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  1. Like
    dbminn reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Midseason 2021 Minnesota Twins Top 15 Prospects   
    It feels good to be able to write about actual minor league baseball action again. After it being shelved in 2020 and the only updates coming from unattended alternate site workouts, real games taking place is a welcomed reality. For Minnesota, there’s been lots of graduations from the farm, and even more shifting.
    Traditionally this top 15 update has come after the Major League Baseball draft. With the timing of that event being shifted into July, I wanted to keep things consistent. Coincidentally, it was this exact date last year that the previous midseason update dropped. If you’d like to take a look at where I had guys coming into 2021, you can find all archived rankings below. Let’s get into it!
    2016 Top 15 Prospects 2017 Top 15 Prospects 2018 Top 15 Prospects 2019 Top 15 Prospects 2020 Top 15 Prospects 2021 Top 15 Prospects 15. Jose Miranda IF
    While he’s never made a top 15 for me before, Miranda has consistently been a “just missed” type. That doesn’t happen when you’ve got a .919 OPS in your first 37 games at Double-A. Lots of hype for Jose has been built around his bat and the work he did last year during the downtime. Looks like that was right.
    14. Cole Sands RHP
    A 5th round pick back in 2018, Sands is now nearly 24 and at Double-A. He’s got 31.2 innings under his belt thus far for Wichita and owns a dazzling 2.84 ERA. The 5.1 BB/9 isn’t a great look, but the 11.9 K/9 continues his strength of being able to punch batters out. He was impressive when I saw him during Spring Training in 2020, and the arrow continues to point up.
    13. Misael Urbina OF
    Signed out of Venezuela, Urbina has made his stateside debut in 2021. He’s struggled in Low-A thus far, but there’s speed and defensive ability here. He also may run into a good amount of pop and he’s just 19 years old.
    12. Gilberto Celestino OF
    Forced into action for the Twins this year due to outfield injuries, Celestino is up ahead of schedule. He’s played just 21 games at the Double-A level for Minnesota, and the bat still has a ways to go. He’s a plus defender with good speed, and if he can hit at all, there’s a fourth outfielder at worst here.
    11. Matt Wallner OF
    One of the most athletic Twins prospects, Wallner has hit everywhere he’s gone in the system. He owns a 1.005 OPS in his first 17 games at High-A but has been shelved with a wrist injury. Would not be shocked to see him be a solid corner outfielder with a plus arm and plus bat. Just need to get him healthy and back on the field.
    10. Brent Rooker OF/1B
    It continues to be tough sledding for Rooker when looking for big league playing time. He’s a liability in the field and that bat absolutely has to play. It has again at Triple-A this season, where he’s got an .861 OPS for the Saints. If the Twins need bodies though, it’s been in the outfield, and he just can’t really help there. Should they choose a more rotation DH situation going forward, Rooker will factor in nicely.
    9. Josh Winder RHP
    Another 2018 draft pick, Winder has impressed coming out of the Virginia Military Institute. Now 24 and at Double-A, he’s arguably been the best arm on the farm. He’s got a 2.16 ERA across 41.2 IP and his 10.8 K/9 pairs well with a 1.7 BB/9. He’ll be a Triple-A option soon and pitching 125 innings back in 2019 should work in his favor as far as workloads go.
    8. Blayne Enlow RHP
    This one hurts, because Enlow could’ve found himself even higher on this list had his year gone differently. After 14.2 IP and a 1.84 ERA, Enlow underwent Tommy John surgery and will be out well into 2022. He’s still just 22, but it would’ve been great to see him at Double-A this season.
    7. Matt Canterino RHP
    Another arm of concern here, Canterino is currently shelved and it’s murky as to when he’ll return. He owns a 1.00 ERA and 35/3 K/BB at High-A in 18 innings this year. It’s clear he’s ready for a step up in competition, and maybe should’ve even started at Double-A, but again, health is the chief concern.
    6. Aaron Sabato 1B
    Do I love that Sabato has just a .668 OPS at Low-A in his first 36 professional games? No. Do I love that he has a 22% walk rate in those games? Yes. He’s got an advanced eye in a league where plenty of pitchers are fighting command. The power is real and should eventually play.
    5. Keoni Cavaco SS
    Recently having turned 20, Cavaco is getting acclimated at Low-A. He has just a .673 OPS but seemed to be putting some positive developments together prior to a concussion related injury stint. This is a big year of growth for him and seeing some of the tools that had him shooting up draft boards would be exciting.
    4. Jhoan Duran RHP
    A late start to the year set the timetable back some, but Duran should still be expected to reach the majors in 2021. He’s been both lights out and wild at times for the Saints, but it’s clear why there’s so much to like with him. A triple-digit fastball that he does have good command of is going to play.
    3. Trevor Larnach OF
    It won’t be long and Larnach will have graduated from this list. He isn’t higher because I’m not sold on him being a perennial All-Star type, but there’s nothing to suggest he’s not a starting corner outfielder for a long time. The bat has contact and power, and the eye has quickly established itself. The kid is good.
    2. Jordan Balazovic RHP
    Starting the year on the IL wasn’t ideal, but Balazovic has now taken three turns in the Double-A Wichita rotation. He’s racked up 16 strikeouts in his first 9.2 IP, and this may be the Twins next best shot at developing an ace. There’s an outside chance he could make a start in Minnesota later in 2021.
    1. Royce Lewis SS
    Done for 2021 before he started, Royce Lewis tore his ACL, and it was discovered on intake. The year of development being missed after a lost 2020 and tough 2019 isn’t ideal. His character continues to suggest he’ll dominate rehab, and the ceiling remains as high as anyone within the organization.
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  2. Like
    dbminn reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, PECOTA Projecting a Three-Peat   
    Today marked the unveiling of PECOTA’s standings projection from Baseball Prospectus. For the Minnesota Twins, things are looking great as the system sees 91 wins and a third straight AL Central division title. There are definitely some noteworthy revelations, however.
    Of course, as Twins fans, the hometown club appearing atop the division once again is the most exciting development. 91 wins seems conservative in a division that should really be a two-team race, but PECOTA doesn’t see the breakdown working quite like that. Despite all of the fanfare, the projection system has the Chicago White Sox finishing third in the division and winning just 83 games.
    From my vantage point, the White Sox coming in anywhere lower than second seems like quite the shock. Cleveland dealt away Francisco Lindor, should do the same with Jose Ramirez, and despite a stellar pitching staff, have little else to hang their hats on. The White Sox certainly could be primed for some regression though. They burst onto the scene a year ago, but the season was just a 60-game sample size. Looking back to the 2017 Twins, there was a Postseason appearance prior to a backwards slide that then set them up for the current run.
    Trying to make some sense of what PECOTA may be seeing, I looked at the added WAR for Minnesota and Chicago through the lens of ZiPS from Fangraphs. Chicago has added just 6.5 fWAR while the Twins tacked on a tally of 7.2 fWAR. That’s largely a reflection of where both clubs added. The White Sox needed help in the outfield but responded with just Adam Eaton and Adam Engel. Lance Lynn is a solid addition if he keeps down the path of recent success, but even as good as Liam Hendriks is, Alex Colome was already stellar a year ago and a single reliever has just minimal impact. Both Nelson Cruz and Andrelton Simmons are seen as substantial additions for Minnesota, while J.A. Happ should be considered a steadying presence.
    Even without the distaste for Chicago clouding my view, I still find it hard to believe that club will finish below Cleveland. I’ve written in this space that I’d hardly be shocked if the Royals end up third in the division, and for now I’m going to stick to that. Projection systems or otherwise, you can bet the South Side fanbase won’t take kindly to what will be viewed as disrespect.
    One other area of note within PECOTA is the projection for the NL Central. That division is expected to be a dumpster fire, and the Milwaukee Brewers are slated to win it with just 88 wins. It’s worth making a note of considering the Central will serve as the interleague foe for Minnesota in 2021. Despite the regionalized schedule a year ago, the Twins face the same grouping of opponents in the National League. Being able to face off against a division that’s largely not trying should only provide additional opportunity to add tallies in the win column.
    We’ll have to take a look back on these standings come October when the dust settles. Right now, though, another Twins division title and some shade towards the South Side is more than good with me.
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  3. Like
    dbminn reacted to Danchat for a blog entry, 2021 Prospect Rankings: 1-8   
    #8 - Matt Wallner OF (1st Round 2019, Southern Miss)
    Another bat-first prospect, Wallner has some serious power behind his bat after hitting 58 HRs at Southern Mississippi (in just 872 PAs!). He did alright at Elizabethton, and his main concern as a hitter will be limiting the strikeouts. Defensively he's a subpar runner and will be limited to corner OF, if not 1B. He also pitched part-time in college, which means he's got the arm to throw out runners.
    #7 - Brent Rooker 1B (1st Round 2017, Miss State)
    Rooker's very similar to Sabato and Wallner, but unlike them, he's ready to play in the majors. He did well in his first week of games in the majors before fracturing his wrist on a pitch, and we saw a glimpse into his upside. He's got the power to hit 25+ HRs a season and his batting average did not suffer much in the minors. Strikeouts will be a concern, as he had a dangerously high 33.8% strikeout rate at AAA. Despite that he still hit .928 OPS with a super strong .399 OBP. Defensively, he really shouldn't be playing in the outfield. He hasn't played a ton of 1B, but hopefully he's given plenty of practice there because that would be an ideal place to end up. Otherwise he'll be a DH his whole career.
    #6 - Jordan Balazovic RHP (5th Round 2016, HS)
    The Twins have gone through a drought of starting pitcher prospects for at least 10 years, and have been desperate to get a guy like Balazovic up and going. He mowed through Fort Myers A+ in 2019 with a strong 2.84 ERA, a phenomenal K/9 rate (11.8) without a bad BB/9 rate (2.6). He uses a strong mix of a 94-95 MPH fastball that acts a sinker, and sprinkles in similar-looking curveballs and sliders. He needs to get more innings under his belt and I don't think he profiles as a #1 or #2 starter, but he has a clean injury history and he'll likely be starting in AA at the young age of 21. Balazovic has a bright future in the big leagues if he continues down the path he's headed.
    #5 - Jhoan Duran RHP (International from Dominican Republic, acquired in 2018 trade)
    The top pitching prospect, Duran turned his career around once arriving in the Twins organization, going from a #20-30 prospect in Arizona to top-tier prospect. Duran's fastball has sped up the past couple season, sitting in the upper 90s and he'll hit 100 every once in a while. His secondary pitch is a splitter that can hit 94, and consistently fool hitters with its fastball-speed. His command can be a bit shaky at times, but that's even been a huge problem for him. Duran does have the toolset to be a dynamite reliever, but he's successfully pitched a starter's workload in the minors and should land in the rotation. Perhaps he pitches in the Twins' bullpen down the stretch in 2021 as his first dip into the MLB pool.
    #4 - Royce Lewis SS (1st Round 2017, HS)
    Most prospect rankers won't agree with this, but I'm not as high on Lewis as most are. The first overall draft pick in 2017, Lewis had very strong 2017 and 2018 seasons, but he hit poorly in 2019 at A+ and AA. He was promoted to AA despite hitting .665 OPS, and proceeded to hit .649 OPS there. Critics have pointed out that Lewis' swing does not look good and his approach at the plate needs heavy refinement, and his pitch recognition is currently poor. He's still young, turning 22 this summer, but I don't think he's particularly close to being MLB-ready. There has also been debate about whether he will end up at SS or CF, as he has the raw speed to handle both. This ranking has mostly been negative, but Royce has the potential to become a talented hitter with 60-65 power potential and has the highest ceiling of any prospect on this team. I just get the sense that Lewis will become a hitter whose approach at the plate won't click until Year 4 or 5 of his career.
    #3 - Alex Kiriloff OF (1st Round 2016, HS)
    The Twins are poised to make Kiriloff their starting LF in 2021, and it's not hard to see why. He has a career .317 batting average in the minors, and that's no fluke. Scouts rave about his ability to make consistent contact on tough pitches, he has has some serious power behind his swing, with the potential for 20+ HRs a year. Kiriloff's focus on contact has kept the number of walks low, but that's not a big concern if he hits > .300. He's had a couple of wrist injuries and missed the entire 2017 season. Defensively Kiriloff is one of the lower prospects on this list, and while he has a good glove and a great arm, he may end up at 1B. Hopefully his bat will end up somehwere in the #2-4 spot in the lineup one day.
    #2 - Ryan Jeffers C (2nd Round 2018, UNC Wilmington)
    This is probably the highest you've ever seen Jeffers on a prospect ranking, but I am comfortable putting him this high. Good catching prospects are rare, and Jeffers is the entire package. He was yet another 'questionable draft pick' in the 2nd round, but the Twins organization sculpted him into one of the best defensive backstops in the minor leagues after initial scouting reports claimed he wouldn't be able to stay at catcher. He ranked as a top-notch pitch framer, and showed as much in his 26 game debut in 2020. His bat was always his calling card, and it didn't disappoint in the minors with a very strong (.296/.383/.453 .836 OPS). He'll take a lot of walks and has the potential for more power. Jeffers is ready to graduate off this list and will push for the starting role as the Twins' catcher.
    #1 - Trevor Larnach OF (1st Round 2018, Oregon State)
    I conclude with another bat-first position player, of whom has the best minor league track record to this point. Larnach covered 4 levels of the minor leagues through only two years (2018-19) and held his own at every level, never dipping below a .295 batting average or .840 OPS. In total he's recorded a (.307/.385/.468) triple slash, and that's even with only 18 HRs in that stretch. He's got more power in that bat, no doubt. Larnach will take plenty of walks too, as his K/BB ratio was very healthy too. Defensively he's a bit on the slower side, but I think he will work as a RF with a decent glove and strong arm. Once he figures out the big leagues, Larnach is a hitter whose name should be penned into the #3 spot in the lineup and be let loose to rake to his heart's content.
    I will add one more blog post soon going over my formula of how these rankings were calculated. Until then, let me know what you think!
  4. Like
    dbminn reacted to nowheresville for a blog entry, Prediction: The Twins are Heading to Wichita (and maybe St. Paul too)   
    Minor League Baseball is going to see massive changes in 2021, and the Twins have already signaled that they will be among the teams seeing the biggest shakeups. There has been plenty of speculation that St. Paul will become their new AAA home, but it's my belief that whether or not that happens, the Twins will end up with a Minor League Team in Wichita, Kansas one way or another.
    As a quick recap, Minor League Baseball is expected to undergo a massive reorganization starting next season as it is taken over by Major League Baseball. At least 40 teams will be contracted, the short season and rookie leagues are being eliminated, and other levels are expected to see significant changes and realignment. New deals between Major Leagues and affiliates are also expected to go from 2-4 year deals, like they had been previously and saw the Twins shift from New Britain to Chattanooga to Pensacola for AA just within the past decade, to 10 year deals, to create more stability between MLB and MILB teams.
    For the Twins, that means the Elizabethton Twins are no longer a Twins farm team, Fort Myers and the Florida State League will shift to Low-A, while Cedar Rapids and the Midwest League will move up to High-A. The Twins have also already announced that they are cutting ties with Rochester (NY) and will be looking for a new AAA home.
    For many Twins fans, the AAA changes have been getting the most attention, as the St. Paul Saints are one of two 2 independent teams being invited to join AAA, the other being the Sugarland Skeeters in suburban Houston. The possibility of having Twins Prospects playing just 12 miles away from Target Field is certainly an exciting development for Twins fans, especially those who closely follow the Twins Minor League Prospects. The sticking point appears to be around money, specifically if the Saints ownership is willing to pay the $20M franchise fee to join affiliated minor league ball.
    But while St. Paul seems clear as plan A, there have been several reports listing Wichita as plan B, and that could be an excellent option as well. The Wichita Wind Surge is a brand new team with a brand new ballpark. They were supposed to make their debut last season as the AAA team of the Miami Marlins, until COVID cancelled the Minor League Season. In addition to having brand new facilities, Wichita would also be a very good geographic fit as well. Wichita is a little over 600 miles away from the Twin Cities, and while that can't compete with the Saints in terms of distance, it's still significantly shorter than the trip to Rochester and is actually one of the closest existing AAA cities to Minnesota. Only Des Moines and Omaha, whose longtime ties to the Cubs and Royals aren't likely to change, are significantly closer. Additionally, as part of the reorganization, the Pacific Coast League is likely to be adjusted so it is only West Coast Teams, instead of the previous setup which had teams stretching from Tacoma to Nashville. The extreme travel of the PCL is one of the main reason the Twins worked to stay in Rochester and the IL, but that seems to be unlikely an issue moving forward if the Twins end up in Wichita for AAA.
    Even if St. Paul does become a reality and becomes the Twins new AAA team, there's still a very good chance that the Twins end up in Wichita anyway! Mixed into other reports about this year's Minor League affiliation dance is that the Marlins will be moving their AAA team to Jacksonville - which had been the home of their AA team - and then their AA team will shift to Pensacola. Pensacola, of course, has been the Twins AA home for the past 2 years, and if those reports are accurate, the Twins will need a new AA location. There are 3 AA leagues, the Eastern, Southern, and Texas Leagues, none of which have teams that are particularly close to Minnesota, so there's no natural fit, and because of travel, there's no chance of any city in or near Minnesota becoming a AA city.
    Wichita, on the other hand, could be available as a AA location. If both the Saints and the Sugarland (TX) Skeeters - the other independent team under consideration for AAA affiliation - decide to join up, then there are reports that Wichita and San Antonio (Brewers current AAA) would both be moved down to the AA Texas League. In that case, Wichita would still be one of the closest available AA option for the Twins, and with brand new facilities would be a very appealing location.
    As a side note - if San Antonio does get moved to AA, that creates a really interesting situation for the Brewers. Presumably, Houston would take Sugarland as it's new AAA home, and the Rangers would move their AAA team from Nashville back to Round Rock. Nashville would be an excellent fit for Milwaukee, except a few years ago, Nashville effectively kicked out the Brewers right as they opened a new ballpark - and the Brewers were quite public about how unhappy they were with how that situation unfolded.
    Obviously, there are still a lot of moving parts in regards to Minor League Baseball's major overhaul, and we won't have any true answers until MLB makes its long awaited official reorganization announcement, likely sometime soon. But since whatever changes are decided this month are likely to be in place for at least the next 10 years, it's important that the Twins settle in a good situation. With a brand new park, that's relatively close to Minnesota, Wichita looks like it could be a very nice place for Twins prospects to settle in, no matter if it's Double or Triple A.
    Update 11/30/20: According to a sports reporter in Wichita, the Twins/Wichita partnership will be made official this week.
  5. Like
    dbminn reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, An outsiders Fantasy view of the Twins   
    I am always looking for outsider opinions on the Twins since it is too easy to have hometown bias. All of us who root for the Twins follow them with much more emotion and fan hopefulness that allows them to rise higher in our opinions than an outsider might see them. So, I was interested in the Athletic’s fantasy baseball rankings. I know fantasy and reality are not the same, but it is one way of comparing players. Derek Van Riper just posted his fantasy ratings of players https://theathletic.com/2199503/2020/11/16/2021-fantasy-baseball-rankings-2/?source=dailyemail and here is where the Twins rank.
    Starting pitchers (160 ranked)
    13 Kenta Maeda (between Kershaw and Nola)
    27 Jose Berrios (Between Burnes and Paddock)
    45 Michael Pineda (Between May and Corbin)
    54 Rich Hill (Between McKenzie and Musgrove)
    63 Jake Odorizzi (Between Ohtani and Bassett)
    We have a starting rotation here!
    Relief Pitchers (38 ranked)
    11 Taylor Rogers (Between Hand and Yates)
    17 Trevor May (Between Smith and Pomeranz)
    37 Tyler Duffey (Between Adams and Garrett)
    Rogers rating surprised me - too high, Duffey too low.
    Catchers (29 rated)
    11 Mitch Garver (Between Nola and McCann)
    24 Ryan Jeffers (Between Murphy and Suzuki)
    1B (44 ranked)
    14 Miguel Sano (Between Smith and Vaughn)
    Fantasy loves bombs
    2B (47 ranked)
    25 Luis Arraez (Between Madrigal and Alberto)
    Singles don't rank as high in fantasy
    SS (47 ranked)
    18 Jorge Polanco (Between Villar and Rosario)
    3B (53 rated)
    10 Josh Donaldson (Between Moncado and Chapman)
    44 Marwin Gonzales (Between Frazier and Lamb)
    48 Ehire Adrianza (Between Bote and Drury)
    OF (118 ranked)
    23 Byron Buxton (Between Blackmon and Soler)
    26 Eddie Rosario (Between Lewis and Pham)
    38 Max Kepler (Between Hernandez and Myers)
    96 Alex Kiriloff (Between Polanco and Larnach)
    97 Trevor Larnach (Between Kiriloff and Oliva)
    Where is Cave? They like our rookies, but where is Rooker? Once again Max ranks below Eddie.
    DH (8 rated)
    1 Nelson Cruz (ahead of J. D . Martinez)
    Cruz is the highest rated at his position, Donaldson is second at number 10 among 3B, but how in the world does Garver get rated #11. I know catchers are hard to find, but still!
    It is fun to see this ranking and I will look for other outsider views this off season. But my take away from this is that we have a good team with a lot of players ranked in the middle at their position, but other than Cruz and potential Donaldson we do not have the superstars that the great teams have. We have no one on a HOF track.
  6. Like
    dbminn reacted to Parker Hageman for a blog entry, What I'm Reading   
    Welcome to What I'm Reading. This is a collection of interesting or insightful articles I’ve read this past week.
    Behind Nelson Cruz’s Maniacal Preparation:
    From his Seattle Mariner days but a reminder of how much work the 40-year-old Cruz puts in to maintain his elite level of play.

