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Cody Christie

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    West Fargo, ND
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    Born and raised in NoDak. Now a resident of the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities.
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    Teacher

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    Blogging, running, collecting sport memorabilia, being involved in my church

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  1. To the Commissioner: I first want to ask you why you don’t support the great game of baseball. In this past season, some of the greatest moments in the history of the sport took place. However, there continues to be a long list of issues tied to your time as commissioner. Fans understand that not all commissioners will be loved, but your actions have impacted a generation of fans, and it may be tough to bring these former fans back into the fold. Fans list of grievances against the owners and yourself is long. During the unprecedented 2020 season, the owners and your office tried to paint the players as greedy and unwilling to sacrifice enough during a global pandemic. Baseball was lucky to get through the 2020 campaign, but plenty of teams and players were impacted along the way. As reported in the Washington Post, “The minute it became apparent this season was going to have to be played in empty stadiums, Manfred and the owners began moaning about their losses, even though the game has never been healthier financially than in recent seasons. New contracts with regional television networks have lined the owners’ pockets, and attendance has been strong.” Another grievance fans have against your leadership is tied to the Houston Astros cheating scandal. Multiple managers and a general manager were fired in response to the allegations, but how much did they have to do with the scandal? None of the players involved in the scandal were suspended, and two of the three managers were back in baseball after missing a shortened 2020 campaign. In your letter to fans, you touted the $1.7 million spent on the “broken” free agent system during November. Guess what? Players were willing to strike these deals because of the looming lockout. It’s a fundamental human need to want to know where your family will live and how much income a person can expect. Players want security and to know what the future holds. Also, you said, “By the end of the offseason, Clubs will have committed more money to players than in any offseason in MLB history.” While that may sound good on paper, this shouldn’t be breaking news. Increasing revenues across baseball should allow teams to spend more money. Every offseason should see a new record amount of money being committed to players. Your list of concessions to the players includes some ideas that will fundamentally make the game stronger. There should be a minimum payroll. Teams shouldn’t be able to engage in service time manipulation. Young players should be paid more, including those in the minor leagues. Fans want a universal DH. A new draft system can help to stop teams from trying to be competitive. All of these changes would make baseball more competitive, not less. There is one thing we can agree on; baseball can not afford to cancel games. Baseball’s popularity continues to decline, and losing any part of the 2022 season will push fans further away from this great game. As you referenced regarding the 1994 season, “We owe you, our fans, better than that.” Today is a difficult day for baseball fans. You have made questionable leadership decisions throughout your time as commissioner. What is baseball fans’ biggest problem with you? You don’t appear to be a fan of the game.
  2. Major League Baseball and its owners officially locked out the MLB Players Union. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred wrote a letter to baseball fans, and here is my response. To the Commissioner: I first want to ask you why you don’t support the great game of baseball. In this past season, some of the greatest moments in the history of the sport took place. However, there continues to be a long list of issues tied to your time as commissioner. Fans understand that not all commissioners will be loved, but your actions have impacted a generation of fans, and it may be tough to bring these former fans back into the fold. Fans list of grievances against the owners and yourself is long. During the unprecedented 2020 season, the owners and your office tried to paint the players as greedy and unwilling to sacrifice enough during a global pandemic. Baseball was lucky to get through the 2020 campaign, but plenty of teams and players were impacted along the way. As reported in the Washington Post, “The minute it became apparent this season was going to have to be played in empty stadiums, Manfred and the owners began moaning about their losses, even though the game has never been healthier financially than in recent seasons. New contracts with regional television networks have lined the owners’ pockets, and attendance has been strong.” Another grievance fans have against your leadership is tied to the Houston Astros cheating scandal. Multiple managers and a general manager were fired in response to the allegations, but how much did they have to do with the scandal? None of the players involved in the scandal were suspended, and two of the three managers were back in baseball after missing a shortened 2020 campaign. In your letter to fans, you touted the $1.7 million spent on the “broken” free agent system during November. Guess what? Players were willing to strike these deals because of the looming lockout. It’s a fundamental human need to want to know where your family will live and how much income a person can expect. Players want security and to know what the future holds. Also, you said, “By the end of the offseason, Clubs will have committed more money to players than in any offseason in MLB history.” While that may sound good on paper, this shouldn’t be breaking news. Increasing revenues across baseball should allow teams to spend more money. Every offseason should see a new record amount of money being committed to players. Your list of concessions to the players includes some ideas that will fundamentally make the game stronger. There should be a minimum payroll. Teams shouldn’t be able to engage in service time manipulation. Young players should be paid more, including those in the minor leagues. Fans want a universal DH. A new draft system can help to stop teams from trying to be competitive. All of these changes would make baseball more competitive, not less. There is one thing we can agree on; baseball can not afford to cancel games. Baseball’s popularity continues to decline, and losing any part of the 2022 season will push fans further away from this great game. As you referenced regarding the 1994 season, “We owe you, our fans, better than that.” Today is a difficult day for baseball fans. You have made questionable leadership decisions throughout your time as commissioner. What is baseball fans’ biggest problem with you? You don’t appear to be a fan of the game. View full article
