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South Dakota Tom

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  1. I would also like to know the future of the "two position players on each side of second base" question. Max's value increases substantially if they cannot shift on him, as he's been unwilling or unable to go to the opposite field. Really hard to assess his value without knowing what the rules are going to be for the next several years.
  2. Perception being more important than reality, I only see deals happening for the expiring contracts - that means Cruz, Pineda and possibly Simmons, possibly Robles. This FO has no desire to retrench, or to admit defeat of their long-term plan by giving up any of Polanco, Berrios, Buxton, Sano, Maeda, Rogers, or Kepler (many of whom would be "selling low" at this point). As much as we (and I say "we" as diehard fans) understand that the JD contract would be beneficial to move to improve payroll flexibility. it is a hard sell to the general public. Strikes me the future scenarios should be focused on minor league promotions, whatever return we can get for expiring contracts, and whatever payroll flexibility arises from those same contracts for 2022 and beyond.
  3. Lots of good points above. Whenever you trade a mlb player at the deadline because the team is out of contention, you "could" get a middling mlb or AAA ballplayer back, or a prospect with upside. It's a gamble, but the upside prospect is probably worth the risk when they pan out, rather than a known quantity with limited ability to help the big league club. Plus, (again as pointed out) it takes some time for these long-shot, low-level, crap-shoot prospects to realize their ultimate value - whether zero or something substantial. And could you please (for those of us who don't know the prospects by face or uniform number), add a parenthetical with the name of the person pictured whenever you use a photo? Thanks.
  4. The article last week indicating we needed to go 13-5, or 12-6, over the stretch through the end of June, was spot on. The hard part is facing the future once we don't do that. If it is clear that Berrios and Buxton are not going to sign extensions (or the team isn't willing to pay what it takes to get them to sign), time is our enemy. Their value drops with each passing week, until the narrative becomes "but they are only signed for (half a season) (one more year)." Much easier to tweak a strong lineup than retool, but it is hopeless to waste your most tradable assets on the tiny possibility that 2021 (or even a bounce-back 2022 that leads to above-average second-tier baseball) is worth clinging to. Stinks thinking about trading Berrios and Buxton (and Cruz and Pineda and Simmons), but if it brings back, I don't know, young controllable pitching, they couldn't be any more unwatchable than they are now.....
  5. No team is going to do well with 4 guys in the lineup hitting a buck and a quarter. It is too easy to pitch around the remaining lineup and when the Twins are successful it is because they are tough 1-9, which just hasn't happened (yet). In the glass-half-full view, though, that time will come. There are enough players on this team, now, to perform. When we can trot out a consistent lineup of our catching duo (but not leading off, fer criminy sakes), Sano, Polanco/Arraez, Simmons, Donaldson, Kiriloff, Buxton, Kepler and Cruz, with some reasonable combination of 2nd catcher/Arraez/Gordon or Astudillo/4th outfielder who could play all 3 spots - Cave or Broxton perhaps, but not thrown into an everyday role - it allows a more balanced lineup with potential (not always realized potential) at every spot. Just looking at the slash lines of our (other-than-Arraez) leadoff and 5-9 hitters all season is vomit-inducing.
  6. He is also, reportedly, a king of the clubhouse. Keeping everyone happy (even if not as happy as he is!) is a real value, and all reports are that he excels in that area. Chemistry, stress reduction, social lubrication, comic relief. I don't care what you call it, he's the kind of guy you want on your side.
  7. The drop from the 40-man is tough - looks like either Anderson or Devin Smeltzer to me. I think with Devin's numbers this spring, he'd have a better chance of making it through waivers.
  8. My very strong sense is that the Twins will not add a ML guaranteed contract barring injury. The ability to utilize multiple relievers with options in the last two spots effectively expands your relief corps to 12-14 guys. Fill it with 8 vets and you shut down that flexibility, which is the third rail for this FO.
  9. Polanco plus Canterino plus Rijo plus competitive balance pick. He would be lovely to have.
  10. Just perusing Gameday and saw the bizarre end of the 3rd inning described as two different players out at 3rd base without a ball being put into play. Anyone tell me what happened?
