twinssporto reacted to John Bonnes for an article, Royce Lewis is Contagious
And this kid? We keep trying to contextualize what Royce Lewis has done. We keep failing, because we are used to talking about statistics or subtleties. At Twins Daily, we believe in those details. We find beauty there. It's what we fell in love with. It's truth. It's my heart.
But you know what else is my heart?
The Natural. Maybe the sappiest baseball movie of all time - and that's a high bar, given Field of Dreams. But, also, maybe the most magical baseball movie of all time - and that's a high bar, given Field of Dreams. There is something magi….. no, it's too easy a word. Other-worldly? Pure? I'm struggling with the adjective. Let me try again.
There is something inspiring/uplifting/emboldening about seeing somebody do the thing that they were clearly intended to do. Especially when that something was denied them by a career-threatening injury.
Then, by the same career-threatening injury. Then, by a goofy injury. Then, a week before the postseason, by another goofy injury.
Then? They still do it! Then they do it again! (Then the opposition just kinda decides they want nothing to do with that guy.)
It's even better when that person rises above an environment that is just so … toxic. Not even purposely toxic like The Judge or Max Mercy or Memo Paris. But, toxic like they just can't free themselves, like Pop Fisher or Terrance Mann or Annie's brother. An environment that has been around them so long that they see hope as a surrender and victory as an unrealistic sin rather than something right there. And rightly theirs.
As a Twins fan who has lived in that environment for 14 years, let me tell you….
I'm sorry, what? Only 14? Did you wonder why I didn't say 19, since the Twins last won a postseason game 19 years ago today?
That's because I was at Game 163, another game with a title. I will tell you: last night's crowd was the best I've seen in the history of Target Field. It was the most energetic, most optimistic, most present, most supportive crowd since a dome of Minnesotans willed Bobby Keppel through a scoreless twelfth inning and a win.
I want to get back to that, because one particular section of Target Field's crowd deserves a callout, so much so that they've getting one of my four stars of this game, but allow me to skip around a bit and come back to them. I'll tip my hat to conventional internet lists by starting at the end.
The #4 star of the game goes to Michael A. Taylor. The Twins' outfield defense was a difference-maker in this game. I could describe Taylor's catches, but I expect you saw them, and if you didn't, I can't do them justice. Plus, again, the fielding details seem to move me away from what was important.
The important part was that Taylor's glove snuffed out any spark of hope. Twice. And then a couple times more just to let the Blue Jays know that there was a No Oxygen Zone covering about 30% of the available turf to which they could hit the ball.
Am I overstating that? Just ask the Blue Jays fans around you in Target Field about him. They will tell you: they really hate that guy. He couldn't get a better endorsement.
Jumping ahead to the #2 star: Pablo Lopez, who was the perfect choice for Game 1. He was determined to set the tone, and not just on the field. Was it important that he showed up to the game wearing a Johan Santana jersey? Of course nawwwwww…..
You know what? Yes. Yes, it was. Not because he idolizes his fellow Venezuelan, Santana. Not because Santana was the last Twins pitcher to win a postseason game 19 years ago. But because Lopez was putting a stake in the ground. Don't think so? Imagine the narratives he (and we) would have endured - especially from those fans bitter about losing Luis Arraez - if the Twins lost. If that little gesture backfired? Instead, he set expectations.
Then he exceeded them. I suppose critics (trolls?) will dismiss "only" 5 2/3 innings. Those critics (trolls) should carry 19 years worth of postseason defeats on their back for 93 pitches, and then get back to me.
Back to the #3 star: Target Field's crowd, and specifically, the entire left field lower level bleachers. The “GAAAUUUSS-MAAANNNNN” chants? That was them. The “JOOOOR-DAAAAN” chants? That was them. Standing and cheering on every two-strike pitch? They led that. They were passionate. Organized. Knowledgeable. Maybe a touch insane. Watching them infect the stadium down the arterial third base line was….
Inspiring. Uplifting. Emboldening. The same adjectives I settled on for Lewis' performance. Honestly, it might have been my favorite part of the night, even more so than winning.
The whole crowd last night was incredible. I am convinced they helped Lopez though the fifth. Griffin Jax was a different pitcher in the eighth when they got behind him. They reassured Jhoan Duran. They pestered pitchers into walks and bad counts. The Blue Jays' dugout felt the malevolence. The crowd tonight created a home field advantage I haven't felt in Minnesota since the claustrophobic Metrodome.
I'm legitimately a little baffled where it came from. It didn't come from the lead; the crowd was like that from the first pitch. Was it from nearly 20 years of frustration? Was it from facing the Blue Jays? Having veterans like Carlos Correa? The youth? Or was it having faith in players that could rise to the occasion, like….
Our #1 star: Royce Lewis.
OK, let's use the word. Sure, it was magical. But there is a place beyond magical, where you expect the magic to happen.
That's what I saw tonight. Eyes opened wide at that first home run, but it was followed by knowing looks. Heads shook back and forth incredulously at the second home run, but it was followed by the Michael Jordan shoulder shrug. I saw it. In the stands. In the dugout. Maybe you saw it or felt it, too, wherever you were. We're probing a different level, as a team, as fans, as people.
It made for a helluva night, a night worthy of a title.
But for now, it doesn't mean anything more than the end of a crummy streak and a one-game lead. Plus, the job is getting harder, because the Jays also watched Lewis' performance up close. With Lewis clearly having a bum hamstring, they pivoted in his third at-bat. They aren't going to give him a pitch that allows him to trot around the bases. They'll let him walk to first, but he's going to need to run (as best he can) the rest of the way. Which means tomorrow's stars will likely need to be awarded to different players.
I believe the Twins will find them. After all, if, before tonight, you believed that 0-18 despair would lead to more losses, must you also not believe the other side of the coin? That streak-breaking magic is contagious?
After tonight, how can you not?
twinssporto reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, What to Make of the Twins Arraez-for-Lopez Trade Now
When the Minnesota Twins decided to send Luis Arraez to the Miami Marlins it was not because they thought that Rocco Baldelli’s lineup couldn’t use him. The Twins second baseman was a fan-favorite, and he was coming off winning an American League batting title. Despite looking like the second coming of Rod Carew, questions about defense and health tipped the scales just enough for the front office to dangle him out there.
A deal between the Marlins and Twins came together over quite some time, and the sides talked about different constructions of a fit for a while. With the Twins offense seemingly in a good place, the front office decided that Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, and Kenta Maeda needed some help in the starting rotation. Pablo Lopez was viewed as a talent that had projectable upside, and the organization doubled-down by signing him to a four-year extension that kicks in during the 2024 season.
So far it’s hard to say that the sides didn’t get exactly what they were looking for. Miami is watching Arraez trend towards another batting title while having been named an All-Star for the second consecutive season, and the Twins are seeing Lopez pitch like something of a Cy Young candidate. Rather than view the deal just through the lens of a Minnesota trade though, I wanted to get a Marlins perspective. Ely Sussman of Fish on First covers Miami closely, and had plenty of thoughts to share about the new Marlins infielder.
Twins Daily: Having watched Arraez for a full season, what are your thoughts on him as a player and how do they compare to what you believed you were getting?
Ely Sussman: I was optimistic about Arraez continuing to be more or less the same player he had been with the Twins, and he has instead elevated his game a notch. I was concerned about his durability given his history of knee issues, but he's been available for the Marlins practically every day. Although his defensive metrics at second base have been a mixed bag, I have observed something close to league-average performance from him there. Arraez has shown good hands and a knack for making accurate, off-balance throws when necessary. Last but not least, he is very well-liked by his Marlins teammates and proactive about sharing advice with them. He has helped change the clubhouse chemistry for the better, which was sorely needed after losing 93 games the season before.
TD: Moving Jazz Chisholm to centerfield was part of the Arraez acquisition. How has the Marlins defense benefitted or been hurt by the new construction?
ES: Outside of a few April bloopers, Chisholm's transition to center field has been a success. He's been enough of an upgrade over Miami's 2022 centerfield options to mostly offset the drop-off in defense from Chisholm to Arraez at second base. However, the addition of Arraez also stranded free agent signing Jean Segura at third base, where he had limited experience. That went horribly and may have contributed to his struggles at the plate. Segura was among the worst everyday players in the majors before the Marlins dumped him at the trade deadline. Overall, the Marlins have been in the middle of the pack defensively, which is slightly worse than 2022, but that step back is due to other personnel changes rather than Arraez.
TD: Arraez brought a few years of team control with him to Miami whereas the Twins immediately extended Pablo Lopez. Do you see a longer term deal getting done with the Marlins?
ES: When Arraez was hitting .400-something throughout much of the first half, there was concern that he had played himself out of the Marlins' price range! The silver lining of his second-half regression is he now seems more realistically extendable for them. It is tricky to find relevant comps for Arraez given his old-school batted ball profile, but I estimate that the average annual value of an extension would be less than Pablo's $18.4 million. Perhaps a DJ LeMahieu-like deal (6/$90M) would get it done. There is a good chance of Arraez being signed long term, especially if Jorge Soler departs via free agency and vacates the designated hitter spot.
TD: Year one has included a second straight All-Star appearance and Arraez is trending toward another batting title. Has the production been better than expected?
ES: His production has exceeded expectations, yes. Even with MLB's restriction of the infield shift, it's astounding to see somebody hitting in the mid-.300s and consistently coming through in late-game situations, too. There are still things to nitpick about Arraez like his occasional over-aggressiveness, his inability to steal bases, and the frequency with which he grounds into double plays. But he is very valuable just as he is.
TD: Missing Lopez in the rotation, has the presence of a missing starter been felt? Has Arraez's production in the lineup made that worth it?
ES: López has been sorely missed. Sandy Alcantara's fall from Cy Young winner to ordinary innings eater has been well-documented. Also, the Marlins entered the season with both Johnny Cueto and Trevor Rogers in their starting rotation. Not only did they both suffer injuries in April, but then suffered additional, unrelated injuries while pitching in minor league rehab games. Cueto didn't return until the All-Star break and Rogers still hasn't made it back. The Marlins were relatively thin on upper-minors rotation depth and that was exposed by those unlucky breaks. I would still say that Arraez has made up for the absence of López. Miami's bullpen has thrived in clutch situations to cover up for some of the rotation's limitations.
TD: Simply, would you do the deal again, why or why not?
ES: It's a fascinating "what if" because it depends on whether I am tethered to Bruce Sherman's modest budget. The main reason that the Marlins shopped López is because of how his future salary would impact their flexibility to address other roster needs, rooted in ownership's lack of willingness to spend. This club understandably prioritizes veteran hitters over veteran pitchers because they've had much more success developing cheap pitching internally. An aspect of the trade that I strongly disliked was the inclusion of prospects Jose Salas and Byron Chourio. Salas was one of the few Marlins hitting prospects who had a path toward becoming a big league regular, but it turns out that his 2023 campaign was a nightmare, making that ceiling seem less attainable. If I'm stuck living in a universe where the Marlins operate with a small-market mentality, I would do the deal again. If I have the freedom to imagine the Marlins spending as much as the Twins do on payroll, then I would have kept and extended López and upgraded the lineup by shopping younger arms instead.
It’s interesting to see what the other side thinks, because even with Lopez’s performance, there are plenty of Twins fans that still miss Arraez. Even with the emergence of Edouard Julien, the Twins lack a true average hitter and Arraez had the ability to set the table on a nightly basis.
What is your takeaway from this deal? Would you still make the trade? How have you felt about Pablo in year one?
twinssporto reacted to Matthew Trueblood for an article, Byron Buxton is Just a Right-Handed Max Kepler Right Now
For weeks now, Twins fans have clamored for the team to cut ties with Max Kepler. At age 30, and with only a team option remaining on the team-friendly extension he signed several years ago, Kepler is expendable. Fans are right not to consider him valuable, at the moment. Unfortunately, it’s only fair to point out that Byron Buxton is no more helpful than his longtime teammate.
