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  1. Like
    nicksaviking 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.
  2. Like
    nicksaviking reacted to SweetLou! for a blog entry, Twins Tunes #2: "Kitty Kaat"   
    Hello and welcome to the second installment of Twins Tunes. My name’s Louie.
    The second edition features Jim Kaat, Senators/Twins pitcher from 1959 to 1973. He also looks like he could be my uncle. And is also a lefty pitcher!
    If you like what you hear, feel free to share it on social media and whatnot. I don’t have any of those anymore, so if this thing’s gonna go viral, it’s up to you, Twins Daily masses.
    Special thanks to my cousin Bubba, who mixed, engineered, produced, and mastered the track. You can check out his music at BubbaHolly.com or by searching for “Bubba Holly” on Spotify/BandCamp/wherever you get your music. His new album is terrific. Also, Bubba and I make music under the name Bunkin’ Cousins, if you’d like to hear concept albums about the late medieval period or epic cabin weekends.
    (Also, if anyone knows how to embed a SoundCloud track, let me know! I'm struggling with it, so a link will have to suffice in the meantime.)
    Without further adieu, enjoy “Kitty Kaat.”
  3. Like
    nicksaviking reacted to SweetLou! for a blog entry, Twins Tunes #1: "Randy Bush"   
    Hello and welcome to the first installment of Twins Tunes. My name’s Louie, the P.T. Barnum of this particular big top.
    What is Twins Tunes? Basically, I’m going to write and record a song about a different Twin or piece of Twins’ history and post it on here every couple weeks.
    The inaugural edition features Randy Bush, Twins pinch-hitter extraordinaire from 1982-1993. (Bush is also well-known for being the obvious replacement for Dan Gladden in the lead-off spot in RBI Baseball.)
    If you like what you hear, feel free to share it on social media and whatnot. I don’t have any of those anymore, so if this thing’s gonna go viral, it’s up to you, Twins Daily masses.
    Special thanks to my cousin Bubba, who mixed, engineered, produced, and mastered the track. You can check out his music at BubbaHolly.com or by searching for “Bubba Holly” on Spotify/BandCamp/wherever you get your music. His new album is terrific. Also, Bubba and I make music under the name Bunkin’ Cousins, if you’d like to hear concept albums about the late medieval period or epic cabin weekends.
    I’d love to get suggestions for future songs; I have a few in the hopper but would love for this project to be collaborative.
    (Also, if anyone knows how to embed a SoundCloud track, let me know! I'm struggling with it, so a link will have to suffice in the meantime.)
    Without further adieu, enjoy “Randy Bush.”
    Twins Tunes · Randy Bush
  4. Like
    nicksaviking reacted to Heezy1323 for a blog entry, UCL Reconstruction Techniques   
    UCL Reconstruction Surgery
    I recently posted a blog about Chris Sale and the news that he was set to undergo UCL reconstruction. That post covered some questions surrounding the diagnosis and decision-making that occurs when players/teams are faced with this dilemma. That post got a little lengthy, and I chose not to delve into the surgery itself, as I felt that may be better presented as a separate entry. My intention with this post is to discuss some of the different techniques that are used to perform UCL reconstruction. This does get fairly technical, and I apologize in advance if it is more than people would like to know.
    First, we should revisit the anatomy. The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) is a small but strong ligament on the medial (or inner) part of the elbow. It is around the size of a small paper clip. Ligaments (by definition) connect one bone to an adjacent bone. The UCL spans from the medial epicondyle of the humerus (the bump you can likely feel on the inside of your elbow) to the sublime tubercle of the ulna (one of the two forearm bones). (As an aside, sublime tubercle is one of my favorite terms in all of anatomy).

    As with nearly any reconstructive surgery in orthopedics, our aim is to recreate the native/normal anatomy as closely as possible. In order to do this, most techniques utilize small tunnels that are drilled into the bone at the ligament attachment sites. The tissue that is used to reconstruct the ligament is then woven through these tunnels and tightened to create a secure new ‘ligament’ that heals and strengthens over time.
    The primary differences between different techniques are the ‘approach’ (or how tissues are moved aside to see the damaged areas), the specifics of how the tunnels are made and used, the type of tissue (or graft) that is used to make the new ligament, and the way that the graft is secured in place. There are a number of variations that exist, but I’ll cover a few of the most commonly used methods.
    First, some history may be in order. The first UCL reconstruction was, famously, performed on Tommy John. Tommy John was an outstanding pitcher for the LA Dodgers in the early 1970’s, and had compiled a 13-3 record in 1974 when he had a sudden injury to his elbow and was unable to throw. Imaging was performed, and the diagnosis of a UCL tear was made by pioneering orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Frank Jobe (of the famous Kerlan Jobe clinic in LA). Dr. Jobe had an idea to perform a reconstruction of the UCL, and practiced on several cadavers until he felt he had worked out a promising technique. He told Tommy that he thought he had a 1 in 100 chance of a successful return to MLB pitching. John decided to go ahead. The surgery was ultimately successful, and John returned to pitching in 1976. Though Tommy made it back, he did have a temporary palsy of his ulnar nerve after surgery, which is the ‘funny bone’ nerve that is near the UCL. This caused him significant weakness in his hand at first, but fortunately the strength returned over time and Tommy was able to return to pitching. Interestingly, he won more MLB games after surgery than he did before surgery, and pitched until 1989. There is a story that Jose Canseco hit a homer off John late in his career. Apparently Canseco’s father was Tommy’s dentist, and Tommy said something to the effect of “When your dentist’s kid starts hitting home runs off you, it’s time to retire.”
    The technique used for this first surgery was termed the Jobe Technique (for obvious reasons). It involved removing the attachment of the muscles to the inner part of the elbow and pulling the muscles toward the wrist to get a good look at the UCL itself. Tunnels were drilled in the bone at the normal attachment sites of the ligament, and a small tendon from the forearm (called the palmaris) was used to weave through the tunnels making a ‘figure-8’ in order to make a new ligament. (The palmaris is a non-necessary tendon that is located in the forearm of about 2/3 of the population. For those patients who don’t have a palmaris, we usually use a hamstring tendon called the gracilis for this procedure.) The old ligament was left in place and sewed into the graft. The nerve was also moved from its normal location (behind the bump) to in front of the bump to take some of the tension off. This is called a ‘transposition’ of the ulnar nerve.

    This technique was used for a while, but it did have some drawbacks, such as a high percentage of patients having ulnar nerve problems after surgery and some weakness resulting from detaching and reattaching the muscles of the forearm. Because of this, other surgeons sought new ways to perform this surgery.
    One commonly used technique was termed the ASMI-modification of the Jobe Technique. ASMI stand for American Sports Medicine Institute (in Birmingham, AL) and this modification was initially described by Dr. James Andrews and colleagues. This involved similar bone tunnels, but the main difference was in the way that the muscles were treated. Rather than detaching the muscle and reattaching at the end of the surgery, in the ASMI technique the muscle was lifted up (and not detached) and the work was done underneath the muscle. The ulnar nerve is transposed when this technique is used (like the Jobe technique). The passing and fixation of the graft is essentially identical to the Jobe Technique as well.

    Another commonly used technique is called the ‘docking method’. There are a couple of main differences between the docking method and ASMI method. First, the docking method utilizes a ‘muscle-splitting’ approach rather than a ‘muscle-lifting’ approach like the AMSI technique (see figure). This means that the muscle is divided between its fibers and a ‘window’ is created in the muscle in order to see the torn UCL and make the tunnels. There is also a difference in the way the tunnels are made. In the ASMI technique, the tunnels are the same size all the way through, and the graft tissue is passed all the way through the tunnels. In the docking technique, the tunnel on the ulna side is the same. But on the humeral side, the tunnels are sort-of half tunnels with smaller tunnels continuing on through the back side of the bone. This is because the graft is fixed in a different way- there are strong stitches that are attached to the ends of the graft that pull each end into the large tunnels. The stitches then pass through the small portion of the tunnels and are tied behind the bone, which secures the graft in place.

    This technique does not require transposition of the ulnar nerve, which is an advantage because less handling of the nerve generally means less risk of trouble with the nerve after surgery.
    There are a handful of other techniques that are slight variations on these themes, primarily using different devices such as anchors, interference screws or metal buttons to achieve graft fixation. There have been a number of cadaver biomechanical studies done that have compared methods, and they have been found to be largely equivalent. There seems to be a smaller incidence of ulnar nerve symptoms after surgery when the nerve is not handled/transposed (which makes some sense). The return to play rates are very similar regardless of which technique is used, with perhaps a slight favor to docking technique depending on the study.
    I trained with Dr. Andrews, and performed nearly 100 UCL reconstruction cases during my fellowship using the ASMI technique. In my own practice, I tend to use the docking technique most commonly. I do this because I would prefer not to transpose the nerve if I don’t have to in order to decrease the likelihood of nerve problems after surgery. We also saw some problems with fracture of the bone near the humeral tunnels when using the ASMI technique, and using the docking technique allows us to make smaller tunnels. This makes fracture in this area less likely. That said, Dr. Andrews has had (and continues to have) tremendous success using this technique. As we have learned more about this type of surgery, it has become clear that it is important that the bone tunnels be made very accurately, as improperly placed tunnels seem to be a risk factor for inability to return to full participation. There has also been some investigation as to whether addition of PRP or other biologics to the reconstruction area at the time of surgery makes a difference in healing speed or strength. At this time, I am not aware that any research has shown a difference.
    If anyone has managed to make it this far without falling asleep, I hope you found this discussion interesting. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have additional questions. Thanks for reading. Safe wishes to you and your families.
  5. Like
    nicksaviking reacted to Dome Dogg for a blog entry, Please Stop Telling Me How To Be A Fan   
    I attended dozens of Twins games every year in the mid-90's as a kid. I sat through lineups composed of Otis Nixon, Butch Huskey, Midre Cummings and Rich Becker. I watched rotations that featured Scott Aldred, Bob Tewksbury and Rich Robertson.
    Then, the 2000's happened. On one hand, it was very fun to see the Twins consistently contend for the playoffs and win 85-95 games every year. But the team never went out and traded for that one missing piece that would get them over the top and make them legitimate World Series contenders.
    In the Metrodome years, it was understandable that they would be hesitant to take on contracts like those. The revenue streams were not there to support a $125 million payroll. Fine, so be it.
    Then Target Field opened and fans were treated to what seemed to be a magical 2010 season. They had everything but a true #1 starter. Rumors flew around at the deadline, with names like Cliff Lee being floated as possibilities for the team to acquire at the deadline. We got Matt Capps, and were promptly swept by the Yankees in the first round.
    Then, this time as a season ticket holder, I got to watch such studs as Darin Mastroianni, Chris Parmelee and Doug Bernier at the plate, while Mike Pelfrey, Sam Deduno and Scott Diamond "pitched" during the 2011-2018 seasons.
    Meanwhile, the Twins raked in the money with revenue from the new ballpark and a new TV contract.
    So forgive me if my patience has worn thin, and I am not content to just "enjoy the ride." I have been a loyal, money-paying, tv-watching, jersey-wearing fan for 35 years. It's time for the ownership to reward me, and the others who have been through the same thing, by unlocking the money bin and making some serious moves to become an actual World Series contender, not just a division crown contender.
    I think the Twins need upgrades in the rotation and the bullpen. The team has the money and the prospects to get it done, right now. I personally don't give a crap if Trevor Larnach turns out to be a 10 time all star after he is traded if he brings back a player that can help the team win right now. Think of Shields/Davis coming to the Royals for Wil Meyers. Do any Royals fans really care if Meyers becomes a Hall of Famer after they traded him? I doubt it.
    Don't think Madison Bumgarner is an upgrade over Kyle Gibson? Great. I can respectfully disagree with your opinion. However, calling fans who would like a trade "barbarians" (as Reusse did today) or talking down to people who aren't content to stand pat and see what happens, is just so frustrating.
    It's great if you are fine to let the Pohlads rake in the dough and try to back their way into titles, that's your prerogative. I just think the narrative of fans who would like to see moves made being idiots, or bad fans, is growing tiresome.
    Despite what Patrick Reusse, Jim Souhan or even commenters here might say, I personally think it's okay for fans to want more. We have waited long enough, and some of us aren't content with division championships.
  6. Like
    nicksaviking reacted to Heezy1323 for a blog entry, Graterol Shoulder Impingement Q&A   
    Brusdar Graterol Shoulder Impingement Q&A
    Heralded Twins prospect Brusdar Graterol was recently shut down and placed on the IL for ‘shoulder impingement’. This is concerning given how promising a start to the 2019 season Graterol has had and what it could mean for his future.
    So what is ‘shoulder impingement’? And when might it need surgery? Let’s see what we can figure out:
    [Disclaimer: I am not a team physician for the Twins. I have not treated or examined any Twins players. The information I am using is only that which is publicly available. My goal with these posts is to provide some education to TD readers around general injuries that are peculiar to baseball players.]
    Question 1: What is shoulder impingement?
    Shoulder impingement is a sort of catch-all term that can be used to mean a number of different things depending on the specifics of the situation. It Is a term that is often used in application to patients who have pain in their shoulders, often without any specific structural damage or a particular injury. Most frequently, people have pain in their shoulder area that gets worse when working above chest level. It is often treated with physical therapy, activity modification, oral medication and occasional cortisone injections. It is uncommon for these patients to require surgery, but it is sometimes needed after the preceding treatments have failed to provide adequate relief. Some also refer to this condition as shoulder bursitis. It involves irritation of the rotator cuff and the bursa, which lies between the rotator cuff tendons and a part of the bone of the shoulder blade (called the acromion). You may have friends or family members who have been told they have ‘impingement’- this is a fairly commonly used diagnosis. More specifically, this condition is referred to as ‘external impingement’.

