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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. Justin Morneau won an MVP, was selected to four All-Star teams, and even walked away with one NL Batting Title. Tonight the Twins will induct him into the organization’s Hall of Fame. Looking back at his career can give it some context from budding prospect to one of baseball’s best sluggers. Justin Morneau was considered one of baseball’s best hitting prospects for multiple seasons, but Doug Mientkiewicz was blocking his path to the big leagues. He played parts of the 2003-04 seasons at the big-league level with mixed results. In 114 games, he combined for 44 extra-base hits and a 109 OPS+. By 2005, he got his first full season with the Twins, and things didn’t go perfectly out of the gate. Minnesota handed Morneau the starting first base job in 2004, as the team was in the middle of a winning window. This can mean added pressure for a top prospect, especially when they are taking over for a fan-favorite like Mientkiewicz. His 93 OPS+ in 2005 was his lowest total in a season where he played over 70 games. The 2006 season was magical for the Twins, and Morneau was a big part of that success. He’d win the 2006 AL MVP after hitting .321/.375/.559 with 34 home runs and 37 doubles. His MVP win is somewhat controversial as his 4.0 WAR ranked as the 22nd best in the AL. However, he compiled substantial numbers in the counting stats (HR, RBI, etc.) that were important to voters at that time. In retrospect, a benching in early June might have been the reason Morneau won the MVP. Minnesota was in Seattle and Morneau was called into manager Ron Gardenhire’s office. He entered that meeting hitting .236/.297/.450 (.747) with 19 extra bases for the season. Gardy told him that his focus needed to be on the field, and he helped Morneau realize that he could be a lot better. For the rest of the season, he hit .362/.412/.611 (1.023) with 53 extra-base hits. It was a career changing conversation for Morneau. Over the next four seasons, Morneau was a perennial All-Star as he combined for a 137 OPS+. His 2010 season looked like he was headed for another MVP as he hit .345/.437/.618 (187 OPS+) in 81 games, Unfortunately, a now-infamous slide in Toronto ended his season. It wasn’t his first concussion, and it wouldn’t be his last. His career took a different trajectory from that day forward, and it can leave fans wondering what could have been. From 2011-2016, he bounced from Minnesota to Pittsburgh with eventual stops in Colorado and Chicago. During these years, he hit .275/.331/.433 (.764), which resulted in a 106 OPS+. During his final season as a full-time player, he led the National League in hitting with a .319 batting average. Concussion issues and other injuries followed him throughout the rest of his career. By the time he retired, Baseball Reference had viewed Morneau as similar to players like Freddie Freeman, Cliff Floyd, and Kent Hrbek. Morneau doesn’t have the resume needed for election to Cooperstown, but his time in Minnesota was memorable. He helped keep the Twins relevant for most of the 2000s, and he lived up to the hype he garnered as a top prospect. Morneau’s post playing career has kept him close to the game. He immediately signed on as a special assistant with the front office, and he has assisted multiple Twins players and prospects in this role. He and his wife, Krista, continue to stay active in the community including holding an annual coat drive that keeps families warm throughout the Twin Cities. Twins fans have also enjoyed his time as a color commentator as he brings an insightful approach that had been missing from the booth. His impact has been felt long after his retirement, including with players like Gerrit Cole, Trevor Larnach, and Alex Kirilloff. However, one has to wonder if his playing career would look different at the end if he had avoided that slide in Toronto back in 2010. What are some of your favorite Morneau memories? 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
  2. Justin Morneau was considered one of baseball’s best hitting prospects for multiple seasons, but Doug Mientkiewicz was blocking his path to the big leagues. He played parts of the 2003-04 seasons at the big-league level with mixed results. In 114 games, he combined for 44 extra-base hits and a 109 OPS+. By 2005, he got his first full season with the Twins, and things didn’t go perfectly out of the gate. Minnesota handed Morneau the starting first base job in 2004, as the team was in the middle of a winning window. This can mean added pressure for a top prospect, especially when they are taking over for a fan-favorite like Mientkiewicz. His 93 OPS+ in 2005 was his lowest total in a season where he played over 70 games. The 2006 season was magical for the Twins, and Morneau was a big part of that success. He’d win the 2006 AL MVP after hitting .321/.375/.559 with 34 home runs and 37 doubles. His MVP win is somewhat controversial as his 4.0 WAR ranked as the 22nd best in the AL. However, he compiled substantial numbers in the counting stats (HR, RBI, etc.) that were important to voters at that time. In retrospect, a benching in early June might have been the reason Morneau won the MVP. Minnesota was in Seattle and Morneau was called into manager Ron Gardenhire’s office. He entered that meeting hitting .236/.297/.450 (.747) with 19 extra bases for the season. Gardy told him that his focus needed to be on the field, and he helped Morneau realize that he could be a lot better. For the rest of the season, he hit .362/.412/.611 (1.023) with 53 extra-base hits. It was a career changing conversation for Morneau. Over the next four seasons, Morneau was a perennial All-Star as he combined for a 137 OPS+. His 2010 season looked like he was headed for another MVP as he hit .345/.437/.618 (187 OPS+) in 81 games, Unfortunately, a now-infamous slide in Toronto ended his season. It wasn’t his first concussion, and it wouldn’t be his last. His career took a different trajectory