  3. Last winter, Minnesota was rumored to be interested in infielders like Marcus Siemen and Didi Gregorious. Both players signed with other clubs, and the Twins turned to Andrelton Simmons on an $11 million deal. At the time, Minnesota touted the agreement as a way for the team to improve defensively. Simmons lived up to his defensive reputation, but he hit new career lows in many offensive categories. The Twins are also in an intriguing position when it comes to the shortstop position. Both of the team's top prospects, Royce Lewis and Austin Martin, have played shortstop in the minor leagues. However, neither player is guaranteed to stick at shortstop for the long term. Each of the players below is still available with the league's shutdown now at hand. Included with each player is his projected salary, according to the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook. 5. Andrelton Simmons TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $3 million/season Twins fans may not want to hear it, but bringing Simmons back can make a lot of sense for the club. Offensively, he is coming off his worst big-league season, and that is going to significantly reduce his cost. His defensive skills are still near the top of the league and that might be beneficial to whomever the club has in the rotation. 4. Freddy Galvis TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $3 million/season Galvis is a below-average offensive player who is coming off a career-best awful season (91 OPS+). In 104 games last season, he got on base over 30% of the time, and he collected 30 extra-base hits. Defensively, he's not at the same level as Simmons, but he can hold his own at shortstop. There are some rumblings that he may be headed to Japan, but he seems like a player that is good enough to get a big-league deal for 2022. Galvis may be a good fill-in option until Lewis or Martin is ready to take the reins. 3. Jonathan Villar TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $5 million/season Villar doesn't have the defensive chops of some of the other players on this list, but the Mets used him at shortstop for a good chunk of the 2021 campaign. Last season, he posted a 102 OPS+ with 38 extra-base hits in 142. He's better than Galvis offensively and worse on defense. Villar can be acquired on a cheaper deal than the team paid for Simmons last winter. 2. Trevor Story TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $22 million/season Story is one of the top-tier shortstops he's projected to make over $100 million this winter. Colorado surprisingly didn't trade him at last year's trade deadline and instead decided to make him the qualifying offer. Among National League shortstops, he ranked third according to SABR's Defensive Index. Story is a two-time All-Star and Silver Slugger winner that is one of the game's best shortstops. It would be great for the Twins to outbid other teams, but many large-market teams are looking for a shortstop upgrade. 1. Carlos Correa TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $30 million/season Correa is one of baseball's best players, and there's a good chance his contract will be close to $300 million. He's hitting free agency at a relatively young age (27), and his contract will lock him up for the entirety of his prime. Correa ranked as the best defender in the American League last season, and he has plenty of playoff experience. Twins fans can dream of a Correa/Polanco middle infield combo, but it doesn't seem likely for the team to allot that much money to one player for a decade. Do you think the Twins will be able to add any of these shortstops? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or emai
  4. Some of the top free-agent shortstops have already signed, and the Minnesota Twins still have a hole at the position. Let's revisit the top-five remaining free-agent shortstop options for the Twins. Last winter, Minnesota was rumored to be interested in infielders like Marcus Siemen and Didi Gregorious. Both players signed with other clubs, and the Twins turned to Andrelton Simmons on an $11 million deal. At the time, Minnesota touted the agreement as a way for the team to improve defensively. Simmons lived up to his defensive reputation, but he hit new career lows in many offensive categories. The Twins are also in an intriguing position when it comes to the shortstop position. Both of the team's top prospects, Royce Lewis and Austin Martin, have played shortstop in the minor leagues. However, neither player is guaranteed to stick at shortstop for the long term. Each of the players below is still available with the league's shutdown now at hand. Included with each player is his projected salary, according to the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook. 5. Andrelton Simmons TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $3 million/season Twins fans may not want to hear it, but bringing Simmons back can make a lot of sense for the club. Offensively, he is coming off his worst big-league season, and that is going to significantly reduce his cost. His defensive skills are still near the top of the league and that might be beneficial to whomever the club has in the rotation. 4. Freddy Galvis TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $3 million/season Galvis is a below-average offensive player who is coming off a career-best awful season (91 OPS+). In 104 games last season, he got on base over 30% of the time, and he collected 30 extra-base hits. Defensively, he's not at the same level as Simmons, but he can hold his own at shortstop. There are some rumblings that he may be headed to Japan, but he seems like a player that is good enough to get a big-league deal for 2022. Galvis may be a good fill-in option until Lewis or Martin is ready to take the reins. 3. Jonathan Villar TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $5 million/season Villar doesn't have the defensive chops of some of the other players on this list, but the Mets used him at shortstop for a good chunk of the 2021 campaign. Last season, he posted a 102 OPS+ with 38 extra-base hits in 142. He's better than Galvis offensively and worse on defense. Villar can be acquired on a cheaper deal than the team paid for Simmons last winter. 2. Trevor Story TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $22 million/season Story is one of the top-tier shortstops he's projected to make over $100 million this winter. Colorado surprisingly didn't trade him at last year's trade deadline and instead decided to make him the qualifying offer. Among National League shortstops, he ranked third according to SABR's Defensive Index. Story is a two-time All-Star and Silver Slugger winner that is one of the game's best shortstops. It would be great for the Twins to outbid other teams, but many large-market teams are looking for a shortstop upgrade. 1. Carlos Correa TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $30 million/season Correa is one of baseball's best players, and there's a good chance his contract will be close to $300 million. He's hitting free agency at a relatively young age (27), and his contract will lock him up for the entirety of his prime. Correa ranked as the best defender in the American League last season, and he has plenty of playoff experience. Twins fans can dream of a Correa/Polanco middle infield combo, but it doesn't seem likely for the team to allot that much money to one player for a decade. Do you think the Twins will be able to add any of these shortstops? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or emai View full article
