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  1. Like
    Otwins reacted to Brandon for a blog entry, 4 Year Window?   
    It seems like the Twins are settling in on a 4-year window of being competitive. Last year the Twins signed 2 of their core players to 5-year contracts totaling just over 60 million. Note, they now have 4 years left on those extensions. Just a few days ago the wins signed Sano to an extension that has a guaranteed 3-year extension with a 4th year option. The Twins are looking to sign Donaldson to a 4-year contract as well. I am beginning to think the longer Donaldson doesn’t sign the better our odd are of signing him become. I think the more extensions they sign that give more payroll certainty, the more the Twins will feel comfortable increasing their offer to JD and get the deal done.
    As far as the other position players go, we have 5 years control on Garver, 3 years for Buxton, and 5 years for Arreaz. That is 7 of the 9 starters who are locked up for 3 years and 6 can be locked up for 7.
    The 2 positions not locked up the full 4 years are DH/ 1B and LF. The Twins have Killeroff, Rooker, Raley, Larnarch and Blankenship among others.
    To replace Gonzales as the everywhere player is Lewis. He has shown he can play CF, 3B and SS in the minors. He can come up and be an everyday player at every position.
    In the pen and back of the rotation there were numerous pitchers who have shown they can be effective in those roles. It’s a matter of giving them another year to show who is really ready and who is not. As far as extensions go for pitchers; if we can sign May and Rogers in the pen to extensions and Berrios and maybe Odorizzi in the rotation, we would have a really strong core locked up and quite a few young pitchers with years of team control remaining. That makes the next 4 years where the Twins are working around the edges and looking for a star starting pitcher to come here.
    Looking forward at the next 4 years starting in 2024, the Twins will still have 2-3 years control for players coming up like Killeroff, Larnarch, Lewis, Rooker, Baddoo. Plus, they will have any players extended in arbitration under control for an extended period of time like Arreaz? Garver? On the pitching side the picture is not as clear but as of now we have Graterol as either a starter or reliever, Balazovich is on his way, and we have numerous other pitchers who came up in the last year or next year and may be at the back of the rotation or in the pen as well such as Thorpe, Smeltzer, Littell, Dobnak, Alcala, Wells, Jax, Stashak, and so many more. And the Twins will have 4 years to develop other players and pitchers as well and the Twins could be well set up to have another 4-year window….
  2. Like
    Otwins reacted to stringer bell for a blog entry, A Great Start to 2019   
    Here we are on May 9th and the Twins have the best record in Major League Baseball. They have had some low moments, but mostly everything has gone as well as, or better than, expected. Chatter about the Twins has been positive, especially after dominating a bad Baltimore team and then winning a series (and the season series) against the Houston Astros. A 4-2 road trip, including a dominant sweep in Toronto have put the Twins a season-high 11 games over .500.
    I doubt everything will continue to come up roses for the Twins, it never does. They will suffer injuries and players will slump or disappoint. Even in the best of years, these things happen. However, it appears that in most respects, the team assembled by the relatively new executive team of Falvey and Levine is set up well to handle struggles and snags when they occur.
    Let's look at what has transpired in the mostly cold and wet months of April and early May. With the exception of Miguel Sanó, the offense has been healthy and rolling. The Twins are in the top tier in the league for run-scoring, home runs, slugging and OPS. They don't walk much (most of the lineup is comprised of aggressive hitters), but they don't strike out much, relative to the rest of the league. The Twins are averaging well over five runs a game, playing many games in poor weather conditions. They appear set to challenge team records in runs scored and home runs this year. The power is well-distributed, with most of the regular lineup already hitting six or more homers. They have endured slumps from regulars and a slow start from Marwin Gonzalez (who has essentially replaced Sanó) without suffering much on the scoreboard.
