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  1. Like
    mikelink45 reacted to stringer bell for a blog entry, 2022 Twins--What Went Wrong and How to Fix It   
    Some time after the All-Star break, I was pondering how the Twins could fit all of their quality major league position players on the active roster. A few weeks later, baseball immortals Mark Contreras and Caleb Hamilton were on the big club. Fast forward to a crucial five-game series in Cleveland and the Twins were starting Bailey Ober, Josh Winder (both coming off injuries) and having Louie Varland make his second major league start and Jake Cave and Gilberto Celestino were considered regular starters. The season unraveled quickly and now the Twins look likely to finish below .500 and in third place in the weak AL Central. How did it happen? I have several answers--there have been enduring issues all year exacerbated by a rash of injuries, most of them season-ending. 
    Offense underperformed almost all year. Going back to the start of the season, after a rocky first couple of weeks, the Twins offense was sufficient to win a lot of game despite never scoring runs commensurate with their underlying numbers. Right now, the Twins are 18th in runs scored despite being 11th in OPS and 12th in homers. They have often been futile with runners in scoring position and they have been a terrible running bases as a team. I have seen many posters state that the team is terrible at fundamentals. I would submit that all teams draw their fans ire for not advancing runners and "beating the shift". Part of these problems is the way the Twins are built. They lack team speed and their is a lot of swing and miss in their collective game. With the changes made to limit homers, the Twins (IMHO) have suffered disproportionately. 
    Pitching regressed after overperforming early. The Twins seized first place in late April and held on to the top spot for most of the season bolstered by a pitching staff that performed better than expected. Despite seemingly having at least one and usually two or more guys in their rotation that were locks to go no more than five innings, they won a lot of games and obvious weaknesses at the back end of the bullpen were not evident in the win-loss record. Things unraveled here in slow motion. The failure of anyone but Jhoan Duran in late innings cost games (particularly to Cleveland). The extra innings assigned to the bullpen showed the lack of depth that so many short starts demanded. Back to statistics--the Twins currently are right in the middle of total runs allowed stats. Underlying stats (WHIP, Opponents BA and OPS and BB and K numbers) come out slightly below the mean. I think team defense has been slightly better than average, which has helped keep runs allowed acceptable. 
    Injuries (oh my!). The Twins lead the AL in total man-games on the Injured List. They went into the season with one player slated to miss time, so it isn't like there were a bunch of players already on the IL. Some of the injuries could be expected and put on the front office. The Twins obtained several pitchers with injury issues and this season have come up snake eyes with most of them missing significant time. 
    There have been plenty of position player injuries as well. Regular players Ryan Jeffers, Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler have all missed significant portions of the season. Carlos Correa also missed over 20 games with COVID and a badly bruised finger. We all know Buxton hasn't made it through a season without spending time on the IL. The other guys would figure to be healthier than they have this year. 
    Dick Bremer characterized the Twins as developing a "slow leak" from June through August. The leak has been accelerated in the month of September and injuries are a factor in that. That said, even without the injuries, the Twins' flaws probably were too big to win the division. The club exhausted their depth and seeing Jermaine Palacios, Mark Contreras, Caleb Hamilton, Sandy Leon, Aaron Sanchez, and (second half) Devin Smeltzer "perform" in key situations just shows that the Twins have scraped bottom.
    I think some roster turnover is necessary. Among the position players, they need more guys who make contact, are better base runners and who have more speed. They need more left-right balance in corner outfielders. The front office needs to adjust their focus and bring in more durable players. It should be noted that the position players they brought in (Urshela, Sanchez and Correa) have been basically healthy. The problem has been with the pitchers. 
    I think there is too much talent to tear it down. If the club fails to compete next year, it is probably time to try something else, starting at the top. It won't be easy to win the Central next year, but there needs to be significant progress and better health.
  2. Like
    mikelink45 reacted to stringer bell for a blog entry, Thoughts on 2023   
    Manfredball will be in full swing in 2023. No more shifts, a pitch clock and bigger bases. The Twins will need to adjust to the changes and they will probably have to adjust more than most. The larger bases will make infield hits and stolen bases more common. The Twins will need to find a way to get more speed in their lineup and to be better base runners. They have been dreadful running the bases and have yielded oodles of stolen bases and that is not all on their catchers. At the very least, adding players with plus speed will be needed and a renewed emphasis on elements of "small ball" will have to be done.
    I am looking to 2023 because I believe the 2022 season is basically over. A large number of the Twins' top position players aren't playing (Buxton, Polanco, Kepler) and many viewed as emerging (Jeffers, Kirilloff, Larnach) aren't playing either. Carlos Correa has been an offensive disapointment. Add in that Max Kepler and Gary Sanchez have been playing at replacement player level and it is a near miracle that the Twins are still in a pennant race. They've had plenty of help from Cleveland and Chicago, but it appears to me that it will be a surprise if the Twins finish higher than third in the weak Central Division.
    I think there will be enough talent for the Twins to contend in 2023. A bullpen that includes Jhoan Duran, Jorge Lopez, Caleb Thielbar and Griffin Jax will be a far cry better than the bully that began the season in 2022. Add in prospective starters Joe Ryan, Sonny Gray, Kenta Maeda, Tyler Mahle and later Chris Paddack with guys like Louis Varland, Simeon Woods-Richardson, Josh Winder and Bailey Ober ready to step in, perhaps there wouldn't be as many short starts and so much pressure on the bullpen. 
    There is position player talent as well. Jose Miranda has shown himself to be a major league hitter with perhaps a ceiling of star, Nick Gordon has developed into a competent major leaguer with positional versatility. Jeffers, Larnach and Kirilloff showed glimpses of what they could be before they were sidelined by injuries. Byron Buxton played most of the season on one leg and yet was valuable. If only he could get his health right for a season, the Twins become a different team. If Correa comes back, he is a fine ballplayer at a crucial position. If not, the Twins have sufficient funds to upgrade the team (pitching staff or position plauers). It is obvious that there will be more injuries, hopefully not as much as 2022, and also that some players will no longer be Twins in the coming year. 
    Circling back to the mark that Commissioner Manfred has made on baseball, with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in place, MLB is now going to recognize minor leaguers as a union. My fervent hope is that minor league players will get upgraded treatment in future years. Time will tell on that.
  3. Like
    mikelink45 reacted to Brandon for a blog entry, 500 HRs   
    Looking back on the 2009 International Signing Period, We signed 3 really good productive players who are all still with the Twins today.  While that may change soon.  Here is some fun with numbers to show what they have done with us.
    In 2009 we signed Polanco, Kepler and Sano.  Sano was the star of the entire signing period and there was much debate over his actual age that teams were scared off from signing him and we were able to get him for 3.15 million.  I think Kepler got 800,000 and Polanco I think got 700,000.  feel free to check those numbers.  Polanco was viewed at the time of the signing as a defensive SS with his bat the concern.  Kepler was seen as a 5 tool player with minimal baseball experience.
    As we get closer to some of the players moving on I thought it would be fun to see where they are as a group and where they will likely be when they leave.
    Sano currently has 161 HRs with the Twins and he is off to the worst start of his career and injured.  He should be back soon and could be released or be given some time at DH to see if he could build some value before the deadline.  If he could come back and hit close to a .750-.800 OPS for a few weeks we might find a team we could trade him to for basically nothing and while we would probably have to throw in some salary, We would still get some salary relief from his contract and not have to pay the 2.75 million buyout.  That would leave Sano's career with the Twins at 161 - 165 HRs  I know I was hoping for more from Sano with something in the neighborhood of a few 40 HR seasons.  I am also surprised he regressed so fast as I expected solid production from him into his age 32-33 seasons anyways with all of our young options at this point I think its time to move on from Sano and I also think that is the consensus here as well. 
    Kepler is currently at 127 and should finish the year around 140 +- a few.  Kepler has 1 more year guaranteed and a buyout.  I can see the Twins going either way on the buyout so lets assume they keep him that season.  Kepler tends to hit around 20 HRs a season.  so with both seasons, he would end up around 180-185 HRs
    Polanco is at 89 HRs and is all over the board.  He has 3 seasons after this one including 2 option years.  I expect the Twins to pick them up if he is healthy.  To project his level of production is hard so I am going with 20 HRs per season.  with 11 more this one.  That puts him at 160 HRs at the end of his contract.  
    In Total there is a fair to good chance that these three players who signed for less than 5 million will produce just over 500 HRs for us during their careers.  I hope to see Kepler and Polanco extended so they can increase that total.  It is definitely fun to follow.  
  4. Like
    mikelink45 reacted to bean5302 for a blog entry, Grading Falvey's Drafts Mid 2022   
    Towards the end of last year, I decided to evaluate Falvey's draft record at the time. As I noted, it was a work in progress and there has been quite a bit of shifting around this year. I postulated this year would be a critical year for Falvey's future with the Twins as fans, and I'm sure owners, were waiting with bated breath for the pitchers of the future to arrive and the high round draft choices to prove their mettle, advance through the system, and prove the front office's methodology.
    To paraphrase my previous blog:
    Falvey has shown a tendency to draft one tool (power) position players in the high rounds and they weren't particularly successful. eg. Sabato, Wallner, Rooker and he's had very little success in early round pitchers developing and moving up through the system.

    Link to previous blog:
    So how have things graded out this year? There's definitely been a fair bit of movement and some of the players are no longer in the organization. Rooker was traded to San Diego as part of the Rogers deal and Petty was moved to the Reds for Sonny Gray. Landon Leach was released by Ft. Myers and signed by the Braves' organization.
    2017 Player Grade MLB Draft # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perf. Promo Spd Projection 1st Royce Lewis B 5 1 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par High School 22 MLB A C B CBA Brent Rooker* D 50 35 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive College 27 AAA A F C 2nd Landon Leach* D 101 37 37-67 (Rnd2) Reach College 22 A- D F D 3rd Blayne Enlow D 29 76 76-105 (Rnd3) Steal High School 23 AA F D D 2018 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Trevor Larnach B 26 20 1-30 (Rnd1) On Par College 25 MLB B B B 2nd Ryan Jeffers C >200 59 44-78 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 24 MLB D A D 3rd Forfeit for Lynn 1yr N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2019 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Keoni Cavaco F 28 13 1-30 (Rnd1) Aggressive High School 21 A- C F F CBA Matt Wallner B 60 39 31-41 (CBA) Aggressive College 24 AA B C C 2nd Matt Canterino C 46 54 42-69 (Rnd2) On Par College 24 AA C C D CBB Forefeit (to trade Hughes) F       Total Failure N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Spencer Steer A >200 90 79-107 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 24 AAA A C B 2020 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Aaron Sabato D 41 27 1-29 (Rnd1) Reach College 23 A+ D D F 2nd Alerick Soularie D 105 59 38-60 (Rnd2) Huge Reach College 22 A+ D C F CBB Forefit in Maeda Trade N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3rd Forefit for Donaldson N/A         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 2021 Player Grade MLB Draft Proj # Actual Draft # Selection Range Analysis Draft Age Age Level Last Perform Promo Spd Projection 1st Chase Petty* A 27 26 1-29 (Rnd1) On Par High School 19 A- B A B CBA Noah Miller B 62 36 31-36 (CBA) Aggressive High School 19 A- B A C 2nd Steve Hajjar C 100 61 37-63 (Rnd2) Reach College 21 A- B C C 3rd Cade Povich A >250 98 72-101 (Rnd3) Huge Reach College 22 A+ A A B Upward movers:
    Royce Lewis - C to B. While Lewis' performance blew away all expectations and was well worthy of an A grade here, it feels like there's been confirmation he's the next Buxton in regard to injuries. Lewis' injury history is no longer something which can be attributed solely to luck and the expectations on how much value he can add to a team should be significantly tempered as a result.

