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  1. A great pitching performance was not enough. The Twins offense wasted too many opportunities to score, despite producing a lot of baserunners. The Cubs, making their first trip to Target Field in six years, take game one of the interleague series. Box Score John Gant: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K (64% strikes) Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Kepler -.209, Buxton -.148, Simmons -.144 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Each team scored a run in the first inning. John Gant, who’s trying to make a case for himself to be a part of the 2022 starting rotation, nearly had an uneventful top of the first. Standing in the way was Frank Schwindel, who jumped on the first pitch he saw to make it 1-0 Cubs. But that lead didn’t last long. Luis Arraez opened up the bottom of the inning with a leadoff double, snapping an 0-for-16 slump. Byron Buxton followed up with a single to move Arraez to third, and Jorge Polanco pushed him across with a sac-fly, tying the game. Since we mentioned Buxton, get a load of what he did during the second inning: The Cubs still managed to score their leadoff runner that same inning, after Robinson Chirinos hit a blast to center field and Brent Rooker couldn’t field it at the warning track. The ball apparently hit him on the leg and rolled away from Buxton. Matt Duffy scored, and Chirinos reached third very easily, giving Chicago back the lead. Minnesota threatened again, in the bottom half, with men in the corners with no outs. But this time, they ended up empty-handed. After a busy first couple of innings, both pitchers settled down and dominated opposing pitchers. Gant finished off his start with a perfect second time through the order – three consecutive 1-2-3 innings. He didn’t walk a single batter all night. Unfortunately for the Twins, Cubs starter Zach Davies also put away nine batters in a row, starting in the second inning. It was not until the fifth that the Twins would have baserunners again. Both of them ended up being stranded. Juan Minaya came in relief of Gant and faced the minimum in the sixth. However, he couldn’t keep up the good work during the seventh when he loaded the bases with no outs, forcing Rocco Baldelli to pull him from the game. Tyler Duffey took the mound and did a fantastic job, striking out the side on 16 pitches. This was the first time since May 29 (third overall) that Duffey pitched at least one scoreless inning with three strikeouts. With his outing tonight, he posted a 2.25 ERA in August. Meanwhile, the offense kept struggling against Cubs pitching. They stranded a pair of runners in the bottom of the seventh, at which point they had accumulated five men left on base and were 1-for-7 with men in scoring position. Chicago’s offense, on the other hand, extended their lead in the eighth, with Ian Happ hitting a monstrous third deck home run to left, which gave the Cubs a two-run lead, 3-1. The Twins tried to start a rally during the eighth, loading the bases with singles by Arraez and Polanco, and a walk by Donaldson. With only one out, Max Kepler hit a bloop to shallow right, and Arraez decided to tag up, but Duffy made a perfect throw home to get him, giving Chicago an inning-ending double play. Ralph Garza Jr. kept Minnesota’s hopes alive by pitching a scoreless ninth, but the offense went down in order in the bottom half. Despite losing tonight, the Twins still end up August with a winning record (14-13), the first time this has happened this season. They face the games again this Wednesday (9/1), at 7:10 pm CT, with Joe Ryan set to make his big-league debut. Check out Tom Froemming's video recap of tonight's Twins action! Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Albers 88 0 0 0 0 88 Colomé 13 13 0 23 0 49 Thielbar 0 23 0 0 26 49 Minaya 0 17 0 0 24 41 Alcalá 12 0 0 25 0 37 Gibaut 0 0 33 0 0 33 Garza Jr. 0 0 11 0 17 28 Duffey 6 0 0 0 16 22 Coulombe 20 0 0 0 0 20 View full article
  2. Box Score John Gant: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K (64% strikes) Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Kepler -.209, Buxton -.148, Simmons -.144 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Each team scored a run in the first inning. John Gant, who’s trying to make a case for himself to be a part of the 2022 starting rotation, nearly had an uneventful top of the first. Standing in the way was Frank Schwindel, who jumped on the first pitch he saw to make it 1-0 Cubs. But that lead didn’t last long. Luis Arraez opened up the bottom of the inning with a leadoff double, snapping an 0-for-16 slump. Byron Buxton followed up with a single to move Arraez to third, and Jorge Polanco pushed him across with a sac-fly, tying the game. Since we mentioned Buxton, get a load of what he did during the second inning: The Cubs still managed to score their leadoff runner that same inning, after Robinson Chirinos hit a blast to center field and Brent Rooker couldn’t field it at the warning track. The ball apparently hit him on the leg and rolled away from Buxton. Matt Duffy scored, and Chirinos reached third very easily, giving Chicago back the lead. Minnesota threatened again, in the bottom half, with men in the corners with no outs. But this time, they ended up empty-handed. After a busy first couple of innings, both pitchers settled down and dominated opposing pitchers. Gant finished off his start with a perfect second time through the order – three consecutive 1-2-3 innings. He didn’t walk a single batter all night. Unfortunately for the Twins, Cubs starter Zach Davies also put away nine batters in a row, starting in the second inning. It was not until the fifth that the Twins would have baserunners again. Both of them ended up being stranded. Juan Minaya came in relief of Gant and faced the minimum in the sixth. However, he couldn’t keep up the good work during the seventh when he loaded the bases with no outs, forcing Rocco Baldelli to pull him from the game. Tyler Duffey took the mound and did a fantastic job, striking out the side on 16 pitches. This was the first time since May 29 (third overall) that Duffey pitched at least one scoreless inning with three strikeouts. With his outing tonight, he posted a 2.25 ERA in August. Meanwhile, the offense kept struggling against Cubs pitching. They stranded a pair of runners in the bottom of the seventh, at which point they had accumulated five men left on base and were 1-for-7 with men in scoring position. Chicago’s offense, on the other hand, extended their lead in the eighth, with Ian Happ hitting a monstrous third deck home run to left, which gave the Cubs a two-run lead, 3-1. The Twins tried to start a rally during the eighth, loading the bases with singles by Arraez and Polanco, and a walk by Donaldson. With only one out, Max Kepler hit a bloop to shallow right, and Arraez decided to tag up, but Duffy made a perfect throw home to get him, giving Chicago an inning-ending double play. Ralph Garza Jr. kept Minnesota’s hopes alive by pitching a scoreless ninth, but the offense went down in order in the bottom half. Despite losing tonight, the Twins still end up August with a winning record (14-13), the first time this has happened this season. They face the games again this Wednesday (9/1), at 7:10 pm CT, with Joe Ryan set to make his big-league debut. Check out Tom Froemming's video recap of tonight's Twins action! Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Albers 88 0 0 0 0 88 Colomé 13 13 0 23 0 49 Thielbar 0 23 0 0 26 49 Minaya 0 17 0 0 24 41 Alcalá 12 0 0 25 0 37 Gibaut 0 0 33 0 0 33 Garza Jr. 0 0 11 0 17 28 Duffey 6 0 0 0 16 22 Coulombe 20 0 0 0 0 20
  3. My proposal; send Berrios, Buxton, Rogers, and Sano (while also paying for the rest of his contract, including buyout. If the Padres pick up the option, they send the buyout back to the Twins). The Twins get from the Padres Gore, Abrams, Hassell, Haynes, and Lizarraga. The Padres immediately increase their chances to win the West (it seems likely the two wild cards will come from the NL West; do you really want to worry about having to beat the Dodgers in a 50-50 game?). They also keep all of those guys for next year, giving them a nice two year window to win a title. The Twins signal they are in rebuilding mode, but get a potential front-line starter, a guy who should be their starting shortstop next year, a replacement for Buxton in center, and two lottery ticket arms. If this hits, the Twins will have a core of Kiriloff, Polanco, Abrams, Miranda, Arraez, Hassell, Larnach, and Jeffers in the field, with Gore, Maeda, Duran, Balazovic, and Winder in the rotation in 2023 (if they trade Donaldson, which they should, even if they have to eat some money). With that core, and all kinds of money to spend, the Twins could be a dark horse in 2023, and a serious contender in 2024 (think the 2020/2021 White Sox timeline).
