Jump to content
Twins Daily
  • Create Account

Nick Nelson

Owner
  • Posts

    6,640
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    34

Reputation Activity

  1. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from nclahammer for an article, First Place, Feeling Great: 4 Twins Observations at the Quarter Pole   
    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.
  2. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from verninski for an article, First Place, Feeling Great: 4 Twins Observations at the Quarter Pole   
    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.
  3. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from DocBauer for an article, Week in Review: Capitalizing on Cushy Competition   
    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
  4. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from tarheeltwinsfan for an article, First Place, Feeling Great: 4 Twins Observations at the Quarter Pole   
    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. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from deanlambrecht for an article, Week in Review: Capitalizing on Cushy Competition   
    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
  6. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from DocBauer for an article, First Place, Feeling Great: 4 Twins Observations at the Quarter Pole   
    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.
  7. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from Richie the Rally Goat for an article, First Place, Feeling Great: 4 Twins Observations at the Quarter Pole   
    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.
  8. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from mikelink45 for an article, First Place, Feeling Great: 4 Twins Observations at the Quarter Pole   
    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.
  9. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from The Mad King for an article, First Place, Feeling Great: 4 Twins Observations at the Quarter Pole   
    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.
  10. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from nicksaviking for an article, First Place, Feeling Great: 4 Twins Observations at the Quarter Pole   
    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.
  11. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from Minny505 for an article, Week in Review: Capitalizing on Cushy Competition   
    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
  12. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from CharlieDee for an article, First Place, Feeling Great: 4 Twins Observations at the Quarter Pole   
    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.
  13. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from mikelink45 for an article, Week in Review: Capitalizing on Cushy Competition   
    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
  14. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from ToddlerHarmon for an article, First Place, Feeling Great: 4 Twins Observations at the Quarter Pole   
    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.
  15. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from jmlease1 for an article, First Place, Feeling Great: 4 Twins Observations at the Quarter Pole   
    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.
  16. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from PopRiveter for an article, First Place, Feeling Great: 4 Twins Observations at the Quarter Pole   
    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.
  17. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from PatPfund for an article, First Place, Feeling Great: 4 Twins Observations at the Quarter Pole   
    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.
  18. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from MN_ExPat for an article, First Place, Feeling Great: 4 Twins Observations at the Quarter Pole   
    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.
  19. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from wsnydes for an article, First Place, Feeling Great: 4 Twins Observations at the Quarter Pole   
    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.
  20. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from chpettit19 for an article, First Place, Feeling Great: 4 Twins Observations at the Quarter Pole   
    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.
  21. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from Employee No. 4210 for an article, First Place, Feeling Great: 4 Twins Observations at the Quarter Pole   
    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.
  22. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from Dave The Dastardly for an article, Week in Review: Capitalizing on Cushy Competition   
    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
  23. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from twinssporto for an article, First Place, Feeling Great: 4 Twins Observations at the Quarter Pole   
    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.
  24. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from VivaBomboRivera! for an article, Week in Review: Capitalizing on Cushy Competition   
    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
  25. Like
    Nick Nelson got a reaction from verninski for an article, Week in Review: Capitalizing on Cushy Competition   
    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
×
×
  • Create New...