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LewFordLives

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  1. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Twins Prospects Being Slept On   
    Although the Twins have seen their farm system ranked among the lower half from most publications, that’s not to say there isn’t a significant amount of talent in the organization. The top of Minnesota’s prospect list may be a bit light after the first few names, but it seems the depth and opportunity for middle-tier names to produce could be immense. Looking at each of the four full-season minor league affiliates, here’s a name to watch throughout the rest of the summer.
    St. Paul Saints - Caleb Hamilton C/3B
    I liked Kevin Merrill in this spot originally given his previous draft position as a first-rounder, and the potential he could wind up being the depth Minnesota sought in Tim Beckham or Daniel Robertson. That said, he was sent back to Double-A despite a decent start so he'll need to work his way back up. With the Twins needing catching depth behind their big-league starters, it's nice to see Caleb Hamilton having somewhat of a breakout year.
    A 23rd-round pick back in 2016 out of Oregon State, Hamilton has just a .672 OPS over the course of his professional career. He did make a quick Triple-A cameo back in 2019 with Rochester, but he's found a home at St. Paul this season. It's a small sample size, but the .279 batting average over 20 games is easily a career-high. He doesn't have a ton of pop, but the .405 OBP is indicative of the best plate discipline he's shown over the course of his career. Splitting time at catcher and third base, his 44% caught stealing rate is something to note. Minnesota doesn't put a ton of emphasis on throwing out runners, but if Hamilton can control them and continue to hit, he may find his way onto the 40-man in a pinch.
    Wichita Wind Surge - Andrew Bechtold C/3B
    Before a rewrite, Spencer Steer was featured in this space. The infielder isn't generally considered at the top of the Twins prospect lists, but he recently received a promotion to Triple-A St. Paul and it's hardly unearned as he's been great. I'd like to think people know who Matt Wallner is, and are still checking on Austin Martin even with the slow start. Blayne Enlow is back from Tommy John and hoping to settle in, and Edouard Julien should be a well-known name. It came down to two 26-year-olds, Michael Helman and Andrew Bechtold, with the latter being chosen.
    Bechtold was selected in the 5th round of the 2017 draft. He was drafted as a third baseman but has begun to move behind the plate this season. Minnesota sent him to the Arizona Fall League last year, and he's come out strong to start 2022. His 18 homers were a career-best in 2021, and he appears poised to best that this season. Previously a big strikeout guy, he's also reigned in the plate discipline and is providing strong on-base numbers despite a lower average. The Twins catching depth is pretty minimal on the farm, but the position change could lead to Bechtold being a late bloomer.
    Cedar Rapids Kernels - David Festa RHP
    If you’ve followed the Twins Daily Minor League Report at all then the obvious name here is Christian Encarnacion-Strand. He was on the edge of the top 30 prospect lists coming into the season, but would be ranked substantially different at this point. He’s destroyed High-A pitching and probably needs a new challenge soon. Aaron Sabato is the former first-round pick, and Wander Javier used to have some steam. Instead, this is the first pitcher noted. David Festa doesn’t have a long list of career accomplishments, but he’s definitely starting to turn heads.
    Festa was a 13th round pick back in 2021 and has just 37 professional innings under his belt. After opening at Single-A Fort Myers to start 2022, he earned a quick promotion following five dominant starts. His Cedar Rapids debut came with six strikeouts and no walks, which really highlights much of the promise. To date in 2022, Festa owns a 1.57 ERA and a 39/6 K/BB across 28 2/3 innings. Having just turned 22-years-old, he’s going to be on the higher end of ages in the Midwest League soon, but he could push for time at Double-A Wichita before the year is over. The developmental arc for Festa is one worth monitoring, and this is the type of arm working out that makes organizations smile.
    Fort Myers - Emmanuel Rodriguez OF
    This might be cheating because some prospect lists had Rodriguez in or near the top 10 for Minnesota. While Keoni Cavaco and Noah Miller are the former high-round picks, and Steven Hajjar has looked the part, it’s Rodriguez who has been an enticing player since signing as an international free agent.
    At 18-years-old in the FCL last season Rodriguez posted an .870 OPS. He didn’t hit for average but drew walks and had plenty of pop. 10 homers as a teenager is always going to turn heads, and he hasn’t stopped doing that this season. Now playing in the full season Florida State League, Rodriguez owns a .907 OPS and has a whopping .466 OBP. His plate discipline is impressive and his ability to do damage makes him a constant threat at that plate. If this type of production continues throughout a full season, I’d be far from shocked to see him make massive moves on prospect lists prior to the 2023 season.
    Who are you most interested in hearing about outside of the top Twins prospects? Has there been a name that has impressed you the most in 2022?
     
  2. Haha
    LewFordLives reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Twins Fans Absolutely Furious at Surprise First Place Start   
    With the Minnesota Twins holding a surprisingly sturdy lead in the American League Central, it’s no wonder that the team’s fans have some strong words about their unexpected success.
    “It is absurd to me that they treat Byron Buxton with kid gloves,” said Hank Winters, 67, a retired bank executive. “Harmon Killebrew played every day and he’s in the Hall of Fame. Buxton may as well just work for the government. Sick of this.”
    The Twins lead the heavily favored and godless Chicago White Sox by three games after a rocky 4-8 start. They're on pace to win a stunning 94 games. This playoff-worthy effort has given the fanbase plenty to talk about.
    “Royce Lewis hits the cover off the ball and you send him to Triple-A,” said Beck Bradford, 41, a youth volleyball coordinator from Castle Rock Township. “Miranda can’t hit a bull in the ass with a handful of sand and Correa won’t even be here next year. But the boy geniuses (Twins executives Derek Falvey and Thad Levine) looked at the algorithms and said, ‘Nope, Royce, you go over to St. Paul, grab a stool at Alary’s, get comfortable. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.’
    “I’ve never been more angry,” added Bradford.
    Minnesota’s 22-16 record can be chalked up to several factors, perhaps none more important than the bullpen, which has been asked to do a lot with the starters still rounding themselves into shape after the lockout-shortened spring. This has not gone unnoticed.
    “Chris Paddack is already going under the knife for Tommy John and we have no consistent closer,” said Tamara Kapsner, 49, a car salesperson in Robbinsdale. “Meanwhile, Taylor Rogers is going to the All-Star Game. If I made that kind of deal at my job they wouldn’t have to fire me, I’d just throw my [EXPLETIVE] in a box and go. Great call. Super.”
    With the team’s schedule remarkably soft over the next couple weeks, the chance for Minnesota to put some space between them and the rest of the Central has people talking.
    “I never took PTO in 27 years at TCF (Bank),” said Winters. “Because I had a work ethic. Did I miss birthdays and graduations and custody hearings and my third marriage? Yes. All of them. Cry more, Byron.”
    “Spreadsheet oughta be manager, not Rocco (Baldelli),” said Bradford. “Bleep boop, pivot table, bench Correa, he’s played one game in a row, might hurt himself again.”
    “May as well just trade (Jhoan) Duran for (retired former Twin) Mike Pelfrey,” said Kapsner. “Disgusting. Pohlads should’ve contracted them when they had the chance.”
     
  3. Haha
    LewFordLives reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Bally Sports North Ponders Tiered Subscription Service   
    With news that Bally Sports North is close to finally offering a subscription service for local sports fans, rumors are swirling that a premium version will soon be available.
    “The outcry for a non-cable, non-satellite option for local sports fans is undeniable,” said a BSN executive who requested anonymity. “We also know that there’s an appetite for a premium experience. Our goal is to provide a bespoke product for every level of consumer.”
    Although details on the available tiers are unconfirmed, multiple sources say there are four options being discussed:
    BSN Basic: $20/month, Twins/Wolves/Wild/Lynx/United games available on tape delay no sooner than 72 hours after the live event; however, you must submit a written request to the Bally Sports North offices in Minneapolis to watch it. “Politeness will be a plus,” noted one source. BSN Basic Plus: $25/month, one live event per week. The event will not be telecast but rather described by a feral Kevin Lynch off his cell phone's Twitter feed. BSN Platinum: $35/month, all live events streamed as they happen unless there are blackout rules, conflicts with new episodes of Tim Laudner’s Street Justice, or BSN just calls it a weekend early and heads to the lake. BSN The Laudner Level: $40/month, all episodes of Tim Laudner's Street Justice available on demand, plus exclusive behind-the-scenes footage exclusive to BSN The Laudner Level subscribers. No live sports, but they will share all Athletic promo subscription offers they see online. “There’s a lot of noise out there about people wanting to watch the Twins or the Wild live, but our market research indicates the consumer really values choice,” said the BSN executive. “If they have the option to watch a World Series champ take the law into his own hands on an all-new episode of Tim Laudner’s Street Justice, then we think they’ll choose our Platinum or Laudner Level services. This week Tim busts some kids who are rearranging letters on the Lakeville Dairy Queen marquee to say 'PENIS.' Tough stuff, powerful.”
    When asked if they envision a streaming tier that would contain only live, local sports, the executive laughed for 17 minutes straight.
  4. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Sherry Cerny for an article, Twins 6, White Sox 4: Twins End White Sox Series Sweep with a Bang   
    But they battled back, scoring one run off of White Sox ace Lucas Giolito and tying up the game on a home run by Byron Buxton in the seventh inning. They threatened to take the lead in the eighth inning but left the bases loaded when Luis Arraez grounded out to second base. 
    That didn't stop the Twins from having faith. Byron Buxton came up to bat in the 10th inning to get a three-run homerun to walk it off!
    Box Score
    SP: Chris Archer: 3 IP,3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K (61 pitches, 32 strikes (52.4%))
    Home Runs: Byron Buxton 2 (6)
    Top 3 WPA: Byron Buxton (.761), Jhoan Duran (.227), Max Kepler (.168) 
    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    Larnach’s Series
    Trevor Larnach’s series versus the White Sox has been one of consistency. Since the game in Kansas City versus the Royals, Larnach has had a hit every game, responsible for two of the RBIs in the Saturday afternoon game giving the Twins a seven-run lead in the bottom of the fourth. He did not fare as well at the plate today, striking out twice (looking, once with the bases loaded, and once with runners on second and third) but still found a way to contribute. 
    As Archer struggled to maintain control in the third inning, with bases loaded, Andrew Vaughn singled a sharp line drive to Larnach in left-field, who threw a cannon home to Jose Godoy to end the inning. 
    Godoy Makes Twins Debut
    Jose Godoy’s contract was added to the Twins’ roster yesterday and made his debut with the Twins today. The former Seattle Mariner had 40 at-bats last year ending the season with a .162 batting average. Ryan Jeffers was scratched from the line-up two hours before game time for a knee contusion and Gary Sanchez is still out with abdominal tightness. 
    Godoy saw five pitches in his first at-bat, striking out.  Godoy’s first and second appearances he struck out, but rounded out his first game with the Twins being walked by Aaron Bummer, before being sent home off Byron Buxton game-tying two-run home run. Then he walked again in the 10th inning, coming around again on Buxton's game-winning home run. 
    His defense and chemistry with Archer was impressive to watch. The rookie catcher was able to frame pitches on a consistent basis and has good reaction time. Godoy showed his speed and agility as he ran to catch a foul off Grandal’s bat at the top of the third. Interference from the fence made for a hard catch, but Archer and Godoy got Grandal to swing at a high fast ball striking him out with the next pitch.
    He did, however, commit a cardinal sin in the 8th inning. With the winning run on third base and one out, he squared to bunt but popped out to White Sox pitcher Kendall Graveman. 
    Postgame Postscript: We learned after the game that Jeffers took a ball off his knee earlier this series and had a left knee contusion and that Rocco really did not want to use him. That proved to be important as there was that opportunity in the 8th inning to pinch hit for Godoy in the bat in which he popped out on a bump. So the Twins entered today's game with three catchers on the active roster, but only one was truly active. 
    Bats Show Signs of Life
    The Twins line-up was consistent over the series and through today battling rain and cold to keep their bats swinging, a nice change of pace from the earliest part of the season’s start. With the exception of a few players getting strikeouts early, by the 6th inning, at a minimum, almost every bat made contact with a pitch. Even Miguel Sano who was 0-for-8 through the series ended up getting a single into right field in the second inning. 

