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  1. According to the Star Tribune’s Patrick Reusse, Buxton might be unhappy with the Twins. There are a variety of reasons Buxton might be displeased including the handling of his service time back at the end of 2018. If he had been called up in September that year, he would reach free agency this winter. Instead, he has one more year of team control. From the Twins perspective, this extra year is very valuable, because it allows the team to keep him for 2022 or it adds to what the team can get in a trade. Obviously, Buxton is going to need to come back and show that he is healthy for other teams to seriously consider a trade So, what teams need a centerfield upgrade for October? New York Yankees Twins fans might not want to hear it, but the Yankees make a lot of sense when it comes to a Buxton deal. Former Twin Aaron Hicks is recovering from left wrist surgery. New York has been shuffling through a lot of non-traditional center field options in recent weeks like Aaron Judge and Brett Gardner. Among AL teams, only the Mariners and Tigers have gotten less WAR in centerfield than the Yankees. It’s also been widely reported that Yankees GM Brian Cashman is open to dealing for a center field upgrade. Houston Astros Houston saw their long-time centerfielder, George Springer, leave via free agency last winter and now the club might be looking for an upgrade for a postseason run. The Astros find themselves in the second Wild Card position and their primary center fielder, Myles Straw, is not exactly a household name. Only two positions on the Astros, CF and C, have produced an OPS under .800 this year. Straw entered play on Tuesday with a .637 OPS and 10 extra-base hits in 61 games. Among AL teams, the Astros have gotten the 10th lowest WAR total out of the center field position. Milwaukee Brewers The Brewers are in the thick of the NL Central race and they have the NL Wild Card spot to fall back on if they lose out in the division title. Only one NL team, the Braves, have accumulate less WAR in center than the Brewers. Most of Milwaukee’s negative WAR total has come on the offensive side where their center fielders have combined for a -15.6 offensive runs above average which is the worst in baseball. As a small market team, Milwaukee needs to take advantage of every postseason opportunity, especially since the club has made the playoffs in three of the last four years. Boston Red Sox After finishing in last place last season, the Red Sox are back in the hunt for the AL East crown. There have been offensive struggles at multiple positions in their line-up, so Buxton provides an opportunity for an offensive upgrade. Enrique Hernandez has played the most games in center, but his .669 OPS isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire. Also, Boston hasn’t been getting a lot of production at first base, so maybe they would be interested in a package deal that includes Buxton and Sano. Do you think Buxton gets dealt to one of these teams? What other teams could make the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  2. Byron Buxton might be unhappy in Minnesota, and this can lead to plenty of speculation about his future. Here are four contending teams that might be interested in a Buxton deal before the deadline. According to the Star Tribune’s Patrick Reusse, Buxton might be unhappy with the Twins. There are a variety of reasons Buxton might be displeased including the handling of his service time back at the end of 2018. If he had been called up in September that year, he would reach free agency this winter. Instead, he has one more year of team control. From the Twins perspective, this extra year is very valuable, because it allows the team to keep him for 2022 or it adds to what the team can get in a trade. Obviously, Buxton is going to need to come back and show that he is healthy for other teams to seriously consider a trade So, what teams need a centerfield upgrade for October? New York Yankees Twins fans might not want to hear it, but the Yankees make a lot of sense when it comes to a Buxton deal. Former Twin Aaron Hicks is recovering from left wrist surgery. New York has been shuffling through a lot of non-traditional center field options in recent weeks like Aaron Judge and Brett Gardner. Among AL teams, only the Mariners and Tigers have gotten less WAR in centerfield than the Yankees. It’s also been widely reported that Yankees GM Brian Cashman is open to dealing for a center field upgrade. Houston Astros Houston saw their long-time centerfielder, George Springer, leave via free agency last winter and now the club might be looking for an upgrade for a postseason run. The Astros find themselves in the second Wild Card position and their primary center fielder, Myles Straw, is not exactly a household name. Only two positions on the Astros, CF and C, have produced an OPS under .800 this year. Straw entered play on Tuesday with a .637 OPS and 10 extra-base hits in 61 games. Among AL teams, the Astros have gotten the 10th lowest WAR total out of the center field position. Milwaukee Brewers The Brewers are in the thick of the NL Central race and they have the NL Wild Card spot to fall back on if they lose out in the division title. Only one NL team, the Braves, have accumulate less WAR in center than the Brewers. Most of Milwaukee’s negative WAR total has come on the offensive side where their center fielders have combined for a -15.6 offensive runs above average which is the worst in baseball. As a small market team, Milwaukee needs to take advantage of every postseason opportunity, especially since the club has made the playoffs in three of the last four years. Boston Red Sox After finishing in last place last season, the Red Sox are back in the hunt for the AL East crown. There have been offensive struggles at multiple positions in their line-up, so Buxton provides an opportunity for an offensive upgrade. Enrique Hernandez has played the most games in center, but his .669 OPS isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire. Also, Boston hasn’t been getting a lot of production at first base, so maybe they would be interested in a package deal that includes Buxton and Sano. Do you think Buxton gets dealt to one of these teams? What other teams could make the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  3. Lance Lynn, RHP White Sox Twins Career (2018): 5.10 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, 100 K, 62 BB, 102 1/3 Innings Lynn’s time in Minnesota was unmemorable as he signed late into spring and never really seemed like he wanted to be in a Twins uniform. MLB.com named him as the player the Twins wish they could have back. He has arguably been one of the baseball’s best pitchers before and after his time in Minnesota. For 2021, he will be in a White Sox uniform, so the Twins should see plenty of their former starter. When the team traded Lynn, they were able to get a small return, but it’s clear he would add depth to the rotation. What’s not clear is how much he’d want to be back in Minnesota after his first stint went so poorly. Liam Hendriks, RHP White Sox Twins Career (2011-13): 6.06 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 100 K, 46 BB, 156 Innings Some bad news for Twins fans is that two of the players on this list are now going to be key contributors for their top division rival. Hendriks has been arguably the best relief pitcher in baseball over the last two seasons and now he will be closing down games on Chicago’s Southside. Minnesota dropped Hendriks from the 40-man roster when he still had options left and the team hadn’t even tried him out in a relief role. He has resurrected his career and he’d be a great addition to put with Tyler Duffey and Taylor Rogers at the back of the bullpen. However, the White Sox paid him way too much money and it might end up being a contract they regret. Eduardo Escobar, INF Diamondbacks Twins Career (2012-18): .258/.308/.421, 63 HR, 138 2B, 284 RBI, 671 Games When the Twins dealt Escobar, it made sense because the team wasn’t in contention and he was heading towards free agency. Minnesota was able to get quite the haul for Escobar including one of their top pitching prospects and a very good outfielder. Escobar struggled in 2020, but his 2019 season was fantastic, and he brought a lot of positive energy to the team during his Twins tenure. His versatility makes him a potential weapon as he can be penciled in at a variety of positions and still produce. For the 2021 Twins, he had the potential to add some depth to the infield, but Minnesota might have that covered with Andrelton Simmons’ signing last week. Other Options: Aaron Hicks, Eddie Rosario, CJ Cron, Ryan Pressly Pressly has been a tremendous bullpen weapon since leaving the Twins, but the team got back some very good pieces when they traded him away. Minnesota gave up on Hicks and since joining the Yankees, he has accumulated 9.8 WAR over five seasons. Rosario will be back in the AL Central after signing with Cleveland. Will Minnesota miss Rosario’s leadership and energy? If the Twins don’t sign Cruz, CJ Cron can help fill the void at designated hitter. Which of these players do you wish was still in Minnesota? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  4. I am always curious about trades – do they work in the short run, long run or not at all? How do we judge the Twins trades? I am not interested in the end of the career moves of Killebrew and Thome, but rather the movement of players who will have a career that goes on for a few years after the trade. Most likely the balance between good and bad will even out after a number of years, although David Ortiz will always be a thorn in the Minnesota Twins field. But then Ortiz was not traded - we cut him (and you still think Kelly was a good manager?) and so we got nothing for him. Lucky Boston. So I will ignore that stupid move and look at real trades. And the Twins can always counter with - Liriano, Nathan and Bonser for Pierzynski. Joe Nathan is our greatest closer and he was with us for seven years accumulating 260 saves and 18.4 WAR. Liriano was also with us for seven years and was 50 – 52 with 4.33 ERA. For one year he was the best, but then injuries took him from HOF to great potential. He had 9 War for the seven years. Boof gave us our best name and played for us for three years. 18 – 25 with 5.12 era and -0.1 WAR. The three of them gave us 27.3 WAR. Pierzynski was with us 6 years and played 13 more after leaving us. He had 9.5 WAR with us and 14.3 after he left. I know we consider this a big Twins victory and it is, but maybe not as large as we like to claim. In 1989 we acquired Tapani and Aguilera for Viola. Tapani played seven terrific years for the Twins and was terrific. 75 – 63 with 4.06 ERA and 19.1 WAR. Aguilera was with us 11 years 40 – 47 and 254 saves with 3.50 ERA and 15.5 WAR – that is 34.6 total WAR. Frank Viola was a stud for us for 8 years, but his career was not long after leaving. A total of 15 years with 64 – 57 record in his years with the Mets, Red Sox, Reds, and Blue Jays. His WAR was 11.4 with us, 11.8 with the Red Sox and Mets and -1.1 his last two years. We won that trade for sure. Milton and Guzman and Buchanan for Knoblauch in 1998. Knoblauch was with us seven great years and is second to Carew in our 2B rankings. He accumulated 38 WAR in those year and then in 4 years with the Yankees he had 7.5 WAR until the yips ended his career. With the Yankees he also posted great post season numbers. Brian Buchanan was with us three years and had 0.3 WAR. Christian Guzman was with us 6 years and was one of the fastest and most exciting players we have had. He had 7.6 WAR before being traded. Eric Milton was with us six years and posted a record of 57 – 51 with 4.76 ERA. His WAR for us was -0.6. Put it all together and it is a wash, but NY was happy to have Knoblauch on their championship teams. 1976 Smalley, Singer, Gideon, and Cubbage for Blyleven Of course Bert would come back to the Twins and Smalley would go away and come back too. In all Smalley would play 10 years for us – seven after this trade and three more to end his career. He had 18.7 WAR in his seven years after this trade and 2.1 for his last stint with the team. Bill Singer was 9 – 9 in his one year with the team and had 0.4 WAR. Gideon did nothing for us or anyone else – he had one year in Texas. Mike Cubbage had five years with the Twins and 6.6 WAR. Blyleven had 11 years with the Twins out of 22 and seven came before the trade and 4 more in his last stint with us. He had 49.1 WAR with the Twins – 10.5 in his return so 38.6 before the trade. He had 47.1 WAR with other teams which would mean that we lost that trade! In 1979 thanks to Calvin Griffiths big mouth we had to trade Rod Carew for OF Ken Landreaux, C/OF Dave Engle, RHP Paul Hartzell, LHP Brad Havens. Rod had 63.8 WAR with the Twins when we traded him and 17.4 with the Angels afterward. Ken Landreaux was with the Twins for two years and had 1.8 WAR. Dave Engle played five years for us and had 3.9 WAR. Paul Hartzell was with us one year for 0.4 WAR. Brad Havens was with us three years for 0.3 WAR. We lost that one. In 1963 we pulled off one of our best trades – Jack Kralick for Jim Perry. Kralick pitched five years for Cleveland and had a 6.6. WAR. Jim Perry pitched for us for 10 years and won 128 games. He had a 26.3 WAR. That was a steal! In 2008 we got OF Carlos Gómez, RHP Deolis Guerra, RHP Philip Humber, RHP Kevin Mulvey for Johann Santana. Yes we lost this one. In the four years before his injuries ended a HOF career he had 15.3 WAR with the Mets. Gomez in his two years was exciting and posted 2.6 WAR. Guerra did not pitch for us. Philip Humber had no wins or losses in two years and a WAR of -0.1. Kevin Mulvey had -0.2 in his one year. Yes we lost that one. And if you are thinking – we traded Gomez for J J Hardy so we won, think again, we kept him one year and traded for Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson. If you are keeping track, we are 3 – 3 – 1 in the trades so far. 1969 we got RHP Luis Tiant, RHP Stan Williams for 3B Graig Nettles, RHP Dean Chance, RHP Bob Miller, CF Ted Uhlaender! Tiant had a 2.84 ERA in six seasons with Cleveland before the trade, and Williams was thought of as an ace reliever. Tiant, only threw 92 2/3 innings with the Twins because of a shoulder issue and was released after the season. Williams had a 1.99 ERA in 68 relief appearances in 1970 but was traded to the Cardinals the next year. Tiant then caught on with the Red Sox as one of their star starters and Nettles went on to play 19 years. Tiant had 1.2 WAR with the Twins out of 66.1 for his career and was 7 -3 before his injury and went on to win 229 games. We lost because we could not wait for his injury to heal. Stan Williams was 14 – 6 with 19 saves. He was a terrific relief pitcher but we only kept him 2 years and he had 2.3 WAR for us.Craig Nettles would play 22 years. He had 1.1 WAR in three years with the Twins, but as an excellent glove man and power hitter he would amass 68 WAR in his career. Chance was terrific for us with 13 WAR in three years but had a total of zero war his last three years. Ted Uhlander played only three more years for 1.1 WAR. Bob Miller pitched 17 years – nine after we traded him. He gained 5.7 WAR in that time, but served as a valuable relief pitcher. With Nettles alone we lost this one. And with our impatience for Tiant we doubly lost. 2007 OF Delmon Young, INF Brendan Harris, OF Jason Pridie for Matt Garza, Jason Barlett, and Eddie Morlan. Young was such a disappointment it would have been a good trade if we had given up only Eddie Morlan (who?). Delmon was here 4 years and teased us with his potential each year. His WAR for those years totaled – 1. He played 10 years total. Jason Barlett totaled 10.4 WAR for Tampa. Do I need to go on? Well we did get Brendan Harris and for three years he played for us and accumulated -0.6 WAR. For his career he ended with -0.3. Jason Pridie was with us 2 years and had -0.2 WAR. And then there was Matt Garza who won 93 games in 12 years and had 13.5 WAR after leaving us. WE DEFINITLY LOST THIS ONE. In 2010 there was the trade of Wilson Ramos to the Washington Nationals for Matt Capps and we also through in Joe Testa. I believe this was an unpopular trade! So far Ramos has 15.4 WAR. Matt was with us three years – I forgot that – and somehow got 1.9 WAR. So we lost that one too. THAT BRINGS THE RECORD TO 3 – 6 – 1 Now we come to the Centerfielder trades. Aaron Hicks for John Ryan Murphy – do I have to go into the details? We lost. Denard Span for Alex Meyer – okay, let’s move on – we lost that one too. Ben Revere for Vance Worley (not good) and Trevor May – great! We won. It just took a while. Recently Eduardo Escobar was traded for Jhoan Duran and outfielders Gabriel Maciel and Ernie De La Trinidad. Escobar has been a stud for AZ and the minor leaguers are not here yet. Duran looks like he could be special and is listed as our number 5 prospect by MLB.com. Maciel is listed at number 27 and Tinidad is not on the list. Too early to judge, but AZ is happy! What about relief pitchers. Ryan Pressly traded for Acala (25) and Celestino (15). Both great prospects, but I think we would have liked to have Pressly in the pen. He was a star for Houston. Still too early for a final judgment. Nick Anderson for Brian Schales – Tampa Bay would do this trade any day. Anderson had 1.4 WAR last year and 3.32 era for Tampa as a rookie. Liam Hendriks was not really a trade but we DFA’d him so we could sign Phil Hughes. I suspect we would like him back too since he is now one of the best of all RPs. So I treat that as a default loss. The tally as I have it is 4 – 10 – 3. Maybe the desire to make trades is something we might want to think about.
