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  1. Like
    NumberThree reacted to Squirrel in Debate No. 1: Membership for minor League players in MLBPA (vote complete)   
    Debate topic: Minor League players deserve membership in the MLBPA and a seat at the negotiating table.
  2. WTF
    NumberThree reacted to Yawn Gardenhose in Is Josh Donaldson One of the All-Time Least Likeable Twins Player?   
    If it weren't for Trevor Bauer he'd easily be the most loathsome player in the entire league. 
  3. Yikes
    NumberThree reacted to Cody Christie in Is Josh Donaldson One of the All-Time Least Likeable Twins Player?   
    Josh Donaldson was brought to Minnesota to help push a winning team to the next level. Instead, he has been part of multiple regrettable moments and he might be one of the all-time least likeable Twins players.
    Minnesota’s front office had to know what they were getting when they signed Josh Donaldson. He had a proven track record of being outspoken, but he was coming off being named the NL Comeback Player of the Year. The Twins were willing to deal with his on and off field behavior if he helped push the team to postseason success. Now two years into his massive deal and the outcome has been unfavorable to say the least.
    Last season, Donaldson played in less than half of the team’s games and his most memorable moment might have been being ejected after hitting a home run. This year he has been much healthier, but he has become the crusader for all batters in the battle against sticky substances. He called out the Yankees Gerrit Cole and then struck out twice against him later that week. Just this week he showboated a first inning home run against Lucas Giolito in a game the Twins ended up losing. Then he ended up confronting him in the parking lot after the game.
    These moments aside, Donaldson’s on field performance has come as advertised as he has been one of the game’s top offensive third basemen while also playing solid defense. So, do the distractions outweigh his other value to the team? And does that put him in the conversation for one of the all-time least likeable Twins players?
    There are plenty of former Twins in the conversation for least likeable player in team history. Lance Lynn has been one of baseball’s best pitchers in recent years, but his Twins tenure was filled with poor performances and a poor attitude. From the beginning, he seemed upset with the free agent process and that frustration came out in his performance. However, his stay in a Twins uniform was short so that hardly puts him at the top of the least likeable list.
    Other candidates for the least likeable Twins player include multiple players from the Metrodome Era. Kyle Lohse took a baseball bat to Ron Gardenhire’s office door. Needless to say, his days in Minnesota were numbered after that incident. A.J. Pierzynski was part of one of the greatest Twins trades of all-time, but his attitude didn’t fit well in multiple clubhouses during his big-league career. Both players went on to have careers outside of Minnesota, but they left on a sour note.
    Stretching even further back, Chuck Knoblauch had an infamous end to his Twins career. Since the team moved to Minnesota, he ranks in the top-10 for WAR, which puts him ahead of names like Johan Santana, Jim Kaat, and Torii Hunter. Eventually, he demanded a trade from the Twins and took shots at the city on his way out of town. Then there was the famous hot dog throwing incident when he returned as an outfielder for the Yankees. His off the field issues probably mean he won’t be welcomed back in Minnesota any time soon.  
    Donaldson has rubbed some people the wrong way throughout his career. It’s hard to imagine him being in the same level as Knoblauch or Pierzynski, but there will be plenty of fans that aren’t happy with his attitude and the attention he is drawing on a last place team.
    How would you rank these players according to their likeability? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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    View full article
  4. Like
    NumberThree got a reaction from Oldgoat_MN in Where are they now? Ex-Twins in 2019   
    This. And honestly, who cares what the Yankees spend on him? He signed a good contract for him, so good for him. Sorry he’s injured and hope he gets back out there soon.
  5. Like
    NumberThree got a reaction from bighat in Article: Report From The Fort: Breaking Down Baldelli's 'A Lineup'   
    Where will Sano fit into this lineup when he’s back?
  6. Like
    NumberThree reacted to Twodogs in Where are they now? Ex-Twins in 2019   
    Shoot, Hicks just made 70 Mil, just be happy for him.
  7. Like
    NumberThree reacted to Thiéres Rabelo in Article: Could Martin Perez Be 2019's Anibal Sanchez?   
    Last season, the Twins signed then 34-year-old starting pitcher Aníbal Sánchez to a one-year contract, a move that confused most of their fans. Afterall, the Venezuelan righty had pitched poorly in the three previous seasons and, in spite of his great track record, few people envisioned the bounce back he would ultimately achieve with Atlanta. This year, the Twins have made a very similar move by signing fellow Venezuelan Martín Pérez. It is possible that regret has led them to go after the one that got away?Let’s back up a little. Minnesota agreed to a one-year contract with Sánchez on Feb. 16 of last year, worth $2.5 million, with $500,000 guaranteed. Back then, that deal was a thinker. Why were the Twins chasing after a pitcher who appeared to be way past his prime? They weren’t getting the Cy Young candidate version of Sanchez who once led the AL in ERA and FIP (2.57 ERA and 2.39 FIP in 2013). They were getting a pitcher who had had an ERA of 5.67 in the three previous seasons combined and saw the velocity of his primary pitch, the Four Seamer, drop from 92.4 mph to 90.7 in the same span.
    The main explanation given at the time was the coaching staff and Sánchez were willing to reinvent his pitch selection and make adjustments to his mechanics, as stated by the player himself in this Rhett Bollinger report last year. The club believed if he relied more on his varied offerings, he would miss more bats. And that made a lot of sense.
    Even during 2017, perhaps his worst season, Sánchez's most effective pitches were extremely underused. His cutter, which struck out batters 33.3% of time and had a .235 BA, was used only 7.3% of time. During that same season, his sinker was used 23.4% of the time despite that pitch having a .311 batting average against and giving up a leading nine home runs.