  5. Minnesota’s current rotation is expected to include Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan. Other rotational options include Randy Dobnak, Griffin Jax, and Lewis Thorpe. Some of the team’s top prospects are also on the 40-man roster, including Jordan Balazovic, Cole Sands, Drew Strotman, Chis Vallimont, and Josh Winder. Each of the players below is still available with the looming lockout on the horizon. Included with each player is his projected salary, according to the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook. 5. RHP Michael Pineda TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $8 million/season Twins fans are well familiar with Pineda, and he likely won’t get the fanbase excited about what he can bring to the rotation. He seems like an excellent candidate to be the team’s number three starter, but that would mean the Twins need to acquire two other arms to put ahead of him in the rotation. Pineda is a known quantity, and he has been a strong veteran presence during his time in Minnesota. He can add rotational depth, but he can’t be the team’s only offseason move. 4. LHP Yusei Kikuchi TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $15 million/season Kikuchi was an All-Star last season, but he struggled mightily in the second half with an ERA close to 6.00. He surrendered the hardest average exit velocity in baseball last season because he leaves too many pitches over the middle of the plate. He will be a project for any team that signs him, but he’s left-handed and has a three-pitch mix, so that’s intriguing. 3. LHP Clayton Kershaw TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $18 million/season Kershaw is a future inner-circle Hall of Fame member, so it seems unlikely for him to sign with a Twins team coming off a last-place finish. In the twilight of his career, Kershaw can pick the right destination for him and his family. That destination won’t be in Minnesota. 2. LHP Carlos Rodon TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $18 million/season Earlier this week, KSTP reported that the Twins were taking a serious run at Carlos Rodon, an intriguing name. He was one of the American League’s best starters last season, but shoulder issues kept him out near the season’s end. Another item to consider is the White Sox didn’t make him a qualifying offer. Chicago knows Rodon’s health better than anyone, and they may believe his injury will continue to linger. 1. RHP Marcus Stroman TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $20 million/season Stroman is one of the last men standing out of the tier one starting pitchers. Twins fans may be suspicious of another pitch-to-contact arm at the top of the team’s rotation. He doesn’t have some of the injury question marks surrounding some of the other top names on this list. Also, his market is likely more extensive than the beginning of the offseason because the supply of top-tier pitchers is running low. Stroman seems like an excellent fit for the Twins, but will they outbid other teams to get an ace. There isn’t much left on the shelf for the Twins to spend money on this winter. Likely, this points to the team needing to make multiple trades to fill numerous rotation spots. Do you think the Twins will be able to add any of these starters? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  6. There has been a flurry of free-agent signings with the looming lockout. Let’s revisit the top-five remaining free-agent starting pitcher options for the Twins. Minnesota’s current rotation is expected to include Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan. Other rotational options include Randy Dobnak, Griffin Jax, and Lewis Thorpe. Some of the team’s top prospects are also on the 40-man roster, including Jordan Balazovic, Cole Sands, Drew Strotman, Chis Vallimont, and Josh Winder. Each of the players below is still available with the looming lockout on the horizon. Included with each player is his projected salary, according to the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook. 5. RHP Michael Pineda TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $8 million/season Twins fans are well familiar with Pineda, and he likely won’t get the fanbase excited about what he can bring to the rotation. He seems like an excellent candidate to be the team’s number three starter, but that would mean the Twins need to acquire two other arms to put ahead of him in the rotation. Pineda is a known quantity, and he has been a strong veteran presence during his time in Minnesota. He can add rotational depth, but he can’t be the team’s only offseason move. 4. LHP Yusei Kikuchi TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $15 million/season Kikuchi was an All-Star last season, but he struggled mightily in the second half with an ERA close to 6.00. He surrendered the hardest average exit velocity in baseball last season because he leaves too many pitches over the middle of the plate. He will be a project for any team that signs him, but he’s left-handed and has a three-pitch mix, so that’s intriguing. 3. LHP Clayton Kershaw TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $18 million/season Kershaw is a future inner-circle Hall of Fame member, so it seems unlikely for him to sign with a Twins team coming off a last-place finish. In the twilight of his career, Kershaw can pick the right destination for him and his family. That destination won’t be in Minnesota. 2. LHP Carlos Rodon TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $18 million/season Earlier this week, KSTP reported that the Twins were taking a serious run at Carlos Rodon, an intriguing name. He was one of the American League’s best starters last season, but shoulder issues kept him out near the season’s end. Another item to consider is the White Sox didn’t make him a qualifying offer. Chicago knows Rodon’s health better than anyone, and they may believe his injury will continue to linger. 1. RHP Marcus Stroman TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $20 million/season Stroman is one of the last men standing out of the tier one starting pitchers. Twins fans may be suspicious of another pitch-to-contact arm at the top of the team’s rotation. He doesn’t have some of the injury question marks surrounding some of the other top names on this list. Also, his market is likely more extensive than the beginning of the offseason because the supply of top-tier pitchers is running low. Stroman seems like an excellent fit for the Twins, but will they outbid other teams to get an ace. There isn’t much left on the shelf for the Twins to spend money on this winter. Likely, this points to the team needing to make multiple trades to fill numerous rotation spots. Do you think the Twins will be able to add any of these starters? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  7. Below you will see Minnesota’s projected line-up and each player’s age during the 2025 campaign. Catcher: Ryan Jeffers (27) Ryan Jeffers struggled through parts of the 2021 season, but expectations are still high for him to become the team’s primary catcher in the years ahead. In 2025, he will be 27-years-old and be in his second year of arbitration eligibility. Backing up Jeffers will likely be Ben Rortvedt, who made his debut last season. First Base: Alex Kirilloff (27) Alex Kirilloff primarily split his time between the corner outfield and first base (22 OF starts, 21 1B starts) during his brief big-league career, but first base will be his eventual defensive home. He has a chance to be one of the league’s best defenders at the position. His bat will be above average no matter where he ends up on the defensive side of the ball. In 2025, he should be a regular in the middle of the line-up while powering Minnesota’s offense. Second Base: Jorge Polanco (31) Jorge Polanco is coming off his most valuable big-league season, so it is interesting to consider what the next handful of years can mean for his career. The 2025 campaign is the last season in which he is under team control from the contract he signed before the 2019 season. Last season, FanGraphs put Polanco’s value at $31.4 million, and he will make $12 million in 2025. Shortstop: Royce Lewis (25) This winter, Minnesota has an opportunity to take advantage of one of arguably the best free-agent shortstop classes in baseball history. However, Royce Lewis is one of the team’s top prospects, and they may have confidence in him holding down shortstop to start his big-league career. He hasn’t played a game in two seasons, so the 2022 campaign will go a long way to determining his eventual defensive home. Third Base: Jose Miranda (26) Josh Donaldson’s contract can run through the 2024 season, leaving third base wide open for Jose Miranda. Expectations are for Miranda to make his big-league debut in 2022, and he should start getting regular reps at third base in the upcoming campaign. He’s coming off a tremendous season at Double- and Triple-A, and the team just added him to the 40-man roster this winter. Left Field: Austin Martin (26) Austin Martin is an intriguing prospect, but his defensive future is still up for debate. He has spent most of his professional career playing shortstop or center field, and he played a lot of third base in college. With Buxton manning center, Martin can slide to a corner outfield position and provide above-average defense. Hopefully, Martin’s power tool improves in the years ahead, so he becomes a perfect corner outfield fit. Center Field: Byron Buxton (31) If the Twins hadn’t signed Byron Buxton to an extension, multiple prospects would be considered as the team’s center fielder of the future. Lewis and Martin have both seen time in the outfield, and Gilberto Celestino has played plenty in center. Those players can be secondary options because Buxton is one of baseball’s best players when he is healthy. In the years ahead, it is going to be interesting to see how Buxton ages. Some of his game relies on speed and athleticism. Will the team have to move him out of center field by 2025? Right Field: Trevor Larnach (28) There’s no question that Trevor Larnach struggled during the 2021 season, but he had only played 43 games above the High-A level entering last year. Larnach was Minnesota’s first-round pick in 2018 because of his college experience at Oregon State and his powerful bat. By 2025, he should be a solid everyday outfielder with plenty of pop. Designated Hitter: Miguel Sano (31) Designated hitter is an interesting position to try and project for the long-term. Minnesota has multiple prospects like Brent Rooker and Aaron Sabato that don’t have a defensive home. However, Miguel Sano has hit 30 home runs or more in two of the last three seasons. Will the team be willing to continue paying him $9-10 million or turn the position over to someone younger? Who do you think fits into the team’s 2025 line-up? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. PREVIOUS YEAR’S PREDICTIONS — 2022 Line-Up — 2023 Line-Up — 2024 Line-Up
  8. Following a disappointing 2021 season, looking to the future offers Twins fans a little hope. Here is a look at what players may populate the team’s line-up in four years. Below you will see Minnesota’s projected line-up and each player’s age during the 2025 campaign. Catcher: Ryan Jeffers (27) Ryan Jeffers struggled through parts of the 2021 season, but expectations are still high for him to become the team’s primary catcher in the years ahead. In 2025, he will be 27-years-old and be in his second year of arbitration eligibility. Backing up Jeffers will likely be Ben Rortvedt, who made his debut last season. First Base: Alex Kirilloff (27) Alex Kirilloff primarily split his time between the corner outfield and first base (22 OF starts, 21 1B starts) during his brief big-league career, but first base will be his eventual defensive home. He has a chance to be one of the league’s best defenders at the position. His bat will be above average no matter where he ends up on the defensive side of the ball. In 2025, he should be a regular in the middle of the line-up while powering Minnesota’s offense. Second Base: Jorge Polanco (31) Jorge Polanco is coming off his most valuable big-league season, so it is interesting to consider what the next handful of years can mean for his career. The 2025 campaign is the last season in which he is under team control from the contract he signed before the 2019 season. Last season, FanGraphs put Polanco’s value at $31.4 million, and he will make $12 million in 2025. Shortstop: Royce Lewis (25) This winter, Minnesota has an opportunity to take advantage of one of arguably the best free-agent shortstop classes in baseball history. However, Royce Lewis is one of the team’s top prospects, and they may have confidence in him holding down shortstop to start his big-league career. He hasn’t played a game in two seasons, so the 2022 campaign will go a long way to determining his eventual defensive home. Third Base: Jose Miranda (26) Josh Donaldson’s contract can run through the 2024 season, leaving third base wide open for Jose Miranda. Expectations are for Miranda to make his big-league debut in 2022, and he should start getting regular reps at third base in the upcoming campaign. He’s coming off a tremendous season at Double- and Triple-A, and the team just added him to the 40-man roster this winter. Left Field: Austin Martin (26) Austin Martin is an intriguing prospect, but his defensive future is still up for debate. He has spent most of his professional career playing shortstop or center field, and he played a lot of third base in college. With Buxton manning center, Martin can slide to a corner outfield position and provide above-average defense. Hopefully, Martin’s power tool improves in the years ahead, so