  4. The Rangers entertain the Twins in Texas in the middle game of a three game set. Buxton is back! La Tortuga is gone (for now), but not forgotten. Dobnak gets one last chance to show he can be in the rotation. Play ball. Pitchers: PLAYER W-L ERA WHIP IP H K BB HR R. Dobnak 1-6 8.38 1.73 38.2 56 24 11 10 K. Allard 2-2 2.91 1.12 34.0 29 37 9 4 Twins: J. Polanco 2B 0-0 0 0 0 .254 TODAY'S AT BATSFull Player Profile No at bats in this game B. Buxton CF 0-0 0 0 0 .370 N. Cruz DH 0-0 0 0 0 .300 T. Larnach LF 0-0 0 0 0 .259 R. Jeffers C 0-0 0 0 0 .221 M. Sano 1B 0-0 0 0 0 .179 M. Kepler RF 0-0 0 0 0 .204 A. Simmons SS 0-0 0 0 0 .241 L. Arraez 3B 0-0 0 0 0 .273 Rangers: HITTERS H-AB R RBI BB AVG I. Kiner-Falefa SS 0-0 0 0 0 .288 N. Lowe 1B 0-0 0 0 0 .242 A. Garcia CF 0-0 0 0 0 .273 J. Gallo RF 0-0 0 0 0 .218 N. Solak 2B 0-0 0 0 0 .233 W. Calhoun DH 0-0 0 0 0 .249 E. White LF 0-0 0 0 0 .169 J. Heim C 0-0 0 0 0 .195 C. Culberson 3B 0-0 0 0 0 .218
  5. The Twins visit Seattle on the first leg of a two-city road trip. The Mariners are three games under .500 despite having a poorer run differential than the Twins, who are 13 games below the break-even mark. The Mariners started the Twins slide off a cliff in April when they came back from a 6-0 deficit in the middle innings and beat the Twins. The Twins really haven't been the same since. Yesterday's game marked another low point as the Twins gave up 14 runs and 20 hits to a good Houston lineup. The three relievers who followed Pineda to the mound yielded runs in every inning, totaling nine runs and 14 hits in five innings. The way those three pitchers are throwing, they should not be on a big league pitching staff. There will be reinforcements. Kenta Maeda is scheduled to start tonight and the return of position players Luis Arraez and Byron Buxton seems imminent. Max Kepler is rehabbing in St. Paul and probably will be ready before the team returns to Minnesota. A week from today, the roster figures to look considerably different than the squad that faced Houston. Only Maeda can pitch among the returnees and that is where the Twins have fallen apart. Further it looks like there isn't much help available in the minor leagues. There will be a crunch particularly among the outfielders. Adding back Buxton and eventually Kepler will give the Twins a lot of choices to play the corner outfield spots. Given how the season has gone, there probably will be an injury or two to current players. This is not the season I expected, but watching the progress (or lack thereof) of players is about all a fan can do. Go Twins! Lineups to follow. Twins Kenta Maeda (R) 1. Jorge Polanco (S) 2B 2. Josh Donaldson (R) 3B 3. Nelson Cruz (R) DH 4. Trevor Larnach (L) LF 5. Ryan Jeffers (R) C 6. Miguel Sano (R) 1B 7. Alex Kirilloff (L) RF 8. Andrelton Simmons (R) SS 9. Gilberto Celestino (R) CF Mariners Marco Gonzales (L) 1. J.P. Crawford (L) SS 2. Jake Fraley (L) DH 3. Ty France (R) 1B 4. Kyle Seager (L) 3B 5. Dylan Moore (R) 2B 6. Jake Bauers (L) RF 7. Tom Murphy (R) C 8. Shed Long Jr. (L) LF 9. Taylor Trammell (L) CF
  6. Buxton is listed only on the MLB HR leaders list. Not on OPS or AVG or SLG or OBP. He should be the leader in several of these. He has as many bats (19) as Naquin. Why isn't he listed?
  7. After two frustrating games against the White Sox the Twins find themselves three games back from the South-Siders in the AL Central race. The good news? The Twins’ bats have been hot against Chicago ace Lucas Giolito, who takes the bump tonight.Yesteday's Game Recap CHW 6, MIN 2: White Hot-White Sox TODAY Twins (30-20) @ White Sox (32-16), 7:10 pm CDT Twins Starter: Jake Odorizzi, RHP 8.10 ERA Rocco Baldelli announced Tuesday night that Odorizzi will return from the 10-day IL to start Wednesday night’s game against Chicago. Odorizzi was placed on the IL after taking a liner off the chest on August 21 against the Royals. It’s been a year of injuries for ‘Odo,’ as he missed the entire month of July with a back injury and has only made three starts all season. All of Odorizzi's starts have come against the Royals, who split the season series with the Twins at five a piece. Odorizzi has a clean slate against the Sox this year and hopefully tonight;s game will provide an opportunity for him to find some sort of rhythm for the first time this year. Last year Odorizzi posted a 2-2 record against the Sox in four starts. White Sox Starter: Lucas Giolito RHP 3.43 ERA Giolito has played an integral role to the success story of baseball across the Windy City this summer. Not only did Giolito record his first no-hitter on August 25, he did it in dominant fashion, striking out 13 and only walking one batter against the Pirates. That performance combined with Alec Mills’ no-no on August 13 for the Cubs marked the first time both Chicago teams have recorded a no-hitter in the same season. While Giolito has posted a 4-2 record on the season his two starts against Minnesota have been rocky. In the season opener the Twins shelled Giolito as he exited the game after just 3.2 innings, giving up 7 runs on 6 hits and 2 homers. And even though the Twins lost their August 31 matchup to the Sox they were able to post 4 runs on 4 hits in Giolito’s five innings on the mound. Twins Starting Lineup: White Sox Starting Lineup: What to Watch for: Max Kepler has a career .364 average against Giolito in 22 at-bats. Nelson Cruz has a .353 average in 17 at-bats, including three home runs. Expect these two sluggers to carry the heavyweight for the Twins offense against the White Sox ace.Byron Buxton is faster than Jimmy John’s delivery service. He proved that last night, banking his third career inside the park home run on a line drive he clubbed to left center field. Buxton has batted .304 in his last seven games and will need to find ways to get on base for the Twins to find success.Jake Odorizzi hasn’t made it past 4 innings yet this year. And after a game where the Twins’ bullpen was heavily utilized they will need him to put up a quality start.Other News:In addition to Odorizzi, the Twins have activated Alex Avila from the Injured List. As a result, the team has optioned Travis Blankenhorn and Randy Dobnak to the team's alternative site in St. Paul. Around the AL Central Chicago White Sox 32-16 Minnesota Twins 30-20 (3 GB) Cleveland Indians 26-22 (6 GB) Detroit Tigers 21-26 (10.5 GB) Kansas City Royals 20-29 (12.5 GB) Click here to view the article
  8. Yesteday's Game Recap CHW 6, MIN 2: White Hot-White Sox TODAY Twins (30-20) @ White Sox (32-16), 7:10 pm CDT Twins Starter: Jake Odorizzi, RHP 8.10 ERA Rocco Baldelli announced Tuesday night that Odorizzi will return from the 10-day IL to start Wednesday night’s game against Chicago. Odorizzi was placed on the IL after taking a liner off the chest on August 21 against the Royals. It’s been a year of injuries for ‘Odo,’ as he missed the entire month of July with a back injury and has only made three starts all season. All of Odorizzi's starts have come against the Royals, who split the season series with the Twins at five a piece. Odorizzi has a clean slate against the Sox this year and hopefully tonight;s game will provide an opportunity for him to find some sort of rhythm for the first time this year. Last year Odorizzi posted a 2-2 record against the Sox in four starts. White Sox Starter: Lucas Giolito RHP 3.43 ERA Giolito has played an integral role to the success story of baseball across the Windy City this summer. Not only did Giolito record his first no-hitter on August 25, he did it in dominant fashion, striking out 13 and only walking one batter against the Pirates. That performance combined with Alec Mills’ no-no on August 13 for the Cubs marked the first time both Chicago teams have recorded a no-hitter in the same season. While Giolito has posted a 4-2 record on the season his two starts against Minnesota have been rocky. In the season opener the Twins shelled Giolito as he exited the game after just 3.2 innings, giving up 7 runs on 6 hits and 2 homers. And even though the Twins lost their August 31 matchup to the Sox they were able to post 4 runs on 4 hits in Giolito’s five innings on the mound. Twins Starting Lineup: https://twitter.com/dailyrotonews/status/1306349381558448129 White Sox Starting Lineup: https://twitter.com/dailyrotonews/status/1306307860637405185 What to Watch for: Max Kepler has a career .364 average against Giolito in 22 at-bats. Nelson Cruz has a .353 average in 17 at-bats, including three home runs. Expect these two sluggers to carry the heavyweight for the Twins offense against the White Sox ace. Byron Buxton is faster than Jimmy John’s delivery service. He proved that last night, banking his third career inside the park home run on a line drive he clubbed to left center field. Buxton has batted .304 in his last seven games and will need to find ways to get on base for the Twins to find success. Jake Odorizzi hasn’t made it past 4 innings yet this year. And after a game where the Twins’ bullpen was heavily utilized they will need him to put up a quality start. Other News: In addition to Odorizzi, the Twins have activated Alex Avila from the Injured List. As a result, the team has optioned Travis Blankenhorn and Randy Dobnak to the team's alternative site in St. Paul. Around the AL Central Chicago White Sox 32-16 Minnesota Twins 30-20 (3 GB) Cleveland Indians 26-22 (6 GB) Detroit Tigers 21-26 (10.5 GB) Kansas City Royals 20-29 (12.5 GB)