    His first impression couldn’t have been better. Sánchez's first outing with the Twins came Feb. 27 against the Red Sox. He pitched two perfect innings and struck out one batter. Four days later disaster struck, as he gave up six earned runs on five hits, in two innings of work against the Pirates. Nothing out of the ordinary, especially because we’re talking about spring training. There would have been plenty of time to figure things out. But plans changed.
    On March 10, the Twins announced the signing of Lance Lynn to a one-year, $12 million contract. Two days later, Sánchez was released by Minnesota and four days after that, signed a minor league contract with the Braves. He went on to find redemption in Atlanta, by having his best season since 2013. He pitched 136 2/3 innings for the Braves, posting a fantastic 2.83 ERA and a 3.62 FIP. He struck out 8.9 batters per nine, which was slightly above his career average of 8.0 through 2017.
    Coming back to his pitch selection, here is a breakdown of how different his pitch usage was in 2018 in comparison with the year before, per Baseball Savant:
    2017 pitch usage
    Four Seamer – 26.2% (.340 BA, 6 HR, 21 SO)
    Sinker – 23.4% (.311 BA, 9 HR, 24 SO)
    Split Finger – 18.1% (.239 BA, 4 HR, 34 SO)
    Slider – 12.4% (.471 BA, 4 HR, 3 SO)
    2018 pitch usage
    Four Seamer – 33% (.262 BA, 5 HR, 22 SO)
    Cutter – 20.2% (.206 BA, 5 HR, 34 SO)
    Split Finger – 19% (.165 BA, 2 HR, 33 SO)
    Curve – 9.3% (.379 BA, 1 HR, 6 SO)
    So, Sánchez found success by relying more on pitches that had been proven effective previously, while also working on his mechanics.
    Can Pérez be the new Sánchez?
    Exactly like Sánchez last year, there’s absolutely no way to know for sure if Pérez is going to have a good season or not. It’s like the Twins are on the eve of a blind date right now. But one thing is certain: he has to make major changes.
    Thanks to this beautifully written story by Dan Hayes, of The Athletic, we can see a glimpse into how the coaching staff is approaching Pérez to achieve such changes. Hayes writes that “the Twins asked the left-hander to make a moderately significant mechanical change in which he incorporates his hips more into his delivery”. That has already had a huge impact. Not once in his career has Pérez had a pitch that averaged more than 93.4 mph in a season (four seamer, 2016). This spring, he's touched 97 mph multiple times and has maintained an average of 95 mph in his fastball.
    Hayes also writes that during his spring outings so far, Pérez abandoned the slider, by far his worst pitch last year (.467 batting average and .867 slugging against). In its place, he has adopted a cutter, which has been admired by everybody watching the games.
    Going back to his best season in the majors, 2013, it’s easy to notice how drastically Pérez's pitch selection changed in comparison with 2018, arguably his worst in the majors.
    2013 pitch usage
    Four Seamer – 35.2% (.338 BA, 3 HR, 12 SO)
    Changeup – 23.7% (.174 BA, 4 HR, 45 SO)
    Sinker – 22.4% (.291 BA, 4 HR, 15 SO)
    2018 pitch usage
    Sinker – 50.6% (.291 BA, 4 HR, 33 SO)
    Changeup – 17.5% (.348 BA, 3 HR, 12 SO)
    Four Seamer – 16.4% (.400 BA, 3 HR, 2 SO)
    Better quality fastballs with increased velocity could do the trick. If he could also manage to recover the changeup he had in 2013, things could get even better. That was his only season with a sub-4.00 ERA (3.62 in 124 1/3 innings of work).
    Per Twins beat reporter By Do-Hyoung Park, Pérez is getting advice on his changeup from fellow countryman and Twins Hall of Famer Johan Santana. Park writes that the soon-to-be 28 year-old “is trying to emphasize attacking hitters inside with his fastball and utilizing his changeup.” And you can tell how comfortable Pérez is feeling with all theses changes by looking at this quote from him on that same story: “Before, I just used my arms. Now, I’m using all my body, and you guys can see the results. I don’t miss inside anymore”. His most recent outing wasn’t nearly as good as the previous three, but that’s part of spring baseball. He gave up five earned runs in four innings of work Thursday against the Pirates.
    It’s wait and see time. Pérez being brought in meant valuable youngsters expecting their shot in the rotation were made to wait a bit longer. I’m talking about Adalberto Mejía and Fernando Romero, both moved up to the bullpen. So, there’s a lot at stake for Pérez here, and the front office appears to have foregone other free agents in order to give him an opportunity. If he manages to pull the Aníbal Sánchez this year and/or more, Minnesota will have hit jackpot.
    Click here to view the article
  8. Like
    NumberThree reacted to Parker Hageman in Article: Twins Catchers Focused on Maximizing the Strike Zone   
    Yes, again, it's not just about STEALING strikes, it's about KEEPING strikes. 
  9. Like
    NumberThree reacted to bighat in Article: Mailbag: Adding Keuchel, Opening Day Rotation, Angry Fans   
    I've also wondered about the constant complaining about concession prices. You don't have to buy 2 beers, a jumbo brand-name BBQ sandwich, a pretzel and stop at the sushi bar. You can eat before the game, and while in the stands just buy peanuts and a coke and you'll escape with a couple extra $20 bills in your wallet.
  10. Like
    NumberThree reacted to Parker Hageman in Article: Twins Catchers Focused on Maximizing the Strike Zone   
    1. Yes.
    2. Sometimes.
    3. Sometimes.
    4. Not really, no. 
  11. Like
    NumberThree reacted to Parker Hageman in Article: Twins Catchers Focused on Maximizing the Strike Zone   
    Mitch Garver says he could see the writing on the wall.
    In 2018, the Twins catcher finished 75th out of 78 qualifiers in framing runs above average. His -9 FRAA would cost his team almost a win.
