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the_neds

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  1. Thanks for the discussion guys! Like most of you, I think Garver is worth more to the Twins than he is to another team at the moment because Rortvedt isn't ready. Jeffers is younger, more team control, higher defensive upside. Basically if we trade Garver, they get him this year and then he hits free agency. I like (which means hate) the idea of a Larnach/Jeffers deal - I could see some bites for that. I think we'll see Arraez get some trade queries this offseason too, and as much as I'd hate to see him go, we need a pitcher.
  2. The Minnesota Twins have four catchers in the conversation for the 2022 season that I can see - even if some of those conversations aren’t going to be very long. Let’s start with what I consider one of those quick ones. Willians Astudillo La Tortuga is a folk hero, and we love him. Everyone loves our relief pitching, chubby base-running, helmet losing backup-backup-backup catcher. But at this point, keeping him on the 40 man is pretty much just keeping someone else with more value off of it. He doesn’t have a defensive upside apart from being able to plug a hole at most fielding positions - not any of them particularly well - and batted at .238 in the Majors this year, which really isn’t good enough to leapfrog other waiting catchers with long term defensive upside. I just don’t see a realistic expectation that he is going to play out as an average or better member of the team, and should probably be signed to a Minors deal. The fact that he’s listed on the 40-man as a 1B is a pretty good indicator of how he ranks in terms of Minnesota catchers. 2022 Prediction - Will not break camp with Twins, will not make 40-man roster. Now onto the catchers that I figure will be involved in the plans for the Twins. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that I mean Garver, Jeffers and Rortvedt. I’ve included their stats for the year as a refresher (via FanGraphs). Offensive Stats 2021 Defensive Stats 2021 Mitch Garver Mitch is my Do Not Trade catcher. Whilst he pretty much grades out average in terms of catcher defense, his 2019 season and the mid to latter half of the 2021 season (barring That Injury We Don’t Like To Think About) make him by far - and I mean far - the most productive catcher we have offensively. He ranked 13th amongst catchers in AVG (min 50 PA), 7th in OBP and 5th in slugging, finishing the year on .256/.358/.517. He was definitely struggling at the plate early on, but he did settle in and he was playing pretty darn well before he spent five weeks dealing with that groin injury and another four with back tightness. If someone honestly wants to take Garver off our hands, I see it taking an extremely sizeable haul because at the moment he’s our safest bet. Yes he’s older than the other two and has had some injury, and a veteran catcher to split time with them wouldn’t cost much if we do trade him, but like I’ve said - unless the promised return is huge I don’t see why we’d deal a catcher who hits like that. 2022 Prediction - will not be traded, breaks camp as Opening Day catcher for the Twins. Ryan Jeffers Jeffers actually took the lion’s share of games this year thanks to Garver’s injuries and whilst he is projected to end up as the better defensive catcher (though this year Garver was ranked 93rd percentile in pitch framing per Baseball Savant to Jeffers’ 74), his bat just did not carry this year. To the point where - had we had another catcher ready - I imagine he would have been sent to St Paul to work it out. He managed an average of just .199 across 267 at-bats. I have faith though, that his bat will grade out to average and in my mind, he’s probably the one who will end up taking the most time behind the plate if the Twins attempt to rotate the DH role for the 2022 season (which I think they will). Let’s not forget he had a pretty darn good 2020 season with his bat, finishing with a stat line of .273/.355/.436/, which was a tick above league average. He’s got the goods, I just think he caught a bad case of the sophomore slump. Hard work required, but Jeffers will hang around long term. 2022 Prediction - he will break camp with the Twins and split catching duties with Garver. Ben Rortvedt I’m just going to get this out of the way. He’s got huge arms, okay? We’ve seen them. And defensively, he’s projected to have the highest upside of all four catchers. But in terms of Major League production, he’s just not ready. Batting at .169 for the year (over 87 PA), his OBP was a paltry .227, far below the league average .317, and slugged at just .281. This places him second last in all Twins hitting categories with just Gilberto Celestino ranking lower in AVG and OBP, and Andrelton Simmons ranking last in SLG. His defense has him ranked above Jeffers in terms of overall WPA for the year, but the bat is going to need to improve drastically if he’s going to make league average, or even a low-offense/high-defense combo. There is the chance a team could carry a slightly below average hitter if he has a huge defensive upside (Simmons anyone?) but there’s not many that would take that kind of offensive shortage. He needs to start 2022 in the minors, have a solid spring, and work on his offense. 