DocBauer reacted to Matt Braun for a blog entry, What's The Deal With Relievers?
Relievers are weird. Not only because they do strange stuff like play video games on the side, but they are probably also the most volatile position in baseball. Go look up the best relievers of 2015 and have a good laugh at some of the names that appear. Liam Hendriks? Kevin Siegrist? Luke Gregerson? Josh Fields? The top 10 or so names have been relatively consistent and are still playing at a high level now, but after that, there is little to no guarantee that production will be sustained at all. Contrast that with the best position players the same year and it seems that relievers are about as dependable as the current economy.
Or even just consider the Twins bullpen this past year, who would have predicted that Taylor Rogers would add a slider and become the Terminator basically from July until the end of the season, or that Trevor Hildenberger would continue his great 2017 season for the first half or so until the ghost of Matt Capps took control of his body and he struggled from August until the end of the season, or how about Addison Reed starting off en Fuego and then losing velocity as the year went on until he couldn’t even strike out my grandmother.
The point is, relievers are unpredictable, but what if we could predict them? More importantly, if we could predict if a reliever will bounce back? Ignore the snake-oil-salesman-style question and let me explain my thought process. I want to be able to identify how likely it is for relievers to bounce back, so I looked at data from 2016, 2017, and 2018 to see how many relievers came back from a poor season and how many didn’t. To be exact, I am looking for relievers who had good/great 2016 seasons, noticeably poor 2017 seasons, and then how they fared in 2018. I want a solid basis of talent first, a season that can tell me that this guy has the potential to be legit, which is the point of the 2016 season data. Then I want a poor 2017 season. Since what is “poor” is debatable, I’ll say that if a reliever had either an ERA, FIP, or xFIP that was .75 points higher than the year prior, I will consider that a “poor” season in context with their body of work. I will leave a little wiggle room if the numbers are close enough to give me a bigger sample, but generally, I will stick to the .75 rule. Then I want to see how they performed in 2018 so that I can draw my conclusion and make my closing statement. I will be using their pitching “slash line” of ERA/FIP/xFIP. I also will not be including pitchers who did not pitch in 2017 or threw a fraction of innings that they usually do because there is not enough sample size to draw from.
These are the first 10 players who fit my criteria and we have some interesting information already! About 4 players rebounded in my mind; Dellin Betances, Aroldis Chapman, Seung Hwan Oh, and Jeurys Familia (5 if you include Herrera’s ERA but not his peripherals), while 6 players had 2018 seasons that continued their downward trend (or 5 if you think peripherals are for schmucks). Interestingly enough, these were 10 of the top 11 pitchers by fWAR in 2016 with Kenley Jansen being the only player in the top 11 who had a great 2016 and 2017. Let’s continue!
This list of players requires a bit more nuance than the previous one and I really need to stick to the peripherals to draw a solid conclusion. I see 5 players who bounced back in a significant way through their peripherals; Edwin Diaz, Will Harris, Brad Ziegler, Zach Duke, and Hector Neris. But the interpretation of this data can vary depending on the reader, if you value ERA, then you might see different bounceback players than me, but I believe that the 5 players I mentioned here had a noticeably better 2018 season compared to their 2017 season. Alright, let’s continue!
I’m just going to throw Buchter out of here because he doesn’t seem to really care about what his FIP or xFIP says he should be doing. After that, I see Shawn Kelley, Alex Colome, Sam Dyson, Hansel Robles, Alex Wilson, Ryan Pressly, Tony Barnette, and Jeremy Jeffress as guys who bounced back in significant ways in 2018. That’s 8! The only guy here who didn’t really bounce back was Justin Wilson.
These 30 pitchers were among the top 50 relievers from 2016 and 17 of them rebounded after a poor 2017 season in my eyes, good for a 57% success rate. How can this apply to the Twins? Well, I see this as good news for Trevor Hildenberger, who is looking to have a 2019 season that is more in line with his 2017 campaign, but I see this as bad news for Addison Reed who saw his numbers decrease heavily thanks to another drop in velocity. I also see this as good news for Cody Allen, the player who inspired this article, as there’s a better than average chance that he can have a better year than his awful 2018 campaign. This could also be somewhat neutral news for Taylor Rogers, who had the most dominant season of his career so far but needs another one to really cement himself as a top relief arm. An interesting thing to note is that a fair amount of these players who had bounceback years did so on a different team, so maybe there is some credibility to the idea that sometimes a player just needs a change of scenery.
DocBauer reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, The Dangers in Waiting for Minnesota
We’re quickly approaching the close of the 2018 calendar year. While there’s still multiple months before Spring Training commences in sunny Fort Myers, the Minnesota Twins talent acquisition has come in the form of two moves. Both players found themselves on the free agent market by way of non-tender decisions from their previous ballclubs. We saw a patient strategy in 2017 but employing it again could be to the team’s detriment.
Despite how the Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison signings worked out for Falvey and Co. last offseason, there’s no denying that both moves made a ton of sense. Morrison represented a power bat the lineup could certainly use, and Lynn allowed the starting rotation an ability to be bolstered by one of the premiere names on the market. Both players were inked to team-friendly dollars, and there’s no such thing as a bad one-year deal.
It appears that the Twins are content employing a similar level of patience this time around. The problem, however, is that the circumstances had them in a position ripe to jump the market. We’ve heard that a $100 million payroll could be the bar to clear, and much has been made about the uncertainty of both Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton’s development. The former is a number that should represent an embarrassing effort towards competitiveness, while the latter strikes this blogger as a backwards way of thinking.
Right now, we’ve yet to see Sano and Buxton put it all together over a consistent period. Minnesota obviously has reservations about whether it will happen for the two former top prospects but planning for anything other than full speed ahead comes with quite a few issues.
First, Sano and Buxton will never be cheaper than they are right now. Whether they explode or not, arbitration raises will continue to increase their rate of pay. Should things go according to plan, the dollars will mount considerably in the next few seasons. Waiting for the next wave of prospects would signify something like a ten year rebuild and comes with the same caveats as to whether the prospect status matures at the highest level. Pairing the current duo with external talent is also just a drop in the bucket in terms of dollars at this point, and nothing hamstrings an organization with zero dollars committed to 2020 and beyond.
You can certainly look at the free agent landscape as it stands today and wonder where those extra dollars would be spent. Craig Kimbrel isn’t the most appealing reliever at his ask, and Bryce Harper probably wants little to do with Minnesota. However, we’ve heard about plenty of relievers that the Twins were in on to this point and they simply didn’t want to extend a second year. These are the avenues that strike me as poor planning. Outpacing the competition by showing a willingness for an extra season, or a few extra millions, is something this team is in the perfect position to do. The Twins shed a ton of salary prior to 2019 and have literally nothing on the books for the season after. By being aggressive on some second-tier names, there’s no denying the impact could have been felt in the wins column. At this juncture, there’s a dwindling list of those types left, and the suitors remain a vast and competitive field.
As referenced from the get-go, there’s still time left to sort this all out. If Nelson Cruz, Cody Allen, and Zach Britton all end up in Twins Territory the panic button can be put away. When C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop are joined by the like of a Zach Duke or Matt Belisle type however, we’ll be vindicated in wondering what was taking place at 1 Twins Way.
Regardless of any team’s payroll flexibility, it’s always fair to view deals through a sensible market value meter. That said, there’s nothing wrong with being the aggressor in acquiring talent when you have resources on your side. For years the Twins have been in a situation that extra spending didn’t make sense because a level of competitiveness wasn’t going to be impacted by anything but a total overhaul. Now is not that time, and each additional acquisition can play a key part in a result greater than expected.
Waiting for something to fall into your lap has its purpose, but dictating your future often bears greater fruits.
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DocBauer reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Bryce Harper a bad bargain
Okay, we know we are not in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes. Be glad. Only Boras can sell him as the $400 million dollar man. If we look closely we know better. What were his stats this year? 1.3 WAR. 248, 34, 100. Yes he had a +133 OPS. Is that worth $40 million a year? He has had 7 years and an accumulated 27.4 WAR - 3.9 per year. What is that worth? Lets me realistic here. The following article says that in this inflated era a player gets $3.8 million per war - that means that for 2018 Harper was worth about $5 Million. If we take his average over his career it means just under $15million. Will he sign for that? Of course not. Boras has the league buffaloed so he will get twice or more for that.
He will argue that these are his prime years coming up and that is true. However, how long is his prime? Most estimates make 32 the maximum. https://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/article/9933/how-do-baseball-players-age-investigating-the-age-27-theory/ Then what? Look at Pujols. He might be DFA'd now that the Angels have gotten a first baseman and DH. Or Tulowitzki who has been DFA'd with two big years left on his contract.
Of course we can always look at the impact that the player has on winning. Harper has been with the Nationals seven years. They have been first 4 times and second 3 times. Of course they also have Scherzer the best pitcher in the NL (I know some like Kershaw) and Strasburg and Rodon and Werth and Turner... Yet they have never made the WS. They lost in the LDS four times 3 - 2. Mr Harper never took them over the top.
A team is a team, not a star and bit players. Those who chase Harper or the guy who does not want to play all out, but will play dirty can expend the big bucks, but the Twins have much more affordable options in the next tier. Of course that assumes the Twins want to win and want to spend.
