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  1. Like
    Wizard11 reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Trade Market Calling for the Twins   
    Today the Pittsburgh Pirates swapped Sterling Marte to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a pair of prospects. In completing that deal, it’s another reminder that the trade market has yet to truly take off, and it makes a good amount of sense that the Minnesota Twins be involved.
    We still have yet to see any organizations move a big pitcher. Nolan Arenado looks to be on his way out of Colorado, and Mookie Betts could certainly be headed somewhere else if Boston is ready to deal. Going into the offseason it appeared that the Twins were well positioned to make a move, and nothing has changed to suggest otherwise.
    Right now, there’s a decent level of redundancy in Minnesota’s farm system, and there’s a strong mix of impact prospects alongside depth talent. The organization is not only going to have a substantial amount of decisions to make on the 40-man roster prior to 2021, but there’s going to be more than a handful that are extremely difficult.
    Expecting the Twins to land either Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg would have always been a pipe dream at best. Zack Wheeler and Hyun-Jin Ryu would have completed Derek Falvey’s quest for an impact arm, but one was an upside play while the other has significant injury concerns. Doling out cash on either could have went up in smoke, and the long-term effects may be more costly.
    This is where we should again begin thinking about the trade market. After Josh Donaldson was signed by Minnesota, it appeared to put a bow on their offseason. Realistically though, neither Rich Hill nor Homer Bailey represent the necessary addition to calm concern out of the gate. Bailey is more a Kyle Gibson replacement than anything, and Hill’s impact may not be felt until October. Just recently clearing the previous high in payroll, there should still be room to squeak out a few more dollars.
    We haven’t entered a scenario in which it becomes necessary to move either Royce Lewis or Alex Kirilloff but listening on offers and pursuing arms can be done knowing everything else is taken care of. Donaldson is more than an exciting addition on his own, but he wasn’t brought here for four years to sit back and carry the load. Minnesota made an aggressive move like that with the idea that talent can be supplemented as a whole and getting the entire 26-man help is a must.
    I have no idea if the Twins are content with the rotation as it stands today. It’s certainly not in shambles, but there’s also clear opportunities for growth. Maybe they’ll play a handful of games before deciding that something else needs to be done. What I do know is that making a trade remains a very sensible action, the assets are there, the timing is right, and the market is beginning to reveal itself.
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  2. Like
    Wizard11 reacted to Nash Walker for a blog entry, Why Jordan Balazovic has the makings of an ace   
    Rightly so, Twins fans are very excited about Brusdar Graterol, the flame-throwing 21-year-old from Venezuela. Graterol was called up to the Twins bullpen last summer and mostly impressed, even touching 102 MPH on his sinker. Graterol will be in the rotation soon enough, and his future partner in crime, the one they call "Jordy Blaze,” is on his way to stardom.
    Jordan Balazovic was drafted in the 5th round of the 2016 Amateur Draft out of Mississauga, Canada. Balazovic played in eight Gulf Coast League games as a 17-year-old and posted a 1.97 ERA. Balazovic was mediocre at Class A in 2018 with a 3.94 ERA and 7-3 record. While Balazovic had a pedestrian ERA, his peripherals were outstanding. He struck out 78 batters in 61 2/3 innings and allowed only 5 home runs.
    Balazovic massively improved in 2019 with a 2.18 ERA in four starts at Cedar Rapids with 14.4 K/9. It was quickly realized that Balazovic was ready for the next step. He was promoted to Fort Myers and continued his excellence. In 73 innings, Jordy-B struck out 96 batters and allowed just three home runs. Balazovic was an elite strike thrower, walking just 2.4 batters per nine innings.
    Balazovic increased his velocity and consistently lived at 95 MPH with his sinker. Balazovic has flashed a plus-slider and at times, a great changeup. With his velocity increasing, his complementary pitches are becoming devastating. Tom Froemming has great analysis here:
    The 6 foot 5, 215 pound up-and-comer is developing well-deserved praise and attention. Balazovic is ranked as the 76th overall prospect on MLB Pipeline. Balazovic just turned 21, and figures to start next season in Pensacola at class Double-A. With the developmental system instituted by Derek Falvey and company, Jordy Blaze carries unforeseen upside.