  9. Reading the blogs and comments I see a lot of people looking at the outfielders and whether we should trade Rosario for starting pitching, put Jake Cave on the roster for Post Season and how to handle the surplus in the minors. September is a big audition month and a time to give some players a little rest. We have too many players who need to be added to the 40 man and not enough room. Do we trade, do we DFA, do we get rid of players already on the roster? Do we allow free agents to leave? So how do we clear the surplus? As I pondered the Rosario trade idea I was struck with the fact that Eddie is a nice player, but in many ways he his not much above replacement in a league where everyone hits HRs. I see Eddie behind Buxton and Kepler, but trading requires the other teams to value your player as high as you would like them too and I do not see Eddie bringing in the SP that we dream of. Nor do I see Cave as a full time player being better than Eddie - another just above replacement performer - nice but not essential. My thought is that if we want something; the player teams will value highest is Buxton. Buxton has now had 1250 big league at bats and this was his best year, but overall he has hit 237/292/706, His defense is what we really value, but he has to be on the field to provide defense. April 1, 2014 Buxton put on injury list by Fort Myers, and again in Fort Myers on May 11 and July 6. July 26, 2015 on DL (Twins) thumb injury. July 15, 2017 Buxton on DL, groin injury. April 2018 on IL for migraines; May 10 broken toe and July 14 back on IL with left wrist strain. In August 2018 he was on the DL in Rochester with a left wrist injury, in June 2019 he was on the IL with a right wrist injury, July 16 on the IL with concussion symptoms, and again on July 23, concussion again, and August 3 - left shoulder subluxation. He played five years in 388/810 games - 48%. How long before injuries and age remove speed and reduce him to a nice, but not great OF? He is valued by us and many others - if we want a starting pitcher Byron might be the best bait. But do we have another CF? Kepler probably moves there and in two years we would be surrounded by Larnach and Kiriloff and our OF defense would not be great. I cannot see this team extending Rosario and I do not see Cave as more than a place holder. Is there a CF in the system? So I see Rosario going, at least as a FA, Cave as a place holder and Buxton probably still here, but a good trade bait. I see Larnach and Kiriloff coming up, I see Rooker going somewhere else and I see Wade as never more than a fourth OF and probably playing for another team - maybe Gardy would like him in Detroit.
  10. At the half way mark the one area of Twins baseball that is really bothering me is fielding. It used to be that the fundamentals of fielding were the Twins specialty, but now that we have the bats, we seem to be slipping in the field. I went to the various web sources to see if my eye test was right on a night that Adrianza makes two errors behind Berrios in a loss to the White Sox. Looking at fielding stats in Baseball Almanac http://www.baseball-almanac.com/teamstats/fielding.php?y=2019&t=MIN I went the simple way to test the fielding - I clicked on errors. Here is our starting infield by errors: Polanco - 9 Cron - 6 Schoop - 6 Sano - 5 Utility Men - infield errors only Adrianza - 6 Gonzalez 3 Astudillo - 2 That is 37 errors in exactly one half season - by the infield (not counting catching and pitching). https://www.espn.co.uk/mlb/team/stats/_/type/fielding/name/min/table/fielding/sort/defWARBR/dir/asc According to ESPN we have only three with negative defensive WAR - Castro, Cron, and Cave (what is it with the letter C?). It might come to a surprise for many but both Sano and Astudillo are a plus 0.1! This is despite the fact that Sano has a fielding pct (old school, I know) of 937. And as expected Kepler, Rosario, and Buxton are all +s in fielding with Buxton leading with 1.2. https://www.foxsports.com/mlb/minnesota-twins-team-stats?season=2019&category=FIELDING&group=1&time=0&pos=0&splitType=0&page=1 I have a hard time evaluating catchers - framing, calling a game, SB no longer seems to matter...When I went to http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/sortable.jsp#elem=%5Bobject+Object%5D&tab_level=child&click_text=Sortable+Player+fielding&game_type='R'&season=2019&season_type=ANY&league_code='AL'&sectionType=sp&statType=fielding&page=1&ts=1561813674629&position='2' I did not even see one of our catchers in among the 14 that they rank in fielding stats. And in ESPN fielding stats - including the non-qualified (batting title) Castro ranks 37. http://www.espn.com/mlb/stats/fielding/_/position/c/qualified/false/order/true In fielding pct the Twins rank #10 and according to Baseball Reference the Twins are -2 in their state Rtot - Runs above average which matches our catchers total. https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/2019-specialpos_c-fielding.shtml I repeat - Baseball defense is the hardest to measure, but using the tools that are available we are not elite, closer to average in fielding.
  11. ♪Tis the season for Spring Training♪, ♪Come Along with me to Fort Myers♪ Not as catchy as I contemplated, but the day pitchers and catchers report usually marks a new focus for the American Sports Landscape. You get predictions, it’s (newly inundated) but the clock’s ticking for free agency crunch time, rosters battles are waged as players jockey for roster positioning, and the fresh aroma of roster cuts lingers through the air. No better time of year, especially since every club is granted a new slate to which to engrave their fate. With the season rapidly approaching, spring training is the time of year which rejuvenates the baseball brethren. You get some real baseball (exhibition practice) but baseball more or less, despite the majority of us being in an absolute winter inferno. Speaking of Spring Training, it's also the time where newly added players begin sporting snazzy and brand new spanking merch and apparel. The Twins have infused their voids with many of these stop-gaps, budget friendly assets through free agency. Martin Perez, Blake Parker, Michael Pineda, Nelson Cruz, and C.J. Cron only begin the conversation of what new faces we probably might see play significant roles during the season. Among the most recently acquired faces, is Marwin Gonzalez. When reports surfaced that the Twins were interested in Gonzalez, let's say I was fairly reluctant that they would incline to pull trigger. And I assure, I wasn’t alone. But, sitting in biology class taking a genetics quiz I nearly lurched outta my seat as my phone buzzed incessentally. Let’s just presume that I wasn’t doing anything against the rules beforehand, but I literally couldn’t not stop smiling after I found out. But to my compadres, me enjoying this reprehensible quiz just added another layer of my peculiarity to my mantle. And in hindsight, I aced that quiz so who’s winning now…. But aside from this tangent, let’s analyze MarWIN, its implications on the roster picture, my horrendous takes on Sano and Buxton, and other housecleaning duties we must confer about because of my long absence (Sorry). Let’s dig’in MarWINS = More Wins? The Twins made some buzz and fairly interesting news on a Friday afternoon a few weeks ago, signing maybe* (we’ll get to that part later…) one of the under the radar gems of the free agency class—Marwin Gonzalez to a very cost-friendly 2 year, 21 million dollar deal. It’s funny how the Twins went from offseason failure to preseason sleepers in a matter of days after striking luck with the versatile man but…. You’ve probably already surfed the internet for some introductory description or sort of primer to what Gonzales provides. But for the sake of those who didn’t here’s a brief report card on the guy the Astros nicknamed Margo (appropriately named)... Dubbed the Jack of all Trades, Swiss Army Knife, Utility Man Extraordinaire and whatnot, Marwin Gonzalez was once a fabulous hitter in 2017. Prognosticators had thought he would have only bulked up the 2018 free agent crop, but a rough 2018 get-go depressed his stats and this suppressed market only further lessened his margins. We’ll get to the intriguing tidbits later, but in short and sweet delivery Marwin succumbed to depreciation-itis and proved to be less a safety valve contributor to the Astros than his 2017 numbers would suggest. Reading around 2017 articles of Marwin, some tabloids had been lobbying for Marwin to push for MVP votes, and in retrospect it’s rather hard to believe. What comes to Marwin’s calling however is his insane versatility. The AL’s closest apparent to Ben Zobrist, Marwin played the role of super-utility during his time down south, and had a breakout 2017 campaign. Gonzalez should at minimum provide exemplary depth, but its clouds my judgement that the Twins went luxury over necessity (pitching). I’m further dumbfounded that bulk inning eaters like Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Keuchel still remain waiting for some appealing offers. My dumbfoundedness is further compounded because there isn’t any shortchange of any money to invest in some semi-lucrative contracts. Getting back to Marwin, I kinda do enjoy this veil of obscurity in what your getting in Marwin. So I dived in to his stats an….. Marwin was super lucky in 2017. And he wasn’t in 2018. This explain his nondiscript aberration that soared him up into the 2017 MVP discussion. I spoke about wOBA and expected wOBA in my last article conveniently hyperlinked and located nearby here, but if you’re too lazy like me here’s a short snippet…. [wOBA is simply a synthesized linear statistic where singles/walks are considered as a the primary building block, and incrementally scales a hit as for it’s due result. Expected wOBA is as self-explanatory as it sounds, and just express the quality