  11. Always fun to project the futures of these guys, and slotting them into future rosters in a "best-case scenario" way. It always appeared that Eddie being non-tendered was AKs invitation to the big leagues. Simmons on a one-year deal says the same (theoretically) about Lewis; Nellie's (probably) last year with the Twins might be the opening for a lot of guys - Larnach, Sabato, Rooker, Wallner - depending on how each performs in 2021. But there's no room for all of them in the short term, and by that I mean 2021 or 2022. Byron has 2 years left, barring an extension, and Celestino (in my eyes) seems the heir apparent if we cannot extend Buxton. The only available slots for slugging corner OF/1B/DH guys appears to be 4th OF (Cave's spot now), DH, or a Sano trade (or Sano playing DH and one of the above sliding into 1B, though I like Miguel's defense there right now). Given that, like the FO, I don't want to get rid of any of our prospects, how do you rank those guys to slide into the openings we do have? Larnach first? Then Sabato, Wallner, Rooker? 2021 is going to be very consequential in that competition.
  12. Right now, I'd project the opening day lineup to consist of Sano at 1b, Polanco at 2b, Simmons at ss, Donaldson at 3b, Arraez in LF, Buxton in CF, Kepler in RF, and Garver catching. Assuming a 13-man position player active roster, that leaves 5 spots open. Ryan Jeffers is one. Jake Cave is another. At some point, sooner rather than later, Alex Kiriloff is a third. Brent Rooker is a fourth, leaving Lamonte Wade, Astudillo, Blankenhorn, Gordon to fill in (or rotate in) the final spot. Once Kiriloff arrives, left field stops rotating, and while Cave is backup outfielder number one, having Rooker in the lineup (as well as Arraez, who is not great in LF, but his bat needs to stay in the lineup), tilts toward a second infield utility player being handiest. We can argue over who that should be (Astudillo as 3rd catcher, 3b, LF?; Blankenhorn or Gordon), but I'm sticking with my hopeful prediction of Gordon taking on that part-time skeleton key spot, offering some speed, flexibility, and reasonable pop. The depth chart says that (after catcher), Rooker backs up 1B, or potentially Kiriloff or Kepler, with Cave getting an OF start; Arraez backs up 2b along with Gordon; Polanco backs up SS; Arraez or Polanco or Sano backs up 3b, depending on whether the team prefers keeping Jorge to a primary-2b, sometimes ss role or moves him around more. Once Kiriloff arrives in LF, (or RF, if they want to shift Kepler to LF), there will be fewer ABs available for any outfield position reserves. DH, then, rotates between a handful of players - Sano (Rooker plays 1b, or Kiriloff plays 1b with Cave/Arraez in LF), Donaldson (Arraez or Polanco plays 3b, the other plays 2b), Rooker, Cave, Arraez as DH with no substitutions needed, maybe Polanco with Arraez playing 2b. While a Cruz reunion is favored by many, and for good reason (this is not to bash Nellie, who is a leader and great baseball player), none of the above is possible with a single, non-position-player taking on 500+ at-bats in the DH slot. There is a sound argument that Cruz's production would dwarf doling out 500 ABs between Rooker, Arraez, Cave, or whichever catcher isn't starting that day, but there's a logical argument that it wouldn't. And then there's the money. I think the figures thrown around ($12M with incentives to $15-16) are a little light, and gobbles up all - or almost all - of the remaining budget. I don't pretend to know what that number is, and clearly the team isn't saying, but multiple reports indicate that the annual salary for Cruz would constitute the lion's share of it. This team needs bullpen help and (in my opinion) one more starting pitcher for depth. We can hope against hope that Maeda, Berrios, Pineda, Happ and Dobnak all make 30 starts, but it never happens. We can hope against hope that Smeltzer, Thorpe, Duran and Balazovic can ably fill in, but that, too, walks a thin rope (and depending on how it shakes out, Thorpe could be lost from that depth chart if he doesn't make the relief corps). 8-9 starters is not enough, especially when two have never pitched a major league inning, and all are expected to throw 250% of their 2020 innings. It is also noteworthy how close our top prospects are to reaching ML level - a glance at the MLB prospects list https://www.mlb.com/prospects/2020/twins/ reflects that no less than a dozen of the top 30 (those who haven't already appeared in a big league game) have "2021" as their anticipated date of arrival. I don't see a dozen spots opening up this year, but wouldn't it be nice that if Celestino pounds AAA, or Miranda or Larnach or Lewis, that we would have the ability to move pieces around to make that happen. Our clearest open path to at-bats in 2021 is through the DH slot. The remaining 8 offensive starters seem pretty locked in (again, once AK moves to everyday play). The same dollars that bring us Cruz could fetch a couple of relievers (Colome, Rosenthal, Kennedy, Clippard?) and a starter (Brett Anderson, Jake Arrieta, Carlos Rodon, Cole Hamels?) who slip through the cracks. One final point - I know the team will miss the homers from Eddie and Nelson, but this team too often sat around waiting for some player to hit a bomb. The playoffs the past two years only highlight that shortcoming. Improved flexibility throughout, better defense, room for promotion from prospects, and more reliance on 1-9 rather than solo homers, while beefing up pitching depth, seems a stronger formula for success in 2021 (and beyond).