    Landon Leach - F to D. Atlanta's coaches have clearly done something here. Leach's K rate is about the same, but his walk rate has absolutely plummeted. Leach has turned in mostly solid starts this year for Atlanta's low A team with a couple clunkers disguising how effective Leach has actually been. This is a positive for Falvey's draft, but a potential big negative for the development team. Based on his age and experience in the MiLB system, Leach's results this year 4.04 ERA, 4.29 xFIP are hardly worth praise, but the absolutely massive leap forward is worth not completely writing him off. 

    Trevor Larnach - C to B. Larnach's struggles to hit basically anything other than a 4-seam fastball resulted in his performance, and my expectations, dropping like a stone. This year, Larnach started off fairly hot again and his wRC+ of 114 is sustainable for a bat first corner outfielder now that he's picked up a little extra speed as well. I'm going to ignore his huge slump over the last month, and especially last couple of weeks and hope it's luck related rather than a repeat of last season.

    Matt Wallner - D to B. Wallner didn't impress me last year. As a 23 year old college hitter in an A+ league with only a power tool offset by poor plate discipline, I wasn't confident in his ability to take his game up the ladder. Wallner performed well in the Arizona Fall League, but I give almost zero value to performances in the AFL so coming into this year, I didn't expect a change. That said, Wallner has raked in AA, and now we're getting somewhere. Now age 24 and the mulligan of 2020's lost season fading, Wallner has delivered at the plate and significantly improved his game as well. Wallner's walk rate has jumped from a weak 9.5% (for a high K rate power hitter) to an impressive 17.1%. That's night and day. That's projectable. His OBP has also skyrocketed 54pts to .404 in a much, much harder league this year. Want more good news? He's only gotten better as the season has marched on. Since May 1, Wallner's OPS has been 1.026. His BB rate has increased slightly to 17.5% and even better, his K rate has declined a bit to 31.6% over that span. While the BABIP might have a bit to do with his .304 average, his performance isn't all HRs. Wallner has more 2B's than HR's since the beginning of May as well. Consider me much more interested in this guy's future.

    Spencer Steer - C to A. Scouting reports on Steer's defense were clear he wasn't going to be a shortstop and an unimpressive season at the plate in AA last year after raking in A+ ball led me to drop expectations. Steer's walk rate dropped by over 50% and his strikeout rate nearly doubled from A+ to AA while his OPS dropped from .911 to .774. OOffffda. Lots of players cannot make the transition from low minors to the high minors. A+ to AA is the biggest step in baseball competition level, in my opinion. Steer has reclaimed a bit of walk rate, dropped the strikeouts quite a bit and crushed the baseball, earning a promotion to AAA where he continues to rake. While his BB rate is too low for a power hitter (9%-ish), it does seem like "power hitter" is an apt term for Steer. It's possible Steer can make the transition to being a quality MLB player. As a 3rd rounder, that's an A.
    Noah Miller - C to B. Miller's performance last year was fine. He didn't light the world on fire in rookie ball with little pop .238/.316/.369 wRC+ 85, but as an 18 year old high school draft pick, even holding his own against professional players half way through their season and playing for a couple weeks was good enough. Miller's scouting reports show tough to grade potential with mediocre athleticism for a middle infielder, but he's credited with a high baseball IQ and good instincts which would offset it. That may be best evidenced by Miller stealing 13/15 on the basepaths this year. Miller focused on building core strength this offseason, but no power improvements are to be seen yet. That said, Miller's plate discipline has taken a major step forward with his promotion to A- league ball and that's kept him performing at the plate despite being utterly pop-less this year. Miller's .239/.378/.325 is good for a wRC+ of 114 in the low offense league. This is Miller's first full season of professional baseball and his excellent fielding percentage of .988 at shortstop practically brings a tear to my eye after watching seemingly every Twins SS prospect for the past decade boot baseballs like like they were playing soccer out there... If Miller can develop a little more pop or pick that average up, we could have a legitimate shortstop in the making.

    Cade Povich - D to A. Povich hadn't pitched at all last year at the time of my grading, and considering he was a college signing who I classified as a huge reach, I graded it harshly. Povich has acquitted Falvey's draft strategy greatly this year. With a 12.8 K/9 and an acceptable 3.2 BB/9, Povich has put up a 3.38 ERA in not Low-A, but High-A. Povich saw 2 innings in Rookie ball and then only 8 innings in Ft. Myers last year and the Twins started him off in Cedar Rapids this year. Povich's 3.28 xFIP looks good and seems reasonable based on the 1.13 WHIP. Povich hasn't shown a huge Achilles heel like a lot of pitchers who struggle with walks or give up a ton of hits. At age 22 in A+ ball, it's not like a 3.38 ERA screams "ace" pitcher, but given the experience level and promotion rate, it's a good sign of him being able to hold his own up the ladder and Povich was a 3rd rounder.

    Now for the fallers:

    Brent Rooker - C to D. Rooker was moved this offseason in the Rogers' trade and it's hard to give him a dropping grade considering he's OPS'ing .999 in AAA for San Diego, but... he's in AAA. As a 2017 first rounder, that's not acceptable. Rooker's strikeout rate clearly has the Padres looking at him as a AAAA talent or he'd have seen action by now. It's ironic, San Diego had a need for Rooker's services earlier this year... just as he was hurt. Rooker did get the callup on the 13th for a double-header game, but didn't play and was sent right back to AAA. The advanced metrics on Rooker last year painted him as unlucky and worth some time, but it seems neither the Padres or Twins' coaches have been impressed with what they saw in person.

    Blayne Enlow - C to D. Enlow finally returned to pitching after losing the vast majority of 2020-2021 to the COVID shutdown and a UCL tear. The Twins decided to protect Enlow from the Rule 5 draft this year, but Enlow's demonstrated poor control with a 4.9 BB/9 rate and he's been very hittable with an 8.9 H/9. Poor control is typical for younger pitchers when returning from TJ, and to Enlow's credit, he has returned quickly. That said, nothing about Enlow's true performance in the minors up until now has warranted excitement and there's no part of his game which is truly impressive this year. Scouting reports are great, but performance has to be there and Enlow needs to start producing. It's actually pretty concerning that Enlow walked nobody in his first two starts... and 11 batters in his last 12.2 IP.

    Ryan Jeffers - B to C. Jeffers got the thumbs up for a B-grade despite having a rough year at the plate last year. After all, he still had the potential to be a career starting catcher and that's very valuable. Jeffers struggles at the plate have continued this year and the SSS factor is quickly evaporating. Now, it's not like Jeffers has been John Ryan Murphy at the plate as Jeffers continues to hit well enough to justify being a backup catcher, but Jeffers' bat is decidedly below MLB average and his mediocre defense isn't going to offset his weak plate performance enough to be a starter. Projecting Jeffers as more than a career backup doesn't feel likely to me.

    Matt Canterino - B to C. Canterino may have already pitched more innings in AA this year than he was able to pitch all last year in Low/High A, and Canterino may own a sparkly 1.83 ERA, but the performance is an illusion. With an ugly 5.77 BB/9, helpful .225 BABIP and an absurdly low 0.26 HR/9 thanks to the 2.6% HR/FB rate, the 4.78 xFIP tells a very different story. Beyond the expected performance, there's no way an uninjured pitcher with a 5+ BB/9 rate in the minors can be effective in MLB. Canterino is also closer to his 25th birthday than his 24th at this point. Still some time to turn it around, but this year has been deflating for fans. 

    Aaron Sabato - C to D. The leash on Sabato's lack of performance has ended. After an uninspiring performance in Low A last year, Sabato was promoted to Cedar Rapids and he responded with a home run derby performance to put his stock back on track. Repeating A+ ball this year, Sabato has failed to repeat his home run fueled explosion last year. All that remains is the pedestrian 13.7% walk rate for a 23 year old college power hitter repeating a season in the low minors to go along with the 33% K rate. Sabato's power hasn't been on display this season, managing an ISO of just .174, and that won't get it done with a .214 batting average. Sabato still sports a wRC+ of 107 in the A+ league, but for poor defensive 1B/DH, who was drafted in the first round, that's not going to cut it. Sabato really doesn't look like he's MLB caliber.

    All in all, Falvey's grade jumps from a 1.67 (C-) to a 2.00 solid C. There were enough upward movers to more than offset the scufflers. The 2021 draft class still looks like it may be Falvey's best with a lot of solid performers, but it's way too early to tell... also, we traded away the best of the prospects in that class with Chase Petty in the Reds' system now where he's pitching very well in Low-A.
  5. Like
    mikelink45 reacted to Tim for a blog entry, Twins Positioned for Deadline Creativity   
    With trade season approaching, the Twins find themselves in a unique position that could allow them to get creative.
    Max Kepler has been pretty damn good for the Twins this season. He's one of the best defensive right fielders in the game and has posted a .243 / .341 / .400 (116wRC+). That's good for a 1.2 fWAR through 55 games.
    Another guy who's been pretty good is top prospect Alex Kirilloff. What he's doing at AAA right now is fairly incredible. He looks ready for the next level, right? that .370 / .477 / .661 (1.139) line in 34 games makes it seem like it.
    I'm sure we all are aware that the pitching could use some upgrades. I don't need or want to throw random stats and convince you otherwise. I'll skip that part.
    It's my belief that the Twins can utilize their excess of solid RF's for an upgrade to the staff. Let me lay out the grand plan
    San Diego's pitching this season has been outstanding. Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove have been pitching like Cy Young candidates. Sean Manaea has been the perfect middle of the rotation innings eater. Mackenzie Gore has ended up looking like he's going to be the ace everyone thought he would be prior to his 2021 from hell. Nick Martinez might be the best bargain signing from the offseason. That's not even factoring in Mike Cleavinger who's just getting back into the grove of starting after missing 2021 with Tommy John or former Cy Young winner Blake Snell.
    Looking from afar as a Twins fan, I'm not sure most of us could comprehend what that much pitching feels like. 
    Unfortunately for the Pads, the bats haven't been as great. As a team, they have a slash of .237 / .313 / .365 (96wRC+ .. ew). That ranks them in the bottom of 1/3 of the league from an offensive perspective. It gets even worse when you look at how the lineup handles righties, .234 / .306 / .353 (90wRC+)
    Compound that with the recent news of Fernando Tatis still not able to swing a bat, GM Aj Preller has to be on the hunt for some reinforcements at the plate.
    Right Field has been their biggest achilles heal this season as they've compiled a total WAR of -0.3 and are hitting a .225 / .277 / .287 (63wRC+) from the position.
    Internally top prospect, Robert Hassell is most likely still 2 years away from contributing as he is still at A+.... 23 year old popup prospect Esteury Ruiz, who was just promoted to AAA, has been on an incredible run hitting .363 / .489 / .656 (1.145 OPS). While they could count on him to be the savior in RF, they may believe him to be the savior in CF, as Trent Grisham and his .226 / .315 / .383 (698 OPS) over the last 200 games isn't cutting it. Maybe it's CJ Abrams? though they tried that earlier this season and it only lasted 20 games.
    For a team that looks like it is "all - in" and has pitching staff that owns a sub 3.00 ERA on the season, banking on an unproven prospect when you have a 229 million dollar payroll probably isn't the most ideal situation. 
    Lets take a look at how its shaken out this season ... 

    Not exactly a group that gives you much confidence going forward.
    SO, enter Max Kepler
    Kepler would provide the Padres relief in a few different ways. Obviously the immediate production in RF vs what they currently have is a massive upgrade, both offensively and defensively. Secondly, Max's career slash vs RHP .242 / .331 / .468 (.799 OPS) gives them a proven veteran that can come in day one and elevate the lineup as a whole where they are the weakest.
    But in my opinion Max Kepler's greatest asset to the Padres comes in the form of his contract. As previously mentioned, if he was traded by August 2nd, he is essentially on what is a 2 year 13 million dollar contract with a club option for 10 million in 2024. 