he becomes a perfect corner outfield fit. Center Field: Byron Buxton (31) If the Twins hadn’t signed Byron Buxton to an extension, multiple prospects would be considered as the team’s center fielder of the future. Lewis and Martin have both seen time in the outfield, and Gilberto Celestino has played plenty in center. Those players can be secondary options because Buxton is one of baseball’s best players when he is healthy. In the years ahead, it is going to be interesting to see how Buxton ages. Some of his game relies on speed and athleticism. Will the team have to move him out of center field by 2025? Right Field: Trevor Larnach (28) There’s no question that Trevor Larnach struggled during the 2021 season, but he had only played 43 games above the High-A level entering last year. Larnach was Minnesota’s first-round pick in 2018 because of his college experience at Oregon State and his powerful bat. By 2025, he should be a solid everyday outfielder with plenty of pop. Designated Hitter: Miguel Sano (31) Designated hitter is an interesting position to try and project for the long-term. Minnesota has multiple prospects like Brent Rooker and Aaron Sabato that don’t have a defensive home. However, Miguel Sano has hit 30 home runs or more in two of the last three seasons. Will the team be willing to continue paying him $9-10 million or turn the position over to someone younger? Who do you think fits into the team’s 2025 line-up? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. PREVIOUS YEAR’S PREDICTIONS — 2022 Line-Up — 2023 Line-Up — 2024 Line-Up View full article
  9. In recent years, the Twins have tried to utilize a variety of strategies to keep Byron Buxton healthy. Unfortunately, those mitigation strategies didn't work last season as a hamstring and hip injury slowed down his torrid start to the season. Shortly after returning from those injuries, he was hit by a pitch and broke his hand. Buxton's injury history is complex, and it's one of the reasons the Twins were able to sign him to an incentive-based contract. Now that Buxton is under contract, how can the Twins keep him on the field and off the injured list? Tone It Down Some of Buxton's previous injuries included smashing into the wall or making diving grabs. His all-or-nothing approach in the outfield is one of the reasons he is considered one of baseball's best defenders. Previously, he and the Twins have worked on him toning down his defensive style, but this isn't an easy feat. When Buxton hears the crack of the bat, his natural instincts are to go and track down the ball. Taking a toned-down approach may help Buxton as he ages and starts to lose a step. For now, the Twins can try a few other methods to keep him on the field. Jumping at the Wall Another well-reported strategy was the Twins coaching staff working with Buxton on his jumping at the wall. Buxton's all-out approach usually saw him jumping off one leg and crashing violently into the wall. His new approach was to work on jumping off two legs, which puts him in more control of his body at the wall. In theory, this sounds great, but sometimes the results aren't perfect. However, the two-legged approach also slows down his momentum, and this may cause him to miss catches he made in the past. This approach gives him more control at the wall, however, which can keep him healthy. Outfield Positioning Buxton's positioning in the outfield is another area that has changed significantly throughout his big-league career. From 2016-2018, Buxton's average depth from home plate was 314 feet. He has moved further away from home plate in each of the last three seasons, including last season where his average depth was 331 feet. Being deeper means Buxton has less time to build up momentum as he heads toward the wall to make a catch. He also has the speed to come up and make catches in front of him. Last season, Buxton's average outfield depth was the highest in baseball among outfielders with at least 2,000 defensive plate appearances in center field. Boston's Enrique Hernandez was the next closest center fielder, and he averaged three feet closer than Buxton. Regular Rest Since taking over as manager, Rocco Baldelli has stressed the importance of rest and recovery for his players. He revamped the team's spring training regimen to give players the time they need to prepare. Heck, the Twins even built a nap room to keep Nelson Cruz prepared to mash baseballs. Giving Buxton more regular days off can be something the team considers, but none of his injuries seem tied to his body wearing down on him. Baldelli saw his career shortened by injuries, and he empathized with Buxton after breaking his hand last season. He said, "I think the number of traumas, physically, that he's had to deal with, and because of that, emotionally, when you have to deal with that many types of things, difficult things, it's hard on you." Maybe it's a lost cause, and injuries are always going to find a way to impact Buxton. However, utilizing various strategies may keep him in the line-up on a more regular basis or at least minimize his time on the injured list. Which of these strategies is going to keep Buxton on the field? Any other ideas? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  10. Now that Byron Buxton signed an extension, the focus shifts to keeping him healthy and productive over the life of the contract. So, how can the Twins keep him on the field? In recent years, the Twins have tried to utilize a variety of strategies to keep Byron Buxton healthy. Unfortunately, those mitigation strategies didn't work last season as a hamstring and hip injury slowed down his torrid start to the season. Shortly after returning from those injuries, he was hit by a pitch and broke his hand. Buxton's injury history is complex, and it's one of the reasons the Twins were able to sign him to an incentive-based contract. Now that Buxton is under contract, how can the Twins keep him on the field and off the injured list? Tone It Down Some of Buxton's previous injuries included smashing into the wall or making diving grabs. His all-or-nothing approach in the outfield is one of the reasons he is considered one of baseball's best defenders. Previously, he and the Twins have worked on him toning down his defensive style, but this isn't an easy feat. When Buxton hears the crack of the bat, his natural instincts are to go and track down the ball. Taking a toned-down approach may help Buxton as he ages and starts to lose a step. For now, the Twins can try a few other methods to keep him on the field. Jumping at the Wall Another well-reported strategy was the Twins coaching staff working with Buxton on his jumping at the wall. Buxton's all-out approach usually saw him jumping off one leg and crashing violently into the wall. His new approach was to work on jumping off two legs, which puts him in more control of his body at the wall. In theory, this sounds great, but sometimes the results aren't perfect. However, the two-legged approach also slows down his momentum, and this may cause him to miss catches he made in the past. This approach gives him more control at the wall, however, which can keep