    “If I don’t fix things right now, I will not be in the game in two years, three years,” Garver says he told himself. “I won’t be a catcher anymore.”
    Understanding that his value as a player would depreciate quickly if he were to move out from behind the plate, Garver reached out in multiple directions for help. Initially, Garver thought about working with recently retired catcher Eddy Rodriguez in Tampa. Rodriguez has spent some time in the Twins organization and Garver considered him a friend. It was only after asking bench coach Derek Shelton his opinion on what he should do, that Garver changed his mind.
    “Go call Tanner,” were the orders he received from Shelton.It is only Tanner Swanson’s second year in the organization, but when you talk to people in the front office or non-Twins employees in the industry, Swanson’s presence is widely revered. To those who know him, he’s affectionately referred to as “a dude” -- which is baseball jargonese for indispensable or invaluable, someone who goes about his business and stands out.
    A master practitioner in the art of deception, the Twins’ catching coordinator’s hiring paid immediate dividends. According to Swanson, the Twins’ farm system was ranked 27th in pitching framing metrics from 2015 to 2017, then jumped to fifth after introducing some changes.
    Because most of his work was with the catchers in the system before they reach Minnesota, Swanson said he watched Garver’s technique from afar. When Garver contacted him this past offseason, Swanson gave the 28-year-old a rundown which made the catcher only wish he called sooner.
    “He basically said, yeah, I see a lot of mechanical flaws in the way I receive and he couldn’t tell me any of those things last year because he felt he was stepping on someone else’s foot and that wasn’t his place to do that,” says Garver. “That sucks. I wasted a whole year where I could have been getting better at something.”
    Garver was pressed into extended catching duty with the Twins after starter Jason Castro’s season ended prematurely. Garver’s defensive reputation to that point had always been considered a work in progress while in the minor leagues. His biggest issue was nabbing calls at the bottom of the zone -- the air space which has quickly become one of the biggest aerial battles fought between pitchers and hitters.
    As far back as 2014 it became clear that the strike zone was getting lower and lower. More called strikes were happening below the knee. Before the 2018 season, Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch, a former receiver himself, told MLB Network that “the best catchers nowadays can handle the ball below the knees. Now we work north and south.”
    Hinch last played in the majors in 2004, where he says the emphasis was trying to expand the zone on either side of the plate. The game now is top and bottom, he says.
    “Can I make the low pitch -- over the plate and down -- look like a strike? So the game has moved north and south where it used to be east and west.”
    Smart teams started to target catchers who were able to steal or keep those pitches in trade and free agency. The Texas Rangers signed Jeff Mathis, owner of a career .198/.258/.306 slash, to a two-year, $6 million deal simply because he was one of the best at nabbing the low strike (ninth out of 78 in 2018). The Washington Nationals traded three players for 31-year-old Yan Gomes partly because he was the second-best at coaxing strikes on the lower third. So as more teams paid (and potentially overpaid) for that type of catcher, smarter teams figured to go one step beyond and hire the people who can create those kinds of catchers.
    That’s where Swanson comes in.
    While pitching and hitting advances have radically changed over the last few years, catching as a practice, has lagged behind. Teams have known about the value of pitch framing for years but how to develop that skill has been elusive to some. Previously the message to catchers to become a good framer meant being quiet and holding the pitch in place. Swanson says that is outdated. For starters, catchers should corral low pitches and will work back toward the center of the plate. And, rather than keeping the mitt horizontal, catchers are encouraged to receive the low pitch with the glove thumb pointed downward, giving them diagonal angle.
    This is where Garver and Swanson focused.
    It is not an easy task, to be sure. Like hitters learning a new swing path or pitchers tweaking their mechanics, catchers too have to undo years of hardwired technique and re-map their systems to perfect this new process. When Swanson works with catchers, he incorporates drills that include weighted plyo balls, j-bands, wrist weights and more. On his Twitter account this offseason, Swanson demonstrated a drill with Twins minor-league catcher Caleb Hamilton where Hamilton works off a pitching machine and just repeats the motion of bringing the glove up -- a movement he was attempted to commit to muscle memory.

    But the optimal process for perfecting the low zone strike, Swanson found, begins at the set-up as well.
    You may have noticed on the recent broadcasts that Twins catchers are all dropping to one leg in their set-up, reminiscent of the days of Tony Pena behind the dish. Observers at the minor league complex will also see almost all catchers doing the same. Swanson says this is just another strategy of getting as low as possible to give umpires the best view of the low strike zone.
    It’s new and it’s different but there is a sense of system-wide buy-in.
    “I think if you ask our guys, most, if not all, would tell you this is how they would prefer to do it,” Swanson said about the one-legged receiving technique. “It’s not something that is mandated necessarily, but I think what we’ve done is given them the freedom to learn for themselves -- that this will be even more efficient in what they were doing, specifically from a receiving standpoint.”
    Most would probably agree that the one-leg approach (or in the case of prospect Ben Rortvedt, no legs) works fine without runners on base, but the Twins are pushing the envelope, trying to maintain that position even when opponents put men on.
    “We’re also learning that we can still block and throw effectively from these positions too and, although it’s different and hasn’t necessarily been explored in the past, that’s not scaring us from seeing what we can learn,” Swanson remarked.
    The Twins are also looking at obtaining more strikes at the top of the zone as well. As Hinch suggested, the zone is stretching northward, with teams trying to blast fastballs at the letters or above. In 2018, 40 percent of all fastballs were thrown in the upper third of the strike zone, whereas in 2017, it was at 36 percent. So there has been a drastic shift to throwing heaters up. Receiving those pitches to make them look like strikes also requires some added technique, Swanson says. Instead of pulling the ball up with a downward-facing thumb, high strikes are to be pounced upon almost from above.