  5. Other AL Previews AL West: Houston, We Don’t Have a Problem Boston Red Sox Boston has a legitimate shot to be the first repeat World Series champion since the Yankees won three-straight from 1998-2000. Mookie Betts is coming off an MVP performance and JD Martinez is one of the best hitters in the game. Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. join Betts as arguably the best outfield in baseball. Just don’t tell the Yankees. Realistically, the line-up doesn’t really have a hole from top to bottom and their bench adds depth as well. On the mound, Chris Sale needs to be back to his healthy self. David Price looked great in the postseason, but will that transition to the regular season? The bullpen might be the one thing preventing a Boston repeat. Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly are gone, and Steven Wright was suspended for 80-games. Matt Barnes will take over closer duties and he has a career 4.14 ERA. A strong line-up will keep the Red Sox in the division, but the pitching staff has some questions. New York Yankees While Boston’s bullpen is cloudy, New York’s bullpen might be one of the best in baseball history. Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino, and Chad Green make it seem like the late-innings are all but locked down in the Bronx. In the rotation, Masahiro Tanaka hasn’t exactly been a work-horse, as he has never pitched 200 innings in a season. Luis Severino’s shoulder is a question mark. This means James Paxton is going to need to acclimate to New York in a hurry. New York’s line-up is anchored by power hitters Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Former Twin Aaron Hicks rounds out a terrific trio of outfielders. Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, and Miguel Andujar add depth to the line-up. Troy Tulowitzki is trying to fill in for Didi Gregorius. Could the former Rockies star provide some magic before Gregorius returns? New York’s offense and bullpen should separate them from the pack, and they should win the division for the first time since 2012. Tampa Bay Rays Tampa Bay is coming off a 90-win season, and it could be tough to run with the big dogs ahead of them in the AL East. Cy Young winner Blake Snell is joined at the top of the rotation by Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow. All three of these pitchers will be relied on heavily if the club is going to make any kind of run at a playoff spot. The Rays official depth chart only lists three players in the rotation and then a bunch of arms in the bullpen. Tampa created the opener strategy last season and it seems likely for the club to use this strategy again in 2019. Mike Zunino will take over behind the plate after years in Seattle. He joins a young core that includes the likes of Willy Adames, Austin Meadows, Yandy Diaz, and Avisail Garcia. Younger players can be a fickle bunch. Sometimes they can come together, find some magic, and put together some great performances on the field. Other times, they can get into prolonged slumps. Tampa can’t afford a slump in a top-heavy AL East. Toronto Blue Jays Toronto’s biggest excitement this season will come when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. makes his much-anticipated debut. The team will keep him in the minor leagues until they can pick up an extra year of service time because the Blue Jays don’t have much of a shot to compete this year. Bo Bichette, another top prospect, will also make his debut in 2019. For now, the likes of Justin Smoak, Kevin Pillar, and Kendrys Morales will hold down the fort. Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez will lead the rotation. Stroman is looking to bounce back after pitching to a 5.54 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP. He also failed to reach 200 innings pitched for the first time since 2015. Sanchez has pitched fewer than 150 innings the last two seasons combined. Toronto hopes the 2016 version (192 IP and a 3.00 ERA) of Sanchez shows up again. Toronto has a great farm system, but the players are just starting to emerge this season. Baltimore Orioles If you think things got bad in Minnesota in recent years, think about the Orioles losing 115 games last season. That’s a whole lot of nothing happening at Camden Yards. Manny Machado was dealt away and found his way to San Diego this off-season. Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo can hit for some power, but Davis is coming off a horrific season at the plate. Dylan Bundy, Andrew Cashner, and Alex Cobb are at the top of the rotation. Those three arms might be able to keep Baltimore in some close games. However, it seems more likely for this team to be on its way to another 100 losses. What do you think about the AL East? Can the Yankees beat out the Red Sox? Does Tampa have enough for a Wild Card spot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  6. Byron Buxton didn’t finish last season in Minnesota. The organization decided not to make him a September call-up. In doing so, the club picked up an extra year of service time as Buxton now won’t be eligible for free agency until 2023. There were high hopes for Buxton entering the 2018 campaign. He ended 2017 on an upswing as he hit .300/.347/.546 with 23 extra-base hits in the second half. However, the 2018 campaign quickly turned into a nightmare for Buxton. He only managed to play 28 games at the big-league level while hitting .156/.183/.200 with four extra-base hits. He struggled through injuries and spent time trying to find his swing in the minor leagues. Some players take time to develop. In recent memory, Aaron Hicks was a player that took some time to figure it out at baseball’s highest level. Since leaving the Twins three years ago, he has been the tenth most valuable outfielder in the American League. Another former Twin, Joe Nathan, didn’t see his career take off until being traded to Minnesota and becoming the team’s closer at age 29. Baseball is a funny game. Sometimes it pays to be patient, especially with a player like Buxton who seems to have endless potential. Buxton is the one player on the Twins roster who can impact the game in every way. He’s shown the ability to be the best defensive player in the league. He can drive teams crazy on the bases with his ability to turn a single into a double or move from first to third on a slow roller to the outfield. The Twins don’t need Buxton to hit. 350 and crack 40 home runs. His defense and running ability make him valuable without even considering his hit and power tools. A healthy Buxton could result in more of what Twins fans saw in the second half of 2017. Buxton showed his ability to hit for average and to post some strong power numbers. Minnesota’s next window of opportunity is right now, and Buxton’s emergence is key to the club moving forward. Miguel Sano is an important piece as well, but Buxton can impact every facet of the game. If Minnesota sits atop the AL Central at season’s end, Buxton was likely part of the team’s success. Baseball’s former top prospect is only 25-years old so there is no reason to give up on him now. Buckle-up Twins fans because Buxton could be just one key component to the team’s success next season. He is a threat to break out at any moment. How important is Buxton to the Twins in 2019? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  7. Do you see that? Look on the horizon. Spring training is slowly moving closer. Twins pitchers and catchers will soon be reporting to Fort Myers with position players following close behind. Before the Twins make their annual trek south, it’s important to look at some of the key aspects facing the club in 2019. In the coming days, multiple keys will be identified and addressed. Minnesota has a chance to win the AL Central for the first time since 2010. For that to happen, certain things will need to work in the club’s favor this year. First on the list is the emergence of Mr. Byron Buxton.Byron Buxton didn’t finish last season in Minnesota. The organization decided not to make him a September call-up. In doing so, the club picked up an extra year of service time as Buxton now won’t be eligible for free agency until 2023. There were high hopes for Buxton entering the 2018 campaign. He ended 2017 on an upswing as he hit .300/.347/.546 with 23 extra-base hits in the second half. However, the 2018 campaign quickly turned into a nightmare for Buxton. He only managed to play 28 games at the big-league level while hitting .156/.183/.200 with four extra-base hits. He struggled through injuries and spent time trying to find his swing in the minor leagues. Some players take time to develop. In recent memory, Aaron Hicks was a player that took some time to figure it out at baseball’s highest level. Since leaving the Twins three years ago, he has been the tenth most valuable outfielder in the American League. Another former Twin, Joe Nathan, didn’t see his career take off until being traded to Minnesota and becoming the team’s closer at age 29. Baseball is a funny game. Sometimes it pays to be patient, especially with a player like Buxton who seems to have endless potential. Buxton is the one player on the Twins roster who can impact the game in every way. He’s shown the ability to be the best defensive player in the league. He can drive teams crazy on the bases with his ability to turn a single into a double or move from first to third on a slow roller to the outfield. The Twins don’t need Buxton to hit. 350 and crack 40 home runs. His defense and running ability make him valuable without even considering his hit and power tools. A healthy Buxton could result in more of what Twins fans saw in the second half of 2017. Buxton showed his ability to hit for average and to post some strong power numbers. Minnesota’s next window of opportunity is right now, and Buxton’s emergence is key to the club moving forward. Miguel Sano is an important piece as well, but Buxton can impact every facet of the game. If Minnesota sits atop the AL Central at season’s end, Buxton was likely part of the team’s success. Baseball’s former top prospect is only 25-years old so there is no reason to give up on him now. Buckle-up Twins fans because Buxton could be just one key component to the team’s success next season. He is a threat to break out at any moment. How important is Buxton to the Twins in 2019? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  8. March 4 Happy 82nd Birthday, Bob “Rocky” Johnson It’s the birthday of 1954 Edina-Morningside grad and 11-year major league middle infielder Bob “Rocky” Johnson, born in Omaha in 1936. Johnson’s father had grown up in the Twin Cities and the family returned to Minneapolis in December 1947. Johnson, who signed with the Detroit Tigers out of high school, made his major league debut with the Kansas City Athletics on April 19, 1960 at age 24, drawing a walk as a pinch-hitter. In total, he played 874 major league games over parts of 11 seasons with the Kansas City Athletics, Senators, Orioles, Mets, Reds, Braves, Cardinals, and Oakland A's, hitting .272 with 628 hits and 44 home runs. He played 71 regular season games for the eventual 1966 World Series Champion Orioles. He singled off Jack Kralick in his first two major league at-bats in Minnesota on July 25, 1961. He played 75 games against the Twins overall, hitting .283 with five home runs, including two each off Jim Kaat and 1954 Sebeka High School graduate Dick Stigman. Johnson earned a reputation as a proficient pinch-hitter over the course of his career. He strung together six consecutive pinch-hits in 1964, an American League record he owned for 17 years before Bill Stein broke it in 1981. Johnson, who lives in St. Paul these days, was inducted into the Edina Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999. Stew Thornley wrote about Johnson for the Halsey Hall SABR book Minnesotans in Baseball (click here). March 4 Happy 38th Birthday, Jack Hannahan It’s the birthday of 1998 Cretin-Derham Hall grad, Golden Gophers all-time great, and eight-year major leaguer Jack Hannahan, born in Minneapolis in 1980. Hannahan was the 2001 Big Ten Player of the Year after leading the conference in hits, runs scored, home runs, total bases, and slugging percentage. The Tigers selected Hannahan in the third round of the 2001 draft. He made his major league debut in Kansas City on May 25, 2006 at age 26, going 0-for-6 in a 13-8 Tigers win. At least he didn't strike out. In total, he played 614 games over parts of eight seasons with the Tigers, Athletics, Mariners, Cleveland, and the Reds, hitting .231 with 29 home runs. One of those home runs came on June 8, 2011 with two out in the bottom of the ninth off Twins closer Matt Capps, tying the game 2-2. Ben Revere drove in Drew Butera in the tenth to salvage the win for Minnesota. Hannahan played with the LG Twins in Seoul, South Korea in 2015. March 5 Happy 61st Birthday, Jerry Ujdur It's the birthday 1975 Hermantown High School graduate, and University of Minnesota all-time great Jerry Ujdur, born in Duluth in 1957. Ujdur made the Hermantown varsity team as an eighth grader. In 1975 he met Dick Siebert halfway in Hinckley to audition for the legendary Gophers coach. He would win 27 games as a Gopher, second only to 1972 Minnetonka High School grad Steve Comer's 30. Ujdur made his major league debut in Detroit on August 17, 1980 at age 23, giving up three runs on five hits and a walk over 2.1 innings in relief of Mark Fidrych in a 9-3 Rangers win. Fergie Jenkins earned the victory for Texas. He made his first major league start three days later in Milwaukee, holding the Brewers to three runs (two earned) on eight hits, a walk, and a strikeout over six innings pitched to earn his first win. 1974 Cretin High School graduate and former Golden Gophers teammate Paul Molitor had three infield groundouts versus Ujdur. He made 53 major league appearances (40 starts) over parts of five seasons with Detroit (1980–'83) and Cleveland (1984), going 12-16 with a 4.78 ERA and 1.953 WHIP. He best season by far was 1982, when he went 10-10 with seven complete games, a 3.69 ERA and 1.230 WHIP. 1973 Highland Park grad Jack Morris won 17 for Detroit that season, for a total of 27 wins from Minnesota natives. Though he only pitched in 53 major league games, Ujdur had some pretty impressive numbers against several Hall of Fame hitters. Eddie Murray went 0-for-11 with two walks versus Ujdur, Carlton Fisk went 0-for-10 with a walk, Molitor went 2-for-14 with a walk, and 1969 St. Paul Central grad Dave Winfield and Rickey Henderson each went 1-for-9 with two walks. March 5, 2006 Puckett Suffers Stroke Twins