    Image Credits:
    Creator:Gordon Donovan
    Credit:Photo: Gordon Donovan
    Copyright:Photo: Gordon Donovan
  3. Like
    Wizard11 reacted to jorgenswest for a blog entry, Baldelli and Line Ups: Which Twin has faced the best pitching?   
    I became interested in the Astudillo discussion in the resting players topic and wondered about Astudillo's use. I have been thinking about this since his critical hit against Matt Barnes in the Red Sox series.
    Matt Barnes is a right handed pitcher with the highest k/9 rate in the AL and nearly the highest AL k-rate at 38%. The Twins are tied with the Red Sox 1-1 in the 7th inning. Miguel Sano is in scoring position with two outs. The Twins have 1 hit through 6 2/3. Jonathan Schoop is coming to the plate and in comes Matt Barnes. It is time to pinch hit with a left handed batter or so I thought. They have Polanco and Wade on the bench. They also have Astudillo. Astudillo? Why Astudillo? Kepler is up next. Let's get someone on base. Polanco or Wade must be a better choice. I was certain.
    Astudillo slaps a single to right field for the Twins second and last hit of the game. The Twins hold on to win 2-1. Lucky decision on Baldelli's part I muttered. The moment stuck with me though. I wondered... "When does Baldelli choose to use Astudillo?"
    With the help of Baseball Prospectus I looked to the quality of opposing pitcher for each Twin hitter with over 100 PAs. We have heard that the line ups are well thought out and planned. Maybe some hitters have faced a more difficult set of pitchers by design.
    Not surprisingly the typical pitcher faced profile for a Twin hitter is Polanco. He plays the most. The opposing pitchers he has faced have allowed a .770 OPS resulting in a 105 oppRPA+. More than half of the Twin hitters bunch in the interquartile range of 104-106. Only one Twin batter has faced better than league average opposing pitching this year with a 99 oppRPA+. Willians Astudillo. Astudillo's 746 oppOPS is two standard deviations away from the typical opposing pitcher faced. I don't think this happens by accident or randomly. Baldelli must either be choosing to play Astudillo against more difficult pitching or at least choosing to rest players against a more difficult pitcher.
    If you are still reading and curious the Twin closest to Astudillo is Arraez at .751 and the only other Twin more than a standard deviation away in this direction. There are two Twins on the opposite end though not near as far from center as Astudillo. Marwin Gonzalez (.779) and Byron Buxton (.781) have seen the pitchers who have given up the highest OPS to the hitters they have faced.
    Does this or should this give us a different impression on Astudillo's performance at the plate this year?
  4. Like
    Wizard11 reacted to sethmoko for a blog entry, 2019 and 1969 Division Races   
    2019 is the 50th anniversary of the moon landing and some things that were more of a giant leap for mankind, like the Minnesota Twins winning the first ever American League West Division title. Major League Baseball had just split into divisions so there would be an additional round to the postseason for the first time since the introduction of the World Series.
    All summer long, the Twins were in a tight battle with the Oakland A's for the first ever AL West title. After play on September 2, 1969 the Twins held a lead of 6 games over the A's. Coincidentally, in 2019 the Twins hold a 5.5 game lead over Cleveland on September 2 after an up and down (mostly up to be honest) summer. But as Labor Day passes, baseball races get much more serious and numbers up and down become a daily watch if they haven't been before.
    This week is a big week for the 2019 Twins with three games in Boston before coming home to Target Field for 3 games this weekend against Cleveland. A big series against Cleveland could go a long way toward putting away the 2019 AL Central Division.
    Something very similar happened in 1969. As I said, on September 2, 1969 the Twins led Oakland by 6. On September 3, the Twins beat Cleveland at home while Oakland lost in Boston. This stretched the lead to 7 before a four-game series which saw the Twins visiting Oakland over the weekend. And what happened? On Thursday, the Twins won 10-5 in 10 innings, then lost game 2 5-4. On Saturday, in what could be described as the "nail in the coffin" game, the Twins prevailed in an 18 inning affair by a score of 8-6. Minnesota closed out the 3-1 series victory on Sunday with a 16-4 pounding. That series win essentially ended the 1969 AL West race in much the same way a series win this weekend could change the way we all think about the 2019 Central race. The 1969 team closed out the season by winning 97 games and leading Oakland by 9.