    Putting it all together can be challenging. It is one thing to work on the elements in a private facility or a practice field during the offseason, but how can you tell if you are making actual progress? Swanson and the rest of the player development staff have tried to be as innovative as possible. This spring training, they came up with the idea to incorporate pro umpires into bullpen sessions to track each catcher’s framing numbers. The Rapsodo technology will track each pitch location and compare it against whether or not a human umpire calls the pitch a ball or strike.
    “We [track framing numbers] during the season but we didn’t have the capacity to do that in a training environment, so we were racking our heads trying to think of ways to give our guys more effective feedback during spring training and that’s one of the efforts to do so,” notes Swanson.
    In addition to the static bullpen sessions where stand-in batters are just decoys, the Twins also had umpires, Rapsodo and cameras available during their live batting practices as well, hoping to recreate the in-game experience as much as possible.
    Each session is crunched by the organization’s research staff and then the data is delivered to the coaching staff every day. So Swanson knows immediately how Ryan Jeffers or Caleb Hamilton’s progress is coming. If a player struggles, they can review the numbers and film together and isolate what things need to be improved. It’s a feedback loop that can hasten the development process.
    “For the most part we try to be as transparent with the players as possible to help them understand, not just how the Twins are evaluating them but largely how the industry is evaluating catchers and how valuable the pitch tracking piece is,” Swanson says. “I don’t see any value withholding that information, at least on a consistent basis, so we want to give them as much information as we can so they are not in the dark and can make adjustments.”

    “I’m in a great place right now,” Garver says about his new form. “You can see the immediate, immediate change. Took a long time for me to get a feel for what I was doing and getting my body into those positions to receive the balls the way I am, but now that I’m there, it’s only going up from here.”
    Garver and his fellow backstops are in a good place right now. It may only be practice games but the Twins’ pitching staff has the third-most strikeouts among all teams. The newly introduced framing techniques undoubtedly plays a role in that stat.
    And Garver is just the beginning. The Twins plan on having a pipeline of catchers who steal strikes wherever that advantage may lie. Swanson recognizes that the game evolves, just like the strike zone did, and there may come a time when robot umpires roam the Earth. Their training methods and focus will pivot with the changes.
    “We’re all kind of learning this as it continues to progress,” Swanson says about the future. “In some ways it's uncharted territories so we’re all trying to stay ahead of it and push the ball forward.”
    Click here to view the article
  12. Like
    NumberThree reacted to sjp in Article: New Hires, New Tech Might Give Twins One of MLB's Best Player Development Systems   
    Just a little nit about the details on the spring complex. A quick Google map view of the area would show there are four full size practice fields plus two infield only practice fields. The second infield one, next to the minor league batting cages, was converted from all sand to turf for this year. In addition there is another full field as part of the player academy on the south side of the dormitory facility. The academy field is the only field other than Hammond field with a scoreboard and real outfield walls that aren't just chain-link fence. There is also the fenced off conditioning hill to the east of the minor league locker rooms that built a few years ago. The overall complex also includes four softball fields that are not used by the Twins.
    At times during the spring all of the fields are in use. Now that the minor league camp is also in full swing their are games on some of the fields in the afternoons.
  13. Like
    NumberThree reacted to Breekie18 in Article: New Hires, New Tech Might Give Twins One of MLB's Best Player Development Systems   
    This absolutely a great progress. Tha adaption of this kind of approach will take a while. New technologies will make players better. Players get personal mealplans, weight lifting programs and development plans. Next step is to lift the monthly wages in the minors so they can keep up to these mealplans and nutrion plans. As soon as they leave the player development center they not always have much too spent on nutrion.
  14. Like
    NumberThree reacted to Parker Hageman in Article: New Hires, New Tech Might Give Twins One of MLB's Best Player Development Systems   
    The title suggests it is "one of" the best player development systems in baseball. It is not the top. You talk to people in the industry who have touch points with multiple organizations and they will tell you the Twins have made significant strides but still fall short of several other orgs (namely, the Astros). 
    As people have said on here and on Twitter, "we'll see", that's absolutely correct. We will see. None of this guarantees major league success. But the fact is every organization is chasing one thing -- wins. That's the goal. The goal, however, is not reachable unless you have quality systems in place. The Twins have not had quality systems in place prior to this new front office. They invested heavily in almost all aspects of the org (...some of you can and have argued that they might have not invested as heavily in the major league payroll at times and that's a fair point...). 
    In reading James Clear's Atomic Habits recently (sick reading brag, bro), there's a story he shares about how the British cycling team went from laughing stocks to world champions (it did involve drugs but that wasn't the only element). They focused on marginal gains and getting one percent better in all aspects of the sport. 
    So when I talk to Tanner Swanson about what he has been doing with the catchers -- hiring umpires to call balls and strikes for bullpens and measuring against Rapsodo data -- I can see the marginal gains. The Twins have other coaches in different practices doing similar things. 
  15. Like
    NumberThree reacted to The Mask of Zoilo in Article: New Hires, New Tech Might Give Twins One of MLB's Best Player Development Systems   
    This is very exciting, especially the experiential learning/feedback drills instead of verbal cues and tradition with minor leaguers. Parker, keep reporting on this type of stuff if you can. It's great to see the Twins investing in cutting edge practices instead of the status quo.
  16. Like
    NumberThree reacted to Seth Stohs in Article: New Hires, New Tech Might Give Twins One of MLB's Best Player Development Systems   
    This stuff isn't about immediate results. It's about process and player development. This is all positive. The players seem to really like it and appreciate it. There's no doubt that the goal is to make players better. 
  17. Like
    NumberThree reacted to Seth Stohs in Article: New Hires, New Tech Might Give Twins One of MLB's Best Player Development Systems   
    This is awesome, Parker!