If this seems melodramatic, it’s only because Buxton’s hot streaks can be so volcanic that they disguise the true depths to which he plunges during cold streaks. In his first four games back from the injured list, he’s 0-16, with ten strikeouts. Lest you think it’s just rust that needs shaking off, though, Buxton is hitting just .149/.289/.267 since May 1. The culprit for these long struggles is related to the fact that he was playing through chronic injury, even before being sidelined due to his ribs, but that doesn’t mean that it will magically be ameliorated, even by time and rest.
No, the problem here is that Buxton is genuinely becoming a right-handed analog of Kepler. Since the start of 2022, he has a .248 batting average on balls in play. This is the statistic that best captures what makes Kepler tantalizing and maddening. For years, fans have (incorrectly) expected Kepler’s BABIP to stabilize and regress toward the league’s average figure, near .300, but Kepler’s approach and his swing path don’t lend themselves to the skill that is BABIP. He runs extremely low numbers in that category not due to bad luck or defensive alignments, but because of the way he swings and the pitches at which he chooses to do so.
The very same set of choices underpin Buxton’s game, at this point in his career. He’s a dead-pull, fly ball hitter, but more importantly, he’s a hitter focused on making contact far in front of home plate. He’s not merely quick to the ball in a way that naturally leads to pulling it; he’s built a swing designed to intercept the ball after the bat has passed the point of being parallel with the front of home plate, and well before the ball actually gets to the plate. You can see it when looking at his swings in some key situations.
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twinssporto reacted to Peter Labuza for an article, Audacy is Killing the MLB Radio Experience
When first introduced in 2002, MLB TV became a revolutionary way for baseball fans to follow teams outside of their home market. Fans across the United States could tune into almost any game broadcast—sans blackouts—and enjoy the teams that mattered to us most. For some, the TV part is what matters. For others, MLB TV also comes with rights to every game on radio. The radio is an essential piece of the deal—whether it’s for listening at work, on the road, or in spaces where you might not be able to carry an AM radio. (Additionally, those of us who might want to avoid John Smoltz’s playoff commentary can switch over to local broadcasters).
But now a second year into operating for all 162 games + playoffs with the audio streaming company Audacy, MLB is allowing the company to destroy the product. Extremely delayed live broadcasts, overly loud betting ads, and more are taking away an essential form of baseball consumption. And as MLB contemplates a different form of television consumption, it is time they seriously invest in radio.
Both Audacy and MLB did not respond for request to comment on this story. In a story on GeekWire, MLB responded by noting, “Due to technological limitations in the digital space, latency of the feeds is unavoidable. We have had success working with our partner to reduce the latency times and we will continue to work on further improvements.”
Audacy’s “disruption” into MLB radio is to replace the game’s local ads. So rather than get Sheboygan Sausage ads with Byron Buxton, I will get ads for local Honda dealers in Southern California. However, these ads often start before the inning is over and last long into the next inning. I will often get updates on my phone about the new score of the game minutes before the radio broadcast returns. (Additionally, these ads come over streaming — meaning they do not apply to the CALM Act that limits the volume of ads).
I’ll just start with one example from earlier this week: I was watching the Mariners play the Cubs on MLB TV. I needed to start dinner, so I did what I usually do: put the TV on mute, and turn on the radio broadcast in my kitchen. It’s a perfect compromise: the radio calls the game with more description, so I can listen carefully, and if there’s a critical play, I can step over to the TV to watch the replay.
I then proceeded to hear over seven minutes of ads. Much longer than they should by a mile; I walked over to the TV and noticed that the game already had two outs. By the time the Mariners had retired the side on the TV broadcast, Audacy was still feeding me ads. When it finally returned, the broadcast cut into the game already with two outs and the batter had a 1-1 count. 10 seconds later, the batter was retired. Audacy had essentially skipped the bottom of the ninth.
Since the delays began in 2022, I have contacted Audacy multiple times. According to Audacy’s Support Representatives, this is essentially a function of the delay of broadcast and “expected behavior.” An understandable delay of 5-15 seconds, which is what most streams of sports usually provide compared to OTA and Cable broadcasts, is nowhere near what Audacy is providing. Instead, the game is often six to seven pitches behind. More so, MLB TV offers an option to sync the radio broadcast with the TV broadcast, which brings the game more or less in real time. It is possible to get an on time broadcast, but Audacy’s pursuit of ads is literally slowing down the game.
If you’re an old school fan who loves listening to the radio at the ballpark, you’re best bet is to bring an actual radio than rely on this scam of a product. For those of us on Twitter or in Discord channels watching the game with others, it can ruin the surprise of a home run.
As much as I miss Buxton singing about sausage, I won’t argue against Audacy trying to make money via advertising. So far this year, Audacy has cut down on what felt like at least 50% ads for gambling, a true scourge on the sport. But this is the second year of this partnership and the technical issues have only become worse. And given that MLB can at least do a stream either faster or at least in real time without Audacy, perhaps it is time to return to what worked before.
What will actually get Audacy to fix the problem? Probably nothing, which is why I recommend those who love MLB on the radio to deliberately work against it and boycott Audacy's programs. Those with an MLB TV subscription can listen to non-Audacy broadcasts via KODI. Or, fans can use the MLB radio broadcast option via MLB TV—this has the problem of requiring the iPhone screen to stay on, not the best for those of us driving, but it at least works.
MLB has taken some small but at least notable steps this season toward expanding baseball by listening to fans, though not without ignoring the cries of some others. It’s time Rob Manfred take this step too and make Audacy deliver a workable product.
twinssporto reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Where is the Twins Promised Aggressiveness?
Not surprisingly, plenty of outlets have tracked stolen base frequency and success rates this season. MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put together a wonderful piece last week outlining the scenario. As you may have guessed, attempts and success are up across the board. With pitchers being allowed to disengage from the mound just twice and the bases inches closer to each other, there is more advantage than ever tilted toward the runner.
Why then do the Minnesota Twins, who employ Byron Buxton, have just a single stolen base to their credit?
It took until the sixth game of the season for Michael A. Taylor to steal the first base for Rocco Baldelli’s club. Both Willi Castro and Matt Wallner have been caught, making the club just 1-for-3 on attempts thus far. Needing to steal at roughly and 80% clip to be worthwhile, the Twins fall short of that threshold.
But again, where is the aggressiveness?
The answer is certainly multi-faceted. Buxton and Taylor are two of the best bets in the regular Minnesota lineup to swipe a bag. The former has just a .300 OBP and four of his 13 hits have gone for extra-bases. Taylor has an even lower .281 OBP and with three surprise homers, five of his 15 hits have gone for extra bases.
You could call Nick Gordon somewhat of a base stealer given his relative speed, but he has started the season awfully cold at the plate. Owning just a .100/.122/.125 slash line, Gordon has gone 4-for-40 in his first 13 games. He went just 6-for-10 on stolen base attempts last year, and if he wants an opportunity to be better, it will require him more regularly getting on base.
On the bench, WIlli Castro has never stolen more than nine bases in a season, but Edouard Julien should be seen as a runner. He has yet to get on base enough for the Twins to make it matter, but his 34 swipes in 2021, and 19 last year are definitely something that Baldelli and Minnesota can use.
With regards to guys like Buxton and the eventually-returning Jorge Polanco, steals may not be seen worthwhile given the injury risk. Buxton has already been upended on the base paths this year, and it was running the bases last year where he found himself developing a season-long injury. Polanco has already dealt with knee issues, and inviting an enhanced opportunity for more seems foolish.
That said, Baldelli can clearly see the struggles of his offense in the early going. With 63 runs to their credit through 16 games, only Oakland, Washington, the two AL Central bottom feeders, and the Miami Marlins have scored less. Needing to find additional ways to generate production, taking bases is something to consider.
In talking with multiple players during spring training, aggressiveness on the base paths was going to be a focus for the Twins. Baldelli brought in former manager Paul Molitor to work with the club on base running, and multiple quick twitch initiatives have been employed during recent seasons with a focus on generating jumps.
While it’s great for Minnesota to push for more base path aggressiveness, opportunity has to present itself, and for the right people. This Twins team shouldn’t exactly be considered fast, and some of their best base stealers are also capable of racking up extra-base hits, limiting opportunity. Still through, three steals in 16 games is not a way to keep the opposition honest, and if the Twins don’t do something about it they risk being significantly easier to game plan against.
It’s unlikely any Minnesota player is going to steal 30 bases this season, but not having multiple guys on the move despite rule changes inviting it would be peculiar. Aggressiveness can be translated to taking extra bases and getting guys going, but without stealing bases at all, it’s harder to see than ever.
twinssporto reacted to Melissa Berman for an article, Fans Continue Traditions, Experience Revamped Target Field at Twins Opening Day
The 2023 MLB season represents a time of change both for MLB and the Twins, as MLB implemented a host of new rules, and the Twins did their first significant remodel of Target Field since it opened in 2010. At Friday’s Home Opener, in the company of friends and family, Twins fans got their first experience of what a game in this new MLB will be like.
Old and new traditions
The Twins Opener was pushed back from Thursday to Friday for the second year in a row due to cold temperatures. But with a high of 50 degrees and an intense sun, the weather was even nice enough that Twins fans Sarah and Thomas Kendrick biked to the game- about 10 miles one way from their house.
“It’s beautiful out, and I feel like it’s easier than having to deal with parking,” Sarah said, though she said with a laugh she had not ruled out riding the bus back with her bike. It was Sarah and Thomas’ first Opening Day, which between biking to the stadium less than a week after a blizzard, and the Twins’ win in walk-off fashion, will be a memorable one for them. Maybe even a new tradition?
Friday's sunny weather led to an announced attendance of 38,465 fans, a sellout, up from 35,462 last year. It was noticeably cooler in the shade; those sitting in it bundled up, and others sought respite by crowding under the overhead heaters on the concourse.
Cam Bailey drove with his 14-year-old son Trae, seven-year-old son Bostyn, and father Ron from Marshall, Minnesota, about three hours away in southwest Minnesota, for the Opener. Attending Opening Day has been a tradition for Cam, who has been to every Twins Opening Day at Target Field since the stadium opened, and now the tradition is one he can share with his sons: it was Trae’s fifth Twins Home Opener and the first for Bostyn. Ron has been to about 30 openers throughout the years. Though the family makes the trek to a number of Twins games a year, the Opener is special,
“You kind of look at it like it’s almost a holiday of sorts,” Cam said. “We kind of joke, you know, that everyone has a clean slate, and it’s a new season."
Cam said his family enjoys walking around the stadium on Opening Day and checking out all the new amenities at the ballpark. This year, there were plenty, but that won't be the only thing his kids remember about the game.
"For my youngest son, it was his first Opener, so this afternoon when we left, he, said, 'Dad, my first Opener. I think that was my first extra-inning game. And I think that was my first walk-off game," Cam said.
Hunter Anderson, a Twins fan who drove up for the game from southern Minnesota, attended the Opener with his mother. In 2014, his baseball coach invited him and his mother to the Opener; they’ve attended it together nearly every year since.
“Knowing that it’s a tradition for probably the majority of the attendance makes it that much more special,” Anderson said.
Friday’s game was Anderson’s second Twins Opener of the season: he traveled down to Kauffman Stadium last week to see the Twins open the season vs. the Kansas City Royals.
For Kenny Devine, attending the Home Opener is a tradition he and his brother typically share, This year, he attended with friends, but is celebrating his brother's birthday at the game during opening weekend, “Opening Day, it really does have such a great energy. Everyone goes, even if it’s cold," Devine said.