    One element that will DEFINITELY not be repeated: the 1969 Twins were swept in the inaugural ALCS by the Baltimore Orioles. I have no predictions about a possible postseason result for the 2019 Twins, but I guarantee they will not get swept by the Baltimore Orioles.
  5. Like
    Wizard11 reacted to Brandon Warne for a blog entry, WARNE: How Can the Minnesota Twins Address their Relief Woes?   
    This is an excerpt from an article which originates at Zone Coverage. Click here to read it in full.
    It’s not hard to find people with the opinion that the Minnesota Twins need to make a move to address their bullpen.
    Those people aren’t exactly wrong, either.
    As of this writing, the Twins are ninth in the AL with a bullpen ERA of 4.73. They’re also ninth in WHIP (1.39) and 11th in strikeouts per nine innings (8.3).
    Each of those numbers, on their surface, are not terribly exciting. But consider the plight facing the current AL reliever — the average marks right now of each of those is 4.51, 1.34 and 8.7.
    The Twins are more or less average when it comes to unadjusted stats, and even better when they’re adjusted.
    Peeking at Fangraphs for adjusted figures paints a bit more of a favorable picture. Twins relievers have combined for 1.0 fWAR, the fifth-best mark in the AL. In other words, they’ve pitched better in some higher-leverage spots, while outings like Chase De Jong and Andrew Vasquez’s against the New York Mets have sullied otherwise decent results from this bunch.
    But no matter how it’s sliced, it’s still not indefensible to suggest the Twins could use some more help out in the bullpen.
    Some of that help showed up on Friday in the form of Matt Magill, who was activated off the disabled list to take the roster spot of Kohl Stewart, who was returned to Rochester after his start in Houston on Wednesday night.
    Curiously, the Twins also outrighted Chase De Jong off the 40-man roster, leaving an open spot with no real move on the immediate horizon. The smart bet is that a reliever will eventually fill that role, but let’s take a look at how the Twins could end up making an addition in the bullpen in the near future.
    Promote internally
    Two relievers who could easily get the call who aren’t currently on the 40-man roster are Mike Morin and Jake Reed. Morin has big-league experience with the Angels, Royals and Mariners — 3.32 FIP in 174 innings — and a baseball contact recently told Zone Coverage that he was the “best pitcher for Rochester right now.”
    Morin has not allowed an earned run in 9.1 innings with the Red Wings with nine strikeouts, two walks and a WHIP of 0.86. Morin turns 28 next week.
    Reed has no MLB experience, but has been terrific in Triple-A the past four seasons: 2.16 ERA, 8.9 K/9 and 1.13 WHIP in 100 innings with the Red Wings.
  6. Like
    Wizard11 reacted to Thiéres Rabelo for a blog entry, March Madness - how did current Twins did in college?   
    March Madness is upon us. I’m nothing close to a college basketball specialist, but it seems to me that not even the most optimistic Minnesotan believes that the Golden Gophers will go far in the Big Ten Tournament -- but, who knows? Either way, with or without the presence of the UMN boys, a number of people will hop on the Bracketology train and have a lot of fun during the month of March.
    Motivated by the school spirit brought by this event, I decided to look at how some Minnesota Twins did while they were playing in college. I came across a lot of interesting facts and numbers from the time that these now Major Leaguers were just a bunch of hopeful kids attending classes everyday. Here’s a list that I’ve put together, with a personal experience shared at the end.
    Kyle Gibson was a vital part of the Twins rotation last year, after struggling in his first years in the Majors. And that's actually a bit similar to how his college career went down. He was off to a slow start, coming out of the bullpen during his freshman year for the Missouri Tigers, in 2007. But then, when he started being used as a starter in 2008, he turned the corner and pitched at a good level in the following two seasons. In his last year in college, he posted a 3.21 ERA and 11.05 K/9. Gibby and the Tigers played the NCAA Regionals in all of the three years he was there.
