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tarheeltwinsfan

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  1. Like
    tarheeltwinsfan reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, No Half Measures   
    In a vacuum, Josh Donaldson is not overpaid despite what some frustrated fans may tell you. His time missed in 2020 was frustrating albeit not as costly as it appears considering his prorated salary in the 60 game season. In 2021, he was actually one of the regulars in the lineup day in and day out. As a whole, Donaldson has slashed .243/.355/.474 with the Twins, far from the “wasted payroll” reputation some have pinned on him.
    That being said, he’s 35 years old with a tremendous injury history in addition to having about $50m remaining on his salary over the next two years. The result of all of these factors leave the Twins with a fantastic player with an enormous ceiling and about as low of a floor a player can have. For that very reason, it’s difficult to blame them for at least exploring the trade market given the year they just came off of. They shouldn’t be so quick to pull the trigger on a deal without lining themselves up for a slam dunk however. 
    This was a recently reported idea for a trade between the Twins and Milwaukee who will likely need an impact third base option in 2022. It’s a perfect example of the type of trade the Twins shouldn’t do. There’s almost no scenario where the Twins don’t pay down significant money to get Donaldson’s contract off the books. The issue is trades like this make the Twins worse in the present and offer little payoff for the future.
    Dumping about $35m in future payroll would likely look appealing to ownership. That being said, doing so probably lands them in a situation like this one where the Twins take on money of their own in Jackie Bradley Jr.’s $9.5m and $6.5m buyout in 2023. JBJ slashed .163/.236/.261 en route to a -0.8 fWAR finish on the season. Worse than Matt Shoemaker, Andrelton Simmons etc.
    Perhaps taking on money isn’t out of the question, but the younger pieces in the deal have to be at least somewhat appealing. In this scenario, they receive 19 year old RHP Logan Henderson and 22 year old outfielder Joey Wiemer, #21 and 23 in the Brewers system respectively. Prospects from the 20s range aren’t very exciting for most teams, but the Brewers in particular are a bottom 5 system by most prospect sites. 
    So in review, the Twins get to save a bunch of money in the future, although not a ton after taking on a much less valuable player. Their lineup and team as a whole takes a significant downgrade in regards to the 2022 Opening Day lineup. They also get two prospects who have a very insignificant chance of making any impact on the team in the future. This type of trade would be a mistake.
    The Twins have two options in my opinion. They may very well be gearing up to spend big this winter and acquire some legitimate pieces via free agency and trade. In which case, gamble on the health of Josh Donaldson who will still be one of the premier players on the team if healthy. His salary doesn’t impede their spending plans nearly as much as it gets credit for.
    The second option is to come to terms with 2022 not being the year. If you don’t want to spend down immediately for a comeback season, paying most if not all of that contract in a trade should be the goal. It’s already on the payroll and one way or another, they’ll pay some sort of price on it. Might as well write a fat check to a competing team in a deal where the recipient gets instantly better and the Twins can command some impactful prospect capital in return.
    One way or another, the Twins need to commit 100% when it comes to the Josh Donaldson decision. There’s no point in taking half measures for a team whose winter will have an enormous tilt not only on the 2022 season, but the next few years to come. Should they hold onto their star third baseman or sell him off for the best trade package? Let us know below!
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  2. Like
    tarheeltwinsfan reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Buyer Beware: Flaws with the Top-5 Free Agent Shortstops   
    Minnesota has the opportunity to make a big splash this winter by jumping in on (arguably) the best free-agent shortstop class in baseball history. It will cost the team a lot of money to be in the mix for the top-tier players. To put that in perspective, Francisco Lindor was supposed to be part of this free agent group, but he signed a 10-year, $341 million deal with the Mets. Each of these players comes with some red flags that interested clubs will need to consider. 

    Carlos Correa (2022 Age: 27)
    2021 Stats: 7.2 WAR, .279/.366/.485 (.850), 26 HR, 34 2B, 131 OPS+
    As a 27-year old, Correa is reaching free agency at the prime of his career, and he is the top free agent in this winter’s crop of available players. It’s likely going to take $30 million per season for six years or more to sign Correa. Injuries have been part of his professional career, but he has played 99 games or more in five of his seven big-league seasons. There’s also a good chance he will need to move off shortstop as he continues to age.
    Flaws: Injury history
    Corey Seager (2022 Age: 28)
    2021 Stats: 3.7 WAR, .306/.394/.521 (.915), 16 HR, 22 2B, 145 OPS+
    Like Correa, injuries have been part of Seager’s story, including missing a good chunk of 2021 with a hand fracture. He’s played over 130 games in three of his six full big-league seasons. His 2020 playoff run was outstanding as he won the World Series and NLCS MVP. Teams that miss out on Correa will likely turn to Seager, but he is a year older and has missed more time in his big-league career. 
    Flaws: Injury history

    Marcus Semien (2022 Age: 31)
    2021 Stats: 7.1 WAR, .265/.334/.538 (.873), 45 HR, 39 2B, 133 OPS+
    Minnesota was interested in signing Semien last winter, but he decided to go to Toronto. His season north of the border was memorable as he will likely finish in the top-5 for the AL MVP. He is the oldest shortstop among the top-tier free agents, and he played all of last year at second base. Last winter, he signed a one-year deal for $18 million, and he will be getting a pay raise in the months ahead. 
    Flaws: Age

    Javier Baez (2022 Age: 29)
    2021 Stats: 4.5 WAR, .265/.319/.494 (.813), 31 HR, 18 2B, 117 OPS+
    Baez is certainly an exciting player, but he swings and misses a lot. He led the National League with 184 strikeouts, and he has struck out 144 or more times in each of the last four full seasons. As far as contracts go, he is projected to get a lower average value than the names above because his personality can rub people the wrong way. Can Josh Donaldson and Baez coexist in the same clubhouse? That might not be an experiment a team wants to explore.  
    Flaws: Strikeouts, Volatility 

    Trevor Story (2022 Age: 29)
    2021 Stats: 4.2 WAR, .251/.329/.471 (.801), 24 HR, 34 2B, 103 OPS+
    Story has been a 20-20 player throughout his professional career. He is also hitting free agency at a tough time as he is coming off a poor campaign by his standards. There are also concerns about how he will fare outside of Coors Field. At home, he hit .303/.369/.603 (.972) while on the road, he was limited to a .752 OPS.  
    Flaws: Home/Road Splits

    To read more about these shortstops and other off-season options, make sure to pre-order your copy of the 2022 Offseason Handbook. Designed to serve as an essential companion for the Twins offseason ahead, this digital Handbook places you in the shoes of the general manager, equipping you with all the information you need to construct your own team-building blueprint (or predict what the real front office will do).