    Nap time can vary, but it’s daily. 

    “If we play at home, I like to do it after BP,” he said. “If we are on the road, I do it before BP.”
    Post nap will include a dip in the cold tub for about five minutes, followed by some time in the warm tub. 

    Cruz’s on-field workout is another process. He doesn’t walk into the cage and try to bomb homers. There’s a plan to his batting practice, which includes driving the ball to the opposite field. Sure, by the end, he’s launching balls over the fence at distances his teammates only wish they could reach. 

    But he’s become a more complete hitter by showing this discipline in batting practice. Though he rarely plays in the field anymore, Cruz will still take fly balls on most days because he still wants to play in the outfield at some point. He’ll even take ground balls in the infield to keep his body active. 

    “It’s fun for me,” he said. 
    Kansas City Royals Pitching Development Has Changed:

    “We’re not going to draft a guy, have them come in and be like, ‘We need to do this, this and this,'” Stetter said. “The biggest thing is, you have to trust your eyes. If a pitch is working, the hitter is going to tell you. The hitter is going to let you know if your stuff is good enough. And if it is, you’re going to keep going with it. And if you get to Double-A and the hitters start hitting it, you’re not getting swings and misses, we’ll know what kind of changes we might make to that pitch to make it better.” 


    “A lot of times, if you’re having a guy throw a four-seam, and it’s got a two-seam tilt, it might not always add up that he should be throwing all four-seams,” Stetter said. “There’s some stuff with Rapsodo and Edgertronic camera where we can sit there and make a decision on a guy, where, it might be more beneficial if he throws more two-seams, or it might be beneficial that he throws more four-seams. With new technology, you can tailor it to the guy. Certain grips play better to horizontal-breaking sliders.” 
    Joe West Never Missed A Call:

    "This is what people don't understand: When an umpire has a bad night, he goes back and looks at it," he said. "There has to be a reason you missed the call. Three ways you can miss a call: lack of concentration, lack of positioning, lack of timing. The Denkinger play at first base [in 1985 when the] Cardinals lost the World Series to the Royals. Don Denkinger overhustled on that play. He took himself out of position to see that play. Is that a bad thing that he hustled? No. But he put himself in the wrong spot. He's one of the best umpires the American League has ever had. He's remembered for that call. That's not fair. There's no batting average for performance for an umpire. They grade you, yes. But when you miss some, you can't go out and hit a homer. You have no recourse to get that back." 
    99-Year-Old Roger Angell On Modern Baseball Statistics:

    I think some of the new stats are useful. Good baseball played by Major Leaguers is so far beyond us—it’s the hardest game in the world to play well. And what underlies [the stat revolution] is, I think, a conscious and effective way to get some of this back, to say, “We know better. We know what the batters are doing. They don’t know what they’re doing.” It’s understandable, but it doesn’t add to the joy of the game for me. I’m not very statistical by nature, so I could be wrong about this. And I know a lot of people now use these stats and talk about them with interest. But also, it’s part of the huge alteration of the game itself. People tilting their swings and swinging for homers and striking out in huge numbers. This is a gigantic change in the game. I think home runs are OK, but on the whole, I prefer a triple. 
    Are We Teaching Wrong?

    Mr. Hirsch also takes issue with grade schools’ focus on “skills.” Whether it is imparting “critical thinking skills,” “communication skills” or “problem-solving skills,” he says such instruction is a waste of time in the absence of specific knowledge. He describes the findings of the National Academy of Sciences on the subject of the “domain specificity of human skills.” What this means, he explains in the new book, “is that being good at tennis does not make you good at golf or soccer. You may be a talented person with great hand-eye coordination—and indeed there are native general abilities that can be nurtured in different ways—but being a first-class swimmer will not make a person good at hockey.” 