    Pitching has been a surprise. The team is in the top half of many key pitching stats, including runs per game, quality starts, shutouts, innings pitched by starters, and opponent's batting average. Three of the five starters have been outstanding, with a fourth (Kyle Gibson) rounding into form in recent starts. The starters good work has taken pressure off of the bullpen. The bullpen hasn't been spotless, but they've gotten the job done. The late-inning quartet of May, Hildenberger, Rogers and Parker has been satisfactory, if not dominating.
    Defensively, the team is also doing very well. New acquisitions Gonzalez, Schoop and Crom have all played well in the field and the team has mostly been able to keep it's regular outfielders on the field, all of whom are plus defenders.
    Individual performances of note include José Berríos ascending to ace or near ace status. Jorge Polanco playing good defense and breaking out with the bat, Martín Pérez finding a few mph on his fastball and coming up with a cut fastball to (so far) become an outstanding rotation piece. The catching duo of Mitch Garver and Jason Castro (with a few appearances by Willians Astudillo) has been outstanding with the bat and has been given credit for helping the pitching improve. On the negative side, Marwin Gonzalez hasn't hit much, new rotation member Michael Pineda has struggled mightily in his last four starts and several relievers at the front end of the bullpen have had trouble getting people out. Many more players have stepped it up beyond those mentioned. Basically, the good play to this point has been a team effort.
    Can this run continue? Well, I think the competition changes with many more games against familiar opponents in the Central Division--three of those teams (KC, Chicago and Detroit) are in one stage or the other of rebuilding--so the schedule figures to be somewhat more favorable. I doubt the Twins can keep hitting so many homers (they are on a pace to hit almost 300!) and I also doubt the pitching will continue to be dominant, but there is no doubt that they are improved.
    I think the need going forward this year is adding pitching. A starter to perhaps supplant Pineda and a strong bullpen arm would be helpful and when injuries happen, such improvements might be vital. The Twins are now considered favorites to win the Central, but they need to keep doing what they're doing.
    Credit for this improvement should be given to Falvey and Levine, who also hired rookie manager Rocco Baldelli. They've shown they pay attention to the metrics that are part of the game now and made good decisions in putting together a team for today without breaking the bank or mortgaging the future. There's a long way to go, but the ride this year promises to be fun and it might be magical.
  3. Like
    Otwins reacted to SD Buhr for a blog entry, Flirting With an Old Addiction   
    I did something recently that I hadn’t done in probably 15 years.
    It used to be a habit. In fact, in retrospect, it may have actually become my very first true habit – something I came to feel I needed. Whether it was a good habit or a bad habit is probably open to debate, depending on one’s perspective.
    (This article was originally published at Knuckleballsblog.com)
    The habit had its roots in my youth. My dad was a baseball coach, so I spent most of my spring and summer playing or watching baseball. I spent a lot of time around the high school players that my dad coached and wanted to do pretty much anything that would make me feel connected to real ballplayers.
    I turned five years old during the Minnesota Twins’ first season of existence in 1961 and it was at least indirectly because of the way my friends and I followed that team in the early to mid-60s that we eventually began to spend an increasing percentage of our weekly allowances to feed our mutual habit (remember when kids got allowances that they had to learn to live within each week?).
    My parents seemed to understand. They were baseball fans, after all, and didn’t want to discourage me from being one, too. Of course, had they known how much money I would eventually spend (arguably, “throw away” might be a more appropriate term) on the habit, they might have more closely supervised or restricted my activities. Then again, people did a lot of things in the 60s that, it turns out, weren’t exactly good ideas.
    By the late 1980s, I was more heavily involved with the habit and I could see that my own young son was also taking it up. I was even more of an enabler than my own father had been with me. I didn’t even make my son spend his own money to get started on the habit, I covered a significant portion of the financial commitment necessary to get him hooked.
    By the mid 1990s, my son and I were both putting money into buying baseball cards.
    He graduated from high school in 2001 and I’m not sure how much he has continued to spend on the habit, but I’m certain he hasn’t kept up with the levels we did when he was younger.
