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  1. Like
    GV14218 reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, The Alex Kirilloff Situation Is a Colossal Bummer   
    Alex Kirilloff's first stretch in the majors (not counting his postseason debut in 2020) was a great example of why you shouldn't put too much stock into results over a modest sampling of at-bats, at least without taking a deeper look. He started out his career in an 0-for-15 slump, but it was clear to anyone watching that Kirilloff was hardly overmatched. He wasn't striking out and when he connected he was driving the ball. 
    We all knew the hits were going to come. And they did, in a hurry. The outfielder broke out with a nine-game hitting streak that included three doubles and four home runs. But during that stretch – on May 3rd, while sliding into second on one of those doubles – Kirilloff hurt his wrist. And since then nothing has really been the same.
    He kept playing for a couple more months but managed only 13 extra-base hits in 46 games the rest of the way before undergoing surgery in July. The hope was that this procedure would correct the wrist issue while also giving him plenty of time to rehab and be ready for this 2022 season. Unfortunately, it hasn't played out like that.
    At no point this year has Kirilloff really looked like himself. He opened the season in a 1-for-17 slump and unlike that opening drought from last year, this one carried no signs of being a mirage. He admitted his wrist was still causing him "a lot of pain" while swinging and went on the injured list, receiving a cortisone shot. Since returning, little has changed.
    Statcast, which measures the quality and characteristics of batted balls, paints an almost incomprehensibly grim picture of Kirilloff's performance. His highest exit velocity all year is 100.8 MPH, which puts him in the 9th percentile of MLB hitters for Max AV. Last year he topped that number 35 times. His average exit velocity is down to 85 MPH from 91 last year. He has recorded zero barrels all season, meaning he basically has not once truly squared a ball up.
    Kirilloff's launch angle is what really tells the story. It's at -14.1 degrees this year, which means he is basically hitting everything directly into the ground. The extreme nature of that figure cannot be overstated – there is not a single qualified MLB player with a negative launch angle this season, much less that deep in the red. Last year there was one player in the negative (Raimel Tapia of the Rockies at -4.4). 
    It's unheard of. Kirilloff's swing is completely broken and that is especially hard to see from a player of his natural talent, who was showing glimpses of letting that talent shine. Kirilloff says he's never been able to swing pain-free since the surgery, and he now sounds like he's just trying to cope with this new reality.
    "There's still discomfort, and he thinks that his swing does feel different from how it did before the surgery," wrote Do-Hyoung Park for MLB.com. "He's just not able to pinpoint the exact ways in which it feels different. It might be physical. It might be mental. It's likely some combination of both."
    I wish I could feel confident he was going to head to Triple-A and figure things out in short order. But Kirilloff is just so far from where he needs to be, and the path to getting there is so unclear. Playing in a doubleheader for the Saints on Sunday, he notched four hits – all singles. The former standout slugger still has yet to collect his first extra-base hit through 69 plate appearances in the majors and minors.
    The Twins need his bat at its full potency. Kirilloff can be a pivotal difference-maker for this lineup, as without him they are severely lacking for left-handed power. They need this swing back: 
    Is it still within him? The 24-year-old is going to try to find something that works over the coming weeks at St. Paul. If another month or so passes without the power starting to manifest, you have to wonder if they'll turn to Plan B: another surgery. 
    Park mentioned in his article that a procedure could be done to create more space between bones where Kirilloff's cartilage has worn away, contributing to the discomfort. He added that this surgery is "more invasive and involves shortening his ulna altogether by breaking and cutting out a section of the bone."
    Sounds unpleasant and undesirable. But we're now basically sorting through bad scenarios to land on the least bad. And in the meantime, Kirilloff – who already lost a full year of his career to Tommy John surgery – is watching his prime playing days pass by while he wrestles with, in his words, "one long, continuous puzzle to try to figure out."
  2. Like
    GV14218 reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Why Trouble Could Lie Ahead for One Key Twins Reliever   
    Pagán is entering his age-31 season, and he has bounced around MLB over the last six seasons. His first two seasons were in AL West as he pitched in relief for Seattle and Oakland. In 112 1/3 innings, he posted a 3.85 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP and 9.5 K/9. Tampa Bay added him for the 2019 season, and he posted career-bests in nearly every statistical category, including 20 saves. Like many relievers, the Rays were able to get the best out of him before shipping him away. 

    His time in San Diego pointed to a few concerning trends as he posted a 4.75 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in 85 1/3 innings. In Tampa, he was able to keep the ball in the park, avoid hard contact, and miss enough bats to be effective. There's a reason the Padres were looking for a different late-inning reliever, and Minnesota is searching for the 2019 version of Pagán. 

    During the 2021 season, there were plenty of things that went wrong in San Diego, and Pagán may have played a role in the team's downfall. His Hard Hit % and Barrel % ranked in the 7th percentile or lower, which resulted in him allowing one of baseball's worst average exit velocities. Batters posted a .538 SLG against his fastball last season, so changing his pitch mix may be something the Twins examine with him. 

    Giving up that much hard contact also results in more home runs. Last season, he posted a career-worst 2.3 HR/9 after posting a 1.6 HR/9 for his career. His 13 home runs allowed in 2021 may have been higher had he not been pitching with San Diego's spacious outfield behind him. Home run rates can be unstable, especially for relievers, but it will be something to watch this season. 

    Another concern from 2021 was his lack of first-pitch strikes, which tends to increase a pitcher's walk rate. Last season, he posted a 2.6 BB/9, which was slightly above his 2.3 BB/9 for his career. Many projection systems viewed his walk rate as an area of concern for the 2022 campaign. If a reliever can't throw first-pitch strikes, there is a good chance he will allow more base runners, which is a recipe for disaster. 

    FanGraphs’s ZiPs projection identified Pagán as a potential bust candidate. According to them, “A bust is a player who will step down a tier in performance or who is in a down cycle and has passed the window to get back to what they used to be. None of the players involved are literally without value, and some of them are still really good.“ There is still an opportunity for Pagán to provide value to the Twins this season.

    In limited action this season, the Twins have already attempted to make some changes with Pagán. His fastball usage has decreased while his cutter has stayed the same. So, what's the most significant change? For the first time in his career, he is using a split-finger pitch. Relievers tend to have such a small sample size throughout a season, but it will be interesting to see his success in adding this pitch to his repertoire. 
    Even with some struggles last season, Pagán showcased some strong areas on which the Twins can capitalize. His fastball spin ranked in the 91st percentile, even with MLB cracking down on the use of sticky substances. His Whiff% ranked in the 74th percentile, his K% ranked in the 67th percentile, and his xBA ranked in the 65th percentile. If Minnesota trusts Pagán in late-inning situations, he needs to continue to improve in these areas. 