    He cites the “baseball study,” conducted by researchers at Marquette University in the 1980s, which found that kids who knew more about how baseball was played performed better when answering questions about a text on baseball than those who didn’t understand the game—regardless of their reading level. The conventional response in education circles is that standardized tests are unfair because some kids are exposed to more specific knowledge than others. In Mr. Hirsch’s view that’s precisely why children should be exposed to more content: Educators “simply haven’t faced up to their duty to provide a coherent sequence of knowledge to children.” 
    What I'm Listening To (Spotify Playlist)
    What I'm Listening To (Podcast Recommendation)
  7. Like
    dbminn reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Baseball has a special connection to Black Lives Matter   
    I cannot refuse to play baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, but I would if I could. I will support those who can, I will stand for the Black Lives Matter and not confuse it with the need to respect all lives. I will always feel a connection with the American Indian and the genocide of that Indian race in our nation. I will sympathize with the racism that affect the Chinese who built our railroads and the Japanese put in prison camps.
    I grew up in a black neighborhood, I spent time with my relatives on the reservation in Lac Court O'Reilles, WI. To deny racism is to be blind to the world around us. To say that racism exists in only one color of people would be wrong, but the record of treaties broken, of people sold and resold exceeds other stories.
    I want to trust the police, but they continue to disappoint me. I want to think that we have gone beyond lynching, but it is not acceptable to have white nationalists in uniform using guns instead of ropes.
    Destruction of property, looting, defacing the cities is not acceptable, but neither is the indignity of those who complain because freeways are blocked, because peaceful people with tears in their eyes deserve our sympathy and understanding.
    Baseball took half a century to recover from the racism of Cap Anson. It kidded itself that it was the great major league but was it. Who was better? When Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with Branch Rickey and Larry Doby, it became a flood in the NL and suddenly we had Aaron, Robinson, Mays, Banks, and other great stars giving the NL a period of dominance. It should have been an awakening. The same was true of other sports and the NHL is still in the backwash of history.
    Sports have always been a measure of our nation and its progress. Despite our racism Jesse Owens in the Berlin Olympics was a great national victory. Louis over Schmeling was a blow to the Nazi claims of superiority. But the Black gloves held skyward in during their medal ceremony in the Olympic Stadium in Mexico City on October 16, 1968, by two African-American athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos offended many – it should not have. It was appropriate and is still meaningful.
    We have let hate stop the progress towards equality. We have let selfish motives block the rights of people easily identified by skin color as different.
    We should not be moving towards fascism; we should be moving towards compassion. Our nation should not be worshiping guns, but rather the opportunity of equal rights for all and I mean ALL.
    I am growing old with the candle of hope flickering in the winds of hate that have been unleashed in our nation. Please - is Peace and Love really a bad slogan to live by?
  8. Like
    dbminn reacted to TwinsFan268 for a blog entry, Taking A Look At MLB's Projected 2020 Standings   
    Yesterday, MLB released their projected standings on Twitter, and while the American League looked very close to last year, the National League was a little different. Since the playoffs are going to be the same next year, I'm going to take a look at what this means for us.
    Now, MLB placed the Twins atop the AL Central, 7 games ahead of last year's competition, the Cleveland Indians. Of course I love having distance between us and Cleveland, but I was kind of hoping that we had more projected wins. Here's what the standings for the Central looked like:
    Twins: 93-69
    Indians: 86-76
    White Sox: 83-79
    Tigers: 69-93
    Royals: 68-94
    Obviously, the only change here is the Tigers go to fourth and the Royals go to fifth, but they're only one game apart. The Twins and Indians get worse, while the White Sox, Tigers, and Royals improve. The Tigers have vastly improved over their 47-114 season last year.
    Now, I know that you're wondering where we place with the other American League teams. So, let's chat the American League East, the division of our biggest postseason rivals, the New York Yankees. Here's what their projected standings look like.
    Yankees: 99-63
    Rays: 87-75
    Red Sox: 85-77
    Blue Jays: 77-85
    Orioles: 63-99
    These are literally the exact same standings as last year, just with different numbers. The Yankees have as many wins as the Orioles have losses. Same goes with the Red Sox and Blue Jays. The Red Sox have as many wins as the Blue Jays have losses.
    Now, I know that you're getting impatient because you want to know who we would play in the playoffs, who's the Wild Card team, all that! But, first let's go over to the AL West.
    Astros: 98-64
    Angels: 87-75
    Athletics: 85-77
    Rangers: 73-89
    Mariners: 66-96
    This is a very close division! The Angels are taking the jump up from 4th and moving into the 2nd place spot. The Astros and Mariners have their same places as 2019, but the middle teams have shifted around.
    Now, time to talk about the playoffs. From these standings, the Angels and Rays would face each other in the Wild Card team. The Yankees face whoever wins. The Twins and Astros are the 2nd and 3rd place teams, so they face each other in the ALDS. Yes, you heard me right! No Yankees! As long as the Astros don't have trash cans and TVs, I say we have more of a chance. And I am 100% sure that they learned their lesson from that one.
    Let's go over to the National League and just talk about them, not quite in as much detail as we talked about the American League. We'll start with the Central, our division in a different league.
    Reds: 86-76
    Cubs: 85-77
    Cardinals: 80-82
    Brewers: 79-83
    Pirates: 70-92
    This division is going to have to battle it out, as all the teams are so close to each other. This will be a fun one to watch!
    All right, next let's chat about the NL East.
    Mets: 88-74
    Nationals: 87-75
    Braves: 83-79
    Phillies: 77-85
    Marlins: 71-91
    Again, close close close. Nobody historically terrible like the Marlins were last year. Just a lot of average teams.
    The last division is the NL West.
    Dodgers: 103-59
    Padres: 79-83
    Diamondbacks: 79-83
    Rockies: 77-85
    Giants: 68-94
    Oh, a tie for second! Those are cool. These standings look basically the same as last year except for the Padres improve a bit.
    Playoffs. Cubs vs. Nationals for the Wild Card game. Dodgers face whoever wins. Mets vs. Reds in the NLDS as 2nd and 3rd place teams.
    What do you think of the projected standings? How do you think it'll turn out? Will teams be better or worse than MLB projected them to be? Please give opinions in the comments!
  9. Like
    dbminn reacted to Twinternationals for a blog entry, Introducing Twinternationals!   
    Welcome to Twinternationals! This is a space for Twins fans from different countries to read about their team in their native language. This section is run by Venezuelan Mariana Guzmán (@TwinsLatinos) and Brazilian Thiéres Rabelo (@TwinsBrasil).
    On this blog, we’re going to write articles in Spanish and Portuguese, our native languages. Our goal is to spread the Minnesota Twins popularity to a much greater audience. American sports have grown each day more popular in South America and possibly all over the world, so we want to take advantage of that. We love the Twins this much!
    If you are a fellow foreigner that roots for the Twins, feel free to comment and interact with us here and also on our Twitter accounts. If you are from a country that doesn’t speak those two languages and you would like to be a contributor to this blog as well, please let us know. Our door is open!
    We hope you enjoy our work!
  10. Like
    dbminn reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Grading the players not the teams   
    Forget the teams - who knows who wins or loses until after the year, or longer. Did the Twins win the Kurt Suzuki trade? The Aaron Hicks Trade? The John Ryan Murphy trade? The Wilson Ramos trade? The first year is not enough to judge (although potentially the Betts trade is for a one year player). Injuries, slumps, high expectations all play into the team win or loss, but the players factors are not the same as the team.
    As I look at benefits to individual players I see a different pattern of potential winners and losers.
    Mookie Betts - he wins. He would have won if the trade had not happened because he is going to get a Trout like contract and now he has a west coast audition to go with his East Coast play. Yet, the teams have not figured out that one great player does not elevate the team - this is not the NBA - and Mike Trout has never been in a WS. Trout, Harper, Betts - all far over paid, so yes, he wins, but the Dodgers will win the west (they won without him last year and the year before and would have won without him this year). Will the Dodgers win the World Series - they will if their pitchers lead them or if Mookie Betts has a crazy year like Bobby Richardson of the Yankees, or Dusty Rhodes of the Giants, or Scott Podsednik of the White Sox, or Jim Leyritz of the Yankees, or Kurt Bevacqua of the Padres, or Brian Doyle of the Yankees? Those are not memorable names or players yet they were the biggest reason for their teams success. Notice it is not Mantle or other big names on this list and history is filled with even more obscure names. So will Mookie win them a world series? No, but he might be on the team that does win and if he does that big contract is waiting.
    Graterol - he wins - the Dodgers Bullpen is aging and Jansen is not as good as he once was so Graterol jumps into a great position if he stays in the pen. The Dodgers have lots of successful arms and seem to know how to use them. If he moves to SP he will succeed there too with good fielding and good hitting all around him. Much better than Red Sox - no green monster, a deteriorating team, and a questionable staff.
    Kenta Maeda wins - with the Dodgers he is in the bullpen after they got Price and they have so many ready arms he is expendable. With the Twins he is expected to win the World Series! Yes he is now our #3 pitcher until Pineda returns and then he is number four and after free agency calls Odorizzi he will rise again next year.
    Luke Raley loses - if he thinks he was blocked by the Twins prospects and starters he is now back in the Dodger prospect factory and will lose more until he is traded again.
    Connor Wong - wins - they say that the Red Sox need catchers - he will find a place on the catcher bench.
    Jair Carmargo - loses - the Twins have Garver, Rortvedt, Jeffers - young and versatile. But hey every team needs a catcher in the minors. His only hope is another trade.
    Jeter Downs - not sure - probably a win. He has a good name for a shortstop. Bogaerts will eventually move from SS and probably not that far in the future and Jonathan Arauz does not have dazzling Milb stats so Downs moves into the number two position. With the Dodgers his window was not open.
    Alex Verdugo - wins - he has shown that he has talent. Expectations in Boston are not that he will replace Betts, but he will start and he could like the monster. And now he does not have Luke Raley looking over his shoulder! I think he will thrive.
    David Price - wins - yes he is a salary dump, but he now moves into the Dodger rotation replacing Ryu and Maeda. He is with Walker and Kershaw - not bad and his expectations are less. There are no DHs, there is good fielding. What is lacking is a great pen, but hey, they got Graterol out there now. I think he might become a star again if health allows.
  11. Like
    dbminn reacted to RDLARK for a blog entry, Starting Pitcher Analysis: Randy Dobnak   
    I’m going to dive into blogging here and see where it goes. Sometimes, as a writer, the hardest thing is to come up with an idea that’s worth writing about and that people will actually be interested to read. I expect that to be my struggle, but I’ve got what I think will be an interesting series to kick things off, and maybe that will be the extent of my contributions. Time will tell.
    In any case, nobody wants to read about me. You want to see what information you can glean about our Twins. Given the rampant discussions on Twitter and on various blogs regarding the state of the Twins’ pitching staff, I thought it would be interesting to do a series on the numbers underlying the starters currently projected to be in the mix for the Twins.
    While I’m sure others will make starts this season, here are the guys I’m hoping to work my way through for this series:
    Jose Berrios
    Jake Odorizzi
    Michael Pineda
    Rich Hill
    Homer Bailey
    Devin Smeltzer
    Lewis Thorpe
    Randy Dobnak
    By way of framing the series, I think there are pretty clearly three different groups. The known (but in some cases misunderstood) quantities, the new veterans, and the prospects.
    When the season starts, we know Pineda and Hill will not be in the rotation, and we know Berrios, Odorizzi, and Bailey will be (barring injury, of course). That being the case, I decided to start off by diving into the three prospects (a term I’m using loosely, given the MLB experience they got last year), starting with Dobnak.
    A common question we hear, read, and think to ourselves as we are trying to fall asleep: “Can Randy Dobnak be a key piece of a successful playoff run?” I can cut to the chase and just say the answer is yes, but if you want to know why, go ahead and keep reading the words.
    Let’s start by looking at Dobnak’s surface-level stats:
    28.1 IP – lots and lots of caveats about the small sample
    7.31 K/9 – not inspiring, but we will need to take a look at his swinging strike rates
    1.59 BB/9 – elite, but let’s see how often he’s really in the strike zone
    1.59 ERA – wow, but a lot of this depends on the above
    2.90 FIP – also wow
    3.77 xFIP – still wow, but we will need to look into his batted ball tendencies because 0.32 HR/9 is the reason for the jump from his FIP to his xFIP.

    Okay, so we have a few things to dive into:
    Swinging Strike Rates, which are generally highly correlated to K/9
    Zone Percentage, which is highly correlated to BB/9
    Batted Ball Tendencies, which are going to be a bit more difficult to use to extrapolate, given the small sample.

