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LewFordLives

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  1. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Spend on Bats, Bank on Arms: This Front Office's Strategy Is Clear   
    Earlier this month, the Twins shocked the baseball world by signing Carlos Correa to a $200 million contract. The move would've seemed inconceivable for this franchise as recently as five years ago, but in recent offseasons, Minnesota has signaled its willingness to start wading into the deeper end of the spending pool.
    After all, they first signed Correa just a year ago, albeit to a short interstitial deal that paved way for this one. Months earlier, the Twins had extended Byron Buxton with a $100 million contract, two years after handing free agent Josh Donaldson a then-record $92 million.
    Compared to the previous regime, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have shown a drastically greater willingness to profer these kinds of large-scale contracts, which are somewhat rare for teams in their class. (For context, Chicago's $75 million deal for Andrew Benintendi last month was the largest free agent commitment in White Sox history.)
    Notably, however, this appetite has been limited entirely to the position player side. Minnesota's current front office has been comparatively averse to investing dollars on the pitching side. Pablo López falls in line with a distinct pattern when it comes to acquiring rotation help: they trade talent (in this case Luis Arraez) for a cost-controlled starter who fits snugly into the budgeting forecast for multiple seasons.
    Minnesota did the same thing with Tyler Mahle at the deadline last year, and with Sonny Gray the prior offseason. They did it with Chris Paddack, and Kenta Maeda, and Jake Odorizzi. They traded away José Berríos, in part, because he was reaching the end of that cost-controlled window.
    Only in one case have these situations ever led to the Twins paying a remotely market-rate salary for one of these frontline starters: in 2020, when Odorizzi accepted the qualifying offer to earn around $18 million. Of course, the club ended up paying out less than half that amount due to the truncated COVID season.
    Outside of that instance, Gray's $12.5 million salary this year will supplant Lance Lynn in 2018 ($12 million) as the highest salary paid to any pitcher acquired by this front office in seven years. Michael Pineda's two-year, $20 million contract signed in December of 2019 – also prorated down, because of his carryover suspension – remains the largest Falvey has given a pitcher. It's 10% of the amount they just guaranteed Correa.
    So like I said, the pattern is pretty stark. The question is, what's driving it? Why are the Twins comfortable allocating such an outsized proportion of their available budget to position players while persistently minimizing money tied up in arms?
    I think it comes down to volatility and risk.
    Back in November, I wrote an article on the troubling realities of buying high on free agent pitching. I was citing a dynamic that I believe prevents the Twins – and really, the vast majority of mid-market teams – from winning bids for top free agent pitchers available at their peak.
    Namely: you are paying the utmost long-term premium for pitchers in their late 20s or early 30s who are hitting the sharp downward slope of the aging curve. Look back no further than last year's free-agent class to see the pitfalls of this buy-high philosophy: Robbie Ray, for example, got a $115 million deal from the Mariners coming off a breakout Cy Young year and then reverted right back to his previous ordinary form. The contract already looks like a hindrance for them.
    There are worse outcomes. Signing up commit pay big bucks to starting pitchers, who've already often logged 1,000+ innings, through their mid-30s is flat-out hazardous. The Yankees bought high on Carlos Rodón and earmarked $162 million to lock him up through age 35. The upside he brings as a true ace exceeds almost any bat you can buy on the market, but it's counterbalanced by the tremendous risk of his shoulder issues flaring up and making him a non-factor.
    With their financial inhibitions, New York can afford to assume that risk without catastrophic collateral downside. Most teams operating in lesser markets can't or won't. 
    Of course, there's even more risk in simply not acquiring pitching talent. It's not an option if you want to compete, and you lack the elite development machines of a Tampa or Cleveland.
    For Minnesota, the preferred course has been to trade for second-tier starters in their prime. This prevents risky long-term commitments and keeps the rotation's budget share in check, enabling the Twins to invest in building around the likes of Correa and Buxton, who now occupy a third of the payroll with almost 300 million in combined dollars owed.
    I'm not going to say staking the franchise's future on Correa and Buxton is WITHOUT RISK, of course, but star position players tend to age a bit more reliably than standout starting pitchers, in part because they have more "outs."
    If injuries continue to impact Buxton, he can still make a real difference while spending time at DH, as we saw last year. If Correa's ankle forces him off shortstop, he can move to third, as he planned to with the Mets.
    When you're paying top dollar for a starting pitcher and they get struck by injuries that keep them off the mound or diminish their performance, it's harder to maintain that value equation. For teams with finite spending capabilities (self-imposed as they may be), that matters.
    Continually trading quality prospects to replenish their rotation will not necessarily be a viable strategy for the Twins going forward, so the success of this approach really comes down to how well their efforts with the pitching pipeline come together. 
    The front office has put in place a potential lineage to support sustained rotation success – with Louie Varland and Simeon Woods Richardson followed by the likes of Marco Raya, Connor Prieilipp, and more – but pressure is rising to see it pay off and embed some legitimate fixtures so they don't have to keep trading their way to patchwork solutions.
    In theory, allocating your funds to superstar everyday players and relying on a sustained and regenerative pipeline of younger, fresher, lower-cost pitchers is a savvy strategy. In theory.
  2. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, The Worst Promos and Ticket Deals at Target Field   
    On Thursday, Twins Daily’s Melissa Berman explored some of the most exciting promos and ticket deals at Target Field this season. Today, we look at some of the less popular ones.
    TOMMY HERR BOBBLEHEAD NIGHT: The wildly unpopular return in the trade for beloved World Series champion Tom Brunansky gets his own tribute on May 14th! The first 5,000 fans will receive a bobblehead that sulks, pouts, and has a remarkably lifelike “I don’t even want to be here” setting. “It’s as off-putting as the real thing,” said a clubhouse source. “Like a rag doll you find in an abandoned hospital.”
    ALL YOU CAN EAT DOME DOG NIGHT: “While clearing out one of the team’s storage units in Maplewood, we discovered freezers full of Dome Dogs from 2009,” said Twins President Dave St. Peter. “Food waste is a real problem in this country, and we’re doing our part to address it.” On August 4th, adventurous foodies can purchase a standing-room seat plus a lanyard giving them unfettered access to 14-year-old meats for $25. HCMC, the Minnesota Department of Health, and The Vatican have already issued statements condemning the promotion.
    SIT NEXT TO AN UNPLEASANT MAN FOR $7: “We always have a stray spot available in our premium sections behind home plate and in the suites,” said a front office source. “Without exception, they’re near a very loud man with too much money and too many opinions. But the seats are awesome.” Available in packages of 5, 10, or 20 games, these tickets are priced to move and will be especially appealing to those who have a high tolerance for hearing about who the real racists are.
    THE BULLPEN BUDDY: With the team’s relief pitching still in need of upgrades, not a lot of free agent options, and a significant outlay of cash for Carlos Correa, the Twins are getting creative. This $1000 ticket allows you to sit in the home bullpen for any of the 81 games. The only catch: you’re pitching the 6th inning. “We’re getting money in the coffers and letting some folks live their dream of pitching against Mike Trout and Aaron Judge,” said a source with knowledge of the front office’s thinking. “There is some downside risk in that it violates league rules and a line drive will likely kill the ticketholder instantly, but we need to look at the big picture and let our legal team hash it out.” PECOTA projects an average Twins ticket buyer to have an ERA of infinity, making them roughly equivalent to Emilio Pagan “at a team-friendly price,” said the source.
    Image license here.
     
  3. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Matt Braun for an article, Chris Paddack Agrees to Contract Extension with the Minnesota Twins   
    After coming to terms with the Twins earlier today on a one-year $2.4M deal to avoid arbitration, Chris Paddack agreed to a contract extension that will allow the team to keep him pitching for the Twins for 2+ more years when he returns from Tommy John surgery later this season, Twins Daily has learned. Financial details of the contract have not been disclosed, but it is expected to be worth $10-15M in total value. 
    Remember Chris Paddack? Of everything that went wrong with the 2022 Twins, Paddack’s early-season promise and immediate surgery happened so quickly that an adept gaslighter could convince one that he never existed in the first place. 
    Paddack’s career arc is well-documented. The 27-year-old former starting pitching phenom traveled to San Diego from Miami in a trade for—you're going to love this—Fernando Rodney. From there, he shot up prospect lists and became a popular pick to become a major league regular. His 2019 rookie season proved promising, as the youngster made the opening day roster by surprise and accrued 140 ⅔ quality innings. The future seemed bright.
    The future is also mean. Paddack’s fastball/changeup combo went from electric to the little shock that emanates from one of those fake gum gimmick toys. Paddack's numbers dropped with no useful third pitch in sight; however, his home runs continued to stay high, and both 2020 and 2021 were a wash.
    Feeling the itch to trade someone, A.J. Preller moved Paddack, Emilio Pagán, and Brayan Medina for Taylor Rogers and Brent Rooker, announcing that it would be someone else’s problem to fix the former future ace.
    Minnesota may have done that. Paddack carried a hilarious 1.72 FIP through five games—not giving up a homer will do that—and even appeared to have worked in an adequate slider to pair with his fastball and changeup. Then the elbow started barking. the Paddack now enjoys company in the double Tommy John club. No one wants to be a part of such a gathering.
    Three members of the Twins' projected starting rotation will be free agents at the end of the year. The Twins are gambling that, in an age where high schoolers undergo the operation, a second Tommy John surgery simply means a pair of scars, and Paddack can return to being a promising pitcher on a staff in need of younger blood.
    John Bonnes contributed to this story.
  4. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Hipster Twins Fan More Excited about A.J. Alexy Trade   
    The shocking return of Carlos Correa and the circumstances surrounding it are THE topic of conversation in Twins Territory. Except for one irritating man.
    “Maybe it’s just me, but I guess I want to see how A.J. Alexy fits in to the team’s bullpen plans for 2023,” said Xander Greene, a 29-year-old systems analyst from Minneapolis. “It’s a pretty obscure transaction, you probably haven’t heard of it.”
    The Twins acquired Alexy, 24, from the Nationals in exchange for fellow righthander Christian Jimenez, mere hours before the Correa bombshell. And it’s all Greene wants to talk about.
    “I mean, everyone wants to talk about Correa’s leg and how his contract is structured,” sneered Greene, who will tell you he doesn’t own a television even if you don’t ask. “I guess I’m just built different. The bullpen is pretty important and the Twins had a bad one last year.”
    Greene, who brings a typewriter to the coffee shop because apparently that’s a thing, says he’s barely read about the Correa signing.
    “Is it a long-term deal,” asked the grown man with a pocket watch. “I honestly don’t know. I don’t regret not having a smartphone, but I can see its utility for queries like this.
    “What I can tell you is that Alexy’s control problems are probably why the Twins were able to get him for an 18-year-old (Jimenez) who still plays in the Dominican Republic. The risk was worth taking if the team can fix him, he has the stuff to be in the discussion for high-leverage work. But nobody wants to talk about that, they just want to talk about the same old, same old.”
    While putting a new cassette in his Walkman, Greene had one more thing to add.
    “Did anyone know they DFA’d Kyle Garlick on Wednesday? I could talk for 25 minutes about how he destroys left-handed pitching and would be a great fit in, say, Toronto. But I guess everyone wants to talk about the new old shortstop. That’s fine. It’s fine.”
    Greene got on his unicycle and pedaled away.
     