legend Kirby Puckett suffers a massive stroke at the home he shares with his fiancé in Scottsdale, AZ. Old friend Ron Washington, in camp with the Athletics nearby, was one of the first at his bedside. Ken Griffey Jr. also rushed to his side, while former teammates including Shane Mack and Kent Hrbek made their ways to Arizona. Puckett faced personal struggles following the abrupt end to his career. "That's what really hurt him bad, when he was forced out of the game," Hrbek told the Associated Press. "I don't know if he ever recovered from it." One of those personal struggles was his weight, which had visibly spiralled out of control. "We would tell him. But he enjoyed life. He enjoyed the size he was. That's who he was," Jacque Jones told ESPN from Cubs camp in Mesa, AZ. "You can't do anything about it until he decides to change. Hopefully, he'll pull through this, and it'll be like a call for him to change some things in his life.” March 6, 1973 Hisle Becomes First DH in MLB History In an exhibition game versus the Pittsburgh Pirates, Larry Hisle becomes the first Designated Hitter in major league history. Back on January 11, American League owners had voted 8-4 in favor of adopting the DH, and in this game Hisle made them look like geniuses, hitting two home runs and driving in seven. The Yankees’ Ron Blomberg was the first DH to bat in a regular season game. The Twins’ Tony Oliva hit the first regular season home run by a DH on April 6 (Opening Day) off Oakland's Catfish Hunter. Interestingly, it was Oakland owner Charlie Finley spearheaded the effort to adopt the DH. March 6, 2006 Puckett Passes Away A day after suffering a massive stroke, Kirby Puckett passes away at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. After unsuccessful emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his brain, friends and family were notified that the end was near. Many people rushed to be with Kirby in his final hours, including former teammates Ron Washington, Shane Mack, and Kent Hrbek. Another friend who rushed to the hospital and was reportedly at his bedside when he passed was Ken Griffey Jr. "There's certain people that you owe it to, for the things they've done for you, no matter where you are," Griffey told the Los Angeles Times. "He was that important to my family. It was for the things he said to me, not for the way he played." Kirby Puckett was just 45 years old, the second-youngest person to pass away after having already been enshrined in Cooperstown. Lou Gehrig was just 37. March 7, 2013 Hicks Has Himself a Day Coming into Spring Training it was unclear whether or not 2008 first-round draft choice Aaron Hicks had a legitimate chance of making the Opening Day roster. He made a strong case for himself on this day, going 4-for-5 with three home runs, six RBI, and a stolen base versus the Phillies in Clearwater. He would indeed make his major league debut on Opening Day, batting leadoff and playing center field. March 8 Happy 61st Birthday, John Butcher It’s the birthday of former Twins pitcher John Butcher, born in Glendale, CA in 1957. The Twins acquired Butcher along with pitcher Mike Smithson and minor league catcher Sam Sorce from Texas in exchange for Gary Ward on December 7, 1983. Butcher pitched a remarkable one hour and 55 minute complete-game shutout on April 21, 1985. The Twins were on a nine-game losing streak, falling to 2-9 on the season entering the Sunday series finale in Oakland when Butcher hurled the 81-pitch gem, allowing three hits, but facing just 28 batters. Leadoff hitter Kirby Puckett went 3-for-5, driving in the Twins' only two runs. It was the beginning of a 10-game winning streak. Speaking of efficient pitcher performances, Carlos Silva needed just 74 pitches to beat the Brewers at the Metrodome on May 20, 2005, allowing just five hits including a solo home run. That game, however, lingered on for 2 hours and 27 minutes as the Twins put up seven runs, with Nick Punto going 4-for-4 with an RBI and run scored. March 8 Happy 57th Birthday, Mark Salas It’s the birthday of former Twins catcher Mark Salas, born Montabello, CA in 1961. The Twins acquired Salas from the Cardinals in the December ‘84 Rule 5 Draft, and traded him to the Yankees for knuckleballer Joe Niekro on June 6, 1987. Today Salas is the White Sox bullpen catcher. Yes, really. March 9 Happy 55th Birthday, Terry Mulholland It’s the birthday of former Twins pitcher Terry Mulholland, born in Uniontown, PA in 1963. Kirby Puckett homered off Mulholland in the 1993 All-Star Game en route to being named the game's Most Valuable Player. The Twins purchased Mulholland's contract from Seattle on April 2, 2004 at age 41. He pitched in 39 games in 2004, starting 15, including an 8-4 win in Arizona on July 3 to become the third pitcher in major league history to beat all 30 teams. He made 49 relief appearances for the Twins in 2005. Bartolo Colón beat the Diamondbacks at Target Field on August 20, 2017 to become the 18th pitcher to record a win against all 30 teams. Francisco Liriano will join the club with a win against the Marlins, and Ervin Santana will join with a win against the Brewers. The Brewers come to Target Field May 18-20, and the Twins travel to Milwaukee July 2-4. Keep in touch with @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter and Facebook.
  9. Acquired following the 2015 season from the New York Yankees in exchange for Aaron Hicks, John Ryan Murphy started the 2016 season with the Twins. When he didn't hit in the first month, he was sent down to Rochester where he has spent most of his time since. He has been very good defensively (elite-level pitch framer), but the 25-year-old backstop just was not able to reach the offensive potential that was assume when he spent parts of three years catching for the Yankees. As Nick pointed out shortly after the news came out, this would explain the addition of Anthony Recker in the Twins/Braves trade earlier this week. https://twitter.com/NickNelsonMN/status/890611421985161216 While this trade may not be a page turner, a Mark Feinsand tweet from a bit ago may create further discussion. https://twitter.com/Feinsand/status/890605061272780802 In Moya, the Twins get a young pitcher who has worked solely as a reliever in his career. This year at AA Jackson, he is 4-1 with a 0.82 ERA in 34 outings. In 43.2 innings, he has issued just 12 walks and struck out 68 batters. Jeff Wiser is the preeminent Arizona Diamondbacks prospect expert. Find his work at Inside the Zona. Here are his thoughts on Gabriel Moya: From Darren Wolfson: https://twitter.com/DWolfsonKSTP/status/890622910305492992 According to Baseball America, Moya had the Best Changeup in the Diamondbacks minor leagues. Here is a scouting report from 2080 Baseball from before this season:
  10. The Twins announced that catcher John Ryan Murphy has been traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for 22-year-old Double-A lefty reliever Gabriel Moya.Acquired following the 2015 season from the New York Yankees in exchange for Aaron Hicks, John Ryan Murphy started the 2016 season with the Twins. When he didn't hit in the first month, he was sent down to Rochester where he has spent most of his time since. He has been very good defensively (elite-level pitch framer), but the 25-year-old backstop just was not able to reach the offensive potential that was assume when he spent parts of three years catching for the Yankees. As Nick pointed out shortly after the news came out, this would explain the addition of Anthony Recker in the Twins/Braves trade earlier this week. According to Baseball America, Moya had the Best Changeup in the Diamondbacks minor leagues. Here is a scouting report from 2080 Baseball from before this season: Click here to view the article
  11. March 5 Happy 60th Birthday to Jerry Ujdur It's the birthday 1975 Hermantown High School graduate Jerry Ujdur. Jerry made the Hermantown varsity team as an 8th grader. In ‘75 he met Dick Siebert halfway in Hinckley to audition for the legendary Gophers coach. He would win 27 games as a Gopher, second only to his teammate, Minnetonka High School grad Steve Comer's 30 wins. Ujdur appeared in 49 games, starting 37 for Detroit from 1980 to '83, winning 10 games for the Tigers in ‘82. He would pitch in four games for the Cleveland ballclub in 1984 before retiring with a major league record of 12-16. Though he pitched in only 53 major league games, Ujdur sure had the number of a few Hall of Famers, including Eddie Murray who went 0-for-11 with two walks vs. the Hermantown Hawk. Carlton Fisk went 0-for-10 with a walk, Paul Molitor 2-for-14 with a walk, and Dave Winfield and Rickey Henderson each went 1-for-9 with 2 walks. March 5, 2006 Kirby Puckett Suffers Stroke Twins legend Kirby Puckett suffers a massive stroke at the home he shares with his fiancee in Scottsdale, Arizona. Old friend Ron Washington, in camp with the Athletics nearby, was one of the first at his bedside. Ken Griffey Jr. also rushed to his side, while former teammates including Shane Mack and Kent Hrbek made their ways to Arizona. Puckett’s weight had spiralled out of control following the abrupt end to his career. "That's what really hurt him bad, when he was forced out of the game," Hrbek told the Associated Press. "I don't know if he ever recovered from it." "We would tell him. But he enjoyed life. He enjoyed the size he was. That's who he was," Jacque Jones told ESPN from Cubs camp in Mesa, AZ. "You can't do anything about it until he decides to change. Hopefully, he'll pull through this, and it'll be like a call for him to change some things in his life.” March 6, 1973 Larry Hisle Becomes First DH in MLB History In an exhibition game vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates, Larry Hisle becomes the first Designated Hitter in major league history. Back on January 11, American League owners had voted 8-4 to adopt the DH, and in this game Hisle made them look like geniuses, hitting two home runs and driving in seven. The Yankees’ Ron Blomberg was the first DH to bat in a regular season game. The Twins’ Tony Oliva would hit the first regular season home run by a DH on April 6th (Opening Day) off of Oakland's Catfish Hunter. Interestingly, Oakland owner Charlie Finley is generally credited with leading the push for the DH. March 6, 2006 Kirby Puckett Passes Away A day after suffering a massive stroke, Kirby Puckett passes away at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. After unsuccessful emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his brain, friends and family were notified that the end was near. Many people rushed to be with Kirby in his final hours. Former teammates Shane Mack and Kent Hrbek travelled to Arizona. Ron Washington, who was in spring training with the Athletics nearby, was one of the first friends to arrive. Another friend who rushed to the hospital and was reportedly at his bedside when he passed was Ken Griffey Jr. "There's certain people that you owe it to, for the things they've done for you," Griffey told the Los Angeles Time. "No matter where you are. He was that important to my family. It was for the things he said to me, not for the way he played." Kirby Puckett was just 45 years old, the second-youngest person to pass away after having already been enshrined in Cooperstown. Lou Gehrig was just 37. March 7, 2013 Aaron Hicks Has Himself a Day Entering spring training it was unclear whether or not 2008 first-round draft choice Aaron Hicks had a legitimate chance of making the Opening Day roster. On this day, though, he made the front office’s decision just a little bit easier, going 4-for-5 with 3 home runs, 6 RBI and a stolen base vs. the Phillies in Clearwater. He would indeed make his major league debut on April 1st, playing 81 big league games in 2013 but also spending some time back in Rochester. March 8 Happy 60th Birthday to John Butcher It’s the birthday of former Twins pitcher John Butcher, born in Glendale, California in 1957. The Twins acquired Butcher along with pitcher Mike Smithson and minor league catcher Sam Sorce from Texas in exchange for Gary Ward on December 7, 1983. Butcher pitched a remarkable 1 hour and 55 minute complete game shutout on April 21, 1985. The Twins had lost 9 in a row, falling to 2-9 on the season, entering the Sunday series finale in Oakland when Butcher hurled an 81-pitch gem, allowing three hits, but facing just 28 batters, one over the minimum. Leadoff hitter Kirby Puckett went 3-for-5, driving in both Twins runs in the 2-0 victory. It was the beginning of a 10-game Twins winning streak. March 8 Happy 55th Birthday to Mark Salas It’s the birthday of former Twins catcher Mark Salas, born Montabello, California in 1961. The Twins acquired Salas from the Cardinals in the December ‘84 Rule 5 Draft, and traded him to the New York Yankees for knuckleballer Joe Niekro on June 6, 1987. Today Salas is the Chicago White Sox bullpen catcher. Yes, I was surprised, too, but “Bullpen Catcher” is really what he’s listed as on the White Sox roster. March 9 Happy 54th Birthday to Terry Mulholland It’s the birthday of former Twins pitcher Terry Mulholland, born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania in 1963. The Twins purchased the 1993 All-Star from Seattle on April 2, 2004. He was 41 years old. He pitched in 39 games for the ‘04 Twins, starting 15. The following season, at age 42, Mulholland made 49 relief appearances for Minnesota. He pitched briefly for Arizona in 2005, his 20th and final major league season. March 11, 1961 The First Game in Twins History Winona Senior High School graduate and 2x All-American Golden Gopher tailback Paul Giel started the first game in Minnesota Twins history, an exhibition game against the Detroit Tigers at Tinker Field in Orlando. The Tigers won the game 4-1. Pedro Ramos was the first Opening Day starter in Twins history, pitching a 3-hit shutout vs. Berra, Mantle, Maris and the gang at Yankee Stadium on April 11. One of the three hits that Ramos allowed was to Yankees ace Whitey Ford, with Yogi Berra and Moose Skowron collecting the other two. The game was scoreless through six until Bob Allison led off the seventh with a home run. It was Twins pitcher Ramos who knocked Ford out of the game with a 2-RBI single with one away in the seventh. The Twins went on to win 6-0. After the Twins jumped out to a hot 5-2 start in New York and Boston, Camilo Pascual took the ball in the first home opener in Twins history vs. the new expansion Washington Senators who wound up beating the home team 5-3. Keep in touch with the @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter and Facebook.