    Shoulder impingement in pitchers, however, often means something entirely different than what is described above. Whereas external impingement occurs between the rotator cuff and the acromion (outside of the ball and socket joint of the shoulder), pitchers more commonly have problems with what is called ‘internal impingement’. This occurs specifically in overhead athletes because of the tremendous motion that is necessary to hurl a baseball 90+ mph accurately. During the course of throwing, the arm is cocked back, placing it in an awkward position. In this position, part of the rotator cuff can get pinched between the bone of the ball and the bone of the socket (also often including pinching of the labrum). This may not seem like a big deal, but over time this repetitive motion can begin to take its toll. Experts agree that some changes/damage to the structures of the shoulder are likely normal and adaptive in pitchers rather than problematic. In some cases, however, these structural changes progress down the spectrum and become an issue- causing pain, lack of velocity and/or control and fatigue of the shoulder.

    There is not perfect agreement amongst experts about why exactly these athletes begin to have pain in some cases. Regardless, it is likely a very complex combination of factors ranging from subtle changes in mechanics to core strength to gradual loosening of shoulder ligaments over time (and many others). Each individual case is likely different, and treatment needs to be tailored to the specifics of the athlete.
    Question 2: How/when did this injury occur?
    Typically, this is not an injury that results from a single trauma (though theoretically it can happen that way). It is much more typical for this to be the result of an accumulation of ‘microtraumas’ over a long period of time.
    Question 3: Does this injury always need surgery?
    No. As mentioned above, painful shoulder impingement in throwers is likely related to a complex set of factors. Because of this, treating any ONE thing with a surgery is somewhat unlikely to be effective. As a result, treatment is almost always begun by trying to calm down inflamed tissues. This typically involves rest from throwing. It may also involve oral medications and in some instances, cortisone injections. There is some discussion around PRP and so-called ‘stem cell’ injections (what orthopedists refer to as Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate or BMAC) for these types of problems, though this is not yet something I would consider standard of care.
    During this time, the athlete is also likely to undergo physical therapy to work on improving some of the other factors mentioned above- core strength, range of motion, rotator cuff strength, etc.
    As the pain and inflammation improve, the athlete is likely re-examined by trainers and physicians. This can take anywhere from a week or two to several weeks depending on the case. When things have improved sufficiently, the athlete is likely to begin an interval throwing program, which involves progressively more aggressive throwing sessions. Once they have completed this, they would likely return to the mound and begin throwing from there. Once appropriate progress has been made (and of course presuming no setbacks are encountered), they are likely cleared to return to play.
    The success of non-surgical treatment for these types of problems is all over the map in the literature. There are ranges from percents in the teens to 70%+. Again, it likely depends on a large number of factors which makes prognosticating nearly impossible.
    Question 4: How do we tell which cases of impingement need surgery and which do not?
    This can be among the most difficult decisions to make when dealing with pitchers. One of the problematic elements is that surgery to treat this problem is comparatively not very successful. As noted above, in general there are likely a number of different structural abnormalities in the shoulder that are in play with this injury. Some of them are adaptive and are considered ‘normally abnormal’ for pitchers. Others are problematic. Separating these two is something about which even experts readily disagree.
    It is difficult (and perhaps foolish in this setting) to quote surgery success rates, but in general they are not the best. There is a reason behind the old saying that for pitchers “If it’s the elbow, call the surgeon. If it’s the shoulder, call the preacher.”
    Question 5: What is done during surgery?
    This is widely variable depending on the specific structures that are injured, and (quite honestly) the particular views of the operating surgeon. I was recently watching a lecture on just this subject that featured a panel of a number of the preeminent North American surgeons that treat these problems. The differences of opinion and differences in strategy between surgeons were substantial. Yet another reason to make significant efforts to make non-surgical treatment successful.
    Question 6: How concerning is this for Graterol?
    This is hard to know from the information available. As stated earlier, the term ‘impingement’ can mean a wide variety of things- some more concerning than others. One of the positives in this case would seem to be that Graterol was pitching very effectively quite recently. Thus, this doesn’t seem to be something that has been festering for months. Hopefully that means they’ve ‘caught it early’ and can get things back on track sooner than later. I would imagine he will be out for a few weeks at least, but I would be surprised if he required any surgery in the near future.
    Overall, many pitchers have occasional blips on the radar with things like this that are improved with rest and rehab and don’t recur in the future. Predicting the future is difficult for anything- and this type of issue especially- but hopefully Graterol can get back on the mound throwing gas soon.
    Go Twins!
  7. Like
    nicksaviking reacted to diehardtwinsfan for a blog entry, Surveying the 2018/19 Free Agent Relievers at the Quarter Pole   
    Gaging value in relief pitichers is always a difficult task given that they are prone to issues with small sample size. Many relievers who were good one season will regress the next, and as we've seen with Blake Parker, guys who were nothing special can turn into a very good option.
    Regardless, it was, without question, a point of contention this offseason among TD readers about the front office getting more help for the pen. I personally beat this horse dead on numerous occasions. I was happy with the Parker signing, but made it clear that I didn't want this to be the main acquisition. The pen so far has not been as bad as some of us (myself included) thought. It has essentially been slightly better than league average if WAR is be believed, though its peripherals definitely say that there's room for improvement.
    As such, I'm going to wade into the dollars vs. development debate and take a look at the FA relievers from the 2018 season to see if it was worth spending the money. I'll split these out by contract value. That's a bit arbitrary, but it does speak to the general demand for these players. My main source is this ESPN list. I'm not going to pretend that I've found all of them, so apologies if I missed a few. I'm not going to touch minor league signings.
    The cream of the Crop:
    Kelvin Herrera - Herrera signed a 2/17 deal with Chicago and has so far been a bust, posting an ERA north of 5 out of the pen in 20 appearances so far this season. His K rate has been acceptable, but his BB rate has risen along with his WHIP.
    Andrew Miller - Another big name in the RP market, Miller has been, so far at least, a bust as well, posting a 4.80 ERA for the Cards after signing a 2/25 deal with an additional option. His K rate has improved this season but his WHIP has gotten worse with increases in hits, walks, and HRs per 9 innings.
    Adam Ottavino - Our first success story on the big name candidates comes from Ottavino, who thus far has been a dominant option in the back of the Yankees' pen. His control has been a bit worse than normal (walking 6.5 batters per 9), but his hit rate is an absurd 4.5 per 9 and his strike out rate has increased as well. So far at least the 3/27 contract he signed has been good for NY.
    Craig Kimbrel - He's still unsigned. So the book is still out.
    Jeurys Familia - Familia chose to remain with the Mets this offseason, and thus far hasn't rewarded the 3/30 contract he signed as his ERA is also north of 5 and his WHIP has skyrocketed due in large part to doubling his walk rate. His HR rate has doubled too thus far.
    Zach Britton - Britton made bank signing a 3/39 deal with the Yankees and has so far not disappointed. His K rate has increased substantially while the rest of his peripherals have remained pretty close to the same. His ERA is slightly lower as well.
    Joe Kelly - Kelly signed a 3/25 deal with the LAD and has been probably the worst of this bunch. His ERA sits over 8. His K rate has dropped and he's seen large increases in both his hit and HR rates in his 16 appearances. His walk has dropped though.
    David Robertson - Robertson signed a 2/23 deal with Philly and has been a bust so far. He's pitched in only 7 innings and has been shelled. He's currently on the shelf with elbow sorness.

    In all, there have only been two hits of the 7 who signed in this group. I cannot emphasize enough that SSS is a huge factor here, but only 2 of these guys would have helped our pen... and unfortunately both are pitching for NY.
    Second Tier
    Justin Wilson - Wilson was a cheap grab for the mets, signing a 2/10 deal. Risk aside, he hasn't performed well thus far posting a 4.8 ERA in only 10 games. His peripherals are all over the place and seems to be buoyed largely by a couple extra home runs. His K rate and BB rates are both down this year.
    Joakim Soria - Soria signed a 2/15 deal with Oakland, and while the ERA is not pretty, his peripherals are in line with his career averages. Both his K rate and BB rates are up a bit and he has yet to give up a HR in his 21 innings. I'm not sure I'd call this a bust at this point as I think he's probably a victim of bad luck, but his 5.14 ERA is a bit ugly.
    Cody Allen - Allen signed a 1 year deal with the Angels and so far has not lived up to his 8.5M salary. His HR and BB rates have skyrocketed though he still maintains a sexy K rate. His 5.54 ERA is something we can all live without.
    Jesse Chavez - Chavez signed a 2/8 deal with Texas, and thus far every one of his peripherals have trended in the wrong direction. His ERA is north of 5.
    Trevor Rosenthal - Rosenthal has under performed his 1/7 deal and is currently in the minors rehabbing due to a viral infection. His 3 inning ML sample is a bit too small to gage at this point, though the results weren't good.

    There are only 5 names in this tier, and so far every team wouldn't mind a do over. I could see a couple of these names evening out over the course of this season, but none of these guys would have helped us much at this point.
    Cheap Fliers
    Brad Brach - Brach has gotten results for the Cubs, but his peripherals say he's on borrowed time. His walk rate has doubled and his K rate is about at career norms. Still for 3 million dollar deal, Brach hasn't been bad.
    Zach Duke - yes, that Zach Duke. He signed a 2M deal with the Reds and has been horrible in 15 innings so far.
    Cory Gearrin - the Mariners have, thus far, gotten a bargin with Gearrin for the 1.4M value of his contract. His ERA is a bit higher than we'd like for an RP at 3.63 but thus far he's performed. His K rate is way up as is his walk rate. Gearrin would be an upgrade over a couple players in our pen. Not bad for the money.
    Greg Holland - I have to tip my cap to those on the Holland bandwagon along with Arizona for picking him for only 3.25M. He's been worth it posting a 1.80 ERA. Despite an elevated walk rate, his WHIP is down. His K rate is up. He's given up less hits and kept the ball in the park in his 15 innings. He would be one of our best relievers.
    Shawn Kelley - Another nice find for the bargain price of 2.75M. Kelley has only pitched 14 innings, but has given up 9 hits and 2 runs in that span allowing for a 1.29 ERA.
    Aaron Loup - The Padres got him for 1.4M and he's been perfect so far this season. The only real problem is that it's a 4 inning sample as he hit the IL in early April with elbow soreness. The book is still out here.
    Blake Parker - We know him. So far a win for the front office.
    Oliver Perez - Perez signed a 2.5M deal with Cleveland. He has only pitched in 10 innings to the tune of a 4.5 ERA thus far. Not a bad find in the value category. His peripherals all look pretty good and he's one of the few pitchers whose BB rate has dropped so far this season. I'm going with a bit of bad luck on the ERA, but he wouldn't present much of an upgrade to our pen.
    David Phelps - The Blue Jays signed him in hopes that he recovers from TJS at some point this year and pitches. He went under the knife last spring. Not a bad risk for 2.5M. He's yet to pitch.
    Tony Sipp - Sipp signed for 1.25 for the Nats and has not been good. He's appeared in 17 games and only pitched 9 innings with an ERA of 6.
    Hunter Strickland - Strickland signed a 1.3M deal and has pitched all of 2 innings, and poorly. He's out a couple months due to a grade 2 strain of a lat muscle.
    Adam Warren - Warren has been OK for the Padres with a 3.72 ERA. That's not special, nor are his peripherals, but he hasn't been horrible either. Not bad for 2.5M.

