Jump to content
Twins Daily
  • Create Account

Nick Nelson

Owner
  • Posts

    6,640
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    34

Nick Nelson last won the day on May 23

Nick Nelson had the most liked content!

Social

  • Twitter
    NickNelsonMN

Recent Profile Visitors

The recent visitors block is disabled and is not being shown to other users.

Nick Nelson's Achievements

  1. I feel seen Hey, the English language is always evolving or something, right?
  2. That is exactly the idea behind this column, so it's great to hear! Thanks for saying so. As someone who follows the team ultra-closely and watches almost every game, I also find writing it each week gives me a level of perspective over the course of a long season. 6-7 game samples aren't all that meaningful, but much more so than 1-game samples.
  3. I was thinking along these lines and wondering how much credit goes to the new hitting coach. Always hard to say from the outside, but it definitely seems like for the most part, hitters are harnessing their strengths and producing. Kepler, Garlick and Celestino have been among the most impressive, especially compared to their track records. Good early returns on Popkins.
  4. 1: People aren't fully buying into the team's success. The Twins are on pace to win 99 games, which would stack up as one of the best seasons in franchise history. But if this Twins Daily Twitter poll from Sunday night is any indication, most people aren't convinced that they'll be able to keep up with that pace. With 500 votes in, only 5% of respondents said the Twins will finish with 100 or more wins, and only 12% had them landing in the 95-to-99 range where they are currently projected. A vast majority (61%) expect the team to finish with 90-to-94 wins, and more voters envision the Twins winning fewer than 90 (22%) than 95 or more (17%). It's fair! Perspective matters. We are currently sizing up the Twins in the midst of a hot streak against blatantly poor competition. The only time we saw them face a great opponent this month, the Twins were swept and thoroughly dismantled by the Astros – albeit without two of their best players in Carlos Correa and Luis Arraez. Most people are gonna need to see the Twins win a few slugfests in their own weight class before anointing them a true upper-echelon contender. Nothing wrong with that. The team will have its chance in early June with a tour of top dogs in the AL East: Blue Jays, Yankees, Rays, successively. 2: The front office's bets are paying off (mostly). The Twins opted not to invest heavily in the free agent reliever market, signing only one player to a major-league contract: Joe Smith, on a cheap one-year $2.5 million deal. That move couldn't have worked out better so far, as Smith has yet to allow an earned run through 16 appearances. The bullpen as a whole has been far better than expected, in spite of the passive offseason approach. The team's belief in Jhoan Durán helped them feel comfortable trading Taylor Rogers for Chris Paddack (a bet that did NOT pay off, for this year anyway) on the eve of Opening Day. They've been rewarded. Griffin Jax has also been excellent in his transition to the pen. The front office's boldest gambit of the offseason was that wild mega-deal with the Yankees, which involved losing Mitch Garver and taking on Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela in order to to dump Josh Donaldson's salary. (Thus setting up the Correa signing.) That one's looking pretty good too. Donaldson is hitting decently well as a frequent DH for the Yankees, but drawing headlines in New York for all the wrong reasons. The improvement in clubhouse culture for the Twins since his departure has been apparent even from the outside. Meanwhile, Sánchez is emerging as the slugging force that the Twins hoped Garver (slashing .207/.295/.370 for the Rangers so far) would be. 3: The Twins/White Sox rivalry we wanted last year has now arrived. The Royals and Tigers have already pretty much rendered themselves irrelevant, and it's hard to buy into the mediocre Guardians, despite the greatness of José Ramirez. Chicago has been scuffling a bit in the early going but garnered some momentum on Sunday with a doubleheader sweep over the Yankees. They're back above .500 and trailing the Twins in the Central by four games. There was a lot of hype surrounding the return of this classic rivalry last year, following a tight race in the shortened 2020 season, but the Twins never showed up for the fight. This year they're showing up, and I suspect the White Sox will too. Both teams have a lot of talent and a lot of character, so it should be fun. 4: The combination of standout rookies and established stars is really exciting. There's just a great vibe on this team. It's awesome to see Joe Ryan stepping up and leading the rotation, while Durán establishes himself as The Guy in the bullpen. Gilberto Celestino is blossoming before our eyes. We've already seen flashes from Royce Lewis; he and other top prospects are likely to factor in as the season goes on: Jordan Balazovic, Matt Canterino, Simeon Woods Richardson, José Miranda (maybe after a get-right stint in Triple-A). All in play. Meanwhile, the true leaders of this team are Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa, two bona fide superstars in their prime. Jorge Polanco and Luis Arraez are on the next tier. Max Kepler is having a resurgent season to reinsert himself into that conversation. We can maybe say the same about Gary Sánchez, who seems to be getting exactly what he needed out of this change of scenery. The intermingling of experienced mainstays who are performing well, and young up-and-comers who are often contributing immediately, along with a $35M free agent who somehow gives off no "mercenary" vibes ... it's really cool. This is a very likable group and it's adding all the more to the enjoyment of this (so far) surprisingly wonderful 2022 season. Here's hoping we feel the same way at the halfway point, and especially at the finish line.