    Which flaws worry you the most? Will the Twins make offers to any of these players? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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  3. Like
    tarheeltwinsfan reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, 4 Plausible Developments That Would Dramatically Alter the Twins' Fortunes   
    When things are going bad, as they did in 2021, it's easy to get caught up in the mindset that nothing ever goes right. But of course, we all know that's not the case. 
    Twins fans have seen many unanticipated "glow-ups" over the years – players rising above their stations and surpassing expectations to become pivotal game-changers in the team's strategy. Examples would include: Taylor Rogers going from middling SP prospect to All-Star RP; Tyler Duffey doing more or less the same; Mitch Garver emerging as an elite offensive catcher; Jorge Polanco and Brian Dozier developing 30-HR power in the middle infield; and so on, and so on.
    With these precedents in mind, let's leave the misery of this season behind us and envision some plausible best-case scenarios.
    If any of these four developments play out, they could significantly ease and expedite the current team's return to contention.
    1: Joe Ryan is a frontline starting pitcher
    During his brief five-start MLB debut, Ryan did some rare things. It's not often you see a major-league pitcher take a perfect game into the eighth, or strike out seven consecutive batters. Even a veteran.
    There are three possible paths forward for Ryan. The first is that big-league hitters figure him out and he implodes, perhaps shuttling between the minors or shifting to a bullpen role. The second is that he goes through the standard adjustments and reaches his low-end potential as a back-of-rotation arm.
    The third path is that instead of being adjusted against, he makes the adjustments. He gets better. What if Ryan's best moments were entirely representative of what lies ahead?  
    The 25-year-old posted a 3.43 FIP with the Twins this year, and threw strikes at a rate that you don't really see, from rookies or otherwise. If he can continue to do that while missing bats and keeping the ball in the yard (last part is most in question), Ryan could easily settle in as a legitimate No. 2 starter. Imagine what a difference that would make in the rotation-building initiative going forward.
    #2: Griffin Jax becomes a relief ace
    No one would've thought Tyler Duffey was destined to become a dominant major-league pitcher when he was posting a 6.43 ERA in 26 starts during his first full season in 2016. But, you might've looked at certain elements of his game – namely, a clearly excellent breaking ball that was producing great results – and seen the potential for something more. 
    A few years later, Duffey was one of the most dominant relief pitchers in the league.
    Jax was no better as a starter this year than Duffey in 2016, but he also looked equally miscast in the role. The clearest sign is that he was VASTLY better his first time through a lineup (.197 AVG, .597 OPS) than the second time through (.283, 1.010). Within that, you also have the existence of a clearly excellent breaking ball – Jax's slider generated a 36% whiff rate and .270 xwOBA – but little else.
    "Relief ace" might be a small stretch, but I almost think "solid reliever" should be the baseline expectation for Jax once the Twins stop letting him get bombed as a starter. Move your gaze a shade in the optimistic direction and you could easily have a prime Duffey-type here. How big of an asset would that be for a bullpen that is currently short on high-quality options?
    #3: Alex Kirilloff blossoms as a perennial MVP contender at first base
    Kirilloff's numbers as a rookie were far from spectacular. In 59 games before undergoing wrist surgery, he slashed .251/.299/.423 with eight homers and 34 RBIs. His OPS+ of 98 reflects slightly below-average offensive performance. But he did all this as a 23-year-old with essentially zero previous experience above Double-A, and he was battling through a torn wrist ligament for most of his time on the field.
    Despite all this, he flashed upside aplenty. Kirilloff shrugged off an 0-for-15 start and went on a tear as April turned to May and he acclimated. In the four games before spraining his wrist, he launched four homers and two doubles, boosting his slugging percentage to .571. His average exit velocity at the time would've ranked third in the majors behind Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge if he qualified. Not only that, but Kirilloff showed to be stunningly smooth and adept defender at first base, which will almost surely be his long-term defensive home.
    As a sweet-swinging, run-producing lefty whose fielding chops at first can contribute to a sterling overall reputation, Anthony Rizzo stands out as a decent high-end comp for Kirilloff. He never was never named Most Valuable Player, but in his age 24-through-26 seasons (which are the three lying directly ahead of Kirilloff), Rizzo was a three-time All-Star, and twice a top-five MVP finisher. In the last of those three seasons, Rizzo was among the leaders on a championship-winning Cubs team. 
    #4: Royce Lewis makes an immediate and sustained impact
    The expectation for Lewis should be a slow, methodical return to action, with some rough patches as he regains his footing on the field. By the time spring training rolls around next year, he'll be two years removed from last real competitive baseball action. Most players would need some time to shake off the rust. 
    Of course, Royce Lewis is not most players. He's a former No. 1 overall draft pick who was ranked by MLB.com as the 17th-best prospect in the game before losing his 2020 to a pandemic and his 2021 to a torn ACL. Sometimes natural talent rules out, as we saw with the aforementioned Mr. Kirilloff, who came back after missing all of 2017 due to Tommy John surgery and slashed .348/.392/.578 at Single-A.
    The idea that Lewis will hit the ground sprinting upon his return feels a bit more far-fetched, given that he had some mechanical issues to iron out even before the injury. At the same time, he hasn't been sitting around doing nothing over the past two years, and he's also had the opportunity to mature mentally and physically. Lewis turns 23 next season, so he'll be the same age or older than fellow top prospects like Kirilloff and Byron Buxton were when they debuted. 
    Lewis' defensive utility makes him a very intriguing figure in the team's planning. He's played primarily shortstop in the minors but some believe he's more likely to end up in center field. Those happen to be perhaps the two biggest positional uncertainties in Minnesota's future outlook (assuming Buxton is not re-signed).
    If the Twins operate under the belief that Lewis could viably take over at shortstop midway through the 2022 campaign, they can opt for a cheap short-term plug at the position this offseason and channel the brunt of their resources elsewhere. This may require a leap of faith, but Lewis is a guy who warrants it. And if he can stick at short (or even in center), he can be a game-changing factor for the franchise. 
    Just as they planned when they drafted him in 2017.
    MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
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  4. Like
    tarheeltwinsfan reacted to Tom Froemming for an article, Velocity Is (Still) a Problem for the Minnesota Twins   
    Before we dig into some of the numbers, here’s a quick video on a handful of harder-throwing starting pitchers who could be value targets for the Twins this offseason:
    Here is a team-by-team breakdown sorted by average four-seam fastball velocity. It’s color coded, so green is good and red is bad. The information below was gathered from FanGraphs.
    Team vFA ERA FIP xFIP WAR CHW 95.5 3.73 3.74 3.85 27.1 NYY 94.9 3.76 3.90 4.00 22.3 BOS 94.8 4.27 3.95 4.07 19.2 NYM 94.5 3.90 4.04 3.99 16.4 COL 94.5 4.83 4.47 4.38 13.4 SDP 94.4 4.10 4.18 4.08 12.8 CIN 94.3 4.41 4.34 4.18 16.2 ATL 94.3 3.89 4.08 4.09 15.9 LAD 94.1 3.03 3.54 3.75 26.9 TBR 94.1 3.67 3.79 3.97 18.7 PHI 94.1 4.39 4.15 4.02 17.9 DET 94.1 4.32 4.60 4.65 10.2 KCR 94.0 4.65 4.39 4.52 12.5 CLE 93.9 4.34 4.43 4.27 10.2 MIA 93.8 3.96 4.01 4.21 15.1 SFG 93.7 3.25 3.55 3.87 21.9 TEX 93.6 4.80 4.76 4.57 4.5 TOR 93.5 3.91 4.18 4.06 14.6 STL 93.4 4.00 4.30 4.66 12.1 PIT 93.4 5.08 4.74 4.70 5.0 WSN 93.3 4.82 4.87 4.53 6.5 MIL 93.2 3.50 3.72 3.75 23.5 HOU 93.2 3.78 4.12 4.12 16.9 OAK 93.2 4.02 4.10 4.35 15.1 SEA 93.2 4.30 4.26 4.47 14.3 CHC 93.0 4.88 4.88 4.43 4.9 LAA 92.9 4.68 4.25 4.26 15.4 BAL 92.9 5.85 5.15 4.91 7.9 MIN 92.2 4.83 4.66 4.44 8.2 ARI 92.2 5.15 4.88 4.85 4.0  
    As you can see, there’s a fairly strong correlation between teams that throw harder and success. Not only are the Twins near the bottom, there’s also a significant gap between them and the Orioles. That 0.7 mph gap is the same as what separates the fourth-place team from the 15th.
    Let’s switch things up a bit and look at pitches in excess of 95.0 mph instead of average fastball velocity. The information below was gathered from Baseball Savant. The color-coded column is percent of pitches thrown at least 95.0 mph.
    CWS 27.9 6626 23713 NYY 21.5 5112 23761 BOS 20.8 5033 24193 MIL 20.7 4966 23967 NYM 21.4 4799 22405 PHI 20.0 4745 23739 MIA 20.5 4704 22990 COL 20.0 4603 22960 DET 18.1 4339 23914 CIN 17.6 4316 24548 ATL 18.5 4294 23228 LAD 18.3 4187 22927 TB 17.4 4027 23169 KC 16.5 4017 24307 TOR 16.6 3911 23549 SD 14.0 3386 24196 OAK 14.4 3325 23102 STL 14.1 3299 23419 WSH 13.2 3125 23732 SEA 13.0 3111 23859 CLE 13.0 3057 23459 BAL 10.6 2598 24474 SF 10.4 2386 22859 HOU 9.9 2368 23917 CHC 9.4 2238 23877 PIT 9.3 2225 24045 TEX 8.3 1967 23586 LAA 7.6 1847 24415 MIN 6.4 1516 23714 ARI 5.0 1188 23827 Being 29th is bad enough, but even if the Twins were to double the number of pitches that were 95+ mph they’d still only rank 22nd. The Kansas City Royals threw 2,501 more pitches 95+ mph than the Twins — or 15 more per game played — and they barely rank in the top half of the league themselves.
    Do the Twins have an aversion to high-velocity pitchers? That seems like a crazy question to ask, but let’s take a look at some former Twins prospects who were shipped out in trades.
    2021 % of Pitches 95.0+ mph
    66.0 Brusdar Graterol
    44.2 Luis Gil
    38.4 Huascar Ynoa
    15.1 MLB Average
    6.4 Minnesota Twins
    Graterol (Kenta Maeda trade), Gil (Jake Cave trade) and Ynoa (Jaime Garcia trade) all have well above average velo, all were traded away. They also just lost Edwar Colina and his triple-digit heat to waivers. Are the Twins actively avoiding high-octane pitchers? At the very least it sure doesn't feel like they’re making them a priority.
    This seems like a great time to revisit the Twins carpool commercial from 2007 featuring Johan Santana and Joe Nathan.
    That’s how you win Cy Youngs, baby! While this ia a velocity-obsessed article, pitching in the big leagues is obviously about more than just throwing hard. It sure does seem to help, though.
    While the lack of velo is nothing new for the Twins, to be fair, it didn’t prevent them from having successful pitching staffs the previous couple years. Here’s a look at some the numbers throughout the Falvey-era:
    Minnesota Twins Four-Seam Fastball Velo
    2021: 29th, 92.2 mph (26th in ERA)
    2020: 30th, 92.0 mph (4th in ERA)
    2019: 24th, 93.0 mph (9th in ERA)
    2018: 21st, 92.7 mph (22nd in ERA)
    2017: 30th, 92.4 mph (19th in ERA)
    Still, any pitcher who tells you he wouldn’t like to throw harder is either a liar or in denial.
  5. Like
    tarheeltwinsfan reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Week in Review: Winning Out   
    Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 9/27 thru Sun, 10/3
    ***
    Record Last Week: 4-2 (Overall: 73-89)
    Run Differential Last Week: +4 (Overall: -105)
    Standing: 5th Place in AL Central (20.0 GB)
    Last Week's Game Recaps:
    Game 157 | MIN 3, DET 2: Twins Edge Tigers in Pitchers' Duel
    Game 158 | MIN 5, DET 2: Polanco and Pineda Propel Twins
    Game 159 | DET 10, MIN 7: Buxton's 2 HR Not Enough as Ryan Struggles
    Game 160 | KC 11, MIN 6: Pitching Plastered as Royals Pound Twins
    Game 161 | MIN 4, KC 0: Arms Rebound, Blank Kansas City
    Game 162 | MIN 7, KC 3: Twins Close Losing Year with a Win
    NEWS & NOTES
    It turns out that Bailey Ober's start the previous week would be the last of his rookie season. He was shut down ahead of his scheduled final turn with a right hip strain, although the move surely had more to do with workload management than real injury concern. Ober completes his first MLB campaign with a 4.19 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 96-to-19 K/BB ratio in 92 ⅓ innings spread across 20 starts. A tremendously encouraging year from the big righty, who has vaulted directly into the club's rotation plans.
    HIGHLIGHTS
    With an offseason ahead that may prove decisive in shaping his big-league future, Byron Buxton ended his season on a high note. Generally speaking, he hasn't been quite the same offensively since returning from his broken hand, but Buxton's final week looked more like his first month. He went 11-for-25 with three home runs, five doubles, and 11 runs scored, mixing in a couple of stolen bases for good measure. 
    We're seeing something special here, folks. The question now is whether we'll have the opportunity to keep watching Buxton's magic happen in a Twins uniform. He's got one year ahead until free agency and if Minnesota can't extend him, his trade market will be too hot to ignore. 
    The decision with Buxton this offseason will primarily dictate whether the Twins actually aspire to contend in 2022, and will likely determine whether a lot of fans choose to stick with the team or tune out for the time being. I've written in the past where I stand: pay the man, or regret it forever. You cannot let a talent like this get away.
    Joining Buxton with strong finishes at the plate:
    Josh Donaldson went 6-for-21 with four walks, two homers, and five RBIs. He started all six games, which is pretty much par for the course by now. It was a huge proving year durability-wise for the 35-year-old, who returned from an immediate IL stint to play in 133 of the club's final 150 games, starting 125. The production was there too. While he still carries plenty of risk at this point, JD looks like a much more dependable building block than he did one year ago. The late drop-off of Luis Arraez was an under-discussed storyline in the second half for the Twins. From August 19th through September 19th, he batted just .176 in 99 plate appearances, sinking his average from .318 to .284. Given the lack of real defensive value, and the absence of power or patience in his game, Arraez's value plummets pretty quickly when he's not hitting for average, and we've never seen him slump in that department quite like he did during this late stretch. So it was nice to see him snap out of it with an excellent final week, in which Arraez notched 11 hits in 20 at-bats, lifting his final average to .294. It'll be very interesting to see what the team's plan is with him going forward. Miguel Sanó went 7-for-22 with a home run, a double, and four RBIs. He rebounded from a brutal April with production the rest of the way that was basically in line with his quality career norms. He also put up the lowest overall K-rate of his career (34.3%) after leading the league in strikeouts a year ago. It was ultimately a disappointing year for Sanó but offered some promising signs, and he's vowed to focus harder than ever on his body this winter, setting a goal of losing 20-30 pounds. With Alex Kirilloff looking more like a first baseman than outfielder, Sanó is another intriguing piece in the organization's future planning. He has one more guaranteed season under team control. On the pitching side, Michael Pineda wrapped his walk year with 5 ⅔ innings of one-run ball in a win over Detroit. He returned quickly from an August oblique injury to register a 5-0 record and 1.85 ERA in five outings. That'll give the pending free agency market a boost. 
    Griffin Jax finished a rough rookie season in a positive way, delivering his best performance as a big-leaguer on Saturday with five innings of shutout ball against Kansas City. He was hardly dominant, striking out three and walking two, but he allowed only one hit. Jax showed some promise after the All-Star break, but in his final eight starts he went 1-4 with a 7.82 ERA, erasing any chance of factoring into the Twins' rotation plans next year. That said, with his effective fastball-slider combo, he's definitely earned a look in the bullpen.
    Speaking of which, the Twins received impressive final weeks from a trio of key relievers. Tyler Duffey, Caleb Thielbar, and Jorge Alcala combined to allow zero earned runs over 11 frames. Tough to overstate how impactful these three are for the Twins' bullpen outlook.
    At the All-Star break, it wasn't clear that any of them were going to be names to comfortably write into the 2022 plans. None pitched especially well in the first half. But since the break, they've collectively posted a 2.48 ERA and 85-to-24 K/BB ratio in 83 ⅓ innings. All three are expected to return in 2022, at a little over $5 million in total salary.
    It's not an amazing bullpen foundation to build around, but if Taylor Rogers can return to form following his finger injury, it's certainly a viable starting point for a contending relief corps. 
    LOWLIGHTS
    He's been a beaming beacon in the Highlights section nearly every week since arriving in the majors, but in his final turn as a rookie, Joe Ryan finally hit a road bump for the first time. Facing the Tigers at Target Field on Thursday, Ryan was knocked around for six earned runs in 4 ⅔ innings, with a pair of homers by Niko Goodrum accounting for much of the damage. 
    The poor finale may diminish a bit of Ryan's shine, but hardly removes the luster from a tremendous showing in September for the rookie. He finishes with a 4.05 ERA, 3.43 FIP, 0.79 WHIP, and 30-to-5 K/BB ratio in 26 ⅔ innings. Small sample and lack of experience aside, it's tough to imagine he won't be at least tentatively penciled into a rotation spot come next spring.
    Will Max Kepler still be the man in right field at that time? He closed out one of the worst offensive seasons of his career with a 3-for-19 week, leaving him with a pedestrian final slash line of .211/.306/.413. Just flat-out sub-mediocre production from a right fielder. It does bear noting that Kepler supplements his value in other ways, like on the bases (10-for-10 on steals this year) and in the outfield, but with emerging corner outfield depth in the Twins system, Kepler and his favorable contract will likely be shopped on the trade market.
    Andrelton Simmons put the finishing touches on an all-time dud of an offensive season, going 2-for-11 with a couple of singles. He posted a .480 OPS in the second half, managing three total extra-base hits (all doubles) in 189 plate appearances. Most Twins fans will be more than happy to be rid of the pending free agent, and while his defense was customarily good this year (albeit unspectacular), I do wonder if any team will view him as a starting-caliber player on the offseason market.
    In an interesting trend, Simmons finally started losing some his playing time at shortstop to Nick Gordon toward the end of the year, much to the pleasure of fans who'd been clamoring for such a shift. Gordon first start at short didn't come until September 11th, by which time he'd been in the majors for three months and appeared in 55 games. From that point forward, however, he started eight of the team's final 21 games, including three times in the final week.
    Gordon's bat went cold during this final stretch, producing just one hit in 13 at-bats, and his overall production for the season was underwhelming (.647 OPS, 0.2 fWAR), but if he's viewed as a credible option at short, that cements his value as a utility guy. The team's usage late in the season inspires optimism on that front.
    TRENDING STORYLINE
    There are plenty of trending storylines ahead as we turn our attention to the offseason. Once a World Series champion is crowned in about one month's time, the page will turn and Hot Stove season will officially get underway. (Theoretically, anyway ... a looming CBA expiration could throw a wrench in things.)
    As they seek to rebound from a terrible season, the Twins face a number of key decisions this winter. Will Buxton be traded? What about dealing a semi-redundant yet valuable fixture such as Kepler, Arraez, or Sanó? Who will survive the 40-man roster crunch? How hard will Minnesota attack the free agent markets at pitcher and shortstop? 
    There's plenty to explore as we size up a critical offseason. I'm pleased to say we'll have an exciting announcement on that topic dropping on Monday morning. Make sure you tune in for it.
    On a final note: a heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who has consumed, commented on, or complimented these Week in Review columns over the course of the year. It's been fun, and for me, a good way to stay plugged into a season that was often difficult to find motivation to care about. Hopefully these weekly recaps served a similar purpose for many of you.
    We'll be back next year. Here's to much happier weeks to break down in 2022.
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  6. Like
    tarheeltwinsfan reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Basking in Buxton’s Season   
    Yes, it’s been very abbreviated. Buxton has dealt with a handful of injuries as he has throughout his career, but he’s carried on with a talent that’s truly unmatched. Contributing 3.8 fWAR through just 58 games, he’s nearly chased down team leader Jorge Polanco (4.1 fWAR), who has played 150 games. There have been several highlight-reel plays, and plenty of statistics have been thrown out to quantify his value.
    Rather than take the time to sell you on another reason why Minnesota needs to take advantage of their opportunity to get a superstar player at a discount, I think it’s worth just sitting back and allowing the body of work this season to do the talking.
     
