blindeke reacted to Nash Walker for a blog entry, Jake Odorizzi: the X Factor
Although there have been a number of surprises, Jake Odorizzi has been one of the best for the Minnesota Twins. After going 7-10 and posting a 4.49 ERA in 2018, Odorizzi has improved mightily. His 9.4 SO/9 is the highest of his career. Odorizzi had a phenomenal month of May, going 4-0 with a 0.94 ERA and opponent BA of .160.
In July, Odorizzi holds a 9.35 ERA and is allowing a 1.106 OPS in four starts. His last start came at home against the Yankees, where he surrendered nine runs and two homers in four innings. Odorizzi will start tonight against Miami.
The importance of Odorizzi is two-fold. The Twins need a solid second starter, and they need someone to shut down right-handed bats. The Yankees and Astros have Aaron Judge, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, George Springer, Edwin Encarnacion, Luke Voit, and DJ Lemahieu, just to name a bunch. Because Odorizzi is a fly ball pitcher, his .204 BAbip suggests that his outfield is active against righties. On fly balls, his opponents are batting just .165.
To put perspective into this importance, here is how righties are hitting against the Twins starters:
1. Odorizzi- .178/.264/.327 - .591 OPS
2. Gibson- .249/.299/.369 -.668 OPS
3. Berrios- .238/.290/.385 - .675 OPS
4. Perez- .256/.332/.418 - .749 OPS
5. Pineda- .253/.307/.481 - .788 OPS
If Odorizzi can find at least some of his dominance from May, the Twins chances greatly increase. This is true for both the rest of the regular season and the playoffs against either Houston or New York. His arsenal against the right side of the plate could dictate how far this team goes.
There is optimism to be found in his last few starts. His BAbip in the last 28 days is .349, and with Byron Buxton back from his concussion, that number will inevitably decrease.
Tonight is an opportunity for Odorizzi to bounce back against a beatable Marlins lineup. Go Twins!
blindeke reacted to Tom Froemming for a blog entry, Why I'm Out On Craig Kimbrel
Even a really great meal goes stale eventually.
I desperately wanted the Twins to do more to upgrade the bullpen this offseason, and was supportive of the idea of them pursuing Craig Kimbrel at one point, but I'm out now. I don't really want anything to do with him.
My frustration with the bullpen inactivity was never tied to any one particular reliever. Things have boiled own to that, since Kimbrel is the last man standing, but there were several attractive free agent bullpen pieces out there this winter. The Twins didn't sign any of them. I'm over it.
I'm not saying this bullpen is fine as it's currently constructed. While Ryne Harper has been a pleasant surprise and the backed trio of Blake Parker, Taylor Rogers and Trevor May has mostly looked good, there are some legit concerns about the depth.
But bringing in a project isn't the answer. Kimbrel is one of the greatest closers of all time. There's also a reason why he's still unemployed. Here are a few:
-He has to be rusty. This is item No. 1 with a bullet. There's no way he can possibly be sharp, I don't care what kind of simulated games he may be throwing.
-He had a 4.57 ERA in the second half and a 5.91 ERA in the postseason last year.
-His fastball velocity dropped from 98.72 mph in 2017 to 97.63 mph last year.
-It actually took him awhile to work up to that velocity last season, sitting below 97 mph through April. Yes, he's been working out, but I'd still be concerned it would take him some time to get up to full speed.
-His ground ball rate dropped from 37.0% to 28.2% last year.
-His line drive rate went up from 19.4% to 24.8% last year.
-He had a worse first-pitch strike rate (56.3%) than Fernando Rodney last year.
-He had the eighth-lowest rate of pitches in the zone (36.6%) of the 151 qualified relievers last year.
-He walked 12.6% of the batters he faced last year. That is horrible. It was the 20th-worst rate among 336 pitchers who logged more than 50 innings last year.
In nearly every single positive mention of the Twins I see, there is somebody in the comments who calls for Kimbrel. I get it, I just think the idea of Kimbrel doesn't even accurately reflect who he actually is at this point.
