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  1. 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
  2. Well the White Socks are looking like they have completed their laundry list and the Twins might want to look over their shoulders. Here is there roster http://m.whitesox.mlb.com/roster/ and this is before adding Kuechel for three years and $55m. Yes they began with a catcher and added a pitcher (and then Gonzales too) with Kopech and Giolito on their starting rotations too. The Chicago Tribune wrote, "The Sox re-signed Jose Abreu, signed switch-hitting catcher Yasmani Grandal, acquired a front-line starter in Keuchel and brought in two smaller and somewhat riskier acquisitions in Gonzalez and Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara, whom they acquired for prospect Steele Walker." And the paper adds - "The Sox lineup already was solid with defending AL batting champion Tim Anderson, Abreu, Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez at the top. It figures only to get better with Grandal and the the call-ups of center fielder Luis Robert and second baseman Nick Madrigal, both of whom should be on the roster before May, if not sooner." And then there is this quote, "Believe it or not, the Sox will be considered an American League Central contender in a division with three rebuilds, a slow-motion teardown in Cleveland and the always unpredictable Twins." And, by the way, the Detroit Tigers signed C. J Cron and Schoop - adding some familiar bats to their flimsy lineup. Every time players are signed by another team I see posts that list the next ones on the list. But guess what, those players are on the bottom of the list for a reason.
  3. After grabbing Cron following his DFA from the Tampa Bay Rays last offseason, Minnesota got a tale of two halves from their first basemen. Through May Cron had an .866 OPS and that number was still .833 at the end of June. He went on the injured list for the first time on July 7. At that point he had an .821 OPS and he returned nine days later only to make a second IL trip on the 22nd on July. From the time he returned on August 3, he posted just a .702 OPS and seven homers across 149 plate appearances. Gone was the power hitter that started the year so well for Minnesota. Having undergone offseason surgery to address the issue with his thumb, something he has done previously in his career, the health status of the California native will remain largely up in the air until spring training begins. Judging by their decision to non-tender, it seems that was a risk that the Twins were unwilling to take. But what do they do now? Well, if there was one thing that substantially failed the Twins down the stretch last year it was defense. Byron Buxton being on the shelf didn’t help the outfield at all, but the infield struggled to stay above water as well. Miguel Sano proved limited in his lateral movement, Jorge Polanco’s throws were often erratic, and Luis Arraez posted negative defensive numbers despite being otherworldly at the dish. If Rocco Baldelli wants that to take a step forward, shuffling some pieces on the dirt makes some sense. https://twitter.com/tlschwerz/status/1201521805829320709 The growing sentiment is that Miguel Sano can slide over to first base. That seems like his most likely position long-term unless he’s going to be a designated hitter. He would need to put in significant work to be capable there given the number of scoops Cron saved for his fielders in 2019. Footwork is also a drastic change across the diamond, and while Sano is plenty good enough as an athlete to do this, it would absolutely be a work in progress. From a net gain perspective for the team however, there’s probably the most room for growth by acquiring an elite third basemen. On this year’s market there are just two players that fit the bill: Josh Donaldson and Anthony Rendon. They couldn’t be more different from a compensation and future perspective and they offer drastically differing opportunities. Donaldson is a larger risk due to age and injury but comes at a muted cost. Rendon has the probability of being a perennial MVP candidate, but will be close to breaking the bank for years to come. Should Minnesota venture down either of these paths, the substantial step forward at third would likely boost Polanco on that side as well. You acquire a plus bat with a glove that plays well above average at the hot corner and the defensive acumen begins to turn up. I’m not suggesting that it’s Donaldson, Rendon, or bust for the Twins. Maybe they have an eye on a non-tender like Travis Shaw, maybe they believe Alex Kirilloff or Brent Rooker is ready, or maybe someone not currently on the radar becomes an option. It does seem logical to believe that with Cron being moved on from, a shift on the infield dirt is coming. I’d bet on regression for almost all lineups across baseball in 2020, so how you handle the other facets of the game will wind up being the difference in who sinks or swims. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY - Minnesota’s Internal First Base Options - Twins Offseason Trade Target: Matt Chapman - What the Early Twins Offseason Rumblings Tell Us
  4. Here are five conclusions I've drawn based on signals rising from the offseason landscape. 1: The Twins will need to pay a hefty premium to sign Zack Wheeler The team's interest in Wheeler is no secret. It's also clear they have company in this regard. https://twitter.com/JonHeyman/status/1199127284185288705 The appeal of Wheeler heading into this offseason was easy enough to see: He's got rotation-fronting ability, but it never fully manifested in New York for various reasons. In seven seasons with the Mets he never threw 200 innings, while totaling a 3.71 FIP and 100 ERA+. In other words, his overall performance was almost exactly average. This backdrop set the stage for a team to acquire the 29-year-old's untapped potential at a relative discount, but when virtually every other front office has the same idea, the whole "discount" proposition goes out the window. To wit: Dan Hayes of The Athletic is hearing Wheeler could land something in the range of five years at $20-22 million per. https://twitter.com/DanHayesMLB/status/1199791067123666945 That seems astounding for a guy with Wheeler's track record, but it reflects something we're seeing elsewhere on this offseason's pitching market, and more broadly as well: front offices are paying for the future, not the past. It sounds obvious, but has hardly been the norm throughout the history of free agency. Players got paid based on their accomplishments. It's basically what makes the service-time system work – to the extent it does. We're seeing a clear shift though. It's evident when Drew Pomeranz, owner of a 4-16 record and 5.36 ERA over the past two seasons, signs with San Diego for four years and $34 million guaranteed. It's evident when Kyle Gibson, who possesses a 4.52 career ERA and torpedoed late in a turbulent 2019 campaign with Minnesota, scores a $30 million payday with Texas (a team that previously executed similar plans with Lance Lynn and Mike Minor, with great success). And it's evident in the relative buzz around Wheeler, compared to other second-tier options like Madison Bumgarner and Hyun-Jun Ryu. Bumgarner is a four-time All-Star, a former World Series MVP, and fourth among active pitchers in ERA. Ryu finished second in NL Cy Young balloting this year, led the league in ERA, and owns a 2.98 career mark. Both hurlers have ample postseason experience. Wheeler is lacking in all of these credentials, but nevertheless, the preference of teams around the league seemingly aligns with that of Twins Daily's Twitter following: https://twitter.com/twinsdaily/status/1198098254916775936 So if the Twins want to add Wheeler, they're surely going to have to go well beyond the "bargain" realm. And if they truly believe in his ability to be that linchpin force atop the rotation, they should be comfortable doing just that. 2: The Twins aren't dead-set on bringing back Jason Castro If they were, they would've already done it. At least, that's my read. The free agent catching market has been active early, and another name came off the market last week with Yan Gomes re-upping in Washington. Castro is still out there, and a reunion remains very much in play, but the more time passes, the more likely it seems that both sides are seriously exploring other options. Given how well he fits, as a lefty-swinging veteran presence with strong defensive chops and a built-in rapport, I figured the Twins might just lock Castro down quickly and check that need off the list. Instead, they're taking their time. 3: More projects are coming to the bullpen As much as I'd love to see the Twins take an aggressive approach in powering up an already-potent bullpen, it always seemed more likely they'd focus the majority of available resources on the rotation. Uncovering hidden gems and converting previous starters has been the recipe for building this current unit into an asset, so why not stick with it? The claim of left-hander Matt Wisler, a former starter who saw his K/9 rate skyrocket to 11.5 as a reliever this year, fits that bill. As does the more recent addition of Mitch Horacek, who is himself finding his way in the minors as a hard-throwing reliever, after transitioning from a previous starting role. Blaine Hardy, signed to a minors deal last week alongside Horacek, brings another lefty arm to the mix with MLB experience and depressed stock. https://twitter.com/beckjason/status/1199364879234277379 The Twins are piling up "maybes" in a way that might negate their need to spend on ostensible "sure things." I'd still like to see at least one clear high-impact acquisition for the back end of the bullpen, though. I find myself wondering if the Twins fancy Blake Treinen, who's reportedly being made very available by the A's, as an opportunistic addition in that realm. The Yankees are said to be moving in. 4: Moving Miguel Sano to first base is on the table The Twins face a fairly important deadline on Monday, when they must make decisions on all of their arbitration-eligible players. The biggest question mark among that group is C.J. Cron, who was a key piece of their lineup in the first half, largely a nonfactor in the second half, and is now coming off thumb surgery. The possibility of sliding Sano, who was generally a negative with the glove at third base, across the diamond has been broached by fans often, and it does appear to be something the team is considering. https://twitter.com/DWolfsonKSTP/status/1198658195394310146 The idea of pairing Donaldson with Sano at the infield corners is beyond tantalizing. Mike Moustakas would also be a good fit in this capacity. (Todd Frazier though? Eh.) 5: The White Sox mean business. (And the Indians might not?) Minnesota will likely enter the 2020 season as favorites in the AL Central, but they won't have the luxury of three teams making zero meaningful effort to compete. The White Sox registered a statement with their bold signing of Yasmani Grandal to a $73 million contract, and they also reached a new deal with slugger Jose Abreu to keep him at the heart of their lineup for three more years. Chicago's talent pipeline is about ready to start delivering. Nick Madrigal might be their Opening Day second baseman, with the release of Yolmer Sanchez paving way. Meanwhile, Lucas Giolito is arguably the best starter in the division, and the Sox are reportedly looking to add another piece alongside him atop the rotation: https://twitter.com/BNightengale/status/1197663148100050944? Potentially offsetting this development: Cleveland sure doesn't seem intent on making a push to retake the division. I haven't heard the Indians connected to any big names, and in fact, they've have been more prominently framed as sellers. Francisco Lindor, two years away from free agency, is apparently drawing interest. https://twitter.com/JonHeyman/status/1194402612990185472 Corey Kluber is on the same timeline (FA after 2021) and his name came up in rumors last winter, so I fully expect to see it happen again. Trading either Lindor or Kluber would signal a pseudo-rebuild for Cleveland.