    There's any number of highlights you could choose to induce a jaw-dropping reaction, but none of this is new. The Twins star has been doing this for years now, and while we still await a full season worth of health, there's no denying that watching him produce like this for someone else will hurt. The Minnesota Twins drafted, developed, and have enjoyed their man. It's time to pay him and make sure he's here for a long time to come.
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  7. Like
    tarheeltwinsfan reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, A 32-Year-Old Rookie, Twins Promote Drew Maggi   
    The road has been long and windy for Drew Maggi. The Phoenix native was drafted out of Brophy College Prep by the hometown Diamondbacks in the 47th round of the 2008 draft. Two years later, he was the Pirates 15th round pick out of Arizona State. And that began his pro journey. 
    Maggi spent five seasons with the Pirates organization. He reached Double-A in 2014. 
    He posted a .606 OPS in 125 games for the Angels Double-A affiliate in Arkansas in 2015. 
    In 2016, he went to the Dodgers organization and split the season between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City. There, he was a teammate of Twins minor league director Alex Hassan. 
    He remained in Oklahoma City in 2017. 
    In 2018, he played for Cleveland's Triple-A affiliate in Columbus. 
    Then in 2019, he signed a minor league deal with the Twins. He began that season with 11 games at Double-A Pensacola. He then played 108 games with Triple-A Rochester and hit .258/.384/.405 (.788) with 19 doubles, four triples and 10 homers. 
    In 2020, he was invited to Twins big-league spring training. As we know, the season was delayed and the minor league season was cancelled, but Maggi was invited and worked out at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul.
    This spring, he was again invited to big-league spring training. He has played in 86 games for the St. Paul Saints. He has hit .261/.364/.486 (.850) with 12 doubles, two triples and 16 home runs. 
    On Saturday morning, he was officially called up to the Twins. 
    Now I know many will ask why I get excited for feel-good stories like this? Many will ask why Maggi instead of top hitting prospect Jose Miranda. I understand that. I initially wondered the same thing, but that dissipated pretty quickly for me. 
    I love feel-good stories. The Twins have done it in the past. All teams have, and I think it's great. Remember five years ago when the Twins called up James Beresford for September. It gave him a chance to make big-league money for a month, but it was also a Thank You from the organization that he called home for ten years. 
    Maggi has only been in the Twins organization for three seasons, but he's been in the game a long time. He's a good player. He's displayed power. He has played wherever he's been asked. He can play all four infield spots and even has spent some time in the outfield. 
    He may rarely play with the Twins. Or, he could come up and get a shot and have a great two-week stretch. 
    Maggi will likely be DFAd at season's end, and that's fine, but forever, he will be able to call himself a big leaguer.  
    From the Twins perspective they have called up several players that they had signed to minor league contracts this year. And, a story like this isn't going to get lost on minor league free agents this offseason, or next offseason. 
    Jose Miranda is a part of the future. He's going to contribute to the Twins for years to come. Drew Maggi is probably playing the final two weeks of his professional career, or maybe he'll be thrilled to come back to the Twins next year because he knows that they have done right by him and others. 
    In a bad season, a dark season, we do need to find the positives. We should be excited for the person, and we should hope for good from Drew Maggi. I know I am happy for him! 
    As mentioned Rob Refsnyder was placed on the Injured List to make room for Maggi on the 28-man roster. Taylor Rogers was placed on the 60-Day IL to make room for Maggi on the 40-man roster. 
     
  8. Like
    tarheeltwinsfan reacted to Cody Christie for an article, 4 Concerns with Josh Donaldson’s Off-Season Trade Value   
    After failing to contend in 2021, the Twins are in an intriguing position when planning for the future. Can the team be competitive in 2022? Is it going to take multiple years to get back near the top of the AL Central? Josh Donaldson is under contract for two more seasons, and there is a chance he isn’t part of Minnesota’s next winning club. 

    Concern 1: Offensive Production
    Minnesota paid a hefty premium to sign Donaldson because they were in the middle of a winning window. Generally speaking, the Twins knew what they were getting with Donaldson, and he has lived up to that billing. He’s posted an .822 OPS and a 127 OPS+ during his Twins tenure, which is probably more than fans expected when signing a player in his mid-30s. 

    Since signing, Donaldson ranks ninth in WAR among AL third basemen, just behind Alex Bregman. Only four AL third basemen rank higher than Donaldson when it comes to Win Probability Added. His Baseball Savant page is also full of plenty of red. He ranks in the 90th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, max exit velocity, hard-hit %, xwOBA, xSLG, barrel %, and BB %. His offensive skills are still there even at age 35.
    Concern 2: Long-Term Health
    This season, health has been less of an issue as he has appeared in over 115 games for only the second time since 2016. Chronic calf issues seem to be part of the Donaldson equation, but maybe he has figured out the proper regimen to stay on the field. Minnesota has also given Donaldson regular rest and time at designated hitter. 