    Of the 12 names on this list, there are only 3 clear misses at this point. Phelps was not expected to necessarily be pitching yet, so I'd say the jury is still out here. That may turn into a good deal for the Jays. Given their season though, he's likely going to be traded if he's pitching this summer. Holland, Kelley, and Parker have all been quite good for their teams. The other 6 fall under too soon to tell or value signings in that they haven't been bad, though they wouldn't necessarily be huge upgrades either.
    One other trend that I noticed is that most relievers seemed to have noticeable increases in their BB rates. I'm not sure if that's more on an emphasis on Ks (which also were generally up), but relief pitching outcomes seemed much more skewed to higher BB and K rates over these pitcher's career norms. That appears, thus far, to the be the case across MLB as well, as RPs in general are averaging 3.93 BB per 9 along with 9.42 K per 9. Both are thus far significantly higher than last year.
    Obviously, with these small samples, it's a bit too soon to tell on all of them, but for those of us (myself included) who wanted the Twins to do more, the results say that they would have likely missed.. The top tier has had some good performances, but has ultimately disappointed. The bottom tier has had about the same percentage of hits as the top tier along with some value guys who have performed as well as the top tier signings for much less. As much as I hate to say it, it looks like our front office hasn't done a bad job in this area.
  8. Like
    nicksaviking reacted to Tom Froemming for a blog entry, Why I'm Out On Craig Kimbrel   
    Even a really great meal goes stale eventually.
    I desperately wanted the Twins to do more to upgrade the bullpen this offseason, and was supportive of the idea of them pursuing Craig Kimbrel at one point, but I'm out now. I don't really want anything to do with him.
    My frustration with the bullpen inactivity was never tied to any one particular reliever. Things have boiled own to that, since Kimbrel is the last man standing, but there were several attractive free agent bullpen pieces out there this winter. The Twins didn't sign any of them. I'm over it.
    I'm not saying this bullpen is fine as it's currently constructed. While Ryne Harper has been a pleasant surprise and the backed trio of Blake Parker, Taylor Rogers and Trevor May has mostly looked good, there are some legit concerns about the depth.
    But bringing in a project isn't the answer. Kimbrel is one of the greatest closers of all time. There's also a reason why he's still unemployed. Here are a few:
    -He has to be rusty. This is item No. 1 with a bullet. There's no way he can possibly be sharp, I don't care what kind of simulated games he may be throwing.
    -He had a 4.57 ERA in the second half and a 5.91 ERA in the postseason last year.
    -His fastball velocity dropped from 98.72 mph in 2017 to 97.63 mph last year.
    -It actually took him awhile to work up to that velocity last season, sitting below 97 mph through April. Yes, he's been working out, but I'd still be concerned it would take him some time to get up to full speed.
    -His ground ball rate dropped from 37.0% to 28.2% last year.
    -His line drive rate went up from 19.4% to 24.8% last year.
    -He had a worse first-pitch strike rate (56.3%) than Fernando Rodney last year.
    -He had the eighth-lowest rate of pitches in the zone (36.6%) of the 151 qualified relievers last year.
    -He walked 12.6% of the batters he faced last year. That is horrible. It was the 20th-worst rate among 336 pitchers who logged more than 50 innings last year.
    In nearly every single positive mention of the Twins I see, there is somebody in the comments who calls for Kimbrel. I get it, I just think the idea of Kimbrel doesn't even accurately reflect who he actually is at this point.
    If the Twins seek to improve the bullpen, they should be looking for guys who are trending upward. Or at least, you know, active. Maybe Kimbrel will be great, I don't know, but I am comfortable with another team taking on that project. There are other ways to boost the bullpen.
  9. Like
    nicksaviking reacted to Matt Braun for a blog entry, The 2019 Twins and Why Being In The Middle Isn't A Bad Thing   
    A profound philosopher once proclaimed that “it just takes some time” and that while you might be “in the middle of the ride”, “everything, everything will be just fine.” “Jimmy Eat World lyrics? That isn’t philosophical.” Well, when I’ve been drinking a little on Friday nights, it starts to sound like Socrates to me so lay off of it. The name of that song is “The Middle”, a little diddy you may have heard of, and it was the inspiration for this article about where the Twins happen to find themselves in MLB’s landscape.
    The Twins are of course quite a bit better than the trifecta of teams underneath them who have no interest in winning games but are still a fair bit worse than the Indians even if you squint really hard. The Indians also apparently are not very interested in winning more games considering the moves they have made this off-season and the fact that Jordan Luplow is currently one of their starting outfielders. Did I make that name up? Honestly, I checked Fangraphs and I’m still not convinced he’s a real player. But until there is a trade of either Trevor Bauer or Corey Kluber, the Indians will remain favorites for winning the AL Central again which leaves the Twins in the middle.
    The Wild Card remains an opportunity but considering the Balrog that is the AL East along with a few strong contenders in the West like the Angels and the Athletics, that path may actually be harder than winning the division for Minnesota in 2019. Regression is prime for both the Athletics and the Rays, the former potentially following in the footsteps of Minnesota as the “performed better than everyone thought only to get moped up by the Yankees in a Wild Card game and then fall off the next year” team. But many things will have to go right for Minnesota to see the playoffs again. Is this a bad place to be in? I don’t think so.
    Every year it seems that the MLB season is as much of a battle of quality players as it is a war of attrition, it comes as no surprise that the teams which make the playoffs are usually teams that avoided major injuries and were able to get consistent production from their major players. While betting on specific injuries and regression is not a good idea, betting on general injuries and regression among the contending teams is not necessarily a bad play. Just look at the 2018 Twins, who would have thought that Brian Dozier would forget how to hit a fastball, Jorge Polanco would get caught with too much O.J., Ervin Santana would lose a finger in the war, Jason Castro would bump knees with Teddy Bridgewater, Byron Buxton would be kidnapped at sporadic parts of the season, Miguel Sano having a metal rod shoved into his leg would be the 4th worst thing to happen to him that year, Logan Morrison would turn into a baked potato, and Lance Lynn would try to eat that potato.
    The point is, there sits a bevy of teams who are perfect candidates for smiting by the baseball gods and if the Twins just outlast those teams in 2019, they could make the playoffs in a similar fashion to the 2017 team that was able to coast to a surprise Wild Card spot. The 2018 Oakland team saw this happen also when the Mariners fell off as they always do and when the Angels partnered with the local sports hospitals of the greater Anaheim area like they also always do. Once they were out of the way, the only other competition was a Rays team which was the sports equivalent of a Monty Python sketch.
    After the addition of a boomstick, the 2019 Twins project by Fangraphs to be the 13th best team in baseball by fWAR at 36, .9 ahead of the 15th team (the A’s ironically) who are at 35.1, 2018 Josh Bell is the difference between them. The current free agents left are fairly uninspiring and will probably not make up enough of a difference to launch them into the upper echelon of teams. The farm system, while very very tasty, is probably a year away from having the major prospects grace the major league team. So the plan should be to put together a solid squad in 2018 which includes a reliever addition or two and then hope that things happen to fall in place to allow the 2019 team reach the playoffs while the prospects continue to develop and then hopefully cultivate in a 2020 team ready to take down the champ.
  10. Like
    nicksaviking reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Tyler Austin Just Visiting Minnesota?   
    In one of their first moves this offseason, the Minnesota Twins plucked C.J. Cron off waivers after he was jettisoned by the Tampa Bay Rays. Following a 30-home run breakout campaign and having established relationships with the likes of Rocco Baldelli and Josh Kalk, the slugging first basemen seems like a decent gamble. What’s worth wondering though is whether Cron slots in as Joe Mauer’s replacement, or just another body on the 25 man. No matter what his role, the Twins do have Tyler Austin to worry about, and what’s next could be described as some uncertainty.
    The Twins acquired Austin and pitching prospect Luis Rijo in exchange for Lance Lynn at the 2018 trade deadline. After seeing little playing time with the Yankees over the past three seasons, Austin got in consistent run with Minnesota down the stretch. From August through the end of the season, he played in 35 games for Paul Molitor’s club. His .782 OPS was a career best, and the nine longballs were also reflective of his power stroke. Now recently turned 27 years-old Austin looked to be in line for an expanded role with the Twins, but that may not be guaranteed.
    Projecting the possible roster openings, we can guarantee that nine players fill out the lineup with another five in the starting rotation. A 13 man pitching staff has been customary for the organization of late, so an eight-man bullpen also seems probable. In that scenario there’s just three bench spots up for grabs, likely taken up by backup catcher Mitch Garver, utility man Ehire Adrianza, and fourth outfielder Jake Cave. At this point we’ve yet to consider Austin’s place meaning he’d need to start at either first base or designated hitter.
    Although the Twins aren’t locked into Cron to start the season, a $4.8 million deal tendered to the former Ray suggests he’s in their plans. Whether that means he starts at first base or takes the bulk of the designated hitter reps remains to be seen. It would be my hope, and a logical expectation, that Minnesota is not yet done adding bats. Obviously, Jorge Polanco needs an up the middle partner, but a higher ceiling fit for first or DH still has plenty of promise. The duo of Cron and Austin would be passable, but the front office would also be plenty open for criticism if such a low reward avenue was embarked upon.
    Next week the Winter Meetings commence in Las Vegas and we’re almost certainly (err, hopefully) going to see the free agent market pick up. Minnesota may let some of the chips fall first, but they’ll need to fill the necessary holes (middle infield, bullpen) at some point. Another bat entering the picture would only further signify what could be a suboptimal development for the one-time Yankees prospect.
    For a guy like Austin these situations are never ideal. We saw him produce at a higher level down the stretch when given consistent playing time. He’s out of options however and could be up against a numbers crunch in a position Minnesota stands to benefit from improvement. A Cron and Austin tandem in the lineup would signify somewhat of a disappointing effort to acquire talent, but an improvement could make the stay in Twins Territory a quick one for Tyler.
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  11. Like
    nicksaviking reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Baseball - team or individual game   
    In the comments there were some discussions that I replied to with the statement that baseball is an individual game played as a team sport. I thought it might be worth exploring.
    Start with the Pitcher and Batter. It is true that the catcher is a third wheel in this conversation. While the batter is concentrating and the Pitcher is dealing the other players must wait, watch and react. They are not part of the play until the ball is hit. If it is a homerun, they are no factor, if the result is a walk there is no team involvement, if it is a strikeout, only the catcher participates. This Washington Post story indicates that batters strike out 22.6 percent of the time this year https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fancy-stats/wp/2018/05/04/mlb-batters-are-recording-more-strikeouts-than-hits-thats-a-big-problem-thats-unlikely-to-soon-change/?utm_term=.217f7a6331e3 That means that the team gets involved 78% of the time.
    In one 2013 study they said that 68% of pitches are hit (I think that has changed a lot) but even is it is true, that means 32% of the time no one has anything to do except for the catcher to toss the ball back to the pitcher. http://www.highheatstats.com/2013/05/fraction-of-balls-put-in-play-is-at-an-all-time-low/
    If it is a fly out - one non pitcher is involved, if it is a Home Run we cannot credit team work to those who watch it go over the fence. With increased launch angle and increased use of infield shifts the flyball has been increasing. Typically it is just one outfielder, unless there is a lack of communications.
    A ground ball out is high on teamwork - usually two or more players are involved and with runners on base the intensity increases. Ground ball pitchers definitely require a higher teamwork percent. And double and triple plays ratchet up the teamwork.
    Fangraphs says that balls hit are on average 21% line drive (one fielder) 44% ground balls, multiple players, 35% Fly balls (one fielder) and 11% infield flies (one player). https://www.fangraphs.com/library/pitching/batted-ball/
    If I assume that 22% are strikeouts and 78% are put in play and 44% of them are ground balls (34% of the total) the remainder are individual flyball experiences. My team work formula would put the majority of the plays into 2 player situations (taking strikeouts as a catcher/pitcher combo).
    So flip the player to offense. Batting is about as individual as you can get unless the previous player set you up for an intentional walk. Sure we can have those smart at bats that take a lot of pitches and wear down the opposition and bring in the heat throwing relievers, we can have a sacrifice to put the runner in scoring position or a stolen base, but most of the time it is just throw and hit. I give offensive baseball an even lower team work quotient.
    This reflects on the overall importance of the manager too. Put the right players in at the right position and quess who will be the most effective batters and relief pitchers and the job is done.
    This quote captures some of the essence of the individual experience of the game - Baseball is a team game but, at the same time, it's a very lonely game: unlike in soccer or basketball, where players roam around, in baseball everyone has their little plot of the field to tend. When the action comes to you, the spotlight is on you but no one can help you. Chad Harbach
    Read more at:
    The Author of Group Genius - Dr R. Keith Sawyer says - "A baseball team doesn’t look like an improvising group, and frankly, doesn’t look much like a business team either. The reason is that in baseball, each team member’s contributions are relatively independent. As Pete Rose once said, “Baseball is a team game, but nine men who reach their individual goals make a nice team.” It’s rare that more than one player is involved in a play. More than just about any other team sport, the overall performance of the team is additive." https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-r-keith-sawyer/is-baseball-really-a-team_b_50071.html
    Peter Gammons in an excellent essay says "Unfortunately, the sad reality is that once a player starts his Minor League career, the game really changes. Minor league rosters change daily, with players being called up, sent down, as well as released. It is highly unlikely to play with a teammate for 3-4 years like in college, which only adds to the lack of the team game.
    "Players become far more interested in their personal performance, than the performance of the team. While it is always more fun when the team wins, winning takes a back door to personal statistics as players are working towards individual promotions and making their way up the Minor League ranks, with the hopes of one day cracking a Major League roster.
    "Front Office and Player Development personnel also take valuing personal performance over team performance in Minor League Baseball. They are far more concerned with the development of a young prospect who could one day make a big impact with the Major League Club, than whether their Single-A or Double-A affiliate is going to compete for the playoffs." http://www.gammonsdaily.com/baseball-is-it-a-team-game/
    In 2017 Mookie Betts had the most put outs by a right fielder - 366. For a 162 game season if all games go 9 innings each team records 4374 outs. He recorded .08% of the teams outs. For most of the other 92 he was backing up or watching. And CFs on average handle 15 - 30 more outs per year. https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/2017-fielding-leaders.shtml
    A final thought - how many players negotiate on the basis of their teamwork?
  12. Like
    nicksaviking reacted to ashbury for a blog entry, Lollygagging?   
    I happened upon this nice leaping stab by Polanco from a few days ago:
    Question: on a ball hit to the left side, does Brian Dozier have anything better to do than make a beeline for second base, on the small chance it's caught and they might try to double off the runner? The runner has to change direction, Dozier could have been close to full speed by that point. Seems like he was napping there.
  13. Like
    nicksaviking reacted to Miles Death for a blog entry, Fox Sports North Falsehoods of 2018's First Half   
    When I was growing up, I thought Dick and Bert were awesome. They had the fun “Circle me Bert” shtick, seemingly great rapport with each other, and good timing on bringing excitement to the game. But, I was young - I didn’t know any better. This season is the first summer I’ve enjoyed diving into statistical truths in baseball. I think the analytical trend in the game has not been kind to our FSN announcing crew. It’s made them both increasingly bitter and more frequently inaccurate. Starting in April, I decided to make a list of falsehoods uttered by FSN contributors. I’ve come up with my top 5 at the midway point in the year, but hope many are added in the comments section below
    1. Jack Morris claims you can’t measure spin rate.
    This one was an absolute doozy and I believe almost every Twins Daily writer picked up on it and commented on it on Twitter. Jack claimed during a game that he didn’t think it was possible to accurately calculate the spin rate of either a batted ball or a pitch. This is on par with somebody saying they just don’t “believe” in climate change. Ridiculous.
    2. Bert Blyleven compares Jake Odorizzi to Brad Radke multiple times
    This is the one that kicked off this project. I could be mistaken, but I believe it was first in Odorizzi’s second start that Bert mentioned how similar he was to Radke. My immediate reaction was to look up prevalence of free passes in both players’ careers. Odorizzi has a career BB/9 of 3.1 (4.1 in 2018 so far). Now, this isn’t a ridiculously high number, but let’s compare in Radke’s career BB/9 – 1.6. Radke was a master of control; it was beautiful to watch. In 2005, in 200.2 IP, he only had 23 walks. Maybe he meant both pitchers were American and 6 feet, 2 inches tall, but I doubt it.
    3. Torii Hunter has a strange take on launch angles.
    This one was admittedly rather hilarious. Parker Hageman and Aaron Gleeman called my attention to it as I missed it live. Here is the quote: “Like I said, the launch angle is good for some people, but I think everybody can’t hit with the launch angle,” said Hunter. “I heard [Toronto Blue Jays third baseman] Josh Donaldson say he launches the ball. If you look at his swing, it really has no launch. It actually goes through the ball, and then it launches actually through the ball. But you can’t go after it with the launch.”
    This isn’t even Torii’s hottest take in the world of sports. He once said (as a player for the Tigers) “But I can tell you this, I made love to my wife the other night and I caught a cramp in my hamstring. I actually put my leg out and kept performing. So there’s no excuse,” in response to Lebron James suffering cramps in the NBA Finals. Torii Hunter is one of my favorites and I enjoy having him on the broadcast, but seriously?
    4. Bert Blyleven says Fernando Rodney doesn’t give a lot of free passes.
    Just this last Monday against the Royals, Rodney was in to save a nice win for the Twins. During Rodney’s appearance (I believe on a 3-0 count), Bert blurted out that Rodney “doesn’t walk a lot of people.” Huh? Even to people who don’t check stats, Rodney has a reputation of making things interesting in save situations by walking batters. In fact, his career BB/9 is 4.4…definitely not a low walk rate.
    5. Tim Laudner yells at the rulebook.
    Now, I will admit this isn’t a falsehood. He just has a strong opinion on the rule change dealing with catchers and how they block the plate. The issue came up with Anthony Rizzo sliding and clipping the leg of Pirates’ catcher Austin Hedges. I included this on the list for two reasons: 1) it was hilarious how mad he got and 2) it goes with the theme of ex-players at FSN that can’t seem to progress with the times. It got to the point on Twins Live that Laudner was essentially getting worked up looking at the rule on a piece and paper and saying what a disgrace the change has been. We understand you’re mad, but calm down. The rules aren’t going to go back, so just accept.
    Honorable Mention: Tim Laudner says the Twins swept a “very good” Orioles team