  5. Outside of Jake Odorizzi accepting his qualifying offer, and thereby filling one of several 2020 rotation vacancies, the first month of Minnesota's offseason was quiet – at least, in terms of real action. But there's been no shortage of reported rumors involving the Twins. Let's read between the lines and see if we can find substantive takeaways behind these rumblings, as well as developing storylines elsewhere.Here are five conclusions I've drawn based on signals rising from the offseason landscape. 1: The Twins will need to pay a hefty premium to sign Zack Wheeler The team's interest in Wheeler is no secret. It's also clear they have company in this regard. Corey Kluber is on the same timeline (FA after 2021) and his name came up in rumors last winter, so I fully expect to see it happen again. Trading either Lindor or Kluber would signal a pseudo-rebuild for Cleveland. Click here to view the article
  6. Miguel Sano Over the last two seasons, Sano has played 20 games at first and he has logged 31 games at the position throughout his career. Sano has always had a strong arm at third base and that skill would be taken away with a move to first base. Besides his arm, he has struggled at the hot corner as he was the third lowest ranked AL third baseman according to SABR’s Defensive Index. Sano missed all of spring training last season due to an offseason injury and that could have hindered some defensive improvement. Mitch Garver Garver clocked 31 home runs last season and he was able to do this while being limited to 93 games. Health wasn’t an issue for Garver as the team used a rotation of Garver and Jason Castro behind the plate. Over the last three seasons, Garver has played parts of nine games at first, but he has made only four career starts at the position. If Minnesota could sign an underrated free agent like Alex Avila, it could open more time for Garver to move out from behind the plate. Marwin Gonzalez Gonzalez was signed last season because of his versatility and the veteran presence he would add to a young line-up. He’s played over 200 games at first base during his career and the Twins used him for over 160 innings last year at first. Minnesota was forced to use Gonzalez for 59 games in the outfield last season because of injuries to multiple players. If Gonzalez is penciled in as the everyday first baseman, that takes away some of his value because his versatility would be taken away. Alex Kirilloff Minnesota’s future at first base might be Alex Kirilloff, one of the team’s top-rated prospects. During his first two professional seasons, Kirilloff had played only in the outfield, but last season he accumulated over 300 innings at first base. His bat is his best tool so being able to play first base might be a way to fast-track him to the big leagues. He played all last season at Double-A and posted a .756 OPS, so it might be unlikely for him to play significant time at first for the 2020 Twins. Will any of these options be the Twins everyday first baseman next season? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Not registered? Click here to create an account. To stay up to date, follow Twins Daily on Twitter and Facebook. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Non-Tendered Players that Could Interest the Minnesota Twins — The Three Biggest What-Ifs from the 2019 Season — One of the Greatest Trades in Twins History
  7. Cron, who was projected to earn around $7.5 million next year via his final turn at arbitration, was always a dubious bet to be locked in at that rate, despite the solid production in his first year with the Twins. His fate seemingly became sealed in recent weeks, with GM Thad Levine noting that the 29-year-old's postseason wrist surgery was "significant." https://twitter.com/DanHayesMLB/status/1201652308079067138 Minnesota still has the option of bringing back Cron at a lower rate, and they may very well explore it, but for now, a wealth of possibilities open up. Among them: shifting Miguel Sano to first base and adding a new third baseman (or going with Marwin Gonzalez at one of those spots). Meanwhile, the decision to non-tender Hildenberger falls into a different category. He wasn't eligible for arbitration, but the Twins elected not to tender him a 2020 contract, thus making him a free agent and clearing his spot on the 40-man roster. Like with Cron, the Twins have the option of pursuing Hildenberger on the open market (and I personally hope they do). The rest of the arbitration-eligible pack was tendered, including: Trevor May, Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Taylor Rogers, Jose Berrios, Tyler Duffey, Matt Wisler, and Ehire Adrianza. The latter, Adrianza, inked a one-year deal worth $1.6 million – a modest $300K raise for a versatile player coming off his best offensive season. We'll now have to wait and see how salaries shake out for those other players, who can exchange numbers with the club up until the January 10th submission deadline. Usually teams and players find middle ground smoothly (we estimated where those figures might land in the Offseason Handbook), but differences in perceived value can emerge and cause friction. I've suggested this may happen with the Twins and Rosario. We'll see. Intriguing non-tenders from elsewhere around the league include A's reliever Blake Treinen and D-backs starter Taijuan Walker. With Cron and Hildenberger removed, the Twins now have five open spots on the 40-man roster.
  8. Ahead of Monday's deadline, the Minnesota Twins announced they won't be tendering a contract to first baseman C.J. Cron, who was the biggest question mark among their group eligible for arbitration. Reliever Trevor Hildenberger is also out. The remaining nine arbitration-eligible players are all slated to return (barring trades), including utilityman Ehire Adrianza, who agreed to a one-year, $1.6 million contract.Cron, who was projected to earn around $7.5 million next year via his final turn at arbitration, was always a dubious bet to be locked in at that rate, despite the solid production in his first year with the Twins. His fate seemingly became sealed in recent weeks, with GM Thad Levine noting that the 29-year-old's postseason wrist surgery was "significant." Minnesota still has the option of bringing back Cron at a lower rate, and they may very well explore it, but for now, a wealth of possibilities open up. Among them: shifting Miguel Sano to first base and adding a new third baseman (or going with Marwin Gonzalez at one of those spots). Meanwhile, the decision to non-tender Hildenberger falls into a different category. He wasn't eligible for arbitration, but the Twins elected not to tender him a 2020 contract, thus making him a free agent and clearing his spot on the 40-man roster. Like with Cron, the Twins have the option of pursuing Hildenberger on the open market (and I personally hope they do). The rest of the arbitration-eligible pack was tendered, including: Trevor May, Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Taylor Rogers, Jose Berrios, Tyler Duffey, Matt Wisler, and Ehire Adrianza. The latter, Adrianza, inked a one-year deal worth $1.6 million – a modest $300K raise for a versatile player coming off his best offensive season. We'll now have to wait and see how salaries shake out for those other players, who can exchange numbers with the club up until the January 10th submission deadline. Usually teams and players find middle ground smoothly (we estimated where those figures might land in the Offseason Handbook), but differences in perceived value can emerge and cause friction. I've suggested this may happen with the Twins and Rosario. We'll see. Intriguing non-tenders from elsewhere around the league include A's reliever Blake Treinen and D-backs starter Taijuan Walker. With Cron and Hildenberger removed, the Twins now have five open spots on the 40-man roster. Click here to view the article
  9. http://traffic.libsyn.com/gleemangeek/GATGA_Ep_454.mp3
  10. Aaron and John talk about the Twins' tough Rule 5 draft decisions, the future of Wander Javier, the White Sox pushing to make the AL Central a three-team race, signing away your entire career for $24 million, the pros and cons of C.J. Cron, and mailbag questions. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click this link. Click here to view the article
  11. Back in July I penned an article here at Twins Daily about the improvement no one was talking about. Bad defensive teams had become synonymous with the Minnesota Twins in recent history and seeing them take such a significant step forward was beyond noteworthy. Through July 11 Minnesota had the fourth best defensive fWAR in baseball and trailed only the Kansas City Royals in the American League. They were also fourth in DRS and second in UZR. At that point I defined it simply by saying the Twins were, as a whole, playing “Gold Glove Caliber defense.” The biggest boost for the Twins could be felt up the middle. Mitch Garver had taken significant strides forward, while Jorge Polanco was now an above average shortstop, and the tandem of Byron Buxton and Max Kepler rounded out the best outfield the sport had to offer. Evaluating defensive metrics in a small sample is an extremely difficult ask, and it’s the full season that gives us the clearer picture. The shifting numbers tells us something has fallen out of whack however, and it starts with these up-the-middle pieces. Garver is still performing admirably behind the plate. He’s made such considerable strides on defense that he’s now arguably the best all-around catcher in baseball, and the Twins have definitely felt that boost. On defense though, that’s where the good news ends for Minnesota. Since July, Polanco has lost 3 DRS and dropped 1.2 UZR on the season. In just a month’s sample, that’s a considerable movement. He’s also part of an infield responsible for the most errors in baseball, and the arm accuracy has become a massive problem. At shortstop there was always concern whether the strength would be there to get the ball across the diamond. Having changed arm slots and working with different tweaks, things have gotten substantially worse as the season has worn on. Polanco has become more adept with his glove, but it’s the post-fielding process that creates a very negative effect on balls in play. https://twitter.com/AaronGleeman/status/1162023278614941696 It isn’t just Polanco in the dirt either. Miguel Sano has the ninth most throwing errors in baseball with 8, and despite a career best -1 DRS, his -2.9 UZR is a career worst and further highlights the stretch he feels from a range perspective playing the hot corner. On the other side of the diamond C.J. Cron leads baseball with five drops, and although he’s fielding suboptimal offerings from his fielders, he hasn’t been otherworldly on his own merits. The -2.7 UZR is trending toward a career worst and the very good early season performance has long been missed. Byron Buxton doesn’t create a significant cascade effect in the infield, but his defense is solely missed in the grass. Max Kepler once had a 10 DRS roughly a month ago and has slumped all the way back to just 5 DRS on the season. A good to great right fielder, Kepler is stretched in center. He gets better jumps than Buxton does, but there’s no number of strong routes that can make up for the speed deficiency. Add in that moving Kepler means more of Marwin Gonzalez (who is OK) or Jake Cave (who is not) in right field, and you’ve effectively taken the best outfield and turned it into a mediocre-at-best group. Since that initial writing Buxton has played in just nine games for the Twins. He’s out with a shoulder dislocation and it doesn’t seem like his return is imminent. Defense is commonly referred to as something that shouldn’t slump, and it’s largely effort based. That’s not to suggest the Twins are tanking in their responsibilities, but there’s also not been evidence of guys picking up the slack. Both the infield and outfield need to find avenues to make the weaknesses more muted. While putting up runs will wipe away some miscues, you can’t give opponents too many additional opportunities. In a matter of a month the Twins have dropped nine spots in the overall defensive rankings, five spots in terms of DRS, and 12 in UZR. If that isn’t cause for concern, I don’t know what is. There’s been plenty of things that have ailed this club since their amazing start, but if they aren’t going to add runs throughout games, they can’t be finding ways to give them back either. Baldelli and his field staff must find a way to position and work through these deficiencies, and changes must be implemented sooner rather than later. A throwing error compounded with a seeing eye single was what led to their latest defeat, and more of that will be on the way if the issues aren’t rectified soon.