DocBauer reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Bring on the Boomstick
With the Winter Meetings well underway, signings and reports are flying in from every direction. The Minnesota Twins made their initial splash with the acquisitions of Johnathan Schoop and Ronald Torreyes. Now having the middle infield gaps covered, some thump in the lineup can be addressed. Rocco Baldelli’s projected starters have plenty of power at their disposal, but none look the part of true on-base threats. Nelson Cruz would change that.
On Tuesday evening Hector Gomez reported that the two teams left vying for the services of the former Seattle Mariners DH are the Twins and Tampa Bay Rays. Cruz hits the market as a 38-year-old that will be playing 2019 at the age of 39. Despite nearing his forties, there doesn’t yet appear to be much slowdown in terms of production. During 2018 with Seattle, Cruz watched his average dip to .256 (a career low), but it was bolstered by an .850 OPS and 37 homers.
There wasn’t ever a point in his career that Cruz was an ideal outfielder, but at this stage in the game he’s become a full time DH. Luckily with the Twins, there’s no need for him to ever be inserted into the outfield. On the premise of his bat alone, Cruz is among the most intriguing names for Minnesota to consider offensively. Dating back to 2014, he’s hit no less than 37 longballs, and he’s had a .356 OBP over that stretch.
Right now, Jorge Polanco looks destined to be the leadoff hitter for Baldelli, and some combination of Miguel Sano, C.J. Cron, and Eddie Rosario will fill out the top half of the lineup. That group has plenty of ability to lose balls in the seats, but Polanco’s .325 OBP over the past two seasons paces them. As baseball has trended towards the launch angle revolution, and adaptation for power, a remaining necessity to get on base is ever present. Even if everything breaks right from a homer standpoint for the current Twins group, there stands a reasonable expectation that many of them could be hollow, solo shots.
It’s not just on-base skills that make Cruz an ideal candidate to join the Twins clubhouse, however. As a veteran who has not bounced around, he’s been someone that no doubt displays a certain presence within the clubhouse. Minnesota has been big on veteran leadership surrounding their young and upcoming stars in recent years, but that role has often been filled with aging players offering little value (Torii Hunter, Matt Belisle, etc.). In Cruz, Baldelli gets a Spanish speaking veteran than can lead by example for many of the impressionable minds he’s looking to mold. Doing so by example on and off the field must have a bit more merit.
There’s little doubt that Cruz is approaching the end of his time as a professional ballplayer. Whether that means three years or five years, age always wins out. At this point in time there isn’t much reason to believe the production will dip, and that should calm any fears of agreeing to a one- or two-year deal. He’ll get paid a hefty sum, but with the open cash flow that the organization has, there will still be plenty of dollars to allocate towards pitching.
Whether this pact gets done while the Twins contingent is in Las Vegas or not remains to be seen, but it would be hard to swallow a scenario in which Minnesota was just “in the hunt” again. There’s not going to be a long-term commitment here, and the dollars won’t be a showstopper. There’s a serious fit from multiple angles, and a deal is something Derek Falvey and Thad Levine should be adamant about.
For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
DocBauer reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Do we need an Ace, do we need Harper, Machado?
Bear with me now - I am about to go off the baseball rails here. I read all the speculation, all the projections of player salaries and all the moaning from our team and fans and the rest of the teams and their fans so I am going to say something no one wants to hear. We do not need an Ace, we do not need a superstar! There it has been said. The follow up to that is - and I want us to win the series!
Okay, now for my reasons. Lets start with the easiest - the Ace. The Ace in the 1800s pitched much more than any current pitcher. Old Hoss Radbourne won more games - 59 than any pitcher starts in a season. He was the triple crown of pitching leader - 1.38 earned run average, 59 wins and 441 strikeouts. I know we are all about strikeouts now - look at that total. And he pitched 12 years! Okay that was an Ace that made a real difference.
Then we got to the 30 win era where this was the standard that really set out the ACE - Denny McClain in 1968 was the last to win 30. There were 21 thirty game win seasons with most in the early 1900s. And they still had arms on their bodies the next year. These thirteen pitchers were also Aces of course Denny took to Aces in the gambling dens and ruined his career.
Then came the twenty game winners - with Warren Spahn winning 20 - 13 different years during his career - despite losing years to serving in the war. His last 20 game year came in my high school graduation year - 1963. He and the other 20 game regulars were Aces. On this list of twenty game winners is Nolan Ryan - yes he also lost a lot, but he was the real leader into the strikeout era and he also was a complete game pitcher.
Then we went to five man rotations and now to openers (the shame) and the argument that wins don't matter. The above pitchers also completed games - Cy Young completed 749 games - yes he won and lost games. And he earned his wins just like the other Aces above.
Now, the Ace not only pitches one of five games, but only 6 - 7 innings in most outings. I see Kershaw get $35m a year and think - why? He cannot even move them forward in the off season and his speed is diminishing.
Sign two number twos and three number threes and we will be better off than signing a one, running out of money and ending up with most games being toss ups or worse. Of course you can also make that a different combinations of 2s,3s,and 4s, but don't break the bank on the ACE.
Then there is the Bryce Harper/Manny Machado madness. Who in the world is worth the kind of money they are talking about. Living in MN I have heard for years about how the Mauer contract impacted the team ability to sign other players (I know it was an excuse, a joke, not real), but 300 - 400m is not a joke. Look at Mike Trout - the greatest player of our current era. By himself he cannot lead them to a championship season. Nor has Machado or Harper shown that they can either.
Each player is up to bat 3 - 5 times a game - that is all and if no one is on base they cannot drive them in. If they swing for the fences and have a crap average like Harper or Sano or Morrison did last year you get 30 HRs - which if they are spread out give you 30 games of production and 132 of small or no production. In the field only the catcher and first baseman are involved in the majority of fielding plays, so even in the field there is limited production most of the time.
Since WAR is such a popular figure think about the numbers the best players puts up. No one is worth 80 or 90 WAR, the great ones are 10 and there are few is any each season.
This individual game is still a team game and if the team does not pitch, field, hit, the team does not win and wins are what we want. Look at the Angels other player - HOF to be - Pujols. Tell me his worth to the team, tell me how that contract impacts the team.
No - sign a lot of good players, good fielders, good on base average, good production people, steal some bases, be fast and be involved. It is the team with production 1 - 9, rotation 1 - 5, even slightly above average at all positions that wins. Not the team with the biggest star.
DocBauer reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Oh man, those stats!
So the computer guys told us this would be smart, we see the trend and we jump on it. Use relievers every day! Let's look at a couple simple stats that are within my grasp. 162 games - average reliever use per game now 3 - put in an opener and it might be 4, but lets not worry about those games where Giminez came in or other extended innings. Just 162 games times three - 486 relief appearances. So we carry 13 pitchers, 5 are starters. 8 relief pitchers divided into 486 means 60 relief appearances per pitcher - forget those who are so valuable that they are out more often.
Check out historical use on Baseball Reference - https://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Pitcher#Historical_Usage and you can see the various trends in pitching from the every other game starters of the 1800s to the four man rotation and lots of complete games to five man rotation and a growing requirement for relief pitchers. The more pitchers the less they are used and the more relief we need. Tommy John surgery increases, pitchers are using pitch counts but no one knows whether it is the pitch count or the frequency of pitching that matters. How did Warren Spahn and Juan Marichal and all those great pitchers survive? Must be some stat there that can answer.
Trends have always made us smarter. Remember when Coca Cola came out with New Coke and soon the non-stat drinkers rejected it as well as Crystal Pepsi and its clear cola. Or maybe your family had an Edsel - talk about a car of the future! Or more recently we had Netflix divide into Netflix and Quikster - don't remember - understandable. The streaming only branch was flushed down the stream.
There was the Apple Newton that was an instant success followed by an instant failure, it just did not deliver, kind of like the sixth man in your bullpen rotation. Then there is that weight reducing fat - Olestra - that Lays used to produce Wow chips! In one year the FDA called a halt, of course the customers did too when they learned that the way that they lost weight was because it induced diarrhea. Kind of like changing pitchers 3 times in an inning induces a coma.
Two giants sat down with their marketing stat heads and combined to produce a soda bottle product called Mazagran - coffee tasting soda - within the year the stats called sales numbers forced this Starbuck/Pepsi product off the market. And it would have been an excellent opener to start your day. I will not even comment on the attempt by Colgate - the toothpaste company - to put out a line of frozen foods. Did they clean your teeth when you were done? We will never know.
But more recent and perhaps more important to this audience - Playboy decided to drop nudity - where are those geniuses. Did they really believe people bought it for the articles? Well they don't now - those geniuses are back in the minor leagues and nudity is on the rise again.
So now we have a trend that created a trend - fifth starters were not much better - if at all - than the bullpen guys so suddenly we evolved to bullpenning. The term does not mean anything, but it is a trend, just like launch angle and increased strikeouts. Does that mean anything to the game? Well strikeout require more pitches which means the pitch count is reached earlier so we must pull the starter and bring in the reliever. More pitches, more game delays, more time before the game ends, longer games and the commissioner wants to figure out how to change this. Good luck.