    Giolito Returns But Doesn’t Last Long
    The Twins have been having trouble scoring runs, so the last thing they need is to face a preseason Cy Young Award candidate. Not only was today’s opposing pitcher, Lucas Giolito, a candidate, he opened the season as one of the favorites at 13-2 odds.
    However, he was also making his first start after a stay on the 10-day injured list for an abdominal strain, and that rust showed a bit in the first inning. Giolito threw 26 pitches that inning, only half of which were strikes, and walked two Twins. But with the bases loaded, he escaped untarnished by striking out Trevor Larnach on two changeups and a fastball. 
    The story was similar in the third inning. This time, a walk, and a couple of singles loaded the bases, and the Twins cashed in a run on a sacrifice fly by Gio Urshela. But Giolito escaped further damage by fooling young left-handed hitters - this time both Larnach and Nick Gordon - with his changeup and fastballs away. 
    Still, he had already thrown 65 pitches through three innings, and due to his stint on the injured list, it was expected he would only throw 70-80 pitches in his second outing this year. Sure enough, after an efficient fourth inning, his day was over. 
    Gordon’s Growth
    Nick Gordon played in his 12th game today, starting at shortstop as manager Rocco Baldelli gave Carlos Correa a day off. He entered today with a 694 OPS in 26 plate appearances. He will likely never show a lot of power, and a .261 batting average is nothing special, but he is getting on base almost 35% of the time.
    Almost any evaluation of Gordon’s future and performance are tied to the wide range of expectations attached to him. If your expectations are tied to his selection in the first round of the 2014 draft, or of his family pedigree, you’re likely going to be disappointed. If, on the other hand, your expectations of him were set by his performance and health issues in AAA as recently as 2019, you might be delighted by his sudden progression as a valuable bench asset. 
    To both camps, I’d suggest it is time to take a look at him with fresh eyes. He’s a 26-year-old who is likely to never post a big OPS because he will likely never hit for power. But he gets on base, he is capable (though not outstanding) in several key defensive roles, and as a left-handed hitter, he is more likely to get a decent matchup versus right-handed pitchers. Plus, he’s an asset on the base paths.
    All that makes him an ideal super-utility player, which is exactly the role he is fulfilling this year. If he can show that he can raise his batting average closer to .300, he might improve to the point where he could be a regular starter. Fortunately for him, his performance and usefulness should provide plenty of opportunities to show his development in the super-utility role.
    Winder Unleashed
    After nearly a week without making an appearance, long reliever and promising prospect Josh Winder made an appearance when Chris Archer only lasted three innings. He gave up one run over four innings, striking out two and giving up three hits. Maybe most notably, after struggling with his control in his first appearance, he walked none and threw strikes in 42 of his 61 pitches. 
    Winder is working as the long reliever but is a starting pitching prospect long-term. We saw today what we have seen from him so far: he is a slider-first pitcher who turns to his fastball to keep hitters off-balance. It seems to be working well in a relief role, but it will be interesting to see how it plays when he has to face a lineup a second time. Certainly today that was in question, as he gave up a home run on his second time through the order. 
    But for the most part, we likely won’t see him face batters more than once in his current role with the Twins. We might get a better sense of that if he was starting in St. Paul, but he’s now fulfilling an important role with the major league club. Regardless, it’s nice to see another Twins pitching prospect having some success in the majors. 
    Postgame Postscript: We learned after the game that the plan was always for Archer to be limited to only 50-60 pitches, and he was told that after his last start in Kansas City. We also learned from Rocco that this decision was specific to Archer; they're not planning right now on similar planned short starts with the rest of the rotation. He also hinted that they wanted to do this now, when they still had a 28-man roster. It'll be interesting to see if Winder eventually does go down to St. Paul as part of the mandatory roster trimming that will happen next week, or whether he'll continue in this role in which he's having success. 
    Clutch Buxton
    Byron Buxton had a fantastic series, hitting every chance he got, and coming through whenever the team needed him. His 3-run home run came on a 3-1 count with runners on second and third base and one out. White Sox closer Liam Hendricks, in his second inning of work, pitched to Buxton in that situation rather than give him a free pass to first base and load the bases for Luis Arraez. It’s not clear that strategy would have fared any better, but they likely would choose a different path given another chance.
    Postgame Postscript: As expected (and completely appropriate) postgame interviews centered entirely around Buxton doing godlike things. Baldelli called Buxton the best player in the world right now, and marveled at some of the things he did. But you might be surprised at what he wanted to breakdown: it was Buxton's first, game-tying home run in the 8th.  Here it is, because he breaks down what  we are seeing pretty nicely.
    "He's facing a left-hander who as we saw earlier in the game, is one of the best left-handers in the game. Gets a ton of groundballs. He's a really hard guy to drive the ball in the air against. And he's a guy that normally pitches all the right-handers in, pound 'em in. And he decided to go away to Buck.
    And it took a few pitches, but Buck identifies what's going on. Completely changes what he's trying to do at the plate. And lines a ball over the right field fence. I mean, there's nothing typical or everyday or normal about that. That's very, very special. And I don't want to stop talking about it, because it's so impressive. Even for people who watch this level of baseball everyday. To see what he's doing it's just awesome."
    What’s Next? 
    The Twins will enjoy an off day at home on Monday before starting a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers at Target Field. Pitching matchups for the series include: 
    Tuesday 6:40: Chris Paddock (0-2, 5.00) vs LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (0-1, 5.27 ERA) Wednesday 6:40: Joe Ryan (2-1, 1.69 ERA) vs RHP Michael Pineda (1-0, 0.00 ERA)  Thursday 12:10: Bailey Ober  (1-1, 2.81 ERA) vs LHP Tarik Skubal (1-1, 2.30 ERA) Postgame Interview 
    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

  5. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Grandfather Amuses Child with Apocryphal Tales of Twins Offense   
    Rowan Landskog, 6, loves it when his grandfather Bill Landskog comes over to read him bedtime stories. He especially loves it when the stories are in the realm of the fantastic and unbelievable, with tales of monsters and Martians sending him to sleep.
    Lately, the stories have taken an even more outrageous turn, as “Grampa Billy” tells his baseball-crazy grandson about the legend of the Minnesota Twins offense.
    “Grampa Billy said the Minnesota Twins used to hit a bunch of dingers,” said the junior Landskog, who lives with his mother in Stillwater. “He says they would hit them all the time and score a bunch of points. Wow!”
    The elder Landskog usually starts his reading shift with Dr. Seuss, moves on to Shel Silverstein or Where the Wild Things Are, then completes his duties by reading the Baseball Reference page for the 2019 Minnesota Twins.
    “Grampa said that when I was in preschool the Twins set the record for home runs,” said an astonished Rowan. “I think he knew I didn't believe him but he swore it was true." 
    The kindergartner was especially awestruck by a new term he learned last night.
    “He told me a fun story about a friendly dragon who saved a pretty princess,” said an excited Rowan, his eyes filled with wonder. “And then Grampa Billy said that if a batter gets a home run when the bases are loaded, they call it a grand slam, and that the Twins have done it a lot! I love it when he tells me his crazy stories.”
    The storytelling grandfather was unavailable for comment but could be overheard issuing a series of expletives at his car radio when the Twins hit into their second double play during Thursday afternoon’s game against Kansas City.
  6. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Waiting For Sano   
    MINNIE:
    Nothing to be done.
    PAUL:
    I'm beginning to come ‘round to that opinion. All this time I've tried to put it from me, saying Paul, be reasonable, he hasn't yet tried everything. And I resumed the struggle. So, there you are again.
    MINNIE:
    Am I?
    PAUL:
    I'm glad to see you back. I thought after the lockout you were gone forever.
    MINNIE:
    Me too.
    PAUL:
    Together again at last! We'll have to celebrate this. But how? Get up till I embrace you.
    MINNIE:
    Not now, not now.
    PAUL:
    May one inquire where His Highness spent the night?
    MINNIE:
    In a ditch.
    PAUL:
    A ditch! Where?
    MINNIE:
    Over there.
    PAUL:
    And they didn't beat you?
    MINNIE:
    Beat me? Certainly they beat me.
    PAUL:
    The same lot as usual?
    MINNIE:
    The same? Yankees, Dodgers, I don't know.
    PAUL:
    When I think of it…all these years…but for me…where would you be…you'd be nothing more than a little heap of bones at the present minute, no doubt about it.
    MINNIE:
    And what of it?
    PAUL:
    It's too much for one man. On the other hand, what's the good of losing heart now, that's what I say. We should have thought of it a million years ago, in the nineties.
    MINNIE:
    Ah stop blathering and help me off with this bloody thing. (MINNIE gestures at his Dairy Queen promotional Twins batting helmet.)
    PAUL:
    Hand in hand from the top of the Foshay Tower, among the first. We were respectable in those days. Now it's too late. They wouldn't even let us up. What are you doing?
    MINNIE:
    Taking off my helmet. Did that never happen to you?
    PAUL:
    Helmets must be taken off every day, I'm tired telling you that. Why don't you listen to me?
    MINNIE:
    Help me!
    PAUL:
    It hurts?
    MINNIE:
    Hurts! He wants to know if it hurts!
    PAUL:
    No one ever suffers but you. I don't count. I'd like to hear what you'd say if you had what I have.
    MINNIE:
    It hurts?
    PAUL:
    Hurts! He wants to know if it hurts!
    MINNIE:
    (MINNIE points at PAUL's Menards promotional Twins baseball pants) You might button it all the same.
    PAUL:
    True. (PAUL buttons his fly.) Never neglect the little things of life.
    MINNIE:
    What do you expect, you always wait till the last moment.
    PAUL:
    The last moment…hope deferred maketh the something sick, who said that?
    MINNIE:
    Why don't you help me?
    PAUL:
    Sometimes I feel it coming all the same. Then I go all “maybe this is the year he’s consistent all season long.” How shall I say? Relieved and at the same time…appalled. AP-PALLED. Funny. Nothing to be done. Well?
    MINNIE:
    Nothing.
    PAUL:
    Show me.
    MINNIE:
    There's nothing to show.
    PAUL:
    Try and put it on again.
    MINNIE:
    I'll air it for a bit.
    PAUL:
    There's man all over for you, blaming on his promotional Dairy Queen batting helmet for the faults of his head. This is getting alarming. Gogo.
    MINNIE:
    What?
    PAUL:
    Suppose we repented.
    MINNIE:
    Repented what?
    PAUL:
    Oh. We wouldn't have to go into the details.
    MINNIE:
    Our being Minnesota sports fans?
    (PAUL breaks into a hearty laugh which he immediately stifles, his hand pressed to his careworn Bomba Squad t-shirt, his face contorted.)
    PAUL:
    One daren't even laugh any more.
    MINNIE:
    Dreadful privation.
    PAUL:
    Merely smile. It’s not the same thing. Nothing to be done. Gogo.
    MINNIE:
    What is it?
    PAUL:
    Did you ever read Baseball Reference?
    MINNIE:
    Baseball Reference…I must have taken a look at it.
    PAUL:
    Do you remember the Similarity Scores?
    MINNIE:
    I remember the Advanced Batting stats. I remember WAR and Win Probability. I remember seeing that his closest comps are Kyle Schwarber and Adam Duvall and Bo Jackson. The very look of it made me thirsty. That's where he'll go, I used to say, that's where he'll go for our postseason. We'll win. We'll be happy.
    PAUL:
    You should have been a poet.
    MINNIE:
    I was. Isn't that obvious?
    PAUL:
    Where was I…how's your head?
    MINNIE:
    Swelling visibly.
    PAUL:
    Ah yes, the two players. Do you remember the story?
    MINNIE:
    No.
    PAUL:
    Shall I tell it to you?
    MINNIE:
    No.
    PAUL:
    It'll pass the time. Two players traded at the same time as our savior. One—
    MINNIE:
    Our what?
    PAUL:
    Our savior, Joe Mauer. Two players. One is supposed to have been saved and the other…damned.
    MINNIE:
    Saved from what?
    PAUL:
    Hell.
    MINNIE:
    I'm going.
    PAUL:
    And yet…how is it –this is not boring you I hope– how is it that of the four beat writers only one speaks of a player being saved. The four of them were there –or thereabouts– and only one speaks of a player being saved. Come on, Gogo, return the ball, can't you, once in a way?
    MINNIE:
    I find this really most extraordinarily interesting.
    PAUL:
    One out of four. Of the other three, two don't mention any players at all and the third says that both Hardy and Hoey were damned.
    MINNIE:
    Who?
    PAUL:
    What?
    MINNIE:
    What's all this about? Damned how?
    PAUL:
    Hoey got optioned. Hardy went to Baltimore.
    MINNIE:
    Why?
    PAUL:
    Because Hoey couldn't save them.
    MINNIE:
    From hell?
    PAUL:
    Imbecile! From losing.
    MINNIE:
    I thought you said hell.
    PAUL:
    From losing, from losing.
    MINNIE:
    Well what of it?
    PAUL:
    Then the two of them must have been damned.
    MINNIE:
    And why not?
    PAUL:
    But one of the four says that one of the two was saved.
    MINNIE:
    Well? They don't agree and that's all there is to it.
    PAUL:
    But all four were there. And only one speaks of a player being saved. Why believe him rather than the others?
    MINNIE:
    Who believes him?
    PAUL:
    Everybody. It's the only version they know.
    MINNIE:
    People are bloody ignorant apes.
    PAUL:
    Pah!
    MINNIE:
    Charming spot. (MINNIE looks at Twins depth chart.) Inspiring prospects. Let's go.
    PAUL:
    We can't.
    MINNIE:
    Why not?
    PAUL:
    We're waiting for Sano.
  7. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to renabanena for an article, 15 Things More Pleasant than this Twins/Dodgers Series   
    THE Gary Sánchez bat flip  When you order buffalo wings with ranch but accidentally get blue cheese instead  Seeing a beardless Josh Donaldson for the first time Going to the dentist, which is a wholly underrated experience.  Every Eddie Rosario error ever made Gotti The week after the Will Smith slap, when no one talked about everything except for the Will Smith slap Whatever this was Losing on Opening Day Going to the game on Dollar Dog Night only to realize Dollar Dog Night is tomorrow Leaving your Eddie Rosario bobblehead at the office before the pandemic only to have it stolen  *Sigh* Accidentally doing weird things with your mouth in public because you forgot that you’re not wearing a mask  The ACT’s AND the SAT’s  Somehow this too, because time heals all wounds  
     