from that day forward, and it can leave fans wondering what could have been. From 2011-2016, he bounced from Minnesota to Pittsburgh with eventual stops in Colorado and Chicago. During these years, he hit .275/.331/.433 (.764), which resulted in a 106 OPS+. During his final season as a full-time player, he led the National League in hitting with a .319 batting average. Concussion issues and other injuries followed him throughout the rest of his career. By the time he retired, Baseball Reference had viewed Morneau as similar to players like Freddie Freeman, Cliff Floyd, and Kent Hrbek. Morneau doesn’t have the resume needed for election to Cooperstown, but his time in Minnesota was memorable. He helped keep the Twins relevant for most of the 2000s, and he lived up to the hype he garnered as a top prospect. Morneau’s post playing career has kept him close to the game. He immediately signed on as a special assistant with the front office, and he has assisted multiple Twins players and prospects in this role. He and his wife, Krista, continue to stay active in the community including holding an annual coat drive that keeps families warm throughout the Twin Cities. Twins fans have also enjoyed his time as a color commentator as he brings an insightful approach that had been missing from the booth. His impact has been felt long after his retirement, including with players like Gerrit Cole, Trevor Larnach, and Alex Kirilloff. However, one has to wonder if his playing career would look different at the end if he had avoided that slide in Toronto back in 2010. What are some of your favorite Morneau memories? 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
  3. Fans remember Justin Morneau as one of the best players in team history, and this weekend the organization will induct him into the Twins Hall of Fame. So, how did he put himself on the prospect map? The Twins drafted Justin Morneau in the third round of the 1999 MLB Draft out of New Westminster High School in British Columbia, Canada. At the time, Minnesota drafted him as a catcher, but scouts were unsure of his long-term defensive position. However, his bat was good enough to make him the first Canadian drafted in that draft class. Morneau's first professional action came in the Gulf Coast League, where he hit .302/.333/.396 with five doubles in 17 games. As a 19-year-old, he returned to the GCL, and he destroyed the ball to the tune of a 1.143 OPS with 31 extra-base hits in 52 games. He continued to work on his catching skills, but his bat was what put him on the map as one of baseball's best prospects. Baseball America got excited about Morneau following his 2001 minor league season. Over the next three winters, they included Morneau as one of their top-25 prospects. He entered the 2002 season at #21, the 2003 season at #14, and the 2004 season at #16. Morneau also appeared in two Futures Games during that stretch. Scouts considered him one of baseball's best prospects, and there was excitement for what he could mean to Minnesota's long-term future. During the 2001 campaign, Morneau played at three different levels, including making it to Double-A, where he was over four years younger than the average age of the competition. Minnesota decided to move him to first base, and this was even before the team drafted Joe Mauer as the team's catcher of the future. Morneau's change in defensive position didn't hurt his offensive output. He destroyed the ball in the Midwest League (Low-A) with a 1.018 OPS. He got on base over 38% of the time at High-A and had 17 extra-base hits in 53 games. As a 21-year-old, Morneau spent all of the 2002 season at Double-A. Even though he was over three years younger than the competition, he posted an .830 OPS with 51 extra-base hits in 126 games. It was getting tough for the Twins to keep Morneau in the minors, and it would get even more challenging in 2003. At the beginning of 2003, Minnesota had fan-favorite Doug Mientkiewicz handling first base, and the team was coming off a 2002 run to the ALCS. This left Morneau back at Double-A with a bat that was close to big-league ready. He posted a 1.004 OPS in the Eastern League, where he was still younger than the competition. The Twins promoted him to Triple-A, and he logged 28 extra-base hits in 71 games. Morneau made his big-league debut that season and hit .226/.287/.377 in 40 games, but Mientkiewicz was still at first. Morneau's minor league time wasn't finished as he went back to Rochester in 2004 and mashed the ball. In 72 games, he posted a .992 OPS with 22 homers and 23 doubles. At the trade deadline, the Twins traded Mientkiewicz to Boston, and there was now an open spot at first base. Morneau proved he belonged in the big leagues by hitting 19 home runs and 17 doubles in 74 games with the Twins. He had cemented himself as the Twins first baseman for the next decade. What do you remember about Morneau's minor league career? Where were you when Mientkiewicz was traded? 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
  4. The Twins drafted Justin Morneau in the third round of the 1999 MLB Draft out of New Westminster High School in British Columbia, Canada. At the time, Minnesota drafted him as a catcher, but scouts were unsure of his long-term defensive position. However, his bat was good enough to make him the first Canadian drafted in that draft class. Morneau's first professional action came in the Gulf Coast League, where he hit .302/.333/.396 with five doubles in 17 games. As a 19-year-old, he returned to the GCL, and he destroyed the ball to the tune of a 1.143 OPS with 31 extra-base hits in 52 games. He continued to work on his catching skills, but his bat was what put him on the map as one of baseball's best prospects. Baseball America got excited about Morneau following his 2001 minor league season. Over the next three winters, they included Morneau as one of their top-25 prospects. He entered the 2002 season at #21, the 2003 season at #14, and the 2004 season at #16. Morneau also appeared in two Futures Games