    Do you think Pagán is destined to be a bust this season, or do you think he can be a reliable option in the back of the Twins' bullpen? Leave a COMMENT and join the discussion. 
  3. Like
    GV14218 reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Tyler Duffey's Dreadful Start Is Déjà Vu All Over Again   
    To suggest that Duffey is solely responsible for the two losses he's been tagged with is not quite fair. In both cases he was working with an extremely thin late-game lead thanks to an offense that just can't seem to get going.
    Nevertheless, both on April 9th against Seattle and on Tuesday night against Kansas City, Duffey entered with a fresh inning and one-run lead. In both cases, those leads turned to deficits (and eventual losses) on his watch.
    As a result, Duffey enters play on Wednesday with the worst Win Probability Added (-0.88) among all major-league players. If this feels familiar, there's a reason. In 2021, Alex Colomé had the worst WPA in the majors by a wide margin for the month of April. We saw the effect his implosion had on the course of the Twins season. It's difficult not to feel a sense of déjà vu.
    Now, it also must be noted that we're dealing with incredible small sample sizes here. Duffey has made only three appearances this season. Making rash decisions on such a basis tends to be unwise. For example, Liam Hendriks also finds himself near the bottom of the WPA leaderboard – I doubt the White Sox are about to bump him into mop-up duty.
    But there is really no optimism to be drawn from Duffey's performance. He looks TERRIBLE. It seemed clear that he was on the road to regression last year as his peripherals all slid downward, but it was hard to envision such an extraordinary manifestation of this regression so rapidly.

    The main problem is that Duffey's fastball, which needs to be a reliable mainstay to set up his breaking ball, is an unusable pitch. He has thrown it 22 times so far and produced zero swings and misses. When putting the four-seamer in play, opponents are 4-for-6 with two doubles and a  home run. The average exit velocity on this contact is a whopping 103 MPH. Good grief.
    Rocco Baldelli is short on alternatives at the back end of the bullpen presently, which casts a pall on the decision to trade Taylor Rogers on the eve of Opening Day. (Rogers, by the way, is 5-for-5 in save attempts with a 0.00 ERA for the Padres.) 
    But using Duffey in big spots is simply not an option right now. He needs to be relegated to low leverage and unless things change quickly he's probably going to be on DFA watch. 
    It's unfortunate to see from a well-liked player who's been with the organization for so long. But the Twins don't have the luxury of letting sentimentality affect their decision-making. Baldelli simply cannot stand idly by and let another season spin off the rails out of deference to a bad relief pitcher based on nothing more than stature and track record. He just can't.
  4. Like
    GV14218 reacted to Cody Christie for an article, CJ Cron vs. Miguel Sanó: Did the Twins Swing and Miss?   
    The 2019 season was one of the most memorable Twins seasons in recent memory. After nearly a decade of irrelevancy, Minnesota’s Bomba Squad was born, with the team clubbing an MLB-record 307 home runs. Five Twins hitters combined for 30 or more home runs, and the team won over 100 games for only the second time in franchise history. 

    During the 2019 season, Miguel Sanó became a first-time member of the 30 home run club. For the season, he hit .247/.346/.576 (.923) with 34 home runs and a 139 OPS+. He set career highs in nearly every offensive category but so did a lot of other Twins players. MLB’s baseballs from that season were flying out of parks at tremendous rates, so many players accumulated hollow stats that season before the baseballs returned to normal. Following the season, the Twins signed Sanó to a three-year, $30 million contract that would keep him in Minnesota through the 2022 season. 

    Since signing his extension, Sanó has frustrated fans with his record-breaking strikeout totals and offensive inconsistencies. In 197 games, he has batted .213/.302/.459 (.761) with a 109 OPS+ and 283 strikeouts. His slow start to the 2022 season was also concerning, but fans have seen his streakiness in the past. It’s also very early into the 2022 campaign, and all of Minnesota’s hitters have struggled so far. 
    CJ Cron was another member of that Bomba Squad roster, but he fell just shy of the 30 home run plateau. In 125 games, he hit .253/.311/.496 (.780) with 25 home runs and a 104 OPS+. It was disappointing to see Cron post an OPS+ that was eight points below his career mark in a heightened offensive environment. He missed time during the season with a thumb injury, and there were concerns that the injury could linger into the 2020 campaign. Minnesota non-tendered him during the offseason, and he hit the free-agent market. 

    Since leaving the Twins, Cron has provided tremendous value when he has been on the field. A knee injury limited him to 13 games in 2020, but he posted an .894 OPS with seven extra-base hits. Cron headed to Colorado in 2021 and posted one of the best seasons of his career. In 142 games, he hit .281/.375/.530 (.905) with 31 doubles and 28 home runs. Over the last three seasons, FanGraphs ranks Cron as the 13th most valuable first baseman. Sanó is 25th on the list and ranks only ahead of three players with a minimum of 600 plate appearances. 
    Cron’s overall value comes from how much better defensively he is at first base compared to Sanó. According to SABR’s Defensive Index, Cron posted a 1.2 SDI last season, which ranked seventh in the National League. Only one AL first baseman, Bobby Dalbec, posted a lower mark than Sanó’s -5.6 SDI. Cron was also worth five more outs above average than Sanó during the 2021 season. Overall, Cron might not be elite defensively, but he is a step up compared to Sanó. 

    Many teams will look at the Cron versus Sanó situation with the same lens as the Twins. Sanó was multiple years younger and coming off a season where he had a 139 OPS+. That same winter, the Twins added Josh Donaldson to play third base, which pushed Sanó over to first. Cron was a solid player during his time in Minnesota, but he never fit into the team’s long-term plans. Now, that might look like the team took a swing and a miss.