  13. Nick Gordon or wait for the waiver wire. There is usually an Adrianza out there who doesn't make a roster cut. All I am say-ing, is give Nick a chance.
  14. There have been several excellent "how would you spend $x?" articles written this off-season. There is some point in the winter when the ice breaks and teams start signing players; there are often several points at which these occur, and I've often wondered how that math gets done, realizing that one would be criticized for either moving too quickly (gross overpay for Player A) or too slowly (completely missed out on Player A, you numbskull!). It is one thing to say that the Twins' payroll for 2021 should be in the $125-140M range, take the existing (probable, considering Maeda's incentives) payroll in the low 90s, and figure out a way to spend the remainder, given the estimates of value on all existing free agents, or the +/- in dollars exchanged in any trade. This year, however, presents a different set of possibilities. One can scour the team pages here and there, and come up with a list of teams that are either a)shedding payroll; or b)not going to spend any more than they have already. That limits the number of teams still in the race for the existing assets. For each of those teams, a little deeper dive can also unearth a relative number available to spend on any of the talent out there (the Twins' $30-35M figure, for instance). But what happens when you combine all that? Take the Twins, and several high-budget (or "available money") teams and pool them all. How much is available to spend, total? Then take the existing free agents, and their potential salaries, and see where that number lands you, in a.a.v. It occurs to me that we are in a market where the "available money" is far less than the "potential salaries." In that economic circumstance, it changes the dynamic of the when and where and how much in the acquisition of players. If a team can (accurately) project the available space for spending of all the competitors, and (logically or illogically) evaluates those teams' greatest needs, one can whittle down the available market for players. And somewhere in that analysis, bargains can be found. A couple of good examples exist in JT Realmuto and George Springer. Of the teams who possibly could afford a reasonable Realmuto contract, how many of them need a catcher? Of the teams who possibly could afford a reasonable Springer deal, how many need an outfielder? Carrying that further, once those players sign, and the teams who sign them have their available money evaporate, where does that leave the remaining teams with money to spend? Yes, I realize there is no hard cap in baseball (though the luxury tax and certain teams' stated desire to get under it does add some clarity), and a team who signs a Realmuto or Springer might well decide to change their budget, or go all-in. But in most cases, that won't be true. Now, we're left with a smaller number of teams, with a smaller budget, scrambling to sign the remaining free agents - and yes, the agents for these free agents can also do the math and see that there is now, hypothetically, only 75% of the available money to sign these players to "market value" contracts, and advise their clients accordingly that they are going to need to sign (now!) for 75% of what they hoped, or fall further and further behind in the dollars-to-talent available pool. This is where several teams will end up - those with relatively few dollars to spend are going to have to wait until all the big dogs have eaten before looking around for what remains available. Somewhere in between, before the scrounging occurs right up to and including spring training, there is a proper moment to strike. We aren't there yet. Once Bauer signs, the market for Odorizzi, Tanaka, Paxton, and a few others will heat up. Teams desperate (public relations-wise or otherwise) might overpay for the next available tier, but that leaves arms available that are beyond the price of the teams who are cash-strapped, and almost no competition from teams who have already filled their rosters. It makes business sense, though risky, as you are allowing other teams to snatch up the "best available" talent and contenting yourself with the best of what is left over. I don't have a perfect match for the Twins (though to me getting Sugano for 3 years ($9M/yr), Kluber for 3 years ($8M/yr), Kiki for 3 years ($5M/yr?), and then selecting the best non-Cruz DH candidate on a one-year deal in the $5-7M range, and a solid LH/RH relief tandem at $3-4M each) adds the most to the club and keeps us in the $125-$130 payroll range. Who do you think will have to come off the board before the Twins will react? What do you predict the next move will be? I'm curious to hear people's thoughts on the subject.
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