  5. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Would Another Marlins Pitcher Be a Better Trade Candidate than Pablo López?   
    In December, reports suggested the Twins were in talks with the Miami Marlins regarding Pablo Lopez. The package discussed could have included American League batting champion Luis Arraez, but developments following the signing of catcher Christian Vazquez changed the course for the front office. Per a source, López’s camp would have been ecstatic for an opportunity to win with the Twins, but that has not come to fruition thus far.
    At that time, the Marlins were listening on basically everyone in their rotation not named Sandy Alcantara. Reports over the weekend suggest that remains the case, and Minnesota could benefit from targeting one of the other three.
    Trevor Rogers
    A former first-round pick, Rogers was an All-Star and came up just short in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2021. He posted a 2.64 ERA across 133 innings while striking out 10.6 per nine. Adjustments were made against him last season, and Rogers didn’t see the same success. His 4.35 FIP was better than the 5.47 ERA, but he was routinely knocked out of games early and the strikeout rate dropped by nearly two per nine. Rogers’ biggest bugaboo last year was the long ball, paired with more traffic on the basepaths. He is still young, there is a lot to like here, and he will be under team control through 2026.
    Jesus Luzardo
    Acquired by the Marlins in exchange for outfielder Starling Marte, Luzardo was once a consensus top-10 prospect across Major League Baseball. He struggled through his first three Major League seasons but turned a corner last year. His 3.32 ERA across 100 1/3 innings was nice, and the strikeouts reached double-digits per nine for the first time in his career. His FIP suggested the numbers weren’t fluky, and he did a great job limiting damage allowing just a 1.037 WHIP. Also under team control through 2026, Luzardo could get expensive quickly with a higher ceiling and is subject to Super 2 status. It would be the third time he has been traded by age 25, but there should be no reason the Marlins couldn’t net a solid return.
    Edward Cabrera
    The most intriguing youth option here, Cabrera, would command the most. He is not a free agent until after the 2028 season, and he was a top 50 prospect coming into 2022. Cabrera posted a 3.01 ERA across 14 starts, tallying 71 2/3 innings. The strikeout stuff is electric, and the movement he generates on pitches makes him look untouchable at times. He walked too many batters last year and was prone to the home run, but neither of those things is shocking for such a young talent. Cabrera will be 25 this season, but if the Twins feel they can work with him and get more as he develops, this is probably the cream of Miami’s crop of young hurlers.
    Without knowing the degree of desired return for Miami’s latter assets, it’s hard to know what path forward could serve Minnesota best. It would hurt losing Arráez to Miami, but he’s also a perfect fit for the openings they currently have on their 26-man roster. The Twins don’t have a substantial amount of top-end prospect capital that they would be willing to trade, but there are a few major league assets they could part with.
    It is likely that Minnesota will be active on the trade market, and bringing in an arm is the most logical move. There was nearly a fit here before, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see that opportunity present itself again.
  6. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Twins Current 40-Man Roster Projection Just a Plaintive Howl of Longing, Despair   
    With the calendar reading 2023, it’s hard not to think of spring training. And with a free agent class essentially picked clean and the trade rumors silent, it’s hard not to wonder who, exactly, is going to be on the Minnesota Twins come April. At least one source has run the numbers and is startled at the findings.
    “Usually, I base these outlooks on the current roster, the farm system, free agents, the needs of other teams, and payroll,” said Aaron Gleeman, The Athletic’s Minnesota Twins correspondent and world record holder for most takeout duck sauce packets in one refrigerator (354). “The thing is, what always comes back is a major league roster. This time…”
    Gleeman’s voice trailed off.
    “Here, I’ll open the spreadsheet.”
    Rather than columns of names, positions, ages, and salaries, the screen cut to black, a black as eternal and smothering as a starless winter night. From the laptop speakers came what at first sounded like a low moan. It soon escalated into a mournful, broken howl. The sound, not quite human, not quite animal, made clear it was no stranger to the depths of sorrow.
    After 25-30 seconds, the sound ended. A picture of former Twin Chuck Knoblauch getting pelted with hot dogs at the Metrodome appeared, and Twins radio broadcaster Dan Gladden said, “This roster projection brought to you by Minnesota Rusco, since 1965.”
    “I can’t explain any of this,” said Gleeman. “I mean, I’m as skeptical of the state of the roster right now as anyone, but I just kinda figured it would come back with Michael Wacha and Elvis Andrus or something, you know? The machine doesn’t usually do this.”
    Fellow beat writers and columnists report similar troubling results.
    “I had to file my first spring training preview for Sunday’s paper,” said the Star Tribune’s Phil Miller. “I sent it to my editors, and they said, ‘Ha ha, very funny.’ I asked them to clarify, and they said ‘This is the Book of Revelations, Phil.’ I checked the original document, and sure enough. Nothing about what I wrote on Royce Lewis, but a whole sidebar regarding pestilence.”
    “I heard about Aaron’s issue so figured I’d just take a look at my own files,” said Betsy Helfand of the Pioneer Press. “All my notes are there, but they’re in Latin. The letters are blood red. I don’t know any Latin, and Alden Global Capital (the hedge fund that owns the Pioneer Press) doesn’t give us laptops that display color.”
    The Twins open their spring training schedule on Saturday, February 25th.
  7. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Melissa Berman for an article, I Went to 57 Twins Games in 2022. Here's What I Noticed   
    1. Never underestimate the draw of the Brewers series, Blue Jays series, and Prince Night. By the eye test and official numbers, these games drew the largest crowds of the year by far- even more than Opening Day (which was quite chilly this year). It is incredible how well Brewers and Toronto fans travel, which is likely because Target Field is closer for many members of the “Brew Crew” and Toronto fanbases than Miller Park in Milwaukee or Rogers Centre in Toronto.
    When I arrived for these games, I was shocked at how difficult it was to find parking, how packed the concourses were, and how much Brewers and Blue Jays Blue filled the seats. Make a mental note to leave lots of extra time if you plan on attending one of these games next season.  
    2. But otherwise, attendance was lackluster this year. Even with the Twins battling for the top of the division for much of the season, in 2022, the Twins finished 20th in MLB attendance, averaging 22,514 fans per game. In 2019, the Bomba Squad season, the Twins brought in about 28,000 fans per game. Truthfully, many games felt much emptier than that 22,000 figure, especially weekday games and games in the spring and September. However, entire seating sections were empty on beautiful summer nights, too.   We know that team performance impacts attendance, but with the Twins playing competitive baseball the majority of the season, I was often surprised just how empty Target Field felt for many games. There were almost never any security or bathroom lines, and there was always plenty of space in the concourse, so that when games were busy, it was almost jarring.   The Twins tried to compensate for the low attendance by running a myriad of bargain ticket deals at various points during the season. These included a limited-time sale in which fans could buy $4 upper level tickets to any weekday game during the season, and expanding college ticket night to every night in September. 3. Fans love post-game concerts, and the Twins should do more in the future. Maybe the most fun idea the Twins had all season was to host a free full-length concert after one of their games. In August, Twins fans who hung around after a Twins- Blue Jays game sang along to a 75-minute show by country music artist Cole Swindell.
    Even though I’m not a country music fan, the show quality was excellent, and the reviews from fans were almost universally positive (except from the Twins fans who were annoyed by the sudden influx cowboy hat-clad music fans traipsing up and down the aisles during the game). Because the Twins have not done much to whip up excitement among their fans via trades and the free agent market this offseason, they should consider treating fans to more shows or promotions in the future to get them in the doors.
    4. This season had two of the craziest weather games in recent memory. The most memorable game I went to all year was only three innings: the Twins rainout vs. the Houston Astros on Star Wars Night, May 11. I remember evacuating into the lower level concourse and watching the wind blow the rain in sheets with a ferocity I had never before seen.
    I jotted down everything I noticed and heard using my cell phone notes app. I sloshed back to my car, arrived at my apartment, and found that the power was out, so I wrote my narrative account of the game’s chaotic events while sitting in the dark. The result was perhaps my favorite piece I wrote this year.
    To be fair, I attended the game knowing that some wild weather was going to blow in, and I wanted to see what happened. I was surprised they chose to play the game at all.
    After this, I thought I would not see such severe weather at a game for a long time, but similar severe weather blew in on July 12, seemingly out of nowhere and on the first night of the Brewers series. I remember being trapped on the upper-level concourse (people packed into the stairwells, bathrooms, and indoor areas seeking shelter from the wind and blowing rain) while being sprayed with cold rain blown by the high winds.
    A major takeaway I had from these rainy games is how unbelievable Target Field's water drainage system is; the Twins were able to resume the game after about an hour delay. No one likes rain delays, but everyone loves Club Rayne. 