    ZiPS, FanGraphs player projection model, anticipates Kepler will be worth about 2.5 WAR over the course of the next 3 seasons. Now its somewhat volatile but a win in 2022 is worth roughly 8.5 million. (read more if you are curious).
    Max Kepler on his 2 year 13 million dollar contract (w / the club option for 10 million ) is making wellllll below what he would receive in free agency and the Padres would be hard pressed to find a proven veteran, offensively and defensively, that is both a better roster fit and under team control at a reasonable cost. (pls dont comment Juan Soto).
    That's not to say the Padres could go trade for a rental like Andrew Benintendi, but does that really solve any of Aj Preller's problems?
    Cause he could have some serious ones ..
    Following the 2022 season, San Diego is set to lose 3 vital pieces of the starting rotation to free agency.
    - Joe Musgrove (29) - 1.50 era / 72 ip / 72 k's / 2.1 fWAR
    - Sean Manaea (30) - 3.85 era / 73 ip / 76 k's / 1.1 fWAR
    - Mike Clevinger (31) - 3.18 era / 17 ip / 20 k's / 0.3 fWAR
    There's a world where if those 3 starters continue performing at this level for the rest of the season, each could command an AAV of 20 mil - 25 mil + in free agency. The following season, Yu Darvish is set to become a free agent. That leaves them essentially with Mackenzie Gore as the lone controllable starter past the 2023 season.
    This also doesn't account for their closer, Taylor Rogers, becoming a free agent after this season. But it only gets murkier for the Pads... Baseball Reference projects them to have a payroll around 147 Million in 2023 and that's before arbitration, which looks to be an additional 30 - 40 million. 
    While I'm not a capolgist, ill do my best to break this down. They sit at around 229 million right now. It appears they seem to be intent on not going over the 230 million dollar luxury tax for the second consecutive year, as they would be penalized to a greater extent for being a repeat offender. (hence the Twins paying Rogers 6.7 million dollar salary to keep them below that threshold)
    Put simply, if the Padres have any ambition to upgrade offensively at the deadline, while staying under the luxury tax, AND try to recoup some of Musgrove / Manaea / Clevinger / Rogers, AND THEN potentially get a RF in FA, they almost certainly have to move money around in a trade at this coming trade deadline.
    Here's my proposal to how these two teams can help each other yet again with a trade.
    The Blake Snell experience in San Diego definitely hasn't gone according to plan, Dennis Lin of The Athletic has reported a few times now that they have been open to a trade. Since Snell's arrival in 2021 they have received a 4.33 ERA over 153.2 IP in 32 starts.
    That's not exactly what Preller and co had in mind when they gave up 2 top 75 prospects (+ more) for the 29 year old lefty who is owed 12 million this year and 16 million in 2023. look, It's not absolutely terrible, but it's not great.
    With that said, there is hope for Blake.

    The underlying numbers show that he's definitely not cooked. The velo on his fastball hasn't diminished, he's sitting around a 96 mph avg. His xERA of 3.74 through 5 starts this year tells a different story than the 5.04 era on paper. It's not a super inspiring, slam dunk lock, and far from likely synch that he returns to his Cy Young form in 2018. But it's a glimmer of what might be the start of a turn around to be an at least slightly above average pitcher.
    It also goes to stay Snell hasn't been a complete bust. From June 4th to Sept 7th of last season, Snell started 15 games and had a 3.44 ERA with 100k's across 81 IP.
    Zips, Fangraphs projection model, believes he can produce a 2.0 fWAR next season. Again lets go back to using the logic a win is worth 8.5 million. Snell basically is owed a 2 year 24 million dollar contract if traded by August 2nd. You get Snell for 2 months the rest of this season (hopefully more with playoffs) and all of the 2023 season. So you hope that he can live up to the projected 2.0 FWAR and you'd be happy paying him 16 million next season.
    Snell started 65 games from 2018 - 2020. In 337 IP he owned a 2.85 ERA and had a 11.5 SO/9.
    While the past 2 years as haven't been good, It's my belief the risk on a 29 year old lefty with that kind of track record is worth the gamble for the Twins.
    Now what would the entire deal look like? Max Kepler definitely has more value, as we dove into that earlier, so a 1 for 1 swap isn't going to cut it. 
    By taking on Blake Snell, the Twins would be taking on what is basically 8 million the rest of the season and 16 million next season.
    The Padres would be taking on Max Kepler's remaining 4 million this year, 8.5 million in 2023, and have the 10 million dollar option for 2024. It's my understanding that its AAV throughout the duration of the contract that counts against the the luxury tax, and club options are not counted until picked up. So the Padres would be really going from 16 million to 6 million next season, saving them 10 million against the tax.
    The organization has been stacked with top prospects over the past few years, but through trades, the overall depth has taken a hit. Abrams and Hassell are off limits, just not happening. But, their #3 overall prospect per MLB pipeline is catching prospect Luis Campusano, who is most likely expendable at this point.
    Campusano has been a consensus top 50 prospect for about 2 years now, but has seen little playing time with the major league club, playing in only 16 games over the last 3 years. I find it incredibly odd that he's been stashed at AAA for 2 seasons now and has a slash line of .303 / .388 / .486 (896 OPS) in 117 games. 
    I've read numerous reports that the industry isn't quite as high on Campusano and his ability to stick at catcher long-term contrary to popular prospect ranking sites. When you look at the Padres and what they've gotten out of the position offensively the past few years, that's probably true. Plus they've stated a few times they would rather go with defense at the position (Nola + Alfaro).
    With that said, the Twins have a good track record of developing catchers on the defensive side, just look at how Gary Sanchez has progressed. Combine that with how Jeffers has played the past few seasons and Sanchez being a free agent, a possible long term catching solution would be a great get.
    He could help support the Twins in a few different ways this season. Obviously a few days mixed in playing catcher, DH is always an option, and he has gotten work at 1st base in the past.
    But with the question mark about his ability to stick at catcher and playing first might be a challenge as he's only 5'10, I would want one more upside piece in the deal.
    Michel Baez is who I would target. Only 26, the former top prospect underwent Tommy John surgery in 2021 and has been rehabbing in AA this season. Baez worked out of the bullpen in 2019, his lone season with the Padres. He was thought to be a staple in the bullpen after posting a 3.03 era in 29.2 IP with 28ks.
    Baez has looked sharp this season in his rehab stints this year touting a 2.45 era in 18 IP with 23 k's. It feels like he's not going to be down in AA for much longer. This would be the perfect flier to help the Twins going forward the next few years.

    The popular site -  https://www.baseballtradevalues.com/trade-simulator/ , has this deal about dead even between the Twins and Padres. While I believe Campusano is overvalued in their model based on the fact that it has him pegged as a sure fire catcher, I think it undervalues Snell slightly in terms of the potential he may still have, The Baez throw in seems to be perfectly valued for a guy coming off TJ and only has 23 MLB innings logged. Nothing more than a flier. 
    At the end of the day, the Padres get an above average RF for the next 3 years at an extremely discounted rate and save 10 million on the books for the next 2 years. The Twins continue the movement in top prospects blossoming at the major league level, get another rotation piece with upside for the next 1.5 years, a great catching prospect, and a young controllable bullpen flier piece with proven success. 
    Oh and Kirilloff comes in to hit .300 / .375 / .450 to replace Kepler.
    Perfect world, right?
    Thanks guys.
  6. Like
    mikelink45 reacted to jlarson for a blog entry, The Ones That Got Away   
    I know this story is not unique to the Minnesota Twins. Every year prospects are traded before they ever play an MLB game with the team that drafted them. Every year players decide not to sign with the team that drafted them and go the college route. That does not mean we cannot reminisce on Twins players that could have been. Looking through some draft history here are some names that would have looked pretty good in a Twins uniform.
    Brian Anderson, 3rd basemen Miami Marlins
    Anderson was drafted by the Twins in the 20th round of the 2011 draft but did not sign. Miami drafted Anderson in the 3rd round of the 2014 draft.
    Not an amazing player, but a useful player who has some value.

    George Springer, Outfield Toronto Blue Jays
    Springer was drafted by the Twins in the 48th round of the 2008 draft but did not sign. Houston drafted Springer  in the 1st  round of the 2011 draft.
    This one hurts a bit. Springer is probably the best player that did not sign with Minnesota in recent history. 3x All Star and 31.7 WAR through the age of 32.

    Kolten Wong, Second Base Milwaukee Brewers
    Wong was drafted by the Twins in the 16th round of the 2008 draft but did not sign. St. Louis drafted Wong in the 1st round of the 2011 draft.
    The 2008 draft class could have been amazing. 20.1 WAR from Kolten Wong and 31.7 WAR from George Springer. Wong is no superstar but has been a very valuable player in his career.

    J.D. Martinez, Outfield Boston RedSox
    Martinez was drafted by the Twins in the 36th round of the 2006 draft but did not sign. Houston drafted Martinez in the 20th round of the 2009 draft.
    Martinez is a 4x All Star. MVP Votes in 4 different seasons and may get MVP votes this season at the age 34 if he keeps playing the way he has. This one hurts as bad as Springer. 

  7. Like
    mikelink45 got a reaction from Dave The Dastardly for a blog entry, strike outs and innings pitched by starters   
    Does the emphasis on strike outs also commit the teams to the ridiculous 4 – 5 inning starter and a dozen or more relief pitchers per year?  Are we straining the arms by demanding near 100 mph heaters and lots of curves and sliders?
    I went to Brad Radtke’s baseball reference page.  He pitched 12 years for us and is one of the best pitchers in Twins history.  148 – 139 4.22 era is not HOF worthy, and he cannot be called a great pitcher, but he was a competent competitor for teams that needed him like today’s Twins.
    What I wanted to see was his innings pitched – 2451 – an average of 221 per year with a peak of 261.  He struck out 1467 and walked 445.  His WHIP was not great – 1.26, but acceptable.
    His complete games – 37 is only 10% of his starts.  His average start was 6.5 innings per start. 
    Now comes my crazy comparison – a potential Hall of Famer – Clayton Kershaw – has pitched 14 years, 2454 inning – only three more than Radtke.  2670 strike outs and 606 walks.  25 complete games – 12 less than Radtke and he has started 379 games – 2 more than Radtke. 
    Of course, his 185 – 84 makes him elite, but as you probably are well aware of, for many years he was worn out as the Dodgers got to post season and in the last few has been injured.  He is no longer the pitcher that he was and not even the Dodger Ace anymore. Obviously still a great pitcher, but that is not the issue.
    The pitcher throws on average 62 – 65 % strikes.
    If I extrapolate - no I am not a statistician - that means the pitcher is going to throw a minimum of 5 pitches per K and 6 per BB.  I think that is the difference between the Radtke and Kershaw stats.  More Ks and more BBs mean more pitches thrown - not even considering the arm stress of the faster pitches or the curve.  
    I know Terry Ryan and pitch to contact are out, but I did want to look at some of the realities in todays baseball. 
    Finally, I had to look at Warren Spahn, my all time favorite pitcher who lasted 21 years, pitched 5046 innings, started 635 games and relieved in 79 others and he completed 382 games. He struck out 2493 - just .5 per inning and averaged 8+ innings per start so this 363 win pitcher does not fit the current profile, but he does rank number 6 in wins all time despite serving in WWII missing three full seasons and serving at the Battle of the Bulge along with Yogi Berra, Ralph Houk, Cecil Travis, Hoyt Wilhelm and 21 other players from MLB.  The war has nothing to do with this topic except that it robbed some years from each.  Pitchers of Spahn's era had different expectations, I understand that.  Today with the HOF talk still in our minds Roger Clemens is often referred to in modern terms as the greatest pitcher (not by me) and he pitched 24 seasons - with the war years similar to what Spahn would have had.  He had 709 starts and completed 118. With almost as many Ks as innings pitched he was the beginning of the current era and Spahn was the end of the previous era.  Clemens averaged 6.9 innings per start. 

