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  1. Like
    Clare reacted to Melissa Berman for an article, Twins Fans Ride Out Severe Weather at Wednesday's Suspended Game   
    Under a fittingly dark and foreboding sky, the Twins took the field alongside Darth Vader and a gaggle of stormtroopers in honor of Star Wars Night.   From the moment "Obi-wan Kepleroni" and "Buck Skywalker" took the field, the wind was already whipping. Napkins and trash swirled across the field and fans chased hats ripped from their heads. As the first couple innings passed, the sky continued to darken until finally the rain opened up during the bottom of the second inning and sent fans scattering for the overhang and concourse.   "It's watering down my beer!" a guy with a beer near me exclaimed as we both bolted for shelter.   The Astros jumped all over Chris Archer and quickly took a 5-1 lead. The teams continued to play on through the rain and even some lightning (no comment on that one), but once reports of a tornado warning in nearby Eden Prairie came through, it seemed like only a matter of time until the rain and severe weather would continue its eastward march, reach downtown Minneapolis and bring the game to a halt. It was not lost on me that there was a tornado confirmed in Hutchinson, a mere hour west of Minneapolis, and my family and friends in the west metro were sheltered in basements, yet here we were at a baseball game completely exposed to the elements and in the storm's path.    Sure enough, as the Twins took the field to begin the 4th inning, the grounds crew came out to tidy up the infield dirt (a fool's errand with the incoming rain, I thought to myself) and rookie reliever Yennier Cano warmed up on the mound, out came the tarp and into a rain delay the game went- before Cano could throw his first MLB pitch. Interestingly, it will go down as the date of his MLB debut.    The Target Field Grounds Crew visibly struggled in the high winds to get the tarp down on the ground, and it was so windy that they had to weigh down the tarp with nine golf carts parked along its corners and sides.   The Twins PA announcer and the outfield big screen instructed fans to seek shelter on the concourse and displayed an ominous radar graphic showing a giant mass of dark colors headed directly our way.     At first, fans on the 300 level were allowed to stay on the upper concourse, where they mostly mingled and took videos of the torrential rain being blown across the field. I was doing exactly that when a concession worker walked up.    "Do you want to see a really great view of the sky?" he asked.    He motioned me to follow him, and we walked past a concession stand over to a beautiful view of North Loop overlooking the lightrail station. Lighting radiated across the sky and I snapped some pictures as a young man next to me profusely apologized to his date for the terrible game experience. You know the saying, you can't control the weather, but you can check the forecast. Actually, I just made that up.    The concession stand worker stopped by about five minutes later to take another look at the sky.   "You're still here?" he asked me.   Sirens began wailing, and the ushers shepherded us to the lower concourse, which was jam-packed with soggy fans. I found a spot overlooking the field above the first base dugout and watched. I have truly never seen anything like it: the rain was coming down in such thick sheets that you could barely see the outfield video boards. The National Weather Service Twin Cities tweeted that the storm was expecting to bring Minneapolis wind gusts of up to 80 mph. A damage survey conducted the next day on Thursday May 12 concluded that an EF0 tornado touched down in Coon Rapids 15 miles north of Target Field.    Despite the torrential downpour, I was awestruck with how well the Target Field drainage system seemed to be keeping up. While there was rain pooled on top of the tarp, the water on the infield dirt and surrounding grass was largely dissipating.      As time ticked by, Target Field tried to find ways to keep fans entertained. With their tongue in cheek, they played "Rain Is A Good Thing" by Luke Bryan, which fans gleefully sang along to, and the Twins alternated between showing a Marney Gellner interview with Justin Morneau and an apocalyptic warning to stay sheltered. Unfortunately for those looking to dance, Club Rayne did not open today because the Twins cleared fans out of all seats.    Fans appeared to be in good spirits during the delay, though some outwardly questioned why the Twins decided to play the game at all given the evening's forecast.    At one point, a guy took advantage of there being no security on the field and ran onto the field. He ran across the tarp (without slipping, somehow) before he was apprehended near the third base dugout in a somewhat anticlimactic fashion- no tackling or chasing, he simply stopped running and walked into the loving, open arms of Target Field security.    Though the severe weather had blown through by about 8:40 p.m., it continued to rain steadily, and it looked like it would continue until midnight. The concourse started to empty out.    Then at 9:17 p.m., 1 hour and 20 minutes after they first rolled out the tarp, the Twins officially announced they were suspending the game until the following day, Thursday May 12 at 12:10 p.m. The Twins would pick up in the top of the 4th inning down 5-1.   After being almost no-hit by Justin Verlander the day before, it was not the start of the game the Twins were hoping for. Can we get a do-over?   Regardless, to me, Wednesday's game was one of those sporting events that is so bizarre that it rises to the level of being fun.   The remaining fans in the stadium trickled out as "Have You Ever Seen The Rain?" by Creedence Clearwater Revival played overhead. I sloshed back to my car dreaming of sunnier days ahead- both in the forecast and on the baseball diamond.    *** Were you at the game yesterday or watching from somewhere else that got hit by severe weather? What was your experience like? Leave your comments, thoughts, and stories below. 
  2. Like
    Clare reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Past Front Offices Still Impacting the 2022 Twins   
    Bill Smith Contributions (2007-2011)
    Smith faced a challenging time in Twins history as he took over the GM role. Torii Hunter was on his way out the door, and the team needed to trade Johan Santana. The Twins lost a Game 163 (2008) and won the division twice (2009-10) during his tenure. Despite these positive results, Smith couldn’t survive the 2011 campaign as the Twins lost 99 games. It was one of the most disappointing seasons in Twins history, but he helped sign three core pieces to the current roster. 

    Smith’s lasting legacy with the Twins connects to the 2009 international signing class, which was tremendous in retrospect. Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, and Max Kepler signed as part of this class. These players have combined for 37.3 total WAR and two All-Star appearances in their big-league careers. Sano’s Twins tenure may conclude in 2022, but Kepler and Polanco are under team control for multiple more seasons. 
    Terry Ryan Contributions (2012-2016)
    Ryan served as GM for two different stints, so it makes sense for his fingerprints to be all over the Twins organization over the last decade. When taking over from Smith, Ryan got the opportunity to pick the second overall pick, and the organization decided on Byron Buxton. Multiple pitchers were in the conversation for Minnesota, but Buxton has accumulated the fourth-most WAR among players from the 2012 first round. He is now the face of the franchise, and he will be in a Twins uniform for over a decade after Ryan was fired. 

    Minnesota signed Luis Arraez as an international free agent during the 2013 signing class. He has been worth 5.9 WAR in his career while hitting .312/.374/.400 (.748) with a 130 OPS+. Nick Gordon was a top-5 draft pick under the Ryan regime. His professional career hasn’t progressed perfectly, but he has shown the club the value he can provide over the last two seasons. These players look like they will be part of the team’s roster for multiple seasons moving forward. 
    Minnesota’s bullpen picture is also covered with players acquired by Ryan. Tyler Duffey was a fifth-round pick in 2012, and he has been one of the team’s best relievers since 2019. Cody Stashak, a 13th-round pick in 2015, has been terrific to start the 2022 season, and he has yet to become arbitration-eligible. The Twins took Griffin Jax in the 3rd round of the 2016 MLB Draft, Ryan’s last with the organization. This season, he is transitioning to the bullpen, and signs point to him fitting well into his new role. 

