ToddlerHarmon reacted to Brock Beauchamp for a blog entry, Do you have the right stuff to be the top contributor in our community?
Well... do you, punk?
Last July, we started a new community initiative where we offer prizes for the most liked posts and blog entries on the site. We'll post these awards four times a year: first half of the season, second half of the season, offseason, and spring training. Probably. Unless it becomes a miserable experience, at which point we reserve the right to stop at any time.
These prizes... aren't great, to put it bluntly. They kinda stemmed me from reading comic books in the 1980s and loving the "No-Prize" award in every letters page written by the editor of Marvel Comics, signed off by Stan Lee and wow... I'm getting old real fast with that sentence so I'm gonna stop.
But the prizes, while not great, are incredible.
This season has been such a train wreck, such a total collapse of all things at once, such a complete and utter failure across the board that it was difficult to decide which of the many ripe fruits I should pick off the Minnesota Twins 2021 tree to celebrate this season finally coming to a close. But ultimately, I had to go back to the source of our collective misfortune and, at that point, it became clear what most needed celebration: the 2021 Minnesota Twins bullpen. And once that clicked into place, I realized there was only one place I could go with the second half community prize:
A Ron Davis commemorative display.
This display not only features Ron Davis' epic 1984 campaign with the Minnesota Twins but it also features Ron Davis' epic 1984 campaign with the Minnesota Twins.
2021 Twins fans surely can commiserate with everything I said - and didn't say - in that sentence.
But there's more than just a few trinkets included in this display, as the below video will show to you skeptics still standing in the back:
Ron Davis Commemorative Display Prize Ron Davis Prize.mp4
Yes, you heard that right. That is Grammy award-winning artist Sarah McLachlin singing her 1997 hit "Angel" from her 8x platinum album, Surfacing.
So if you have the nerve, feel the moxy, can be the spoon, will channel your inner Randball's Stu... this perfect piece of Twins history could be yours, all you have to do is write the most popular post in the Twins Daily community. That could be a comment on a news story, a reply to a blog post, or even a blog comment.
For the lucky person who can be all those things to all those people all at the same time, you will win the ultimate piece of Minnesota Twins memorabilia.
I know, you just want this thing so much but remember, YOU HAVE TO EARN IT.
Just like Ron Davis.
ToddlerHarmon reacted to bean5302 for a blog entry, No, Top FA Starters Are Not Risky
With the 2021 season just about wrapped up for the Minnesota Twins, here’s yet another article to talk about starting pitching and why dumpster diving or even mid-tier free agent starters are actually much riskier than the top free agent starters with those big contracts.
Conventional Twins wisdom is that big name, free agent starters are simply too expensive and too risky. Jim Pohlad is very skittish when it comes to long contracts and big dollars. The idea of “crippling” a roster also sends some Twins fans into a panic. It makes sense, after all, the Twins free agent pitchers almost never actually pan out for more than a year.
For this year, the Twins’ front office decided not to pursue an arm to replace Odorizzi, leaving a major hole in the middle of the rotation. Instead, Happ and Shoemaker were signed to contracts all too typical of the Twins’ front office. The cost? $10MM utterly wasted. That said, the Twins are absolutely spending ace starter money in free agency and acquisitions every single year and have been spending $30-43MM annually for those arms for 7 consecutive seasons coming into 2021. I even adjusted the salaries for players which were traded away… Read it and weep.
Median WAR = middle bWAR season performance with 2020 being multiplied by 2.7 due to the shortened season. Total WAR = Total bWAR over the life of the entire contract, even if the player was traded away. $/WAR = Entire Contract Dollars, Adjusted for 2020 / Total bWAR, Not Adjusted for 2020. The salary figures shown are not adjusted for 2020 so they can be viewed in proper context.
Med. Tot $ Player WAR WAR /WAR 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 Correia -1.1 -1.1 -5 6 Pelfrey 0.4 0.8 13.8 6 6 Hughes -0.1 5.5 11.9 8 9 9 13 8 7 Nolasco 0.5 2 24 12 12 8 4 Milone 0.8 0.9 8.1 3 5 Santana 0.5 9.8 5.6 14 14 14 14 1 Santiago 0.2 0.3 32.7 2 8 Odorizzi 1.2 4.4 6.1 6 10 18 Pineda 0.8 3.3 8 2 8 10 10 Lynn 0.4 0.4 25 10 Perez 0.1 0.1 40 4 Maeda 2.7 1.8 2.7 3 3 Bailey 0.5 0.2 22 7 Hill 2.1 0.8 2.4 3 Shoemaker -1.9 -1.9 -1.1 2 Happ -1.8 -1.8 -4.4 8 Season Total 31 43 37 38.7 39.8 29.5 40.8 23
In fact, almost none of the Twins signings and acquisitions were worth it, including the starters who were actually “worth the money” because they still weren’t worth starting. For example, Tommy Milone only cost $8.1MM / WAR. That’s an A grade signing. He was worth every bit of the money he was paid, on am average season. But he still wasn’t good enough to actually want him in the rotation. What about Ervin Santana? We all know what a huge asset he was over his first couple seasons and the Twins got one WAR for only $5.6MM which is an A+ kind of deal. The big issue is he was terrible over his last two years, dragging his median performance way down.
Ace = 4.0 WAR+ #2 = 3.0-4.0 WAR #3 = 2.5-3.0 WAR #4 = 2.0-2.5 WAR #5 = 1.5-2.0 WAR I’ve also adjusted the median values for 2020’s short season. That’s the problem with dumpster dives and even mid-tier free agents. All it takes is a slight decline and poof, all the money is utterly wasted because you’re paying guaranteed money to a starter who isn’t worth playing.
Well, everybody knows big free agent contracts never work out though, right? Wrong. Big name, free agent starters are almost always worth it. This is for two reasons. First, they often perform at ace levels even if they decline a bit, but if they take a major hit or injury, they almost always bounce back as a solid starter in the rotation. The money is virtually never totally wasted like it often is on mediocre or low cost starters. Of the 8 front line free agent starters signed since 2014, every single one of them has been worth a rotation spot in an average year. Most are even good deals. Don’t believe me again?
Med. Tot $ Player WAR WAR /WAR Future? 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Grade Lester 2.1 13.2 9.6 - 30 20 20 23 25 28 B Greinke 4.2 17.9 10.3 - 34 34 34 35 35 35 C Scherzer 5.5 41.4 4.1 - 17 22 22 22 37 36 35 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 A+ Price 1.8 11.1 13.9 F 30 30 30 31 32 32 32 F Darvish 5.6 7.6 9.9 A 25 20 22 22 19 18 B Corbin 4.1 5.4 8.6 F 15 19 24 23 24 35 A Cole 5.6 7.6 6.4 A 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 36 A Wheeler 6.8 7.6 3.45 A 22 23 26 25 24 A+ Strasburg 0 0 Inf F 24 24 24 24 24 24 24 27 27 F- *The summary is updated to reflect the addition of Strasburg to the chart. I decided against adding Bauer. Bauer doesn't have a long term contract, and part of the reason FA ace caliber pitchers are a low risk is a single lost season is easy to overcome. Among the 9 listed starters, only 3 have lost an entire season (Price x1.5, Darvish, Strasburg x2). Of the 38 seasons on the contracts from the 9 starters, 4.5 seasons have been lost. A risk of a starter losing a season is approximately 10% per contract season.
Right now, Corbin and Strasburg both look like a bad deals, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if they rebounded. If you look at those contracts, something really stands out to me. Only Strasburg has played poorly enough so the team who signed them wouldn’t have wanted in the rotation and 6 of the 8 are bonefide ace level pitchers on their average season. Even David Price with all his injuries and down performance is worth trotting out there. Also, 7 of 8 of those front line starters have been absolutely C or better signings. Here’s how I’d arbitrarily grade signings based on the dollars spent per WAR.
$16MM+ = F- $14-16MM = F $12-14MM = D $10-12MM = C $9-10MM = B $6-9MM = A 0-6MM = A+ To sum it up, the scary big contracts for front line starters almost always work out over the life of the contract, and even when they don’t work out exactly as intended, the pitchers are almost always worth running out there every 5 days as part of the rotation. However, the low end and middle of the rotation arms are almost never worth it based on nearly a decade of track record by the Twins and over a dozen such starting pitchers. Considering the Twins absolutely do not need any #4-5 starters, the front office also needs to stop wasting money with their annual dumpster dive, refocus and acquire top pitching talent. After all, it’d barely cost more on an annual basis to replace the typical free agent signings they’ve been wasting money on to sign two top of the rotation arms as they’re available.
ToddlerHarmon reacted to Otto von Ballpark for a blog entry, Preview: 2021 Twins 30th Anniversary Celebration (from 2051)
Following the success of the recent 1991 Twins 30th Anniversary Celebration at Target Field, here's a preview of a future milestone, the 2021 Twins 30th Anniversary Celebration from the year 2051. (EDITOR'S NOTE: As time travel can introduce many unintended consequences, especially for the gambling conglomerate which owns Twins Daily in 2051, we have attempted to remove any references to specific baseball events that haven't yet occurred.) Once again, Dick Bremer hosted the 2051 proceedings by himself, as none of his 156 different broadcast partners from the 2021 season were memorable enough to recall. What follows is a transcript of the event from Target Field, broadcast exclusively in 2051 within the Caesar's Palace Sports app (blackout restrictions still apply).
[2051 DICK BREMER HOVERS AT A PODIUM OVER TARGET FIELD, AGELESS LIKE HIS NAMESAKE DICK CLARK]
BREMER: Many call it the worst Twins season of all-time. Some consider it matched only by [YEAR OF FUTURE AWFUL TWINS SEASON REDACTED]. Blown saves; trade deadline sales; viruses in the clubhouse; no fans in the stands and few watching -- legally, anyway -- at home. Like a Bizarro Lake Wobegon, it was a team where all pitchers were somehow below average. Tonight we will relive that trauma from 30 years ago.
We have many of the players from that roster here tonight, even [PRONOUNCES CAREFULLY] Tzu-Wei Lin, and a majority of the 57 different pitchers used by the Twins in that fateful 2021 season. At first base, his strikeout rate was legendary in his time, even if it seems low now by 2051 standards; the "Boquetón" now retired to Boca Raton, Miguel Sanó.
At second base, fans may "blank" on his brief time with the Twins, but he'll always be designated for assignment in our hearts: Travis Blankenhorn.
At shortstop, the only thing hotter than Andrelton Simmons's glove was his Twitter takes. Simmons could not attend tonight, as he is accepting an honorary doctorate from YouTube University. So instead I present a [AIR QUOTES] "mystery" shortstop that all true Twins fans should recognize. [NOBODY RECOGNIZES THE PLAYER, WHO IS J.T. RIDDLE.]
At third base, he is known as the "Bringer of Rain" for washing away all sticky stuff from major league baseball forevermore; still somehow the most expensive free agent in Twins history even after 30 more years of inflation, Commissioner Josh Donaldson.
In the outfield, it's -- a bunch of infielders! [TZU-WEI LIN LEADS A SILENT PARADE OF PLAYERS ACROSS THE OUTFIELD; NICK GORDON, HOWEVER, REMAINS ON THE BENCH.]
Designated hitter Nelson Cruz, appearing by Zoom hologram from Las Vegas where he is playing tonight for the A's.
On the mound, the starting pitcher who in 2021 made the third of his improbable [REDACTED NUMBER] separate stints with the Twins, Andrew Albers. And in the bullpen, the person who traveled the least distance to be here, Caleb Thielbar.
Finally, at every position, including catcher, pitcher, mascot, and head groundskeeper, La Tortuga himself, Willians Astudillo! [SEVERAL MINUTES OF THUNDEROUS APPLAUSE AS ASTUDILLO DRIVES THE LATE T.C. BEAR'S FOUR-WHEELER TO EACH POSITION FOR A CURTAIN CALL, LOSING AND RETRIEVING HIS HELMET EACH TIME.] Throwing out tonight's ceremonial first pitch is second generation Twins waiver claim Ralph Garza Jr. Jr. [NOT A TYPO]. And catching the first pitch, the lab-created genetic combination of the 2021 Twins front office, and current 2051 Twins intern, T.D. Falvine. [FAN-ACTIVATED ANGRY FACE EMOJIS SCROLL ACROSS THE FIELD AS THE FIRST PITCH IS THROWN.] And now, please enjoy tonight's intra-continental game between your Minnesota Twins and their legendary opponent from, the 1991 World Series, the recently renamed Hotlanta Braves. Our 2051 sponsor, Amazon Prime Time Travel, received a commission for any thoughts you had while reading this.
ToddlerHarmon reacted to LA VIkes Fan for a blog entry, NIck Gordon Sent to AAA - Is He a Long Term Player?
I see Nick Gordon has been sent down and Refsnyder brought up. I understand the logic; Gordon has been hitting around .200 with no walks or power for the last month and Refsnyder was hot earlier before he got hurt. We're evaluating both for 2022.
My question is what does everyone see for Gordon going forward? Given his play this year, do you think the Twins need to keep him on the 40 man roster or could He survive the Rule 5 draft? Do you see a long term future for him with the Twins? We could use the 40 man spot but I am concerned about losing him in the draft since he would be easy for a losing team to stash for a season.
ToddlerHarmon reacted to LA VIkes Fan for a blog entry, Average OPS By Position vs. Twins Starters
We often comment on whether current Twins are good, average or bad hitters by using OPS. The problem I see is we're using a broad average for everyone not broken down by position. I looked around the Internet and found an article in ScoreSheetWiz where the author had taken the average of the top 30 players in each position over the last 3 years and averaged their OPS. That should give you what the average starter in MLB does at that position by taking out emergency fill ins, utility players, etc. and sounds like a good basis for comparison. Here's the comparison to current Twins, based on their performance for this season to date. I've also put their career OPS in parenthesis with the YTD comparison where they'd been around long enough to make that meaningful. The positions go from lowest to highest by MLB average OPS.