  12. You can probably assume that any team as good as the Twins have been is doing little in the form of bringing in warm bodies. Years past have seen the Twins forced to make roster moves defined by monotony, and promotions have come far more often from necessity than born of merit. Gearing up for the stretch run it seems Derek Falvey has this squad in a place to flip the script. C.J. Cron and Eddie Rosario have both missed time prior to the All-Star break. As they return to the big-league lineup only Luis Arraez falls into the category of minor league position player. That’s not indicative of talent at all, but reflective of his option status and the ability to be sent down without recourse. It’s in scenarios like that however, that Twins players have positioned management to having to make difficult decisions. Arraez currently owns a nine-game hitting streak, has posted a .955 OPS through 108 plate appearances, and has developed a newfound level of versatility. He’s playing better than starting second basemen Jonathan Schoop, and the door left open by a starter owning just a .763 OPS (.667 with RISP) is going to make a manager think twice. Similarly, the bullpen was a group that came into the season with serious question marks. To date they’ve been the fifth best unit in baseball and have stepped up by getting contributing performances from names like Morin, Harper, Duffey and Littell. Here, decisions loom large. Because of the results posted by contributing members there’s going to be some tough conversations. The first shoe to drop was a Mike Morin DFA this afternoon. Despite good surface numbers the secondary stuff had him toward the bottom of the pecking order and a decision was made. The reality for the Twins is that these difficult decisions come from a place where the organization certainly wants to be. You rarely see a full 25-man roster experience a clean bill of health at the same time. For Minnesota that point could be coming soon and having a level of uncertainty regarding who loses his spot is quite the impressive reality. On top of health there’s almost no denying that this club is going to make some big-league acquisitions. Whether in the rotation, bullpen or both, there’s going to be at least one arm brought in. Adding to the strong performances already at the disposal of Baldelli and Wes Johnson, the group will be bolstered by a high-level reinforcement. This too will take away the job of a player currently performing above average for a club trending towards 100 victories. What the Twins will need to convey as this roster transformation takes place is a positive message. No player is going to be in favor of losing his spot but understanding the greater goal and realizing that a new contribution could simply be around the corner is a must. Recent seasons have shown us Minnesota going to the next-man-up option because the initial choice flopped. This time around next-man- up is going to be a player who’s already shown his chops and be expected to come in competitively from the outset. Good teams are often built from a place of depth. No organization wins a World Series or makes a postseason run relying on just the 25 players starting on the Opening Day roster. The Minnesota Twins are a good team and the front office has developed the depth to make such a run a distinct possibility.
  13. Aaron and John talk about the state of the Twins heading into the All-Star break with a 5.5-game lead, injuries for Jake Odorizzi, C.J. Cron, and Eddie Rosario, LaMonte Wade's very brief edge over Jake Cave, whether there's any reason to have faith in Adalberto Mejia, and highlighting a possible under-the-radar trade target. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click this link.PLAY THE PODCAST Want more Twins talk? Subscribe to our midweek "Off The Record" episodes via Patreon.com/Gleeman. Click here to view the article
  14. PLAY THE PODCAST Want more Twins talk? Subscribe to our midweek "Off The Record" episodes via Patreon.com/Gleeman.
  15. Exactly one year ago, we were officially writing off the 2018 Twins in this very space: 'Following another week of tremendously uninspiring play,' I wrote, 'one need not look at postseason odds to reach an inescapable conclusion: This ship isn't sinking anymore; it's sunk.' Minnesota was 10 games below .500, eight games out of first place, and hopeless. This year's Twins team, on the other hand, eclipsed the season's halfway point over the weekend on a 104-win pace. So as we review a past week that wasn't exactly spotless, I think it's important to keep in mind how far we've come. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 6/24 through Sun, 6/30 *** Record Last Week: 3-3 (Overall: 53-30) Run Differential Last Week: +6 (Overall: +113) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (8.0 GA) Willians Watch: Back on the Injured List Willians Astudillo opened his week with a three-hit game that included this nifty catch in RF foul territory, but his hearty effort on that play proved costly. Astudillo went 0-for-4 the following night and was then placed on IL due to oblique soreness, apparently stemming from his run-in with the wall. The Twins also lost Eddie Rosario, who sprained his left ankle while turning first on Wednesday and will miss at least the next week. It's a shame because he was heating up again – 6-for-7 through his first two games last week – and his visible frustration upon sustaining the injury appeared to reflect this. It wasn't all bad news, though. Rosario is a big loss but it doesn't appear he'll be gone long (in fact, the team hesitated to even place him on the IL). The Twins crucially got back Byron Buxton and Marwin Gonzalez, who were both activated on Saturday, and Ehire Adrianza, activated a day earlier. Some other noteworthy roster moves from last week: LaMonte Wade Jr. was called up briefly in the middle of the week with the Twins needing extra bodies in the outfield, and started on Friday (he reached once in two PAs, on an HBP, before being replaced by a pinch hitter in the seventh), but he was optioned alongside Jake Cave in order to make room for Buxton and Gonzalez.Zack Littell was also optioned back to Triple-A, though not through any fault of his own (he threw four scoreless innings during his latest stint). The Twins simply needed more arms after burning through everyone in an 18-inning marathon loss to Tampa on Thursday. Prospect Lewis Thorpe was called up to replace Littell, and you can read about his sterling MLB debut in the Highlights below.The Twins signed 36-year-old free agent reliever Carlos Torres, who'd recently been designated for assignment by Detroit, to a minor-league deal. He reported to Class-AAA Rochester. They also returned infielder Ronald Torreyes from the restircted list, making room on the 40-man roster by DFA-ing lefty reliever Gabriel Moya, who cleared waivers and returned to Rochester.HIGHLIGHTS On Friday, fan-selected starters for the All-Star teams were officially revealed, and we learned the American League lineup will feature one Twin: Jorge Polanco at shortstop. He won't be alone in representing the Twins, but Polanco's a fitting frontman, leading the team in WAR thanks to his steady work at shortstop and tremendously consistent production atop the lineup. Polanco had a fairly pedestrian week at the plate (7-for-27) but he also drew three walks and scored seven runs. The fact this counts as a down week for him says it all. Joining him on the All-Star roster is Jake Odorizzi, who surrendered two bombs on Wednesday against Tampa and has generally looked shakier in recent starts, but is still pacing the American Leagues with 10 while holding down a shiny 2.73 ERA. That's it for Twins All-Stars, for now. It seems pretty outrageous for a team that leads baseball in scoring and OPS to have only one representative among the AL's starters or reserves, but here we are. The good news is that we'll certainly see a few more players added to the roster, as a result of injuries and withdrawals, and the Twins have plenty of players near the top of the queue: Rosario, Max Kepler, Jose Berrios, and Taylor Rogers, to name a few. Missed time prevented Nelson Cruz and Mitch Garver from getting legitimate consideration as All-Stars, but they've both made strong cases while on the field. Last week was no different; Cruz went 10-for-23 with three home runs and 10 RBIs games, while Garver delivered an impressive three-hit game against Tampa on Tuesday, launching his 12th home run. It was an interesting week for Miguel Sano. In three games at home against Tampa, he went 1-for-13 with six strikeouts, extending a brutal slump that dated back to mid-June. Then, once he arrived in Chicago, he snapped right back into the dominant form we saw initially upon his return, blasting three homers and plating six runs in two starts, then entering with a clutch pinch-hit RBI single on Sunday. He struck out only once in 10 plate appearances, with two walks. Certainly an encouraging rebound, and one that was evidently driven by some mechanical changes involving hand positioning. Parker had written about this very issue last week, at the height of Sano's struggles. Credit goes to Miguel and Minnesota's hitting coaches for actualizing these adjustments; we'll see if they stick. As a final note on the offense, hitting machine Luis Arraez continued to do his thing, collecting six hits in 17 at-bats. The rookie's average stands at .426. On Sunday, Thorpe was able to make his first major-league start, on account of Kyle Gibson throwing a relief inning during Thursday's 18-inning affair, and thus having his scheduled turn pushed back to Wednesday. The young left-hander was absolutely sensational. Over his five innings, he allowed only two runs (both coming on an Yoan Moncada home run) while notching seven strikeouts and 11 swinging strikes. He continually worked ahead in counts and showed a stunning ability to execute while undoubtedly battling some serious nerves. Like Devin Smeltzer before him, Thorpe solidified himself as a quality rookie depth piece for the rotation. Elsewhere in that unit, Michael Pineda took another nice step, hurling six innings of one-run ball against the White Sox on Friday. The big righty struck out eight while walking one. He finishes June with a 25-to-4 K/BB ratio and 3.58 ERA. Most importantly: he quietly allowed just one home run, after coughing up 14 in his first 11 starts. Martin Perez provided his own promising flash from the back half of the starting corps, putting forth his best performance since early May against the Rays on Thursday. In seven innings he allowed just two runs with six strikeouts and one walk. Notably, per