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Franz

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  1. Franz

    Bring on the kids

    I don't put much time into trade evaluation. What do you think would be a desirable, yet realistic return for a Sano trade? Could it be similar to perhaps the Eduardo Escobar trade?
  2. Franz

    Bring on the kids

    Mark, you're making good points....let me see if my defense has a leg to stand on... By competitive, I do mean that I think we can stay in games by scoring runs when we pitch well enough, but I really think this team will be pressed to win more than 70 games. Regarding Kirilloff, I think his play at first base (and really anywhere in the majors) has a pretty small sample size. Part of my reasoning for starting him in the outfield was to open up 1B for Miranda, who is blocked at 2B by Polanco (for whom the SS experiment should be over) and at 3B by Donaldson. Arraez and Kepler get tagged as utility players because they can actually play multiple positions. I don't see them as bench players though, I see them playing 4-5 games a week as they spell multiple other players. That's the way Rocco likes to play it, and I see those two as being the most adaptable of the bunch. Meanwhile, Miguel Sano plays DH. Every dang day. I suspect (hope?) that he will achieve more consistency at the plate once he doesn't have to think about playing the field. I don't think this is a tryout camp situation. The young players I've named here are ones that the Twins have committed to, or even traded for. All of them have a shot at being good major leaguers and I think the way to get them there before the end of Polanco's contract and while Buxton is in his prime years is to start playing them in major league games as soon as possible.
  3. Franz

    Bring on the kids

    Agreed, I think you do need to see the pitchers get smoothed out further in the minors. Hitters can get in the cage every day and work on mechanics or hitting the velocity machine, but pitchers have to get by on way fewer reps. Frankly, I'm not even sure where to start on the pitching. I'm not convinced Pineda is a viable option as an innings-filler, though he pitched his heart out while working around various nagging injuries last year. It really feels like it could be a cast of dozens to get us through the year.
  4. Franz

    Bring on the kids

    Well, I think the Twins 2022 season got pushed to the brink when they traded Berrios and went over the cliff when Maeda went down. And sure, some of these youngsters will struggle...but I'd much rather go see our core group of players surrounded by a group of high-potential youngsters than a cast of low-ceiling veterans. Not that Twins management is calling for my opinion...
  5. Franz

    Bring on the kids

    Certainly it's hard to like Donaldson's contract given the Twins' current circumstances. I do look at this team at least a season and maybe two seasons away from being over .500, so it seems like wasted $$ at this point. However, since I restricted myself to players currently within the organization, he has to play 3B next year. That's partly why I pushed Kirilloff to RF - so Miranda could get reps at first. If Donaldson's skills have declined significantly nearer the end of his contract, I would hope they have a viable alternative for him.
  6. Franz