If the Twins seek to improve the bullpen, they should be looking for guys who are trending upward. Or at least, you know, active. Maybe Kimbrel will be great, I don't know, but I am comfortable with another team taking on that project. There are other ways to boost the bullpen.
blindeke reacted to Supfin99 for a blog entry, Seriously, how bad is that lineup?
Talking about the Indians. When I looked at the opening lineup card I actually thought it was a post from a spring training game. That lineup is putrid. The great thing is the only person they are really missing is Lindor. Lindor is fantastic but he can’t make up for the rest of the poopoo platter that the Indians are going to trot out there on a daily basis. The Indians are going to be great at 2 spots with Lindor and Ramires and average at another with Santana. There is a good chance they will be below average to bad at the rest of the spots in the order. Even with that rotation, it’s hard to win every game 2-1. I wrote about this earlier in the spring, what happens if Lindor or Ramirez miss time or just simply aren’t as great as they’ve been the last 3 years? Then this lineup becomes one of the worst in baseball which is what we saw yesterday. Seriously Tyler Naquin batting 3rd? He wouldn’t even make the Twins roster. Lindor now has to wait for his ankle to heal then basically start spring training over again. He may miss the entire month of April. This division is absolutely for the taking. This isn’t an over reaction to 1 game. And don’t tell me they were missing Jason Kipnis also. Kipnis has been below average for 2 years.
blindeke reacted to Nebtwinsfan for a blog entry, Spring Training Visit
Three years ago I visited spring training for the first time and was lucky enough to make it back this past week as I was in the area for some family celebration. I only made it out to the complex a couple of times for a few hours each time but it was a great time (plus I had escaped the winters/flooding of Nebraska and had some great beach time). As a result I thought I would share a couple of quick thoughts for those of you who haven't been there and just add to what others have posted in the past about visiting there.
The first day I visited the Twins were playing a game and I arrived a few hours before the game and was able to watch some batting practice which is right outside stadium. You are in such close proximity to the players and it is really interesting to watch how they go through their routines, as well as the interactions with those around them. The second group we watched that day included Nelson Cruz who is not only a pretty impressive looking guy but also was entertaining. My favorite part of that batting practice was that Tony Oliva and Rod Carew were behind the guys batting and they were interacting with them as well. I just wish I spoke better Spanish because they were all having a good time.
When you do visit spring training, you never know who you will see. Seeing Oliva and Carew were the highlights for me just as I was able to watch Tom Kelly run an infield practice on the Tom Kelly field three years ago.
I also enjoy watching the minor league players and was able to do that on both Friday and Saturday. On Saturday, it wasn't a game day and I went over in the afternoon and parked for free and just walked right up to the two minor league fields where there were two games going on between the Red Sox and the Twins. There was a lot of activity going on and many family members supporting the players. You can get right next to the dugout and hear the interaction in there as well as the action on the field.
I wasn't able to watch as much as I wanted but do want to make a trip down again where I can spend a lot more time watching a game or two and watching a lot more of the practices. If you haven't made it down there I would strongly recommend it. The TWINSDAILY guys do a great job of covering it and we are lucky to have them there - I even thought I had a Seth sighting.
I also posted a few pictures of Cruz, Oliva, Carew and some sites around the baseball area.
blindeke reacted to mike8791 for a blog entry, Grading the Offseason
Now that Marwin is on board, thought it would be a good idea to review the Twins' grade for the 18/19 offseason. Prior to this latest move, I would have given the FO a solid C for their efforts to date. A very positive step was taken by the Cruz signing, estimably their biggest FA signing of the winter. Finally, the team has a bona fide DH. When is the last time we can say that?
Their signing of 2B Schoop also was a positive one, given his age and previous ML success, at least up until 2018. Who can object to a medium risk/high reward guy, especially when the Twins' 2018 2B production was so putrid. The fact that it was only a one year contract was also wise in that it doesn't block a Gordon or Lewis from making the 25 man roster should their minor league efforts demand it.