    Getting hitters to swing and miss, and throwing strikes are generally skills the pitcher possesses (or does not), while the results – K/9, BB/9, HR/9, etc. Fluctuate due to randomness, umpire tendencies, opponents’ skill, etc. (esp in small samples).
    Here’s what we see for Dobnak on those plate discipline skills:
    43.8% of his pitches were in the strike zone
    12.9% of his pitches resulted in a swinging strike

    Putting those numbers into context, 61 pitchers qualified for the ERA title last season, so the median pitcher would be the one whose result was 31st among qualified starters. For swinging strike, it turns out that is a couple of familiar names: Jose Berrios and Homer Bailey at 10.8 percent. Looking at zone percentage, there is a three way tie among Jeff Smardzija, Mike Soroka, and Bailey again at 42.6 percent (a bit of a preview of the Bailey post. Hmm). By now you’ve surely noticed that Dobnak’s numbers were markedly above the median.
    In fact, his zone percentage of 43.8% would have tied him with Zach Eflin for 20th among all qualified starting pitchers, just a tick below Noah Syndergaard at 43.9 percent. His swinging strike rate of 12.9% puts him in a three way tie with Charlie Morton and Clayton Kershaw, who were tied for 14th among qualified starters. Obviously good company.
    It gets better. If you look at qualified starters who posted at least a 12.9% swinging strike rate combined with a 43.9% zone percentage – that rare combination of being in the zone and missing bats – here is the list you get for 2019:
    Gerrit Cole – 16.8%/45.2%
    Max Scherzer – 16.4%/45.6%
    Justin Verlander – 16.1%/45.2%
    Lucas Giolito – 15%/47.2%
    Yu Darvish – 13.4%/44.5%
    Charlie Morton – 12.9%/45.1%

    Just missed:
    Clayton Kershaw
    German Marquez
    Lance Lynn
    Noah Syndergaard
    Trevor Bauer
    Walker Buehler

    Does this mean Dobnak is in the company of these elite aces? Of course not. What it does suggest, though, is that his success was not a fluke. He displayed an elite combination of skills in missing bats (which generates strikeouts) and living in the strike zone (which prevents walks). This suggests that he has considerable upside. He also threw essentially a major league innings load last year – compiling more than 160 innings across 4 levels from High A to the majors. This suggests he’s capable of providing the Twins with volume as well as quality, something that is not always the case for prospect pitchers.
    There are reasons to be worried, though. The difference between Dobnak’s FIP and his xFIP was driven by an unsustainably low 5.3% HR/FB rate. The lowest HR/FB rate among qualified starters was 9.3%, and given Dobnak’s 42.5% hard hit rate, it’s safe to assume more of those fly balls will reach the seats going forward. That said, if he regresses to the mean in HR/9 and posts 150 innings with a sub-4.00 ERA, that’s obviously a serviceable starting pitcher. And, given that FIP and xFIP were driven by his 7.31 K/9, if those swinging strikes turn that into a 9.00+ K/9, he has considerable upside to deliver a lower ERA.
  12. Like
    dbminn reacted to Lucas Seehafer PT for a blog entry, Jorge Polanco to resume baseball activities: What is ankle impingement?   
    According to KSTP's Darren Wolfson, Minnesota Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco will likely resume "baseball activties" - often hitting off a tee, fielding drills, etc. - as early as this week after undergoing an arthroscopic procedure in November to address impingement in his right ankle. This good news follows the report last week by the Minneapolis Star Tribune's Phil Miller that centerfielder Byron Buxton was on track in his recovery from a left shoulder labrum repair.
    Ankle impingement is a broad term that refers to structures in the ankle being "pinched" due to soft tissue injury, boney deformity, and/or excessive/restricted joint motion; there are multiple joints in the ankle: the talocrural joint allows for dorsiflexion and plantarflexion (pointing the foot up and down) and the subtalar joint allows for inversion and eversion (rolling the ankle in and out).
    There are various locations within the ankle in which tissues can become impinged upon, though the most common locations are at the anterior (front) and posterior (back) ankle, with anterior impingement being the most common.
    Anterior impingement - also known as anterior impingement syndrome - often arises due to repetitive microtrauma (many instances of small trauma built up over time) and occasionally after lateral ankle sprains - also known as inversion or "rolling" ankle sprains. Anterior impingement syndrome isn't a very serious diagnosis, though it is often painful and can hinder an athlete's ability to perform at peak levels. Anterior impingement syndrome is often exacerbated by end range and/or repeated bouts of dorsiflexion.
    This condition is often treated conservatively (i.e. rehabilitation) at first with emphasis placed on restoring pain-free range of motion, with arthroscopic surgery conducted if conservative rehabilitation fails. The arthroscopic procedure is often termed "debridement" as the structures causing the impingement are resected to open up more space. Outcomes following arthroscopic debridement of anterior impingement syndrome are good.
    Posterior impingement syndrome is similar in concept, though it is often exacerbated with end range and/or repeated plantarflexion and may involve the Achilles tendon.
    In all, Polanco appears to be recovering in line with the typical timeline following arthroscopic debridement procedures. This isn't a condition that is likely to be a long-term concern for Polanco and he should be return to game action in plenty of time for the beginning of the regular season.
  13. Like
    dbminn reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, The potential for success - Josh Donaldson contract   
    I was curious about great 3B players so I went to check on a few to see how they aged and whether the four year contract for Josh Donaldson was really a good deal for both team and player. What are the potentials for regret? I cannot predict injuries or aging, but this list makes me feel better and optimistic.
    Mike Schmidt ages 34 - 37 hit HRs to almost match his age 36,33,37,35 and then he was really done dropping off to 12 and 6. His WAR was 7,.5, 6.2, 6.1,and then 1.8, -0.4
    Another great 3B and my favorite was Eddie Mathews. A wonderful HOF player. He hit 32 at age 33 and then dropped to 16, 32, 3. His career was over by age 38.
    Ken Boyer, a near HOF peaked at age 32 and never had another power year.
    Scott Rolen, being debated for HOF and getting lots of credit as a 3B candidate hit 22, 20, 5 and 8 and then was done at 38
    George Brett was not a HR hitter, but in his age 34 - 37 seasons his WAR was 2.7, 4.1 and then he finished out his last three years with WARS of less that 0,5.
    Baseball Reference in it list of comparable players at age 33 listed only one 3B - Dave Hollins who dropped out at age 33 with BA, HR and all other stats. Not a good one there, although he had been good.
    Those are my best comparable players. The biggest thing I saw in this exercise really demonstrated that the Twins might have grabbed the best four years and would be wise not to extend it further.
  14. Like
    dbminn reacted to Steven Buhr for a blog entry, Twins Moves Improve Postseason Chances? Bet On It!   
    If you follow me on Twitter, you know I've been taking advantage of legalized sports betting in Iowa. Not many days go by between my comments or observations concerning the betting lines on the teams and sports that I tend to follow.
    Naturally, that means I had to check out the shifts in what the oddsmakers set for the Minnesota Twins chances of success are in 2020 after the Twins front office signed Josh Donaldson to a hefty free agent contract. The signing has been widely seen as a signal to their fan base and any other interested parties that the Twins are serious about taking advantage of their current window of competitive opportunity.
    Winning the American League Central Division title is nice, but with the strong core of talent on the Twins roster, you can't blame fans for wanting more. We want postseason success! Winning 101 games was terrific! Losing three straight games to the Yankees in the American League Division Series, not so much.
    The signing of Donaldson to a contract far beyond anything the Twins have ever offered to a free agent before appears to indicate that the front office agrees.
    So the question remains, does the addition of Donaldson, which allows the Twins to assemble what could arguably be considered the most dangerous offensive lineup in Major League Baseball, really improve the Twins' chances of winning an American League Pennant or, if we're allowed to dream, even their first World Series Championship since 1991? Or will it still take more (a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, perhaps) to significantly improve those chances?
    There's no shortage of opinions on the subject out there. Here's the thing, though - all of those opinions are worth exactly what you pay for them. Nothing. In fact, if you are paying a subscription fee to read the analysis behind those opinions, they're worth even less than what you pay for them.
    While I'm still a relative novice at the sports betting thing, here's something it didn't take me long to learn: The people who set the gambling odds know what they're doing. They don't let emotion and personal bias determine the betting lines they set... at least not their own emotions and personal biases. They will absolutely take into account the bettors' emotions and biases if they believe it means those bettors will let their emotions influence their bets.
    Take the betting lines set for the Twins' 2020 season, for example.
    First, don't let anyone tell you that the Twins aren't the favorites to repeat as champions of the American League Central Division. Yes, the White Sox have made some significant moves. Yes, Cleveland still has talent on their roster. That's nice, but the sportsbooks are having none of it.
    I have accounts with Elites Sportsbook and William Hill and I've learned it does pay to shop around. That runs true with regard to the Twins in 2020, as well.
    Both sportsbooks see the Twins as the favorite to win the AL Central. Elite sets the odds for the Twins at even (1/1). You bet $100 and you win $100 if they repeat as Division champions. At William Hill, the odds are just -175, which means if you bet $100 and they win the Division, you only make $57.15.
    The difference seems to be how the two sportsbooks see Cleveland's chances of clawing their way back up past the Twins and how strong a challenge Chicago's capable of making. At Elite, they set Cleveland's odds at 6-5 and the upstart White Sox at 7-2. William Hill, however, sets both of the Twins' top Divisional competitors at 3-1.
    By the way, if you're one of those bettors that like to bet the longshots, don't bother with Elite, who sets the Royals at 75-1 and the Tigers at 150-1. You want to go to William Hill where you can get 200-1 on your Royals money and a whopping 500-1 if you're willing to bet on former Twins manager's Detroit squad.
    But let's start looking at the Donaldson effect. I never bothered to look at what the sportsbooks set for odds of the Twins winning their Division, because to me they were the obvious favorite and where's the challenge in betting on the favorite in a horse race?
    A couple of weeks ago, I did see the over/under on Twins wins during the regular season at William Hill was 90 1/2 wins. Today, post-Donaldson signing, it's up to 92 wins. So you can still allow for some regression to the mean and yet make even money on the "over" bet. After all, the Twins didn't shell out all that money to just get an extra win and a half, right?
    But let's face it, we all expect the Twins to repeat as Divisional champs. They're going to do fine over the course of 162 games, right?
    With Donaldson in the fold, we're looking for more. We're looking to get to the World Series and once you're there, you might as well win it!
    Will they still need starting pitching better than what they had against the Yankees in October? Yes. But the extra oomph the Twins get from Donaldson's bat and the improved defense he brings to the infield give the Twins some flexibility with regard to how and when they improve that rotation.
    There's no longer a significant rush to get another top-end starting pitcher (or two). They can stand pat into spring training and see whether other teams' demands in terms of prospect returns come down. They can even arguably wait until mid season to see which teams fall out of contention and are ready to deal their aces for help rebuilding their systems. Waiting also gives Michael Pineda, Rich Hill and the bevy of young arms the Twins feel are ready to break out their chances to prove themselves worthy of "top starter" status.
    Right now, I'm optimistic (perhaps unrealistically so) that the Twins will not enter the postseason short on starting pitching.
    But that's me and my personal bias showing. What do the bookmakers think?
    Before Donaldson, the Twins were a 12-1 shot to win the American League Pennant. Now, it's down to 11-1. That doesn't seem like the oddsmakers are all that impressed, does it? Still better than the 10-1 they offer at Elite, though.
    That lack of Josh respect is nothing compared to what we see when we look at the Twins' shot at taking home the World Series trophy.
    Back on November 1, the Twins were 20-1 shots to win the 2020 World Series at William Hill. Last week, still before Donaldson, those odds had risen to 22-1 at the same sportsbook. Now, with Donaldson in the fold... it's still 22-1 at William Hill. (It's 20-1 at Elite.)
    Talk about no respect!
    Of course, the thing we have to keep in mind is that the oddsmakers aren't making their decision strictly on what they feel a team's chances are. For them, it's all about getting money bet on both sides of the line so their bosses make money regardless of who wins. They're setting these lines where they feel they can get people to bet on both sides.
    To me, they're telling us, "We don't think people who bet money on this stuff are convinced the Twins' chances of winning the AL Pennant are much improved with Donaldson... and their chances of winning the World Series aren't any better than they were before he signed."
    Do you disagree? Are you amazed that not only are the Twins a bigger longshot to win the Series now than they were when last season ended, but that Donaldson doesn't move the needle in their direction at all?
    Me, too.
    But how strongly do you disagree? It's never been easier to put your money where your beliefs are. No, I'm not suggesting anyone mortgage their house and put the money on the Twins to get World Series rings. In fact, I'm usually not inclined to bet much money at all on teams I have a genuine rooting interest in. Emotion and gambling don't mix well.
    But I have to admit, it just seems weird to me that the betting community, the oddsmakers and the gamblers, don't see Josh Donaldson's addition as improving the Twins' chances of finishing the season with some hardware. Does it make them a favorite for anything beyond winning the AL Central again, no. You still have to beat the Yankees at some point and that won't be easy.
    But the argument that Donaldson makes that only slightly more likely... and not at all more likely to top whoever comes out of the National League in the World Series... just is a tough one for me to understand.
    It's a tough betting line for me to ignore. In fact, I couldn't ignore it. I put a little something on the Twins at 20-1 back in November and I've added a bit more at 22-1. I also put a bit on the 12-1 odds to win the AL and I've added some to the "over" at 92 wins. I couldn't pull the trigger on 90 1/2 before Donaldson - I simply had little confidence that ownership would ever sign that kind of check - but I wish I had.
    It will be interesting (to me, anyway) to follow these betting lines over the coming weeks to see if there's any sort of movement as we get closer to Opening Day, 2020.
    (This article was originally posted at Knuckleballblog.com)
  15. Like
    dbminn got a reaction from tarheeltwinsfan for a blog entry, Offseason Blueprint: Let's Make a Trade   
    My 2020 Offseason Blueprint builds a Twins roster that can win the World Series within the next two years. I’ve tried to address the three weaknesses that TD staff have ably outlined in previous articles:
    A rotation depleted by free agency and in need of a second front-line starting pitcher.
    Poor infield defense.
    An inability to attract first-tier free agents.

