be busy. But soon enough that the fanbase won't be able to check out for the year.
    Jose Berrios is a different story. Even a week ago, I wasn't convinced that Berrios was going anywhere. Now I've done a complete 180 and think there is no way he's not traded. And there's going to be a market. Take your pick…
    San Diego is aggressive, has prospects, and is forward-thinking enough to pull off another blockbuster. Would they include any of their four top prospects? Would MacKenzie Gore, who's been a mess lately, even be enough? Or would the Twins shoot for the injured CJ Abrams or Robert Hassell? Could the Twins bring back Eric Hosmer's bad contract to help the Padres out financially and ask for another top prospect too? 
    The Dodgers don't want to share the spotlight. Is it really a possibility that they offer Dustin May? If so, that is a conversation that needs to be had.
    Maybe the Giants won't want to be outdone, and though they can't offer a top-end pitching prospect, they do have prospect currency, including SS Marco Luciano and C Joey Bart. There should be enough interest that the Twins don't have to settle for prospects that aren't in the top tier.
    The AL East is also worth watching. Toronto (P Nate Pearson and SS Austin Martin) and New York (P Deivi Garcia) would both be able to move the needle.
    The NL East is just as interesting. The Mets have the prospects, but all are a few promotions from the major yet. (Plus, Kevin Mulvey is no longer available.) The Braves could be a match. 
    So what would I do….?
    I'd call Trader Jerry and make a deal with the Mariners. The basic framework would be Jose Berrios for P George Kirby. Kirby is a Top 20 prospect and hasn't reached AA yet (but will soon). 
    The Mariners are also in the market for an infielder. Does expanding the deal to include Jorge Polanco make sense? Would the Mariners have any interest in taking on Josh Donaldson? Does DiPoto want to roll the dice on Taylor Rogers being ready soon and helping out down the stretch?
    It would be hard to bet against the Mets, Dodgers, Padres, or Yankees in a bidding war, but the Mariners are a longshot who could make the best deal for both teams. 
    Maybe the holes these trades would create would have to be filled internally, which may not seem to scream "we're competing in 2022," but in a season with so many questions and so few answers, do we really want to be tricked into thinking that's possible anyway?
  3. Like
    Tim reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Cashing In at the Deadline Will Require Painful Decisions for Twins   
    The Twins, destined for irrelevance this season, have a variety of players they'd be more than happy to ship out. Impending free agents like Andrelton Simmons, Michael Pineda, Hansel Robles and J.A. Happ? Why not? Makes no difference really. Those players will be free for anyone to sign come November, and there's no reason to be clamoring for an extension with any of them. 
    Even players under control beyond this year, like Josh Donaldson and Miguel Sanó, could be dealt with a viable argument their salary allotment is better diverted elsewhere. 
    The problem, of course, is that none of these players are likely to generate significant demand at the deadline. Due either to performance, contracts, injuries, or some combination, they're all burdened by drawbacks that significantly dash their trade value. In any of these cases, the Twins are going to be accepting an underwhelming return. Many trade scenarios would qualify as no more than a salary dump.
    When it comes to selling high, the front office has three opportunities, and in only two of those cases will they be able to dictate a market and drive up the asking price. 
    Fresh off his All-Star appearance, Nelson Cruz is an elite hitter, and basically the biggest offensive upgrade a team could ask for at the deadline. He's a bona fide difference-maker for a contender, and all but certain to get moved. But as a 41-year-old pure DH with two months left on his deal, Cruz's market is inherently limited. When you narrow down the field of teams that actually have a fit, are willing to pay his remaining salary, and are in contention for a championship, you wind up with a handful at most. 
    Cruz will almost surely be traded, but he's not going to bring back a game-changing prospect. That's the nature of the beast.
    If the Twins want to sell high and compel another team to overpay at the deadline, they're going to need to trade away either their best starter, José Berríos, or their best reliever, Taylor Rogers. 
    Now this is not an endorsement of that course of action. I feel the same reservations as many people reading this do. 
    In part, the attachment is sentimental. Berríos and Rogers are both extremely likable, as well as extremely familiar. They are among the longest-tenured Twins players – both drafted in 2012 before making major-league debuts in 2016. They've remained constants in the rotation and bullpen while the team has changed drastically around them. Both are models of durability and consistency.
    But sentimentality aside, the more important factor here is that both Berríos and Rogers are critical if not essential to any hopes of the Twins rebounding and returning to contention in 2022.
    It's already difficult enough to envision the club fielding a contention-caliber rotation OR bullpen next year, given the sorry current state of both units. But when you remove the top performer (by a wide margin) in each, the task feels insurmountable. 