    Bring on the kids

    In my first-ever blog entry, I implied that the Twins couldn't compete for a playoff spot. Moreover, I think they shouldn't worry about it. However, I don't think that means they have to give up on playing competitive baseball...putting a team on the field that fans are willing, even eager to watch. Nothing would make me happier than to watch some high-level prospects test themselves against major league pitchers and hitters. Besides, it gives the team a chance to test the limits of their young talent. Jose Miranda hit 30 homers last year at two different levels in an abbreviated season...so what does he have left to prove there? Why not see how that translates to the bigs, and at the same time let him show if his glove will play. So, my preferred veteran core is: Byron Buxton - CF - Signed through 2028 Jorge Polanco - 2B - Signed through 2025 (including team option) Josh Donaldson - 3B - Signed through 2024 (including team option) Mitch Garver - C - Arbitration eligible through 2023 Miguel Sano - DH - Signed through 2023 (including team option) That leaves four positions to fill, plus (in this day of crowded bullpens) at least three spots for capable backups. For the purpose of this exercise, I'm going to ignore the 40 man roster and assume no trades or free agent signings occur before the start of the season. Ages listed below are for opening day. LF - Austin Martin (23) By most accounts Austin Martin's bat is ready, while his glove may never be adequate for SS. His games were about equally split between SS and CF last year, and with CF blocked by Buxton, why not make the transition now. I've got two real reaches in this lineup (see also SS below), and I'm not expecting Martin to be on the opening day roster; he has only 418 professional plate appearances and will turn 23 just before opening day. That said, I think there is a real need to get him significant experience in the bigs this year. RF - Alex Kirilloff (24) Check the spelling twice, and make sure that name is written into the lineup as much as possible. Obviously Kirilloff's spot on the roster is secure after last year's showing, and while many have him slotted in as our first baseman of the future, I would prefer to see him get a serious look in the outfield during 2022 and start learning the finer points of playing bounces off the limestone in RF. Given our prospective pitching staff, there will be plenty of them. Why not Max Kepler, you ask? I haven't given up on Max, but I firmly believe that it is best to give a young player the majority of his games at a single position, giving him one (or two!) less things to worry about. So let's first see if Kirilloff has the speed and arm to play that RF spot. SS - Nick Gordon (26) It's time for the Twins to either give Gordon a chance to stick at SS or move him. Pressed into service last year in CF, Gordon performed credibly, but surely they would like to see him as a SS after giving him most of his AAA games at the position in 2018 and 2019. He was a feel-good story (for part of) last year, but let's face it, he doesn't carry the bat to maintain an outfield position or 2B, where he is blocked anyway by a host of young OF's or by All Star Jorge Polanco. I think if you had asked the Twins in late 2019 who would be the opening day SS in 2022, they would have picked Royce Lewis. I certainly would have. However, with Lewis first losing 2020 to the pandemic and then losing 2021 to a torn ACL, I can't make a case where he is ready play at the major league level until he has at least seen significant innings at AA. Here's hoping his physical rehab from injury has gone well and he's ready to roar out of the gates and press Gordon (or whoever) for playing time by the second half of 2022. 1B - Jose Miranda (23) What more is there to prove at AAA? Miranda shouldn't be expected to duplicate (or even approximate) 2021 .973 OPS. But that's what this 'development' year is for...so these players can face major league pitching and learn to deal with the travel, the grind, the ups and downs of a 162 game season. With the versatility to spell Donaldson at 3B and Polanco at 2B, all Miranda needs to do at 1B is be a better fielder than Miguel Sano. It shouldn't take too long to see if that's the case. Backup C - Ryan Jeffers (24) There is no guarantee that the Twins sign Mitch Garver beyond 2023, and it's even less likely Garver would still be playing catcher in 2024 at age 33. Jeffers was a head-turner in 2020 and a head-scratcher in 2021, but I think it's reasonable to believe that he will take what he learned last year and turn himself into a better hitter. Unfortunately he and Garver both bat right handed. Much as I would hate to say goodbye to Garver's heart and intensity, I suspect he could draw attention (and a reasonable return) as a trade candidate by mid-season 2022, clearing the way for a future platoon of Jeffers and Ben Rortvedt. Backup OF - Max Kepler I'll come right out and say I'm not a big believer in super-utility players. Max can play all the OF positions and as the 4th OF he should get as many games as any of the regulars. Barring any long-term injuries, Rocco Baldelli will still rest the regulars 1-2 times per week, and Kepler should have the maturity to take the role in stride. Backup IF - Luis Arraez Yes, Arraez can play three infield positions, and corner outfield in a pinch. No, he's not going to win any games for you with his glove. But it's worth spotting a sub-par infielder in the lineup to give everybody a rest, particularly if he can produce runs. Arraez can also take Sano's spot as DH against tough righties. What is lacking in the above line-up? First of all, spots for Rooker and Larnach. I'm not a big believer in drafting relatively unathletic, hit-first prospects that are immediately relegated to the "we think he can play some corner OF, or perhaps 1B" log-jam. I don't track options closely but I assume both of these guys can ride the St Paul shuttle bus for another year in case of injuries. I don't think either of them should factor into the Twins' long term plans unless or until they show they can crush in the minors...and I mean 2021 Miranda-type numbers. Second, there is no reasonable backup shortstop without sliding Polanco over and slotting in Miranda or Arraez in his place, though I guess Martin could be pressed into service in an emergency. I guess that's the price you pay for a shortened bench (and a lengthened bullpen). If you made it this far into my babbling, thanks for reading. I'm mostly writing this to sharpen my own thoughts and to pass the time on cold winter days now that the Minnesota pheasant season is over. But I'd love to hear your comments and critiques of my opinions.
  7. I've read plenty of opinions on what the Twins should try to achieve this off-season, ranging from pleas to make a few big-ticket free agent moves to get themselves competitive in 2022 to demands that they tear it all down to start the big rebuild. I suggest a different path; one that management is perhaps already following, and one that the current roster is best set up to accomplish. The 2022 season is the team's chance to give their top prospects big league at-bats, to find out which of those prospects have big league gloves, and to let young pitchers find their footing. Let's start with position players. Right now the team has five names they can write into the lineup without thinking; a proven core in my opinion capable of matching up with any team in baseball: Byron Buxton - CF - Signed through 2028 Jorge Polanco - 2B - Signed through 2025 (including team option) Josh Donaldson - 3B - Signed through 2024 (including team option) Mitch Garver - C - Arbitration eligible through 2023 Miguel Sano - DH - Signed through 2023 (including team option) That leaves four positions to fill, plus (in this day of crowded bullpens) at least three spots for capable backups: LF RF SS 1B Backup C Backup IF/OF #1 Backup IF/OF #2 I'll tackle my top candidates for those spots in the next post.