    Calm after the storm as seen from Target Field during rain delay on July 12
    5. Target Field upped the fanfare this season. Late in the 2022 season, Target Field began dimming the lights during Jhoan Duran’s entrance song. To my knowledge, the Twins have never done that for a pitcher, especially one who is not a closer. Jorge Lopez also got the dimmed lights treatment with his horror movie-themed walkout. Walkout songs have always been a bit of a show (remember Fernando Rodney's electric entrance?), but they became their own spectacle this season due in part to the Mets’ Edwin Diaz’s viral walkout song "Narco." Pitcher entrances across the league became their show within the show this season, and the Twins kept pace.  
    In addition, 2022 was the first season in which TC Bear drove around the perimeter of the field in an ATV after every win carrying a "Twins Win!" flag. The Twins also premiered a giant t-shirt cannon called the "Mall of America Blaster," which they shot from the same place on the rightfield concourse every game.
    6. The “5 Lookalikes” bit was the best new thing at the stadium. Whether it’s Chubbs Peterson from “Happy Gilmore,” Captain Kangaroo (ask your parents), Jay Leno/Paul Allen, or Iceman from Top Gun, it is incredible how Twins staff can spot fans in the crowd and accurately match them up with a celebrity or fictional character that they resemble. Though some comparisons are closer than others, many of the lookalikes were borderline uncanny. Seeing the unsuspecting doppelganger’s reaction to noticing themselves up on the big screen was priceless.
    7. Seeing the Twins play at an away ballpark is unbridled joy. Perhaps my favorite experience of this year, baseball or not, was seeing the Twins play the Chicago White Sox on October 3 at Guaranteed Rate Field. I have been to Twins spring training several times, but this was the first time I had seen the Twins play in another city. Being a visiting fan in an opposing ballpark, “enemy territory,” was a unique and exhilarating feeling.
    I was proud to wear my Twins jersey and hat even though the Twins were way out of the division race by that point, and it was fun high-fiving other Twins fans I came across in the stadium. I thought Guaranteed Rate Field was beautiful. Before the game, we went and got Chicago-style pizza at a place called Ricobenes near the stadium and tailgated outside the stadium in Lot B.
    8. The Twins should consider doing Hall of Fame ceremonies before the game or at least clearly advertise when the game is actually going to start. Look, I get it; the Twins do not want an empty house when Twins greats like Dan Gladden and Ron Gardenhire walk up to take the podium at their Twins Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies. At the same time, it makes for an exceptionally long day for fans, especially those with children, when the game starts an hour after it was advertised.
    Watching Dan Gladden’s acceptance speech on a sunny Sunday, Kids Day, at Target Field, I was surrounded by squirming children. Hall of Fame ceremonies are not a regular occurrence for the Twins, but maybe in the future, the Twins should clearly state that the listed start time of the game is actually the start of the ceremony.
    9. The Twins have its littlest fans to thank for their packed attendance during day games. If you’re not a fan of little kids, and lots of them, day games during the summer are probably not for you. The entire upper deck at many day games consisted almost solely of kids’ day camps, all wearing their matching camp t-shirts. Their unified “Let’s Go Twins!” chants were adorable and impressive. 
    10. Some of the favorite moments I saw at Target Field in 2022: Royce Lewis' first MLB home run- a grand slam- on May 13; Gary Sánchez's grand slam on April 10; the Twins' walkoff win vs the White Sox in the 10th inning on April 24; Max Kepler's grand slam on May 23, which was the 1000th home run hit by a Twins player at Target Field; the Twins hitting back-to-back-to back home runs on June 9; Louie Varland's home debut on September 23.
    11. There are some really special people at Target Field. From the more visible figures like Target Field staple Sue Nelson on organ and the local artist Kickliy to those behind the scenes, like Bally Sports audio engineer Chris Tveitbakk, who mixes the sound for every Twins home game broadcast from the Bally truck behind Target Field, we are lucky to have so many unique, interesting, and passionate people working at the ballpark. 
    12. No matter how the Twins are playing, there is no better place to be than Target Field on a summer night. You’re reading Twins Daily; it’s evident that you care deeply about the success of the team. I do too. But every season, no matter where the team is in the standings, I stand by the fact that Target Field is the best place to be on a beautiful summer night.
    Despite going to 56 games at Target Field, sometimes as many as six in a week, I never got tired of going. I never grew bored of the skyline views, the post-game fireworks, Sue Nelson on the organ, Minnie and Paul shaking hands after a win, or the Dollar Dogs. There is just so much to love about Target Field, and time spent with friends and loved ones at a baseball game is never time wasted. 
    Happy 2023! Thank you much for reading my work this year and all your kind and thoughtful comments. Joining Twins Daily had been such a joy. Here's to a year filled with lots of baseball, Twins wins, and for me, maybe 60 in-person games!
     
  8. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Theo Tollefson for an article, Twins Re-sign Coulombe to Minor League Deal   
    MINNEAPOLIS – The Twins have re-signed left-handed reliever Danny Coulombe to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, as reported by Betsy Helfand of the Pioneer Press. 
    Coulombe, 33, has been with the Twins organization since 2020, appearing in 41 relief appearances over the last three season and posting a 2.92 ERA in 49.1 innings pitched in that time. 
    The Twins bullpen is still light on left-handed relievers with Caleb Thielbar and Jovani Moran as the only two with MLB service time on the 40-man roster. The other lefty currently on the 40-man is Brent Headrick, who spent his 2022 season as a starter between High A Cedar Rapids and Double A Wichita. 
    Coulombe pitched in only 10 games for the Twins in 2022 before being shutdown for the season due to injury. 
     