    I don’t even need to say anything about this, do I?
    Thus concludes my top 5 falsehood list. I hope you’ve gotten a kick out of our broadcast crew. For all the falsehoods, they are pretty good contributors and I enjoy the comparisons and theories every once in a while. Plus, we always have Cory Provus on play-by-play on the radio, and the occasional appearance of Justin Morneau in the TV booth (the eventual dream team, I hope).
    What are some of your favorite contributions from our FSN crew? Let me know in the comments below!
  14. Like
    nicksaviking reacted to SD Buhr for a blog entry, Gore and Dobnak Lead By Example   
    After the Cedar Rapids Kernels finished batting practice on a warm, humid July 4 afternoon, two of the most productive players on their roster agreed to sit down and talk about the season.
    Jordan Gore and Randy Dobnak go through Kernels pre-game workouts on July 4, 2018 (Photo by SD Buhr)
    One, an infielder, has been hitting over .300 with an on-base percentage around .400 virtually all season. (And three days after the interview, his bags were packed for Chattanooga, where he’d been promoted to join former Kernels manager Tommy Watkins’ Lookouts.)
    The other, a starting pitcher, is 6-2 on the season and leads the Kernels in innings pitched.
    Unless you’re a pretty serious student of the Minnesota Twins’ minor league system or a Kernels season ticket holder, there’s a chance you’ve never heard of either of them.
    Jordan Gore was selected by the Twins out of Coastal Carolina in the 17th round of the 2017 draft and Randy Dobnak never got a post-draft call at all after completing his college career at Alderson Broaddus University in West Virginia. They made the most of their college days on and off the field, both making the Dean’s List regularly at their respective schools.
    Gore started his college career at South Carolina before transferring to Coastal Carolina in his hometown of Conway, SC, where he underwent Tommy John surgery and ended up sitting out the Chanticleers’ NCAA championship season in 2016. Having to sit out that championship season wasn’t as tough for Gore as one might think.
    Jordan Gore (Photo by SD Buhr)
    “Honestly you can say so,” Gore said, “but I’ve said this time and time again. That was best group of guys that I've ever been around as far as pulling for each other, working hard, all around good personalities and good people. It was probably better for me to sit back and watch how they did it. They taught me a lot about how to play the game the right way.
    “I’ve got nothing but love for everybody at Coastal. I tell you what, it made me a lot better person and a player.”
    Dobnak pitched for Alderson Broadus University in Philippi, West Virginia, where he had a career 26-12 record and set a Great Midwest Athletic Conference record with 284 career strikeouts.
    You wouldn’t fault Gore, a shortstop by trade, if he had been more than a little troubled by the fact that he was drafted by an organization that also used the first overall pick of the 2017 draft to select a guy who plays the same position. But Gore says he wasn’t concerned at all at the prospect of trying to work his way up through the Twins farm system virtually in tandem with top prospect Royce Lewis.
    “Honestly, I was just happy to get the call because after my last (college) game it kind of hit me, man this could be the last time I lace my spikes up,” Gore said, concerning his draft position, “and Royce is a great guy. It’s great to be playing with him. It’s a lot of fun.”
    Gore didn’t exactly follow the draft moment by moment, waiting to hear his name called, but admits being relieved when it was over.
    “I tried to keep my mind off of it,” he recalled. “I tried to just stay away from thinking about it too much. When I finally did get the call, it was a lot off my shoulders because you can try not to think about it as much as you want, but it's always going to be there.”
    While Gore had to be patient on draft day, Dobnak wasn’t all that surprised that he didn’t get a call when the draft had been completed.
    Randy Dobnak (Photo by SD Buhr)
    “Being in the mountains of West Virginia, there were a few teams that were talking to me or my coaches,” he explained. “But when they’d try and come see me play, we’d get rained out, snowed out. too cold. So, I didn’t really know what to expect (on draft day).”
    Not being drafted didn’t mean Dobnak was ready to call it a career, however. He used a connection made in his freshman year of college to land a spot on the pitching staff of the Utica Unicorns, an independent minor league team in a four-team league about an hour outside Detroit, Michigan.
    “I played there for like a month. I had played with (the manager’s) son. He was my catcher my freshmen and sophomore year (of college). After a freshman year tournament, we were all out to eat and his dad was like, ‘I want you come play for my team once you graduate.’ Three years later, I'm like, 'Alright, let's do this thing.'”
    A few weeks later, he signed with the Twins and he spent the rest of last summer in Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids.
    Dobnak put up a combined ERA of 2.43 and a WHIP of 0.96 in six appearances (four as a starter) at the two 2017 stops and has followed that up with a very solid first three months with the Kernels this summer. In 14 appearances (11 of them as a starter), he has a 3.74 ERA and has struck out 49 batters, while walking just 13.
    He has averaged seven innings of work in his last five starts for the Kernels.
    At the time of his promotion to Chattanooga on July 7, Gore was hitting .307 with a solid .770 OPS and had a .333 average and 1.044 OPS in the month of July. While splitting infield time with Royce Lewis, Andrew Bechtold and Jose Miranda, Gore has made 33 appearances at second base, 23 at shortstop, five at third base and even made one late-game mop up appearance on the mound for Cedar Rapids.
    On a team seemingly filled with very young talent, Gore and Dobnak have stood out as 23-year-olds and their manager, Toby Gardenhire, has appreciated the level of effort and leadership they’ve brough to the field, as well as the clubhouse.
    “He’s been great,” the manager said of Dobnak. “He grabs the ball and goes out there and does whatever you want him to do. He works really hard every day, shows up ready to go. He's the epitome of the guy that you want on your team. He doesn't say much, he just goes out there and does his job every day.
    “His skill level has been great, he's done a great job, but the big thing for us is that he's very professional with everything that he does. When you have this many young guys on a team like we do that you're trying to teach how to be professionals, then you need guys like him where you can say, ‘Hey you see how Dobnak does this? You see what he does? You see how he goes about his business? That's the way it needs to be. That's how you have to act.’
    “So, aside from the fact that he's doing great, which is all credit to him and how hard he works, he's just a great person. He's a great leader for us.”
    Gardenhire offered a similar strong endorsement for Gore.
    Jordan Gore (Photo by SD Buhr)
    “Gore’s the same way,” his manager said. “He's ‘game on.’ He's funny, but the way he goes about his business, the way he goes out and gets it every day - when you put him in the lineup, you know what you're going to get from him. You’re going to get effort. Dives all over the place and will do anything to win baseball games.
    “You would think that with baseball players in professional baseball, you're going to have a whole group of guys that just want to try to win games, that will do anything for the team, but it's not always like that. That's a taught trait. You either have something in you that says ‘Hey, I'll do whatever it takes to win this game' or you have to learn that. He's one of those guys, he just has it. That’s what he wants. He wants to win and he'll do anything.
    “I always call those guys dirtballs. He's driving all over the place. You're not going to see him with his uniform clean for very long in a game. That's one of those things, again, when you have a whole bunch of young talented guys like we have, to have a guy like that who shows them the way. They see him diving all over the place. He's mad when we lose and he gets fired up. They see that and it starts to kind of rub off on them. That's what you want.”
    A couple of relatively unheralded players on a team stocked with highly-regarded younger prospects could be forgiven if they felt some pressure to perform well enough to get noticed by their front office, but neither Gore nor Dobnak sounded like that was the case for them.
    “I don't think it's pressure,” Gore said. “Speaking for myself, I come out here and want to work hard. This is fun for us! I mean it’s the best job in the world, right?
    “Yep,” concurred Dobnak.
    “I mean, come on, who wouldn’t want to come out here and work hard?” asked Gore, “because when you work hard, you tend to play well. It makes it a lot more fun.”
    Neither player is concerning himself too much with what’s going on with the Twins’ affiliates at the higher levels, however.
    Randy Dobnak (Photo by SD Buhr)
    “I check out the scores and see how some of the guys I know are doing,” conceded Dobnak. “I just think if you prove to your coaches or front office that you’re good enough to move up, they’ll move you up. But all the guys, they work hard. They all work the same. You go out there and do whatever you’ve got to do. Compete.”
    “I try not to think about (promotions), I’ll be honest with you,” said Gore. “I’m around a great bunch of guys every day and it’s a lot of fun. It doesn’t really pop into your head much. We’re just out here trying to win and we’ve been doing that here lately."
    Given that Gore earned a promotion three days after those comments, his approach obviously worked for him.
    One thing that comes through in virtually every conversation you have with any of this group of Kernels is how much they enjoy their teammates. It’s a close group, but even in the tightest of clubhouses, there will be differences. Gore and Dobnak are not completely in agreement in one aspect of the game.
    Dobnak’s Twitter profile includes a reference to the hashtag #BanTheDH. Gore doesn’t sound ready to give away the at-bats he gets on days he DHs.
    “Let the pitchers hit,” said Dobnak.
    And why? “Because it’s more fun for the pitchers. When you grow up, you pitch, you hit, you play the infield!”
    It’s all about the pitchers, right Jordan?
    “No offense to the pitchers out there, but you’re probably giving up an out every time,” a smiling Gore responded.
    “I'm just kidding,” the professional hitter in the conversation added. “We've got a lot of good athletes on the (pitching staff), I’m sure they could probably pick up a stick and hit it.”
    (This article was originally posted at Knuckleballsblog.com.)
  15. Like
    nicksaviking reacted to Respy for a blog entry, Twins Extreme Shift Ideas Found on Jeff Pickler’s Dinner Napkin   
    Yesterday a picture was leaked of a napkin left at an Applebees in Santa Monica, California, last month while the Twins were visiting the Los Angeles Angels. The napkin was left there inadvertently by, reportedly, Twins Major League Coach Jeff Pickler who was dining at the restaurant with other members of the Twins coaching staff.
    The napkin had pictured, among other things, sketches of proposed fielding alignments. Some of the alignments were titled “Ryan Suter,” “Mexico,” and “Mauer.”
    Jeff Pickler was hired during the 2016-2017 offseason by the Minnesota Twins as a coach to help with various aspects of the Twins at the major league level, but most notably by studying tapes and determining outfielder positioning for a talented trio which included Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, and Max Kepler to start the season.
    The Applebees server, who requested to be left anonymous, stated that Pickler “Seemed like a nice guy…” but was “a crappy tipper” and “deserves to have his strategies exposed.”
    One anonymous bench coach for a Major League Baseball team commented, “These are ****ing stupid. Except for the Mauer one. We’ll probably use that one.”
    Shown below are graphics for the various shifts sketched on the discovered napkin:
    "Ryan Suter"