And this writer also attends Opening Day with her brother each and every year, and hopes to continue the tradition for years to come regardless of jobs, obligations, and whatever else is going on in life.
First Look at Revamped Target Field
At Friday’s game, fans could see Target Field’s new outfield scoreboards for the first time during in-game action. The boards, installed during the offseason, feature 22 new LED displays and 75% more square footage than last season. The large board in left-center field is MLB’s sixth largest main video board. The Twins also added a new, smaller video board on the Gate 34 plaza, so now fans playing cornhole on the plaza can keep up with the game action, and added extra video boards on the concourse.
Devine was impressed with the new scoreboard displays despite his and many others' observations about some first day malfunctions. He especially liked the prominence of pitch speed and type.
"It's going to be fun to be a fan, but also a more more engaged fan in terms of like 'wow, that was actually a super good curveball' or whatever it is," Devine said. With the giant new video board, "there's so much more room and more opportunity to show [facts] off," Devine said..
Friday also represented the home debut of the Twins’ new, redesigned uniforms. The Twins wore their home whites, one of four new uniform designs the Twins are debuting this year, in addition to two new logos- a simplified “TC” design and a new “M” design that the Twins will wear on the road.
Though the jury is out on the new logos, the home white uniforms have received near-universal acclaim from fans.
“They’re definitely an upgrade. Looking back at the old home whites, they were so bland. These ones have more noticeable piping, and the sleeve patch is my favorite part,” Anderson said.
Noticeably absent this year were the traditional Opening Day security lines, which right before first pitch, typically have stretched for as far as blocks. New this season are Evolv scanners at each entrance, which rely on artificial intelligence to scan fans for weapons upon entry. On Opening Day, fans could walk straight into the stadium through the scanners without emptying their bags and pockets, and only had to stop to have their bag searched if the scanner flagged something.
“Flawless,” said Devine of how the Evolv scanners seemed to work.
In past years, Gate 6 in left field, where he typically enters games, has had security lines that snake all around the transit station area. But today, getting into the stadium fast was “no problem.”
“Walking in, we kind of got there late, which wasn’t ideal. But there wasn’t a line like I thought there’d be,” Devine said.
The home opener also was the first Twins game many have attended with a pitch clock. Friday’s game lasted 2:47 with ten innings compared to 2022, which lasted 2:53 in regulation.
Cam noticed the effect of the pitch clock during the Opener.
“When we go to games, it’s not like I want the game to go quicker so we can go home faster, but the pace was smoother,” he said of Friday’s game.
Despite driving three hours to go to Twins games, Cam said he is okay with the games being a little shorter and that the pitch clock would be good for the game in the long term.
Anderson said the effect of the pitch clock was especially noticeable at the Kauffman Stadium season opener, and that he might miss some of the lulls in the action when at games in-person.
“I definitely am going to enjoy not having to stay up late for games on TV on work nights, but I did enjoy the longer games while being in attendance,” he said.
Target Field will continue liquor sales into the 8th inning this season, rather than stop in the 7th inning like in the past, due to the shortened game times.
Other changes at the ballpark include a new Minnie and Paul sign with a mechanical handshake, mini golf holes on the right field concourse, a third family value concession stand, a new Women in Baseball art installation, and the spinning "disco ball" located in right field.
Despite how sweet Opening Day always is, a day spent with cherished family and friends watching baseball, the day is just a little sweeter when the Twins win.
“Our day started at 8:30 this morning, and we’ll pull into the driveway at 10 o’clock at night, but the drive back’s a heck of a lot easier when you win,” Cam said.
Do you have any special Opening Day celebrations? What did you think of all the new Target Field features? Let us know in a COMMENT below.
twinssporto reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Carlos Correa Saved the Twins Offseason
Despite what we experienced following the lockout prior to the 2022 Major League Baseball season, there is typically not a set window for free agents to sign. Although plenty are off the board at this point, it’s not as though the offseason was over for the Minnesota Twins. The problem is that their entire offseason hinged solely on Carlos Correa returning.
It was clear from the jump that Minnesota prioritized Correa, as they should have. Their initial 10-year deal for $285 million left plenty to be desired, but could have been reflective of their comfort with his long-term aging process. At any rate, that number was never initially going to get it done.
Sure, it took both the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets backing out of their deals to bring him in, but that doesn’t matter. No one in the Twins front office cares how it happened, and fans shouldn’t either. For the front office, there was little way to explain themselves out of it not getting done, however.
Early on this winter the Twins dealt for former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer. He was seen as a baseline in order to give Minnesota a fallback option. They acted similarly a season ago when they swapped Mitch Garver for Isiah Kiner-Falefa. In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with that type of move. The problem is that Minnesota wasn’t good enough with Correa last year, and they almost certainly would not have been without him going forward.
Yes, injuries ravaged the 2022 Twins. There is plenty of reason to believe in a healthy Trevor Larnach, Alex Kirilloff, Royce Lewis, and Byron Buxton being a substantial upgrade to Rocco Baldelli’s lineup. That line of thinking assumes that future injury won’t occur however, and barring Nick Paparesta being some kind of witch doctor, there will still be situations to deal with.
In waiting on Correa, and ultimately missing when he was originally out there, the Twins were left out on their only other shortstop target Dansby Swanson. They never made a strong play for Xander Bogaerts (which wound up working out as the Padres spent crazy money) and they didn’t seriously pursue Trea Turner either. With plenty of bats gone, options at shortstop having dwindled, and even more arms off the board there was little place to pivot.
There is no denying that Correa being back with the Twins is a great thing, but that only gives Minnesota an opportunity to advance things further. They must figure out a way to move the outfield pieces around. Max Kepler has drawn significant trade interest, and Joey Gallo should be assumed to produce at a similar or better clip. Finding another quality pitcher is a must, and that has never looked likely to come from the free agent market.
Correa’s acquisition means the Twins are roughly where they were a season ago. Christian Vazquez is an upgrade on Gary Sanchez, but there have been no other moves that finish the job. The bullpen still needs a piece, and the front office has money to spend. With Correa now on board, the rest of the offseason plan can continue to roll in motion.
Starting the season with Farmer at shortstop, questionable dollars spent to reach a realistic payroll threshold, and an offseason of watching talent sign elsewhere would have been nothing short of a nightmare. At points it was suggested a logical pivot to piecing out parts may have been necessary. That level of uncertainty should have never been a potential thought, and while the front office probably wouldn’t have agreed, their lack of options made it a legitimate question.
We haven’t yet reached the point of this being a slam dunk offseason, but it certainly has the potential to be all because the Twins got one guy back.
twinssporto reacted to Theo Tollefson for an article, Royce Lewis is Grateful to Be Playing Again Everyday After Missing Two Seasons
After winning a game with the St. Paul Saints against the Iowa Cubs on Thursday evening (May 5), Royce Lewis drove back to his apartment to unwind like he usually does after a day at the ballpark; do laundry and play Call of Duty with his teammates.
There was only one difference that night compared to others after a ball game. His manager Toby Gardenhire called him and Lewis presumed the call was about volunteer work he was scheduled to do with the team during the Twins Week of Service. Instead, it was something else entirely, the call every baseball player dreams of receiving one day.
“Toby called, and he always calls me Lewis, and asked what was going on. I said I was playing games. I asked, ‘Do I have to come in early for some volunteer work because we have that Charity Week?’ He started laughing. Then I heard a bunch of other people in the background, and I thought that was kind of weird. He said, ‘All the coaches are here with me.’ Because I asked, ‘Are you guys trying to make fun of me or something?’ Did I mess up? And then he's like, ‘Well, no, if you stop talking, I have some good news for you. He told me that I was getting the call to the Big Leagues and I'd be a Big Leaguer tomorrow. I was really excited and definitely shocked and couldn't have enjoyed it any more.”
The following day Lewis made his Major League debut against the Oakland Athletics at Target Field for the Minnesota Twins. Lewis went 1-for-4 in his debut and provided a few flashy plays at shortstop for the 17,509 fans in attendance.
2022 has been a special season for Lewis. After missing two full professional seasons due to no minor-league season in 2020 and 2021 due to a torn ACL. Lewis has played in a total of 45 games so far this season between the Saints and Twins and has led the Saints offense in batting average, on-base percentage, OPS, and stolen bases in his 34 games played with St. Paul.
Lewis is grateful for the opportunity to play every day after missing the last two seasons, “It feels good. I just missed the game. So anything I can do to just be out here each and every day, I'm pretty positive about everything. I remember going 0-for-5 with four strikeouts the other day, and I was very happy with it because we won so it didn't matter. And even if we lost, I would be okay because I knew that the next day, I'd actually have an opportunity, instead of sitting on the couch and not being able to play the game I love.”
As many Twins fans know, Lewis made the most of his time with the Twins. In the 11 games he played with the big-league club, he posted a .308/.325/.564 (889) slash line. After the second game of the Twins road series against the Oakland Athletics, a game in which he hit a double and a home run, Lewis was optioned to Triple-A. The Twins' front office wanted to make sure that he played every day but also had the opportunity to play multiple positions so that he could get back to the big leagues soon even with a healthy Carlos Correa.
For Lewis, the frustration that Twins fans have had with him back at Triple-A is not as big a deal for him. Lewis is making the most of playing multiple positions with the Saints as it is the first time he has had the chance to do that since his time in the Arizona Fall League in late 2019.
“I like all of them, but I think I like third and center more than left. Third base I played for three years in high school, that was like my first position and that move is actually very easy for me. It's the same side of the infield so the ground balls are very similar and it's usually just more topspin over at third base. That's the only difference over there to me.”
The biggest adjustment for Lewis at the new outfield positions is not necessarily fielding in the outfield, but the planning it takes to backup other positions on any given play.
“I think the toughest part about these positions is not necessarily the actual playing, but the backups. I'm in centerfield. I have to back up second base if there's a throw from the catcher. Always thinking where do I go? Where do I go off the throws from third base? What do I back up on that play? Do I go back up second on the next play throw or is that the left fielder’s job. So the little things like that take adjusting to.”
Whenever Lewis gets the return to the majors, he is ready to play wherever he is needed because for him, it’s all about being a part of the Major League experience more than anything else.
“If I had an opportunity to play in the big leagues again tomorrow, wherever I am needed to play, if I needed to pinch-hit, even be a bat boy or water kid, I would do it because it doesn't matter where I am.”
While Lewis spent his two weeks with the Twins, he made the most of the mentorship he could receive from one of the best shortstops in Major League Baseball; Carlos Correa. Even in such a short time together, Correa made a large impact on the Twins' top prospect. “It was amazing. He said that we're just family, and that's truly special to me. It means so much because that's how I look at all my other teammates that I've been playing with for years now. If anyone was to come into town in the offseason and say, hey, they need help. I tried to find a way to help them out or stuff like that. That's what he's been doing for me, which is awesome. He’s really given me a lot of tips for being a shortstop, tips about being a leader and a good teammate in the clubhouse, all these things. And just a smarter baseball player. Little details in the game. I mean, he was, I would say just as good if not a better coach when he was out as he is a player when he's playing. It was like having four bench coaches.”
Having the first two picks from the 2012 draft class (Correa and Byron Buxton) to mentor Lewis has been a tremendous asset to his development. Lewis has never felt the pressure of being a number one overall pick from outside sources such as fans and writers. If there is any pressure Lewis struggles with, it’s not from fans on Twitter, it’s from himself, as he shared.
“I've talked to Buxton about the game, not necessarily as much as like the pressure. I honestly have never felt pressure, I put pressure on myself, which is different. I think everyone expects to kind of put goals and pressure on themselves to do things whether I'm trying to get this job and promotion here or I want to be the best at this job that I do, or I want to be the best painter in the world. There's always something that you're putting expectations on yourself for. As a baseball player, I think that helps me to continue to perform and be better. Just because I'm always trying to exceed my goals and expectations that I put on myself,” said Lewis.