    During the 2021 season, Donaldson has missed the most time with hamstring injuries. He altered his running style to put less pressure on his calves, which might have hampered his hamstrings. Even if he has put some doubts to rest, his age and previous injury history will factor into any Donaldson trade.
    Concern 3: Large Contract
    Finding a taker for Donaldson’s contract might be another challenge, because Donaldson has over $50 million in guaranteed money remaining on his contract. Minnesota will likely need to pay some of his remaining guaranteed money to get any value in return. According to FanGraphs, Donaldson was worth just under $7 million in 2020, and he has been worth $12.7 million so far in 2021. That’s lower than the $21.75 million he is due in each of the next two years. Would the Twins be willing to pay $20-25 million of his remaining guaranteed money? That might seem like a lot, but that’s what it may take to get a decent return. 

    Concern 4: Personality
    There are also some teams that aren't going to be interested in Donaldson because of his on and off the field behavior. Overall, he has a personality that rubs some people the wrong way. Minnesota’s front office had to know what they were getting when they signed Josh Donaldson. He had a proven track record of being outspoken, but the Twins were willing to deal with his on and off-field behavior if he helped push the team to postseason success. Obviously, Donaldson has yet to help the team to October glory, and the team may be ready to move on from him. 
    Do you think Donaldson gets traded this winter? Will the team spend the money needed to get a prospect back? 

    Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 
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    tarheeltwinsfan reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Week in Review: Youth Movement   
    Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 9/6 thru Sun, 9/12
    ***
    Record Last Week: 4-3 (Overall: 63-80)
    Run Differential Last Week: +9 (Overall: -102)
    Standing: 5th Place in AL Central (19.0 GB)
    Last Week's Game Recaps:
    Game 137 | MIN 5, CLE 2: Ober and Pineda Piggyback, Polanco Rakes
    Game 138 | MIN 3, CLE 0: Gant Combines with 4 Relievers in Shutout
    Game 139 | MIN 3, CLE 0: Ryan Flirts with Perfection, Dominates Cleveland
    Game 140 | CLE 4, MIN 1: Quantrill Keeps Twins Bats Quiet
    Game 141 | KC 6, MIN 4: Offense Goes Silent After Explosive First Inning
    Game 142 | MIN 9, KC 2: Twins Drill 5 Homers, Coast to Easy Win
    Game 143 | KC 5, MIN 3: Royals Rally Late, Take Series
    NEWS & NOTES
    If you had to put your finger on just what's gone wrong with the Twins' pitching staff this year, one culprit would be ... well, fingers. 
    Taylor Rogers has officially been shut down for the season with a middle finger sprain that he suffered in late July. While he'll have a full offseason to heal, the nature of this injury for a slider-reliant pitcher turns the team's top reliever (and one of their top trade candidates) into a major question mark. It's hard to fully trust he'll be the same guy when he returns.
    The same is more or less true for Randy Dobnak, who went back on the IL ahead of his planned Wednesday start with renewed soreness in his own middle finger, which previously sidelined him for more than two months. Dobnak, unlike Rogers, was struggling pretty consistently before getting hurt so there's even less assurance with him going forward.
    With Dobnak going down again, Andrew Albers was recalled to start on short notice. He did okay, all things considered, but was returned to St. Paul a couple days later when the Twins promoted (at long last) relief pitcher Jovani Moran.
    The lefty Moran has been a dominant force this year in the minors, piling up whiffs and strikeouts with help from a standout changeup that makes him even highly effective against righties. Moran made his debut on Monday and looked good, notching a pair of strikeouts over 1 ⅓ innings, though his control started to slip a bit in the latter part of the 37-pitch outing.
    HIGHLIGHTS
    Joe Ryan stole the show with a dazzling performance at Cleveland in his second major-league start, carrying a perfect game through six and ultimately allowing just one hit over seven shutout innings. His Game Score of 79 was the second-best for a Twins starter all season, trailing only José Berríos' spectacular first start of the year in Milwaukee.
    The young right-hander showed pretty much everything you'd want to see in his gem. He worked efficiently, needing only 85 pitches to get through seven frames while throwing 71% strikes. He notched only four strikeouts in this one, but induced plenty of weak contact. And while his fastball was good as advertised, Ryan continued to demonstrate he's no one-trick pony, mixing in some very nice low sliders as well.
    Ryan was the star in another strong week for the rotation, which got another member back via the return of Michael Pineda. Needing to build up after skipping a rehab stint, Big Mike appeared in relief of Bailey Ober on Monday, tossing three scoreless innings. He followed up with five innings of one-run ball against Kansas City on Saturday night. 
    This isn't the dominant version of Pineda we've seen in the past, but he's still plenty effective and the velocity appears to have rebounded. His fastball averaged 91.6 MPH on Saturday, which is his highest mark since early June. Personally, I believe that Pineda makes a lot of sense to bring back on a low-cost deal for the back of the rotation, although not everyone agrees.
    Ober, for his part, kept chugging along with a couple more strong performances – albeit in two of his shorter outings in a while. On Monday against Detroit, the big righty tossed four innings of two-run ball, striking out four with no walks. In his following start on Sunday, he was charged with three runs over 4 ⅓ innings, but had his stuff working with six strikeouts and 16 swings-and-misses on 75 pitches (21% SwSt). Ober hasn't issued multiple walks in a start since before the All-Star break, and owns a tremendous 48-to-6 K/BB ratio over 50 innings in his past 10 starts. 
    Toss in a very fine outing on Tuesday from John Gant, who struck out seven over five scoreless, and it was an altogether outstanding week for this mish-mashed collection of starting pitchers.
    Alas, it's not just the rotation holding things down for the pitching staff as this campaign winds down. The bullpen, to its credit, has really come around. Despite lacking its best player in Rogers, the relief corps has quietly been among the best in baseball since the end of July. 
    The past week saw Minnesota's bullpen deliver a 1.56 ERA, with Alex Colomé, Tyler Duffey, Caleb Thielbar, and Luke Farrell chipping in three scoreless innings apiece. Jorge Alcala, Ralph Garza Jr., and of course Moran had solid showings as well.
    Offensively, Jorge Polanco remains the life of the party. He opened his week with a four-hit game in Cleveland that included three doubles and a homer, then launched two bombs against the Royals on Saturday night. The second baseman is putting on a power-hitting clinic here in September, where he's slugging .795 with six doubles and five homers. Perhaps most impressively, he's driving the ball like this without sacrificing much contact. True to form, Polanco has struck out only seven times in 45 plate appearances this month. He's locked in, to put it mildly.
    Byron Buxton isn't quite on Polanco's level right now, but he does show signs of getting back on track offensively. Buck launched three homers last week, including this mammoth blast to straightaway center on Friday night:
    He didn't do a ton otherwise, and his swing still feels pretty all-or-nothing at this point, but it's a good start as the center fielder looks to finish strong in another frustrating, incomplete season. 
    LOWLIGHTS
    Role players vying for opportunities on the 2022 team aren't doing much to help their cases. 
    Brent Rooker came through with a big two-run double on Sunday, but went just 4-for-18 overall with six strikeouts and no walks. Rob Refsnyder – who drew two starts as the No. 3 hitter and one in the two-hole, for reasons unknown – managed three singles in 15 at-bats. Since returning from the IL in early August, he's slashing .208/.313/.236 with two extra-base hits (both doubles) and two RBIs in 83 plate appearances. Jake Cave made one start all week and was 1-for-6 at the plate. In fact, he's started only twice in the team's past 17 games. He's pretty clearly being phased out and his departure this offseason feels like a mere formality.
    TRENDING STORYLINE
    Honestly, there's nothing too compelling happening at the moment. Will the Twins avoid 90 losses? (They'd need to go 10-9 or better in the final 19 games.) Can they steer clear of a last-place finish? (They're currently two games behind the fourth-place Royals). How high of a draft pick will they net in 2022? (As Aaron Gleeman notes, they could realistically get as high as No. 7.)
    Personally I'll be more interested in following some of the noteworthy individual storylines in these last three weeks. I want to see if Buxton can show hints of the player he was back in April. I want to see how Ryan and Ober close out their first impressions in the majors. I want to see how Moran's stuff plays against big-league hitters. The games might not matter much anymore, but there are other implications to this remaining stretch nonetheless.
    LOOKING AHEAD
    For a second consecutive week, the Twins must take a disruptive detour in the middle of their homestand, heading to New York on Monday for an afternoon makeup game against the Yankees. Should be a ton of fun! Right?!
    From there, they quickly turn around and head back home for a double-header against Cleveland on Tuesday. Three games in 35 hours should provide some challenges for Rocco Baldelli in managing a thin pitching staff, but at least there's an off day coming up on Thursday. It's unclear at this point who will take Dobnak's vacant turn with Albers sent back to the minors. Charlie Barnes is a decent bet.
    MONDAY, 9/13: TWINS @ YANKEES – RHP John Gant v. TBD
    TUESDAY, 9/14: CLEVELAND @ TWINS (G1) – RHP Aaron Civale v. RHP Joe Ryan
    TUESDAY, 9/14: CLEVELAND @ TWINS (G2) – RHP Triston McKenzie v. TBD
    WEDNESDAY, 9/15: CLEVELAND @ TWINS – RHP Cal Quantrill v. RHP Griffin Jax
    FRIDAY, 9/17: TWINS @ BLUE JAYS – RHP Michael Pineda v. LHP Hyun Jin Ryu
    SATURDAY, 9/18: TWINS @ BLUE JAYS – RHP Bailey Ober v. LHP Steven Matz
    SUNDAY, 9/19: TWINS @ BLUE JAYS – RHP John Gant v. RHP Alek Manoah
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  10. Like
    tarheeltwinsfan reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, Moving on from Big Mike   
    Pineda has been one of the success stories of the current front office when it comes to free agent acquisitions. In between a suspension and time on the Injured List, he threw 260 innings across three seasons and accumulated a 3.94 ERA.
     It seemed like it was a given Pineda was on his way out at this July’s trade deadline. Lo and behold, here we are near year’s end and Pineda is still in Minnesota. It was reported that there just wasn’t a whole lot of interest in Big Mike from contenders at the deadline, and for several good reasons. The Twins may be wise to consider these reasons this winter as they weigh the idea of bringing Big Mike back to Target Field.
    Declining Health
    It may be jumping the gun to say Pineda’s health is “declining” as he’s had somewhat frequent IL trips for the entirety of his Twins career. The Twins originally signed him coming off of Tommy John surgery. After an expected debut late in the 2018 season was called off due to a torn meniscus, Big Mike was on and off the IL in 2019 with recurring knee issues. He then had a freak forearm injury after being hit with a comebacker earlier this year and just recently was reactivated after missing time due to an oblique strain.
    Pineda will be 33 years old in 2022. While many pitchers can continue being effective into their early and mid 30s, Pineda’s body has been through a lot in his career. Things like knee injuries and pulled obliques can have long standing repercussions with athletes and can certainly be recurrent injuries. Teams in need of a starting pitcher at the deadline likely weighed the chances of Pineda actually being healthy down the stretch and passed. Rightfully so, as Pineda still didn’t look right and hit the IL shortly thereafter.
    The Twins have a significant amount of innings to fill in 2022. They may be wise to consider just how many of those innings they can really count on Pineda to fill.
    Walking the Tightrope
    For the first time since Pineda became a full time member of the Twins rotation, it’s fair to question just what quality of innings you can expect from him moving forward. Once possessing a mid 90s fastball, Pineda averaged a respectable 92.5 on his heater in 2019 and 92.1 in 2020. In 2021 Pineda is averaging just 90.1 mph, two entire ticks off of his fastball in just one year. More recently it’s been rare to see Pineda even hit 90 mph.
    This decline in velocity could be tied to the aforementioned injuries he’s dealt with this year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it can be disregarded. Pineda likely isn’t getting any healthier and his fastball has already declined to the point where not being at 100% appears to leave him with a sub 90mph fastball.
    We’ve seen the high-wire act it takes to succeed in the majors with a fastball that fails to reach 90. Arms like Devin Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe have flashed success but have never been able to fully maintain Major League success for long periods. Pineda, whose repertoire consists of two pitches being thrown near 85% of the time, likely wouldn’t be an exception.
    Big Mike may not have been on the field as often as the Twins hoped these last three years, but he’s been one of their steadiest arms when healthy. Headed into a season where every pitching acquisition will be incredibly important, Pineda is a risk to both the quantity and quality of innings he can provide. 
    It’s entirely possible that Pineda tries to leverage his successful three years in Minnesota into one last payday. In a vacuum, his previous performance could likely net him another multi-year deal with upwards of $8-10m per year, and it’d be fair to look for good money.
    I’d argue that in order for Big Mike to return to Minnesota, it likely has to come on a much cheaper deal to account for the risk involved on the Twins end. The Twins need to avoid making such a risky pitcher one of their main additions to a currently bare 2022 starting rotation just because he’s a familiar face.
    Pineda was passed by at the deadline by contenders for several concerns that still very much exist. The Twins, having several additions to be made and needing to hit on all of them, need to be extremely careful if they want to pursue a reunion. Do you agree?
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  11. Like
    tarheeltwinsfan reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Joe Ryan Is Better Than His Scouting Reports   
    When the Twins acquired Joe Ryan, there was plenty for the organization to be excited about since he was considered a top-100 prospect. He was an Olympian pitching in the high minors that seemed to be MLB ready. There were some apparent flaws in his minor league scouting reports but those haven't been evident during the tremendous start to his career. Twins Daily's Nash Walker compiled a brief highlight video of Ryan's exceptional introduction to Minnesota, please give it a watch.
    Through his first two starts, he has used his fastball 66% of the time. He has recorded five strikeouts with the pitch, and opponents held to a .120 batting average and a .280 slugging percentage. His fastball has played well so far, but he does use it much more than his other pitches.
    Underdeveloped Secondary Pitches
    One of the other knocks against Ryan was reports that his secondary pitches were underdeveloped because he had been able to rely so much on his fastball. His slider sits in the mid-80s, and it is his best secondary pitch. His curveball and changeup have been used even less often because of when those pitches are needed. 
    With no 2020 minor league season, Ryan was able to work at Tampa’s alternate site and instructional league to refine his secondary pitches. His slider was graded as a 55 by MLB Pipeline, and he uses it as a strikeout pitch against right-handed hitters. His changeup is the pitch he tends to use more often against left-handed hitters. Both his changeup and curveball were given a 45 grade.