  8. Like
    mikelink45 reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, How Can You be Romantic About Baseball?   
    Right now Major League Baseball may be as low as it’s ever been. Back during the 1994 and 1995 strike I was just five years old, way too young to be bothered by what was taking place. At this point in my life, it’s anything but. After Rob Manfred’s address yesterday I could produce nothing more than apathy.
    The Minnesota Twins have long been my favorite team. Major League Baseball has been among my most invested interests for the majority of my life. Because of just thirty owners and their puppet, Opening Day is cancelled with no end in sight. As Manfred stepped up to the podium, made that announcement while laughing, and then suggesting it was a both sides issue (hint: it’s not) emptiness set in.
    Manfred has done very little to distance himself from the notion that he’s an awful commissioner. Obviously, he’s in a position to represent the interests of the owners, but each opportunity for him to provide a galvanizing rallying cry or momentum, he chomps on his own foot. Manfred comes across like a sleazy businessman with little desire to actually enjoy the sport he oversees. There isn’t a jovial attitude and there’s certainly nothing redeeming about him in connecting with the fans.
    For months those connected to the league have attempted spewing a stance that players are needed to move things forward. Despite delays, lack of negotiating, and bad faith bargaining, it’s consistently been a blame game from the league with the only intention being the greatest win. Instead, we the fans, now all lose.
    Opening Day is supposed to be a highlight of Spring. We get through the final days of winter with baseball action in Arizona or Florida. It’s the eight month calendar that creates drama on a daily basis through the lens of a wonderful sport. Not only do we not have that calendar to look forward to at this point, but we also have no clue when Rob Manfred and the league will work towards getting things back on track.
    I’ll rebound from this; it’s necessary for the union to remain steadfast for change. Baseball will return, maybe in June, or maybe next year, but it will return. I’ll continue to write and enjoy the sport from afar. Right now though, it all feels a bit empty and hollow with one man and one group so carelessly and ruthlessly denying us normalcy on the diamond. Most times it’s hard not to be romantic about baseball, but right now is not most times.
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  9. Like
    mikelink45 got a reaction from Karbo for a blog entry, Baseball in the Klondike   
    I enjoy the history of baseball and that is why in the past I have written about Tom Custer and Wild Bill Hickok playing baseball.  Another story that is among the lesser known baseball games was played in Skagway during the height of the Gold Rush.  
    The game was played on Independence day in 1901 and unlike the rest of the baseball world it was a team of black Buffalo Soldiers and White Railroad workers. 
    The soldiers were assigned to this remote Alaskan wilderness to bring law and order where there was no law and certainly no order.  A man known as Corporal Green was the captain of the Company L Soldier nine and a man by the name of Phelps led the railroad workers. It was about bragging rights and a prize of $50 for first place and $25 for second.
    Played near the Moore's sawmill there was beer from the Skagway Brewing Company and vendor of ice cream, lemonade, and milk.
    In the stands were miners, railroad workers, prostitutes, gamblers, and soldiers.  It was a lively crowd and the game was a three hour affair (so much for short games) with umps from the townspeople who may or may not have known the rules.
    The White Pass RR men wore blue trousers, black shirts and caps while the soldiers had numbered shirts, knickers, and striped socks.
    In the end the RR men (umpires decisions or not) won the game 14 - 10 and the crowd was ecstatic.  That was baseball in the Klondike.

  10. Like
    mikelink45 got a reaction from MN_ExPat for a blog entry, Baseball in the Klondike   
    I enjoy the history of baseball and that is why in the past I have written about Tom Custer and Wild Bill Hickok playing baseball.  Another story that is among the lesser known baseball games was played in Skagway during the height of the Gold Rush.  
    The game was played on Independence day in 1901 and unlike the rest of the baseball world it was a team of black Buffalo Soldiers and White Railroad workers. 
    The soldiers were assigned to this remote Alaskan wilderness to bring law and order where there was no law and certainly no order.  A man known as Corporal Green was the captain of the Company L Soldier nine and a man by the name of Phelps led the railroad workers. It was about bragging rights and a prize of $50 for first place and $25 for second.
    Played near the Moore's sawmill there was beer from the Skagway Brewing Company and vendor of ice cream, lemonade, and milk.
    In the stands were miners, railroad workers, prostitutes, gamblers, and soldiers.  It was a lively crowd and the game was a three hour affair (so much for short games) with umps from the townspeople who may or may not have known the rules.
    The White Pass RR men wore blue trousers, black shirts and caps while the soldiers had numbered shirts, knickers, and striped socks.
    In the end the RR men (umpires decisions or not) won the game 14 - 10 and the crowd was ecstatic.  That was baseball in the Klondike.

  11. Like
    mikelink45 got a reaction from nclahammer for a blog entry, Baseball in the Klondike   
    I enjoy the history of baseball and that is why in the past I have written about Tom Custer and Wild Bill Hickok playing baseball.  Another story that is among the lesser known baseball games was played in Skagway during the height of the Gold Rush.  
    The game was played on Independence day in 1901 and unlike the rest of the baseball world it was a team of black Buffalo Soldiers and White Railroad workers. 
    The soldiers were assigned to this remote Alaskan wilderness to bring law and order where there was no law and certainly no order.  A man known as Corporal Green was the captain of the Company L Soldier nine and a man by the name of Phelps led the railroad workers. It was about bragging rights and a prize of $50 for first place and $25 for second.
    Played near the Moore's sawmill there was beer from the Skagway Brewing Company and vendor of ice cream, lemonade, and milk.
    In the stands were miners, railroad workers, prostitutes, gamblers, and soldiers.  It was a lively crowd and the game was a three hour affair (so much for short games) with umps from the townspeople who may or may not have known the rules.
    The White Pass RR men wore blue trousers, black shirts and caps while the soldiers had numbered shirts, knickers, and striped socks.
    In the end the RR men (umpires decisions or not) won the game 14 - 10 and the crowd was ecstatic.  That was baseball in the Klondike.

  12. Like
    mikelink45 got a reaction from Doctor Gast for a blog entry, Baseball in the Klondike   
    I enjoy the history of baseball and that is why in the past I have written about Tom Custer and Wild Bill Hickok playing baseball.  Another story that is among the lesser known baseball games was played in Skagway during the height of the Gold Rush.  
    The game was played on Independence day in 1901 and unlike the rest of the baseball world it was a team of black Buffalo Soldiers and White Railroad workers. 
    The soldiers were assigned to this remote Alaskan wilderness to bring law and order where there was no law and certainly no order.  A man known as Corporal Green was the captain of the Company L Soldier nine and a man by the name of Phelps led the railroad workers. It was about bragging rights and a prize of $50 for first place and $25 for second.
    Played near the Moore's sawmill there was beer from the Skagway Brewing Company and vendor of ice cream, lemonade, and milk.
    In the stands were miners, railroad workers, prostitutes, gamblers, and soldiers.  It was a lively crowd and the game was a three hour affair (so much for short games) with umps from the townspeople who may or may not have known the rules.
    The White Pass RR men wore blue trousers, black shirts and caps while the soldiers had numbered shirts, knickers, and striped socks.
    In the end the RR men (umpires decisions or not) won the game 14 - 10 and the crowd was ecstatic.  That was baseball in the Klondike.

  13. Like
    mikelink45 reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, 2022 Minnesota Twins Top 15 Prospects   
    While we have no baseball right now because of the league locking out its players, there’s still minor league prospects to dream on. 2021 provided us a full season of minor league action and the Twins saw a ton of movement from their biggest names.
    It was certainly tough to see the injuries mount this season, but that can likely be tied to the non-traditional 2020 and having to get back into a demanding flow. The last update to the top 15 in this space came in June, prior to the Major League Baseball draft, so now feels like a good time to refresh the list. 
    Previous rankings can be found below. Let’s get into it:
    2016 Top 15 Prospects 2017 Top 15 Prospects 2018 Top 15 Prospects 2019 Top 15 Prospects 2020 Top 15 Prospects 2021 Top 15 Prospects 15. Cole Sands RHP
    Sliding Sands back a spot here has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with additions before him. He posted a 2.46 ERA in 80.1 IP all at the Double-A level in 2021. The strikeouts are there and while the walk rate was up, he still worked around damage. Some time on the IL wasn’t a great thing, but he could be an option for Minnesota soon.
    14. Matt Wallner OF
    I’m pretty bullish on Wallner being a better version of Brent Rooker. His .854 OPS at High-A was a professional best this season, and he raked for Scottsdale in the Arizona Fall League. He has massive arm strength and should be fine in a corner spot. He’s going to hit for power, and I think the on-base abilities are there too.
    13. Noah Miller INF
    Taken 36th overall by the Twins, Miller’s brother Owen is a big leaguer. Noah is expected to be a better all-around prospect and has plenty of speed on his own. I think he’s got a pretty good shot to stick in the middle of the infield, and it’ll be exciting to see him on the field in 2022.
    12. Blayne Enlow RHP
    Throwing just 14.2 innings this year, Enlow was put on the shelf early and then underwent Tommy John surgery. He was added to the 40-man roster protecting him from a Rule 5 selection. He’s still one of my favorite breakout prospects, but he won’t be healthy to start 2022.
    11. Josh Winder RHP
    After dominating Double-A, Winder earned a pretty quick promotion to Triple-A. He was just ok in his four starts at St. Paul, but there’s no reason to believe this isn’t a talented arm. He’s consistently had strong strikeout stuff and avoided free passes. Winder was bit most by the longball for the Saints. He did experience a trip to the IL but should be healthy coming into 2022.
    10. Keoni Cavaco INF
    In 60 games for Low-A Fort Myers Cavaco did little to impress. That said, he’s still just 20 years old and it was great to see him advance beyond the complex league. He’s still filling out form a body standpoint, and 2022 will be an important year for his development.
    9. Chase Petty RHP
    Selected as the 26th overall pick in the 2021 Major League Baseball draft, Petty was seen as a great value selection given his ability to reach triple-digits on the mound. He’s still got a good amount of refinement to undergo, but this is a great arm for Minnesota to mold.
    8. Matt Canterino RHP
    Spending a good amount of time on the IL this year, Canterino certainly wanted to get in more than 23 innings. The work he did do was dominant, however. A 0.78 ERA and 45/4 K/BB is plenty indicative of him needing the challenge of at least Double-A to start 2022.
    7. Simeon Woods-Richardson RHP
    One piece of the return for Jose Berrios, Woods-Richardson pitched just eight innings for the Twins at Double-A. After playing with Team USA in the Olympics, he needed a good amount of time to ramp back up. The strikeout numbers are exciting, but he does have command issues to work through. Still, this is a top-100 prospect that should be fun to watch in 2022.
    6. Jhoan Duran RHP
    After being among the best Twins pitching prospects coming into 2021, Duran took a slight step backwards. He was injured for a good part of the season and contributed just 16 innings. The high strikeouts were combined with too many walks. The velocity is certainly there, but he could wind up being a reliever too. 2022 will be a big season for him.
    5. Joe Ryan RHP
    Acquired in exchange for Nelson Cruz, Ryan wound up being among the best things to happen for the Twins last season. After pitching for Team USA, Ryan made five starts at the big league level. His 3.43 FIP was better than the 4.05 ERA, but a 30/5 K/BB is beyond impressive for a guy who doesn’t have dominant velocity. How Ryan adapts to more tape on him in year two is going to be intriguing.
    4. Jose Miranda IF
    No player in the Twins system had a better year than Miranda. He tallied a .973 OPS across Double and Triple-A while blast 30 homers. He played all over the infield and it’s clear the bat is ready for his next challenge. I’m not sure where he fits for Minnesota yet, and it may not be Opening Day, but he’s coming and soon.
    3. Jordan Balazovic RHP
    Starting 20 games for Double-A Wichita, Balazovic turned in 3.62 ERA with a 9.5 K/9. He looked every bit the pat of an ace at times while going through growing pains as well. He’ll need a clean bill of health and complete season in 2022, but he’s very close.
    2. Austin Martin SS/OF
    The headlining return for Jose Berrios, Martin is a very similar player to Minnesota’s top prospect Royce Lewis. Playing shortstop but potentially an outfielder, Martin owned a .779 OPS at Double-A Wichita. He hasn’t really hit for any power, but that should come. The athleticism is strong, and the speed is there as well.
    1. Royce Lewis SS/OF
    Putting him back on top of the prospect rankings, Lewis missed all of 2021 with a torn ACL. He’ll return to the field healthy in 2022 and looking to distance himself from a 2019 that left production to be desired. Lewis’ bat has flashed plenty, and he’s looked comfortable at both short and in the outfield. A quick rise to the big leagues may be in the cards.
  14. Like
    mikelink45 reacted to cjm0926 for a blog entry, A Trend With Twins First Basemen   
    Like many other baseball fans, I am very bored during this lockout. There are no free agent rumblings or really much of anything in the baseball world currently. I was doing some research on Kirilloff, and something got me thinking. Alex Kirilloff is a young, left-handed hitting first baseman, who projects to be the first baseman of the future for the Twins. The Twins seem to have a history with left-handed hitting first basemen. Some of those first basemen were named Kent Hrbek, Justin Morneau, and Joe Mauer. I am sure you can see where I am going with this, so I will just get into the article.