him healthy. Outfield Positioning Buxton's positioning in the outfield is another area that has changed significantly throughout his big-league career. From 2016-2018, Buxton's average depth from home plate was 314 feet. He has moved further away from home plate in each of the last three seasons, including last season where his average depth was 331 feet. Being deeper means Buxton has less time to build up momentum as he heads toward the wall to make a catch. He also has the speed to come up and make catches in front of him. Last season, Buxton's average outfield depth was the highest in baseball among outfielders with at least 2,000 defensive plate appearances in center field. Boston's Enrique Hernandez was the next closest center fielder, and he averaged three feet closer than Buxton. Regular Rest Since taking over as manager, Rocco Baldelli has stressed the importance of rest and recovery for his players. He revamped the team's spring training regimen to give players the time they need to prepare. Heck, the Twins even built a nap room to keep Nelson Cruz prepared to mash baseballs. Giving Buxton more regular days off can be something the team considers, but none of his injuries seem tied to his body wearing down on him. Baldelli saw his career shortened by injuries, and he empathized with Buxton after breaking his hand last season. He said, "I think the number of traumas, physically, that he's had to deal with, and because of that, emotionally, when you have to deal with that many types of things, difficult things, it's hard on you." Maybe it's a lost cause, and injuries are always going to find a way to impact Buxton. However, utilizing various strategies may keep him in the line-up on a more regular basis or at least minimize his time on the injured list. Which of these strategies is going to keep Buxton on the field? Any other ideas? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  11. The Twins selected Justin Morneau in the third round of the 1999 MLB Draft out of New Westminster, British Columbia. At the time, he was a catcher, but he moved to a full-time first baseman by his second season. This defensive shift corresponded with a dominant run through the minor leagues. As a 20-year-old, he moved from Low-A to Double-A and combined for an .886 OPS. Over the next handful of seasons, Morneau established himself as one of baseball’s best power-hitting prospects. Baseball America ranked him in their top-25 prospects in each offseason from 2002-2004. This meant the Twins had to make room for him at the big-league level, which included trading away fan-favorite Doug Mientkiewicz. Morneau spent ten seasons out of his 14-year career in a Twins uniform, and many of his most prominent accolades came in Minnesota. He was a four-time All-Star, and he won two Silver Sluggers. Morneau was named the 2006 American League MVP, and he finished runner-up for MVP in 2008. All four of his 100-RBI seasons and his three 30-home run seasons came with the Twins. While the Twins struggled in October, Morneau was able to put up solid postseason numbers. He played in 13 postseason games over four series and hit .302 with two home runs, four RBI, and eight runs scored. His best series was in 2006 against Oakland when he went 5-for-12 (.417) with three extra-base hits, including two homers. Unfortunately, only seven of his postseason games came in Minnesota as he appeared in six games with Pittsburgh after being traded by the Twins. Morneau wasn’t a typical power-hitting slugger as he hit .300-or-better in five seasons. During the 2014 campaign, he won the National League batting title with the Rockies. He finished that season with a .319 average, four points higher than Pittsburgh’s Josh Harrison. Multiple moments defined Morneau’s career. Ron Gardenhire benched Morneau during a series in Seattle and had a career-changing conversation. Morneau posted a 1.023 OPS the rest of that season and won the MVP. He looked to be heading for a second MVP in 2010 before a now-infamous slide in Toronto ended his season. His career took a different trajectory from that day forward. When it comes to Cooperstown, Morneau doesn’t have the resume needed to be enshrined. According to JAWS, he is the 88th best first baseman in baseball history. This ranks him just ahead of players like Tino Martinez, Paul Konerko, Joe Harris, and Brandon Belt. Many of these players had good but not great careers that are worthy of the Hall of Fame. Morneau’s impact on baseball will be felt long after his retirement. He has been a special assistant to the Twins front office, and he has altered the team’s broadcast experience with his insightful color commentary. He and his wife, Krista, continue to be active members of the Twin Cities community. For a generation of Twins fans, Morneau was the middle-of-the-order hitter of some of the best teams in franchise history. Unfortunately, any shot at Cooperstown ended with a slide into second base back in 2010. Do you think Morneau deserves to be more than a one-and-done on the ballot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — David Ortiz — Joe Nathan — Torii Hunter
  12. Justin Morneau earned multiple accolades throughout his 14-year big-league career. Does he have the credentials to stick on the Hall of Fame ballot for more than one voting cycle? The Twins selected Justin Morneau in the third round of the 1999 MLB Draft out of New Westminster, British Columbia. At the time, he was a catcher, but he moved to a full-time first baseman by his second season. This defensive shift corresponded with a dominant run through the minor leagues. As a 20-year-old, he moved from Low-A to Double-A and combined for an .886 OPS. Over the next handful of seasons, Morneau established himself as one of baseball’s best power-hitting prospects. Baseball America ranked him in their top-25 prospects in each offseason from 2002-2004. This meant the Twins had to make room for him at the big-league level, which included trading away fan-favorite Doug Mientkiewicz. Morneau spent ten seasons out of his 14-year career in a Twins uniform, and many of his most prominent accolades came in Minnesota. He was a four-time All-Star, and he won two Silver Sluggers. Morneau was named the 2006 American League MVP, and he finished runner-up for MVP in 2008. All four of his 100-RBI seasons and his three 30-home run seasons came with the Twins. While the Twins struggled in October, Morneau was able to put up solid postseason numbers. He played in 13 postseason games over four series and hit .302 with two home runs, four RBI, and eight runs scored. His best series was in 2006 against Oakland when he went 5-for-12 (.417) with three extra-base hits, including two homers. Unfortunately, only seven of his postseason games came in Minnesota as he appeared in six games with Pittsburgh after being traded by the Twins. Morneau wasn’t a typical power-hitting slugger as he hit .300-or-better in five seasons. During the 2014 campaign, he won the National League batting title with the Rockies. He finished that season with a .319 average, four points higher than Pittsburgh’s Josh Harrison. Multiple moments defined Morneau’s