during that stretch. Scouts considered him one of baseball's best prospects, and there was excitement for what he could mean to Minnesota's long-term future. During the 2001 campaign, Morneau played at three different levels, including making it to Double-A, where he was over four years younger than the average age of the competition. Minnesota decided to move him to first base, and this was even before the team drafted Joe Mauer as the team's catcher of the future. Morneau's change in defensive position didn't hurt his offensive output. He destroyed the ball in the Midwest League (Low-A) with a 1.018 OPS. He got on base over 38% of the time at High-A and had 17 extra-base hits in 53 games. As a 21-year-old, Morneau spent all of the 2002 season at Double-A. Even though he was over three years younger than the competition, he posted an .830 OPS with 51 extra-base hits in 126 games. It was getting tough for the Twins to keep Morneau in the minors, and it would get even more challenging in 2003. At the beginning of 2003, Minnesota had fan-favorite Doug Mientkiewicz handling first base, and the team was coming off a 2002 run to the ALCS. This left Morneau back at Double-A with a bat that was close to big-league ready. He posted a 1.004 OPS in the Eastern League, where he was still younger than the competition. The Twins promoted him to Triple-A, and he logged 28 extra-base hits in 71 games. Morneau made his big-league debut that season and hit .226/.287/.377 in 40 games, but Mientkiewicz was still at first. Morneau's minor league time wasn't finished as he went back to Rochester in 2004 and mashed the ball. In 72 games, he posted a .992 OPS with 22 homers and 23 doubles. At the trade deadline, the Twins traded Mientkiewicz to Boston, and there was now an open spot at first base. Morneau proved he belonged in the big leagues by hitting 19 home runs and 17 doubles in 74 games with the Twins. He had cemented himself as the Twins first baseman for the next decade. What do you remember about Morneau's minor league career? Where were you when Mientkiewicz was traded? 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
  5. When teams are winning, it can be hard to identify flaws. On the other hand, organizational issues can come to the top when teams are marred in a losing season. Below is a ranking of the top three things that went wrong for the 2021 Twins. 3. Injuries Byron Buxton shot out of the gates and played at an MVP level before injuries sidelined him for most of the season. Kenta Maeda looked to build off a terrific 2020 campaign before learning that he needed Tommy John surgery. Alex Kirilloff was impressive in his rookie campaign before wrist surgery ended his season. Taylor Rogers was nearly traded at the deadline before a finger injury put him on the bench. Randy Dobnak signed a big off-season contract before getting wrapped up in the worst season of his career. These are just some of the injuries that pushed the team’s depth to the limits. At one point during the year, the Twins were on the sixth option in center field. No teams plan for their sixth center field option to play an impactful role. Every team has injuries, but the Twins didn’t have the depth to cover up some of their holes this season. 2. The Bullpen Minnesota saw many key bullpen pieces leave last winter, which meant the team would need to search for replacements. Alex Colome and Hansel Robles arrived as late-inning options, but both struggled throughout parts of the season. Minnesota also brought in plenty of non-rostered arms to try and find the next Matt Wisler. None of those players significantly impacted the club, and the Twins used over 30 different relief pitchers in 2021. Looking back to Opening Day, there were issues from the start. Colome posted an 8.31 ERA in nine April appearances while opponents posted a .952 OPS. It was clear from the start that Dobnak was not cut out for his Opening Day role because the Twins didn’t find themselves in many situations where they needed a long-man. Cody Stashak suffered a back injury and hasn’t pitched since May. The list can continue with other players on the 60-day IL, but those were just some of the issues with the Opening Day bullpen. 1. Rotational depth As the old adage goes, a team can never have too much pitching. J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker came in to add depth to the starting rotation, but neither of these players worked out the way the team envisioned. Kenta Maeda and Michael Pineda spent significant time on the IL, and other depth starters like Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smeltzer, Dobnak, and Stashak were already injured. This forced the team to keep trotting out Happ and Shoemaker even though they were ineffective. Projections also had Minnesota’s top two pitching prospects, Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic, ready to join the rotation. Neither of them has made their debut, and there is a chance Duran will need surgery on his elbow. At the deadline, the Twins added multiple pitching prospects, and other pitchers have gotten big-league starting experience in the second half. This experience helps prepare for the future, but the 2022 rotation is still in flux. How would you rank these issues from 2021? What would you add to the list? 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. Not much went right for the Twins during the 2021 campaign. Injuries and pitching issues were just some of the problems that pushed the Twins to the bottom of the AL Central. So, what went wrong with the 2021 Twins? When teams are winning, it can be hard to identify flaws. On the other hand, organizational issues can come to the top when teams are marred in a losing season. Below is a ranking of the top three things that went wrong for the 2021 Twins. 