    Other prospects on the 40-man roster were also acquired under the Ryan regime. Jovani Moran was a seventh-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, and he has the potential to be a dominant late-inning reliever. His change-up is a dominant pitch, and it has helped him post a 13.4 K/9 in his minor league career. Jordan Balazovic was a fifth-round pick in 2016, and he currently ranks as Twins Daily’s fifth overall prospect. Entering the season, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus each had him in the back-half of their top-100 prospects. He recently made his Triple-A debut, so there is a good chance his big-league debut will be in 2022. 
    Smith and Ryan might not be regarded highly because of how each left the organization. However, their impact will be felt years after their departure. Besides Buxton, which of these players will provide the most long-term value to the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 
  3. Like
    Clare reacted to Jamie Cameron for an article, Twins 7, Orioles 2: Twins stay hot behind Ryan, Bats   
    Box Score
    Starting Pitcher: Ryan 4.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO
    Homeruns: Jeffers (3)
    Top 3 WPA: Jeffers .330, Thielbar .133, Polanco .091
    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    Here’s how the Twins lined up in the second game of their four-game series against the Orioles.
    In the Twins lineup for the second consecutive day, the news that Jose Miranda made the big league club was making the rounds.
    The expectations for Joe Ryan have become absurdly high. While he wasn’t as dominant as he was in his last start against Detroit, he continued to impress, working quickly and effectively. His first inning was prolonged by a throwing error from Gio Urshela, allowing Trey Mancini to reach base. Ryan plunked Santander before wriggling out of the inning, despite throwing 25 pitches.
    The Twins meanwhile, continued their offensive trend from Monday’s game, struggling to put together effective at-bats against Orioles' standout Bruce Zimmerman. The game remained scoreless through three innings, due to some excellent defensive work from Carlos Correa.
    The Twins finally broke through in the fourth, with Miranda drilling a double into the right-center field gap, to collect his first hit and first RBI as Urshela scored from first base.
    In the bottom of the fourth, the Twins fell upon some incredibly bad luck. Austin Hays led off the inning with an infield single after drilling a ball into home plate at 77 mph. Rougned Odor followed up with a 42.8 mph double off the end of the bat, that just beat the shift. Tyler Nevin then reached on an error from Correa as the Orioles tied the game at 1-1. Just when it looked like the Orioles were in for a big inning, Anthony Bemboom flew into a double play, with Buxton doubling off Tyler Nevin at second base. Incredibly, Ryan managed to escape with just one run surrendered, taking the game to the fifth inning tied
    The Twins and Orioles traded one-run fifth innings. The Twins scored in the top of the inning with a Polanco single up the middle, after the Twins had two men on, and none out. The Orioles immediately replied in the bottom of the inning when a Mancini single scored Cedric Mullins, who had doubled to start the inning. Santander grounded into a force-out, blasting a ball at Ryan, who fielded, and threw to second to get Mancini, benefiting from a beautiful stretch and pick by Correa.
    In the sixth inning, the Twins finally opened up a meaningful lead. Gary Sanchez doubled and Trevor Larnach (who entered the game for Max Kepler) walked, to put runners on first and second with one out. Ryan Jeffers then deposited a three-run home run to left-center field. Jeffers, while not the same caliber of slugger as Mitch Garver, has played extremely well this season. Through the first month, he has put up a 107 wRC+, with excellent defense and framing numbers to boot.
    Caleb Thielbar worked through five outs of scoreless relief, striking out two. He was followed by Tyler Duffey, who managed five additional outs of scoreless relief. Thielbar and Duffey starting to get back on track will be of great relief to Twins fans, given their early-season struggles.
    Back-to-back doubles from Gilberto Celestino and Byron Buxton increased the lead to four in the ninth inning. Carlos Correa added another double, moving Buxton to third base with no outs. A Jorge Polanco sacrifice fly scored Buxton, increasing the lead to 7-2 entering the bottom of the ninth inning.
    Cody Stashak pitched a scoreless ninth to give the Twins the win. Minnesota is 4-1 on their current road trip, has won 11 of their last 12, and has moved to 15-9 on the young season. Winning is fun, and the Twins don't look to be slowing down anytime soon.
    Bullpen Usage Chart
      THU FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT                 Jax 46 0 0 0 15 0 61 Duffey 8 0 0 17 0 18 43 Stashak 18 0 14 0 0 11 43 Coulombe 0 35 0 0 0 0 35 Thielbar 0 0 15 0 0 18 33 Duran 0 0 20 0 10 0 30 Pagán 0 0 0 0 27 0 27 Smith 0 0 9 0 2 0 11 Moran 0 0 0 0 0 0 0  
    Next Up
    On Wednesday, the Twins will continue their series in Baltimore against the Orioles. Dylan Bundy will look to rebound from a poor outing in Tampa. Kyle Bradish goes for Baltimore. The first pitch is at 6:05 CT
    Postgame Interviews
  4. Like
    Clare reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Week in Review: Buck Is Back   
    Last Week's Game Results:
    Game 10 | MIN 8, BOS 3: Garlick, Polanco Homer as Twins Split in Boston
    Game 11 | KC 4, MIN 3: Duffey Implodes as Twins Waste Winnable Game
    Game 12 | KC 2, MIN 0: Another Solid Pitching Performance Gets Wasted
    Game 13 | MIN 1, KC 0: Joe Cool Dazzles, Slough of Singles
    Game 14 | MIN 2, CWS 1: Twins Catch Break, Win Thriller
    Game 15 | MIN 9, CWS 2: Buxton, Bundy Lead in Comfortable Win
    Game 16 | MIN 6, CWS 4: Twins End White Sox Sweep with a Bang
    Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 4/18 through Sun, 4/24
    Record Last Week: 5-2 (Overall: 8-8)
    Run Differential Last Week: +13 (Overall: +2)
    Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (0.5 GA)
    Thankfully it was a week filled with more good news than bad news on the injury front. 
    First, the bad news: Jorge Alcalá was moved to the 60-day injured list with his elbow inflammation showing no signs of improvement. He'll be out until at least June, dealing a serious blow to the Twins' bullpen outlook. Replacing him on the 40-man roster is José Godoy, who joined the team as a third catcher.
    The additional depth was needed with Minnesota's top two backstops experiencing some (hopefully minor) issues. Gary Sánchez was scratched on Saturday due to abdominal tightness and Ryan Jeffers was scratched on Sunday due to a knee contusion. Neither player was placed on IL, although seemingly neither was available on Sunday.
    With a cortisone injection improving the condition of his ailing right wrist, Alex Kirilloff is set to start a brief rehab stint in St. Paul on Tuesday. He may rejoin the Twins next weekend. Meanwhile, Byron Buxton is already back and making a HUGE impact. We'll get to that shortly.
    The refreshingly impressive Twins rotation kept on rolling in Boston, Kansas City, and back home into Minneapolis. Check out the yeoman’s work in each successive game Monday through Saturday:
    Dylan Bundy @ BOS: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K Chris Archer @ KC: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K Chris Paddack @ KC: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Joe Ryan @ KC: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K Bailey Ober vs. CWS: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K Dylan Bundy vs. CWS: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Add in Chris Archer's so-so effort on Sunday (3 IP, 2 ER) and the rotation posted a 2.21 ERA in seven games last week. Starting pitching is carrying this team in April.
    Joe Ryan's outing was perhaps the most critical of the bunch last week – he was masterful Thursday in a 1-0 victory where the Twins needed every bit of his greatness. With a marked increase in his slider usage (up to 31.2% in his first three starts, from 16.0% in 2021) Ryan continued to relentlessly attack the zone while inducing whiffs and weak contact.
    Dylan Bundy lowered his ERA for the season to 0.59 (third-lowest in baseball) with a pair of excellent starts. His early success owes to a few factors, but a big one is that he's pounding the strike zone at one of the highest rates in the league. His fastball has been extremely effective, despite ranking in the 9th percentile for velocity (averaging just 89.0 MPH). Hitters are batting .133 against it with zero extra-base hits through three starts. 
    The offense's breakout on Saturday, which saw them score more runs (9) than they had in the previous four games (6) was keyed in part by Luis Arraez, who went 4-for-5 in the contest and is now slashing .354/.426/.458 after a 9-for-21 run.
    But the true star of the week – and stop me if you've heard this before – was Buxton. He only started three games, taking a few games off to make sure all was well with his sore knee, but the team's best player wasted no time making his presence felt.
    After a 1-for-4 game as DH against Kansas City on Thursday, Buxton started in center at Target Field on Saturday night and went 4-for-4 with a home run, HBP, and three runs scored. On Sunday, he came through with a clutch game-tying two-run homer in the seventh and then walked it off with an epic three-run blast in the 10th. It was a really special moment.
    There really aren't words to describe what Buxton is doing right now. He's single-handedly winning ballgames. He has hilariously accumulated 1.4 fWAR in a span of 10 games. His WPA in Sunday's game alone (0.761) was higher than all but seven MLB players had accumulated ALL season. This is amazingly fun to watch. 
    I continue to believe Buxton's contract extension will go down as the most important move this franchise has ever made. 
    Up and down the lineup, hitters continue to generally struggle. Carlos Correa finally notched some hits, going 6-for-22, but they were all singles and he also mixed in three GIDPs. Trevor Larnach, who went 2-for-22 with eight strikeouts, looks like he belongs in Triple-A (and will likely soon head back). Max Kepler failed to register an extra-base hit or RBI; his slugging percentage sits at .300 yet he's still batting fourth or fifth every time he's in the lineup.
    But make no mistake: Miguel Sanó continues to be the biggest laggard on offense for the Twins. Following a 2-for-22 week, his slash line sits at an embarrassing .083/.224/.146, and the supposed slugger has produced just one home run and three RBIs in 15 games.
    It's a weird deal with Sanó. The process isn't bad. He's taking good at-bats and making hard contact, with barrel and chase rates that rank among the best in the league. But there's constantly no payoff and it's hard to view it all as just bad luck. On Sunday, in a key spot with the tying run on second in the 10th, he got the green light on a 3-0 count and popped out to the catcher. I mean come on dude.
    On the bullpen front, Tyler Duffey coughed up another close lead and saw it turn into a loss on his ledger. While his meltdown Tuesday in Kansas City was less damaging than the blown save against Seattle – this time the offense had three chances to tie or take a lead, although of course they failed – it was substantively much uglier. 
    Rather than getting dinked and dunked on a string of hits like in his first blown save, Duffey gave up a pair of long home runs in KC on absolute meatballs left out over the plate. 
    He left that outing with the worst Win Probability Added (-0.88) of any pitcher or hitter in the big leagues. With his season starting to feel like an Alex Colomé redux, Duffey bounced back on Friday night. 
    Rocco Baldelli gave a strong vote of confidence to his embattled veteran, handing Duffey the ball with a one-run deficit in the eighth against the top of the Chicago order, and Duff delivered: a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts. Hopefully it's a sign of stabilization to come, because the Twins really need Duffey to be a Dude in that bullpen – especially in light of the unfortunate Alcalá news.
    What is the plan with Gilberto Celestino? That is the big looming question in my mind right now. He's 23 years old, and still very much a developing prospect – he's played a total of 75 games above Single-A in the minors – yet for some reason Celestino is relegated to stagnation on the big-league bench. He's been with the Twins since Opening Day, accruing just 10 at-bats (with one hit) in three weeks. 
    I get that the 40-man roster situation is a bit challenging, but this is getting ridiculous. Not only does Celestino offer very little as a bench player for the Twins, but more importantly, this is terrible for his development. He needs regular at-bats. I understood carrying him as a short-term patch while the Twins pursued Justin Upton, but if that's not happening ... what are we doing here exactly?
    Having passed their first test against an AL Central contender in flying colors, the Twins will now welcome another one to Target Field as Detroit visits for a three-game series. We're slated to see old friend Michael Pineda on Wednesday night. Then it's off to a Tampa for three games against the always-tough Rays.
    It feels like the Twins have faced an inordinate number of left-handed starters early on this year, and that trend continues with (at least) four southpaws on the upcoming docket. The health situations of Sánchez and Jeffers will be worth closely monitoring.
    TUESDAY, 4/26: TIGERS @ TWINS – LHP Eduardo Rodriguez v. RHP Chris Paddack
    WEDNESDAY, 4/27: TIGERS @ TWINS – RHP Michael Pineda v. RHP Joe Ryan
    THURSDAY, 4/28: TIGERS @ TWINS – LHP Tarik Skubal v. RHP Bailey Ober
    FRIDAY, 4/29: TWINS @ RAYS – RHP Dylan Bundy v. TBD
    SATURDAY, 4/30: TWINS @ RAYS – RHP Chris Archer v. LHP Shane McClanahan
    SUNDAY, 5/1: TWINS @ RAYS – RHP Chris Paddack v. LHP Josh Fleming
  5. Like
    Clare reacted to Sherry Cerny for an article, Twins 6, White Sox 4: Twins End White Sox Series Sweep with a Bang   
    But they battled back, scoring one run off of White Sox ace Lucas Giolito and tying up the game on a home run by Byron Buxton in the seventh inning. They threatened to take the lead in the eighth inning but left the bases loaded when Luis Arraez grounded out to second base. 
    That didn't stop the Twins from having faith. Byron Buxton came up to bat in the 10th inning to get a three-run homerun to walk it off!
    Box Score
    SP: Chris Archer: 3 IP,3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K (61 pitches, 32 strikes (52.4%))
    Home Runs: Byron Buxton 2 (6)
    Top 3 WPA: Byron Buxton (.761), Jhoan Duran (.227), Max Kepler (.168) 
    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    Larnach’s Series
    Trevor Larnach’s series versus the White Sox has been one of consistency. Since the game in Kansas City versus the Royals, Larnach has had a hit every game, responsible for two of the RBIs in the Saturday afternoon game giving the Twins a seven-run lead in the bottom of the fourth. He did not fare as well at the plate today, striking out twice (looking, once with the bases loaded, and once with runners on second and third) but still found a way to contribute. 
    As Archer struggled to maintain control in the third inning, with bases loaded, Andrew Vaughn singled a sharp line drive to Larnach in left-field, who threw a cannon home to Jose Godoy to end the inning. 
    Godoy Makes Twins Debut
    Jose Godoy’s contract was added to the Twins’ roster yesterday and made his debut with the Twins today. The former Seattle Mariner had 40 at-bats last year ending the season with a .162 batting average. Ryan Jeffers was scratched from the line-up two hours before game time for a knee contusion and Gary Sanchez is still out with abdominal tightness. 
    Godoy saw five pitches in his first at-bat, striking out.  Godoy’s first and second appearances he struck out, but rounded out his first game with the Twins being walked by Aaron Bummer, before being sent home off Byron Buxton game-tying two-run home run. Then he walked again in the 10th inning, coming around again on Buxton's game-winning home run. 
    His defense and chemistry with Archer was impressive to watch. The rookie catcher was able to frame pitches on a consistent basis and has good reaction time. Godoy showed his speed and agility as he ran to catch a foul off Grandal’s bat at the top of the third. Interference from the fence made for a hard catch, but Archer and Godoy got Grandal to swing at a high fast ball striking him out with the next pitch.
    He did, however, commit a cardinal sin in the 8th inning. With the winning run on third base and one out, he squared to bunt but popped out to White Sox pitcher Kendall Graveman. 
    Postgame Postscript: We learned after the game that Jeffers took a ball off his knee earlier this series and had a left knee contusion and that Rocco really did not want to use him. That proved to be important as there was that opportunity in the 8th inning to pinch hit for Godoy in the bat in which he popped out on a bump. So the Twins entered today's game with three catchers on the active roster, but only one was truly active. 
    Bats Show Signs of Life
    The Twins line-up was consistent over the series and through today battling rain and cold to keep their bats swinging, a nice change of pace from the earliest part of the season’s start. With the exception of a few players getting strikeouts early, by the 6th inning, at a minimum, almost every bat made contact with a pitch. Even Miguel Sano who was 0-for-8 through the series ended up getting a single into right field in the second inning. 