career. Ron Gardenhire benched Morneau during a series in Seattle and had a career-changing conversation. Morneau posted a 1.023 OPS the rest of that season and won the MVP. He looked to be heading for a second MVP in 2010 before a now-infamous slide in Toronto ended his season. His career took a different trajectory from that day forward. When it comes to Cooperstown, Morneau doesn’t have the resume needed to be enshrined. According to JAWS, he is the 88th best first baseman in baseball history. This ranks him just ahead of players like Tino Martinez, Paul Konerko, Joe Harris, and Brandon Belt. Many of these players had good but not great careers that are worthy of the Hall of Fame. Morneau’s impact on baseball will be felt long after his retirement. He has been a special assistant to the Twins front office, and he has altered the team’s broadcast experience with his insightful color commentary. He and his wife, Krista, continue to be active members of the Twin Cities community. For a generation of Twins fans, Morneau was the middle-of-the-order hitter of some of the best teams in franchise history. Unfortunately, any shot at Cooperstown ended with a slide into second base back in 2010. Do you think Morneau deserves to be more than a one-and-done on the ballot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — David Ortiz — Joe Nathan — Torii Hunter View full article
  13. Following back-to-back division titles, expectations were high for the 2011 Minnesota Twins. Unfortunately, things couldn't have gone much worse for that club, as they were one of the most disappointing teams in franchise history. The team lost 99 games and "earned" the second overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. With the draft approaching, multiple names had been tied to the Twins, but Bryon Buxton was a player that was tough to ignore. Baseball America ranked him as the top prospect in the draft even though there were questions about the level of competition he faced throughout high school. Minnesota gave Buxton a $6 million signing bonus, which was $1.2 million higher than any other player in the draft. Plenty of hype followed Buxton in his pro debut. He struggled out of the gate with the GCL Twins as he went 19-for-88 (.216 BA), but he got on base over 32% of the time. He also showed more power than expected, with 11 of his 19 hits being for extra bases. He was promoted to Elizabethton and hit .286/.368/.429 (.796) with eight extra-base hits in 21 games. It clearly looked like some of the questions surrounding him in the draft were starting to be answered. Buxton emphatically answered any remaining questions during the 2013 minor league season. As a 19-year-old, he split time between Low- and High-A, destroying the ball at both levels. He finished the year hitting .334/.424/.520 (.944) with 49 extra-base hits in 125 games. Oh yeah, he stole 55 bases too. Buxton had established himself as the game's best prospect, and the organization wanted to see how he stacked up against some of baseball's other top prospects. Following the season, Buxton made his first trip to the Arizona Fall League. In 12 games, he went 11-for-52 (.212) with three home runs and a double. However, he injured his non-throwing shoulder and missed the rest of the AFL season. Even with the abrupt end to his AFL campaign, the accolades started to roll in. Baseball America named Buxton their 2013 Minor League Player of the Year. He entered the 2014 season as the consensus top prospect by all three national rankings. Baseball America said his "combination of tools and production made him the talk of the minor leagues" in their 2014 Prospect Handbook. After a standout 2013 campaign, things got off to a rough start in 2014. Buxton suffered a wrist injury in spring training and started the season on the injured list. He played 30 games with Fort Myers to ease himself back into action. However, Buxton suffered a concussion in his first game at Double-A, and his season was done. He ended the year with a .702 OPS and a return ticket to the AFL. However, he was limited to 13 games after dislocating a finger while diving for a ball. It was time for an offseason to get healthy. Baseball America being the only national ranking to drop him out of the top spot entering the 2015 season. The 2015 season was Buxton's first shot to prove himself in the upper levels of the minors. In 59 games at Double-A, he hit .283/.351/.489 (.840) with 25 extra-base hits and 20 steals. His bat looked like it was ready for baseball's highest level, and the Twins called him up for his big-league debut in June. At the time, Minnesota was light on outfielders. Aaron Hicks was suffering from a right elbow injury and Torii Hunter was serving a two-game suspension. Buxton went 7-for-37 (.189) with two extra-base hits in 11 games before suffering a sprained left thumb that cost him two months of the season. When he was healthy, the Twins sent him to Rochester to find his swing. At Triple-A, he was nearly six years younger than the average age of the competition. He batted .400/.441/.545 (.986) with five extra-base hits in 13 games. On August 20, Minnesota recalled him, and he finished the season with a .606 OPS over his final 28 games. He entered the next season as baseball's number two overall prospect and Minnesota's Opening Day center fielder. It's hard to know when Minnesota will have another prospect of the same caliber as Buxton. He, along with Joe Mauer, are the only players in franchise history to be named Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year. Twins fans saw Minnesota keep Mauer on a long-term deal, and now Buxton has followed in Mauer's footsteps. What do you remember most about Buxton as a prospect? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  14. Byron Buxton is one of the most exciting prospects to come through the Minnesota Twins system. Let's take a look back at the much-heralded start to his professional career. Following back-to-back division titles, expectations were high for the 2011 Minnesota Twins. Unfortunately, things couldn't have gone much worse for that club, as they were one of the most disappointing teams in franchise history. The team lost 99 games and "earned" the second overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. With the draft approaching, multiple names had been tied to the Twins, but Bryon Buxton was a player that was tough to ignore. Baseball America ranked him as the top prospect in the draft even though there were questions about the level of competition he faced throughout high school. Minnesota gave Buxton a $6 million signing bonus, which was $1.2 million higher than any other player in the draft. Plenty of hype followed Buxton in his pro debut. He struggled out of the gate with the GCL Twins as he went 19-for-88 (.216 BA), but he got on base over 32% of the time. He also showed more power than expected, with 11 of his 19 hits being for extra bases. He was promoted to Elizabethton and hit .286/.368/.429 (.796) with eight extra-base hits in 21 games. It clearly looked like some of the questions surrounding him in the draft were starting to be answered. Buxton emphatically