In his free time, Lewis has had the opportunity to explore Minnesota more than ever before. Although spending nine hours at CHS field every game does take away the time he could spend seeing more of the state. He has still been amazed by how much great food the Twin Cities has to offer and is even more happy that Raising Cane's has many locations in the area. When Lewis’ family comes to town again, he hopes to see some of the many lakes the state has to offer.
Until he receives the call back up with the Twins, Lewis plans to make the most out of every game he gets on the field, no matter where he has to play. Because to him, every day at the ballpark as a player and a fan of the game of baseball, is something to cherish after sitting away from it for too long.
twinssporto reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Are the Twins an Experiment in Action?
Earlier this week, ESPN’s baseball writing team identified the most watchable teams and players so far this season. The article featured Twins in multiple spots, including being named one of the must-see teams. Minnesota was identified as a team to watch “if you love seeing an experiment in action.” Overall, the premise is the Twins decided not to rebuild after a last-place finish and began rebuilding a competitive roster.
Here are four experiments that have worked out well for the Twins.
The Superstar Experiment
Minnesota was never supposed to be in the market for Carlos Correa, but many pieces fell into place this winter. The Twins used the money saved from the Josh Donaldson trade to sign Correa to a unique contract. Both players bring vastly different personalities to the clubhouse, and those differences may be helping the team’s clubhouse chemistry this season. Twins fans are well aware that Correa can opt out of his contract at the season’s end, and that’s another part of this Twins experiment. Can a superstar player help a team win even without previous or future ties to the organization?
The Closer Experiment
Taylor Rogers was entering his final year of team control, and the Twins front office traded him just hours before Opening Day. One can debate whether or not that was the right decision, especially now that Chris Paddack underwent his second Tommy John surgery. However, the Twins received Emilio Pagan to add to the bullpen, and the team had a secret weapon in waiting. ESPN named Jhoan Duran one of their pitchers to watch because of his unique splinker. When added with his triple-digit fastball, Duran is one of baseball’s most dominant arms. Minnesota has been careful with his transition to the bullpen, so it will be interesting to see how his role changes throughout the year.
The First Base Experiment
The Twins started the year with a plan to use Miguel Sano and Alex Kirilloff at first base . Unfortunately, Minnesota got little to no production out of this position as both players dealt with injuries and poor play. So, the front office had to get creative and try another experiment. Players that are 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds aren’t supposed to handle first base, especially when that player averages less than five home runs per season. Luis Arraez hasn’t fit the typical mold for most of his professional career, but it’s clear the Twins are a better team when he is in the lineup regularly. He entered the season with a 114 OPS+, but he’s raised that by over 40 points this season, even in baseball’s muted offensive environment.
The Pitching Pipeline Experiment
Many Twins fans were clamoring for the team to spend money on starting pitching this winter. That didn’t happen as the team trusted that their young pitching would continue to develop, which has looked like the right bet. Joe Ryan doesn’t fit the mold of a typical ace, but his start to the 2022 season puts him in the AL Rookie of the Year conversation. Bailey Ober, a former 12th-round pick, is proving he can be more than organizational depth. Minnesota decided it couldn’t leave Josh Winder off the roster, and he has been successful as a starter and a reliever. Other top-pitching prospects are also getting closer to the big leagues, so replacements can be ready when the need arises.
Minnesota is clearly experimenting with a variety of roster components this year, but everything seems to be mixing together quite nicely. Do you think these experiments can last the entire season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
twinssporto reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, First Place, Feeling Great: 4 Twins Observations at the Quarter Pole
1: People aren't fully buying into the team's success.
The Twins are on pace to win 99 games, which would stack up as one of the best seasons in franchise history. But if this Twins Daily Twitter poll from Sunday night is any indication, most people aren't convinced that they'll be able to keep up with that pace.
With 500 votes in, only 5% of respondents said the Twins will finish with 100 or more wins, and only 12% had them landing in the 95-to-99 range where they are currently projected. A vast majority (61%) expect the team to finish with 90-to-94 wins, and more voters envision the Twins winning fewer than 90 (22%) than 95 or more (17%).
It's fair! Perspective matters. We are currently sizing up the Twins in the midst of a hot streak against blatantly poor competition. The only time we saw them face a great opponent this month, the Twins were swept and thoroughly dismantled by the Astros – albeit without two of their best players in Carlos Correa and Luis Arraez.
Most people are gonna need to see the Twins win a few slugfests in their own weight class before anointing them a true upper-echelon contender. Nothing wrong with that. The team will have its chance in early June with a tour of top dogs in the AL East: Blue Jays, Yankees, Rays, successively.
2: The front office's bets are paying off (mostly).
The Twins opted not to invest heavily in the free agent reliever market, signing only one player to a major-league contract: Joe Smith, on a cheap one-year $2.5 million deal. That move couldn't have worked out better so far, as Smith has yet to allow an earned run through 16 appearances.
The bullpen as a whole has been far better than expected, in spite of the passive offseason approach. The team's belief in Jhoan Durán helped them feel comfortable trading Taylor Rogers for Chris Paddack (a bet that did NOT pay off, for this year anyway) on the eve of Opening Day. They've been rewarded. Griffin Jax has also been excellent in his transition to the pen.
The front office's boldest gambit of the offseason was that wild mega-deal with the Yankees, which involved losing Mitch Garver and taking on Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela in order to to dump Josh Donaldson's salary. (Thus setting up the Correa signing.) That one's looking pretty good too.
Donaldson is hitting decently well as a frequent DH for the Yankees, but drawing headlines in New York for all the wrong reasons. The improvement in clubhouse culture for the Twins since his departure has been apparent even from the outside. Meanwhile, Sánchez is emerging as the slugging force that the Twins hoped Garver (slashing .207/.295/.370 for the Rangers so far) would be.
3: The Twins/White Sox rivalry we wanted last year has now arrived.
The Royals and Tigers have already pretty much rendered themselves irrelevant, and it's hard to buy into the mediocre Guardians, despite the greatness of José Ramirez. Chicago has been scuffling a bit in the early going but garnered some momentum on Sunday with a doubleheader sweep over the Yankees. They're back above .500 and trailing the Twins in the Central by four games.
There was a lot of hype surrounding the return of this classic rivalry last year, following a tight race in the shortened 2020 season, but the Twins never showed up for the fight. This year they're showing up, and I suspect the White Sox will too. Both teams have a lot of talent and a lot of character, so it should be fun.
4: The combination of standout rookies and established stars is really exciting.
There's just a great vibe on this team. It's awesome to see Joe Ryan stepping up and leading the rotation, while Durán establishes himself as The Guy in the bullpen. Gilberto Celestino is blossoming before our eyes. We've already seen flashes from Royce Lewis; he and other top prospects are likely to factor in as the season goes on: Jordan Balazovic, Matt Canterino, Simeon Woods Richardson, José Miranda (maybe after a get-right stint in Triple-A). All in play.
Meanwhile, the true leaders of this team are Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa, two bona fide superstars in their prime. Jorge Polanco and Luis Arraez are on the next tier.
Max Kepler is having a resurgent season to reinsert himself into that conversation. We can maybe say the same about Gary Sánchez, who seems to be getting exactly what he needed out of this change of scenery.
The intermingling of experienced mainstays who are performing well, and young up-and-comers who are often contributing immediately, along with a $35M free agent who somehow gives off no "mercenary" vibes ... it's really cool. This is a very likable group and it's adding all the more to the enjoyment of this (so far) surprisingly wonderful 2022 season.
Here's hoping we feel the same way at the halfway point, and especially at the finish line.
twinssporto reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins Minor League Report (4/19-25): Pitching, Pitching, Everywhere Pitching
Most of the Twins affiliates have played 15 games now while the St. Paul Saints have played 18 games. Top prospects are reaching 50-60 plate appearances. That's not enough to make any grand stances on players, but we'll get there. Starting pitchers will be making their third and fourth starts. Pitch counts may increase, and we might soon be able to find tendencies for players. and we will be here to cover it all. Let's take a look back at Week 3 in the Twins minor leagues.
If you missed it, read Nick's Twins Week in Review after you've read about the minor league week.
Please note that the hyperlinks on player names will show you past articles in which that player has been tagged. Click around a bit and see how much some of these players have been written about over the years.
Tuesday: The Arrival of Raya Wednesday: Wind Surge Win a Wild One Thursday: Double Walk Offs and Shoving Smeltzer Friday: St. Paul Completes Twin Cities Sweep Saturday: Emmanuel Rodriguez Does It Again Sunday: Kernels and Surge Strike Large in Series Finales on Sunday MORE TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE CONTENT
Twins Minor League Week in Review (4/12-18) Twins Have Important Reinforcements Close Unheralded Twins Prospects to Watch Twins Complete Padres Trade with Pitching Prospect Brayan Medina Emmanuel Rodriguez: A Star in the Making? Three Questions With… Emmanuel Rodriguez (Video) WEEK IN REVIEW
Triple-A: St. Paul Saints:
Week: 2-4 at Toledo
Season: 10-7 overall, 3rd place in the International League West. They are 2 1/2 games behind Nashville.
The Saints scored nine runs in one game last week. In their other five games, they scored a combined ten runs. In the first game of the week, they lost 11-0. That’s not to say that there weren’t some highlights.
Ten Saints pitchers worked and did not give up an earned run. Sure, that includes catcher David Banuelos who retired the only batter he faced.
The highlight was Ronny Henriquez. He made his first appearance of the season, his first appearance in the Twins organization, and his first Triple-A appearance. It went quite well. He worked three scoreless, hitless innings. He walked one and struck out four batters. Yennier Cano worked three scoreless innings over two appearances. He gave up two hits and hit a batter, and he struck out three batters. Dereck Rodriguez returned to the Saints after one appearance with the Twins. He gave up two unearned runs on two hits over three innings. He struck out five batters without issuing a walk. As you’d expect, it wasn’t all good. As terrific as Cole Sands was in his first two Triple-A starts, this wasn’t a good week. Combined, he gave up ten runs on ten hits in just 2 2/3 innings. He walked three and didn’t have a strikeout. He had a short start early in the week and came out of the bullpen on Sunday. No surprise that the Saints didn’t have any hitting standouts in such a frustrating week.
Jose Miranda led the offense, hitting .250/.321/.458 (.779) with five doubles and three walks. Royce Lewis hit just .190 over six games. He had five walks, a double, and an absolutely mammoth home run. Daniel Robertson went 2-for-17 (.118) last week. Jake Cave was 3-for-23 (.130) with ten strikeouts. It was also a rough week for the catchers. Chance Sisco went 1-for-9 (.111). Jose Godoy went 1-for-8 (.125), though he got called up, and on Sunday had two incredibly huge walks. Caleb Hamilton went 0-for-5, and David Banuelos went 0-for-3. What’s Next? The Saints come home to host the Nashville Sound, the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. (Go to SaintsBaseball.com for tickets!)
Pitching Probables: (RHP Dereck Rodriguez, LHP Devin Smeltzer, RHP Ronny Henriquez, RHP Jake Faria, TBD, TBD)
Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge
Week: 4-2 at home vs. Midland
Season: 8-7 overall, tied for 2nd place in the Texas League South Division. They are 2.0 games behind Tulsa.
The Surge had a fantastic week offensively. In six games, they scored 52 runs. That includes a 15-1 win on Thursday, but they also had games with 10, nine, and eight runs. However, it was a rough week for their pitching staff. They gave up 45 runs. They had games in which they gave up 15, 10, eight, and seven runs.
With that as the background, let’s start with the hitters. Six Wichita hitters posted an OPS over 1.000 for the week.