    Kent Hrbek held down first base for 13 years for the Minnesota Twins. Kent got a glimpse of the big leagues in 1981. In 24 games, he hit .239 with a homer. He also posted an 85 OPS+ (100 is league average) which would be his last time being a below average hitter until his last season in 1994 when he posted a 99 OPS+. He became a full time starter in 1982 and retired at the end of the 1994 season. He was a great hitter with even better defense. Throughout his career he built up a 38.6 WAR (Wins Above Replacement). Over his 14 year career he hit .282 with 293 home runs and 1086 RBI’s in 6192 at bats. He had a 128 OPS+ over his career, making him a well above average hitter. In comparison, Freddie Freeman, one of the best first baseman throughout the 2010’s, holds a career 138 OPS+. Kent was very consistent throughout his career, until the last 2 or 3 years where he dealt with injuries. The odd thing about Kent’s career is that he was an All-Star only one time, which was in his first full year in 1982. He didn’t even make an All-Star team when he was 2nd place for MVP in 1984. Part of that is because he played in the steroid era, when some of the best hitters of all time played, steroids or not. Many of the AL All-Star first baseman awards throughout Hrbek’s career went to Eddie Murray, Mark McGwire, and Frank Thomas. Although Kent Hrbek doesn’t have all of the accolades such as gold gloves and all stars to show off, he had a very good career and is one of the best players in Twins history.
    When Hrbek retired in 1994 until Justin Morneau took over 1B full time in 2004, multiple names split time there. The most notable was Doug Mientkewicz. Also some dude named David Ortiz played there for a few years, I wonder how he turned out? Anyways, Morneau took over 1B in 2004 when Mientkewicz was traded to the Boston Red Sox. Morneau instantly became a fan favorite, hitting .271 with 19 home runs in his first year. He was a well above league average hitter, posting a 122 OPS+. He underwent a bit of a sophomore slump in 2005 before breaking out in a huge way the next year. In 2006 Morneau won the AL MVP by hitting .321 with 34 home runs and 130 RBI. He continued to mash over the next couple years, and signed a 6 year, $80 million extension before the 2008 season. Morneau played in 163 regular season games in 2008, and the contract seemed to be paying off. In 2010, Justin Morneau’s career changed in a huge way. On July 7, 2010 in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Justin Morneau slid into second base trying to break up a double play when he was struck in the head by Blue Jays infielder John McDonald. It was a play that had happened hundreds of times without anything bad happening, but this time it did. Morneau had a concussion and was out for the rest of the 2010 season. He was never the same player after that day. At the 2013 trade deadline the Twins traded Morneau to the Pirates for Alex Presley and Duke Welker. Morneau won the 2014 NL batting title with the Rockies, and played his last year with the White Sox 2016. He officially retired in January of 2018 after not playing in 2017 marking the end of a good career. Morneau posted 22.9 out of a 27 total career WAR in a Twins uniform. He had 1318 of his total 1603 hits with the Twins, and 221 of his 247 home runs with the twins. He also had 860 RBI’s in his career with the Twins, and was nearing 1000 for his whole career with 985 total RBI’s. Throughout his Twins 11 year tenure he posted a 121 OPS+. There is no doubt he had a good career but there will always be the thought of what could’ve been.
    Joe Mauer was made the full time 1B of the Twins in 2014 after Justin Morneau had served that role for nearly a decade. Mauer had been bitten by the injury bug many times in his career, which ultimately was the reason the Twins had him move over to 1B in 2014. Joe Mauer was drafted 1st overall in 2001 by the Minnesota Twins. He was drafted as a catcher and had played that position for over a decade before making his move to first base. He was on track to become one of the best catchers of all time, winning 3 batting titles, an MVP in 2006, 5 Silver Sluggers and 3 Gold Gloves. The Twins liked what they saw enough to give Mauer an 8 year, $184 million extension, which is still by far the biggest deal in franchise history. During the 2013 season, Mauer suffered a concussion after being hit in the facemask by a foul tip.  It was determined early in the following offseason that the Twins would move their franchise cornerstone to first base to preserve his health. Like his good friend Morneau, he was never the same player, which could be partly due to increasing age as well. Mauer played 5 seasons at first base before calling it a career. In his final game, he suited back up into his old catcher's gear to catch a pitch and was given an emotional standing ovation. When somebody mentions the Minnesota Twins, Mauer is often a name that comes to mind. He had that kind of impact on the Twins as a former 1st overall pick and hometown hero. He is at the top tier with franchise greats such as Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew and Kirby Puckett. Mauer will likely join the National Baseball Hall of Fame in the coming years, and rightfully so. He ended his career with 2123 hits (.306 average),143 home runs, 923 RBI’s, a 124 OPS+, and a 55.2 career WAR. He also ended with accomplishments such as 5 Silver Sluggers, 3 Gold Gloves, 3 batting titles, 6 All-Star Game appearances, and last but certainly not least, a 2006 AL MVP Award. It will be exciting to see how his Hall of Fame case goes about in the coming years.
    All of that brings me to the point of this article, Alex Kirilloff. As you may have noticed, I went over 3 of the best first baseman in franchise history, which happens to be the position Kirilloff plays. Like the other 3, Kirilloff also bats left-handed (although that doesn’t matter much, just a coincidence). Kirilloff broke out in the minors in 2018, placing him high on many lists. He made his much awaited debut in 2020, although surprisingly in the postseason. He didn’t make the team out of spring training, but was up with the Twins not too long after. After his 59 game showing in the majors before his wrist injury, it looked like he would be the first baseman of the future. In the majors in 2021, he hit .251 with 8 home runs and 34 RBI’s with a 98 OPS+, which are not numbers that will wow you. However, he made plenty of hard contact, and looked like he belonged, but just had some back luck. I don't want to put massive expectations on him, but it certainly looks like he is poised to be our first baseman for the next decade. It should be fun to watch him for the next many years alongside the other top prospects we have in the system, but only time will tell. Thank you for reading, and Go Twins!!!
  15. Like
    mikelink45 reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Jose Berrios Stings Again for Twins   
    The Minnesota Twins dealt Jose Berrios to the Toronto Blue Jays during the 2021 Major League Baseball season. Today he signed a seven year deal worth $140 million to stay in Canada for the bulk of his career. The wound is opened again. 
    When the Twins flipped Berrios to the Blue Jays, they did a great job acquiring prospect capital. Austin Martin and Simeon Woods-Richardson are both top-100 prospects. Despite Martin looking more like a centerfielder than a shortstop, his talent still plays up the middle. Woods-Richardson will get a shot to re-establish himself after competing in the Olympics last season. If Minnesota wasn’t going to sign Berrios, then getting that type of haul was nice.
    In seeing the deal get struck with Toronto, it’s very clear that Minnesota’s sticking point was the duration. As Darren Wolfson points out, the front office is not keen on offering seven year pacts to players. That’s a fair stance, even with someone who’s been as durable as Jose, and even though he’s just 27-years-old. What remains to be seen is how they will compete for those top talents otherwise. If you’re taking a hard and fast approach on avoiding length, then you must make a more aggressive push on value.
    A $20 million average annual value for Berrios seems like a fair amount. That’s below what Noah Syndergaard will get, albeit on a one year deal, despite pitching just two innings since 2019. Should Minnesota look to mitigate risk by avoiding length, they’ll need to tack on a percentage above market rate to lure free agents into their organization. 
    We’ll very quickly get an idea how this plays out for Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. Ultimately, they “saved” the money on Berrios by flipping him for outstanding prospects. Instead of breaking up the $20 million annually across two or three pitchers, they must be willing to spend that type of coin on one arm that fills the void. They’ll be hoping the length of the deal is shorter, but banking that salary flexibility, or trying to patch it together through multiple players is not something that should be met with praise. 
    As I’ve harper on for months, this offseason is going to be the most important in determining the true ability of the front office, and they should be judged accordingly.
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  16. Like
    mikelink45 reacted to Squirrel for a blog entry, 40-man roster decisions, part 1: position players   
    We’ve had several threads/articles lately about next season … what you think the 2022 lineup will be, who do we want to sign, what are our positions of most need, will certain players have a place on the team next year. All very good discussions. And not too far in the future, we’ll be having discussions on which prospects should be added to the roster. But before we get to all of those, there are larger looming discussions and decisions regarding the 40-man roster … who stays, who goes. When I thought about doing this thread, I ran into a lot of difficulty exactly how to do this. It seemed easy enough initially … who should the Twins jettison? Well, after thinking about it, a lot, hemming and hawing, trying to learn more about the status of individual players (something I am not well-versed in, I fully admit), and after discussing with others what I wanted to discuss, (thank you @ashbury, @Otto von Ballpark and @Brock Beauchamp), I realized the question might not be ‘who do we jettison’, but rather’ Who should we keep?’ I found the question to be, well, daunting. It’s really a big puzzle when it comes down to it. Time is a precious commodity. You want to maximize the time you have of your best prospects/players, so you don’t want to add them before they are ready, so you can capitalize on their best years; and don’t want to jettison a struggling player too soon, only to see them finally figure it out elsewhere. We’ve been down that road, too. Once a player is added, removing them certainly means losing them, if they have any kind of potential, great or small. You want to make sure you’ve really done your due diligence to determine the value you have. So, this 40-man thing is one to be cautious with. In a recent conversation I had with Brock, he said this: “I think of it this way: about 35 spots of the 40-man are locked down with good prospects or MLB veterans. An org might play fast and loose with those final 3-4 spots but they spend A LOT of effort avoiding tampering with that 35 unless they have confidence in what they’re doing.” So … part one of this discussion … position players on the Twins’ 40-man roster … who should the Twins keep? We won’t see these decisions come to fruition all at once. It will happen gradually. I’m sure the Twins have made some decisions already, but others will ‘hang out’ until which time the Twins either feel they have a better replacement, decide to make trades, need the space for prospect additions, or feel they’ve just reached the ‘end of the road’ with them. So … of the listed players, who would you keep? Discuss any reasoning below.
    STATUS PLAYER Options FA FA if outrighted? 28-man Luis Arraez 2 in 2026 (arb eligible 2023) YES 28-man Byron Buxton n/a FA in 2023 YES 28-man Jorge Polanco 0 signed through 2023, club options for 2024 and 2025 YES 28-man Josh Donaldson n/a signed through 2023, club option for 2024 YES 28-man Max Kepler n/a signed through 2023, club options for 2024 YES 28-man Mitch Garver 2 FA in 2024 YES 28-man Miguel Sanó n/a signed through 2022, club option for 2023 YES 28-man Nick Gordon 0   YES 28-man Andrelton Simmons n/a At end of season   28-man Ryan Jeffers 2     28-man Willians Astudillo 1   YES 28-man Jake Cave 1 FA in 2025, arb eligible 2022 YES 28-man Brent Rooker 2               60IL Kyle Garlick 1   YES 60IL Alex Kirilloff 2     10IL Rob Refsnyder 0   YES           40-man Ben Rortvedt 2     40-man Drew Maggi 3   YES 40-man Trevor Larnach 2     40-man Gilberto Celestino 1   YES            
    Many thanks to Otto who did this chart for me, and I filled in some of the contract info, and to Brock and Ash for bearing with my endless questions.
  17. Like
    mikelink45 reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Did the Twins Fleece Tampa Twice?   
    Teams are often considered to be on the losing end of trades when dealing with the Tampa Bay Rays. The brass in St. Pete does more with less, and players seem to get better when going to Florida. Did the Twins just get them for a second time though?
    Derek Falvey and Thad Levine made a deal with Tampa prior to the 2018 season. They sent infield prospect Jermaine Palacios out in exchange for starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi. After a solid but mediocre debut season, Odorizzi was an All-Star in 2019 and posted a career best 10.1 K/9 bolstering his 3.51 ERA. Palacios had a .575 OPS as a 21-year-old during his debut season in the Tampa organization, and dropped to a .542 OPS as a 22-year-old repeating Double-A. Now back at Double-A for Minnesota, he’s 24 and owns a .745 mark at the level.
    Regardless of what happens with Palacios, it’s hard not to see how Odorizzi worked out a win. Could that be happening again in terms of Nelson Cruz and Joe Ryan?
    The Twins had to deal their designated hitter. Cruz is 41-years-old and it’s more than evident this season was lost for Minnesota. Despite his .907 OPS here, Cruz needed to be flipped for any semblance of a return at the deadline. Getting a pitcher like Ryan, capable of fitting into the top-half of a rotation, seemed like a coup for the front office.
    It’s far too early to make determinations on what Ryan will be, but Tampa has to be underwhelmed in what they received. Cruz just recently surpassed the .700 OPS mark (thanks in part to facing his former club), and has just a .219 average with a .273 on-base percentage. It plays for a team that needed a big bat, but Nelson hasn’t been close to the Boomstick the Twins knew him as.
    Minnesota must be pleased with what they’ve seen from Ryan. In 9.0 IP for St. Paul he had a 17/2 K/BB and allowed just two earned runs. After returning from the Olympics as Team USA’s ace, that was enough to earn his first big league promotion. Across five innings he surrendered three runs while punching out five and walking one. The book that was suggested at Triple-A continued to read correctly at the Major League level, and it’s a step away from what has become tradition.
    Ryan is not a fireballer. His average fastball velocity for the Twins sat at just 90.8 mph. In a league focused on hitting triple-digits, it’s an uphill battle for a ball like that to play. His four-seam generated an average of 2,100 RPM and is used up in the zone. Twins Daily’s Parker Hagemen broke down the success of locating that pitch, and why it should be believed that the lesser velocity can still have a tremendous effect at the highest level.
    One start is entirely too soon to crown Ryan as Minnesota’s next ace. From my vantage point, I’m not even sure his stuff has that type of ceiling. What I do know is that the Twins getting this much control over Ryan in exchange for two month of an aging Cruz on a bad big league team is a steal in every sense of the word. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine don’t have a good track record on the free agent market, and their trades could even be questioned at times. When they’ve dealt with Tampa though, it’s hard not to consider the front office a resounding two-for-two.
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  18. Like
    mikelink45 reacted to Greglw3 for a blog entry, A heavyweight name weighs in on Twins FO and organization   
    Frank Viola had a very interesting tweet this morning. In a recent thread, I intimated that I felt the manager and Falvey and Levine should be dismissed. I’ve vacillated on it but since then, the team and outlook seems even worse. I just found this tweet by Frank Viola, one of the Twins greatest pitchers ever to be a confirmation of what I’ve felt this year. 
    Does what Viola says surprise you? Does it carry weight with you? Do you agree? It rings far too true to me.
    The last sentence of his Tweet is the most significant one "Wrong leadership equals no chance to succeed." That sounds like a call for change to me. I would argue that the failure of Falvey, Levine and Baldelli has been so spectacular that the Twins would be better off replacing Falvey, Levine and Baldelli with the best GM, Manager and and President of baseball operations that they can find. This is a judgement that is probably analogous to the Twins releasing a player that they really like as a person and had high hopes for. It’s a business and winning is the paramount goal.
    There are way too many baseball moves that they’ve butchered to mention but the sequence that lead to Cave playing a significant role and still starting as we approach September is perhaps the most egregious of all. Not acquiring a better option for Buxton’s backup and a better replacement for Rosario cost the Twins wins. Happ and Shoemaker didn’t help.