    Giolito Returns But Doesn’t Last Long
    The Twins have been having trouble scoring runs, so the last thing they need is to face a preseason Cy Young Award candidate. Not only was today’s opposing pitcher, Lucas Giolito, a candidate, he opened the season as one of the favorites at 13-2 odds.
    However, he was also making his first start after a stay on the 10-day injured list for an abdominal strain, and that rust showed a bit in the first inning. Giolito threw 26 pitches that inning, only half of which were strikes, and walked two Twins. But with the bases loaded, he escaped untarnished by striking out Trevor Larnach on two changeups and a fastball. 
    The story was similar in the third inning. This time, a walk, and a couple of singles loaded the bases, and the Twins cashed in a run on a sacrifice fly by Gio Urshela. But Giolito escaped further damage by fooling young left-handed hitters - this time both Larnach and Nick Gordon - with his changeup and fastballs away. 
    Still, he had already thrown 65 pitches through three innings, and due to his stint on the injured list, it was expected he would only throw 70-80 pitches in his second outing this year. Sure enough, after an efficient fourth inning, his day was over. 
    Gordon’s Growth
    Nick Gordon played in his 12th game today, starting at shortstop as manager Rocco Baldelli gave Carlos Correa a day off. He entered today with a 694 OPS in 26 plate appearances. He will likely never show a lot of power, and a .261 batting average is nothing special, but he is getting on base almost 35% of the time.
    Almost any evaluation of Gordon’s future and performance are tied to the wide range of expectations attached to him. If your expectations are tied to his selection in the first round of the 2014 draft, or of his family pedigree, you’re likely going to be disappointed. If, on the other hand, your expectations of him were set by his performance and health issues in AAA as recently as 2019, you might be delighted by his sudden progression as a valuable bench asset. 
    To both camps, I’d suggest it is time to take a look at him with fresh eyes. He’s a 26-year-old who is likely to never post a big OPS because he will likely never hit for power. But he gets on base, he is capable (though not outstanding) in several key defensive roles, and as a left-handed hitter, he is more likely to get a decent matchup versus right-handed pitchers. Plus, he’s an asset on the base paths.
    All that makes him an ideal super-utility player, which is exactly the role he is fulfilling this year. If he can show that he can raise his batting average closer to .300, he might improve to the point where he could be a regular starter. Fortunately for him, his performance and usefulness should provide plenty of opportunities to show his development in the super-utility role.
    Winder Unleashed
    After nearly a week without making an appearance, long reliever and promising prospect Josh Winder made an appearance when Chris Archer only lasted three innings. He gave up one run over four innings, striking out two and giving up three hits. Maybe most notably, after struggling with his control in his first appearance, he walked none and threw strikes in 42 of his 61 pitches. 
    Winder is working as the long reliever but is a starting pitching prospect long-term. We saw today what we have seen from him so far: he is a slider-first pitcher who turns to his fastball to keep hitters off-balance. It seems to be working well in a relief role, but it will be interesting to see how it plays when he has to face a lineup a second time. Certainly today that was in question, as he gave up a home run on his second time through the order. 
    But for the most part, we likely won’t see him face batters more than once in his current role with the Twins. We might get a better sense of that if he was starting in St. Paul, but he’s now fulfilling an important role with the major league club. Regardless, it’s nice to see another Twins pitching prospect having some success in the majors. 
    Postgame Postscript: We learned after the game that the plan was always for Archer to be limited to only 50-60 pitches, and he was told that after his last start in Kansas City. We also learned from Rocco that this decision was specific to Archer; they're not planning right now on similar planned short starts with the rest of the rotation. He also hinted that they wanted to do this now, when they still had a 28-man roster. It'll be interesting to see if Winder eventually does go down to St. Paul as part of the mandatory roster trimming that will happen next week, or whether he'll continue in this role in which he's having success. 
    Clutch Buxton
    Byron Buxton had a fantastic series, hitting every chance he got, and coming through whenever the team needed him. His 3-run home run came on a 3-1 count with runners on second and third base and one out. White Sox closer Liam Hendricks, in his second inning of work, pitched to Buxton in that situation rather than give him a free pass to first base and load the bases for Luis Arraez. It’s not clear that strategy would have fared any better, but they likely would choose a different path given another chance.
    Postgame Postscript: As expected (and completely appropriate) postgame interviews centered entirely around Buxton doing godlike things. Baldelli called Buxton the best player in the world right now, and marveled at some of the things he did. But you might be surprised at what he wanted to breakdown: it was Buxton's first, game-tying home run in the 8th.  Here it is, because he breaks down what  we are seeing pretty nicely.
    "He's facing a left-hander who as we saw earlier in the game, is one of the best left-handers in the game. Gets a ton of groundballs. He's a really hard guy to drive the ball in the air against. And he's a guy that normally pitches all the right-handers in, pound 'em in. And he decided to go away to Buck.
    And it took a few pitches, but Buck identifies what's going on. Completely changes what he's trying to do at the plate. And lines a ball over the right field fence. I mean, there's nothing typical or everyday or normal about that. That's very, very special. And I don't want to stop talking about it, because it's so impressive. Even for people who watch this level of baseball everyday. To see what he's doing it's just awesome."
    What’s Next? 
    The Twins will enjoy an off day at home on Monday before starting a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers at Target Field. Pitching matchups for the series include: 
    Tuesday 6:40: Chris Paddock (0-2, 5.00) vs LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (0-1, 5.27 ERA) Wednesday 6:40: Joe Ryan (2-1, 1.69 ERA) vs RHP Michael Pineda (1-0, 0.00 ERA)  Thursday 12:10: Bailey Ober  (1-1, 2.81 ERA) vs LHP Tarik Skubal (1-1, 2.30 ERA) Postgame Interview 
    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

  6. Like
    Clare reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, 3 Takeaways from Friday's Win Over the White Sox   
    1: Baldelli showed confidence in Duffey, and it paid off.
    Confirmation bias runs rampant in sports fandom, and it's one reason that every coach, manager, and official reliably receives an undue share of criticism. In recognizing this, it's only fair to give Rocco Baldelli his due.
    I wrote earlier this week, following Tyler Duffey's second costly meltdown of this young season, that Baldelli should act quickly in reducing the veteran's bullpen role. This was less a reaction to Duffey's two bad outings this year and more with an eye toward his overall regression since 2020. He just seems to have lost a ton.
    Alas, Baldelli turned back to Duffey in a big spot on Friday night. With the Twins down 1-0 in the eighth inning and the top of Chicago's order due up, Duffey took the ball and mowed 'em down. He struck out Tim Anderson and Leury Garcia before inducing a groundout from José Abreu. 
    Threat neutralized. And along with it, the angry mob. For now. 
    2: Correa finally caught a break.
    The game started in signature fashion for Carlos Correa. He worked a good first AB against Michael Kopech before smashing a hard drive up the middle ... straight to the shortstop for a double play – his league-leading fifth of the season to quash a modest budding rally.
    Correa hasn't looked great at the plate by any means, and his whiff rate says it all. But he's also been dealing with some rotten luck. His exit velocities and hard-hit rates are near the top of the charts, but so often the outcomes have resembled the above.
    So it was nice to see fortune finally tilt in his favor in the eighth inning. With runners on the corners and two outs, Correa drilled a 98-MPH one-hopper into the hole between short and third. Anderson made a nice play on it to his right, but his off-balance throw to first missed wide and chaos ensued.
    By the end of it all, the Twins were in the lead and Correa was pumping up his teammates in the dugout. It was an unorthodox way to finally come through for the new team but we'll take it.
    3: Baseball sure is a boring product right now.
    I guess Correa's eventful infield hit could be described as exciting, but there have been few such moments in the many innings of baseball played this week. What a dull and dreary product fans are receiving these days.
    Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to have it. I realize that Major League Baseball could've easily been absent from our lives at this point, had the lockout not mercifully ended in March. But the quality of the play has just been really sub-par, with dead-ball era vibes across the league, and Friday was a perfect encapsulation.
    The Twins have been a big mess lately, yet Chicago was only messier. The winning runs scored on sloppy defensive plays, and the game featured a familiar lack of compelling offensive sequences. 
    I was watching on TV with a few friends who are – I would say – at least moderate Twins fans. None of them could even sustain their attention on the ninth inning of a tightly contested one-run game. Even as a total diehard who revels in every intricacy of the game, I could feel their pain. 
    It was a drag to watch. In the waning moments of a game where seemingly nothing ever happened, Emilio Pagán was battling through never-ending at-bats up until he finally escaped his self-made mess with a borderline strike three call. 
    It was an unfulfilling end to an unfulfilling victory. I hope better days are ahead.
  7. Like
    Clare reacted to Thiéres Rabelo for an article, Twins 2, White Sox 1: Twins Catch Break, Win Thriller   
    Box Score
    Starting Pitcher: Bailey Ober, 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K (79 pitches, 56 strikes, 70.8%)
    Home Runs: none
    Top 3 WPA: Carlos Correa (.462), Emilio Pagán (.152), Bailey Ober (.104)
    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    Ober pitches solid five innings, but gets no help from the offense
    Earlier today, the Twins official Twitter account sent out the tweet below, which could’ve somehow put a little pressure on young starter Bailey Ober:
    But that’s exactly what didn't happen. The sophomore had a solid start to this game, dominating the White Sox lineup. With solid command, he threw over 72% strikes in the first three innings allowing only two hits.
    Unfortunately for the Twins, Chicago’s starter Michael Kopech also feasted off recently weakened Minnesota’s offense through the first portion of the game. Luis Arráez opened up the first inning with a leadoff single, but Carlos Correa grounded into a double play immediately afterward. In that same inning, Jorge Polanco reached on a walk but was caught trying to steal second, ending the threat.
    The first man in scoring position of the game was a Twin. Trevor Larnach hit a two-out double in the second, but Kopech followed that up by retiring the next eight batters, including four strikeouts.
    Ober pitched a clean fourth inning, but the White Sox got to him in the fifth, with Andrew Vaughn smashing a leadoff home run to center to make it 1-0 Chicago. Ober got into a bad spot when Reese McGuire followed that homer with a double, prompting an immediate mound visit by Wes Johnson. That helped him get back on track and he retired the next three batters to limit the damage to just the one run.
    Ober’s night was done after that inning, with Griffin Jax coming in to pitch the sixth. With tonight’s outing, Ober lowered his season ERA to 2.81 and the Twins rotation continues to be one of the best in the majors. You know, as we all have predicted a month ago, right?
    Jax, Bullpen perform brilliantly; wild defense from Chicago gives Twins the lead
    Griffin Jax came in trying to keep this a one-run game and he couldn’t have done a better job. He threw two scoreless and hitless frames on 29 pitches – 24 sliders (83%). He pitched around a leadoff walk in the sixth and went on to retire the next six batters, causing them to swing and miss 46% of the time.
    After a rough outing in Kansas City on Tuesday that cost the Twins a win, Tyler Duffey got a much-needed clean inning in the eighth. He retired the top of Chicago’s lineup in order on 13 pitches, including two strikeouts, giving the offense a chance to redeem itself in the bottom of the inning. Could they do it?
    Well, yes and no. The inning started out atrociously for Minnesota, with Miguel Sanó and Nick Gordon quickly retired on ten pitches. Ryan Jeffers stepped up to the plate and, also quickly, was down 0-2 in the count. Suddenly, things started to change in a wild way.
    In the third pitch of the at-bat, Jeffers crushed a ground-rule double to left-center, bringing Arráez to the plate. Luis worked a nice six-pitch walk to keep the inning alive and bring Correa to the plate. Slumping really hard on the season so far, “C4” swung on the second pitch and grounded to the hole in deep shortstop, enough to score Jeffers. But to make things better, Tim Anderson and José Abreu made a couple of awful throws that allowed Arráez to also score and Correa to make second. (Just watch this...)
    Emilio Pagán was brought in to pitch the ninth and try to earn the save, but things didn’t start well for him. He gave up a leadoff double to Eloy Jiménez and loaded the bases with only one out. After a hard-fought, nine-pitch at-bat, he got McGuire to pop out. Then, he almost lost Jake Burger for the last out but managed to strike him out on a full count.
    What’s Next? 
    Game two of the series is tomorrow at 3:05 pm CDT, when Dylan Bundy (2-0, 0.87 ERA) tries to keep his hot start going facing righty Vince Velasquez (0-1, 4.15 ERA). Byron Buxton is expected to be back in the lineup.
    Postgame Interviews
    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
      MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT               Jax 47 0 0 0 29 76 Pagán 0 0 0 9 34 43 Duran 23 0 0 15 0 38 Romero 0 30 0 0 0 30 Duffey 0 15 0 0 13 28 Smith 6 2 0 16 0 24 Stashak 0 0 21 0 0 21 Thielbar 0 0 15 0 0 15 Winder 0 0 0 0 0 0 Coulombe 0 0 0 0 0 0
  8. Like
    Clare reacted to Nash Walker for an article, Twins Have Important Reinforcements Close   
    It’s never wise to place the “instant contributor” tag on any prospect. The early struggles of Bobby Witt Jr., baseball’s No. 1 prospect, and Spencer Torkelson, the first-round pick in the 2020 Draft, show that it’s unwise to expect immediate results from even the best rookie hitters. 
    The Twins are struggling to score runs. Naturally, fans start to wonder about reinforcements. Who could give this group a boost? And more importantly, why should you believe it could be better in the future? 
    Gary Sánchez, Carlos Correa, and Miguel Sanó are virtual locks to depart after the season, while Max Kepler enters the final guaranteed year of his contract in 2023. Gio Urshela is a clear non-tender candidate. There was significant turnover this offseason, especially in the rotation. We could see the same type of flip in the lineup next winter. 
    It doesn’t have to start then, though. MLB Pipeline ranks three Twins hitters in their Top-100 Prospect Rankings. Royce Lewis (45) has dropped considerably since the Twins selected him with the first pick in 2017, but his talent is undeniable. 
    Lewis is raking at Triple-A for the Saints. He’s hitting for power, drawing walks, using the opposite field, and stringing outstanding plays at shortstop. It’s still super early, but the early returns on Lewis are nothing short of remarkable. His production shouldn’t be a surprise to those who know how special his tools still are. 
    The assumed plan to replace Correa with Lewis in 2023 looks sound so far. If things continue to go this well for him at Triple-A, it’s not crazy to think Lewis could join the Twins relatively soon. He’s the highest upside player in the entire system, and his previous prospect status would’ve placed him at a 2022 mid-season debut.
    While Lewis carries the most upside, Austin Martin’s floor feels the safest. Martin, ranked as the No. 51 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, is known for his quality of at-bat and elite ability to make contact. His skillset is a right-handed Luis Arraez, and that specific mastery tends to translate fastest. Martin may never develop real power, but it feels like he’s close to the majors even without it. 
    The Twins’ Minor League Hitter of the Year in 2021 put together one of the best seasons the organization has ever seen. José Miranda, now a Top-100 prospect, led the minors in total bases and hit 30 homers across the two highest levels. He’s off to a slow start in 2022, but Miranda had an outside chance of making the team outright this spring. He’s likely the first call if a corner infielder gets hurt. 
    The Twins are hoping that Lewis, Martin, and Miranda make up the heart of the lineup for the next half-decade, preferably as soon as possible. With Byron Buxton locked in, it’s easy to envision a potential core for the future. If things continue to stay downhill for the Twins’ offense, they have three top prospects who could help when the weather warms up. 
  9. Like
    Clare reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Tyler Duffey's Dreadful Start Is Déjà Vu All Over Again   
    To suggest that Duffey is solely responsible for the two losses he's been tagged with is not quite fair. In both cases he was working with an extremely thin late-game lead thanks to an offense that just can't seem to get going.
    Nevertheless, both on April 9th against Seattle and on Tuesday night against Kansas City, Duffey entered with a fresh inning and one-run lead. In both cases, those leads turned to deficits (and eventual losses) on his watch.
    As a result, Duffey enters play on Wednesday with the worst Win Probability Added (-0.88) among all major-league players. If this feels familiar, there's a reason. In 2021, Alex Colomé had the worst WPA in the majors by a wide margin for the month of April. We saw the effect his implosion had on the course of the Twins season. It's difficult not to feel a sense of déjà vu.
    Now, it also must be noted that we're dealing with incredible small sample sizes here. Duffey has made only three appearances this season. Making rash decisions on such a basis tends to be unwise. For example, Liam Hendriks also finds himself near the bottom of the WPA leaderboard – I doubt the White Sox are about to bump him into mop-up duty.
    But there is really no optimism to be drawn from Duffey's performance. He looks TERRIBLE. It seemed clear that he was on the road to regression last year as his peripherals all slid downward, but it was hard to envision such an extraordinary manifestation of this regression so rapidly.

