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Dan Engebretson

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  1. I would add "player development" as a weakness. Examples of poor player development that are too frequently seen include poor baserunning. Grabbing a recent example, in Sunday's 10th inning loss, Kepler should have stayed near the bag on the Miranda's ball hit to the center field so Kepler could tag and advance to third. Rather, he went half-way on contact and had to retreat to second and lost the chance to advance to third. Gordon's groundout could have scored a smart baserunning Kepler from third, instead the poor baserunning Kepler could only get to third. In an earlier post in this thread, tarheeltwinsfan nicely articulated differences between "good clutch hitters" and "poor clutch hitters." The last few weeks not withstanding, most of the Twins hitters are really quite good; focusing on pre-All Star numbers, the Twins had the fifth highest OPS in MLB and 3rd highest in the AL. That's a team that knows how to hit a baseball (they have the talent). However, those numbers tank with RISP and particularly RISP with two out. I think well-developed hitters are aware of the situtation and rather than swinging for the fences in those situations, htey focus on advancing the runner, not getting out, and particularly not striking out (particularly with two out).
  2. To build on Old Twins Cap a bit, I think we look too much at the shortcomings of the Twins pitching staff and not enough at the shortcomings of the Twins offense and mistake-prone play. To grab a recent example -- June 29th's 10th inning loss. At the end of 9 innings the Twins were 1-8 w/RISP and had left six on base. The Twins ranks near the bottom of MLB of OPS w/RISP *(particularly with 2-outs); you cannot expect to consistently win games when you routinely leave baserunners on the bags. Additionally, the Twins seem to make lots mistakes -- not necessarily errors -- think wild pitches, passed balls, dropped fly balls in foul territory, poor baserunning, etc. Specific examples from game #2 of the doubleheader include Jeffers sloppy early-home-run-that-wan't trot that resulted in an out at second, which was immediately followed by the Celestino/Miranda confusion of suicide vs. safety squeeze that eliminated a runner a third. Granted, the Twins won 6-0 so the lost runs are moot, but sloppy play is sloppy play. Also in that game, the Twins were 1-9 w/RISP (so you can win with poor performances w/RISP). In terms of problems, I think the pitching problems are more solvable than the clutch hitting and mistake-prone play. You can buy your way out of the pitching problems (I don't know the Twins appetite for spending more or trading assets), but poor clutch hitting and mistake-prone play seems like a development problem that likely starts early in the minors and will take years to fix. To summarize, I agree that Twins have pitching problems, but I think the bigger, and more difficult to solve problems are poor clutch hitting and generally sloppy play. I think these problems have plagued the Twins for years and are at the heart of the 0-`18 playoff streak. Until these problems are resolved, I don't think the Twins can be an elite team.
  3. So, I go to preview today's game and see Astudillo listed among Twins batters? I don't see any roster move. Any insight?
  4. Simmons is on the restricted list because he cannot travel to Canada (more accurately, cannot travel outside the US) without resetting the progress he has made in becoming a permanent US resident.
  5. To clarify, if the Twins do take 4 from the Sox the Twins would be 6.5 games behind the Sox, not necessarily 6.5 games out of first. If Cleveland has a synchronous 4 game win streak with the Twins, then the Twins would be 9 games behind Cleveland (9 games is the current deficit between Cleveland and the Twins) and Cleveland would be the division leader (nobody could overtake them). But, your point is spot on; to have any chance the Twins must win the games they play. How many games you must win gets murky when there are multiple teams between you and first place.
  6. The silver lining: No inherited runners scored and Sano only struck out once!
  7. In 2002, the Twins were Division Champs. In 2003, the Twins were 7.5 games out of first in the Central at the All Star Break with a sub .500 record of 44-49. They traded Bobby Kielty for Shannon Stewart and the combination of them playing (reasonably) well and KC stumbling resulted in the Twins winning the division and heading to the playoffs (and actually winning a game!). The 2003 team underperformed expectations but still reached the playoffs. Coming in to the 2021 season, most thought the Twins were a flawed, but solid team (not unlike the 2003 Twins) that many expected to make it to the playoffs. There is no doubt this team has underpeformed, but I believe if they're within 10 games (in 2003, the Twins won the Division by 4 games, so they gained 11.5 games from the All Star Break), they should add some good relief pitching and give it a run.