  19. Like
    mikelink45 reacted to LA VIkes Fan for a blog entry, Average OPS By Position vs. Twins Starters   
    We often comment on whether current Twins are good, average or bad hitters by using OPS. The problem I see is we're using a broad average for everyone not broken down by position. I looked around the Internet and found an article in ScoreSheetWiz where the author had taken the average of the top 30 players in each position over the last 3 years and averaged their OPS. That should give you what the average starter in MLB does at that position by taking out emergency fill ins, utility players,  etc. and sounds like a good basis for comparison. Here's the comparison to current Twins, based on their performance for this season to date. I've also put their career OPS in parenthesis with the YTD comparison where they'd been around long enough to make that meaningful. The positions go from lowest to highest by MLB average OPS. 
    Position Average OPS Current Twin OPS/(Career) Difference Catcher .748 Garver .889 (.834) Plus .151 (+ .86)     Jeffers .720 Minus .028 Shortstop .749 Simmons .576 (.688) Minus .173 (-.061) Second Base .763 Polanco .797 (.774) Plus .034 (+.011) Centerfield .777 Buxton 1.176 (.751) Plus .409 (-.026)     Kepler .759 Minus .018 Third Base .805 Donaldson .840 (.875) Plus .035 (+.070)     Arraez .747 (.793) Minus .058 (-.012) Corner OF .819 Kepler .722 (.759) Minus .097 (-060)     Larnach .676 Minus .143     Rooker .750 Minus .069 First Base .859 Kirilloff .722 Minus .137     Sano .746 (.819) Minus .113 (-.040) I thought this was kind of interesting and helps explain where our holes are forward. For example, Arraez is a below average hitting starter this year either at 3rd or left-field, about average in 2nd base, but career wise above average at 2nd base, average at 3rd, and below average for corner outfield. Since he adds no surplus defensive value, he really needs to OPS >.800 if he's not going to play 2nd base. Kepler is a little tougher to evaluate since his bat is clearly significantly below average for a corner outfielder, and a little below average for centerfielder, but he does offer surplus defensive value in a corner outfield spots, not so much centerfield. That's why I think is an ideal 3rd or 4th outfielder, but not 1 of our top 2. The 2 Rookies are way below average but this is their 1st year so you hope for improvement and it's a small sample size. Same for Kirilloff. Sano is also a below average hitting starter at 1st Base who doesn't offer any surplus defensive value. I didn't bother with guys like Jake Cave (.508 (.735)) or Willians Astudillo (.721 (.738)) since they are way below an average starter unless they play shortstop, and even then they're not very strong. Both are classic back end roster filler and we should be looking for upgrades like Gordon, Refsnyder and others.
    I do think this helps explain why we're having trouble scoring runs. We only have 3 above average hitters for their position now that Cruz is gone, Donaldson, Polanco and Garver, and only Polanco really plays every day. Most days we're liable to only have 2 players who are average or better hitters for their position. The batting order is really weighed down by poor performance at the corner outfield spots, centerfield when Buxton isn't there (even worse when someone other than Kepler is playing centerfield), and shortstop.
    I guess this tells me 4 things 1st, re-sign Buxton. He is critical to the order. 2nd, I was wrong about Donaldson. He is pretty valuable at the plate and Arraez is not an adequate replacement. 3rd, we need better hitting corner outfielders and Kepler is not the answer. The current strategy of playing Rooker and Larnach every day is the right one because those guys have to improve to give us more balance in the order. 4th, Arraez is probably best used as a utility player with Polanco the better hitter and better fielder at 2nd base. He's a good utility player, more of an average hitter for a starter, and we can get him 400 – 500 bats to utilize his on-base skills by playing him at a variety of spots.
    We talk a lot about how the pitching has to improve to truly contend. I postulate the lineup has to improve as well. I think most contending have average or better hitters for their positions in at least 5 or 6 of the 9 spots. We have 4 if you assume that someone like that Cruz is the DH, a position where I was unable to find an average OPS. otherwise 3. The current lineup isn't good enough to compete and absolutely isn't good enough if the pitching is below average. Helps explain this year's performance and helps us know what we need to do for next year.
  20. Like
    mikelink45 reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Assessing the Twins Trade Deadline   
    It’s been a few days since the Minnesota Twins allowed the dust to settle on their 2021 Trade Deadline moves. With some big names leaving the organization, and some big prospects entering, it’s time to take a look at the talent that moved places.
    The headliner was obviously the Jose Berrios move. As a fan, this one was always going to be hard to stomach. Berrios was drafted by the organization, developed, and became one of the best pitchers in Twins history. As it became increasingly evident that he would not sign a long-term extension with the club, moving him made more and more sense.
    Derek Falvey had to maximize the return on Berrios is there was going to be a deal, and he did absolutely that. I noted Austin Martin being my desired target should a swap with the Blue Jays be the plan of action. Still though, getting controllable pitching needed to happen considering Minnesota was moving an ace. To get both Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson was an absolute coup, and it was the strongest return any swap generated during the deadline.
    I wrote up the Cruz swap last week and getting Joe Ryan looks like a very strong return for a guy that’s an impending free agent and had limited suitors. While Nelson Cruz is great, there was never a point in which I thought he’d bring back much to work with. Instead, the Twins got Team USA’s game one starter in Ryan, and a flier that’s close to major league ready in Drew Strotman. No matter how Falvey organized this one, he did incredibly well.
    Flipping J.A. Happ to the Cardinals was impressive as well. I’ve kicked the notion that he could be seen as valuable to someone for weeks. That always was tongue in cheek with how poorly he’s pitched but leave it to St. Louis to make me look smart. John Gant is under team control in 2022, and that gives the Twins a veteran arm with a longer runway to decide a future on. He can both start and relieve, although he’s currently in Rocco Baldelli’s pen. Gant has pitched well above expectations this year, and his FIP suggests some massive regression is coming. That said, if the Twins can unlock another tier, they may have something to work with down the line.
    It wasn’t unexpected to see Hansel Robles moved, although I did think that Alex Colome may wind up being the more coveted reliever. Boston sent back a non-top 30 arm in Alex Scherff, but the 23-year-old has big strikeout numbers and is already at Double-A. Although he’s a reliever, that’s still a useful arm to add for an organization needing to develop pitchers for the highest level. 
    There has to be some criticism directed at Falvey and Thad Levine, although none of it should be for what they did. Instead, not trading Michael Pineda or Andrelton Simmons looks like a missed opportunity. Both are impending free agents and serve no purpose to this club down the stretch. I’d like to see Pineda back next season, but that could happen on the open market anyways. There’s no reason for this team to hold onto any semblance of respectability and turning the results over to youth makes more sense than ever. Simmons has been fine defensively, but he’s non-existent at the plate and some contender could’ve parted with a bag of balls for a shortstop upgrade.
    When the bell run on July 31, we had seen the most exciting trade deadline in Major League Baseball history come to an end. The Minnesota Twins bettered their future, and made some high impact moves that both Falvey and Levine should be praised for. Now it’ll be up to the organizational infrastructure to develop and best position these talents in an opportunity to bear fruit and turn the tides of the big-league club.
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  21. Like
    mikelink45 reacted to TwerkTwonkTwins for a blog entry, Falvine's Waiver Claim Game   
    Critique of a front office is easy to make in the midst of a deeply disappointing season. While many fans are languishing over the incoming July trade deadline, I've heard a lot of complaints about the lack of waiver claims made this season by the Minnesota Twins.
    Why are the Twins continuing to trot out the likes of Colomé, Happ, and (formerly) Shoemaker, when the front office can claim replacement-level players from other teams for essentially nothing? 
    The outright waiver transaction process is a deeply complicated one. Whenever a team wants to remove a player that is already on the 40-man roster, that player must first be offered to each of the other 29 major league teams. If another team claims that player, the player goes on that new team's 40-man roster. The full definition from MLB can be found here. 
    Because I'm insane, and this season is awful, I decided to compile a list of every player that the Falvey/Levine front office has claimed from other organizations, in addition to players they've lost via waiver claims.
    How have they fared in the waiver claim game?  Should they pick up the pace, now that they have nothing to lose? Do these claims actually amount to anything?
    These questions are important... but so is the trip down memory lane, once you read some of these names. 
    Players Acquired Via Waiver Claim
    Date of Claim Player Claimed Position Team Claimed From fWAR in Minnesota 2/6/2017 Ehire Adrianza UTL IF San Francisco Giants 2.1 5/10/2017 Adam Wilk LHP New York Mets -0.2 6/7/2017 Chris Heston RHP Los Angeles Dodgers 0.0 3/24/2018 Kenny Vargas 1B Cincinatti Reds - 4/26/2018 David Hale RHP New York Yankees -0.2 5/28/2018 Taylor Motter UTL Seattle Mariners -0.3 8/3/2018 Johnny Field RF Cleveland Indians 0.1 8/3/2018 Oliver Drake RHP Cleveland Indians 0.2 10/31/2018 Michael Reed CF Atlanta Braves - 11/26/2018 C.J. Cron 1B Tampa Bay Rays 0.3 10/29/2019 Matt Wisler RHP Seattle Mariners 0.6 10/30/2020 Ian Gibault RHP Texas Rangers - 10/30/2020 Brandon Waddell  LHP Pittsburgh Pirates -0.3 2/5/2021 Ian Hamilton RHP Philadelphia Phillies - 2/11/2021 Kyle Garlick RF Atlanta Braves 0.3 6/22/2021 Beau Burrows RHP Detroit Tigers -           Total fWAR 2.6 The Twins have claimed a total of 16 players from opposing organizations since Falvey/Levine took over after the 2016 World Series. Of these 16 claims, their most consequential claim was their very first one. Ehire Adrianza was never a star, but a very productive role player for a number of contending Twins teams. 