Brooks Baseball data, his improved outcome coincided with a return to leaning on the cutter, along with a reduction in sinker usage: Download attachment: perezpitchmovement.png In the bullpen, Taylor Rogers once again starred, appearing twice and retiring all seven batters faced. He wraps June with an 11-to-1 K/BB ratio and only four hits allowed in 11 1/3 innings, continuing to reaffirm himself as one of the game's best relievers. And credit is also due to Matt Magill, who himself tossed five scoreless frames after a serious rough patch. LOWLIGHTS While Garver continues to be an offensive force, his catching counterpart Jason Castro has seen his early-season success dwindle. Last week he managed three singles in 12 at-bats, and for the month of June he slashed just .191/.240/.277 with one homer and one double. He saw his OPS plummet by 150 points as a result. Now, Castro's current mark (.782) remains plenty respectable for a catcher, but his regression has dashed the notion of two elite offensive players sharing time behind the plate for Minnesota. C.J. Cron's All-Star campaign at first base fell short, and meanwhile, his lengthy hot streak faded into a major cooldown. After putting up a .963 OPS with eight home runs in May, Cron followed with stellar production through the first three weeks of June. But last week, while starting every game, he went just 5-for-28 with seven strikeouts, zero walks, and zero extra-base hits. Also finding himself in a bit of a drought is Jonathan Schoop, who went 4-for-24 with eight strikeouts on the week. A few downspells here and there are to be expected. The Twins offense in general has come back to Earth in recent weeks, but remains a powerhouse to be reckoned with. As long as they continue to have multiple guys clicking simultaneously, as they have at all times, Minnesota's going to be okay in the run-scoring department. Blake Parker seems to have his swing-and-miss stuff back, which is a plus – after inducing just six whiffs through his first eight June appearances (4% SwStr), Parker has since induced 10 in his past four appearances (14% SwStr). Last week he tallied four strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings of work, but it still wasn't pretty as he yielded five hits, including his fifth home run of the month. Two years ago, when at his best, Parker allowed only seven home runs total. TRENDING STORYLINE We're still waiting to see how the Twins will address their needy bullpen through high-impact acquisitions (a task that will be harder than many wish to believe), but for now it's about closely tracking how the team's lower-scale additions and internal options are progressing. Torres coughed up a two-run homer in his debut for the Red Wings on Thursday. Cody Allen debuted at Single-A for the Miracle on Saturday, tossing a clean scoreless inning with a strikeout, but he reportedly topped out at 91 MPH. (Two years ago, when he was last an outstanding MLB reliever, Allen averaged 94.3 on his fastball.) Fernando Romero and Trevor Hildenberger are both on IL at Rochester. His may not have the same name recognition as those above, nor is he on the 40-man roster as of yet, but Cody Stashak is really emerging as a name to watch. After he posted a 40-to-5 K/BB ratio in Pensacola over the first two months, Minnesota looked past his 4.76 ERA and promoted the 25-year-old righty to Triple-A and he has responded by decimating the highest level of minor-league competition. After striking out six in 2 2/3 innings last week, he now has a 19-to-1 K/BB ratio and 2.25 ERA through 12 innings with Rochester. I suspect we'll get a look at him in the bigs before the summer's over. DOWN ON THE FARM Acquired from the Yankees during the offseason, Torreyes spent much of the first half away from the team for reasons that weren't made public. He was activated from the restricted list last week and after a brief stint at Fort Myers, returned to Rochester with a bang on Friday, launching two home runs against Pawtucket. Torreyes followed with a three-hit game on Saturday and delivered a two-run single in his AB on Sunday. He adds another piece of credible depth to Minnesota's infield picture, albeit one made less critical by the play of Adrianza and Arraez. LOOKING AHEAD Hate those late-night West Coast games that linger past midnight on weekdays? Then I've got good news for you: the Twins will be playing their last such set in Oakland during the first half of this week. You might find it easier to stay up and watch the second game on Wednesday, with a holiday and afternoon contest coming on Thursday. Afterwards, the Twins finish out the unofficial first half with three home tilts against Texas. TUESDAY, 7/2: TWINS @ ATHLETICS – RHP Jake Odorizzi v. RHP Daniel Mengden WEDNESDAY, 7/3: TWINS @ ATHLETICS – RHP Kyle Gibson v. RHP Tanner Anderson THURSDAY, 7/4: TWINS @ ATHLETICS – LHP Martin Perez v. RHP Mike Fiers FRIDAY, 7/5: RANGERS @ TWINS – RHP Jesse Chavez v. RHP Jose Berrios SATURDAY, 7/6: RANGERS @ TWINS – LHP Mike Minor v. RHP Michael Pineda SUNDAY, 7/7: RANGERS @ TWINS – RHP Ariel Jurado v. RHP Jake Odorizzi Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps Game 78 | MIN 9, TB 4: Twins Shell Blake SnellGame 79 | MIN 6, TB 4: Cruz Bails Out Another Bunting BlunderGame 80 | TB 5, MIN 2: Twins Can’t Complete Sweep in 18-Inning DuelGame 81 | CHW 6, MIN 4: Sanó Homers Twice, Twins Fall Short in ChicagoGame 82 | MIN 10, CHW 3: Twins Hit 5 Homers, Kepler Reaches New Career HighGame 83 | CHW 4, MIN 3: Twins Lose Rubber Match to White Sox After Another Long Day of Baseball Click here to view the article
  16. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 6/24 through Sun, 6/30 *** Record Last Week: 3-3 (Overall: 53-30) Run Differential Last Week: +6 (Overall: +113) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (8.0 GA) Willians Watch: Back on the Injured List Willians Astudillo opened his week with a three-hit game that included this nifty catch in RF foul territory, but his hearty effort on that play proved costly. Astudillo went 0-for-4 the following night and was then placed on IL due to oblique soreness, apparently stemming from his run-in with the wall. The Twins also lost Eddie Rosario, who sprained his left ankle while turning first on Wednesday and will miss at least the next week. It's a shame because he was heating up again – 6-for-7 through his first two games last week – and his visible frustration upon sustaining the injury appeared to reflect this. It wasn't all bad news, though. Rosario is a big loss but it doesn't appear he'll be gone long (in fact, the team hesitated to even place him on the IL). The Twins crucially got back Byron Buxton and Marwin Gonzalez, who were both activated on Saturday, and Ehire Adrianza, activated a day earlier. Some other noteworthy roster moves from last week: LaMonte Wade Jr. was called up briefly in the middle of the week with the Twins needing extra bodies in the outfield, and started on Friday (he reached once in two PAs, on an HBP, before being replaced by a pinch hitter in the seventh), but he was optioned alongside Jake Cave in order to make room for Buxton and Gonzalez. Zack Littell was also optioned back to Triple-A, though not through any fault of his own (he threw four scoreless innings during his latest stint). The Twins simply needed more arms after burning through everyone in an 18-inning marathon loss to Tampa on Thursday. Prospect Lewis Thorpe was called up to replace Littell, and you can read about his sterling MLB debut in the Highlights below. The Twins signed 36-year-old free agent reliever Carlos Torres, who'd recently been designated for assignment by Detroit, to a minor-league deal. He reported to Class-AAA Rochester. They also returned infielder Ronald Torreyes from the restircted list, making room on the 40-man roster by DFA-ing lefty reliever Gabriel Moya, who cleared waivers and returned to Rochester. HIGHLIGHTS On Friday, fan-selected starters for the All-Star teams were officially revealed, and we learned the American League lineup will feature one Twin: Jorge Polanco at shortstop. He won't be alone in representing the Twins, but Polanco's a fitting frontman, leading the team in WAR thanks to his steady work at shortstop and tremendously consistent production atop the lineup. Polanco had a fairly pedestrian week at the plate (7-for-27) but he also drew three walks and scored seven runs. The fact this counts as a down week for him says it all. Joining him on the All-Star roster is Jake Odorizzi, who surrendered two bombs on Wednesday against Tampa and has generally looked shakier in recent starts, but is still pacing the American Leagues with 10 while holding down a shiny 2.73 ERA. That's it for Twins All-Stars, for now. It seems pretty outrageous for a team that leads baseball in scoring and OPS to have only one representative among the AL's starters or reserves, but here we are. https://twitter.com/MLB/status/1145452241148612614 The good news is that we'll certainly see a few more players added to the roster, as a result of injuries and withdrawals, and the Twins have plenty of players near the top of the queue: Rosario, Max Kepler, Jose Berrios, and Taylor Rogers, to name a few. Missed time prevented Nelson Cruz and Mitch Garver from getting legitimate consideration as All-Stars, but they've both made strong cases while on the field. Last week was no different; Cruz went 10-for-23 with three home runs and 10 RBIs games, while Garver delivered an impressive three-hit game against Tampa on Tuesday, launching his 12th home run. It was an interesting week for Miguel Sano. In three games at home against Tampa, he went 1-for-13 with six strikeouts, extending a brutal slump that dated back to mid-June. Then, once he arrived in Chicago, he snapped right back into the dominant form we saw initially upon his return, blasting three homers and plating six runs in two starts, then entering with a clutch pinch-hit RBI single on Sunday. He struck out only once in 10 plate appearances, with two walks. Certainly an encouraging rebound, and one that was evidently driven by some mechanical changes involving hand positioning. Parker had written about this very issue last week, at the height of Sano's struggles. Credit goes to Miguel and Minnesota's hitting coaches for actualizing these adjustments; we'll see if they stick. As a final note on the offense, hitting machine Luis Arraez continued to do his thing, collecting six hits in 17 at-bats. The rookie's average stands at .426. On Sunday, Thorpe was able to make his first major-league start, on account of Kyle Gibson throwing a relief inning during Thursday's 18-inning affair, and