    "Broadcast Interview"

    "Chris Davis"


    Twins coach Jeff Pickler could not be reached for comment for this article.
  16. Like
    nicksaviking reacted to Miles Death for a blog entry, The Matt Magill Improvement Story   
    By now, most of us have noticed how Matt Magill has been a solid arm in the Twins bullpen this season. He made his first appearance of 2018 in a clunker of a game (which I attended ) on April 29th against the Cincinnati Reds. He threw 2.1 innings that Sunday and gave up just 3 hits and 0 earned runs, adding 2 punch-outs as well. So far this year with the Twins, he’s given up a total of 3 ER over 23.2 IP, for an ERA of 1.14.
    Magill was drafted in 2008 in the 31st round to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He had two briefs stints in the majors with both the L.A. Dodgers (2013) and the Cincinnati Reds (2016) before joining the Minnesota Twins (2018). During that time, he had ERA’s of 6.51 and 6.23 respectively. He’s clearly been around for a while; so why the recent success on the bump?
    In my mind, there’s two simple reasons:
    He’s throwing more strikes:In 2013 as a starting pitcher, Magill gave 28 free passes in 27.2 IP (BB/9 = 9.11 – ouch.)
    In 2016 as a relief pitcher, he had a BB/9 of 10.38 in just 4.1 IP
    Now, in 2018, he currently holds a BB/9 of 1.3 – and that is fun to watch

    [*]His stuff is a lot better:
    His fastball velocity has an average of 95.1 MPH so far in 2018, compare that to 93.1 MPH in 2016, and 91.8 MPH in 2013.
    He’s getting more movement on both his 4-seam fastball, and his “cutter” or hard slider. Check out the charts from FanGraphs below on the horizontal movement for Magill's pitches (2018 first, 2016 second). For your reference, a positive value on horizontal movement means the ball will be moving away from a right-handed hitter, and therefore a negative value means the ball is tailing in on a righty.


    Clearly, in 2018 he’s getting more movement on that cut fastball (FC), slightly more run in on the righties, and again more velocity with the 4-seamer (FA). This could be a contributing factor to why he's been so effective this season at producing weak contact (.219 BABIP - Nice!).
    Check out the vertical movement below (2018 first, 2016 second):

    Again, the notable difference is with the cut fastball (FC).
    Magill is throwing the ball over the plate, and he has increased his velocity considerably, while getting more movement on his cutter. This is a recipe for continued success and I believe it’s time for Molitor to start utilizing him in higher leverage spots. Can somebody explain to me why he hasn’t gotten this chance yet?
    Let me know what you think in the comments!
  17. Like
    nicksaviking reacted to mikelink45 for a blog entry, Branch Rickey's Mind   
    https://www.loc.gov/item/prn-18-036/?loclr=eanotw The library of Congress has given us a historical gift - the scouting reports of Branch Rickey. He was a vital part of baseball history, even beyond signing Jackie Robinson and this is where you can check it out.
    Here are some notes from the introduction and entries that struck me:
    Rickey’s 1963 scouting report on Hank Aaron, who broke Babe Ruth’s long-standing home run record of 714 in 1974. Rickey wrote "Surely one of the greatest hitters in baseball today. Can hit late with power, - good wrists. But in spite of his hitting record and admitted power ability, one cannot help think that Aaron is frequently a guess hitter."
    A 1955 scouting report on Roberto Clemente, who amassed 3,000 hits in his Hall of Fame career for the Pittsburgh Pirates
    A report dated March 30-31, 1964, on future National Basketball Association great Dave DeBusschere, where Rickey predicted that DeBusschere “should become a corking good major league pitcher.”
    For Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, Rickey noted on March 14, 1964, “when trying out young players… scouts and coaches would keep in mind Bob Gibson as a model for comparison and rate the prospect’s stuff accordingly.”
    About Richie Allen - “Rollie Hemsley at Indianapolis, Bill Adair at Toronto, Larry Shepard at Columbus, Kerby Farrell at Buffalo and Harry Walker at Atlanta all believe that outfielder Allen is the best major league prospect in the International League. A colored boy, very young, and belongs to Philadelphia. He has extraordinary power to all fields. Arm not great, but adequate. Highly desirable in any deal with Philadelphia. I am sorry not to have been able to see this boy in action, but rating give to the player by baseball men generally put him immediately as a regular in any major league outfield. I would risk a heavy deal to have the Cardinals Get this player.”
    Minnesotan Twins 2B Bernie Allen – “Tall boy from Purdue. Left hand hitter, has power and I believe he can outrun Rollins. I doubt if he is a .300 hitter. Hit .269 in 1962, Not hitting a lick this year…”
    Bob Allison – “A 275 hitter with exceptional power. Looks the part of a great athlete. Right hander all the way. He has everything it takes to be a long time major league regular.”
    Earl Battey – “A big colored catcher. Looks overweight, but has a remarkable action. Quick and has power at the plate, plenty of it. Looks like he likes to play. I can imagine him in a World Series.”
    Minnesota born, Yankee – John Blanchard – “If Blanchard’s habits were good and his team relationship satisfactory, St Louis could use him. I would not take him unless I were permitted to have a conversation with the player with results satisfactory to myself.”
    Harmon Killebrew – “A big right hand hitter with as much distance power as any man in the game. Strikes out a great deal. I would not be interested in obtaining his contract in any kind of possible trade. I don’t want him at the price.”

    It will take a lot of time to sort out everything, but this is a very personal glimpse into the game in the early 60's.
  18. Like
    nicksaviking reacted to Andrew Thares for a blog entry, Why a Julio Teheran Trade Makes Sense for the Twins   
    It is no question that the Twins top priority this offseason remains on signing free agent Yu Darvish. However, as the season nears, they may need to shift their focus towards an alternative option to fill an open spot in their rotation, especially now that Ervin Santana is expected to miss the first month of the season after having surgery on the middle finger on his right hand.
    There is a lot of speculation that the Twins will sign one of the other remaining free agent starters if they fail to land Darvish. While many of the available starters are quality pitchers, there isn’t a lot of long term upside to any of them, as they are all on the wrong side of 30.
    Another option that the Twins have to bolster their rotation would be through a trade. One pitcher many people have speculated about this offseason is Chris Archer. While Archer would be a great addition for the Twins, he will cost them a fortune in terms of prospects. However, there are other pitchers out there on the trade market that the Twins could go after, and one very intriguing pitcher that nobody has been talking about this winter is Atlanta Braves starter Julio Teheran.
    Teheran has spent parts of seven seasons pitching for the Braves, but despite that, he just turned 27 in January. On his contract, Teheran still has 2 years and $19M guaranteed, with a third-year team option for $12M. This means that if the Twins trade for Teheran, they will control him during his prime for a lot less money than it would take to sign either Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn.
    Even though Teheran hasn’t been seriously linked to any trade discussions this offseason, there was a lot of talk before the trade deadline last July about the Braves interest in trading him. Moving Teheran would make a lot of sense for Atlanta, as they are a team that is still a year or two away from contention and could add to their already deep farm system.
    For the Twins, Julio Teheran would be an ideal candidate to slide into their rotation. Teheran has shown that he is durable, as he has pitched at least 185 innings in every season since he became a full-time starter in 2013. He has done this all to the tune of a career 3.59 ERA.
    One down side to Teheran is he is coming off a bad 2017, where he posted a career worst 4.49 ERA, and a disheartening 4.96 xFIP. The biggest reason for this drop in performance was his increased walk rate, which jumped up to 3.44 BB/9. From the chart below, you can see that Teheran’s control seems to be the driving factor in his production.