Check out various trends with this excellent set of graphs - https://michaelbein.com/baseball.html then look at the graph on this site for length of games and runs scored - https://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2015/1/29/7921283/baseball-game-length-visual-analysis and then we ask the question - do people want longer games with less runs scored? Do people want to see more pitchers and less runners on base?
As an old guy I love Mike Trout - “The two biggest stats to me are runs scored and RBI,’’ says two-time MVP Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels, the game’s greatest player in the midst of his finest season. “I mean, that’s how you win games right, scoring the most runs?’’
Bob Nightengale has an interesting article - https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/columnist/bob-nightengale/2018/06/20/mlb-bad-baseball-attendance-strikeouts/718162002/ - that looks at trends and solutions.
So, if the trends are hurting baseball, baseball might want to buck the trends, limit relief pitcher use, reduce the innings, move back the fences, reduce the innings. I do not know the answer, but as a former tax accountant I can tell you that numbers can prove many things, but they cannot make the game more enjoyable, unless you are just into APBA, Rotisserie, Fantasy, X-box, etc; nor can they change the human body. Use stats, but don't go too far I really want to see a baseball game - not relays from the bullpen.
DocBauer reacted to ashbury for a blog entry, Arizona Fall League 2018 - Nov 1 & 2
I feel like posting a little bit on my trip to Phoenix for the Arizona Fall League.
I arrived Thursday and was picked up at the airport by ashburydavid. Nice that he could take a day off from work to join his dad for a long weekend of baseball watching. Salt River, the team all the Twins prospects are on, had played earlier in the day, so we contented ourselves watching the evening game in Scottsdale. You can get good seats at the AFL:
The game itself between Scottsdale and Peoria was very crisply played. It was a 1-0 pitchers duel through 7 innings, before Peoria scored 3 more, and although the home team notched a couple on a ninth inning homer by first baseman Hall, this 4-2 outcome was completed in slightly more than two hours. Scorpions left fielder Trammell made a pair of very fine catches that might have kept the final score from being more lopsided. We had good luck in being seated near a few very talkative fans who kept us company during the game.
Friday we made our way over to Surprise Stadium for a Salt River Rafters game against the host Saguaros. By the luck of the draw I've been there for several AFL games over the years, and I think it's a nice one:
Travis Blankenhorn was the only Twins prospect who played today. He went 1 for 4 plus a walk, scoring two runs. Here he is, on deck - he sees his shadow, so six more weeks of AFL?
Blankenhorn made a nice defensive play in the sixth inning with an unassisted putout on a grounder before throwing to first to complete a DP. And here is his home run trot - coming around to score after his third-inning walk, when Sam Hilliard hit a homer, but it's still a trot. He also scored in the top of the sixth on a sac fly, after singling and then moving up a base at a time. He caught the pop fly that ended the 8-3 victory in 7 innings (scheduled as such, to avoid tiring the pitching staffs in advance of the Fall Stars Game coming up on Saturday.)
This is Salt River manager Tommy Watkins after making a pitching change.
After the game, Tommy caught us unawares, by noticing my son and me with Twins or Twins Cities related gear (me with my St Paul Saints shirt, ashburydavid with his Rochester Red Wings shirt and his TC Twins hat), seated down low as we were. He made a point of asking where we were from. Just a 30 second interaction, but it's clear why Tommy gets such favorable reviews from all who meet him - he is an outgoing guy, plain and simple.
Tomorrow we go back to Surprise for the aforementioned Fall Stars Game.
DocBauer reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Ranking the Rookies
The Minnesota Twins are now in the final week of their 2018 Major League Baseball season. With a Postseason berth eliminated from reality, the final seven games will be of little significance. Given the opponents coming to Target Field include the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox, opportunity to play spoiler isn't present either. That said, these contests remain a proving grounds for players looking to crack the 2019 Opening Day roster.
Right now, there's some intrigue as to whether or not we're witnessing the end of Joe Mauer's heralded career with the hometown team. These could be his final days in a major league uniform, and although I believe he'd be of service to the club in 2019, it appears that no decision has been reached at the present time.
For the guys that are significantly Mauer's junior, they are still looking to make a final imprint on the organization in hopes of vaulting themselves into a more secure position next spring. While the final week may be somewhat of a slog for the battle tested veterans, no opportunity can be taken for granted when looking to stay at the game's highest level.
This season, the Twins have trotted out more than a handful of rookies. Here's a look back at how they've all performed.
Mitch Garver - C
Somewhat unfortunately for the organization, Garver was turned loose relatively early this year. Instead of being able to serve as Jason Castro's understudy, he was pushed into a starting role after a knee injury ended Jason's season. While Mitch looked raw behind the plate early on, it's been more than apparent that he made strides as the season went on. Working with veterans like Bobby Wilson, and briefly Chris Gimenez, his glove work improved dramatically.
On the offensive side of this, his .734 OPS was more than welcomed behind the dish for Minnesota. He was easily the most productive offensive asset as a backstop, and there appears to be some legitimate pop in his stick. Over a full season, he's a likely double-digit longball guy, and he's pushed himself into the conversation for more work next season. It remains to be seen if Minnesota will make changes at catcher, but Garver didn't hurt his positioning at all.
Jake Cave - OF
Maybe one of the most shrewd moves in the early tenure of the Twins new front office, Jake Cave was acquired as outfield depth from a Yankees system that simply didn't have room for him. With Byron Buxton having a lost year, and Zack Granite falling out of the picture, Cave harnessed the opportunity presented to him.
Early on, Cave should've gotten more run than veteran retread Ryan LaMarre, but that didn't stop him from turning heads on a near daily basis. In 85 games this season Cave owns a .771 OPS and has ripped 12 homers. At 25 years old, he's somewhat of an elder rookie, but there's plenty of reason to believe that this is just scratching the surface. He's easily Minnesota's 4th outfielder to open up 2019, and it's been apparent than he can start for stretches when need be as well.
Willians Astudillo - UT
After over 630 minor league games, Astudillo finally graced Major League Baseball with his presence. The folk tale of a chubby catcher than picked off runners without looking and never struck out came to the big leagues and initially started as an outfielder, third basemen, and second basemen. Now settled into a utility role, and backup catcher, Astudillo has seen regular run down the stretch.
It's just a 23 game sample size, but the .877 OPS is certainly eye opening. It's hard to imagine Minnesota carrying three catches on Opening Day next season, but there's worse ways to use a 40 man roster spot early on in November. This could very well end up being the last we hear of Astudillo, or he could continue to be an out-of-nowhere spark for a Twins team eyeing the Postseason a year from now.
Fernando Romero - SP
First it was Jose Berrios, and then it was Fernando Romero. When it came to Twins starting pitching prospects, those were the cream of the crop. Romero's electric fastball has pushed him into the conversation of a true ace, and he looked the part in small bursts this season.
The numbers themselves are all unremarkable, and he didn't light Triple-A on fire after returning. That said, the 55.2 IP in the majors as a 23 year old should prove invaluable when setting him up for future success. I'd imagine the Twins front office will be looking to upgrade the rotation again this winter, and that likely keeps Fernando at Rochester on Opening Day, As a first man up however, that's a heck of an arm to turn to.
The Best of the Rest- Zack Littell, Stephen Gonsalves, Kohl Stewart, and Adnrew Vasquez
None of these guys got much time to really cement any sort of significant expectations for the year ahead. Littell, Gonsalves, and Stewart should all open 2019 in the Triple-A rotation, and getting a look at big league talent could do wonders for their offseason preparation. While none of them have dominant stuff, honing in on command and pitchability should continue to remain a key focus for them. Again noting the Twins depth, there's at least one capable big league starter in this trio, and Minnesota having them to turn to next season isn't a bad thing at all.
Vasquez was the lone rookie to get a relief chance this season. Working just 2.0 IP despite entering six games, manager Paul Molitor obviously displayed a short leash. Over such a small sample size you can't draw any definitive conclusions, but it's more than apparent that the meteoric rise from High-A to start the year was impressive. At every level, Vasquez posted massive strikeout totals and tended to keep his walks in check. If he can replicate a portion of that for the Twins, they'll have developed a nice pen piece.
For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
DocBauer reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, A Season of Availability for Byron Buxton
In 2018, the Minnesota Twins star centerfielder Byron Buxton has played just 28 games at the major league level. Among hitters with at least 90 plate appearances, he checks in third from the bottom (above just Trayce Thompson and Magneuris Sierra). With a potential to play a maximum of 162 games in 2018, Byron has gotten in just 61 across all levels of pro baseball. If there's anything to take away from a lost season, it's that the most important trait going forward has to be availability.
Injuries are always going to be a part of athletics, and at times, you're going to deal with relative flukes. From migraines to a foul ball breaking your foot, Buxton has tested that theory in earnest during 2018. What's unfortunate however is that this isn't the first instance in which the uber-talented outfielder has dealt with this type of setback. Byron has missed time in each of the past few seasons, and most of that time on the shelf seems at least somewhat preventable.
By playing the game with reckless abandon, Buxton has thrown himself into outfield walls more often than he'd probably like to admit. The catches and highlights from those moments play on loop for years, but it's worth wondering what the opportunity cost is. Slamming into the wall in order to make a single out while trading a few games of availability seems like quite the ask. It's a difficult line to decipher when you're questioning if 110% effort is truly the best plan for long term success.