of contact and how it yields to on field results. Their are some flaws to this that might apply to (X PLAYER) for being left handed, but if a player scorches a frozen rope and persists to label it INTO THE SHIFT, xwOBA would flag that as an unlucky hit, even though the entire left side of the infield is just begging for a bunt down the left field line. This is what hinders the stat, and I haven’t found a way to quantify how much this action has tainted (X PLAYER’s) stat value.] When I used Baseball Savant to tailor the pool with the highest differentials of wOBA and expecting, essentially denoting the most lucky hitters, I found Gonzalez at the top of list with a shocking amount of amassed luck. Which explains why he had a high.303 batting average. I would like to get more in-depth with his OBP and wider array of his totals in 2017 outlier season, but it's clear that luck isn't a sustainable trait and if you want more just go here. This offense now appears more meticulous and premeditated than a patchwork assembly in the years past, and with Gonzalez I think this has some sudden implications. I’m currently at work with my piece for my Opening Day roster prediction, but for now I can tell this lineup is going to kindle a lot of traffic on the bases and by implementing boom in the form of Cruz, Cron and Schoop it has loads of boom or bust potential. I going to admit even I couldn’t have fathomed a offense this dynamic would actually be wearing Twins uniforms coming into the 2019 season. Yet I feel the rhetoric is still glass half empty (alluding to the pitching fronts). Yet I feel this offense can compete with the premier firepower offenses of the AL (on paper at least). Could we be entering the dawn of a monolithic juggernaut? My jaded and (not level headed) convoluted glasses lenses having me saying that. Or I’m probably just super pumped. Speaking of juggernauts, let’s forensically say the Twins offense will cook. I don’t believe that’s a question unless something catastrophic happens which has a funny way of playing out strangely enough?! But on paper I think you have an offense that might mimic the historic (raking) K.C royals in terms of from top to bottom. I could honestly go on and rattle off and outline a parade of heavily optimistic circumstances that each player in this lineup could feasibly do. What this lineup is, is healthy and fruitful and abundant in it’s upside and spunk. If they just played to their abilities we wouldn’t be staring at a constant cycle of depressing yearly season exits that make us dispel our hope. So boys just…... Buxton-hit for average Sano- be 2016 you Kepler- let development journey take in full effect Polanco- play like the 2017 you (without PEDS) Cruz-destroy baseballs Cron- hit as far as those muscles can take you Castro- don’t swing at those high fastballs Schoop- deep soul searching for some all star swagger and lose the rust Rosario- be freakin awesome and all the power to yah So far what the Twins lack in is pitching. But no so long ago, did we see a frontline staff make the postseason with BARTOLO COLON, DILLON GEE, MATT BELISLE, and HECTOR SANTIAGO’s elicit shells manning our staff. Aside from the much more stiffer completion, there resides a little recurring theme in all the Twins moves. They’re banking on the bouncebacks. Hildenberger, Reed, May, Pineda, Buxton, Sano, and many more are players that in a perfectly Twins oriented world should be able to recreate their peak performances or fulfill their prospect potential. All we can do is let it unfold before our eyes. So take a seat back and hunker down on a menacing joyride of hell that is the Twins season. The Buck and Sano Scoop; I’ve been preaching for the Twins to sign a high-caliber relievers to shore up the bullpen all offseason, at such a profound volume that I’m starting to feel like I’m sounding like a broken record. But imagining Kimbrel in our bullpen gets me hyped just even envisioning it, and any passable reliever you’d be even marginally comfortable handling the 9th inning would get my red stamp of approval. This makes me wonder why I would be resistant or even hesitant on with signing a premier commodity over some cheap flyers (no offense) in the case of Gonzo, Cruz and Schoop etc… It’s because of Sano and Buxton. Every coming season since 2014 have I found myself convinced that ‘This is the Year’ and ‘they’re going to flick the switch’ or found myself defending their culpable cases by saying ‘its bound to be time they hit their stride’. But it’s time to set a ultimatum. This year is the final audition year to sparkle just a scintilla of that superstar pulse we’ve all been fixated on eventually showing. But let's be real. I’m going to speak as candidly as I can (maybe to an excess) but this is the season they must either Put up Or shut up. No undisclosed, or half hearted excuses. This is the final tryout act. So let's speak a little speculation, shall we. Let’s say they (Sano and Buxton) spearhead a blistering first half and you hunker down on some legitimate division title hopes. You supplement and complement during the trade deadline and weigh the options of adding a short term implicating star to at least temporarily get you over the hump. We can levy and count our losses if all goes wrong later, but that’s what I would do (yet what am I to believe). But in the case of Buxton and Sano faltering and underperforming you sever your ties and reload with the next wave of incoming prospects (Alex Kirilloff, Royce Lewis, Brusdar Graterol etc.) Some rationale has to dictate hope and promise and the end of line repercussions must be enforced. As a faithful and diehard (maybe to my disadvantage) as Twins fans we must stop settling with this modest and mediocre production complex, where this second rate performance is just OK, but frankly the Buck and Sano are underachieving specimens with freak of nature tangibles that can’t muster any of the things you'd expect they could. How many hitters like Sano’s build and frame are there that just strike you as someone who literally could annihilate the baseball and maybe the bat they use to hit it. But they strike out at such an excessive rate that their warts mask their Kodak moments. In reality Sano possesses no athletic mobility, can’t play anything close to passable defense anywhere so they have to be relegated to a 1st basemen role they probably play substandardly (Heck we’ve got 2 of those guys in Tyler Austin, Lucas Duda and toss in C.J. Cron too). In Buxton’s case, I could probably spot and distinguish with identical profiles similar players on every single team. Perhaps the Billy Hamilton’s, Jarrod Dyson’s, Rajai Davis’s, Jose Iglesias’s of the world that are literal speed demons who can flat out fly on the basepaths, and play dynamite outfield/infield D, but can’t muster any kind of sufficiency in their offensive game that they end up contributing as a negative anchor in the grand scheme. Just look at Melvin Upton, who has been staked as a similar player comp. (in the early years when Buxton showed promise) that if you keep a baseline level of competency and competitiveness and you're instantly vaulted into the MVP conversation. Now changes like that are drastic, but say that Buxton hits for average and plays like the 2nd half 2017 phenom he was, and Sano plays exactly like the 1st half 2017 mauler he was. Now you have a expectation setter or baseline ceiling (weirdly redundant) for the on-field product they can yield. In the right mind it's practically inconceivable for me that Buxton and Sano live up to their respective game-wrecker, superstar labels that they were pegged, but rest assured they should be able to contribute a feasible fringe all-star 3 WAR. In that case, at least we get a disclaimer of what were are dealing with they. So….Sano and Buxton…..NO PRESSURE
  12. Quick update from Fort Myers... Stopped by the ballpark today around 9AM and watched a number of players taking batting practice under Hammond Stadium. If you've been here before you probably know the spot. You can stand right behind the chain link fence only a few feet away from the players while they hammer the ball in the batting cages. Stood directly behind Buxton for about 10 minutes. A couple of take aways: He does look stronger and bigger and he is not employing a leg kick...Also, Cuddyer walked up to Buxton and asked him how his hand was doing, Buxton replied just fine. I spoke a little bit with Dick Bremer too. I asked him why MLB insists on having the Twins start playing regular home games as soon as the end of March and he replied that no team wants to start the season on a two week road trip (regardless of crappy, cold weather). Watched Gibson throwing today as well. He looked more slimmed down than from previous seasons. Kepler went deep quite a few times today during BP and was really hitting the ball hard. The other guy that was just spraying the ball around the ENTIRE field was Austudillo. Really was fun watching him hit under the stadium and in the adjacent ball field. He has a lot of punch to his swing! Morneau was in the batting cages with a number of players working on their form along with Cuddyer. Spent some time with Tommy Watkins dad today as well. Asked him what his son thought about coaching under Rocco (Tommy is the 1st base coach). He said its been a lot of fun and really likes Rocco's approach to players and the game. They are really striving to create a close knit group and having some fun. His son thinks they have a much better team than is given credit for in the national media. That's my report from the Fort. Get down here if you can. Gotta fly back home to snowy Minneapolis tomorrow. Uggh.