    His slider (14.4%) has been the most used of his secondary pitches through his first two starts. Right-handed batters struggle to pick up the pitch out of his hand, which has resulted in a .111 slugging percentage. Batters have yet to record a hit against his changeup or his curveball. MLB Pipeline said both of those pitches “aren’t quite there yet,” and that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    When the Twins traded for Ryan, scouting reports had him as a mid-rotation starter with a chance to make an immediate impact. Fans can now hope that he can be better than those reports and sit near the top of the Twins’ rotation for most of the next decade. 

    What are your impressions of Ryan so far? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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  12. Like
    tarheeltwinsfan reacted to Lucas Seehafer PT for an article, Scouting Twins Prospects: Sawyer Gipson-Long   
    Gipson-Long stands at a robust and athletic 6-foot-4-inches tall with long arms and legs. His windup is smooth, athletic, and repeatable, and he utilizes a three-quarter arm slot for all three of his pitches.
    Gipson-Long's pitch mix consists primarily of a fastball and slider, though he does throw in an occasional changeup as well. What makes the former Mercer Bear stand out from most of his fellow pitching prospects is his overall command and control. To put it bluntly, the kid doesn't throw balls. In his 102 1/3 total innings in the minors, Gipson-Long has walked a total of 24 batters, has hit only two, and has issued a mere six wild pitches. 
     
     
    However, Gipson-Long's impressiveness doesn't stop there. He's also struck out 144 and has never posted a FIP above 3.34, despite owning ERAs of 5.40 and 4.54 at rookie ball and Low-A. Since being called up to High-A Cedar Rapids on August 9, Gipson-Long has struck out 26 batters, walked two, and glided to a 1.86 FIP. 
    In short, Gipson-Long has been one of the more dominant pitchers in the Twins system since 2019. And, yet, you won't find his name on any top prospect list, not even Twins Daily's.
    While being able to watch Gipson-Long's starts has been difficult due to Low-A Ft. Myers not broadcasting their games, leaving his name outside of the Twins' top 30 prospects has been a grand oversight, in my opinion. His fastball has pop and plays well up in the zone. His slider is a solid strikeout pitch that often leaves opposing batters flailing. And he's shown some signs of having a decent changeup. 
    It would not surprise me if Gipson-Long quickly rises through the Twins system and begins making appearances on the top prospect lists in the not-so-distant future. What he is doing is truly not that different from, say, Louie Varland, and, frankly, Gipson-Long's stuff may be better, particularly when considering his command.
    There is no such thing as a sure-thing baseball prospect, especially concerning pitchers. However, what Gipson-Long has done this season should not be ignored. He's been great and should be considered among the likes of Varland, Drew Strotman, and Chris Vallimont as good, under-the-radar pitching prospects. 
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  13. Like
    tarheeltwinsfan reacted to Lucas Seehafer PT for an article, Why Get a Second Opinion For an Elbow Injury?   
    Let's begin with a brief anatomy and biomechanics lesson. 
    The ulnar collateral ligament — more frequently referred to as the UCL — is a robust and triangular sheet of tissue that helps support the inner elbow against valgus stress. The elbow experiences the most valgus stress during a baseball game when the arm is driven forward at high rates of speed while throwing a ball.

    Damage to the UCL occurs when the torque produced as the arm is thrust forward — the technical term is internal rotation — is more significant than what the structure can compensate. Injury can occur chronically as well as acutely and is generally described as a sprain. The degree of damage is graded on a scale of 1-3. Grade 1 sprains are usually minor injuries that heal within a week or two. Grade 2 sprains — also referred to as partial tears — cause instability in the joint as some 50% of the ligament fibers have been damaged; the most frequently reported symptoms are pain and swelling. The recovery timeline for grade 2 sprains generally extends into months. Grade 3 sprains — or ruptures — result in significant instability and require Tommy John surgery to address. 
    Grade 2 sprains are where the best route of treatment is murkiest. As the UCL is technically an extension of the joint capsule — a larger sheet of tissue that envelops a joint and provides stability and nourishment — it has a relatively good blood supply, meaning it is technically capable of healing on its own without surgery. (Side note: This is why ACL injuries require surgery in most instances. Although the ACL is inside the knee, it is technically separate from the joint capsule, and, thus, has almost no blood supply.)
    However, the UCL does not have the same blood supply throughout its structure. A recent study found evidence to suggest that the blood supply is best nearer where it connects to the upper arm bone — proximal — and decreases as the ligament extends to the forearm — distal. This finding may suggest that grade 2 sprains of the UCL that occur proximally are more likely to heal without surgery than those that are distal (or, read another way, Tommy John surgeries that treat proximal tears are more likely to be "successful" than their distal counterparts.) (Another side note: Interestingly, a study conducted in 2020 found data to suggest the opposite, though it should be noted that the study had a small sample size and was retrospective; both factors limit the findings' strength.)
    Rest and anti-inflammatory medication are most often the first two steps in treating a grade 2 UCL sprains followed by physical therapy to improve range of motion and increase the strength of the surrounding muscles. While the UCL provides static stability for the inner elbow (i.e., its fibers don't contract and act as a brace), the forearm musculature provides dynamic stability (i.e., its fibers do contract and pull the inner elbow together). Having strong forearm muscles is vital for protecting the healing UCL.
    Another treatment often reported after an athlete is diagnosed with a UCL sprain is platelet-rich plasma (PRP). 
    The theory behind PRP is sound. The process involves drawing blood into a test tube, spinning it around rapidly in a centrifuge to separate the blood into plasma and red blood cells, sucking the plasma into a syringe, and injecting the plasma into the injured tissue. Plasma contains a variety of cells and other substances, one of which are platelets. Platelets help form the foundation on which new tissue grows and secret substances that help aid the healing process.
    Again, theoretically.
    The results surrounding PRP injections and return to play in baseball are … inconclusive, at best. Read one study, and you may come away believing that they work exceptionally well. Read another, and you may think they're just a bunch of hocus pocus. The fact of the matter is this: Despite being relatively well studied, there is little evidence, at this point, to suggest that PRP injections are the medical savior they were once considered to be.
    So, back to the original question. Why should Maeda and the Twins even pursue a second opinion?
    Well, the short answer is "Why not?" If the injury Maeda suffered is a UCL sprain, and if he ultimately undergoes surgery, he'll miss the entirety of the 2022 season anyway. Waiting another week or two to gather more information won't prevent him from playing next year.
    The longer answer is that the most appropriate course of treatment may or may not be surgery, depending on various factors, including grade, location, and, frankly, a specific doctor's training and treatment philosophy. Again, if Maeda is dealing with UCL damage and if it is partial and proximal, it may have a chance to heal on its own. 
    Also, and this bears repeating, what's the harm in trying conservative rehabilitation and waiting on surgery? Best case scenario: Maeda can pitch again in relatively short order and definitely be next season. Worst case scenario: Maeda has to undergo surgery, which, again, would keep him out of 2022 anyway. 
    At this stage, there is minimal downside for the Twins and Maeda in gathering as much information as possible. The team isn't going to the playoffs, he's under contract next year, and he's one of the more critical pitching pieces in the Twins' system.
    I'll pose the question again. Why should Maeda and the Twins seek a second opinion? Because it's the right thing to do.
  14. Like
    tarheeltwinsfan reacted to Nash Walker for an article, Miranda Mania: 3 Ways To Get Him To Minneapolis   
    The results speak for themselves. Miranda is having a monstrous season in the minors. He’s taken his advanced approach, one of the reasons he was selected 73rd overall as a 17-year-old in the 2016 Draft, and combined it with newly-developed patience and power. 
    The most encouraging aspect of Miranda’s toolbox is that he isn’t selling out for pop. He’s maintained a 13% strikeout rate while consistently making hard contact. Miranda has gone from a .252/.302/.369 slash, empty batting average low-minors hitter to a true damage bat at the highest levels. 
    There are many reasons to be excited. Miranda has power to all fields, makes consistent contact, barely strikes out, and hits the ball with authority.  
    Entering Sunday, Miranda is hitting an insane .343/.405/.593 with 25 homers and 23 doubles in 94 games. He’s split time at Wichita and St.Paul, crushing equally at both stops. 
    Let’s look at three ways the Twins could get Miranda into a full-time role for the final 35 or so games:
    1. DFA Andrelton Simmons, move Jorge Polanco to SS, slot in Miranda at 2B/3B
    I’m confident in saying this is the crowd favorite. Simmons has been abysmal offensively and offers no future value. Even so, the Twins have expressed a desire to keep his glove behind their young pitchers and keep Polanco at second base. At this point, I’d call this unlikely. 
    2. DH Josh Donaldson, move Luis Arraez to LF, slot in Miranda at 3B
    This one makes the most sense. The problem: what happens to Brent Rooker? With Byron Buxton on the mend and Max Kepler in right, Rooker would be the odd man out in this scenario. Plus, the Twins would have to stop playing Jake Cave against righties. Unlikely. 
    3. DH Miguel Sanó, slot in Miranda at 1B
    Miranda has started at first base in 22 games this season. To avoid a part-time DH role, the Twins could give the reigns to Sanó, who will probably fill that spot in 2022. Again, how is Rooker getting at-bats? 
    Ultimately, there is no simple way to promote Miranda. He shouldn’t play in anything but a full-time role. Without an injury, we may not see him in a Twins uniform until next spring.
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  15. Like
    tarheeltwinsfan reacted to Matthew Lenz for an article, Twins Options at Shortstop in 2022   
    When the Twins signed veteran Andrelton Simmons to a one-year, $10.5MM deal last offseason, it seemed like a perfect fit for a club that needed their top prospect to get an extra year of seasoning under his belt. A torn ACL and an anti-vaxxer later and what seemed like a perfect fit has turned into a complete disaster, and that’s before pointing out that Simmons has been one of the worst hitters in the league this year. Based on the latest Twitter mentions of Simmons, it’s pretty clear that the fans are ready to turn the page, although after not being dealt at the deadline, we’re likely stuck with him as there isn’t a suitable option to take his place at the moment.