From my vantage point, the most integral thing for the Twins to get Byron Buxton on track is a level of consistency. Allowing him to thrive at the major league level likely comes through a repetition of quality at bats and positive results. That blueprint requires him to be on the field, and in a position to compete on a daily basis. There's so much talent to be put on display, and he's significantly beyond the highest minor league level (as we've seen since his latest activation from the disabled list). Distancing him from the nicks and bumps that have taken Buxton off the field has to be the next step in this journey.
Not all of Buxton's injuries are related to his centerfield exploits. He's hurt his wrist on the basepaths and at the dish, obviously migraines are a bodily issue, and things like an errant foul ball are simply bad luck. No matter what the malady though, having the Twins training staff best position Byron for success is imperative to his future development. Maybe the answer is to add muscle mass, or maybe it's having a more distinct understanding of outfield dimensions. At any rate, a new design taken with a focus on consistent health seems of the utmost importance.
There's no reason to panic on the player at this point. Buxton is lightyears ahead of where his predecessor Aaron Hicks was at this point. Hicks is now the best centerfielder in baseball not named Mike Trout. Byron is also on par with the likes of Torii Hunter and Kirby Puckett at the same age. The talent and tools are all there for him to succeed, but he also needs to be physically capable of putting them on display in a more routine fashion.
Telling a player to take their foot off the gas pedal is never an optimal plan of action. I don't know that it's the right one to suggest for a guy that's coming off being the best defender in all of baseball either. If there was something I found myself hoping Torii could impart on Byron during spring action down in Fort Myers, it was how to play all out while still protecting yourself for the long run. The Twins Hall of Famer only missed significant time once in his ten full seasons with the club. It's worth speculating that Buxton could end up being better than Spiderman if he can consistently stay on the field.
Lost seasons from some of Minnesota's most important young players was always going to spell doom for the 2018 campaign. Going forward, the amount of time that Byron Buxton can limit away from the field of play only benefits the overall success of the organization. There's still a star in the making here, and worrying about the on field exploits does nothing for me. Keeping the young man healthy and in the action remains the biggest piece of the puzzle.
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DocBauer reacted to South Dakota Tom for a blog entry, 45 Cold-Blooded Starts
Means 9 trips through the rotation for each starter, and got me to questioning what would be the best way to appropriate those starts from now - 117 games in - through the rest of the season.
The clear emphasis must be on 2019 and 2020 and what will best serve the club moving forward. That is not to say that you stop pitching Berrios, Odorizzi, or Gibson; those guys need to stay in rotation and continue to demonstrate that they can last an entire season and get their 30+ starts in. Injuries create opportunities but lack of injuries cannot serve to block those same opportunities.
I don't intend to break down every match-up and start, but more to the point, who do I want to see and how many times between now and season's end? Let's start by saying that if we maintain the existing rotation of Odorizzi, Berrios, Santana, Gibson and Stewart, that each would pitch 9 more times and the chart would look like this:
First, I would identify those starters I want to see pitch (whose names do not appear on the above list). I have 4: Adalberto Mejia, Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero, and Michael Pineda. At this point, Pineda can continue his rehab until he is a little more stretched out, but I would like to see him for the last month, so (in an ideal world) I'll put his number at 5. Romero can continue to pitch in AAA, though I would like him to get a taste of regular rotation work for the next few weeks until he hits his innings limit (he's at 129.1 now), so I would pencil him in to start 4 more times at the mlb level, starting now, and see where that puts him. That might, honestly, dovetail into the Pineda starts as a timetable.
I am most interested in seeing Gonsalves pitch, so would put him down for 7 trips through the rotation between now and season's end.
The only way to get to the final numbers below is to switch to a 6-man rotation immediately, to rest the arms of the regulars and give opportunities to the newcomers, so that's what I do. It still does not create sufficient opportunities for all four so something else has to give. The victim in all this is Ervin; until and unless he can get his FB back up to 92 (which he won't), he is injured and on a rehab assignment. There is an argument that you continue to pitch him to see if someone will give you a C prospect for him or save a million dollars with a pass through waivers and a trade, but I don't see that happening either.
So here is what it looks like:
So I have my six-man rotation, with Odorizzi, Berrios, Gibson and Gonsalves getting regular rotation work through the end of the season. I have Romero pitch the next 4 times he is scheduled on regular (or 6-man) rest, followed by Pineda starting the remaining games through the end of the season, and Romero potentially available out of the BP for long relief and to ensure he gets to the innings limit they have set for him. I have Mejia and Stewart rotate through the final spot (Stewart for 4 more now, and then a well-rested Mejia for the last 4 while Stewart finishes out the season in the expanded BP as an additional long man).
Not only will this give me a look at the 2019 candidates, but it will inform me whether the above group is sufficient to attack the upcoming season (and yes, we can always use a frontline starter, but the question is whether or not we need another pitcher in the Odorizzi/Lynn/Stewart mode as a veteran who will take regular turns in the rotation but provide fairly middling results, if we're not being too optimistic about them).
The lost season is quickly dwindling away, and the vague notion that we'll get a chance to see all of these guys when rosters expand is not accurate. This needs to start now if we are to get any meaningful feedback - and any valuable information - from the wreckage of 2018.
DocBauer reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, No Closer, No Problem: Floodgates for Twins
The Minnesota Twins shipped their closer Fernando Rodney to the Oakland Athletics recently. Prior to his departure, he was the only pitcher on the roster to record a save. Over the weekend Trevor Hildenberger joined his graces picking up his first on the year, and second of his career. With no real closer in tow, it’s time for Paul Molitor to open the floodgates and utilize this opportunity.
Going into 2019 the expectation should be that the Twins can once again be competitive. The same core that was expected to be relied upon this season remains intact. If the offense rebounds to sufficient levels, while being supplemented with some outside talent, this collection is going to make waves in the AL Central. What does absolutely need to be addressed however is the relief core and status of the bullpen.
Coming into 2018, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine helped Minnesota’s skipper by supplementing the pen. Addison Reed, Zach Duke, and Rodney were all brought in to help turn around a collection that had underperformed the year prior. By acquiring two thirds of that group on one-year deals, the Twins were able to benefit from them either as pieces part of a playoff run, or assets to acquire more talent. This winter the front office will find themselves in a similar situation, again looking to stockpile that type of talent. Who they’ll be paired with remains up in the air, and that’s where the current opportunity presents itself.
It doesn’t much matter who racks up saves for Minnesota the rest of the way, but it’s integral for a host of arms to be showcased in high leverage situations. Trevor May has looked great since his promotion from Triple-A Rochester following his Tommy John rehab. Tyler Duffey has always seemed like a decent option at the back of a pen, and Taylor Rogers has been arguably the Twins best reliever this season. Trevor Hildenberger has slipped of late but is incredible when on, and Matt Magill has come out of nowhere this season to command much more work than he’s gotten.
Stopping with the names currently on the 25-man roster does little for me however. At 53-64 Rochester isn’t going to make the Triple-A postseason. Alan Busenitz, John Curtiss, Jake Reed, and Nick Anderson are all options worth exploring. Busenitz hasn’t ever gotten a chance to acclimate at the big-league level this season, while Curtiss has only experienced the majors in a very muted sense. Reed dealt with injuries that have delayed his debut, but his numbers have begged for an opportunity long enough. Anderson remains a flier that is worth experimenting with during this time of little consequence as well.
There’s no reason to suggest that Molitor be tasked with managing a bullpen full of fresh faces and demanded each of them record time in the 9th inning. Having this collection up on the big-league roster and called upon in late game situations does make a lot of sense however. Prioritizing the current big-league roster, and guys that will assuredly be relied upon next year is a must, but the more opportunities for new arms to be tested the better.
Minnesota found something solid in guys like Hildenberger and Rogers because they were given a chance to prove themselves. Rather than waiting to see if those opportunities present themselves in a fresh slate next season, now looks like as beneficial of a time as ever. There’s plenty of poor competition on the Twins schedule the rest of the way, and at this point the results don’t much matter. Seeing relief arms filter into the Target Field clubhouse at a very high rate the rest of the way would be something Minnesota fans should absolutely be on board with.
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DocBauer reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Clearing Room Helps Twins
The Minnesota Twins moved Eduardo Escobar and Ryan Pressly over the weekend. One transaction involved a free agent to be, and the other focused around a return that likely was too good to pass up. With the trade deadline quickly approaching, clearing some extra space should be the goal for Derek Falvey and Thad Levine.
As things stand currently Minnesota has a handful of guys capable of being flipped to another team. The names include Brian Dozier, Zach Duke, Fernado Rodney, and Lance Lynn. If they really wanted to, and were presented with a solid return, Kyle Gibson could also enter this list. It's hard to see Minnesota being able to move Ervin Santana after just one or two healthy starts, but he could be an August trade candidate through the waiver process.
Looking at the list of candidates having a potential to be moved, there's something that should jump out as an opportunity. All of them are impending free agents, and there's a relatively small likelihood that any of them return to the Twins in 2019. With that in mind, it's time to start planning for the year ahead. Giving those innings to players that will be around is a must, and it's something that Paul Molitor only has two months left to capitalize on.