  13. Here is a first guess as to the opening day / everyday batting order. I think of this as a jumping off point and invite iterations. Two assumption: 1. No new (important) batters are signed, and 2. (BIG assumption) Bux and Sano have great spring trainings. Here we go: Buxton CF Polanco SS Rosario LF Sano 3B Cruz DH Cron 1B Kepler RF Castro C Schoop 2B (Of course, if both Bux and Sano don't: Polanco SS Schoop 2B Rosario LF Cruz DH Cron 1B Kepler RF Sano 3B Castro C Buxton CF) Thoughts?
  14. My annual waiting for Buxton and Sano patience is wearing very thing. It reminds me of waiting for Godot! No, he is not a baseball player, Spark Notes tell us - "Two men, Vladimir and Estragon, meet near a tree. They converse on various topics and reveal that they are waiting there for a man named Godot." "a boy enters and tells Vladimir that he is a messenger from Godot. He tells Vladimir that Godot will not be coming tonight," "The next night, Vladimir and Estragon again meet near the tree to wait for Godot." "the boy enters and once again tells Vladimir that Godot will not be coming." https://www.sparknotes.com/lit/godot/summary/ Nothing ever happens because the two men just keep waiting. I think it is wonderful that we all have such patience with Buxton and Sano and that we can keep recycling our just wait columns, but in the mean time life happens, seasons come and go, and fans die, move away, or go and watch the Lynx and United. These are two men on a 25 man active roster, a 40 man potential roster. We have a FO that is supposed to deal with contingencies. We are not supposed to shut down the team for two players. Lots of teams have injuries that take their best players and they make moves. So we fill 3B and CF with really good players and suddenly Sano and Buxton look like superstars that we have all imagined. Great. Trade someone and continue to make the team better. Don't write off season after season. I posted in a comment section the following which is what I have seen from the FO (I have not included the manager and coaches changes because in the long run they do not matter - we need players): Here are the players that they have signed or traded for in 2017 and 2018, there are 54 and I skipped a few from 2017.So this is more than a 40 man roster - how much have these moves pushed us forward?What is the strategy of the FO? Lynn, Reed, Castro, Rodney, Morrison, Schoop, Torreyes, Adrianza, Cron, Austin, Cave, Odorizzi, Pineda, Haley, Paulsen, Field, Rucinski,Hague, Schuck, Tepesch, Vogelsong, Greenwood, Miller, Tracy, Giminez, Belisle, Breslow, Kinley, Duke, Pacheco, Buss, Curtis, Magill, Wilkins, Heisey, Sanchez, Rodriguez, Carter, Villalobos, Motter, Rupp, LaMarre, Raley, Smeltzer, Forsythe, Duran, Alcala, Celestino, Maciel, Trinidad, Costello, DeJong, Rijo, Drake,Adams, So Falvey and Lavine sat on a bench and said "We are waiting for Sano and Buxton." Twins Daily came out and said shouldn't we improve the rest of the roster? Falvey and Lavine sat on a bench and said "We are waiting for Sano and Buxton!
  15. A lot of us were shocked by the Buxton treatment this year, from playing him with an injury to denying him his September call up. We were almost equally shocked to see Sano sent to A ball and when he returned people talked about him looking a little thinner, but then the season played on and before ending with another injury he resorted to the same 200 hitting occasional Home Run hitter. September call ups included Matt Belisle and a trade for Gimenez, more time for Johnny Field and not much excitement outside the young pitchers and that wonderful Opener experiment. Gonsalves, our top pitching prospect has stunk, Littell who has been called up a couple of times continues to stink (I know that they want to make that trade look good for the FO). Stewart has improved as we continue to pitch him against the mighty Tigers and Busenitz has demonstrated that AAAA is his best hope (when will they open that league?). Of course there is one rookie who looked really good early in the Season, but he could not even be called up to toss a couple BP sessions - Romero. Among hitters only Astudillo has appeared and that is because we have our original starter out for the season, our next starter out with a concussion, our first reserve traded for last years reserve and only Astudillo available for actually crouching behind the plate. No look at Rooker or Gordon or any other potential hitters. So how good is our player development? I just read the Athletics Matthew Kory in the season ending power ranking and his comments really jumped out at me. "One of the things that good teams do is draft talented players, develop them in the minors, and turn them into stars when they get to the big leagues. The Red Sox have done that with Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts. The Indians have done that with José Ramírez and Francisco Lindor. The Astros have done that with Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman (and George Springer) (and José Altuve). The Twins should have done that with Miguel Sanó and Byron Buxton… but they haven’t. Despite loads of talent, Sanó is barely playable and Buxton supposedly isn’t even ready for a September call-up. If you’re looking for the difference between Minnesota and every playoff team in baseball, that’s it in a nutshell."
  16. I am back from guiding a hiking trip in Michigan where I got to watch the Detroit Tigers play a few games against the Cardinals - fun to see Gardenhire. As I watched their struggles to find the right Outfielders for the future I was interested in the various players that they put in and how each had different potentials and strengths. But it got me thinking about the Twins. For the last two years we have been led to think of the outfield as Rosario/Buxton/Kepler. But is it those three for the future? I know we have had LaMarre and Field out there during the year and they do not excite me. We have used Adrianza in the OF as well as Astudillo, and Taylor Motter. Logan Morrison was even in the OF for two games. And of course we have had Jake Cave and Robbie Grossman playing extensively in the OF. No minor leaguers were brought up this fall to get any MLB time in the OF but Wade seems like a candidate and eventually we will have more minor leaguers move up to challenge I hope. But what is the immediate future - the next two years? Who will be have out there when we turn the corner? Start with the Big Three Byron Buxton has had a lost year. He is 24 and has been with the team for parts of 4 years. His defense is out of this world, his slash line for the four years is 230/285/387 and we all know the drama that was 2018. 6.8 WAR Eddie Rosario seems to be the one who stepped up this year, leading the team in all the batting categories and playing a steady, if unspectacular OF. In his four years he has a slash line of 280/312/471. 8.6 WAR Max Kepler has not regressed, he has not progressed, he is not a star, is he a starter? His slash for the same four years is 235/314/421 and he has an accumulated WAR of 6.7. Before looking at other options - if I take the lazy route and just add and average these three players we would have an OF with a 248/303/408 slash and 1.8 WAR. Not good enough for a team that wants to be a champion. The two players on the team that look like our next OF candidates - Sorry Adrianza and Astudillo - are Grossman and Cave. Two players who elicit very different responses from TD fans. Robbie Grossman has been our number 4 OF for three years and has played in 331 games (DH and 1B included). His slash line for MN 262/365/397 which is actually a good line for a number 4 if we do not consider his OF range and defense. Jake Cave is our find of the year, after Motter and LaMarre and numerous other dumpster dives we were able to get Cave out of the Yankees and he has produced. 265/311/487 slash and 1.7 WAR for 76 games. He hustles and looks good but his fielding is not as good as some might claim. In the long run, when it comes to defense, Buxton has no worries. That is five players for starting and bench. Are they the right five and in the right order? The 40 man roster still has Zack Granite who had a lost year and Johnny Field. Granite earned 0.3 WAR in 93 ABs in 2017 and played better CF than all but Buxton. In 2018 he played in 68 games before ending his year with injury. He batted 211/282/245, He is 25 years old. Johnny Field has been in 13 games so far with a slash line of 071/100/171. If we look at his entire 2018 year he has 75 games and 193/231/330. I hope to not see him on the 40 next year. The next question is who is in the minors who might be up soon? MLB.com has a top 30 for each team - http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2018?list=min Our number two is Alex Kiriloff - how long before he comes up - will it be in the next two years? If he does Kepler better watch out because RF is his best position. Trever Larnach is in his first year, but already prospect #6. Too early to project him as a Twin. Akil Baddoo is #12 and so far has been a CF player. LaMonte Wade is #13 and seems the most ready for 2019. LaMonte Wade Age 24 has a minor league slash of 257/360/380 reminiscent of Grossman, but better in the field. He does not have power, but controls the plate. Alex Kiriloff is moving so fast he cannot be left out of the discussion for 2019 and definitely should be looked at for 2020. 