  8. It looks like the bullpen is unlikely to allow any inherited runners to score tonight.
  9. I think the Twins should add a quality defensive short stop via free agency. Jose Iglesias is available as a free agent and has consistently put up good defensive numbers. His offense is not god-awful (OBP is alright and not much power), but I believe the Twins can sacrifice some offense in exchange for what I believe will be significant overall improvement in defense. Putting a good defender next to Sano will make Sano appear better so he can stay put at 3B. I would also add a good glove at 1B (perhaps one of the Twins minor leaguers could fit in here, I don't know much about their defensive prowess); a good 1B receiver will also help Sano's defense. I would prefer to keep Polanco and slide him to 2B. Polanco would be flanked by good defenders at SS and 1B and also helped by a good glove at 1B. I really like Arraez, but with this plan, he will likely get traded or stashed in the minors.
  10. I looked at the fielding stats over at Fangraphs. On the year, the Twins had 10 position players (not inlcuding catchers) that played 300+ innings at a position in the field. Only three had positive UZR/150 -- Max Kepler 20.6 in RF, Byron Buxton 15.7 in CF, and Max Kepler 9.5 in CF (yes, Max was two of the Twins 3 players with positive UZR/150). Marwin Gonzalez only played 291.2 innings at 3B, but had an 18.9 UZR/150. Contrast that with the Yankees; they have 8 players with positive UZR/150 (including Brett Gardner counted twice like Max Kepler) and 5 that are negative. The Astros (whom I believe are the most complete team in baseball) have 8 players with positive UZR/150 (Springer counted twice) and 4 that are negative. The Twins have demonstrated that they are a true offensive force, however, they've also demonstrated that they are incredbily weak defensively. While it is probably difficult to determine how much the weak defense negatively impacts pitching, it certainly makes our pitchers work harder each game. I think the Twins gain nothing by rearranging the deck chairs (moving Sano to first....), they must make meaningful personnel changes (particularly in the infield, where every one of our starters with more than 300 defense innings played, has a negative UZR/150) to improve the defense. That might start with keeping Marwin at 3B, but Sano is not a good answer at 1B (223 career innings and negative 5.3 UZR/150), and at least for this upcoming year, there is no way (barring injury to Cruz) that Sano gets many ABs at DH. I think the Twins need to get a great glove/good bat 1B (could very well be one of the minor leaguers stepping up). Work hard to acquire Jose Iglesias (free agent) for SS. Move Polanco to 2B. Keep Sano at 3B (his defense improves by having a better SS next to him and a better receiver at 1B). Trade Arraez; an alternative would be to keep Arraez at 2B and trade Polanco. I suspect that with Polanco's excellent bat and good contract that many teams would give a solid return.
  11. One error on what should have been a double play (two outs), and one additional error (one out) means that the Twins gave the Brewers an extra inning of offense. It's really tough to win when the other team gets to play an additional inning.
  12. Cal Ripken weighed 220 pounds when most other SS weighed 175 soaking wet (I think Ozzie Guillen was listed at 150!). Ripken ushered in a new era of large shortstops (A-Rod, Jeter, etc.) that could play their positions very well in spite of their large size and did not seem overly prone to injury because of their size (particularly true in Ripken's case). Mike Trout (235 pounds) and Jason Heyward (245 pounds) are both exemplars of modern-day large outfielders that play their positions very well and don't have reputations as being injury prone. Based on these and other examples I don't believe that simply due to his size that Sano cannot become an absolutely adequate defensive outfielder. In terms of experience, we don't have to look past Danny Santana in 2014. Prior to 2014 he had only played a handful of minor league games in the outfield, but when given the opportunity to play CF he was not an embarrassment in the field and his fWAR was 3+ (largely because of his offensive success that year). While Sano certainly doesn't have Santana's range, he does have a strong, accurate arm that should dissuade baserunners from taking extra bases and if he works hard with the coaching staff he should be able to develop enough outfield skills to at least make the routine plays and keep the balls in front of him. If he does not work hard (and I have no reason to believe he won't) he will not be very good; but, this is true even if he plays 3B or DH -- if he isn't willing to work hard, keep his weight in check so his athleticism can shine though, and refine his skills, he will quickly become an overweight has-been that wasted an opportunity to be a once-in-a-lifetime type player.
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