  5. With 41 games in the books, that Minnesota Twins are almost exactly 25% of the way through their 2022 schedule. Obviously, things have gone better than expected so far. Here are four thoughts on the first-place Twins as we take stock at this checkpoint. 1: People aren't fully buying into the team's success. The Twins are on pace to win 99 games, which would stack up as one of the best seasons in franchise history. But if this Twins Daily Twitter poll from Sunday night is any indication, most people aren't convinced that they'll be able to keep up with that pace. With 500 votes in, only 5% of respondents said the Twins will finish with 100 or more wins, and only 12% had them landing in the 95-to-99 range where they are currently projected. A vast majority (61%) expect the team to finish with 90-to-94 wins, and more voters envision the Twins winning fewer than 90 (22%) than 95 or more (17%). It's fair! Perspective matters. We are currently sizing up the Twins in the midst of a hot streak against blatantly poor competition. The only time we saw them face a great opponent this month, the Twins were swept and thoroughly dismantled by the Astros – albeit without two of their best players in Carlos Correa and Luis Arraez. Most people are gonna need to see the Twins win a few slugfests in their own weight class before anointing them a true upper-echelon contender. Nothing wrong with that. The team will have its chance in early June with a tour of top dogs in the AL East: Blue Jays, Yankees, Rays, successively. 2: The front office's bets are paying off (mostly). The Twins opted not to invest heavily in the free agent reliever market, signing only one player to a major-league contract: Joe Smith, on a cheap one-year $2.5 million deal. That move couldn't have worked out better so far, as Smith has yet to allow an earned run through 16 appearances. The bullpen as a whole has been far better than expected, in spite of the passive offseason approach. The team's belief in Jhoan Durán helped them feel comfortable trading Taylor Rogers for Chris Paddack (a bet that did NOT pay off, for this year anyway) on the eve of Opening Day. They've been rewarded. Griffin Jax has also been excellent in his transition to the pen. The front office's boldest gambit of the offseason was that wild mega-deal with the Yankees, which involved losing Mitch Garver and taking on Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela in order to to dump Josh Donaldson's salary. (Thus setting up the Correa signing.) That one's looking pretty good too. Donaldson is hitting decently well as a frequent DH for the Yankees, but drawing headlines in New York for all the wrong reasons. The improvement in clubhouse culture for the Twins since his departure has been apparent even from the outside. Meanwhile, Sánchez is emerging as the slugging force that the Twins hoped Garver (slashing .207/.295/.370 for the Rangers so far) would be. 3: The Twins/White Sox rivalry we wanted last year has now arrived. The Royals and Tigers have already pretty much rendered themselves irrelevant, and it's hard to buy into the mediocre Guardians, despite the greatness of José Ramirez. Chicago has been scuffling a bit in the early going but garnered some momentum on Sunday with a doubleheader sweep over the Yankees. They're back above .500 and trailing the Twins in the Central by four games. There was a lot of hype surrounding the return of this classic rivalry last year, following a tight race in the shortened 2020 season, but the Twins never showed up for the fight. This year they're showing up, and I suspect the White Sox will too. Both teams have a lot of talent and a lot of character, so it should be fun. 4: The combination of standout rookies and established stars is really exciting. There's just a great vibe on this team. It's awesome to see Joe Ryan stepping up and leading the rotation, while Durán establishes himself as The Guy in the bullpen. Gilberto Celestino is blossoming before our eyes. We've already seen flashes from Royce Lewis; he and other top prospects are likely to factor in as the season goes on: Jordan Balazovic, Matt Canterino, Simeon Woods Richardson, José Miranda (maybe after a get-right stint in Triple-A). All in play. Meanwhile, the true leaders of this team are Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa, two bona fide superstars in their prime. Jorge Polanco and Luis Arraez are on the next tier. Max Kepler is having a resurgent season to reinsert himself into that conversation. We can maybe say the same about Gary Sánchez, who seems to be getting exactly what he needed out of this change of scenery. The intermingling of experienced mainstays who are performing well, and young up-and-comers who are often contributing immediately, along with a $35M free agent who somehow gives off no "mercenary" vibes ... it's really cool. This is a very likable group and it's adding all the more to the enjoyment of this (so far) surprisingly wonderful 2022 season. Here's hoping we feel the same way at the halfway point, and especially at the finish line. View full article
  6. My opinion: nothing to worry about. I think it's a combination of factors: Pitchers aren't giving him much to hit (which he's adapting to – 8 walks in the past 10 games after drawing 2 in his first 17 games) Really bad luck. He has a .042 BABIP over this span, which is just ridiculous. The quality of contact is down a little but he's not striking out a ton or falling apart mechanically or anything. I think it's just a lil slump to offset this absurdly hot start.