While it's uncertain as to whether or not Nick Gordon can start at the big league level a year from now, or if Stephen Gonsalves can continue to limit free passes, it's become time to find out some of those answers. Guys like Alan Busenitz, John Curtiss, and Jake Reed deserve some real run in the Twins pen, while Zack Littell and Adalberto Mejia could benefit from a couple of starts being strung together in succession.
When the Twins constructed the 2018 roster each of the pieces now available on the block made sense to bring in. This club was expected to be competitive, and without a lack of production across the board (combined with untimely injuries and bad luck), that was a reasonable expectation. Now with the narrative of the season having changed, the goal should be getting a jumpstart on the 2019 season.
It's hard to decipher whether or not Minnesota will be able to move all of their expiring pieces. Duke and Rodney have performed well this season, and should have appeal to some contenders. Dozier hasn't looked like himself, but a late season spark is all he'd need to supply in order to provide value to a postseason run. Lynn has been the worst of the bunch, but he's trended better of late and has a strong track record of success in his corner. What may be most interesting is what Minnesota decides to do if they can't move some of the pieces.
Looking at the roster construction as it currently stands, there's plenty of reason to question where the front office is prioritizing playing time. A guy like Matt Belisle has been both bad and ineffective for multiple organizations this season. Unfortunately, he's been given ample opportunity with Minnesota and that's to the detriment of the multiple more viable pen arms for the year ahead. A decision like that would suggest there isn't much care when it comes to preparing for what's next. Lynn could be DFA'd and the leftovers could see themselves passed through the waiver process, but we don't really have much evidence to suggest that's what lies ahead.
By my estimation, the most unfortunate way for the final two months of the season to play out would be to see all of these players stick around and no one get any real opportunity from the farm. You can't just cut bait on big league guys that are producing, but clearing the way for those you'll need to rely upon next season has to be of the utmost importance. We should have more clarity in the coming days, but the hope should be that the front office is on board with the train of thought as well.
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DocBauer reacted to Jonathon Zenk for a blog entry, Updated Top Five Prospects Who Should Be Promoted
Two months ago, I wrote an article here about who should be promoted. Well, four of those five on the list have been promoted, as well as two of the three of my honorable mentions. Well, I am back again to do an updated list. I decided to write this one before I head off to school to work on my Master’s because I likely won’t have much time when that time comes.
Johan Quezada, RP, Elizabethton
Tyler Benninghoff, SP, GCL Twins
Anthony Escobar, SP, DSL Twins
Todd Van Steensel, RP, Chattanooga
5. Janigson Villalobos, C, GCL Twins
Villalobos was traded to the Twins earlier this season from San Diego in a deal that saw Minnesota say goodbye to Phil Hughes and a draft pick. In his first three seasons, he has improved dramatically, and he has made his biggest jump this year. In 56 at-bats this season in the Gulf Coast League, he has a slash line of .339/.413/.429. Only four of his 19 hits have been for extra bases, so hopefully that comes around for him. He does have a solid eye at the plate, as he has walked seven times in his 56 at-bats and has only struck out nine times (yes, I said that in an Ed Rooney voice). Having turned 21 a few months ago, he may have figured a few things out and a trip to Elizabethton could be in order. I mean, it makes sense, too. Ben Rodriguez was promoted to Fort Myers and Ryan Jeffers to Cedar Rapids. It makes logical sense that someone like Villalobos could take Jeffers’ roster spot in Tennessee.
4.. Bailey Ober, SP, Cedar Rapids
Ober’s stats do not ‘wow’ you over the entire season, but he has been lights out his past three starts (and really good over his last seven). The 23-year-old has an ERA of 3.88, but while that may not seem impressive, it certainly is considering how his 2018 started. His season got off to a rocky start, allowing six runs on five hits in 2/3 of an inning in a 10-5 loss to Burlington in late April. In his first three starts, he allowed 14 runs in 9.2 innings, as well as at least four runs in five of his first six starts. But since, he has only allowed eight runs in previous seven starts combined, and four of those came in a 7-4 win over Burlington last month. Since the calendar turned to June, he is 6-1 with an ERA of 1.58, slicing his season ERA from 7.86 to 3.88. His opponents batting average also went down from .339 to .252, and his WHIP went down from 1.59 to an impressive 1.08. In his last three starts, he has turned it up a notch, allowing just one run in 21.2 innings (0.42 ERA), while striking out a whopping 34. I don’t know if he will be promoted just yet, but if he has another few starts like he has had recently, there is no choice but to promote him. Last week, former teammate Bryan Sammons was promoted from Cedar Rapids to Fort Myers. Ober could be next, maybe taking over a spot left by Tyler Wells, who I believe will move up to Double-A Chattanooga shortly.
3. Robby Rinn, 1B, Cedar Rapids
Rinn is an older prospect, and I normally don’t put them on this list, but he has been mashing for the Kernels. The 25-year-old was in Fort Myers for six games earlier this year, but was then returned to Cedar Rapids, where he has had 169 at-bats. In the 43 games he has played with the Kernels, he has hit .314 and has a real nice OPS of .826. Being an older prospect in a low level like Low-A, Rinn should be able to perform well, and he has done just that. Rinn, who was a 25th round pick by the Kansas City Royals in 2016, was traded by the Royals to the Twins in March. In 322 at-bats for the Idaho Falls Chukars (Rookie) last year, Rinn had a slash line of .355/.429/.511. With Rinn turning 26 in October, he needs to be challenged and he can platoon with Lewin Diaz in High-A Fort Myers. It also makes sense for the Twins, as he can be replaced on the team by 2018 eighth round pick Chris Williams, who has a slash line of .271/.380/.551 for the Elizabethton Twins.
2. Tyler Wells, SP, Fort Myers
All Tyler Wells has done since being drafted is dominate. Since being drafted in 15th round by the Twins in 2016, he had his worst year in Elizabethton after being drafted....and he went 5-2 with an ERA of 3.23 and a WHIP of 1.20. Following a successful stint in Cedar Rapids in 2017, Wells has had his best season in 2018. In 15 starts for the High-A Fort Myers Miracle, the Cal State Bernardino product has gone 7-4 with an ERA of 2.97 and a WHIP of an incredible 0.93. Like Rinn, he is also is a bit of an older prospect, as he turns 24 next month. He has slumped a little in July, just going 0-1 with an ERA of nearly five this month. But this comes on the heels of a great June, in which he went 4-0 with an ERA of just 1.63. Unlike many of the pitchers in the Twins organization, Wells does not have control problems, having just walked 16 in 78.2 innings so far this season. He should be promoted sometime late this year, which would create a roster spot for Ober to move to Fort Myers.
1. Victor Heredia, C/1B, DSL Twins
There is a very real possibility you have never heard of this slugger from Venezuela. Well, he has used the Dominican Summer League as his personal launching pad. Heredia did decent last season as a 16 and 17-year-old, slashing .257/.356/.351. But he has turned it up a level this season. In 36 games, Heredia, who just turned 18 last month, has a slash line of .366/.404/.611. Of his 48 hits, 18 have been for extra bases. Last season, he was listed as a catcher, but he has played first base this season. He has the ability to do both, much like Ben Rodrguez, who was recently promoted to Fort Myers. After having a real nice June, having a batting average of .300 and an OPS of .867, he has gone into Terminator Mode. Since the calendar turned to the seventh month of the year, Heredia has a slash line of .466/.492/.759. Heredia has 10 extra base hits in his 58 at-bats in the month as well. Even as a right-handed hitter, he has shown to hit right-handed pitching better than lefties. In 82 at-bats against righties, the Venezuela native has a slash line of .391/.426/.685. There is nothing left to prove down in the Dominican Summer League. If they want to utilize him as a catcher, he can take the spot on the GCL Twins left by Villalobos, who I think should be promotoed soon. The Ryan Jeffers/Ben Rodriguez promotions could send help lead Heredia to the United States before the season ends.
As always, feel free to critique and add who you feel should be promoted by the end of the 2018 season.
DocBauer reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Twins Top Two Progress Report
The Minnesota Twins came into the 2018 Major League Baseball season expecting to compete for a second straight postseason berth. Unfortunately, the offense has been nonexistent for the bulk of the schedule, and that's led to a situation where the club looks like it will sell off assets prior to the trade deadline. The immediate success of the organization lies on the backs of its former top prospects; chief among them are Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton.
Sano and Buxton have had nothing short of disastrous seasons. They both find themselves down in the minors right now, and the latter is on the shelf with a hand injury. Whether or not Minnesota gets anything of substance out of either this season is largely unimportant at this point. What does matter however, is that both players are trending in a direction to be difference makers out of the gate in 2019.
Now having spent a substantial amount of time down on the farm, it's worth checking on each to see where they're at.
After looking like an uncommitted shell of the player he both could and should be for the Twins, Sano was sent to High-A Fort Myers. Rather than scripting it like a punishment, Minnesota's front office communicated that this was a reinvestment in the player. Everyone in the organization wants more from Sano, they all believe it's possible, and the goal is to get the player on that same page as well.
Although High-A is a drastic drop in surroundings, the idea is that Fort Myers essentially serves as the Twins hub. There's a training center and support staff there that is unrivaled across the rest of the minor league system. While performance is part of the equation, conditioning and support are arguably the greater piece of the pie. Expecting this to be best handled in South Florida, it made the most sense as a destination.