    With Royce Lewis missing two full minor league seasons, he will need to start the year in Wichita or St. Paul and would probably spend the entire season between one of those two spots. Here are the short-term options for the position until he proves he’s ready.
    40-man Roster
    Jorge Polanco - we’re well aware of his recent history with the position, and it’s not pretty. Moreover, I wonder if his 2021 rebound has anything to do with moving to second base. He’s had back-to-back offseasons that required minor ankle surgery but seems to be healthy playing a position that is a little less taxing than shortstop. Based on the season he’s having, I’d hope that Twins don’t push him back to shortstop in 2022, but he also might be the best option currently in the organization. Nick Gordon - after six-plus seasons in the minors, Gordon finally made his Major League debut but didn’t do a great job of taking advantage of the opportunity. In recent years he’s started mixing time in a second, but he does have over 4,500 minor league innings at short. From what we’ve seen so far, he’s not the long-term solution at the position, but he could be an upgrade over Simmons in a season where the Twins likely won’t be competing for a playoff spot. Non-40-man Roster
    Jose Miranda - nobody saw this coming from Miranda, but he’s burst onto the scene and is having arguably the best season of any minor leaguer. He’s crushing so much so that you have fans clamoring for him to be with the big league club right now. In the long run, he’s the current heir apparent to Josh Donaldson, but he’s almost forcing the Twins hand to add him to the 40-man and see what he can do in 2022. A lot of greats have moved from short to third...Ripken, Rodriguez, Machado...and in 2024 or 2025, maybe Miranda can add his name to that list. Austin Martin - the Twins shiny new prospect has done well since coming over in the José Berríos trade, but Ken Rosenthal reported that the front office views him as more of an outfield prospect. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get an opportunity in Spring Training next year, but I would be surprised if he were named the everyday shortstop for the big league club. Jermaine Palacios - he’s having a nice little season for AA-Wichita, but I don’t see him being a candidate for this job in 2022. Drew Maggi or JT Riddle - the two minor league veterans are in St. Paul, but like Palacios, I can’t imagine they’ll get much of a look with other, better options to fill in for a year. Free Agents
    Marcus Semien - he’s having a great season with Toronto after signing a one-year deal last offseason, and entering his age 32-season, I have to imagine he’ll be looking for a multi-year deal. Trevor Story, Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, and Javier Baez - I group these guys because they are the best young shortstops in the game, and all will be looking to cash in. Like Semien, I foresee them wanting a lot of money over multiple years. José Iglesias - if the Twins are going to hit free agency, this might be a good, cheap target. Iglesias has bounced around the league quite a bit with great defense and a passable bat.  Andrelton Simmons - LOL. It comes down to the vision for the 2022 season, which I believe to be a rebuild or “retool” year. If that’s the case, it doesn’t make sense to spend in free agency when you have the opportunity to give some of your prospects time at the Major League level. No matter who they go with, they will be downgrading the defense, but that comes with an increase in offense. I think a mixture of Polanco, Gordon, Miranda, and Martin would be an okay choice while they spend money to rebuild their rotation and bullpen.
  16. Like
    tarheeltwinsfan reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, In Defense of the Twins Front Office   
    The Twins hired Derek Falvey (who hired Thad Levine) in the wake of a disastrous 103-loss season in 2016. By that point, the Twins had gone six straight years without making the playoffs, and during that span they lost more games than any team in baseball. 
    The following year, Minnesota stunningly reached the postseason as a wild-card team. Then they missed out in 2018, still finishing second, before rebounding in 2019 with one of the greatest seasons in franchise history. The Twins followed in 2020 with another division title. 
    To run all that back: this front office took over a team that had gone 407-565 (.419) with zero playoff appearances in its previous six years, and went 300-246 (.549) with three playoff appearances in the next four. 
    Does their success owe somewhat to the foundation built before they arrived? Of course. No one would deny that Terry Ryan and Co. had cultivated an impressive nucleus before being ousted. But during those years, the Twins repeatedly failed in the draft, failed in acquisitions, and failed in player development. The results bore that out.
    Let's be clear about something here: This current regime was so successful and so impressive through four years that they were repeatedly poached of talent, both in the front office and the coaching staffs they assembled. Not only that, but Falvey and Levine themselves have been courted by big-name franchises like the Red Sox and Phillies. 
    What did they say, according to publicized reports on the matter? 
    "No thanks, we're going to see through what we're building here."
    And so, to see flocks of fans calling for their heads because of one bad season, which is no worse than the ones we saw repeatedly before they arrived ... it's a little hard to take. 
    Falvey became the youngest head exec in the league when he took Minnesota's top job. Currently he is 38 years old, which is three years younger than the DH he traded to Tampa Bay last month. Up until now he never experienced serious adversity during his tenure, which speaks to how smoothly things have gone in the first four years. 
    The same could be said, by the way, for his managerial choice Rocco Baldelli, who was named Manager of the Year in 2019 (as the youngest skipper in baseball, with no experience in the role) and then won a second straight division title in his second season.
    These people have shown their mettle. They've won. A lot. I realize they haven't won in the playoffs, and that sucks, but they haven't had nearly the opportunity of their predecessors. 
    Are we not going to give them a chance to learn from failure?
    Obviously the free agent pitching additions from the past winter have failed at every level. But this front office has made plenty of good and savvy pickups in the past, which helped fuel the success of high-quality staffs the last two years. And in any case, Falvey wasn't really hired to sign pitchers. He was hired to develop them.
    On that front, the jury is still out. This operation was four years in when a pandemic came along and wiped out an entire minor-league season. The fact that Minnesota's upper minors are currently loaded with intriguing high-upside arms would suggest the mission was on track, and is just now getting back on the rails. 
    Soon we'll start seeing those arms (along with the ones acquired at the deadline this year) ushered into majors, and at that point we'll be able to make real assessments. But until then, you're judging an incomplete project. 
    This reassembled baseball ops department has been working ahead of schedule basically since they took over a moribund franchise in despair. They hit a setback this year, and it's been painful. Let's give them a chance to get back on track in the wake of a major disruptive event and humbling follow-up season.
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  17. Like
    tarheeltwinsfan reacted to Nash Walker for an article, Thank You Nelson Cruz!   
    Cruz joined a Twins club flush with young talent, a group that was ready to take the next step. They were missing exactly what he is: an established veteran leader who could guide them in their quest to win. To say Cruz accomplished that in Minnesota would be an understatement. 
    It wasn’t long before the home crowd at Target Field erupted every time Nelly came to the plate. He became the man, the face of the exceptional 2019 offense that hit the most home runs in MLB history. 
    But it was more than the unbelievable production out of the three spot in the lineup; Nelly set the tone. His calm, cool approach fit in seamlessly with Rocco Baldelli’s mantra, and the Twins thrived behind his leadership. 
    Not only did Cruz undoubtedly elevate his teammates, he just had the best offensive season of his storied career.
    Cruz hit a remarkable .311/.392/.639 with 41 homers and 26 doubles in his first 120 games as a Twin. Nelly finished in the top-10 for A.L. MVP and won his third Silver Slugger. It was a top-10 offensive season in Twins history. 
    Cruz became a staple in the Minnesota sports scene, named as the Star Tribune’s Sportsperson of the Year. His value was immeasurable, and the Twins picked up his $12 million option for 2020 less than a week after elimination. 
    In addition to his excellence in the batter’s box, Cruz is known for his incredible work in the community. Nelly won the esteemed Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award in 2020 for his exceptional leadership for the Boomstick23 Foundation. 
    Cruz once again led the Twins’ offense in his second season in Minnesota, hitting .303 with a .992 OPS and this time finishing sixth in A.L. MVP voting. He drove in the only two runs the Twins scored in the postseason. He won his second straight Silver Slugger Award. 
    In his curtain call this summer, Cruz returned to the Twins and hit .294/.370/.537 with 19 homers, 13 doubles and a triple in 85 games before the Twins traded him to Tampa Bay. 
    His production will be missed in the heart of the Twins’ order. More than anything, though, the person is who left the biggest impact. 
    Thank you, Nelson Cruz!
    Read more on the trade.
     