Andrew Bechtold had a really nice week. In four games, he hit .364/.556/.727 (1.283). He had a double and a home run. He also walked six times with just two strikeouts. Kevin Merrell also played in four games. He hit .313/.333/.938 (1.271) with a double and three home runs. Michael Helman played all six games and hit .348/.429/.783 (1.212) with two doubles, a triple, two home runs and eight RBI. He also walked four times. Spencer Steer also played all six games. He hit .409/.567/.591 (1.158) with four doubles. He had eight walks to go with just three strikeouts. Steer was the Twins Minor League Player of the Week. Was he also Twins Daily's hitter of the week? Edouard Julien returned the second half of the week from the Injured List. He went 4-for-11 with a double and a triple. He also stole two bases in three games. Dennis Ortega signed with the Twins late in spring training. He played last year with the Triple-A affiliate of the Cardinals, the organization he began with in 2014. In five games last week, he hit .478/.500/.696 (1.196) with three doubles, a triple, and seven RBI. Despite his years of professional experience, he is still just 24 years old. On the other side of the spectrum, Leobaldo Cabrera went 0-for-15 during the week. Matt Wallner had two hits on Sunday, but he was 2-for-14 (.143) for the week. For the Wind Surge pitching staff, there were certainly extremes.
Matt Canterino started on both Monday and Sunday. Combined, he threw six scoreless, hitless innings. He walked two batters and struck out nine. After missing most of the 2021 season with elbow issues, the Twins will be immensely cautious with Canterino this year, likely putting him on a plan similar to what the team did with Bailey Ober a year ago. Simeon Woods Richardson was incredible again in his start this week. The right-hander tossed six scoreless innings. He gave up two singles, walked no one, and struck out six batters. Austin Schulfer tossed four scoreless innings over his two appearances. He gave up three hits, walked none and struck out five batters. He recorded one save. While it wasn’t a great outing, Chris Vallimont had a nice, bounce-back start. He gave up one run in four innings. He gave up three hits, hit a batter, and walked three batters. He had six strikeouts. On the other side, Brandon Lawson gave up six earned runs in 1 1/3 innings. Steven Cruz pitched twice. In 1 2/3 innings, he gave up six runs on four hits, a hit batter, and four walks. All of that came in the ninth inning when he came in with a 7-0 lead. Zach Featherstone also pitched twice. He gave up seven runs on four hits (2 homers), and three walks in two innings. Bryan Sammons gave up four runs on four hits and three walks in two innings. What’s Next? The Wind Surge will be traveling to Arkansas for the week.
Pitching Probables: (RHP Chris Vallimont, RHP Louie Varland, RHP Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Matt Canterino, TBD, TBD)
High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels:
Week: 5-1 at home vs Peoria)
Season: 12-3 overall, 1st place in the Midwest League, 1.0 game ahead of Wisconsin.
The Kernels won five of six games despite leading the run differential just 25-23. The first three games of the week were one-run games. They were postponed on Wednesday and then won both games of a doubleheader in walk-off fashion. The Kernels week (and season so far) has been largely successful due to some great work out of the bullpen.
Eight relievers combined for 20 innings of zero unearned runs. Melvi Acosta, Denny Bentley, Osiris German, Bradley Hanner, and Bobby Milacki each pitched twice during the week and worked between 2 2/3 and 3 2/3 innings. Hanner was given the Win in both of his games. He walked and batter and hit a batter, but he did not give up a run or a hit during the week. Sean Mooney went five innings in his start. He gave up one run on four hits. Lefty Cade Povich gave up two runs (1 earned) on five hits in 4 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out nine batters. Casey Legumina also worked 4 2/3 innings and gave up two runs. The Kernels got several solid performances from their hitters last week against Peoria.
After a middling first full week of the season (after an amazing first weekend), Christian Encarnacion-Strand had another strong week against Peoria. Over six games, he hit .400/.400/.560 (.960) with two doubles and a triple. The only blemish was nine strikeouts in 25 plate appearances. Will Holland played in five games. He hit .375/.474/.438 (.912) with a double. In five games, Jeferson Morales hit .313/.429/.438 (.867) with two doubles. Outfielder Willie Joe Garry hit .294/.333/.529 (.862) with two doubles and a triple. What’s Next? The Kernels will be traveling to southeast Wisconsin to take on the Beloit Sky Carp.
Pitching Probables: (RHP Cody Laweryson, RHP Casey Legumina, LHP Brent Headrick, RHP Sean Mooney, RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long/LHP Aaron Rozek, LHP Cade Povich)
Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels
Week: 3-3 at Dunedin
Season: 10-5 overall, 1st place in the Florida State League West, 2.0 games ahead of Bradenton.
The Mighty Mussels scored 20 runs over their six-game week. Fortunately, their pitching staff only allowed just 18 runs on the week. No surprise, it was a tightly-contested week. Three of the six games were settled by one run. There was also a two-run game, a three-run game, and a four-run game. No laughers in Florida this week, at least not in Dunedin.
The Mighty Mussels starters continued to pitch really well. The six starters worked a combined 28 1/3 innings and gave up just four runs (2 earned) on 11 hits and eight walks. They struck out 39 batters.
John Stankiewicz had another great start last week. He struck out nine batters over five scoreless innings. He gave up one hit and walked two batters. Marco Raya’s second professional start was pretty incredible. He struck out 10 batters over six innings. He gave up one hit and struck out none. Steve Hajjar was good in his second pro start. He struck out 10 batters over 4 1/3 innings. He gave up an unearned run on two walks and a hit batter. No hits. David Festa also went four scoreless frames in his start. He gave up three hits, walked two, and struck out four batters. The big news to come out of this start was that he hit 98.6 mph with a fastball. On Sunday, Travis Adams gave up one run on one hit over five one-run innings. Two relievers worked twice and got at least 12 outs. Hunter McMahon walked one and struck out one over four hitless innings. Mike Paredes gave up just one hit over 4 1/3 scoreless innings and struck out five batters. It was a good week for a few 2022 draft picks.
Eighth round pick from UCLA, catcher Noah Cardenas played in four games. He hit .273/.471/.545 (1.016) with a homer and three walks. Dylan Neuse was the Twins 17th round pick from Texas Tech. He also played in four games and hit .273/.385/.545 (.930) with his first professional home run. 12th round pick Kyler Fedko, an outfielder from U Conn had another solid week. Over six games, he hit .286/.407/.476 (.883) with a double and a home run. What’s Next? The Mighty Mussels are back at Hammond Stadium this coming week to face Clearwater.
Pitching Probables: (LHP Steve Hajjar, RHP Pierson Ohl, RHP John Stankiewicz, TBD, RHP Travis Adams, TBD)
This Prospect Summary shows our current Twins Top 20 Prospect Rankings and how they performed last week (April 19-24).
#1 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 6 G, 7-for-24 (.292), 2-2B, 2 RBI, 5 BB, 4 K (Season: 15 G, .262/.392/.344 (.736), 5-2B, 15 R, 4 RBI, 10 BB, 12 K)
#2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 6 G, 4-for-21 (.190), 3-2B, 3B, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 3 K (Season: 16 G, .288/.394/.542 (.937), 7-2B, 1-3B, 2-HR, 15 R, 9 RBI, 9 BB, 15 K)
#3 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 5 G, 5-for-19 (.263), 3-2B, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K (Season: 16 G, .235/.280/.397 (.677), 8-2B, 1-HR, 8 R, 10 RBI, 4 BB, 13 K)
#4 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - IL (knee)
#5 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - 1 GS, 6 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 5 K (Season: 3 GS, 16 IP, 3 R, 9 H, 5 BB, 16 K, 2-1, 1.69 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9, 9.0 K/9)
#6 - Matt Canterino (Wichita) - 2 GS, 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 2 BB, 9 K (Season: 4 GS, 9.2 IP, 3 R, 5 H, 8 BB, 14 K, 0-1, 2.79 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 7.4 BB/9, 13.0 K/9)
#7 - Jhoan Duran (Minnesota) - 2 G, 3.0 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 BB, 4 K (Season: 6 G, 9.0 IP, 4 R, 8 H, 2 BB, 15 K, 0-0, 4.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 2.0 BB/9, 15.0 K/9)
#8 - Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - 1 GS, 6 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 BB, 6 K (Season: 3 GS, 16.2 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 5 H, 4 BB, 14 K, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.54 WHIP, 2.2 BB/9, 7.6 K/9)
#9 - Josh Winder (Minnesota) - 1 G, 4.0 IP, 2 R, 5 H, 0 BB, 4 K (Season: 3 G, 10.1 IP, 4 R, 7 H, 3 BB, 5 K, 0-0, 3.48 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, 4.4 K/9)
#10 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 6 G, 5-for-21 (.238), 1-2B, 5 BB, 6 K (Season: 14 G, .200/.353/.218 (.571), 1-2B, 8 R, 1 RBI, 12 BB, 20 K)
#11 - Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) - 5 G, 0-for-3 (.000), 0 BB, 0 K (Season: 9 G, .100/.250/.100 (.350), 2 R, 0 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K)
#12 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 4 G, 2-for-14 (.143), 5 RBI, 3 BB, 7 K.(Season: 12 G, .111/.222/.178 (.400), 1-HR, 4 R, 7 RBI, 7 BB, 24 K)
#13 - Cole Sands (St. Paul) - 2 G, 1 GS, 2.2 IP, 10 ER, 10 H, 1 BB, 0 K (Season: 4 G, 3 GS, 12.2 IP, 11 R, 14 H, 4 BB, 12 K, 0-3, 7.82 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9, 8.5 K/9)
#14 - Louie Varland (Wichita) - 1 GS, 5.0 IP, 6 R, 3 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 4 K (Season: 3 G, 2 GS, 15.1 IP, 10 R, 7 ER, 11 H, 8 BB, 18 K, 1-1, 4.11 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 4.7 BB/9, 10.6 K/9)
#15 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers) - 6 G, 3-for-20 (.150) , 2-2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 11 K (Season: 14 G, .267/.469/.667 (1.136), 3-2B, 5-HR, 12 R, 8 RBI, 16 BB, 17 K)
#16 - Ronny Henriquez (St. Paul) - (Week/Season: 1 G, 3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 BB, 4 K, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.33 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, 12.0 K/9)
#17 - Blayne Enlow (Wichita) - IL (elbow)
#18 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 6 G, 9-for-22 (.409), 4-2B, 6 RBI, 8 BB, 3 K (Season: 15 G, .322/.429/.542 (.971), 8-2B, 1-3B, 1-HR, 12 R, 12 RBI, 9 BB, 12 K)
#19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 3 G, 4-for-11 (.364), 1 BB, 2 K, 2 SB (Season: 7 G, .318/.385/.455 (.839), 1-2B, 1-3B, 4 R, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 4 K)
#20 - Steve Hajjar (Ft. Myers) - 1 GS, 4.1 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 H, 2 BB, 10 K. (Season: 2 GS, 7.1 IP, 5 R, 4 ER, 4 H, 4 BB, 16 K, 0-0, 4.91 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 4.9 BB/9, 19.6 K/9)
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Hitter of the Week: Super Utility, Michael Helman, Wichita Wind Surge
Last week, Michael Helman played in all six games for Wichita. He hit .348/.429/.783 (1.212) with two doubles, a triple, two home runs and eight RBI. He also walked four times. In 15 games on the season, he has hit .286/.379/.554 (.933) with two doubles, two triples, and three home runs. As important in his development, he has nine walks to just six strikeouts on the season. He is also 4-for-4 in stolen base attempts.
