NotAboutWinning reacted to Melissa Berman for an article, Twins Valentine's Day Cards!
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NotAboutWinning reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Beat Writer in Worst Shape of His Life
Every spring training, baseball writers document which player in camp has cut weight, hit the gym, and is generally in “the best shape of his life.”
“It’s one of those clichés that happens to be true,” said the Star Tribune’s Phil Miller. “There’s always a player who really got after it in the winter and it’s hard to miss.”
“I was on Jeopardy,” confirmed MLB.com’s Do-Hyoung Park.
For the Fargo Forum’s Steve Fraley, it’s another matter entirely.
“I have let myself go,” said Fraley. “Things are not good.”
Fraley, battling his second hangover of the weekday, confirmed to Twins Daily that he is in the worst shape of his life heading to Fort Myers.
“The thing they don’t tell you about cigarettes is how good they make you feel,” said Fraley. “You get up in the morning, reheat a cup of coffee, then light up that dart. Man. Then you figure out where you left your phone, dry swallow four Advils, and get on with the day.”
Fraley is in his fourth season of covering the Twins for the newspaper and says this is as slovenly as he’s ever been before Opening Day.
“I live right next to an Applebee’s,” said Fraley. “You just wander across the parking lot, settle in, order some nachos, and brother, you are feeling good in the neighborhood. Sometimes the Law & Order rerun is one I haven’t even seen yet.
“That said, the advancements they’ve made in nacho delivery technology have had some undesirable side effects. Going up a size on the board shorts and Hawaiian shirts this year, can’t smoke my way out of this one even though I plan to try.”
Fraley’s fellow scribes agree that it’s a struggle to get into the writer’s version of midseason form.
“I honestly don’t know what airport I’m landing in or how I’m getting to the park,” said The Athletic’s Aaron Gleeman. “I’m in the air right now.”
“Twice. I was on Jeopardy twice,” added Park.
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NotAboutWinning reacted to Hunter McCall for an article, Give Joey Gallo a Chance
This criticism is strange, considering Joey Gallo has provided elite-level talent as recently as two years ago. Fans need to give Gallo a chance before calling for his head.
Gallo started the 2021 season with the Texas Rangers. Coming off a disappointing shortened season in 2020 in which he had an OPS under .700, he looked to prove that he was still a competent hitter. Gallo started the year having an excellent campaign, making the All-Star Game, and going into the trade deadline with a .869 OPS and 25 home runs. The struggling Rangers decided to capitalize on Gallo's value by trading him to the New York Yankees for four top-30 prospects.
Before the Yankee trade, despite having a consistently low batting average, Gallo put up eye-popping numbers. Since the trade, however, he has been a different man. His batting average has dipped from its already low baseline, and his strikeout rate is among the highest in baseball.
Due to the underperformance and the amount of capital the Yankees gave up to acquire Gallo, Yankee fans quickly turned on the slugger. (Remember, this is the same fanbase that booed Aaron Judge in a playoff game the same year he hit an American League record 62 home runs.) In a post-game interview, Gallo was quoted saying the Yankee's fans "make me feel like a piece of s—t." As Gallo's frustration built, his performance continued to spiral.
At the 2022 trade deadline, the Yankees moved on from Gallo, trading him to the Dodgers. Gallo had his moments as a Dodger but wasn't an everyday player on a loaded roster. He finished the season with an OPS under .700 and entered free agency looking for a change of scenery.
He found that in the Minnesota Twins. The Twins signed Gallo to a one-year prove-it deal worth $12M. It's a low-risk, high-reward deal for a Twins team looking to get back into the playoffs. If Gallo continues to underperform, they can plug Trevor Larnach in the corner and move on from Gallo at the end of the year. If he returns to the first half of 2021 form, they have a hitter capable of being a 5 WAR player.
When they acquired Gallo, Yankees fans failed to realize that he is what he has always been. He will strike out an appalling number of times and hit in the low .200s on a good year. Banning the shift could help boost Gallo's batting average, but expecting him to hit .270 is an unrealistic expectation for him in 2023. His flaws should be understood ahead of time, but there are many ways to contribute value to a baseball team. Joey Gallo has as much, if not more, raw power as anyone in the league. He is a slugging machine when he is playing well.