  7. Thanks for the post Jason! Looking forward to reading more of your stuff. Just from going through your list of random thoughts I can tell we'll often be on the same page.
  8. Last Week's Game Results: Game 36 | MIN 3, OAK 1: Lewis, Sanchez Lead Twins Game 37 | OAK 5: MIN 2: Royce Rolls but Winder Wilts in Loss Game 38 | MIN 14, OAK 4: Bats Bust Out in Series Clincher Game 39 | MIN 6, KC 4: Smeltzer Solid, Miranda Clutch Game 40 | MIN 9, KC 2: Late-Inning Rally Fuels Blowout Win Game 41 | MIN 7, KC 6: Twins Score 7 Unanswered in Massive Comeback Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 5/16 through Sun, 5/22 *** Record Last Week: 5-1 (Overall: 25-16) Run Differential Last Week: +19 (Overall: +31) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (4.5 GA) NEWS & NOTES Oh man, what a week. This first-place Twins are taking heat on multiple fronts, which I guess we can take as a positive. People care! My quick takes on both of the big talkers from last week: Royce Lewis demoted to make room for Carlos Correa. It stinks, I get it. Lewis is an electric young player who was coming off an outstanding game Tuesday night, so the timing could've hardly been worse. But the Twins called him up to fill in for Correa at shortstop, and they stuck with their plan. They want Lewis to play everyday and gain familiarity at some other positions in a lower-stakes environment. That's exactly what's happening – Lewis has already made starts at third base and left field in addition shortstop since going down. He'll be back soon enough. Chris Paddack undergoes Tommy John. The surgery was expected but became official on Wednesday. It's obviously a very unfortunate development, especially given the success Taylor Rogers is having in San Diego. The trade still has a chance to work out in Minnesota's favor – Emilio Pagán has been solid, and Paddack is under team control for the next two years. But without question, the Twins ended up downgrading their talent significantly in a contention year. We'll see how much it ends up hurting them. Kyle Garlick was activated from IL at the start of the week and Trevor Larnach at the end, backfilling some key outfield depth for the Twins. The rest of the week's moves mostly involved juggling the pitching staff. Here's a quick recap: IN: Dylan Bundy (activated from IL), Trevor Megill (added to 40-man and called up), Bailey Ober (activated from IL). OUT: Jharrel Cotton (DFA'ed, outrighted to St. Paul), Devin Smeltzer (optioned to St. Paul), Josh Winder (placed on IL with shoulder impingement), Cody Stashak (also placed on IL with shoulder impingement). Finally, Chris Vallimont was designated for assignment to create 40-man space (we'll learn soon if he gets claimed) and Danny Coulombe started a rehab stint at Wichita. HIGHLIGHTS It'll be awhile before the Twins have another opportunity to prove themselves against high-caliber competition, but one signature of good baseball teams is that they consistently take care of business against weaker opponents. Minnesota has been doing exactly that here in May, and it continued in a 5-1 week capped by a spectacular late-game comeback in Kansas City. Down 6-0 entering the eighth, the Twins scored seven unanswered in the last two innings to steal a victory and seal a sweep. Despite losing Paddack, the rotation kept up its surprisingly steady work, with effective returns to action for Bundy (3 IP, 0 ER on Tuesday) and Ober (5 IP, 1 ER on Sunday). Joe Ryan lowered his ERA to 2.38 on Saturday, tossing 5 ⅔ innings of one-run ball. He's allowed two or fewer runs in seven of his eight starts, and has a 5-2 record to show for it. On offense, the Twins were very happy to get back Garlick, who drove in two runs in Friday 6-4 victory and launched a crucial homer (against a righty!) in Sunday's comeback. Gilberto Celestino continues to enjoy a major breakthrough, and owns a seven-game hitting streak after going 7-for-16 last week. He's batting .422 in the month of May. Gary Sánchez has come on in a hurry after starting slow. He went 7-for-24 last week with four doubles, two home runs, and eight RBIs while starting all six games. This is the Sánchez who had gone missing in New York, and you hope the slugging rejuvenation is here to stay. The Twins are surely happy enough to no longer have to deal with Josh Donaldson and his antics, but Sánchez is proving to be a very valuable asset on his own, delivering the power Minnesota was originally hoping to get from Mitch Garver (who's slugging .370 in Texas). While many of us questioned it at the time, that series of moves is