  8. 100 starts/3 seasons is an interesting take. Anecdotally, if you look at career stats of some greats, e.g. Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, even Greg Maddux, you see a marked improvement (from good to great) about three full seasons into their careers. I leave it to someone else to do a thorough analysis (does it apply to borderline pitchers who become merely 'good'?), but this suggests that you shouldn't judge full potential by the early results...and I think it supports MABB1959's comment about getting our young pitchers experience in the majors to help accelerate their development.
  9. Or one of the next arms to go? I agree that May's next appearances will be big, though I suspect he is locked into a tier with Duffey and Harper after the addition of Romo and Dyson. He will need to pitch very very well - or one of the new guys will need to fail badly - for that to change over the next two months. P.S. I'm hoping for the former...which is possible if he can improve his command. Then he could be a difference maker for this team.
  10. What indeed?! This, I think, is where Baldelli's inexperience showed. I believe he has done an excellent job as a manager this season because he and his staff plan ahead and prepare well (call it analytics, if you will). Sticking to a good plan helps the team to achieve consistent, predictable results. Of course, those predictable results include, sometimes, losing a game. In fact, good teams - playoff teams - lose about 40% of the time. The run-up to Thursday's loss began on Wednesday night. Baldelli could easily have had another pitcher warmed up for mop up duty (Harper or May come to mind) in case Poppen had any difficulties. Bringing in Rogers for a second straight night should have eliminated Rogers from pitching on Thursday, which was just fine considering that a rested Dyson was on his way. In effect, Baldelli's actions said, "I'm going to do everything possible to ensure we win this game, and go into tomorrow knowing I don't have my best reliever available." An implicit acknowledgement that Rogers was NOT available to pitch three days in a row. Thursday's game set up just fine for using Dyson in the 9th. He's a closer-caliber pitcher but this time he just didn't have it. And with the bases loaded, nobody out, the tying run on second and a win-probability already next to nil, the conventional wisdom is that you simply leave your 'closer' in....it is their game to win or lose. But that is where Baldelli chucked his plan out the window and made an emotional, last-ditch decision that he needed to somehow salvage the win. Hey, it was a valiant effort by Rogers, but as a result he threw 21 pitches on his third consecutive day of work. The game was still lost and now at least the next two games have a slightly lower win-probability because the best relief pitcher is unavailable. A worst-case scenario would be damage to Rogers' arm...an arm that will be needed for the post season. The lessons for a rookie manager? Stick to the plan. Ad hoc decisions are usually poor decisions (and a whole lot more likely to be second-guessed!).
  11. And he was hitting .320 with 18 HR at the end of June. To my earlier point, Rosario's BABIP was near .400 for May 2018; well into the "unsustainable" zone.Then he hit 9 homers in June. To pose a common question: is a player as good as their best 2- or 3-month stretch, or will the player inevitably regress to the mean? I guess my ultimate point is this: while someday Eddie Rosario may string together six great months of baseball to go .300+ and 30+, becoming an MVP candidate, the Twins shouldn't count on him for it, and should build the rest of the team accordingly. 20-30 HR with a high 200s average and showing leadership on the field is plenty good from my (cheap seats) point of view!
  12. "He absolutely has the ability to put up a .300+ average with 30+ home runs." I love the optimism. I just don't see it happening and I think it sets the bar for measuring Rosario's value to this team much too high. But I appreciate Nick's next line, "...But even if he holds steady he's a quality bat for the middle of the lineup, as well as an energizing spark plug in all phases." I think that's exactly right and I would be very happy to see the Twins extend him this year. I will pay money just to see a Rosario-Buxton-Kepler trio play the outfield. Going back to expectations....let's consider...there were eight (qualifying) players in the AL who hit .300+ last year. Only three of them hit more than 30 homers. In fact, they were also the only three .300 hitters that hit more than 20! Their names were Trout, Martinez, and Betts. I love watching Rosario play but he is nowhere near that class in pitch selection, and I think that aggressiveness is such an integral part of his personality that he will never develop into a selective hitter; the kind of hitter that can hit for both power and high++ average. If he ever does, his BABIP would have to be other-worldly. Also, he doesn't play home games in Fenway :-)
  13. If that is the case I am happy to provide my apologies and thanks for the correction in advance! I will also, however, re-state my original question: Is there anything in Buxton's track record to suggest he would add value as a modern (OBP) lead-off man? I've seen lots of analysis on this site and elsewhere that suggests the 2019 Twins 25-man roster will likely lack players with good on base skills, so it seems to me they would want to maximize this ability at the top of the order, at least.
  14. Good catch...let me try it again with more specifics... ...according to MLB Gameday, Byron Buxton put the first pitch in play in 5 of his last 6 at-bats, including all three of his at-bats while going 0-3 in the February 27 game against Philadelphia and his first two at-bats while going 3-3 in the February 25 game against Baltimore.... A small sample size and subject to recency-bias, I'll admit, but it doesn't do anything to persuade me that he is working on pitch-selection during spring training. And if he doesn't work on grinding out at-bats when the games don't count, what is the likelihood that he will during the regular season? Habits are hard to break.
  15. It seems like I'm going off-topic here by inserting a comment about the last of Cody's mailbag responses! Regarding Buxton having a breakout season and becoming the leadoff hitter by September, I think the first prediction is realistic (breakout season!) but not the second. Is there anything in Buxton's track record that suggests he would add value as a modern (OBP) leadoff man? FYI, in his last 6 spring training at-bats he has put the first pitch in play 5 times. That sounds like a guy who is working on being aggressive with pitches in the zone rather than seeing a lot of pitches.
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