thus having his scheduled turn pushed back to Wednesday. The young left-hander was absolutely sensational. Over his five innings, he allowed only two runs (both coming on an Yoan Moncada home run) while notching seven strikeouts and 11 swinging strikes. He continually worked ahead in counts and showed a stunning ability to execute while undoubtedly battling some serious nerves. Like Devin Smeltzer before him, Thorpe solidified himself as a quality rookie depth piece for the rotation. Elsewhere in that unit, Michael Pineda took another nice step, hurling six innings of one-run ball against the White Sox on Friday. The big righty struck out eight while walking one. He finishes June with a 25-to-4 K/BB ratio and 3.58 ERA. Most importantly: he quietly allowed just one home run, after coughing up 14 in his first 11 starts. Martin Perez provided his own promising flash from the back half of the starting corps, putting forth his best performance since early May against the Rays on Thursday. In seven innings he allowed just two runs with six strikeouts and one walk. Notably, per Brooks Baseball data, his improved outcome coincided with a return to leaning on the cutter, along with a reduction in sinker usage: In the bullpen, Taylor Rogers once again starred, appearing twice and retiring all seven batters faced. He wraps June with an 11-to-1 K/BB ratio and only four hits allowed in 11 1/3 innings, continuing to reaffirm himself as one of the game's best relievers. And credit is also due to Matt Magill, who himself tossed five scoreless frames after a serious rough patch. LOWLIGHTS While Garver continues to be an offensive force, his catching counterpart Jason Castro has seen his early-season success dwindle. Last week he managed three singles in 12 at-bats, and for the month of June he slashed just .191/.240/.277 with one homer and one double. He saw his OPS plummet by 150 points as a result. Now, Castro's current mark (.782) remains plenty respectable for a catcher, but his regression has dashed the notion of two elite offensive players sharing time behind the plate for Minnesota. C.J. Cron's All-Star campaign at first base fell short, and meanwhile, his lengthy hot streak faded into a major cooldown. After putting up a .963 OPS with eight home runs in May, Cron followed with stellar production through the first three weeks of June. But last week, while starting every game, he went just 5-for-28 with seven strikeouts, zero walks, and zero extra-base hits. Also finding himself in a bit of a drought is Jonathan Schoop, who went 4-for-24 with eight strikeouts on the week. A few downspells here and there are to be expected. The Twins offense in general has come back to Earth in recent weeks, but remains a powerhouse to be reckoned with. As long as they continue to have multiple guys clicking simultaneously, as they have at all times, Minnesota's going to be okay in the run-scoring department. Blake Parker seems to have his swing-and-miss stuff back, which is a plus – after inducing just six whiffs through his first eight June appearances (4% SwStr), Parker has since induced 10 in his past four appearances (14% SwStr). Last week he tallied four strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings of work, but it still wasn't pretty as he yielded five hits, including his fifth home run of the month. Two years ago, when at his best, Parker allowed only seven home runs total. TRENDING STORYLINE We're still waiting to see how the Twins will address their needy bullpen through high-impact acquisitions (a task that will be harder than many wish to believe), but for now it's about closely tracking how the team's lower-scale additions and internal options are progressing. Torres coughed up a two-run homer in his debut for the Red Wings on Thursday. Cody Allen debuted at Single-A for the Miracle on Saturday, tossing a clean scoreless inning with a strikeout, but he reportedly topped out at 91 MPH. (Two years ago, when he was last an outstanding MLB reliever, Allen averaged 94.3 on his fastball.) Fernando Romero and Trevor Hildenberger are both on IL at Rochester. His may not have the same name recognition as those above, nor is he on the 40-man roster as of yet, but Cody Stashak is really emerging as a name to watch. After he posted a 40-to-5 K/BB ratio in Pensacola over the first two months, Minnesota looked past his 4.76 ERA and promoted the 25-year-old righty to Triple-A and he has responded by decimating the highest level of minor-league competition. After striking out six in 2 2/3 innings last week, he now has a 19-to-1 K/BB ratio and 2.25 ERA through 12 innings with Rochester. I suspect we'll get a look at him in the bigs before the summer's over. DOWN ON THE FARM Acquired from the Yankees during the offseason, Torreyes spent much of the first half away from the team for reasons that weren't made public. He was activated from the restricted list last week and after a brief stint at Fort Myers, returned to Rochester with a bang on Friday, launching two home runs against Pawtucket. Torreyes followed with a three-hit game on Saturday and delivered a two-run single in his AB on Sunday. He adds another piece of credible depth to Minnesota's infield picture, albeit one made less critical by the play of Adrianza and Arraez. LOOKING AHEAD Hate those late-night West Coast games that linger past midnight on weekdays? Then I've got good news for you: the Twins will be playing their last such set in Oakland during the first half of this week. You might find it easier to stay up and watch the second game on Wednesday, with a holiday and afternoon contest coming on Thursday. Afterwards, the Twins finish out the unofficial first half with three home tilts against Texas. TUESDAY, 7/2: TWINS @ ATHLETICS – RHP Jake Odorizzi v. RHP Daniel Mengden WEDNESDAY, 7/3: TWINS @ ATHLETICS – RHP Kyle Gibson v. RHP Tanner Anderson THURSDAY, 7/4: TWINS @ ATHLETICS – LHP Martin Perez v. RHP Mike Fiers FRIDAY, 7/5: RANGERS @ TWINS – RHP Jesse Chavez v. RHP Jose Berrios SATURDAY, 7/6: RANGERS @ TWINS – LHP Mike Minor v. RHP Michael Pineda SUNDAY, 7/7: RANGERS @ TWINS – RHP Ariel Jurado v. RHP Jake Odorizzi Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps Game 78 | MIN 9, TB 4: Twins Shell Blake Snell Game 79 | MIN 6, TB 4: Cruz Bails Out Another Bunting Blunder Game 80 | TB 5, MIN 2: Twins Can’t Complete Sweep in 18-Inning Duel Game 81 | CHW 6, MIN 4: Sanó Homers Twice, Twins Fall Short in Chicago Game 82 | MIN 10, CHW 3: Twins Hit 5 Homers, Kepler Reaches New Career High Game 83 | CHW 4, MIN 3: Twins Lose Rubber Match to White Sox After Another Long Day of Baseball
  17. Voting Changes Major League Baseball altered their voting process for the 2019 All-Star Game. Two phases of voting are being held, “The Primary” and “The Starters Election.” Fans remain in charge of selecting the All-Star starters, but this new process allows for more fan involvement in an Election Day (that’s today). All the pitchers and reserve position players will continue to be chosen through Player Ballots and selections from the Commissioner’s Office. The Primary Round concluded last Friday to narrow the ballot to the top three vote-getters at each position (including nine outfielders). “The Starters Election” will take the top vote getters from “The Primary” and open an all-out voting war. Starting at 11 am CST today (June 26), fans will have 28-hours to vote for the starters. There is only ONE vote per platform - http://www.twinsbaseball.com/vote and Google. CLICK HERE TO VOTE Possible Twins Starters First Base CJ Cron finished in the top-3 in a tightly contested vote at first base. According to FanGraphs WAR, he doesn’t rank in the top-5 among AL first baseman. New York’s Luke Voit was leading all first basemen, so it could be another case of a Twins player losing to a Yankee. When it comes to the top candidate, Carlos Santana has put together some strong numbers and the game is being played in his home stadium. It would make sense for him to represent his club at the event. Cron has been swinging a very hot bat over the last week and this could help him in the voting. Who Should Win? Santana Who Will Win? Voit Shortstop Shortstop might be Minnesota’s best chance to land a starter at the All-Star Game. Jorge Polanco lead all American League shortstops in the Primary Vote, and he is having an MVP caliber first half. He leads the AL in batting average, and he’s been one of the best hitters in a potent Twins line-up. Francisco Lindor is one of the ambassadors for the All-Star Game, but he couldn’t sneak onto the ballot. Polanco is going to have some tough competition from Houston’s Carlos Correa and New York’s Gleyber Torres. Correa is on the injured list so that might take him out of the running. Fans might be more attracted to Torres and his 18 home runs than Polanco and his overall numbers. Who Should Win? Polanco Who Will Win? Polanco Outfield Minnesota fell just 138 votes short of placing two outfielders into the top-9 for the Starters Election. An argument could be made for all three outfielders to be on the ballot. Among AL outfielders, Max Kepler only trails Mike Trout in FanGraphs WAR. Eddie Rosario has some more popular numbers on the ballot with his high home run total and high OPS. This still probably won’t be enough to get him into the top-3. Last year’s AL MVP Mookie Betts and George Springer, the 2017 World Series MVP, will also do well in the Final Vote. New York’s Aaron Judge just came back from injury, but his superstar status in the biggest MLB market could help his final vote total. Who Should Win? Trout, Betts, Kepler (even though he’s not on the ballot) Who Will Win? Trout, Betts, Springer Designated Hitter Nelson Cruz might also have a shot at winnings a starters spot since there is not clear-cut favorite for the DH role. It be elected Cruz is going to have to beat out Boston’s J.D. Martinez and Texas’ Hunter Pence. Recently, Pence was placed on the DL with a groin strain, so it might come down to Martinez versus Cruz. Martinez has his lowest OPS since 2015 with Detroit. Ironically, that was the only time he was named to the All-Star Game. Cruz is a six-time All-Star and he has been elected in five of the last six seasons. As a Twins fan, it’s hard not to consider the impact Cruz has had on the Twins line-up. He and Martinez have almost identical OPS totals so it will be interesting to see who the fans eventually select. Who Should Win? Cruz Who Will Win? Martinez Minnesota has been having a great first half. Make sure to get out and vote for the Twins players above to be All-Star starters. CLICK HERE TO VOTE