  12. An annual ritual for many baseball fans is the release of the Baseball Prospectus Handbook. It has in-depth coverage for every MLB franchise and commentary on almost 2,000 players. For some fans, this is the "Baseball Bible" for the coming season as they try to gain an advantage in the fantasy baseball realm or just want to know more about the sport they love. I was a first time buyer this season and was surprised to see how big the almost 600-page book was when it arrived at my home. After marveling at it's size, I quickly paged open to the Minnesota Twins section of the book. Twins Territory is flying high after last season so I was ready to read great reviews about the little team that could in 2015. I was wrong. In fact as I flipped through the pages, a thought started to creep into my head. What if the Twins system is broken?It's no secret that the Twins aren't exactly at the forefront of the analytic-driven baseball universe. In fact, Minnesota might be one of the organizations that is furthest behind when it comes to using analytics to drive front office decision- making. Under the Terry Ryan regime, the way teams are built is through player development and acquisitions. Last spring, the folks at Baseball Prospectus attempted to name "Every Team's Moneyball." This series looked to identify the one area team's use to gain an advantage over other clubs. Spoiler alert: The Twins don't have a "Moneyball" strategy. With Ryan at the helm, they are attempting to use scouting and player development because that's the strategy that worked with the Twins teams of the 2000s. Player Development Developing prospects is challenging since there's no magic formula to turn a budding prospect into a contributor at the big league level. Miguel Sano's talent was hard to deny even as the organization signed him as a teenager. Sano's rookie campaign was great but he's got a lot left to prove before he can solidify himself at baseball's highest level. For every one Miguel Sano story, there are going to be other young players that aren't able to make consistent contributions. Oswaldo Arcia was ranked highly on many Twins prospect lists and he even hit 20 home runs in 2014. Last year, he was limited to 19 MLB games and the team didn't even get a September call-up. Like Arcia, fans were excited by Danny Santana and Kennys Vargas in their rookie seasons. Each of these players has shown their flaws with more big league time. Players like Byron Buxton, Jose Berrios, and Max Kepler haven't played enough at the big league level to grade the organization on the players' development. Kepler made major strides last season and Berrios continues to look like the real deal. If Buxton can become the player most think he will be, the Twins system might be back on the right track. Free Agent Acquisitions In the last handful of seasons, the Twins have signed some of their richest free agent deals in team history. Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes were brought into the fold during the 2014 offseason. Nolasco's four-year deal is looking like a disaster after two seasons. Hughes had a record breaking first season in Minnesota but the Twins decided to reward him with an extension and he came back down to earth in 2015. Kurt Suzuki fits into the same mold as Hughes. He was selected to the AL All-Star team and the Twins signed him to an extension before seeing a drop in production in 2015. Ervin Santana signed last offseason and the team quickly found out that he would be suspended for the season's first 80 games. Santana's second half was up and down and fans will have to reevaluate his signing after a full campaign. Other teams might have looked at Suzuki and Hughes and known that their age and previous track records were more indicative of their future performance. Trading those players at a the peak of their value could have brought other assets into the organization. This offseason Minnesota has been much quieter on the free agent market and this could be a result of some of their decisions over the last two years. Trades Aaron Hicks was starting to look like a player to be filed in the failed prospect development department. This was before the 2015 season where he finally looked like he might be able to contribute on a regular basis. With the Suzuki situation mentioned above and top catching prospects at least a year away, the Twins needed to add some catching depth. Minnesota dealt Hicks to the Yankees for catcher John Ryan Murphy. Murphy could be a huge piece for the Twins moving forward but only time will tell about what he can do in Minnesota. Minnesota surprised a lot of the baseball world by being in contention around last year's trade deadline. To help bolster their bullpen, Ryan dealt Chih-Wei Hu and Alexi Tapia to the Rays for Kevin Jepsen. With closer Glen Perkins dealing with injuries, Jepsen was asked to take over the closing duties. He led the American League in appearances and he will be a vital part of the Twins 2016 bullpen. With Sano's emergence, there has been plenty of talk about trading current third baseman Trevor Plouffe. Minnesota doesn't seem to be in a hurry as Sano will be relegated to outfield duty this year and Plouffe can't be a free agent until 2018. There still might be a future trade involving Plouffe and maybe Ryan is waiting to get the right kind of value in return. At this point, it seems tough to know if the Twins system is broken. Ryan has been back at the helm for four years and the picture is still being painted. Can a core of Buxton, Sano and Berrios be the team that brings a title back to Minnesota? Only time will tell. Click here to view the article
  13. It's no secret that the Twins aren't exactly at the forefront of the analytic-driven baseball universe. In fact, Minnesota might be one of the organizations that is furthest behind when it comes to using analytics to drive front office decision- making. Under the Terry Ryan regime, the way teams are built is through player development and acquisitions. Last spring, the folks at Baseball Prospectus attempted to name "Every Team's Moneyball." This series looked to identify the one area team's use to gain an advantage over other clubs. Spoiler alert: The Twins don't have a "Moneyball" strategy. With Ryan at the helm, they are attempting to use scouting and player development because that's the strategy that worked with the Twins teams of the 2000s. Player Development Developing prospects is challenging since there's no magic formula to turn a budding prospect into a contributor at the big league level. Miguel Sano's talent was hard to deny even as the organization signed him as a teenager. Sano's rookie campaign was great but he's got a lot left to prove before he can solidify himself at baseball's highest level. For every one Miguel Sano story, there are going to be other young players that aren't able to make consistent contributions. Oswaldo Arcia was ranked highly on many Twins prospect lists and he even hit 20 home runs in 2014. Last year, he was limited to 19 MLB games and the team didn't even get a September call-up. Like Arcia, fans were excited by Danny Santana and Kennys Vargas in their rookie seasons. Each of these players has shown their flaws with more big league time. Players like Byron Buxton, Jose Berrios, and Max Kepler haven't played enough at the big league level to grade the organization on the players' development. Kepler made major strides last season and Berrios continues to look like the real deal. If Buxton can become the player most think he will be, the Twins system might be back on the right track. Free Agent Acquisitions In the last handful of seasons, the Twins have signed some of their richest free agent deals in team history. Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes were brought into the fold during the 2014 offseason. Nolasco's four-year deal is looking like a disaster after two seasons. Hughes had a record breaking first season in Minnesota but the Twins decided to reward him with an extension and he came back down to earth in 2015. Kurt Suzuki fits into the same mold as Hughes. He was selected to the AL All-Star team and the Twins signed him to an extension before seeing a drop in production in 2015. Ervin Santana signed last offseason and the team quickly found out that he would be suspended for the season's first 80 games. Santana's second half was up and down and fans will have to reevaluate his signing after a full campaign. Other teams might have looked at Suzuki and Hughes and known that their age and previous track records were more indicative of their future performance. Trading those players at a the peak of their value could have brought other assets into the organization. This offseason Minnesota has been much quieter on the free agent market and this could be a result of some of their decisions over the last two years. Trades Aaron Hicks was starting to look like a player to be filed in the failed prospect development department. This was before the 2015 season where he finally looked like he might be able to contribute on a regular basis. With the Suzuki situation mentioned above and top catching prospects at least a year away, the Twins needed to add some catching depth. Minnesota dealt Hicks to the Yankees for catcher John Ryan Murphy. Murphy could be a huge piece for the Twins moving forward but only time will tell about what he can do in Minnesota. Minnesota surprised a lot of the baseball world by being in contention around last year's trade deadline. To help bolster their bullpen, Ryan dealt Chih-Wei Hu and Alexi Tapia to the Rays for Kevin Jepsen. With closer Glen Perkins dealing with injuries, Jepsen was asked to take over the closing duties. He led the American League in appearances and he will be a vital part of the Twins 2016 bullpen. With Sano's emergence, there has been plenty of talk about trading current third baseman Trevor Plouffe. Minnesota doesn't seem to be in a hurry as Sano will be relegated to outfield duty this year and Plouffe can't be a free agent until 2018. There still might be a future trade involving Plouffe and maybe Ryan is waiting to get the right kind of value in return. At this point, it seems tough to know if the Twins system is broken. Ryan has been back at the helm for four years and the picture is still being painted. Can a core of Buxton, Sano and Berrios be the team that brings a title back to Minnesota? Only time will tell.
  14. Does anyone else think that the improvement in the Twins' pitching last year, was mainly due to Aaron Hicks, Eddie Rosario, and Byron Buxton playing a bunch of games in the outfield? Remember Dicky B and Bert going on and on about how great the Twins' outfield defense was going to be in 2016, and how much that was going to help the pitching staff?
  15. Ranking prospects within an organization is no easy task. The internet has opened up a wave of new information for writers as they can analyze video, sort through higher-level statistics, and prioritize scouting reports from a plethora of experts. This level of information can be overwhelming at times but it helps to separate prospects at different levels. One of my favorite parts of working on the 2016 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook is looking at the old prospect lists from yesteryear. It's entertaining to see some of the players that were once thought of as being near the top of the Twins organization. Seth's lists go further back than Jeremy and I and that can be even more entertaining. His 2008 Top-4 Twins prospects included Deolis Guerra, Tyler Robertson, Anthony Swarzak, and Kevin Mulvey.I started my blog in the spring of 2010so my first prospect list was for the 2011 season. There are some very familiar names on the list and some other names that have disappeared from the baseball world. "Where Are They Now?" will help to find out how these top prospects are doing at this point in their careers. 1. Miguel Sano, 3B 2015 Team (Level): Minnesota Twins (MLB), Chattanooga Lookouts (AA) Entering the 2011 season, Sano was just coming off his first professional action in the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League. I already had high hopes for the young slugger even though he only had just over 200 ABs under his belt. In 2015, Sano made his big league debut and finished in third place in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting. He was named the Minnesota Twins team MVP even though he only played half of a season. Next season will be his first full season at the big leagues and his future looks bright. 2. Kyle Gibson 2015 Team (Level): Minnesota Twins (MLB) The Twins had been aggressive with Gibson back in 2010. He pitched at three different levels from High-A all the way up to Triple-A. Using his college experience, Gibson had pitched well with an ERA under 3.00 and most Twins prospect lists had him as one of the top choices entering the 2011 campaign. This past season Gibson was named the team's best starting pitcher after he lead the team in most statistical categories. He had to overcome Tommy John surgery and some struggles at the big league level but he has established himself as one of the Twins best pitchers before his 28th birthday. 3. Aaron Hicks 2015 Team (Level): Minnesota Twins (MLB), Rochester Red Wings (AAA) Hopes were still high for Hicks following the 2010 season as he had established himself as one of the best prospects in the game. Baseball America had Hicks as the 19th best prospect in baseball and Baseball Prospectus had him ranked 26th. Since that time, Hicks would put together other strong seasons in the minor but his MLB time was a little underwhelming. For the 2015 campaign, he made subtle strides on the offensive side of the ball and his defense continues to be strong. The Twins traded Hicks to the New York Yankees this offseason for catcher John Ryan Murphy. 4. Joe Benson 2015 Team (Level): Gwinnett Braves (AAA), Binghamton Mets (AA) After the Twins took Benson with their second round pick in 2006, he had established himself as one of the team's top prospects. He had hit 27 home runs between Double-A and High-A before being asked to play in the Arizona Fall League. Benson would debut with the Twins in 2011 but he has yet to be back to the big league level. He's bounced around from organization to organization including the Rangers, Marlins, Mets, and Braves. Last year, he played the entire season at Triple-A with the Braves and he hit .248/.351/.361. Minnesota signed Benson as a minor league free agent so he will be back in the organization for the 2016 campaign. 5. Alex Wimmers 2015 Team (Level): Chattanooga Lookouts (AA) Wimmers and Gibson were both first round draft picks with similar college experience. This gave Twins fans some great expectations for Wimmers especially after a some strong numbers with Fort Myers in his professional debut (1 ER, 0.70 WHIP, 23 K, 15.2 IP). His trip through the Twins organization has been rocky at best. There have been some high moments but his issues with control have deterred him from living up to his first round draft status. The last two seasons he has been over a year and a half older than the competition at his level while splitting time as a starter and reliever.2016 will be big if he wants to stay in the Twins organization. 6. Ben Revere 2015 Team (Level): Philadelphia Phillies (MLB), Toronto Blue Jays (MLB) At the end of the 2010 season, Revere would make his big league debut before becoming an MLB regular in 2011. Revere, another first round pick on this list, showed the ability to make consistent contact in the minors while stealing bases and playing strong outfield defense. He would become a fan favorite during his couple years playing in Minnesota before being dealt to the Phillies for Trevor May. He's stolen 30 bases or more in four of his last five seasons and he lead the NL in hits back in 2014. Philadelphia dealt him to the Blue Jays at the end of last season to help with their playoff run. 7. Oswaldo Arcia 2015 Team (Level): Minnesota Twins (MLB), Rochester Red Wings (AAA) Arcia was already showing his power potential in 2010 as he finished the season with a 1.096 OPS for Elizabethton in the Appalachian League. He wouldn't debut with the Twins until 2013 and he would crank 20 home runs at the big league level in 2014. Arcia is still in the Twins organization but he struggled through 2015 to the point where he wasn't given a call-up last September. With the emergence of Miguel Sano and the addition of Byung Ho Park, it will be interesting to see what kind of role Arcia will have in 2016. He could be a good power option off the bench. 8. Liam Hendriks 2015 Team (Level): Toronto Blue Jays (MLB) Hendriks played at both Low- and High-A for the Twins in 2010 before getting on the fast track to the big leagues in 2011. He'd debut as 22-year old and win nine games as a 23-year old but he'd be out of the Twins organization following the 2014 season. Since then, he has pitched in the Royals and Blue Jays systems. Last year, he was a very effective relief pitcher for the Blue Jays as they went on to win the AL East. This offseason he was traded from the Blue Jays to the Athletics for pitcher Jesse Sanchez. 9. Kyle Waldrop 2015 Team (Level): None Waldrop had just made his debut during the 2011 campaign following back-to-back seasons pitching at Triple-A. He'd appear in 24 games for the Twins between 2011 and 2012. He'd pitch one more season professionally in the Pirates organization but he never made it back to the big leagues. Waldrop hasn't pitched at any level since 2013. 10. Max Kepler 2015 Team (Level): Minnesota Twins (MLB), Chattanooga Lookouts (AA) Kepler was coming off his professional debut back in 2010 but he was part of a strong international signing class that included the aforementioned Sano. Kepler seemed to have all the tools necessary to be a five-tool prospect but there were a lot of unknowns surrounding a young player that spent time developing in Europe. He would spend most of his minor league years around the edge of the Twins top-10 prospects before a magical 2015. Kepler was outstanding this season on the way to making his big league debut. He was named Southern League MVP and he helped the Lookouts to win the league's championship. Click here to view the article