    As you can see, if Teheran can control his walk rate he has the ability to be a front of the rotation starter for the Twins. One promising note is, despite the high walk rate, Teheran’s strike percentage didn’t seem to drop off all that much in 2017, as it did in 2015. This is a good sign that perhaps Teheran hasn’t suddenly lost his command, and that he could easily bounce back to form in 2018.
    When diving into Teheran’s Statcast numbers, there is some more reason to be optimistic that he will bounce back in 2018. Teheran did a good job last season at not allowing hard contact, by posting an average exit velocity against of 86.3 MPH. This ranked just ahead of pitchers like Chris Sale, Zack Greinke and Carlos Martinez who were all at 86.4 MPH.
    In 2017, Teheran fell victim to pitching in front of the terrible Atlanta Braves defense. Last season, the Braves ranked 27th in Major League Baseball with -43 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). A move to the Twins, who had +17 DRS last year, would be a big upgrade for Teheran.
    A big portion of that upgrade would be in the outfield, where the Braves finished 2017 with -7 Outs Above Average (OAA), while the Twins finished with +31 OAA. This plays right into Teheran’s hands, as he had the 14th highest flyball rate among qualified starters last season.
    This poor defense by the Braves goes a long way in explaining why Julio Teheran allowed a 0.334 wOBA last season (0.321 was MLB average), despite his xwOBA (Expected Weighted On-Base Average) of 0.318.
    With Teheran coming off of a down season, the Twins will have an opportunity to buy low on a pitcher that has the upside to become the Twins #2 starter, just as he is entering his prime. If he is not able to return to his pre-2017 form, and continues his struggles with his command, Teheran will most likely slot somewhere in the middle or back of the Twins’ rotation.
    In either scenario, Teheran would bring the Twins an element of much needed depth to the starting rotation, and could potentially prevent the front office from being forced into calling up one of the prospects before they feel that they are ready.
  19. Like
    nicksaviking reacted to Andrew Thares for a blog entry, Why Yu Darvish Will Be Cheaper Than Everyone Thinks   
    This offseason has been nothing short of unprecedented. It started with the 23-year-old sensation Shohei Ohtani deciding to leave Japan for the MLB, two years before he was eligible to sign without the International Free Agency restrictions. Then it was followed up with two months of absolute standstill for many of the top free agents. So, how could this season’s free agent market potentially cause Yu Darvish to sign for a lot less money than the six years and $160MM that MLB Trade Rumors had originally predicted? Let’s take a look.
    In years past, the available marquee free agents were almost exclusively signed by the richest teams in baseball. In fact, 9 of the 20 richest contracts in MLB history were signed by either the Yankees, Dodgers or Red Sox. However, as MLB front offices are starting to get smarter, they are starting to learn that these big time free agent contracts are almost never worth it in the long run. As a result, teams are starting to shift their focus towards lower tier free agents that they can sign to short term, and more reasonably priced contracts, like relievers.
    Another factor that will cause Darvish’s value to drop is the luxury-tax system. While MLB does not have salary cap like many other U.S. sports leagues do, they do have a luxury-tax that disincentivizes teams from spending frivolous amounts of money on free agents. As teams go further and further above the luxury-tax threshold, and as the number of years they spend above the threshold increases, so to does the amount that the teams are taxed. This is causing many of the top spending teams, who have spent the last few years above the luxury-tax threshold, to want to cut back on spending and get below it in 2018. As a result, these teams are choosing to take a pass on players like Darvish.
    Major League Baseball has seen a stretch of extreme parity over the past half-decade, with 26 of the 30 teams having made a playoff appearance since 2011, along with traditional bottom dwellers, like the Royals, becoming World Series contenders. However, over the past year or two, the MLB has seen a real shift from a league filled with parity, to apparent “super teams” atop each division. The reasons for this are many, and I won’t go into details why in this post. So how does all of this impact Yu Darvish? Well, I have already touched on why many of the teams at the top aren’t looking to add Darvish, but now with this power separation, many teams are opting to go with a rebuilding strategy as opposed to signing free agents. This takes even more teams out of the running, that might have otherwise made a run at competing in 2018, and thus looking to sign Darvish.
    So, who does this all leave that would be interested in signing Darvish? Well, it was reported that Yu Darvish has narrowed his list of teams down to six. These teams are the Rangers, Cubs, Dodgers, Astros, Yankees and of course the Twins.
    Let’s look at the five other teams remaining that are competing with the Twins for Yu Darvish’s services. Saturday night, the Astros made a trade to acquire Pirates starter Gerrit Cole. With this move, it all but fills out the Astros’ rotation with Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Lance McCullers Jr. as their 1-4, followed by quality starters in Brad Peacock, Charlie Morton and Collin McHugh competing for the 5th spot. This all but takes them out of the running for Yu Darvish.
    Additionally, the Dodgers and Yankees are teams that are looking to stay below the $197MM luxury-tax threshold in 2018. As it stands, their projected 2018 salaries are $191MM and $172MM respectively. This means that signing Darvish will put the Dodgers well beyond the luxury-tax, and limits the Yankees to less than $25MM in average annual value (AAV) on Darvish’s contract in order to stay below. Doing so would leave the Yankees with no margin to play with if they need to sign or trade for another player throughout the season, which means they are probably out unless his value drops down below $20MM in AAV. The Rangers are also a team that have said that they are looking to cut payroll in 2018. While their motives to do so might not be luxury-tax related, their desire to do so makes it hard to see Darvish making a reunion with the team that originally signed him out of Japan in 2012.
    This just leaves the Chicago Cubs, who are looking to replace 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta. The Cubs have also expressed an interest in staying below the luxury-tax, but given their roughly $30MM in space to work with, and the fact that they were below the luxury-tax in 2017, their incentives to stay below aren’t as great as the Dodgers and Yankees are. This most likely makes the Cubs the greatest competition that the Twins have for Darvish. While the Cubs could easily get into a bidding war with the Twins, and push his salary closer to the $30MM AAV range, I don’t see them doing so for a couple of reasons. The first is this would leave them with little to no room to work with in 2018 for any other additions if they wish to stay below the luxury-tax. The second, is they have shown interest in a potential reunion with Arrieta. If the price for Darvish gets too high, they could easily put their focus on bringing back Arrieta.
    With all of that being said, this is great news for the Twins. Not only does it increase their chances of actually signing Yu Darvish, but they might be able to do so without having to break the bank. There is also a slight chance that they might be able to land Darvish on a five-year deal as opposed to a six or seven-year deal. This would be great for the Twins, as he would come off of the Twins books after his age 35 season. In the end, I see Darvish signing either a five or six-year deal, in the $115MM-$135MM range, a far cry from the six years and $160MM that was originally projected.
  20. Like
    nicksaviking reacted to Ted Schwerzler for a blog entry, Pen Provies Possible Upside In Minnesota   
    As things stand, the Minnesota Twins have made two moves regarding their bullpen this offseason. In signing both Fernando Rodney and Zach Duke to one-year deals, they bring in proven veterans with skills in all the right places for the Twins. It seems Derek Falvey and Thad Levine sent a message in their relief acquisitions, and looking back to 2017, it is one that should be well received.
    While teams have long since began venturing down the path of super bullpens, some of them go about it differently. At their peak, the Kansas City Royals seemed to do it more organically, while the Cleveland Indians moved some pieces around, and the current Colorado Rockies just threw money at everyone with a pulse. The idea that a start can be shortened through a strong bullpen is a good one, but it isn't a band-aid that can be applied to every organization.
    For Minnesota, the reality is that both the starting pitching and relief staff needed work. With the cost of acquiring a starter being what it is, spending top dollar on a minimal impact role like a reliever is a tough ask. Instead, the Twins got creative by targeting high strikeout guys with strong track records. On top of that, they did so without much potential for negative repercussions considering the length and terms of each deal.
    Where this story starts though, is at the beginning. Looking back to 2017, it's hard not to see Paul Molitor and his staff in a much better place when having to deploy relief help. There's no arguing that the Twins don't have an elite pen (or maybe even an above average one), but much improved is something they should have in spades.
    On Opening Day of 2017, the Twins trotted Tyler Duffey, Michael Tonkin, Justin Haley, Ryan Pressly, Matt Belisle, Brandon Kintzler, Craig Breslow, and Taylor Rogers out to the bullpen. Of that group, only three remain, and each of them should find a spot in the 2018 pen from the jump. Assuming Minnesota goes with seven relievers (after beginning with eight a year ago), I'd imagine the group consists of: Duffey, Rogers, Pressly, Trevor Hildenberger, Zach Duke, Alan Busenitz, and Fernando Rodney.
    Looking at the holdovers, you have two guys that have the ability to pitch in high leverage. While Pressly is the velocity guy, Duffey worked as a closer in college. Both can put the ball past opposing hitters, and looking for K/9 rates above 8.0 should be a safe assumption. In Rogers, Molitor gets a guy that was tested in his second year, and showed he can get batters out on both sides of the plate. Moving more towards the middle innings, he can act more as the second lefty, and be somewhat of a specialist.
    In categorizing the additions, the Twins have a lot of new weapons at their disposal. Despite his age, Rodney is still pumping fastballs in the upper 90's. Yes he walks batters, but over the course of a full season, it's hard not to see him being an asset. Duke returned from Tommy John in record time, and the biggest takeaway from 2017 for him was health. He's a year removed from a 10.0 K/9 with the bulk of the season spent in the AL Central. Hildenberger and Busenitz both stepped in huge down the stretch for Minnesota a season ago. The former looked the part of a potential closer, while the latter is another velocity arm (95.8mph) that should see the strikeouts rise.
    Given that this group is relatively established, and there's a bit more depth behind them, the Twins can feel a bit more at ease about their current positioning. We've been waiting on top relief arms to surface for some time, but names like Hildenberger, Busenitz, and John Curtiss simply stepped up first. Should J.T. Chargois, Tyler Jay, and Jake Reed see their time come in 2018, the overall water level for the relief corps will only continue to rise.
    At the end of the day, the Twins bullpen isn't going to wow anyone on paper. For fans who've followed the organization however, it looks like one of the better groups in quite some time, and one that speaks to a certain level of sustainability. It took some time to get away from the soft tossing aspect in relief, but that doesn't appear to be the plan of action for anyone (save for Duke) who will enter the field from behind the wall. It may all blow up when the action actually starts, but there's reason for optimism with the current collection to be sure.
    For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  21. Like
    nicksaviking reacted to David Bohlander for a blog entry, Johan Santana and the duel at the Dome   
    All the Hall of Fame ballots are postmarked. More than 100 have been revealed. Of those, only three voters have checked the name of the greatest pitcher I’ve ever regularly watched. Johan Santana’s time on the writers’ ballot looks to be short and unsuccessful.
    Others have written compelling and thorough articles about Santana’s case. I’m mostly sad that he’s only 38 and we’re already having this discussion. I want to think about Santana at the height of his powers. I want to remember a game that still resonates with me more than a dozen years later.
    It’s 2004. The Twins have won the Central the past two years and they’re in first place now. It’s Aug.1 and their lead is five games over the White Sox.
    I’d graduated from college that spring and I’m lamenting the fact that I’m jobless, hours away from the Metrodome and with no money for a ticket anyway. Johan Santana is facing Pedro Martinez today.
    But I do have cable television and it’s connected to my fiancée’s 13-inch TV/VCR combo. It’s the only TV we have in the apartment we rented when I was still optimistic about finding a decent job near Morris, Minnesota. I’d be back at home living with my dad in a matter of weeks.
    But Santana was pitching this afternoon, so this afternoon things look bright.
    After getting Johnny Damon to ground out and striking Mark Bellhorn, Orlando Cabrera hit a home run in the first.
    Cabrera hadn’t been all that good that year. But Cabrera had just become a member of the Red Sox. Maybe the change of scenery would do him good. (It did. Cabrera hit .294/.320/.465 for the Red Sox that year after hitting .246/.298/.336 for the Expos.)
    Cabrera started for the Red Sox for the first time that day after he and Doug Mientkiewicz joined the Sox earlier in a four-team trade that saw the Twins pick up 19-year-old minor-league pitcher Justin Jones from the Cubs.
    Mientkiewicz’s departure was sad, as he joined A.J Pierzynski and Matt Lawton as players traded away after starting for the 2001 Twins team that sucked me back into baseball fandom.
    The Twins had stopped grabbing my attention as the ‘90s often found them mired in last place and found me in a new town with new friends who weren’t all that interested in baseball. But the Twins found new life in 2001, and found me, now away at college, with some friends who gave a damn about a pennant race and with access to cable television.
    Cristian Guzman reached on a single in the first but was stranded.
    Santana retired three straight in the second, striking out Jason Veritek and Bill Mueller.
    Corey Koskie doubled for the Twins in the bottom of the second and then scored on a Matthew LeCroy single. LeCroy was catching that day, with Joe Mauer’s rookie season mostly ruined by injury.
    Mauer was the first Twins player I can say I followed from the day he was drafted onward, but Santana was the first player I really saw emerge and become a star.
    Torii Hunter, Jacque Jones, Guzman, Koskie and Mientkiewicz burst onto the national scene in 2001, but as someone who was just paying attention for the first time in years, they felt a little more established. I knew they were young. I knew they were surprising, but they never existed for me as anything other than Twins starters.
    But Santana was a reliever in 2001, and by this point in 2004 I’d watched him become the best pitcher in baseball.
    Manny Ramirez homered in the second; the Twins were down 2-1.
    That was the last hit Santana gave up that day, but while Martinez’s 2004 was not a great year by his standards, the man still hadn’t posted an ERA above 2.89 from 1997 to 2003. Maybe this was it for the Twins.
    In the bottom of the sixth, Lew Ford doubled and then scored on a single from Hunter. The game was tied and it felt a little easier to breathe.
    Santana struck out Ramirez to lead off the seventh, but then hit Veritek.
    Veritek stole second and went to third on a throwing error from LeCroy.
    Veritek only stole 25 bases in his career, though 10 of those came in 2004. This game was one of only 16 that LeCroy started at catcher that year. Sixteen runners attempted stolen bases against him in 144 innings in 2004. LeCroy threw out only one. Maybe Veritek knew something.
    With Veritek on third, he scored on a sacrifice fly from Kevin Millar. Santana hadn’t given up a hit, but he’d given up a run and the Twins were losing once again.
    Martinez finished the seventh with the Red Sox still up 3-2. He was done for the day.
    Santana came out for eighth and struck out two, giving him 12 strikeouts for the day, one better than Martinez.
    With Martinez gone, the Twins came out swinging. Guzman and Ford hit back-to-back singles to start the inning and then pulled off a double steal.
    Justine Morneau hit a sacrifice fly that scored both runners when shortstop Cabrera committed an error. The Twins were up 4-3 and Santana was in line for the win.
    First-year but all-star closer Joe Nathan faced only three batters to secure that win. Santana, the best pitcher in baseball, had bested the previous best pitcher in a game that was very much a pitchers’ duel despite the 4-3 score.
    He may never get a plaque in Cooperstown, but Santana will be remembered by me, and I’m sure many other baseball fans, as one of the best to ever stand on a pitcher’s mound.
  22. Like
    nicksaviking reacted to Matthew Lenz for a blog entry, Mauer's Future   
    This article was originally posted back in January, but with Mauer's 2000th hit Tom wanted various Mauer articles. I haven't changed much, but have added more data to support my opinion. I'd also just like to mention that I did not change my opinion on a potential salary for 2019 and beyond despite his torrid start to the season.
    It's no secret that Joe Mauer is entering the final year of his 8 year, $184 million contract extension signed in 2010. It's also not a secret that Mauer isn't the player he was in 2009 or in the years leading up to that MVP season. What does seem to be a secret, is what thoughts "Falvine" has on Mauer's future past the 2018 season. There are really only three options, which I will breakdown below.
    1. Stay with the Twins
    Personally, I think this is the most likely scenario. He's from here, his family is here, he's spent his entire career here, his personality and demeanor (although frustrating to fans) fits well with the "Minnesota nice" mantra, and the Twins are starting to become contenders. So what will it take for the Twins to keep him here?
    Since his move to 1st base (2012) Mauer has played 813 games as a first basemen, which is good for 13th most among 50 qualified players. In that same time he has provided a 14.7 WAR which is good for 10th best:
    The "good": he's staying healthier, he's getting on base (6/50 in BA and 5/50 in OBP), and he's become one of the best defensive 1B in the game (#1 in UZR in 2017 among 21 qualified players).
    The "bad": he'll be 36 in April of 2019 (only 6 qualified players were 36+ years old in '17), he provides no power as a 1B/DH (42/50 in SLG from 2012-2017), despite being healthier he's still good to miss at least 20 games/year not including the days provides no defensive value as a DH.