    Do you think the Twins made the wrong choice at first base? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  5. Like
    GV14218 reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, The Lockout Diaries: Week 7   
    When I wrote to you last I expressed minimal hope for the bargaining session that was about to take place. It turns out my total lack of faith was warranted.  
    Passan's assessment above is being generous. Spring training starting on time is not "in peril," it's out the window. The question now is how far it'll be pushed back, and whether the delays will spill over to the regular season.
    Just writing that last sentence fills me with dread. This is all so dumb. The game of baseball is incredibly profitable and fans are hungry for it. Reasonable compromises are surely available. 
    Yet there is no evident sense of urgency. The league waited six weeks before making a formal proposal on core economics. The players rejected it, and a week later, are said to be "preparing a response to MLB’s recent proposal to be delivered within days." We're fast closing in on February.
    "At present, the 'talks' between the parties still amount to theater," writes Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic, "a Kabuki dance of proposals and counter-proposals that neither side is taking seriously."
    I feel no confidence or optimism. Why would I? There hasn't been one signal to justify a positive attitude toward this process. 
    It sucks.
    To reference a 20-year-old quote in Rosenthal's article from Bud Selig (the former commissioner who looks remarkably competent in comparison to his successor): "If you remove hope and faith from the mind of a fan, you destroy the fabric of the sport.”
  6. Like
    GV14218 reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Local Man Angrier at Millionaires than Billionaires   
    The owners of Major League Baseball locked out the players just after midnight on Thursday morning, ensuring baseball’s first work stoppage in over a quarter century. And Shad Browne knows who to blame.
    “These players are greedy and entitled, I’m sick of ‘em,” said the Fairmont landscaper. “They get paid money to play a game and sometimes you’ve gotta take a stand.”
    The owners, wealthier than the players by a monstrous degree and living lives of unimaginable luxury, do not receive the same level of disdain from Browne.
    “Lotta these owners are entrepreneurs who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps to make their money,” said Browne incorrectly. “Meanwhile, the modern player just takes a day off when they feel like it. The way I see it, you don’t play, you don’t get paid.”
    Browne, who took PTO last Monday because the Vikings lost and he was “super hungover,” said he sees a lot of himself in owners, despite this being remarkably untrue.
    “They’re just trying to run a business same as anyone else,” he said with the steady resolve that only the deeply ignorant possess. “I guess I’d just like to see a little more gratitude and a little less attitude from the millennial generation.”
    Browne, who used the word “meritocracy” in reference to a country where you don’t have to work a day in your life if your great-granddad sold mustard gas to Kaiser Wilhelm, dismissed the notion that the owners should take some of the blame for instigating the lockout they instigated.
    “At the end of the day, they’ve got a business to run,” said Browne, for whom the concept of generational wealth has never so much as registered for one second of one day. “If the players can’t handle that, they can get a job just like anyone else.
    “It’s just not right,” said the cornfed rube.
  7. Like
    GV14218 reacted to Jamie Cameron for an article, 3 Free Agent Relief Pitching Additions Who Fit The Twins Offseason Strategy   
    It was already over by May 1st. The futility of the Twins 2021 season was summed up by the first-half performance of its pitching staff. The Twins hurlers collected a pitifully sad 4.4 fWAR in the first half of the season, good for 29th in MLB. For the sake of comparison, the White Sox, who had the best first half, came in at 16.1 fWAR. The bullpen itself finished 26th. This is one of the occasions where the eye test and the numbers match up.
    We all remember April, Alexander Colome being sent out night after night, like an unsuspecting contestant in ‘Red Light, Green Light’ from Squid Game. It ended the same on almost every occasion, a sad, predictable massacre. 
    There was an improvement, however. The Twins finished middle of the pack by most metrics in the second half, although their outcomes belied some of the processes, with a cumulative K/9 in the bottom third of the league and vastly better BaBIP, the Twins bullpen is an important area of focus if the team is to compete in 2022. Similarly to last week, when I wrote about starting pitching free-agent options, I’m choosing to make some assumptions for the sake of looking at some targets in this piece.
    The Twins have some strong pieces in place. Assuming their return, Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Jorge Alcala, and Caleb Thielbar provide the bullpen with a strong spine. They have some effective pieces in place, a couple of high-leverage arms, and are all set on lefties.
      The Twins have strong options at AA and AAA. Jovani Moran and his deadly changeup made their major league debut in September. The Twins have additional high-quality, high-velocity arms that performed well at AAA, including Yennier Cano, Ian Hamilton, and Ryan Mason. Those three alone combined for 235 strikeouts in 183 MiLB innings in 2021. In addition to Moran, that’s a group that should be counted on for 1-2 spots in the 2022 season.
      2021 will not scare the front office away from waiver wire pickups. The Twins did not show an ability to tweak or develop any waiver-wire pickups in 2021, a la Matt Wisler in 2020. That doesn’t mean that they should, or will, stop looking for value.
      The Twins need to try and add some stability to the bullpen through free agency. The organization is presented with a difficult challenge, then. Add stability to the solid bullpen foundation already in place with some consistent, reliable free-agent additions. Relief pitchers are notoriously fickle, so fleshing out the bullpen will present a tricky off-season challenge. There is no shortage of options available in the relief pitching market. I counted 92 free agent relief pitchers, with two-thirds of those having positive 2021 seasons. So who are some possibilities the Twins may target?
    Kendall Graveman
    Graveman made just $1.25 million in 2021 with the Mariners and Astros, so is due for a solid raise in advance of the 2022 season. He made all kinds of breakthroughs this season with his average fastball velocity climbing from 94.2 mph to 96.5 mph and his K/9 increasing from 7.23 to 9.80. Graveman finished the season with an xERA of 3.65 in 56 innings pitched and was acquired by the Astros at the deadline.
    Archie Bradley
    Bradley was a popular addition candidate with Twins fandom in 2020. He signed for Philadelphia on a 1-year, $6 million deal and should get a similar AAV in 2022. Bradley has strong velocity in the mid-90s but did see some concerning drop-offs in 2021. His K/9 fell to 7.1 (from a previous high of 10.9) and his control was inconsistent. It’s also worth noting that Philadelphia seems to be where relief pitching goes to die. Bradley would be a strong possibility for the Twins if the front office sees something they can tweak in his approach, as the stuff and the track record is there.
    Corey Knebel
    Knebel rebounded in 2021 after a dreadful 2020. Unsurprisingly, it was the Dodgers who helped him find his best stuff again. Knebel put together a 2.96 xERA in 25 2/3 innings, maintaining a healthy 10.5 K/9. Knebel is a true two-pitch reliever (fastball/curveball) who can run it up into the high 90s. The Dodgers trusted him to open a critical Game 5 of the NLDS against the Giants. Knebel was tied to the Dodgers on a 1-year, $5.25 million deal in 2021. 
    Which of these candidates do you like or not like for the Twins bullpen? Which other free-agent relief pitchers would you like to see the Twins target?
  8. Like
    GV14218 reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, No Half Measures   
    In a vacuum, Josh Donaldson is not overpaid despite what some frustrated fans may tell you. His time missed in 2020 was frustrating albeit not as costly as it appears considering his prorated salary in the 60 game season. In 2021, he was actually one of the regulars in the lineup day in and day out. As a whole, Donaldson has slashed .243/.355/.474 with the Twins, far from the “wasted payroll” reputation some have pinned on him.
    That being said, he’s 35 years old with a tremendous injury history in addition to having about $50m remaining on his salary over the next two years. The result of all of these factors leave the Twins with a fantastic player with an enormous ceiling and about as low of a floor a player can have. For that very reason, it’s difficult to blame them for at least exploring the trade market given the year they just came off of. They shouldn’t be so quick to pull the trigger on a deal without lining themselves up for a slam dunk however. 
    This was a recently reported idea for a trade between the Twins and Milwaukee who will likely need an impact third base option in 2022. It’s a perfect example of the type of trade the Twins shouldn’t do. There’s almost no scenario where the Twins don’t pay down significant money to get Donaldson’s contract off the books. The issue is trades like this make the Twins worse in the present and offer little payoff for the future.
    Dumping about $35m in future payroll would likely look appealing to ownership. That being said, doing so probably lands them in a situation like this one where the Twins take on money of their own in Jackie Bradley Jr.’s $9.5m and $6.5m buyout in 2023. JBJ slashed .163/.236/.261 en route to a -0.8 fWAR finish on the season. Worse than Matt Shoemaker, Andrelton Simmons etc.
    Perhaps taking on money isn’t out of the question, but the younger pieces in the deal have to be at least somewhat appealing. In this scenario, they receive 19 year old RHP Logan Henderson and 22 year old outfielder Joey Wiemer, #21 and 23 in the Brewers system respectively. Prospects from the 20s range aren’t very exciting for most teams, but the Brewers in particular are a bottom 5 system by most prospect sites. 
    So in review, the Twins get to save a bunch of money in the future, although not a ton after taking on a much less valuable player. Their lineup and team as a whole takes a significant downgrade in regards to the 2022 Opening Day lineup. They also get two prospects who have a very insignificant chance of making any impact on the team in the future. This type of trade would be a mistake.
    The Twins have two options in my opinion. They may very well be gearing up to spend big this winter and acquire some legitimate pieces via free agency and trade. In which case, gamble on the health of Josh Donaldson who will still be one of the premier players on the team if healthy. His salary doesn’t impede their spending plans nearly as much as it gets credit for.
    The second option is to come to terms with 2022 not being the year. If you don’t want to spend down immediately for a comeback season, paying most if not all of that contract in a trade should be the goal. It’s already on the payroll and one way or another, they’ll pay some sort of price on it. Might as well write a fat check to a competing team in a deal where the recipient gets instantly better and the Twins can command some impactful prospect capital in return.
    One way or another, the Twins need to commit 100% when it comes to the Josh Donaldson decision. There’s no point in taking half measures for a team whose winter will have an enormous tilt not only on the 2022 season, but the next few years to come. Should they hold onto their star third baseman or sell him off for the best trade package? Let us know below!
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  9. Like
    GV14218 reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Twins Catcher May Be Marlins Perfect Catch   
    It's clear that starting pitching is Minnesota's biggest priority this winter, and the team will have to be creative to fill all the starting rotation needs. One of the avenues will undoubtedly be to explore the trade market. Free-agent starting pitching costs a premium, and the current regime hasn't been successful signing players in the past. 