looking extra sweet right now. Perhaps no Twins hitter is more fun to watch at this moment than Luis Arraez. He is absolutely on top of his game and providing a constant spark to the lineup in his unlikely new role as primary first baseman. Arraez struck out once all week and reached base in well over half of his 26 plate appearances, tallying nine hits and six walks. Since returning from a bout with COVID earlier in the month, Arraez is batting .382 with a 2-to-9 K/BB ratio and .545 on-base percentage in 10 games. LOWLIGHTS A pair of relief implosions were the biggest blemishes in a mostly outstanding week for Rocco Baldelli and the Twins. On Tuesday night, Winder was arguably hung out to dry in Oakland – pushed to throw 78 pitches in an extended relief outing behind Bundy. Winder managed to battle his way through three innings despite clearly not having his best command, but it all fell apart when he was sent back out for the seventh. The righty coughed up five earned runs in the inning, and finished the day with nine hits allowed and just one K. While I didn't love the decision to stick with the rookie so long, I sort of understood it, given that the Twins were a bit worn in the bullpen and they wanted to keep Winder stretched out as a starter. Still, it was clearly a questionable call, and it looks worse in hindsight, not just because of the results but because Winder went on the shelf days later with shoulder issues. He dealt with a similar injury late last year, so that's definitely worrisome, but hopefully the Twins are just getting out front of it. Yennier Canó impressed during a couple of outings in Oakland, allowing one run over three innings and notching his first big-league victory. But the bottom fell out on him in Kansas City with a disastrous appearance that saw him charged with five earned runs on four hits and two walks while recording just one out. He had no command and was offering up a ton of non-competitive pitches. Canó will be in danger of losing his bullpen spot quickly with Coulombe on the comeback trail and MLB clubs compelled to cut down to 13 pitchers in a week. Amidst all the roster juggling that took place last week, it was rather surprising to see José Miranda come out unscathed. He actually enjoyed one of his biggest moments as a big-leaguer on Saturday night, launching a key two-run double in the eighth inning of a close win, but overall he's been woefully unproductive. Miranda's slash line sits at .117/.159/.217 after a 2-for-16 week that saw him continue to flail away at everything while generating a ton of poor contact. If we accept that the Twins are trying to do right by Lewis' development in sending him to Triple-A to get defensive reps and gain comfort in a less pressurized setting, it's difficult to see the consistency in logic when they're leaving Miranda out there to get bullied by MLB pitchers. At the same time, one can also see the roster realities at play. The Twins are short on corner-infield depth, with Miguel Sanó and Alex Kirilloff out of the picture indefinitely. Arraez had never played first base before a few weeks ago and now he's their sole option with any real experience there besides Miranda. Sánchez has taken some practice reps at first but he's already playing everyday in his current role. Gio Urshela could probably slide over but then your depth at third base is sapped. With all that being said, the Twins can't continue to run Miranda out there much longer as he struggles to stay afloat, so they're gonna need to figure something out. TRENDING STORYLINE The answer to the above dilemma could be solved by one (or both) of two players currently in Triple-A with the Saints. Kirilloff is trying to rediscover his swing and offensive ability as he fights his way through lingering wrist pain in the wake of last year's surgery. He offered some reason for encouragement on Wednesday when he went 4-for-6 with a home run and double – his first two extra-base hits of the season – but the rest of the week saw him tap five singles in 16 at-bats, and he struck out three times on Sunday. It looks as though it's going to be awhile for Kirilloff. That may not be the case for Lewis, who is getting a crash course in defensive versatility as the Twins prepare to recall him to play alongside Correa in a utility role. Lewis has continued to rake since going down, batting .375 with a double and home run in four games. He has amazingly seen no in-game action defensively yet at his new positions, but at least he's getting a feel for the hot corner and outfield. One wonders how just much the Twins