348/392/578 is a slash line that cannot be ignored. Yes he is young, but you might notice that Atlanta and the Nationals both had players as young as him starting in their OFs this year. Akil Baddoo is 20, but could move fast and be a factor in 2020. 243/351/419. Trevor Larnach is 21, but is in his first year - 303/390/500 is an impressive start - 2020 is an outside possibility if the Twins are aggressive. Gilberto Celestino - just 19. He is our #14 prospect but should not be in this two year window. Gabriel Maciel is also just 19 and ranked #17. At least three years away. Luke Raley can play 1B or OF and is ranked #19. 275/350/471 He has the advantage of being someone the FO traded for - he is one of theirs and is considered a Grinder - Molitor will like that. Jacob Pearson is the last OF ranked in the top 30 Twins Prospects - He is age 20 with the Kernels this year and should be three years away. So that is the assortment we can work with in our system. Not counting more dumpster diving the following are Free Agent OFs for 2018. Bryce Harper - forget it Adam Jones - Not worth it Brett Gardner - he is already 35 Nick Markakis - he too is 35 Carlos Gonsalves - 33 coming from the light air of CO Michael Brantley - 32 - it would be nice to take him from Cleveland Steven Pearce - 36 - no thanks Lonnie Chisenhall - 30 - another Indian on the market Matt Joyce - 35. NO NO NO Curtis Granderson - 38, another old man, no thanks Carlos Gomez - 33, no we have already had him once Marwin Gonsalves - 30 - from Houston, interesting player. Cameron Maybin - 30 - nope Jon Jay - 34 - no interest Chris Young - 35, Angels, no Rajai Davis - 38 - another Cleveland OF - we could fill up with these guys, but no thanks Leonys Martin - 31, Guess which team - you Cleveland Gregor Blanco - 35 from SF. I say no to any over 32. Shane Robinson - 34 - Yankees Eric Young - 34 - Angels Brandon Barnes - 33- ANOTHER INDIAN! Jose Bautista - 38 - yes 38, no Austin Jackson 32 from the Mets Ben Revere - 31 - No retreads Some more with no resume, no interest on the list! Now comes the hard part - arrange them as you would like - this is the order I expect: 2019 Rosario Cave Kepler Buxton Grossman Raley 2020 Rosario Kiriloff Cave Buxton Raley Baddoo Where is Kepler, Wade...I expect trades. I would rather have Wade that Grossman in 2019, but I do not see the Twins making that move, I see him traded before being rostered. I am trying to guess at the Twins as much as looking at what I would like to see. Have at it.
  17. I am not going to rip on the front office of Levine and Falvey, however I am going to criticize them somewhat in their ability to communicate across the organization. The whole mess with Byron Buxton seems to have really snuck up on and stung Buxton. From all accounts I have read he was not aware he was going to have his season end in Rochester. Then he finds out from his agent and AAA manager. I know he is not currently a part of the big league club, however, he is sort of one of the faces of the organization and not being told directly by the major league club seems to be a little bit a slap in the face. A personal call from either Levine or Falvey (if all the reports are true) a little bit prior to the decision being made public could have prevented the confusion and bruised egos. For all we know there is a completely valid reason and plan in place to get Buxton back to where the team wants him to be. But the team's executives let the messengers tell Byron the news, he was done, and they appear to have done it at the last moment. Another example was Mientkiewicz being let go. Again, Falvey and Levine didn't communicate with Dougie Baseball. He was apparently without cell service cleaning up after a hurricane last year and received a call from Brad Steil, not Falvey or Levine. Steil either wasn't allowed to give a reason and who's decision it was or he himself didn't know. Either way, another poor job of communication. These are two relatively high profile examples of poor communication. I am not criticizing either decision, but the way in which they go about making their decisions has left bad tastes in people's mouths multiple times now. Hopefully, this is an area they can improve on, or a reputation could be formed pretty quickly and hurt their ability to retain and attract talent.
  18. Where did all the wins go? - Part 2 - The Batters Today we're going to find out where all the wins went, because it's time for a statistical analysis of the hitters, and it's gonna be ugly. I'll be examining their WAR but also several other stats that I found relevant. This time around, I'm going to use both Baseball-Reference's and Fangraph's WAR measurements and compare them. We'll start with 1B and DHs first: --My apologies for the small images; if you're on a computer, I recommend right-clicking the images and opening them up in a new tab-- 1B/DH Key: oWAR is Baseball-Reference's measure of how many wins the player's offense is worth. UZR is Fangraph's measure of defense for non-catchers. "F.G. Def." is the percentile of where that player ranks among his peers in the MLB. "BB WAR" is Baseball-Reference's WAR measurement and FG stands for Fangraphs. Finally, the "My WAR" is the measurement I choose for the player - for example, for Joe Mauer 2017, I chose BB's WAR over Fangraphs, and sometimes it could be a mix of the two ratings. Losing a month of Mauer hurt this team, and he hasn't been the best since he's been back. Joe's OPS has dropped about 80 points, his defense hasn't been as elite as last year, and his power has diminished even further - it's embarrassing to have a 1B who has a 0.88% chance to hit a home run every time up. Joe projects to finish lose 2 more games for the Twins compared to his 2018 form, which is tough to swallow since virtually nobody else is picking up the slack. Logan Morrison, coming off a career year in Tampa Bay, couldn't be having a worse season. At least Kennys Vargas was able to be a passable DH option last season, as Morrison projects finish over a full win worse than Kennys. Morrison's defense at 1B has been just alright, and he talks a bunch of walks, but that's about it. He can't get hits and when he does, he's not hitting for power much anymore... it's not as though he's getting really old (he's 30), but suddenly he's not looking like a MLB-caliber hitter anymore. Robbie Grossman has also been a big disappointment. With yet another massive drop in OPS in this group, Grossman's ability to take walks has diminished by about 23%, and with little power and terrible defense, it's not clear what purpose Robbie fills on this team. We're a ways off from Grossman's 2016 .828 OPS and I don't think we're going to see that version of him again. Catchers I stuck with just Fangraph's general defensive metrics for the catchers, as I think they did a good enough job capturing the defensive level of the few players. Jason Castro's 2017 was underrated, and we're feeling the brunt of missing out on it. That isn't to say he was going to repeat it - his start to 2018 was horrid offensively - but they could really use his defensive abilities out there. Meanwhile, Garver has been ranked as MLB's worst defensive catcher by fangraphs, and I'm sure many here would agree. Mitch's bat has been solid, but also below 2017 Castro's, as he hit more HRs and took more walks. Garver needs to hit a lot better to justify his terrible defense. Surprisingly, the Twins could use 2017 Chris Gimenez back, as he was surprisingly worth about 1 WAR. His batting average was bad but he took a ton of walks, had the ability to swat HRs, and his defense was mostly solid. Too bad the Twins are using Bobby Wilson as their primary catcher now, who's on pace to be worth -1.0 WAR or even worse if he plays more. All in all, the Twins have lost 4 more games thanks to their catchers... yikes. Next, the infielders: Dozier is somehow worth about a win, and most of that is coming from his bat, which has seen a remarkable drop-off from 2017. He's hitting HRs 30% less often, his OPS has dropped by a massive 150 points, and the Gold Glover's defense has been below average this season. He stills brings a decent amount of value to the table, and if he finishes the season at 2.4 WAR, that isn't so bad... but it's his total ineptitude in RISP and high leverage situations that frustrate me the most. He has the ability to be an All-Star 2B but he's inexplicably dropped off a cliff in his contract year. Meanwhile, the transition from Polanco to Adrianza for the first half of 2018 went rather smoothly. It depends what you make of their defense - Ehire has mostly been regarded as a very good defender, but something has gone wrong this season. Fangraphs thinks he's been a liability out there, which is the type of thing you'd think make Adrianza a massive downgrade. However, his bat has finally come around and while it's nothing exciting, he's been far and away a superior batter from