    The main problem is that Duffey's fastball, which needs to be a reliable mainstay to set up his breaking ball, is an unusable pitch. He has thrown it 22 times so far and produced zero swings and misses. When putting the four-seamer in play, opponents are 4-for-6 with two doubles and a  home run. The average exit velocity on this contact is a whopping 103 MPH. Good grief.
    Rocco Baldelli is short on alternatives at the back end of the bullpen presently, which casts a pall on the decision to trade Taylor Rogers on the eve of Opening Day. (Rogers, by the way, is 5-for-5 in save attempts with a 0.00 ERA for the Padres.) 
    But using Duffey in big spots is simply not an option right now. He needs to be relegated to low leverage and unless things change quickly he's probably going to be on DFA watch. 
    It's unfortunate to see from a well-liked player who's been with the organization for so long. But the Twins don't have the luxury of letting sentimentality affect their decision-making. Baldelli simply cannot stand idly by and let another season spin off the rails out of deference to a bad relief pitcher based on nothing more than stature and track record. He just can't.
  10. Like
    Clare reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Week in Review: Scare Factory   
    Last Week's Game Results:
    Game 4 | MIN 4, SEA 0: Twins Split Series Behind Bundy
    Game 5 | LAD 7, MIN 2: Bullpen Collapses in Rainy Affair
    Game 6 | LAD 7, MIN 0: Kershaw Perfect as Dodgers Dominate
    Game 7 | MIN 8, BOS 4: Ryan Spoils Fenway Home Opener
    Game 8 | BOS 4, MIN 0: Bats Go Quiet Again in Boston
    Game 9 | BOS 8, MIN 1: Another Bullpen Meltdown Leads to Blowout
    Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 4/11 through Sun, 4/17
    Record Last Week: 2-4 (Overall: 3-6)
    Run Differential Last Week: -15 (Overall: -11)
    Standing: 5th Place in AL Central (3.0 GB)
    I tried knocking on wood last week when I mentioned that the Twins had entered the season with a relatively clean bill of health. We all knew it wouldn't work. Unsurprisingly, things took a quick turn on the injury front.
    On Tuesday, Jorge Alcalá was placed on IL with elbow inflammation – an ominous early sign for the right-hander, whose velocity had been noticeably down all spring from 2021. Griffin Jax joined the bullpen in his place.
    One day later, the Twins placed Alex Kirilloff on the shelf while revealing that his right wrist issues from last year are persisting, despite undergoing surgery nine months ago. Trevor Larnach, off to a brutal start in Triple-A following his second-half spiral last season, was the choice to replace Kirilloff on the roster. 
    Also on Wednesday, the team designated reliever Jharel Cotton and added Dereck Rodriguez to the 40-man roster. It was a puzzling move to say the least; the Twins claimed Cotton very early in the offseason and essentially had him locked into their bullpen picture all along. He looked pretty good in his first two appearances, although he did struggle with control in the cold on Tuesday night. 
    Exposing him to waivers so hastily, in order to add a fungible journeyman? It's weird. We'll see if Cotton makes it through and sticks around.
    Friday and Saturday brought the season's biggest scares on the injury front, although thankfully it appears that the Twins avoided seriously bad outcomes on either front. First, Byron Buxton hurt his knee while sliding awkwardly into second in the series opener in Boston. 
    Optically it was horrifying. He slammed the ground in frustration and instantly removed himself from the game instantly. But in a rare showing of mercy from the injury gods, scans showed no structural damage and Buxton is only expected to return this week. 
    Saturday's game saw Sonny Gray, the front office's biggest offseason addition to the rotation, pull himself in the second inning. It turned out he was bothered by a sore hamstring, and although Gray – unlike Buxton – didn't avoid the injured list (Cody Stashak was activated in his stead), there's optimism his stay there will be short.
    In the meantime, adapting the rotation to his absence will be easy, since the Twins can simply go back to a standard five-man setup.
    Early returns on Minnesota's buy-low free agency gambles in the rotation are quite good. As far as first impressions go, you can't do much better than Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer in their Twins debuts. 
    Bundy shut down the Mariners on Monday night with five innings of one-hit ball, allowing just one hit and one walk. Although he could hardly be described as "dominant," generating six whiffs and two strikeouts against 18 hitters, the righty was efficient and effective. He threw 47 of 67 pitches for strikes, and easily could've given the Twins another inning or two with a full spring build-up.
    The next night, Archer delivered four shutout innings against an imposing Dodgers lineup – a performance made to look even more impressive by the way said lineup decimated the rest of the Twins pitching staff. 
    Like Bundy, Archer's performance was more workmanlike than overpowering, as he registered five swinging strikes on 63 pitches. But his two biggest downfalls from the last two seasons – walks and home runs – were nowhere to be seen. Archer kept the ball in the yard and issued no free passes while flashing impressive velocity.
    If even one of these first glimpses is indicative of what's to come, that's a HUGE development for this year's rotation.
    Speaking of big developments for the rotation, Joe Ryan was absolutely dazzling in his second start of the season, silencing Boston's imposing lineup over six innings of one-run ball. Leaning heavily on his underrated slider, Ryan piled up seven strikeouts on 16 swings and misses. He walked no one and threw an exceptional 73% of his 82 pitches for strikes. A tremendously encouraging performance.
    Rounding out a strong week for the starting corps was Bailey Ober, who tossed six innings on Sunday with just two unearned runs allowed. Altogether, Twins starters have posted a 3.12 ERA with just 29 hits and 11 walks allowed in 40 ⅓ innings – and this while facing some pretty dang good opponents.
    The bullpen has been a mixed bag so far, but the low points have been costly and alarming. The last thing you want is a relief unit that allows things to spiral out of control suddenly, and we saw it happen twice for this group in the last week alone.
    Both of these incidents involved Caleb Thielbar. On Tuesday, he and Jhon Romero combined for an eighth-inning meltdown that saw the Dodgers push across six runs on five hits and two walks. On Sunday, Thielbar was charged with four earned runs on four hits while recording just one out, ballooning his ERA to 23.63. That's a smidge lower than the 27.00 ERA that Stashak finds himself with, after coughing up two runs on three hits in two-thirds of an inning after replacing Thielbar. Stashak posted a 6.89 ERA in 15 ⅔ innings last year and after this disastrous 2022 debut, it's worth wondering if Cotton was the right guy to jettison.
    Wednesday was another tough day for the pen, with Rodriguez and Jax giving up a combined four runs in five innings following an inauspicious debut from Chris Paddack (4 IP, 3 ER). Meanwhile the bats flailed away against Clayton Kershaw, who was perfect through seven innings before departing.
    In general, this was an egregiously rough week for the offense, which got shut out twice in six games and has blown away the franchise record for fewest hits ever through nine games. Basically everyone is taking part in the struggles:
    Miguel Sanó went 2-for-20 last week. He did coax five walks while hitting his first home run, but Sanó's season is off to an abjectly awful start, especially when you account for the blatant sloppiness on defense at first base. Max Kepler went 4-for-24 and is batting .167 through nine games. He looks the same as always – extremely pull-heavy and easily subdued by defensive shifts. The lack of evolution is frustrating. Nonetheless, he batted cleanup on Sunday.  Carlos Correa, the shining prize of Minnesota's offseason, has yet to find any rhythm at the plate. After going 2-for-20 last week, he's now batting .133 with a .512 OPS and 39% K-rate on the season. Too early to cast any judgment but he's off to a dreadful start for the new club. Gio Urshela went 3-for-16 with no extra-base hits and no walks. He's now got more GIDP (2) than XBH (1) this year. Ryan Jeffers and Gary Sanchez were a combined 5-for-31 (.161) with two walks and 16 strikeouts.  By the way, Mitch Garver has a .382 OBP with the Rangers and is regularly batting third or fourth for them. Realistically, this team's success was always going to depend on a strong offense supporting a solid yet unspectacular pitching staff. The latter has mostly been doing its part, despite some hiccups from the bullpen, but the bats are not holding up their end. In five of Minnesota's six losses, they have essentially give the team no chance to win by scoring two runs or fewer.
    If this continues ... well, it's scary to think about. 
    Is the Justin Upton dream dead? It sure feels that way, now that the Twins have made a roster move to bring in Kyle Garlick while making no reported inroads with the free agent, who is available to sign anywhere. It's odd how few rumblings there have been since Upton cleared waivers last week. Is he just going to retire (or at least take the year off) and count the millions he'll make anyway? I could hardly blame him.
    One thing is for sure: with Kirilloff's status in limbo and the Minnesota offense falling on its face out of the gate, any kind of legitimate external boost would be welcome.
    After closing out another wraparound weekend series in Boston on Monday morning (ALERT: 10:10 AM CT start time), Minnesota will get a welcome respite from the challenging early slate with three games in Kansas City against the 3-5 Royals. Then the Twins return home for a crucial early-season series against the division-favorite White Sox.
    If the coming week goes well, it'll do a ton to alleviate the valid early concerns from fans who still feel sour after the disappointment of 2021. If it goes poorly? Hoo boy.
    MONDAY, 4/18: TWINS @ RED SOX – RHP Dylan Bundy v. LHP Rich Hill
    TUESDAY, 4/19: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Chris Archer v. LHP Daniel Lynch
    WEDNESDAY, 4/20: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Chris Paddack v. RHP Zack Greinke
    THURSDAY, 4/21: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Joe Ryan v. RHP Brad Keller
    FRIDAY, 4/22: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Vince Velasquez v. RHP Bailey Ober
    SATURDAY, 4/23: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – LHP Dallas Keuchel v. RHP Dylan Bundy
    SUNDAY, 4/24: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Jimmy Lambert v. RHP Chris Archer
  11. Like
    Clare reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Twins 2022 Position Analysis: Relief Pitcher   
    Projected Bullpen: Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Caleb Thielbar, Jorge Alcalá, Jharel Cotton, Joe Smith, Jhoan Duran, Danny Coulombe
    Depth/Prospects: Griffin Jax, Jhon Romero, Jovani Moran, Juan Minaya, Cody Stashak, Jake Faria, Yennier Cano, Drew Strotman, Lewis Thorpe, Trevor Megill, Ronny Henriquez
    During the first three months of the 2021 season, Twins relievers ranked 26th in the majors in the fWAR, 27th in FIP, and 25th in WPA. During the last three months, they ranked 13th, 15th and 4th in those respective categories. 
    You might not have noticed it, due to the team's total irrelevance after May or so, but the bullpen improved dramatically from the first to second half. It was night and day. And it's not the first time we've seen this pattern play out. Back in 2019, Twins relievers ranked 10th in the majors in fWAR and 12th in FIP over the first three months, then led all of baseball in both categories the rest of the way. 
    The front office and coaching staff have shown they can make this work: creating depth, then sorting through it until you find the right mix you can trust. Meanwhile, when looking at how poorly this regime's biggest bullpen splashes have panned in Alex Colomé and Addison Reed, who both looked like relatively safe plays, it's easy to understand why they'd opt against pouring investments into established commodities.
    There's a lot to like here. Taylor Rogers has consistently been one of the league's most effective late-inning relievers since 2018, and his sterling performance this spring helps alleviate concerns around any lingering effects from last year's finger injury. Tyler Duffey and Caleb Thielbar have proven to be rock-solid setup men. Jorge Alcalá offered real signs of optimism with his 2.88 ERA and .195 BAA last year after the All-Star break, playing a huge role in the bullpen's second-half turnaround. Joe Smith and Jharel Cotton were nice veteran pickups for the middle innings.
    There are also a some wild cards in the mix adding another level of intrigue. Chief among them is Jhoan Duran, who has been dazzling people with his incredible stuff this spring. He appears to be healthy and throwing at his best while the Twins are transitioning him into a full-on relief role. It's a perfect storm. He looms as a monster difference-maker in this pen.
    I've written about Griffin Jax as a guy whose stock could skyrocket in a relief role, and like Duran, the team is poised to tap that potential in short order. Jovani Moran has flashed good stuff from the left side. And any of the club's various pitching prospects – many of whom were discussed in our SP analysis – have a chance to impact the bullpen, especially with the likelihood that Minnesota will be looking for length and multi-inning options. 
    Last year we learned about the downside of sorting out a bullpen during the season: those early lesson through failure can be extremely costly. By the time Colomé pulled it together and the Twins moved on from some laggards, the relief unit had already played a huge role in tanking their season.
    This is the nature of the bullpen: it is a fickle beast, and yet so dramatically influential to the outcome of a season. Great bullpens carry teams into the playoffs and beyond. Bad bullpens can put an otherwise decent squad out of the running by June. 
    This year's unit for the Twins really feels like it could go either way. That's always somewhat true, given the volatility of relief pitching, but the variability feels especially high right now. 
    Rogers was at his best before going down last year, but we need to see him keep on cooking. At 31, his age is becoming as much of a regression factor as his injury. Duffey's performance last year included a bunch of ominous signs – most notably a drop in velocity and a HUGE drop in whiff rate. Alcalá has had his moments but feels hard to trust given the inconsistency.   
    And let's keep in mind, this represents their first line of defense. Once you get past these established contributors, you're looking at mostly unproven prospects and minor-league signings. 
    I'm not going to wring my hands over the lack of spending at this position (where the sum total of salaries will barely surpass that of White Sox closer Liam Hendriks alone), because relief free agency becomes such a hazardous game of darts, as we've seen. 
    If the Twins can identify the right guys, implement the right tweaks, and pull the right strings, they'll be in good shape. Unfortunately, last year was not a great confidence-builder in their ability to do so. At least not until too late.
    Lots of talent. Lots of question marks. The Twins have shown in the past they can handle a bullpen – they methodically developed the league's best in 2019, and it carried over to 2020 where they tied Tampa for the AL lead in bullpen fWAR – but last year's unraveling dimmed their shine.
    It's a big "prove it" year for Wes Johnson, Pete Maki, and the entire Twins pitching braintrust. Was 2021 a blip or a breakdown? 
    Catch Up on the Rest of Our 2022 Previews:
    Position Analysis: Catcher Position Analysis: First Base Position Analysis: Second Base Position Analysis: Third Base Position Analysis: Shortstop Position Analysis: Left Field Position Analysis: Center Field Position Analysis: Right Field Position Analysis: Designated Hitter Position Analysis: Starting Pitcher  
  12. Like
    Clare reacted to Andrew Mahlke for an article, Twins Giving Opening Day Nod to Joe Ryan Shows Major Confidence in the Rookie   
    Congratulations are in order for the rookie, as it is rare for a pitcher this new to the league to get an opening day start. Ryan getting the nod on opening day shows that the Twins are extremely confident in him, but they also may have a problem with their starting rotation.
    Thanks for the Memories, Nelson
    First, who would have thought the return would have been this immense when the Twins dealt Nelson Cruz to the Tampa Bay Rays in July of 2021. Obviously, the Twins received Ryan, who is now an MLB dot com Top-100 prospect, and the Twins' opening-day starter, along with right-handed pitcher Drew Strotman, who is the Twins' 19th-best prospect according to MLB dot com.
    The Twins traded away 59 games of a designated hitter who hit .226/.283/.442 (.725) with a 96 wRC+ for the Rays. Over that stretch for the Twins, the designated hitter spot hit .244/.353/.463 (.816) with a wRC+ of 124. As crazy as it sounds, the Twins actually upgraded their designated hitter position by trading away Cruz and spreading out designated hitter at-bats. Josh Donaldson (30 starts), Brent Rooker (10 starts), Miguel Sano (6 starts), Jorge Polanco (6 starts), Luis Arraez (4 starts), Mitch Garver (2 starts), and Max Kepler (1 start) all received at-bats in the designated hitter role. This combination of players was more productive for the Twins in the DH role than Cruz was for the Rays.
    Considering that the Twins upgraded at DH and received their opening-day starter for the following season, this trade looks like a massive win for Derek Falvey and company.
    Obviously, the Twins giving a rookie a nod on opening day for the first time since Tom Hall in 1969 shows the immense amount of confidence they have in Ryan. Ryan has had a good spring training thus far, throwing five innings, allowing no runs, and striking out six. It has been a minimal sample size, but Ryan has looked very sharp and poised in both starts he has made.
    Ryan has been a strikeout machine in his professional baseball career despite having below-average velocity. Ryan averaged 13 strikeouts per nine throughout the minor leagues, and his success continued in his five big league starts, striking out 30 batters in 26 2/3 innings. He was 2-1 with a 4.05 ERA, but poor batted-ball luck inflated his ERA. His xERA was 2.99, suggesting that he is better than the 4.05 figure.
    So how does Ryan have so much success with below-average velocity? Does he throw the majority of his pitches as off-speed pitches? Nope, it's more like the opposite. Of 616 pitchers to throw at least 250 pitches in 2021, Ryan had the 25th highest fastball percentage, throwing a fastball 65.8 percent of the time.
    For Ryan, it all comes down to deception and movement. Of that same group of pitchers to throw at least 250 pitches in 2021, Ryan had the 33rd most vertical movement on his fastball (18.3 inches). This puts him in the top six percent of pitchers in terms of vertical movement on his fastball. Additionally, Ryan may be so effective because of his unorthodox release point. Ryan has an extremely low release point, as among 555 right-handed pitchers with a four-seam fastball in MLB, Ryan has the 24th lowest average release point (5.05 feet), and nobody with a lower release point than him throws the pitch as frequently as he does. His unorthodox deception and movement make his fastball appear to be rising, making it very tough on hitters. TwinsDaily's own Parker Hageman does a great job of highlighting this below.
    Between Ryan's strong track record of strikeouts and his unorthodox fastball, there is a reason to believe that he will be a solid contributor to the Twins pitching staff in 2022 and on, making it easy to see why the Twins have so much confidence in him.
    Although Ryan is an up-and-coming pitcher for the Twins, it is tough to justify having an inexperienced pitcher be the opening-day starter for a team that wants to contend. A team that signed Carlos Correa to the largest deal ever for an infielder. A team that, as Ted Schwerzler would say, "paid the man" when they extended Byron Buxton for seven years. A team that went out and traded their first-round pick from just last year to acquire Sonny Gray, who most people presumed would take the role of staff ace.
    It is a little problematic when you realize that Ryan is one of the least experienced pitchers in MLB history to get the opening-day nod for his team. As Twins beat writer Do-Hyoung Park points out, there have only been two other pitchers in MLB history to make an opening-day start within their first six career games, and Joe Ryan is the first one to do it since the disposable camera was invented (1987).
    I'm as big of a Joe Ryan fan as anyone, but starting him on opening day says more about the Twins' starting rotation than anything. How many other teams would Ryan be the opening day starter for if you look around the league? Five? Less? How many of these teams expect to contend? I would guess that this number is zero.
    Concluding Thoughts
    Yes, it may be problematic for the Twins rotation if they see a guy with five career starts as their best starting pitcher going into the year. Fortunately, most people still see Sonny Gray as the staff ace, but Ryan will start on opening day for whatever reason the Twins management and coaching see fit.
    Although it may be problematic right now, man, will it be fun. There weren't many moments in a disappointing 2021 season that were very memorable, but every start Ryan made was great entertainment. The confidence he exudes is unparalleled among rookies. Maybe a young, confident pitcher is what the Twins need to set the tone for the 2022 season.
    What do you think? Is Joe Ryan the right choice to start opening day for the Twins? Share your thoughts on this decision in the comments below and start a discussion.
    Thank you for reading, and Go Twins!
  13. Like
    Clare reacted to Matt Braun for an article, Joe Smith, Velocity, and the Twins' Ultimate Gamble   
    In the fanfare and celebration of signing Carlos Correa, you'd be forgiven if you missed the Twins inking 38-year-old Joe Smith to a one-year pact. Smith, an MLB pitcher since the Bush administration, is precisely the style of reliever favored by Falvey and company. His average fastball hasn’t tickled 90 MPH in years, and much of his effectiveness is rooted in “funkiness,” a pitching trait in the Potter Stewart philosophy of “I know it when I see it.” In the case of Smith, his unique, low arm slot is his special calling card.
    Smith now joins the likes of Matt Belisle, Fernando Rodney, Zach Duke, Sergio Romo, and Tyler Clippard as an “unusual Twins reliever” acquired during the Falvey regime. That is to say, these bullpeners are (or were) atypical in their archetype—age or poor fastball velocity lowered the industry opinion of them, whether fair or not. But the Twins, perhaps believing in a philosophical blind spot, decided to trust in their past effectiveness and were rewarded with mixed but generally positive results. Belisle caught fire in the second half of 2017 to help lead the team to their first playoff appearance in seven years, Rodney and Duke both performed just well enough to net prospects in 2018, Romo was crucial in cementing a shaky Twins bullpen in 2019, and Clippard was a quality reliever for the Twins during the truncated 2020 season.
    Of course, the Twins haven’t solely focused on cast-offs from the island of misfit toys; they have signed or acquired more prototypical relievers like Addison Reed, Sam Dyson, and Alex Colomé on top of their usual assortment of unique funkmasters. Funny enough, it seems like they have had better fortune with odd relievers than with your more standard ones, but that isn’t quite the point of this article. 
    Why ignore velocity?
    The Twins, as pointed out by Tom Froemming, had a velocity problem in May 2021 and had not fixed that issue by October 2021. It is March 2022, and the symptoms still persist. None of the four assumed starters possess an average fastball velocity that tops 93 MPH—a fact entirely at odds with the front office’s implications that velocity would be a top priority when they took over command of decision-making in 2016. Both newly-acquired starters, Sonny Gray and Dylan Bundy, are more masters of breaking balls than fireballers. Taylor Rogers and Jorge Alcala are the only true flamethrowers established in the bullpen.
    When diagnosing the malady, we must remember that there is nuance in team building; teams like the Twins count all their chips to the last penny as their room for error is smaller than other franchises. The team could quickly cash in and deal their top prospects for high-octane arms or sign the fastest-tossing relievers with little care for the long-term implications of those decisions. Still, such moves would not only likely hurt the franchise, but it would also open them up to being dunked on by randoms on Twitter years in the future, and that’s a risk no one wants to take.
    Why ignore velocity?
    Velocity is expensive, perhaps too much so. Corey Knebel (96.5 MPH) signed for $10 million, Joe Kelly (98.1 MPH) signed for $17 million over two years, and Kendall Graveman (96.5 MPH), signed for $24 million over three years. With no disrespect, none of those three players have been particularly consistent in their performance (or with health), but teams see their “stuff” and can’t help but imagine a perfect world where it all comes together for such a player.
    Trading for velocity can also be expensive. The White Sox parted with two young, talented players in Nick Madrigal and Codi Heuer to acquire Craig Kimbrel, the Padres gave up their 9th best prospect, Mason Thompson, for half a season of Daniel Hudson, and the fact that the Twins received anyone for Hansel Robles showed that teams are willing to ignore performance in favor of the allure of stuff.
    The same can be said for prospects. Arms that can sit in the high-90s are valued highly because the upside of that player is tantalizing. We’ve seen the natural sheen of “stuff” blind teams into ignoring risk because they see the next Roger Clemens in an arm that will likely flame out in high-A. The Twins have recognized this and seem to tap their higher-velo arms in deals; Huascar Ynoa, Luis Gil, Brusdar Graterol, and Chase Petty all own big fastballs, but now pitch for other organizations.
    The guess is that the team is leveraging industry opinions on fastball velocity to acquire major-league talent they otherwise could not have if the pitcher were your average 93-95 MPH Joe. Or, to simplify, they think other teams over-value fastballs and are trying to find value in overlooked arms. Consider the Smith signing; $2.5 million for Joe Smith’s consistency is a bargain if you choose to look at his performance absent velocity implications. The Gray trade looks exquisite as well. Acquiring a great starting pitcher for a pitcher four or so years away from debuting is a masterclass in fleecing. 
    Has it worked? The results are iffy. Twins pitching was undeniably elite in 2019 and 2020 when their team average fastball velocity sat in the bottom five of the league but fell off entirely in 2021. We shall see how 2022 plays out, but the prospects so far do not look good. Shoot, 43-year-old Johan Santana might be an upgrade to the starting rotation.
    That isn’t to say the team is completely ignoring velocity. Jordan Balazovic is capable of sitting 94-95, Jhoan Duran hits 100 daily, Josh Winder can sit in the mid-90s, and Matt Canterino can do the same. The team is still focusing on velocity, but more on developing said heat, not paying for it upfront. If a pitching prospect can throw hard, great, but their velocity isn’t as prioritized as other aspects of their game. If another team overvalues a prospect’s velocity? Ship him off and receive a more bountiful return than expected. Again, it is unclear if the plan has been successful or not, but the Twins unquestionably believe in their process.
  14. Like
    Clare reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Will the Real Trevor Larnach Please Stand Up   
    In 79 games for the Twins last year, Larnach slashed .223/.322/.350. The on-base percentage isn’t a negative, and while the average isn’t where you would like to see it, the most glaring issue was Larnach’s slugging percentage. During Larnach’s age-22 season in 2019, he played 127 games between High-A and Double-A. That year he blasted 13 long balls and owned a .458 SLG. He was one of the best prospects to play at the 2020 alternate site, and his bat has always been his best tool.
    Larnach has plenty of pop, and his game power carries over just as much as the raw stuff displays. Where it was evident that something was off came following the demotion to Triple-A St. Paul in 2021. Despite dealing with struggles in acclimating to big-league life, Larnach went to the Saints for his first Triple-A exposure and slashed just .177/.323/.373 in 14 games. Once again, his eye and plate discipline hadn’t left him, but the power presence was virtually gone.
    Larnach was plunked by a pitch on his left foot in late May last season. As a left-handed batter, that leg is his load side, or basically where all the weight is distributed initially when swinging. The injury immediately left him in a walking boot, and manager Rocco Baldelli said, “He's just not moving around great.”
    Up to that point, admittedly a small sample of just 20 games, Larnach had an .845 OPS with his first three major league home runs to go with it. Returning to the lineup just days later, Larnach went on to play another 59 games for Minnesota, in which he posted just a .622 OPS. As a rookie looking to establish a regular cadence towards playing time, fighting through injury is a tale as old as time. While the injury is certainly not the sole factor in Larnach’s struggles, it’s probably a pretty significant influence.
    When the dust settled last year, Larnach finished with just a 33.5% hard-hit rate, and he put balls on the ground 46% of the time. His average exit velocity checked in at 90 mph, and the max came with a whopping 116 mph clubbing. The barrel percentage was just 9.5%, and it all goes back to a guy showing less than what was initially expected.
    Coming into 2022 with a clean bill of health Larnach can be a bit looser. Although he’ll need to work for at-bats, likely staring at Triple-A, with Alex Kirilloff slated to start in left field. If something is going against him, it’s that the Twins outfield is so dominantly left-handed, and therefore he doesn’t bring any sort of platoon advantage to the lineup.
    In just a 13 at-bat sample size this spring, Larnach is undoubtedly making his claim for a turnaround. He’s generated two separate three-run blasts and owns a 1.067 OPS. It’s hard to take too much away from games that don’t count with pitchers working on specifics rather than complete dominance, but it’s more than clear to see this is a hitter with his feet under him.
    I’m not sure how Baldelli will manage the playing time in the outfield. Designated hitter is now less of a revolving door with the addition of Gary Sanchez, so that takes away from opportunity as well. Expect Larnach to force Minnesota's hand in St. Paul though, and a cross-town promotion will come sooner rather than later. No matter what, banking on anything but the impressive emergence from the former Beaver seems like a bad bet for the year ahead.