Now through 19 games with the Miracle, Sano owns a .328/.442/.453 slash line. He's contributed four extra-base hits (two homers), and owns a 21/13 K/BB ratio. Looking at the numbers, there's some things to like and others to be skeptical about.
Firstly, it's disappointing not seeing a higher power output from a guy who should be feasting on High-A pitching. Just two home runs in 77 plate appearances is a rather paltry display. It's fair to reserve judgement however, as the goal may be working on specific outputs in game situations as opposed to simply letting it fly. On the flip side, the strikeout to walk ratio is something that has to please Minnesota brass. Again, Sano should be much better than this level, but drawing walks at a higher rate is something he must do in the big leagues. As a power hitter, strikeouts will never be a significant problem so long as the longballs and free passes even them out.
From my vantage point, I'm unable to evaluate Sano's off the field progress. Reports have all suggested he's been very committed to his conditioning program and is invested in the plan set forth for him. I've been vocal about Miguel's weight not ever being the real issue, and instead believing that it all revolves around a work ethic that strives for more. If the Twins are happy with the desire and drive they see from their promising slugger, that's as valuable as anything Miguel can bring back to the big leagues with him.
It's hard to evaluate whether or not Sano should have any sort of timetable for a return to the Twins. Again, I don't think the numbers are the true barometer that should inform fans of an impending promotion. The talent and ability is all there for Sano; it simply comes down to whether or not he wants to get the most from it.
Nearly a polar opposite from the Twins first basemen, Buxton's issue has never been that he isn't committed or willing to work. Taken off the field due to injuries and ineffectiveness, it's all about whether or not Buxton can harness all of his abilities in conjunction with one another.
Minnesota handled Buxton's injury situation rather oddly this year. There was time missed due to migraines, and then a skipped rehab assignment. Then there was a broken toe, and the blessing to play through an injury that hampered any real ability to be effective at the plate. Following a necessary rehab stint, the organization the decided Buxton's bat wasn't where it needed to be, and optioned him to Rochester for good. Fast forward to today, and a hand ailment has the talented outfielder on the shelf yet again.
On the season, Buxton has played in just 47 games across all levels. He owns an MLB worst .383 OPS and has slashed .232/.303/.377 in 18 games with Triple-A Rochester. There's two trains of thought when it comes to the production, and it's either a result of inability at the current time, or there's the question as to whether lack of consistency has hampered any ability to settle in.
Faults of both injuries and the Twins handling of them, Buxton hasn't found any sort of stability in 2018. It's been nothing short of a lost season, and right now it's a waiting game to see if that narrative can be corrected. There's significantly too much talent in the superstar outfielder for this to go on forever. Right now though, there has to be a strive towards getting him back on the field and keeping him there.
After he heals from this wrist sprain, my hope would be that there's a few games at Triple-A used as a rehab assignment. From there, I'd like to see him sent back up to the Twins to compete in the big leagues. No matter how much he's currently scuffling at Triple-A, we've already seen him master that level. What Byron needs is the ability to adapt and compete at the plate in the majors. In a lost season for the club as a whole, the continued development at the dish needs to take place where it matters. Sparking his bat on the farm, only to then have him start over following a promotion, does no good.
The Twins need to allow Buxton to settle into the level he appears destined to compete at for a long time. Developing consistency in a season that's had very little for him is a must. There's significant opportunity left to be had in 2018, and capitalizing on that would be best for Buxton as well as the Twins.
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DocBauer reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, The Future Twins and What's Ahead
Over the past week or so, the Minnesota Twins have certainly brought a higher level of intrigue to their 2018 season. Despite getting so little out of their offense for so long, they've at least made the idea of being sellers, one worth questioning. Ultimately I'm not sure 2018 is salvageable, but expecting them to again be competitive in 2019 is a very real proposition. For those wondering about what's even further out, this one is for you.
I have been sitting on this question from "twins dude" on Twitter for over a month now. Wondering what the Twins lineup might look like in five years, I was waiting for a good opportunity to take a look. Immediately following the Futures Game and during this lull of Twins baseball, it seemed as good of a time as any.
So, with all of that out of the way, who takes the field where in 2023? This is my stab at that answer:
C- Ryan Jeffers
The 2018 2nd round pick has gotten off to a hot start over his first 20+ professional games. While there were questions about whether he could stick behind the plate, Minnesota believes the answer is yes. The bat will play, and he's got a decent shot to race ahead of Ben Rortvedt in getting to the big leagues.
1B- Miguel Sano
For this to be accurate, a few factors would come into play. First and foremost, Sano would need to truly dedicate himself to his craft. Even in sliding over to first from third, staying in better shape and being committed to giving the Twins more than just a shell of himself is a must. He'll be eligible for free agency in 2022, so staying with Minnesota behind that point would be reflective of a renewed belief in his ability and work ethic.
2B- Nick Gordon
We should see Gordon as soon as 2018, and immediately taking over for Brian Dozier makes a ton of sense. He's probably not quite ready to step in as an above-average big leaguer, but he's still developing. Nick has a completely different skillset than that of Brian, but it's one that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine could safely deploy at the top or bottom of the lineup.
SS- Royce Lewis
Superstar, that's really the only word I'm coming up with when trying to describe Lewis. He's an incredible athlete, top tier baseball player, and an even better person. I'd be far from shocked if we don't see him in the big leagues by 2020. He could slide to the outfield, but Minnesota would obviously be better suited if he stays at short. He's not going to be the best fielder, but from an all around standpoint, he could be the next Carlos Correa.
3B- Jorge Polanco
I think Polanco remains in the Twins long term plans. He's been fine as a shortstop, and has really worked at improving himself defensively. That said, it's probably more likely he moves off than position than Lewis. Not the typical slugging corner infielder, Polanco has plenty of pop to be an asset offensively as well.
LF- Eddie Rosario
Having gone from a free winging question mark to one of the best outfielders in the game, Eddie Rosario has absolutely broken out in 2018. This isn't some flash in the pan, as we've seen it substantiated for nearly a full year now. The Twins should be looking to extend him through arbitration and into free agency.
CF- Byron Buxton
At 24, it's still way too early to give up on one of the best defenders baseball has ever seen. Buxton is incredible in center field, and I believe the bat is legit too. We've had to practice a significant amount of patience with him, but in the not-so-distant future I think we see it pay off. He needs to do a better job of staying healthy, but there's a big time breakout waiting to happen here.
RF- Alex Kirilloff
Shooting up prospect lists this season, you'd hardly remember that Kirilloff missed a full year due to Tommy John surgery. Seen as a bat only prospect coming out of high school, the offensive upside has been through the roof. He crushed Low-A, and has started off well at High-A Fort Myers. I'd imagine we could see him in the big leagues by 2020, and that thump from the left side of the plate would be incredibly welcomed. Max Kepler is going to be in the mix here, but he'll need to flash more consistency than we've seen thus far.
DH- Brent Rooker/Trevor Larnach
Larnach is probably the better outfielder of this duo, but Rooker can slot in at first base in the big leagues. Rotating through some of those defensive positions while being focused on hitting first, both of these bats have an opportunity to do some serious damage at the highest level. Rooker needs to cut down on the strikeouts, and work more walks, but the power is absolutely real. We've yet to see what Larnach can do professionally, but his collegiate approach was a very good one, and there's plenty of thump off his bat as well. These two would be among the better athletes cast as DH's in the majors.
If I were to construct a lineup out of this group, it might look something like this:
Five years is a long time out, and there's so much that can happen prior to any of this actually taking place. It's fun to look at what's ahead, but given the immediate future of this club and the opportunity within the division, it's also best to not miss what is right around the corner.
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DocBauer reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Top prospects - MLB included
Okay it is mid season and we are getting a reshuffle of prospects and their ratings. Which makes me wonder - what if the ratings include the players already in the major leagues?
For example - if all the starting pitchers were put in one pot and we said who has the most potential for the next five years - I would certainly keep Berrios at number 1, but who is number 2? I take Romero. Then I think I would go back to the minors and then Brusdar Graterol. Is it time for someone on the MLB team? I think I would lean to Gibson and then Gonsalves. That is my top five. Who should you invest in?
For the Bullpen - I am thinking of five years so we have to drop Rodney - I would drop Belisle if it was five days. So who are the top ranked prospects? Hildenberger has solidified his position. Who is next? Give me Tyler Jay, John Curtiss, Nick Anderson, Andrew Vasquez, and Busenitz. The vets are low on the list.
very poor list
List them anyway you want - but by position, this is my Twins of the near future top prospects.
DocBauer reacted to jorgenswest for a blog entry, A Brief History of the 20th Pick
The Twins have drafted more often that any other team in this slot. This will be the 7th time in 54 drafts.
Three guys are among the top pick 20s according to WAR in Torii Hunter, Denard Span and Trevor Plouffe. One other pick was helpful though he never played in the majors. Johnny Ard twice made BA's top 100 and was traded to the Giants prior to the 1991 championship season for reliever Steve Bedrosian. Ard's career ended with arm injuries in the Giants system.