    Enter the Miami Marlins and their surplus of starting pitching. It seems like no team can have too much starting pitching, but the Marlins have a strong farm system and other MLB-ready options. According to MLB Pipeline, six of their top-10 prospects are pitchers, including four pitchers at the Double-A level or higher.

    Marlins manager Don Mattingly made it clear that upgrading catcher is a priority for the club this winter. "It's an area we're looking at," Mattingly said. "It's fairly safe to say it was some kind of message when we grabbed two catchers at the trade deadline and we also have Nick Fortes up here."

    Fortes, a 2018 MLB Draft pick, posted a 1.030 OPS in 34 plate appearances. However, he has a .651 OPS in 190 minor league games. Alex Jackson and Payton Henry, both catchers acquired at the deadline, struggled after joining the Marlins organization. With no clear long-term option, the Marlins can look to the free-agent class, but Yan Gomes (98 OPS+) is the best option.

    Minnesota entered the season with what looked like one of baseball's best catching duos, but there were some struggles along the way. Ryan Jeffers struggled offensively at the Triple-A and MLB-level. Mitch Garver found his swing after a rough first month, but he was limited to 68 games. Minnesota's catching future is uncertain with both players' inconsistent 2021 campaign.

    From the Twins' perspective, Garver seems like the more likely player to be traded. He is six years older than Jeffers, and he has multiple years of team control remaining. Trading Garver allows the Twins to give Jeffers more regular at-bats, and it also provides the team with an opportunity to bring in a left-handed veteran catcher to serve in a back-up role (unless they feel that Ben Rortvedt is ready for such a role). 

    Other teams with established catchers are likely to reach out to the Marlins. Last winter, Miami had discussions about acquiring Willson Contreras from the Cubs, but he is only one year away from free agency. MLB Trade Rumors identified Arizona's Carson Kelly and Pittsburgh's Jacob Stallings as other possible trade candidates. Kelly posted a 104 OPS+ in 98 games, while Stallings finished the year with a 92 OPS+ in 112 games. There's also no guarantee either of those teams are interested in trading their catchers. 

    To be competitive in 2022, the Twins will need to trade MLB-level assets to acquire starting pitching. Besides the catchers, other established players like Max Kepler, Josh Donaldson, and Luis Arraez will likely hear their names in the rumor mill. For now, the Twins and Marlins seem like a strong match to make a trade this winter. 