Position Average OPS Current Twin OPS/(Career) Difference Catcher .748 Garver .889 (.834) Plus .151 (+ .86) Jeffers .720 Minus .028 Shortstop .749 Simmons .576 (.688) Minus .173 (-.061) Second Base .763 Polanco .797 (.774) Plus .034 (+.011) Centerfield .777 Buxton 1.176 (.751) Plus .409 (-.026) Kepler .759 Minus .018 Third Base .805 Donaldson .840 (.875) Plus .035 (+.070) Arraez .747 (.793) Minus .058 (-.012) Corner OF .819 Kepler .722 (.759) Minus .097 (-060) Larnach .676 Minus .143 Rooker .750 Minus .069 First Base .859 Kirilloff .722 Minus .137 Sano .746 (.819) Minus .113 (-.040) I thought this was kind of interesting and helps explain where our holes are forward. For example, Arraez is a below average hitting starter this year either at 3rd or left-field, about average in 2nd base, but career wise above average at 2nd base, average at 3rd, and below average for corner outfield. Since he adds no surplus defensive value, he really needs to OPS >.800 if he's not going to play 2nd base. Kepler is a little tougher to evaluate since his bat is clearly significantly below average for a corner outfielder, and a little below average for centerfielder, but he does offer surplus defensive value in a corner outfield spots, not so much centerfield. That's why I think is an ideal 3rd or 4th outfielder, but not 1 of our top 2. The 2 Rookies are way below average but this is their 1st year so you hope for improvement and it's a small sample size. Same for Kirilloff. Sano is also a below average hitting starter at 1st Base who doesn't offer any surplus defensive value. I didn't bother with guys like Jake Cave (.508 (.735)) or Willians Astudillo (.721 (.738)) since they are way below an average starter unless they play shortstop, and even then they're not very strong. Both are classic back end roster filler and we should be looking for upgrades like Gordon, Refsnyder and others.
I do think this helps explain why we're having trouble scoring runs. We only have 3 above average hitters for their position now that Cruz is gone, Donaldson, Polanco and Garver, and only Polanco really plays every day. Most days we're liable to only have 2 players who are average or better hitters for their position. The batting order is really weighed down by poor performance at the corner outfield spots, centerfield when Buxton isn't there (even worse when someone other than Kepler is playing centerfield), and shortstop.
I guess this tells me 4 things 1st, re-sign Buxton. He is critical to the order. 2nd, I was wrong about Donaldson. He is pretty valuable at the plate and Arraez is not an adequate replacement. 3rd, we need better hitting corner outfielders and Kepler is not the answer. The current strategy of playing Rooker and Larnach every day is the right one because those guys have to improve to give us more balance in the order. 4th, Arraez is probably best used as a utility player with Polanco the better hitter and better fielder at 2nd base. He's a good utility player, more of an average hitter for a starter, and we can get him 400 – 500 bats to utilize his on-base skills by playing him at a variety of spots.
We talk a lot about how the pitching has to improve to truly contend. I postulate the lineup has to improve as well. I think most contending have average or better hitters for their positions in at least 5 or 6 of the 9 spots. We have 4 if you assume that someone like that Cruz is the DH, a position where I was unable to find an average OPS. otherwise 3. The current lineup isn't good enough to compete and absolutely isn't good enough if the pitching is below average. Helps explain this year's performance and helps us know what we need to do for next year.
ToddlerHarmon reacted to mike8791 for a blog entry, The Dust Has Settled - What's Next, Part 2
Before we look into our crystal balls post-deadline, a quick review of what's just transpired might be in order. First, we lost our best hitter and best pitcher. For this very reason, chances are this season is going to get even worse. Three of our new starters will likely be Ober, Jax and Barnes, none of whom figures to be better than a #5 starter. The bullpen has arguably gotten worse without Rogers and Robles. And the offense will likely continue to be erratic - some big run production outings against below average pitching, but more likely low run production against even average pitching. And with a very difficult August schedule, the likelihood of the Twins climbing out of the cellar looks mighty slim.
But let's look at the bright side. The Twins prospect depth greatly improved. We've added at least 3 top 10 prospects, probably catapulting our depleted, injury-stricken minor league system into the top ten in MLB, at least on paper anyway. And just as importantly, we kept several players who can be building blocks going forward. You cannot underestimate the importance of Maeda and Pineda, solid #2 and #3 starters in leading a reenergized rotation in 2021. Nor can you ignore the importance of having a Donaldson and hopefully healthy Buxton leading the offense next year. Which brings me to my first point : they need to resign both Pineda and Buxton if this team has any chance of jumping into contention in 2023. This team will likely not be a playoff contender next year but for them to bounce back to at least a .500 record and set the stage for contention in 2023, these 4 players must be kept..
Continuing on the bright side, this FO did a great job in the trade department. They received at least 3-4 players who should be playing in the big leagues as soon as next year, but most likely by 2023. The rotation's future looks much brighter with guys like Joe Ryan and SWR, not to mention our top prospects, Winder and Balozavic, should yield one or two rotation mainstays by 2023. Which brings me to point#2: Sign a FA with ace potential this offseason. My first choice is Syndergaard who should be more affordable due to injury but still young enough to lead a contending staff. He should be an offseason priority. This is a risk but one well worth taking if the team is committed to rebounding quickly. The new additions will also mitigate against rushing some of our younger prospects and perhaps switching some to relievers.
Which brings me to the bullpen. We added some middling prospects, one of whom might prove valuable in the pen. We still have Rogers, Duffy and Thielbar, with a few minor leaguers on the verge. Let;s bring up guys like Cano, Hamilton, and Moran and see how they do. Coulombe has looked decent. Point #3: they must spend the $ for a top FA reliever. Any suggestions? I'm at a loss here. And let's try to get Alcala straightened out at AAA now, as well as transitioning Duran to the pen. This is still a dumpster fire but at least it can't get much worse than it is now.
So count me as positive for the retool. It sure beats a long rebuild!!
ToddlerHarmon reacted to Tim for a blog entry, The Grand "Re-Tool" Experiment
The conversation on this site as of late has been centered around should we trade player X, should we keep player Y, etc.
We don’t have much else to talk about.
If we are talking about trading assets, especially ones that are controllable and add value to your club next year and beyond, it raises the question – are you re-tooling or are you re-building?
Now I know that a lot of people might say its too early to even think about what next years team might look like, it might be. But if your argument is “re-tool” then we need to look at what that might look like.
We all are aware that Byron Buxton, Jose Berrios, and Taylor Rogers are set to become free agents following next season.
Contract extensions for both Buxton and Berrios seems incredibly unlikely at this point. Both players have their flaws but are absolutely pieces you can build around. Taylor Rogers is one of the best relievers in the game, but is set to become a free agent, is going on age 32, and the front office has never paid more than 6.5 million for a reliever aside from two occasions (Reed and Colome)
But throw all that out the window.
What if they decide to give next year a go with Buxton, Berrios, and Rogers?
What does a retool look like?
I am ignoring the return that the pending free agents might be able to get you at the upcoming deadline, mostly because It’s not a given that can contribute next year. It could be a few low A prospects for all we know.
I will also be using John Bonnes’s article on how much the Twins might have to potentially spend next year, that you can read here, as reference for my spending – 45 million dollars.
The lineup, bench, and pitching staff I have put together is just a projection and very well could be different then what the Twins or you think it might look like. Please don’t roast me too harshly in the comments.
Andrelton Simmons SS
Nelson Cruz DH
Here are the holes the Twins are going to need to fill entering 2022 season.
Shortstop Designated Hitter Starter x2 Bullpen x4 __________
I am spending most of my 45 million dollar budget I have available on the rotation, as I view that as the biggest need the Twins have if they hope to compete in 2022. So, forgive me for slightly skimming over DH and Shortstop.
Let’s start with how the Twins can round out the empty spots in the rotation and bullpen with what they presently have in the organization and who they could potentially add from outside the organization.
Jhoan Duran *
Matt Canterino *
Blayne Enlow *
These are the Twins top 5 pitching prospects
Duran is currently on the shelf with elbow soreness, something you never want to hear. The Twins shut him down for 6 weeks and we have 4 weeks remaining. To this point control has been a huge issue at AAA for him. Josh Winder has been fantastic. One of the lone bright spots for the Twins pitching prospects this season and I think you could expect him to contribute on some level in 2022. Balazovic has only made 6 starts this season working back from injury. Currently at AA, he has yet to make it through 6ip in any start this season. Canterino has not pitched since May but was having a great year at A+. I have not seen any reports on what a timetable looks like for his return. Enlow was off to a great start as well, but elbow soreness led to Tommy John so he’s out for the foreseeable future.
It is only July, so things can change. But the top pitching prospects the Twins have are all dealing with stunted development timelines due to injuries. Duran is not coming back till August and has the dreaded elbow soreness so who knows what that means long term. He has not pitched more than 16 innings at AAA. Balazovic is still at AA and has only thrown 24 innings. Canterino has not pitched since May and Enlow is done for 2022 and 2023.
Josh Winder is the only prospect you have of the 5 that has pitched well above the AA level in 2021.
That's 1/5 of your top 5 pitching prospects you can truly count on to make some sort of impact in 2022 for the Twins. I do want to say that I believe in this group a lot, I think they all will be assets the Twins can count on for years to come. But is that in 2022? Don’t bank on it.
This was worse than I thought. Not really prospects, more so “candidates” to fill out spots for the 2022 Twins pitching staff. Anyways, I just went with their career numbers because all 4 players have been hurt throughout the 2021 season. I don’t even want to write out the numbers they have posted thus far, it’s painful.
If you confidently think one of these guys will help you win games during the 2022 season, I’d love to hear why in the comments below. Anyways, moving on.
Here is a look at what the Twins could bring in from outside the organization for pitching help.
The old fellas (37+)
Max Scherzer Zach Greinke Justin Verlander Charlie Morton Highly, highly doubt any of these guys have interest in signing with the Twins. Aside from Scherzer, do you want the Twins to make a run at them? Pass, and they all say no thanks too.
Lance Lynn Marcus Stroman Kevin Gausman Carlos Rondon Tier 1 does not make much sense to me. None of them are better than Berrios and if you are not going to pay him the 5 / 115mil we all expect him to get, why would you pay Marcus Stroman or Kevin Gausman somewhere in the range of 5 / 90mil? I think the sox can and will retain both Rondon and Lynn as well.
Jon Gray Michael Pineda Robbie Ray Martin Perez Danny Duffy Zach Davies Not super inspiring. Jon Gray and Robbie Ray are probably the most appealing options. Pineda’s recent arm injury puts things up in the air for his future.
We can skip the Martin Perez option as I cannot imagine the Twins getting back into that.
Danny Duffy would be nice, but do you really want to commit something like 3 / 40mil to a guy going on 35?
Noah Syndergaard Chris Archer Corey Kluber None of them are currently healthy, nor have they been the past 2 years. Syndergaard is interesting but even he is a question mark going into next year as he’s on the IL right now after issues following TJ.
German Marquez John Means Zach Gallen The Rockies, Orioles, and Diamondbacks are all rebuilding. They are not moving assets for someone like Max Kepler or Jorge Polanco. So, what can you offer up?
Royce Lewis? Then your selling low on your best prospect. Balazovic or Duran? Welp, that would be, um, something when your desperate for pitching. Arraez? Jose Miranda? One of Jeffers / Garver? Not sure that moves the needle, nor are they prospects teams would covet…. After that, nothing is getting you a Marquez, Means, or Gallen.
Now how about one of Trevor Larnach or Alex Kirilloff for pitching? It is an interesting idea and could dramatically change the Twins long term question mark at the position. You would have to be really sold on Max Kepler bouncing back.
Let’s fill out the rotation with 2 players from each tier 1 & 2 of starting pitchers.
Gausman/Stroman/Lynn/Rondon Gray/ /Ray/ /Duffy Ok that realistically will command something in the range of 28 million. Take your pick of who that may be.
I do want to point this out, you are not going to be able to sign anyone from Tier 1 to a 1-year deal. You will have to sign them to multiyear commitments with real money involved.
Even Tier 2, id imagine most players will take no less than 2-year deals.
You could sign 3 players from tier 2. Go a similar direction as they have in the past bargain shopping (Happ, Lynn, Shoemaker, etc.)
Though that has not really worked out, so I am switching things up in my scenario.
As for the bullpen. It is anyone’s best guess. They are not signing Craig Kimbrel and after that its just a bunch of names to be quite honest. You can check out the list here.
For the sake of the “re-tool” argument
I am committing 3 million to signing 2 no name relievers like the front office has done every year.
We have now committed something in the ballpark of 31 million to revamp the pitching staff, with 2 new starters and 2 no name relievers (it’s anyone’s guess).
They now have 14 million remaining to fill the holes at Shortstop and DH.
The Designated Hitter class, surprise, is also poor.
Nelson Cruz is going to probably be too expensive and may even retire. Id love him back though. But we have more pressing needs.
After that, we can choose between Jorge Soler or Khris Davis. But why sign either of those guys when you have Miguel Sano on the roster?
Brent Rooker? You could let em duke it out in Spring Training.
Lets scratch signing a DH.
On to Shortstop. They could move Jorge Polanco from 2nd base back to short and slide Luis Arraez in at 2nd. But I am not sure they want that defensive plan up the middle again.
Nick Gordon, who was drafted as a shortstop, does not seem to be viewed as shortstop anymore. Other than Royce Lewis, who has question marks already staying at short long-term, has never played above AA, and coming off an ACL injury, the Twins lack internal options.
We do not have the money to sign one of the crown jewels of the class so you can forget about Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Marcus Semien, Trevor Story and Brandon Crawford.