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  15. Like
    Clare reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Local Buzzkill Readies 'Does He Pitch?' Zinger   
    As many Minnesotans return to the physical office, men like Josh Kinney await. He has two goals: Drop a “Mondays, am I right?” as early as possible on the first day of the week, and to rob his co-workers of even fleeting joy.
    “Lots of people on my floor are Twins fans, couple of them have season tickets,” said the Shorewood native. “I saw the news about Carlos Correa (the new Twins shortstop) and want to make sure they know the club is still in desperate need of pitching.
    “I figure they’ll be coming into the break room, maybe to get some coffee or water. I can see the optimism in their eyes. That’s when I strike. ‘Saw that the Twins got Correa. Does he pitch?’ Then I give them a fake laugh and/or shoulder punch and exit the room. Devastation.”
    This vile behavior is nothing new for the St. Thomas graduate.
    “I guess I knew I was a buzzkill at a young age,” said Kinney, a human resources generalist for Best Buy. “We’d be opening presents at Christmas and I’d be sure to let my siblings know who got the most expensive gifts, right in front of my folks. I could always count on one of them to start wailing and my Mom to get furious. At least until Mom left with her yoga instructor. Then Dad would just give us cash and watch the loudest cable news channel he could find.”
    Kinney’s co-workers say his ability to pee on any campfire is unsurpassed.
    “We had an Oscars pool one year, like a $10 entry fee, nothing major,” said Betsy Mick, a senior digital strategist. “Josh sent a department-wide email to let everyone know that the winner needs to claim the prize money on their taxes. He CC’ed the IRS. It was remarkable.”
    Kinney says his Correa-derived cruelty should be a durable form of death-by-small-talk for months.
    “Even if they shore up the rotation, which they won’t, I’ll shift to reminding them he can opt out after this season, which he will,” said the monster. “If things go south and they have to trade him before that, and they will, I’ll remind them of the success rate for prospects.”
    Kinney laughed and excused himself to remind a Vikings fan of Kirk Cousins' extension.
    Image license here.
  16. Like
    Clare reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Correa Dynamite at Press Conference   
    If there were two takeaways from this morning’s press conference, Carlos Correa was impressed with Twins leadership and that he’s here to win. Derek Falvey noted his appreciation of the support from ownership in saying, “A momentous day like this, a significant contract like this with a player of Carlos’s stature only happens with the partnership and support of ownership.”
    Leadership starts at the top, and Correa noted the warmth he felt in an initial Zoom call with Falvey and new manager Rocco Baldelli. “I talked to Rocco, I talked to Derek and Thad, and they made me feel like this was the place for me to be. They made me feel like this was going to be my next home. And when I got off the Zoom call, I told Scott, let’s make it happen. And I told my wife to start packing.”
    Communication is a big thing for Correa, and in talking through his desires to be in Minnesota, he continued to communicate a desire for winning. Going to a place where he could win was necessary, and there’s no ambiguity as to whether he feels the Twins are a team capable. “I told Rocco, and I told Derek, we’re not seeing this like a one-year thing, we’re seeing this as I want to build a championship culture in this organization, I want to show you guys what I can do, what I can bring to the table, so we can have a long-term relationship at some point.”
    While there is an opt-out following the first year, Correa’s agent Scott Boras sees this as an opportunity for Carlos to do damage in a place he’s been very successful. “He had told me, 'these are some of the places I see the ball really well.' When he mentioned Minnesota and I went and looked up, and I said, wow, he just has a very small 1.200 OPS over there… I know this, all the AL Central, the Twins have a new explosion weapon, C4.”
    Correa has played for some great managers in A.J. Hinch and Dusty Baker. Knowing that communication is so vital between the leader of the team and a leader in the clubhouse, it was exciting to hear how glowingly the new shortstop talked of his skipper. “For me, it was just the vibes I got and how they made me feel, especially talking to Rocco and hearing so many great things about him from all the players that played for him. I want to be in a place where I want to feel like I can communicate with my manager, and my manager's going to have my back all the time. That's exactly what I got from Rocco, and he's the guy I'm going to be working closest with. When I feel like I have a manager that I can trust, and I can communicate with, for me, that's a game-changer."
    A critical focal point remained as the conversation drew on for Correa and the Twins. This was going to be a partnership about winning. Correa has been in situations where the results have taken time, but he’s also experienced the pinnacle of a World Series ring. He said, “The conversations we had were about two and a half hours…it was all about winning. When I get that from them, that makes me excited because I want to take up that challenge. It was not long ago that I was playing for an organization that was last in the big leagues the year before I got there—losing 100-plus games. I know what it takes to build a championship culture within the clubhouse. It starts within the clubhouse and all the way up to the front office. I see that here with the talent that we have, and I see that we can get so much better in order for us to accomplish that goal to ultimately win a championship."
    Correa was taken the pick before Minnesota Twins Byron Buxton in the 2012 draft. He’s excited to play up the middle with him and has a history of playing alongside him in showcases as they were growing up. He fondly remembers the pre-draft process in Minnesota, “A 17-year-old hitting tanks in Target Field felt pretty cool.”
    It may be surprising that the Twins are landing such a supreme talent, but Boras thinks that will become more part of the norm. Taking over Correa’s free agency in January after his previous representation went through changes, Boras noted that Minnesota is a place he has young guys like Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff, and Austin Martin. Also, in talking about the vast revenues clubs see before the season even starts, he shared a belief talent acquisition will change, saying, “The truth of it is, you’re going to see franchises sign a franchise player, maybe the top franchises will sign two or three. That kind of thing. You’re going to see that with regularity in the game because frankly, it’s a component that is necessary for winning.”
    At the end of the day, it’s more than apparent that Carlos Correa is extremely excited to be in Minnesota and believes in the ability to lead this organization to a championship and have the leadership in place to supplement him getting there.
    After a few days focused on public relations, it was back to business for the talented shortstop. He took live at-bats for the first time since the World Series, and he said he hopes to see game action for Minnesota by this weekend. While we may still be pinching ourselves, this is now very much real life. The Twins hauled in a big fish, and it seems like he wants to be here to stay.
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  17. Like
    Clare reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Twins 2022 Position Analysis: First Base   
    Projected Starter: Miguel Sanó
    Likely Backup: Alex Kirilloff
    Depth: Curtis Terry, José Miranda
    Prospects: Aaron Sabato
    Miguel Sanó is capable of putting forth production that would make him a prototypical slugging first baseman. We saw it in 2017, and in 2019, and at times last year. After shaking off a rough first two months in 2021, Sanó slashed .246/.325/.493 with 21 homers in 97 games starting on June 1st. 
    He continues to hit the ball as hard as anyone in baseball, ranking in the 97th percentile for average exit velocity, 98th in max EV, 99th in hard-hit percentage, and 97th in barrel percentage. That's a guy who intimidates not only opposing pitchers, but also everyone around the infield who might get a drive sent their way.
    Sanó rebounded somewhat from a disappointing shortened 2020 campaign, although his overall numbers still left something to be desired – especially the .223 average and .312 on-base percentage. 
    The 28-year-old hasn't since come close to replicating his 15.8% walk rate and .385 OBP as a rookie in 2015. Rediscovering a sense of selectiveness and discipline at the plate – sustainably, rather than in sporadic bursts – holds the key to resuscitating his dormant potential.
    If you've given up on that ability ever showing through again, I don't blame you. It's been a rough go. But as his batted-ball metrics illustrate, he still has it within him to be a dominant power hitter if he can rein in the strike zone control. And Sanó is now more fundamentally motivated than ever to do so.