Mike Mussina posts the best career from a pick 20 and Chris Parmelee's career is at about the median ranking 23rd in WAR of 48. The last five number 20 picks have not reached majors but I didn't include them in the median calculation as they have a chance.
It is kind of sobering to know that our selection today may not hit the majors for several years. In taking a closer look at the last five pick 20s only 1 of 5 has ever been on a top 100 list. Baseball America had Casey Gillespie at 74 prior to the 2017 season. Sobering.
The Twins have done very well with that pick relative to the league. I hope that continues today.
DocBauer reacted to Axel Kohagen for a blog entry, Stay Off the Moors!
Gather round the fire, ye baseball fans. Imagine, if you will, a roaring blaze licking from beneath a tent of shattered bat handles. Listen to the tale I am about to tell, for EVERY word is true.
I tell the tale . . . Of the BASEBALL WEREWOLF!
A baseball werewolf behaves in much the same way as your regular, meat and potatoes werewolf. The moon and the night bring out its power, which is the ONLY possible explanation for why the Twins seem able to score ONLY AFTER THE FIFTH INNING in the last week of so.
How did the power of lycanthropy find our hometown nine? In older times, a person might become a werewolf by donning the fur coat of an evil person or spirit. Unless Bill Belichick left his Ewok-hide duster around after the Super Bowl, this theory seems DEAD ON ARRIVAL. It’s likely a careful fan might notice a Twins player taking the field while wearing a fur coat.
Kent Hrbek playing in a werewolf-fur coat is both likely to happen and a guarantee he will be the league MVP.
Another theory suggests a person can become a werewolf by drinking rain gathered in the footprint of a wolf, so if anyone recently spotted Logan Morrison carrying a LONG STRAW and heading to the zoo’s Minnesota Trail, PLEASE inform this columnist post-haste.
Most likely, a member of the Twins was bitten by a grizzled European character actor. After all, when’s the last time you’ve seen the Twins playing with their SILVER slugger awards?
As long as they keep winning, THIS COLUMNIST will howl at the moonshots for the home team! Even if they don’t score runs until his old buttocks are already abed and asleep!
Now comb your hair and let’s all head to Trader Vic’s!
⁃ Axel Kohagen of London
(For more serious lunacy, head to www.supertruestories.com and check out my podcast!)
DocBauer reacted to huhguy for a blog entry, Time to diss Dozier
Why would I diss Dozier? Have you seen what happened to Grossman and Rodney after I dissed them?
Rodney has been phenomenal, Robbie much improved so here goes Dozier.
Dozier looks sooooo old...I think he's still upset about the Twins refusal to extend him...um Brian you are old and Gordon is coming get it?
So old man, start carrying your weight or at least hit it!
(might take a few games but his improvement is virtually assured)
DocBauer reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Polanco, Shortstops, and Stability
Over the past 13 seasons, dating back to 2005, the Minnesota Twins have started 11 different players at shortstop on Opening Day. Through those years, only Pedro Florimon has been given the nod in back-to-back seasons (13-14), and Jason Bartlett is the only other player to appear twice (05 & 07). To put it simply, consistency at the shortstop position isn't something that the Minnesota Twins have had in over a decade. With Jorge Polanco settling in to change that notion, it might be time to give it some real thought.
To know where the Twins may be going, we'll first take a look at where they've been. Before the revolving door got started in 2004, the last point of stability was none other than Cristian Guzman. From 1999 through 2004, the Dominican native started every Opening Day for Minnesota, and racked up 841 games played. A fixture in the Minnesota lineup, Guzman was a serviceable option that allowed speed to carry his game.
At the dish, you could argue that Guzman was a relatively replaceable asset. Owning just a .685 OPS with Minnesota, and averaging just a .303 OBP over his six-year tenure, there was nothing that jumped off the stat page. Leading the league in triples three times, and stealing double-digit bases in five straight years, quickness was highly valued at a time in the game where advanced analytics had yet to break in.
In the field, Guzman was as acceptable as it gets. Defensive data at Fangraphs only goes back to 2002, but over the three seasons accounted for, Guzman provided two at a net zero outcome. Both in 2002 and 2004, a total of 0 DRS was the result in over 1,200 innings. He displayed solid zone ratings, and above average range at the most demanding position in the infield however. In short, Guzman was the option for Minnesota because he did just enough to warrant the job, but also never really pushed the needle.
As the game has evolved, shortstops are among the most premier players on the diamond. To have a guy with an OPS south of .700 and be worth nothing more than league average defensively, you'd be hard-pressed not to insert the Pedro Florimon's of the world as a replacement. Fortunately for Minnesota, looking at stability this time around provides something of a significant advancement in the form of Jorge Polanco.
The former top-100 prospect will be entering his second full season as the Twins everyday shortstop. He's coming off a .723 OPS and a -1 DRS across 1,119 innings played. The sample size compiled thus far is incredibly small, but given a brief taste in 2016, we can quantify improvement. In the field across 69 games in 2016, Polanco owned a -8 DRS across 406 innings. With questions regarding his arm at short, the initial showing did nothing to dispel the notion that he wasn't fit to play anything but second base at the highest level. Displaying substantial improvements across the board, and a positive RngR factor last year though, Polanco put forth an effort reflective of lots of extra offseason work.
Regarding Polanco, it's always been the bat that was expected to carry him. After bottoming out at a .572 OPS on August 4th last season, a corner was turned. Over his final 53 games, Polanco posted a .942 OPS that saw him launch 10 homers and pick up another 14 doubles. Everything from launch angle to pitch recognition was maximized, and the turnaround was more reflective of the player Minnesota expected to have coming out of their minor league system.
Knowing baseball is a mental game, the loss of Polanco's grandfather likely weighed on him at points of the season. Widely reported as a father figure to the 24 year old, it's hardly unfathomable that performance would dip as his mind struggled to stay engaged. On the field, locking back in to a disciplined approach that produced career bests in SwStr% and chase rate no doubt aided the turnaround.
Looking ahead, Polanco should be in a position where he can secure the shortstop role to the point that a challenger needs to wrangle it away from him. The revolving door has stopped spinning at this moment, and by the time Royce Lewis or Wander Javier are ready for the next step, Polanco should allow Minnesota an opportunity to make them earn it. It's not far off that an up-the-middle tandem of Polanco and Nick Gordon can be seen as reality, but there should be little question in regards to who's best suited at short among that duo.
For any number of organizations across the big leagues, having answers on the mound, at short, and in center remain of the utmost importance. More often than not, the Twins have done well in center, and they've begun to right the ship on the mound. Polanco taking steps forward to own shortstop is a much-needed revelation, and it's one that he's only begun to own into. Obviously the sustainability of a .900+ OPS isn't great, but a full season of Polanco contributing with both the bat and the glove seems to be more expectation than hope at this point.
For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
DocBauer reacted to Bryan Borchardt for a blog entry, Twins spend 4th most in Free Agency (sort of...)
Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained?? After years of luke-warm stove off seasons the new front office has made their mark on the roster by signing five players to the big league roster who are ready and able to contribute on opening day. Add to that the trade for Jake Odorizzi and you’re talking nearly 25% of the 25 man roster acquired this off season from outside the team.
What is particularly stunning about these additions is the money which was spent on acquiring the players. While the latest additions, Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison appear to be team friendly deals, Lynn will still be the 4th highest paid player on the roster in 2018 and Morrison the 9th. Call is savvy management, or call it bargain hunting, these guys will command a healthy share of the Twins payroll in 2018.
In fact, if you look at the 2018 Base Salaries of the five free agents the Twins signed, plus the $2M paid to Michael Pineda in 2018, the total ($34M) is the fourth highest for 2018 salaries paid behind only the Phillies ($56M), Cubs ($53M) and Rockies ($42.3M). Surprised? I was. And what is even more impressive is that these short term deals will allow the front office to continue to have roster flexibility into the future, particularly when the likes of Hughes and Mauer come off the books.
After all the dust settles, it looks as though the Twins opening day payroll will be right around $130M. While this is an increase of about 24% over 2017’s opening day number, it puts the Twin’s only right around the median of all MLB teams in terms of total payroll.
And how do we feel about being in the middle of the pack for payroll? I’ll take it. Particularly when the front office appears to be adding players in a smart way, to what is already a solid roster of young talent.
DocBauer 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.
For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
DocBauer reacted to Matthew Lenz for a blog entry, Season Preview: Felix Jorge
Through the 2018 Adopt-A-Prospect draft I drafted Felix Jorge with the 27th overall pick as my guy for the upcoming season. It will my objective to give you bi-weekly(ish) updates on the Twins prospect this season, but I wanted to start by providing some background information and project what we might see from him in the 2018 season.
Felix De Jesus Jorge is a 24 year old right handed pitcher who will be entering his 8th season in the Twins organization after being signed as an international free agent in 2011. He made is Major League debut on July 1st, 2017 against the Kansas City Royals. He pitched 5 solid, yet unspectacular innings before getting pulled and eventually shelled in his second and final Major League outing of the season against the Orioles. He enters the 2018 season currently ranked as the Twins 17th best prospect according to MLB and 7th rated pitching prospect. He is currently on the Twins 40 man roster and has been assigned to start the season at AAA Rochester.