  16. I started my blog in the spring of 2010 so my first prospect list was for the 2011 season. There are some very familiar names on the list and some other names that have disappeared from the baseball world. "Where Are They Now?" will help to find out how these top prospects are doing at this point in their careers. 1. Miguel Sano, 3B 2015 Team (Level): Minnesota Twins (MLB), Chattanooga Lookouts (AA) Entering the 2011 season, Sano was just coming off his first professional action in the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League. I already had high hopes for the young slugger even though he only had just over 200 ABs under his belt. In 2015, Sano made his big league debut and finished in third place in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting. He was named the Minnesota Twins team MVP even though he only played half of a season. Next season will be his first full season at the big leagues and his future looks bright. 2. Kyle Gibson 2015 Team (Level): Minnesota Twins (MLB) The Twins had been aggressive with Gibson back in 2010. He pitched at three different levels from High-A all the way up to Triple-A. Using his college experience, Gibson had pitched well with an ERA under 3.00 and most Twins prospect lists had him as one of the top choices entering the 2011 campaign. This past season Gibson was named the team's best starting pitcher after he lead the team in most statistical categories. He had to overcome Tommy John surgery and some struggles at the big league level but he has established himself as one of the Twins best pitchers before his 28th birthday. 3. Aaron Hicks 2015 Team (Level): Minnesota Twins (MLB), Rochester Red Wings (AAA) Hopes were still high for Hicks following the 2010 season as he had established himself as one of the best prospects in the game. Baseball America had Hicks as the 19th best prospect in baseball and Baseball Prospectus had him ranked 26th. Since that time, Hicks would put together other strong seasons in the minor but his MLB time was a little underwhelming. For the 2015 campaign, he made subtle strides on the offensive side of the ball and his defense continues to be strong. The Twins traded Hicks to the New York Yankees this offseason for catcher John Ryan Murphy. 4. Joe Benson 2015 Team (Level): Gwinnett Braves (AAA), Binghamton Mets (AA) After the Twins took Benson with their second round pick in 2006, he had established himself as one of the team's top prospects. He had hit 27 home runs between Double-A and High-A before being asked to play in the Arizona Fall League. Benson would debut with the Twins in 2011 but he has yet to be back to the big league level. He's bounced around from organization to organization including the Rangers, Marlins, Mets, and Braves. Last year, he played the entire season at Triple-A with the Braves and he hit .248/.351/.361. Minnesota signed Benson as a minor league free agent so he will be back in the organization for the 2016 campaign. 5. Alex Wimmers 2015 Team (Level): Chattanooga Lookouts (AA) Wimmers and Gibson were both first round draft picks with similar college experience. This gave Twins fans some great expectations for Wimmers especially after a some strong numbers with Fort Myers in his professional debut (1 ER, 0.70 WHIP, 23 K, 15.2 IP). His trip through the Twins organization has been rocky at best. There have been some high moments but his issues with control have deterred him from living up to his first round draft status. The last two seasons he has been over a year and a half older than the competition at his level while splitting time as a starter and reliever.2016 will be big if he wants to stay in the Twins organization. 6. Ben Revere 2015 Team (Level): Philadelphia Phillies (MLB), Toronto Blue Jays (MLB) At the end of the 2010 season, Revere would make his big league debut before becoming an MLB regular in 2011. Revere, another first round pick on this list, showed the ability to make consistent contact in the minors while stealing bases and playing strong outfield defense. He would become a fan favorite during his couple years playing in Minnesota before being dealt to the Phillies for Trevor May. He's stolen 30 bases or more in four of his last five seasons and he lead the NL in hits back in 2014. Philadelphia dealt him to the Blue Jays at the end of last season to help with their playoff run. 7. Oswaldo Arcia 2015 Team (Level): Minnesota Twins (MLB), Rochester Red Wings (AAA) Arcia was already showing his power potential in 2010 as he finished the season with a 1.096 OPS for Elizabethton in the Appalachian League. He wouldn't debut with the Twins until 2013 and he would crank 20 home runs at the big league level in 2014. Arcia is still in the Twins organization but he struggled through 2015 to the point where he wasn't given a call-up last September. With the emergence of Miguel Sano and the addition of Byung Ho Park, it will be interesting to see what kind of role Arcia will have in 2016. He could be a good power option off the bench. 8. Liam Hendriks 2015 Team (Level): Toronto Blue Jays (MLB) Hendriks played at both Low- and High-A for the Twins in 2010 before getting on the fast track to the big leagues in 2011. He'd debut as 22-year old and win nine games as a 23-year old but he'd be out of the Twins organization following the 2014 season. Since then, he has pitched in the Royals and Blue Jays systems. Last year, he was a very effective relief pitcher for the Blue Jays as they went on to win the AL East. This offseason he was traded from the Blue Jays to the Athletics for pitcher Jesse Sanchez. 9. Kyle Waldrop 2015 Team (Level): None Waldrop had just made his debut during the 2011 campaign following back-to-back seasons pitching at Triple-A. He'd appear in 24 games for the Twins between 2011 and 2012. He'd pitch one more season professionally in the Pirates organization but he never made it back to the big leagues. Waldrop hasn't pitched at any level since 2013. 10. Max Kepler 2015 Team (Level): Minnesota Twins (MLB), Chattanooga Lookouts (AA) Kepler was coming off his professional debut back in 2010 but he was part of a strong international signing class that included the aforementioned Sano. Kepler seemed to have all the tools necessary to be a five-tool prospect but there were a lot of unknowns surrounding a young player that spent time developing in Europe. He would spend most of his minor league years around the edge of the Twins top-10 prospects before a magical 2015. Kepler was outstanding this season on the way to making his big league debut. He was named Southern League MVP and he helped the Lookouts to win the league's championship.
  17. When the news broke of the Twins' trade of Aaron Hicks to the New York Yankees for John Ryan Murphy, the deal seamed reasonable enough. The club was dealing from an area of strength to address one of its greatest weaknesses. After seeing the free agent and trade markets evolve, things are starting to look worse.There was no reason the team had to deal away a player who would have been of value to the 2016 roster in order to solve the catching problem. True, Matt Wieters, the expected top prize of this offseason's catching group, was surprisingly off the market after accepting the Orioles' qualifying offer. Another potential target, A.J. Pierzynski, quickly resigned with the Braves. Did Terry Ryan overreact to that early activity? It's certainly starting to look like it. Here is a list of the other catchers who have signed so far: Tyler Flowers: 2 years, $5.8 million Brayan Pena: 2 years, $5 million Chris Iannetta: 1 year, $4.25 million Dioner Navarro: 1 year, $4 million Alex Avila: 1 year, $2.5 million Geovany Soto: 1 year, $2 million Josh Thole: 1 year, $0.8 million Jarrod Saltalamacchia: 1 year, $0.508 million Those are very reasonable prices for guys who you could consider serviceable backups at the very least. Another move that went down Thursday evening has me further convinced there is even more reason to question the Hicks-Murphy trade. The San Diego Padres acquired former top prospect Christian Bethancourt from the Braves, giving up basically nothing of value to their major league club for the '16 season. This move is especially notable because with Derek Norris and Austin Hedges already in the fold, San Diego is almost certainly shopping a catcher. Going to Atlanta in that deal is the perpetually busted Casey Kelly, a 26-year-old former prospect who had a 7.94 ERA in 11 1/3 innings with the Padres and a 5.16 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A. The prize of the return for the Braves is 17-year-old catcher Ricardo Rodriguez. So, basically a long shot to ever be a significant contributor and a complete lottery ticket. Sounds like a lot better of a deal than giving up your starting center fielder. In 143 career games at Triple-A, Bethancourt has hit .299/.327/.435 with 12 homers and last season between Atlanta and Gwinette he thew out 23 of 52 base stealers (44%). The Braves soured on him over questions regarding his game calling and an increase in passed balls. The fact that San Diego jumped on him despite not having a need at the position shows they feel he was being undervalued by the Braves, and it seems to me like experience and instruction could go a long way toward fixing those issues. While it's great that the Twins filled a huge hole in the organization by adding Murphy, who is a better long-term solution than any of the free agents listed above and has more of an MLB track record than Bethancourt, it's frustrating to think that hole could have been filled without having to part ways with Hicks. Click here to view the article
  18. There was no reason the team had to deal away a player who would have been of value to the 2016 roster in order to solve the catching problem. True, Matt Wieters, the expected top prize of this offseason's catching group, was surprisingly off the market after accepting the Orioles' qualifying offer. Another potential target, A.J. Pierzynski, quickly resigned with the Braves. Did Terry Ryan overreact to that early activity? It's certainly starting to look like it. Here is a list of the other catchers who have signed so far: Tyler Flowers: 2 years, $5.8 million Brayan Pena: 2 years, $5 million Chris Iannetta: 1 year, $4.25 million Dioner Navarro: 1 year, $4 million Alex Avila: 1 year, $2.5 million Geovany Soto: 1 year, $2 million Josh Thole: 1 year, $0.8 million Jarrod Saltalamacchia: 1 year, $0.508 million Those are very reasonable prices for guys who you could consider serviceable backups at the very least. Another move that went down Thursday evening has me further convinced there is even more reason to question the Hicks-Murphy trade. The San Diego Padres acquired former top prospect Christian Bethancourt from the Braves, giving up basically nothing of value to their major league club for the '16 season. This move is especially notable because with Derek Norris and Austin Hedges already in the fold, San Diego is almost certainly shopping a catcher. Going to Atlanta in that deal is the perpetually busted Casey Kelly, a 26-year-old former prospect who had a 7.94 ERA in 11 1/3 innings with the Padres and a 5.16 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A. The prize of the return for the Braves is 17-year-old catcher Ricardo Rodriguez. So, basically a long shot to ever be a significant contributor and a complete lottery ticket. Sounds like a lot better of a deal than giving up your starting center fielder. In 143 career games at Triple-A, Bethancourt has hit .299/.327/.435 with 12 homers and last season between Atlanta and Gwinette he thew out 23 of 52 base stealers (44%). The Braves soured on him over questions regarding his game calling and an increase in passed balls. The fact that San Diego jumped on him despite not having a need at the position shows they feel he was being undervalued by the Braves, and it seems to me like experience and instruction could go a long way toward fixing those issues. While it's great that the Twins filled a huge hole in the organization by adding Murphy, who is a better long-term solution than any of the free agents listed above and has more of an MLB track record than Bethancourt, it's frustrating to think that hole could have been filled without having to part ways with Hicks.
  19. When the news broke of the Twins' trade of Aaron Hicks to the New York Yankees for John Ryan Murphy, the deal seamed reasonable enough. The club was dealing from an area of strength to address one of it's greatest weaknesses. After seeing the free agent and trade markets evolve, things are starting to look worse. There was no reason the team had to deal away a player who would have been of value to the 2016 roster in order to solve the catching problem. True, Matt Wieters, the expected top prize of this offseason's catching group, was surprisingly off the market after accepting the Orioles' qualifying offer. Another potential target, A.J. Pierzynksi, quickly resigned with the Braves. Did Terry Ryan overreact to that early activity? It's certainly starting to look like it. Here is a list of the other catchers who have signed so far: Tyler Flowers: 2 years, $5.8 million Brayan Pena: 2 years, $5 million Chris Iannetta: 1 year, $4.25 million Dioner Navarro: 1 year, $4 million Alex Avila: 1 year, $2.5 million Geovany Soto: 1 year, $2 million Josh Thole: 1 year, $0.8 million Jarrod Saltalamacchia: 1 year, $0.508 million Those are very reasonable prices for guys who you could consider serviceable backups at the very least. Another move that went down Thursday evening has me further convinced there is even more reason to question the Hicks-Murphy trade. The San Diego Padres acquired former top prospect Christian Bethancourt from the Braves, giving up basically nothing of value to their major league club for the '16 season. This move is especially notable because with Derek Norris and Austin Hedges already in the fold, San Diego is almost certainly shopping a catcher. Going to Atlanta in that deal is the perpetually busted Casey Kelly, a 26-year-old former prospect who had a 7.94 ERA in 11 1/3 innings with the Padres and a 5.16 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A. The prize of the return for the Braves is 17-year-old catcher Ricardo Rodriguez. So, basically a long shot to ever be a significant contributor and a complete lottery ticket. Sounds like a lot better of a deal than giving up your starting center fielder. In 143 career games at Triple-A, Bethancourt has hit .299/.327/.435 with 12 homers and last season between Atlanta and Gwinette he thew out 23 of 52 base stealers (44%). The Braves soured on him over questions regarding his game calling and an increase in passed balls. The fact that San Diego jumped on him despite not having a need at the position shows they feel he was being undervalued by the Braves, and it seems to me like experience and instruction could go a long way in fixing those issues. While it's great that the Twins filled a huge hole in the organization by adding Murphy, who is a better long-term solution than any of the free agents listed above and has more of an MLB track record than Bethancourt, it's frustrating to think that hole could have been filled without having to part ways with Hicks.