    And just from my one day here, these practices are different. The whole session is different, looks different, technology all over, coaches/coordinators/data entry folks all over
  18. Like
    NumberThree reacted to Parker Hageman in Article: New Hires, New Tech Might Give Twins One of MLB's Best Player Development Systems   
    The Minnesota Twins minor league camp has a different feel in 2019.
    “If you go out on our backfields right now you will see some really helpful and quality work being done,” says manager Rocco Baldelli. “It’s actually really cool.”
    Really cool indeed.
    The Twins organization has invested heavily in both people and technology to make significant strides in improving player development. What is happening away from the major league side should blow your doors off.About three hundred yards away from Hammond Stadium – or, if you prefer the dinger system, one Nelson Cruz batting practice bomb – is the area commonly referred to as the backfields. The Twins’ backfield wheel contains three full-sized fields and a truncated infield-only one. There are two bullpen areas wedged between three of the fields, and an observation tower blasting tasty tunes.
    Here, minor-league players will have almost every swing, pitch, throw and catch tracked.
    The number of people gathering data has grown exponentially from the previous season. Then again, the number of tracking devices has also grown exponentially.
    The Trackman units have been hanging on the fencing behind home plate at the three large fields for several seasons. The many Rapsodo 2.0 devices are new this year, as are the multiple high-speed cameras. Hitters have Blast motion sensors attached to their bats and will undergo a 4D body movement sensor session in the covered batting cages before the day's activity starts.
    Meanwhile, when live at-bats begin, standing behind the pitcher's mound are Twins employees, protected by screens, charting everything on iPads. The Rapsodo devices in front of every home plate area are rapping along. Trackman, the all-seeing eye-in-the-sky, is tracking man.
    The place is buzzing with data collection.
    “Just comparing this year to last year, it’s drastically different,” says Tanner Swanson, the organization’s catching coordinator who was brought in before the 2018 season.
    The data isn’t the only new element. Coaches and players both rave about the new schedule and some of the new training methods.
    ”Drastically more efficient,” Swanson says about the workouts. “I think there’s a lot of teaching going on, which you could argue may or may not be the norm for the typical spring training environment. It’s been a major upgrade, I think. Players have more energy, are excited, feels like they are progressing and getting better. It’s been a good start, no question.”
    One bullpen area is filled with pitchers and catchers trading throws in a popping cadence. It may appear routine but the Twins have made tweaks to this activity as well. According to side-arming prospect Tom Hackimer, the bullpen sessions are separated into two categories – one for the pitcher to focus on his mechanics and one for the pitcher to focus on executing over the plate.
    “It’s half of what we call ‘over the rubber,’ what you want to work on, the second half we work on is ‘over the plate,’ pitch sequencing, catcher calling the game, where you want to locate your stuff,” says Hackimer. “It’s definitely a big step forward having that structure.”
    There’s classroom time for all practices. On the pitching side, Twins’ minor-league pitching coordinator Pete Maki holds meetings to discuss strategy, philosophy, and the technology to help players understand why they may feel like lab rats at times.
    “We just had a meeting,” Hackimer says. “The Core Principles of Pitching meeting. It can easily be an hour, hour-and-a-half meeting but Pete Maki just cut it off at a half-hour. He’s like, most people can’t pay attention after a half-hour, that includes the coaches, that includes you guys, so we’re gonna cut it right here.”
    On the other bullpen area, hitters stand in against pitchers. There are Rapsodo devices here as well. Cameras too. Staff members charting everything. Former Twins great Johan Santana observes the program. And paid umpires are calling balls and strikes. This was a concept Swanson and the minor league staff came up with to help replicate the in-season experience.

    “It was an attempt to give our catchers more objective feedback,” says Swanson. “It’s one thing to say with your eyes, ‘hey, looks good’ or ‘nice job,’ but to really look and say, okay we gained strikes here, we lost strikes here.”
    Another improvement is individualized hitting plans led by newly hired minor-league hitting coordinator Pete Fatse and his coaching staff.
    While the bulk of the work happens inside the cages, hitters get to take small group BP on the field to see the fruits of their labor in the sun. With one group of hitters, Fatse throws batting practice. One hitter pulls his first pitch — a hard-hit one-hop smash down the third base line. Fatse shakes his head.
    “That way,” he sticks out his arm and gestures toward the left-center field gap. “That way!”
    Fatse says he wants the hitters to design their swing paths similar to Miguel Cabrera or JD Martinez, who laser baseballs into the middle of the field but can do damage pull side on pitches inside.

    The hitter nods then rifles the next series of pitches into the opposite field gap like Fatse directed.
    “See, that’s the way,” he exclaims. “I should hug you right now.” Fatse sticks out his arms from behind the screen like he was offering the hitter a squeeze from 50 feet away. The player laughs.
    Michael Cuddyer joins another session to give his input. This is a newer endeavor, getting the former big league players to interact with the minor league players and staff. Earlier in the week, Torii Hunter spent time at the minor league cages.
    “He was giving us some high praise in respect to how we were going about what we’re doing,” Fatse said of his experience with Hunter.
    "We didn’t have too many big league players come down and talk to us,” recalled Cuddyer during his tenure in the minors. Players like Harmon Killebrew and Rod Carew spent time with Cuddyer but only after he made the Twins.
    For Twins prospect Taylor Grzelakowski, a catcher who finished 2018 third on the Miracle in home runs (8) and slugging (.458), he got the chance to tap into not only Fatse’s biomechanical expertise but with Cuddyer’s knowledge from his 15-year career.
    Thus begins a master class in hip direction.
    Cuddyer demonstrates how he would fire his hips in the swing behind the ball, imparting violent rotational contact. Fatse shares his piece. Grzelakowski nods, has a dialogue with the two instructors and goes back into the batting turtle to try to implement that feel to his swing.