  9. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Projecting the Next Organizations to Sign and Back Away from Carlos Correa   
    Once is a fluke. Twice is a trend. That’s all we really know about the state of Carlos Correa’s future employment and the ankle he injured a decade ago. Nine-figure deals with the Giants and Mets have either evaporated completely or exist in some kind of limbo. The Twins reportedly had limited interest in a reunion after the San Francisco signing fell through, despite their stated desire to sign him long term.
    Something’s up. Fortunately, Twins Daily has access to the kind of advanced metrics other baseball websites can only dream of. Using these bleeding-edge tools, we’ve been able to project the next organizations that will sign Correa to a massive long-term contract, only for it to instantly go sideways.
    The Pittsburgh Pirates. Reason: Thought it was Kevin Correia. Honest mistake. The Chicago White Sox. Reason: Team wants to save money for giving Tony La Russa one last shot at managing the game on the field versus the one happening in his mind palace. “He’s a Hall of Famer,” said team source. The Oakland Athletics. Reason: Signing ceremony postponed due to monthly raw sewage leak. The Miami Marlins. Reason: Correa would have to find location for hideous outfield home run sculpture and pay movers. "A dealbreaker," said Boras. The 1986 New York Mets. Reason: Boras, Correa refuse to be paid in cocaine. The Miami Heat. Reason: Only shoots mid-range jumpers. The Green Bay Packers. Reasons: Scott Boras balks at payment in worthless company stock; Correa thinks Kroll’s butter burgers are overcooked, has also never played football. Waffle House, Walterboro, SC location. Reason: Being on feet all day while catching chairs in midair enhances injury risk. The Fellowship of the Ring. Reason: Journey on foot to Mordor exacerbates stress on leg in question; Boras demands standard percentage of The One Ring, Isildur’s Bane, which was forged in the fires of Mount Doom and only there can be destroyed. Image license here.
  10. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, 5 Reasons the Minnesota Twins Will Win in 2023   
    As Derek Falvey and Thad Levine look to reinvigorate Rocco Baldelli’s clubhouse, the goal for Minnesota will be to have their first winning season since 2020. While Covid gave Major League Baseball just a 60-game season, the Twins were still riding high from the 2019 Bomba Squad. That luster has now long worn off, and the fan base responded by generating the worst attendance since 2001.
    There is reason to believe, even in losing Carlos Correa, that the 2023 Twins will turn the tide and finish with a winning record. Here’s a few reasons to get on board with that notion:
    1. Better Health
    There may be no team that had a worse case of injury luck than the Twins. The injured list could’ve won a considerable amount of games on its own as a team, and each time someone got healthy someone else got hurt. The organization decided to turn the page for the training staff and brought in Nick Paparesta with hopes of better results. We will have to take a wait and see approach when deciding what the actual impact is, but it’s unlikely that the same level of injury will be replicated year over year. Luck isn’t something Minnesota sports teams typically have on their side, but even a bit less bad luck would be welcomed in the year ahead.
    2. Youth Development
    As much as the Twins need to bring in new talent, much of their internal pipeline has graduated to the big league roster. Alex Kirilloff and Royce Lewis are two of the most highly anticipated prospects for the franchise, and while both have yet to see health at the Major League level, they have the talent to compete. Combined with Trevor Larnach, Jose Miranda, and potentially even Brooks Lee in 2023, there is a substantial amount of home-grown contributors. The success of this organization in the immediate future will be largely reflective of how much each young player can tap into their ceiling.
    3. Redo Tight Ones
    In 2022, the Twins went 20-28 in one-run games. Despite nearly an identical overall record in 2021, Baldelli’s club went 25-19 in one-run games. Obviously winning close games comes down to a multitude of factors. Minnesota did a poor job closing out games last season, and they also failed quite often with runners in scoring position. The former is a reflection of bullpen talent, but the latter is more likely an outlier given the overall lineup ability. When the Bomba Squad pulled off their 101-win season, they went 23-12 in one-run games. Being on the right side of tight ones obviously raises the water level as a whole, but it doesn’t have to be a substantial amount. Minnesota being .500 in one-run games a season ago would’ve kept them in the division and afforded a winning record.
    4. Pitching Depth
    For the first time in quite a while the Twins have a pitching pipeline that we haven’t seen. Kenta Maeda returns to an Opening Day rotation alongside Tyler Mahle, Sonny Gray, and Joe Ryan. The front office should really add another impact starter, but having arms like Bailey Ober, Josh WInder, Simeon Woods Richardson, and Louie Varland provides a nice safety blanket. One would hope that 38 different arms aren’t needed in 2023, but we also shouldn’t see a scenario in which a Chi Chi Gonzalez type is called upon.
    5. Division Door Open
    As has been the case for the past few years, there should be no clear favorite in the AL Central. While the Chicago White Sox have found themselves in the driver’s seat at times, and Minnesota has won it twice in the past four years, Cleveland surprised in 2022. With Tony La Russa out Chicago should be better managed, but the talent level could be argued to have slipped some. The Guardians are a team to be reckoned with as they have developed talent, but they certainly aren’t a juggernaut. Both the Tigers and Royals will want to take a step forward, but neither should pose a huge threat yet. A three-team race for the division crown will likely be tightly contested for the better part of the season.
    Everyone involved with the organization is hoping for a tide-turning season. The offseason plans may not have gone to perfection thus far, but results on the field could be drastically different simply because of who is already employed by this team. Minnesota didn't fall off a cliff talent-wise in a season, and righting the ship in 2023 remains a solid possibility.
  11. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, The Twins Know They Need Pitching, Right?   
    Carlos Correa was the focal point of the Minnesota Twins offseason thus far, and while they may have pivoted to Dansby Swanson, both are now gone and heavy lifting needs to be done. Joey Gallo is a fine addition to the offense, but it’s on the mound that we’ve yet to see anything of substance.
    There was never a reason to believe that Jacob deGrom or Justin Verlander were going to come pitch for the Twins. You could make an argument that Chris Bassitt or Noah Syndergaard made a good deal of sense, however. Derek Falvey has now provided the system with a decent amount of depth, to the point that a Jameson Taillon or Taijuan Walker contract may have been unnecessary, but top of the rotation help is still needed.
    With Sonny Gray, Tyler Mahle, Kenta Maeda, and Joe Ryan firmly entrenched in the Opening Day rotation, finding someone to join the highest level of that group is a must. Earlier this month I reported that the Twins were in talks with the Miami Marlins regarding Pablo Lopez. Sandy Alcantara is certainly not on the table, and although the Marlins are open to moving Edward Cabrera and Jesus Luzardo, it’s the already established pitcher that caught Minnesota’s eye.
    You can certainly debate whether Lopez is as good as Gray, but the two are much closer than one may think. Lopez has largely flown under the radar playing for an organization stuck in mediocrity, and he brings multiple years of team control to an acquiring team as well. Getting in the fold with a more progressive-thinking Twins organization could help him to unlock another gear, and considering the current state of performance, that’s a pretty exciting reality.
    Like it or not, the Marlins discussions with regards to Lopez largely hinged on the acquisition of Luis Arraez. Miami needs bats, and although Max Kepler could also fit there, he’s not enough to move the needle. From what I’ve now been told, much of this trade has been scrapped. The two sides haven’t had recent discussions, and although they could resume at any time, the Twins have since begun looking elsewhere.
    For the front office, elsewhere could mean plenty of things. What it likely doesn’t mean is the free agent market. Only former Boston Red Sox pitcher Nathan Eovaldi would seem to push the ceiling for Minnesota, and there’s been little reported that either side is moving in a positive direction toward one another. Zack Greinke and Corey Kluber remain available as veteran types, but again it’s hard to consider either a guaranteed lift to Minnesota’s group.
    The biggest trade chip possessed by the Twins is probably that of Arraez. His value across the league is not at all that of what is presumed by most Twins fans, but he could still be packaged to acquire a talented arm. That probably is not true of Kepler, and I don’t get the sense that Minnesota wants to dangle someone such as Jorge Polanco at this time. Maybe the depth pieces like Simeon Woods Richardson, Bailey Ober, or Josh Winder could be turned into someone with a Major League track record, but that seems unlikely as well.
    Given the state of free agency, it still seems most likely that Minnesota will flip pieces to get their pitching acquisition. How they go about that, given the recent moves sending guys like Chase Petty, Spencer Steer, and Christian Encarnacion-Strand all out, will be interesting in and of itself. Having spent most of the winter watching from the sidelines as they awaited a Correa decision, the Twins now have their work cut out for them, and we’ll need to be patient seeing what they can pull off.
  12. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Twins Had a Chance to Get Back in the Carlos Correa Mix, and Passed   
    In a tremendously reported new article for The Athletic, Andy McCullough and Ken Rosenthal bring us a revealing account of the latest stunning twist in Carlos Correa's bizarre free agency saga. 
    On Tuesday, about one week after agreeing to terms with Correa on a $350 million, we learned the Giants were postponing an introductory press conference for the signature signing, over concerns surfaced in his physical. Suddenly, the deal appeared to be in doubt. 
    Sure enough, it completely fell through, and by the time we awoke this morning Correa had already agreed to a lesser deal with the Mets: 12 years, $315 million. It all happened so quickly, we wondered if the Twins – reportedly one of the two finalists for CC before Steve Cohen entered the fray – ever even had the chance to jump back in. 
    It turns out, they did. And they decided against it.
    Per The Athletic, as Boras revived discussions with Cohen and the Mets, he "also contacted the Twins."
    "The presence of the Mets gave Boras leverage," according to the reporting. "If Minnesota wanted Correa, Boras conveyed, the team needed to improve its earlier offer – even though Correa appeared compromised with the Giants. The Twins would not have advanced the conversation without investigating the potential issues caused by Correa’s physical. The team did not intend to increase its bid beyond 10 years and $285 million. So Boras stuck with the man in Hawaii (Cohen)."
    So there you have it. I'm not sure anyone can hold the Twins front office at fault in this situation, given that they merely appear to have been doing their due diligence. Why increase your offer after some mysterious issue was flagged and torpedoed an historic deal?
    That's not to say they intended to increase their offer even if the medicals checked out – sure sounds like they had reached their definitive max. But at the very least they were within their rights to take a beat and figure out what's going on.
    Alas, that wasn't to be, because – for whatever reason – Boras is in a sudden rush to get this thing done. And that is strange to me. He's typically an agent known for exercising extreme patience in order to get his clients the best deal possible. 
    Now he's giving up $35 million from the first agreed-upon contract to settle for a lesser deal with New York, because – in Boras' own words – the Giants wanted to conduct more investigation on the second-largest contract in major-league history. "They advised us they still had questions," he said. "They still wanted to talk to other people, other doctors, go through it."
    Sounds like the Twins sang a similar tune, and that was also a deal-breaker. 
    Based on the information currently out there, it's easy to hold the Giants accountable as incompetent and noncommittal fools in this situation. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that, "It sounds as if there was a very old Correa injury - pre MLB - that was raised as a potential issue. It has not cropped up again. None of Correa’s other physical issues have required medical intervention or ongoing treatment."
    Slusser adds: "If this was a true medical concern, it sounds a little tenuous - and if it was a matter of cold feet, that’s usually ownership. Not the front office."
    Doesn't sound so good for the Giants. But then, the information being relayed to Slusser is pretty clearly coming from Boras – notably, she was quick to tweet initially that Correa's medial issue did NOT involve his back, at a time when no other details were emerging – and the team has thus far been silent.
    One report from Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area indicates that the Giants were concerned about a previous ankle injury that required surgery and insertion of a metal plate, as I speculated yesterday while recalling that the injury had been stirred up during a stolen base attempt with the Twins this past season.
     