I do think Javier Baez is a notch below those guys and he probably would be open to a shorter-term deal. Maybe something like 1 / 14 mil? He has a .282 OBP to this point, though slugging .778. It will be interesting to see what the market is for him.
The 2nd Tier in the SS class consists of Freddy Galvis, Alcides Escobar, Andrelton Simmons and Jose Iglesias.
As for trade options, Dansby Swanson could be available if the Braves decide to go after a big name. Other than that, I do not see a ton being available or frankly anything that intriguing.
I am rolling with Javy Baez on the 1yr / 14 mil deal. Twins get lucky, sign Berrios’s brother in-law, and see how it plays out. It is a nice bridge while we wait for Royce Lewis.
We have run through the options, lets look at what we got to compete in 2022.
No Name #1
No Name #2
Again, this is in no way what the Twins are going to do, merely an idea of what a “re-tool” might look like. So, before you rip me in the comments for signing the wrong guys or not doing what you think they should or should not do, this exercise gives you a glimpse into the options the Twins have both internally and externally to build a competitive team in 2022 for one last run with Buxton, Berrios, and Rogers all together.
So now you can ask yourself the questions that matter.
Does that team win the central? Does it win a wild card berth? Are you putting the organization in the best possible to position to compete with the White Sox the next 4-5 years? Do we have a pipeline of pitching prospects we are confident in? I think that this team can be competitive. 85-88 wins? thats barring everyone being healthy. This is all hinging on Polanco continuing to swing the bat well, Kepler being more consistent, Maeda returning somewhat to his old self, Bailey Ober continuing to pitch as well as he has, Thielbar, Duffey, and Alcala continue being trusted options, etc.
There's a lot of question marks. My concerns mainly start with depth of the minor league system, specifically pitching.
Where do they stand with Berrios and Buxton on extensions? If I'm either player, im a year away from free agency, why would I take an extension now? If you sign the players to help you compete in 2022, do you even have enough money left to try and pay them?
At the end of the day the front office’s job is to do what’s best for the organization. The last thing any GM wants to do is plays catch up because they were not proactive. If you have doubts about any of those questions you need to shift your focus to 2023 and beyond.
That might mean moving Jose Berrios and Taylor Rogers at the deadline.
Which is a hard pill to swallow for some fans, but it is the smart thing and the right thing to do.
ToddlerHarmon reacted to Greglw3 for a blog entry, Twins Way to the Top via Excellent Pitching
I’d like to discuss the way I see forward for the Minnesota Twins to become a team ready for a deep playoff run or World Series victory. The focus will be on top quality pitching. I’ll use a couple of case studies of teams that had very deep and strong pitching and great success, those teams being the 1980 Baltimore Orioles and the 1972-1974 Oakland A’s.
Then I’ll take a look at how the Twins can get to that level.
First, how did I get to this point of believing pitching is more important than I originally thought?
Although, a Twins fan since 1964, the media and options for following the Twins on a more comprehensive level only opened up to me in the 1970s. I lived in Toledo, Ohio but had discovered the Twins at Tinker Field in Orlando when my Dad took me to a game vs. the Cincinnati Reds. The Twins won and the rest was history for me!
In the 1960s it was linescores in the newspaper and the occasional game of the week with Joe Garagiola and Tony Kubek.
Then one glorious night in 1973, I thought to myself, "Wouldn’t it be great to be able to pick up Twins games on the radio." I had been twirling the station tuner knob that night pickng up any games I could. Seemingly miraculously, within 10-15 minutes I heard a new voice and paused to see what team(s) I had come across. Imagine my astonishment when I learned that it was the Twins broadcast from WHO in Des Moines, Iowa.
I first heard the voice of Herb Carneal that night and stayed up late listening to Twins baseball as my recollection is that it was a doubleheader, possibly from the west coast. Herb became my constant companion for many years and my love for the Twins grew exponentially.
I remember annually thnking the the Twins were going to win the AL West this season and the next and the next but it never happened. Why? I couldn’t figure it out as they had such fine hitters as Jim Holt, Steve Braun, Rod Carew, Bobby Darwin, Mike Cubbage, then Glenn Adams, Lyman Bostock and Larry Hisle.
The 1977 team brought things into clear focus. The offense, while maybe not as deep as 2019, was at the upper echelon - arguably the greatest offense in Twins history. On June 26, 1977 I listened to and scored from my basement in Ohio, a 19-12 Twins win over the White Sox, listening to Harey Carey from 670 WMAQ in Chicago.
Alas, the Twins had a mediocre to poor pitching staff in 1977. That to go along with possibly the best hitting team in Twins history and, in my opinion, the greatest manager in Twins history - the brilliant tactician and innovator, Gene Mauch. Suffice to say, from 1977 on, I realized that only a team with very strong pitching could hope to be in the playoffs (back them it was only AL East vs. West, then the World Series) or win the World Series.
Let’s take a look at the 1977 Twins. (courtesy of baseball-reference.com)
Pos Name Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ C Butch Wynegar# 21 144 617 532 76 139 22 3 10 79 2 3 68 61 .261 .344 .370 .715 96 1B Rod Carew* 31 155 694 616 128 239 38 16 14 100 23 13 69 55 .388 .449 .570 1.019 178 2B Bob Randall 29 103 342 306 36 73 13 2 0 22 1 4 15 25 .239 .289 .294 .583 61 SS Roy Smalley# 24 150 680 584 93 135 21 5 6 56 5 5 74 89 .231 .316 .315 .631 74 3B Mike Cubbage* 26 129 464 417 60 110 16 5 9 55 1 4 37 49 .264 .321 .391 .712 94 LF Larry Hisle 30 141 620 546 95 165 36 3 28 119 21 10 56 106 .302 .369 .533 .902 144 CF Lyman Bostock* 26 153 660 593 104 199 36 12 14 90 16 7 51 59 .336 .389 .508 .897 144 RF Dan Ford 25 144 510 453 66 121 25 7 11 60 6 4 41 79 .267 .338 .426 .764 108 DH Craig Kusick 28 115 325 268 34 68 12 0 12 45 3 1 49 60 .254 .370 .433 .803 120 Pos Name Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ DH Rich Chiles* 27 108 295 261 31 69 16 1 3 36 0 1 23 17 .264 .323 .368 .691 89 DH Glenn Adams* 29 95 290 269 32 91 17 0 6 49 0 2 18 30 .338 .376 .468 .844 130 3B Jerry Terrell 30 93 235 214 32 48 6 0 1 20 10 4 11 21 .224 .263 .266 .530 46 2B Rob Wilfong* 23 73 193 171 22 42 1 1 1 13 10 4 17 26 .246 .321 .281 .602 67 LF Bob Gorinski 25 54 126 118 14 23 4 1 3 22 1 0 5 29 .195 .226 .322 .548 48 CF Willie Norwood 26 39 91 83 15 19 3 0 3 9 6 1 6 17 .229 .281 .373 .654 78 IF Luis Gomez 25 32 74 65 6 16 4 2 0 11 0 2 4 9 .246 .290 .369 .659 80 C Glenn Borgmann 27 17 54 43 12 11 1 0 2 7 0 0 11 9 .256 .407 .419 .826 128 C Bud Bulling 24 15 39 32 2 5 1 0 0 5 0 0 5 5 .156 .270 .188 .458 29 3B Larry Wolfe 24 8 27 25 3 6 1 0 0 6 0 0 1 0 .240 .269 .280 .549 51 2B Sam Perlozzo 26 10 27 24 6 7 0 2 0 0 0 0 2 3 .292 .346 .458 .804 119 DH Randy Bass* 23 9 19 19 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 .105 .105 .105 .211 -42 Next the pitching staff that held the team to an 84-77 record.
Pos Name Age W L ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP Team Totals 27.1 84 77 4.36 161 161 126 35 4 25 1442.0 1546 776 698 151 507 737 91 4.21 1.424 Rank in 14 AL teams 7 8 12 11 9 10 8 12 12 12 10 7 12 Pos Name Age W L ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP SP Dave Goltz 28 20 11 3.36 39 39 0 19 2 0 303.0 284 129 113 23 91 186 119 3.42 1.238 SP Paul Thormodsgard 23 11 15 4.62 37 37 0 8 1 0 218.0 236 122 112 25 65 94 86 4.30 1.381 SP Geoff Zahn* 31 12 14 4.68 34 32 0 7 1 0 198.0 234 116 103 20 66 88 85 4.24 1.515 SP Pete Redfern 22 6 9 5.18 30 28 2 1 0 0 137.1 164 89 79 13 66 73 77 4.44 1.675 Pos Name Age W L ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP CL Tom Johnson 26 16 7 3.13 71 0 54 0 0 15 146.2 152 57 51 11 47 87 128 3.59 1.357 RP Ron Schueler 29 8 7 4.41 52 7 21 0 0 3 134.2 131 74 66 16 61 77 91 4.63 1.426 RP Tom Burgmeier* 33 6 4 5.09 61 0 20 0 0 7 97.1 113 56 55 15 33 35 79 5.10 1.500 RP Dave Johnson 28 2 5 4.58 30 6 16 0 0 0 72.2 86 42 37 7 23 33 88 4.24 1.500 RP Jeff Holly* 24 2 3 6.89 18 5 6 0 0 0 48.1 57 37 37 8 12 32 58 4.37 1.428 Pos Name Age W L ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP Gary Serum 20 0 0 4.37 8 0 2 0 0 0 22.2 22 11 11 4 10 14 93 5.39 1.412 Bill Butler* 30 0 1 6.86 6 4 0 0 0 0 21.0 19 17 16 5 15 5 59 7.64 1.619 Mike Pazik* 27 1 0 2.50 3 3 0 0 0 0 18.0 18 5 5 1 6 6 163 3.79 1.333 Don Carrithers 27 0 1 6.91 7 0 3 0 0 0 14.1 16 13 11 2 6 3 59 5.60 1.535 Jim Shellenback* 33 0 0 7.94 5 0 0 0 0 0 5.2 10 7 5 1 5 3 54 6.62 2.647 Jim Hughes 25 0 0 2.08 2 0 2 0 0 0 4.1 4 1 1 0 1 1 209 2.97 1.154 Notice that the starting rotation was basically one pitcher deep, their ace, Dave Goltz, he of the knuckle-curve. The staff ERA was 4.36, which is not so much a reflection of the quality of the starting staff but of the superior work of two relievers who ate up 281.1 innings. Tom Johnson was the one most responsible for holding down the team ERA with his 3.13 ERA, 16-7 record and 146.2 innings as the closer! Amazingly, after the Twins had lost Bill Campbell and his 17-5 record in relief in 1976 to free-agency, they were able to plug in Johnson.
It’s pretty plain to see that the top 9 pitchers listed, excepting Goltz and Johnson, are what held back this team with a juggernaut offense from a possible division championship or even World Series victory. Just one quality starter.
Two other major factors influenced my thinking on the value of deep, quality pitching.