    “Perception is not always reality,” Cuddyer says about trying to translate a feel in the swing component to the young prospect. “What he feels might not always be what he’s doing. And same with me. What I feel in my swing, I might not be verbalizing well. That’s what hitting is, it’s conversations. There’s not one way to do it. There are many different cues that result in the same swing and certain language works for different players.”
    Fatse echoes Cuddyer’s comments about the common language of hitting.
    “We’re trying to get guys to understand how their body moves and how to execute their swing as opposed to just thinking about things that are like, ‘hey just take your hands to the ball,' ” Fatse says. “That can mean seven different things to seven different people.”
    The hitting development component is heavily influenced by science and modern hitting theory. They have underload/overload bat-speed programs. They have two pitching machines which fire a high-spin fastball and a breaking ball, and the hitter doesn’t know which is coming, hoping to improve pitch recognition. De-emphasized are tools like batting tees, as Fatse says players should focus on hitting a moving target over a stationary one.
    Some of the Twins players have taken notice of the new practices.
    “When I first got here before camp, it was pretty crazy to see what they are doing on the minor league side with all the radar guns and using weighted bats to speed up their bats,” says outfielder Max Kepler. “I wish I had that when I was younger.”
    The minor league camp, with its wonderful toys, isn’t an island unto itself. The team invested heavily in coaches – coaches who are constant learners and thrive in a data-driven environment, and they don’t plan to hide them out there.
    “One thing that we’ve spent a lot of time talking about, and hopefully even more as time goes on, is the exchanging of ideas and bringing both sides instead of there being separation between the big leagues and minor league,” Baldelli says.
    The cohesion happened almost immediately for some. Fatse says when he was hired, Twins’ hitting coach James Rowson invited him out to dinner to talk shop. The dinner discussion wound up lasting over four hours.
    “I think the one unique thing about the Twins is that there’s no divide,” Fatse says. “They’ve made it (a) really transparent feel here. They want there to be constant collaboration and dialogue and the fact that there are big league players that come down and hang out on the backfields with players, you just don’t find that everywhere.”
    “Rocco and his staff have been unbelievable,” Swanson added. “They have an open door policy for coordinators and coaches to come and go. I’ve spent a lot of time going back and forth. They’ve made it clear from the beginning that they want it to be an inclusive environment and they’ve gone out of their way to make myself and others feel welcomed and valued. There’s definitely a cohesiveness going on between our major-league operations and our minor-league groups.”
    When you step back to appreciate the activities, the sheer logistics of the multi-faceted practice is mind-blowing. Hundred of bodies are accounted for and every one of them appears to be participating in something at any given moment. It’s a baseball development mosaic, a well-tuned symphony designed with a singular purpose: to make players better.
    The Twins, indeed, are doing quality work back here.
    Click here to view the article
  19. Like
    NumberThree reacted to Seth Stohs in Article: Sunday Twins Game Notes: Jays Power Past Twins   
    FT. MYERS - Blue Jays prospects pummeled Twins pitching on Sunday in a 10-1 decision. Shortstop prospect Bo Bichette led off the game with a home run onto the berm beyond the left field fence, and Twins starter Jake Odorizzi did not complete the first inning. He talked about his outing, and several other notes from Sunday in Ft. Myers.Spring Training stats don’t matter at all. We know that. And whenever a player or pitcher struggles in spring training, we repeat that sentence over and over. That is the key point when looking at veteran Jake Odorizzi’s pitching line from Sunday. He gave up five runs on four hits and two walks in 2/3 of an inning.
    Odorizzi noted after his outing, “Hopefully it (today’s outing) means good things because I think I gave up one run last year and it didn’t go very well. So I hope so. It’s spring training; I was trying to work on offspeed a lot today.”
    Veteran starting pitchers come to spring training knowing their sole job in the spring is to be ready by Opening Day. Sometimes that means working on fastball command, or offspeed pitches. For Odorizzi on Sunday, it was the secondary stuff.
    “I mixed all my pitches. I didn’t throw too many fastballs, but that was by design. It probably played a bit of a role getting behind in counts, but I’m not going to my good stuff that I know well while spring training when I want to work on getting the other stuff that’s not as good up to that. I could have very easily started throwing my pitches how I would have in the game, but that’s not going to make you any better.”
    Rocco Baldelli came out of the dugout and removed Odorizzi from the game with two outs in the first inning. Pat Dean needed just one pitch to end the inning.
    Baldelli said, “Odo has a very mature approach to everything he does. He’s got a very good head on his shoulders. He went out there today and he was using this as one, a way to prepare and get himself in shape and also work on some things.” He continued, “He was able to go finish his work and complete his preparation on the side. These sort of things do happen, and in the regular season the leash is probably also a little bit longer than it would be in a fairly early spring start.”
    Odorizzi’s work was not complete. Because he didn’t reach a total pitch count goal for the day, he went down to the bullpen where he continued to work. He wanted to throw 36 more pitches. While he didn’t get more game-situation work, he tried to replicate it as much as possible in the bullpen.
    “I had (assistant pitching coach) Jeremy Hefner stand in and bounce back and forth from righty and lefty. And I would do up-downs. So I would throw 12 pitches, sit down, watch whoever was hitting at that point, and just treat it as a game situation. Obviously it’s not the same max effort as a game, but I treated it just like a normal game with batters in the box. So it was good. Got the same sweat I got going on in the bullpen as in the game. It was a little warm out there. For us, it’s really about the up-downs, and building your pitch counts in the spring.”
    In years past, Odorizzi threw both a slider and a cutter, but he decided in the offseason to just focus on one of the two and put all his efforts into the cutter.
    He said, “I decided this offseason I wanted to focus on one pitch and give all my effort to that instead of spreading it out where you have two average pitches and maybe one's even below-average. You take that away, and just focus on one and make it as best as you can. It's worked out really well for me so far.”