    Do you think the Marlins and the Twins will be able to work out a deal? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 
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  10. Like
    GV14218 reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Envisioning a Good Twins Rotation in 2022 (For Real!)   
    Below I will outline a plausible path to a good Twins rotation in 2022. Not an elite rotation – that's probably a bridge too far at this point – but a good one with five solid-or-better starters, capable of competing for a postseason spot and maybe more.
    There is inherently some optimistic thinking involved here, but I don't think any of these scenarios are out of question. 
    1. Bailey Ober proves to be the real deal
    Among starting pitchers currently controlled by the Twins, Ober is the only stable fixture looking ahead to 2022. But he's establishing himself as a pretty viable building block.
    How did the big right-hander go from relative unknown to indispensable rotation cornerstone in one year's time? By adding 3-4 MPH to his fastball and shedding his label as a "soft-tosser." A few extra ticks of velocity have made a world of difference for the rookie, who is now sneaking heaters past MLB hitters and playing up his lesser offspeed stuff. Toss in excellent command, and you've got a good recipe for success. As we've seen.
    Ober's overall numbers with the Twins this year are good – 3.98 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 77-to-17 K/BB ratio in 74 ⅔ innings – but even better when you break them down to parse out his progression. 
    His K/BB ratio in the latter sample is legitimately elite (only two qualified MLB starters are averaging more than six strikeouts per walk, and they are Cy Young candidates Corbin Burnes and Gerrit Cole). When you're missing bats, limiting walks, and keeping the hits in check, you're in line for good outcomes. Ober has shown the ability to do all these things, and he's only getting better at each of them. 
    Home runs will be something to monitor, and could sidetrack him if they re-emerge as a weakness, but at this point there's no reason to think a healthy Ober won't be at least a quality #3 or 4 starter in 2022.
    2. Twins sign a #2/3 starter in free agency
    No, they're not going to sign Clayton Kershaw or Max Scherzer. Probably not Noah Syndergaard either. Even someone like Marcus Stroman or Justin Verlander may be a tad too ambitious. But with ample flexibility (should they choose to keep payroll steady or raise it slightly), there are several names in the next tier that should be within range, and it's not that hard to see one of them settling in as a mid-rotation caliber starter or better. 
    Names in this category include Corey Kluber, Charlie Morton, Alex Cobb, Andrew Heaney, and others.
    3. Acquire a #2/3 starter via trade
    Last year, the Twins acquired Maeda and watched him blossom into a Cy Young caliber performer. This year, their division rivals have done the same with Lance Lynn. 
    We don't need to set our sights that high, though it'd be nice. Jameson Taillon is a less idealistic example. He wasn't a star for Pittsburgh, and the Yankees didn't have to part with top-tier prospect talent to acquire him. But he has served as a very solid mid-rotation arm for New York, at a low price and with multiple years of control remaining.
    The Twins didn't trade away any of their system's depth last winter, and have only added to it this year by selling at the deadline. Additionally, they have a few semi-redundant pieces at the major-league level that could have value to other clubs (Max Kepler, Mitch Garver ... Luis Arraez?) The front office will have assets to deal for pitching if they are so inclined. 
    4. Re-sign Michael Pineda
    The door definitely seems wide open for a reunion, as each side has openly expressed affinity for the other, and with Pineda's challenges this year, he should be pretty affordable – maybe $4-5 million. 
    Given those challenges, I'm sure most Twins fans aren't enthused about the idea of bringing back Pineda. But let's look at the big picture here: the 32-year-old has posted a 3.98 ERA, 3.94 FIP, 1.19 WHIP, 8.3 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 during his time with the Twins. That includes his recent struggles, which can likely be attributed somewhat to health. In his first 36 starts with Minnesota, the team went 24-12. 
    His circumstances, and a theoretical desire to return here, could enable the Twins to score Pineda at the cost of a back-end starter, while hoping an offseason of rest and strengthening returns him to his previous state or close to it. 
    5. Get Randy Dobnak back on track
    As with Pineda, it's easy to get caught up in Dobnak's recent struggles while losing sight of his previous success. In fact, it's a lot easier, because Dobnak does not have nearly the track record of Pineda. But through the first 14 outings of his MLB career, the Dobber was simply phenomenal, posting a 1.69 ERA with four home runs allowed over 58 ⅔ innings. This after a tremendous minor-league career that saw him perform well at every level. Dobnak's effectiveness was no accident – the bottom simply fell out on his pitches, making them excruciatingly difficult to lift, and he consistently threw them in the zone.
    Things went south late in the 2020 season, but Dobnak rebounded with a dominant spring that compelled the Twins to invest with a modest long-term contract. And then the bottom fell out on Dobnak. We all know this season has been a complete and total disaster for the right-hander, but it's unclear to what it extent that owes to injury issues. 
    When you're a slider-reliant sinkerballer who goes from allowing four homers in your first two seasons to allowing 11 in your third, before going on IL for multiple months with a strain in the middle finger that is so crucial in creating that sink ... Well, it points to a natural explanation.
    There's no guarantee that time off will correct this issue, but we'll at least start to get an idea when Dobnak returns to the rotation on Friday. Regardless of how things go for the rest of this season, he'll most likely get a crack at the 2022 rotation given that he's under guaranteed contract. If he gets back on track and is anywhere close to the version we saw early on in his big-league career, well that's a hell of a good fifth starter.
    6. The minors provide depth and jolts
    Above, we've accounted for all five season-opening rotation spots. And we haven't yet tapped into the impressive minor-league pipeline this front office has built up. Between Joe Ryan, Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Simeon Woods-Richardson, Matt Canterino and Josh Winder, you have a bevy of high-upside arms that are all verging on MLB-ready, if not already there. 
    Granted, it's tough to depend on any of these prospects short-term, given that none have yet appeared in the majors (save Ryan, who debuted impressively on Wednesday) and the group is riddled with significant injury concerns. But that's why I'm not penciling them into any of the top five spots. We can account for those otherwise and keep these exciting arms in reserve, while knowing that just about any one of them has the potential to be a game-changing force for the Twins pitching staff if things break right.
    Look, I get that it's hard to envision multiple positive scenarios playing out in this fashion, especially with the way faith has been understandably eroded in the this front office over the past year. But one thing I find myself frequently reminding others – and myself – is that things change fast in this game. In 2016 and 2018, nobody was foreseeing good things on the near horizon. 
    The Twins made some mistakes last offseason, but have also been the victims of absolutely horrible luck. This front office and coaching staff have proven their mettle in the past. If they can learn from those mistakes and the pendulum of fortune swings in the other direction, it's not all that difficult to envision a pitching staff capable of supporting what could be a very strong offense to push Minnesota back into contender status. 
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  11. Like
    GV14218 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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  12. Like
    GV14218 reacted to Andrew Thares for an article, Game Score: Tigers 17, Twins 14   
    Box Score
    Starting Pitcher: Happ 3.0 IP, 10 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 4 BB, 2 K
    Homeruns: Sano 2 (17), Jeffers 2 (8), Kepler (14), Rooker (4), Polanco (15)
    Bottom 3 WPA: Happ -0.321, Minaya -0.158, Kepler -0.154 
    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    J.A. Happ’s Horrendous Start
    It has been far from a good season for offseason signing J.A. Happ, who put together arguably his worst outing of the season, yes even as bad as his start against the White Sox back in May. By the time the plug was finally pulled on Happ, the game was seemingly well out of reach. After giving up a couple of baserunners, but no runs in the first, Happ surrendered four singles and a walk in the second that gave the Tigers the early two run lead.
    Happ then had a strong three-up-three-down third and appeared to get his start back on the right track. That was before all hell broke loose in the fourth. To start the top of the fourth, the Tigers offense started the inning by going single, walk, double, single, single, walk, double before Rocco Baldelli finally came out and ended J.A. Happ’s outing.
    Former Tigers first round pick Beau Burrows came in to relieve Happ, and got out of the inning, but not before allowing two sac-flies and an RBI triple, giving the Tigers an early 10-0 lead. Burrows would stay in the game and pitch a scoreless fifth, after the Twins bats somehow got them back in the game, but then let the Tigers build on their lead again in the sixth. He gave up two walks to begin the inning, before Zack Short hit an RBI double. Burrows then got the next two guys on flyouts, the former being a sac-fly, before Grayson Greiner ripped another double off Burrows giving the Tigers what was at the time a 13-6 lead.
    Twins Monster 4th Inning
    After the Tigers appeared the bust the game completely wide open in the top of the fourth, the Twins bats made the game interesting after a big inning of their own. Miguel Sano got the scoring started with a leadoff solo home run to center field.
    After the Sano home run, which was nice to see, the game still felt very much not in the balance. That, however, would all change just four batters later. After the Sano home run, Trevor Larnach, Willians Astudillo and Nick Gordon all hit singles to set the table for this Ryan Jeffers grand slam!
    The Twins bats were not done after that, as they continued to pile on the hits. After Andrelton Simmons lined out to right, Max Kepler was hit by a pitch and that was the end of the road for Tigers pitcher Wily Peralta, who was replaced by Kyle Funkhouser (great name). Funkhouser did not find any more success, as Rooker, Polano and Sano all proceeded to get singles off of him to begin his outing, cutting the Tigers lead to four and giving the Twins bases loaded and just one out. They failed to capitalize on this, however, as Trevor Larnach struck out and Willians Astudillo grounded out to end the inning.

    Twins Coming Roaring Back in the 8th
    Yes, I know that was a bad Tigers pun, but it was a long game. With the Twins still down 13-6 entering the bottom of the eighth, the Twins bats exploded for a second time in today’s ballgame. Max Kepler, who has been swinging the bat a lot better in July, got the inning started with his fourteenth home run of the season, and that would not be even close to the last home run the Twins would hit this inning.
    Then it was Brent Rooker’s turn to stay hot, after he’s been tearing it up in St. Paul this year to the tune of 19 home runs and an OPS of .908 in 61 ball games for the Saints. In total, Rooker has hit 23 home runs in just 75 games played between the Saints and the Twins this season.
    Now down 13-8, it felt like the Twins were still in the ball game, and that feeling became even stronger once Jorge Polanco drew a walk to get on base for what was the most no-boudt of all no-doubters that has ever come off the bat of Miguel Sano, and that is saying something.
    According to Statcast, that home run left Miguel Sano’s bat with an exit velocity of 114.8 MPH and a launch angle of 30 degrees, traveling an estimated 473 feet into the third deck in left-center. Truly a mammoth home run, even by his standards. 
    The Twins bats did not slow down after that, as they continued to use the long ball to get back into this ballgame. After a Willians Astudillo double, sandwiched between a Tevor Larnach fly out and a Nick Gordon strike out, Ryan Jeffers blasted his second home run of the game, bringing the Twins back within one.
    Juan Minaya Shines Until Things Fall Apart in the Ninth
    After the struggles of J.A. Happ and Beau Burrows, Juan Minaya was a refreshing change of pace for the Twins on the mound, when he entered the game to start the seventh. He began his outing by retiring all six batters that he faced in the seventh and eighth innings, and came back out to pitch the ninth, after the Twins had just made it a one-run ball game. He got the inning started off strong by striking out Harold Castro, before walking Grayson Greiner. After a quick mound visit, Minaya seemed to get back on track as he struck out Akil Baddoo for the second out of the inning.
    That is when things fell apart on Minaya, who was arguably left in the game a bit too long, especially with the Twins back in it. With two outs, the Tigers proceeded to get a single and a walk to load the bases for Eric Haase, who promptly delivered with a bases clearing double to bust the game back open for the Tigers. He would then come around to score on the next batter, when Jeimer Candelario hit a double of his own, giving the Tigers a 17-12 lead.
    It is worth noting that none of the Tigers 17 runs in today’s ballgame were scored on a home run.
    Jorge Polanco Gives Twins a Glimmer of Hope in the Ninth
    Given all that had happened today, a five run lead in the ninth did not seem insurmountable for the Twins. After all, they already had two six run innings, so why not a third and the way the inning started it appeared as though that was possible. Brent Rooker leadoff the inning with a hard fought walk and was immediately followed by a home run off the bat of Jorge Polanco, the Twins seventh of the ballgame.
    That comeback effort would not come to fruition, as Miguel Sano and Trevor Larnach would both strike out and Willians Astudillo would ground out to end what was not only an incredible game, but an incredible series.
    Bullpen Usage Chart