The first was the astonishing success of the 1972-1974 Oakland A’s, who may have won 5-7 World Series in a row except for the advent of free-agency. Charley Finley waved the white flag of surrender just as much as Calvin Griffith did and the Oakland dynasty was destroyed. Take a look at the pitching staff of a World Champion three years running. The names changed slightly but the prioritization on pitching is the teachable lesson! (courtesy of baseball-reference.com)
Pos Name Age W L ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP Team Totals 26.7 94 68 3.29 162 162 116 46 12 41 1457.1 1311 532 143 494 797 109 3.83 1.239 Rank in 12 AL teams 2 11 2 9 2 2 3 2 3 9 4 8 Pos Name Age W L ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP SP Ken Holtzman* 27 21 13 2.97 40 40 0 16 4 0 297.1 275 98 22 66 157 120 3.18 1.147 SP Vida Blue* 23 20 9 3.28 37 37 0 13 4 0 263.2 214 96 26 105 158 109 3.89 1.210 SP Catfish Hunter 27 21 5 3.34 36 36 0 11 3 0 256.1 222 95 39 69 124 107 4.40 1.135 SP Blue Moon Odom 28 5 12 4.49 30 24 4 3 0 0 150.1 153 75 14 67 83 79 4.05 1.463 SP Dave Hamilton* 25 6 4 4.39 16 11 1 1 0 0 69.2 74 34 8 24 34 81 4.16 1.407 Pos Name Age W L ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP CL Rollie Fingers 26 7 8 1.92 62 2 49 0 0 22 126.2 107 27 5 39 110 186 2.36 1.153 RP Darold Knowles* 31 6 8 3.09 52 5 26 1 1 9 99.0 87 34 7 49 46 116 4.13 1.374 RP Horacio Pina 28 6 3 2.76 47 0 24 0 0 8 88.0 58 27 8 34 41 129 4.25 1.045 RP Paul Lindblad* 31 1 5 3.69 36 3 11 0 0 2 78.0 89 32 8 28 33 97 4.25 1.500 Pos Name Age W L ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP Glenn Abbott 22 1 0 3.86 5 3 1 1 0 0 18.2 16 8 3 7 6 94 5.14 1.232 Rob Gardner* 28 0 0 4.91 3 0 0 0 0 0 7.1 10 4 2 4 2 77 7.20 1.909 Chuck Dobson 29 0 1 7.71 1 1 0 0 0 0 2.1 6 2 1 2 3 55 8.14 3.429 Second was playing table top baseball with a good friend who was an avid Orioles fan. We played my Twins team against his Orioles for many games, who while not having the offense of the Twins, kept running out a relentless rotation of Palmer, Flanagan, Dennis Martinez, Scott McGregor. I was defeated more often than not by this pitching staff and got used to being dominated. I was forever changed! This is the kind of staff I’d like to see the Twins aspire to! (courtesy of baseball-reference.com)
Pos Name Age W L ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP Team Totals 26.8 90 71 3.56 161 161 96 65 14 33 1429.0 1340 566 107 509 754 99 3.60 1.294 Rank in 14 AL teams 5 10 5 1 2 2 11 2 4 4 7 5 Pos Name Age W L ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP SP Jim Palmer 32 21 12 2.46 38 38 0 19 6 0 296.0 246 81 19 97 138 143 3.48 1.159 SP Mike Flanagan* 26 19 15 4.03 40 40 0 17 2 0 281.1 271 126 22 87 167 87 3.37 1.273 SP Dennis Martinez 24 16 11 3.52 40 38 0 15 2 0 276.1 257 108 20 93 142 100 3.54 1.267 SP Scott McGregor* 24 15 13 3.32 35 32 2 13 4 1 233.0 217 86 19 47 94 106 3.46 1.133 Pos Name Age W L ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP CL Don Stanhouse 27 6 9 2.89 56 0 47 0 0 24 74.2 60 24 0 52 42 122 3.55 1.500 RP Joe Kerrigan 24 3 1 4.77 26 2 16 0 0 3 71.2 75 38 10 36 41 74 4.85 1.549 RP Tippy Martinez* 28 3 3 4.83 42 0 16 0 0 5 69.0 77 37 4 40 57 73 3.47 1.696 RP Nelson Briles 34 4 4 4.64 16 8 4 1 0 0 54.1 58 28 6 21 30 76 4.19 1.454 RP John Flinn 23 1 1 8.04 13 0 5 0 0 0 15.2 24 14 3 13 8 45 6.54 2.362 Pos Name Age W L ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP Tim Stoddard 25 0 1 6.00 8 0 3 0 0 0 18.0 22 12 3 8 14 60 4.86 1.667 Dave Ford 21 1 0 0.00 2 1 1 0 0 0 15.0 10 0 0 2 5 2.32 0.800 Sammy Stewart 23 1 1 3.18 2 2 0 0 0 0 11.1 10 4 0 3 11 115 1.44 1.147 Earl Stephenson* 30 0 0 2.79 2 0 2 0 0 0 9.2 10 3 0 5 4 131 3.31 1.552 Elrod Hendricks 37 0 0 0.00 1 0 0 0 0 0 2.1 1 0 0 1 0 3.87 0.857 Larry Harlow* 26 0 0 67.50 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.2 2 5 1 4 1 9 37.09 9.000 Now, let’s compare this year’s Twins staff to, first the 1977 Twins, and then secondly to the 1973 A’s and the 1978 Orioles. (courtesy of baseball-reference.com)
Pos Name Age W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP Team Totals 30.4 29 41 .414 4.94 70 70 70 0 0 17 610.1 619 335 104 209 574 84 4.67 1.357 Rank in 15 AL teams 12 4 14 8 9 8 11 13 13 14 5 13 Pos Name Age W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP SP Jose Berrios 27 7 2 .778 3.56 14 14 0 0 0 0 83.1 70 33 10 21 87 115 3.58 1.092 SP J.A. Happ* 38 3 3 .500 6.12 12 12 0 0 0 0 60.1 69 41 11 18 44 67 5.13 1.442 SP Michael Pineda (10-day IL) 32 3 4 .429 3.70 11 11 0 0 0 0 56.0 49 23 10 15 51 111 4.48 1.143 SP Matt Shoemaker 34 2 8 .200 7.57 13 11 2 0 0 0 54.2 66 46 12 23 37 54 6.04 1.628 SP Kenta Maeda 33 2 2 .500 5.01 10 10 0 0 0 0 46.2 55 26 9 14 46 82 4.80 1.479 Pos Name Age W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP CL Taylor Rogers* 30 2 3 .400 2.73 28 0 11 0 0 7 29.2 26 9 3 5 41 152 2.23 1.045 RP Hansel Robles 30 3 3 .500 2.84 32 0 9 0 0 5 31.2 21 10 2 19 33 145 3.80 1.263 RP Jorge Alcala 25 1 1 .500 3.49 29 0 11 0 0 0 28.1 16 11 7 7 24 118 5.54 0.812 RP Tyler Duffey 30 0 2 .000 4.15 28 0 2 0 0 2 26.0 23 12 2 13 24 100 3.94 1.385 RP Alex Colome 32 2 4 .333 5.40 27 0 10 0 0 2 25.0 28 15 5 12 26 77 5.49 1.600 Pos Name Age W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP Randy Dobnak 26 1 6 .143 7.83 13 5 3 0 0 1 43.2 60 38 11 12 25 53 6.19 1.649 Caleb Thielbar* 34 2 0 1.000 4.13 22 0 4 0 0 0 24.0 26 11 3 7 36 101 2.80 1.375 Bailey Ober 25 0 0 3.71 4 4 0 0 0 0 17.0 18 7 3 2 21 113 3.52 1.176 Cody Stashak (10-day IL) 27 0 0 6.89 15 0 1 0 0 0 15.2 16 12 2 10 26 61 3.62 1.660 Lewis Thorpe* (7-day IL) 25 0 2 .000 3.86 4 3 1 0 0 0 14.0 13 6 1 4 5 109 4.24 1.214 Luke Farrell 30 1 0 1.000 2.08 11 0 3 0 0 0 13.0 11 3 1 5 14 202 3.17 1.231 Shaun Anderson 26 0 0 9.35 4 0 0 0 0 0 8.2 13 9 1 5 8 46 4.90 2.077 Griffin Jax (40-man) 26 0 0 8.64 3 0 2 0 0 0 8.1 11 8 4 3 9 49 8.33 1.680 Derek Law 30 0 0 8.53 5 0 3 0 0 0 6.1 11 6 2 6 9 51 7.28 2.684 Juan Minaya 30 0 0 4.26 4 0 2 0 0 0 6.1 5 3 2 3 4 102 7.91 1.263 Devin Smeltzer* (10-day IL) 25 0 0 0.00 1 0 1 0 0 0 4.2 1 0 0 1 3 3.81 0.429 Brandon Waddell* 27 0 1 .000 11.25 4 0 2 0 0 0 4.0 10 5 2 3 1 40 11.42 3.250 Willians Astudillo (40-man) 29 0 0 3.00 3 0 3 0 0 0 3.0 1 1 1 1 0 153 8.51 0.667 Statistically, this is the worst pitching staff we’ve looked at. This rotation is basically a two man rotation out of 5 where the 1977 Twins were basically one. Staffs like the 1977 and 2021 Twins will never lead to a high quality team featuring one and two viable starters type rotations. Obvious, right?
My argument would be that Falvey and Levine should be trying to get that to 4 or 5 quality starters and not put resources to players like J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker, Alex Colome or even Josh Donaldson. Donaldson has good qualities but one thing he isn’t is a quality pitcher.
What’s the way forward? I think, based on his 3.70 ERA so far and the virtual impossibility of signing 3 FA quality starters, that they need to re-sign Michael Pineda. They also need to re-sign Jose Berrios. That’s only 2 of 5 quality starters. We have to hope that Maeda rounds back into form. Further the FO is going to have to sign a quality free agent pitcher. Then we have to hope that Bailey Ober builds on what he as started so far. And hope that Barnes, Duran or Balazovic make a breakthrough. There are other good arms.
I’ve pictured below the kinds of pitchers we need in at least 3 or 4 spots. It would be nice to have Christy Mathewson as a Twin but, alas, that’s not possible. He’s my favorite pitcher of all time.
Let me know what you think. My motto is pitching, pitching and more pitching!!!
ToddlerHarmon reacted to Mill1634 for a blog entry, Let the Kids Play - Starting Pitchers
The Minnesota Twins find themselves doubled up in the loss column at the time of this post, at 13-26, and the biggest controversy is whether Yermin Mercedes should be able to swing 3-0 against Willians Astudillo. If that doesn't tell you how this season has gone, I'm not sure what will. I've already wrote about players that we could see traded, as well as ranked all the Twins MLB roster by trade value. I expect many of those moves to be made in July, although some could roll in earlier, especially with all of the injuries around Major League Baseball. When all of these expected moves come around, the Twins are going to have to fill these holes with players from the minor leagues, or possibly by players coming in from the trades. This series will take a look at the players the Twins front office will want to take a longer look at come late July, August, and September in order to put themselves in a position to succeed in 2022.
RHP Randy Dobnak
Dobnak came into the Twins organization as a feel good story, and even started a playoff game for the Twins. He also signed a 5 year extension this past offseason, which locked in financial security for the former Uber driver, and gave the Twins a cheap depth option for the foreseeable future. However, there is questions around Twins territory on whether Dobnak is an MLB starter, or more of a long man. With expected trades of JA Happ and Michael Pineda, and the likely DFA or move to the bullpen for Matt Shoemaker, the Twins will have plenty of chances to evaluate some of the AAA starters. Dobnak should, and likely will be, the first option to fill the hole. Dobnak relies on pinpoint control over his sinker, and a very good slider to pair with the sinker. In order to be an effective MLB starter, Dobnak will have to develop a reliable third pitch, with the changeup being the most likely. Even if Dobnak isn't a long term starter, he will be on the opening day roster in 2022.
LHP Lewis Thorpe
Lewis Thorpe is a former top prospect out of Australia, but certainly hasn't met those expectations thus far. The key to Thorpe being a useful arm in the major leagues all rely on his fastball velocity. Last season we saw Thorpe's velocity fall below 90, which was not the norm for him, and unsurprisingly, he got shelled. However, there were signs of hope for the southpaw during spring training, where he said he "refocused mentally and physically" and the results backed it up. Thorpe was sitting in the low 90's during spring training, but that has suddenly disappeared. During Thorpe's two spot starts thus far, he's once again sitting 89.7 MPH on the fastball, and shared that he's going through a dead arm phase. If Thorpe snaps out of his dead arm, and regains his velo, he has a chance at a starter to pair with his very good slider. However, if the fastball velo is only sustainable in short stints, a move to the pen seems inevitable. We'll get an answer on this question during the dog days of the 2021 summer.
RHP Bailey Ober
As I'm writing this article, Bailey Ober is pitching the first inning of his MLB debut. Ober is a big, right handed arm who stands at 6 feet 9 inches, but doesn't have the velo that matches the body. The Twins drafted Ober in the 12th round in 2017, which is the same draft where Royce Lewis was the #1 pick. The fact that Ober has already made his MLB debut, despite being a 12th round pick, means he's outperformed expectations. Bailey was added to the 40 man roster this past offseason, despite not throwing in a live game since 2019. Ober has four quality pitches, with the fastball sitting in the upper 80's, and the lower 90's on occasion. His best putaway pitch is a changeup, which moves with a lot of armside run. He also features a slider and curveball, but neither project as anything more than an average pitch. Despite the fastball not cracking 90, it has a lot of carry on it which allows him to successfully pitch in the upper part of the zone. With the next wave of top arms coming to Target Field soon in Johan Duran and Jordan Balazovic, Ober will have to perform well to stay apart of Minnesota's long term plans, as he is a starter or bust.
ToddlerHarmon reacted to Brandon for a blog entry, Next Offseason's Budget and an Ace... We Can Afford One!
Next offseason we have 6 free agents (Cruz DH 13 million, Pineda SP 10 million, Happ SP 8 million, Simmons SS 10,500,000, Robles RP 2 million, and Shoemaker SP 2 million) and a team option on Colome RP 5 million. Or 3 Starting Pitchers, 2 Relievers, DH and SS for a total 2021 salary of 45.5 million coming off the books next offseason.
For our rotation we already have Berrios, Maeda, Dobnak as established starters. We only need to fill two spots. Dobnak’s 800,000 salary will likely be replacing a 10 million salary pitcher freeing up money to be spent elsewhere. Luckily Balazovich, Thorpe, Duran and others should be close enough to be ready for an opportunity. We may only need to sign 1 starting pitcher to keep our rotation deep as it is now.
Our pen is likely to lose a few members, but relievers can be found cheaply in free agency so the cost to swap out relievers is going to be low or at the worst not a big increase in costs.
Cruz will be a free agent next offseason too and it will be interesting to see what happens with him. Will we resign him for one more go around or is this his last season here? I doubt he would cost more than the 13 million we are paying him and more likely less with incentives. Even with the National League adding the DH next year. Regardless we have lots of options to replace him too (Larnarch, Rooker, and others).
We were even set up at SS for next season too with Royce Lewis coming up but now we may have to find another SS on a short-term deal so Lewis can come up when he is ready more likely now the following season. However, we are still likely to come in under this year’s budget next season.
On Arbitration only Berrios, Buxton, possibly Garver and Duffey and Rogers are in line for decent size raises. As a group I am only guessing they raise their salaries by approximately 18-24 million. If we don’t have to sign an expensive SS or have any unforeseen issues pre-emptively come up by next offseason, we are set up to pay big for an ace starting pitcher next offseason. Do we know which starting pitchers will be free agents next year? And do any of you believe we will compete and sign one?
(Note: I got the salary info on this site)
ToddlerHarmon reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, PECOTA Projecting a Three-Peat
Today marked the unveiling of PECOTA’s standings projection from Baseball Prospectus. For the Minnesota Twins, things are looking great as the system sees 91 wins and a third straight AL Central division title. There are definitely some noteworthy revelations, however.
Of course, as Twins fans, the hometown club appearing atop the division once again is the most exciting development. 91 wins seems conservative in a division that should really be a two-team race, but PECOTA doesn’t see the breakdown working quite like that. Despite all of the fanfare, the projection system has the Chicago White Sox finishing third in the division and winning just 83 games.
From my vantage point, the White Sox coming in anywhere lower than second seems like quite the shock. Cleveland dealt away Francisco Lindor, should do the same with Jose Ramirez, and despite a stellar pitching staff, have little else to hang their hats on. The White Sox certainly could be primed for some regression though. They burst onto the scene a year ago, but the season was just a 60-game sample size. Looking back to the 2017 Twins, there was a Postseason appearance prior to a backwards slide that then set them up for the current run.