  20. Since last Friday when the Minnesota Twins announced they were adding seven players to their 40-man roster, there has been a lot of debate. Who was added? Who shouldn't have been added? Who could be lost in next month's Rule 5 draft? I thought I'd take a look at who the Twins chose to add in recent years, but I'll also look at who the Twins have lost in recent Rule 5 drafts.Last week, the Twins lost AJ Achter and Josmil Pinto on waivers. They then added seven players to their 40-man roster. They added OF Adam Brett Walker, RHP JT Chargois and Yorman Landa, and LHP Taylor Rogers, Pat Dean, Mason Melotakis and Randy Rosario. November 2014 Adds One year ago, the Twins added a couple of players who came up in 2015 and really contributed. They added Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario as position players. They also added RHP Alex Meyer and LHP Jason Wheeler. Rosario was a surprise add to the 25-man roster in May. Maybe it was supposed to be short-term, but he stayed up all year and filled out the stat line nicely offensively and defensively. Sano came up on July 1st and played so well the local media named him the Twins MVP. He finished third recently in AL Rookie of the Year voting while Eddie Rosario finished sixth. 2015 was a frustrating season for Meyer and Wheeler. Meyer came into the season with expectations from fans and media that he would be up quickly and be a top of the rotation starter. After nine starts in AAA, he was moved to the bullpen and continued to struggle. He did make two (not-so-good) appearances with the Twins. It's important to remember that 2015 was his first of three option years and patience is good. Wheeler began the year in Rochester despite only a handful of starts a year earlier in AA. He struggled mightily as well and was sent back to AA. He was outrighted from the 40-man roster in September, but he was named MVP of the Southern League championship series for Chattanooga. The Twins lost LHP Sean Gilmartin to the Mets in the Rule 5. They added RHP JR Graham. November 2013 Adds The Twins added four players; LHP Logan Darnell, DH Kennys Vargas, OF Max Kepler and IF Jorge Polanco. Darnell was the easiest choice of the group. He came up to the big leagues in May to make a couple of starts and pitched in six games for the Twins right away in 2014. He was moved to the bullpen in Rochester in 2015, but in August he started again and pitched as well as he ever has. He was called up for September, but came down with pneumonia. He's still got a role with the Twins, either as a lefty reliever or long reliever. It was a surprise when Kennys Vargas was called up from AA New Britain in August of 2014 following the Josh Willingham trade, but he added nine homers in the middle of the Twins lineup. He as the Opening Day DH for the Twins in 2015 and it was a tough year for him as well. He spent more time in the minors, was even sent down to AA for a stretch in early July. He ended the minor league season strong and came back to the Twins for September. Kepler and Polanco were two players who were highly debated. Many didn't understand why the Twins would protect these two since they had only just completed their season in Cedar Rapids. However, both were easy choices for the Twins. Polanco has had a few cups of coffee with the Twins in the last couple of years and remains a prospect. Kepler saw his tools become skills as he put together a great 2015 season in Chattanooga and debuted with the Twins in September. The Twins didn't add or lose anyone in the 2013 Rule 5 draft. November 2012 Adds There were only a couple of givens to be added in 2012, but the Twins added eight players to their 40-man roster. Former first-round picks, Aaron Hicks (2008) and Kyle Gibson (2009) were the obvious choices. Hicks finally had his breakout season in the minors that year in New Britain. At the time he was added, however, the Twins had not yet traded Ben Revere and Denard Span. That would happen about three weeks later at the Winter Meetings. Gibson was coming off of Tommy John surgery. He debuted in 2013 with ten starts and has been in the Twins rotation the last two full seasons. The Twins also added Danny Santana who, as we all know, has all the tools and athleticism. He came up as the surprise of 2014, playing centerf ield and getting Rookie of the Year votes. As we know, his 2015 season was full of frustrations. Santana is interesting for 2016 as he is now out of options. Likewise Michael Tonkin was added at this time so he is also out of options. He's made about two dozen flights between Rochester and Minnesota since. Caleb Thielbar was a bit of a surprise at the time. He had pitched well at three levels that year after signing with the Twins late in 2011 from the St. Paul Saints. He was the Twins rookie of the year in 2013, and they let him go in 2015. Josmil Pinto was also added. He could have become a minor league free agent following the World Series. The Twins signed him to a minor league deal before that could happen and then added him at this time. He sure showed promise in his September debut that year. Unfortunately poor defense and now concussions have stunted his growth. He was claimed by San Diego last week. BJ Hermsen was the Twins minor league pitcher of the year in 2012 after a fantastic season in Ft. Myers. He was outrighted about a year later. He became a minor league free agent last year but re-signed with the Twins. He underwent Tommy John surgery this spring and is now a free agent again. Tim Wood was a hard-throwing righthander who the Twins had signed to a minor league deal earlier in the month. They added him to the 40-man roster. Unfortunately, he spent most of the 2013 season injured and the team let him go. In the Rule 5 draft, the Twins added RHP Ryan Pressly and lost no one. November 2011 Adds In 2011, the Twins added just three players to the 40-man roster, OF Oswaldo Arcia, RHP Carlos Gutierrez and LHP Tyler Robertson. Arcia was the easy choice as he had crushed minor league pitching for a couple of years. He's had an up-and-down ride in the big leagues. Two years ago, he hit 20 homers for the Twins. Last year, in AAA, he hit under .200. 2016 is a huge year for him as he is out of options. Carlos Gutierrez was a hard-throwing righty, drafted by the Twins in the first round out of Miami. They attempted to have him start, but that didn't work. He preferred the bullpen and had just two pitches. That said, he didn't make it as a reliever either. He is out of baseball now. Tyler Robertson was a lefty, a third-round pick out of high school. He had a terrific season in Beloit which put him on the map as a starter. He debuted with the Twins as a reliever and struck out the side in his first appearance. He made the Opening Day roster for the Twins in 2013 but just two games into the season, he was let go. The Twins added Terry Doyle in the Rule 5 draft, but they sent him back to the White Sox. He has pitched all over since, including some time in Japan. November 2010 Adds The Twins added some young talent in this round of transactions. They added RHP David Bromberg, coming off a couple of seasons in which he led his league in strikeouts. They added three outfielders as well: Chris Parmelee, Joe Benson and Rene Tosoni. Bromberg had a tough 2011 and was removed from the 40-man roster the following year. Benson has as many tools as anyone, but after a September call-up in 2011, he never got back to the Twins. He has played for several organizations in recent years. Tosoni hit a couple of long homers into the bleachers in right-centerfield, but he was unable to do it consistently. He spent parts of a couple of years with the Twins, but has spent the last two years playing indpendent league ball and for Team Canada. Parmelee had a great September debut, but after that, he struggled to find success with the Twins. First base was taken. He played in the outfield. His bat was very inconsistent. There were times he looked like he could take off. Other times, he struggled really badly. The Twins let him go and he surfaced with the Orioles this season. The Twins added Scott Diamond in the Rule 5 and didn't lose anyone. November 2009 Adds The Twins added seven players at this time. The easy choice was 3B Danny Valencia. It wasn't long before he came up and had a strong rookie season. It wasn't long after that that he was sent back to AAA and later traded to the Red Sox. He's played for the Orioles, Blue Jays and now the A's in recent years and has found his niche as a LHP crusher. Deolis Guerra was another easy choice. He came in the Johan Santana trade and struggled, in large part due to being pushed way too fast by the Mets, but he was young and had a chance. He got to AAA and had some months where it looked like he might get called up. He re-signed a couple of minor league deals with the Twins, but last year he signed with the Pirates. He pitched well and earned a promotion to the Pirates for awhile. Alex Burnett was a mid-round high school pick who signed. He was a surprise Opening Day roster add in 2010 and certainly showed flashes of what could be. He spent a couple of years with the Twins before joining the DFA cycle with the Cubs and Blue Jays and other teams. He is out of professional baseball now and works with kids on pitching in California. Rob Delaney was a non-drafted free agent out of college, but he dominated the lower levels of the minor leagues and continued to pitch well as he moved up the ladder. The Twins added him, but then they gave him just one game in the big leagues before giving up on him. He pitched briefly with the Rays in 2011. Estarlin de los Santos fits the Danny Santana mold. A young shortstop (he had just spent an injury-plagued year in Ft. Myers), but he had immense talent, speed, range, big arm, same type of hitter. However, he struggled that year and the Twins removed him from their roster after the season. He remained in the organization through the 2012 season but never got above AA. Loek Van Mil was known as the tallest pitcher in pro baseball history at 7-1. You'll remember the photos of him with 5-3 shortstop Chris Cates. He was added because he has just added some velocity and had decent control. However, he was still a project. He was traded to the Angels in the Brian Fuentes trade and spent time in other organizations. He pitched in Japan in 2014. The Twins signed him late in the 2015 season to a minor league deal. He pitched in a couple of games in September after call-ups. What's interesting is that he is now 31 years old and is throwing in the upper-90s. He may just get a shot with the Twins. That's as far back as I'll go at this time, but that's been a fun list to review. As you can tell, there were some obvious selections in most of those years. There are a lot of guys who have made it, and there are a bunch that never met their perceived potential. Some got cups of coffee and some never got above AA. Real quickly, before losing Sean Gilmartin to the Mets in the 2014 Rule 5 draft, the Twins had not had a player selected in the Rule 5 draft since LHP Jose Lugo in 2008. He was later returned. Interestingly (for me at least), they lost three players in 2007's Rule 5 draft. RHP Tim Lahey was the first pick in that Rule 5 draft. He was a big guy who had just been converted from catcher to the mound but threw really hard. He was taken by the Cubs, then claimed by the Phillies before being returned to the Twins before the season started. RA Dickey was taken later in the draft by Seattle. The Twins had just signed him to a minor league deal, so he was eligible to be taken. The Twins and Ms worked out a deal so Dickey could remain with the Mariners. The Twins got a Low-A catcher named Jair Fernandez who looked like he had some potential. A year later, the Twins waited until after the Rule 5 draft to announce they had again signed Dickey to a minor league contract. Finally, they lost outfielder Garrett Guzman to the Nationals. He spent 2008 in the Nationals minor league system before spending two years playing independent league ball. A year earlier, 2006, the Twins lost RHPs Kevin Cameron (Padres) and Levale Speigner (Nationals) in the Rule 5. Both spent time in the big leagues with those teams. In 2004, RHP Angel Garcia was the first overall pick of the Rule 5 draft, but he was returned to the Twins before the season started. Of course, the Twins also drafted RHP Jared Camp from Cleveland with the first overall pick in that 1999 Rule 5 draft. Johan Santana was selected by Florida with the 2nd pick that year and the two were traded for each other. That story is always fun to tell. So, we make a huge deal out of the Rule 5 draft, and for the players added, it is a big deal. First, it eliminates one obstacle on the way to the big leagues, and second, it is a big financial boost for them. As you can see, there are occasionally Rule 5 picks that help a big league roster for awhile, but for the most part, there aren't a lot of players selected. Like my article from Monday on those great Twins teams, this article was also fun to research as a reminder of a lot of names that I've "covered" over the last dozen years of following the Twins minor leagues. I hope you've enjoyed this as well. Click here to view the article
  21. Last week, the Twins lost AJ Achter and Josmil Pinto on waivers. They then added seven players to their 40-man roster. They added OF Adam Brett Walker, RHP JT Chargois and Yorman Landa, and LHP Taylor Rogers, Pat Dean, Mason Melotakis and Randy Rosario. November 2014 Adds One year ago, the Twins added a couple of players who came up in 2015 and really contributed. They added Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario as position players. They also added RHP Alex Meyer and LHP Jason Wheeler. Rosario was a surprise add to the 25-man roster in May. Maybe it was supposed to be short-term, but he stayed up all year and filled out the stat line nicely offensively and defensively. Sano came up on July 1st and played so well the local media named him the Twins MVP. He finished third recently in AL Rookie of the Year voting while Eddie Rosario finished sixth. 