3. Injuries Byron Buxton shot out of the gates and played at an MVP level before injuries sidelined him for most of the season. Kenta Maeda looked to build off a terrific 2020 campaign before learning that he needed Tommy John surgery. Alex Kirilloff was impressive in his rookie campaign before wrist surgery ended his season. Taylor Rogers was nearly traded at the deadline before a finger injury put him on the bench. Randy Dobnak signed a big off-season contract before getting wrapped up in the worst season of his career. These are just some of the injuries that pushed the team’s depth to the limits. At one point during the year, the Twins were on the sixth option in center field. No teams plan for their sixth center field option to play an impactful role. Every team has injuries, but the Twins didn’t have the depth to cover up some of their holes this season. 2. The Bullpen Minnesota saw many key bullpen pieces leave last winter, which meant the team would need to search for replacements. Alex Colome and Hansel Robles arrived as late-inning options, but both struggled throughout parts of the season. Minnesota also brought in plenty of non-rostered arms to try and find the next Matt Wisler. None of those players significantly impacted the club, and the Twins used over 30 different relief pitchers in 2021. Looking back to Opening Day, there were issues from the start. Colome posted an 8.31 ERA in nine April appearances while opponents posted a .952 OPS. It was clear from the start that Dobnak was not cut out for his Opening Day role because the Twins didn’t find themselves in many situations where they needed a long-man. Cody Stashak suffered a back injury and hasn’t pitched since May. The list can continue with other players on the 60-day IL, but those were just some of the issues with the Opening Day bullpen. 1. Rotational depth As the old adage goes, a team can never have too much pitching. J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker came in to add depth to the starting rotation, but neither of these players worked out the way the team envisioned. Kenta Maeda and Michael Pineda spent significant time on the IL, and other depth starters like Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smeltzer, Dobnak, and Stashak were already injured. This forced the team to keep trotting out Happ and Shoemaker even though they were ineffective. Projections also had Minnesota’s top two pitching prospects, Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic, ready to join the rotation. Neither of them has made their debut, and there is a chance Duran will need surgery on his elbow. At the deadline, the Twins added multiple pitching prospects, and other pitchers have gotten big-league starting experience in the second half. This experience helps prepare for the future, but the 2022 rotation is still in flux. How would you rank these issues from 2021? What would you add to the list? 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. It’s easy to be negative when the Twins are heading for 90-losses or more for the sixth time in the last decade. Even if you turned away, there were plenty of things that went right for the 2021 Twins. Why have you continued to watch the Twins in the second half? Have you tuned in for Jorge Polanco’s hot bat? Did you watch some of the young pitching making their MLB debuts? Below is a ranking of the top three things that went right for the 2021 Twins. 3. Jorge Polanco Jorge Polanco has been one of the most prominent bright spots this season. After having ankle surgery the past two off-seasons, there were plenty of question marks about his long-term role for the Twins. The team moved him away from shortstop, and other players on the roster can fit into the plan at second base. He faced these challenges head-on and is ending the season as the team’s most valuable player. Polanco set the franchise record for home runs by a switch-hitter after a slow start to the season. He will end the year with more than 30 homers, 30 doubles, and ten steals, which are numbers only a few MLB players have accumulated this year. Baseball Reference has him with the sixth-highest WAR total among AL position players. His at-bats have become one of the main reasons to watch the Twins in the second half. 2. Aggressive Trade Deadline Minnesota’s front office said the Twins will compete in 2022, so trading away players like Jose Berrios can be tough to make that a reality. An argument could have been made to retain players and take another run in 2022. Instead, the Twins were able to get two top-100 prospects for Berrios and two big-league ready arms for Nelson Cruz’s expiring contract. These aren’t the only parts of the trade deadline that impacted the team’s long-term outlook. Besides Cruz and Berrios, Minnesota dealt away J.A. Happ and Hansel Robles for pitching prospects. Happ and Robles were on expiring deals, and neither had performed exceptionally well during their Twins tenure, so getting value was an impressive feat for the front office. Minnesota also held on to players like Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson, and Max Kepler. All of these players can help the Twins to be competitive in 2022. 1. Experience for Young Players In a lost season, big-league experience can be invaluable for the players who make up the core of the next winning Twins team. Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach were thrust into the Twins line-up with some bumps and bruises along the way. Kirilloff fought through a wrist injury and was still able to produce a 98 OPS+. Larnach held his own in the season’s first half (.755 OPS) before the team needed him to rediscover his swing in St. Paul. Both players will be in the middle of Minnesota’s line-up for most of the next decade. On the mound, starters like Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan have shown they can more than hold their own at the big-league level. As of right now, no members of the 2021 Opening Day starting rotation will be with the Twins next year. Minnesota likely feels comfortable with both of these pitchers penciled into the back of the 2022 rotation. Starting pitching depth was an issue in 2022, so the front office has plenty of work to do on this front over the next couple of months. How would you rank these positives from 2021? What would you add to the list? 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