Trying to make some sense of what PECOTA may be seeing, I looked at the added WAR for Minnesota and Chicago through the lens of ZiPS from Fangraphs. Chicago has added just 6.5 fWAR while the Twins tacked on a tally of 7.2 fWAR. That’s largely a reflection of where both clubs added. The White Sox needed help in the outfield but responded with just Adam Eaton and Adam Engel. Lance Lynn is a solid addition if he keeps down the path of recent success, but even as good as Liam Hendriks is, Alex Colome was already stellar a year ago and a single reliever has just minimal impact. Both Nelson Cruz and Andrelton Simmons are seen as substantial additions for Minnesota, while J.A. Happ should be considered a steadying presence.
Even without the distaste for Chicago clouding my view, I still find it hard to believe that club will finish below Cleveland. I’ve written in this space that I’d hardly be shocked if the Royals end up third in the division, and for now I’m going to stick to that. Projection systems or otherwise, you can bet the South Side fanbase won’t take kindly to what will be viewed as disrespect.
One other area of note within PECOTA is the projection for the NL Central. That division is expected to be a dumpster fire, and the Milwaukee Brewers are slated to win it with just 88 wins. It’s worth making a note of considering the Central will serve as the interleague foe for Minnesota in 2021. Despite the regionalized schedule a year ago, the Twins face the same grouping of opponents in the National League. Being able to face off against a division that’s largely not trying should only provide additional opportunity to add tallies in the win column.
We’ll have to take a look back on these standings come October when the dust settles. Right now, though, another Twins division title and some shade towards the South Side is more than good with me.
For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
ToddlerHarmon reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Minnesota’s Mysterious Fifth Starter
Recently the Minnesota Twins signed veteran starting pitcher J.A. Happ to bolster their rotation. He’d slot in as the 4th starter with where things stand currently, and Randy Dobnak would be the clubhouse favorite to round out the group. It remains to be seen whether or not another move is coming, but there’s a dark horse to eat someone’s lunch.
At the risk of sounding too punny, maybe he’s a dark kangaroo. Lewis Thorpe recently turned 25-years-old and is a former top-100 prospect. He couldn’t be further from that stature right now, but talent shouldn’t be the question. After battling back from Tommy John surgery, and then an extended bout of pneumonia, he put together impressive seasons on the farm. The past two years have been anything but, however he’s worth believing in under one key condition.
I liked Thorpe as a potential contributor to the big-league club when 2020 Spring Training kicked off. He was coming off a 4.76 ERA in just shy of 100 Triple-A innings, but it was largely reflective of the home run ball and his 11.1 K/9 paired with a 2.3 BB/9 was still plenty enticing. Then Florida happened.
No, for Thorpe, it wasn’t the Covid-19 related shutdown. Without divulging too many specifics or risking secondary information, what is publicly known is that he took an extended leave of absence from the team. His parents flew in from Australia and he needed to undergo a mental reset. Ultimately, he didn’t appear in a Major League game until July 26 and contributed just 16.1 innings for the Twins. His 6.06 ERA was ugly and giving up a homer in roughly 25-percent of his innings pitched was not going to play. Again though, the stuff has always been there.
Observing the offseason without having directly communicated with Thorpe, things appear to be trending in a different direction. The Twitter account has been dormant since his birthday in 2020, and his workouts have been shared on different forms of social media. What was at least an erratic presence a year ago has once again subdued as was the case previously.
Whether by his own doing, or a helping hand from the organization, if Thorpe has recalibrated himself, he can certainly be a difference maker on the bump. I was uncertain as to his place within the organization during periods of roster trimming, and there were times that his inclusion in a trade may have even made sense. The pitcher that forced his way into the big leagues in 2019 is a force to be reckoned with however, and Rocco Baldelli can make use of that.
Physically we saw Thorpe’s velocity diminish in 2020. He posted just an average of 90 mph on his fastball. It’s never that he’s been a hard thrower but losing nearly 2 mph at such a young age wasn’t a great development. It was clear that the lack of carry made a difference last season, and Wes Johnson unlocking the tank would be a great step forward for the Southpaw. The Twins ratcheted up his slider usage last season, and that trend could continue for 2021. Looking to regain the whiff and chase rates from 2019 form, tinkering will certainly be valuable as more data is collected.
There’s not reason to believe an ace is in the making here, but right now it’s not Dobnak or bust when it comes to the back end of the Twins rotation. Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic may force themselves in eventually, but don’t count out the best version of Thorpe to make noise before the dust settles.
For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
ToddlerHarmon reacted to Allen Post for a blog entry, Why Are We So Down on Luis Arraez?
Think back to October 2019 – the Twins had just gotten pantsed in the playoffs. Again. A really fun season had ended in disappointment. Again. But there was still ample reason for hope. One such reason for optimism was the emergence of Luis Arraez, a rookie contact-hitting savant. Now, one (odd) season later, and we’re in about the same place. The Twins are fresh off another fun season that ended in postseason embarrassment, but this year, we’re much less excited about the 23-year-old second baseman. And for what? All Arraez did in 2020 was fight through injury to hit for a .321 batting average (best on the team) and a .364 on-base percentage (second best) while playing a decent second base. So why are some Twins fans throwing his name into every possible trade deal or into a platoon with whoever ends up as Minnesota’s utility man? Hasn’t Arraez earned himself a spot in the Twins future?
Okay, obviously saying that Arraez “fought through injury” to bat .321 is a fairly rose-tinted way of looking at what Luis brought to the Twins last year. To put it a different way, “Arraez was an injury liability and, when he was in the lineup, he regressed in all major stat categories and offered very little in the way of power.” The truth about Arraez is somewhere in between these two takes, but I’ve heard a lot more extreme pessimism than optimism. Yes, he regressed last year and no, he doesn’t help the team when he’s injured, but we’ve found ways to excuse nearly every other Twin for those same exact problems without casting them off as trade bait (I’m looking at you, Garver and Buxton). Also, Arraez’s “regression” brought him down to a .321 average that would’ve been good for third-best in the American League if he had enough at-bats to qualify. As far as I’m concerned, that’s still a pretty good season.
Arraez's 2020 campaign was disappointing, but there's reason for hope going forward
I understand that, nowadays, you often have to do more than just hit at a high average to be a solid MLB player, but worry not, because Arraez actually improved slightly in a number of more telling advanced statistics last season. His 2020 campaign saw him improve in average exit velocity, sweet spot percentage and hard hit percentage, per Baseball Savant. None of these improvements was particularly significant and he’s by no means excelling in any of these categories, but it’s clear by looking at the advanced metrics that Arraez is not getting worse at the plate. In fact, it seems that his 2020 season should have been even better than his breakout rookie year.
So why did it feel disappointing? Because we were hoping for that second-year leap and we got a regression to the mean instead. Arraez’s improvement in advanced hitting metrics and regression in average and OBP show us that his rookie year was a statistical outlier more than it was a stepping stone to even greater success in the future. Still, if .321 is the mean he regressed towards, Twins fans ought to be excited, especially considering that he was injured and is still only 23. We’ve written off much worse pandemic performances from healthier and more experienced guys, so let’s afford Arraez some of that forgiveness.
Unfortunately, ZiPS (and every other projection service) doesn’t seem to be helping me make my case. They predict a slash line of .313/.371/.406 for his third year in the bigs. On the surface, this looks worse than it is because Arraez’s average is projected to take another hit, but ZiPS actually projects that .313 mark to lead the majors. They have his on-base and slugging numbers improving, too, so, really, they’re not down on Arraez at all. Even if Arraez does level out as a .313 hitter – and I think he’ll be better than that long-term – adding some power and taking more walks would be a massive improvement for his career and for the Twins lineup. And I believe he can make those improvements because, again, he’s only 23.
ZiPS projects a .313/.371/.406 slash line for Arraez in 2021
So, where does that leave us? I saw the regression from his rookie year (we all did) and no, his 2020 year wasn’t what we hoped for, but Arraez is still a great asset for the Twins moving forward. I believe in his contact hitting that has been the best on the team and I believe in the advanced metrics that show his improvements in other areas. Most of all, though, I believe in the player. Arraez has hit .300 at every level of professional baseball, and is the same age or younger than some of the Twins’ top minor-league prospects. He’s already a great hitter and he has a lot of opportunity for growth ahead of him. Luis Arraez may very well win a batting title soon, and the Twins better make sure he does it in a Minnesota jersey.
ToddlerHarmon reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, The Shortstop factory
The Twins have Jorge Polanco at SS. In 2019 he was an all star. Now all of Twins fandom wants him at utility and hope for the team to sign another SS. I am not sure why. Our number one prospect remains Royce Lewis who is still listed as a SS who should be ready by the end of the year at least. So why do we want to demote Polanco and block Lewis? This is reasoning that does not work for me.
Then we have Wander Javier who came to us in the same international draft that produced Vladimir Guerrero, jr. and Yordan Alvarez. To say that he is behind them on the development level is an understatement. I am still not sure why he is rated so high as a prospect. He has had a hamstring injury during his 2016 debut, a torn labrum costing him all of 2018 and a strained quad keeping him from making his full-season debut in 2019. Then he came in and looked lost for 300 at bats. And MLB.com still has him listed at number nine.
Above him on the mlb.com site is Keoni Cavaco who is given great grades for athleticism, which is fine in the Olympics, but batting and fielding count in baseball. I am not sold on him. He was a fast riser in HS according to his notes. Another prospect who does not make my list.
At 17 is Nick Gordon. He seems to be on a slippery slope to a forgotten prospect, but I hope he will find a way to get to the majors someday. He just isn’t going to make the team as a starter.
Will Holland is next on the prospect list at 19. Notes about him say that he was doing great at Auburn until his Junior year where he bombed and slipped to fifth round. Then he came to rookie ball and still bombed. Not looking good.
Today the Twins made an big international signing – Danny De Andrade who is 16. He could be projected to arrive when Lewis runs out of arbitration and signs elsewhere. He is big, potential middle of the order project (typically that means not staying at SS). At 16 he is a project. I know what my grandsons are like at that age – I would not sign them for $2.2 million and I love them. If he makes it he will probably replace Donaldson and not Lewis.
Finally the second signing is Fredy LaFlor who is already projected in the mlb.com writeup to shift to second or CF. He said to be a high energy top of the lineup prospect.
So there is the Twins SS list. I would like to see us develop one of them into the next great SS rather than sign one who is already down the road of his career and will be overpaid. How do you see these names playing out?
The Athletic summary of international signings did not include the Twins - disappointing. https://theathletic.com/2326602/2021/01/16/mlb-international-signing-period-day-1/?source=weeklyemail For those of us who do not know who they are it is important to have outside opinions.
ToddlerHarmon reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, 75 for 75
Seventy five for a seventy five year old
Okay, it is my birthday and I love life and all my ex-students, friends, participants in the guided tours, neighbors and family. So I am reflective and that means I have to think of 75 memories – there are many more. But here are 75 Twin memories.
1. Ushering during season one
2. Mudcat Grant – you want colorful – this is it.
3. Vic Power taking over first base in a way I have never seen anywhere else.
4. Jim Kaat just delivering and delivering and delivering.
5. Harmon Killebrew with a swing that seemed to cut the night air into pieces.
6. Rod Carew just toying with the fielders.
7. Sandy Koufax showing us what HOF means – despite out loss it was great.
8. Tony Oliva doing everything and then those knees just radiated pain.
9. Joe Mauer being so Minnesota that everyone in MN complained he was too plain.
10. Tovar playing everywhere and playing so good.
11. Everyday Eddie coming in day after day and giving us ulcers everytime.
12. Calvin Griffith reminding us that owning a team did not make a man into a good man.
13. Sid Hartman telling us everything MN was great even when it wasn’t.
14. Metropolitan Stadium, a dream for all of us with erector sets.
15. The dome collapsing like a big pimple.
16. 1987 Twins being champions when they looked like a below average team
17. 1965 Twins being the best team in our history, but losing to a historic event
18. Hrbek doing his wrestling move on first base – I am still laughing
19. Sitting in the upper upper deck of the metrodome at game 7 1991
20. Jack Morris refusing to quit – HOF for no other reason
21. Kirby Puckett showing that determination can change an outcome
22. Dan Gladden a non-star who gave us grit
23. Herb Carneal giving us a transistor seat at all the games
24. Halsey Hall so outrageous that we loved him even if we did not know what he was talking about
25. Cool nights with a breeze from right field in the sixties
26. Lousy hot dogs that still were satisfying in the early decades
27. Bob Allison looking so fit and intimidating
28. Nelson Cruz reminding us old guys that old does not mean feeble
29. Kirby Puckett taking over game six
30. Hrbek’s WS grand slam
31. Knoblauch at second base
32. Knoblauch returning to a shower of boos and hotdogs
33. Jim Perry 1970 Cy Young
34. Tom Kelly blowing it with Ortiz
35. Zoilo Versalles 1965 MVP
36. Byron Buxton in Centerfield
37. Torii Hunter robs Barry Bonds in All Star game
38. Frank Viola Cy Young 1988
39. Harmon Killebrew MVP 1969
40. Billy Martin and the marshmallow salesman
41. Johann Santana Cy Young award 2004
42. John Castino – rookie of the year 1979
43. Seeing Carew leave
44. Johann Santana Cy Young 2006
45. Paul Molitor at DH 1996
46. Dean Chance No-hitter
47. Joe Mauer 2009 – major league player of the year
48. Camilo Pascual’s curveball
49. The collapse of the Metrodome
50. Marty Cordova Rookie of the year 1995 (or last rookie of the year)
51. Justin Morneau MVP 2006
52. Mitch Garver in 2019
53. The Turtle running the bases
54. Bob Allison’s sliding catch
55. Randy Bush pinch hitter with 13 hits in one year
56. Gene Larkin’s walk off pinch hit
57. Puckett to the HOF
58. Harmon Killebrew’s 520-foot Home Run June 1967
59. The last playoff game won by the Twins 2004
60. 18 game post season losing streak 2020
61. 1984 Dave Kingman hits a 208 foot double – straight up and into the metrodome roof
62. Tony Oliva wins batting title in 1964 and 1965
63. 1971 Rod Carew Rookie of the Year
64. Lyman Bostock and Larry Hisle came together for one great year
65. 1977 Rod Carew batted 388
66. 1969 Harmon Killebrew hit 49 HRs
67. Billy Martin gets in fight with his own 20 game winner – Dave Boswell
68. 2016 Twins lose record 103 games
69. 1987 home team wins all the games in WS and we have four home games
70. Watching the famous Hrbek game in Sierra Vista AZ bar as the only Twins fan in the place
71. Killebrew in the HOF
72. Rod Carew in the HOF
73. 2002 Pohlads agree to contraction – we almost lost the team
74. 2006, the year of the Piranhas
75. Bert Blyleven in the HOF
ToddlerHarmon reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Old school - sure to make a lot of you mad
I had an idea. What if someone got a hit, stole second - maybe third and someone else got a hit and they scored?