  18. A rare blown save from Taylor Rogers sent the game to extra innings, but C.J. Cron led the offensive rally in the tenth inning and Minnesota took the third game of the series against the Royals. The Twins become the first team in the American League to reach 50 wins this year.Box Score Berríos: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 61.1% strikes (55 of 90 pitches) Bullpen: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K Home Runs: Sanó (9), Cave (1), Cron (17) Multi-Hit Games: Cron (3-for-5, HR, RBI), Cave (2-for-3, HR) WPA of +0.1: Berríos .366, Cron .356, Cave .250, May .142 WPA of -0.1: Kepler -.113, Cruz -.121, Polanco -.155, Astudillo -.161, Rogers -.269 (chart via FanGraphs) Coming into this game, the Twins were having some rather rocky previous few games. After having a winning record in all of its seven, ten-game splits so far in the season, Minnesota had more losses than wins in their current ten-game split, with a 2-3 record. They were able to avoid a three-game losing streak on Friday night, as they have done all year, though. They were able to get a second straight win even though they had to face an, at times, very difficult opposing starter in lefty Danny Duffy. Even though Duffy isn’t having a very good year, coming into this game with a 4.64 ERA, he had posted a 2.61 ERA in his last five starts against the Twins, striking out nine batters per nine innings. It was by no means an easy task. But, José Berríos also came into the game carrying great recent success against the Royals. In his last six starts against them, he’s posted a 2.48 ERA, not once giving up more than three runs or pitching fewer than six innings. Sanó slowly ending his slump Miguel Sanó had a brutal series against the Boston Red Sox earlier in the week, going 0-for-13 with nine strikeouts. He then became the rally sparker late in Friday’s game, hitting a clutch solo home run to tie the game in the eighth inning. That didn’t change the fact that he finished the game in a 1-for-19 sequence. So he was determined to end that slump for good. He homered again on Saturday, in the second inning, to put the Twins ahead. Bullpen Usage Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days: Click here to view the article
  19. Box Score Berríos: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 61.1% strikes (55 of 90 pitches) Bullpen: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K Home Runs: Sanó (9), Cave (1), Cron (17) Multi-Hit Games: Cron (3-for-5, HR, RBI), Cave (2-for-3, HR) WPA of +0.1: Berríos .366, Cron .356, Cave .250, May .142 WPA of -0.1: Kepler -.113, Cruz -.121, Polanco -.155, Astudillo -.161, Rogers -.269 (chart via FanGraphs) Coming into this game, the Twins were having some rather rocky previous few games. After having a winning record in all of its seven, ten-game splits so far in the season, Minnesota had more losses than wins in their current ten-game split, with a 2-3 record. They were able to avoid a three-game losing streak on Friday night, as they have done all year, though. They were able to get a second straight win even though they had to face an, at times, very difficult opposing starter in lefty Danny Duffy. Even though Duffy isn’t having a very good year, coming into this game with a 4.64 ERA, he had posted a 2.61 ERA in his last five starts against the Twins, striking out nine batters per nine innings. It was by no means an easy task. But, José Berríos also came into the game carrying great recent success against the Royals. In his last six starts against them, he’s posted a 2.48 ERA, not once giving up more than three runs or pitching fewer than six innings. Sanó slowly ending his slump Miguel Sanó had a brutal series against the Boston Red Sox earlier in the week, going 0-for-13 with nine strikeouts. He then became the rally sparker late in Friday’s game, hitting a clutch solo home run to tie the game in the eighth inning. That didn’t change the fact that he finished the game in a 1-for-19 sequence. So he was determined to end that slump for good. He homered again on Saturday, in the second inning, to put the Twins ahead. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1142502957591740421 For the first time in the past ten games, the Twins recorded three home runs in a game. The last time they did so was on June 12th against the Mariners. Minnesota continues on the path to break the single-season home run record, as they are now on pace to hit 311 homers. Here’s a look at how Jake Cave (his first of the year) and C.J. Cron went back-to-back in the eighth. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1142524336785514496 Berríos leaves and the Royals take advantage Everything was going smoothly until the beginning of the eighth inning. Berríos had completed seven shutout innings with only 83 pitches. But he started suffering from a blister on his right ring finger and gave up a single and a walk to open the inning. Both of those runners ended up scoring as Taylor Rogers couldn’t strand them. Kansas City then tied the game in the inning, as Jorge Soler was hit by a pitch from Rogers and scored later. For the second time this week, the Twins were going to extra innings after Trevor May pitched a scoreless ninth. Patiently, Minnesota was able to score a couple more runs to retake the lead in the tenth. After Luis Arráez and Cave reached on a single and a hit-by-pitch, Cron got his third hit of the day to earn his second RBI. It was followed by Eddie Rosario’s double to add one more insurance run and give Blake Parker some breathing room to earn his tenth save of the year in the bottom of the inning. Bullpen continues good stretch Any compliments given to the Twins bullpen this year will sound weird. Although Minnesota relievers aren’t having a very good year, they’ve had some brilliant stints, the current one included. Before this afternoon game, the Twins bullpen pitched 31 innings in the previous eight games, posting a 2.03 ERA. It also should be said that more than half of those innings - sixteen and two-thirds - were pitched against the current World Series champions. Despite the fact that Rogers couldn’t hold on to the advantage late in regulation and got his third blown save of the year, the Twins bullpen is now posting a 2.11 ERA in the past nine games. May earned his second win of the season. Postgame With Baldelli https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1142548859874189312 Bullpen Usage Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
  20. On the latest Gleeman and the Geek Parker Hageman noted that, in talking with a Twins official, the feel in the clubhouse is decidedly different in 2019. It’s one thing for that to be the case when you have the best record in baseball, but the reality for this team is that this is how things have been from the beginning. In constructing this roster Derek Falvey and Thad Levine were both calculated and decisive, but maybe there was more to it than a talent overhaul. From an internal standpoint the two linchpins have long been Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. Buxton was the guy who put in all the effort and had plenty of hurdles placed in his way. Sano was the talented slugger that looked to rely on that alone. Byron went home and got his confidence back. Miguel put in work and looked to commit for the first time in his career. From the two guys most necessary on the roster, the front office got the buy in they desperately needed. In looking at the external additions there seems to be a common theme. Blake Parker was non-tendered by the Angels as was Brewers second basemen Jonathan Schoop. C.J. Cron was DFA’d by the Rays. Ryne Harper was a 30-year-old minor league journeyman, and Matt Magill was an unproven commodity. All five of these players began the 2019 season on the 25-man roster, and it seemed to lead to the desired outcome. The trio of former big leaguers had all seen previous success. Parker worked in a high leverage closer role the season before, Cron was coming off a career high in homers, and Schoop was once an All-Star at an offensively starved position. Feeling snubbed could be a motivating factor for each of them, but it would be coming through the lens of a team that believed in their resurgence and wanted them on board. A season ago Minnesota was able to land veterans Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison on friendly pacts with the market scrutinizing their value. The snub there likely had the players feeling a level of frustration toward potential suitors, all while missing out on valuable ramp-up time in Spring Training. Those emotions of discontentment spilling over into the clubhouse or regular season would be an understandable thing to grasp. In a free agency redo prior to 2019, the group brought in represented a different narrative and could likely feel an immediate sense of buy-in regarding their individual abilities. There’s plenty of reason to be weary of unproven commodities, and both Magill and Harper represent that category. Neither of them had seen a high level of big-league success, and in a bullpen that was going to include question marks, counting on both was a big ask. That again was a level of buy-in shown by the front office that could certainly be responsible for fueling the 2019 production. Both have been backed by vocal support and have been put in position to succeed. In recent seasons it has been hard to tab the “leader” of Minnesota’s clubhouse. Paul Molitor wasn’t seen as that presence and Joe Mauer wasn’t necessary cut of that cloth. Brian Dozier was always the guy, but it wasn’t ever a role for which he seemed destined. Now it’s hard to examine that clubhouse from afar and not assume that the room is made up almost entirely of leaders. Nelson Cruz is a strong veteran presence, and perspective is offered by some of the acquired talent. Kyle Gibson has done important work to take a stand, and the developed talent are all carrying their individual loads. Juggling a room of personalities is never going to be an easy ask in any situation and creating the right infrastructure will always be the desired goal. Rocco Baldelli appears to be the empowering leader, and his staff looks to play the part of a collaborative group. From the day the front office was changed over, it is that collaboration word that became a tag line. Although it took a couple of years for them to reinvent the wheel in the organization it appears now that we’ve come full circle. The Twins are winning and it’s a ton of fun, both for fans and those in the room. We can sit here and assume that the cohesiveness and leadership followed the results, or we can assume that, more than likely, it’s a driving factor in getting the ball rolling.