    Pending a $14 million team option for 2023, he's due for free agency after this season, and as things currently stand Sanó will struggle to drive a market for his services. He could alter that outlook significantly with a season that harkens back to 2019, when he posted a .923 OPS with 34 home runs and 2.8 fWAR in just 105 games.   
    This is a career-defining season for him, which helps explain why he openly committed to getting in better shape during the offseason. He looks pretty good physically in camp, but of course, the proof will be in the pudding. 
    If Sanó can get back to the level of hitting we know he's capable of, he'll become a stellar complement to Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa, and (maybe) Gary Sánchez as standout righty power bats in the lineup. If Sanó falls back into one of this familiar ruts, the Twins may accelerate their plan to move on and entrench Kirilloff at first base, given the lack of future commitment. 
    It's a nice fallback to have available, because Kirilloff clearly has enough bat for the position and his defense looked terrific there during brief glimpses last year.
    The Twins were already in the process of writing Sanó out of their plans last summer. He'd essentially been demoted to part-time player status by June, with Kirilloff drawing regular starts at first as the team's clearly preferred option.
    From June 18th through July 18th, Sanó started 12 of Minnesota’s 24 games, including just nine at first base. Then Kirilloff underwent wrist surgery, and Sanó regained the starting first base job by default. To his credit, he made the most of it, slashing .250/.346/.504 from the date of Kirilloff's surgery to the end of the season. That's nearly identical to the line he put forth during an All-Star 2017 campaign (.264/.352/.507). 
    It's unclear Sanó can afford another start like he got off to in 2021, when he slashed .141/.295/.256 through mid-May while the team tanked into an inescapable early hole. As things stand, however, the Twins need Kirilloff in left field. Maybe Trevor Larnach re-establishes himself to negate that need, or the Twins add another veteran outfielder, but right now they're somewhat reliant on Sanó at first. 
    The long-term outlook at this position is strong with Kirilloff waiting in the wings, but for now things are in flux. Will Sanó shake off his consistency struggles of the past two seasons and reaffirm his status as a cornerstone for the Twins? Doing so would not only give him a chance to hang on at first base this year, but also potentially extend his tenure with the club for another year (perhaps as a DH?).
    If not, we may be reaching the end of the road for Sanó and Minnesota, and dawning a new era at first base. 
    Catch Up on the Rest of Our 2022 Roster Previews:
    Position Analysis: Catcher MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
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  18. Like
    Clare reacted to Cody Christie for an article, 3 Players Gone Too Soon   
    Herman Hill, CF
    Died: December 14, 1970
    It’s incredible to consider what Hill could accomplish and overcome in his life. His parents worked as sharecroppers in the Deep South, and he was one of 15 siblings. His family eventually moved north, like many African Americans at the time. Hill missed two years of school due to illness as a younger child, so he was older than his peers. He tried out for the Baltimore Orioles as an eighth-grader, but he went to high school and became a three-sport star. His best tool was his speed, which held true during his professional career.  
    He made his professional debut in the Twins organization as a 20-year old in rookie ball. Because of his age, he moved quickly through the system before debuting at age-23 in 1969. That season at Triple-A, he hit .300 and got on base over 34% of the time. He was primarily used as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement that season as he went 0-for-2 in his plate appearances, but he was able to score four runs. In 1970, he played in 27 big-league games and recorded his first hits at the MLB level. He went to Venezuela to participate in the winter league season that winter. On December 14, 1970, Hill drowned in Venezuela, a tragic end to a budding young career. 