  8. Why have you continued to watch the Twins in the second half? Have you tuned in for Jorge Polanco’s hot bat? Did you watch some of the young pitching making their MLB debuts? Below is a ranking of the top three things that went right for the 2021 Twins. 3. Jorge Polanco Jorge Polanco has been one of the most prominent bright spots this season. After having ankle surgery the past two off-seasons, there were plenty of question marks about his long-term role for the Twins. The team moved him away from shortstop, and other players on the roster can fit into the plan at second base. He faced these challenges head-on and is ending the season as the team’s most valuable player. Polanco set the franchise record for home runs by a switch-hitter after a slow start to the season. He will end the year with more than 30 homers, 30 doubles, and ten steals, which are numbers only a few MLB players have accumulated this year. Baseball Reference has him with the sixth-highest WAR total among AL position players. His at-bats have become one of the main reasons to watch the Twins in the second half. 2. Aggressive Trade Deadline Minnesota’s front office said the Twins will compete in 2022, so trading away players like Jose Berrios can be tough to make that a reality. An argument could have been made to retain players and take another run in 2022. Instead, the Twins were able to get two top-100 prospects for Berrios and two big-league ready arms for Nelson Cruz’s expiring contract. These aren’t the only parts of the trade deadline that impacted the team’s long-term outlook. Besides Cruz and Berrios, Minnesota dealt away J.A. Happ and Hansel Robles for pitching prospects. Happ and Robles were on expiring deals, and neither had performed exceptionally well during their Twins tenure, so getting value was an impressive feat for the front office. Minnesota also held on to players like Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson, and Max Kepler. All of these players can help the Twins to be competitive in 2022. 1. Experience for Young Players In a lost season, big-league experience can be invaluable for the players who make up the core of the next winning Twins team. Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach were thrust into the Twins line-up with some bumps and bruises along the way. Kirilloff fought through a wrist injury and was still able to produce a 98 OPS+. Larnach held his own in the season’s first half (.755 OPS) before the team needed him to rediscover his swing in St. Paul. Both players will be in the middle of Minnesota’s line-up for most of the next decade. On the mound, starters like Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan have shown they can more than hold their own at the big-league level. As of right now, no members of the 2021 Opening Day starting rotation will be with the Twins next year. Minnesota likely feels comfortable with both of these pitchers penciled into the back of the 2022 rotation. Starting pitching depth was an issue in 2022, so the front office has plenty of work to do on this front over the next couple of months. How would you rank these positives from 2021? What would you add to the list? 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
  9. Minnesota isn't going to end the team's playoff losing streak this year, but plenty of former Twins are helping their team fight for the playoffs. Here is one former Twin assisting each NL playoff contender. The National League isn't the only league with former Twins dotting potential playoff rosters. Some of the names below are fan favorites, and others exited Minnesota under very different circumstances. Division Leaders San Francisco: LaMonte Wade Jr., OF/1B This one hurts for many Twins fans as LaMonte Wade Jr. was traded for Shaun Anderson in February. Anderson appeared in four games for the Twins before being designated for assignment. Wade has posted a 129 OPS+ while being worth 1.8 WAR. Defensively, he has played all three outfield positions and logged over 186 innings at first base. The Giants are a surprise team, and Wade Jr. has been a surprise addition to their success. Milwaukee: Eduardo Escobar, INF Eduardo Escobar was a first-time All-Star this season before being dealt from Arizona to Milwaukee at the trade deadline. His OPS+ has jumped from 107 to 124 since the trade. For the season, his max exit velocity and xSLG rank in the 70th percentile or higher. Milwaukee's starting rotation is built for a deep October run, and Escobar was the team's upgrade for the stretch run. Atlanta: Huascar Ynoa, SP Former Twin Eddie Rosario made some history for the Braves over the weekend by hitting for the cycle, but Huascar Ynoa is more critical for the team's playoff success. Ynoa was traded to the Braves for Jaime Garcia and Anthony Recker in 2017. He has posted a 3.26 ERA and a 1.022 WHIP with a 10.0 strikeout per nine. At 23-years old, he has been a surprise for the Braves as they sit atop the AL East. Wild Card Contenders Los Angeles: Brusdar Graterol Graterol headed to the Dodgers as part of the Kenta Maeda deal, and he helped the Dodgers win the 2020 World Series. He was injured and ineffective in the first half, so his addition to the bullpen has provided a second-half boost. In 23 second-half appearances, he has a 3.24 ERA with a 1.24 WHIP. Any team competing in October needs a good bullpen, and Brusdar Graterol can help the Dodgers on their quest to repeat. St. Louis: J.A. Happ Many were surprised the Twins were able to get anything for Happ at the trade deadline. Now, J.A. Happ has been part of quite the turnaround in St. Louis. The Cardinals seem to do this on an annual basis where the club looks out of the race, and then they fight back into contention. His ERA dropped from 6.77 with the Twins to 4.33 with the Cardinals. He hasn't been outstanding, but he has helped take innings away from their bullpen. Philadelphia: Kyle Gibson Kyle Gibson compiled an impressive first half in Texas on his way to being named an AL All-Star. At the deadline, he was sent to Philadelphia, who now finds themselves fighting for the final Wild Card spot. His time in Philadelphia hasn't been nearly as outstanding as in Texas, but he has pitched six innings or more in six of his ten starts. Which of these players has the most significant impact on the playoff races? 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