    Kyle Gibson (Missouri, NCAA-1, three seasons)
    3.66 ERA
    63 games (29 starts)
    259.0 IP
    304 K (10.48 K/9)
    0 HR
    61 BB (2.10 BB/9)
    1.16 WHIP
    9 SV
    Tyler Duffey was Drafted by the Twins in 2012 out of his hometown college, Rice University, in Houston. He spent three full seasons playing for the Owls, between 2010 and 2012, helping the school to claim its fourth conference championship, in 2011. Curiously enough, do you know who was elected the conference MVP that year? That’s right. Duffey. He helped the Owls to finish the regular season in first place (16-8 conference record), with the highest number of wins (42-21 overall record) and to be the #24 program in the nation. He shared closing duties with former Twin J.T. Chargois.
    Tyler Duffey (Rice, NCAA-1, three seasons)
    3.06 ERA
    92 games (1 start)
    13 SV
    152.1 IP
    189 K (11.12 K/9)
    14 HR (0.82 HR/9)
    55 BB (3.24 BB/9)
    1.21 WHIP
    Trevor Hildenberger also spent three seasons in college ball, but his overall numbers weren’t nearly as impressive as his stellar Minor League totals nor his first months in MLB. Coming out of high school, he pitched for the University of California, Berkeley starting in 2010, but he was redshirted during the 2011 season. His best season was during his senior year, in which he posted a 2.83 ERA and tied the school record of ten single-season saves. On May 10th, 2014 he pitched 3.0 innings to earn a save, striking out six batters, his career high.
    Trevor Hildenberger (California, NCAA-1, three seasons)
    4.28 ERA
    56 games (5 starts)
    11 SV
    106.0 IP
    95 K (7.97 K/9)
    3 HR (0.25 HR/9)
    33 BB (2.77 BB/9)
    1.34 WHIP
    Veteran relief pitcher Blake Parker wasn’t always a pitcher. During his three seasons playing for the Arkansas Razorbacks, from 2004 to 2006, Parker served as the team third baseman. Drafted in 2006, he had a very slow start as a position player on Rookie and A ball and started his transition to the mound in 2007, to never turn back. As a position player in college, his best season was during his sophomore year, when he had a .865 OPS and was an extra-base maniac, with a 54.55% XBH%. After maintaining a 2.85 ERA in ten years pitching in the Minors, he knew he made the right call for his career.
    Blake Parker (Arkansas, NCAA-1, three seasons)
    .266/.344/.417 (.761 OPS)
    129 games
    504 AB
    15 HR
    79 RBI
    16 SB
    51 BB (8.79% BB%)
    118 K (20.34% k%)
    Taylor Rogers is a superstar in the making right now. But his college career was nowhere near an indication of that. After being drafted by the Baltimore Orioles out of high school in 2009, he decided not to sign with them and to attend the University of Kentucky. He was a starting pitcher for the Wildcats for three seasons and when we look back at his performance there, we get shocked. Look at what his Wikipedia page has to say about his college career: “In 2010, he tied for the Southeastern Conference lead in losses (7) and runs allowed (68), as he went 4-7 with a 6.40 ERA. In 2011, he tied for second in the Southeastern Conference in losses (7), and was third-highest in runs allowed (56). In 2012, he was fourth in the Southeastern Conference in runs allowed (45)”. Can you believe this?
    Taylor Rogers (Kentucky, NCAA-1, three seasons)
    5.34 ERA
    45 games (42 starts)
    249.0 IP
    172 K (6.21 K/9)
    25 HR (0.90 HR/9)
    55 BB (1.99 BB/9)
    1.46 WHIP
    Addison Reed MLB career is pretty respectable. His college career? It was monstrous. In three seasons pitching for the San Diego State Aztecs, Reed was one of the best pitchers in the country. During his sophomore year, in 2009, he led the nation with 20 saves in 20 save opportunities, striking out 38 batters in 27.2 IP (12.36 K/9) and finishing with a 0.65 ERA. He was named the 2009 National Stopper of the Year by the NCBWA.