want to see him get acclimated before they're comfortable bringing him back. They have the luxury of a continuing soft patch in the schedule, which might give them leeway in making the sacrifices required to keep Lewis' bat in the minors. I wonder if the goal is to have him dialed and ready to step in for good around the start of June, when the competition starts getting a whole lot tougher and they'll want to bring everything they've got. LOOKING AHEAD Tough competition won't be a factor in the coming week, as the Twins return home for seven games against the Tigers and Royals, against whom they are a combined 7-2 this season. They would need to go at least 7-3 in the next 10 games – all against Detroit and Kansas City – in order to complete a 20-win May, which the Twins previously accomplished in 2019 and 2015. MONDAY, 5/23: TIGERS @TWINS – RHP Elvin Rodriguez v. RHP Chris Archer TUESDAY, 5/24: TIGERS @TWINS – RHP Beau Brieske v. RHP Sonny Gray WEDNESDAY, 5/25: TIGERS @TWINS – TBD v. RHP Dylan Bundy THURSDAY, 5/26: ROYALS @ TWINS – LHP Daniel Lynch v. RHP Joe Ryan FRIDAY, 5/27: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Brad Keller v. RHP Bailey Ober SATURDAY, 5/28: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Brady Singer v. RHP Chris Archer SUNDAY, 5/29: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Zack Greinke v. RHP Sonny Gray
  9. The Minnesota Twins extended their lead in the AL Central with a dominant week against sub-par competition as they continue to enjoy the softest section of their 2022 schedule. Their early success hasn't made the Twins immune from criticism and controversy, but it's all contributed to an extremely entertaining and compelling first quarter of the season. Last Week's Game Results: Game 36 | MIN 3, OAK 1: Lewis, Sanchez Lead Twins Game 37 | OAK 5: MIN 2: Royce Rolls but Winder Wilts in Loss Game 38 | MIN 14, OAK 4: Bats Bust Out in Series Clincher Game 39 | MIN 6, KC 4: Smeltzer Solid, Miranda Clutch Game 40 | MIN 9, KC 2: Late-Inning Rally Fuels Blowout Win Game 41 | MIN 7, KC 6: Twins Score 7 Unanswered in Massive Comeback Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 5/16 through Sun, 5/22 *** Record Last Week: 5-1 (Overall: 25-16) Run Differential Last Week: +19 (Overall: +31) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (4.5 GA) NEWS & NOTES Oh man, what a week. This first-place Twins are taking heat on multiple fronts, which I guess we can take as a positive. People care! My quick takes on both of the big talkers from last week: Royce Lewis demoted to make room for Carlos Correa. It stinks, I get it. Lewis is an electric young player who was coming off an outstanding game Tuesday night, so the timing could've hardly been worse. But the Twins called him up to fill in for Correa at shortstop, and they stuck with their plan. They want Lewis to play everyday and gain familiarity at some other positions in a lower-stakes environment. That's exactly what's happening – Lewis has already made starts at third base and left field in addition shortstop since going down. He'll be back soon enough. Chris Paddack undergoes Tommy John. The surgery was expected but became official on Wednesday. It's obviously a very unfortunate development, especially given the success Taylor Rogers is having in San Diego. The trade still has a chance to work out in Minnesota's favor – Emilio Pagán has been solid, and Paddack is under team control for the next two years. But without question, the Twins ended up downgrading their talent significantly in a contention year. We'll see how much it ends up hurting them. Kyle Garlick was activated from IL at the start of the week and Trevor Larnach at the end, backfilling some key outfield depth for the Twins. The rest of the week's moves mostly involved juggling the pitching staff. Here's a quick recap: IN: Dylan Bundy (activated from IL), Trevor Megill (added to 40-man and called up), Bailey Ober (activated from IL). OUT: Jharrel Cotton (DFA'ed, outrighted to St. Paul), Devin Smeltzer (optioned to St. Paul), Josh Winder (placed on IL with shoulder impingement), Cody Stashak (also placed on IL with shoulder impingement). Finally, Chris Vallimont was designated for assignment to create 40-man space (we'll learn soon if he gets claimed) and Danny Coulombe started a rehab stint at Wichita. HIGHLIGHTS It'll be awhile before the Twins have another opportunity to prove themselves against high-caliber competition, but one signature of good baseball teams is that they consistently take care of business against weaker opponents. Minnesota has