    Clearly, the Giants were ready to sign Correa. They certainly had the money after missing out on Aaron Judge. An agreement was in place. The press conference was scheduled and ready to go. 
    Something spooked them. And given the circumstances, Minnesota's front office wasn't going to blindly dive back in, to the extent they were ever interested in hanging with New York. So as of now, Correa is lined up to play alongside Francisco Lindor, at third base for the Mets. 
    Given all that's happened, it's hard to take for granted that's what will play out. But either way it now seems clearer than ever it's time for the Twins to move on.
  13. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Sherry Cerny for an article, Too Many Outfielders, Another Perplexing Acquisition for the Twins   
    Getting rid of Gio Urshela was the let-down of the off-season for me. Urshela came in quietly, didn’t say much, but he let his defense and at-bats speak for themselves. He quickly became a fan favorite and had the whole stadium singing his walk up song’s chorus, “Take this world and give me GIO” with every at-bat. While Urshela had one more year of arbitration remaining, he was due for a big raise and earned it. Urshela hit .285/.338/.429 with 27 doubles and 13 home runs, Two of those homers were walk-offs. The Twins wanted to make as much room as they could to contend for shortstop, Carlos Correa, who ultimately went to the Giants. 
    Urshela’s absence will give Jose Miranda a well-deserved opportunity at third base. So the trade is not illogical. However, when Correa signed with the Giants, it made the Gio trade extremely frustrating; but now, the trade is frustrating and perplexing.  On Friday, the Twins signed Joey Gallo to a one year, $11 million contract. Why would the Twins get rid of a steady contributor to the lineup and defense only to bring in a player who really struggled with the bat in 2022? Urshela may have saved them a few bucks in the chase for Correa, but he would have been the better investment.
    Gallo certainly has talent, but he also spent 2022 between the Yankees and the Dodgers with a mortifyingly low batting average of .162 for the season. When he does hit the ball, he has power and sits in the 94th percentile for hard hit balls. If he is unable to produce at the plate, he can still provide value with his defensive play. 
    Seeing Double
    More than likely Gallo would play one of the corners of the outfield positions alongside Byron Buxton, but if there is one thing the Twins already have - it’s a lot of left-handed hitting outfielders including Nick Gordon, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Mark Contreras, and Matt Wallner The Twins also currently have another outfielder who plays good defense but finds his batting average near the Mendoza Line. 
    Max Kepler has been the subject of trade rumors during the offseason. Kepler struggled with the bat but was a finalist for AL Gold Glove in right field in 2022, a far cry from his breakout 2019 season. Kepler, like most of the 2022 roster, fought injuries and missed most of the season's final month. 
    Both Gallo and Kepler are often mentioned as it relates to the new shift rules coming in 2023. There is some thought that those two hitters in particular lost hits because of the shifting tendencies. Will it help? Can both be on the same roster? 
    More potential crazy trade options
    It is possible that Gallo may be a replacement for Kepler if he is traded this offseason. Another option is making one the primary DH, though it is likely Luis Arraez will get a lot of DH plate appearances and Byron Buxton will get time there too. Maybe Minnesota can be a place where Gallo can bounce back and flourish. 
    With the rest of the outfield and much younger prospects like Trevor Larnach, Alex Kirilloff, Gilberto Celestino, Royce Lewis, Nick Gordon, Matt Wallner and Mark Contreras, any one (or multiple) of them could be a part of a package deal to get more starting pitching, or any pitching period. 
    But if the Twins don’t trade Kepler, there are two outfielders with similar stats, bats and love to hit into the gaps. 
    Once again, the Twins front office leaves fans scratching their heads with confusion, too many players in the outfield, no Gio, and there is still eight weeks until pitchers and catchers report.
  14. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins Need a Minnesota Miracle   
    On Saturday, the Minnesota Vikings fell behind the Indianapolis Colts, 33-0 at halftime. The team was frankly very bad in all aspects of the game. The defense bent and broke. Special teams allowed a blocked punt and a few long returns. The offense didn't get much going at all, and when they did, it ended in either a fumble, or a wide receiver just stopping a route that led to an interception. It was really, really bad. 
    Twins fans, does this sound familiar? The first half of the Twins offseason has not been good for the Twins or its fans. Let me count the ways: 
    Carlos Correa and Scott Boras did a great job of maximizing his value over the course of the offseason. The Twins felt really good about their chances of signing the All Star shortstop. Last Monday, there were reports that he was starting to tell people he was heading to Minnesota. Then on Tuesday, the Giants offered 13 years and $350 million, and he signed. We can't know everything that went on behind the scenes, of course, but no question the front office had to be disappointed. Many fans are still going through the coping process.  Before Correa signed, one fallback plan, Xander Bogaerts, signed with the Padres for 11 years and $180 million. That came a few days after Trea Turner signed an 11 year, $300 million deal. Those contracts, of course, bumped out the value of a Correa contract.  It also bumped up the value of the Twins remaining fallback option for an impact shortstop. While the Twins had several conversations over the past week with Dansby Swanson, the former Vanderbilt Commodore and Atlanta Braves star, he ultimately signed this weekend with the Chicago Cubs.  While Kyle Farmer is a solid MLB player and shortstop, he probably won't set a lot of tickets.  Obviously the Twins weren't going to be involved in negotiations with free agent starting pitchers Jacob deGrom, Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Adam Wainwright, but for whatever reason, they were involved in negotiations with Carlos Rodon and his agent, Scott Boras. As we know, Boras used the contracts of those big deals, specifically the deGrom deal, to request seven years and up to $30 million. While the Twins and Cardinals stayed involved in discussions, the lefty signed with the Yankees for six years and $162 million.  And again, while those conversations were happening, the Twins saw the likes of Chris Bassitt signed with the Blue Jays (3 years, $63 million). Others who signed that would have fit the Twins goal of acquiring pitchers that are at least as good as Sonny Gray: Jameson Taillon (Cubs, 4 years, $68 million), Taijuan Walker (Phillies, 4 years, $72 million), Jose Quintana (Mets, 2 years, $26 million), Andrew Heaney (Rangers, 2 years, $25 million), Sean Manaea (Giants, 2 years, $25 million), Zach Eflin (Rays, 3 years, $40 million), Ross Stripling (Giants, 2 years, $24 million),  At this time, there is literally one remaining free agent starting pitcher that could be argued would be the Twins top starter. That's Nathan Eovaldi, who throws gas and can be very good, but he hasn't been a beacon of health himself.  And to make matters worse for Twins fans, reports have come out over the past couple of weeks that the Twins would certainly consider trading Luis Arraez to acquire pitching. No matter how good the pitcher the Twins got, losing Arraez would be painful for a lot of fan.  Another fan favorite, at times, has been Max Kepler, and his name has bounced around in trade rumors. As with Arraez, there may be good reason to look to deal Kepler, but many fans will be greatly disappointed.  On Friday afternoon, it was announced that the Twins had a deal with outfielder Joey Gallo for one year and $11 million. As @Nick Nelson noted this weekend, Gallo hit Rock Bottom in 2022 (I know, I know... at least he made contact! <rimshot>) when he hit just .160 between the Yankees and Dodgers. However, in 2021, between the Rangers and Yankees, he hit .199/.351/.458 (.808) with 38 home runs, and that's even after he really struggled over the final two months if New York. Gallo was an All Star in 2019 and 2021. He won Gold Glove Awards in 2020 and 2021. He's one year removed from a very nice season. However, because of a terrible 2022, the low batting average and the massive strikeout count, it isn't a signing that makes many Twins fans happy.  And, in an article about Twins options following Correa's signing with the Giants. The Athletic's Dan Hayes mentioned several options for how the Twins offseason could go. One of the ideas was to take a step back by trading some veterans for prospects, essentially throwing the towel on the 2023 season, and hoping to compete again in 2024. While it is unlikely, it certainly isn't something any Twins fan wants to hear.   To be fair, the Twins did get their top choice at catcher when Christian Vazquez signed last week to team with Ryan Jeffers. They didn't lose anyone in the MLB Rule 5 draft. They moved from #13 to #5 in the 2023 draft thanks to MLB's first draft lottery. 
    Back to the Vikings... Down 33-0 coming into the second half, the team was incredible and almost inexplicably mounted the biggest comeback in NFL history and won 39-36 in overtime.  It was a second Minneapolis Miracle. Kirk Cousins use all of his weapons (Justin Jefferson, KJ Osborn, Adam Thielen, TJ Hockenson, Dalvin Cook) to throw for over 400 yards. The defense actually got aggressive and got pressure on Matt Ryan. They also stopped the run. And sure, a little luck was involved, but that's OK. Huge win, and it clinched the NFC North division title. 
    The Twins offseason is just a little over two months in, and spring training will start in about two more months (and the WBC, if you're into that). This is about halftime of baseball's offseason. Right now, the Twins offseason has been rough. 33-0 rough? I would say more like 31-7 rough, but that's probably just semantics. It has not been good for Twins fans. And as @Melissa Berman wrote last week, it might just be difficult to get fans back into the seats at Target Field if this continues. 
    However, since Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have been in charge of the Twins Baseball Operations group, halftime is often when they really start moving and shaking. We have seen them make deals in late January, throughout February, and even after spring training has started. Whatever we have guessed their budget might be (and this year, it should be somewhere between about $140-$155 million), they have managed to hit that number. 
    They are smart guys. Certainly they had contingency plans for if Carlos Correa signed elsewhere. And certainly Plan B options have been lost too. However, there is time, so don't give up completely on the offseason. 
    Aside from Eovaldi, free agency will likely not be the means to quality acquisition. Instead of just giving up money for players to sign, they will now have to trade players to acquire players. Can they trade for a quality starting pitcher, like Pablo Reyes from the Marlins, or one of the Brewers aces? Speaking of the Brewers, could Willy Adames be available? It's really hard to know which players are available, or how that will change over the course of the coming month or two.  (For more on Willy Adames, Corbin Burnes, Christian Yelich, Brandon Woodruff, Gus Varland, William Contreras, and the Brewers, check out Brewer Fanatic.) 
    The Minnesota Twins will need another Minnesota Miracle to turn around what has been a rough offseason so far for the team. In a market that includes teams from all four major professional sports leagues, a soccer team, a Big 10 school (U of Minnesota) and a second Division I college in St. Thomas, dollars can only be spent in so many places. And with half of the market or more unable to watch the Twins on TV, they need to find ways to compete. 
    Ultimately, it will be Winning that brings fans to the stadium. That is always the case. Sure, when a player of the caliber of Carlos Correa signs, some season tickets are sold, but sustained winning is what keeps fans coming back. Whether fans are excited about the offseason, what matters most is what happens on the field in the season. 
     
  15. Sad
    LewFordLives reacted to Theo Tollefson for an article, Minnesota Twins Sign Joey Gallo   
    MINNEAPOLIS – The Twins have signed outfielder Joey Gallo to a one-year, $11 million contract for the 2023 season, as Jeff Passan of ESPN reported.
    Gallo, 29, is a two-time American League all-star and Gold Glove winner. 2022 was Gallo’s worst to date as he posted a .160/.280/.357 triple slash and .638 OPS along with 19 home runs and 47 RBI in 126 games between the Yankees and Dodgers.  Gallo played 82 of his 126 games with the Yankees in 2022 before being traded on July 29, 2022, to the Dodgers, along with Joely Rodriguez for Trevor Hauver, Ezequiel Duran, Glenn Otto, and Josh Smith.
    Gallo is known for being one of the most frequent hitters, if not the most, to strike out at the plate. He is the definition of the three true outcome hitter which entails he will either strikeout, walk, or hit a home run anytime he is at the plate. Gallo had a strikeout percentage of 39.8% for 2022, his highest ever in a full season. 
    However, he also has 177 home runs in 2811 plate appearances, or better than one home run every 16 plate appearances. His career-high single-season home run total came in 2017 when he hit 41 with the Texas Rangers.  Also, despite his below-the-Mendoza line batting average, (career .199 hitter) he gets on-base; he’s posted a .325 OBP over his career.
    Now a member of the Twins, Gallo will likely be playing in the corner outfield positions, possibly sometime in center field with 56 career games at the position, and spend time as the designated hitter as well. He has also played at first base during his 8-year career. The addition of Gallo, another left-handed hitting outfielder, also places further emphasis on the future of Max Kepler as a Twin, as Gallo now becomes the seventh left-handed hitting outfielder on the Twins' 40-man roster. 
    Gallo has played 15 games at Target Field in his career and has posted a .263/.323/.632 triple slash with six home runs and 13 runs batted in 62 plate appearances. His .632 SLG percentage at Target Field is his highest in any Major League ballpark with a minimum of 40 plate appearances. 
    The deal comes four days after the Twins signed catcher Christian Vazquez to a three-year, $30 million contract, which was made official today.
  16. Haha
    LewFordLives reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Reaction Column for Anything That Happened with Carlos Correa Overnight   
    IF CORREA SIGNED WITH THE TWINS:
    Yesssssssssssssssssssssssssss. Yes. Yes. I told you, I told you, and I know I told you. Now let’s get a catcher and some more pitching. If I had a football I’d spike it.
    If CORREA SIGNED ELSEWHERE:
    Well. That sucks. Huh. Can Royce Lewis get healthy faster? What time do the Vikings play on Sunday? I’m not crying. You’re crying. Shut up.
    IF CORREA REMAINS UNSIGNED:
    OK. Well, I’m just going to keep refreshing Twitter obsessively. I wonder if anyone in my friend circle has Jeff Passan’s number. I bet he wouldn’t mind if I just shot him a quick text to ask what he’s really hearing, not that sanitized stuff he shares on ESPN. Come on, Jeff. Just tell me that Carlos Correa is coming home. Tell me, Jeff. Now, Jeff. Now.
    IF CORREA PULLED A REVERSE MICHAEL JORDAN AND TAKES UP BASKETBALL:
    I mean, when you can join the Sioux Falls Skyforce, why wouldn’t you? No state income tax, easy access to Brookings. Done and dusted.
    IF CORREA RETIRED TO PURSUE HIS TRUE PASSION, BIRD WATCHING:
    I’ve never trusted birds. Shifty eyes, beaks, always up to something. That said, I guess that’s OK? He doesn’t need the money, and I guess if I could just quit my job and follow my dream of writing the first ska musical about Alexander Hamilton, I’d do it too.
    IF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL WENT INSOLVENT AND FOLDED:
    I guess we can’t lose to the Yankees anymore.
    We can’t, right? Because this sucks already. I don’t need this.
    Image license here.
     