    “And like a good teammate, he has been sharing information on his pitches. “I actually taught it to Martín (Perez) the other day, and it's been working well for him in spring training so far from everything I've been told. So I'm helping guys with it while helping myself at the same time. If we can make each other better in here.” He continued, “It's good for me to sometimes talk it out with people. It helps me talk about my mindset, if I'm trying to teach it to somebody, it kind of gives you that teaching point as well. ”
    Blue Jays Prospects
    The Blue Jays announced before the game that top prospect Vlad Guerrero, Jr. will miss about three weeks due to a mild oblique strain. If I were to venture a guess, it will likely cause him to start the season in Triple-A before being called up to the major leagues about three weeks into the season.
    Other top Blue Jays prospects made the trek down from Dunedin and were very impressive. Shortstop Bo Bichette led off the game with a home run. In his next at bat, he lined a double down the left field line. Later in the game, he hit an opposite field homer off of Michael Pineda.

    Seth Stohs
    Slugging first baseman Rowdy Tellez had three hits including a first-inning homer off of Odorizzi and a sixth-inning homer off Pineda. Cavan Biggio was in a car accident a couple of days ago. On Sunday, he went 2-for-5 with a home run off of Matt Magill.
    Pineda Throwing Ball “Pretty Well”
    Pineda gave up three runs over his three innings of work, including the two home runs. However, Baldelli believes he is healthy and throwing the ball well.
    “He's healthy and ready to go. He's actually throwing the ball pretty well. His arm strength is good. He's spinning the ball well, and for him, that's what it comes down to in a lot of ways. He's a guy that, when he's been very good in the past, a big part of his game is spinning the ball and cutting the ball and doing things like that. He is back to that now. You could look at a couple of different pitches here and there, but overall, I thought it was a very successful outing for him. Just getting out here and making some good pitches and doing it in this sweatbox that we do it in every day -- it's good for all the players, especially the pitchers, to get out there and do the work in that environment. I think it's helpful in preparing them for the year. I think Michael looks great."

    Return of Marwin
    A look at Monday’s lineup shows that Marwin Gonzalez will be leading off and playing third base. He has been out of the lineup in recent days due to a shoulder injury.
    Following Sunday’s game, Rocco Baldelli said that Gonzalez is ready to return. “Marwin declared himself beyond ready to go today but we wanted to give it one more day and we had it scheduled and we ended up rolling with it. Yeah, we expect him out there and all systems go.”
    That has long been a Twins thing. When a player says that he’s ready to play, and the training staff agree, give him one more day to be more certain. Especially in spring training, it’s the right thing to do.
    Tyler Austin Making His Case
    On Friday, Tyler Austin went 3-for-3 to raise his spring batting average to .318. On Sunday afternoon, he went 3-for-3 again and now has a .400 batting average.

    Seth Stohs
    CJ Cron is most likely going to be the Twins primary first baseman. However, Austin is out of options and it’s hard to imagine that the team is going to want to lose him for nothing. Could he compete with Willians Astudillo for the final roster spot? Could a trade be possible?
    Torreyes Impresses
    Ronald Torreyes, playing third base on Sunday, made a couple of really nice defensive plays. He is not a big man, but he also can hit. He has impressed his new manager both on and off the field.

    Seth Stohs
    “He does everything right. He does everything right from the moment he walks on the field every morning. He's got a great energy. He's a clubhouse favorite. The guys love him. The staff loves him. He couldn't handle himself any better in the clubhouse or on the field. He's a good player. Move him anywhere. He makes all the plays. He's a headsy player. He's a baseball player. He has all good at bats. I enjoy being around him. I know I'm not alone in that thought.”
    Click here to view the article
  20. Like
    NumberThree reacted to Hosken Bombo Disco in Article: Twins Unlikely to Sign Kimbrel, Keuchel — Wait, This Sounds Familiar!   
    As far as I'm concerned, it's about 4 PM the next day, the prince never came back, and we're all getting on with our lives.
    Tough luck for those guys playing chicken with free agency, and losing. As for the Twins, if the Twins wanted either of them, they should have paid x price during the offseason, rather than hoping to get a less ready player for less the price at a much later date.  
  21. Like
    NumberThree reacted to ashbury in Article: Twins Unlikely to Sign Kimbrel, Keuchel — Wait, This Sounds Familiar!   
    I'm not surprised if they walked that statement back. It was amateurish.
  22. Like
    NumberThree reacted to jorgenswest in Article: What History Can Tell Us About Michael Pineda's Innings Total in 2019   
    Should the Twins purposefully overuse Pineda next year? Of course not.
    I do think that they should not treat him the same as a younger longer term asset though. They should not be shutting him down on the short end of a range of innings as the Nationals did with Strasburg as he passed 150 innings.
    It is in the Twins interest and Pineda’s that they push the higher end of that range erroring on the overuse side of that range. Pineda is in his prime. He missed his first shot at a contract with injury. Next off season will likely be his last chance at a significant contract. He needs to show that he is fully healthy and can be very effective at handling a full load. The Twins need those innings. They can’t afford to invest into a one year asset shortened starts or extra days for rest. If the Twins are in contention later in the season they need to keep giving him the ball. If they aren’t in contention, they need to show he can handle the workload so they can trade him at the deadline.
    Perhaps the the term overuse in my earlier phrase “error on the side of overuse” carried to much weight. The Twins need to push the upper end of the innings expectation. It is in their interest and Pineda’s.
  23. Like
    NumberThree reacted to Matt Braun in Article: What History Can Tell Us About Michael Pineda's Innings Total in 2019   
    To imply that sometimes teams don't act in the best interest in their players' health? I'm not advocating for doing it, but it isn't a rare occurrence at all. 