     
  8. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Falvey, Levine Trade TC Bear   
    The pace of the Twins offseason went from zero to 100 once the lockout ended, with a flurry of moves by Minnesota’s management duo (President of Baseball Ops Derek Falvey and GM Thad Levine) leading to a radically different opening day lineup.
    And the pace has not slowed down.
    Shortly after moving closer Taylor Rogers and prospect Brent Rooker to the Padres for pitchers Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan, the team announced that they traded team mascot TC Bear to the Jacksonville (FL) Zoo and Gardens. In return, they’re receiving a significant number of snakes, reptiles, and other creatures.
    “I’m just going to come right out and say that I don’t know what we’re going to do with a half-dozen Burmese pythons,” said Falvey. “But we hadn’t made a trade in a good 2-3 hours, and the rush of acquiring and sending away assets is unbeatable. We’re hooked, baby!”
    Levine, who said he hasn’t slept since Monday afternoon, was equally enthused if unclear about the trade.
    “Do you know if a monitor lizard is cool with letting relievers ride him out of the bullpen,” said Levine. “I don’t want to get on PETA’s radar, but I’ll be honest, I don’t know where we’re going to put him otherwise. GOD I LOVE TRADING, CAN’T BEAT IT.”
    Neither Falvey nor Levine would comment on the fact that TC Bear is not a real bear, but in fact a person in a pretend bear costume who is being sent to a zoo to live among real bears that will likely visit mind-bending violence upon him.
    “He’s dealing with it as best he can,” said a source close to the man who wears the costume. “Is it as bad as when (former Twin) Andrelton Simmons demanded to speak to the mayor of the talking bear village where TC Bear lives about repealing their mask mandate? No. Still, the threat of mauling is one he takes seriously.”
    The team says there are no further moves in the offing, and rumors that Minnesota is trading an old Metrodome urinal trough for a shoebox of expired prescription drugs are unfounded but they're very open to it and would throw in a gently-used Mike Maksudian.
  9. WTF
    LewFordLives reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins/Padres Finalize Deal: Rogers, Rooker to San Diego for Chris Paddack, Emilio Pagan   
    There is no question that the Twins prioritized adding starting pitching this offseason. To this point, they had added Sonny Gray in a trade with the Reds, and free-agent deals with veterans Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer. 
    On Thursday, they added Padres right-hander Chris Paddack and reliever Emilio Pagan in exchange for All-Star closer Taylor Rogers and outfielder Brent Rooker. The Twins are sending $6.6 million to the Padres (essentially paying Rogers' 2022 salary, per Ken Rosenthal), and the Twins will be getting a Player to be Named Later. 
    The trade adds a young, team-controlled, backend-of-the-rotation starting pitcher (Paddack) to the team. In return, the Twins downgraded their bullpen a notch (Rogers vs. Pagan) and traded away a prospect they were likely going to lose for nothing (Rooker). In addition, while losing Rogers is difficult, years of team control make the deal make some sense. Rogers can become a free agent at the end of the 2022 season. Paddack has three more years of team control, and Pagan has two more years of team control. 
    Emilio Pagan is a 30-year old with over four years of service time. He will make $2.3 million in 2022 and eligible for arbitration in 2023. He played for the Mariners in 2017, the A's in 2018, the Rays in 2019, and the Padres the last two years. Last year, he went 4-3 with a 4.83 ERA. In 63 1/3 innings, he walked 18 and struck out 69 batters. During his season with the Rays, he posted his best season (which will surprise no one). He went 4-2 with 20 saves and a 2.31 ERA and a career-high 12.3 K/9 (96 K, 13 BB in 70 IP). 
    Pagan's weakness throughout his career has been that he give up too many home runs. He's always maintained a solid strikeout rate, and his career walk rate is a decent 2.3 BB/9. But he's been susceptible to the long ball, which balances an outstanding ability to keep runners off base. (He has a 1.031! career WHIP).
    But he's not Taylor Rogers. The 31-year-old Rogers was the Twins 11th round pick in 2012 out of the University of Kentucky. In 2013, he was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. He made his debut in 2016 and has pitched in 319 games for the Twins over six seasons. He is 17-18 with 50 saves. In 314 2/3 innings, he struck out 361 batters (10.3). He is coming off of his best season in 2021. He went 2-4 with nine saves. In 40 1/3 innings, he walked just eight (2 intentional) and struck out 59 batters (13.2 K/9). He made his first All Star team, though he also missed the last two months of the season with a finger injury. He will also be a free agent at the end of the year. 
    In addition, Rogers has served as the team's player representative the past two seasons and led the Twins players through some rough years. He heads to the Padres where he will be able to compete against his brother Taylor and the Giants frequently. 
    The main target for the Twins in this trade is Paddack. He's only 26 years old. As a 23-year-old rookie in 2019, he went 9-7 with a 3.33 ERA. He had 153 strikeouts and 31 walks in 140 2/3 innings. Things haven't been real good since. In 2020, he went 4-5 with a 4.73 ERA. In 2021, he was 7-7 with a 5.07 ERA, though as people have pointed out, his FIP was just 3.78. While he throws a lot of strikes, his strikeout rate has dropped from 9.8 to 8.8 to 82 over his three seasons in the big leagues. 
    The other piece the Twins sent in return was Brent Rooker, who was drafted by the Twins in the Competitive Balance Round after the first round in 2017 after an amazing Triple Crown season in his final year at Mississippi State. The powerful slugger debuted in 2020 and hit .316 with two doubles and a homer in seven games before being hit by a pitch ended his season. In 2021, he played in 58 games with the Twins, but surprisingly wasn't called up until late July . He hit .201/.291/.397 (.688) with 10 doubles and nine home runs.
    It became increasingly clear that he wasn't going to get extended run with the Twins. In fact, the 'final' roster spot with the Twins appeared to be between Rooker and Kyle Garlick. With this move, we have our answer. In fact, it's possible that's the direction the Twins were already looking. If so, it's very possible that Rooker may have been DFAd to make room to add Garlick to the roster. 
    This story will continue to be edited as details and nuances are added. 
    What are your thoughts on this deal? 
  10. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Correa Dynamite at Press Conference   
    If there were two takeaways from this morning’s press conference, Carlos Correa was impressed with Twins leadership and that he’s here to win. Derek Falvey noted his appreciation of the support from ownership in saying, “A momentous day like this, a significant contract like this with a player of Carlos’s stature only happens with the partnership and support of ownership.”
    Leadership starts at the top, and Correa noted the warmth he felt in an initial Zoom call with Falvey and new manager Rocco Baldelli. “I talked to Rocco, I talked to Derek and Thad, and they made me feel like this was the place for me to be. They made me feel like this was going to be my next home. And when I got off the Zoom call, I told Scott, let’s make it happen. And I told my wife to start packing.”
     
    Communication is a big thing for Correa, and in talking through his desires to be in Minnesota, he continued to communicate a desire for winning. Going to a place where he could win was necessary, and there’s no ambiguity as to whether he feels the Twins are a team capable. “I told Rocco, and I told Derek, we’re not seeing this like a one-year thing, we’re seeing this as I want to build a championship culture in this organization, I want to show you guys what I can do, what I can bring to the table, so we can have a long-term relationship at some point.”
    While there is an opt-out following the first year, Correa’s agent Scott Boras sees this as an opportunity for Carlos to do damage in a place he’s been very successful. “He had told me, 'these are some of the places I see the ball really well.' When he mentioned Minnesota and I went and looked up, and I said, wow, he just has a very small 1.200 OPS over there… I know this, all the AL Central, the Twins have a new explosion weapon, C4.”
    Correa has played for some great managers in A.J. Hinch and Dusty Baker. Knowing that communication is so vital between the leader of the team and a leader in the clubhouse, it was exciting to hear how glowingly the new shortstop talked of his skipper. “For me, it was just the vibes I got and how they made me feel, especially talking to Rocco and hearing so many great things about him from all the players that played for him. I want to be in a place where I want to feel like I can communicate with my manager, and my manager's going to have my back all the time. That's exactly what I got from Rocco, and he's the guy I'm going to be working closest with. When I feel like I have a manager that I can trust, and I can communicate with, for me, that's a game-changer."
     
    A critical focal point remained as the conversation drew on for Correa and the Twins. This was going to be a partnership about winning. Correa has been in situations where the results have taken time, but he’s also experienced the pinnacle of a World Series ring. He said, “The conversations we had were about two and a half hours…it was all about winning. When I get that from them, that makes me excited because I want to take up that challenge. It was not long ago that I was playing for an organization that was last in the big leagues the year before I got there—losing 100-plus games. I know what it takes to build a championship culture within the clubhouse. It starts within the clubhouse and all the way up to the front office. I see that here with the talent that we have, and I see that we can get so much better in order for us to accomplish that goal to ultimately win a championship."
     
    Correa was taken the pick before Minnesota Twins Byron Buxton in the 2012 draft. He’s excited to play up the middle with him and has a history of playing alongside him in showcases as they were growing up. He fondly remembers the pre-draft process in Minnesota, “A 17-year-old hitting tanks in Target Field felt pretty cool.”
     