The Gonzalez signing is also a plus, given his versatility and offensive advantages over Adrianza. More importantly, he provides much needed insurance against another subpar season by Sano or Schoop. Plaudits to the FO on this one.
So why just a "C" grade? Good question. We can look at Cron and Parker's signings as positives but in reality they don't move the needle much, at least for me. Cron is nothing more than a journeyman who had one above average offensive year; likewise with Parker who at best is a middle inning filler in the bullpen, not the shutdown reliever needed.
But the real reason for a meh "C" Grade is that the FO has not filled the team's two biggest needs - a proven shutdown closer and a #1 0r 2 starter who would give the team a reasonable chance of winning a playoff game. The bullpen need is the most glaring in that everyone currently on the roster is either inexperienced or coming off a shaky 2018 season. As currently constructed, this is a high risk collection that gives no assurance of any improvement over last year's mediocre group. Yes, it seems a no-brainer would be the addition of Craig Kimbel to fill the closer role. Such an addition would move the offseason grade up to a "B". That's how critical the gap is now. Bewilderingly, the FO is playing coy, again waiting for the price to fall to a bargain bin level. The Twins are fortunate one dominant reliever remains unsigned. It would be a dereliction of duties not to get this done!
And yes, even in the unlikely event that Kimbrel signs with the Twins(and let's be clear, he is the only one left who would move the needle), the Twins offseason grade would still be no higher than a B. Why? Because their rotation is average at best - loaded with question marks. Berrios has not proven to be an ace, Gibson is a #3 at best, Odorizzi and Pineda are big question marks, and the #5 spot is a crap shoot. With Romero slated for the bullpen(perhaps the offseason's biggest disappointment) the team has no promising pitcher in the high minors who might be considered a future ace.
Falvey/Lavine indicated earlier in the fall that, with the improvement in their minor league system, they would be inclined to look to the trade market rather than FA to fill some holes. Well, that ship seems to have sailed! No, free agency did not offer much(I'm looking at you Dallas) but there were some possible trade candidates who might have been pried loose given an attractive package of prospects. True, this is all speculation for now, but the FO if really intending to be playoff-bound needed to take some bold moves here and didn't. We can only hope the team will somehow rebound, be in contention at the trade deadline and be unafraid to pull the trigger to acquire a top-of-the rotation starter, like Greinke, Baumgartner, Thor, Wheeler, even Snell, if these teams are noncontenders.
I am not too hopeful that this FO will take these two necessary steps but, like with the Marwin signing, here's hoping they have a few surprises in store. If so, it would be a refreshing break from the mediocrity we have come to expect from the Twins' organization over the past 27 years!
blindeke reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Rotation Overhaul In Overdrive
With the news of the Minnesota Twins signing Lance Lynn to a one-year, $12 million deal today, the overhaul of the starting rotation going into 2018 is complete. Despite the big fish of the offseason being Yu Darvish, it's hard not to see the avenue that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine took as equally impressive. Coming off a Wild Card appearance, Paul Molitor's club has something it hasn't in years: a rotation worthy of praise.
Going into the winter, Minnesota's front office new that the area of focus needed to be starting pitching. Coming off a season in which 16 different pitchers made starts (a club record), and 36 different arms were used, getting more meaningful innings from the jump was a necessity. Although the crop of free agents left something to be desired, Darvish was there at the top and he had some quality options lined up behind him. You can fault the Twins for not matching Chicago's six-year deal, but it may not have mattered anyways. In the end, for a team desiring depth, this outcome almost seems better.
When the Twins leave Fort Myers at the end of March, their starting rotation will feature Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Lance Lynn, and Kyle Gibson. Ervin Santana is due back sometime in April or May, and the group at the top is backed by names such as Adalberto Mejia, Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero, and Zack Littell. Solely by the letters on the backs of the jerseys, that group is much stronger than one featuring options such as Tepesch, Melville, and Wilk. What's more intriguing though, are the numbers that names bring with them.