been doing exactly that here in May, and it continued in a 5-1 week capped by a spectacular late-game comeback in Kansas City. Down 6-0 entering the eighth, the Twins scored seven unanswered in the last two innings to steal a victory and seal a sweep. Despite losing Paddack, the rotation kept up its surprisingly steady work, with effective returns to action for Bundy (3 IP, 0 ER on Tuesday) and Ober (5 IP, 1 ER on Sunday). Joe Ryan lowered his ERA to 2.38 on Saturday, tossing 5 ⅔ innings of one-run ball. He's allowed two or fewer runs in seven of his eight starts, and has a 5-2 record to show for it. On offense, the Twins were very happy to get back Garlick, who drove in two runs in Friday 6-4 victory and launched a crucial homer (against a righty!) in Sunday's comeback. Gilberto Celestino continues to enjoy a major breakthrough, and owns a seven-game hitting streak after going 7-for-16 last week. He's batting .422 in the month of May. Gary Sánchez has come on in a hurry after starting slow. He went 7-for-24 last week with four doubles, two home runs, and eight RBIs while starting all six games. This is the Sánchez who had gone missing in New York, and you hope the slugging rejuvenation is here to stay. The Twins are surely happy enough to no longer have to deal with Josh Donaldson and his antics, but Sánchez is proving to be a very valuable asset on his own, delivering the power Minnesota was originally hoping to get from Mitch Garver (who's slugging .370 in Texas). While many of us questioned it at the time, that series of moves is looking extra sweet right now. Perhaps no Twins hitter is more fun to watch at this moment than Luis Arraez. He is absolutely on top of his game and providing a constant spark to the lineup in his unlikely new role as primary first baseman. Arraez struck out once all week and reached base in well over half of his 26 plate appearances, tallying nine hits and six walks. Since returning from a bout with COVID earlier in the month, Arraez is batting .382 with a 2-to-9 K/BB ratio and .545 on-base percentage in 10 games. LOWLIGHTS A pair of relief implosions were the biggest blemishes in a mostly outstanding week for Rocco Baldelli and the Twins. On Tuesday night, Winder was arguably hung out to dry in Oakland – pushed to throw 78 pitches in an extended relief outing behind Bundy. Winder managed to battle his way through three innings despite clearly not having his best command, but it all fell apart when he was sent back out for the seventh. The righty coughed up five earned runs in the inning, and finished the day with nine hits allowed and just one K. While I didn't love the decision to stick with the rookie so long, I sort of understood it, given that the Twins were a bit worn in the bullpen and they wanted to keep Winder stretched out as a starter. Still, it was clearly a questionable call, and it looks worse in hindsight, not just because of the results but because Winder went on the shelf days later with shoulder issues. He dealt with a similar injury late last year, so that's definitely worrisome, but hopefully the Twins are just getting out front of it. Yennier Canó impressed during a couple of outings in Oakland, allowing one run over three innings and notching his first big-league victory. But the bottom fell out on him in Kansas City with a disastrous appearance that saw him charged with five earned runs on four hits and two walks while recording just one out. He had no command and was offering up a ton of non-competitive pitches. Canó will be in danger of losing his bullpen spot quickly with Coulombe on the comeback trail and MLB clubs compelled to cut down to 13 pitchers in a week. Amidst all the roster juggling that took place last week, it was rather surprising to see José Miranda come out unscathed. He actually enjoyed one of his biggest moments as a big-leaguer on Saturday night, launching a key two-run double in the eighth inning of a close win, but overall he's been woefully unproductive. Miranda's slash line sits at .117/.159/.217 after a 2-for-16 week that saw him continue to flail away at everything while generating a ton of poor contact. If we accept that the Twins are trying to do right by Lewis' development in sending him to Triple-A to get defensive reps and gain comfort in a less pressurized setting, it's difficult to see the consistency in logic when they're leaving Miranda out there to get bullied by MLB pitchers. At the same time, one can also see the roster realities at play. The Twins are short on corner-infield depth, with Miguel Sanó and Alex Kirilloff out of the