  10. The National League isn't the only league with former Twins dotting potential playoff rosters. Some of the names below are fan favorites, and others exited Minnesota under very different circumstances. Division Leaders San Francisco: LaMonte Wade Jr., OF/1B This one hurts for many Twins fans as LaMonte Wade Jr. was traded for Shaun Anderson in February. Anderson appeared in four games for the Twins before being designated for assignment. Wade has posted a 129 OPS+ while being worth 1.8 WAR. Defensively, he has played all three outfield positions and logged over 186 innings at first base. The Giants are a surprise team, and Wade Jr. has been a surprise addition to their success. Milwaukee: Eduardo Escobar, INF Eduardo Escobar was a first-time All-Star this season before being dealt from Arizona to Milwaukee at the trade deadline. His OPS+ has jumped from 107 to 124 since the trade. For the season, his max exit velocity and xSLG rank in the 70th percentile or higher. Milwaukee's starting rotation is built for a deep October run, and Escobar was the team's upgrade for the stretch run. Atlanta: Huascar Ynoa, SP Former Twin Eddie Rosario made some history for the Braves over the weekend by hitting for the cycle, but Huascar Ynoa is more critical for the team's playoff success. Ynoa was traded to the Braves for Jaime Garcia and Anthony Recker in 2017. He has posted a 3.26 ERA and a 1.022 WHIP with a 10.0 strikeout per nine. At 23-years old, he has been a surprise for the Braves as they sit atop the AL East. Wild Card Contenders Los Angeles: Brusdar Graterol Graterol headed to the Dodgers as part of the Kenta Maeda deal, and he helped the Dodgers win the 2020 World Series. He was injured and ineffective in the first half, so his addition to the bullpen has provided a second-half boost. In 23 second-half appearances, he has a 3.24 ERA with a 1.24 WHIP. Any team competing in October needs a good bullpen, and Brusdar Graterol can help the Dodgers on their quest to repeat. St. Louis: J.A. Happ Many were surprised the Twins were able to get anything for Happ at the trade deadline. Now, J.A. Happ has been part of quite the turnaround in St. Louis. The Cardinals seem to do this on an annual basis where the club looks out of the race, and then they fight back into contention. His ERA dropped from 6.77 with the Twins to 4.33 with the Cardinals. He hasn't been outstanding, but he has helped take innings away from their bullpen. Philadelphia: Kyle Gibson Kyle Gibson compiled an impressive first half in Texas on his way to being named an AL All-Star. At the deadline, he was sent to Philadelphia, who now finds themselves fighting for the final Wild Card spot. His time in Philadelphia hasn't been nearly as outstanding as in Texas, but he has pitched six innings or more in six of his ten starts. Which of these players has the most significant impact on the playoff races? 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
  11. Some of these players had memorable Twins tenures, while others might not have gotten a full opportunity. Either way, they are in the thick of the playoff hunt as their team’s search for October glory. Division Leaders Tampa Bay: Nelson Cruz, DH Nelson Cruz was dealt at the trade deadline in a move that brought back two top pitching prospects, including Joe Ryan. Since the trade, Cruz has posted a .776 OPS, which is 130 points lower than he had with the Twins this year. He still has a 117 OPS+, and he has some big hits in a Rays uniform. Tampa looks to go back to the World Series with Cruz as their veteran leader. Chicago: Liam Hendriks, RP Chicago paid Liam Hendriks a ton of money this winter to bring him to the Southside, and he has lived up to the hype. He leads the American League in Saves, and he has a career-high strikeout rate. Minnesota never gave Hendriks a chance in the bullpen, and some question the team’s decision to let him go. Either way, Chicago paid him to perform like this and to help the team in October. Houston: Ryan Pressly, RP Pressly was dealt to the Astros back in 2018 for Jorge Alcala and Gilberto Celestino. Both of these players have impacted the 2021 Twins, and they look to have bright futures. Ryan Pressly is in the midst of a tremendous season at the backend of the Astros bullpen. He has a sub 1.00 WHIP for the second time in his career, and his chase rate ranks in the 94th percentile. Wild Card Contenders Boston: Martin Perez, SP Twins fans may not have fond memories of Martin Perez as he posted a 5.12 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP in over 165 innings back in 2019. His time in Boston has only been slightly better. In the season’s first half, he posted a 4.04 ERA, which isn’t easy to do in the AL East. His average exit velocity and BB% both rank in the 60th percentile or higher. Toronto: Jose Berrios, SP On Sunday, Jose Berrios made his first career start against the Twins, and the Blue Jays walked away with the win. Berrios was part of a blockbuster deadline deal that brought Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson to Minnesota. Toronto didn’t need Berrios to be an ace, and he has posted a 130 OPS+. Also, he has been worth more win probability added for the Blue Jays this season than with the Twins. New York: Luis Gil, SP In 2018, Gil was sent to the Yankees for Jake Cave, but he was a long way from making an impact at the big-league level. He’s been impressive across six big-league starts this season by posting a 3.07 ERA and 11.7 SO/9. Right now, the Yankees are on the outside of the playoffs, but Luis Gil might be one of the pieces to get them back into the postseason. Oakland: Deolis Guerra, RP Deolis Guerra was part of the Johan Santana trade, and Oakland is his sixth organization since leaving Minnesota. Oakland also has former Twin Sergio Romo, but Guerra has been the more valuable player this season. He ranks in the 84th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, xwOBA, xSLG, hard-hit %, and chase rate. Which of these players has the most significant impact on the playoff races? 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