    It may be surprising that the Twins are landing such a supreme talent, but Boras thinks that will become more part of the norm. Taking over Correa’s free agency in January after his previous representation went through changes, Boras noted that Minnesota is a place he has young guys like Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff, and Austin Martin. Also, in talking about the vast revenues clubs see before the season even starts, he shared a belief talent acquisition will change, saying, “The truth of it is, you’re going to see franchises sign a franchise player, maybe the top franchises will sign two or three. That kind of thing. You’re going to see that with regularity in the game because frankly, it’s a component that is necessary for winning.”
    At the end of the day, it’s more than apparent that Carlos Correa is extremely excited to be in Minnesota and believes in the ability to lead this organization to a championship and have the leadership in place to supplement him getting there.
     
    After a few days focused on public relations, it was back to business for the talented shortstop. He took live at-bats for the first time since the World Series, and he said he hopes to see game action for Minnesota by this weekend. While we may still be pinching ourselves, this is now very much real life. The Twins hauled in a big fish, and it seems like he wants to be here to stay.
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  11. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Nash Walker for an article, Twins Bullpen Boost: Let Jhoan Duran Eat   
    My plea to the Twins all winter was to field a team that has a fighting chance. As constructed before the lockout, the Twins were looking at another down year, with speculation looming of a rebuild, retool, or anything in-between.
    They’ve made their decision. After signing Correa to a quasi-one-year deal and trading first-round pick Chase Petty for Sonny Gray, the Twins can't go back now. It’s time to push more chips into the pile. Rumors are swirling about a Frankie Montas addition, and Luis Castillo is still in Cincinnati, where the Reds have told everyone the party is over. 
    The Twins need to supplement a less-than-stellar rotation, but the bullpen is also lacking in the hard-throwing right-hander department. Enter Jhoan Duran, who turned heads Saturday with a truly dazzling spring appearance. Duran threw 19 pitches, with three at 99 mph or more. He struck out two over two perfect innings. 
    Duran has the repertoire to be a dominant starter, with a 70-grade fastball and developing breaking stuff. The hope is he remains a future rotation member, with the Twins crossing their fingers for a healthy summer ahead. He’s thrown only 16 game innings since 2019, so ramping him up in 2022 is critical. 
    It wouldn't be easy to convince me that Duran, 24, couldn’t help the Twins immediately. He’s an electric young arm, similar to former Twins flamethrower Brusdar Graterol. Understanding they needed to help the 2020 team in any possible way, the Twins first decided to move Graterol to a bullpen role, tracking him to make the team on Opening Day.
    Then, further recognizing a need to supplement, the Twins traded Graterol to the Dodgers for Kenta Maeda. The Twins made both decisions knowing they had to aid a preseason American League Central favorite in any way possible. After signing Correa, how is this year any different?
    Duran may be part of a package that returns Montas, Sean Manaea, Castillo, or Tyler Mahle, but that’s not what I’m proposing. Let Duran cook. He’s 24, needs innings, and looks ready to contribute. 
    A bullpen move isn’t a death sentence. White Sox starter Michael Kopech is a great example. A hard-throwing right-hander coming off an injury, the White Sox let him eat out of the bullpen in 2021, and he now resides in their rotation. 
    The Twins’ bullpen consists of Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Jorge Alcalá, Caleb Thielbar, recently-added Joe Smith, Jharel Cotton, and perhaps Randy Dobnak or Jovani Morán. It’s an OK group but could use a boost. Even if the Twins sign a high-leverage, right-handed reliever, Duran could fill a key role. 
    Duran and Alcalá would form a potentially dominant pairing of right-handed flamethrowers, setting up for Duffey and Rogers. Duran could pitch in low, medium, and high leverage and even open some games. He’d be a swiss-army knife for Rocco Baldelli and a potentially valuable one. 
    The Twins have decided they want to win in 2022. By moving Duran to the bullpen, they’re pushing more chips into the pot, which I’ve been calling for since the offseason commenced. 
    What do you think? Should the Twins move Jhoan Duran to the bullpen for 2022? Comment below!
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  12. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Jamie Cameron for an article, Breaking Down the Twins Signing Carlos Correa   
    How’s this for a Story? The best free agent this offseason just signed with the Minnesota Twins.
    In an absolutely stunning turn-of-events, Carlos Correa and the Minnesota Twins agreed to a three-year, $103.5 million contract early on Saturday morning.
    Earlier on Friday evening, Thad Levine had made comment on the unusually slowly unfolding trade market stifling moves, a reality frustrating Twins fans in their thirst for the team to add talent to the major league roster. Well, the Twins sure were working in immaculate, exquisite silence on this one. The delicious irony of trading the expensive contract of aging third baseman Josh Donaldson, only to sign the All-Star shortstop coveted by the Yankees with the newly-freed funds, is a breathtakingly brazen and exquisite move almost too delightful to put into words. 
    The Contract and Correa’s Market
    It’s innumerable the amount that Twins’ fans have collectively thought, written, tweeted, and spoken the phrase ‘we’re not getting Correa’ since pre-lockout free agency began, and with good reason. No one saw this coming. So how did the Twins acquire Correa? What does it indicate about his market, and what does the deal look like?
    The three-year $103.5 million pact makes Correa the highest-paid infielder by average annual value in Major League Baseball. That sentence in itself is a marvel to type. The Twins' ability to land this deal is surely linked to the shorter, high-AAV (Average Annual Value) contract. One would think they would not have been able to contend with other suitors' offers over a longer number of years, but even this assumption is something we should call into question. This signing will result in Twins fans having a free agency-based reckoning with themselves, to reconsider what is and what is not on the table with future targets.
    Correa’s three-year deal comes with player opt-outs after year one and year two, allowing Correa to test the waters of free agency if he wishes. Should he see out the entirety of his contract, he will be with the Twins through the end of his age-29 season. There will be time to agonize over Correa’s likely pre-contract-ending opt-out later. For now, who cares?
    What are the Twins Getting?
    So what are the Twins getting in Correa? Simply put, a superstar. Correa put up the best season of his career in 2021, amassing a whopping 5.8 fWAR over 148 games played for the Houston Astros. In 2021, Correa has a career high in home runs (26) while posting a 134 wRC+, .485 SLG, and .364 wOBA. By any offensive measure you care to choose, he’s elite.

    Defensively, Correa posted 12 OAA (outs above average), good for sixth in the league behind only Nicky Lopez, Francisco Lindor, Nick Ahmed, Andrelton Simmons, and Brandon Crawford. Put simply, the Twins were able to secure the single free agent who could move the needle most in the 2022 season, for any team in the league. Oh and by the way, he rakes at Target Field.
    Correa has had a clean bill of health in recent seasons, spending one 2021 trip on the IL due to health protocols, and one more in the shortened 2020 season due to a back problem. If you go back further to 2019, Correa spent a chunk of the season on the IL with back and rib injuries, but that season has been the exception, not the norm, since he made his MLB debut in 2015.
    What about the Prospects?
    The Correa move is a seismic pivot for the Twins, who just a week ago, traded Mitch Garver to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Isiah Kiner-Falefa with the intention that he be their starting shortstop. Talk about an adjustment.
    It's easy to wonder what is next for the Twins shortstop prospects, particularly Royce Lewis, their number one draft pick in the 2017 draft. Lewis has undergone an uncanny streak of bad luck in recent seasons, punctuated by a lost season due to the pandemic in 2020 and another due to injury in 2021. The Correa deal both protects Lewis and highlights his bright future with the Twins. Lewis can get a season under his belt, moving through the high minors while Correa patrols shortstop for the Twins in 2022. It seems likely that Correa will opt out and test the waters of free agency after his first, or second season in Minnesota, meaning that if Lewis can get his development back on track, there’s a spot for him with the Twins at the major league level in 2023 and beyond. It’s a win-win in terms of competing in 2022 and maintaining flexibility at the position in the future.
    What is next for the 2022 Twins?
    So, er, what now? Two things are clear in the aftermath of signing Correa. First of all the Twins are clearly, undoubtedly working hard to win right now. Lastly, they still have work to do. While the signing of Correa could not have worked out more perfectly for the front office with their ‘let the off-season come to us’, approach, the same cannot be said for the rotation.
    The Twins currently have Sonny Gray, Bailey Ober, Joe Ryan, and Dylan Bundy penciled into a very underwhelming starting five just a few short weeks from the start of the regular season. There are undoubted moves coming to address this. Whether it is Frankie Montas, Sean Manaea, or a pitcher we have not considered yet (scrambles to check the starters for every team in the league), Twins fans can be left with little doubt the additional help is on the way. What a great comfort and excitement that is.
    Whether Correa spends one season or three in Minnesota, the signing has indelibly altered the franchise. Correa is, by far, the best free agent the Twins have ever attracted. We will forever have to question the tired refrain of ‘player x isn’t coming here’ or ‘we have no shot’. The Twins just signed the number one free agent this off-season, let that sink in. 
    Carlos Correa plays for the Minnesota Twins.
     