  17. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins Winter Meetings Preview   
    Here we are in the first days of December, and there are some fans who are already wondering if this has been a lost offseason for the Twins. Aside from the standard roster cleanup at the end of the season and the 40-man roster additions, the only moves made have been bringing back minor-league free agents Jair Camargo and Elliot Soto. 
    It is also important to note that the annual Winter Meetings are set up for league meetings, rules meetings, minor-league meetings and more. It is also a place where people will bring their resumes and meet with teams, hoping to get jobs or internships. Those looking for jobs in baseball will be dressed in suits and ties. GMs and media are often seen in business casual, if not shorts and a beach button down shirt. 
    If the season started today… 
    I think that it is always important to know the current status. That way, we are able to look at where the roster stands, and see where there are weaknesses and strengths. This is all stuff that the front office does, though much more in-depth and thoroughly than any of us. But for us, it’s where we’re starting. If the season started today, what would the roster look like? 

    C: Ryan Jeffers
    1B: Alex Kirilloff  
    2B: Jorge Polanco 
    3B: Jose Miranda 
    SS: Kyle Farmer  
    LF: Trevor Larnach 
    CF: Byron Buxton
    RF: Max Kepler 
    DH: Luis Arraez 

    More 40-Man Options: Edouard Julien, Gilberto Celestino, Mark Contreras, Matt Wallner, Kyle Garlick, 
    Injured: Royce Lewis. 
    Upper-Level, Non-40-Man Roster: David Banuelos, Jair Camargo, Alex Isola, Chris Williams, Michael Helman. Austin Martin, Brooks Lee, 

    SP: Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Kenta Maeda, Tyler Mahle, Bailey Ober 
    RP: Jhoan Duran, Jorge Lopez, Caleb Thielbar, Griffin Jax, Jorge Alcala, Emilio Pagan, Jovani Moran, Trevor Megill.

    More 40-Man Options: Jordan Balazovic, Blayne Enlow, Brent Headrick, Ronny Henriquez, Cole Sands, Louie Varland, Josh Winder, Simeon Woods Richardson
    Injured: Chris Paddack, Matt Canterino
    Upper-Level, Non-40-Man Roster: Evan Sisk, Randy Dobnak,Austin Schulfer, Kody Funderburk, Steven Cruz, Cody Laweryson
    Roster Needs
    1.) Shortstop - Obviously the big talker this week, as it has been the last month or more, is what will happen with Carlos Correa? While the Twins have made offers, Correa is going to have many offers. In my opinion, he’ll get 10 years from someone, and I would guess that he would get a number very close to the $325 million that Corey Seager got just a year ago. The Twins love Correa. Correa clearly enjoyed his time with the Twins and developed some very strong relationships in the Twins organization. It may simply come down to money, and the fact that teams like the Dodgers, Yankees, Padres, Phillies, Braves, and Cubs are other teams looking to sign a shortstop, it will be very hard for the Twins to compete with those teams. Could he be willing to get creative to stay with the Twins?  
    So what is the fallback plan? The Twins were aggressive in bringing in Kyle Farmer. If he’s the Twins opening day shortstop, the Twins will be fine, but that is the proverbial floor that they have set. They clearly want Correa. If they don’t get him, I think they’ll continue their conversations with Scott Boras in hopes of signing Xander Bogaerts. You could argue that dollar-for-dollar, that would be a better investment. Bogaerts is only a year younger than Correa, has had a remarkable career in Boston already, and will likely make $100 million less than Correa. The Twins front office clearly has a strong relationship with the Boras agency, so while odds may be low, it’s OK for Twins fans to have some hope in bringing one of them in. 
    2.) A top starting pitcher - Forced to fill innings and starts in 2022, the Twins gave opportunities to several young starting pitchers. Joe Ryan was the Opening Day starter, and when Bailey Ober was healthy, he pitched well. With the emergence of Varland, Henriquez, Winder, and Woods Richardson, the need to sign veteran fifth starter options to eat innings should not be there. That is especially true when looking at the eight-figure contracts signed last week by Mike Clevinger and Matthew Boyd. 
    Can the Twins count on their starters being healthy in 2023? While it would surely be nice to assume that Kenta Maeda will return from Tommy John and pitch like he did in 2020, that’s probably not fair. Tyler Mahle made just four starts before his shoulder issues continued, but if he’s healthy, he would likely be their top pitcher. Sonny Gray ended the season in the Injured List with a hamstring issue. Bailey Ober had two long stints on the IL with leg issues. If healthy, this rotation can be pretty solid. Maybe no number one starters, but potentially a couple of solid #2s and a couple more solid #3s. The youngsters can be the as-needed starters, working to improve their readiness in St. Paul. 
    If the Twins can add a true #1 starter, that would be huge. The problem is Jacob de Grom inexplicably got five guaranteed seasons from the Rangers. Justin Verlander will either pitch for Houston again or in New York. The only other ace available in free agency is lefty Carlos Rodon, an injury-risk in his own right. Is that the move? Risks are very high with free-agent pitchers. Between one-third and one-half of the 30 teams in the league will be after the southpaw. How strong a starter could the Twins hope for in free agency? Is the trade route a possibility for the Twins? 
    3.) Backup catcher - I know, the front office and others have said that they would like to add a catcher to split time with Ryan Jeffers or even be a starter. I’m admittedly a big believer in Jeffers. I don’t see a big problem at all. For me, I much prefer they find a solid left-handed hitting catcher to start maybe 60 games while Jeffers gets the other 100 starts. 
    Willson Contreras would be fun and provide strong offense, but I don’t think they need to spend four years and $80 million on a catcher. Christian Vasquez may get $10-12 million annually over a year or two.Both are right handed. Omar Narvaez makes a lot of sense. To a lesser degree, Tucker Barnhart might make sense. I would be fine with them. Honestly, I’d also be intrigued by the likes of Austin Hedges and Mike Zunino, or Roberto Perez or Kevin Plawecki. Really, once you get past Contreras, there aren’t really many catchers that can hit, so they should grab another strong defensive catcher that is well respected. As I mentioned, I’m a big believer in Jeffers, and that includes his bat. Yes, it would be good to see him hovering around .240 instead of .200, but he has the power to hit 20 or more homers if he gets 100 starts. How many catchers can do that? 
    Other Things to Consider
    Where should the Twins payroll be? While there aren’t great or exact public records for MLB team’s books, if they are to be in the player preferred 48-52% of revenue, the Twins should probably be somewhere between $150 and $165 million in 2023.  Will the Twins be able to trade veteran Max Kepler? Should they?  Are there other veterans that could be traded? Maybe even Jorge Polanco?  Will the team add some solid veteran relievers? Adding even just one more reliable arm for the late innings would help and provide depth for the unforeseen. Or, could they move some of their intriguing starting pitcher prospects to the bullpen to work in roles where they can pitch 2-4 innings at a time?  The Twins tendered a 2023 contract to Emelio Pagan, but they will certainly try to trade him during the offseason. Can they get anything for him?  Do the Twins need to add speed to their roster in the offseason to take advantage of some of the new rules coming in 2023?  Will the Twins make a Rule 5 draft pick? Could they potentially lose players in the Rule 5 draft? They protected four players - and traded one of them - but there are players that the Twins could lose.  To this point, the Twins have added a solid MLB shortstop (and a potentially very nice utility piece) in Kyle Farmer. They have a lot of work to do and a lot of difficult questions to answer. Shortstop will certainly be the focus, but will any of the Big 4 free agent shortstops look to sign this early in the offseason? The Twins should also be looking at high-level starting pitching, and they would be wise to add at least one more reliable reliever. Finally, they need to add a reliable catcher to team with Ryan Jeffers. 
    Of course, the Winter Meetings are often more of a time for rumors and conversations to set things up for the next few weeks. The Twins did already make one move this offseason that we all hope will have a huge impact on the organization. In hiring head athletic trainer Nick Paparest, the hope is that the Twins will be able to avoid the massive amount of lost time due to injuries. If that can happen, it could play a huge role in the Twins success in 2023. 
    Some of this may be answered over the coming days in San Diego, and talks will continue right through spring training. It should be a lot of fun. 
  18. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Your Guide to the Worst Black Friday Deals in Twins Territory   
    As you battle your fellow Minnesotans for the last Rosedale parking spot, hoping the sporting goods store has an XL Byron Buxton Twin Cities jersey you can drop half a paycheck on, you should know that there are many other online and brick-and-mortar outlets showcasing their wares for you, the hardcore Twins fan. Twins Daily has run the numbers, and what follows are the worst consumer options out there. Keep your head on a swivel.
    20% off signed copies of “Why Is He So Tiny Now? An Oral History of Bret Boone’s Three Weeks as a Minnesota Twin.” $99 for a six-month premium subscription to My Favorite Blown Calls, Phil Cuzzi’s podcast about his signature umpiring moments. Free first-timer visit to Ken Mauer and Andrelton Simmons’ new holistic medicine outlet, Vitastrong, located in Maplewood’s worst strip mall. No vaccines, no doctors, just nutritional advice from a cooked shortstop and an NBA ref that looks like he wears a leather jacket to Latin Mass. Vitastrong is not responsible for any measles you get during your visit, and you will get measles. Trial subscription to Aaron Gleeman’s new Substack newsletter, Text Messages I Haven’t Responded To. The Twins beat writer shares all the texts he gets from other baseball writers, morning radio hosts with unlikely haircuts, and unwashed bloggers to whom he simply is never going to reply. Use code WOULDYOUJUSTSTOPDANA to receive 40% off. 50% off The Motivational Speeches of Tommy Herr. This 12-cassette collection from the recalcitrant infielder for whom we traded away Tom Brunansky is the perfect gift for the father or uncle you flat-out hate. Craigslist ad for Metrodome urinal trough. It says $40 or best offer, but it’s just a scam. Do not ask which Twins Daily writers have had their credit card information compromised by this too-good-to-be-true deal (OK, so far it’s Stu, Parker, and John).  
  19. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, I Will Give Carlos Correa This $10 Bill If He Signs with Minnesota   
    I take the Green Line to work every day between the Twin Cities. Light rail gets a bad rap from guys in Elk River who think cowering in fear of Minneapolis is something to brag about, but it’s 20 minutes there, 20 minutes back, and I can listen to podcasts about war or baseball.
    Recently, while waiting for my train at the Prospect Park station, something caught my eye. Was it a food wrapper? No. An empty tallboy? No. It was a by god $10 bill. I picked it up, put it in my pocket, and tried to think of something I could do with it. As tempting as a fistful of Beef-and-Chedds from Arby’s is, this is found money. I do OK, it should go to a good cause.
    In the end, there was only one right answer.
    Carlos Correa , if you return to the Minnesota Twins, I will give you ten American dollars.
    Now, I’m aware that your asking price is quite a bit steeper. I’ve read the interviews with Scott Boras and the copious hot stove analyses that say Minnesota is in play, but still an unlikely destination for your long-term services.
    One thing I’ve also noticed: not a single GD one of them mentions paper money. This $10 bill I found? Cold hard cash. By the time you get to the end of this sentence, it’ll be worth more than every crypto scam and Twitter combined. And I’m telling you right now: You can have it. Just sign with the Twins.
    I’ve watched enough bad shortstops over the years to know that your services are needed, especially with Royce Lewis’ health in question. The Boy Geniuses clearly agree and have already put together a competitive offer for your services. I’m putting $10 on top of what they’re already prepared to give you. Talk to Boras. Mull it over with your family. Take some time. I think you’ll agree this offer is fair, sound, and selfless.
    I thank you for your consideration. (We can do the handoff at Arby's, too. First Beef-and-Chedd? On me.)
    Regards,
    Stu
  20. Haha
    LewFordLives reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Twins New Scoreboard to Only Show Night Court Reruns   
    The Minnesota Twins announced plans to revamp their uniforms and Target Field this offseason, including a massive upgrade to their outfield scoreboard.
    Just don’t expect it to be all about baseball.
    “Our marketing team, along with trusted advisers, says that our fans want to watch the antics and hijinks of NBC’s Night Court,” said Dave St. Peter, Minnesota’s President and CEO. “It’s the right call.”
    Night Court, a sitcom set in a New York City courtroom, ran from 1984-92 on NBC. No one over the age of 35 knows what it is, but the team is confident it will appeal to all ages more than batting averages or scoreboard updates. The new scoreboard will show a constant stream of reruns at the expense of highlights, statistics, and game updates.
    “The research is thorough and grounded in fact,” said St. Peter. “The zany antics of Judge Harry Stone, D.A. Dan Fielding, and Bull the loveable bailiff have cross-generational appeal. Millennials, Gen X, and Zoomers love Markie Post, and we intend to meet them where they’re at. If they want to know the score, the game is literally right in front of them. That’s not our problem.”
    One problem is the fact that the sitcom was filmed before the age of high definition, and the resolution of the images has been described as “a nightmare come to life, but covered in cataracts” by a source close to the situation. St. Peter brushes off these concerns.
    “The average age of our season ticket holders is 77,” said St. Peter. “They’ll just think they need to put their readers on. And you don’t need 20/20 vision to appreciate the gentle yet ribald humor of the wackiest municipal court in Manhattan!”
    Image license here.
  21. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Matt Braun for an article, Minor League Report (9/28): Saints Win in a Season Send-Off   
    TRANSACTIONS
    None
    Saints Sentinel 
    St. Paul 3, Omaha 1
    Box Score
    Randy Dobnak: 4 2/3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K
    HR: None
    Multi-hit games: Nash Knight (2-for-4, 2B, R, RBI)
    The Saints won their final game of the season on Wednesday.
    It had been an inconsistent and bumpy year—one similar to the season their parent franchise underwent—but the team gathered their ability and sent the fans home happy with a triumphant ending. 
    Randy Dobnak manned the mound; the righty sinkerball specialist—so used to harvesting command at will—found success through unpredictable chaos; he walked three but allowed a single hit against seven strikeouts. Dobnak missed a quality start by an out. The man known for his tremendous mustache may no longer reside on the 40-man roster, but he has an entire off-season to iron out deficiencies, and he could contribute positively to a future Twins team.
    St. Paul’s offense remained as dormant as their enemy; Saints batters continuously walked back to the dugout, befuddled at Alec Marsh’s stuff for inning after inning until the 5th frame. There—Nash Knight ripped a double down the right-field line, scoring Andrew Bechtold.
    The game remained quiet until Knight—yet again a thorn in Omaha’s side—dashed home on a wild pitch, adding a run to the lead. The inning did not end there, however; St. Paul nabbed a third and final run when Cole Sturgeon singled in Frank Nigro.
    Mario Sanchez worked 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Dobnak, striking out three while allowing a pair of hits and walks. 
    The Saints end the year 74-75, tied for 4th in the IL West division; a slight step down from their 67-63 record in 2021, although in a different divisional context. 
    TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY
    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Randy Dobnak
    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Nash Knight
    PROSPECT SUMMARY
    Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed:
    #9 - Matt Wallner (Minnesota) - 2-3, 2B, 3 RBI, BB, K
    THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
    None! 