    What's Next
    The Twins are off on Thursday before traveling to St. Louis to begin a three-game series with the Cardinals. Jose Berrios is scheduled to be on the mound for the Twins, though that is still very much up in the air depending on what happens with the trade deadline fast approaching.
  13. Like
    GV14218 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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  14. Like
    GV14218 reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Reflecting on the Best and Worst First Half Ever   
    I love baseball in all of its dissectible minutiae. I delight in overthinking every at-bat, sweating every intense moment, and debating pointless frivolities. I get a kick out of analyzing and opining on the many twists and turns of a marathon season. And offseason. (If you frequent this site, you might have noticed.)
    But more than all that, I just love the baseball experience. Removing all of the stats, trends, trades, analytics, and hot takes, I am plain and simply a baseball fan to the core. I feel at peace in the ballpark, or with sounds of the game droning on my TV or radio.
    When I was a young pup riding the bus down Cedar Avenue to the Metrodome, I didn't care much about Kirby Puckett's OPS or Brad Radke's trade value. I was just happy to be wandering through this majestic Dome, eating a hot dog and staring on at the action alongside thousands of other contented folks. If the game went long, maybe I'd even get to stay out late on a school night.
    Much has changed since those days, but the fundamental source of my passion has not. And I was reminded of this very starkly in 2020, when a cherished annual summer routine – uninterrupted since I could remember (mind you, I was 9 years old when the '94 strike took place) – fell apart.
    As the pandemic unfolded two springs ago, I was highly skeptical a season of record could be salvaged. Happily I was wrong. Major League Baseball managed to pull off a shortened 60-game season, and it was entirely fine. Much better than nothing. 
    But it never quite felt authentic, and was over almost as quickly as it began. (The Twins played their 60th game of this season five weeks ago.) Most crucially, like so many diehards across the country, I never got to attend a game. It's an irrelevant footnote in the face of all the tragedy and trauma faced by so many last year, but losing the ballpark experience was a bummer. I promised myself that when we emerged from it all and congregated once again at the stadium, I'd savor the hell out of it.
    And that I have. I've attended more Twins games at Target Field in the first half of this season than any previous. (And a couple at Kauffman Stadium!) I've run into random friends, heckled opposing outfielders, inhaled messy brats, beat the buzzer on bottom-of-seventh beers, and gazed wordlessly from my seat for indefinite stretches at the beautifully bland cadence of baseball, in all of its calm and rhythmic glory. 
    Lord, did I miss it.
    I attended two games this past weekend, during a sweep of the Tigers to close out the first half. Let's just say it cemented my deep gratitude for the return of (relative) normalcy in the realm of baseball. On Friday I grabbed bleacher seats with high school friends and felt the electricity of the year's biggest crowd. The place was alive. Sunday, I joined up with a whole gaggle of Twins Daily writers – many of whom I'd scarcely had met before, what with the absence of events for 16 months – and we had a ball milling about on the Gray Duck Deck. Considerable Bomba Juice was consumed. 
    These times are golden. They're what fuel my fandom and love for the sport, through thick and thin. I don't know if this year's Twins season would be described as thick or thin (kinda weird descriptors?), but what matters is we're all trudging through it together, and Sunday was an excellent reminder of that: a perfect punctuation to the best and worst damn first half of Twins baseball ever. 
    The return of baseball as we know and love it would be way more fun, obviously, if our favorite team did not fall flat and completely erase any pretense of contention by the All-Star Game. But them's the breaks. 
    The home team hasn't won much, and it's a shame.
    Still, those eternal words ring truer than ever: Take me out to the ballgame. Take me out with the crowd.
  15. Like
    GV14218 reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Twins Rookie Duo Impresses While Other Teams' Top Prospects Struggle   
    In 2020’s aftermath, organizations are going to attempt to get their prospects back on track to eventually have big-league success. Missing all the 2020 season forced teams to get creative with plans for prospect development as many players were relegated to home workout plans. Minnesota was lucky enough to have room at their alternate site for top prospects like Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach and they have reaped the benefits so far this season.
    Kirilloff struggled this spring and was left off the Opening Day roster, but he has put together some strong numbers since the Twins called him up. He ended the first half with a .765 OPS and a 113 OPS+ including 20 extra-base hits. Larnach isn’t that far behind as he has compiled a .755 OPS and a 113 OPS+ with 16 extra-base hits. While these players have succeeded, other top prospects have struggled so far in their first taste of the big leagues.
    Tampa’s Wander Franco entered the season as baseball’s consensus top prospect, but things haven’t been easy for him so far. In his first 15 games, he has hit .197/.258/.328 and combined for a 67 OPS+. He just turned 20-years old in March so there is plenty of time for him to find his groove. Tampa likely hopes he finds it sooner rather than later as they are part of a tight race in the AL East.
    Seattle’s Jarred Kelenic started the year ranked as baseball’s number four prospect by Baseball America and MLB.com. He got 23 games under his belt and the results were bad enough that Seattle sent him back to Triple-A. He hit .096/.185/.193 with 26 strikeouts in 83 at-bats. He is still part of the long-term plan in Seattle and his bat seems to be getting back on track in the minors.
    Atlanta’s Cristian Pache ranked as a top-20 prospect by all three national top-100 lists. But like Franco and Kelenic, he has struggled to find his stroke in the majors. In 22 games, he has hit .111/.152/.206 with 25 strikeouts in 63 at-bats. Ronald Acuna’s season ending injury might allow him to get some more at-bats as the season progresses, but he there are some obvious areas of improvement.
    The 2021 season has been dreadful for the Twins as well as some of baseball’s top prospects. Thankfully, Kirilloff and Larnach have been forced into some situations that will be learning experiences moving forward. Even with some recent struggles, Larnach has been consistently hitting in the middle of the line-up. Kirilloff has come up with some big hits and important defensive plays. It’s a small positive in the middle of a terrible Twins campaign.
    Franco, Kelenic, and Pache may all be better players than Minnesota’s duo, but it’s clear that Kirilloff and Larnach have more than lived up to their scouting reports in the season’s first half. Now they need to continue to make adjustments to stay ahead of the rest of baseball’s top prospects.
    What have your impressions been of Minnesota’s rookie duo? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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  16. Like
    GV14218 reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Week in Review: Break Time   
    Weekly Snapshot: 7/5 through Sun, 7/11
    Record Last Week: 5-2 (Overall: 39-50)
    Run Differential Last Week: +7 (Overall: -57)
    Standing: T-4th Place in AL Central (15.0 GB)
    Last Week's Game Recaps:
    Game 83 | MIN 8, CWS 5: Ober Picks Up First MLB Win
    Game 84 | CWS 4, MIN 1: Berríos Gets No Help in Brilliant Outing
    Game 85 | CWS 6, MIN 1: Bats Have No Answer for Lance Lynn
    Game 86 | MIN 5, DET 3: Happ and Hitters Go Deep as Twins Top Tigers
    Game 87 | MIN 4, DET 2: Tides Turn for Twins in 4-Run Sixth Inning
    Game 88 | MIN 9, DET 4: Late Surge from Offense Lifts Twins
    Game 89 | MIN 12, DET 9: Polanco Walks Off Detroit in 10th 
    Even after taking four straight from Detroit, improving to 7-2 against them this year, the Twins are still only tied with the Tigers for fourth place in the AL Central standings. That speaks to how badly things were going beforehand – with another series loss against the White Sox earlier in the week, Minnesota had fallen to a season-high 15.5 games out of first place.