    Lyman Bostock, OF
    Died: September 24, 1978
    Lyman Bostock was a rising star in the Twins organization that looked like he would eventually challenge teammate Rod Carew for AL Batting Titles. In his first two big-league seasons, he hit .323 and .336, which ranked him fourth and second in those seasons. During the 1977 campaign, he finished second in average (.336), fourth in runs scored (104), and seventh in on-base percentage (.389). At the season’s end, he ranked in the top-10 for WAR and in the top-4 for Offensive WAR. He hit free agency at the right time and eventually signed with the Angels for five years and $2.3 million. 
    Bostock struggled in his first season with the Angels and even donated some of his salary to local charities because he believed he hadn’t earned it. On September 24th, he went 2-for-4 with a double in his final big-league game against the White Sox. Just hours later, Bostock was shot and killed as a passenger in a vehicle in his hometown of Gary, Indiana. He was in his age-27 season at the time with a bright career in front of him. 
    Walt Bond, OF
    Died: September 14, 1967
    Bond was a monster of a man. He was 6-foot-7 and weighed nearly 230 pounds. According to Baseball-Reference, he was the tallest man to play center field in major league history until Aaron Judge tied him in 2018. He debuted with Cleveland in 1960, but he wouldn’t earn a full-time role until his age-26 season with Houston. In two seasons for the Colt .45s, he hit .258/.322/.397 (.719), including a 20 homer season in 1964. 
    His first season in the Twins organization was 1966, and he dominated at the Triple-A level. In 122 games, he batted .316/.385/.529 (.914) with 38 extra-base hits and a 42-to-36 strikeout to walk ratio. Minnesota called him up in 1967 for a cup of coffee, and he responded by going 5-for-16 (.313) with two extra-base hits in 10 games. Leukemia cut his season short that year, and he passed away in September at the age of 29.

    Do you have any memories of these former Twins players? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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  19. Like
    Clare reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, The Talented Mr. Henry   
    Ron Henry was born in 1936 in Chester, Pennsylvania. Because of some illness in his family, he missed some school. That said, he became a top baseball prospect in the northeast, displaying a strong arm behind the plate and some power. 
    In 1954, he signed with the Milwaukee Braves, just over a year after the team relocated from Boston. He played in their minor-league system through the 1960 season. At the end of the year, the Twins selected him in the 1960 Rule 5 draft. 
    In order to keep his services, Henry made the Twins Opening Day roster in 1961, the team’s first year in Minnesota. That said, he was the team’s third catcher and played in just 20 games the whole year. He had four hits in 28 at-bats (.143). 

    He played in Triple-A Vancouver in 1962. In 1963, he started at Triple-A Dallas-Ft. Worth and then ended the season at Double-A Charlotte. After 54 games in Charlotte in 1964, he played 22 more games in the big leagues. He was still the third catcher, so there wasn’t a lot of playing time. He went 5-for-41 (.122), but he did hit a double, a triple, and two home runs. 
    He played for the Twins Triple-A team, now located in Denver, in 1965, 1966, and the start of the 1967 season. He then ended that season and started the 1968 season in the Astros system before retiring from the game of baseball at the age of 31 after 15 professional seasons. 
    After concluding his playing career, Ron Henry spent some time in the Army before returning to Denver where he began a career that lasted over 35 years. 
    He became a legend in the Denver club scene, mostly for good reasons. He could play instruments and was known as a jazzman. He could sing and led a group called Ron Henry and Pride. Colorado Music Hall of Famer Lannie Garrett came to Denver and heard Henry perform. She asked if she could join him and was a background vocalist for the next couple of years. They opened for the likes of Ray Charles and Tina Turner. 
    Along with the music, Ron Henry also performed in plays in the Denver theaters and dinner clubs. 
    In 2001, he and his wife moved to Raleigh. He was starting to have knee problems from his catching days. He also had a heart transplant. 

    Provided to the Denver Post by Rebecca Mobley 
    In 2008, he returned to Denver and continued to have some limited performances until his death in 2016. Henry passed away due to cardiovascular disease and end-stage renal disease. He was surrounded by his family, including his five kids, and many friends and people who enjoyed his performances over the years. 
    His daughter, Rebecca Mobley, told the Denver Post following her father's death, "He loved his friends, he loved his life, he loved all the people he encountered, all the people he interacted with especially with the music." She continued, "He was a fun-loving guy. He liked to laugh a lot. He was kind of a jokester. He loved us a lot. He tried to give us a lot of good advice. … He really adored his grandkids."
    Ron Henry was part of the very first Minnesota Twins roster in 1961. He was one of three African Americans on the roster that year, along with outfielder Lenny Green and fellow-catcher Earl Battey. 
    While his big-league career consisted of just 42 games and a .130 batting average, he was fortunate to spend 15 years as a professional baseball player. That career led him to Denver where he became immensely successful in the music scene with a career more than double the length of his baseball career. 
    Henry isn't the first former pro ballplayer to also succeed in music. Charley Pride played minor-league ball before embarking on his legendary country music career. Bernie Williams is now a classically-trained guitarist who has already been nominated for a Latin Grammy. 
    Who knows, maybe we can see if Trevor Plouffe, Drew Butera, Toby Gardenhire and Dustin Martin will have a Beach Bums reunion? Or, maybe Brian Dozier will bring back Silky Smooth and show off his guitar and piano skills. 
    Keep checking back to Twins Daily throughout Black History Month as we hope to share several more stories about African Americans to don a Twins uniform over the past 62 seasons.

    screenshot from above YouTube video 
  20. Like
    Clare reacted to John Bonnes for an article, Twins’ Beat Writer Do-Hyoung Park to Compete on Jeopardy! on Monday   
    The show was taped earlier this offseason, but until today Park has been forbidden from admitting he was a contestant, and is still bound to secrecy about how the episode turns out. He prepared throughout spring training and the season for the competition, and even coaxed the producers of the show to delay his appearance until after the Twins’ season ended.
    Park will compete against “Jeopardamy”, Amy Schneider, who has dominated the competition recently. She has already won $536,400 during her 13-game win streak, moving her into 4th place in Jeopardy! all-time winnings list for regular players. TheJeopardyFan.com predicts a 24-game win streak for her, which would give her a 91.956% chance of continuing her streak through 14 games, which would of course mean a one-and-done for Do.
    But don’t count our guy Do out. Park graduated in 2017 from Stanford with both a master’s and bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and another master’s in computer science. He also graduated from St. Paul Central early . The kid has some serious game. Can he perform a Twins-vs-the-Yankees level upset?  Tune in this Monday (locally) at 4:30 PM on KARE11 to find out.
  21. Like
    Clare reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, The Lockout Diaries: Week 2   
    With a lack of high-profile developments taking place, fans make do with what we have. There's little choice but to overthink and obsess over the small morsels of news that trickle out amidst an ongoing labor stoppage. 
    For instance, while the major-league phase of the Rule 5 draft didn't happen, there was a minor-league phase last week. The Twins gained no one, and lost outfielder Gabriel Maciel to Oakland. 
    Under normal circumstances, I would pay very little mind to this loss. Maciel wasn't among Twins Daily's top 30 prospects in the latest rankings, and he is coming off a really underwhelming season in which he slashed .238/.311/.311 over 73 games at Single-A as a 22-year-old. 
    Then again, under normal circumstances, I'd have other things to occupy my mind. In the absence of any MLB player movements, or even rumors of such, this is all I've got. And so I find myself spending an inordinate amount of time thinking about Gabriel Maciel. 
    The outfielder came to the Twins at the 2018 trade deadline, in a package for Eduardo Escobar that also included Jhoan Duran and Ernie De La Trinidad. The latter turns 26 in January and looks to be org filler more or less, but Duran is the one who can make that trade look like a slam-dunk win for the Twins. Maciel always felt like a longshot – the second fiddle CF prospect behind Gilberto Celestino, who was acquired from Houston during the same deadline sell-off.
    Will the Twins rue the day they let Maciel get away? What do the Athletics see in him that compelled them to select him and add him to their Triple-A roster mix? How does his departure impact the organization's dwindling outfield depth? 
    The answers are fairly mundane. 1: Probably not. 2: He's a center fielder who can run, and there's really no risk. 3: Minimally. 
    Nothing to see here. And yet, it's all we have to see right now, so I can't stop looking.
    There is at least one Twins-related distraction to pull away our collective gaze. The club rounded out its coaching staff on Friday, announcing two new additions – first base coach Hank Conger and assistant pitching coach Luis Ramirez – to bring the unit to 11 members. 
    Conger comes aboard as the new first base coach, moving Tommy Watkins across the diamond. Supplanted third base coach Tony Diaz is now the assistant bench coach behind Jayce Tingler. 
    Here's how it maps out, with new hitting coach David Popkins also in the fold:
    Manager: Rocco Baldelli Bench Coach: Jayce Tingler Pitching Coach: Wes Johnson Hitting Coach: David Popkins Assistant Hitting Coach: Rudy Hernandez Assistant Pitching Coach: Luis Ramirez Assistant Bench Coach (Infield Instructor): Tony Diaz First Base Coach (Catching Instructor): Hank Conger Third Base Coach (Outfield Instructor): Tommy Watkins Bullpen Coach: Pete Maki Quality Control Coach: Nate Dammann Conger is an especially interesting add from my view, mainly because I'm so familiar with him from his playing days, which weren't long ago. He's still only 33, and was an active MLB player as recently as 2016. He'll be able to relate to current players on an especially authentic level, which was seemingly a strength of Jeremy Hefner. 
    The year before Derek Falvey and Thad Levine took over the Twins front office, Conger was in Houston backing up Jason Castro, who ended up being the new regime's first free agent signing in the following offseason. There's a fun bit of symmetry. 
    A former first-round pick and top prospect, Conger played in the 2010 Futures Game alongside several notable names Mike Trout, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Logan Morrison, Ben Revere, Anthony Slama (!).
    Conger was selected by the Angels in the first round of the 2006 draft – five picks after the Twins took Chris Parmelee. Man, that was a wild draft. Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum and Max Scherzer were taken within five picks of each other, but the first overall pick was Luke Hochevar. 
    These stream-of-conscious musings and research wormholes keep my baseball mind engaged for the time being, and for that I'm grateful. I know it'll only grow tougher over time as the lockout drags on and the little bits of news that trigger these musings dry up.
  22. Like
    Clare reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Offseason Status Update: Buxton Locked Up, MLB Locked Out   
    BIG BUX: Buxton Signs $100M Extension
    Not so long ago, reports cast a bleak light on Byron Buxton's future with the Twins. Extension talks appeared to be mired in a futile standstill. A trade sounded more likely than not. 
    Fanbase morale was nosediving, if my interactions with others and my own internal feelings were any indication.
    Alas, to their immense credit, ownership and the front office got it done. Last Wednesday, Buxton inked a historic seven-year, $100 million contract that will keep him in Minnesota through 2028. 
    He said all along he wanted to stick with the club that drafted and developed him, in the place he'd come to call home. Last week Buxton made good on his word.
    It's a unique deal that balances risk with reward for both sides. While the guaranteed base numbers are relatively low ($9M in 2022 and $15M in the following years), Buxton can boost his annual salaries – modestly by staying on the field, and massively by ranking near the top of AL MVP voting. Talk about betting on yourself.
    We all know Buxton is an MVP-caliber player when on the field. For teams, the luxury of needing to pay for only a fraction of that potential if it doesn't come to fruition is basically unheard of. 
    This was truly a no-brainer for the Twins, and a vitally-needed salve for a wounded fanbase. While sticking to their strategic scruples, the front office managed to craft a creative framework that Buxton can feel good about. All he really asked for was a two-way commitment, which came in the form of a no-trade clause. 
    There's simply no knocking this amazing deal. Beyond the sheer baseball logic of such a team-friendly arrangement, there are deeper factors at play. Buxton is a world-class athlete and person whose actions convey his character. His loyalty to this franchise is no lip service, in spite of past friction and a surrounding roster that's currently in disrepair. 
    To let such a homegrown generational talent and spectacular ballpark attraction blossom elsewhere, despite this expression of loyalty, would've been unforgivable. The risk that Buxton comes up short of delivering on the guaranteed value of this contract is vastly outweighed by the specter of him making everyone forget about David Ortiz (and not in a good way).
    The Twins needed to get this done and they did. It was such a pivotal and overwhelming big-picture priority for me that – and I know some will disagree – I won't be able to view this offseason as a complete failure regardless of what else happens from here. 
    Twins Add Bundy to Fill Rotation Spot
    With all that said, the state of the pitching staff is a proverbial fly in the ointment. 
    As Thursday's lockout loomed, teams went into a free agent frenzy for starting pitching, and the Twins were mostly left out in the cold. 
    Mostly, but not entirely. 
    The club did sign right-hander Dylan Bundy to hopefully fill a spot in the middle or back of their rotation. As lower-tier flyers go, he's a respectable one – still under 30 with an intriguing history. Formerly a top draft pick and top prospect, Bundy flashed his upside in 2020 before turning in a total clunker last year. 
    While your mileage may vary on him as a player, no one can deny the contract is interesting. Bundy will earn $4 million next year, with an $11 million team option for 2023. Much like the Buxton deal, here we have a player betting on himself in a bold way. 
    If Bundy can bounce back and pitch well enough to sell the Twins on picking up his option, he can more than triple the total value of the deal. Motivation will not be an issue.
    In many ways, this is a very typical veteran pitching target for the Twins front office, so we probably shouldn't be too surprised. Bundy has some success in his track record, but wasn't in high demand, in large part because of his proneness to home runs. We've seen this story before. 
    In some cases, the Twins have seen good results with this approach (Michael Pineda and Jake Odorizzi). In other cases, not so good (J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker). We'll see which way this one goes, but to suggest it's inherently doomed hints at a lot of recency bias. 
    Regardless, Minnesota has plenty of work left to do on the pitching front. With the upper tiers of the free agency mostly cleared out, they'll almost have to turn to the trade market in order to make at least one truly impactful splash in the rotation.
    Newly re-signed Jake Cave was dropped from the 40-man roster to make room for Bundy.
    Minaya, Coulombe, Megill Non-tendered
    The bullpen, too, still needs plenty of attention. Minnesota is keeping its options open for relief pitching, and cleared some room last week on the roster. Juan Minaya and Danny Coulombe were both arbitration-eligible and slated to earn about $1 million next year. Instead, they were both non-tendered, although Coulombe was quickly re-signed to a minor-league deal.
    Also non-tendered and re-signed was right-hander Trevor Megill, who had been claimed off waivers the same day. It sounds like this was merely a procedural move to keep him in the organization but off the 40-man. His big fastball will likely get a shot in spring training.
    Joining Coulombe and Megill as likely spring non-roster invites is righty Jake Faria, who signed a minors deal. Faria was once highly thought of as a prospect in the Rays system, and had a nice rookie season back in 2017, but hasn't had much success to speak of since. I suspect the Twins are keying on his split-finger fastball, which held opponents to a .156 average and generated a 33.8% whiff rate amidst his struggles last year, while being thrown only 20% of the time.
    Rounding out the arbitration picture, the Twins did tender a contract to Taylor Rogers (along with Mitch Garver and Luis Arraez), while striking deals with Tyler Duffey ($3.8M), Caleb Thielbar ($1.3M) and Jharel Cotton ($700K).
    Almost $50 Million Left to Spend?
    Whenever baseball ramps up again, the Twins will theoretically have quite a bit of spending money in hand, unless they intend to cut down payroll dramatically from where it stood in 2021. As you can see in the updated payroll projection below, they're currently about $48 million short of that figure. (Salaries for Garver, Arraez, and Rogers are still estimates since no agreements have yet been reached.)