his days as a Giant. With Polanco up, I don't think we have too much to worry about here. I can't say much about Sano that hasn't already been said. Around the All-Star game last year he began a sharp decline that has resulted him hitting at A ball. His K% rate didn't change much from 2017, but I think that's more due to his second half in 2017 being so full of strikeouts. He needs to figure out how to get his walk rate back to its 2017 form. Fangraphs doesn't like his defense at 3B, and it's possible his next position is 1B or DH. Wow, there's something positive to talk about here? Eduardo Escobar to the rescue! Eddie's improvement has been rather straightforward, but I am a bit concerned about his rising K% rate. He has improved with taking walks, though. All four of these infielders are considered as liabilities in the field, which has to be a concern. One reason why this team was so good last year was due to our fielding. Adrianza was worth 1.0 WAR last year, and we're not getting that from the Petit/Motter/Astudillo group. Having Escobar and Adrianza on the bench last year was great for depth purposes - unfortunately Sano's demise and Polanco's suspension used up said depth. That's our 3rd position group with at least -4.0 WAR... Outfielders We'll start with the good news first. His name is Eddie Rosario because he's the only thing that's been 'good' about the outfield. Not only has he topped his numbers from an already impressive 2017 season, but he's improved his defense, and by my eye, he's mostly stopped with his inaccurate throws from left field. For all the strikeout concerns some had with Rosario, he strikes out just 17.5% of the time, and only Mauer and Kepler have smaller K% rates. He has some serious pop in his bat and he's close to his first All-Star appearance. Byron Buxton has obviously been a disappoint, and losing his stellar defense in center field has been detrimental to the pitching staff. Baseball-Reference had him as high as 5.5 WAR last season! Fangraphs had him as the best defensive CF but only at 3.5 WAR, so I chose 4.7 WAR as a middle ground between the two (I thought his defense was worth about 2 wins plus 2.7 oWAR). LaMarre and Cave haven't been black holes in Buxton's absence, but they [actually just Cave] project(s) to finish with around 0.6 WAR. That's not bad, but it's still a big drop-off from what we had last season. About a 5 win drop-off! I don't get Max Kepler. He vastly improves his K% rate, he's taking a bunch more walks, his defense is getting better... and yet, his third season in the MLB has been even more disappointing than his first two years, which weren't much to talk about either. He seems to be hitting in to the shift and hitting far too many pop-ups and weak flyballs. His sudden weakness to right-handed pitchers is also baffling. Kepler seems to have the ability to be something more than a 1-2 WAR hitter but he just can't figure it out. I didn't include Grossman here, as I thought he fit better as a DH. The outfield has been worse than its 2017 form, but Rosario is ensuring it's not the disaster all the other positions are. Adding it all up, the hitters have been -14.6 WAR worse than their 2017 selves. Yikes!! ~~ Summary ~~ Pitchers 3.1 WAR + Hitters -14.6 WAR = -11.5 WAR The Twins should be about 11 to 12 games worse than they were in 2017. However, that's not the case. The 2017 Twins finished 7 games above .500 and as of the season midpoint, the Twins are 11 games under .500. We're comparing -11.5 WAR to -19 WAR... so what explains the -7.5 WAR gap? Reasons for the gap: Bad managing Strength of opponents (or weakness of 2017 opponents) Clutch hitting/pitching Other outside factors (umpires, weather, etc.) Luck My bad logic We could get into a whole other argument about the job Paul Molitor has done. I'd rather just cover the manager's affect on the games, like: -Situational Hitting (bunting) -Lineup Decisions (lineup placement/resting players) -Bullpen Decisions -Other strategic decisions -Clubhouse Vibe -A bunch of other minor factors There's also the strength of opponents to consider. Even the best teams are going to lose at least 50 games a season, and sometimes the other team is just going to beat you even when your guys play a good game. However, it's debatable that's the problem as the Twins have faced the White Sox, Royals, and Tigers a bunch this season and haven't capitalized on the poor competition. I think a shout-out to situational hitting and pitching is in order. I mentioned Dozier's terrible RISP numbers (.205/.600 OPS) but also with pitchers losing leads (Rodney's 5 busted saves, can't hold a one run lead). The Twins shouldn't be losing so many 1 run games. These stats are just summaries of the players' performances, and they don't explain when and how the runs score and which players are 'clutch' or not. So, in the end, the hitters are definitely dragging this team down, there's no doubt about that. Injuries to Castro, Mauer, Sano, Buxton, Ervin Santana, Polanco's suspension, and others have hurt this team. But just looking at their performances, I think it's safe to say they should absolutely be better than this. Nearly all of the hitters have regressed a shocking amount. I think you can partly blame that 7-8 game gap on Molitor - but you could also pin the -11.5 WAR on the front office, because there's only so much Molly can do. In the end, the Twins need to figure out how to maximize their players and figure out who needs to go (I'm looking at you, Morrison/Dozier/Grossman) and who needs to be fixed (Sano/Buxton/Kepler). The pitching staff has mostly done their part, but maintaining those performances for 2019 will not be as easy as it appears. We assumed the hitters would pick up from where they left off in 2017, but unfortunately they picked up where they left off in the 2016 season. With the front office entering Year 3 and Molitor entering Year 5 in 2019, there are a lot of questions to answer and a whole ton of improvements to be made.
  19. I had to stop reading the Buxton portion of the WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS article today because it sent my mind back through the history of Baseball. I was luck enough to be a kid when Dizzy Dean was announcing games and he always made me smile, but as I learned more and more about him and his amazing, but too short career I learned lessons that continue to plague me. One injury cannot be isolated from the rest of the body. When I am suffering from various injuries that were accumulated in a lifetime of adventures and guiding my wife will sing a versus from skeleton song - https://www.lyricsondemand.com/miscellaneouslyrics/childsongslyrics/dryboneslyrics.html to remind me that everything is connected. For Buxton to play with a broken toe is exactly what Dizzy Dean did and it killed his career. ]https://www.fangraphs.com/tht/tht-live/the-dizzy-dean-injury-cascade/[/url] When asked about the injury Dean said, "“Fractured. Hell, the damn thing’s broken!”" Dean's injury happened during the All-Star game - "Initially, most thought Lou Gehrig, not Earl Averill, delivered the most damaging shot against Dizzy Dean in the 1937 All-Star Game. It wasn’t until later in the summer that the impact of Averill’s low liner that ricocheted off the toe of the Cardinals ace began to be understood." "Dean returned to St. Louis and had the aching toe examined by Dr. Robert F. Hyland, the club physician. Hyland said the toe was bruised, not broken, and prescribed rest for Dean, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Dean, who had a 12-7 record and 2.41 ERA, was scratched from his scheduled start July 11 versus the Reds. During his recuperation, Dean clipped a newspaper photo showing his bandaged foot, autographed it, inscribed “Thanks, Earl” and mailed it to Averill. Though Dean still was limping, Cardinals management instructed him to join the team in Boston. When he arrived, manager Frankie Frisch asked Dean whether he could pitch. Dean said he could. On July 21, two weeks after he was injured, Dean started against the Braves in Boston. He pitched eight innings and yielded two runs, but he altered his delivery to compensate for the pain in his toe. By throwing with an unnatural motion, Dean damaged his arm." https://retrosimba.com/2017/07/08/dizzy-dean-and-his-final-painful-cardinals-days/ Dean tried to continue pitching even though he was hurt - the worst thing he could do. Buxton is our future and he has a history of injuries, but looking at his build and the way he plays it is not surprising. Someone needs to help him make decisions because players will always play. In case we need reminding - here is a good site to look at 25 careers that were ended early by injuries. We might add the career altering of concussion to Mauer - http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1022656-25-potentially-immortal-baseball-careers-derailed-by-injuries#slide5 We can also add the shortened career of Kirby Puckett, and the impact of bad knees on Tony Oliva, I know that I get caught up with critiquing players, but I also have to set back and realize that if they are injured and not playing it is frustrating them too.