  12. This year, Minnesota might not be in the playoff race, but that doesn’t mean fans have to tune out from the exciting races across baseball. Former Twins players and prospects are on nearly every contending team’s roster. Some of these players had memorable Twins tenures, while others might not have gotten a full opportunity. Either way, they are in the thick of the playoff hunt as their team’s search for October glory. Division Leaders Tampa Bay: Nelson Cruz, DH Nelson Cruz was dealt at the trade deadline in a move that brought back two top pitching prospects, including Joe Ryan. Since the trade, Cruz has posted a .776 OPS, which is 130 points lower than he had with the Twins this year. He still has a 117 OPS+, and he has some big hits in a Rays uniform. Tampa looks to go back to the World Series with Cruz as their veteran leader. Chicago: Liam Hendriks, RP Chicago paid Liam Hendriks a ton of money this winter to bring him to the Southside, and he has lived up to the hype. He leads the American League in Saves, and he has a career-high strikeout rate. Minnesota never gave Hendriks a chance in the bullpen, and some question the team’s decision to let him go. Either way, Chicago paid him to perform like this and to help the team in October. Houston: Ryan Pressly, RP Pressly was dealt to the Astros back in 2018 for Jorge Alcala and Gilberto Celestino. Both of these players have impacted the 2021 Twins, and they look to have bright futures. Ryan Pressly is in the midst of a tremendous season at the backend of the Astros bullpen. He has a sub 1.00 WHIP for the second time in his career, and his chase rate ranks in the 94th percentile. Wild Card Contenders Boston: Martin Perez, SP Twins fans may not have fond memories of Martin Perez as he posted a 5.12 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP in over 165 innings back in 2019. His time in Boston has only been slightly better. In the season’s first half, he posted a 4.04 ERA, which isn’t easy to do in the AL East. His average exit velocity and BB% both rank in the 60th percentile or higher. Toronto: Jose Berrios, SP On Sunday, Jose Berrios made his first career start against the Twins, and the Blue Jays walked away with the win. Berrios was part of a blockbuster deadline deal that brought Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson to Minnesota. Toronto didn’t need Berrios to be an ace, and he has posted a 130 OPS+. Also, he has been worth more win probability added for the Blue Jays this season than with the Twins. New York: Luis Gil, SP In 2018, Gil was sent to the Yankees for Jake Cave, but he was a long way from making an impact at the big-league level. He’s been impressive across six big-league starts this season by posting a 3.07 ERA and 11.7 SO/9. Right now, the Yankees are on the outside of the playoffs, but Luis Gil might be one of the pieces to get them back into the postseason. Oakland: Deolis Guerra, RP Deolis Guerra was part of the Johan Santana trade, and Oakland is his sixth organization since leaving Minnesota. Oakland also has former Twin Sergio Romo, but Guerra has been the more valuable player this season. He ranks in the 84th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, xwOBA, xSLG, hard-hit %, and chase rate. Which of these players has the most significant impact on the playoff races? 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
  13. Baseball is a challenging game, and even the all-time greats can have a down season. Players fight through injuries, work on swing adjustments, and fight against extensive data compiled on their every weakness. This is a tough environment for any player to find success. Here are three Twins players that underperformed in 2021 that should return to form next season. Randy Dobnak, SP Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Dobnak after signing his extension last spring. Beginning the season as a reliever and multiple IL stints meant his season could never get off the ground. There were brief glimpses of the old Dobnak this season, but he ended up being worth -1.3 WAR. Only J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker posted a lower WAR total for the team this season. Dobnak is also under contract through 2025. In next year's starting rotation, Minnesota will have plenty of opportunities, and Dobnak is better than his numbers from 2021. Alex Colome, RP Like Dobnak, not much went right for Colome at the start of the year. His disastrous April helped put the Twins in a hole that made it nearly impossible to dig out. He has already shown improved performance in the second half with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. He's held batters to a .214/.277/.359 slash line in his last 27 games. One of Minnesota's biggest questions this winter will be whether or not to pick up Colome's mutual option. With Taylor Rogers injured, could that make the team want to keep Colome around? Ryan Jeffers, C Minnesota started the year with what looked like one of baseball's best catching duos. Both Ryan Jeffers and Mitch Garver struggled offensively before Jeffers was eventually demoted. Keep in mind that Jeffers had never played at Triple-A in his professional career. In 24 games, he got on base over 34% of the time and posted a .786 OPS. Defensively, he has still provided value as he has been worth four defensive runs saved and ranks in the 72nd percentile for framing. Jeffers doesn't turn 25 until next June, and he is still the future of catching for the Twins. Which Twins player do you feel is the most likely to bounce back in 2022? 