In new school does that not count?
What if someone got a hit, someone bunted and then a single brought them home? Does that not mean that the run scores?
Do I have to wait for a HR? Should I look for a K instead of a sacrifice?
Do I have to fire up the computer. What to do? No HR? We cannot score that way. We need HRs without runners on base because analytics say that is really the cool new way to do it.
Let's eliminate the sacrifice, the bunt, the stolen base - I know they worked for 150 years but they did not have computers.
Mookie Betts looks great, but what is he doing stealing two bases?
Why would we hit to the weakness of a shift when we can score a high exit velocity on the ball we hit for an out? Why go the other way when we can get a launch angle? Doesn't exit velocity score us more points? Doesn't launch angle get us an extra mention on Sports Center?
Don't we get more runs for a HR with more distance?
What is it with the old school. Get a hit. Advance a base. Score. So boring.
And then there are RBIs - who cares. No one is getting a hit other than a HR anyway so why worry about a batter who can actually bring that baserunner to home plate? Runs, RBIs, Batting average - so yesterday.
And then there is pitching. We should all throw 100 mph because the batters can never adjust to that! Have them hit into a DP - what are you talking about it will impact my K/BB rate. The ERA is so old school lets just worry about K/HR.
And starting pitchers who go into the later innings - why? So what if we need 43 RP to handle all the extra innings. We do not need Spahn, Marichal, Mathewson - they are old school. Lets just have 9 pitchers per game per team. Boy is that fun. No saves, no complete games, no dominating Sandy Koufax or Bob Gibson. Let's have a lot of Duffeys, Romos, Aaron Bummers - who? Yup. No more pitchers in the HOF. Who needs them?
And, by the way, no more fans in the stands. Not because there is Covid, but because the game is getting so damned boring.
As an addendum - game three of the WS - the Dodgers had long balls, but they also scored on singles, they had a bunt for a run, and they stole bases. When you blend old school with some new maybe the game can get fun again.
Game 4 - Tampa Bay ties the series. Yes they got HRs, but a single and an error won the game. By putting the ball in play so many things can happen. It went for a single, it was dropped by the centerfielder and then the catcher - errors seldom happen on a K.
Game 6 - Kevin Cash proved what I hate - Snell was upset and should be. He is an Ace and he was ready to be Jack Morris but the damn team policy removed the human element and the Rays deserved to lose.
ToddlerHarmon reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Round one who won the playoffs
Wow – the combined AL/NL Central division had 7 teams in the 16 team post season mix. That must be a great division so we can take great pride in all our wins, right? Maybe not. Let us look at the division record for the first round.
This is for those of you who have decided not to watch any more baseball until spring. The game does go on even if the Twins do not. And if you did see other series you would see something that we missed in the Twins series, besides relief pitching, batting, and fielding. We missed fire - the Kirby Puckett type of jump on my back fire or the Jack Morris I am not coming out of the game fire.
Central division seven teams:
Chicago Cubs 0 - 2
Chicago White Sox 1 - 2
Minnesota Twins 0 - 2 The bombas scored 2 runs in two games
Cincinnati Reds 0 – 2 - They did not score once in 22 innings and had 28 Ks
Cleveland Indians 0 – 2
St Louis 1 – 2
Milwaukee 0 – 2
Total 2 - 14
Derrick Falvey - “When you get to the playoffs, every inning matters in a different way. It’s so much more stressful in those moments, because you’re worried inning to inning about what’s going to happen next … You get a little more fixated on the detail of it.”
The Eastern Division has five teams
Tampa Bay 2 – 0
New York Yankees 2 – 0
Toronto Blue Jays 0 – 2 (and they played Tampa Bay in their own division)
Atlanta 2 – 0
Marlins 2 – 0 Yes that was Brandon Kintzler closing out for the Marlins
Total 8 - 2
"THEY’D LOST SEVEN STRAIGHT POTENTIAL CLINCHERS! The hardest part of going all those years without winning a series is that the Braves could have won so many of them. They played seven postseason games in that time that could have clinched five different series — and lost all seven. That’s the longest losing streak in potential clinchers by any NL team in history — and the second-longest in baseball history." Jason Stark.
Western Division has only 4 teams - must be the weak division (right?)
Oakland A’s 2 - 1 Liam Hendriks threw 49 pitches on Wednesday, then saved their clincher Thursday.https://www.mlb.com/video/liam-hendriks-k-s-mazara?t=clinches-and-celebrations
San Diego 2 – 1
Los Angeles 2 – 0 Brusdar Graterol gets Ben Gamel to fly out to secure the 3-0 victory https://www.mlb.com/video/brusdar-graterol-earns-the-save?t=clinches-and-celebrations
Houston 2 – 0
Total 8 - 2
The Central has had 4 two and out, the East has one (because that team had to play within its own division and the West has zero.
"As the sixth inning arrived Thursday in Petco Park, the Padres were four innings away from getting swept by the Cardinals in the wild-card series. Then those same Padres apparently decided that getting swept was not an option. Nope. Not happening. What happened instead was incredible:" Jason Stark. Reminds me of Puckett and Morris. Sometimes you just have to say no - we are not going to lose.
Of course Don Mattingly without knowing it said what Rocco needs to hear - our starters are better than anything we have in the pen. You got to trust them. https://www.mlb.com/video/don-mattingly-on-the-win?t=clinches-and-celebrations
"Meanwhile in Oakland … the A’s were in the midst of one of the most mind-boggling October funks of all time. Until they outlasted the White Sox on Thursday, they’d somehow lost nine winner-take-all postseason games in a row.
"They’d lost three of those games to the Yankees … and two to the Tigers … and one each to the Red Sox, Twins, Royals and Rays. It was the longest streak in baseball history." Jason Stark
And despite the fact that the Twins starters are limited to five innings, Clayton Kershaw proved that is not a new league rule - "The Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw. Eight dominant innings, giving up only three hits while recording 13 strikeouts, all on breaking pitches." ESPN
Wild Card Round
Central - zero
East - Four
West - Four
ToddlerHarmon reacted to Chris Hanel for a blog entry, 69 Billion to One: The True Futility of the Twins Postseason
Yes, the number in the title is not an exaggeration. The true odds of the moment we find ourselves in at the close of the Twins 2020 postseason campaign, brief as it was, comes to one in 69 billion. Somewhere in the galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox fired up the Improbability drive and Minnesota got caught in the wake.
Let's do some math, shall we?
Setting a baseline
Now, there's a very good chance you've seen the number 262,144 floating around Twins Twitter in the last day or two, and that's because if you were to flip a coin 18 times, the odds of each flip resulting in the same outcome are 262,144:1 against, or 218. Already, this feels bad. This feels unfair. We want to fight against this statistic. BASEBALL GAMES AREN'T COIN FLIPS, I hear you cry out. So many of those games were as underdogs against the almighty Yankees, surely the odds weren't THAT bad?
And yeah, from that perspective, you'd be correct. @Awoodruff3 on Twitter looked at the problem from a gambling odds perspective:
28,524:1 against! Already, this is 10 times as likely as the coin flip scenario, so the sting should only be a fraction of what we currently feel, right?
Sadly, no. Here's how it really breaks down.
I have gone into the Fangraphs archives for each of the 18 games in the losing streak and made note of the moment in time where the Twins had the highest expected win probability. In 17 of the 18 games, the Twins were favored to win - and in a few cases, extremely favored - before eventually taking the L. With that information, we can look at the odds of losing from these moments where the Twins had the greatest amount of leverage to create a future other than the ones we find ourselves in now.
October 6th, 2004: ALDS Game 2
Bottom 12th, 1 out, Twins ahead by 1 at New York
Twins Win Probability
How'd things look?
With Joe Nathan on the mound for his third inning of work, John Olerud strikes out and the Twins are 2 outs away from taking a 2-0 lead in the series.
Nathan gives consecutive walks before A-Rod hits a ground rule double, followed by an intentional walk and a Matsui sac fly to win.
Odds of a loss
October 8th, 2004: ALDS Game 3
Top 2nd, 2 outs, Twins ahead by 1 vs. New York
Twins Win Probability
How'd things look?
Carlos Silva gets a ground ball out from Bernie Williams. It's still early, but teams in the lead tend to stay in the lead.
Silva immediately gave up 5 consecutive singles and 3 runs before the 2nd inning was over, and the Twins never saw daylight again.
Odds of a 2-game losing streak
October 9th, 2004: ALDS Game 4
Bottom 7, 0 outs, Twins ahead by 4 vs. New York
Twins Win Probability
How'd things look?
A-Rod concludes a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the 7th by fouling out to first base. The Twins have retired 9 straight batters.
Yankees tie the game in the top of the 8th on an RBI single and a 3-run homer, game goes to extra innings, Yankees take the lead in the 11th, Twins fans begin to wonder if this is the start of something dire. (Narrator: It is.)
Odds of a 3-game losing streak
October 3rd, 2006: ALDS Game 1
Bottom 1, 0 outs, tie game vs. Oakland
Twins Win Probability
How'd things look?
Luis Castillo leads off for the Twins with a walk. This would be as good as it got.
Frank Thomas homers to take the lead in the 2nd, and despite the Twins making things interesting in the bottom of the 8th, they would never be favored again.
Odds of a 4-game losing streak
October 4th, 2006: ALDS Game 2
Bottom 6, 0 outs, tie game vs. Oakland
Twins Win Probability
How'd things look?
Down 2, the Twins start the bottom of the 6th with consecutive homers by Cuddy and Morneau to tie the game, and Oakland goes to the bullpen.
Oakland responds in the 7th with 2 runs off an inside the park home run.
Odds of a 5-game losing streak
October 6th, 2006: ALDS Game 3
Top 2, 0 outs, tie game at Oakland
Twins Win Probability
How'd things look?
Morneau opens the 2nd with a double, with Torii Hunter on deck.
Morneau doesn't score, Oakland opens up a 4-0 lead, and eventually win 8-3.
Odds of a 6-game losing streak
October 7th, 2009: ALDS Game 1
Top 3, 2 outs, Twins ahead by 2 at New York
Twins Win Probability
How'd things look?
Twins take a 2-0 lead when Joe Mauer scores on a Jorge Posada passed ball
Yankees immediately tie the game on a Derek Jeter home run, and the Twins never score again. Yankees win 7-2.
Odds of a 7-game losing streak
October 9th, 2009: ALDS Game 2
Top 9, 0 outs, Twins ahead by 2 at New York
Twins Win Probability
How'd things look?
After the Twins take a 2 run lead in the top of the 8th, the Yankees go down 1-2-3, and Joe Mauer comes to the plate to open the 9th.
Yankees tie it up in the bottom of the 9th, Joe Mauer hits a double in the 11th that Phil Cuzzi incorrectly rules foul, and settles for a single- only to be followed by 2 consecutive singles that would have scored him had the double stood. Instead, Mauer doesn't score, Yankees walk it off on a Mark Teixeira homer, and just typing out this sentence makes me want to die inside.
Odds of an 8-game losing streak
October 11th, 2009: ALDS Game 3
Top 7, 1 out, Twins ahead by 1 vs. New York
Twins Win Probability
How'd things look?
The Twins have struck first on an RBI single by Mauer, and the Yankees have responded with a Mark Teixeira groundout.
Yankees immediately take the lead with home runs by A-Rod and Posada. Twins threaten to tie in the 8th with a leadoff Punto double, but fail to capitalize. Yankees win 4-1.
Odds of a 9-game losing streak
October 6th, 2010: ALDS Game 1
Top 6, 1 out, Twins ahead by 3 vs. New York
Twins Win Probability
How'd things look?
Francisco Liriano has only given up 2 hits to the Yankees, who are down three and open the 6th with a Nick Swisher strikeout.
The wheels come off moments later as Lirano gives up a double, a wild pitch, 2 singles, and a triple to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead. The Twins would later tie it, only to lose 6-4.
Odds of a 10-game losing streak
October 7th, 2010: ALDS Game 2
Bottom 3, 0 outs, Twins ahead by 1 vs. New York
Twins Win Probability
How'd things look?
Twins opened the scoring in the 2nd on a Danny Valencia sac fly, and the Yankees go down 1-2-3 in response.
Yankees would later take a 2-1 lead before Orlando Hudson ties the game with a solo shot, but that tie doesn't last long. Yankees win 5-2.
Odds of an 11-game losing streak
October 9th, 2010: ALDS Game 3
Top 2, 0 outs, Twins tied at New York
Twins Win Probability
How'd things look?
This is the only game in the 18-game streak where the Twins were never favored. It remained 50/50 after both teams failed to accomplish anything in the first inning.
Twins fall behind in the 2nd, and never get close, losing 6-1.
Odds of a 12-game losing streak
October 3th, 2017: AL Wild Card
Top 1, 1 out, Twins ahead by 3 at New York
Twins Win Probability
How'd things look?