    How do Falvey and Levine get the Twins that third World Series Title? Aggressive free agent signings and a blockbuster trade.
    Pay for Pitchers
    The Twins compete for a second level FA SP early and hard. The options are Bumgarner or Wheeler. Falvey signs Wheeler early in the offseason, inking him to a 5 yr/$90M contract. The first three years at $20 million, followed by two at $15M, with an opt-out after Year 2.
    Pineda is resigned for 2/$24M. Graterol or Thorpe fill in until he returns from his suspension.
    A Blockbuster Trade
    Falvey firms up the middle infield and acquires another starting pitcher by trading from prospect depth. He agrees to a deal with the Colorado Rockies:
    Twins get - Trevor Story (SS) and Jon Gray (SP)
    Rockies get – Alex Kirilloff (OF), Jhoan Duran (SP), Ryan Jeffers ©, Nick Gordon (2B/SS), and Jorge Alcala (RP)
    Story and Gray are both under control for two more years. At 27 and 28 years old, they are in the prime of their careers. Story averaged 5.5 fWAR in 2018 and 2019. He ranked in the top 3 of SS defense in 2019 and won the Silver Slugger award each of the past two years. Gray has racked up 12.2 WAR in 106 starts over the past four years. He has averaged a strikeout per inning.
    In return, the Rockies replenish a farm system currently ranked 28th by Fangraphs. All of the prospects they receive have played at AA or higher. They will be big league contributors before the current crop of young Rockies become free agents.
    (An alternate trade scenario would have the Twins send Royce Lewis, Duran and Alcala to the Rockies. Would you make this trade if it’s the best deal Falvey can make?)
    Reorganize the Infield
    With Story at SS, Polanco moves to 3B, Sano plays 1B and Cron is released. Arraez holds down 2B. Gonzalez and Adrianza remain as key multi-positional players.
    Garver will start 100 games at C in 2020. Jason Castro is resigned at 2/$12M to back him up.
    Bolster the Bullpen
    Rogers, May, Duffey and Littell form a solid bullpen core. The Twins resign Sergio Romo (1/$4M) and successfully make the best offer for Drew Pomeranz (2/$12M).
    The remaining two slots will be filled by Stashak, Romero, Thorpe and Smeltzer. Graterol starts the season in the rotation and moves to the bullpen after Pineda is reinstated.
    The 2020 Roster

  16. Like
    dbminn reacted to Andrew Luedtke for a blog entry, Foot, Meet Throat: A 2020 Offseason Blueprint   
    In January 2019, Thad Levine answered a question at Twins Fest:
    "The best time to acquire players of that magnitude is when your window to win is wide open, not when you got your fingers underneath the window and you're trying to jam the window open. I want to do it when we're projected to win the Central and we're ready to put our foot on someone's throat".
    After a fantastic 2019 season ending in a disappointing fashion, Derek Falvey addressed the media and is quoted as saying "We're going to target impact pitching".
    Well, time to put up or shut up, Falvine.
    I put together what I believe should be a realistic outcome for the 2020 offseason based on the above statements from the front office.
    1. Leave the historic 2019 offense alone

    In this plan, I didn't change anything with the offense that set a MLB record for home runs. This includes picking up CJ Cron's option.
    As long as the team is healthy, they should have no problem scoring runs. Maybe the biggest move was the one not made - trading Eddie Rosario.
    I don't think the Twins (nor the fans) are going to like what the return for Rosario would be. Keeping the unofficial captain of this team intact will keep the offense rolling. Hopefully a healthy ankle will help him move around the outfield better improving on his down defensive metrics. I am hopeful Eddie might even take a step forward in 2020.

    2. Beef up the bullpen
    The one silver lining in the Sam Dyson injury is that the Twins were forced to use other arms in high leverage situations down the stretch. They discovered Tyler Duffey and Zack Littell could be solid pieces in late innings. Adding to an already promising mix with Will Harris (2/$16M contract) and Drew Pomeranz (2/$7mil contract) will give Rocco plenty of options in 2020.
    Will Harris quitely had a 2019 season with a 1.50 ERA and 9.30 K/9 in 60 innings. Oh, and he has appeared in 23 postseason games - 12 of which came this year during the Astros World Series run. His age (35 on opening day) could be one cause for concern. A two year deal feels right, here.
    Drew Pomeranz is an interesting one. An absolute disaster in 2018 and most of 2019 makes this signing questionable. However, 26 innings of lights out baseball in Milwaukee make it seem like there may be more potential here. He has increased his velocity after a permanent move to the bullpen, has always been lights out vs lefties, and now will be working with Wes Johnon. Sign. Me. Up.
    Pair him with Taylor Rogers and we could be looking at a bullpen that is a nightmare for opposing managers playing matchups. Pomeranz would come at a discount, of course.

    3. Sign a veteran backup catcher
    Martin Maldonado makes some sense here as a backup. Very poor offensively but a solid backstop. I would be open to other options here, such as Jason Castro on a one year deal, but am thinking he would want a chance to start somewhere else. I know Anaheim needs a catcher

    4. Go find an "ace" starter and keep Jake Odorizzi

    OK, it's put up time, Falvine. Sign Zack Wheeler.
    When you said "impact pitching" - this is what it means.
    Not Kevin Correia or Mike Pelfrey which is some people's opinion of impact (*cough* Terry Ryan).
    Go get us a guy that is equal to, or, with the potential to be better than Jose Berrios.
    This free agent market is flush with solid top of the rotation targets that do not grow on trees, for the Minnesota farm system at least. I think Wheeler makes a lot of sense. A 5/$125M contract would be by far the biggest free agent contract in Twins history but, the time is now.
    There is no excuse. Get. It. Done.
    Zack Wheeler 2018-2019:
    Innings: 377
    ERA: 3.65
    K/9: 8.9
    Yeah, I'd take that in this rotation.
    Other acceptable "ace" type pitchers - Gerrit Cole, Madison Bumgarner, Stephen Strasburg, or Hyun-jin Ryu
    Also, depending on the outcome of Odorizzi and his qualifying offer, the Twins have to find a way to bring him back. If he rejects, they have the upper hand compared to other teams. A three year deal sounds about right. Plus, Jake likes it here. His kids are Vikings fans now. I pray for them.
    5. Bring in a vet presence to stablize rotation
    MLB.com reported that Cole Hamels is open to a one-year deal on a win now club.
    Hey, Cole! Over here!
    Come on out to Minnesota.
    Bringing in a veteran like Cole with playoff experience (and a connection to Thad Levine, might I add) will stabalize the rotation and give a solid 4 starters to run train on the AL Central in the regular season, plus be ready for any October opposing matchup.
    Hamels put up soild numbers as a Cub. He was lights out in the first half of 2019 but an injury derailed the mid point of his season, and it never really seemed like he recovered.
    A 2020 rotation of:
    1. Wheeler
    2. Berrios
    3. Odorizzi
    4. Hamels
    5. Dobnak/Graterol
    Sounds like a winning recipe to me. A recipe that might not add up to 101 regular season wins again, but hey, it can't do worse in the playoffs!
    *This was not a dare, @BaseballGods*

    Total payroll: $141.5 million
    A Twins franchise record but very realistic. Anything lower than this, with the free agent pitching market as stacked as it is and a desperate need to fill the rotation, is an absolute insult to the fanbase.
    The improbable 2019 Twins magic season captured fan interest in Minnesota again. We got a taste of playoff baseball at Target Field for the first time in 9 years and we want more. The window is wide open. It's time for the Pohlad's and the front office to honor their promises and give us a team to dream on in 2020.
    Foot, meet throat.
    Time to stomp on the competition in the AL central and get back to the playoffs.

  17. Like
    dbminn reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Baseball in the West   
    I just read this really fun article in True West Magazine https://truewestmagazine.com/article/six-guns-sluggers/?mc_cid=1c6674cead&mc_eid=b66323b9da
    "Two sesquicentennial anniversaries in 2019 will commemorate landmark events in the history of the American West. When gold and silver spikes were gently tapped into place in a ceremonial laurelwood rail tie at Promontory Summit in Utah Territory to symbolize the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad on May 10, 1869, it opened the West as never before. Earlier in the year, the Red Stockings of Cincinnati became the first all-salaried, professional team in the fledgling sport of baseball. Undefeated as the year progressed, the Red Stockings rode these rails in mid-September to introduce professional ball beyond the Mississippi. The West offered opportunity and adventure, attracting people from around the world who flocked to the California gold rush of ’49 and the Comstock silver lode in ’59. Now, in 1869, these professionals came west to demonstrate their wealth of baseball riches to overmatched but eager ball clubs with a hankering to be part of the Red Stockings’ historic season."
    This was a fun historic article - you might remember I had an earlier Blog that had Wild Bill Hickok in a baseball game and Tom Custer was a good pitcher.

    It took a long time before baseball moved west in the professional sense. For a long time the West Coast had a minor league team with players like Joe DiMaggio and his brothers making it almost as good as MLB. St Louis was the team of the West for a century.
    "In 1859, the first organized team on the Pacific Coast, the San Francisco Eagles, was established. The next February, in San Francisco they played to a 33-33 tie with the Red Rovers of Sacramento. In September, the Eagles traveled to Sacramento in a rematch for the state title, emerging victorious 31-17. In a few years, the Eagles organization had grown such that with the overflow they formed a new club, the Pacifics. Both became premier teams among more than a dozen that organized in the Bay Area. The sport was invigorating to watch and spectators might even shoot their six-guns when excited. With gamblers betting on their favorite team, it’s said it was not uncommon to have enthusiastic supporters fire into the air to shake the concentration of batters taking swings or to rattle fielders preparing to catch the ball."
    https://www.sfomuseum.org/exhibitions/local-nine-san-francisco-seals-baseball-1903-1957 The San Francisco Seals had a very long and successful life in the bay area.
    After the 1957 season - another pennant for the Seals, they moved to Phoenix and the Dodgers and the Giants began the westward expansion of baseball in MLB.
    Now you might think this has nothing to do with the Twins, but if you had been around then you would have seen our local cities trying to get these teams to come to us. But - "Millers were top-level affiliates of the Boston Red Sox (1936–38; 1958–60) and New York Giants (1946–57). The Red Sox actually swapped ownership of their top farm club, the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League, for the Millers in 1957, enabling the Giants to move to San Francisco."
    The Original St Paul Saints - "The Saints finished first in the American Association nine times, and won the Little World Series in 1924. During this period, the Saints were a farm club of the Chicago White Sox (1936–1942), the Brooklyn Dodgers (1944–1957), and the Los Angeles Dodgers (1958–1960). The Saints played streetcar home and away double headers with their local rivals, the Minneapolis Millers. When the Minnesota Twins came to town in 1961, the Saints became the Omaha Dodgers while the Millers ceased operations."
    Note both Dodgers and Giants had a connection to the Twin Cities. The Dodgers were going to LA, but the Giants were not sure about SF and played games with the Twin City Press. https://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/17/sports/baseball/the-giants-almost-headed-not-quite-so-far-west.html
    "MINNEAPOLIS, June 16 - If not for Walter O'Malley, Willie Mays might be remembered for making a leaping catch 100 yards from a grazing cow.
    If not for a few twists of fate, Mays could have an "M" on the cap in his Hall of Fame plaque, and the scrum for Barry Bonds's 73rd home run ball might have occurred in the upper deck of the Metrodome."
    "According to newspaper and historical accounts, Stoneham discussed moving here with Minneapolis officials as early as 1955, when concern over declining attendance and the decrepit condition of the Polo Grounds prompted him to consider his options. The Giants owned the Class AAA Minneapolis Millers, giving them territorial rights, and Metropolitan Stadium was under construction on 164 acres of farmland in suburban Bloomington in hopes of luring a big-league team."
    The west won out, but the conversations were strong enough to interest the Griffith family in moving the Original Senators to that Bloomington field and here we are the Twins! And the story of the DC franchise which has had at least three professional teams includes 108 years without winning a series.
  18. Like
    dbminn reacted to PSzalapski for a blog entry, Take a moment and enjoy the Twins' best regular season of your lifetime   
    Division champions
    I know we're all excited about the playoffs, but let's take a minute to appreciate the Twins' excellent regular season just concluded.
    2016 2017 2018 2019 changeActual wins 59 85 78 101 +23Pythag wins 66 83 77 97 +20
    The Twins had their second-best season ever, in terms of their record. Of course, the American league is much more stratified than ever, there being five teams with 95 losses or more, and the Tigers with 113, thus there are much more wins to be had for the top teams. The Twins came up just behind the Astros, Yankees, and Dodgers in the standings, while spending less on salary by a wide margin. Very impressive!
    So where did the Twins' actual improvement come from? Eddie Rosario coined the term that the Twins marketing department ran with: Las Bombas! The Twins exploded to have the best offense in the game, not to mention they set the all-time total home run record, with 307 for the season. That wasn't nearly enough by itself to bring the Twins to 101 wins; they needed solid improvements from both their rotation and their relievers. Finally, most of these improvements came in a way that you probably could not have predicted: baseball is a funny game, and I am continually surprised at how much
    . 2016 2017 2018 2019 changeLuck (pythag) -7 +2 +1 +4 +3 Hitters WAR 17.0 28.7 15.2 31.4 +16.2 Pitchers WAR 1.8 7.0 12.3 23.9 +11.6
    I'll break down the hitters by WAR (technically fWAR, or FanGraph's WAR), focusing on the players that mattered most.
    As a reminder, WAR is the best way to boil down any player's performance (from hitting, pitching, fielding, and baserunning) into one overall number. It is a "performance" stat that doesn't care about situations, not a situation-dependent "outcomes" stat (like WPA) or a more predictive "fundamentals" stat (like xWOBA or xFIP). That is, it tells you the overall contribution of a player that can be expected from that player's performance. This is measured in the number of fractional wins that player was better than a replacement-level player at his position. There's some good theory as to what is "replacement" level, but the closest the Twins have this year is C.J. Cron at 0.3 WAR--an okay hitter, but not that good compared to other first basemen. Any team could hope to find a first baseman on waivers or in their minor leagues almost as good as the 2019 version of C.J. Cron.
    I'll list last year's players who have been replaced for comparison's sake, as well.
    WAR 2018 2019 Change15 hitters 14.6 31.3 +16.7 RF Kepler 2.6 4.4 +1.8DH Morrison=>Cruz -0.7 4.3 +5.0SS Polanco 1.3 4.1 +2.8C Garver 1.3 3.9 +2.63B Sano 0.0 2.8 +2.8CF Buxton -0.4 2.7 +3.12B Dozier=>Arraez 1.0 2.1 +1.1LF Rosario 3.4 1.3 -2.11B Mauer=>Cron 1.0 0.3 -0.7 C Castro -0.2 1.5 +1.3CI Escobar=>Gonzalez 2.4 1.4 -1.02B Forsythe=>Schoop 0.4 1.4 +1.04O Cave 1.3 0.7 -0.6SS Adrianza 0.5 0.6 +0.1UT Grossman=>Astudillo 0.7 -0.2 -0.9
    Take a moment to enjoy the contents of that rightmost column, and reflect on all the Twins games you watched and boxscores you read that led to that column. The Twins offense was better nearly everywhere, an improvement in one season that few teams are able to make in one year.
    Moves that worked
    Sprechen sie Baseball?
    Four years ago, Max Kepler looked like a promising young player. A B-level prospect, he had up and down years in the minors before becoming the Twins' everyday right fielder in 2016. He put up hitting numbers that were just below average and was highly reliable in the field. Three years of nearly identical numbers (OPS+ of 96 each year) made us think that Kepler was a solid contributor but not a difference-maker. But something happened--whether it was tweaks by Kepler to change his launch angle a bit, mentorship from James Rowson, or a combination of several other things, Kepler doubled his home run rate while maintaining his plate discipline. He deserved to make the all-star team (there's always next year, though). Kepler is, at least in 2019, the best player on the team.

    (GIFs from PitcherList, who borrowed them from MLB-owned media.)
    On a Cruz every night
    Whereas Kepler had a breakout year that still hasn't had enough attention, the Twins signed Nelson Cruz to do what he's always done: hit the ball hard over and over again. No doubt the Twins were hoping for merely a slight decline in his productivity coming off a year with 37 home runs and a 9% walk rate. Instead, Cruz kicked it up a notch, hitting 41 bombas and drawing walks at an 11% rate, increasing his season OPS+ from 134 to 166. While Kepler is the Twins' best player, I'd peg Cruz as their most valuable, as the Twins need to play all their best players in the field and have no other good option at DH. Year over year, the Twins improved by no less then 5 wins at DH position alone--simply put, without Cruz the Twins probably win "only" 97 games and maybe could have been caught by the Indians in the division.
    Signing Schoop but pivoting to Arraez
    The Twins signed Jonathan Schoop to replace Dozier at second base, and he did well in April and May, with an OPS+ well over 100. But the Twins knew they were getting a somewhat inconsistent player, and Schoop began to falter in June. Luis Arraez, meanwhile was hitting .344 with a high walk rate in AAA, which you can't let languish there. The Twins called him as fill-in in May and then permanently in June, when he quickly became an everyday palyer and then the starting second baseman, posting a 123 OPS+ and hitting .334. Schoop still got some playing time and actually improved in the second half, which is fortunate as the Twins need Schoop with Arraez hurt in the playoffs.
    Not panicking about 2018 underachievers
    In 2018, everything that could have gone wrong with the Twins offense did. Of they players that today remain from that team, in 2018 Sano had a terribly ineffective year, Buxton had lots of problems whenever he was actually playing, Polanco was good but not great in his half-season of work, and Castro was a poor hitter but a good catcher--but all these players had the potential for much more, and the Twins wisely kept all four around for the bomba squad to-be even as some Twins fans were ready to trade away Sano for peanuts and cut Castro. Instead, Sano finally showed that he is a very good hitter after all and not Delmon Young 2.0, Castro embraced increased rest to have the second-best hitting season of his career, Polanco's breakout was almost as strong as Kepler's, and much-injured Buxton hit very well in limited time. Collectively, these four players improved by eight wins. More importantly, three of the four hitters figure into the Twins' plans for years to come.
    Giving rest to catchers
    There is no longer any doubt that Mitch Garver is a top-notch hitter as well as a average-fielding catcher. Such a player is supremely valuable, but the Twins wisely held on to Jason Castro. These two flipped back-and-forth all year, enabling them both to get the rest they need at baseball's most taxing everyday position. With sporadic starts from Willians Astudillo, the catching position become one of the Twins' biggest strengths. The Twins have likely learned enough about these players to let Castro go in free agency and trust Astudillo to back up Garver, but that is a possible change for 2020. This year, keeping Castro has paid off handsomely.
    Lifting the launch angle
    We now know fairly certainly that "The most valuable batted balls are hit between 19° and 26°." However, knowing this fact is a far different thing than coaching players who are good at hitting the ball hard and flat to tweak their swing. A player can too readily change their launch angle but lose exit velocity--in short, a higher launch angle is only good if they continue to hit the ball hard at that higher angle. The five Twins hitters from last year who saw big improvements overall also saw big improvements their launch angle.
    Launch Angle 2018 2019Buxton 12.7 19.5Kepler 16.2 18.2Polanco 15.5 18.0 Sano 12.9 16.0Garver 12.5 15.3
    What's interesting is that there's more where that came from: if these players and their coaches can continue to tweak swings that launch the ball even higher while maintaining power, you might see incluso más bombas in 2020.
    Moves that bombed
    A failing Cron job
    It is rare to find an above-average player available on waivers, but the Twins thought they had one in C.J. Cron, who the Rays let go to make room for Ji-Man Choi to start every night. And after the month of May, Twins fans were loving this move when Cron was hitting for power and drawing walks. But slumps starting in late June made us realize why the Rays considered him expendable. One might attribute nearly all of Cron's struggle to a nearly-chronic inflammation or "bone bruise" in his thumb, which harmed his swing substantially. So, I can't complain too much about this move--the Twins don't have a great solution at first base (especially with Brent Rooker's problematic year), and they might consider bringing Cron back next year, at least till Rooker, Alex Kiriloff, or even Luke Raley seems ready to contribute.
    La Tortuga no está en fuego
    Along with everyone else, I was on the Willians Astudillo bandwagon to start the year. I always love when unusual players can be successful, and Astudillo might be the most unusual. His minor league hitting stats, his catching ability, his position versatility, and his arm all argue for him to have a place on the team. But once he got regular playing time, the cracks began to show--it's really hard to be a good hitter when you swing at everything. And "swing at everything" is less of an exaggeration for Astudillo than for anyone else, as he walked only 5 times in 202 plate appearances. You don't really have to pitch to La Tortuga, you just have to throw it in his general direction. His propensity for weakly hit balls in play makes few pitchers fear him. Still, a .700 OPS is good enough to be a backup catcher in the majors, and maybe he can improve his hitting a little, so I'm not too worried here--but I'm not sure I have time for the La Tortuga fan club meetings anymore.
    On to the starting pitchers:
    WAR 2018 2019 Change6 starters 9.7 16.7 +6.9 Berrios 3.3 4.4 +1.1 Odorizzi 2.6 4.3 +1.7Gibson 2.8 2.6 -0.2Lynn=>Pineda 0.8 2.7 +1.9Romero=>Perez 0.7 1.9 +1.2Santana=>Dobnak -0.5 0.8 +1.3
    Moves that worked
    Berrios and Odo for the wins
    Jose Berrios went from being the Twins' best pitcher to also their most dependable. There was never a stretch from Berrios where he faltered for an extended period, and he eclipsed earning 600 outs (that is, 200 IP) in a season for the first time in his career. His walk rate and ERA went down as his velocity stayed around 93-95 MPH and his outstanding curveball kept curving.

    Odorizzi meanwhile had the best year of his career, posting a 3.51 ERA, 10 strikeouts per 9 IP, and allowing only 16 home runs, all the best of his career. The Twins are now wishing they could have signed him to a longer contract, as they need him next year.

    The 1948 Braves lost the World Series on "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain", though the 2001 Diamondbacks won the World Series with "Johnson and Schilling and the good Lord willing." Can the 2019 Twins advance on "Berrios and Odorizzi"...and not so warm and fizzy? Listen to Thin Lizzy? Then after, not so easy? The rhyming isn't as clever, but Baldelli's bullpen usage will have to be, as they'll likely need at least one win each series in games without either of their top two starters.
    Patient, Passable Pineda & Perez
    Martin Perez provided uncharacteristic excellence in April and May first half, but at the end of June something happened and he started giving up lots of runs in lots of innings. Michael Pineda had to work the rust out with a rough April, but after that was solid and finished the year with an ERA of 4 (lower than the league average) and solid numbers across.
    Getting to know Randy Dobnak
    Randy Dobnak was undrafted out of a college named Alderson-Broaddus in a town named Phillippi in West Virginia, so he went to pitch in an independent league where the Twins noticed him and signed him. He then had success at every level in the minors. He doesn't strikeout a lot, he gives up his share of walks, and his fastball can barely hit 94. His solution to this is to usually avoid the four-seam fastball and instead work the sinker, slider, and an occasional changeup and sprinkle it in and out of the zone. The results have been excellent in five starts, and that's likely enough for Dobnak to earn a start in the ALDS next week.
    Moves that bombed
    No ace to be seen
    May and June had Twins fans loving Berrios, Perez, and Odorizzi, and August had Pineda pitching well, but at every step, the Twins could have dearly benefitted from a number one starter. The Twins tried to sign Dallas Keuchel, but he sat out half the season instead. They tried to trade for Marcus Stroman, but the Mets took him in a strange strategy of sacrificing the future to miss the playoffs today. They tried to trade for Zack Greinke, but they couldn't give up as much as the Diamondbacks could. They wanted Madison Bumgarner, but the Giants didn't want to part with their long-time starting pitcher. So the Twins had to make do without a top-notch pitcher, and now in the playoffs and in 2020, it becomes even tougher to get by without one.
    Stop taking mystery pills
    Michael Pineda, in a surprise to everyone, was suspended late in the year for testing positive for diuretics. Pineda claims that he took a weight loss pill that was unknowingly tainted with hydrochlorothiazide, and Major League Baseball pretty much conceded that fact in reducing his suspension from 80 to 60 games. Still, no one complained about this suspension; we cannot effectively ban PEDs unless we also ban PED-masking drugs, and we can't effectively ban those if excuses are allowed. So the lesson here is simple: professional athletes should never take any drug or supplement that hasn't been reviewed by team doctors. The Twins' staff will not let Pineda accidentally ingest a diuretic, but they had no way to prevent it here. Dear all future Twins players: don't take mystery pills. If they work, there's probably a reason, and if they don't work, why would you take them?
    And the bullpen:

    WAR 2018 2019 Change11 relievers+spot starts 2.4 7.7 +5.3 Rogers 1.9 2.1 +0.2 Duffey -0.2 1.2 +1.4Duke=>May 0.8 0.9 +0.1Pressly=>Harper 0.8 0.9 +0.1Moya=>Littell 0.1 0.6 +0.5Hildenberger=>Thorpe 0.0 0.6 +0.6Reed=>Smeltzer -0.2 0.5 +0.7Belisle=>Romo -0.2 0.5 +0.7Rodney=>Stashak 0.5 0.5 0.0Magill -0.3 0.1 +0.4Busenitz=>Parker -0.8 -0.2 +0.6
    Moves that worked
    Relievers are molded, not signed
    I and most other writers wanted the Twins to sign some high-level relief help. There is no doubt that Falvey and Levine tried, but just came up short. But in the end, the Twins pen was well above average, and all but two of the contributors weren't such last year. The Twins know well that the best relievers are often failed starters, and Duffey, May, and Littell all made that transition this year, with Stashak having done so last year. Rogers got even better this year compared to last, and Thorpe and Smeltzer swung between the bullpen and rotation to fill in the gaps much better than expected. Gaining 5 WAR out of a pieced-together, work-in-progress bullpen is a tremendous boost to the team as a whole.

    It's always in the last place you look
    If you would have told me the Twins would add a reliever who throws 94-97 mph, throws a really nice curveball, strikes out 12.8 per 9IP, and keeps a lid on home runs, I'd be thrilled with that acquisition. But it wasn't required, as Tyler Duffey, who has been bouncing between the majors and AAA for four years, has become a upper-tier relief pitcher. He was searching for the secret to success and finally found it in embracing the relief role. Now my question is, how many more pitchers can Wes Johnson and Jeremy Hefner develop into scorchers?

    Instead of trading prospects, call them up
    The Twins front office were criticized for failing to trade for a top pitcher at the deadline, and their one acquisition, Sam Dyson, fell flat immediately. Still, they expressed a valid point: instead of trading their high-minors assets for short-term help, why not use the assets as the short term help itself? In very limited playing time, Brusdar Graterol contributed in key spots and showed that he's ready to help in the postseason. The Twins also called up Jorge Alcala to do the same, but the success of the rest of the bullpen limited his chances.
    Want mo' Romo
    Sergio Romo came onto the Twins roster with a big positive attitude and an even bigger slider that seems nearly unhittable to righthanders. While he wasn't around long enough to post more than half a WAR for the Twins, he contributed toward several wins and will be highly important against the Yankees and then the Astros, two highly right-handed teams, in the playoffs.

    Moves that bombed
    Blake "Out of the" Park-er
    Blake Parker was signed as a plan B--a move to bolster the back end of the bullpen. Instead, he ended up the Twins' only bullpen acquisition over the offseason, and proceeded to give up 7 home runs and 16 walks against 36 innings pitched before the Twins said goodbye. His numbers before and after the Twins stint are passable, so the Twins can be forgiven for making an okay move that just didn't work out. Give them credit for moving on early enough--no Twins fan will need to remember Blake Parker after this paragraph ends.
    His name was Magill, he called himself Lil, but everyone knew him as Nancy
    Rocky Baldelli stepped into his room, only to find Guardado's bullpen. One leftover piece of that pen, whom Baldelli seemed to tout, was a pitcher who never shined as a reliever in the minors or majors. The Twins thought he had some tools they could work with, but it didn't come to pass as Matt Magill had a ERA of 4.45 and decent strikeout rate, but he fell apart in key situations and didn't have the foundation for success that the Twins' staff was looking for. Like Parker, they moved on from Magill quickly, and he has had some success with the Mariners, but he was never going to be a top bullpen option and is no big loss.
    Division champions
    It's overall been an excellent season for the Twins. So take today and tomorrow to enjoy the afterglow of the best regular season the Twins have had in your lifetime and feel good about what they accomplished, no matter what happens in October.
  19. Like
    dbminn reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Harmon Killebrew - our classic home run hitter   
    I could not resist putting up this Home Run Derby between Harmon Killebrew and Rocky Colavito. In this contest the two who had tied for the HR championship of the AL faced off.
    It is preceded by Harmon taking the crown from Mickey Mantle -
    And followed by a contest Harmon lost to Ken Boyer - a third baseman who belongs in the
    Ken did not last long - his next challenge was Hank Aaron who took over the program.  
    It is so amazing to see these greats playing for $2000 - chump change today.
    It is also fun to see Harmon, pre-Twins days in his Senator's uniform.
    These are great players without the science of today. I love watching them.
    Nostalgia - enjoy.
  20. Like
    dbminn reacted to Heezy1323 for a blog entry, Biceps Tendinitis Q&A   
    Biceps Tendinitis in Pitchers Q&A
    A request was made by a poster for me to write a blog covering biceps tendinitis. This is actually a fairly complicated topic with quite a bit of controversy, but I’ll do my best to share some basic info that hopefully TD peeps will find interesting. There are some technical parts, so apologies for that, but I do think a basic understanding of the anatomy is helpful.
    Question 1: What is the biceps, exactly?
    The biceps is a muscle that we are likely all familiar with, lying in the front of the upper arm and used to perform curls and similar exercises. The word ‘biceps’ has a Latin origin meaning ‘two heads’. This describes the upper (or proximal) end of the biceps where there are two tendon attachments.
    The first is the long head of the biceps which attaches to the labrum at the top of the socket in the shoulder. It then curves over the top of the ball (humeral head) where it exits the shoulder joint and begins its course down the front of the upper arm bone (humerus). At the front of the shoulder joint, it travels through what is called the ‘bicipital groove’ which is an area of the bone of the humerus between two bumps (called tuberosities). This groove is often the site of issues in pitchers (more on this below).

    The second is the short head of the biceps, which originates from a bony projection off the shoulder blade in the front of your shoulder called the coracoid. It travels straight from here to meet up with the long head of the biceps in the upper 1/3 of the arm. There, the tendons join and form the biceps muscle.
    Below this (distally), the muscle turns back into a tendon just above the elbow and a single tendon then travels down to one of the bones of your forearm (called the radius) where it attaches at a bony prominence called the radial tuberosity.

    Question 2: How is this tendon involved in throwing?
    This is a great question, and a subject of much debate amongst experts. The short head of the biceps likely has a relatively insignificant role in throwing. The long head (which is the one that attaches inside the shoulder joint) is much more involved in the throwing motion. When throwing at MLB speeds, the shoulder rotates at 7000 degrees per second, which is the fastest known human motion. One can imagine the stress this places on the structures that surround the shoulder.
    Without delving into the weeds too much, it seems as though the biceps has a role in position sense of the shoulder during throwing, likely a role in stability of the shoulder joint and also helps slow down the arm after ball release.
    At the other end of the tendon (distal), the elbow changes rapidly from a bent position to a straight position as the ball is released during a throw. In order to keep the bones of the elbow from jamming into each other at a high speed, the biceps muscle fires to slow down this elbow straightening (what we call an eccentric contraction). This allows some of the force of throwing to be dissipated by the muscle (kind of like a shock absorber).
    If it seems like that is a lot of jobs for a small tendon/muscle- it’s because it is…
    Question 3: What happens when someone gets biceps tendinitis?
    Tendinitis is a fairly broad term and can mean a number of different things depending on the context. With respect to the biceps, a thrower can develop issues at either the upper (proximal) or lower (distal) end of the biceps. The suffix -itis means inflammation, so the general thought is that there is inflammation that develops in or around the tendon.
    The reasons ‘why’ are heavily debated, but generally there is probably some combination of overuse/fatigue and altered mechanics or muscle imbalances that contribute. It takes a tremendous amount of efficiency of motion and coordination of muscle movements to throw a baseball in excess of 90mph, and any small abnormality can easily be compounded by the sheer number of repetitions and intensity of a typical pitcher. Over time, this can add up to cause damage to the tendon and result in inflammation and pain.
    Arthroscopic image of normal biceps tendon (left) and inflamed biceps (right)

    Question 4: How does the player/medical staff separate this injury from other issues that can seem very similar?
    This can be VERY difficult. Often the player will have pain at the front of the shoulder (in cases of proximal biceps tendinitis) or just above the elbow (in distal cases). A thorough history and exam is performed in order to hone in on the likely problem area.
    An MRI is ordered in some cases. One of the challenges with this type of issue is that in many cases, an MRI of a pitcher already has some abnormalities on it which are likely adaptive and have been present for a long time (and are not the actual cause of pain). In addition, in many cases the inflammation around the bicep isn’t something that can be clearly seen on MRI. So interpreting imaging studies can be a significant challenge.
    Usually the exam is (in my experience) the most helpful thing in recognizing biceps tendinitis when it is present. The athlete is usually tender right in the area of the tendon, which is a helpful finding.
    Question 5: Once a pitcher is diagnosed with biceps tendinitis, how are they treated?
    Again, there are a lot of variables here. But presuming it is significant enough to affect the performance of the pitcher, they would typically be shut down for a period of time to prevent worsening of the condition. Anti-inflammatory medication may be used. In some cases, injections of cortisone are used to try and decrease the inflammation.
    With the recent increases in the use of technology, video may be consulted to see if there have been subtle mechanical changes which may have contributed to the issue. Muscle strength can also be tested in various areas around the shoulder to see if weakness is contributing.
    In essentially all cases, a rehab program will begin that is likely to include strength and flexibility components. When the pain has subsided, a return to throwing program is begun and once complete, the athlete can return to play.
    A group out of Mayo Clinic (led by Dr. Chris Camp) recently did a study of pro baseball players (minor and major league) and causes of injury over a several year period. Tendinitis of the proximal biceps was actually the #4 cause of injury with an average return to play time of about 22 days.
    Question 6: Is surgery ever needed?
    It is quite uncommon for surgery to be needed for this issue. In fact, in Dr. Camp’s study above surgery was only required in 3% of cases of proximal biceps tendinitis. So clearly most of these cases improve with non-surgical treatment. In addition, surgery for this particular issue has a fairly poor track record and is avoided if at all possible.
    Question 7: What can be done to prevent biceps tendinitis?
    Great question, reader. If I knew the answer, we could likely both be millionaires given how common this injury is and the dollar figures involved when a high-priced starter or reliever is on the shelf for this reason.
    Generally, I believe monitoring the workload of pitchers through the season, doing what you can to ensure they maintain a good off-season program and having a good line of communication with the players are all important. As video analysis and other analytic measures become more popular, my hope is that they can be incorporated into injury prevention as well.
    Thanks for humoring me on this complex topic. Please feel free to add a request for a future subject in the comments. GO TWINS!!
  21. Like
    dbminn reacted to Heezy1323 for a blog entry, Buxton Shoulder Q&A- What is a shoulder 'subluxation'?   
    Byron Buxton Shoulder Injury Q&A
    Byron Buxton, as we all know, is an outstanding center fielder for our Twins. Unfortunately, he has dealt with a variety of injuries that have cost him significant time over the past few seasons. This weekend he sustained an injury to his left shoulder that was termed a ‘subluxation’ and is headed back to the IL. By the sound of things, he is likely to be away from the big club for at least a few weeks. This is a tough blow for the Twins as the Indians make a push to catch up to a team that has led the division essentially all season.
    Medical terminology can be confusing, so I thought a post about shoulder subluxations might be of interest to TD readers. As usual- my disclaimer is that I am not a Twins team physician. I have not examined Byron nor seen any imaging of his injury. I am not speaking on behalf of the Twins. I am only hoping to familiarize TD readers with some of the concerns that may be ahead regarding injuries similar to Buxton’s.
    Question 1: How does the shoulder normally work?
    The shoulder is considered a ball-and-socket joint. The round ball (humeral head) sits in the socket (glenoid) similar to how a golf ball sits on a golf tee. Around the perimeter of the golf tee is a strong cartilage tissue called a labrum. The labrum surrounds the socket similar to the red gasket on a mason jar lid. Its function is to help act as a ‘bumper’ to hold the golf ball on the golf tee. It is also an attachment point for ligaments around the shoulder that also contribute to shoulder stability. The ligaments make up the ‘capsule’ of the shoulder joint. I often tell patients that the capsule is like a water balloon that surrounds the joint. The ligaments that make up the capsule form the connection between the ball and the socket.
    Question 2: What is a shoulder subluxation?
    The term ‘subluxation’ is typically used in situations where a joint partially (or nearly) dislocates. This is not specific to the shoulder and can happen in a number of other areas of the body as well (such as the kneecap, for example). This is distinct from a true ‘dislocation’ where the ball comes completely out of the socket and then goes back in.
    If someone dislocates their shoulder and it stays dislocated, it is typically clear what has happened. Xrays will show the ball dislocated from the socket and the shoulder will be manipulated to ‘reduce’ the ball back to its normal position. However, in some cases cases the ball can completely dislocate and go back in on its own very quickly. In these cases, an xray would often look normal. In most cases when there is concern about an injury of this type, an MRI is ordered. This of course shows additional details of the bone and soft tissue that cannot be seen on an xray alone. Usually an MRI will allow for a pretty solid conclusion as to whether the injury that occurred was a ‘subluxation’ (less severe) or a true ‘dislocation’ (more severe).
    There is, of course, a spectrum of damage that can occur with any injury and this is no exception. It’s possible that there was some minimal stretch to the ligaments around the shoulder and no other significant damage (best case). It’s also possible that there was more significant damage to the ligaments and potentially even a tear of the labrum (more worrisome). The MRI would typically give a good approximation of these issues. In most cases, the damage that occurs with a subluxation is less significant than that which occurs with a dislocation.
    Question 3: Does it make a difference that the injury is to his left shoulder rather than his right?
    In my opinion, absolutely. Because it is his non-throwing shoulder, the stresses placed on it are less. Even small issues with the ligaments can be problematic in the throwing shoulder- particularly someone who can approach 100mph on throws from the outfield.
    That said, the left shoulder is Byron’s front shoulder when hitting. In most hitters it is the front shoulder that is more stressed. It is possible that Buxton’s recovery is more affected at the plate than in the field (though that’s impossible to predict with certainty, of course).
    Question 4: Does this injury make it more likely that Byron will dislocate his shoulder in the future?
    Possibly. As discussed above, there is a spectrum of damage that can occur with this injury. If the damage is near the minimal end, it probably doesn’t have a significant effect on his likelihood of injuring this shoulder in the future. If there is more significant structural damage, it may place him at higher risk.
    Question 5: What is the purpose of the rehab?
    In addition to the capsule and labrum discussed above in question 1, the muscles around the shoulder also contribute to stability. I often tell patients to imagine that there is canopy over the top of the golf ball pulling it down onto the golf tee and helping to hold it in place. This is similar to the way your rotator cuff functions. I suspect rehab for Buxton will include strengthening exercises for a number of muscles around the shoulder that contribute to stability.
    Also, these muscles can be strained during the injury, so they can sometimes need additional time to recover along with the ligaments.
    Question 6: Will Buxton need surgery?
    This is essentially impossible to answer right now, likely even for the physicians and training staff involved in Byron’s care. As I sometimes tell my patients, “The crystal ball is a little murky.” Without knowing the extent of any structural issues in Byron’s shoulder, I would say that it is somewhat unlikely this will require surgery. I would expect that even if surgery is required, it would only occur after an attempt at non-surgical treatment has been unsuccessful.
    Question 7: How long will it be before he is able to return to play?
    This is also a difficult question to answer. The fact that the early word is that he will be out a few weeks is consistent with what I would expect from an injury like this. The rehab often takes time to regain full motion and strength. I would hope he can be back patrolling center field before the end of August, but it’s certainly possible this lingers into September. It seems unlikely that this would be a season-ending injury, but only time will tell.
    Clearly this Twins team is better when Byron is on the field rather than on the IL. Let’s hope he heals quickly and can help the Twins down the stretch. GO TWINS!
  22. Like
    dbminn reacted to Brandon Warne for a blog entry, Twins Clubhouse Reacts to Escobar's Homer off Dozier on Saturday Night   
    This is an excerpt of an article originating at Zone Coverage. Click here to read it in full.
    On the surface, it was just a home run. In a year where 4,588 of them have been hit already, that hardly seems like
    a real headline-grabber.
    MLB hitters have been hitting home runs at a rate of 1.39 per game -- by far the most in a season in history. It's not even really close; the 2017 season ranks second at 1.27 long balls per nine, and no other season is over 1.20.
    The homer also came late in a game that ended 18-7. That type of score is more commonplace in today's game with balls flying out of the park at an unprecedented rate.
    Also more commonplace in today's game is position players pitching, and in this case, it was a position player serving up the hitter's second home run of the game.
    Alright, that's enough of that cryptic business.
    The home run was in Phoenix, and it came off the bat of Eduardo Escobar.
    That pitch was thrown by perhaps his best friend in all of baseball -- Washington Nationals second baseman Brian Dozier. If Dozier isn't his closest friend in the game, it's possible the guy catching is -- Nationals backstop Kurt Suzuki.
    So when Dozier -- a right-handed thrower -- attempted to sneak a 69 mph floater past Escobar -- a switch hitter batting from the right side -- the Diamondbacks' jack-of-all-trades crushed it into oblivion, well into the left-field seats.
    All three guys did a fairly good job of letting the moment play itself out, until Escobar did his customary home run celebration after rounding third.
    That's when Suzuki had to get involved, as he playfully told Escobar to get back into the dugout while Dozier simply smiled as he watched his former teammate round the bases.
    The trio was like mismatched socks -- a Hawaiian, a Mississippi boy and a guy from Venezuela -- who drew glee during their Twins days from bouncing around each other like said socks in a dryer.
  23. Like
    dbminn reacted to Mike Sixel for a blog entry, Why Didn't the Twins Make a Trade Already?   
    Edit to note: the tables are now fixed, I believe.
    Fans, we are a demanding bunch! We want fixes now, and we want them cheap, so our favorite teams can do more fixing. I maybe spend too much time on Twins Daily, and I post a lot. That makes me wrong a lot……or maybe I’m just not all that good at this baseball thing, who knows. One of the main things being discussed right now is that the Twins should add some pitching, and I’ve been wondering just how realistic that is.
    What does it cost to get pitching? What kind of pitchers are actually traded before the deadline? When are they traded?
    Basically, in this series of blogs, I want to know what seems realistic in terms of trades, because I’d rather be informed when posting than not. Because baseball seems to have changed, I’ll be using data from 2013 on.
    First up in the analysis? So, how soon can we realistically expect trades in MLB?
    We’ll be looking at trades in June and July to see when players change hands, and the kinds of players that change teams. Given that the August deadline has gone away, we will be ignoring those trades, which admittedly may or may not change how one views the analysis…….
    June 1-15
    There isn’t much action in the first two weeks of June involving major league players.

    Number of Trades
    MLB Pitchers
    MLB HItters
    Impact Trades









    The MLB hitter and pitcher columns show the number of major league players involved. Impact trades could be either the major league player was good the year of the deal and/or after the deal, or one or more the minor league players is/was. Good is subjective, but I’m going for more than 1 fWAR in any given year as the litmus test.
    Not surprisingly, there just aren’t that many trades in the first half of June. Teams aren’t sure if they are in or out of the race, and those that are sure aren’t certain what they really need yet. More importantly, most articles and analyses on the internet indicate that teams wait until later to deal, in hopes of having more leverage (and getting a better deal). This aligns well with options theory, but we’ll have to do more analysis to see if waiting works or not.
    *In 2014, Manny Pina was traded. He was not a major league player at the time, so he doesn’t appear in the table above. But, he was pretty good for Milwaukee in 2017 and 2018.
    Mark Trumbo was part of a deal in 2015. He put up decent numbers after the trade, then a good season in the next year. Now? Not so much. But, he put up half a fWAR after the deal, and 2.2 in 2016. The other side of that deal? Welington Castillo went to Arizona. He was good that year, and in 2016 and 2017. Luckily for Twins fans, he’s not been as good in Chicago! Dominic Leone also went to AZ. He had one good year, but it wasn’t for them…..
    Chris Coghlan was traded in 2016, back to the Cubs. He put up .9 fWAR after the deal, but was hitless in 9 post season at bats. He fell off a cliff after that year. The player traded for him played parts of two seasons, and has bounced around the minors.
    2017 saw a name that might be in trade talks again in 2019 move in early June….Sam Dyson. He and cash were dealt for a player that is currently 26 and in AAA. Dyson has been good, but not great, though this year he has put up .5 fWAR in half a season. His traditional numbers are more impressive, probably, than his WAR would show…..Why was he so cheap? He was awful in Texas. Did his current team fix something, or is it the park/league?
    Last year? One reason C. J. Cron was available this off season is that Tampa traded for Ji-Man Choi in early June of 2018. They got him for cash and Brad Miller. I bet Milwaukee would like to have that trade back…….
    Edwin Encarcion was recently traded for a minor leaguer, but mostly because the Yankees absorbed a good chunk of EE’s salary. The Mariners are all in on the all-important financial flexibility thing right now….
    I’m actually surprised that six years in a row there were some impactful major league players traded. Now, not one of those had been consistently good, but it does show that some good players move in early June. Not many of those were pitchers, btw.
    June 16-30

    Number of Trades
    MLB Pitchers
    MLB HItters
    Impact Trades








    In 2013, Colin McHugh was traded (not to the Astros) and he became quite good with the Astros. But, it was not an impactful deal for either team involved in the deal. He is an impactful player in the deal, so it counts. Eric Thames was also dealt that year, and put up a couple decent years after that. No one else in those five deals has done much, though Colin Cowgil managed to barely clear the 1 fWAR line in 2014…..so three impactful players were dealt that year!
    2014 saw a rare pitcher for pitcher trade. One of them just cleared 1 fWAR the following year, but neither did anything much. Neither did the hitter traded that year. Really, calling 1 year of fWAR impactful seems like maybe too low a bar…….I’d call it almost useful for 1 year, but barely.
    In 2015 AZ sent the injured *Bronson Arroyo and Touki Toussaint to Atlanta for a guy. Touki could be a real piece for Atlanta. This was clearly a salary dump situation, where Atlanta basically bought Toussaint for Arroyo’s contract. So far, though, he’s not produced even one half WAR, so maybe not.
    Chris Paddack and Fernando Rodney were traded for each other (so maybe pitcher for pitcher trades aren't rare?) in 2016. This looks like a great trade for the Padres for sure. Rodney, of course, has been ok to effective after that but was terrible in Miami. I’m still trying to figure out what Miami was doing…..No other trade that year mattered, unless you still pine for Oswaldo Arcia….
    There were no interesting trades in 2017 in the second half of June.
    Steve Pearce was quite good last year for Boston. He was traded for an ok AA player. The other trade last year was not all that interesting.
    This year? Well….there were zero trades in the second half of June.
    So, the second half of June saw one really good player change hands, plus Steve Pearce who was quite good last year for Boston. Other than that, not many players/trades mattered all that much. It’s an odd coincidence that there were six trades that cleared the approximately 1 fWAR barrier in both parts of June, but it’s just a coincidence.
    What did we learn?
    That depends on what you already knew, I guess……But here’s a summary of what I learned!
    Some good players have been traded in June. Most of those involved salary dumps, or odd decisions by poorly run teams (Miami, for example). There just are not many trades in June at all, and most of them amount to nothing much. It’s hard to criticize any team for not making deals before July, given this data. The best players were either picked up in salary dumps, or were near MLB ready minor league players (admittedly, those in the lower minors have not had a chance to do much yet. That said, in a quick glance, none look like big time prospects either).
    In other words, I'm not surprised nothing has happened much this year, given what has happened in recent history.
    In the next post, we’ll look at the first three weeks of July…..
  24. Like
    dbminn reacted to Thiéres Rabelo for a blog entry, The precious, but unnoticed help of Gonzalez   
    With recent struggles from Twins pitchers, for example, an early season discussion has been brought up this week. Did the Twins address well enough the team’s need during the offseason? Some people sure feel like they didn’t. But one offseason move (out of several others) that we can absolutely tell was right on the money was the Marwin Gonzalez signing.
    Having played this season in six different positions throughout the field, while also batting DH and pinch hitting, “Margo” is officially one of the most useful pieces a team could have in the sport. Baseball Essential considered Gonzalez the best super-utility player in the game. He was an invaluable help overall during the first couple of months of the season, filling in for injured Miguel Sanó, starting 52 of the team’s 60 games.
    But it took a while for most Twins fans to see Gonzalez as indispensable. He had a horrible first month offensively, batting .167, with a .501 OPS and 34 wRC+ in 23 games. Even though bad starts offensively have always been a part of his career, people started doubting him, on some level. Overall, he holds a .228 AVG, with a .675 OPS in his eight years in the league. Still, even specialists believed he was bound to lose at bats and become the third option to start at third base, once Willians Astudillo was having himself a hot start of the season. The Turtle was batting .327 with an .870 OPS by the end of April, so it was the natural choice then.
    But then, things shifted. Since May 1st, he’s batting .304/.376/.500. In that span, only two other players drew more walks than him, who got 11. Also, Gonzalez has been left-handed pitchers’ nightmare, as he’s slashing .378/.425/.541 against them. He completely turned his season around. With 125 PA since the start of May, he’s been the fifth most used player in the offense, with more PA’s than everyday starters Jonathan Schoop and Byron Buxton, for example. He’s become a vital and dependable part of this MLB-best offense.
    But that’s not even his biggest contribution. Not only is he doing some damage at the plate lately, but he’s also been playing Gold Glove-caliber defense. Being a bench player, he will never win such award, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s an above average defender. And what’s more impressive about this? He does so in more than one position. Here are some defensive stats.
    As a 3B (257.2 innings)
    3 DRS
    1.8 UZR
    .989 FP
    4 DPS
    69 Assists
    21 PO
    1 Error (TE)
    Gonzalez' three defensive runs saved would be tied for sixth best in MLB, if he qualified. He has as many as 2018 Gold Glove Award winner Nolan Arenado, who's already played over twice as many innings as him this year. He has saved more runs than players such as old friend Eduardo Escobar, Rafael Devers, Yoan Moncada, Matt Carpenter and José Ramírez, all of which have been on the field for at least 446 1/3 innings. Regarding his UZR, he would also be tied for sixth best in the game, beating names like Evan Longoria and Alex Bregman, the AL runner-up for the Gold Glove award last year.
    When looking at his assists amount, he doesn’t rank very high in the league, but, of course, his sample time on the field is much smaller than the average everyday third baseman. If he had had the opportunity to play, say, 400 innings on the field, he would have an equivalent of 107 assists, which would rank him 5th in the league. Had he been there for 500 innings, we would be talking about a league second best 133 assists. But, of course, this is purely hypothetical mathematics.
    As an OF (81 innings)
    3 DRS
    0.9 UZR
    .933 FP
    2 Assists
    12 PO
    1 error (FE)
    In the outfield, Gonzalez also has a very small sample, which prevent him from competing with the everyday outfielder in the stats department. But, still, you can tell he’s not at all a bad defender there either. He has as many defensive runs saved as Mike Trout does and one more than NL MVP Christian Yelich. So, the Twins signed a player that, if starting regularly in his primary position, would compete for the league’s highest honours in defense. Not too shabby.
    Far beyond the numbers, by watching Twins game on a daily basis, you can tell what a great defender he is. There hasn’t been a moment in which I’ve felt insecure about Twins defense in the hot corner or wherever “Margo” is on the field.
    A lot of things could and should be fixed in the Twins roster. But having Gonzalez in the team guarantees that the bench isn’t one of them. It’s impossible to say for sure if Minnesota would be having the same success that they are having right now if he wasn’t a part of the team, but I imagine things would be much harder. Afterall, he might be the best and most prolific utility player in the game right now.
  25. Like
    dbminn reacted to stringer bell for a blog entry, Escobar and Gonzalez   
    Two 30-year-old natives of Venezuela, both switch-hitters, both came to the majors as shortstops who became utility players and were to become free agents at the end of the 2018 season. I was looking at Baseball Reference and thought I would compare the former Twin with the current Twin. I was surprised how similar their numbers were.
    While they are very similar, there are differences. First of all, Gonzalez has remained a versatile defender, while Escobar has become a fixture at third base for his new club. Neither are spending appreciable time in the middle of the diamond, this year Escobar has played one game at second base and Gonzalez has played one game at shortstop. Gonzalez has started mostly at third, but with the return of Miguel Sanó, he's started multiple games at first, third, left and right field.
    Escobar has truly come into his own as a hitter. He hits in the middle of a good Arizona lineup and leads the National League in games, plate appearances and at-bats. So far, he is putting up numbers worthy of All-Star consideration. After an extremely slow start, Gonzalez has put up numbers in line with his career norms.
    It is intriguing to consider what might have happened if the Twins had somehow managed to retain Escobar. Would he have been able to have the role that Gonzalez is filling? Would the Twins then converted Sanó to first base and not acquired Cron? For what it's worth, it appears that this has worked out for all concerned.
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