    I think it's fair to assume that 2017 is the ceiling of what we can expect from Mauer in 2018 and beyond, although he has been lights out so far this season. Looking at salaries for players who are currently 36+ years old, 2017 and 2018 contract agreements, and salaries of other 1B around the league I would be looking for the Twins to give Mauer a 2-3 year deal at $8-$10 million/year not including incentives or player/team options. Again, I believe him signing with the Twins is the most likely scenario.
    I came up with the $8 - $10 million range from looking at the following data.
    Yonder Alonso signed with the Indians for $8mil per year. Comparatively to Mauer, he provides a little more power, less OBP, and a lot less defense. He's younger, coming off a career year, and also fits the "launch angle" ideal that so many hitters are trending towards. Ultimately, my opinion is that the pros and cons of both players provide a similar value to a team although the type of value they provide are different. I think that provides a sort of base line going into next offseason.
    I also looked at players that signed in 2016/2017 offseason who were 36+ years old and although the median salary was 7.75 million a few of those guys are getting paid $13 & $16 million.If I were to include 35+ year olds, which is technically how old Mauer will be at the start of the 2019 season, the median is at $8 million and includes Yadier Molina (a career long Cardinal) getting paid $20 million. Although the median is lower, I think the higher deals give Mauer/Shapiro some room to negotiate an above the median salary. Especially if Mauer performs similarliy to how he did in 2017 and/or is able to hit like he currently is for a majority of 2018.
    2. Sign Elsewhere
    I don't see this happening, but obviously this is a possibility. Assuming Mauer only has a few more years in the big leagues, he could be looking for a team to win now. Now being 2019 or 2020. Depending on what the Twins FO does in free agency over the next couple years the Twins may or may not be legit world series contenders in 2019 or 2020. I hate to say it but with Greg Bird not being able to stay healthy the Yankees may have an opening at first base that would be a good fit for Mauer. Teams like Houston, Boston, Chicago (NL), Dodgers, Indians and Nationals are also obvious contenders, but currently have a player who is under contract at 1st base.
    3. Retire
    From what I have read/heard, there hasn't been any rumblings that Mauer is ready to hang them up. Doesn't mean it's not something to consider. Honestly, I almost think Joe would be more apt to retire than he would be to sign somewhere else. Moving somewhere else obviously would mean either moving his family or moving away from his family, which I don't think he would want to do.
  23. Like
    nicksaviking reacted to TwinsTakes-RD for a blog entry, The Twins Takes - Minnesota Twins MLB Draft History   
    How have the Minnesota Twins done in the MLB Draft in the past and recently?

    The Minnesota Twins has to make the most out of every player they acquire through the draft. You can say that about every team in Major League Baseball but, some of those teams have the ability to make up for a bad draft every now and then. They can stretch the payroll to go get top tier free agents or make a big trade to acquire players who have already established themselves as great players.
    Those teams are the exception, not the rule. That’s really the only way of going to get the sure thing, though. See a great player or an ace pitcher and go get them, either in free agency or in a trade. To be honest, though, none of those teams really want to do that. They would rather draft a player and develop them and have a farm system that consistently brings results then have to overspend. It’s hard to tell what a prospect will turn into as a major league player. His talent may be a lot better in the minor leagues but, as he works his way up the ladder, that gap closes a little at each level.
    For the teams where free agency isn’t as much of an option, the MLB Draft is priority number 1 when it comes to acquiring players. It happens every year and they have to be prepared. They have to know what kind of players they want and what kind of players & pitchers they need and then go get those players. They can’t relax if the current team or the current prospects are doing very well at any time or any position. They can’t pick for need, either, or, at least, they can’t pick for the need of the Major League team. They can pick for an organizational need to strengthen some of the weaker positions in the organization but that’s something that should probably be done in the later rounds. Players acquired in the draft won’t help the major league team for years.
    The old adage of pick the best player available is likely the best way to go, especially in the early rounds. That also means the best player available in their minds based on the reports from their scouts and from their own opinions as a group. It has nothing to do with the best-rated player available. They should Trust the Process, trust their philosophies and trust their draft board.
    There should always be prospects coming who are close to ready for a chance to move into the lineup, rotation or bullpen as soon as possible to see what they can do, how they handle it and if they need more work to get there. They should be forcing the front office to promote them and pushing the veterans for their position and their spot in the lineup. That increases competition for each spot on the roster and makes everyone know they have to earn their spot. Competition brings the best out of everyone because every player knows they have to keep getting better to keep their spot.

    Deep to Every Part of the Field

    There’s always a possibility of having too many players for one position. If they are all ready to play at the major league level, then the front office can use the depth to make a trade to strengthen another position. A team can never have too much depth. They dream of having depth at every position. It’s a good problem to have if the organization has a difficult job figuring out who makes the team and who has to be sent down to the minors.
    When teams are taking players in the draft, there is no way of knowing how long it will take them to develop into major leaguers. That’s if they even make it at all. Very few players go right into the big leagues. They all need a little seasoning in the minors nowadays. There’s no way to predict how any prospect will do no matter how good they were before turning pro.
    Nobody knew Mike Trout would be Mike Trout or he wouldn’t have fallen to the 25th pick in the 2009 Draft. He would’ve been taken 1st*, yes, even ahead of the first pick by the Washington Nationals, RHP Stephen Strasburg. There are probably aren’t many drafts where the #1 overall pick ends up being the best overall player. The best player usually ends up being a player picked lower than #1. (Hmm….another post, another time.)
    *The Twins took RHP Kyle Gibson with the 22nd pick in the first round, if you were wondering.

    The Minnesota Twins Takes
    "With their 1st pick, the Minnesota Twins take..."

    You could probably guess the Minnesota Twins haven’t done very well in the draft, recently. If they had, they wouldn’t be where they are right now. They wouldn’t have over 90 losses in 5 out of the last 7 seasons. They wouldn’t have had to fire the GM. They wouldn’t have had to make some of the trades they made, hoping they would work out. They wouldn’t have had to force players into the lineup who may not have been ready. They wouldn’t have had to use 36 pitchers in one season to see what they can do and then risk losing them to waivers.
    For a long time, the Minnesota Twins were known as a team that would draft well and always had a good farm system. It became known as the Twins Way and was part of the reason they won 6 division championships between 2002 & 2010. They knew how to develop players. In those same years between 2002 & 2010, they may have lost their way when it came to drafting well and developing players and most of all, pitchers. Here’s what they got from the drafts from 2002 to 2010:

    2002: OF Denard Span, RP Jesse Crain, RP Pat Neshek
    2003: SP Scott Baker
    2004: 3B Trevor Plouffe, RP Glen Perkins, SP/RP Anthony Swarzak
    2005: SP Matt Garza, SP Kevin Slowey, SP/RP Brian Duensing
    2006: 1B/OF Chris Parmelee, 3B Danny Valencia, SP Jeff Manship
    2007: OF Ben Revere
    2008: OF Aaron Hicks, RP Michael Tonkin
    2009: SP Kyle Gibson, C/1B/OF Chris Hermann, SS/2B Brian Dozier
    2010: SP/RP Alex Wimmers, SP Pat Dean, SP Logan Darnell, OF Eddie Rosario 
    So, in 9 years, all they produced for the rotation were Scott Baker, Matt Garza* and Kyle Gibson. Three middle of the rotation pitchers in 9 years. You could include Kevin Slowey, Anthony Swarzak, Brian Duensing and even Glen Perkins in there as well. They all began as starters and were then moved to the bullpen. They did alright with relievers Jesse Crain & Pat Neshek and also developed some pretty decent players in OF Denard Span, OF Ben Revere, OF Aaron Hicks, 2B Brian Dozier and OF Eddie Rosario.
    *They traded possibly the best of them in Matt Garza to TB with SS Jason Bartlett for OF Delmon Young & SS Brendan Harris. Garza became a very good starting pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays. He helped lead them to the 2008 World Series and won the ALCS MVP.

    Brick by Brick

    The draft is a foundation for building great teams. It’s not the only part teams need to do right to build a winner but it’s a great place to start building. It’s hard to say what kind of production any team expects to come out of every draft. It’s something like an average of 2 players out of every draft* making it to the major leagues. That’s just making it there, too. Not if they’re starters or All-Stars, it’s any player who makes it to the major leagues. It could be an All-Star player, a #1 pitcher or a utility player or middle reliever.
    *I couldn’t find anything concrete on this. I’ve heard that before, though.
    It’s done slowly, building the foundation and adding to that foundation until they’ve built a champion. If you look at most championship teams, they have players who’ve been there for a long time who were acquired through the draft. Then they’ve continually added pieces from year to year to finally build a team that has everything they need to win a championship. They have depth at every position so they can survive any injuries or other challenges that come up during the season.
    If you look at the 1987 World Champion Minnesota Twins, they slowly built that team. They drafted 1B Kent Hrbek in 1978 and he was one of the first pieces for that team. Then from 1979 to 1984, they kept adding more pieces.