  13. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins To Sign Carlos Correa   
    Mark Berman is the sports director at Fox 26 in Houston is the one breaking the news after contact from an "MLB source."  Carlos Correa will be the Minnesota Twins shortstop in 2022. 
    There were never any rumors about the Twins having interest in the former Astros' All Star shortstop. Then as the clock passed 12:30 am in Minnesota, news broke that the Twins were the team. It is a three-year deal for $105.3 million, which is just over $35 million per year. However, he will be able to opt out of his contract following the 2022 and 2023 seasons. 
    The agreement has now been placed on twitter by Jeff Passan from ESPN. Yes, we needed to see the rumors from a second source, and then a third. 
     Carlos Correa was the first overall pick in the 2012 draft by the Houston Astros. He made his big league debut in 2015 with the Astros and was named the American League Rookie of the Year. 
    Over his seven seasons with the Astros, he played in 752 games. He has hit .277/.356/.481 (.837) with 162 doubles, 133 home runs and 489 RBI. He has twice been an All Star. 
    In 2021, he finished fifth in the American League in MVP voting after hitting .279/.366/.485 (.850) with 34 doubles and a career-high 26 homers and 92 RBI. In addition, he won the Gold Glove, his first. 
    Over his seven seasons, the Astros have made the playoffs six times including winning the (now-controversial) 2017 World Series championship. Correa has played in 79 post-season games and hit .272/.344/.505 (.849) with 16 doubles and 18 home runs. 
    It has been a great year for players taken in that 2012 MLB draft: 
    #1 pick Carlos Correa received a three-year, $105.3 million contract from the Twins with two opt-outs.  #2 pick Byron Buxton signed a seven-year, $100 million contract to remain with the Twins.  #4 pick Kevin Gausman signed a five-year, $110 million contract with the Blue Jays.  #18 pick Corey Seager signed a ten-year, $325 million contract with the Rangers.  #32 pick Jose Berrios signed a seven-year, $131 million contract with the Blue Jays.  Correa was the #1 ranked free agent this offseason, just ahead of Seager. Maybe following the lockout, he wasn't getting ten-year offers (like Seager) and the Twins gave him a shorter deal for a higher Average Annual salary (at $35.1 million). He will not turn 28 until September, so he could enter the free agent market next year, still very young for a free agent, and get a ten year contract, or more. Same if he plays for the Twins in 2023. And, if he plays all three seasons with the Twins, he becomes a free agent at 30 years old, still young for a free agent. 
    In addition, the Twins may only be locked into this contract for one year. If Correa is great, the Twins likely do well, and he opts out. If he does well and the Twins struggle, they could trade him (unless we hear of a no-trade clause) and get quite the haul. 
    That means that the team doesn't have to feel rushed to push Royce Lewis to the big leagues. After missing the last two seasons, Lewis simply needs a lot of at-bats. He can get those in Wichita and St. Paul this year, and he can get himself ready if he is needed. 
    The Twins were believed to be in on Trevor Story, who may also accept a short-term deal after expecting a nine-digit deal. On Friday, news broke that the Red Sox and Giants, and other teams were starting to contact him too. 
    The Twins quickly turned their intention to the top guy. Even if this is a one-year deal, it is great for the Twins. The shortstop position is covered for 2022 (and likely just the one year) by Correa. They added Sonny Gray. They are still believed to be in on the A's top starting pitchers (Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea). 
    Earlier on Friday night, many Twins fans were disappointed to have heard that Michael Pineda had signed with the Detroit Tigers. Twins Twitter got a little heated. Hopefully when Twins fans wake up on Saturday morning, they are very happy! 
    Finally, can we stop worrying about the Twins not spending available funds? Each year, this has been a concern, but they use up the budget. In addition, can the #CheapPohlads narrative finally go away!? 
    What are your thoughts, Twins fans?! 
  14. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Twins 2022 Position Analysis: Catcher   
    Projected Starter: Ryan Jeffers
    Likely Backup: Gary Sánchez
    Depth: José Godoy, Caleb Hamilton
    Prospects: Alex Isola
    THE GOOD
    The Twins are all-in on Ryan Jeffers. By trading Mitch Garver and Ben Rortvedt on successive days, the front office decimated its high-level catching depth. Yes, all the moving and shaking did bring back Gary Sánchez, but he's an occasional (at best) catcher with one year of team control remaining. 
    Jeffers is the guy. Clearly the Twins have been heartened by his performance through two big-league seasons and are ready to commit.
    The 24-year-old former second-round draft pick rose fast through the system, playing only 167 games over a season-and-a-half in the minors before being summoned from the alternate site in 2020 to help the Twins. He has since shown to be a quality defender with good power, equating to 1.1 fWAR over 111 games for the Twins. He was Twins Daily's pick for team Rookie of the Year in 2020.
    Overall, defense has definitely been Jeffers' calling card in the big leagues. He runs the staff with confidence, bringing good mechanics and instincts behind the plate. His pitch-framing stands out as well above average, ranking in the 74th percentile last year according to Statcast. 
    The bat is lagging behind the glove here, for sure, but given he's only 24 and followed an accelerated development path, it's reasonable to expect some offensive growth ahead. He slashed .286/.377/.452 in the minors, flashing solid discipline that will hopefully translate over time to the majors, and his power tool is definitely legit. 
    When Jeffers gets into one, the ball takes off. 
    The same can be said for his new backup. Sánchez is a masher, and a fair approximation of Garver at the plate. In fact, his All-Star campaigns in 2017 and 2019 were basically what you'd hope to see from Garver in a full season. Sánchez has 138 career home runs through age 28, leading all catchers since 2016,  and has been a reliable slugging force even when his offensive game has otherwise run astray.
    Defensive misgivings aside, it's nice to be able to plug Sánchez's threatening bat into the catcher position from time to time.
    THE BAD
    Even before they traded Garver and Rortvedt, catching depth was an area of uncertainty in the Twins system. No one outside of the top three had any MLB experience, Garver was running out of team control, and Jeffers was a question mark.
    Make no mistake: Jeffers is still a question mark, having seen his OPS+ drop from 119 in 2020 to 83 in 2021. It's just that he now bears a much higher level of expectation and dependence. 
    Sánchez might be a comparable bat to Garver, but he represents a huge drop-off defensively. It's actually pretty hard to make sense of Minnesota's plan in light of their commitments to quality defense, and timeshares behind home plate to reduce wear-and-tear.
    Are they actually going to let Sánchez catch a sizable share of the team's games? Really?!
    His defensive issues are well known, especially among Yankees fans. Sánchez has led the league in errors at catcher three times, and allowed the second-most stolen bases of any backstop last year. His rigid movements and slow reactions lead to numerous costly mistakes; Sánchez ranks sixth among all active catchers in passed balls allowed.
    Here's a, er, "highlight" reel of his glovework: 
    He struggled so mightily in New York that some Yankees pitchers notoriously asked not to have him behind the plate in games they started. That doesn't seem like a great situation for a Twins staff that expects to usher in multiple young pitchers this year. 
    Despite their claims otherwise, I find it difficult to believe the Twins are going to follow through on the current plan. But until something changes, Sánchez is lined up for a big portion of work behind the plate, and we are one Jeffers injury or demotion away from him being the primary guy there. Ack.
    To make up for the loss of Rortvedt, the Twins claimed José Godoy off waivers from San Francisco on Thursday, infusing at least some semblance of experienced depth behind Jeffers and Sánchez. 
    Godoy is actually quite similar to Rortvedt in profile – a mid-20s, no-hit defensive specialist who's gotten his feet wet in the big leagues. He's a reasonable swap-in that at least gives the team some peace of mind in terms of contingencies. There are players further down in the system like Caleb Hamilton and Chris Williams with the potential to reach the majors relatively soon, but they're not high-caliber prospects and could use more seasoning.
    THE BOTTOM LINE
    The Twins imploded their catching depth in order to unload Josh Donaldson's contract. The pipeline is very thin at this position and Sánchez is a year away from free agency, so there is a ton of pressure on Jeffers to entrench himself as a long-term fixture behind the plate.
    That's a bit of a scary proposition, since he's hardly established himself as a surefire MLB starting catcher. But it's a risk the Twins were willing to take as part of their offseason roster overhaul. 
    This team was in an enviable spot with two starting-caliber catchers under control for multiple seasons. Now they've got Jeffers and a pseudo catcher/DH in a walk year, followed by little assurance at one of the most attrition-filled positions in the sport. 
    Catcher now stands out as a glaring weakness for this franchise, unless Jeffers and Sánchez can both convincingly put their disappointing 2021 seasons behind them. 
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  15. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Area Fan Transitions Seamlessly from Lockout Panic to Roster Panic   
    Lisa Edmund is just about to lose it.
    “Where are the pitchers? Where’s the shortstop? Do we have any catchers left?”
    Edmund, 44, is a Minnesota Twins fan since childhood. She spent most of her winter fretting about the owners’ lockout. As the rhetoric grew harsher and games started getting canceled, she “totally panicked.” When the two sides finally came to an agreement last week, the Belle Plaine native was profoundly relieved, right?
    Wrong.
    “The regular season starts tomorrow, basically. They made a bunch of trades and still have gaping holes in the roster. This cannot possibly be the plan. I feel like I am taking crazy pills.”
    When it was pointed out that the Twins did acquire a top-of-the-rotation starter in Sonny Gray, Edmund grew agitated.
    “Did they get four more Sonny Grays? Can he come out of the bullpen on his off-days? Do they really expect to contend this year? And if they don’t, why did they trade Chase Petty? I’m trying to find any sort of road map here and I’m coming up wanting.”
    While the front office has urged patience, Edmund refuses to heed that advice.
    “I’ve seen this before. Remember when they brought up Jason Bartlett as the 25th man even though it made no sense and then he just went, 'Oops, retired, smell ya later' and we all just had to deal with the fact that they only had 24 guys to bring north and just started asking around if anyone else felt like going? That’s where we’re at now. We just dumped all of Josh Donaldson’s contract, we have money to burn and spaces to fill. Last I checked, we picked up Jose Godoy to be a less-swole Ben Rortvedt. Terrific. I should get season tickets because I’ve never seen a team play without a shortstop for 81 games, oughta be a blast. This is madness.”
    When asked if she was actually happy that the season was saved, Edmund took a moment to ponder the question and light another cigarette.
    “I guess so? I would have been miserable if the owners banged the season, but I’m miserable now, too. It’s like riding a bike, but the bike is existential sadness and it doesn’t have a bullpen.”
  16. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to John Bonnes for an article, The Twins Daily Caretaker Fund   
    Well, we built that community. All of us. Over the past ten years, we’ve accumulated over 100 million page views on the site and are the premier location to talk Twins baseball. We have extremely active forums, the best news page in the Twins world, and user blogs that fill every niche of the baseball spectrum. Dozens of writers have used the TD platform to find and grow their audiences. In the past year, we even added video to our stable of ever-growing Twins content.
    So what comes next? Caretaking.
    You all care about this site. The next step is caring for it. All of this expanding content with our community managers, video creators, and all that Twins Daily brings to the world requires so many people to dedicate themselves – always in their “free time” – to provide that content to Twins Territory.
    We’re asking you to caretake this site so it can remain the premier Twins news site on the internet long into the future.
    What is caretaking, you ask?
    Caretaking is subscribing to the site and allowing us a consistent fund from which to distribute to all our content creators. From this fund, 100% of which will be reinvested into our writers, videographers, community managers, and the other people who make Twins Daily a place you want to visit every single day.
    One hundred percent. That’s our promise.
    Your subscription will go entirely back into making Twins Daily even better than it is today. Have you been enjoying our latest features like the prospect tracker? We have a lot more planned but we need your support to enlist more time from the creators you enjoy every day.
    Why do we need additional funding? Because this site has grown enormously over the past year. We've hired outside development help to assist Brock Beauchamp in making the site bigger and better, as the site is becoming too large for one person to manage. The prospect tracker alone was over 100 hours of development work to implement, never mind the recurring upkeep every week to keep it current. In the coming months, we plan to move to a distributed server to keep the site up and running during peak traffic times like the draft and trade deadline, which means our hosting costs will nearly double overnight.
    And there are our content creators. While we already revenue share everything we do with our creators who make that content, it's simply not as much as they deserve. Most of the caretaking fund will go directly into their pockets, which will allow them to write more often and focus on longer, higher-quality content. That means an even better Twins Daily for everyone.
    One of the most important things we want to get across here is that if you do not join the caretaker community, your site experience at Twins Daily will not be affected in any way. This is not a paywall of any kind, but rather a completely optional way to show your support for the site and contribute to its long-term health.
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    On behalf of all Twins Daily, we know this is a big ask but we hope that, at this point, you trust us and know that we stand by our word. And our mission, 100% of the time, is about building a bigger and better Twins Territory. Help us achieve that goal today.
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  17. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Assessing the Twins Petty-for-Gray Trade   
    There’s been no denying that the Twins needed significant help in the starting rotation. Dylan Bundy, Joe Ryan, and Bailey Ober are the only current locks, and two of those three have less than an entire season of Major League experience under their belt. Pitching will always come at a substantial cost, and we saw that here in Minnesota needing to part with the 2021 26th overall pick, Chase Petty.
    Gray has become less of an extreme ground-ball-inducing pitcher than he was early in his career, but he continues to hover right around 50%. He gives up hard contact less than 30% of the time, and his whiff rates are workable. Gray now operates with an average fastball around 93 mph while mixing a slider and curveball.
     
    After leaving the Yankees, Gray signed a four-year deal for $38 million with Cincinnati. He’s on the books for 2022 at $10.166 million and has a $12 million team option for 2023. The option is almost certain to be picked up, and he’d pair with Kenta Maeda to form a solid one-two punch once the former staff ace returns from injury.
    Minnesota also grabbed Francis Peguero in the deal. He’s a 24-year-old right-handed pitcher outside of the Reds top 30 prospects. Peguero had been in their system since he was a teenager and made his stateside debut in 2018 at the age of 20. Last season, Peguero pitched at High-A Dayton and owned a 4.96 ERA. He’s worked 74 games for 103 innings and operated solely as a reliever. Looking at his track record, Peguero has some things Minnesota can work with. A high K/9 is paired with low home run and walk rates. Giving up contact too often has been troublesome, and he presents a project for the Twins development staff.
     
    Chase Petty, last season’s 1st round pick for Minnesota, is going to the Reds. He’s a hard thrower and had arguably the best velocity of anyone in the 2021 draft. Debuting in the Florida Complex League, Petty got in just five innings following his prep season. Soon-to-be 19-years-old, Petty has a ton of development ahead of him. Refinement of pitches and continued command adjustments will always be part of the process when selecting a prep arm.
    For Cincinnati, Petty’s path is not unlike one they may soon be cashing in on. Hunter Greene, taken in the same draft as Royce Lewis, had similar attributes when selected. Greene was praised for his triple-digit fastball, as was Petty, and there may be parallels in how their new prospect is brought along.
     