  18. Like
    tarheeltwinsfan reacted to John Bonnes for an article, Three Things to Like (and Hate) about the Nelson Cruz Trade   
    #3 Reason to Like This Deal – The Timing
    Congrats, Minnesota. You're kind of a big deal. Your team just made the biggest trade of the trade deadline so far because Cruz was the best bat on the trade market. That market was a bit limited, given that he can't play in the National League, but he was still the big dog.
    And believe it or not, the question you should be asking was, "Why did they make the deal so early?" The Twins have been out of the postseason race for a month, but often a deal like this is not made until a day or two before the deadline. Sometimes it's not made until the afternoon of the trade deadline. Seeing a deal come together a week early suggests one of two things, both positive for the Twins:
    They got an offer they could not refuse. That's good news. They gave "buyers" a deadline for their best deal. I suspect the latter. The Twins looked at the market and decided to push the first domino. They still have at least Michael Pineda, Andrelton Simmons, and Hansel Robles to move, and they want to start fielding offers.
    It also might be that they saw teams waiting on making offers for someone like Cubs' third baseman Kris Bryant until Cruz had found a landing spot. That's important because the Twins are likely trying to move Josh Donaldson. That's more difficult until Bryant is traded, since Bryant doesn't have $50M attached to him as Donaldson does.
    So even if the Twins insisted on the timing, it's a ploy that suits their needs.
    #3 Reason to Hate This Deal - Beware the Rays
    The Rays have earned the title of the Smartest Team in Any Deal. It's happened over and over, even when the names involved were premier players like Blake Snell or Chris Archer. It's hard to win a trade with the Rays.
    That said, the last deal the Twins made with the Rays has turned out great. Before the 2018 season, the Rays traded Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for prospect Jermaine Palacio. Odorizzi only had one good year with the Twins – but it was a terrific year, posting a 3.51 ERA in 2019 and resurrecting his career.
    Meanwhile, Palacios is back in the Twins organization. He's playing at AA-Witchita this year. He's 24 years old and having a breakout season, posting a 782 OPS as a shortstop after leaving the Rays' farm system. So, at the very least, the Twins weren't fleeced in that deal.
    #2 – Reason to Like the Deal – The Twins NAILED a Need
    Was the Twins' starting pitching the biggest reason for this year's disappointing season? Maybe not. But it's within the top four for sure, and feel free to debate the order in the comments. (Your candidates: starting pitching, injuries, [insert your favorite rant here], Alex Colome).
    But if the Twins want to take advantage of the competitive window they have from 2022-2024, they need major-league ready (and preferably cost-controlled) pitching. That's precisely what they got in this trade.
    The Twins only have two starting pitchers returning next year – Kenta Maeda and Jose Berrios. This year's backup plans - Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, and Lewis Thorpe – have been injured. So have all three of the top pitching prospects in the organization: Jhoan Duran, Matt Canterino, and Jordan Balozovic. Plus, the Twins likely have only about $40M to spend on the free agent market next year.  
    Getting back cost-controlled but solid major league pitching is no easy task in Major League Baseball. Looking at the other players the Twins could trade, very few could field that return. Nelson Cruz was their best (and maybe last) chance to do so, and they pulled it off.
    #2 Reason to Hate It – Nelly's Gone
    Losing Nelson Cruz sucks. He was a perfect fit for this team, and the team ended up being a perfect fit for him. Even though he played for the Twins from when he was 38 to 41 years old, he posted the highest OPS (984) of his career for any team. Read that again. Texas (823 OPS) and Seattle (908 OPS) revere him. But Cruz never played better for any team – unless he does so for the Rays. And I hope he does. Kick some ass, Nelly.
    Plus, of course, the whole leadership thing. Cruz was the MVP for both full seasons he played for the Twins, and while his performance certainly justified it, it was his teammates' testimonials that made that choice a no-doubter. He doesn't call attention to himself with histrionics or conspicuous public displays. He just led. The media didn't hear that from Cruz. They learned about it from his teammates. That's how you know it was real. Which brings us to the best reason to dislike this trade...
    #1 Reason to Hate It – And He Ain't Coming Back
    Sometimes you have to leave the past behind, and I suspect the Twins recognize that. Cruz will turn 42 years old next year, and that presents a significant risk. They also have younger bats, like Brent Rooker and maybe even Mitch Garver or Luis Arraez, that they would like to try as a designated hitter. Plus, he will likely cost any team over $10M to sign, and we've already covered the potential payroll squeeze that awaits this team.
    It's not impossible. The Twins love him, clearly. Cruz loves them right back. So never say never. But this season revealed so many leaks in the Twins' ship that I'll be surprised if they expend resources to bring Nellie back for one more year. It would have been nice to have him around a few more months, given that reality. 
    #1 Reason to Like The Trade – They Did Pretty Good
    If you screw up the players you get back, none of it means a damn thing. We won't know for sure about these guys until their Twins' careers are over, but there are some things to be excited about with the players the Twins got in return.
    The lesser (right now) of the two prospects is Drew Strotman. It's worth noting that he's the higher draft pick of the two, so he was not always second fiddle. He's also on the Rays' 40-man roster, which is a negative to his value in terms of roster management, but shows just how impressed the Rays were with him just last year. He has a mid-90s fastball, a plus slider, and added an impressive cutter last year to complete the package.
    That potential hasn't been displayed yet this year in AAA. He's had decent results (3.39 ERA) but is walking way too many batters. But he's also just 24 years old, and this is his first taste of AAA after skipping AA altogether.
    The more intriguing prospect is Joe Ryan. He wasn't particularly near a top 100 prospect in preseason rankings, but it'll be interesting to see if that has changed given his performance this year in AAA. Tallying 75K in 57 IP, with just ten walks and a 0.789(!) WHIP, can change expectations.
    His profile is funky enough to either cast doubt or raise eyebrows. He has a mid-90s fastball that batters have trouble picking up due to his delivery. The COVID year allowed him to work with the Rays coaching staff on his secondary offerings, which seem to have improved. Plus, he is a bit of a free spirit, based on this profile of his development in Sports Illustrated.
    If Twins fans want a preview of him, check out the US Olympic Baseball team. He's on it. Or make your way to CHS Field in St. Paul in August. Or maybe you won't need to cross the river. He might be ready for a trial at Target Field before the year is over.
    The Twins did reasonably well in their first move of the trade deadline season. They made a solid and aggressive move at a good time, getting quality players and filling a need. It also sets them up nicely for more moves before the July 30th deadline.
    But yeah, it's a shame it had to come to this. And the team will need to wait and see if their move turns out as well as they hope.
  19. Like
    tarheeltwinsfan reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Twins Deadline Will Determine Depth of Failure   
    Coming into 2021 this was supposed to be a good Major League roster. Rocco Baldelli was piloting a club coming off two-straight AL Central division titles, and there was no reason to believe they wouldn’t contend with the rival Chicago White Sox. Fast forward to where we are now, and the reality couldn’t be further from that promise.
    Minnesota has dealt with a plethora of injuries. Byron Buxton leads the team with 2.7 fWAR yet has played just 27 games. Kenta Maeda took massive steps backwards, Josh Donaldson has been good not great, and injuries have crushed the roster all over. Ineffectiveness first from the bullpen, and then sustained by the rotation, have worked wonders to sink an already bludgeoned ship.
    So, it’s not about if pieces move; that’s a certainty. Now, we’re going to find out if the front office sees a way forward, or if they’re admitting a massive miscalculation in what they have.
    As Nick Nelson pointed out yesterday, the Twins most desirable talents are a duo (trio?) of players they shouldn’t want to trade. Jose Berrios and Taylor Rogers (along with the unmentioned Buxton) are worthy of the biggest haul. For a team that should be in a position to retool and reset before 2022 kicks off, moving any of them would suggest a disbelief in that being a workable process.
    There’s no doubt that signing Jose Berrios and Byron Buxton to long term deals makes sense from a talent perspective. They aren’t players you can just replace, and without considering alternative ramifications, they are assets you should want on your roster until they leave on their own volition. It also stands to reason that dealing them prior to their final year of team control would increase the return. No matter what prospect capital is brought back, the impact won’t immediately be felt and may never come to fruition.
    Maybe Miguel Sano and Max Kepler aren’t the players Derek Falvey and Thad Levine envisioned them to be when offering contract extensions. That’s an unfortunate reality, more so with the tools Kepler should possess, but one that’s ultimately understandable. You’d be trading either at a low point in their value, but there’s a very clear backup plan in each scenario as well. Making deals that involve either of those two wouldn’t necessarily shift the future course for this club.
    On the flip side, having to replace the ace of a staff on a bad rotation, the lockdown arm in a bad bullpen, or arguably the most athletically-gifted player in the sport is going to be a catastrophic hurdle in the near future. If that’s what’s deemed necessary, then the ultimate direction envisioned by this front office has been incredibly poorly executed, and we’re starting over from the prospect level.
    Give it to Falvey and Levine; their infrastructure has seemed sound. There’s been decent development on the farm, and while injuries have hurt that progression plenty in 2021, it doesn’t take away from what appears to be coming. If a complete rebuild of the Major League roster needs to take place at this point though, it looks as if the last two division titles and supplementation of that core may have been more about timely circumstances than well designed execution. The duo doesn’t have a great free agency track record, and while they’ve made a few shrewd deals, largely they’ve failed to evaluate their own near-ready and currently available big league talent.
    When the calendar flips on July the Twins should have a vastly different looking roster. That’s expected. If even one of three key names move, well then, this front office has much less going for it than was originally thought.
     