    1978: Kent Hrbek
    1979: Randy Bush, Gary Gaetti (June-2nd Phase), Tim Laudner
    1980: Jeff Reed (Traded for Jeff Reardon)
    1981: Frank Viola, Steve Lombardozzi
    1982: Alan Anderson, Mark Davidson, Kirby Puckett (January Draft)
    1984: Jay Bell (traded for Bert Blyleven), Gene Larkin 
    So the 1987 Twins drafted starters at 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Catcher and Center Field along with #1 starter Frank Viola and bench players Randy Bush, Mark Davidson & Gene Larkin and relief pitcher Alan Anderson. They also used draft picks to acquire a majority of the other pieces from that championship team.
    Most people probably never think about that when it comes to the draft. In almost every trade a player who was acquired through the draft is involved. There are some trades that are just players signed through free agency or who were acquired through another trade. Also, the majority of those drafted players included in those trades never make it to the big leagues. They end up being throw-ins to get the trade done. The teams obviously believed they’d be more than that or they wouldn’t have asked for those players but, it still points to how important the draft is for building a team into a champion.
    Are they building another champion with pieces drafted since 2009?:

    2009: SP Kyle Gibson, 2B Brian Dozier
    2010: OF Eddie Rosario
    2012: SP Jose Berrios, RP Tyler Duffey, RP J.T. Chargois?, RP Taylor Rogers, CF Byron Buxton SP Luke Bard? RP Mason Melotakis
    2013: SP Stephen Gonsalves, C Mitch Garver, OF Zack Granite
    2014: RP John Curtiss, RP Trevor Hildenberger, SS Nick Gordon
    2015: RP Tyler Jay?
    2016: OF Alex Kiriloff
    2017: SS Royce Lewis, OF Brent Rooker 
    There are some pretty nice pieces on this list. They have starters at 2nd base, left field, center field, a few pitchers for the starting rotation & some good arms for the bullpen as well. It’s definitely a good start.

    The 5th Rule of Drafting

    The Rule 5 Draft was put into place so teams couldn’t stockpile talent on their minor league rosters. It forces teams to commit to keeping players who have been in their organization for 4 or 5 years depending on the age they were signed, 5 years if they were signed before they turned 19 and 4 years if they were signed after they turned 19. Players not protected by being placed on a team’s 40-man roster are available to be picked by other teams who have spots open on their 40-man roster.
    The drafted players cost the drafting team $100K and must stay on the active 25-man roster for the entire next season or be offered back to the original team for $50K. Most of these players are not yet ready for the jump to the Major League so it’s a bit of a risk. It’s also another way for teams to find players who’ve already been in the minors for 4-5 years so they have a pretty good track record for teams to judge them on.
    Rule 5 picks rarely make a big impact but sometimes it can work out quite nicely. Roberto Clemente is probably the biggest example of success but there are others, too. Twins fans surely remember LHP Johan Santana, who wasn’t actually picked by the Twins. They traded their 1st pick, Jared Camp, to the Florida Marlins in the 1999 Rule 5 Draft, who selected Johan from the Houston Astros. Other good examples for the Twins are OF Shane Mack in 1989 and C Mark Salas in 1984 (he was traded straight up for P Joe Niekro (with a nail file) in 1987. LHP Scott Diamond looked like a pretty good pick from 2010. He pitched well for a while but fizzled out and was released in 2014.
    Recent examples of successful Rule 5 picks from the rest of the league are OF Joey Rickard for the Baltimore Orioles and 1B Justin Bour for the Miami Marlins. We view success as adding a piece to your major league roster that either helps you win or helps you acquire another piece that helps you win.

    The Last Pick

    That’s all for the history of who the Minnesota Twins have taken in the MLB Draft. They had a bad run there for awhile but they may have made up for it in more recent drafts. It helped to have higher picks because of the losing seasons. A philosophy change on what kind of pitchers to target from Terry Ryan may help the new regime get to the promised land, too.
    In the next article, we’ll delve into how the Twins have done with International Signings. The BIG one that stands out is Miguel Sano but that’s because he’s the most recent success. We’ll see how they’ve done and if they’ve improved in this area throughout their history.
    Thanks for reading our TwinsTakes on the Draft History of the Minnesota Twins! We’d love to hear your ‘Takes on the subject! Please comment below or the posts of this article on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and/or Google+!
    After all, it is...

    Our 'Takes, Your 'Takes...


  24. Like
    nicksaviking reacted to MidwestTwinsFan15 for a blog entry, 2018 Free Agents and Potential Minnesota Twins Targets   
    With the Minnesota Twins currently in the middle of the off-season and getting prepared for Pitchers and Catchers to report to Fort Myers, FL in 49 Days. I wanted to jump ahead to the highly anticipated 2018 Free Agent Class. It appears that the 2017 has been underwhelming for most with the consensus that the Twins seem to be preparing to "Make Their Run" in 2019.
    The Twins Free Agents will include Joe Mauer ($23 Mil), Brian Dozier ($9 Mil), Eduardo Escobar ($2.5 Mil), Fernando Rodney ($4.5 Mil w/ club option for 2019). These four players will represent roughly $39 Mil possibly coming off the books for the organization. Not taking into consideration players the Twins are looking to possibly extend contracts with (Buxton, Sano, Berrios). Lets dive into what the 2019 Minnesota Twins could look like (or what I would like the 2019 Twins to look like). Note that I don't believe we should re-sign any of our free agents to-be (Dozier, Escobar & Mauer) or exercise our club options (Rodney).
    Starting Pitchers:
    1. Ervin Santana
    2. Jose Berrios
    3. Stephan Gonsalves
    4. Fernando Romero
    5. Micheal Pineda
    Relief Pitchers:
    1. J.T. Chargois
    2. Aaron Slegers
    3. Tyler Jay
    4. Trevor Hildenberger
    5. Taylor Rogers
    6. Trevor May
    7. Felix Jorge
    8. Adalberto Mejia
    1. Miguel Sano (DH)
    2. Nick Gordon (SS)
    3. Jorge Polanco (2B)
    4. Jose Iglesias or Josh Donaldson (3B, Free Agent Signee)
    5. Matt Adams or Justin Smoak (1B, Free Agent Signee)
    1. Byron Buxton
    2. Max Kepler
    3. Eddie Rosario
    4. Zack Granite
    1. Jason Castro
    2. Mitch Garver
    Note that I have left our starting pitching staff as status-quo until the FO shows the masses that they will throw some coin at a Front Line Starter. I believe with the money coming off the books after the 2018 season, that the financial resources should be there for us to get one. Sano is destined to be a full time DH (due to his size and to keep him healthy). I like Garver's versatility in the field while Castro is still under contract.
    I think we need to get after a LHH First Basemen, possibly Matt Adams or Justin Smoak. With Sano moving to full-time DH, we would need to acquire a 3rd basemen I like Jose Iglesias for this. We would still need to get a UTL IF/OF type player for the back end of the bench - this could be filled by a variety of players, internal or external. I would also consider Josh Donaldson at 3B - he would cost us a bit more money but would add some significant power to the line-up.
    I gathered below 16 Position Players and 16 Pitchers that will be Free Agents after the 2018 season. Some are way out of our financial league with some that are older but still productive - who catches your eye as possibly realistic Twins targets for upgrades to our line-up and pitching staff?
    Position Players:
    1. Bryce Harper - 2019 Age, 26
    2. Manny Machado - 2019 Age, 26
    3. Josh Donaldson - 2019 Age, 32
    4. Charlie Blackmon - 2019 Age, 32
    5. Elvis Andrus - 2019 Age, 30 (Opt Out)
    6. Brian Dozier - 2019 Age, 32
    7. AJ Pollock - 2019 Age, 31
    8. Andrew McCutchen - 2019 Age, 32
    9. Joe Mauer - 2019 Age, 36
    10. Adam Jones - 2019 Age, 33
    11. Wilson Ramos - 2019 Age, 31
    12. Justin Smoak - 2019 Age, 32
    13. Matt Adams - 2019 Age, 30
    14. Jose Iglesias - 2019 Age, 29
    15. Jason Heyward - 2019 Age, 29 (Opt Out)
    16. Yasmany Tomas - 2019 Age, 28 (Opt Out)
    1. David Price - 2019 Age, 33 (Opt Out)
    2. Andrew Miller - 2019 Age, 34
    3. Craig Kimbrel - 2019 Age, 31
    4. Gio Gonzalez - 2019 Age, 33
    5. Zach Britton - 2019 Age, 31
    6. Patrick Corbin, 2019 Age, 30
    7. Drew Pomeranz - 2019 Age, 30
    8. Clayton Kerhaw - 2019 Age, 31 (Opt Out)
    9. Matt Harvey - 2019 Age, 30
    10. Nathan Eovaldi - 2019 Age, 29
    11. Dallas Keuchel - 2019 Age, 31
    12. Garrett Richards - 2019 Age, 31
    13. Matt Moore - 2019 Age, 30
    14. Hyun-Jin Ryu - 2019 Age, 32
    15. Joe Kelly - 2019 Age, 31
    16. David Robertson - 2019 Age, 34
  25. Like
    nicksaviking reacted to MaxOelerking for a blog entry, Lucas Duda at DH   
    Last year at DH for the Twins looked like this:
    Player PA R OBP SLG wOBA
    Robbie Grossman 257 39 .336 .398 .320
    Kennys Vargas 129 17 .310 .425 .313
    Miguel Sano 100 7 .300 .267 .254
    Eduardo Escobar 74 7 .297 .424 .308
    Joe Mauer 57 8 .386 .347 .331
    Mitch Garver 12 1 .417 .500 .391
    Total 629 79 .326 .384 .309
    Last year at the plate for Lucas Duda:
    Player PA R OBP SLG wOBA
    Lucas Duda 491 50 .322 .496 .341
    The 31 year old played 792 innings last season at 1B for the Mets and Rays.
    Defensive metrics show he's similar to a Chris Davis or Matt Carpenter, but that is not what the Twins need since Joe Mauer is one of the top defensive 1B in the MLB.
    Here is my pitch for why the Twins should sign Duda:
    1. Power (since 2015)
    Player SLG ISO XBH/100 HARD%
    Lucas Duda .479 .248 12.6 39.2%
    Eric Hosmer .463 .169 9.02 32.2%
    Chris Davis .486 .252 11.2 41.0%
    Duda has great power numbers comparable to some of the better 1B power bats over the past few seasons, being in the AL where he can DH will definitely boost his numbers since he can take more at-bats.
    2. Age
    At 31, Duda is no spring chicken, but 1B has been on of the most forgiving positions as players age.
    Other 31 year-old 1B numbers:
    Player Year ISO OBP SLG wOBA
    Mike Napoli 2013 .223 .360 .482 .367
    Jim Thome 2002 .373 .445 .677 .461
    Edwin Encarnacion 2014 .279 .354 .547 .389
    Justin Morneau 2012 .149 .333 .440 .330
    3. Cost
    As far as contracts go, the high end Duda would go for is 1-2 years, $10M per season. A lot depends on how the free agent market changes during the off season. If the Twins can sign a defensive catcher in Castro for $8M per, they should be able to spend around the same amount for a power bat, if not more.
    4. Ballpark
    How exciting would it be to see Duda driving balls out over the RF porch onto the concourse? As a lefty, Duda's swing would work perfect at Target Field. He hits 30.3% to CF and 46.2% to RF. 42.1% of his batted balls are hit hard, while less than 20% are hit soft. This combination of hard hit balls being hit to to the right side of the field is a lethal combination at Target Field. Click here for an image of every 2017 Lucas Duda home run with the Target Field dimensions overlaid.
    The Twins could use Duda as a DH and reliable 1B replacement for Mauer. He would thrive in Target Field and would produce extra pop in the middle of the Twins lineup. I'm a huge Eduardo Escobar fan, and I would love to see him be a key piece for the Twins as well. I believe signing Duda would allow for Escobar to be a full-time utility man at 3B/SS/2B/
    My projections:
    450 47 .345 .485
    500 51 .343 .488
    550 64 .340 .490
    600 75 .337 .492
    650 76 .335 .486
    700 81 .333 .482
    My 2018 lineup:
    1. Dozier 2B
    2. Mauer 1B
    3. Sano 3B
    4. Rosario LF
    5. Duda DH
    6. Polanco SS
    7. Buxton CF
    8. Kepler RF
    9. Castro C
    Thanks for reading and please leave a comment if you agree/disagree with anything.
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