You remember this inning, right? Twins go into Yankee Stadium and immediately knock Luis Severino out of the game with homers by Brian Dozier and Eddie Rosario, followed by an Escobar single and a Kepler double. 3 run lead, 2 men on, only 1 out. We've got this. Yankees don't have a CHANCE.
Buxton and Castro strike out to end the inning, Ervin Santana gives up the lead on a 3-run homer, Yankees win 8-4, and everyone in my generation starts to develop serious anxiety complexes revolving around who the hell we hurt to cause this.
Odds of a 13-game losing streak
October 4th, 2019: ALDS Game 1
Top 3, 2 out, Twins ahead by 2 at New York
Twins Win Probability
How'd things look?
Twins were already leading 1-0 when Nelson Cruz comes up big with a solo home run against James Paxton.
As per usual, Twins lose the lead immediately. They tie things up in the 5th, but that also doesn't last. Twins lose 10-4.
Odds of a 14-game losing streak
October 5th, 2019: ALDS Game 2
Top 1, 1 out, Twins tied at New York
Twins Win Probability
How'd things look?
Inexplicably known as the Randy Dobnak game, the Twins were statistically favored for the briefest of moments when a HBP and a single put 2 men on in the first inning with only one out.
Those baserunners are stranded on a double play, Yankees score first and never look back. Twins lose 8-2.
Odds of a 15-game losing streak
October 7th, 2019: ALDS Game 3
Bottom 2, 0 outs, Twins losing by 1 vs. New York
Twins Win Probability
How'd things look?
The only entry on this series where the Twins were favored while losing. Why? The Twins opened the 2nd inning by loading the bases with no outs. This is a scenario where you are highly likely to score multiple runs.
Odds of a 16-game losing streak
September 29th, 2020: AL Wild Card Round Game 1
Bottom 5th, 0 outs, Twins ahead by 1 vs. Houston
Twins Win Probability
How'd things look?
Twins open the 5th with consecutive walks while already leading.
Strikeout, pop fly, groundout. Twins twitter immediately fears the worst due to the failure to capitalize, and their fears are proven valid.
Odds of a 17-game losing streak
September 30th, 2020: AL Wild Card Round Game 2
Bottom 6th, 0 outs, Twins tied vs. Houston
Twins Win Probability
How'd things look?
After loading the bases in the first inning and still failing to score, the Twins have done very litte. Still, it's a tie game, and the Twins are coming up to bat as slight favorites.
The bats continued to stay silent, and couldn't overcome a 2-run deficit in the 9th. I cried, and then began writing this article as a coping mechanism.
Odds of a 18-game losing streak
ToddlerHarmon reacted to weinshie for a blog entry, PCIs: why the Twins might have trouble with Houston
The non-injury injuries: why the Twins might have trouble against Houston
The Minnesota Twins completed the whirlwind COVID season atop their division. They are a different team than the one that won over 100 games last year, and probably much more likely to make an October run, thanks to improved starting pitching. On paper the Twins are a better team than the Houston Astros this year. From starting pitching to bullpen to lineup, Minnesota is just superior.*
But one significant issue could end the Twins’ march into October before it begins: Performance Compromising Injuries, or PCIs.
The Twins know all too well how injuries can impact a player’s on-field performance. When Joe Mauer returned to the field after a concussion, he admitted that he didn’t really see the ball as well as before. His K rate escalated; his hitting abilities went from elite to very good. While Mauer’s injury persisted to the end of his career, other maladies are far less debilitating long-term. Still, some short-term injuries can destroy quality performance on the field.
Just ask Max Kepler.
Last year, he suffered a shoulder issue in September. He “healed” and played all three postseason games against the Yankees. Chances are the lingering issues impacted his playoff at-bats. He ended up hitting 0.00.
This year, several Twins look out of sorts in the batter's box, perhaps due to the dreaded PCI. Ball-killer Nelson Cruz has been unable to barrel up pitches over the past month, a month that he’s battled hip pain. Pitches down and away – ones that previously found the right-center field gap or beyond – are now nestling into catchers’ mitts for strikes.
If Josh Donaldson plays through calf problems, one can only wonder how much it will affect his swing. Kepler rejoins the list of PCI concerns. Since his groin strain, he has had games where he simply misses inside fastballs.
The most significant player who might have a PCI is someone who hasn’t even visited the IR this year: Jorge Polanco. With the exception of a few games, Polanco’s hitting has been off. His power is completely gone this year. Some fans might have forgotten that he underwent ankle surgery in the offseason, a surgery that has led manager Rocco Baldelli to give the shortstop several days off, even during the homestretch. Even when in the lineup, Polanco’s swing looks broken this year. Down and away pitches that in previous years would be rocketed hard to the opposite field are now soft popups. Fastballs down the pipe are high fly balls. And nasty breaking pitches that Polanco would foul off when healthy are missed completely.
So, while many fans discuss pitching depth, defensive alignment when analyzing postseason odds, the Twins just need starters to feel comfortable, pain free. Because when the Minnesota baseball team’s PCI is zero, its lineup is lethal.
*I will let other pundits comb through the numbers and data on this.
ToddlerHarmon reacted to Parker Hageman for a blog entry, What I'm Reading
Welcome to What I'm Reading. This is a collection of interesting or insightful articles I’ve read this past week.
Behind Nelson Cruz’s Maniacal Preparation:
From his Seattle Mariner days but a reminder of how much work the 40-year-old Cruz puts in to maintain his elite level of play.
Nap time can vary, but it’s daily.
“If we play at home, I like to do it after BP,” he said. “If we are on the road, I do it before BP.”
Post nap will include a dip in the cold tub for about five minutes, followed by some time in the warm tub.
Cruz’s on-field workout is another process. He doesn’t walk into the cage and try to bomb homers. There’s a plan to his batting practice, which includes driving the ball to the opposite field. Sure, by the end, he’s launching balls over the fence at distances his teammates only wish they could reach.
But he’s become a more complete hitter by showing this discipline in batting practice. Though he rarely plays in the field anymore, Cruz will still take fly balls on most days because he still wants to play in the outfield at some point. He’ll even take ground balls in the infield to keep his body active.
“It’s fun for me,” he said.
Kansas City Royals Pitching Development Has Changed:
“We’re not going to draft a guy, have them come in and be like, ‘We need to do this, this and this,'” Stetter said. “The biggest thing is, you have to trust your eyes. If a pitch is working, the hitter is going to tell you. The hitter is going to let you know if your stuff is good enough. And if it is, you’re going to keep going with it. And if you get to Double-A and the hitters start hitting it, you’re not getting swings and misses, we’ll know what kind of changes we might make to that pitch to make it better.”
“A lot of times, if you’re having a guy throw a four-seam, and it’s got a two-seam tilt, it might not always add up that he should be throwing all four-seams,” Stetter said. “There’s some stuff with Rapsodo and Edgertronic camera where we can sit there and make a decision on a guy, where, it might be more beneficial if he throws more two-seams, or it might be beneficial that he throws more four-seams. With new technology, you can tailor it to the guy. Certain grips play better to horizontal-breaking sliders.”
Joe West Never Missed A Call:
"This is what people don't understand: When an umpire has a bad night, he goes back and looks at it," he said. "There has to be a reason you missed the call. Three ways you can miss a call: lack of concentration, lack of positioning, lack of timing. The Denkinger play at first base [in 1985 when the] Cardinals lost the World Series to the Royals. Don Denkinger overhustled on that play. He took himself out of position to see that play. Is that a bad thing that he hustled? No. But he put himself in the wrong spot. He's one of the best umpires the American League has ever had. He's remembered for that call. That's not fair. There's no batting average for performance for an umpire. They grade you, yes. But when you miss some, you can't go out and hit a homer. You have no recourse to get that back."
99-Year-Old Roger Angell On Modern Baseball Statistics:
I think some of the new stats are useful. Good baseball played by Major Leaguers is so far beyond us—it’s the hardest game in the world to play well. And what underlies [the stat revolution] is, I think, a conscious and effective way to get some of this back, to say, “We know better. We know what the batters are doing. They don’t know what they’re doing.” It’s understandable, but it doesn’t add to the joy of the game for me. I’m not very statistical by nature, so I could be wrong about this. And I know a lot of people now use these stats and talk about them with interest. But also, it’s part of the huge alteration of the game itself. People tilting their swings and swinging for homers and striking out in huge numbers. This is a gigantic change in the game. I think home runs are OK, but on the whole, I prefer a triple.
Are We Teaching Wrong?
Mr. Hirsch also takes issue with grade schools’ focus on “skills.” Whether it is imparting “critical thinking skills,” “communication skills” or “problem-solving skills,” he says such instruction is a waste of time in the absence of specific knowledge. He describes the findings of the National Academy of Sciences on the subject of the “domain specificity of human skills.” What this means, he explains in the new book, “is that being good at tennis does not make you good at golf or soccer. You may be a talented person with great hand-eye coordination—and indeed there are native general abilities that can be nurtured in different ways—but being a first-class swimmer will not make a person good at hockey.”
He cites the “baseball study,” conducted by researchers at Marquette University in the 1980s, which found that kids who knew more about how baseball was played performed better when answering questions about a text on baseball than those who didn’t understand the game—regardless of their reading level. The conventional response in education circles is that standardized tests are unfair because some kids are exposed to more specific knowledge than others. In Mr. Hirsch’s view that’s precisely why children should be exposed to more content: Educators “simply haven’t faced up to their duty to provide a coherent sequence of knowledge to children.”
What I'm Listening To (Spotify Playlist)
What I'm Listening To (Podcast Recommendation)
ToddlerHarmon reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Big Mike Provides a Steadying Presence
Everyone has seen the movie, “The Blind Side,” right? While we’re not going to get into the plot, it chronicles the life of Michael Oher, a former NFL lineman. He’s nicknamed “Big Mike” and his persona is one of a steadying calmness. After watching Michael Pineda come through for the Twins yet again last night, is there any other way to attribute his own “Big Mike” moniker?
Following a nightmarish start to one of their biggest series of the year, Rocco Baldelli’s Twins were searching for answers. Rich Hill was bad, the bullpen was taxed, and a demoralizing loss was hung on them by the rival Chicago White Sox. Pitching for the first time in nearly a full year, the former Yankee was ready to take the ball.
Pineda was suspended under PED violations for using a diuretic intended to help lose weight. Because he was able to prove the usage was for weight loss and not an intention to mask PED usage, the suspension was reduced. Minnesota brought him back on a two-year deal knowing they’d be without him for roughly the first third of 2020. As the season was shortened to 60 games, the time off turned into what amounted to half of the season.
As is the case with all players not currently on an active 28-man roster, but still in the 60-man player pool, Pineda got his work in at Minnesota’s alternate site. He ramped up to an ability that would’ve allowed for 80-100 pitches in his debut per manager Rocco Baldelli. Big Mike’s calming presence was going to be allowed to show itself, but would it?
Coming off Tommy John surgery and having not pitched in a Major League game since 2017, Pineda owned a 6.21 ERA through his first six turns last year. By his 11th start things started trending up as the ERA dropped to 5.34. By the end of June, through 16 starts, Pineda owned a 4.78 ERA and then he turned it up a notch. Over his final 10 starts in 2019, Pineda was Minnesota’s best pitcher. He owned a 2.88 ERA and allowed just a .666 OPS against. Had it not been for the suspension, he was squarely in the conversation to be the Twins game 1 starter in the ALDS.
Despite having ramped up and faced other batters for a couple of months in St. Paul, Pineda remained a question mark before last night. When he showed up on the mound to face one of baseball’s most difficult lineups, all he did was efficiently shove.
Chicago got two first inning runs thanks in part to miscommunication by Miguel Sano and Ildemaro Vargas on the right side of the infield. From there though, Pineda went untouched. Scattering six hits across six innings, he fanned four while walking one and generating plenty of swinging strikes. He topped out at 94 mph, after averaging just 92 mph on his fastball a year ago. In a night that Minnesota needed their starter to pick them up, a guy just returning to the team answered the call.
There are only 23 games left in the regular season at this point, meaning Pineda will get at most a total of five starts this season. That there’s no training wheels attached, and he can go deep into games remains a big plus. The hope would be that 2019’s slow start was injury related, and the way it finished is how Pineda fares going forward. Should that be the case, there’s another arm in Baldelli’s rotation that’s locked in and not going anywhere.
A division title remains an enviable accomplishment even in a bastardized season. However, in a year that everyone will make it to the Postseason, being ready to advance beyond that three-game series out of the gate should be the goal. Big Mike is back and he’s ready to put the Twins on his back, calming presence, and all.
For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
ToddlerHarmon reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Baseball has a special connection to Black Lives Matter
I cannot refuse to play baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, but I would if I could. I will support those who can, I will stand for the Black Lives Matter and not confuse it with the need to respect all lives. I will always feel a connection with the American Indian and the genocide of that Indian race in our nation. I will sympathize with the racism that affect the Chinese who built our railroads and the Japanese put in prison camps.
I grew up in a black neighborhood, I spent time with my relatives on the reservation in Lac Court O'Reilles, WI. To deny racism is to be blind to the world around us. To say that racism exists in only one color of people would be wrong, but the record of treaties broken, of people sold and resold exceeds other stories.
I want to trust the police, but they continue to disappoint me. I want to think that we have gone beyond lynching, but it is not acceptable to have white nationalists in uniform using guns instead of ropes.
Destruction of property, looting, defacing the cities is not acceptable, but neither is the indignity of those who complain because freeways are blocked, because peaceful people with tears in their eyes deserve our sympathy and understanding.
Baseball took half a century to recover from the racism of Cap Anson. It kidded itself that it was the great major league but was it. Who was better? When Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with Branch Rickey and Larry Doby, it became a flood in the NL and suddenly we had Aaron, Robinson, Mays, Banks, and other great stars giving the NL a period of dominance. It should have been an awakening. The same was true of other sports and the NHL is still in the backwash of history.