    The 40-man roster has two open spots following the addition of Bundy, and removals of Minaya, Coulombe, and Cave. 

    The Twins still have several critical holes to address, so they'll need all the flexibility they can get. This front office seems to operate best as stakes heighten in the late weeks of the offseason (many of their biggest moves have come in late January and February) so maybe they'll be in their element during a potential crunch time for roster-building if the lockout ends a few weeks ahead of spring training. 
    Then again, with the top-shelf supply from the free agent pitching and shortstop markets getting decimated over the past couple weeks, the Twins have really seen their spectrum of options shrink. The work is going to be cut out for them.
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  23. Like
    Clare reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, The Twins NEED a Shortstop   
    This winter is likely the greatest in terms of free agent shortstops in the history of baseball. Corey Seager, Javier Baez, Carlos Correa etc. A perfect scenario for the Minnesota Twins who have an opening at the position and a farm system whose two most obvious candidates to grab that role are questionable at best. It’s unclear whether the Twins were ever open to blocking Royce Lewis and Austin Martin with a long term signing of a star free agent, but it appears the market has likely priced them out of it regardless.
    The Twins just simply were never going to pay this kind of money for any player of any caliber. It is what it is. It’s more likely that their plan was to hope that one of the stud shortstops waited out the market too long and were open to a shorter deal as we neared Spring Training. Something very unlikely when discussing such high profile players. As we enter the lockout and take the temperature of the market, things are continuing to look more and more bleak in terms of adding a shortstop.
    There are low end names such as a reunion with Andrelton Simmons, bringing in the recently DFAed Jose Iglesias, or checking in on the solid but unspectacular Freddy Galvis if his rumors of signing overseas aren’t true. Think these options are gross? All of them should be preferred to the alternative.
    It’s certainly a possibility that the Twins refuse to pay up for the studs and don’t see the point in bringing in another Andrelton Simmons type. After all, Jorge Polanco is coming off a year where he was the Twins best all-around player, and technically he could move right back over to being the quarterback of the infield. They could even move Luis Arraez back to second base. At face value this sounds just fine. I’d argue, however, that it would be an absolute disaster.
    Much of Jorge Polanco’s value in 2021 came from finally being healthy. Perhaps it’s a coincidence, but there were talks attributing his improved health to not having as much wear and tear on his recurring ankle injury at second base. He also was much more valuable due to his ability to effectively play his new position. He posted -1 Outs Above Average at second base and flashed some gold glove caliber plays as he adjusted. He was much improved from his last full season (2019) at shortstop when he posted -22 Outs Above Average. Luis Arraez is also a significantly worse second baseman than Polanco, meaning a significant defensive downgrade at both positions.
    The Twins quite simply did not make many good decisions in 2021. Moving Polanco to second was probably their best. He reestablished himself as a core piece of the team and appeared to overcome his health issues with a move to a less demanding position. Moving Arraez into a utility role also turned him into a much more valuable player than if he were pitted at a position that he struggles at defensively. If the Twins decide that they don’t want to pay for a top-tier shortstop, that’s fine. If they decide the bottom tier isn’t impactful enough to spend on, that’s fine as well. They can’t do both. Walking back two of the better developments the team made in 2021 could carry consequences far beyond 2022.
    At this point in regards to Jorge Polanco, the Twins found something that works for both him and the team. He’s reemerged as a star player who’s under team control and can be a force for years to come at only 28 years old. He would immediately lose value by becoming one of the worst defensive shortstops in baseball. He could lose a lot more than that if he moves back to a more physically-demanding position and reinjures his ankle which has been surgically repaired twice. Not worth saving a few bucks in my opinion.
    The Twins had few bright spots in 2021. They should be taking their shortstop search incredibly seriously to avoid wiping away one of those bright spots in 2022. The Twins don’t need a second baseman moving across the second base bag. They need a shortstop.
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  24. Like
    Clare reacted to John Bonnes for an article, Byron Buxton Agrees to a Contract Extension with the Twins   
    Since Buxton first joined the team in 2015, he’s only had one year with 500 plate appearances, and indeed only one with over 331. His injuries have ranged from seemingly self-inflicted problems due to his aggressive defense in center field, to worrisome nagging injuries like hip strains and foot injuries, to flukey injuries like a broken finger from being hit by a pitch.
    On the other hand, he’s been absolutely elite defensively throughout his time with the Twins, and recently his offense has reached a similar level. This year he hit .306 with 19 home runs in just 61 games, a pace that makes him a 50-home run threat over a full season. He’s also only 27 years old, entering the peak period of many players' careers.
    He is due to be a free agent next offseason, compelling the Twins to either sign him to an extension or trade him this offseason, lest they risk having him leave next year for nothing more than a compensatory draft pick. That urgency is further heightened by the threat of an impending work stoppage starting as soon as Wednesday night. If an extension or trade iss not made by then, there is a chance any such move would be delayed until some unknown point in a potentially compressed offseason, or thwarted altogether.
    A deal would likely represent the biggest deal the Twins have made since they signed Joe Mauer to a contract extension in 2010 for $184 million dollars. That deal was also for a rare talent who contributed defensively, was at the peak of his ability, and on the verge of free agency. 
    The deal with Mauer aged poorly, as leg problems and concussions limited his ability to stay at catcher and stay in the lineup. With Buxton having more health questions, the reality is it makes him more affordable; it’s unlikely the Twins could complete a deal without the built-in discount his health history affords them. 
    The Mauer deal also took place as the Twins were completing a run of division-winning seasons and trying to lengthen their competitive window. Twins’ management’s next to-do for this offseason is to find some starting pitchers whom Buxton’s Gold Glove can assist with his range in center field. While the size of Buxton’s deal is likely significant, the Twins entered the offseason with as much as $50M or so to spend on free agents. A deal with Buxton is likely to maintain that capability.
    Indeed, Ken Rosenthal has just published contract details:
    The extension  guarantees $15M per year (except this year, when he still would've been under arbitration) plus very large bonuses for MVP bonuses and a series of $500K bonuses if he stays healthy for over 500 plate appearances. It is a very creative contract. I can't think of any that has had a bonus structure remotely similar to it. The deal essentially rewards Buxton extra money for staying healthy for a full season, handsomely for MVP-caliber production, but still guarantees him base salary commensurate to a top center fielder. 
    If the Twins had traded Buxton instead, it would be hard for them to pretend that they could expect to be competitive in 2022. They would have lost their best offensive and defensive player, while also trying to replace 60% of their starting rotation. Retaining Buxton keeps the option of competing in 2022 alive. It should also make him one of the core pieces of the next competitive Twins team. Further pieces will still need to be assembled, but the deal represents a serious effort by the Twins to compete by locking up high-end home-grown talent for a long time.
    We'll add details as they emerge. In the meantime, give us your initial thoughts below. 
  25. Like
    Clare reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Anoka Man Thinks Buxton Should Pay Twins   
    Classic North Metro halfwit Tom Hanson has seen enough. With the Twins allegedly looking to move Byron Buxton, the self-taught expert on epidemiology thinks the franchise is overlooking the best path forward.
    “He oughta pay them to play centerfield,” said the frequently-divorced electrician. “Bet he lands on the injured list reaching for his wallet, lol.”
    Hanson, who frequently interrupted his interview to speculate on the accuracy of Dominion Voting Systems machinery, credits Buxton’s injury history with this outside-the-box notion.
    “He’s hurt all the time, and the whole insurance game is a racket,” mused Hanson. “I bet they’ve paid more on premiums for him than salary. And I bet he hasn’t thanked them for either one.”
    Hanson, who has been banned from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, the Star Tribune comments section, Rube Chat, YouTube, and the Perkins chain of family restaurants, said Buxton reminds him of another Twins great, and not in a good way.
    “Joe Mauer must have taught (Buxton) that if you say you’re hurt, these suckers will believe you every time,” said Hanson. “I almost respect it. Must be nice to make $23 million a year to hit singles and then not even do that because your quote-unquote concussion hurts. Must be real nice.”
    When told that one of the quoted figures for a potential Byron Buxton deal was 7 years for $100 million, Hanson was livid.
    “You could have a lunch pail, 110% effort guy like Zach Granite or Jake Cave who’ll go out there every day and compete for a fraction of that, or you could have a prima donna like Buxton,” exclaimed Hanson. “The fact that they’d choose the latter is just another example of the woke cancel culture infecting our society.”
    Hanson would not elaborate on what that meant but did say it also applied to his local school board, KARE 11 meteorologist Belinda Jensen, maternity leave, paternity leave, rap music, Home Depot, his first, third, and fourth wives, and Little Free Libraries.  
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