  20. I have hardly been able to keep up with all the free agents signings this winter. Kaat, Cuddyer, Morneau, join Hawkins and Hunter - and I almost forgot Eddie Guardado who will probably be joined in our front office bullpen by Glen Perkins soon. it is like an all star team! Is Johann next? http://m.twins.mlb.com/roster/coaches I have never seen so many coaches or so many special assistants - the team front office should be able to beat any other front office in a game! And I cannot begin to explain all the men hired for the pitching staff from minors to majors to FO. But who am I to care about that? I want to add one or more. I have stated in some threads that they can take the Yu Darvish money and give Gonsalves and Romero personal coaches to follow them around and get them in the rotation, but now I have another addition - Rickey Henderson. Who else can understand Byron Buxton and his unique combination of speed, power, and potential? Only Rickey combined so many attributes. Of course it would take a second coach or translator so we could figure out what Rickey would say, but boy would he give the writers something to write about. But, if that is not possible, how about having Byron acquire a few hours of Rickey being Ricky (before Manny was Manny).
  21. I didn't want to start this thread until the Twins clinched the postseason. Well it's happened! There are four games remaining and the Twins can prepare for their playoff game, most likely against the Yankees. In the last week, I've pondered over who should be named the Twins MVP for 2017. At the All-Star break, I'm sure the consensus pick would have been Miguel Sanó and now I don't think he's even in the top five. There are easily five or more candidates for Twins MVP for the season. I'll list a bunch of them with a short case for the honor. Alphabetically here are my candidates: 1) Byron Buxton--He leads the club in bWAR, mostly because of elite defense. After a disappointing first half offensively, since the All-Star game he's been a .300 hitter with a .921 OPS. In addition BB is 28 for 29 stealing bases. 2) Brian Dozier--The leadoff man again has exceeded 30 homers and 90 RBI. For the fourth straight year, he's scored more than 100 runs. He has a career high OBP and is durable, again exceeding 150 games and will likely pass 700 plate appearances. 3) Eduardo Escobar--He's stepped in for Sanó and performed admirably. Career highs in homers and RBIs plus solid defense. 4) Joe Mauer--Vintage Joe Mauer returned for the stretch run, hitting .336 in August and .362 so far in September. Mauer raised his batting average well over .300 and his OPS over .800 for the season and has been outstanding on defense. 5) Eddie Rosario--Another guy who took off after the All-Star break. Rosario has put together a terrific season with 27 homers and an .848 OPS for the season. 7) Miguel Sanó--He earned All-Star recognition and was the focus of the Twins' surprising first half. Despite missing the last 40 games, Sano is second on the club in homers and third in RBI. Sanó performed admirably at third base and certainly stepped up this year. 8) Ervin Santana--Unquestionably the Twins #1 starter. He was elite early in the season and while he has regressed, he has been outstanding for the season. He has 16 wins, 200+ innings and a low 3s ERA.
  22. After I was disappointed by Buxton injuring his groin I decided to go take a look at how his month of July was up until that point because it "felt" like he was hitting the ball really well. Well my feelings were right. Since July 1 until he was pulled on July 14 he had a .387/.457/.516 slash line. I know, I know small sample size. But a nice 2 week run. So I decided to dig deeper. Going back to May 1 when people thought he started to figure it out he has hit .243/306/.360. Not great but acceptable with his level of defense and speed on the base paths. So then I thought I would go back to April Game 16 - The last day his batting average was below .100. Surprisingly he is hitting .250/.328/.356 since that point. The power is lacking but a .250 batting average is ok and would be middle of the pack on this team. The other thing is he has only struck out 26% of his at bats since game 15 - 62 times. In the first 15 games he struck out 24 times alone. I really don't have a reason for this post. But it really does state how dreadful Buxton was in the first 2 weeks of the season. And in actuality how average offensively he has been since that point. The last 70 games give me hope. Everyone has mentioned it is a process and it seems to be working. If the power starts to develop more consistently with his new toe could we see a monster last 2+ months of the season from Byron?
  23. The Twins Farm System is stacked, it's not Buxton and Sano stacked, but come on! Is there an ace pitcher or other top end pitching talent? No. Is there another bomber barreling towards Target Field? No. Is there top ten minor league talent waiting in the wings? Not yet. How then is our farm stacked? We have these guys: Engelb Vielma – 22 years old Nick Gordon – 21 years old Wander Javier – 18 years old Royce Lewis – 18 years old Jelfry Marte – 16 years old There are few things more tantalizing than a highly touted prospect at a highly touted position. A Short Stop that can field AND hit AND hit for power! Amazing! Everyone wants that and will do unspeakable things for it. Now, bear in mind, the Twins do not have one of those players. What they do have, however, are five touted minor leaguers that will offer admirable things to a major league club very soon. Simply put, prospects are just fun. They just offer so much to an organization that has seen so much losing. How much fun was it when Buxton was going to turn into Willie Mays? Hearing about Sano and his bombs that went so far no one could see them land; amazing! Often we, fans and otherwise, overlook their deficiencies for whatever mysterious potential is written or talked about. Someday, soon, someone is going to do that with Gordon, Javier, Lewis, or Marte. I believe, that one can make an argument the Twins have much of what they need to compete for many years. Buxton is already the best fielding Center Fielder in the league. Sano is turning into the franchise changing talent all Twins fans hoped for. Berrios is on his way to pitching domination. Mix in other talented players like Kepler, Rosario, Polanco, and Mejia and the Twins have a strong core built for the future. Not all players will stick around, but all should and will continue to improve. Only a few pieces are still missing, namely an ace. Alex Meyer was supposed to be something special, he wasn't. Trevor May, Phil Hughes, throw in Nolasco even, and what we have in recent past is disappointment. The Twins have not been able to develop a top end pitcher and they haven't been able to sign one either. However, soon, we will be able to trade for one. When the Cubs won their World Series, they did it with found or bought pitching talent. Jon Lester, free agent. Jake Arrieta, trade. John Lackey, free agent. Aroldis Chapman, trade. They only really developed Kyle Hendricks, a big congrats on that. Look around the MLB, how many teams develop their own top of the end rotation pitching? The Red Sox traded for Chris Sale. The Nationals signed Max Scherzer. The Diamondbacks signed Zack Greinke and before that the Dodgers did the same and before that the Angels traded for him. Pitching, especially starting pitching is barely better than a coin flip. Personally, I fell in love with the idea of Lewis Thrope and he missed two years of pro ball. Tyler Jay and Kohl Stewart have been major Twins disappointments. However, it is not just this organization. Look at recent draft history for supposed top pitching talent. Mark Appel, Jon Gray, Brady Aiken, Tyler Kolek, Carlos Rodon, Aaron Nola. All have failed to meet their own expectations. If not this trade deadline, it will be soon. “It” is of course, the time in which the Twins strike and move one their own tantalizing, mysterious, great, yet flawed, talented youngsters for their own ace stud. Nick Gordon rates as the Twins top prospect. Royce Lewis was the first overall pick and is very toolsy. Jelfry and Wander are the next in a line of international signings. Fans love these prospects because they are ours and because they offer great potential. However, in whatever a prospect may become, we know what Chris Sale is. Or we know who Max Scherzer is. One trade and once Mauer is off the books, one free agent signing. That is really as far away as the Twins are. This is season is nice, playoff contention is fun. However, World Series contention is amazing and that should be the goal. One trade and one free agent. Soon.
  24. Buxton leads the league in infield fly ball percentage (26.7%). Not very good thing to lead in especially with his speed. Looking back on his minor league stats, he always had a high number of infield fly balls as well. Maybe this was a warning sign of things to come. I also looked up Sano's infield fly ball rate and its very low (4.8%).But in the minors he had a high infield fly ball rate. So out of curiosity, I looked up Mike Trout's and his was in single digits but in the minors it was high like Buxton's. Is this a correctable thing or is the data off in the minors?
  25. Don't get me wrong, I like Buxton. But potential is just that, until it isn't. At the end of last season, he looked much better: relaxed, taking nice AB's and still had that stellar defense. So, what's happening this year? Overall poor hitting [changes in his approach and technique], horrendous in the clutch. Defense: That 3 hopper to the plate a couple games ago still rings in my head. What to do? That showed up in the lineup last night.... Max Kepler - CF Max seems like the calm, cool type guy who can handle the pressure. Indeed, I'd say he's already done that: good start on defense, very good start at the plate. Sadly, I didn't get a chance to see him play there yesterday. So, what's the hold up? To coin another lyric from a song written by Stephen Sondheim: Send in the clowns. Grossman and D. Santana are the only other OF's on the team. Gotta do much better than that. I have no clue on what it'll take to get Buxton straightened out. He's still only 23, but has had 515 PA's. I'm a patient guy. But then reality kicks in. New Manager??
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