The Twins drafted Helman in the 11th round of the 2018 draft as a second baseman out of Texas A&M. That is the position he played most of the time pre-pandemic. When he returned to the field in 2021, versatility became a huge part of Helman’s game. In fact, I think it is a trait that will help him get a shot in the big leagues at some point. Last year, he played 42 games in left field, 27 games in right field, 26 games in center field, 16 games at second base and four games at shortstop. He went to the Arizona Fall League where he played eight games in center but also played games in left, second and third base. This season, Helman has started ten games in center, four games at third base, and one game at second base.
After struggling offensively in Ft. Myers in 2019, hitting just .197 before an injury ended his season. It was in Cedar Rapids in 2021 where his bat, and specifically his power arrived. In 111 games, he hit 21 doubles, four triples and 19 home runs (50% more than previously as a pro). He always took quality at-bats and knows the strike zone well, but after being a top of the order or bottom of the order hitter, he has become a middle of the order hitter in a very strong Wichita Wind Surge lineup in 2021.
Pitcher of the Week: Marco Raya, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels
In just his second professional start, Raya shut down the Dunedin Blue Jays for six innings. He faced the minimum of 18 batters. He gave up one hit, walked none, and struck out ten batters. The one batter who got a hit was soon thrown out attempting to steal a base. It was a nice jump forward after his first start in which he gave up three runs (2 earned) on seven hits, a walk, and a hit batter.
Raya was the Twins' fourth-round draft pick in 2020 out of United South High School in Laredo, Texas. Of course, there wasn’t a season for him to begin his career then. He made a strong showing in the instructional league that fall. He was excited to begin in 2021 but a minor injury cost him the season. However, reports from last year’s instructional league had him hitting 96-97 mph with a fastball. That’s especially impressive when he was selected as a prep pitcher with four quality pitches and good control. Add in the big fastball and Raya has a chance to be really good.
What were your favorite storylines from the past week, and what will you be following in the coming week.
twinssporto reacted to Sherry Cerny for an article, Women of the Diamond: The Fans
My love for baseball is what got me into writing about it. The more I watched, the more I learned. I have been a fan of the Twins since as far back as I can recall, but I didn’t start truly watching until right before the strike in 1994. As I grew in my love for the sport, the more I loved the interaction with fans. That was easy when I was home in Minnesota, but after a life-altering move to the east coast, I had to find new ways to communicate with fans. I found twitter in 2012 and other fans. It made me feel like I was home.
The more I watched the games, the more I had to say on Twitter, but 120 characters didn't seem to be enough for me. I knew how hard it could be for women in journalism, but I knew I wanted to say more. Lately, there has been a lot of emphasis on women in sports, and when I reached out with my desire to be a writer, Twins Daily immediately took me under their wing to get me started. As I continued to grow in followers, content, and fans, I noticed that more women worked in baseball and as fans.
Baseball is the second most popular sport in the United States behind Football and seventh in the world. Baseball also has one of the most gender-even fan bases. Men make up 55% of the fan base, and Women make up 45% of the fan base. This past week, even in a state that competes with other major professional leagues, the Minnesota Twins home opener drew in more than 35,000 fans after a 99-day lockout and a shortened spring training. Almost half of those were women.
I was there with my mom and waiting to meet up with a group of women I met on Twitter and attending the game. Female baseball fans are a particular type of woman: passionate, competitive, complex, and loving. We are independent and strong and can speak our minds, especially during a bad call.
We started our Twins Twitter group to talk about the Twins and baseball in general. We decided to meet up and say hi to each other and meet in person. After all, we have spent hours talking about the game, the players, the organization, and the rules. Our group ranges from all areas, professions and ages. We have different views on the game's rules and how plays, contracts, and rosters are made. We all have different views on life, but we all come together and agree on one thing: we love Twins baseball.
We all have memories stemming from childhood, talking about our favorite players of yesteryear: Trevor Plouffe, Brad Radke, LaTroy Hawkins, Justin Morneau, and now fanning over players like Byron Buxton, Joe Ryan, Carlos Correa, and Max Kepler. This season's line-up, the trades, and the acquisitions left our mouths watering for the home opener after the excruciating 99-day lockout.
To say the lockout unhinged us may be an understatement. None of us could imagine a world without baseball, relying on rumors, old stories, and hopes of what was to come. The day finally arrived, though, and as I walked around the stadium, I noticed the number of women in attendance, and it made my heart full.
I arrived through Gate 34 as the Mariners were taking batting practice. Crowded around the railing were tons of people hoping to catch a ball, so I moseyed on over to watch the kids holler and wave in hopes of getting a big leaguer's attention for the coveted official MLB ball. Harley was there with her dad, Alex. She had just caught a ball, and in a pink hat that was just a little too big for her, she jumped up and down in excitement at her first ball from a major league player. Her dad took her ball and placed it in her bag as she turned around, almost hoping for more balls to be thrown her way.
Harley was here for her second home opener and arrived early like the rest of us to catch some batting practice and watch the players. Not bad for a four-year-old. She doesn't know the players yet, but that's okay; she is more excited about watching the game, catching the balls, and getting snacks. She has plenty of time to learn the other stuff, and dad Alex is an avid fan who encourages her fandom. She's more interested in catching more balls than speaking to me but allowed me a little extra time to ask what her favorite food was at the stadium, and she said Cotton Candy, which earned an emphatic high five from me because that's my favorite too.
She went on to tell me that she played baseball outside of the stadium, and she enjoyed it.
That's the thing about baseball, it's fun, and it's for everyone. Seeing her excitement for the day and what it entailed showed me that we have not only future generations of fans but also future generations of women who will grow in the game. She has core memories that she will be able to share with her kids and traditions that will lead her to keep the game alive for generations to come.
"They'll watch the game, and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come, Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and could be again."
- Terrance Mann Field of Dreams
The impact of baseball has erased many things like sadness during a pandemic, made things whole like bringing us together after, and kept things constant in a world that seems unsure.
Melissa and Pamela have been coming to games together since before they had their kids. This year is different. This is the first time they brought their daughters along for the experience and joined in the home opener's annual tradition. Melissa was excited about all the new food showcased this season, and they were all excited for the team as a whole.
I love when I run into baseball fans who understand baseball's business and don't get too attached to the players. When I asked if any of the trades bothered them, they said, "no. Not really". They were excited about the team and the potential they have.
I could tell that the girls, Amanda, Taylor, and Anglea, the daughters of Pamela and Melissa, were raised in Twins Territory and shared the passion with their moms. Their first opening day was a little chilly, but they didn't let that stop them from stopping to take pictures and taking in the sights on the greens inside gate 34. They knew just as much about the team, and we're excited to join in the tradition.
Baseball is all about traditions and transcends years. Traditions are something that brings us and keeps us close, and give us something to look forward to every year. Since they were kids, Jenny, Katie, Tiffany, and Marcy have not only been Twins fans but have been coming to the season opener since as far back as they can remember, to the Metrodome era. They don't have season tickets, but they make sure that they get together to make it to opening day and many other games as a group. They enjoy cheering on their favorite players in a fun, reverberant fashion.
They cheer on the players as they take their place on the field, and fans around them know that they are there for the players. They want the team as a whole to succeed, specifically with better fielding and hopefully pitching. They are passionate about this team and start to recall the previous series and games they have been at. They were even at the last regular-season game in the Metrodome on October 6th, where the Twins won a fantastic 12-inning game, 6-5, to reach the postseason. As they reminisced about the games they attended, there was talk about a sign they had during one of the games, and Marcy quickly shut down the conversation in a "we don't talk about Bruno"-esque fashion. Like unspoken rules in baseball, some things are sacred and not discussed.
They had so many memories of their favorite players, Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, and Joe Mauer the stories and years seem to overlap. That's what this game does. It creates core memories, memories that carry on after we are gone.
That's what Jane is doing, carrying on her father's traditions with her. Jane is bundled up, sitting in the shadows of 111 with her phone, earphones, a device she was listening to the game on, and a scorebook. She took in the game, kept score on her score sheet, and watched the players and the umps. If anyone can rattle off stats like they were nothing, it’s her.
I just sat in awe, watching her and listening to her story. Her dad took her to games since the Twins were at the Met when it opened in 1961. She remembers going to games with her dad there. He would bring his scorebook and keep track, he taught her how to do the same, and it's how she fell in love with the game. If there is a fan that I genuinely aspire to be like, it's Jane.
Jane is quiet, probably early 60's, and remembers all the greats: Tony Oliva, Kirby Puckett, Jim Kaat, but her favorite player? Joe Mauer. I was a little taken aback by the statement. I know the millennials love him for many reasons, but Jane has her reasons too. She used to watch Joe in college, so she watched Joe Mauer grow up in the game. Her fondest memories are every time he would get a personal, division, or league record. She knows so much about the team that to her, Joe Mauer is the definition of Minnesota baseball, and so is Jane.
There are so many amazing things about baseball and its fans. It truly creates bonds that countermand politics, religion, and economics. While I hope to see the women I interviewed on opening day again, all of them made an impact on me that I will carry with me forever. It was fantastic to see the game through other women's eyes.
As for our group? We talk every day, through every game, and it's one of the best things that ever happened to me. We grieve over losses, cheer over wins, and gripe about bad calls and the things we think should be done differently. We have some of the smartest women in the group, and I never knew how fun sports could be once you found a group with which you can share experiences. We genuinely have a bond that can’t be broken because it all centers around something we all love.
In a sport typically a "man world," women are closing in on evening out the gap from fans to correspondents, journalists, players, and now MLB coaches. The ceiling has been shattered, and I am so glad to be a part of a generation of women actively growing in baseball.
Follow my friends to talk Twins baseball with some of the savviest minds in Minnesota:
@TrstTheJrny24 @Vollmsy @Tyann98 @KaitMBee @mntwinsfan07 @Shaylarz @Melissa_Berman @tacosnbaseball @tonderk
twinssporto reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Collision of Chaos: 2 Frazzled Forces Are About to Converge at Target Field
Everyone reading this likely aware of the numerous issues plaguing the Twins. The offense has been a complete disaster so far, with three or fewer runs scored in nine of their 13 games amidst a historically cold start. The lineup just got done fumbling away a huge get-right opportunity, scoring four runs in three games against a sub par Kansas City pitching staff.
The bullpen has already sprung some worrisome leaks, with Tyler Duffey's immense struggles intensified by a longing for Taylor Rogers. Byron Buxton has already had an injury scare. Alex Kirilloff's wrist immediately resurfaced as a big problem.
Minnesota has yet to win a series and already finds itself in a 5-8 hole, which understandably is panicking a lot of fans more than it probably should given what we all went through last year. The Twins, and especially their much-hyped collection of bats, return home with much to prove this weekend.
They'll be facing a team that is itself completely out of sorts and driving a deep sense of discontent among its followers.
Coming into the season, the White Sox were clear favorites in the AL Central, and sported some of the highest odds for a World Series title. They looked the part while jumping out to a 6-2 start. But Chicago has since dropped four straight and just got swept out of Cleveland in a series where they were pretty thoroughly dismantled.
Like the Twins, the White Sox are seeing their offense short-circuit. They've gone seven straight games without scoring more than three runs. Like the Twins, they've already had an injury scare with their superstar center fielder (Luis Robert exited Thursday's game with a groin strain, although it's said to be minor).
Like Twins fans, Sox fans are ruing the impactful loss of a pitcher who they let get away. Carlos Rodon, who departed as a free agent without receiving so much as a qualifying offer from Chicago, is 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA and MLB-leading 15.4 K/9 rate through his first three starts. Meanwhile Dallas Keuchel's ERA sits at 16.50 after two turns.
And if you think Twins fans have been cranky about the recent performance of their team, you should just see some of the frustration flowing by White Sox faithful. Below you can find a small sampling of the tweets that came across my feed on Thursday from Sox fans:
There's no such thing as a "must-win series" in April and it's far too early for either team to be feeling a true sense of desperation. But these three games sure do feel like they carry an added level of weight, especially when you consider the stakes outside of all this chaos.