In addition to the power production, he draws walks at a rate higher than 90% of the league. He strikes out a ton, but his at-bats are almost always quality. Did you know Gallo sees more pitches per at-bat than former Twin and contact savant Luis Arraez ? In 2022, Gallo saw 4.2 pitches per plate appearance compared to Arraez's 4.0. Gallo's ability to produce long, quality at-bats can be very beneficial for the Twins in 2023, as it shortens the game life of opposing starting pitchers and gives his teammates ample opportunity to see different pitch sequences thrown on any given day.
Lastly, Gallo provides great defense to an already stellar defensive outfield. Since 2020, Gallo has contributed 32 DRS, the second-best in the MLB, and collected two Gold Glove awards. He will fit in nicely in left field beside the rangy Byron Buxton and bring back the old "Nothing falls but range drops" mentality in the outfield.
For those already flooding Twitter and the comment section of Twins Daily with posts about how horrible Joey Gallo is and that he's "the next Miguel Sano ," give the guy a chance. Go into the season understanding that Joey Gallo isn't Luis Arraez. He won't contend for a batting title. That's not his strength. However, if you were to let him play his style of baseball, his strengths could be a significant asset to the Minnesota Twins.
NotAboutWinning reacted to Matt Braun for an article, Andrew Heaney is the Best the Twins Can Do
The Twins have yet to answer with an unquestionable “yes.” Kenta Maeda was close, but he disappointed in 2021 before undergoing Tommy John surgery; Sonny Gray nearly reached the “elite” platform, but nicks and bruises have limited him to a solidly secondary tier; Tyler Mahle faltered before earning a chance to prove himself. In each case, the pitcher flashed potential, perhaps hinting that an elite starter existed underneath their skin, but none have yet fulfilled that potential.
The issue nags on. Minnesota’s starting rotation looks good enough if you don’t squint too hard and if someone turns off the injury setting, but it’s not a squad that compares favorably to the collection of arms elite teams like the Astros can boast.
Part of the problem is development; the Twins have lagged behind the best teams in turning their homegrown draft picks into feared arms, and they have not cracked the code in revealing the true potential of other teams’ perpetual under-performers. They tried with Chris Paddack—perhaps they almost succeeded—but his elbow broke again, and the Twins could only claim a failed gamble. With the exception of Ryan Pressly, they haven’t become a victim of pitching pick-pocketing, but their best heist to date is Joe Ryan.
As for those draft picks, José Berríos pitched some of the finest seasons this side of Johan Santana, but he never embraced his ace potential, instead finding respectable success as an inconsistent yet talented #2. No other draft pick compares to him. A flurry of Terry Ryan prospects—most notably Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero, and Adalberto Mejía—tried and failed to succeed; Twins pitchers drafted by the new regime have yet to impact the franchise.
The team turned to free agency. Michael Pineda gave Minnesota a few quality years, but the team has primarily followed a distinct pattern of whiffing on the big names—most notably Yu Darvish and Zack Wheeler—while signing cheap starters who performed like cheap starters. Maybe one could claim 2019 Martín Pérez as a win, but doing so proves how fruitless the Twins have been with starters in free agency under Derek Falvey; a playoff team needs more than a lopsided 1.9 fWAR season from a pitcher who didn’t take the mound in the postseason that year.
Until the Twins break the mold, Andrew Heaney is the best they can do. Heaney is a perfect Twin: a troubled starter with great stuff and a devastating penchant for giving up jackhammer levels of loud contact. Heaney finally realized his strikeout potential in 2022, punching out 35.5% of hitters in a dominating season that culminated in a 3.10 ERA, even better peripherals, and just 14 starts due to a variety of health problems. Injuries wilted his excellence, and the Dodgers could only squeeze six innings out of Heaney in two outings, limiting him to just 1.1 fWAR despite the great pitching.
In the current free agent context—one Nick Nelson noted could be especially troublesome for a team looking for an ace—the Twins’ likely option will be praying for Heaney’s health. They could sign Carlos Rodón, but their history says they won’t do that. If—probably, when—the best arms sign elsewhere, Minnesota will look at Heaney, talk themselves into his incredible upside, and bet against reason that this is the year he finally stays healthy.