    The Twins head into the All-Star break with several players sidelined, including key cogs like Byron Buxton and Mitch Garver. But the steady stream of injuries has thankfully slowed to a trickle of late, with more additions than subtractions in the past couple weeks. The latest activation was Michael Pineda, who replaced Griffin Jax on the active roster but struggled in his return on Wednesday.
    It sounds like Garver and Jake Cave could be firing up rehab stints shortly after the break concludes. 
    Top performers from the past week included:
    Max Kepler, who has sprung to life after watching his batting average dip below .200 at the end of June. Kepler has raised his OPS by nearly 100 points in July, and the last week helped a lot as he went 9-for-24 with three home runs and seven RBIs. He is a sleeper candidate to be traded this month. José Berríos is less of a sleeper and more of a prime deadline asset for the selling Twins. We'll see if they get an offer that compels them to trade their best starter, but Berríos is doing his part to stoke the market. He went seven innings in both of his two starts this past week, striking out 18 and allowing just four hits.   Luis Arraez started six of the seven games and collected hits in each, finishing the week 10-for-26. Since returning from the IL in mid-June, Arraez is batting .329/.376/.459 with five doubles and three triples in 23 games. It was a relatively quiet week for Jorge Polanco, who went 7-for-28 to keep his batting average in the .250 range, but he finished with a bang on Sunday, driving in a career-high five runs and sending the Twins into the break with a walk-off win.
    Adjustments might be catching up with Trevor Larnach. The rookie outfielder has so impressed manager Rocco Baldelli that he's now hitting third or fourth on a regular basis, but Larnach finds himself in a real funk as the All-Star break arrives. The last week saw him go 4-for-26 with 15 strikeouts in 29 plate appearances, including golden sombreros (4 Ks) on both Saturday and Sunday.
    Major-league pitchers are finding ways to attack and exploit Larnach, who has a 22-to-3 K/BB ratio this month. Now the impetus is on him to make his own adjustments and get back on track. Given the caliber of hitter he is, that seems likely, and these will be the intriguing sorts of threads to follow in the second half of this wayward season.
    Another key figure to follow will be Bailey Ober, who struggled against Detroit on Saturday, coughing up four runs over 3 ⅓ innings while laboring through 79 pitches. The big right-hander has an opportunity to more or less lock down a 2022 rotation spot with a good showing this year, but he's gonna need to step it up. Ober has gotten through five innings only twice in eight starts, and lapses like Saturday's have been all too common. He flashes strikeout stuff and his control has been pretty solid, but he's given up nine homers in 33 innings. 
    Can he solve the long-ball woes in the second half? And how much opportunity will have to do so, as the Twins carefully manage his workload coming off the lost season? 
    The MLB Draft is officially underway and the Twins made their first two picks on Sunday night, selecting a pair of prep stars with enticing upside.
    With their first pick, at #26 overall, the Twins took Chase Petty, a right-handed pitcher out of Mainland Regional High School in New Jersey. The hard-throwing hurler is reputed for a fastball that touches triple digits, but he slid to the back of the first round because he has trouble controlling it. If the Twins can harness his command and keep him healthy they may have a gem here. 
    At #36, the Twins used their second pick to take another 18-year-old high schooler, this time going with shortstop Noah Miller out of Ozaukee High School in Wisconsin. He's considered a defensive specialist – which is good because it means he should stick at short – but he has the tools to become a two-way threat.
    The Twins' first two picks in this draft don't exactly scream "immediate help," and are a departure from this front office's typical tendency to jump on college players in the early rounds. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. We'll see where the organization goes from here. The draft continues on Monday with rounds 2 through 10, and Minnesota's next selection will come at No. 61. Make sure to stay tuned into Twins Daily as we'll be covering the action live.
    Nelson Cruz will represent the Twins in the All-Star Game on Tuesday, and then the team gets back to action with a flurry of action on the other side of the break. Friday's double-header against Detroit sparks a span of six games in four days coming out of the break, with a double-header in Chicago against the White Sox awaiting next Monday.
    We'll see how the Twins situate their roster and rotation to accommodate. As of now, probable starters have not been announced.
    FRIDAY, 7/16 (G1): TWINS @ TIGERS
    FRIDAY, 7/16 (G2): TWINS @ TIGERS
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  17. Like
    GV14218 reacted to Matthew Taylor for an article, The Minnesota Twins Should Give Taylor Rogers a Contract Extension   
    In what has been a nightmare season for the Minnesota Twins’ bullpen, Taylor Rogers has been one of the few bright spots. Through 29 appearances thus far, Rogers owns a sparkling 2.67 ERA with a career high K/9 of 12.5. Rogers has been used in every type of situation as well, playing the role of left-handed specialist, fireman and closer, proving time and time again to be Rocco Baldelli’s most trusted arm in the bullpen. After a 2020 season in which Rogers was extremely unlucky, regression has tilted back in his favor in 2021, and the results are proving again that he is an exceptionally talented pitcher.
    As a talented pitcher on a struggling baseball team, the reaction from some may be that Taylor Rogers is a prime trade candidate. Playoff teams can always use another reliever, and with 1.5 years remaining on his deal, a Taylor Rogers trade could net the Twins a solid return. While the logic behind that thinking is sound, there is another alternative that could benefit the Twins even more, a contract extension.
    There are several reasons why a contract extension for Taylor Rogers would make a lot of sense for the Minnesota Twins. The first of which is extremely basic, Taylor Rogers is a really good pitcher. Since the start of 2018, Rogers ranks in the top-20 among all relievers in innings pitched, ERA, WHIP and K/BB ratio. Simply put, Rogers is one of the best bullpen arms in all of baseball.
    Secondly, the Minnesota Twins bullpen is one of the worst bullpens in baseball with not many names to count on going forward. Outside of Taylor Rogers, the only semi-reliable names that the Twins have for the future are Tyler Duffey, who is having his worst season since 2018, and Jorge Alcala, who has shown promise but is nowhere near a sure thing. Taking a bad bullpen, and removing its best piece would be risky and leave a huge question mark for that unit for a Minnesota Twins team who will be hoping to compete again in 2022 or 2023.
    Additionally, by extending Taylor Rogers this offseason, the Minnesota Twins would be able to save annual money by committing longevity to Rogers. After earning $6M in his second year of arbitration prior to 2021, Rogers will likely be looking at a 3rd year arbitration contract of $7.5M heading into 2022. If the Twins want to save money on Rogers’ third year of arbitration, as well as avoid Rogers becoming an unrestricted free agent, they could offer Rogers a 3 year contract at $20M. This contract would net Rogers an AAV of $6.67M, saving the Twins money in 2022, as well as ensuring that they maintain some consistency in their bullpen by bringing back their best reliever at a reasonable contract. 
    Signing a reliever to a contract extension is always going to be a risky proposition, especially for someone like Rogers who will turn 31 this offseason. The lefty, however, has just 300 big league innings on his arm and has shown no signs of slowing down, increasing his velocity and whiff % to career highs in 2021. As a great clubhouse guy, Rogers brings more than just talent to the Minnesota Twins and would be the perfect bridge player to not only lead the bullpen over the next couple of years, but usher in the bullpen arms of the future.
    The Twins should extend Taylor Rogers.
  18. Like
    GV14218 reacted to Tom Froemming for an article, Injuries Don’t Excuse How Bad This Twins Team Has Been   
    The Twins haven’t been the most injured team in baseball. They’re not even in the top five. In fact, they’re barely even in the top 10. If you’re interested in looking at the data, it’s available at spotrac. In terms of number of players who have been or are currently on the Injured List, the Twins are tied for 10th in baseball. Here’s a look at the rankings:

    TEAM PLAYERS 1. Giants 26 2. Blue Jays 25 3. Padres 23 4. Mariners 22 5(t). Astros 21 5(t). Rays 21 7(t). Dodgers 20 7(t). Brewers 20 7(t). Cubs 20 10(t). Mets 19 10(t). Twins 19 Change the metric to days spent on the IL and the Twins are even lower down on the list. They rank 23rd at 360 days. There are four teams with more than 700 combined days on the IL. And you know what? It hasn’t prevented any of them from having winning seasons. Two of the top four teams are in first place (the Rays and Giants) and the other two have winning records ( the Padres and Blue Jays).

    TEAM Days 1. Padres 943 2. Rays 748 3. Giants 732 4. Blue Jays 718 ... ... 23. Twins 370 Switch the focus to dollars spent on IL players and the Twins are 21st at just over $6.2 million. And, again, the top-four teams in terms of dollars spent on IL players all have winning records (the Astros, Mets, Yankees and Dodgers).
    Even right now, with the Twins having 11 players currently on the IL, the team isn’t in the top five. Yes, the Twins have had a ton of injuries, but almost every team in the league has been dealing with similar situations this season. The health of this team isn’t a "get out of jail free" card for those who were in charge of building and managing a winning Twins club in 2021.
    The Twins played their 60th game last night, which is as many as they played last season. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the team’s number of players and days on the IL from the past five seasons. These are full-season numbers, so the 2017-19 data represents the full 162-game season. 

    TWINS PLAYERS DAYS 2021 19 360 2020 14 389 2019 19 629 2018 18 1,052 2017 15 1,026 And now that same information for the entire league.

    MLB PLAYERS DAYS 2021 488 14,350 2020 456 13,313 2019 574 49,279 2018 585 34,126 2017 530 31,300 We’re less than 40% through the season. This is pretty crazy.
    Why? Consequences from last year’s mostly lost season, probably. That sounds like an easy explanation, but I’m not smart enough to find anything better than that (hint, hint: looking for some help here from all you lovely people of the Twins Daily community). 
    If we go back further and compare this era to previous ones, I found the explanation Patrick Reusse offered up interesting.
    This may have been said with tongue in cheek — sometimes the tone of Reusse’s Tweets can be tough to gauge — but this seems like a legit reason to me. Some people may read that Tweet as "old man mad at new technology" but I think he has a point. In prior eras, the training staff didn’t have much to go on. They had to depend on players self reporting accurately, and they’re almost always going to push to stay on the field.
    That’s not to say it was necessarily better in the good ‘ol days. Just different. I would just like to see the best players on the field as close to 100% as much as possible. Can’t somebody just go into the settings and turn injuries off?
    Are things going to keep getting even more extreme going forward? Again, I’m not smart enough to figure that out. Hopefully the 2020 hangover is to blame and things deescalate next season.
  19. Like
    GV14218 reacted to Tom Froemming for an article, 5 Most Disappointing Minnesota Twins Players in May   
    There were some bright spots in May, certainly more than there were in April, but another losing month is still dissatisfying. If you’re looking for a bit more balanced look back at the month with a few positive notes mixed in, here’s a video I recorded on the team’s ups and downs for the month.
    Just want to dwell on the downs? Let’s do it. This is my list of five, it’s subjective and partially based on expectations. Share the guys you were most disappointed in down in the comments.
    Nelson Cruz 
    Is it age, injuries or just a bad stretch of luck? Cruz hit .221/.302/.360 (.662 OPS) in May. It’ll come as no surprise that is his worst month as a Twin, but this is the lowest OPS he’s posted in a month since June of 2015.
    Cruz was hit in the wrist by a pitch on May 20 and went 2-for-18 for the rest of the month. With all the other injuries to other veterans this team needs Cruz to be the guy. Here’s hoping the further we get away from that wrist injury the better he starts to look.
    Josh Donaldson
    Donaldson’s overall line wasn’t exactly a trainwreck, he hit .222/.328/.404 (.732 OPS) in May. That was aided by closing on a game in which he reached base four times. The real problem with his performance was what he did in high-leverage situations.
    Donaldson was 3-for-19 with runners in scoring position and hit .158/.208/.211 in 24 plate appearances in those situations. He entered the final day of the month with the worst WPA among all Twins hitters. Thankfully, hitting with runners in scoring position isn’t very predictive, so there’s no reason to believe Donaldson won’t bring in more runs this month.
    J.A. Happ
    One of the biggest bummers of May was the Twins went 1-5 against the Chicago White Sox. Happ was part of the reason why the Twins did so poorly, giving up 15 earned runs in seven innings pitched across two starts against the Sox. 
    Happ had an 8.49 ERA in five starts during May and opponents hit a ridiculous .320/.380/.567 (.947 OPS) against him.
    Jorge Alcala
    This may seem like a surprising entry on the list, but I was really hoping Alcala could emerge as a solution to fixing some of the Twins’ bullpen woes. He may ultimately prove to be just that, but he didn’t take advantage of the opportunities provided to him in May.
    Alcala had a 4.35 ERA and 1.07 WHIP on the month, but issued nearly as many walks (five) as he had strikeouts (six) in 10 1/3 innings pitched. He gave up a two-run homer in the sixth inning of a tie game against Chicago and another two-run homer in the eighth inning while trying to protect a one-run lead against Baltimore. 
    I would have love to see him shine in those moments. Maybe next time.
    Andrelton Simmons
    I’m just done with this guy. Not really in a “I think the Twins should release him” type of way, because he’s one of their few healthy regulars. More in a “I don’t like watching baseball whenever he’s hitting” kind of way.
    Simmons wasn’t brought in for his bat, of course, but he hit .228/.297/.304 (.601 OPS) in May with 21 strikeouts, the most he’s recorded in one month ever. He entered this year with a strikeout rate below 10%, which is basically the only interesting thing about him offensively. He struck out in 20.8% of his plate appearances in May.
    The last bit of disappointing news to go over is that you all are going to have to put up with seeing more junk like this from me. I have stepped down from the content editor role I’ve served in here at Twins Daily since March of 2018 and will instead be focusing my efforts solely on content creation once again. Deal with it.
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