For the Twins, or any other team, the path to a Central division title goes through the White Sox. This will be the first match-up between the two, and the last until July. Can the Twins kick the division favorite while they're down, at home, while reinvigorating a fed-up fan base?
Or will the powerful White Sox unleash their pent-up angst on a team they thoroughly handled in 2021 while overtaking the division mantle?
Like I said: one way or another, something's gotta give. Should be a fun weekend. Or else really, really not fun.
twinssporto reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, In Defense of the Twins Front Office
The Twins hired Derek Falvey (who hired Thad Levine) in the wake of a disastrous 103-loss season in 2016. By that point, the Twins had gone six straight years without making the playoffs, and during that span they lost more games than any team in baseball.
The following year, Minnesota stunningly reached the postseason as a wild-card team. Then they missed out in 2018, still finishing second, before rebounding in 2019 with one of the greatest seasons in franchise history. The Twins followed in 2020 with another division title.
To run all that back: this front office took over a team that had gone 407-565 (.419) with zero playoff appearances in its previous six years, and went 300-246 (.549) with three playoff appearances in the next four.
Does their success owe somewhat to the foundation built before they arrived? Of course. No one would deny that Terry Ryan and Co. had cultivated an impressive nucleus before being ousted. But during those years, the Twins repeatedly failed in the draft, failed in acquisitions, and failed in player development. The results bore that out.
Let's be clear about something here: This current regime was so successful and so impressive through four years that they were repeatedly poached of talent, both in the front office and the coaching staffs they assembled. Not only that, but Falvey and Levine themselves have been courted by big-name franchises like the Red Sox and Phillies.
What did they say, according to publicized reports on the matter?
"No thanks, we're going to see through what we're building here."
And so, to see flocks of fans calling for their heads because of one bad season, which is no worse than the ones we saw repeatedly before they arrived ... it's a little hard to take.
Falvey became the youngest head exec in the league when he took Minnesota's top job. Currently he is 38 years old, which is three years younger than the DH he traded to Tampa Bay last month. Up until now he never experienced serious adversity during his tenure, which speaks to how smoothly things have gone in the first four years.
The same could be said, by the way, for his managerial choice Rocco Baldelli, who was named Manager of the Year in 2019 (as the youngest skipper in baseball, with no experience in the role) and then won a second straight division title in his second season.
These people have shown their mettle. They've won. A lot. I realize they haven't won in the playoffs, and that sucks, but they haven't had nearly the opportunity of their predecessors.
Are we not going to give them a chance to learn from failure?
Obviously the free agent pitching additions from the past winter have failed at every level. But this front office has made plenty of good and savvy pickups in the past, which helped fuel the success of high-quality staffs the last two years. And in any case, Falvey wasn't really hired to sign pitchers. He was hired to develop them.
On that front, the jury is still out. This operation was four years in when a pandemic came along and wiped out an entire minor-league season. The fact that Minnesota's upper minors are currently loaded with intriguing high-upside arms would suggest the mission was on track, and is just now getting back on the rails.
Soon we'll start seeing those arms (along with the ones acquired at the deadline this year) ushered into majors, and at that point we'll be able to make real assessments. But until then, you're judging an incomplete project.
This reassembled baseball ops department has been working ahead of schedule basically since they took over a moribund franchise in despair. They hit a setback this year, and it's been painful. Let's give them a chance to get back on track in the wake of a major disruptive event and humbling follow-up season.
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twinssporto reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Week in Review: New-Look Rotation
Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 8/2 thru Sun, 8/8
Record Last Week: 4-2 (Overall: 48-64)
Run Differential Last Week: +2 (Overall: -73)
Standing: 5th Place in AL Central (17.5 GB)
Last Week's Game Recaps:
Game 107 | MIN 7, CIN 5: Garver, Polanco Power Exciting Win
Game 108 | CIN 6, MIN 5: Twins Comeback Falls Short
Game 109 | MIN 5, HOU 3: Jax Earns First MLB Win as Starter
Game 110 | MIN 5, HOU 4: Twins Rally from Early Deficit
Game 111 | HOU 4, MIN 0: Lineup Has No Answers for Houston Pitching
Game 112 | MIN 7, HOU 5: Polanco's 2 Homers Lift Twins to Series Win
NEWS & NOTES
Sidelined since early June by a bad hammy strain, Rob Refsnyder finally returned from the Injured List on Thursday, and has since resumed his role as semi-regular center fielder in Byron Buxton's absence. Refsnyder's activation led to Nick Gordon being optioned to Triple-A, which caused some consternation among fans who wished to see Gordon get a real shot.
I get it. I like Gordon as a person and would love to see him succeed. It can feel hard to understand what's holding him back from more playing time on a bad team that's going nowhere. But this move makes it all the clearer how the Twins view him, and ... can you really blame them?
While the speed is nice, Gordon has simply shown no signs that he can be an impactful contributor on a major-league team. He's a capable defender at several spots, but nowhere is he a standout, and the Twins seem to have zero interest in playing him at short. When you combine that defensive profile with a completely punchless bat, there isn't much value to be found. During his time in the majors, Gordon put 70 balls in play and recorded one barrel. He slashed .176/.263/.235 in his final 20 games. He lacks any discipline at the plate, offering at 45.8% pitches outside the zone, which is second on the team behind (of course) Willians Astudillo.
It's not happening for Gordon this year. Now that doesn't preclude the possibility that he works his ass off during the winter, bulks up, and comes out next spring with a significantly bolstered skill set. We'll see if the Twins hold him on the 40-man roster and pursue that avenue. For now, the sad fact is that Refsnyder has a better chance of being a valuable contributor on the 2022 Twins.
In other roster news of the week: Another right-handed reliever picked up off waivers. Just days after snagging Edgar Garcia following his DFA from Cincinnati, the Twins claimed former Astro Ralph Garza Jr., who was immediately optioned to Triple-A to join Garcia on the Saints.
Garza, like many pitchers the Twins have added of late, has intriguing attributes and big strikeout rates in the minors, but also some clear flaws. There's no particular reason to think he or Garcia – discarded cast-offs from other organizations – will turn to anything useful.
But then again, the same thing applies in the bullpen as in the rotation: the Twins are going to need help from the minors and every lottery ticket helps. It's a numbers game and the team is improving its odds.
With veterans José Berríos and J.A. Happ departing at the deadline, Minnesota plugged in Griffin Jax and Charlie Barnes, who join incumbent rookie Bailey Ober in a suddenly very inexperienced rotation. It's quite the departure from Opening Day, when Berríos was their youngest starter.
While veteran holdovers Kenta Maeda and Michael Pineda are interesting to track for their own reasons, the youth movement is now the central focus for the starting corps. None of the three rookies currently in the rotation are top prospects, but in the numbers game, it's all about letting them run and seeing if one emerges.
This past week, the numbers showed some things to like from Jax and Ober:
Jax spun 5 ⅓ innings of one-run ball in Houston on Thursday against the highest-scoring offense in the majors. (Albeit one missing several key bats.) He allowed only three hits and one walk in an efficient and impressive performance. Jax recorded zero strikeouts and only three swinging strikes in the outing, which is concerning, but he did pile up six strikeouts on 16 whiffs against the White Sox two starts prior, so he has at least shown the capability to miss bats. In his past three starts dating back to that one, Jax has a 1.88 ERA with six hits allowed in 14 ⅓ frames. Ober's start on Saturday was a mixed bag. On the one hand, we saw his strengths on display, with five strikeouts and one walk pushing his outstanding seasonal ratio to 56-to-15 ratio in 52 ⅓ innings. Ober's 3.7 K/BB ranks second among Twins starters behind Pineda. Ober also gave up two home runs in his five innings of work, surfacing his biggest weakness, but in general he too has been on a good track. In his past three starts, Ober has a 3.77 ERA and 15-to-3 K/BB ratio in 14 ⅓ frames. Several relievers also had strong showings as the bullpen rebounded from a very ugly run the previous week. Jorge Alcala allowed one hit (a home run) in three innings of work, striking out six of the 11 batters he faced. Alex Colomé worked four scoreless appearances and picked up three saves. Juan Minaya struck out eight over 4 ⅓ shutout innings between three appearances, allowing just two hits.
On the offensive side, it was a relatively quiet week with a few standout performances. In spite of his barking knees, Luis Arraez continues to rake; he notched hits in every game he played and went 10-for-17 overall to raise his average to .318, which would rank sixth in baseball if qualified. Jorge Polanco drilled three more homers, and leads the American League in long balls over the past month. It's a remarkable turnaround from a player whose power had been totally sapped.
Miguel Sanó did not have a particularly strong week overall, but he did make a game-saving defensive play at third on Friday night, and did this to a baseball on Sunday:
While Jax and Ober came through with encouraging performances, Barnes was less inspiring. Facing Cincinnati on Wednesday, the left-hander was knocked around for five earned runs on seven hits and two walks in four innings of work. Through two major-league starts he has a 6.23 ERA with three strikeouts and three walks in 8 ⅔ innings. He has induced only seven swinging strikes on 148 pitches between the two outings (5%).
Barnes isn't embarrassing as a spot-starter type but it'd be nice to get someone in that fifth rotation slot with a little more upside. The Twins are slowly starting to get healthier in their starting pitching ranks, so maybe a few options will emerge in the coming weeks. Lewis Thorpe was activated from a lengthy IL stint and started Sunday for the Saints. Randy Dobnak was reportedly doing some "light throwing at Target Field" on Sunday morning, suggesting he's on the comeback trail.
I realize these names aren't going to have folks leaping with excitement but they both have a better chance of factoring significantly into the 2022 rotation than Barnes.
Brent Rooker cooled off following a red-hot start to his second stint with the Twins this year, going just 3-for-22, although he continued to flash power with all three hits going for doubles. Selectiveness at the plate will be the key thing to watch from Rooker, and he's leaving much to be desired in that area. He's not working into enough favorable counts and when at-bats end with pitchers ahead, he's just 1-for-29 this season.
Alas, Rooker looks like an unstoppable offensive force in comparison to Andrelton Simmons. Anyone does. Simmons just continues sinking to new depths, with a 2-for-18 week dropping his slash line to a pitiful .216/.280/.275. His last extra-base hit came on July 2nd, 30 games ago, and since then he has a .355 OPS.
There's no point in continuing to run him out there. Remaining money owed is unfortunately a sunk cost. The Twins would be better off sliding Polanco back over to short for the rest of the season and giving the reps at second base to someone like Arraez or Gordon or even Jose Miranda.
When they acquired him as the headliner in the Berríos trade, I wrote about why Austin Martin is a prospect very much worth getting excited about. Since the trade, he's been doing plenty to fuel the hype.
Following a three-hit game for the Wichita Wind Surge on Sunday, Martin is now batting .400 with a .571 on-base percentage since coming over to the Twins organization. His eye at the plate is outrageously good, as illustrated by a 1-to-6 K/BB ratio in six games with Wichita. He has proven already to be a playmaker in the outfield and on the basepaths.
Since the start of July, Martin has reached base in 52% of his plate appearances. That's no tiny sample. The idea of him complementing Arraez at the top of order, in front of a proven pack of power hitters, is beyond tantalizing. How far is it from becoming a reality? Next year seems likely, and maybe even from the start. But in order to make Martin a viable candidate for Opening Day, the Twins will need to take some preparatory steps. I'll be quite curious to see if he joins the club as a September call-up, or at least gets a late-season look in Triple-A.
His defensive profile makes Martin an especially intriguing piece in the team's planning. Could he take over in center field if Buxton is traded this offseason? Maybe Martin steps in at second with Polanco pivoting back to short. Or perhaps, as I posited in my theoretical 2022 lineup on Twitter, left field is Martin's best initial entry point into the majors.