  24. Like
    NumberThree reacted to Matt Braun in Article: What History Can Tell Us About Michael Pineda's Innings Total in 2019   
    The 6’ 7” beast Michael Pineda took the mound the other day in Fort Myers and fired off two scoreless innings to go with his two previous scoreless innings, giving him an easy to calculate ERA of 0.00 so far in spring training. Pineda last pitched in the majors for the Yankees but you might have also recognized him by his nicknames “Big Mike” or “Large Mikeal” or “Why is That Mountain Moving?”When he was signed in the offseason following the 2017 season, it was with the understanding that his value would mostly be in the 2019 season and he would most likely not pitch in 2018 for the Twins as he continued to rehab from Tommy John surgery. His two year $10 million deal essentially works as a one-year deal and set the blueprint for Garrett Richards to sign a similar contract with the Padres this last offseason. Although, Pineda might have had better offers from Rick Spielman to start at guard for the Vikings for the upcoming season.
    Pineda could prove to be an important bridge in an uncertain Twins starting rotation. While most teams would be happy with a 1-2 punch of Berrios and Gibson to lead the rotation, the names after them aren’t quite as exciting. Odorizzi is fine but should ideally be your fourth starter and the number of candidates for the fifth spot is as long as Santa’s nice/naughty list but has more naughtys than I care for. So getting 160-170 quality innings from Pineda could prove key to leading a strong Twins team in contending for the AL Central title against the Indians. But what does history have to say about starting pitchers who have had such an extended absence due to injury? Pineda’s last major league outing was on July 5, 2017 which is a good 20 months ago. Is it realistic to assume that he can come back and be the normal Pineda in 2019?
    I looked through the long list of recent MLB starting pitchers who underwent TJ surgery between 2011 and 2017. I cut it off at 2017 because those players have not had their full season of performance yet following their surgery. Then I found the guys who hadn’t played in MLB in over 15 months after their surgery to get a sample size of guys more similar to Pineda. And finally, I only included pitchers who started the season on the major league squad so that they would have a full season of work on their plate as their first taste of the majors after surgery like Pineda and so that their innings totals wouldn’t be skewed. The list of players goes as follows:
    Bronson Arroyo, Zack Wheeler, A.J. Griffin, Robbie Erlin, Lance Lynn, Matt Harvey, John Lackey
    An interesting assortment of names, sure, but these are the most similar comps to Pineda that have come about in recent history as far as time off goes. Here they are broken down by innings totals in their first full year back from injury:
    60-80 innings: Bronson Arroyo
    80-100 innings: Zack Wheeler
    100-120 innings: A.J. Griffin, Robbie Erlin
    180-200 innings: Lance Lynn, Matt Harvey, John Lackey
    Well, that’s certainly something. Arroyo was old and bad at this time so take that with what you will. Wheeler was seemingly in witness protection for a few years there as he was suffering from Mets-itits before breaking out just this past year. Griffin missed some time due to injury in his first year back which ultimately hampered his innings total but that could very well be a problem for Pineda as well this upcoming year. Lance Lynn, Matt Harvey and John Lackey all had seemingly normal years immediately following their extended recovery, but Harvey also presents himself as a cautionary tale of why innings limits exist for players recently removed from surgery. He went over his innings limit in 2015 and has not been the same pitcher since.
    Personally, I find this data to actually be rather optimistic. While no pitcher was within that 160-170 innings total that I mentioned before, a few pitchers were able to come back and have normal years even after an extended break due to recovery. While I don’t want to go as far as thanking Lance Lynn for what he did, he is among those who represent a ray of hope that Pineda can be consistently relied upon in 2019.
    Now, you might have noticed that I did not mention Robbie Erlin yet. Erlin worked this last year as a swingman for the Padres, or the Giants, be honest, you don’t know whether or not Robbie Erlin actually exists much less the team he plays for. But Fangraphs tells me that there allegedly was a player under the pseudonym “Robbie Erlin” for the Friars last year who got his innings out of the pen and as a starter, and I find that very interesting. The Padres most likely observed the Harvey fiasco and decided it was best not to follow that same path so they artificially reduced Erlin's innings totals by limiting his chances at getting a large number of outs.
    Why do I find that interesting? The crafty Twins have recently been rather vague about their plans for getting outs in the 2019 season. Instead of referring to Fernando Romero as a reliever, they said that they will transition him to get him ready for “shorter stints”. Instead of saying that Adalberto Mejia is a starter, they said that he will be stretched out for “extended outings”. While GM talk is nothing new, the new wave of baseball strategy has been focused on getting the most outs you can in the most efficient way possible. Hell, Craig Counsell in his infinite wisdom just refers to his pitchers now as “out-getters”. You can say that baseball is getting more progressive in their old and archaic categorizing of pitchers, but it seems to me that teams are catching on to the most effective ways to get outs in today’s game.
    Much like with the Padres and Erlin, I have to assume the Twins are also very concerned with Pineda’s innings limit. No specific number has become public, but there has to be one. And possibly as a way to limit those innings, we may see the Twins try a bevy of things for Pineda. Maybe they use an opener for him, maybe he is the opener for someone, maybe he occasionally works in long relief, maybe he closes some games! I absolutely would not put it past the Twins to try any number of these strategies to avoid a Matt Harvey situation in the future. Although that also begs the question, do they care? Is Pineda just here as a placeholder for another guy to come in in 2020?
    While it may be morally wrong, how much would the Twins care about ruining the arm of a guy they have no intention of keeping long term? As the season plays out, we shall see the answers to these questions, but keep in mind that it is realistic for Pineda to fire off a full season of work as a starter in 2019.
    Click here to view the article
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    NumberThree reacted to Mike Sixel in Article: Sources: Injury Gods Advise 'Not Getting Attached' to Willians Astudillo   
    Cthulu cares not for your offerings.....
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