    Addison Reed (San Diego State, NCAA-1, three seasons)
    2.16 ERA
    60 games (11 starts)
    24 SV
    132.0 IP
    154 K (10.40 K/9)
    10 HR (0.68 HR/9)
    31 BB (2.09 BB/9)
    1.05 WHIP
    Another player who had an astonishing college career was C.J. Cron. In three years playing for the Utah Utes, between 2009 and 2011, Cron was acknowledged as one of the best first basemen in the nation. Not only did he have extraordinary individual numbers, but he also helped the Utes to reach the regional finals in 2009, his freshman year. During his junior year, the last one before being drafted, he was “named a first-team All-American at first base by Baseball America, NCBWA, ABCA, Perfect Game, ESPN, and the Collegiate Baseball newspaper (Louisville Slugger)”, after slashing .434/.517/.803 (1.320 OPS).
    C.J. Cron (Utah, NCAA-1, three seasons)
    .396/.459/.713 (1.172 OPS)
    157 games
    641 AB
    46 HR
    198 RBI
    62 BB (8.46% BB%)
    75 K (10.23% K%)
    When the Twins signed Jason Castro to a three-year, $24,5 million contract in 2017, they did it mostly because of his defensive skills. As a major leaguer he hasn’t lived up to his minor league offensive numbers and certainly hasn’t for his college numbers either. Castro played very well offensively for Stanford, especially during his junior year. Not only did he lead the Cardinal in batting average (.376), hits (105), doubles (18) and RBI (73), he also “earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors, second-team All-America accolades from Rivals.com and third-team All-America recognition by Baseball America, ABCA/Rawlings and Ping!Baseball, while he was a finalist for the Johnny Bench award honoring college baseball's top catcher”. With Stanford reaching the College World Series that year, Castro was named to the All-College World Series team, after hitting 6-for-18 (.333) on that series.
    Jason Castro (Stanford, NCAA-1, three seasons)
    .309/.381/.476 (.857 OPS)
    162 games
    540 AB
    18 HR
    106 RBI
    62 BB (9.94% BB%)
    83 K (13.30% k%)
    11 SB
    Last, but not least (especially for me, but I’ll get to that in a minute), there’s Mitch Garver, who played for four years for the University of New Mexico, in his hometown of Albuquerque, between 2010 and 2013. Garver was one of the best catchers in the nation. In his senior year, he slashed .390/.458/.589 (1.047 OPS) and led the team in multiple stats. But not only did he succeed individually, but he’s also led UNM to two of its three Mountain West Conference titles (2011 and 2012), including the very first one in history, making him one of the best Lobos of all-time. Garver also takes much pride in his state’s roots. I don’t know if many of you will remember, but during Players Weekend last year, he used a New Mexico flag bat.
    Mitch Garver (New Mexico, NCAA-1, four seasons)
    .351/.421/.527 (.948 OPS)
    211 games
    809 AB
    18 HR
    167 RBI
    88 BB (9.51% BB%)
    104 K (11.24% k%)
    21 SB
    .384 BAbip
    What makes Garver’s college career so special to me? In 2013 I was granted a scholarship from my university in Brazil and I managed to spend six months in the US, studying at UNM. At the time, basketball was my main passion and I took every opportunity I had to go watch the Lobos basketball team, which was pretty good at that year (until a tragedy at March Madness ruined everything…). But I took one chance to go to the Isotopes Park, home field of the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, and attended the very first (and only) baseball game of my life, when the Lobos hosted Oklahoma State.
    Back then, I didn’t follow baseball nearly as much as I do today. So I had no idea who any of those players were. It only occured to me last year, when Garver started to get his first Major League chances, that he was much likely there, behind the plate, during that particular game. I checked, and, yes. He was at that game (look at the picture above, which I took on that day). The Lobos trailed 4-2 on that February evening, the ballpark was empty before the game was finished and the pitcher I actually went there to watch (because we took one class together) didn’t even play (I think). But, in retrospect, I can see how meaningful that day was to me and Garver was a part of that.
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