It bums me out to look ahead at the schedule right now. If things had gone as planned, this would've been an absolutely crucial and thrilling stretch: The Twins, returning home from their longest road trip of the year, face off against the White Sox, Rays, and Cleveland, in consecutive series at Target Field. Could you imagine the stakes and intensity if Minnesota was in contention?!
Alas, they are not. So all we can really look forward to is the return of Nelson Cruz to Target Field in another uniform. Hooray.
MONDAY, 8/9: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Lucas Giolito v. LHP Charlie Barnes
TUESDAY, 8/10: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – LHP Dallas Keuchel v. RHP Griffin Jax
WEDNESDAY, 8/11: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Lance Lynn v. RHP Bailey Ober
FRIDAY, 8/13: RAYS @ TWINS – LHP Shane McClanahan v. RHP Michael Pineda
SATURDAY, 8/14: RAYS @ TWINS – RHP Michael Wacha v. RHP Kenta Maeda
SUNDAY, 8/15: RAYS @ TWINS – LHP Josh Fleming v. LHP Charlie Barnes
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twinssporto reacted to Lucas Seehafer PT for an article, The Twins Have Got to Make Their Loaded Farm System Count
Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff were consensus top 100 prospects. However, outfielder Trevor Larnach, catcher Ryan Jeffers, and pitchers Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic also found their names among the league's most exciting future players depending on which prospect rankings site one preferred.
Royce Lewis lost a second straight campaign after he tore his ACL. Kirilloff, Larnach and Jeffers graduated thanks to a bevy of injuries and poor play from the MLB club. Duran and Balazovic missed time at the beginning of the season with arm injuries and slow starts. (Balazovic has turned it on as of late, while Duran was shut down with an elbow injury.)
The sheen on the Twins' top 12-15 farm system became far duller by mid-June despite the encouraging progress shown by the likes of utility infielder Jose Miranda and pitcher Josh Winder.
Before Friday's trade deadline, the Twins' system lacked a level of potential high-end talent that most of the teams inside the top 10 had, and some teams, like the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers, had in spades. However, that all changed when the Twins dealt Jose Berrios to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for shortstop Austin Martin and pitcher Simeon Woods Richardson.
Martin is a consensus top 60 prospect who hits for average, gets on base at a high clip, and has projectable power, despite his low home run output this year at Double-A. His long-term fit at shortstop is dubious, with most experts believing he'll eventually find a home at either second base or center field. Woods Richardson is a consensus top 75 prospect who boasts four legit pitches and substantial strikeout numbers but struggles with command, though, to be fair, what 20-year-old doesn't?
When paired alongside pitchers Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman, who the Twins acquired from the Rays in exchange for Nelson Cruz, the Twins added four prospects to their top 10 and two to their top five over the last two weeks to more than replenish their future talent cupboard. Their farm system metamorphosed from good to excellent, from deep to DEEP, from top 15 in the league to arguably top 5 in a brief amount of time.
But a stockpile of minor league talent does nothing for a franchise unless it's developed adequately and positively impacts the major league team or tapped into to bring in quality MLB talent. No team gets to hang a banner for having the best farm system in place.
Now the ball is in Derek Falvey, Thad Levine, and the various Twins coaching staffs' court. It is on their shoulders to make the Twins' newfound prospect currency count.
The Twins possess the most depth at starting pitcher, with the majority of their top 20 prospects - Balazovic, Woods-Richardson, Canterino, Duran, Winder, Ryan, Strotman, Blayne Enlow, Chase Petty, Cole Sands, and Chris Vallimont - having the potential to one day slot into the team's starting rotation.
Of course, not all of them will, but the more fish in the barrel, the more likely one is to snag a catch. The Twins need to develop at least two or three of their starting pitching prospects into legitimate No. 2 or 3 starters. They would also be wise to dangle a few of them as trade bait to bring in impact MLB talent, particularly if the likes of Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson, and Jorge Polanco find themselves on new teams in the coming years.
However, their talent extends beyond the mound. Miranda has exploded onto the scene and is far more likely to be considered a top 100 prospect now than entering the season. Similarly, relatively unknown prospects Matt Wallner, Edouard Julien, Jermaine Palacios, and Yunior Severino have had strong seasons, boosting their prospect status.
Despite trading the best arm the franchise has employed since Johan Santana, the Twins still see themselves as a team that can contend for a playoff spot in the not-too-distant future, and perhaps as early as next year.
"The future is very bright," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters following the Twins' trade of Berrios. "We have the pieces already here that we're trying to supplement right now with some of the moves that we're making in order to get to a point where we are a playoff baseball team again. And I don't think we're very far away."
Falvey largely echoed Baldelli's sentiment.
"Our view of this is sustainability," Falvey said of the trade. "[This year] has not been what we wanted. But we still feel, even as Jose walked out the door here, and that's not easy, don't get me wrong, that we feel we have a lot of talent in that clubhouse coming back in '22 and '23 and beyond and so how do you build a sustainable group? You've got to retool it sometimes."
The only way the Twins can find themselves back in the playoff hunt next year and beyond is if the franchise capitalizes on their current wealth of young assets. Despite their current 100-loss pace, doing so is not an unrealistic goal. They simply need to go and make it happen.
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twinssporto reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Cashing In at the Deadline Will Require Painful Decisions for Twins
The Twins, destined for irrelevance this season, have a variety of players they'd be more than happy to ship out. Impending free agents like Andrelton Simmons, Michael Pineda, Hansel Robles and J.A. Happ? Why not? Makes no difference really. Those players will be free for anyone to sign come November, and there's no reason to be clamoring for an extension with any of them.
Even players under control beyond this year, like Josh Donaldson and Miguel Sanó, could be dealt with a viable argument their salary allotment is better diverted elsewhere.
The problem, of course, is that none of these players are likely to generate significant demand at the deadline. Due either to performance, contracts, injuries, or some combination, they're all burdened by drawbacks that significantly dash their trade value. In any of these cases, the Twins are going to be accepting an underwhelming return. Many trade scenarios would qualify as no more than a salary dump.
When it comes to selling high, the front office has three opportunities, and in only two of those cases will they be able to dictate a market and drive up the asking price.
Fresh off his All-Star appearance, Nelson Cruz is an elite hitter, and basically the biggest offensive upgrade a team could ask for at the deadline. He's a bona fide difference-maker for a contender, and all but certain to get moved. But as a 41-year-old pure DH with two months left on his deal, Cruz's market is inherently limited. When you narrow down the field of teams that actually have a fit, are willing to pay his remaining salary, and are in contention for a championship, you wind up with a handful at most.
Cruz will almost surely be traded, but he's not going to bring back a game-changing prospect. That's the nature of the beast.
If the Twins want to sell high and compel another team to overpay at the deadline, they're going to need to trade away either their best starter, José Berríos, or their best reliever, Taylor Rogers.
Now this is not an endorsement of that course of action. I feel the same reservations as many people reading this do.
In part, the attachment is sentimental. Berríos and Rogers are both extremely likable, as well as extremely familiar. They are among the longest-tenured Twins players – both drafted in 2012 before making major-league debuts in 2016. They've remained constants in the rotation and bullpen while the team has changed drastically around them. Both are models of durability and consistency.
But sentimentality aside, the more important factor here is that both Berríos and Rogers are critical if not essential to any hopes of the Twins rebounding and returning to contention in 2022.
It's already difficult enough to envision the club fielding a contention-caliber rotation OR bullpen next year, given the sorry current state of both units. But when you remove the top performer (by a wide margin) in each, the task feels insurmountable.
Berríos and Rogers should theoretically be centerpieces of a retool-and-reset strategy. They are both under team control at a reasonable rate next year, and each is on top of his game. Berríos ranks seventh among AL starters in fWAR, while Rogers ranks fifth among relievers – a first-time All-Star with career highs in K-rate, swinging-strike rate, and FIP.
Of course, these are exactly the reasons they will generate outsized demand. Whereas Cruz has a narrow field of suitors, Berríos and Rogers are attractive to any team that's even THINKING about buying.
Which brings us back to the point at hand. I don't like the idea of trading either of these long-time fixtures, especially when you'd be subtracting from a clear area of weakness. But no one can deny that if the Twins want to make a real splash and acquire substantial prospect capital to aid whatever scale of rebuild they are about to undertake ... they really have no other choice.
This front office prides itself on being opportunistic, and has never been weighed down by sentimentality. We'll see where they land.
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twinssporto reacted to Lucas Seehafer PT for an article, Game Recap: Twins 9, Detroit 4
Ober: 3 1/3 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
Home Runs: Alex Kirilloff (8), Jorge Polanco (11)
Top 3 WPA: Jorge Polanco .454, Luis Arraez .128, Alexander Colomé .124
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
It appeared as though a win simply wasn’t in the cards for the Twins for the majority of the game on Saturday afternoon.
Starting pitcher Bailey Ober started off the game strong, striking out the side in the first inning, but flamed out brightly during the Tigers’ second time through the order. Niko Goodrum and Zack Short crushed balls over the fence and Harold Castro brought in another to give Detroit a 4-0 lead after four innings.
But, remarkably, things started to go the Twins’ way in the second half of the game.
Derek Law and Danny Coloumbe came on in relief for Ober and pitched 3 ⅔ innings of scoreless ball. Alex Kirilloff blasted a home run over the right centerfield fence to cut the lead to 4-2 in the sixth. Jorge Polanco added three more in the seventh with his 11th home run of the season. Alexander Colomé pitched a scoreless top of the eighth inning after allowing a leadoff double and four Twins’ runners touched home in the bottom of the frame.
After the dust had settled, the Twins had turned a 4-0 deficit with an 8.2% win expectancy into a 9-4 win, clinching a series victory over the Tigers.
While their opponent was not exactly the same caliber of, say, a Chicago or Boston, the Twins’ win on Saturday should provide the masses with a breath of fresh air. The bullpen performed well, the offense came through in the clutch, one of the franchise’s premier prospects hit a mammoth bomb. At the end of the day, a quality win is a quality win, regardless of opponent.
A Note on Ober
Although Ober struggled against an iffy Tigers lineup, he continued to display signs of promise for the future.
By now it has been well established that his fastball is significantly improved from the last time he played live ball in 2019 and it is that improvement that helped propel him into the majors this season. However, the key for him moving forward is all about process.
At 92-94 mph, Ober isn’t going to overpower batters on a consistent basis. That is where his strong command and control comes into play. If he is able to place a 94 mph heater wherever he wishes, he becomes a much more dangerous opponent. However, over his last two starts, his command has been mediocre at best. He walked three during his win over the White Sox and two against the Tigers on Saturday.
But, I wonder if the Twins are working with him on improving his pitch placement. Ober consistently works his fastball up in the zone with up-and-away being the second most frequent location it was deployed against Detroit; this is where his fastball is most effective. He couples his fastball with a sharp curveball down in the zone. In the minors, pitchers of Ober’s caliber can get away with somewhat shoddy pitch command/location. That won’t fly against a major league batting order.
Making adjustments on the fly to where he is looking to throw the ball would help explain at least some of the control issues Ober has displayed as of late. His strikeout numbers are there, but once his command improves and he starts missing more barrels, he’ll be right in-line to contend for a rotation spot moving forward.
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Law 0 0 50 0 0 27 77 Thielbar 29 0 20 0 20 0 69 Duffey 17 0 0 15 0 21 53 Rogers 31 0 0 6 0 0 37 Robles 12 0 0 0 24 0 36 Colomé 0 14 0 0 0 17 31 Coulombe 0 12 0 0 0 13 25 Alcala 0 0 0 0 23 0 23
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