answered any remaining questions during the 2013 minor league season. As a 19-year-old, he split time between Low- and High-A, destroying the ball at both levels. He finished the year hitting .334/.424/.520 (.944) with 49 extra-base hits in 125 games. Oh yeah, he stole 55 bases too. Buxton had established himself as the game's best prospect, and the organization wanted to see how he stacked up against some of baseball's other top prospects. Following the season, Buxton made his first trip to the Arizona Fall League. In 12 games, he went 11-for-52 (.212) with three home runs and a double. However, he injured his non-throwing shoulder and missed the rest of the AFL season. Even with the abrupt end to his AFL campaign, the accolades started to roll in. Baseball America named Buxton their 2013 Minor League Player of the Year. He entered the 2014 season as the consensus top prospect by all three national rankings. Baseball America said his "combination of tools and production made him the talk of the minor leagues" in their 2014 Prospect Handbook. After a standout 2013 campaign, things got off to a rough start in 2014. Buxton suffered a wrist injury in spring training and started the season on the injured list. He played 30 games with Fort Myers to ease himself back into action. However, Buxton suffered a concussion in his first game at Double-A, and his season was done. He ended the year with a .702 OPS and a return ticket to the AFL. However, he was limited to 13 games after dislocating a finger while diving for a ball. It was time for an offseason to get healthy. Baseball America being the only national ranking to drop him out of the top spot entering the 2015 season. The 2015 season was Buxton's first shot to prove himself in the upper levels of the minors. In 59 games at Double-A, he hit .283/.351/.489 (.840) with 25 extra-base hits and 20 steals. His bat looked like it was ready for baseball's highest level, and the Twins called him up for his big-league debut in June. At the time, Minnesota was light on outfielders. Aaron Hicks was suffering from a right elbow injury and Torii Hunter was serving a two-game suspension. Buxton went 7-for-37 (.189) with two extra-base hits in 11 games before suffering a sprained left thumb that cost him two months of the season. When he was healthy, the Twins sent him to Rochester to find his swing. At Triple-A, he was nearly six years younger than the average age of the competition. He batted .400/.441/.545 (.986) with five extra-base hits in 13 games. On August 20, Minnesota recalled him, and he finished the season with a .606 OPS over his final 28 games. He entered the next season as baseball's number two overall prospect and Minnesota's Opening Day center fielder. It's hard to know when Minnesota will have another prospect of the same caliber as Buxton. He, along with Joe Mauer, are the only players in franchise history to be named Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year. Twins fans saw Minnesota keep Mauer on a long-term deal, and now Buxton has followed in Mauer's footsteps. What do you remember most about Buxton as a prospect? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  15. While some other former Twins are making their ballot debuts, Torii Hunter gets his second chance at Cooperstown glory. Does he have a case for the Hall of Fame? Two years after winning the 1991 World Series, the Twins took an athletic high school outfielder from Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Hunter struggled mightily in his pro debut by posting a .503 OPS in 100 at-bats. Hunter moved quickly through the team’s system and spent nearly all of the 1996 season at Double-A, where he got on base over 33% of the time. Entering the 1997 season, Baseball America ranked Hunter as baseball’s 79th best prospect. He improved his OPS by over 150 points, including a tremendous Triple-A debut with a .891 OPS. Hunter appeared in seven games for the Twins between 1997-98, but the 1999 season was his first full season at the big-league level. As a 23-year old, he struggled offensively as he hit .255/.309/.380 with 28 extra-base hits in 135 games. One of the biggest reasons for his struggles was related to how the Twins were coaching him. Coaches told him to keep the ball on the ground and use his speed. “I was really bred to be a leadoff guy,” Hunter told The Athletic. “I felt like I had more, but I didn’t want to be un-coachable. I just did what I was told to do, but I felt like I was in prison. I had much more in me, but they wouldn’t let it come out of me. It was my fault. It wasn’t until 2000 I realized who I was and became who I thought I could be.” From there, Hunter established himself as one of baseball’s best center fielders on both sides of the ball. He posted a 108 OPS+ in eight seasons from 2000-2007. Hunter was the heart and soul of the Twins teams that helped save the franchise from contraction. However, his career wasn’t entirely defined by his time in Minnesota, as he spent multiple seasons in Los Angeles and Detroit. His final resume puts him in the conversation for one of the best center fielders in baseball history. He won nine straight Gold Glove awards, the third-highest total of any center fielder in history. Hunter led the league in center field assists three times. He was named to five All-Star Games and won two Silver Slugger Awards. During his 19-year career, he hit 20 or more home runs in 11 seasons. From 2001-2013, he averaged 23 home runs and 12 steals per year while posting a 115 OPS+. He helped teams to the playoffs in eight different seasons, including trips to the American League Championship Series with three different organizations. Even with multiple opportunities, his teams were never able to make it to the World Series. In those 11 Postseason series, he hit .274 with four home runs and 20 RBI in 48 games. Even with his accolades, Hunter is going to have a tough time making a case for Cooperstown. His closest comparison on the ballot is Andruw Jones, who has been slowly gaining traction. Last year, Jones was in his fourth year on the ballot, and he received 33.9% of the vote. Hunter received 38 votes which accounted for 9.5% of the vote. Jones was one of the best defenders in baseball history, but Hunter’s offensive numbers may help him as voters get a more extended look at his candidacy. Hunter has more hits than 11 of the 19 center fielders already enshrined in Cooperstown. His 353 home runs rank even better as he is ahead of 13 of the 19 players in center. Unfortunately, his .277 batting average would be the lowest average among enshrined center fielders, and his 110 OPS+ is lower than 17 of the 19 center fielders. Hunter's career is tough to analyze because he was a great fielder early in his career and a much better hitter in the second half of his career. He will always hold a special place in the heart of Twins fans, but it doesn’t look like Cooperstown will be calling anytime soon. Do you think Hunter will be elected to Cooperstown? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — David Ortiz — Joe Nathan View full article
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