2022 Prediction - he’ll probably make the 40-man, but will spend the year in St Paul working on his bat skills. Let me talk a minute on a Garver trade. As I already said, I don’t like the idea at all. And honestly, is he valuable enough to another team (apart from the Marlins, who Cody Christie wrote about already) for them to trade with proven, high quality pitching? Because that’s what the return needs to be. The Twins have a whole heap of prospect arms at/about to be tested in the Majors in the upcoming season but we need impact rotation pitching now. I don't know if Garver on his own would bring enough back for us... maybe if he was in a package deal? If the 2022 season includes a universal DH, Mitch Garver becomes more valuable. His average this season was only just above league average, but his slugging percentage - when viewed with his 2019 Silver Slugger - mean he might draw interest from a National League team looking to possibly platoon through the DH, or who struggle to find a bat only DH at good value. He’s still in arbitration, made less than $2M this year, and is projected to make a hair over $3M next year. Compare that to the $13M we paid Nelson Cruz just to hit, and he becomes a much more valuable piece to a broader audience. I like the combo of Garver and Jeffers for next year. They seem to have a decent balance sorted out and provided Jeffers can get his bat to click in 2022, there’s no need to create a problem at catcher when we have enough things we need to address.
  3. the_neds

    Jorge Polanco and The Twins

    I have three people on my Please Do Not Trade list. Polanco is one (the others being Byron Buxton and Mitch Garver). We absolutely cannot afford to lose him at 2B. I love Arraez as much as the next Twins fan, but he's not a defensive superstar. He's a soft-contact, high OBP hitter. We shouldn't be so focused on pitching that we also trade away all our defensive and offensive strength. Polanco was our strongest asset in the infield this year by a healthy margin, and if they do consider a trade, they're going to want a big, big return.
  4. What are everyone's feelings going into the offseason about our position guys who are middling between St Paul and Minnesota? In this category I'd put Rooker, Larnach, Kirilloff, Lewis, Celestino, Gordon, Rortvedt? How is Royce Lewis going to look after essentially not having seen a game for two straight years? Are Rooker and Larnach going to be guys who show a lot of promise but in the end get leapfrogged by guys like Martin, Miranda etc? How's Kirilloff going to adjust post-surgery? Has Gordon possibly played himself into contention for a utility spot if he has a good Spring in 22? On another note - what's the plan for pitchers like Smeltzer & Thorpe? DFA? Is there a point to keeping Astudillo on the roster at this point? If we had Gordon and Arraez in utility spots, his only limited upside would be a barely passable catching option. We've got Rortvedt who has a framing/arm upside above Astudillo in the wings. To me it seems like we have an abundance of potentially good but unproven depth and it could still go either way.
  5. Let me preface this with a disclaimer: I'm Australian. I tell you this because - firstly, that means there might be some colloquialisms in here that you scratch your head about. Secondly, it explains why the man I have named this award after is considered such a folk hero. In 2002, Australian speed skater Steven Bradbury competed at the Winter Olympics. He won his heat of the 1000m short track event, scraped through the quarter finals after someone else was disqualified, won his semi final after trailing all the other competitors and watching them crash out and advanced to the final. In the final, he was well off the pace by a good 15 metres. The four medal contenders - all far ahead of him - were jostling as they raced to edge each other out for gold and avoid missing the podium. All four of them crashed, leaving Bradbury unimpeded, and he skated past them all to win gold. Thus, a legend was born. Immediately thrust into the vernacular, in Australia to 'chuck a Bradbury' means to succeed unexpectedly against all odds. The man was featured on a postage stamp. Truly, an icon. Dude has probably never paid for a beer at the local in the last 19 years. And that brings me to an award with absolutely no merit other than it tickling me, The Bradbury. The Bradbury is going to be awarded to Minnesota Twins players who have succeeded unexpectedly, maybe even after the successive failures of those who should have succeeded ahead of them. Honestly, the 2021 season was pretty heartbreaking from start to finish, but it has had some exceedingly bright and entertaining moments. I've selected two recipients for this, the inaugural