    Knowing how barren the starting pitching market had gotten in free agency, it seemed inevitable Minnesota would acquire an arm via trade. Depth was a need in the rotation, but so too was a top-tier arm. Cautious in what to expect or maybe more, what needed to be given up, this seems like a significant win for Derek Falvey. Petty has a high ceiling, but there’s nothing more volatile than a prep arm. Getting a starter of Gray’s caliber for what likely amounts to two seasons and not dipping into other areas of the farm system is great negotiating.
     
    The front office still has work to do, and there’s money to be spent, but this move should be seen as a significant come-up.
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  18. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, MLB and MLBPA Reach Agreement   
    While there’s still a significant amount of legal semantics to figure out, and the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) needs to be ratified, the season has been salvaged.
     
    Despite MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred suggesting that February 28 was the deadline in which a deal needed to be agreed upon to avoid canceling regular-season games, the two sides worked tirelessly to hammer out a deal. The calendar has  flipped to March, and multiple sessions have been hammered out, but we now have resolution. 
     
    The reality is that MLB was looking at a third straight season in which baseball would be anything as we’ve known it. Following a 60-game season in 2020 and then a Covid-influenced year during 2021, the best hope for normalcy lay on the back of 2022. We don’t have Spring Training on time, and it will be a sprint to Opening Day, but a full 162-game schedule should be on the books.
    A point of contention late in the negotiations was that of an International Draft. Very little is known about the parameters as the sides still have until July 25 to agree on its inception, but it would remove the signing bonuses and put players into a draft system. Jeremy Nygaard recently wrote up some of what has been reported thus far. If the MLBPA decides against an International Draft, as a large contingent of players have been against for decades, they would then forfeit the remove of a qualified offer being tied to draft pick compensation.
     
    Multiple sources put in incredibly long hours to keep us abreast of the negations. Still, it’s going to be an absolute feeding frenzy from here regarding transactions. Hundreds of players still need to be signed with multiple organizations looking at trades to solidify their 2022 rosters. As players report to Arizona and Florida for Spring Training, the activity will be like we saw in the lockout lead-up and then multiplied.
    With the ratification of this CBA, free agency begins tonight! Make sure to check back to Twins Daily often as the excitement and speed in which players are signed should be nothing like we've ever seen before.
     
    There’s no denying this has been an incredibly frustrating offseason for baseball fans, but it appears we’ve now weathered the storm and are ready for a return to action. As Twins Daily has continued to keep you informed all offseason and through this lockout, make sure to stay engaged and check back through free agency and Spring Training with both getting underway.
     
    The only thing left is, Play Ball!
    What We Know
    12 teams make the postseason and how it works Universal DH is implemented A full 162 game schedule with pay, including 9-inning DH'ers to make up missed games. Free agency will start tonight Players can report to Spring Training tomorrow, mandatory by March 13 The qualifying offer being removed is tied to the acceptance of an International Draft A breakdown of the economics The final vote was substantially in favor of acceptance, despite the union board being so against it Regular doubleheaders and extra-inning rules return Ratification is set to happen at 5pm CT during an owners call The regular season calendar will be extended by three days with 3/4 DH'ers making up the others. Spring Training will last 3 and 1/2 weeks starting around April 20 Pitch clock and shift changes can be implemented starting in 2023 A six-pick draft lottery will be held with the 18 teams not making the postseason Rule changes will be a discussed process between players and the league Arbitration numbers will be exchanged at the end of March with hearings during the season Players can only be optioned 5 times per season. Draft is 20 rounds Additional year of service time granted to top Rookie of the Year finishers The Rule 5 Draft is cancelled this year A 4th tier has been added to the CBT to prevent runaway spending Additional MLB Draft implications for top draft eligible players Salary increases for 40-man players at Triple-A One of the pending grievances against MLB was dropped Rules can be changed during a single offseason Players can benefit from promotional opportunities with betting companies Teams will play every other Major League team each year starting in 2023 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
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  19. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Cody Christie for an article, The 2018 Kernels Were Loaded with MLB Talent   
    Not all of these players are going to play at an All-Star level, but the amount of talent on this roster is hard to ignore. From hitters to pitchers, the 2018 Kernels had it all. 

    2018 Kernels Hitting Prospects
    Many top position players on the 2018 Kernels have made their big-league debuts in the last two seasons. Players included on that list are Akil Baddoo, Ryan Jeffers, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, and Ben Rortvedt. Baddoo's big-league success has come in a Tigers uniform after being selected in last winter's Rule 5 Draft. Last season, the outfielder hit .259/.330/.436 (.766) with 40 extra-base hits and a 113 OPS+ in 124 games. Luckily, the other names on the list are still in the organization. 
    Jeffers has proven his defensive value over the last two seasons, even when his bat struggled at times. During the 2020 season, his framing skills ranked in the 90th percentile. Kirilloff exhibited his strong hitting talent in his rookie season, but a wrist injury sapped his power. He had surgery, but he should return to form in 2022. Larnach had an up and down rookie campaign, and many still believe he can develop into an above-average big-league hitter. Like Jeffers, Rortvedt has some solid defensive skills that can make him a surprising help to the team moving forward. 
    Two of the team's top prospects also spent time with the 2018 Kernels. Jose Miranda is coming off a breakout season where his stock is rising more than any other Twins prospect. The former number one overall pick, Royce Lewis, had knee surgery last spring and missed the entire 2021 season. Many national rankings have dropped him from their top-100 lists because of the development time he has missed the previous two seasons.
    On that 2018 team, Miranda and Kirilloff tied for the team lead with 13 home runs. Lewis had 23 doubles, and Baddoo added an eye-popping 11 triples. As 19-year olds, Baddoo and Lewis both added 22 or more steals. Kirilloff had a team-best .999 OPS, and Baddoo led the team with 183 total bases. Baddoo's final numbers were truly impressive. He hit .243/.352/.419 (.770) with 44 extra-base hits, 83 runs, and 24 stolen bases. 
    2018 Kernels Pitching Prospects
    There have been six pitchers from the 2018 Kernels that have already made their big-league debuts on the mound. Bailey Ober and Randy Dobnak are the two that figure to most prominently help the 2022 Twins. Ober is penciled into the starting rotation on the heels of a tremendous rookie season. Ober's expectations are high, but there might be some sophomore struggles to overcome. Dobnak signed an extension last winter and produced his worst professional season as he tried to pitch through an injury. Jovani Moran figures to get an opportunity in Minnesota's bullpen, especially with his dominant change-up.

    Brusdar Graterol, a teenager at the time, was still a starter in 2018. Minnesota traded Graterol to the Dodgers for Kenta Maeda, and he has transitioned to a reliever role at the big-league level. The Rangers claimed Edwar Colina off waivers from the Twins earlier this offseason. He had multiple procedures on his elbow last year, and Minnesota took him off their 40-man roster. Johan Quezada made three appearances with the Marlins in 2020, and he is currently on the Cardinals' 40-man roster. 
    Two of Minnesota's top pitching prospects, Jhoan Duran and Blayne Enlow, also pitched for the 2018 Kernels. Duran was limited to 16 innings last season before being shut down with a strained elbow. Now, he needs to prove he can be healthy and get back on track in 2022. Enlow had Tommy John surgery in June, which has pushed him down Minnesota's prospect rankings.

    Dobnak led the team in innings pitched, and games started while posting a 3.14 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. Colina was still a starter, and he had a 2.48 ERA with team-high 95 strikeouts in 98 innings. Moran led the team with a 14.2 SO/9, but he also struggled with 5.5 BB/9. Dobnak won 10 games, while Balazovic, Ober, and Colina were all credited with seven wins. 
    Cedar Rapids made it to the semifinals of the Midwest League playoffs in 2018 before falling to the Cardinals MWL affiliate. However, this roster will have long-lasting impacts at the big-league level. 

    Which former Kernel is going to have the best MLB career? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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  20. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Wondering What Francisco Liriano Could’ve Been   
    Having made his Major League Debut in 2005, Liriano had just 23 2/3 innings under his belt coming into the 2006 season. Ron Gardenhire put Liriano on his Opening Day roster, but the talented lefty was set to begin out of the bullpen. He made his season debut in the second game, throwing two innings of relief against the Toronto Blue Jays. Minnesota won that game 13-4, and Liriano tallied his first three strikeouts of the season.
     
    From there, Gardenhire used Liriano mainly for late-inning work. Across 12 games, Liriano pitched 22 1/3 innings of relief work, compiling a 3.22 ERA and impressive 32/4 K/BB mark. Of the eight earned runs given up, five came in a three-inning clunker against the Detroit Tigers. Minnesota lost that game 18-1, and it was the lone stain on Liriano’s relief work.
     
    Then the switch happened. On May 19, 2006, Francisco Liriano took the ball to start for the Twins against the Milwaukee Brewers. He didn’t relieve a game again the rest of the way. Against the Brewers, Liriano went five strong innings giving up just one run on two hits while striking out five. A few turns later, this time against the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 16, 2006, Liriano punched out double-digit batters for the first time in his career. Notching 11 strikeouts against the Buccos, Liriano improved to 6-1 on the season, and his ERA sat at just 2.16. 
    Facing the Brewers again on July 2, 2016, Liriano set a new career-high in strikeouts with 12. Throwing eight shutout innings, Liriano pushed his ERA down to 1.99. After a couple more wins, Liriano then put a bow on his early work with a 10 and 12 strikeout performance against Cleveland and Detroit, respectively.
     
    Then things changed. Making a start against the Tigers on August 7, 2006, Liriano threw just 67 pitches while allowing four runs on ten hits before being lifted. He was scratched the start prior with forearm inflammation and then lifted against Detroit with what was called a left elbow injury. After an MRI revealed only inflammation on July 31, Liriano was set for another one and told reporters he was more scared this time, saying, “it bothered me. It’s getting worse you know.” Liriano returned for a start on September 13, 2006, but lasted just 27 pitches before his season was over. He had suggested hearing a pop in his elbow. The 1st place Minnesota Twins would be without one of their top arms, ultimately falling to the Oakland Athletics in the American League Division Series.
     
    Discussing the MRI’s Liriano had undergone, Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said, "The MRI came back exactly the same as the previous one. He has a ligament strain, but there is no structural damage. That's the good news.” On September 15, 2006, surgery was not the planned course of action. Fast forward less than a month, and on November 6, 2006, Francisco Liriano underwent Tommy John surgery.
     
    Working on getting back from his procedure, Liriano returned to the mound for Minnesota on April 13, 2008. It was his first start in more than a year, and the rust showed. He allowed four runs on six hits and didn’t make it through the 5th inning. Throwing his fastball at just 91.9 mph, he’d lost nearly 3 mph off the 94.7 mph he averaged in 2006. The All-Star and third place Rookie of the Year finisher didn’t look the same and ultimately never would.
     
    Those 121 innings from a 22-year-old Liriano in 2006 were among the highlights of the Minnesota Twins during the 2000s. Paired with Johan Santana, Ron Gardenhire appeared to have a duo of lefties that could mow down even the best opposing offenses. Playing 12 more seasons and putting up a 4.28 ERA is hardly something to scoff at, but there’s no denying that this is a talent you have to wonder what could have been. Liriano doesn’t have a shot at the Hall of Fame, but maybe he would have. Perhaps the Twins wouldn’t have flipped him for Eduardo Escobar in 2012. His career was solid but ultimately defined by a “what if?”
    Outside of Liriano as a player on his own, it's worth wondering how the 2006 Minnesota Twins season would've ended had he been a healthy part of the Postseason rotation. The Twins were ultimately swept by a good Oakland Athletics team, but they had to start Boof Bonser in game 2 and turned to Brad Radke in game 3. The Twins came in with home field advantage and have not won a Postseason game dating back to 2004. Just another part of the what could've been story.
     