Jorge stands at 6' 2", 170 pounds which makes him on the smaller side for your standard Major League pitcher. He has four pitches in his repertoire with his fastball and change-up being his two best pitches followed by his slider and curveball, respectively. His fast ball sits low 90's and then he loses about 10 miles per hour on his change-up, which is a good change of speed. He's a classic Twins pitching prospect as he doesn't overpower hitters, is very hittable, yet has pretty good control averaging about 2.2 walks/9.
His delivery is very clean and smooth and he throws from over the top as you can see below from Spring Training a year ago.
Being that we already saw him in 2017, I am confident that we will see him again sometime in 2018. That said, he has fallen down the prospect list in the last year and he will be competing with Fernando Romero and Stephen Gonsalves who are currently rated much higher than him. As it stands right now, I would put him third in the pecking order behind Romero and Gonsalves as those two have had pretty solid springs thus far. With injuries, double headers, and other factors it's hard to know exactly when we'll see him but worst case scenario he will be brought up when rosters are expanded on September 1st. Looking a little more long term, I don't think Jorge as the "stuff" to be a reliable starter at the Major League level. He's still young and has room to improve, but I think a #4 or #5 starter is the top end of what to expect from him. More realistically, I view him as being a guy who could come out of the bullpen as a long or middle reliever down the road.
DocBauer reacted to menthmike for a blog entry, Falvey and Levine's Farm System
Of all the things that I love about the MLB, the farm systems are near the top. Following baseball is so much fun because even in the lowest years there is that optimism that comes with building up a minor league program. Honestly, I would rather be at that bottom than treading water in the middle. Now, it goes without saying but I’ll say it anyways, a World Series every now and then would be nice. However, for much of the last decade Twins fans have been watching the pipeline grow. Speculating about Miguel Sano’s future production, salivating at the thought of Buxton roaming the Target Field grass, and always searching for the top pitching prospect has been and continues to be a challenging enjoyment.
What got the Twins to this place, building from the bottom, however; was the lack of consistent growth in the farm system. Like most Twins fans, I have been pleased with the work of Thad Levine and Derek Falvey. Honestly, it is hard not to be impressed considering the improvements the club has made over their watch. However, what I’m most excited about has been their ability to put a winning club together at Target Field and not just keep their prospects, but build out the farm system. MLB.com just put out their 2018 Prospect Lists and I thought it would be fun to look at who of the Twins Top 30 Prospects are the results of Levine and Falvey moves.
Let’s take a look…
Player/Prospect Rank/Acquire Through
Royce Lewis #1 Draft
Brent Rooker #8 Draft
Blayne Enlow #9 Draft
Zack Littell #15 Trade
Andrew Bechtold #20 Draft
Tyler Watson #22 Trade
Jacob Pearson #25 Trade
Landon Leach #28 Draft
Yunior Severino #29 International Signing
David Banuelos #30 Trade
Taking into account only the moves made to acquire minor league talent it is safe to safe this front office did well last year. Certainly drafting from the top gave them an advantage. However, they took full advantage of that draft slot and the money that came with it. With one draft class Falvey and Levine have stacked their farm system with five talented players. Three of whom are in the top ten. Beyond the draft class which has yielded great early results, they were smart with their International Signing Money. The Twins were able to jump on Severino, who was made available after the Braves scandal. In addition to the middle infielder, the Twins made two smart trades sending away money to bring in Jacob Pearson and David Banuelos. Obviously, all three players have their flaws, but they are also young and were acquired wisely. I believe that is the best way to sum up the early returns of this new front office; wise moves. The Twins really haven’t yet made a big splash, but they have made smart, calculated moves. Falvey and Levine seem perfectly content to continue to stock the selves with raw talent, watch it grow and strike when the timing is right. I must admit, it’s been fun to watch so far!
DocBauer reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, One Day Makes Twins Difference
Over the weekend, Minnesota Twins fans felt the full gambit of emotions. After announcing that Anibal Sanchez had been given a major league deal, frustration was felt in full force. A bounce-back candidate that has ugly numbers of late wasn't going to gain much confidence for a revamped starting rotation. Then, a day later, Jake Odorrizi was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays and the tide felt like it had turned. Putting a bow on the Minnesota offseason, it's hard not to like where this team is headed.
Going into the offseason, the Twins had one focus in hopes of returning to Postseason play, fix the pitching. The 4.60 team ERA in 2017 came in 19th among MLB clubs, and the 7.31 K/9 was better than only the Texas Rangers. Both in the rotation and the pen, Paul Molitor's club needed better names and the ability to miss more bats. From the jump, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine knew this was where the focus had to be, and it appeared they had a plan to execute on.
Signing Fernando Rodney and Zach Duke, the Twins bring in two arms with little risk and a relatively high upside. Rodney is an experience, but his 10.6 K/9 is an asset, and he allows arms like Trevor Hildenberger to be deployed outside of the 9th inning. Duke isn't just a LOOGY, and he too is a punchout pitcher when healthy. There's little arguing that Addison Reed was the pen headliner this winter however. After signing a 2yr/$16.75M deal with Minnesota, Falvey and Levine had somehow landed one of the premier options on what looked like a budget deal. Yet to hit 30, Reed owns a career 9.5 K/9 and a 2/3 BB/9 that makes him arguably the best arm in Minnesota's relief corps.
While it's hard to overstate the importance of the three relief acquisitions on their own merits, it's also big to note what their inclusion does for Paul Molitor as a whole. Instead of rounding out the pen with toss in names, the Twins can now rely on arms like Hildenberger, Taylor Rogers, and Ryan Pressly as complimentary pieces. Again, with the goal being a raised water level across the board, the front office accomplished that to a T in the pen.
From the outset of the winter Minnesota was tied to starter Yu Darvish. Given all of the factors, a union of the two sides made an immeasurable amount of sense from the home town perspective. Unfortunately, Darvish chose to sign with the Chicago Cubs in the end. Falvey and Levine may have ruled themselves out by failing to match the Cubs offer, but the likelihood always remained that the former Rangers ace wanted a bigger market than the up and coming Twins. While a tough blow for sure, there's no sense of settling either.
With Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, and Jake Arrieta all having their warts, the remaining top tier free agents left a decent bit to be desired. Draft pick compensation was tied to each of them, and the dollar ask would likely not be in the line with the expected level of production. Although I'll always be of the stance that you should spend from an unlimited cash pool as opposed to dealing from a limited talent pool in acquiring players, Minnesota found a way to make things look better the opposite way.
Netting Jake Odorizzi from the Tampa Bay Rays, the Twins gave up little more than a flier middle infielder. Jermaine Palacios went on a tear to start the 2017 season at Cedar Rapids, but struggled mightily as a 20 year-old at High-A Fort Myers. Odorizzi is a soon-to-be 28 year-old under team control for two more years, and immediately slots in among Minnesota's top three. Despite tallying his worst season as a pro in 2017, the numbers still equated to a 4.14 ERA and an 8.0 K/9. For the former Rays hurler, a 5.14 FIP and 3.8 BB/9 leave plenty of room for growth. His HR/9 rate spiked to 1.9 a season ago, and there's been plenty made about the idea that getting down in the zone could be a key to expanded success.
Not the headliner that Odorizzi is for Minnesota, Anibal Sanchez being brought in as a depth signing looks much better than when it was originally reported. I still think it's odd the deal needed to be of the MLB sort, guaranteeing a current 40 man roster spot despite it being uncertain that he'll make the opening day roster. The ERA there is awful, but the 8.9 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 are great marks. Sanchez posted a 2.52 FIP in his first two seasons with the Tigers, and then ballooned to a 5.01 mark the past three years. After never allowing home runs, he's gotten worse the last three seasons going from 1.7 to 1.8 to 2.2 HR/9. If Falvey saw a correctable adjustment to keep the ball in the park, that contract could end up being a steal for the Twins.
As with the bullpen, the goal in the rotation was to raise the overall water level. Now with Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, and Ervin Santana locked in as the top three, Minnesota has an enhanced level of depth to fill out the back end. Nothing is guaranteed for Adalberto Mejia, Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes, or Sanchez in terms of a rotation spot. They'll all be pushed by the likes of Stephen Gonsalves, Fernado Romero, Zack Littell, and Dietrich Enns. For a club that used way too many arms, and saw a vast level of ineffectiveness at times a season ago, the situation as a whole looks much better entering 2018.
Given the current roster construction, I'd imagine the Twins are done adding arms. They probably have room for a bat on a minor league deal, and 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson has been suggesting that could be Mike Napoli for weeks now. The Rays recently DFA'd Corey Dickerson, and he'd be a huge addition for Minnesota as well. Regardless, if another move is coming, it's probably a less noteworthy offensive addition.
With the dust now settled, it's hard to look back on the offseason with any sort of displeasure. There was one ace out there, and the Twins chance was always a long shot. They added significant pitching in the bullpen, grabbed a good arm for the rotation, and added a couple of fliers along the way. While the division, including the Cleveland Indians, got worse, Minnesota retained it's talent and added pieces. The American League is going to be tough in 2018, with teams like the Yankees an Angels both getting better. For Minnesota, the Postseason may have to come through their own division, and you have to like how they positioned themselves for this season and beyond.
For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz