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Ted Schwerzler

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  1. Francisco Liriano announced his retirement from Major League Baseball today. After 14 years, 419 games, and over 1,800 innings, he’s calling it quits. As a Minnesota Twins fan, though, it’s worth wondering what could have been thinking back to 2006. Having made his Major League Debut in 2005, Liriano had just 23 2/3 innings under his belt coming into the 2006 season. Ron Gardenhire put Liriano on his Opening Day roster, but the talented lefty was set to begin out of the bullpen. He made his season debut in the second game, throwing two innings of relief against the Toronto Blue Jays. Minnesota won that game 13-4, and Liriano tallied his first three strikeouts of the season. From there, Gardenhire used Liriano mainly for late-inning work. Across 12 games, Liriano pitched 22 1/3 innings of relief work, compiling a 3.22 ERA and impressive 32/4 K/BB mark. Of the eight earned runs given up, five came in a three-inning clunker against the Detroit Tigers. Minnesota lost that game 18-1, and it was the lone stain on Liriano’s relief work. Then the switch happened. On May 19, 2006, Francisco Liriano took the ball to start for the Twins against the Milwaukee Brewers. He didn’t relieve a game again the rest of the way. Against the Brewers, Liriano went five strong innings giving up just one run on two hits while striking out five. A few turns later, this time against the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 16, 2006, Liriano punched out double-digit batters for the first time in his career. Notching 11 strikeouts against the Buccos, Liriano improved to 6-1 on the season, and his ERA sat at just 2.16. Facing the Brewers again on July 2, 2016, Liriano set a new career-high in strikeouts with 12. Throwing eight shutout innings, Liriano pushed his ERA down to 1.99. After a couple more wins, Liriano then put a bow on his early work with a 10 and 12 strikeout performance against Cleveland and Detroit, respectively. Then things changed. Making a start against the Tigers on August 7, 2006, Liriano threw just 67 pitches while allowing four runs on ten hits before being lifted. He was scratched the start prior with forearm inflammation and then lifted against Detroit with what was called a left elbow injury. After an MRI revealed only inflammation on July 31, Liriano was set for another one and told reporters he was more scared this time, saying, “it bothered me. It’s getting worse you know.” Liriano returned for a start on September 13, 2006, but lasted just 27 pitches before his season was over. He had suggested hearing a pop in his elbow. The 1st place Minnesota Twins would be without one of their top arms, ultimately falling to the Oakland Athletics in the American League Division Series. Discussing the MRI’s Liriano had undergone, Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said, "The MRI came back exactly the same as the previous one. He has a ligament strain, but there is no structural damage. That's the good news.” On September 15, 2006, surgery was not the planned course of action. Fast forward less than a month, and on November 6, 2006, Francisco Liriano underwent Tommy John surgery. Working on getting back from his procedure, Liriano returned to the mound for Minnesota on April 13, 2008. It was his first start in more than a year, and the rust showed. He allowed four runs on six hits and didn’t make it through the 5th inning. Throwing his fastball at just 91.9 mph, he’d lost nearly 3 mph off the 94.7 mph he averaged in 2006. The All-Star and third place Rookie of the Year finisher didn’t look the same and ultimately never would. Those 121 innings from a 22-year-old Liriano in 2006 were among the highlights of the Minnesota Twins during the 2000s. Paired with Johan Santana, Ron Gardenhire appeared to have a duo of lefties that could mow down even the best opposing offenses. Playing 12 more seasons and putting up a 4.28 ERA is hardly something to scoff at, but there’s no denying that this is a talent you have to wonder what could have been. Liriano doesn’t have a shot at the Hall of Fame, but maybe he would have. Perhaps the Twins wouldn’t have flipped him for Eduardo Escobar in 2012. His career was solid but ultimately defined by a “what if?” Outside of Liriano as a player on his own, it's worth wondering how the 2006 Minnesota Twins season would've ended had he been a healthy part of the Postseason rotation. The Twins were ultimately swept by a good Oakland Athletics team, but they had to start Boof Bonser in game 2 and turned to Brad Radke in game 3. The Twins came in with home field advantage and have not won a Postseason game dating back to 2004. Just another part of the what could've been story. Do you remember back to that first season of Francisco Liriano? What did you think the Twins had in him? What are some of your favorite memories? View full article
  2. Having made his Major League Debut in 2005, Liriano had just 23 2/3 innings under his belt coming into the 2006 season. Ron Gardenhire put Liriano on his Opening Day roster, but the talented lefty was set to begin out of the bullpen. He made his season debut in the second game, throwing two innings of relief against the Toronto Blue Jays. Minnesota won that game 13-4, and Liriano tallied his first three strikeouts of the season. From there, Gardenhire used Liriano mainly for late-inning work. Across 12 games, Liriano pitched 22 1/3 innings of relief work, compiling a 3.22 ERA and impressive 32/4 K/BB mark. Of the eight earned runs given up, five came in a three-inning clunker against the Detroit Tigers. Minnesota lost that game 18-1, and it was the lone stain on Liriano’s relief work. Then the switch happened. On May 19, 2006, Francisco Liriano took the ball to start for the Twins against the Milwaukee Brewers. He didn’t relieve a game again the rest of the way. Against the Brewers, Liriano went five strong innings giving up just one run on two hits while striking out five. A few turns later, this time against the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 16, 2006, Liriano punched out double-digit batters for the first time in his career. Notching 11 strikeouts against the Buccos, Liriano improved to 6-1 on the season, and his ERA sat at just 2.16. Facing the Brewers again on July 2, 2016, Liriano set a new career-high in strikeouts with 12. Throwing eight shutout innings, Liriano pushed his ERA down to 1.99. After a couple more wins, Liriano then put a bow on his early work with a 10 and 12 strikeout performance against Cleveland and Detroit, respectively. Then things changed. Making a start against the Tigers on August 7, 2006, Liriano threw just 67 pitches while allowing four runs on ten hits before being lifted. He was scratched the start prior with forearm inflammation and then lifted against Detroit with what was called a left elbow injury. After an MRI revealed only inflammation on July 31, Liriano was set for another one and told reporters he was more scared this time, saying, “it bothered me. It’s getting worse you know.” Liriano returned for a start on September 13, 2006, but lasted just 27 pitches before his season was over. He had suggested hearing a pop in his elbow. The 1st place Minnesota Twins would be without one of their top arms, ultimately falling to the Oakland Athletics in the American League Division Series. Discussing the MRI’s Liriano had undergone, Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said, "The MRI came back exactly the same as the previous one. He has a ligament strain, but there is no structural damage. That's the good news.” On September 15, 2006, surgery was not the planned course of action. Fast forward less than a month, and on November 6, 2006, Francisco Liriano underwent Tommy John surgery. Working on getting back from his procedure, Liriano returned to the mound for Minnesota on April 13, 2008. It was his first start in more than a year, and the rust showed. He allowed four runs on six hits and didn’t make it through the 5th inning. Throwing his fastball at just 91.9 mph, he’d lost nearly 3 mph off the 94.7 mph he averaged in 2006. The All-Star and third place Rookie of the Year finisher didn’t look the same and ultimately never would. Those 121 innings from a 22-year-old Liriano in 2006 were among the highlights of the Minnesota Twins during the 2000s. Paired with Johan Santana, Ron Gardenhire appeared to have a duo of lefties that could mow down even the best opposing offenses. Playing 12 more seasons and putting up a 4.28 ERA is hardly something to scoff at, but there’s no denying that this is a talent you have to wonder what could have been. Liriano doesn’t have a shot at the Hall of Fame, but maybe he would have. Perhaps the Twins wouldn’t have flipped him for Eduardo Escobar in 2012. His career was solid but ultimately defined by a “what if?” Outside of Liriano as a player on his own, it's worth wondering how the 2006 Minnesota Twins season would've ended had he been a healthy part of the Postseason rotation. The Twins were ultimately swept by a good Oakland Athletics team, but they had to start Boof Bonser in game 2 and turned to Brad Radke in game 3. The Twins came in with home field advantage and have not won a Postseason game dating back to 2004. Just another part of the what could've been story. Do you remember back to that first season of Francisco Liriano? What did you think the Twins had in him? What are some of your favorite memories?
  3. 42 days had passed since Major League Baseball had met with the players union. Following his decision to lock out the players, Rob Manfred and the owners waited that amount of time to offer their proposal. Yesterday the event came and went. There was never expected to be a deal struck yesterday, but it is unfortunate to see the parameters of Major League Baseball’s proposal. As ESPN’s Jeff Passan outlined, the highlights were a slight raise in the minimum salary, draft pick incentivization to teams that don’t manipulate service time, and tweaks to a proposed draft lottery. The universal designated hitter remained part of the current language and there was also the proposal of an expanded Postseason going to 14 teams from the current 12. Lots of good nuggets were thrown out on Twitter yesterday and each of them is worthy of being addressed. Let’s get into those: On minimum salary - That's a decent start, but a substantial amount of Major Leaguers make the league minimum. After being underpaid as minor leaguers a $30,000 jump might not be seen as much of a needle mover. On the Luxury Tax- This is arguably the most notable area of contention for players. While Major League Baseball does not have a salary cap, many organizations act as though there is one. Few ever venture into the Luxury Tax, and plenty more come right up next to it while avoiding additional spending. The owners willing to move just $4 million while the players are hoping for $35 million is an inconsequential concession. The little bit of movement also suggests that owners don't want spending power for their teams to go up as they'd then be expected to allocate those funds. Obviously this was met with frustration by the players. Apparently the owners viewed this proposal as far from complete, and despite the lack of urgency, will tackle only certain issues at a time. On service time manipulation- From the moment I saw this included I wondered how it would be applied. Service time manipulation has been beyond evident at times and yet players still are told to deal with it. As Eugene notes in the tweet above, tying service time manipulation to outcomes driven from outside sources, the issue is no longer being handled by the parties involved. It'd be great for teams to promote players when they are ready, but the most beneficial thing to an organization is how long they can control a player at less than market value. On free agency- Keeping a player away from free agency remains of the utmost importance to owners. While being paid through arbitration the wages are significantly diminished and contracts are handled on a yearly basis. The idea of small or mid-market teams stems from owners wanting a fanbase to believe they are not able to spend with larger geographical locations. There are certainly more desirable places to play, but players don't leave teams for those reasons as much as they go to where the payday will come. Most small and mid-market teams look to flip their stars before paying them, and that's a much greater issue regarding competitive balance than any decision a player will make on their own. Again, there was never a belief that yesterday would mark a deal getting done, but the state of negotiations as they stand now isn't a promising one. The owners took over a month to propose a deal with many non-starters for players and have took the stance that they were only focused on parts of the puzzle. At the end of the day Spring Training is looking more and more in question. Players skipping games is really the only want owners feel it in their pocketbooks, and we're rolling towards that reality. As the calendar turns day by day, the greatest indicator of progress will be how quickly counter-proposals are set forth. If we're continuing to do this weeks at a time, baseball by May might be a longshot. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email View full article
  4. There was never expected to be a deal struck yesterday, but it is unfortunate to see the parameters of Major League Baseball’s proposal. As ESPN’s Jeff Passan outlined, the highlights were a slight raise in the minimum salary, draft pick incentivization to teams that don’t manipulate service time, and tweaks to a proposed draft lottery. The universal designated hitter remained part of the current language and there was also the proposal of an expanded Postseason going to 14 teams from the current 12. Lots of good nuggets were thrown out on Twitter yesterday and each of them is worthy of being addressed. Let’s get into those: On minimum salary - That's a decent start, but a substantial amount of Major Leaguers make the league minimum. After being underpaid as minor leaguers a $30,000 jump might not be seen as much of a needle mover. On the Luxury Tax- This is arguably the most notable area of contention for players. While Major League Baseball does not have a salary cap, many organizations act as though there is one. Few ever venture into the Luxury Tax, and plenty more come right up next to it while avoiding additional spending. The owners willing to move just $4 million while the players are hoping for $35 million is an inconsequential concession. The little bit of movement also suggests that owners don't want spending power for their teams to go up as they'd then be expected to allocate those funds. Obviously this was met with frustration by the players. Apparently the owners viewed this proposal as far from complete, and despite the lack of urgency, will tackle only certain issues at a time. On service time manipulation- From the moment I saw this included I wondered how it would be applied. Service time manipulation has been beyond evident at times and yet players still are told to deal with it. As Eugene notes in the tweet above, tying service time manipulation to outcomes driven from outside sources, the issue is no longer being handled by the parties involved. It'd be great for teams to promote players when they are ready, but the most beneficial thing to an organization is how long they can control a player at less than market value. On free agency- Keeping a player away from free agency remains of the utmost importance to owners. While being paid through arbitration the wages are significantly diminished and contracts are handled on a yearly basis. The idea of small or mid-market teams stems from owners wanting a fanbase to believe they are not able to spend with larger geographical locations. There are certainly more desirable places to play, but players don't leave teams for those reasons as much as they go to where the payday will come. Most small and mid-market teams look to flip their stars before paying them, and that's a much greater issue regarding competitive balance than any decision a player will make on their own. Again, there was never a belief that yesterday would mark a deal getting done, but the state of negotiations as they stand now isn't a promising one. The owners took over a month to propose a deal with many non-starters for players and have took the stance that they were only focused on parts of the puzzle. At the end of the day Spring Training is looking more and more in question. Players skipping games is really the only want owners feel it in their pocketbooks, and we're rolling towards that reality. As the calendar turns day by day, the greatest indicator of progress will be how quickly counter-proposals are set forth. If we're continuing to do this weeks at a time, baseball by May might be a longshot. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  5. Becoming the ninth member in organization history to have his number retired, Kaat will join the likes of Joe Mauer, Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek, Kirby Puckett, Bert Blyleven, and Tom Kelly. Kaat was a three-time All-Star and 16-time Gold Glove winner. He won a World Series ring with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1982 and finished with 283 career wins. Jim Pohlad released a statement saying, “For more than sixty years, Jim Kaat has been an important part of the fabric of the Minnesota Twins organization. With ‘Kitty’s’ storied career on the field as well as his accolades in the broadcast booth and his contributions in the community in mind, the Twins family is proud to bestow our highest honor with the retirement of his jersey – number 36. We are excited to celebrate his decades-long commitment to Twins Territory, as well as his much-deserved and long-awaited induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, this coming season.” Since retirement Kaat has made a home in the broadcast booth working for the Twins and other organizations around baseball. His trademark on the microphone is the ability to tell stories and take us back to the game as it was before. As someone who threw more than 4,500 innings during his career, there’s no doubt he’s seen it all. Kaat was a crafty southpaw, but that didn’t stop him from compiling over 2,400 strikeouts on the mound. For the Twins, number 36 will have been worn by a total of 34 players. It was last worn in 2020 by Tyler Clippard, and since Kaat, most famously by Joe Nathan. Minnesota’s former closer is also up for induction into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame this year, but his candidacy appears to be falling well short. A pregame celebration for Kaat’s jersey retirement will take place on July 16 against the Chicago White Sox. You can bet Minnesota will plan further festivities surrounding the day. MORE TWINS DAILY CONTENT — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  6. In early December, it was announced that former Minnesota Twins great pitcher Jim Kaat was being inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Elected by the Golden Days Era Committee, “Kitty” was getting his due. Now the Twins have announced they’ll celebrate him too. Becoming the ninth member in organization history to have his number retired, Kaat will join the likes of Joe Mauer, Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek, Kirby Puckett, Bert Blyleven, and Tom Kelly. Kaat was a three-time All-Star and 16-time Gold Glove winner. He won a World Series ring with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1982 and finished with 283 career wins. Jim Pohlad released a statement saying, “For more than sixty years, Jim Kaat has been an important part of the fabric of the Minnesota Twins organization. With ‘Kitty’s’ storied career on the field as well as his accolades in the broadcast booth and his contributions in the community in mind, the Twins family is proud to bestow our highest honor with the retirement of his jersey – number 36. We are excited to celebrate his decades-long commitment to Twins Territory, as well as his much-deserved and long-awaited induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, this coming season.” Since retirement Kaat has made a home in the broadcast booth working for the Twins and other organizations around baseball. His trademark on the microphone is the ability to tell stories and take us back to the game as it was before. As someone who threw more than 4,500 innings during his career, there’s no doubt he’s seen it all. Kaat was a crafty southpaw, but that didn’t stop him from compiling over 2,400 strikeouts on the mound. For the Twins, number 36 will have been worn by a total of 34 players. It was last worn in 2020 by Tyler Clippard, and since Kaat, most famously by Joe Nathan. Minnesota’s former closer is also up for induction into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame this year, but his candidacy appears to be falling well short. A pregame celebration for Kaat’s jersey retirement will take place on July 16 against the Chicago White Sox. You can bet Minnesota will plan further festivities surrounding the day. MORE TWINS DAILY CONTENT — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  7. The Minnesota Twins turned their front office over to Derek Falvey in October of 2016. After participating in his first offseason, the first club of record played during the 2017 season. In five years leading the organization, Falvey has orchestrated three postseason appearances. What are the moves he’s made to get there? Saddled with Paul Molitor to start his tenure, Falvey tabbed Rocco Baldelli as manager before the 2019 season. A breath of fresh air and a new perspective, Baldelli represented a complete change from the Twins' old guard. While the losing in October hasn’t ceased yet, the club has stockpiled a plethora of solid prospects and could be on the verge of another sustained run. Here’s one writer's opinion of the five best moves Minnesota has made during Derek Falvey’s tenure: 5. Nelson Cruz Signing (Twice) Looking to add thump to their lineup, Falvey inked the long-time designated hitter to a one-year deal worth $14 million (and a second-year option at $12 million). At 38-years-old, there was cause for concern, and he was coming off a slide posting just an .850 OPS for the Mariners. His services were hotly contested, and he wound up being a catalyst for the Bomba Squad. Cruz’s 1.031 OPS was a career-best, and he finished 9th in the American League MVP voting after blasting 41 dingers. His value was estimated as being worth more than $34 million that season by Fangraphs. 4. Nelson Cruz Trade After bringing Cruz back on a one-year deal for $13 million, Minnesota saw the writing on the wall as they slipped down the AL Central standings in 2021. Having posted a .907 OPS through 85 games for the Twins, Cruz was still productive at 40. Despite half of the sport not using the designated hitter, and even fewer teams needing one, Falvey orchestrated a coup in a deal from the Tampa Bay Rays. Acquiring Team USA ace and top-100 prospect Joe Ryan for a few months of Cruz would’ve been great on its own. Minnesota also netted Drew Strotman (a recent Twins Spotlight guest), another strong pitching prospect, and despite Cruz’s greatness here, they couldn’t have packed his bags fast enough for that return. 3. Michael Pineda Signing Signing someone while injured is always a tricky situation, but that’s what Falvey opted to do with Michael Pineda. Needing starting arms, the Twins came to an agreement with the former Yankees starter while he was recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2018. Paying him just $10 million over two years, Minnesota got to monitor Pineda’s rehab and set him up to be a rotation mainstay for them in 2019. He turned in a strong 4.01 ERA and was among the many reasons the club was so good. In 2019 alone, Fangraphs valued Pineda’s production north of $20 million. Pineda has been unquestionably the best free-agent move on the pitching front from this front office, taking steps forward in each of the next two seasons. 2. Jorge Polanco Extension After a career-best .773 OPS in 2018, Minnesota decided to lock Polanco up long term. He was signed to a five-year deal with two additional options. The guaranteed portion was for just $25.75 million, or $5.15 million per year. Polanco became a first-time All-Star in 2019, posting an .841 OPS and generating MVP votes for the first time in his career. His 2020 was a slide backward as he dealt with nagging ankle issues, but a switch to second base and a clean bill of health had him rebounding to an .826 OPS in 2021, and he launched a career-best 33 homers. Polanco is among the best second basemen in baseball, and this contract looks like one of the most team-friendly deals across the entire sport. 1. Byron Buxton Extension This one takes the top spot mainly for the impact it could have and would have had it not gotten done. Buxton is a generational talent, and the only thing that has sapped his earning potential is the ability to stay on the field. Now signed to a seven-year, $100 million contract, Buxton looks to expand upon three seasons totaling an .897 OPS. He’s arguably the best defensive outfielder in the game and has come into his power potential; the speed asset to his game is just a cherry on top. Minnesota needed to get this done, and now both parties stand to benefit plenty from one another. What are some of the moves made under Derek Falvey that you would place here? Is there a favorite I missed? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  8. Saddled with Paul Molitor to start his tenure, Falvey tabbed Rocco Baldelli as manager before the 2019 season. A breath of fresh air and a new perspective, Baldelli represented a complete change from the Twins' old guard. While the losing in October hasn’t ceased yet, the club has stockpiled a plethora of solid prospects and could be on the verge of another sustained run. Here’s one writer's opinion of the five best moves Minnesota has made during Derek Falvey’s tenure: 5. Nelson Cruz Signing (Twice) Looking to add thump to their lineup, Falvey inked the long-time designated hitter to a one-year deal worth $14 million (and a second-year option at $12 million). At 38-years-old, there was cause for concern, and he was coming off a slide posting just an .850 OPS for the Mariners. His services were hotly contested, and he wound up being a catalyst for the Bomba Squad. Cruz’s 1.031 OPS was a career-best, and he finished 9th in the American League MVP voting after blasting 41 dingers. His value was estimated as being worth more than $34 million that season by Fangraphs. 4. Nelson Cruz Trade After bringing Cruz back on a one-year deal for $13 million, Minnesota saw the writing on the wall as they slipped down the AL Central standings in 2021. Having posted a .907 OPS through 85 games for the Twins, Cruz was still productive at 40. Despite half of the sport not using the designated hitter, and even fewer teams needing one, Falvey orchestrated a coup in a deal from the Tampa Bay Rays. Acquiring Team USA ace and top-100 prospect Joe Ryan for a few months of Cruz would’ve been great on its own. Minnesota also netted Drew Strotman (a recent Twins Spotlight guest), another strong pitching prospect, and despite Cruz’s greatness here, they couldn’t have packed his bags fast enough for that return. 3. Michael Pineda Signing Signing someone while injured is always a tricky situation, but that’s what Falvey opted to do with Michael Pineda. Needing starting arms, the Twins came to an agreement with the former Yankees starter while he was recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2018. Paying him just $10 million over two years, Minnesota got to monitor Pineda’s rehab and set him up to be a rotation mainstay for them in 2019. He turned in a strong 4.01 ERA and was among the many reasons the club was so good. In 2019 alone, Fangraphs valued Pineda’s production north of $20 million. Pineda has been unquestionably the best free-agent move on the pitching front from this front office, taking steps forward in each of the next two seasons. 2. Jorge Polanco Extension After a career-best .773 OPS in 2018, Minnesota decided to lock Polanco up long term. He was signed to a five-year deal with two additional options. The guaranteed portion was for just $25.75 million, or $5.15 million per year. Polanco became a first-time All-Star in 2019, posting an .841 OPS and generating MVP votes for the first time in his career. His 2020 was a slide backward as he dealt with nagging ankle issues, but a switch to second base and a clean bill of health had him rebounding to an .826 OPS in 2021, and he launched a career-best 33 homers. Polanco is among the best second basemen in baseball, and this contract looks like one of the most team-friendly deals across the entire sport. 1. Byron Buxton Extension This one takes the top spot mainly for the impact it could have and would have had it not gotten done. Buxton is a generational talent, and the only thing that has sapped his earning potential is the ability to stay on the field. Now signed to a seven-year, $100 million contract, Buxton looks to expand upon three seasons totaling an .897 OPS. He’s arguably the best defensive outfielder in the game and has come into his power potential; the speed asset to his game is just a cherry on top. Minnesota needed to get this done, and now both parties stand to benefit plenty from one another. What are some of the moves made under Derek Falvey that you would place here? Is there a favorite I missed? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  9. Right now, Major League Baseball is enduring a lockout. Rob Manfred has shut out the players, and neither side has done any work regarding a resolution for over a month. We’re quickly approaching Spring Training, but games will likely be missed. What if we have the opposite of 2020, and there’s no Major League season at all? Why is that the opposite? Remember, this lockout revolves around only Major League Baseball and its players. Minor League Baseball is not covered under that umbrella, and while that’s often to its detriment, that means affiliated action will go off without a hitch in the year ahead. During the pandemic shortened 2020 season, we had a 60-game big-league schedule and no minor league action. There was the birth of Alternate Sites, but no games of record took place. Fast forward to where we are now, and a year of development could come on the farm with nothing taking place at Target Field. It’s a really weird thing to think about, the minor league feeder system taking place with no ultimate goal being represented for a year. However, the reality is that it’s on the farm where the most development happens, and losing that season was highly disappointing for plenty of prospects. If time were to stand still on the Major League side, the year would be solely focused on developing the next wave of prospects. While that could be a good thing for guys a bit further away, it's certainly an unfortunate reality for some of the Twins best young talents. Two situations come to mind, and the biggest of them may involve Royce Lewis. Minnesota’s top prospect hasn’t played a game since 2019. After losing the season to Covid, he tore his ACL before 2021 even began. Still an elite talent, Lewis is looking to distance himself for down results last time he was on the field and also trying to build on a swing and position that both still have question marks. There’s no doubt Lewis is a big part of Minnesota’s future, and he has an outside chance of reaching the majors this season. Having recently been added to the 40 man roster, he'd be stuck in limbo with no opportunity to get back on the field but also being pushed further from his ultimate goal. In a cascade of continued unfortunate events, it'd be nice to see Lewis catch a break. The other grouping includes players that could use the additional time to develop and now won’t have that opportunity. After struggling, Trevor Larnach was sent back to Triple-A, and Jose Miranda is still a young kid. Throw in arms like Jordan Balazovic or Jhoan Duran, and there’s a lot of young talent on the Twins 40-man roster. Like Lewis, having been added to the 40-man, none of those players would be eligible to participate in minor league games. Irrelevant is whether they have options or could be maneuvered around the roster. With the league locked out, no transactions are permitted, meaning the pool of players for organizations solely becomes those not on a 40-man roster. At the end of the day, we’re going to have meaningful baseball, and that’s a great thing. Unfortunately, my belief has dwindled that we’ll have a full Major League season, and if there isn’t one at all, it may help as many guys as it hurts. Really this all comes down to Rob Manfred and the league working through this with the union so everyone can get back to work. MORE TWINS DAILY CONTENT — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  10. Why is that the opposite? Remember, this lockout revolves around only Major League Baseball and its players. Minor League Baseball is not covered under that umbrella, and while that’s often to its detriment, that means affiliated action will go off without a hitch in the year ahead. During the pandemic shortened 2020 season, we had a 60-game big-league schedule and no minor league action. There was the birth of Alternate Sites, but no games of record took place. Fast forward to where we are now, and a year of development could come on the farm with nothing taking place at Target Field. It’s a really weird thing to think about, the minor league feeder system taking place with no ultimate goal being represented for a year. However, the reality is that it’s on the farm where the most development happens, and losing that season was highly disappointing for plenty of prospects. If time were to stand still on the Major League side, the year would be solely focused on developing the next wave of prospects. While that could be a good thing for guys a bit further away, it's certainly an unfortunate reality for some of the Twins best young talents. Two situations come to mind, and the biggest of them may involve Royce Lewis. Minnesota’s top prospect hasn’t played a game since 2019. After losing the season to Covid, he tore his ACL before 2021 even began. Still an elite talent, Lewis is looking to distance himself for down results last time he was on the field and also trying to build on a swing and position that both still have question marks. There’s no doubt Lewis is a big part of Minnesota’s future, and he has an outside chance of reaching the majors this season. Having recently been added to the 40 man roster, he'd be stuck in limbo with no opportunity to get back on the field but also being pushed further from his ultimate goal. In a cascade of continued unfortunate events, it'd be nice to see Lewis catch a break. The other grouping includes players that could use the additional time to develop and now won’t have that opportunity. After struggling, Trevor Larnach was sent back to Triple-A, and Jose Miranda is still a young kid. Throw in arms like Jordan Balazovic or Jhoan Duran, and there’s a lot of young talent on the Twins 40-man roster. Like Lewis, having been added to the 40-man, none of those players would be eligible to participate in minor league games. Irrelevant is whether they have options or could be maneuvered around the roster. With the league locked out, no transactions are permitted, meaning the pool of players for organizations solely becomes those not on a 40-man roster. At the end of the day, we’re going to have meaningful baseball, and that’s a great thing. Unfortunately, my belief has dwindled that we’ll have a full Major League season, and if there isn’t one at all, it may help as many guys as it hurts. Really this all comes down to Rob Manfred and the league working through this with the union so everyone can get back to work. MORE TWINS DAILY CONTENT — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  11. This space has been on pause the past few weeks because baseball has done absolutely nothing. This week that changed a bit, but I’m not sure it was for the better. We’re farther away from MLB’s return, and now worse off for it. Earlier this week one of the best reporters in the game, Ken Rosenthal, was let go from MLB Network. This stems from his criticism (and that should be used lightly) of overlord Rob Manfred. Major League Baseball’s commissioner is a steward of the owners, and while he actively seeks to line their pockets, he doesn’t need anyone on his airwaves sowing doubt about his leadership. Rosenthal is still employed by The Athletic (who was just recently acquired by the New York Times) and Fox. Seeing players rally in support of Rosenthal was a great thing as well. On Wednesday a piece was penned by ESPN’s Jeff Passan in relation to the state of baseball’s CBA issues. Some of the highlights, or maybe lowlights, don’t paint a pretty picture at all. We’re closer to Spring Training and yet the sides have not had a single meeting to suggest any sort of progress. A source was frank to Passan in simply stating, “What the (expletive) are we doing?” Passan talks about the decreasing optimism among those in the know that there will be a full season. The last discussion lasted just seven minutes, and we saw these two sides struggle mightily when it came to generating an agreement for 2020. Ultimately Manfred implemented a 60-game season, but that was due to the outlined agreements within the CBA rather than a compromise between both parties. As has been the case from the beginning most within the sport don’t see the sides coming together until later this month. With Spring Training being just weeks away at that point, you can all but guarantee time will be missed there. The problem, as Passan outlines, is that the issues surrounding the CBA are far more contentious than those discussed during the Covid-shortened 2020, and will need a much longer runway. There’s a way to work through them, but if Manfred’s letter to fans after locking out the players was any indication, he doesn’t appear willing to do so in good faith. This excerpt from Passan’s piece couldn’t be more spot on: While the players continue to be frustrated with ownership as spending dips and the Competitive Balance Tax is used as a soft cap, ownership wants no part of granting players free agency sooner or relinquishing control over cost effectiveness. A source told Passan, "The only thing that's gonna move either side is mutual assured destruction." The piece goes into an avenue where a CBA could take both sides, and while each needs to make concessions, the reality is that there’s a ton to work through. A deal not being close by February 1 would almost assuredly cancel Spring Training games. A handful of free agents still need to be signed, and a sport with many foreign players needs runway for Visas and travel arrangements to be made. Should things not be agreed to by May 1, we’re going to see the first substantial work stopped since the 1994-95 calendar. It’s on both sides to fix this, but make no mistake, this will be Rob Manfred’s legacy. Do you think we see Spring Training start on time? How about whether regular season games are missed? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email View full article
  12. Earlier this week one of the best reporters in the game, Ken Rosenthal, was let go from MLB Network. This stems from his criticism (and that should be used lightly) of overlord Rob Manfred. Major League Baseball’s commissioner is a steward of the owners, and while he actively seeks to line their pockets, he doesn’t need anyone on his airwaves sowing doubt about his leadership. Rosenthal is still employed by The Athletic (who was just recently acquired by the New York Times) and Fox. Seeing players rally in support of Rosenthal was a great thing as well. On Wednesday a piece was penned by ESPN’s Jeff Passan in relation to the state of baseball’s CBA issues. Some of the highlights, or maybe lowlights, don’t paint a pretty picture at all. We’re closer to Spring Training and yet the sides have not had a single meeting to suggest any sort of progress. A source was frank to Passan in simply stating, “What the (expletive) are we doing?” Passan talks about the decreasing optimism among those in the know that there will be a full season. The last discussion lasted just seven minutes, and we saw these two sides struggle mightily when it came to generating an agreement for 2020. Ultimately Manfred implemented a 60-game season, but that was due to the outlined agreements within the CBA rather than a compromise between both parties. As has been the case from the beginning most within the sport don’t see the sides coming together until later this month. With Spring Training being just weeks away at that point, you can all but guarantee time will be missed there. The problem, as Passan outlines, is that the issues surrounding the CBA are far more contentious than those discussed during the Covid-shortened 2020, and will need a much longer runway. There’s a way to work through them, but if Manfred’s letter to fans after locking out the players was any indication, he doesn’t appear willing to do so in good faith. This excerpt from Passan’s piece couldn’t be more spot on: While the players continue to be frustrated with ownership as spending dips and the Competitive Balance Tax is used as a soft cap, ownership wants no part of granting players free agency sooner or relinquishing control over cost effectiveness. A source told Passan, "The only thing that's gonna move either side is mutual assured destruction." The piece goes into an avenue where a CBA could take both sides, and while each needs to make concessions, the reality is that there’s a ton to work through. A deal not being close by February 1 would almost assuredly cancel Spring Training games. A handful of free agents still need to be signed, and a sport with many foreign players needs runway for Visas and travel arrangements to be made. Should things not be agreed to by May 1, we’re going to see the first substantial work stopped since the 1994-95 calendar. It’s on both sides to fix this, but make no mistake, this will be Rob Manfred’s legacy. Do you think we see Spring Training start on time? How about whether regular season games are missed? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  13. In November, the Minnesota Twins finally paid Byron Buxton. That was the right move all along, and it looks the part of a fair deal for both sides. One caveat to the talented centerfielder is his availability. With that in mind, do the Twins have a built-in insurance policy? Leader of the “Pay. The. Man” campaign, I’ve always been a staunch supporter of the Twins locking Buxton up long term. My follow-up to that suggestion has always been the need for a capable fourth outfielder. Jake Cave hasn’t been that for quite some time, and despite a brief renaissance period for Rob Refsnyder, he’s not that guy either. Minnesota needs someone with the ability to start in centerfield over two weeks and hold serve. Currently, there are only two potential options on the 40 man roster: Nick Gordon Earning himself run because of his versatility last season, Gordon played 73 games for the Twins. Despite having played solely on the dirt in the minor leagues, he looked comfortable in the outfield. The defense should improve as he settles into the role, but the bat is where things may break down. His .647 OPS last season isn’t going to get it done, and with minimal power to his credit, he’ll need to expand heavily upon his on-base profile. Steamer projects a .697 OPS in 2021, and while still not good enough, it’s worth noting that he’s improved at every level in year two. I don’t think he’s the guy, but I like the idea of Minnesota rostering him as he brings a speed threat that has otherwise been missing. Gilberto Celestino This is an interesting case in that Celestino was thrust into action during 2021 before being ready. Celestino was promoted as a 22-year-old after just 21 games in Double-A with no centerfield options available. He understandably was overmatched, posting a .466 OPS in 23 MLB games. The defense has always been his calling card, and that too looked out of sorts at times. Settling back in at Triple-A St. Paul, Celestino turned it on. In 49 games, he posted an .827 OPS and was back to being strong in the outfield. The additional time to settle in no doubt helped regain confidence, a talent that can translate to the highest level. Celestino will be just 23-years-old in 2022 and remains someone to watch for the future. Steamer projections have him at a .692 OPS in 2022, which would be a substantial jump from his debut. Handing him the fourth outfielder role on Opening Day may be a bit soon, but a repeat of the Triple-A numbers should suggest he’s ready. This could become an option sooner rather than later. If Derek Falvey wants to go beyond the organization, options exist there as well. Some of that has to do with how the Twins move forward in trading assets. Max Kepler is a defensive stalwart in right field and can undoubtedly cover in center should Buxton go down. That allows the fourth outfielder to be less of a center-mandated role. However, if he’s not in the picture, things get understandably more complicated. The high end of the free-agent market would be signing corner and sometimes center outfielder Kris Bryant. That’s a bat that has fit the Twins for a while but would seem like a longshot at best. The more economical veteran options are a who’s who of retreads. Names such as Kevin Pillar, Jake Marisnick, and Billy Hamilton are all there. However, if there’s someone I’ve got my eye on, it’s another former Cub, Albert Almora. Since his top prospect days, Almora's stock has dropped after playing strong defense and posting a .777 OPS in his first two seasons. He’ll be just 28 in 2022, though, and a trip to the American League could be good for him. With the Mets Triple-A club last season, he owned a .759 OPS, and Steamer projections have him at a .691 OPS in 2022. If there’s a guy with upside to bank on while still having done it already, this is where I’m looking. Minnesota signing Almora to a two-year deal, or one with an option, would make Byron Buxton’s over-under of 120 games less of a gamble. At the end of the day, the Twins should want to get back to an outfield defense similar to 2020. Before being 12th in defensive runs saved a year ago, Minnesota was third in 2020. Defenders that can prevent runs will be at a premium whether the staff lacks top-tier talent or throws out young arms. The more confidence you can feel from the top four outfielders, the better. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  14. Leader of the “Pay. The. Man” campaign, I’ve always been a staunch supporter of the Twins locking Buxton up long term. My follow-up to that suggestion has always been the need for a capable fourth outfielder. Jake Cave hasn’t been that for quite some time, and despite a brief renaissance period for Rob Refsnyder, he’s not that guy either. Minnesota needs someone with the ability to start in centerfield over two weeks and hold serve. Currently, there are only two potential options on the 40 man roster: Nick Gordon Earning himself run because of his versatility last season, Gordon played 73 games for the Twins. Despite having played solely on the dirt in the minor leagues, he looked comfortable in the outfield. The defense should improve as he settles into the role, but the bat is where things may break down. His .647 OPS last season isn’t going to get it done, and with minimal power to his credit, he’ll need to expand heavily upon his on-base profile. Steamer projects a .697 OPS in 2021, and while still not good enough, it’s worth noting that he’s improved at every level in year two. I don’t think he’s the guy, but I like the idea of Minnesota rostering him as he brings a speed threat that has otherwise been missing. Gilberto Celestino This is an interesting case in that Celestino was thrust into action during 2021 before being ready. Celestino was promoted as a 22-year-old after just 21 games in Double-A with no centerfield options available. He understandably was overmatched, posting a .466 OPS in 23 MLB games. The defense has always been his calling card, and that too looked out of sorts at times. Settling back in at Triple-A St. Paul, Celestino turned it on. In 49 games, he posted an .827 OPS and was back to being strong in the outfield. The additional time to settle in no doubt helped regain confidence, a talent that can translate to the highest level. Celestino will be just 23-years-old in 2022 and remains someone to watch for the future. Steamer projections have him at a .692 OPS in 2022, which would be a substantial jump from his debut. Handing him the fourth outfielder role on Opening Day may be a bit soon, but a repeat of the Triple-A numbers should suggest he’s ready. This could become an option sooner rather than later. If Derek Falvey wants to go beyond the organization, options exist there as well. Some of that has to do with how the Twins move forward in trading assets. Max Kepler is a defensive stalwart in right field and can undoubtedly cover in center should Buxton go down. That allows the fourth outfielder to be less of a center-mandated role. However, if he’s not in the picture, things get understandably more complicated. The high end of the free-agent market would be signing corner and sometimes center outfielder Kris Bryant. That’s a bat that has fit the Twins for a while but would seem like a longshot at best. The more economical veteran options are a who’s who of retreads. Names such as Kevin Pillar, Jake Marisnick, and Billy Hamilton are all there. However, if there’s someone I’ve got my eye on, it’s another former Cub, Albert Almora. Since his top prospect days, Almora's stock has dropped after playing strong defense and posting a .777 OPS in his first two seasons. He’ll be just 28 in 2022, though, and a trip to the American League could be good for him. With the Mets Triple-A club last season, he owned a .759 OPS, and Steamer projections have him at a .691 OPS in 2022. If there’s a guy with upside to bank on while still having done it already, this is where I’m looking. Minnesota signing Almora to a two-year deal, or one with an option, would make Byron Buxton’s over-under of 120 games less of a gamble. At the end of the day, the Twins should want to get back to an outfield defense similar to 2020. Before being 12th in defensive runs saved a year ago, Minnesota was third in 2020. Defenders that can prevent runs will be at a premium whether the staff lacks top-tier talent or throws out young arms. The more confidence you can feel from the top four outfielders, the better. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  15. Rortvedt has over 1200 minor league ABs and an OPS of .672. If he becomes a competent hitter it would be an absolute miracle. Drew Butera owned a .644 OPS in the minors, so Ben has a path, but it isn't a noteworthy one.
  16. Royce was added because every article starts with his time missed and the long swing. Those are both fair concerns, but I still think this is a regular All-Star talent even if he debuts later than desired. That's overlooked to me.
  17. I think there's still steam there but he's 22 and hasn't played above High-A. He was amazing with Cedar Rapids last year; can he keep it up?
  18. Initially I thought the $500 million seemed light for a company with 70 years of baseball history. It is for just the collectibles division, both physical and digital. Topps keeps the confectionary arm but that still seems to be a lackluster amount. I think the reality here is that this was there only way forward and it benefits collectors in the long run.
  19. In August, it was announced that Fanatics had acquired licensing rights for trading cards from Major League Baseball. The trading card landscape was set to change, with Topps being the longstanding license holder. As of today, we have clarity on what it may look like. When Fanatics acquired the MLB license, the end of Topps making licensed trading cards would be seen following the 2025 season. However, the MLBPA license was set to expire following the 2022 season, which would have put an end to Topps using images or likenesses of any active players after this season. Effectively, when the calendar turned to 2023, Topps’ only available brand would’ve been their Bowman product. For collectors, this was unfortunate given the power of Topps as a brand and the uncertainty of Fanatics in the trading card space. For a few months, there were rumblings and posturing from Fanatics. They had been looking into creating a marketplace to create, sell, grade, and ultimately own the card collecting space. Those tied to Fanatics have invested in a handful of different avenues with ties to the collectibles world, and fans were left wondering what was next. It always seemed logical that acquiring the Topps brand made sense, and it would undoubtedly drive sales more than a Fanatics branded trading card. While months have gone by, the hopeful outcome has come to fruition. As reported by The Athletic’s Evan Drellich, Fanatics is set to acquire Topps in an announcement made public Tuesday. The deal is just for Topps’ trading card division, leaving the candy side and other assets untouched, and is reported to be worth $500 million. Fanatics also will own sole licensing of NBA (2026) and NFL (2027), which makes this purchase interesting for collectors. Panini America has held those exclusive rights in recent years, and Topps has not created branded basketball or football cards. Under this new acquisition, that presumably will change. For collectors, this is the best news possible. Fanatics owns a monopoly over trading cards now, and they will also have arguably the most powerful brand in the space. Topps can be applied to baseball, basketball, and football trading cards under one umbrella. It remains to be seen what Fanatics will do with the brand and how they will distribute trading cards, but there’s plenty of room for growth. While Topps has been a juggernaut in design and popularity throughout its existence, the most significant areas of problem have been distribution channels and customer service. Whether dealing with inept ways to put products directly in the hands of consumers or dealing with an endless cycle of non-answers on redemptions and other problem situations, Topps’ downfall has always been post-launch. Ideally, Fanatics can revamp this experience and pair it with the branding power they now will own. What once looked like an uncertain or unpleasant future has now revealed itself as a possible best-case scenario for those who love sports cards. I’m not sure about you, but Topps Chrome basketball or Topps Finest football is something I’m ready to see again. Being able to continue collecting baseball with continuity is also a great thing. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email View full article
  20. When Fanatics acquired the MLB license, the end of Topps making licensed trading cards would be seen following the 2025 season. However, the MLBPA license was set to expire following the 2022 season, which would have put an end to Topps using images or likenesses of any active players after this season. Effectively, when the calendar turned to 2023, Topps’ only available brand would’ve been their Bowman product. For collectors, this was unfortunate given the power of Topps as a brand and the uncertainty of Fanatics in the trading card space. For a few months, there were rumblings and posturing from Fanatics. They had been looking into creating a marketplace to create, sell, grade, and ultimately own the card collecting space. Those tied to Fanatics have invested in a handful of different avenues with ties to the collectibles world, and fans were left wondering what was next. It always seemed logical that acquiring the Topps brand made sense, and it would undoubtedly drive sales more than a Fanatics branded trading card. While months have gone by, the hopeful outcome has come to fruition. As reported by The Athletic’s Evan Drellich, Fanatics is set to acquire Topps in an announcement made public Tuesday. The deal is just for Topps’ trading card division, leaving the candy side and other assets untouched, and is reported to be worth $500 million. Fanatics also will own sole licensing of NBA (2026) and NFL (2027), which makes this purchase interesting for collectors. Panini America has held those exclusive rights in recent years, and Topps has not created branded basketball or football cards. Under this new acquisition, that presumably will change. For collectors, this is the best news possible. Fanatics owns a monopoly over trading cards now, and they will also have arguably the most powerful brand in the space. Topps can be applied to baseball, basketball, and football trading cards under one umbrella. It remains to be seen what Fanatics will do with the brand and how they will distribute trading cards, but there’s plenty of room for growth. While Topps has been a juggernaut in design and popularity throughout its existence, the most significant areas of problem have been distribution channels and customer service. Whether dealing with inept ways to put products directly in the hands of consumers or dealing with an endless cycle of non-answers on redemptions and other problem situations, Topps’ downfall has always been post-launch. Ideally, Fanatics can revamp this experience and pair it with the branding power they now will own. What once looked like an uncertain or unpleasant future has now revealed itself as a possible best-case scenario for those who love sports cards. I’m not sure about you, but Topps Chrome basketball or Topps Finest football is something I’m ready to see again. Being able to continue collecting baseball with continuity is also a great thing. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  21. Last season the Minnesota Twins saw Jose Miranda go from being passed over in the Rule 5 draft to having a season worthy of placing him within the organization’s top 10. Not all prospects are built the same, and despite their current ranking, it’s worth taking note of guys who may surprise you in the year ahead. When he blew up, Miranda was outside the top 15 on virtually all Twins prospect lists and barely within the top 30 on others. It’s a bit rare that a meteoric rise occurs, but there are prospects all over the Minnesota system capable of notable 2022 seasons. While their situations may differ, the talent taking over once the games get going seems like a pretty good bet. Royce Lewis Now 22-years-old and playing for the first time in two years, the time has certainly gotten the better part of the former number one overall pick. We last saw Lewis in the Arizona Fall League at the end of 2019, and he tore up the competition. After a disappointing season that resulted in just a .661 OPS between High-A and Double-A, that was nice to see. The leg kick and swing path have been highly discussed, as has his case to stick at shortstop or move into the outfield. Regardless of the talking points, it will be nice to see the Twins top prospect back on the field, and I’d bet on his maturity and talent taking over. Give me a focused Lewis producing in a big way this season to remind pundits why he was raved about for so long. Simeon Woods-Richardson The second piece brought to the Twins in their swap of Jose Berrios, Woods-Richardson was well regarded and a popular trade target. He posted just a 5.91 ERA in 2021 and gave up six earned runs in eight innings within Minnesota’s system. It certainly wasn’t a great debut, but plenty was going against him following the trade. He played for Team USA in the Olympics, but played should be used loosely as he never made an appearance. Shutting down his workload in the middle of a season for that long created a significant road back and ultimately created a less-than-ideal situation. He’s talented and has been ranked highly because of it. The strikeout stuff should be expected to return in 2022, and seeing Woods-Richardson dominate en route to a Major League Debut would be far from unexpected. Misael Urbina Playing in his age-20 season for 2022, Urbina was stateside for the first time in 2021. He posted just a .585 OPS in the Complex League, but the 82/54 K/BB rate is where things get exciting. It’s clear he has a strong sense of plate discipline, and with another year of training as he grows into his body, Urbina’s ceiling continues to be worthy of dreaming on. There’s a substantial speed and power combination here, and playing centerfield is something he looks natural doing. I’d be far from shocked in the upcoming year, isn’t his coming out party. Spencer Steer If you haven’t been keeping tabs on Steer, it’s been time for a while. A third-round pick in 2019, Steer has posted OPS numbers north of .800 each of the past two seasons. Last year he blew up for 24 homers and posted a .409 OBP at High-A Cedar Rapids. Steer is now 24 and likely not going to be a Major League All-Star, but he has shown the makings of a solid regular. Utilizing the 2021 season, Steer could make his start at Double-A in 2022 a short one and be knocking on the door from St. Paul. Kala’i Rosario A fifth-round pick in 2020, Rosario didn’t get his opportunity to make a pro debut until last season due to Covid. However, he didn’t disappoint and posted a .793 OPS as an 18-year-old in the Complex League. His five homers in just 188 at-bats were nice to see, and there’s plenty of room for the plate discipline to take a step forward. Rosario is a corner outfielder, and his calling card will never be defense, so the bat needs to play, but the exciting part is that it looks the part so early. Getting into full-season ball this year, I’d be far-from-shocked if Rosario doesn’t immediately turn heads and see two promotions over the course of the year. What other prospects do you see worthy of keeping a particularly close eye on this season? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email View full article