    FEEDBACK
    Thank you for always being so supportive of the minor league report, as well as your participation in some great discussions in the comments. As you know, there will be a lot of minor league coverage here throughout the offseason. Next week, Twins Spotlight will return for its third Off(season). Let us know what more you would like to see. 
     
     
  22. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Lew Ford Can't Say Goodbye to Baseball   
    If you listen closely, you can still hear the chants of "LEEEEWWWW" raining down from the Metrodome seats. Lew Ford left his mark on the Twins franchise in parts of four seasons, and his mark on the baseball world continues to this day. Let's look back at Ford's Twins tenure and what he has done since leaving the Twins. 

    The Boston Red Sox drafted Ford in the 12th round of the 1999 MLB Draft out of Dallas Baptist University. His Red Sox's tenure was short-lived as the Twins traded for Ford in September 2000 for reliever Hector Carrasco. Ford spent the next three seasons in the upper levels of the Twins farm system before debuting in 2003. 

    Minnesota was riding high entering the 2003 season after making it to the ALCS in 2002. Once on the brink of contraction, the Twins needed players like Ford to keep the franchise moving in a positive direction. As a 26-year-old rookie, Ford quickly made his mark on the Twins roster. In 34 games, he hit .329/.402/.575 (.978) with 11 extra-base hits and 15 RBI. Even in limited action, he helped the Twins win the AL Central for the second-consecutive season. 

    Ford's best season in a Twins uniform came in 2004 when he compiled 4.5 WAR as an everyday outfielder. To put that into perspective, no one on the 2022 Twins has accumulated that high of WAR. For the season, Ford hit .299/.381/.446 (.827) with 31 doubles, 15 home runs, and 20 steals. He even showed up in the playoffs by going 3-for-11 with a double, two RBI, and a stolen base. At the season's end, he received down-ballot votes for the AL MVP.
    Over the next three seasons with the Twins, Ford averaged over 100 games per year, but his offensive numbers started to decline. He got on base over 32% of the time, but his OPS+ dipped to 80, and he looked past his prime. From there, he bounced around from different organizations and even made it back to the big leagues with the Orioles in 2012 as a 35-year-old. However, his natural baseball home was with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League. 

    In August, Ford turned 46 years old and was still wearing a uniform this season. The 2022 season was Ford's 12th season with the Ducks and his eighth in a role as player/coach. In his time with the Ducks, he has been a three-time All-Star (2014, 2016, 2018) and named the Atlantic League's Player of the Year in 2014. As a 41-year-old, he competed in the Atlantic League's Home Run Derby. He leads the Ducks in many career accolades, and he continued to play well for the team this season. 
    During the 2022 season, Ford played 32 games and hit .270/.293/.429 (.722) with five doubles and five home runs. He became the first player in franchise history to record 1,000 hits in a Ducks uniform. He reached the milestone with an RBI single in the Ducks' 8-2 win over the Charleston Dirty Birds on August 28th. Ford also became just the fourth player in Atlantic League history to reach 1,000 hits, joining former Ducks infielders Bryant Nelson and Ray Navarrete as well as former Somerset Patriots infielder Jeff Nettles.

    Last fall, Ford told MLB.com that his favorite memories with the club have been tied to the team's success. "We have won three championships in this league," Ford said. "We broke the record for wins in 2019 and won the championship. That stands out. The winning stands out. All those championships stand out."

    Ford's impact on baseball will be felt long after he eventually steps away from the game. For now, he refuses to say goodbye, and chants of "LEEEEWWWW" will continue to follow him each step of the way. 