    After that, the list isn't so impressive. Matt Wisler was great at slinging sliders in the bullpen during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, but the Twins cut him last offseason in a puzzling move. C.J. Cron and the currently-injured Kyle Garlick have been the largest "successes" outside of Adrianza and Wisler, each account for 0.3 fWAR as right-handed hitters that were acquired to mash left-handed pitching. 
    Most of these players did not remain on the 40-man roster for a long time. Quite a few were lost to waivers shortly after the Twins acquired them, which include Kenny Vargas, Johnny Field, Oliver Drake, and Brandon Waddell. Such is the life on the waiver wire for many MLB players. 
    Players Lost Via Waiver Claim
    Date of Claim Player Position Team Claimed By fWAR after Minnesota 11/18/2016 Adam Brett Walker LF Milwaukee Brewers - 8/26/2017 Tim Melville RHP San Diego Padres -0.2 9/14/2017 Engelb Vielma SS San Francisco Giants -0.1 11/3/2017 Randy Rosario LHP Chicago Cubs -0.3 11/3/2017 Daniel Palka OF Chicago White Sox -0.7 11/6/2017 Nik Turley LHP Pittsburgh Pirates 0.2 1/22/2018 Buddy Boshers LHP Houston Astros 0.1 2/23/2018 JT Chargois RHP Los Angeles Dodgers 0.5 3/22/2018 Kenny Vargas 1B Cincinatti Reds - 7/9/2018 Ryan LaMarre CF Chicago White Sox 0.4 10/10/2018 Juan Graterol C Cincinatti Reds -0.2 11/1/2018 Johnny Field RF Chicago Cubs - 11/1/2018 Oliver Drake RHP Tampa Bay Rays 0.4 1/11/2019 Aaron Slegers RHP Pittsburgh Pirates 0.4 5/26/2019 Austin Adams RHP Detroit Tigers -0.1 7/20/2019 Adalberto Mejia LHP Los Angeles Angels 0.0 8/14/2019 Ryan Eades RHP Baltimore Orioles -0.2 9/16/2019 Marcos Diplan RHP Detroit Tigers - 11/4/2019 Stephen Gonsalves LHP New York Mets - 9/5/2020 Ildemaro Vargas 2B Chicago Cubs -0.5 10/1/2020 Sean Poppen RHP Pittsburgh Pirates -0.1 5/8/2021 Brandon Waddell LHP Baltimore Orioles 0 5/14/2021 Travis Blankenhorn 2B Los Angeles Dodgers -0.1 6/5/2021 Dakota Chalmers RHP Chicago Cubs - 6/18/2021 Shaun Anderson RHP Texas Rangers -           Total fWAR -0.5 You'll immediately notice this list of players lost via waivers during the Falvyey/Levine regime is a lot longer than the list of players they've acquired via waivers. All together, they have lost 25 players, which is 9 more players than they've claimed from other teams. 
    The good news for the organization, is that this cumulative list has not come back to bite them. 10 of the 25 claimed players provided negative value for their new teams, after departing Minnesota. Daniel Palka's 2017 season really sunk this group, as he posted a -1.4 fWAR in only 93 plate appearances for the White Sox (after he provided 0.7 fWAR and a 109 wRC+ in 2018). 
    The largest losses from this group have definitely been in the relief category, highlighted by JT Chargois, Oliver Drake, and Aaron Slegers. However, most of these players have had inconsistent careers, injuries, or both, in their time after playing for Minnesota. 
    Even when factoring in some bullpen pieces this organization might regret losing, the total fWAR from these players after departing the Twins is -0.5 fWAR. The current front office has been right far more than wrong, when deciding how to churn the 40-man roster. 
    Yearly Trends And Overall Takeaway
    Year Players Claimed From Other Teams Players Claimed By Other Teams 2016/2017 3 6 2018 7 7 2019 1 6 2020 2 2 2021 3 4 Total Players 16 25       Total fWAR 2.6 -0.5 fWAR Difference   3.1 Overall, the Twins have gained 3.1 fWAR from their decisions to gain and lose players from the waiver wire. That's a pretty decent result for a type of front office transaction that is often overlooked. It averages out to about 0.69 fWAR per season, factoring in the 4.5 seasons of the Falvey/Levine regime. 
    Most of that waiver activity came in 2017 and 2018, when the front office was still adjusting to their inherited players from the previous front office. Successful teams don't always gamble roster spots on players exposed to outright waivers, which is evident in the 2019 team. 
    One major caveat to point out across the yearly trend is that teams were probably hesitant to claim players from other organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic, so 2020 and early 2021 should be viewed through that lens.
    However, that didn't stop the Twins from claiming 3 bullpen arms (Ian Gibault, Brandon Waddell, and Ian Hamilton), and Kyle Garlick this offseason. The jury is still out on these claims, but Waddell did not go well. 
    The most interesting thing about 2021 is that the Twins lost 4 players during their early season free-fall (Brandon Waddell, Travis Blankenhorn, Dakota Chalmers, and Shaun Anderson), before claiming Beau Burrows a few weeks ago from the Detroit Tigers.
    Is former first-round draft pick Beau Burrows the tip of the iceberg? Now that 2021 is officially kaput, will the front office be more aggressive? 
    I sure hope so. Moves will be made in the next few weeks, and this 40-man roster will be significantly different as we approach the trade deadline. The 40-man roster will likely be smaller, and the Twins will be in front of the line when contenders have to cut players to account for their deadline additions. 
    Waiver claims are rarely sexy transactions, but sometimes you stumble into a Ehire Adrianza or a Matt Wisler. The Twins have proven to be more successful than not when it comes to their waiver claim game. It's time to play, because there's simply nothing to lose. 
  22. Like
    mikelink45 reacted to Tim for a blog entry, Wheeling n' Dealing in The West - Dodgers and Padres   
    The National League West is looking like it will be a battle to the end. Maybe even to the death ? Ok, not that far.
    The first place San Francisco Giants have been the surprise team in baseball this season. It's a great story as they've been able to hold off the Dodgers and Padres, two teams many had as the favorites to battle for the National League pennant. 
    I like the Giants. Gabe Kapler seems like a cool manager with his cool shades, they've pieced it together without a true star, and you cant forget they have sweet uni's. As much as I like them, they aren't going to hold off the Dodgers and Padres. 
    The Dodgers (1 GB) are the defending world series champions and the front office has constructed this roster to go back to back in 2021.
    The Padres (4.5 GB) are the new team on the block. The most exciting team in baseball and the flashy young star in Fernando Tatis. The Padres General Manager, Aj Preller, was extremely aggressive this past offseason pushing all the chips in the middle to take down the Dodgers.
    Both teams are built to win now and have world series hopes.
    Both teams happen to be struggling with pitching. 
    Now before you jump down my throat, this is a hypothetical scenario and just a mythical piece of writing that some kid whipped up on the couch today.
    Ok, Let's get into it.
    Los Angeles bolstered the rotation this past offseason, signing the reigning Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer to a 3 year / 102 million dollar deal. Unless you have been living under a rock, you've probably heard that he doesn't treat women with the most respect. He's been placed on the commissioners list and it doesn't sound like he's coming back anytime soon.
    Adding insult to Trevor's horrible decisions, Clayton Kershaw was recently placed on the Injured list with what's being called a "sore right forearm" . That's typically not what you want to hear in baseball when it comes to pitchers, and we don't want to speculate.  He could be back in a week for all I know. The point is they are down 2 of their top starters who happen to be 2 Cy young winners.
    Now, the bullpen. Closer Kenley Jensen has been fantastic with a 1.27 ERA, but he's a free agent after this season and is going on age 34. Joe Kelly has bounced back this season with a 3.86 ERA, but has a 12 million dollar team option following the season and the Dodgers aren't picking that up. Newly signed Blake Treinen has been just what they hoped for with a 2.78 ERA in 36 games. Looks pretty good right? Statically these 3 have been great. They also all happen to be right handed, have less han 2 years remaining on their current deal or have an option that won't be exercised. Throw in the fact they all are 34 next year. Not exactly spring chickens.
    Victor Gonzalez, the only trusted lefty out of the pen this year, just went on the IL. His timetable for a return is unclear at this point. Prior to that he had a 5.06 ERA in his previous 8 outings. 
    They need a lefty reliever and they need someone to potentially fill in for 1 or both of their 2 top starters. Like, right now.