  22. When he blew up, Miranda was outside the top 15 on virtually all Twins prospect lists and barely within the top 30 on others. It’s a bit rare that a meteoric rise occurs, but there are prospects all over the Minnesota system capable of notable 2022 seasons. While their situations may differ, the talent taking over once the games get going seems like a pretty good bet. Royce Lewis Now 22-years-old and playing for the first time in two years, the time has certainly gotten the better part of the former number one overall pick. We last saw Lewis in the Arizona Fall League at the end of 2019, and he tore up the competition. After a disappointing season that resulted in just a .661 OPS between High-A and Double-A, that was nice to see. The leg kick and swing path have been highly discussed, as has his case to stick at shortstop or move into the outfield. Regardless of the talking points, it will be nice to see the Twins top prospect back on the field, and I’d bet on his maturity and talent taking over. Give me a focused Lewis producing in a big way this season to remind pundits why he was raved about for so long. Simeon Woods-Richardson The second piece brought to the Twins in their swap of Jose Berrios, Woods-Richardson was well regarded and a popular trade target. He posted just a 5.91 ERA in 2021 and gave up six earned runs in eight innings within Minnesota’s system. It certainly wasn’t a great debut, but plenty was going against him following the trade. He played for Team USA in the Olympics, but played should be used loosely as he never made an appearance. Shutting down his workload in the middle of a season for that long created a significant road back and ultimately created a less-than-ideal situation. He’s talented and has been ranked highly because of it. The strikeout stuff should be expected to return in 2022, and seeing Woods-Richardson dominate en route to a Major League Debut would be far from unexpected. Misael Urbina Playing in his age-20 season for 2022, Urbina was stateside for the first time in 2021. He posted just a .585 OPS in the Complex League, but the 82/54 K/BB rate is where things get exciting. It’s clear he has a strong sense of plate discipline, and with another year of training as he grows into his body, Urbina’s ceiling continues to be worthy of dreaming on. There’s a substantial speed and power combination here, and playing centerfield is something he looks natural doing. I’d be far from shocked in the upcoming year, isn’t his coming out party. Spencer Steer If you haven’t been keeping tabs on Steer, it’s been time for a while. A third-round pick in 2019, Steer has posted OPS numbers north of .800 each of the past two seasons. Last year he blew up for 24 homers and posted a .409 OBP at High-A Cedar Rapids. Steer is now 24 and likely not going to be a Major League All-Star, but he has shown the makings of a solid regular. Utilizing the 2021 season, Steer could make his start at Double-A in 2022 a short one and be knocking on the door from St. Paul. Kala’i Rosario A fifth-round pick in 2020, Rosario didn’t get his opportunity to make a pro debut until last season due to Covid. However, he didn’t disappoint and posted a .793 OPS as an 18-year-old in the Complex League. His five homers in just 188 at-bats were nice to see, and there’s plenty of room for the plate discipline to take a step forward. Rosario is a corner outfielder, and his calling card will never be defense, so the bat needs to play, but the exciting part is that it looks the part so early. Getting into full-season ball this year, I’d be far-from-shocked if Rosario doesn’t immediately turn heads and see two promotions over the course of the year. What other prospects do you see worthy of keeping a particularly close eye on this season? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  23. After getting through the starting rotation and the bullpen, it’s finally time to look at the Minnesota Twins lineup. They were the reason for heightened expectations in 2021, and at the beginning, the reason for a slow start. How can the holdovers turn the tide in 2022? It was all but expected that the Twins would address their pitching in the offseason. New rotation arms were needed, and the group as a whole flopped. However, when you fall as far as Minnesota did, it isn’t a one-faceted issue. The offense ranked 18th in baseball in terms of fWAR. That’s a drop from 9th in 2020 and 4th when the Bomba Squad exploded in 2019. The good news is that much of that contingent is still present. Here’s how some of them can right the ship: Miguel Sano Posting just a .778 OPS last season, Sano did improve on his 2020, but that still leaves plenty to be desired after owning a .923 OPS in 2019. You’re going to get a boatload of strikeouts from Miguel, but the power is also going to play. His problem isn’t chasing, as he does have good plate discipline. When the bat meets the ball, it’s also done with some of the best hard-hit rates in the game. Sano’s issue has been timing and velocity, something that’s pretty substantial to overcome. He did post an .817 OPS after May and an .824 OPS after July. Both of those numbers will play, and for a guy in the final year of his contract, putting up in a big way would be nice to see. Max Kepler and Trevor Larnach These two are linked in that Kepler’s situation somewhat determines Larnach’s. Max put up an .855 OPS in 2019 and has otherwise underwhelmed at the plate. He consistently does less with what looks like more ability, and the defensive acumen is what saves his value. Maybe he’s traded at some point, but if he’s playing for Minnesota, some sort of higher production at the dish needs to happen. Elevate the baseball and let the contact prowess do the work. For Larnach, it’s about adjustments and settling in during year two. He played 79 games and tallied an 88 OPS+. There were moments where it looked like it may click, but then things never got right after going back to Triple-A. The former first-round pick has always looked like a good bet to hit, and this being the year it starts would be welcomed. Alex Kirilloff After debuting during a Postseason game in 2020, Alex Kirilloff made his official MLB debut in 2021. While dealing with nagging wrist issues again, he played in just 59 games for the Twins and owned a .722 OPS. The power production seemed sapped, which would be a disappointment in the long term. Kirilloff can focus on establishing himself as a regular for the year ahead. He can be a lineup mainstay with the bat, whether mixing in next to Byron Buxton or playing first base. Getting confidence going with a strong start and parlaying it into consistent success could have him quickly looking like a true star. Ryan Jeffers Last season, Rocco Baldelli was expected to have one of the best catching tandems in baseball. Mitch Garver was once again a beast at the plate but dealt with injuries that kept him out of the lineup. Jeffers was expected to be a bat-only prospect and has turned himself into a defensive stalwart, but the bat wasn’t there in 2020. The 119 OPS+ from 2020 dropped to just 83 last season. Catchers don’t necessarily need to hit, but Minnesota would benefit from Jeffers being an asset at the plate and behind it. He’s too good to repeat the 2021 performance, and finding a nice middle ground would lengthen the lineup. Jose Miranda There’s very little Miranda could do to put up better numbers than he did in the minors during 2021. Expecting him to come in as a rookie and blast 30 dingers simply isn’t going to happen. What is necessary here is that the young prospect takes it all in stride. Miranda can spell Josh Donaldson at third base and play second and first. He should be expected to hit after the showing a season ago, but tempered expectations and a learning period can’t allow for the confidence to waver. Unprotected going into the Rule 5 draft last season, this looks like found money, and guiding it for the best opportunity to cash in is a must. That’s a group of 15 or so players we’ve now looked at that can focus in an area or two with an eye on pushing the Twins upward in 2022. Now, we just need the sport to return and get going. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
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