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  20. Like
    tarheeltwinsfan reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Reflecting on the Best and Worst First Half Ever   
    I love baseball in all of its dissectible minutiae. I delight in overthinking every at-bat, sweating every intense moment, and debating pointless frivolities. I get a kick out of analyzing and opining on the many twists and turns of a marathon season. And offseason. (If you frequent this site, you might have noticed.)
    But more than all that, I just love the baseball experience. Removing all of the stats, trends, trades, analytics, and hot takes, I am plain and simply a baseball fan to the core. I feel at peace in the ballpark, or with sounds of the game droning on my TV or radio.
    When I was a young pup riding the bus down Cedar Avenue to the Metrodome, I didn't care much about Kirby Puckett's OPS or Brad Radke's trade value. I was just happy to be wandering through this majestic Dome, eating a hot dog and staring on at the action alongside thousands of other contented folks. If the game went long, maybe I'd even get to stay out late on a school night.
    Much has changed since those days, but the fundamental source of my passion has not. And I was reminded of this very starkly in 2020, when a cherished annual summer routine – uninterrupted since I could remember (mind you, I was 9 years old when the '94 strike took place) – fell apart.
    As the pandemic unfolded two springs ago, I was highly skeptical a season of record could be salvaged. Happily I was wrong. Major League Baseball managed to pull off a shortened 60-game season, and it was entirely fine. Much better than nothing. 
    But it never quite felt authentic, and was over almost as quickly as it began. (The Twins played their 60th game of this season five weeks ago.) Most crucially, like so many diehards across the country, I never got to attend a game. It's an irrelevant footnote in the face of all the tragedy and trauma faced by so many last year, but losing the ballpark experience was a bummer. I promised myself that when we emerged from it all and congregated once again at the stadium, I'd savor the hell out of it.
    And that I have. I've attended more Twins games at Target Field in the first half of this season than any previous. (And a couple at Kauffman Stadium!) I've run into random friends, heckled opposing outfielders, inhaled messy brats, beat the buzzer on bottom-of-seventh beers, and gazed wordlessly from my seat for indefinite stretches at the beautifully bland cadence of baseball, in all of its calm and rhythmic glory. 
    Lord, did I miss it.
    I attended two games this past weekend, during a sweep of the Tigers to close out the first half. Let's just say it cemented my deep gratitude for the return of (relative) normalcy in the realm of baseball. On Friday I grabbed bleacher seats with high school friends and felt the electricity of the year's biggest crowd. The place was alive. Sunday, I joined up with a whole gaggle of Twins Daily writers – many of whom I'd scarcely had met before, what with the absence of events for 16 months – and we had a ball milling about on the Gray Duck Deck. Considerable Bomba Juice was consumed. 
    These times are golden. They're what fuel my fandom and love for the sport, through thick and thin. I don't know if this year's Twins season would be described as thick or thin (kinda weird descriptors?), but what matters is we're all trudging through it together, and Sunday was an excellent reminder of that: a perfect punctuation to the best and worst damn first half of Twins baseball ever. 
    The return of baseball as we know and love it would be way more fun, obviously, if our favorite team did not fall flat and completely erase any pretense of contention by the All-Star Game. But them's the breaks. 
    The home team hasn't won much, and it's a shame.
    Still, those eternal words ring truer than ever: Take me out to the ballgame. Take me out with the crowd.
  21. Like
    tarheeltwinsfan reacted to Tom Froemming for an article, MLB Trade Deadline: Will This Market Work Against the Twins' Agenda?   
    No matter what the Twins do this month the goal has to be to inject more pitching into this organization. Ideally, those arms would be relatively close to major-league ready. The team already has enviable payroll flexibility going forward, but moving any salary off the books that would later be reinvested in pitching would also be a plus.
    That’s all going to be much easier said than done.
    Everybody Needs Pitching
    Great news for the potential José Berríos market, right? Well, this one goes both ways. Yes, acquiring MLB pitchers will come at a high cost, but so could acquiring pitching prospects. I expect all pitching to come at a premium relative to bats.
    Part of the aftermath of the mostly lost 2020 season is a great innings insecurity across the game. Starting pitchers shouldering less of the load also plays a part in this issue, certainly, but it’s something that stretches across every level of pro ball right now. There seem to be more innings than pitchers to cover them.
    I think teams willing to accept trade packages revolving around hitters will be able to acquire demonstrably more talent than their counterparts who are honed in on arms. 
    Prying Away Prospects in the High Minors Will Be Difficult
    It’s always easier to stomach a trade when you can expect the pieces coming back to contribute before too long. Unfortunately, I suspect changes to MLB’s transaction rules will result in prospects on the verge of the majors being very difficult to acquire.
    July 30 is the only trade deadline. There’s not another opportunity to add talent after that deadline, unlike previous seasons. The August waiver trade period was eliminated. With this being the case, I expect contenders will want to maintain maximum insurance in the event of injuries.
    Contending teams are going to come into negotiations pushing their lower-level prospects hard. On the plus side, that could create a situation in which a team that scouts really well could absolutely fleece another club by acquiring a diamond in the rough for a middling major league contributor. The lower minors are where the highest upside players are, but those guys are also the riskiest. They’re also not cracking the major league roster anytime soon.
    Owners Will Be Hesitant About Adding 2022 Payroll
    So it may be difficult to pry away pitchers who are close to MLB ready, but what about dumping some salary to create space for free agents this winter? Even if we ignore the fact that signing impact pitching is pretty difficult (right, Thad?), I could see shedding salary being a challenge.
    Stadiums filling back up is good for the bottom line, but we’re shifting from health and safety protocols to labor relations as the primary threat to MLB’s economic health. The current collective bargaining agreement expires Dec. 1. 
    If there’s a stoppage of any kind for any reason it’s more than likely to be followed by a significant drop in gate revenue. Attendance dipped 20% from 1994 to ‘95. 
    Certain ownership groups are always wary of taking on multi-year contracts but this could add more incentive to play it close to the vest. The combination of lost revenues from the last two years with the uncertainty heading into next year might mean rental players on expiring contracts will be especially attractive.
    Bad news if the Twins are looking to move some of the $51.5 million owed to Josh Donaldson the next three seasons.
    But ...
    This is all speculation.
    I mean, what do I know? Again, these are assumptions I’m making. Everything laid out above makes logical sense to me. These are considerations I’d be making if I was running a team.
    Part of this might be influenced by what I’m referring to as “2021 Twins brain.” It’s a disorder brought on by previous trauma in which you automatically assume any possible scenario will work out poorly for the Twins. 
    What are your thoughts? Does this seem like a good time to be sellers to you?
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  22. Like
    tarheeltwinsfan reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Is Josh Donaldson One of the All-Time Least Likeable Twins Player?   
    Minnesota’s front office had to know what they were getting when they signed Josh Donaldson. He had a proven track record of being outspoken, but he was coming off being named the NL Comeback Player of the Year. The Twins were willing to deal with his on and off field behavior if he helped push the team to postseason success. Now two years into his massive deal and the outcome has been unfavorable to say the least.
    Last season, Donaldson played in less than half of the team’s games and his most memorable moment might have been being ejected after hitting a home run. This year he has been much healthier, but he has become the crusader for all batters in the battle against sticky substances. He called out the Yankees Gerrit Cole and then struck out twice against him later that week. Just this week he showboated a first inning home run against Lucas Giolito in a game the Twins ended up losing. Then he ended up confronting him in the parking lot after the game.
    These moments aside, Donaldson’s on field performance has come as advertised as he has been one of the game’s top offensive third basemen while also playing solid defense. So, do the distractions outweigh his other value to the team? And does that put him in the conversation for one of the all-time least likeable Twins players?
    There are plenty of former Twins in the conversation for least likeable player in team history. Lance Lynn has been one of baseball’s best pitchers in recent years, but his Twins tenure was filled with poor performances and a poor attitude. From the beginning, he seemed upset with the free agent process and that frustration came out in his performance. However, his stay in a Twins uniform was short so that hardly puts him at the top of the least likeable list.
    Other candidates for the least likeable Twins player include multiple players from the Metrodome Era. Kyle Lohse took a baseball bat to Ron Gardenhire’s office door. Needless to say, his days in Minnesota were numbered after that incident. A.J. Pierzynski was part of one of the greatest Twins trades of all-time, but his attitude didn’t fit well in multiple clubhouses during his big-league career. Both players went on to have careers outside of Minnesota, but they left on a sour note.
    Stretching even further back, Chuck Knoblauch had an infamous end to his Twins career. Since the team moved to Minnesota, he ranks in the top-10 for WAR, which puts him ahead of names like Johan Santana, Jim Kaat, and Torii Hunter. Eventually, he demanded a trade from the Twins and took shots at the city on his way out of town. Then there was the famous hot dog throwing incident when he returned as an outfielder for the Yankees. His off the field issues probably mean he won’t be welcomed back in Minnesota any time soon.  
    Donaldson has rubbed some people the wrong way throughout his career. It’s hard to imagine him being in the same level as Knoblauch or Pierzynski, but there will be plenty of fans that aren’t happy with his attitude and the attention he is drawing on a last place team.
    How would you rank these players according to their likeability? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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  23. Like
    tarheeltwinsfan reacted to Matthew Taylor for an article, The Minnesota Twins Should Give Taylor Rogers a Contract Extension   
    In what has been a nightmare season for the Minnesota Twins’ bullpen, Taylor Rogers has been one of the few bright spots. Through 29 appearances thus far, Rogers owns a sparkling 2.67 ERA with a career high K/9 of 12.5. Rogers has been used in every type of situation as well, playing the role of left-handed specialist, fireman and closer, proving time and time again to be Rocco Baldelli’s most trusted arm in the bullpen. After a 2020 season in which Rogers was extremely unlucky, regression has tilted back in his favor in 2021, and the results are proving again that he is an exceptionally talented pitcher.
    As a talented pitcher on a struggling baseball team, the reaction from some may be that Taylor Rogers is a prime trade candidate. Playoff teams can always use another reliever, and with 1.5 years remaining on his deal, a Taylor Rogers trade could net the Twins a solid return. While the logic behind that thinking is sound, there is another alternative that could benefit the Twins even more, a contract extension.
    There are several reasons why a contract extension for Taylor Rogers would make a lot of sense for the Minnesota Twins. The first of which is extremely basic, Taylor Rogers is a really good pitcher. Since the start of 2018, Rogers ranks in the top-20 among all relievers in innings pitched, ERA, WHIP and K/BB ratio. Simply put, Rogers is one of the best bullpen arms in all of baseball.
    Secondly, the Minnesota Twins bullpen is one of the worst bullpens in baseball with not many names to count on going forward. Outside of Taylor Rogers, the only semi-reliable names that the Twins have for the future are Tyler Duffey, who is having his worst season since 2018, and Jorge Alcala, who has shown promise but is nowhere near a sure thing. Taking a bad bullpen, and removing its best piece would be risky and leave a huge question mark for that unit for a Minnesota Twins team who will be hoping to compete again in 2022 or 2023.
    Additionally, by extending Taylor Rogers this offseason, the Minnesota Twins would be able to save annual money by committing longevity to Rogers. After earning $6M in his second year of arbitration prior to 2021, Rogers will likely be looking at a 3rd year arbitration contract of $7.5M heading into 2022. If the Twins want to save money on Rogers’ third year of arbitration, as well as avoid Rogers becoming an unrestricted free agent, they could offer Rogers a 3 year contract at $20M. This contract would net Rogers an AAV of $6.67M, saving the Twins money in 2022, as well as ensuring that they maintain some consistency in their bullpen by bringing back their best reliever at a reasonable contract. 
    Signing a reliever to a contract extension is always going to be a risky proposition, especially for someone like Rogers who will turn 31 this offseason. The lefty, however, has just 300 big league innings on his arm and has shown no signs of slowing down, increasing his velocity and whiff % to career highs in 2021. As a great clubhouse guy, Rogers brings more than just talent to the Minnesota Twins and would be the perfect bridge player to not only lead the bullpen over the next couple of years, but usher in the bullpen arms of the future.
    The Twins should extend Taylor Rogers.
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