    Dodgers - Jose Berrios, Taylor Rogers
    Self explanatory after what we just broke down. They acquire 2 controllable assets through next year and fill glaring holes in the pitching department as they chase another ring. I'd assume the Dodgers are going to treat the Bauer situation like he's not apart of the team, until, well he is. Truthfully no one knows when that might be and no one knows what long term repercussions will result from the situation. Jose Berrios isn't Trevor Bauer, but he's a better and cheaper option, than anything you can acquire at the deadline or this upcoming offseason. Taylor Rogers is the shutdown lefty they don't currently have. Younger and Controllable through next year, Rogers gives the team payroll flexibility, fills empty an empty bullpen spot next year and enables them to move on from whatever long-term commitment a 34 year old Jensen might command.
    Twins - Dustin May, Ryan Pepiot, Andre Jackson
    Prior to going down with Tommy John in the spring, Dustin May was on his way to becoming an ace. The 23 year old had a 2.74 ERA with 35 K's in 23 IP. That seems good. Personally I don't care if you have to wait until the middle of next season if you get a pitcher of this caliber, who ill say again, is 23.. . Fun kicker, he's controlled through 2026.  The Dodgers are giving up a lot in May but they can't wait and need reinforcements now. Ryan Pepiot has been on every "name to watch" prospect report since May. He's lit up AA with a 1.73 ERA in 41.2 IP to go along with 57K's.. Pepiot's fastball works around 93-95, with his changeup being the best pitch. He wasn't really stretched out much early in the season but in his last 2 starts he's gone over 6 innings twice, might be to boost trade value or for their personal use, not sure. Andre Jackson is currently at AA right now and is a bit older of a prospect being 25. He's got a 3.78 ERA, with 63 K's in 50 IP. 
    If you want to talk about a team that's built to "win-now", your in luck. The Padres have dealt away pretty much half the farm system in the past 365 days to build an all-star rotation. Now im embellishing, they still have a ridiculously good farm system. But in the past year they have added Yu Darvish, Jose Musgrove, Blake Snell, and Mike Clevinger. This is a team that already had the top pitching prospect in all of baseball being Mackenzie Gore. We can't forget Ryan Weathers, Dinelson Lamet, and Chris Paddack. Talk about an embarrassment of riches. So much depth they cant fail, wait......
    Clevinger is currently recovering from Tommy John. Blake Snell has been absolutely horrible. Failing to pitch over 5 innings in all but 1 of his last 7 starts. He currently has a 6.60 ERA in his last 30 IP to pair with 19 BB's, and is thought to be headed to the IL as he's struggled to "build strength" following his last start. Dinelson Lamet is on the IL with forearm issues after dealing with a setback. Ryan Weathers is on a 120 inning limit and currently at 60.1 IP. Chris Paddack allowed 9 runs last night and has a 7.71 ERA over his last 7 starts... Maybe Mackenzie Gore can step in? He's got a 5.85 ERA at AAA.
    Things are tough in slam diego.

    Padres - Jose Berrios, Taylor Rogers
    In an offseason of all-in moves, why stop now? I've read reports about them potentially going after Joey Gallo of the Rangers, but if the pitching is this bad, you can't splurge when you have a lineup that's more than capable of scoring runs already. Jose Berrios gives them a durable, reliable, starter behind the 1-2 punch that is Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove. Taylor Rogers anchors the setup role in the bullpen that can be safely handed over to Mark Melancon in the 9th. Hoarding prospects isn't really an option for a team that is so committed to winning and Aj Preller has never shied away from doing so. The Padres ease their pitching concerns with this deal.
    Twins - Robert Hassell, Ryan Weathers, Justin Lange, Brayan Medina
    The headliner for the Twins is outfielder Robert Hassell. MLB.com has him as the no. 62 prospect in all of baseball and he's going to sky rocket in upcoming years. Through 51 games at low A, "bobby barrels" as Padre fans refer to him as, owns a .379 OBP, .297 AVG, .843 OPS, and 19 stolen bags. This is also his first taste of pro ball, as he's only 19. Ryan Weathers isn't a bad no. 2 return in this deal either. The lefty has a 3.02 ERA through 10 starts and 16 games this year at the major league level and he's only 21. He works in the mid 90s with a solid curve and slider to back it up. Justin Lange is a 6'4, comp. round selection from 2020. Having a 65 grade fastball and wipeout slider, Lange may be more of a project but the potential if he reaches his ceiling is worth it. Brayan Medina is actually my favorite piece of this deal. Medina is a 6'1, 180lb, 18 year old who already is working in the mid 90s. He looks to have the control and delivery to stick as a starter. Similar to Lange, he may be a bit of a project but from a few reports I've read, some scouts think he could move through the system quickly with his  advanced control.
    These teams are desperate. It's not often the top starter on the trade market has control beyond this year. There also aren't too many controllable dominant lefty relievers laying around either.
    Let me know what you guys think about these 2 options.
  23. Like
    mikelink45 reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Larnach Leading Rookie for Twins   
    Alex Kirilloff was the Twins first round draft pick in 2016. When the new front office took over, they went with Royce Lewis the next year, and then followed up with Trevor Larnach. Since that point I’ve contended the separation between Kirilloff and Larnach shouldn’t have been presumed to be much. We’re now seeing that take shape.
    Kirilloff is playing through an injury, and while he’s having himself a nice debut, I don’t think it’s quite to the level he’ll reach in short order. That’s given way for Larnach to shine though, and he’s done exactly that. Trevor was thrust into a Major League role given the Twins outfield health issues. Having played just three games at Triple-A, and only 43 at Double-A two years ago, a premature call-up is probably fair to suggest.
    Despite taking some time to acclimate, he’s begun to settle in. Now with 31 games under his belt, the former Oregon State Beaver owns a .263/.386/.421 slash line. The .807 OPS isn’t all that noteworthy, but the 131 OPS+ plays, and the number that jumps off the page is the .386 OBP backed by a strong 33/14 K/BB.
    Larnach hasn’t yet ran into much power. He has just nine extra base hits, of which only three have left the yard. That isn’t to suggest the process isn’t sound, though. Drafted with notes of high exit velocities, that has played out at the highest level. Larnach owns a 37.1% hard hit rate and a 14.5% barrel rate. His xSLG sits 40 points higher at .466 and he owns a max exit velo of 116 mph.
    I don’t think you’ll find anyone jumping to suggest that Larnach is otherworldly on either of the corners, but it’s more than apparent he can stick. With the bat profile he has, a traditional corner outfielder with pop is exactly what he’s trending towards. This isn’t a finished product by any means, but I think the Twins have to be thrilled with the early returns. Recently at Fangraphs, Paul Sporer also took a look into where Larnach could go from here.
    Both Larnach and Kirilloff should be mainstays in the Minnesota lineup for years to come. We have seen both of them bat in the heart of the order this year, and while that’s more reflective of circumstance, they’ve held their own plenty. In lieu of so many injuries having piled up on the Twins this season, it’s been nice to see opportunity parlayed into production for a guy like Larnach.
    Not every prospect comes up and flourishes. The Seattle Mariners just had to demote top prospect Jarred Kelenic after a terrible start. Baseball is hard, and even moreso when the runway for readiness hasn’t been there in a traditional sense. Give it to Larnach for battling that adversity and still producing at the level he is.
    While Kirilloff is still my pick to be the better player with a more likely shot to win a batting title, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Larnach round out into a more complete specimen with an opportunity to bang 40 homers in a single season. It’s been a good start, and this is just the beginning.
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  24. Like
    mikelink45 got a reaction from Vanimal46 for a blog entry, Our foundational players - the big six   
    We were excited when our prospects came up and the future looked bright - in 2019 that future arrived and it was great, but we expected a longer run.  The foundation was going to be Berrios - I know all the arguments that he is not a true Ace, but he has been our best pitcher and is a solid middle of the rotation arm that we did not build around.  53 - 40 with a 4.11 era for his six years 8.1 WAR. 
    The expected stars on offense were Sano and Buxton
    Miguel Sano - who is in his 7th year (7.8 WAR).  He has played in 100+ games three times.  236/329/489 is his seven year slash line, but look at the trends - BA - 269, 236, 264, 199, 247, 204, 158.  His last three OPS - 923, 757, 656.  BR offensive War (defense is negative so I won't bother.  He is here for his bat.) 2.4, 1.7, 3.1 0.1, 3.7, 0.5, 0.1.  Miguel seems like he plateaued and is lost. 
    Byron Buxton - 7 years and 14.5 WAR - if only he could stay healthy.  No doubt his hitting is on the rise - here is his yearly OPS 576, 714, 728, 383, 827, 844, 1.180.   Buxton has found his bat, but he has played in 456 games out of a possible 922.  He has missed half his possible games.  This does not diminish his quality when he is on the field, but makes it hard to cover CF when your other option is moving Kepler or using Cave. 
    The next three foundation pieces did not have the same star power potential, but they were expected to be solid pieces to round out the team 
    Jorge Polanco - no longer a SS his value has diminished in the field.   He has contributed 8.8 WAR.  His career slash is 274/333/430/762 and he has been fairly steady, but in 2019 his OPS was 841 after a career streak of 700s+, but then 2020 and 2021 that OPS mark dropped below 700 and with his fielding not being an asset any longer he career seems to have flattened out and his value may have peaked.
    Max Kepler shocks me with a 13.2 WAR.  A slash line of 236/318/443/761 does not seem to warrant such a good WAR grade. When I look at his OWar 9.7 and his DWar 2.1 they add up to 11.8 so someone will have to explain BR math to me.  He peaked in 2019 like so many did and had his only year with more than 20 HRs,  It was the only year he hit more than 250.  And it was the only year he slugged more than 500.  Surrounding 2019 his BA was 224 in 2018, 228, and 212 the last two years.  
    Eddie Rosario is the last of the big six and they have already given up on him and let him shuffle off to Cleveland, so he was the first of the six to disappoint enough to be moved on.  His seven year slash line is 274/308/469/777.  His peak was 2017/2018.

    Buxton 14.5According to BR WAR Rosario had a total of 12 which means it we rank the six by WAR it would be 
    Kepler 13.2
    Rosario 12
    Polanco 8.8
    Berrios 8.1 (he is the only one with six seasons instead of seven)
    Sano 7.8
  25. Like
    mikelink45 reacted to stringer bell for a blog entry, Ch-ch-changes?   
    The Twins play their 30th game this afternoon and are currently 11-18. They've been beset by bad luck, bad play and have taken a beating with two rule changes (extra-inning runner on second, 7-inning games for doubleheaders). How do they get out of this funk? I'm sure many in the organization will preach patience and they may be right, but that isn't any fun. Here are some possibilities for change that might help the team:
    Role change. We've already seen one role change. At least temporarily Alexander Columé is not going to see high-leverage innings. Columé has been a huge disappointment and even when he has worked scoreless innings, he's been shaky. The problem is that taking Columé out of high leverage situations leaves the Twins with few good options, particularly when going 6 or more innings for a starter is a rarity. I think one pitching role change that should be made is to use Taylor Rogers in non-save high leverage situations as happened early in 2019 and sometimes use him for multiple innings. Rogers shouldn't be used in back-to-back days. Moving Alcala to high leverage situations seems to be gradually happening. If things continue to go bad, it makes sense to have him give a shot as a closer. Position players--it seems to me that both Polanco and Kepler should have their roles diminished from full-time regular to something different. Kepler can play a corner and center and Polanco has played short and second, maybe Max should be slotted as the fourth OF or at least platooned with Garlick. I think giving Polanco the role of three-position infielder wouldn't be a stretch. He could get some at-bats as a platoon partner for my choice of regular second baseman (Arraez) and left-handed at-bats in place of Simmons and when Donaldson takes a day off (or is injured).
    Promotions/demotions. Assuming that Alex Kirilloff is in the big leagues to stay, when healthy the Twins have one extra position player and someone will have to be sent to the minor leagues or released. Discussion has centered on Jake Cave. Several others could be sent down and that doesn't begin to discuss the pitching staff. Many pitchers'performances could merit their demotion.
    Trades. It is unlikely that anyone will make a significant trade this early in the year. However, the Twins would be a good candidate for a major trade nearer the trade deadline. They have some redundancy (left handed hitting corner outfielders) and holes that need patching (bullpen, perhaps catching) and many candidates to trade. They also have a lot of players who would be free agents after this season. I do wonder if someone who was considered a cornerstone (Polanco, Kepler, Sanó) could be traded. None of these guys have performed remotely well so far but an uptick could make them more marketable. I have to believe that the Twins will bring in new pitchers either in the bullpen or the rotation. What they have at this time in the bullpen just hasn't worked.
    Personally, I think the Twins will need to do a little bit of everything to turn the corner. I am a proponent of changing roles. I think Kepler and Polanco could be candidates to have limited roles. The Twins need to add at least one strong arm in the bullpen, most likely by trade and Trevor Larnach is reputed to be nearly as much a sure thing as a hitter as Alex Kirilloff, plus he is a better outfielder. There is too much talent for the club to continue to play sub.400 baseball, but I think they need to make changes immediately.
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