    Personally, I have picked up a pack once in a great while, but I hadn’t bought a full multi-pack hobby box of cards for a very long time – until now.
    I don’t know what made me backslide. I could probably blame it on the idleness that comes with having retired from my day-job, leading me to spend too many of my cold (and not-so-cold) winter days in bored hibernation. But the honest truth is, I just wanted to do it.
    I wanted to buy a box of cards and spend some time opening every pack, looking to see what superstars might emerge as I tore open the packs and thumbed my way through the individual cards - just the way I did when I was eight years old and hoping to find a Harmon Killebrew or Tony Oliva, while I combed past the checklists and the inevitable Bill Monbouquette card that seemed to be present in every pack.
    And it felt good. Very good. Maybe dangerously good, for a guy who’s facing a future of living on a relatively fixed (and potentially decreasing) retirement income.
    Nice card. Now if it had just been autographed by both of these guys...

    I’m not sure what caused me to backslide. I think perhaps a couple pictures of new cards found their way into my Twitter timeline, triggering a previously buried subliminal command that forced me to spend time entering various baseball card-related phrases into my search engine of choice that day. At least I’ll blame it on Twitter. I blame a lot of things on Twitter, after all.
    In the end, I decided to order a box of 2012 Panini Extra Edition Elite cards. Honestly, until the day I ordered them, I hadn’t heard of Panini baseball cards. It turns out, though, that they issue sets of prospect cards each year and the fact that they supposedly included six autographed cards in each hobby box (20 packs with 5 cards per pack) was a selling point.
    I figured the 2012 set might include some of the first three classes of Twins-affiliated Cedar Rapids Kernels that I've gotten to know during the past three seasons.
    The box arrived Thursday morning. It was smaller than I envisioned it being, but I got past that. Alas, many things from the days of our youth seemed bigger than they really were, in retrospect.
    I opened the box and gave some thought about how I wanted to proceed with opening the packs. I considered opening just three or four packs a day, spreading out the fun of opening them over the course of at least a few days.
    Yeah, that didn’t happen. I opened the first 10 packs in just minutes, coming across four autographs and a handful of other special “numbered series” cards in the process. I paused at that point to get a drink and look up the names of a couple of the unfamiliar guys I now had autographs of.
    I’m not too proud to admit there were a couple of well-regarded prospects in 2012 that I had no recollection of ever hearing about (but I’m also not going to open myself up to public humiliation by admitting exactly who they were).
    After acquainting myself with those players, I ripped into the remaining 10 packs.
    About the time this card was being released, Kyle Tucker was turning 15 years old. Three years later he became the Astros' 2015 first round draft choice (5th overall).

    I ended up with seven autograph cards (one more than the promised six - bonus!) and my hopes concerning picking up a few former Kernels/Future Twins were also realized. Among them were Luke Bard, Adam (sans Brett) Walker, Mason Melotakis and J.O. (a.k.a. Jose) Berrios.
    Twins pitching prospect J.T. Chargois showed up in a pack, as well, though he never had the honor of wearing a Kernels jersey.
    None of the autograph cards were Twins prospects, but I did get a “Building Blocks” card featuring the Astros’ Carlos Correa and Twins uber-prospect Byron Buxton.
    Maybe best of all, there wasn’t a Bill Monbouquette in the entire box. In fact, I only had a total of three duplicate cards. (if you're a particular fan of Joe DeCarlo, Brett Mooneyham or Matt Price, let me know and I'll hook you up with a card.)
    As I write this, probably three hours or so after opening the last pack of the box, I’m left to wonder what this all means.
    I want to convince myself that this was a one-time thing – that buying one box of cards doesn’t mean I’m destined to relapse into the full depths of another epoch of card-collecting. I’m just not sure that even I would believe that.
    If you should hear that I’ve decided to take my 401(k) money in a single lump sum, please pray for me.
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