In Odorizzi and Lynn, Minnesota has added two players capable of striking out batters at an 8.0 K/9 clip or better. A season ago, only Jose Berrios entered that territory, and the Twins haven't had two pitchers best that mark in a season since 2006 (Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano). Last season, 12 of the Twins 16 starters took the ball a combined 54 times to compile a -0.2 fWAR. Despite a down year for Odorizzi (0.1 fWAR in 2017), he's consistently earned around a 2.0 fWAR on an annual basis. In his first year back from Tommy John surgery, Lynn posted a 1.4 mark. Both should help to significantly raise the water level as a whole for the staff, which is really what this boils down to.
Talking yourself out of missing on Darvish is foolish, but there's also a level of realism to it. While Yu is a bonafide ace, he can only take the ball once every five days. Minnesota was in a place where Kyle Gibson would be relied upon too much, and Phil Hughes needed to be counted on as well. In adding two arms, the Twins push the latter out completely, and allow the former to be bolstered by the strong depth on the farm behind him. By gaining a 40% improvement in the rotation, the Twins effectively overhauled their greatest weakness, and dare I say, turned it into a strength.
It'd be relatively silly to suggest that Lynn, Odorizzi, or even Michael Pineda (if and when he returns healthy) are going to make the Scherzer's or Kershaw's of the world blush. For an organization that's been starved to figure out who can be relied upon for multiple turns in the rotation on a yearly basis for over a decade though, you've done more than alright. Minnesota's blueprint when attacking the rotation was to grab talent that could help, and let what was already on board fall in line. By executing it this way, there should be competitive and reliable outings on a daily basis, and the depth is now a luxury as opposed to a necessity.
Given what Falvey and Levine have done to Molitor's starting staff, and what Minnesota already had going for it, you'd be hard-pressed to argue that this team isn't going places. A strong lineup and good defense is now supplemented be a talented pitching staff (both starters and relievers) and that should put not only the Cleveland Indians, but the rest of the American League, on notice.
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blindeke reacted to Axel Kohagen for a blog entry, We Gonna Do What They Say Can't Be Done?
It's opening day and I'm wearing my Joe Nathan shirt for the tenth year in the row. The Twins are playing the Royals, because the Twins are ALWAYS playing the Royals. Advanced statistics will confirm the Twins play 127% of their games against the Royals, and 75% of those games mean nothing to anybody anyway. But we sure play them, now knowing that all of us can go to Hy-Vee afterwards.
A guy named Duffy is taking the mound for the Royals, which kind of pissing me off. I don't know Duffy, and I have no desire to expend any effort to find two facts I can string together that make it look like I cared.
Our Minnesota Twins lost over 100 games last year and, on their first battle of 2017, a pitcher with a name sounding like pure aw-shucks happiness is going to be come trotting on to the field. Couldn't we have found a team with a pitcher named "Grimm-Reeper" or "Rebuilding-Year?"
I know, everybody's in first place now. Groovy. It was a short weekend and I still remember trying to have meaningful discussions about the team's future while they circled the bases in reverse, like the were slugging runners round the rim of a toilet bowl.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not insulting the players who put in the work and try their best and are probably more frustrated than the average fan can imagine. I just have to spell out my feels because I know some of you out there will pick up what I'm putting down. I love the Twins like I love air and water, but I can't just forget 2016. If my wife had a sexy affair with a guy dressed like my arch-nemesis Sweetums, from the Muppets . . . we would try to work through it. But I would insist on having her deloused and I would leave the house and burn it if I saw one brown muppet hair.
Soon, those blue-billed Royals will emerge from the secret tunnels between their stadium and the Twins, tipping their Morlock bus driver as they exist. It will be the first of 1000 games between these two teams, before the All-Star break. Next, Twins fans will arrive.
"I want to see a double!" a small child will say, and everyone will understand. We love our team to death, but bruised hearts start slow.