Bradbury Award, as there seemed to be a distinct tale of two players who could have fit the bill - one for a short stretch, one for a longer stretch. Bradbury Award: Season 2021 Runner Up - Rob Refsnyder. This award almost got named The Ref. Let's be real, this guy had no business being as awesome he was through the start of the year. Nobody saw it coming. Refsnyder has played for about seven thousand different teams now, mostly being held to the Minors with his brief appearances for the Major League clubs proving underwhelming. He signed a minors deal with the Twins after the 2020 season and started the 2021 year in St Paul, until the Center Field Curse hit and both Byron Buxton and Max Kepler hit the injured list. Despite never playing in the position before, The Ref gof the call-up out of sheer desperation, and proceeded to go on a tear, cracking .320 over 16 games and committing just a single fielding error before he came off second best in a fight against the wall at Camden Yards and hit the injured list with concussion. I wish I could say that he performed as well after he returned but that concussion seemed to sap all of his magic powers and he basically finished the year without batting over .200 again, flipping back and forth off the injured list and spending a chunk of time in the Minors. Bradbury Award: Season 2021 Winner - Bailey Ober Bailey Freakin' Ober, man. The only tale of woe that comes close to the Center Field Curse (how far down did we go, exactly? Five? Six?) this year was the dramatic implosion of the Minnesota Twins rotation. On paper, they should have been ready to contend. Kenta Maeda was Cy Young runner up in 2020 so we had no worries about him. Berrìos was coming off another solidly impressive year. JA Happ and Matt Shoemaker were touted to be great value for money additions to the rotation. Dobnak's offseason extension was talked about as putting stability in the rotation long term. Pineda was a workhorse who could guarantee you innings with minimal damage. And it couldn't have gone any worse. Maeda was shaky, showing flashes of the ace we'd seen in the 2020 season mixed with an unprecedented lack of command. Eventually he hit the injured list and it was the worst news possible - Tommy John surgery, or a new hybrid version of it, was performed and we now won't see Maeda until the latter half of 2022 in a best case scenario. Pineda went back and forth on the injured list three times even though he did post good innings when he was around. Dobnak looked nothing like the moustachioed folk hero who'd pitched his way from part-time Uber driving into the post-season, and has battled a right finger strain since June. JA Happ was traded away at the deadline after posting a 6.77 ERA in the first half of the year. And Shoemaker was designated for assignment before being sent to St Paul and eventually being released, slinging some interesting accusations about the pitching staff on the way out. He's now causing woe in someone else's minor league system. Pineda was proving consistent despite the minor injuries but he and Berrìos alone could not carry an entire rotation. Especially after we traded Berrìos to the Blue Jays for a haul of prospects, essentially saying goodbye to our best and most consistent starter. So, what to do? Enter Bailey Ober. Ober was a surprising addition to the 40-man roster, in a move to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. He was called up mid-May, and since that date has performed like he's always been here. He's been a steady, quiet performer, starting 20 games and posting a 4.19 over the season. His stuff is - in my personal opinion - a lot better than the 4.19 suggests, and that's backed up by the 9.36 K/9 he posted. He was very carefully managed in pitch count by Baldelli this season - sometimes frustratingly so, but the management paid off. He pitched 92 innings for the year - his highest number ever, Ober finished the year almost entirely avoiding the injured list, only succumbing to a hip strain last week that meant he would miss his final start for the season. It surely seems like - in a year where every possible thing that could deplete a starting rotation happened, Ober became a reliable mainstay through the season. Would we have seen Ober this year had the rotation not completely fallen apart? Maybe in September callups. But honestly, probably not. He wasn't talked about as a high ranking prospect. However you look at next year's rotation and Ober seems like he's a lock to start - Pineda is a free agent (hello baseball gods, please re-sign Big Mike), Maeda is off long term, mid season fill-ins Gant and Jax don't quite seem up to the task. The only certainties seem to be Ober and new addition Joe Ryan in a rotation that is very much in flux for a Twins team that wants to contend in 2022. So Bailey Ober, you win the 2021 Bradbury Award. Congratulations. It was an absolute melding of catastrophe that brought you into the team, but I am ever so glad you're here.
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