    Do you remember back to that first season of Francisco Liriano? What did you think the Twins had in him? What are some of your favorite memories?
  21. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Part 6: Seth's Top 30 Twins Pitching Prospects (1-5)   
    What is very exciting is that these five pitchers, along with the pitchers in the 6-10 ranking range, and even a couple in the 11-15 range, have a real chance to be impact big league starters. The other thing to note is that the organization's top prospect lists have shifted quite significantly even from last year. While hitters such as Alex Kirilloff, Brent Rooker, Trevor Larnach, Nick Gordon and Ben Rortvedt lost their prospect status, the Twins have developed many intriguing, exciting pitching prospects. 
    Obviously what matters most is what they are able to do in the big leagues, but there is a stable of pitchers that Twins fans should be very excited about. Let's get started on my Top 5 Twins Pitching Prospects. 
    #5 - RHP Josh Winder 
    2021 STATS: 4-0, 2.63 ERA, 14/14 G/GS, 0.94 WHIP, 80/13 K/BB, 72.0 IP

    The Twins drafted Josh Winder out of Virginia Military Institute in the seventh round of the 2018 draft. He went 3-1 with a 3.72 ERA in nine starts at Elizabethton that summer. In 2019, he went 7-2 with a 2.65 ERA in 21 starts. Like so many others, he missed the 2020 season, but when he came to Instructional League, he made a prospect name for himself. Instead of sitting 91-92 with the fastball, he was now hitting 95-97 consistently. In addition, he has a good slider and a changeup. In 2021, he received a call to be a part of the Twins depth camp for spring training. He skipped High-A and began the season as Wichita’s opening day starter. He dominated Double-A. In 10 starts, he went 3-0 with a 1.98 ERA. In 54 2/3 innings, he struck out 65 batters while striking out just ten. He moved up to St. Paul and in his first Triple-A start, he started with five no-hit innings. He pitched 2/3 of an inning in the Futures Game in Denver. He made just four starts for the Saints due to a shoulder impingement and missed the remainder of the season. Winder is intriguing because of his fastball, his control of all of his pitches, and his work ethic is second to none. Following the season, he was added to the Twins 40-man roster and when spring training starts, he should be given a real shot to make the opening day roster. That said, he is most likely to spend some more time in St. Paul. He will be 25 years old throughout the 2022 season. 
    #4 - RHP Simeon Woods Richardson 
    2021 STATS: 1-1, 6.75 ERA, 4/3 G/GS, 1.75 WHIP, 10/8 K/BB, 8.0 IP

    Simeon Woods Richardson joined the Twins organization in July when the Twins acquired him from the Blue Jays in the Jose Berrios deal. It was the second time the 21-year-old prospect was traded. After being drafted out of his Sugar Land, Texas, high school in the 2nd round of the 2018 draft, he was traded in 2019 to the Blue Jays in the Marcus Stroman deal. He has always been very young for the level in which he plays, but at Double-A in 2021, he was nearly five years younger than average. The numbers showed it as he posted a 5.76 ERA in 11 starts in New Hampshire before the trade. Now, he did have 67 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings. He also walked 26 batters. Control was something that eluded him in 2021, though it really hadn’t previously. When the Twins acquired him, he was a teammate of Joe Ryan on Team USA in the Olympics. Woods Richardson has a big fastball in the mid-90s as part of a solid four-pitch mix. Again, control will be the key. He will pitch the 2022 season at age 21. With his struggles in 2021, and his youth, he should spend much of the season in Wichita. 
    #3 - RHP Jordan Balazovic  
    2021 STATS: 5-4, 3.62 ERA, 20/20 G/GS, 1.40 WHIP, 102/38 K/BB, 97.0 IP

    The Twins 2016 draft has proven pretty impressive to this point. The Twins started with five straight high school hitters. In the fifth round, they took Jordan Balazovic out of secondary school in Ontario. He has had ups and downs since signing with the Twins, but when healthy, he has generally been very good. He has also really developed as a starting pitcher. He now has a fastball that sits 93-95 and touches 97 at times. He has four pitches that all can be average or better big-league pitches. He has typically shown good control. He didn’t pitch in 2020, although he spent the last several weeks in St. Paul at the Twins alternate site. Following the season, he was added to the 40-man roster. He came to big-league camp for spring training in 2021, but he began the season on the Injured List with an oblique injury. However, he still made 20 starts and reached a career-high 97 innings, all in Double-A Wichita. He was much more inconsistent throughout the season than normal. He had a good start, then struggled a bit. Then he dominated, pitching 25 consecutive scoreless innings. He followed that with struggles again, but he ended the season strong, and most important healthy. Balazovic should spend most of the 2022 season in Triple-A St. Paul, but I would expect him to make his MLB debut in 2022. He won’t turn 24 until mid-September. 
    #2 - RHP Joe Ryan  
    2021 MiLB STATS: 0-0, 2.00 ERA, 2/2 G/GS, 0.78 WHIP, 17/2 K/BB, 9.0 IP
    2021 MLB STATS: 2-1, 4.05 ERA, 5/5 G/GS, 0.79 WHIP, 30/5 K/BB, 26.2 IP

    Fair to say that Joe Ryan made a strong first impression with the Twins. Then again, he has been impressing since he was young. The Twins wanted to sign him after he went undrafted following an injury-filled junior season. He bet on himself, went to Cal State-Stanislaus, pitched great and the Rays took him as a senior sign in the 7th round of the 2018 draft. He has been really good since joining the Rays, and in 2020, he was pitching at the alternate site. He was pitching well for Triple-A Durham to start this season and then headed to the Olympics with Team USA (the team won both games he started). While across the ocean, he learned that he had been traded to the Twins with Drew Strotman in the Nelson Cruz deal. Upon his return to the States, Ryan made two unbelievable starts with the Saints (Strotman’s story about that in Monday’s Twins Spotlight is hilarious!) before joining the Twins. Then he came up to the Twins and was again impressive. A few more home runs than you might want, but he showed great poise and an ability to miss bats. As Strotman said of Ryan, you may not know why you can’t hit him, but they don’t hit him. Ryan sits with a fastball that averages right around 90 mph. He can occasionally touch 94 with the fastball, but since he releases the ball low and can spot the pitch and be successful up in the strike zone, it is hard to hit. He will throw a high percentage of fastballs, but we also saw some really good change ups and sliders, and he really tunnels the ball with all three pitches very well. Ryan should spend the full 2022 season with the Twins. He won’t turn 26 until May. I think Twins fans can look forward to The Joe Ryan Experience for years to come. 
    #1 - RHP Matt Canterino 
    2021 STATS: 1-0, 0.78 ERA, 6/6 G/GS, 0.61 WHIP, 45/4 K/BB, 23.0 IP

    I am guessing that this ranking of Matt Canterino as my choice for the Twins top pitching prospect will come as a surprise to some. However, if not for the elbow concerns that caused him to only throw 23 game innings in 2021, I don’t think people would be surprised. They’re certainly legitimate concerns, for sure. However, when it comes to pure ‘stuff,’ Canterino’s is electric. He’s got a big fastball, sitting 94-96 with his fastball as a starter, touching 97. He’s got the slider that can make hitters look silly. He’s got a slower curveball. And he’s got a good changeup. He’s also got really good makeup, work ethic and energy, some of the intangibles you are looking for in a top-of-rotation option. Canterino was the Twins 2nd round pick in 2019 out of Rice where he was a three-year starter and averaged about 97 innings each season.  He did spend some time at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul late in 2020. If healthy, Canterino could move quickly. After his absolute domination in Cedar Rapids for the first month of the season (43 strikeouts in 21 innings!), I would expect he will start his season at Double-A Wichita and have a chance to move up to St. Paul fairly quickly. Now, innings will be a concern at some point, and if that happens, he could certainly work out of the bullpen as the season ends. The goal should continue to be to have him start, but obviously this kind of arm is very valuable and needs to be taken care of. He will be 24 throughout the 2022 season. 
    Discuss... I’m sure that not everyone will agree with my rankings 100% I certainly wouldn’t expect that. I hope that I was able to make my case. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, there are a lot of pitchers in this system that have upside to become a playoff-caliber starting pitcher, and that’s exciting. It’s important to have some, but the fact that they have several should give hope that one to three of them will become just that while others will become mid-or-back end starters or even relievers. That’s just how pitching prospects work. 
    Feel free to discuss and ask questions. . 
    Previous Rankings
    Hitters Part 1: 26-30
    Hitters Part 2: 21-25
    Hitters Part 3: 16-20 
    Hitters Part 4: 11-15 
    Hitters Part 5: 6-10 

    Pitchers Part 1: 26-30  
    Pitchers Part 2: 21-25
    Pitchers Part 3: 16-20 
    Pitchers Part 4: 11-15 
    Pitchers Part 5: 6-10 
    Pitchers Part 6: 1-5 
     
  22. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Baseball Giant Topps Gets Saved   
    When Fanatics acquired the MLB license, the end of Topps making licensed trading cards would be seen following the 2025 season. However, the MLBPA license was set to expire following the 2022 season, which would have put an end to Topps using images or likenesses of any active players after this season. Effectively, when the calendar turned to 2023, Topps’ only available brand would’ve been their Bowman product. For collectors, this was unfortunate given the power of Topps as a brand and the uncertainty of Fanatics in the trading card space.

    For a few months, there were rumblings and posturing from Fanatics. They had been looking into creating a marketplace to create, sell, grade, and ultimately own the card collecting space. Those tied to Fanatics have invested in a handful of different avenues with ties to the collectibles world, and fans were left wondering what was next. It always seemed logical that acquiring the Topps brand made sense, and it would undoubtedly drive sales more than a Fanatics branded trading card.
     
    While months have gone by, the hopeful outcome has come to fruition. As reported by The Athletic’s Evan Drellich, Fanatics is set to acquire Topps in an announcement made public Tuesday. The deal is just for Topps’ trading card division, leaving the candy side and other assets untouched, and is reported to be worth $500 million. Fanatics also will own sole licensing of NBA (2026) and NFL (2027), which makes this purchase interesting for collectors. Panini America has held those exclusive rights in recent years, and Topps has not created branded basketball or football cards. Under this new acquisition, that presumably will change.
    For collectors, this is the best news possible. Fanatics owns a monopoly over trading cards now, and they will also have arguably the most powerful brand in the space. Topps can be applied to baseball, basketball, and football trading cards under one umbrella. It remains to be seen what Fanatics will do with the brand and how they will distribute trading cards, but there’s plenty of room for growth.
     
    While Topps has been a juggernaut in design and popularity throughout its existence, the most significant areas of problem have been distribution channels and customer service. Whether dealing with inept ways to put products directly in the hands of consumers or dealing with an endless cycle of non-answers on redemptions and other problem situations, Topps’ downfall has always been post-launch. Ideally, Fanatics can revamp this experience and pair it with the branding power they now will own. What once looked like an uncertain or unpleasant future has now revealed itself as a possible best-case scenario for those who love sports cards.
     