    What are your memories of Ford? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 
     
     
     
     
  23. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, The 3 Most Upsetting Developments on the Farm This Year   
    Coming into the 2022 season, Twins Daily ranked Austin Martin, Jordan Balazovic and Matt Canterino as the first, fourth, and sixth best prospects in the organization, respectively. Not only were they high-caliber talents with polish and big upside, but they were all more or less on the precipice of major-league readiness. 
    In each case, things hardly could've gone worse. Whether performance, injury, or a combination, each of these critical assets saw his stock nosedive over the past summer, and it adds another layer of complexity for a front office trying to build its way back to contention.
    With that said, hope isn't lost for any of these three. Let's take a look at each of their campaigns so far, as things come close to wrapping up here in September.
    Austin Martin and the power that never came.
    The prize of last year's José Berríos trade at the deadline, Martin was billed as a near-ready prospect right out of the gates. It was warranted, after he led all of Double-A in on-base percentage during his first pro season. Despite his resounding success, Minnesota sent Martin back to the same level this year, no doubt hoping he'd shore up his biggest weakness from 2022 – an absence of power to complement the excellent OBP – and earn a quick call-up to Triple-A or even the majors.
    That didn't happen. Martin's power trended the wrong direction this year. After slugging .382 with a .127 ISO and five home runs in 418 PAs between New Hampshire and Wichita, this year he's slugging .317 with an .074 ISO and two home runs in 406 PAs at Wichita. 
    Martin has kept his on-base skills steady, with a .367 OBP despite the crummy .241 average, but his lack of ability to drive the ball with any authority almost renders it moot. Posting a .685 OPS as a 23-year-old in your second turn at Double-A, with no apparent underlying injury, is nothing short of disastrous. 
    Given all the injuries the Twins have faced this season, it's likely Martin would've gotten a chance at some point if he'd even modestly improved his production from a year ago. His drop-off eliminated that possibility and will leave him as something of an afterthought heading into 2023. 
    Martin's going to tank on national prospect lists, where he ranked around #50 by consensus coming into the season.
    Why you shouldn't lose hope: Martin would hardly be the first player to develop significant power rapidly in his mid-20s. In fact, two "shortstop" prospects who came before him in the Twins system serve as optimistic precedents:
    Brain Dozier totaled 14 home runs in 317 games through his first three minor-league seasons. Five years later he would set an American League record by launching 42 as a second baseman in 2016.
    Jorge Polanco hit 35 total home runs total in 598 minor-league games, and could barely muster an XBH in his early days. He hit 33 home runs for the Twins last year.
    Jordan Balazovic's puzzling struggles in St. Paul.
    We had Balazovic ranked as the #1 pitcher in the system coming into this year, following a strong campaign at Double-A where he posted a 3.62 ERA and 9.5 K/9 rate as a 22-year-old. Relative to other arms in the system, Balazovic had a more consistent track record and more established workload base, which is why it seemed feasible to envision him playing a significant role in the Twins rotation this year.
    His abominable performance at Triple-A has done away with that notion entirely. 
    Balazovic started a month late with the Saints due to a knee strain. While he ostensibly put that behind him, staying healthy enough to take the mound each sixth day, he has never seemed right at any point. The right-hander's performance with St. Paul has been beyond awful. In 62 ⅔ innings across 20 appearances, he's 0-6 with a 7.47 ERA. Opponents have slashed .342/.412/.625 against him, as both his walk and home run rates have spiraled out of control. Balazovic has made 19 starts for the Saints and completed five innings ONCE.
    In late June, Balazovic told Dean Spiros of the Pioneer Press his struggles were "like a puzzle; every day it’s something new."
    "I’ve never pitched like this,” Balazovic said. “Last year (at Double-A Wichita) my numbers started to get worse in the second half because I was working on stuff. That’s kind of carried over to this season a little bit, but not to where it should be affecting me this bad.”
    The big 6-foot-5 righty boiled his issues down to consistency and execution, but expressed hope he was getting closer to solving the puzzle. "I’m still hoping for that day," he said, "and I’m hoping that day is tomorrow."
    It wasn't. The following day he needed 60 pitches to get through 2 ⅔ innings against the Iowa Cubs, allowing five hits (two homers) and two walks. His next time out he coughed up five earned runs in three innings against Omaha. These have been typical results for Balazovic this year, and as a result he's slid down a pitching pipeline hierarchy that's already been depleted by the Chase Petty trade and the development we'll look at next. 
    Why you shouldn't lose hope: Balazovic didn't quite follow through on his "hoping that day is tomorrow" goal, but he might not have been far off? While he bombed in his next two starts, he's been on a bit of a roll ever since, posting a 2.52 ERA and 29-to-11 K/BB ratio with just three homers allowed over 25 innings in his past six starts. 
    Sometimes guys need to experience their worst to unlock their best. Balazovic has plenty of talent to rebound and get back on track.
    Matt Canterino and the elbow that finally gave way.
    Canterino's elbow is the only thing that's stood in his way. Drafted 54th overall in 2019 after blowing people away at Rice University for three years, the hard-throwing righty immediately started doing the same to professional hitters. In a 25-inning debut between rookie ball and Low-A, he posted a 1.44 ERA with 31 strikeouts and only eight hits allowed.
    Then, the pandemic happened and wiped out the 2020 season. In 2021, he was limited to 23 total innings by a forearm strain (he posted a 0.78 ERA when he was able to pitch). This year, his elbow soreness re-emerged and while the Twins continually tried to navigate around it, treating surgery as a last resort, they eventually ran out of options. "It felt like we didn't have anymore stones to turn over," said assistant GM Jeremy Zoll.
    Unfortunately, the efforts to avoid surgery only delayed it, and now Canterino's prospective impact has also been pushed well down the line. Since he didn't undergo Tommy John until last month, Canterino will likely miss all of next year rehabbing, meaning that by the time he's ready to fully return to the mound, he'll be a 26-year-old with fewer than 100 innings as a pro. It's really difficult to come back from that.
    Why you shouldn't lose hope: Difficult, but not impossible. The biggest cost of all this lost time would theoretically be missed development for a guy who's barely been able to get in-game reps since being drafted three years ago. For Canterino, I'm not sure it matters as much. 
    He's basically always looked like a guy ready for the majors when he's pitched, with raw stuff that speaks for itself. So long as that stuff remains mostly intact after the surgery, he'll have a chance to get back up to speed quickly and make his long-awaited impact on the bullpen, even if it's not until 2024.
    Feeling bummed out? I hear you! Make sure to check back tomorrow when I break down the most uplifting developments on the farm for the Twins this year ... Good news: I couldn't manage to limit that list to just three.
     
  24. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Observations About Seeing Joe Mauer in Person at a Rock Concert   
    My day job is copywriting for a local independent regional craft brewery. That brewery also hosts concerts in its backyard, often featuring popular recording artists from around the world. Occasionally, those shows attract local and even national celebrities.
    On Wednesday, popular Sad Dad favorites The National played a killer show there. (If you’ve never heard of them, that’s fine, but just know that Taylor Swift has).
    As I wandered around the grounds, one of my friends said, “Hey, Joe Mauer is here.” I didn’t believe them. I guess I don't really know what Joe Mauer's musical tastes are, other than "What You Know" being his walk-up music for 100 years. Then a local journalist mentioned that he chatted with Mauer and his wife for a bit. Given that he covers baseball for his job, I took him at his word. And sure enough, standing there just to my right and towards the front of the stage? Joe Mauer, Cretin-Derham Hall Class of 2001. These are my observations.
    He’s tall! You know how some athletes look “normal” on TV because they’re surrounded by absolute leviathans? Joe Mauer is crazy tall! He was wearing a baseball cap. On brand! That’s what he wore at his old job! He did the classic “dad at a rock concert head nod,” for when you’re not going to throw horns or dance, but still want to rock out a little bit without making a scene. Reliable sources tell me his wife is a huge fan of The National and indie rock/alternative in general. I share those interests, which gives me the wild hope that I’ll run into the Mauers at the McLusky show at the Turf Club in December so we can shout along to “Reformed Arsonist Seeks Child Bride.” I didn’t bother him to say hi or buy him a beer. Let the guy enjoy retirement and go to shows. I also remember how much his last contract was worth thanks to years of numbskulls getting mad at him on talk radio and god’s own internet for hitting singles and making $23 million per year. He probably doesn’t need a Furious on the house. That said, Joe, if you’re reading this and want some IPAs, let me know. Perkins has my phone number. There’s no way Joe Mauer is reading this. This also means I didn’t ask him about Rocco pulling Joe Ryan during a no-hit bid. Had I done this, I hope someone reading this would have the decency to beat me to death with a shovel. The last time I saw him in person was the game where he got the concussion that ended his catching career. This was a better day! This was the most famous person I’ve seen at work since Woody Harrelson attended a Gary Clark, Jr. show while in town filming a movie. Apologies to Jason DeRusha, who I think is a very kind man but he wasn't on Cheers.  
  25. Like
    LewFordLives reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Leadership Seems Lacking as Twins Look Lifeless   
    Leading up to the August 2nd trade deadline, it became apparent that Thad Levine and Derek Falvey needed to add pitching. They had problems in the rotation and they had problems in the bullpen. Sure, Ryan Jeffers was on the injured list and a backup catcher became necessary. You could also make the case that an additional outfielder would have made sense after losing Trevor Larnach, Alex Kirilloff, and Kyle Garlick. The reality though, is that this front office did everything and more to position Rocco Baldelli’s club towards the Postseason.
    We’ve seen in recent seasons where deals at the deadline have a way of spreading discouragement throughout the clubhouse. When Minnesota was both buyers and sellers a few years ago, it seemed that an initial displeasure was then followed by a desire to prove resiliency. In 2022 however, there’s no room for discouragement. Everything the front office did was met with elation by those on the field. The Twins social media channels have shown the embrace of new talent, and the excitement brought on by a belief that the team was good enough to invest in.
    None of that seems to have mattered on the field however.
    Although the pitching has turned around, thanks in large part to the additions made at the deadline, a collective of each player in the lineup continues to fail. Through three games against a very beatable Texas Rangers team, Minnesota has gone 1-for-19 with runners in scoring position. They’ve left a whopping 20 runners on base, and they’ve largely looked uninterested at the plate.
    There’s plenty to be said about a manager with more of an engaging style such as Baldelli. He’s a far cry from the Hall of Famer that was Paul Molitor, and recently celebrated Ron Gardenhire may represent something in between. I don’t know that Minnesota needs a drill sergeant in the dugout, but for all we’ve heard about chemistry and makeup, it’s time for the leaders to lead.
    Carlos Correa was signed to the largest deal for a Major League infielder by average annual value this offseason. Byron Buxton was inked to the extension firmly entrenching his status as the driver of this team. Sonny Gray has previously played for winning organizations while working through his veteran career. Necessary to see the production on field from that group, one of them has to provide the voice that turns this thing around.
    It’s not Minnesota’s fault for playing in baseball’s second worst division. It is their fault for failing to capitalize on that opportunity. There’s no excuse for the lifeless performances that we’ve grown accustomed to at this point in the season. A lineup that should be expected to do damage routinely looks inept, and the buy in to get the job done has to be a feeling shared across the board.
    To date the Twins have been held scoreless in 10% of their 117 games. With 45 to go, it’s put up or shut up time, and the only place this team will be searching for answers if left out in October is the bathroom mirror.
     
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