picture indefinitely. Arraez had never played first base before a few weeks ago and now he's their sole option with any real experience there besides Miranda. Sánchez has taken some practice reps at first but he's already playing everyday in his current role. Gio Urshela could probably slide over but then your depth at third base is sapped. With all that being said, the Twins can't continue to run Miranda out there much longer as he struggles to stay afloat, so they're gonna need to figure something out. TRENDING STORYLINE The answer to the above dilemma could be solved by one (or both) of two players currently in Triple-A with the Saints. Kirilloff is trying to rediscover his swing and offensive ability as he fights his way through lingering wrist pain in the wake of last year's surgery. He offered some reason for encouragement on Wednesday when he went 4-for-6 with a home run and double – his first two extra-base hits of the season – but the rest of the week saw him tap five singles in 16 at-bats, and he struck out three times on Sunday. It looks as though it's going to be awhile for Kirilloff. That may not be the case for Lewis, who is getting a crash course in defensive versatility as the Twins prepare to recall him to play alongside Correa in a utility role. Lewis has continued to rake since going down, batting .375 with a double and home run in four games. He has amazingly seen no in-game action defensively yet at his new positions, but at least he's getting a feel for the hot corner and outfield. One wonders how just much the Twins want to see him get acclimated before they're comfortable bringing him back. They have the luxury of a continuing soft patch in the schedule, which might give them leeway in making the sacrifices required to keep Lewis' bat in the minors. I wonder if the goal is to have him dialed and ready to step in for good around the start of June, when the competition starts getting a whole lot tougher and they'll want to bring everything they've got. LOOKING AHEAD Tough competition won't be a factor in the coming week, as the Twins return home for seven games against the Tigers and Royals, against whom they are a combined 7-2 this season. They would need to go at least 7-3 in the next 10 games – all against Detroit and Kansas City – in order to complete a 20-win May, which the Twins previously accomplished in 2019 and 2015. MONDAY, 5/23: TIGERS @TWINS – RHP Elvin Rodriguez v. RHP Chris Archer TUESDAY, 5/24: TIGERS @TWINS – RHP Beau Brieske v. RHP Sonny Gray WEDNESDAY, 5/25: TIGERS @TWINS – TBD v. RHP Dylan Bundy THURSDAY, 5/26: ROYALS @ TWINS – LHP Daniel Lynch v. RHP Joe Ryan FRIDAY, 5/27: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Brad Keller v. RHP Bailey Ober SATURDAY, 5/28: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Brady Singer v. RHP Chris Archer SUNDAY, 5/29: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Zack Greinke v. RHP Sonny Gray View full article
  10. As resident "Rock Head" I feel it's my duty to point out that this was their bullpen setup coming in to last night's game (minus Cotton, who'd been DFA'ed): You're saving Duran for a lead (and maybe trying to avoid using him, two days after back-to-back). Cano's not an option. Everyone else has thrown multiple times in the last 3 days. They were going to be putting some arms at risk if that game went to extras. Meanwhile they're trying to keep Winder stretched out to start. Not trying to defend the move or say I would've done it, but I don't find it inexcusable or even all that inexplicable. There's something very funny to me about people losing their wits because the Twins went 5-1 against Oakland instead of 6-0. Sometimes you lose!
  11. Well then you're missing the point of this one, because it is not that Baldelli never does wrong or that he's primarily responsible for any win. It's that there are thousands of negative takes out there about his mistakes or questionable calls gone wrong, and rarely an acknowledgement of what he might be doing right. I took an opportunity to congratulate him on a well-managed game and a successful season so far. It is genuinely astonishing to me how grumpy people -- Twins fans! -- are getting about it.
  12. Actually we have evidence to answer that question. Berrios was one of the league leaders in IP when they traded him last year.
  13. Look I'm not saying the award is all that meaningful, or that anyone's a lock for anything as of May 17th. But MOTY tends to go to the guy managing the team that beats expectations most, and right now the Twins are at the head of that discussion.