Sports have always been a measure of our nation and its progress. Despite our racism Jesse Owens in the Berlin Olympics was a great national victory. Louis over Schmeling was a blow to the Nazi claims of superiority. But the Black gloves held skyward in during their medal ceremony in the Olympic Stadium in Mexico City on October 16, 1968, by two African-American athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos offended many – it should not have. It was appropriate and is still meaningful.
We have let hate stop the progress towards equality. We have let selfish motives block the rights of people easily identified by skin color as different.
We should not be moving towards fascism; we should be moving towards compassion. Our nation should not be worshiping guns, but rather the opportunity of equal rights for all and I mean ALL.
I am growing old with the candle of hope flickering in the winds of hate that have been unleashed in our nation. Please - is Peace and Love really a bad slogan to live by?
ToddlerHarmon reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Devil’s in the Defense for the Twins
You’ve heard of the Devil being in the details, well finding what advantage the Twins have crafted in 2020 may come from a surprising place, their defense. After finishing 23rd overall in team defense last season, Minnesota currently finds themselves 2nd in 2020.
We knew many of the problems from a year ago. Jorge Polanco was not a good defensive shortstop, particularly coming in on the ball. Luis Arraez was stretched going to his right, and the outfield suffered every game Byron Buxton had to miss. Bringing in Josh Donaldson was expected to be a boost for the infield, and a healthy Buck would be a great remedy on the grass. Not all of that has played out though, and yet, here we are.
Minnesota has gotten just 7 games from Donaldson in his first year with the club. Despite that, their 14 DRS is 3rd in the big leagues and leads the American League. Byron Buxton has already been worth 6 DRS on his own, and while Polanco has been worth -3 DRS, his 0.7 UZR represents the only positive mark of his entire career. Luis Arraez was worth -8 DRS in just shy of 400 innings during 2019. This year, he’s been worth 2 DRS in 157 frames.
This isn’t just an individual player thing though, and it’s clear Minnesota is taking an analytical approach to cutting down base hits. With 322 shifts, or 42.4% this year, Rocco Baldelli’s club ranks 10th in the majors. Last season they shifted just 35.5% of the time. Against righties the Twins are shifting 33% of the time, or virtually the same frequency they did a year ago. Against lefties though, they’ve gone from 36.4% in 2019 to 53.2% in 2020.
Thinking about configuration, left-handed shifts also bring some interesting possibilities to consider. Miguel Sano is holding down first base for the first time in his career. He’s been caught a couple of time straying to far from the bag. In a shift however, he’s solely responsible for the line. Luis Arraez, who was challenged going up the middle last season, plays a roving right field with Polanco up the middle to his right. Whether it’s Donaldson or Ehire Adrianza at the hot corner, there’s a plus defender standing near the shortstop hole against a lefty.
In the outfield, Minnesota again has made tweaks with Byron Buxton. In a recent article for The Athletic Aaron Gleeman talked about how the centerfielder is starting deeper than he ever has. With the ability to come in on virtually anything, this gives him the opportunity to find the wall and remain more in control when playing balls near it. Eddie Rosario looks the part of a healthier left-fielder, and Max Kepler asserted himself as a stalwart while pulling double time last year.
Thus far we haven’t seen the Twins offense click on all cylinders, and there hasn’t been a certainty to the entirety of the rotation either. While the bullpen has flashed very well at points, there have been cracks on that front also. If there’s a tried and true narrative for 2020 it’s that this team shows up with the glove. Errors are a dated way to measure success, but from the most basic number the club has committed just two through their first 22 games.
Pitching and hitting can go in slumps, but defense is completely mental beyond the overall athleticism needed to compete. Give it to the Twins for being completely locked in there on a nightly basis.
For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
ToddlerHarmon reacted to Parker Hageman for a blog entry, What Are We Going To Do About This Hand Twin Thing?
A friend of mine passed away over the holiday weekend.
We had attended high school together, were distant friends through college, and spent two years as roommates back in the cities after that.
When we lived together, he was attending culinary school and the roommates would have the benefit of eating food that is normally not accessible to broke post-college kids trying to repay student loans. He would concoct four course meals and we were more than happy to be test subjects.
We’d declare it the best thing we’ve ever eaten and he, being his own worst critic, would inform us that it was garbage and would vow to make it better next time.
He modeled himself a bit after Anthony Bourdain. He had a beat up copy of Kitchen Confidential that he constantly implored me to read. I never did.
Eventually the house split up. We went separate ways and saw each other less. Everyone my age or older likely has friendships like that. I had a growing family and he was launching a culinary career that took him to Central America and Alaska for work.
The relationship became just a bi-yearly message to each other on Facebook, randomly sharing a couple inside jokes and stupid obscure pop culture references. We exchanged one just the previous week.
He sent a one-liner: What are we going to do about this hand twin thing?
It came from a Friends episode we watched years ago. He had an ability to bring groups of people together and our house used to host viewing parties during the final seasons. The line, delivered by Joey Tribbiani in the bathroom of a casino, always cracked us up. Sharing innocuous lines like that over the years just let each other know you were thinking about them.
I spent most of Sunday night reflecting on our time. I spoke with another roommate of ours who had moved out of state as well. We shared memories of the years we all lived together.
I realized how much baseball fandom can imprint on our lives.
He once hosted a weekend-long party at his college house in Duluth. It was epic, as the kids would say. Thinking back to the revelry, I also remember slipping away to see Matt Lawton hit two home runs in Cleveland.
Another time he went to visit a girl in New York City. He returned with a small panoramic of the old Yankee Stadium that he got at a secondhand shop because he knew how much I despised the Yankees. I still have that picture and I still hate the Yankees.
His family would host gatherings at their cabin in northern Minnesota. They were amazingly hospitable people. His mom legitimately made the best sloppy joes. When my daughter wasn’t even a year old, he invited us for a low-key weekend of boating and bonfires. On the drive home, as my little girl slept in the back, I listened to Johan Santana’s 17-strikeout performance on the radio.
When the Twins had a weekend series at Wrigley Field, we ran into each other at the Cubby Bear, the bar across the street from the stadium. We took time to share a Cubby Blue Bomb together, update each other on our current lives, and then went back to the separate group of friends we came with into Chicago.
The last time we saw each other in person I was handing off tickets to him before a Twins game.
We met at The Depot Tavern and played catch up. His seats were on one side of the ballpark and ours were on the other. We vowed to meet on the concourse or somewhere after the game but neither of us followed through.
You are not supposed to live with regrets yet we do. I regret not reaching out more, not making an effort to stay connected. I regret not checking in more frequently to hear about his family, fiancee, and other adventures.
Thirty-nine is way too young. You feel like you always have more time: There will be some other opportunity to catch up, there will be some other chance to reconnect, or some other time to say those were amazing memories.
Looking back, I admired how he followed his passion. We were just becoming functioning adults and he already knew that he wanted to run kitchens and make people happy through food. Someone shared a video of him teaching a culinary class in a Facebook remembrance, making the room laugh in doing so. In a way he did become a version of Bourdain, traveling the world and experiencing cuisine in parts unknown.
Maybe now I’ll listen to him and read that book.
ToddlerHarmon reacted to Parker Hageman for a blog entry, Baseball Is Back. So Am I.
The question I’ve received the most the past few months is why was my original Twitter account suspended.
On March 13 I was covering the Twins in Fort Myers on what would be the last normal day before everything in this world went goofy.
I awoke at the Twins Daily-rented AirBnB, and immediately checked Twitter on my phone as I am wont to do in case I missed something earth shattering in the six hours since I last peeked in.
Account suspended, it read.
I couldn’t pull down the stream to get that satisfying no-clip-scissor-ride-through-wrapping-paper when refreshing a completely new set of tweets on my feed. I couldn’t get that dopamine rush of seeing that someone liked or retweeted some content I had created. I simply got nothing.
I flipped over to my Gmail and found this.
It was a DMCA takedown notice -- removal of video content in which the music was copyrighted, in this case, the song “Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now” by Starship and owned by Sony Entertainment Group.
I had just moved up my flight to make sure I wasn’t stranded on America’s sweaty jockstrap of an isthmus and now my main portal of information to the outside world was cut.
How did this happen?
I had started by making Vines --a defunct application that featured seven second video clips that loops-- with game highlights set to Starship’s 1987 hit song. It was a nod to the World Series winning team. The bit became somewhat of a localized hit. Soon, people would tweet at me after big victories, asking for their nightly montage.
When the Twins fell flat on their face in 2016, I created a longer lowlight version and it took off. It was a blooper reel set to perfect music for the occasion. A surprising amount of people would thank me for posting them. People affiliated with the team would even reach out. It became an annual tradition.
I didn’t get anything out of it other than smug, self-satisfaction that I had contributed just a little bit of joy to this awful, awful world. Now I was being accused of pirating Starship’s music (ok), using it inappropriately (whatever), and had violated Twitter’s rules (yap).
While covering the Twins in Florida this spring, I read Stephen Witt’s illuminating book on the music industry, How Music Got Free. It documents the rise of mp3s, Napster, iTunes, and VEVO from the 1980s through today. It reads like the Moneyball of music. Highly recommended.
It also helped me understand how we got to the point of suspending accounts like mine.
Long ago, in the 1990s, a music executive named Doug Morris was printing money by selling CDs based on one or two hit songs surrounded by unlistenable garbage. Because we could not wait to listen to “Mmmbop” on the radio, we’d slap down $17 to listen to an entire album of dreck.
But then Napster showed up and saved us. While illegal, it gave the world a better business model than what Morris was providing.
When iTunes and the iPod finally killed CDs, Morris discovered the rising popularity of YouTube and how his grandkids were watching music videos on that site. He then created VEVO, bought a giant catalogue of the music, and in 2007 he sent his lawyers to takedown any videos created using VEVO-owned music.
If you posted a video of yourself baking a cake set to 50 Cent's "In Da Club", it was ripped down. No more sampling the goods. If you wanted to hear a song, you either had to pay or listen on a revenue-generating platform.
Morris is now the chairman of Sony Entertainment Group. The same outfit that owns the rights to Starship’s song. So you can see how that company would aggressively protect its property.
Twitter does not want to run afoul of music’s law dogs like the RIAA or the IFPI -- the enforcement arms of the record companies -- and has a policy that prevents users from posting videos with non-licensed music in it. They even assist in the flagging of potential violators.
But it is not always consistent.
After The Last Dance aired, an account on Twitter was spawned that showed Michael Jordan rocking out to more contemporary tunes. That account has over 52,000 followers and no takedowns or suspensions.
You’ve probably seen numerous videos showing crushing sports moments set to one of the worst songs of all time, Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”.
One account, @TitanicTD, who affixed the song on top of NFL and college football touchdown highlights, was suspended in early 2020. Perhaps not surprisingly, Celine’s ballad is also property of Sony Entertainment Group.
While I understood the general rules and risks, I had considered my use of the song protected under the Fair Use guidelines on Twitter.
I used a portion of the song, not reposted the entirety. There was no monetary gain for the video, it was non-commercial. I wasn’t attempting to claim ownership.
In my mind I was giving life to a lifeless song that was over thirty years old. If I had the ability to access Spotify’s data, I would bet since I began posting the tribute videos, that song’s streaming numbers on the music app probably jumped by the tens. (THE TENS!)
The Fair Use act is definitely something that is difficult to argue as it is almost completely subjective and open for interpretation. For some reason I figured Twitter would understand my position. At the very least, I figured they would ask me to delete the video, not suspend my account for months.
And there is some legal context for it.
In 2008 Universal Music Group, then headed by the aforementioned Morris, issued a DMCA takedown to YouTube for the video of a
The 13-month-old’s mother and video’s creator, Stephanie Lenz, responded to YouTube citing Fair Use and YouTube reinstated the video. Lenz then sued Universal for misrepresentation under the DMCA, hoping to set a precedent against companies going after videos like hers. Ultimately the courts ruled in Lenz’s favor but as the case ascended to higher courts, the two parties eventually settled when the Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
Lenz’s video remains posted on YouTube. But even now Twitter users regularly receive DMCA takedowns for videos where music is inadvertently captured in the background at events or weddings. Two months after my suspension, the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand had one of his tweets flagged.
Twitter, however, is cowing to the International Federation of Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and has been aggressively botting users’ feeds to find anything that can be construed as stolen music. According to one article, Twitter’s system has failed to decipher between which music videos are Fair Use and which are actual copyright violations. And numerous users, like Randball above, in early 2020 received temporary suspensions over perceived violations.
Over the next few weeks I sent multiple emails to the Twitter copyright department, Twitter itself, and even to Greame Grant, IFPI’s Director of Anti-Piracy. I explained myself, my motivations and said I would never do something so egregious as providing their client with free advertisement again. The only thing I didn’t do was drive to the nearest rural casino to catch Starship on tour and beg the band for forgiveness.
I did not receive one response beside the form email Twitter sends out encouraging violators to reach out to the copyright submitter -- in this case IFPI -- in hopes of getting them to retract the takedown request.
So that’s what happened to my Twitter account.
I was frustrated at the platform. The lack of response. The lack of consistency in punishment. I didn’t want to come back, not until my original account was freed. I did not want to give Twitter the satisfaction of having to rebrand and regrow. Since joining that hot steaming mess in June 2009 I have built a good following, a good brand and even better contacts (one of the worst parts about being suspended is that you cannot access your DMs or followers lists).
That’s why I didn’t start tweeting from a new account right away.
Plus, you know…[gestures everywhere]...this.
Truthfully, given the state of the country and the on-going battle with the coronavirus, I don’t have the utmost confidence that baseball will actually be played come the end of the month. That being said, since the game is moving forward for now and there is some honest-to-goodness baseball happening at Target Field, I’ve come out of the shadows from my other account.
I’m ready to talk about baseball again.