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. Every season in baseball history, some players have underperformed. Most of the Minnesota Twins' roster fits into this category in 2021, but who are the top candidates to bounce back? Baseball is a challenging game, and even the all-time greats can have a down season. Players fight through injuries, work on swing adjustments, and fight against extensive data compiled on their every weakness. This is a tough environment for any player to find success. Here are three Twins players that underperformed in 2021 that should return to form next season. Randy Dobnak, SP Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Dobnak after signing his extension last spring. Beginning the season as a reliever and multiple IL stints meant his season could never get off the ground. There were brief glimpses of the old Dobnak this season, but he ended up being worth -1.3 WAR. Only J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker posted a lower WAR total for the team this season. Dobnak is also under contract through 2025. In next year's starting rotation, Minnesota will have plenty of opportunities, and Dobnak is better than his numbers from 2021. Alex Colome, RP Like Dobnak, not much went right for Colome at the start of the year. His disastrous April helped put the Twins in a hole that made it nearly impossible to dig out. He has already shown improved performance in the second half with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. He's held batters to a .214/.277/.359 slash line in his last 27 games. One of Minnesota's biggest questions this winter will be whether or not to pick up Colome's mutual option. With Taylor Rogers injured, could that make the team want to keep Colome around? Ryan Jeffers, C Minnesota started the year with what looked like one of baseball's best catching duos. Both Ryan Jeffers and Mitch Garver struggled offensively before Jeffers was eventually demoted. Keep in mind that Jeffers had never played at Triple-A in his professional career. In 24 games, he got on base over 34% of the time and posted a .786 OPS. Defensively, he has still provided value as he has been worth four defensive runs saved and ranks in the 72nd percentile for framing. Jeffers doesn't turn 25 until next June, and he is still the future of catching for the Twins. Which Twins player do you feel is the most likely to bounce back in 2022? 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. Rumors swirled at the trade deadline regarding possible Josh Donaldson trade scenarios. On a team with little to play for, he has continued to produce. Here are four concerns facing any potential Donaldson deal in the offseason. After failing to contend in 2021, the Twins are in an intriguing position when planning for the future. Can the team be competitive in 2022? Is it going to take multiple years to get back near the top of the AL Central? Josh Donaldson is under contract for two more seasons, and there is a chance he isn’t part of Minnesota’s next winning club. Concern 1: Offensive Production Minnesota paid a hefty premium to sign Donaldson because they were in the middle of a winning window. Generally speaking, the Twins knew what they were getting with Donaldson, and he has lived up to that billing. He’s posted an .822 OPS and a 127 OPS+ during his Twins tenure, which is probably more than fans expected when signing a player in his mid-30s. Since signing, Donaldson ranks ninth in WAR among AL third basemen, just behind Alex Bregman. Only four AL third basemen rank higher than Donaldson when it comes to Win Probability Added. His Baseball Savant page is also full of plenty of red. He ranks in the 90th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, max exit velocity, hard-hit %, xwOBA, xSLG, barrel %, and BB %. His offensive skills are still there even at age 35. Concern 2: Long-Term Health This season, health has been less of an issue as he has appeared in over 115 games for only the second time since 2016. Chronic calf issues seem to be part of the Donaldson equation, but maybe he has figured out the proper regimen to stay on the field. Minnesota has also given Donaldson regular rest and time at designated hitter. During the 2021 season, Donaldson has missed the most time with hamstring injuries. He altered his running style to put less pressure on his calves, which might have hampered his hamstrings. Even if he has put some doubts to rest, his age and previous injury history will factor into any Donaldson trade. Concern 3: Large Contract Finding a taker for Donaldson’s contract might be another challenge, because Donaldson has over $50 million in guaranteed money remaining on his contract. Minnesota will likely need to pay some of his remaining guaranteed money to get any value in return. According to FanGraphs, Donaldson was worth just under $7 million in 2020, and he has been worth $12.7 million so far in 2021. That’s lower than the $21.75 million he is due in each of the next two years. Would the Twins be willing to pay $20-25 million of his remaining guaranteed money? That might seem like a lot, but that’s what it may take to get a decent return. Concern 4: Personality There are also some teams that aren't going to be interested in Donaldson because of his on and off the field behavior. Overall, he has a personality that rubs some people the wrong way. Minnesota’s front office had to know what they were getting when they signed Josh Donaldson. He had a proven track record of being outspoken, but the Twins were willing to deal with his on and off-field behavior if he helped push the team to postseason success. Obviously, Donaldson has yet to help the team to October glory, and the team may be ready to move on from him. Do you think Donaldson gets traded this winter? Will the team spend the money needed to get a prospect back? 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
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