  14. Yeah. Definitely not like he has won that award once and finished 5th another time in his 3-year managerial career. Very outlandish suggestion,
  15. Managers tend to soak up a lot of blame while their teams are struggling, and receive little credit when things are going well. It's the name of the game. Let's buck that norm. Rocco Baldelli is managing his ass off this year, and Monday night's win in Oakland was a perfect example. Baldelli had the makings of a slam-dunk hire in 2019, when he became the youngest recipient of Manager of the Year in history, leading the Twins to a historic 101-win season. He followed with another division title in the COVID-shortened 2020 season. One would think such an impressive start to his managerial career would earn the guy a bit of leeway in the eyes of fans. Turns out, not so much. While experiencing his first rocky year at the helm, Rocco was routinely derided by a large portion of the fanbase and columnist hive in 2021's last-place debacle. Never mind he was supplied by the front office with Alex Colomé as his closer and the Happ-maker combo as his rotation reinforcements. Never mind dealing with a rotten hand injury-wise. Baldelli took major heat nonetheless. It's the name of the game. As this 2022 season got off to similarly ugly start, with a 4-8 record two weeks in, fans on Twitter were calling for Rocco's head and a certain desperate-for-attention local media outlet was hilariously attempting to manufacture a manager controversy. Since that 4-8 start, Baldelli's Twins are 17-7. They're winning tight games. They're playing far cleaner, crisper ball than opponents. And they're bouncing back from adversity. Tactically, Baldelli has been pressing the right buttons and his decision have paid off time and time again. Here are three examples from Monday's 3-1 victory: 1: Chris Archer pulled after four innings. It wasn't an obvious call by any means. Archer had allowed only one run on two hits over four innings. He was at just 62 pitches when Baldelli made the decision to pull him. The Twins were in the midst of a stretch with nine games in nine days. They could've tried to squeeze another inning or two. The skipper did not want to see Archer face Oakland's lineup for a third time and that was absolutely the right call. Yennier Canó came in and mowed down the next two frames, giving hitters a very different look from the starter. Griffin Jax followed with two scoreless frames, and then Tyler Duffey closed things out in a clean ninth. Another shutout showing from the relief corps. Minnesota's bullpen, despite losing one of the best relievers in baseball on the eve of Opening Day, has been phenomenal. Elite by any measure. Elite! Who would've expected this based on the personnel we saw forming this unit? Twins relief pitchers – from Canó to Jax to Joe Smith to Jhoan Duran to Emilio Pagán and beyond – are getting it done. Rocco is putting them in spots to succeed, as has been his trademark. His bullpen ranked third in the majors in WAR in 2019, and second in 2020. Baldelli quietly has an argument as the best bullpen manager in baseball. 2: Small ball pays off in the 5th inning. I'm not a big fan of small-ball tactics generally, and based on his tendencies I think it's safe to say Baldelli feels the same. (I mean, that 2019 team was basically a giant middle-finger to small ball as a concept.) But both of us could agree that it made sense to take such an approach in the fifth inning of a 1-1 game after Royce Lewis drew a leadoff walk. Nick Gordon, the #9 hitter who entered with a paltry .596 OPS, stepped in and got the bunt call. He executed, bringing up the team's best hitter with one out and a man in scoring position. Byron Buxton? Oh, you know he executed. Even if it hadn't worked out, bunting with Gordon there is a move that simply made sense. Baldelli has shown he'll go that route when it's warranted. You wonder if the dead-ball trend might compel this calculating manager to keep adjusting in that direction. 3: Buxton was on the field. There's been a whole bunch of grumbling lately about the team's "kid-gloves treatment" of Buxton. (Much of it, you'll be shocked to learn, coming from the aforementioned desperate-for-attention outlet.) Apparently it is now controversial to take a cautious approach in a 162-game season with your vitally important superstar who also happens to be banged up, and maybe the most injury-prone player in the league. Yes, Baldelli and the Twins have opened up about their intentions to manage Buxton's workload this year in hopes of keeping him off the injured list. Their plan has been successful so far, in every way. Buxton has avoided the IL – despite a few scares that continue to affect him – and the Twins are six games above .500, leading the division, even with him playing only two-thirds of the time. Winning the division and having Buxton healthy for the playoffs should be this team's utmost aspiration. It's a combination they haven't yet been able to achieve yet. Right now, Baldelli has the Twins on track to do both. And people are still complaining. SMH. Some of us appreciate you, Rocco, and see the things you're doing to help this team exceed expectations. Many won't. But that's the name of the game. View full article
×
×
  • Create New...