    Berríos and Rogers should theoretically be centerpieces of a retool-and-reset strategy. They are both under team control at a reasonable rate next year, and each is on top of his game. Berríos ranks seventh among AL starters in fWAR, while Rogers ranks fifth among relievers – a first-time All-Star with career highs in K-rate, swinging-strike rate, and FIP.
    Of course, these are exactly the reasons they will generate outsized demand. Whereas Cruz has a narrow field of suitors, Berríos and Rogers are attractive to any team that's even THINKING about buying. 
    Which brings us back to the point at hand. I don't like the idea of trading either of these long-time fixtures, especially when you'd be subtracting from a clear area of weakness. But no one can deny that if the Twins want to make a real splash and acquire substantial prospect capital to aid whatever scale of rebuild they are about to undertake ... they really have no other choice.
    This front office prides itself on being opportunistic, and has never been weighed down by sentimentality. We'll see where they land.
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  4. Like
    Tim reacted to John Bonnes for an article, Trade Deadline Preview: The Philadelphia Phillies   
    What's Their Situation?
    The Phillies declared themselves contenders before the 2019 season when they signed Bryce Harper to a 13-year(!) $330M contract. They backed it up with the fourth-highest payroll in MLB this year. And yet, they haven't made the postseason the last two years and are in danger of missing it again.
    This year, the NL Wild Card already looks out of reach, but the NL East is a four-team slugfest (or maybe more of a slap fight?) with the Mets, Phillies, Braves, and Nationals all firmly determined to remain within arm's reach of .500. Whichever team makes the right moves at the deadline could eke out a postseason spot. Plus, the Phillies' needs are relatively straightforward, and the Twins are a good fit for several of them.
    What Do They Need?
    It is remarkable that the Phillies somehow need the same thing every year: bullpen help. You think the Twins' bullpen has been brutal? The Phillies are twice as bad. And I mean that objectively – their relievers have a collective WPA of -3.33, almost doubling the Twins mark of -1.78. The Twins have 12 blown saves on the year, while the Phillies lead the majors in that dubious category with 22.
    Which Twins Are the Best Fit?
    All the relievers, obviously. No, not Alex Colome – even Philly's behavior at the 2018 NFC Championship game doesn't justify that level of punishment. But Hansel Robles, Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, and even Caleb Thielbar would be of interest. The fact that several are team-controlled for multiple years would help the Phillies solve a seemingly perennial problem. And the fact that the Twins can offer multiple arms is even more valuable, giving them the flexibility to get numerous arms by giving up a single more valuable prospect.
    Every team could use some more help in their starting rotation, and the Phils are no exception. They have Zack Wheeler as an ace so far this year, and Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin have been serviceable, but a healthy Michael Pineda or Jose Berrios would obviously be of interest.
    Offensively, you would think a lineup with a core of Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hopkins, and Andrew McCutchen would be elite. Yet the Phils' offense is only slightly above average. Still, it's hard to find a fit. 
    The best fit might be Josh Donaldson taking over at third base: the Phils certainly can spend money, and Alec Bohm is posting just a 641 OPS this year, has struggled defensively, and tested positive for Covid on July 11th. However, he's also just 24 years old and a legit prospect who hit .338 last year in his rookie season. It's unlikely the Phils want to block him for the next two years at third base.
    Other than that, the biggest weakness is at shortstop (veteran Didi Gregorius) and center field (injured Odubel Herrera). But the Twins don't have a great replacement for either unless they get an offer they can't refuse for Byron Buxton.
    Who Could The Twins Get Back?
    This is always a shot in the dark, but let's review some candidates...
    Alec Bohm, 3B, 24yo – The aforementioned Bohm is the Phillies' top young player, but he's their everyday third baseman. Could the Twins replace him with Donaldson and throw in some salary or arms (or both) to find a workable package? Seems a lot of moving pieces to arrange.
    Spencer Howard, RHP, 24yo – It's hard to say what Howard's value is these days. This offseason, he was still considered a top 50 overall starting pitching prospect. But now he's spent portions of two seasons in the majors, posted a 5.87 ERA, and was shut down with shoulder soreness in between. This is where scouting matters.
    Rafael Marchan, C, 22yo – It's hard to tell what the Phils' strategy was with Marchan. He was clearly rushed to the majors, meaning he's already burned two option years. He's shown no power, but he's also just 22. He's a switch-hitter, but stronger from his left side, which seems like a good fit. He just seems like the kind of guy the Twins believe they can coach up and shouldn't cost a lot.
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