    I’m not sure about you, but Topps Chrome basketball or Topps Finest football is something I’m ready to see again. Being able to continue collecting baseball with continuity is also a great thing.
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  23. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Jamie Cameron for an article, The Biggest Mistake the Twins' Front Office Made This Offseason   
    It’s a commonly held maxim that 40 fWAR gives you a pretty consistent opportunity for October baseball. It’s a pretty basic tenet of roster construction. Throughout the Falvey era, the Twins have shown an impressive level of flexibility in ‘how’ they go about trying to construct a 40 fWAR roster. In 2021, there was an increased emphasis on defense, highlighted by the addition of Andrelton Simmons as their starting shortstop. Ultimately, none of that mattered, as everything that could go wrong, did go wrong in 2021. In considering roster construction through the lens of assembling a 40 fWAR team, Minnesota has come up woefully short in a critical area so far this offseason.
    Before we dig into that. Let’s look at some data from 2021, and projections for 2022. For the sake of this argument, I’ll use fWAR actual totals from 2021 and ZiPS projections for 2022, acknowledging that projections are problematic and often difficult to draw meaningful conclusions from. With those caveats in mind, however, there are some meaningful conclusions to draw from these data:
    The scale of the 2021 Twins failure was pretty magnificent. Given that they haven’t made significant roster additions, there’s essentially a gap of 10 fWAR between their 2021 projection and actual performance, that’s staggering. A 2022 Minnesota Twins offense that is close to its projection has the team in contention pretty much by itself. The Twins’ success will live or die with its excellent offensive core. The Twins are not as far as it may feel from a team that can challenge for an AL Central crown in 2022.
    It’s equally obvious where the flaws are. The Twins bullpen was horrendous in the first half of 2021, evidenced by a higher projection with the same fungible relievers in 2022. There’s room for improvement there, but only so much from the bullpen. 
    The Twins’ biggest mistake this offseason was not tapping into the mid-tier starting pitching free agent market, to raise the floor or the rotation. 
    Looking at the Twins’ primary competition in the AL Central tells an interesting tale. The White Sox are as reliant on their rotation as the Twins are on their offense. Their rotation is projected over 14 fWAR in 2022. The up-and-coming Tigers, project 9.7 fWAR from their rotation. A similar mark for the Twins would put them just under a projected 40 fWAR for the 2022 season. Where did the Tigers get this boost to jump their rotation to 10 fWAR? Signing Eduardo Rodriguez.
    The Twins 2022 rotation is inherently unstable. Dylan Bundy is returning from an incredibly poor 2021, Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober had hugely promising debut’s, but their 2022 outcomes are less stable and predictable than say, a Casey Mize or Tarik Skubal, simply due to their small sample sizes in 2021. Why did the Twins front office not aggressively pursue at least one stabilizing starting arm who lives in the 2.0-3.0 fWAR range to stabilize the rotation?
    A Blueprint for Success
    Let’s use the San Francisco Giants as a point of comparison. Upon initial consideration, comparing the Twins to a 107 win team may seem unfair, but I beg to differ. In 2020, the Giants were a sub .500 team in a shortened season, finishing at 29-31. This improvement mirrors (betters) the Twins improvement from 2018 (78-84), to 2019 (101-61). 
    The Giants re-upped with three of their starters from 2021. They signed Alex Wood to a two-year, $25 million contract, Alex Cobb to a two-year, $20 million contract, and Anthony De Sclafani to a three-year $36 million contract. These three pitchers combined for 8.0 fWAR in 2021 and project for 7.8 fWAR in 2022. They average, together, $11.5 million per year when considering their contracts cumulatively. Each of these pitchers is likely to accumulate around $16-20 million in value based on their projections for 2022. There is value to be had in the mid-tier starting pitching market, which the Twins chose to ignore. Even signing one pitcher of this profile takes the teams’ projection to just under 39 fWAR in 2022 and does not inhibit your financial flexibility (they’re not spending big on a shortstop anyway, folks).
    The Twins front office has built a team that relies on offense and is pre-disposed to take advantage of the value in the mid-tier pitching market. Minnesota is not signing the front of the rotation starting pitchers and has not shown aggression in pursuing pitching upgrades on the trade market. While the lockout has frozen out any additional roster construction since the beginning of December, I’m no closer to understanding their roster construction strategy for pitching, a confounding frustration that may come back to haunt the 2022 Twins.
     
  24. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, Don't Trade Austin Martin   
    It’s reasonable to look at Austin Martin and see a valuable piece that the Twins could use to acquire some pitching, but there are several reasons they shouldn’t be looking to do so.
    Redundancy is Overrated
    One argument that can be made is that Martin doesn’t appear to be a future shortstop and his future in center field is blocked by the Buxton extension. This could wind up leaving Martin in a utility role. The Twins already have Luis Arraez in a similar position, however, with other players like Jose Miranda and Royce Lewis coming up who could find themselves in a similar spot.
    It makes sense to deal from a place of depth, but Martin could bring a lot of value backing up Byron Buxton in center field and Jorge Polanco at second, two players with significant injury histories who could very well miss time at any point moving forward. Luis Arraez can’t fill in for Buxton in center and is stretched at second, not to mention his own injury worries as well.
    Martin is a younger, healthier, higher floor and likely higher ceiling option than most players that find themselves in a possible platoon role. Not to mention these issues that involve “too much depth” always find a way to work themselves out when it comes to baseball.
    His Value Isn’t That High
    Potential MLB caliber shortstops are one of the more valuable assets a team can have in their farm system. It’s a big part of what led to Martin being chosen so high in the draft and what could make him an enormous trade piece moving forward. Tom makes a good point in regards to Martin’s trade value:
    Tom’s reasoning behind this is solid. Austin Martin’s 2021 has gone a long way in proving he’s not a future shortstop. Twins fans should be on board with trading him if a team still looks at him as one, as the return would be that much better for a player that’s unlikely to reach that ceiling.
    Martin was a longshot to be a future shortstop at the trade deadline, however, and didn't do much to change that idea after the fact. I’d be shocked if a team is still all in on this idea. A team such as the Reds who are in need of a shortstop of the future would likely be more open to paying a higher price to gamble on Royce Lewis panning out at the position because he hasn’t proven otherwise yet. Trading Austin Martin to a team that believes him to be an outfielder or second baseman wouldn’t bring back all that much relative value.
    Musical Chairs
    There isn’t a lot of baseball logic that goes into this one, but it just feels unproductive to trade the Twins best pitcher for two prospects and turn around and trade the biggest name for a different pitcher who likely won’t be any better than Berrios.
    Sure, the Twins will have gotten Simeon Woods-Richardson out of the deal, but it’ll cost other prospects in addition to Austin Martin to acquire any of the big names on the market. If there was any enthusiasm about extending one of these arms after acquiring them then it could be worth the price. It’s hard to find that enthusiasm however and the likelier outcome is trading such a pitcher away at the 2022 trade deadline if the team finds themselves in a similar situation as last year. It runs the risk of beginning a cycle that doesn’t sound all that fun to be honest.
    The Twins liked Martin enough to acquire him as a big piece of the Jose Berrios trade and he’s been about as advertised since then. To turn around and trade him for another pitcher with two years of control (the majority of the high-end pitchers on the market) just seems like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic. It essentially just swaps out a couple of prospects for a new pitcher who’s likely on Berrios’ level and still leaves a gaping hole in the rotation.
    It’s possible Austin Martin doesn’t become the star he was projected to be when drafted. He’s still an MLB-bound player with incredible pure hitting skills and versatility. He could easily settle into a position for the next 5-6 years and be an example of how not quite everything in 2021 went wrong. 
    It’s going to be interesting to see how the Twins front office tries to wriggle out of their own self-inflicted mess with the pitching staff. Players on the verge of bringing some much needed excitement to Twins Territory such as Martin should be off the table unless there are extenuating circumstances. Austin Martin should be wearing a Twins jersey by 2022 season’s end.
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  25. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Dave Overlund for an article, A Minnesota Twins Christmas Carol - Part One   
    Interior: Target Field. It is December 24th. The snow is falling. It is dark outside and the staff is working in candlelight. A Houston Astros-logoed trash can burns in the corner of the room for heat.
    Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are at their desks, tired and nodding off, poring over the Bill James Handbook from 2018 and a back issue of Baseball America from 2017, looking for pitchers. Always looking for pitchers.
    An old, chipped rotary phone across the room rings. Falvey stands up, blows warm air on his hands and picks up the receiver.
    “Well, that certainly is a great deal for us,” Falvey exclaims before his face suddenly drops. “I just don’t think Mr. Pohlad will go for it, certainly not around Christmastime when budgets are even tighter.”
    Falvey listens to the voice on the other end of the phone before agreeing to ask his boss about this proposition.  He tentatively approaches Levine and whispers into his ear. As he listens, Levine begins to perk up and get excited.  He agrees that Falvey should approach Mr. Pohlad about this proposition and even offers to accompany him to Pohlad’s office.
    Behind a cracked door, Minnesota Twins owner Jim Pohlad sits at a large desk in his office. He is carefully counting receipts from hot dog sales and entering them into a primitive counting machine. There is a knock at the door.
    “WHO IS IT,” Pohlad’s voice booms from behind the door.
    “It’s us, Thad and Derek, sir,” Levine sheepishly replies.
    “WELL COME IN, YOU ARE LETTING ALL THE HEAT OUT OF THE OFFICE,” Pohlad impatiently replies.
    Falvey and Levine hesitate, with each of them wanting the other to enter the room first. Finally, Levine sighs and heads inside, trailed by Falvey. They approach the desk holding a notebook.
    “Good evening sir and Merry Christmas,” Lavine says before cringing as he hears Pohlad’s response begin to leave his lungs….
    “CHRISTMAS?! THE SEASON OF GIVING?! BAH HUMBUG!.” Pohlad snarls through gritted teeth. “I CAN’T STAND THE THOUGHT OF SPENDING THE MONEY I WORKED SO HARD TO EARN.
    “Do you see these hot dog receipts? EVERY one of these hot dogs sold for $8. Do you know how much they cost us? One dollar!,” Pohlad said with a devilish grin on his face. “Now THAT’s the kind of GIVING I like, people GIVING me their money for MY hot dogs. I call it ‘the Target Field Experience,’” he said before trailing off into a soft cackle. “Never mind that, what is it that you interrupted me for?”
    “Well, sir, you see, free agency has been really wild this year, and a lot of the top pitchers have already gone off the board…..” Levine began, but he was cut off immediately by a furious Pohlad.
    “TOP pitchers? TOP?!? Haven’t I already explained to you that we cannot AFFORD TOP PITCHERS,” Pohlad raged.  “That’s why I got you the Bill James Handbook from 2018 at a garage sale. You are to find pitchers who performed well during that season and figure out how to make them good again.”
    “Yes, sir, I understand, but I just got off of the phone with the agent for Kevin Gausman and he wants to sign with the Twins… it’s a Christmas miracle!” Falvey said. “He is willing sign for five years and $125 million… it’s a bargain for us---“
    “ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY FIVE MILLION?! DOLLARS?!,” an angry Pohlad replied. “For ONE pitcher? Did I not just give you four million dollars for Dylan Bundy?!”
    “Yes, sir, you did and that was very, very generous of you,” Levine said. “However, Gausman is a major upgrade over the pitchers we have now and a proven commodity.”
    Mr. Pohlad frowned and pointed his finger toward the door. “We are a small market club, Derek, and I don’t appreciate you coming in here trying to convince me to spend money we certainly don’t have here.”
    “But, sir, the fans would really…,” Falvey begins before he is shouted down by Pohlad.
    “The FANS?! The FANS?!,” Pohlad yells. “The FANS are lucky to have a baseball team at all! I will hear no more of this about the FANS!
    “The FANS are expected to buy tickets, a jersey to wear to the game, a $12 beer and $8 hot dog and just be happy to be outside watching baseball. ‘Your ticket to summer,’ remember?”
    Pohlad stands up, puts on his overcoat and summons his butler, Rudy. Rudy emerges from a side room and helps Pohlad put on his gloves, hat and shoes. Falvey and Levine watch out the window as Pohlad climbs into his Porsche and heads to his home in Edina.
    Falvey and Levine watch to make sure Pohlad is gone then carefully pack up their supplies to head home for the holidays. Falvey puts a grocery-bag book cover on the Bill James Handbook and Levine carefully puts out the fire in the Astros trash can.
    “Merry Christmas, Thad, “ Falvey says.
    “Merry Christmas, Derek,” Levine replies.
     
    Check back for Part 2, coming soon! 
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