2015 was a frustrating season for Meyer and Wheeler. Meyer came into the season with expectations from fans and media that he would be up quickly and be a top of the rotation starter. After nine starts in AAA, he was moved to the bullpen and continued to struggle. He did make two (not-so-good) appearances with the Twins. It's important to remember that 2015 was his first of three option years and patience is good. Wheeler began the year in Rochester despite only a handful of starts a year earlier in AA. He struggled mightily as well and was sent back to AA. He was outrighted from the 40-man roster in September, but he was named MVP of the Southern League championship series for Chattanooga. The Twins lost LHP Sean Gilmartin to the Mets in the Rule 5. They added RHP JR Graham. November 2013 Adds The Twins added four players; LHP Logan Darnell, DH Kennys Vargas, OF Max Kepler and IF Jorge Polanco. Darnell was the easiest choice of the group. He came up to the big leagues in May to make a couple of starts and pitched in six games for the Twins right away in 2014. He was moved to the bullpen in Rochester in 2015, but in August he started again and pitched as well as he ever has. He was called up for September, but came down with pneumonia. He's still got a role with the Twins, either as a lefty reliever or long reliever. It was a surprise when Kennys Vargas was called up from AA New Britain in August of 2014 following the Josh Willingham trade, but he added nine homers in the middle of the Twins lineup. He as the Opening Day DH for the Twins in 2015 and it was a tough year for him as well. He spent more time in the minors, was even sent down to AA for a stretch in early July. He ended the minor league season strong and came back to the Twins for September. Kepler and Polanco were two players who were highly debated. Many didn't understand why the Twins would protect these two since they had only just completed their season in Cedar Rapids. However, both were easy choices for the Twins. Polanco has had a few cups of coffee with the Twins in the last couple of years and remains a prospect. Kepler saw his tools become skills as he put together a great 2015 season in Chattanooga and debuted with the Twins in September. The Twins didn't add or lose anyone in the 2013 Rule 5 draft. November 2012 Adds There were only a couple of givens to be added in 2012, but the Twins added eight players to their 40-man roster. Former first-round picks, Aaron Hicks (2008) and Kyle Gibson (2009) were the obvious choices. Hicks finally had his breakout season in the minors that year in New Britain. At the time he was added, however, the Twins had not yet traded Ben Revere and Denard Span. That would happen about three weeks later at the Winter Meetings. Gibson was coming off of Tommy John surgery. He debuted in 2013 with ten starts and has been in the Twins rotation the last two full seasons. The Twins also added Danny Santana who, as we all know, has all the tools and athleticism. He came up as the surprise of 2014, playing centerf ield and getting Rookie of the Year votes. As we know, his 2015 season was full of frustrations. Santana is interesting for 2016 as he is now out of options. Likewise Michael Tonkin was added at this time so he is also out of options. He's made about two dozen flights between Rochester and Minnesota since. Caleb Thielbar was a bit of a surprise at the time. He had pitched well at three levels that year after signing with the Twins late in 2011 from the St. Paul Saints. He was the Twins rookie of the year in 2013, and they let him go in 2015. Josmil Pinto was also added. He could have become a minor league free agent following the World Series. The Twins signed him to a minor league deal before that could happen and then added him at this time. He sure showed promise in his September debut that year. Unfortunately poor defense and now concussions have stunted his growth. He was claimed by San Diego last week. BJ Hermsen was the Twins minor league pitcher of the year in 2012 after a fantastic season in Ft. Myers. He was outrighted about a year later. He became a minor league free agent last year but re-signed with the Twins. He underwent Tommy John surgery this spring and is now a free agent again. Tim Wood was a hard-throwing righthander who the Twins had signed to a minor league deal earlier in the month. They added him to the 40-man roster. Unfortunately, he spent most of the 2013 season injured and the team let him go. In the Rule 5 draft, the Twins added RHP Ryan Pressly and lost no one. November 2011 Adds In 2011, the Twins added just three players to the 40-man roster, OF Oswaldo Arcia, RHP Carlos Gutierrez and LHP Tyler Robertson. Arcia was the easy choice as he had crushed minor league pitching for a couple of years. He's had an up-and-down ride in the big leagues. Two years ago, he hit 20 homers for the Twins. Last year, in AAA, he hit under .200. 2016 is a huge year for him as he is out of options. Carlos Gutierrez was a hard-throwing righty, drafted by the Twins in the first round out of Miami. They attempted to have him start, but that didn't work. He preferred the bullpen and had just two pitches. That said, he didn't make it as a reliever either. He is out of baseball now. Tyler Robertson was a lefty, a third-round pick out of high school. He had a terrific season in Beloit which put him on the map as a starter. He debuted with the Twins as a reliever and struck out the side in his first appearance. He made the Opening Day roster for the Twins in 2013 but just two games into the season, he was let go. The Twins added Terry Doyle in the Rule 5 draft, but they sent him back to the White Sox. He has pitched all over since, including some time in Japan. November 2010 Adds The Twins added some young talent in this round of transactions. They added RHP David Bromberg, coming off a couple of seasons in which he led his league in strikeouts. They added three outfielders as well: Chris Parmelee, Joe Benson and Rene Tosoni. Bromberg had a tough 2011 and was removed from the 40-man roster the following year. Benson has as many tools as anyone, but after a September call-up in 2011, he never got back to the Twins. He has played for several organizations in recent years. Tosoni hit a couple of long homers into the bleachers in right-centerfield, but he was unable to do it consistently. He spent parts of a couple of years with the Twins, but has spent the last two years playing indpendent league ball and for Team Canada. Parmelee had a great September debut, but after that, he struggled to find success with the Twins. First base was taken. He played in the outfield. His bat was very inconsistent. There were times he looked like he could take off. Other times, he struggled really badly. The Twins let him go and he surfaced with the Orioles this season. The Twins added Scott Diamond in the Rule 5 and didn't lose anyone. November 2009 Adds The Twins added seven players at this time. The easy choice was 3B Danny Valencia. It wasn't long before he came up and had a strong rookie season. It wasn't long after that that he was sent back to AAA and later traded to the Red Sox. He's played for the Orioles, Blue Jays and now the A's in recent years and has found his niche as a LHP crusher. Deolis Guerra was another easy choice. He came in the Johan Santana trade and struggled, in large part due to being pushed way too fast by the Mets, but he was young and had a chance. He got to AAA and had some months where it looked like he might get called up. He re-signed a couple of minor league deals with the Twins, but last year he signed with the Pirates. He pitched well and earned a promotion to the Pirates for awhile. Alex Burnett was a mid-round high school pick who signed. He was a surprise Opening Day roster add in 2010 and certainly showed flashes of what could be. He spent a couple of years with the Twins before joining the DFA cycle with the Cubs and Blue Jays and other teams. He is out of professional baseball now and works with kids on pitching in California. Rob Delaney was a non-drafted free agent out of college, but he dominated the lower levels of the minor leagues and continued to pitch well as he moved up the ladder. The Twins added him, but then they gave him just one game in the big leagues before giving up on him. He pitched briefly with the Rays in 2011. Estarlin de los Santos fits the Danny Santana mold. A young shortstop (he had just spent an injury-plagued year in Ft. Myers), but he had immense talent, speed, range, big arm, same type of hitter. However, he struggled that year and the Twins removed him from their roster after the season. He remained in the organization through the 2012 season but never got above AA. Loek Van Mil was known as the tallest pitcher in pro baseball history at 7-1. You'll remember the photos of him with 5-3 shortstop Chris Cates. He was added because he has just added some velocity and had decent control. However, he was still a project. He was traded to the Angels in the Brian Fuentes trade and spent time in other organizations. He pitched in Japan in 2014. The Twins signed him late in the 2015 season to a minor league deal. He pitched in a couple of games in September after call-ups. What's interesting is that he is now 31 years old and is throwing in the upper-90s. He may just get a shot with the Twins. That's as far back as I'll go at this time, but that's been a fun list to review. As you can tell, there were some obvious selections in most of those years. There are a lot of guys who have made it, and there are a bunch that never met their perceived potential. Some got cups of coffee and some never got above AA. Real quickly, before losing Sean Gilmartin to the Mets in the 2014 Rule 5 draft, the Twins had not had a player selected in the Rule 5 draft since LHP Jose Lugo in 2008. He was later returned. Interestingly (for me at least), they lost three players in 2007's Rule 5 draft. RHP Tim Lahey was the first pick in that Rule 5 draft. He was a big guy who had just been converted from catcher to the mound but threw really hard. He was taken by the Cubs, then claimed by the Phillies before being returned to the Twins before the season started. RA Dickey was taken later in the draft by Seattle. The Twins had just signed him to a minor league deal, so he was eligible to be taken. The Twins and Ms worked out a deal so Dickey could remain with the Mariners. The Twins got a Low-A catcher named Jair Fernandez who looked like he had some potential. A year later, the Twins waited until after the Rule 5 draft to announce they had again signed Dickey to a minor league contract. Finally, they lost outfielder Garrett Guzman to the Nationals. He spent 2008 in the Nationals minor league system before spending two years playing independent league ball. A year earlier, 2006, the Twins lost RHPs Kevin Cameron (Padres) and Levale Speigner (Nationals) in the Rule 5. Both spent time in the big leagues with those teams. In 2004, RHP Angel Garcia was the first overall pick of the Rule 5 draft, but he was returned to the Twins before the season started. Of course, the Twins also drafted RHP Jared Camp from Cleveland with the first overall pick in that 1999 Rule 5 draft. Johan Santana was selected by Florida with the 2nd pick that year and the two were traded for each other. That story is always fun to tell. So, we make a huge deal out of the Rule 5 draft, and for the players added, it is a big deal. First, it eliminates one obstacle on the way to the big leagues, and second, it is a big financial boost for them. As you can see, there are occasionally Rule 5 picks that help a big league roster for awhile, but for the most part, there aren't a lot of players selected. Like my article from Monday on those great Twins teams, this article was also fun to research as a reminder of a lot of names that I've "covered" over the last dozen years of following the Twins minor leagues. I hope you've enjoyed this as well.
  22. The Minnesota Twins made a flurry of moves over the past few days that have left fans and media types buzzing with anticipation not only for the 2016 season, but also the rest of this offseason. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and the Twins have already made or have the wheels in motion on three moves that had direct 40-man and even 25-man roster implications. The trade to move Chris Herrmann to the Diamondbacks was mostly borne out of a necessity to clear roster space. Even with catcher Eric Fryer outrighted off the 40-man roster at the end of the season, the odds that Herrmann would stick through the winter with the Twins were slim. The Twins flipped him to Arizona and got a toolsy, old-for-his level outfielder in Daniel Palka, who might remind some of Adam Brett Walker with his big-time power and propensity for the strikeout. Both of those characteristics are a bit more tempered with Palka, though he did post the California League’s only 20-20 season in 2015 with 29 home runs and 24 stolen bases. Again, he was old for the level — just a half year above the average age of other High-A contemporaries according to Baseball Reference — and might not have a long-term position, but it’s still an ample return for the less-than-stellar game tape Herrmann had put up in parts of four seasons with the big league club.The other two moves were surprising. The Twins won the bidding for Korean first baseman Byung-ho Park, a 29-year-old masher who has hit 105 home runs over the past two seasons in the KBO. For reference, former Twins left-hander Andrew Albers went to the KBO immediately after the Twins took him off the roster, and NL Rookie of the Year finalist Jung Ho Kang of the Pirates was a nine-year veteran of the KBO before he came over to the big leagues. Kang and Park were teammates with the Nexen Heroes from 2011 to 2014. Kang was coming off an incredible season with nearly a 1.200 OPS with the Heroes when he made the defection a year ago and put together a solid .287/.355/.461 season for Pittsburgh this year as a 28 year old. It sounds as though Park might be seeking a four-year deal perhaps in excess of $20 million, but that seems like a reasonable cost and risk for a player who brings big-time power potential to the table. Park has posted OPS figures north of 1.000 the last three years, with tons of swing-and-miss in his game as well as walks to go with the obvious power. Speed doesn’t appear to be a part of his game, and defensively the folks at Baseball America suggested he was a 55 defensive first baseman (on the 20-80 scouting scale) and perhaps a 40 left fielder. We’ll get into this a more in a bit, but it’ll be interesting to see how he’s handled on that side of the game. The other stunning move was the club shipping Aaron Hicks to the Yankees for catcher John Ryan Murphy. Hicks had a breakthrough in 2015, hitting .256/.323/.398 while showing his loud tools far more frequently than he ever did in his first two seasons. For as good as he looked at times, Hicks’ breakout was still mostly confined to one month — a 1.001 OPS in July — and still primarily from the right side of the plate. In other words, the short side of what would typically be a platoon guy. Yankee Stadium might play up his left-handed swing a bit, and the tools are still here for a star — he’s still younger than when Carlos Gomez broke out with the Brewers, for instance — but the Twins saw a need and struck by getting Murphy. Murphy is just 24, and is late to the game as a catcher who has seen his abilities behind the plate get better each season. Various reports suggest he’s adequate defensively right now, with a pretty good arm and framing and perhaps a need to improve his blocking. He should still in time be able to grade out as slightly above average, and he makes enough contact to be a decent hitter. There isn’t a ton of power — more against lefties than righties — but against same-sided pitchers he did manage to show a better ability to draw walks and hit for average. It’s all in small sample sizes anyway, so it’s hard to really get a read on what he’d look like in, say, 400 plate appearances. It’s all for good reason, too, as the Yankees have Brian McCann ahead of him and Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez behind him. As ESPN’s Keith Law said, it was a good old-fashioned deal that worked for both sides. The Yankees took a chance on potential, while the Twins went the safer route with a stronger floor. Sound familiar? With all these wheels in motion, there are countless storylines that are affected on the existing team. Let’s take a look at each player (possibly) affected, and what it may mean: Kurt Suzuki – Clearly Suzuki is going to see a reduction in his workload, and by the end of the year could be a strict backup if things go perfectly for Murphy. Ultimately, all that really matters is that Suzuki won’t reach the 485 plate appearances needed for his $6 million option in 2017 to vest. It wasn’t going to anyway; with just Fryer and Herrmann behind him Suzuki still got just 479 plate appearances in 2015. Joe Mauer – The sun could be setting on Mauer as a full-time regular, barring a Justin Morneau-style resurrection. With playing time needed for Park and the uncertain futures of a couple other corner-type players, Mauer could see a reduced role in 2016. Then again, if he continues to be one of the best on the team at getting on base, it’s certainly possible he’ll get another 500-plus plate appearances. Miguel Sano – Just how serious are the Twins about Sano playing outfield? That’s the next most important domino to fall, and maybe the club doesn’t even know the answer yet. Could it possibly just be posturing for…. Trevor Plouffe – …a possible Plouffe trade? It’s unclear how much public perception really matters in trade talks, but if the Twins are steadfast in their belief that Sano can handle an outfield corner and that they’ll keep Plouffe well into his arbitration years, well, that’s what they want other teams to believe, too. There’ll be no reason at all to dip into the free agent market for an outfielder if the Twins keep that configuration, though