  21. Most of Twins Territory is riding high with the Twins remarkable start to the season. Minnesota’s offense looks like it is one of the best in the league. The starting staff is outperforming most expectations and the bullpen has been able to hold its own. With the best record in the AL, the Twins are making it tough to be negative. However, there are some weaknesses with this team. Which weakness could hurt the team in the long run?The Offense Minnesota’s offense has ranked as one of the best in the league. There are few weaknesses from top to bottom in the line-up. The Twins rank second in the AL in batting average, SLG, OPS, home runs, and hits. They have also scored the most runs and hit the most doubles. Of regular starters, Marwin Gonzalez has the lowest OPS on the team (.722) and he got off to a slow start. He ended the first month of the season hitting .167/.244/.256 with three extra-base hits. Since the calendar turned to May, he is hitting .358/.427/.552 with seven extra-base hits. Minnesota’s biggest offensive weakness this season has turned it around. Yesterday, I wrote about the team’s trend of barreling up the ball. Minnesota’s catching core has been unreal at putting the barrel on the ball. As one would expect, Nelson Cruz ranks near the top of the league. Other players like CJ Cron and Byron Buxton have also made some stark improvements. Minnesota’s offense was expected to improve but this has to be beyond the wildest dreams of most fans. The Starting Staff Even with a strong offense, a poor starting staff can destroy a season. Twins starting pitchers have outperformed many of the expectations entering the season. Coming off an All-Star season, most people knew what to expect from Jose Berrios. The rest of the staff has also gone above and beyond. Jake Odorizzi’s 1.6 WAR ranks him fourth in the AL among pitchers. He has the second-best ERA, the fourth best hits per 9 IP, and the seventh best WHIP. His ERA is almost 1.5 runs lower than his career mark. Earlier this month, he won the AL Player of the Week and he has continued to perform well. Martin Perez has also been a breath of fresh air. Since joining the rotation, he has a 2.01 ERA and a 41 to 13 strikeout to walk ratio in seven starts. This spring with the help of Odorizzi and Johan Santana, he was able to start developing a cutter. He uses this more than his other pitches and teams are having a tough time figuring it out. Kyle Gibson and Michael Pineda have seen some ups and downs. Pineda is in his first season back from Tommy John, so some struggles were expected. Even with the struggles, Pineda has produced quality starts in his last three starts. Depth at the back end of the rotation could be a weakness. If one of the top three starters were to be hurt or start underperforming, the rest of the rotation could struggle. Stephen Gonsalves, Kohl Stewart, Lewis Thorpe, and Zack Littell are waiting in Rochester. Could they be trusted taking over a spot in the rotation? The Bullpen At this point in the season, the casual fan might consider the bullpen to be the team’s greatest weakness. Most of this thought process comes from the team having a non-traditional bullpen. There is no designated closer and four different players have earned saves this season. Blake Parker, Ryne Harper, Matt Magill and Taylor Rogers all have ERA’s of 1.80 or less. Trevor May has made the most appearances out of the bullpen. Even though he has allowed eight earned runs in 18 IP, he has 17 strikeouts. Manager Rocco Baldelli has been able to turn to most of these pitchers with confidence in any situation. Trevor Hildenberger, a key component of the 2017 team, struggled through the beginning of the season. In 14 innings, he allowed 13 earned runs and it seemed like his breaking pitch wasn’t doing what he wanted it to do. He is down in Rochester trying to work through some of his struggles. Adalberto Mejia was another player that struggled (11 earned runs in 11.1 IP), but he is now on the injury list. Fernando Romero has been transitioning to a bullpen role between the MLB and Triple-A levels. Lots of other relief pitchers have been struggling in Rochester. Maybe the switch to using the MLB baseball has impacted their numbers. Perhaps, top pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol could be used in a bullpen role later in the season. What do you see as the team’s biggest weakness? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  22. The Offense Minnesota’s offense has ranked as one of the best in the league. There are few weaknesses from top to bottom in the line-up. The Twins rank second in the AL in batting average, SLG, OPS, home runs, and hits. They have also scored the most runs and hit the most doubles. Of regular starters, Marwin Gonzalez has the lowest OPS on the team (.722) and he got off to a slow start. He ended the first month of the season hitting .167/.244/.256 with three extra-base hits. Since the calendar turned to May, he is hitting .358/.427/.552 with seven extra-base hits. Minnesota’s biggest offensive weakness this season has turned it around. Yesterday, I wrote about the team’s trend of barreling up the ball. Minnesota’s catching core has been unreal at putting the barrel on the ball. As one would expect, Nelson Cruz ranks near the top of the league. Other players like CJ Cron and Byron Buxton have also made some stark improvements. Minnesota’s offense was expected to improve but this has to be beyond the wildest dreams of most fans. The Starting Staff Even with a strong offense, a poor starting staff can destroy a season. Twins starting pitchers have outperformed many of the expectations entering the season. Coming off an All-Star season, most people knew what to expect from Jose Berrios. The rest of the staff has also gone above and beyond. Jake Odorizzi’s 1.6 WAR ranks him fourth in the AL among pitchers. He has the second-best ERA, the fourth best hits per 9 IP, and the seventh best WHIP. His ERA is almost 1.5 runs lower than his career mark. Earlier this month, he won the AL Player of the Week and he has continued to perform well. Martin Perez has also been a breath of fresh air. Since joining the rotation, he has a 2.01 ERA and a 41 to 13 strikeout to walk ratio in seven starts. This spring with the help of Odorizzi and Johan Santana, he was able to start developing a cutter. He uses this more than his other pitches and teams are having a tough time figuring it out. Kyle Gibson and Michael Pineda have seen some ups and downs. Pineda is in his first season back from Tommy John, so some struggles were expected. Even with the struggles, Pineda has produced quality starts in his last three starts. Depth at the back end of the rotation could be a weakness. If one of the top three starters were to be hurt or start underperforming, the rest of the rotation could struggle. Stephen Gonsalves, Kohl Stewart, Lewis Thorpe, and Zack Littell are waiting in Rochester. Could they be trusted taking over a spot in the rotation? The Bullpen At this point in the season, the casual fan might consider the bullpen to be the team’s greatest weakness. Most of this thought process comes from the team having a non-traditional bullpen. There is no designated closer and four different players have earned saves this season. Blake Parker, Ryne Harper, Matt Magill and Taylor Rogers all have ERA’s of 1.80 or less. Trevor May has made the most appearances out of the bullpen. Even though he has allowed eight earned runs in 18 IP, he has 17 strikeouts. Manager Rocco Baldelli has been able to turn to most of these pitchers with confidence in any situation. Trevor Hildenberger, a key component of the 2017 team, struggled through the beginning of the season. In 14 innings, he allowed 13 earned runs and it seemed like his breaking pitch wasn’t doing what he wanted it to do. He is down in Rochester trying to work through some of his struggles. Adalberto Mejia was another player that struggled (11 earned runs in 11.1 IP), but he is now on the injury list. Fernando Romero has been transitioning to a bullpen role between the MLB and Triple-A levels. Lots of other relief pitchers have been struggling in Rochester. Maybe the switch to using the MLB baseball has impacted their numbers. Perhaps, top pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol could be used in a bullpen role later in the season. What do you see as the team’s biggest weakness? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  23. Minnesota’s offense has been one of the best in the American League. It’s been looking more like the club has few weaknesses from top to bottom in their line-up. They have also been able to produce at a high level with players like Nelson Cruz, Mitch Garver, and Miguel Sano spending time on the injured list. So how has Minnesota’s offense emerged this season? It’s all about barreling up the ball.Barrel of Fun Entering play on Tuesday, Minnesota ranks as the top team when it comes to barreling up the ball. Minnesota has barreled up the ball on 2.0 % of pitches. Atlanta is Minnesota’s closest competition in the barrel department with a 1.7% total. The big-league average is 1.35%. No other AL Central teams rank in the top 15 and Cleveland has the fifth worst total in all of baseball. Download attachment: Barrels by Club.png Catcher Power It’s no secret that Minnesota’s catchers have been producing at quite the rate to start the year. Neither Jason Castro or Mitch Garver qualify for the league leader in Barrel % but they are both near the top on the Twins leaderboard. When it comes to Barrel %, Castro’s 26.7% mark is nearly 10% higher than the second place Twins player, Nelson Cruz. Garver is tied with C.J. Cron for third on the team with a 16.9% Barrel %. Barreling up the ball also shows up in some of the catcher’s other StatCast data. Castro and Garver only trail Cruz when it comes to average exit velocity. Castro’s 92.9 exit velocity ranks as the 18th best in all of baseball. Garver is 0.9 mph behind Castro which is good for 41st overall. Also, Castro only trails the recently activated Miguel Sano in Hard Hit %. Team Effort Minnesota’s catchers have been strong, but other players have also helped the team’s early offensive output. Cruz has been a prolific power hitter for most of the last decade and that trend has continued in a Twins uniform. He has the seventh best exit velocity in all of baseball and he has the AL’s fifth best average. Cruz’s 17.2 Barrel % is in the top 5% of the league and he ranks in the top 2% when it comes to xwOBAcon. CJ Cron has also been a pleasant surprise in the Twins line-up. Cron ranks in the top 15 in barrels per plate appearance, which places him in the top 7% of the league in Barrel %. Since both catchers don’t qualify currently, Cron only trails Cruz on the team’s Barrel % leaderboard. Byron Buxton is another player getting a lot of attention and Parker did a great job of analyzing his swing yesterday. From 2016-2018, Buxton’s exit velocity averaged near 85 mph. This season he has increased to 91.5 mph. Last year, his hard hit % was 27.0 and this year he has jumped to 42.5. One of Buxton’s biggest jumps is in Barrel %. He was at a very low 1.6% and he has improved to 9.4% this season. Overall, Minnesota ranks in the top 1% in the league in relation to Barrel %, XSLG, XWOBA. They rank in the top 3% in xWOBAcon and WOBA. Also, the team ranks in the top 7% in WOBAcon. Can the Twins keep up this pace? How will more Miguel Sano impact the numbers? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  24. Barrel of Fun Entering play on Tuesday, Minnesota ranks as the top team when it comes to barreling up the ball. Minnesota has barreled up the ball on 2.0 % of pitches. Atlanta is Minnesota’s closest competition in the barrel department with a 1.7% total. The big-league average is 1.35%. No other AL Central teams rank in the top 15 and Cleveland has the fifth worst total in all of baseball. Catcher Power It’s no secret that Minnesota’s catchers have been producing at quite the rate to start the year. Neither Jason Castro or Mitch Garver qualify for the league leader in Barrel % but they are both near the top on the Twins leaderboard. When it comes to Barrel %, Castro’s 26.7% mark is nearly 10% higher than the second place Twins player, Nelson Cruz. Garver is tied with C.J. Cron for third on the team with a 16.9% Barrel %. Barreling up the ball also shows up in some of the catcher’s other StatCast data. Castro and Garver only trail Cruz when it comes to average exit velocity. Castro’s 92.9 exit velocity ranks as the 18th best in all of baseball. Garver is 0.9 mph behind Castro which is good for 41st overall. Also, Castro only trails the recently activated Miguel Sano in Hard Hit %. Team Effort Minnesota’s catchers have been strong, but other players have also helped the team’s early offensive output. Cruz has been a prolific power hitter for most of the last decade and that trend has continued in a Twins uniform. He has the seventh best exit velocity in all of baseball and he has the AL’s fifth best average. Cruz’s 17.2 Barrel % is in the top 5% of the league and he ranks in the top 2% when it comes to xwOBAcon. CJ Cron has also been a pleasant surprise in the Twins line-up. Cron ranks in the top 15 in barrels per plate appearance, which places him in the top 7% of the league in Barrel %. Since both catchers don’t qualify currently, Cron only trails Cruz on the team’s Barrel % leaderboard. Byron Buxton is another player getting a lot of attention and Parker did a great job of analyzing his swing yesterday. From 2016-2018, Buxton’s exit velocity averaged near 85 mph. This season he has increased to 91.5 mph. Last year, his hard hit % was 27.0 and this year he has jumped to 42.5. One of Buxton’s biggest jumps is in Barrel %. He was at a very low 1.6% and he has improved to 9.4% this season. Overall, Minnesota ranks in the top 1% in the league in relation to Barrel %, XSLG, XWOBA. They rank in the top 3% in xWOBAcon and WOBA. Also, the team ranks in the top 7% in WOBAcon. Can the Twins keep up this pace? How will more Miguel Sano impact the numbers? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  25. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 5/13 through Sun, 5/19 *** Record Last Week: 5-2 (Overall: 30-16) Run Differential Last Week: +23 (Overall: +74) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (4.5 GA) Willians Watch: 3-for-18 last week (Season AVG: .278) Quite a few roster moves to recap from the past week, so here's a rundown: The Twins wanted to keep Tyler Duffey around as an extra reliever, so at the beginning of the week they optioned Jake Cave and recalled him. Mitch Garver made a game-saving play on Tuesday night, blocking the plate beautifully to prevent Shohei Ohtani from scoring with the tying run, but the collision at home took a toll. Luckily, it sounds like Garver and the Twins dodged a bullet – his scary-looking leg injury was diagnosed as a high ankle sprain instead of something more serious – but he was placed on IL and will miss a few weeks at least. Called up to take his place was Miguel Sano, who made his season debut on Thursday night in Seattle and started all four games against the Mariners. Meanwhile, Trevor Hildenberger finally ran out of chances. After allowing multiple runs for the sixth time in eight appearances on Wednesday, nearly costing the Twins a game they should have comfortably won, he was demoted to Rochester. Taking his place is right-hander Austin Adams, a minor-league signing from the winter who'd posted a 28-to-6 K/BB ratio in Triple-A while flinging mid-90s heat. To make room on the 40-man roster, Minnesota designated Addison Reed for assignment. While rehabbing in the minors, Reed had continued to look terrible, so the Twins had little choice but to pull the plug on their free agent bust and eat his remaining salary. It's a real shame because the team could really use Reed at some semblance of his full capacity right now. With Nelson Cruz's wrist healing more slowly than expected, the Twins elected to place him on IL and called up infielder Luis Arraez. Whew. Okay, on to dissecting another highly successful week for your Minnesota Twins: HIGHLIGHTS I don't even know where to start. I truly don't. The Twins have played great baseball all season but they took it to another level against the Mariners, with a comprehensive clobbering that featured contributions from just about everyone. No Garver? No Cruz? No problem. Minnesota still blew up for 40 runs on 11 homers over four games at T-Mobile Field, in one of the most astounding offensive series I've ever seen from a Twins team. C.J. Cron was among those leading the way. After a quiet series against the Angels at Target Field (1-for-10), he went wild in Seattle, where he was 8-for-18 with three home runs and six RBIs in four games. Not long ago, Cron was one of the few laggards in this lineup, entering May with an OPS barely north of .700, but he's raised that mark by 150 points with a prodigious power outburst this month. Also aiding in the bash-fest was Byron Buxton, who went 7-for-26 on the week with three bombs, including a grand slam on Saturday night. The #9 hitter drove in 11 runs over the course of seven games. His presence at the bottom of Minnesota's order is one major element in its intimidation factor. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1130110864676278288 There's just nowhere for opposing pitchers to find cover from the onslaught. Marwin Gonzalez was a reliable soft spot early on, but he's completely turned it around in May, where he's slashing .355/.429/.500. Last week, Gonzalez went 8-for-23 (.348) while playing four different positions. Jason Castro launched two more homers and has now gone deep in five of his eight May starts. Jonathan Schoop sent two over the fence on Saturday night and is rocking an .823 OPS overall. Eddie Rosario has slowed down his feverish HR pace a bit, but is back in rake-mode nonetheless, going 10-for-26 over the past week. And now, the Twins have Sano again. He tallied a pair of doubles in his season debut on Thursday, then picked up his first home run on Saturday night. It's far too soon to say the slugger is "back" – he struck out eight times with one walk against the M's, and had a few very ugly ABs – but with almost everyone else on the offense clicking, the Twins can afford to be patient. LOWLIGHTS It was, quietly, a less stellar week for the rotation, with a few starters beginning slipping up a bit. Most notable among that group is Jose Berrios, who coughed up five runs on 12 hits against the Angels on Monday, and then couldn't get through five frames in Minnesota's blowout over the M's on Saturday. I'm not too worried yet; he's still throwing strikes and was rattling off qualities starts before this rough patch. Jake Odorizzi and Kyle Gibson were unspectacular, though far from terrible. Overall, Twins starters posted a 5.05 ERA over the course of the week, and, well, a couple things: 1. It says a lot about the relative quality of this group that we can view their week as a noticeable negative. Last year Twins starters had a 4.50 ERA for the season. 2. Minnesota still went 5-2 even with the lack of standout work from starters. This team was built to win games on the strength of its offense and that's just what they did. Pretty much the only position player not to join the hitting parade was Willians Astudillo. He went 3-for-18 in five games, extending a slump that's seen him bat .222 in 67 PA since his huge first three games of the season. This visual shared by Ted does a good job illustrating the core problem plaguing La Tortuga at the plate – he's playing right into the hands of opposing pitchers: https://twitter.com/tlschwerz/status/1130182897061761024 I love his aggressiveness as a general trait, but Astudillo has gotta start finding some better pitches to hit. He's too often going after offerings that are nearly impossible to drive, and as a result his hard-hit percentage is (by far) the lowest among Twins hitters at 22.9%. TRENDING STORYLINE It's pretty easy to hide bullpen question marks when you're launching six home runs and taking 10-run leads after a few innings, but that won't keep happening forever. Right now, the Twins' relief corps is crowded with minor-league journeymen. Ryne Harper, Mike Morin, Matt Magill and the newly promoted Adams all came to Minnesota on non-guaranteed contracts. To their credit, these guys have all pitched pretty well – especially Harper, who continues to confound MLB hitters with his slow, bending curveballs. Duffey is another guy who looked like an also-ran at the outset of the season but is making his case as an asset. With a pumped-up fastball in the mid-90s, he's been nasty at times, though the long ball proneness remains troubling. As well as these relievers are throwing, the bullpen still has the feel of a ticking time bomb. The absence of Hildenberger, who was an essential fireman in April, will be felt, and sadly it doesn't look likely he'll be back soon. In his first appearance at Triple-A on Friday, he coughed up four runs in one inning, so there are clearly some serious issues to work through. Fernando Romero is pitching in Rochester alongside Hildenberger, and hasn't been very sharp in his three appearances since heading back down. The indefinite absence of those two, along with the release of Reed, removes three key pieces from Minnesota's planned late-inning mix. It's just really hard to imagine the Twins can get by filling that void with unestablished minor-league vets all summer long, even if it's been working out to this point. The question is whether they'll be proactive in addressing the issue, or wait until leaks start to spring. DOWN ON THE FARM You've gotta feel for Nick Gordon. This is a huge year for him as he seeks to rebound from a brutal 2018 campaign that tanked his stock. He missed the first month due to a stomach issue, then came back at the start of May and raked over eight games, batting .353 with an .889 OPS, but last week he found himself back on IL with a left adductor strain. Hopefully he can make it back soon and continue his redemption tour. Meanwhile, it was an interesting week for Minnesota's #1 prospect. On Thursday, Royce Lewis lined a drive off the top of the wall in a game against Bradenton, and chided himself by pulling into second base with a few push-ups. The Marauders were not too pleased. They threw at him in his next AB, and multiple ejections followed: https://twitter.com/MLBPipeline/status/1129420094940045312 A few things stand out to be me in this footage. I'm very impressed by how the umpire handled it, standing tough as Bradenton's manager berated him with an embarrassing temper tantrum. I'm also impressed by how Lewis composed himself, standing quietly in the batter's box throughout the ordeal, waiting for his next pitch. Impressed, but not surprised. Lewis is one of the highest-character guys you'll come across on a ball field, which is why it's so bizarre to me that anyone would perceive his playful antics as anything malicious. Anyway, Royce came out the next night and belted his first home run of the season in his first AB: https://twitter.com/MiracleBaseball/status/1129517743051628544 The 19-year-old shortstop is still slashing just .236/.311/.342 overall, but he's picking it up after a slow start. His teammate Jordan Balazovic, has no such slow start to shake off. The right-hander was masterful in four starts at Cedar Rapids before moving up to Fort Myers, where he has been annihilating the competition. In two starts last week (Monday and Sunday) he struck out 20 batters over 10 innings, pushing his K/BB ratio to 30-to-4 in 17 innings with the Miracle. In our preseason Twins prospect rankings, I noted that "Balazovic was an honorable mention for us, failing to make our Top 20 cut, but I'm wondering if that'll look silly a year from now." Turns out it only took about six weeks. From my view, he's currently the organization's second-best pitching prospect behind Brusdar Graterol, who has a 1.93 ERA through nine starts at Double-A. LOOKING AHEAD The Twins are 5-2 in their current run against AL West opponents, and they'll look to finish strong with another three-gamer against the Angels, this time in Anaheim. (More late night baseball for ya!) After a well-deserved day off on Thursday, Minnesota returns home to face the White Sox for the first time this year. The pitching matchups for that series look quite tantalizing on paper. MONDAY, 5/20: TWINS @ ANGELS – RHP Jake Odorizzi v. TBD TUESDAY, 5/21: TWINS @ ANGELS – RHP Michael Pineda v. RHP Trevor Cahill WEDNESDAY, 5/22: TWINS @ ANGELS – LHP Martin Perez v. RHP Matt Harvey FRIDAY, 5/24: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Reynaldo Lopez v. RHP Jose Berrios SATURDAY, 5/25: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – LHP Manny Banuelos v. RHP Kyle Gibson SUNDAY, 5/26: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Dylan Covey v. RHP Jake Odorizzi Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps Game 40 | LAA 5, MIN 4: More Missed Opportunities Game 41 | MIN 4, LAA 3: Throw Down Game 42 | MIN 8, LAA 7: Twins Squeak Out Victory Game 43 | MIN 11, SEA 6: Total System Failure (for the Other Guys) Game 44 | MIN 7, SEA 1: Venezuelan Night in Seattle Game 45 | MIN 18, SEA 4: Sharks Eat Mariners Game 46 | SEA 7, MIN 4: Sweepless in Seattle
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