they’d have to be awfully sure Sano can handle the outfield, even if it’s just until the team ultimately moves or moves on from Plouffe, who is eligible for free agency after 2017. Plouffe’s evolution as a solid hitter with big power for the position, as well as his continued development defensively has made this a good problem for the Twins. Eddie Rosario – The only real dilemma for Rosario is where he’ll play. He could literally play any of the three outfield positions, with center seeming to be the least talked about and least likely. Still, most people I’ve talked to believe he could handle it, and it’s clear he’s got the arm to play just about anywhere. Byron Buxton – The pervasive belief from national types is that the Hicks trade opens up center field for Buxton, but the Twins most likely won’t make the same mistake twice. That is, handing the job to a raw but talented youngster who is in over his head. He’ll have ample opportunity to take the job in spring training, but if he’s in Rochester in early April, it wouldn’t be a stunner. Max Kepler – Local sources believe that the club is in love with Kepler’s future, and Law said in an exclusive chat on Thursday that he views the German as having star potential. The odds of him cracking the opening day roster seem remote at this juncture — mostly due to how recently all of his development and skills have come together — but there’s a real chance that his coming of age made the Twins more comfortable with a deal including Hicks. Oswaldo Arcia – Arcia’s sort of a forgotten man, though it’s for good reason given his defensive inadequacies and the fact that he hit sub-.200 while in Rochester for the bulk of the 2015 season. He doesn’t appear to be long for the organization one way or the other — keep in mind he’s out of options this spring — but if he’s starting in right field on opening day, it wouldn’t be a complete stunner. Though that probably means Plouffe was traded and Sano is at third base. Arcia could make it as a reserve outfielder, too, with multiple options who can play center already on the roster. Danny Santana – Santana will be on the big league roster one way or the other as he’s also out of options, but there’s an outside chance he too could start on opening day in center field. After an abysmal 2015 season, it’ll be on Santana to prove he has a big league future, regardless of if it’s as a super utility or if he can settle into one position. Chances are if it’s the latter, it’s in another organization. Kennys Vargas – These offseason moves ultimately feel like the kiss of death for Vargas’ big league prospects as a member of the Twins. After a successful cup of coffee in 2014, Vargas had a very Santana-like 2015, and unlike Danny carries absolutely no value in the field. An enterprising team with a hole at DH might give the Twins a ring — Tampa Bay makes a lot of sense here — but unless he can fix holes in his swing and discipline, he’ll be an all-or-nothing pinch hitting option. There’s still potential here, though; he’ll be 25 for nearly the entire 2016 season. Josmil Pinto – Pinto is just one of three ‘catchers’ on the 40-man roster, and it’s unclear if he’s even viewed as a catcher anymore anyway. After returning from concussion issues in late August, Pinto didn’t get back behind the plate with the Red Wings and hit just .217/.288/.283 in 15 games before the Twins sent him home for the winter. If memory serves he too is out of options in 2016, and with no position flexibility and no room at catcher as the roster currently stands, he’s firmly in limbo as far as the Twins are concerned. The bat has flashed potential at times, but there’s really no hope of him playing anywhere but DH or first base if he can’t catch, and he probably doesn’t have enough juice in the stick to do that on a regular basis. He could make the Twins as a bench bat, but it just doesn’t seem too terribly likely right now. This article originated at Cold Omaha here, please consider clicking through to support the content. Click here to view the article
  23. The other two moves were surprising. The Twins won the bidding for Korean first baseman Byung-ho Park, a 29-year-old masher who has hit 105 home runs over the past two seasons in the KBO. For reference, former Twins left-hander Andrew Albers went to the KBO immediately after the Twins took him off the roster, and NL Rookie of the Year finalist Jung Ho Kang of the Pirates was a nine-year veteran of the KBO before he came over to the big leagues. Kang and Park were teammates with the Nexen Heroes from 2011 to 2014. Kang was coming off an incredible season with nearly a 1.200 OPS with the Heroes when he made the defection a year ago and put together a solid .287/.355/.461 season for Pittsburgh this year as a 28 year old. It sounds as though Park might be seeking a four-year deal perhaps in excess of $20 million, but that seems like a reasonable cost and risk for a player who brings big-time power potential to the table. Park has posted OPS figures north of 1.000 the last three years, with tons of swing-and-miss in his game as well as walks to go with the obvious power. Speed doesn’t appear to be a part of his game, and defensively the folks at Baseball America suggested he was a 55 defensive first baseman (on the 20-80 scouting scale) and perhaps a 40 left fielder. We’ll get into this a more in a bit, but it’ll be interesting to see how he’s handled on that side of the game. The other stunning move was the club shipping Aaron Hicks to the Yankees for catcher John Ryan Murphy. Hicks had a breakthrough in 2015, hitting .256/.323/.398 while showing his loud tools far more frequently than he ever did in his first two seasons. For as good as he looked at times, Hicks’ breakout was still mostly confined to one month — a 1.001 OPS in July — and still primarily from the right side of the plate. In other words, the short side of what would typically be a platoon guy. Yankee Stadium might play up his left-handed swing a bit, and the tools are still here for a star — he’s still younger than when Carlos Gomez broke out with the Brewers, for instance — but the Twins saw a need and struck by getting Murphy. Murphy is just 24, and is late to the game as a catcher who has seen his abilities behind the plate get better each season. Various reports suggest he’s adequate defensively right now, with a pretty good arm and framing and perhaps a need to improve his blocking. He should still in time be able to grade out as slightly above average, and he makes enough contact to be a decent hitter. There isn’t a ton of power — more against lefties than righties — but against same-sided pitchers he did manage to show a better ability to draw walks and hit for average. It’s all in small sample sizes anyway, so it’s hard to really get a read on what he’d look like in, say, 400 plate appearances. It’s all for good reason, too, as the Yankees have Brian McCann ahead of him and Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez behind him. As ESPN’s Keith Law said, it was a good old-fashioned deal that worked for both sides. The Yankees took a chance on potential, while the Twins went the safer route with a stronger floor. Sound familiar? With all these wheels in motion, there are countless storylines that are affected on the existing team. Let’s take a look at each player (possibly) affected, and what it may mean: Kurt Suzuki – Clearly Suzuki is going to see a reduction in his workload, and by the end of the year could be a strict backup if things go perfectly for Murphy. Ultimately, all that really matters is that Suzuki won’t reach the 485 plate appearances needed for his $6 million option in 2017 to vest. It wasn’t going to anyway; with just Fryer and Herrmann behind him Suzuki still got just 479 plate appearances in 2015. Joe Mauer – The sun could be setting on Mauer as a full-time regular, barring a Justin Morneau-style resurrection. With playing time needed for Park and the uncertain futures of a couple other corner-type players, Mauer could see a reduced role in 2016. Then again, if he continues to be one of the best on the team at getting on base, it’s certainly possible he’ll get another 500-plus plate appearances. Miguel Sano – Just how serious are the Twins about Sano playing outfield? That’s the next most important domino to fall, and maybe the club doesn’t even know the answer yet. Could it possibly just be posturing for…. Trevor Plouffe – …a possible Plouffe trade? It’s unclear how much public perception really matters in trade talks, but if the Twins are steadfast in their belief that Sano can handle an outfield corner and that they’ll keep Plouffe well into his arbitration years, well, that’s what they want other teams to believe, too. There’ll be no reason at all to dip into the free agent market for an outfielder if the Twins keep that configuration, though they’d have to be awfully sure Sano can handle the outfield, even if it’s just until the team ultimately moves or moves on from Plouffe, who is eligible for free agency after 2017. Plouffe’s evolution as a solid hitter with big power for the position, as well as his continued development defensively has made this a good problem for the Twins. Eddie Rosario – The only real dilemma for Rosario is where he’ll play. He could literally play any of the three outfield positions, with center seeming to be the least talked about and least likely. Still, most people I’ve talked to believe he could handle it, and it’s clear he’s got the arm to play just about anywhere. Byron Buxton – The pervasive belief from national types is that the Hicks trade opens up center field for Buxton, but the Twins most likely won’t make the same mistake twice. That is, handing the job to a raw but talented youngster who is in over his head. He’ll have ample opportunity to take the job in spring training, but if he’s in Rochester in early April, it wouldn’t be a stunner. Max Kepler – Local sources believe that the club is in love with Kepler’s future, and Law said in an exclusive chat on Thursday that he views the German as having star potential. The odds of him cracking the opening day roster seem remote at this juncture — mostly due to how recently all of his development and skills have come together — but there’s a real chance that his coming of age made the Twins more comfortable with a deal including Hicks. Oswaldo Arcia – Arcia’s sort of a forgotten man, though it’s for good reason given his defensive inadequacies and the fact that he hit sub-.200 while in Rochester for the bulk of the 2015 season. He doesn’t appear to be long for the organization one way or the other — keep in mind he’s out of options this spring — but if he’s starting in right field on opening day, it wouldn’t be a complete stunner. Though that probably means Plouffe was traded and Sano is at third base. Arcia could make it as a reserve outfielder, too, with multiple options who can play center already on the roster. Danny Santana – Santana will be on the big league roster one way or the other as he’s also out of options, but there’s an outside chance he too could start on opening day in center field. After an abysmal 2015 season, it’ll be on Santana to prove he has a big league future, regardless of if it’s as a super utility or if he can settle into one position. Chances are if it’s the latter, it’s in another organization. Kennys Vargas – These offseason moves ultimately feel like the kiss of death for Vargas’ big league prospects as a member of the Twins. After a successful cup of coffee in 2014, Vargas had a very Santana-like 2015, and unlike Danny carries absolutely no value in the field. An enterprising team with a hole at DH might give the Twins a ring — Tampa Bay makes a lot of sense here — but unless he can fix holes in his swing and discipline, he’ll be an all-or-nothing pinch hitting option. There’s still potential here, though; he’ll be 25 for nearly the entire 2016 season. Josmil Pinto – Pinto is just one of three ‘catchers’ on the 40-man roster, and it’s unclear if he’s even viewed as a catcher anymore anyway. After returning from concussion issues in late August, Pinto didn’t get back behind the plate with the Red Wings and hit just .217/.288/.283 in 15 games before the Twins sent him home for the winter. If memory serves he too is out of options in 2016, and with no position flexibility and no room at catcher as the roster currently stands, he’s firmly in limbo as far as the Twins are concerned. The bat has flashed potential at times, but there’s really no hope of him playing anywhere but DH or first base if he can’t catch, and he probably doesn’t have enough juice in the stick to do that on a regular basis. He could make the Twins as a bench bat, but it just doesn’t seem too terribly likely right now. This article originated at Cold Omaha here, please consider clicking through to support the content.
  24. In a stunning move, the Minnesota Twins announced today that they have traded outfielder Aaron Hicks to the New York Yankees in exchange for catcher John Ryan Murphy. The move comes one day after the Twins trimmed down their catching depth by dealing Chris Herrmann to Arizona.Hicks, a 26-year-old former first-round draft pick, enjoyed a breakout season of sorts in 2015, hitting .256/.323/.398 with 11 home runs in 97 games for Minnesota after struggling mightily in 2013 and 2014. Murphy, a 24-year-old former second-round pick, has served as a backup catcher in New York for parts of the last three seasons and hit .277/.327/.406 this year with three homers and 14 RBI in 67 games. He threw out eight base runners on 29 steal attempts (28 percent). The righty-swinging Murphy is a career .277/.311/.374 hitter in the minors. The trade has wide-reaching implications for both teams. The Yankees now seem less likely to bring back free agent outfielder Chris Young, and the acquisition of Hicks might increase the likelihood of a rumored Brett Gardner trade. For the Twins, trading Hicks helps clear out a logjam in the outfield and opens the door for Miguel Sano to potentially take over a corner spot with Korean import Byung-ho Park entering the fold as DH. Murphy will likely share time with Kurt Suzuki behind the plate in 2016 and could hypothetically be a long-term solution at catcher, although his track record doesn't necessarily suggest he'll hit enough to be an impact starter at the position. You may remember Murphy as the guy who sunk the Twins with a three-run homer off Glen Perkins at Target Field in July. What do you think? Did the Terry Ryan sell low on the talented Hicks? Click here to view the article
  25. Hicks, a 26-year-old former first-round draft pick, enjoyed a breakout season of sorts in 2015, hitting .256/.323/.398 with 11 home runs in 97 games for Minnesota after struggling mightily in 2013 and 2014. Murphy, a 24-year-old former second-round pick, has served as a backup catcher in New York for parts of the last three seasons and hit .277/.327/.406 this year with three homers and 14 RBI in 67 games. He threw out eight base runners on 29 steal attempts (28 percent). The righty-swinging Murphy is a career .277/.311/.374 hitter in the minors. The trade has wide-reaching implications for both teams. The Yankees now seem less likely to bring back free agent outfielder Chris Young, and the acquisition of Hicks might increase the likelihood of a rumored Brett Gardner trade. For the Twins, trading Hicks helps clear out a logjam in the outfield and opens the door for Miguel Sano to potentially take over a corner spot with Korean import Byung-ho Park entering the fold as DH. Murphy will likely share time with Kurt Suzuki behind the plate in 2016 and could hypothetically be a long-term solution at catcher, although his track record doesn't necessarily suggest he'll hit enough to be an impact starter at the position. You may remember Murphy as the guy who sunk the Twins with a three-run homer off Glen Perkins at Target Field in July. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBIKjhVcmzQ What do you think? Did the Terry Ryan sell low on the talented Hicks?
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