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  1. As the Minnesota Twins enter 2021 a new rivalry has emerged. With the Chicago White Sox looking like contenders a season ago, a full 162-game schedule should provide plenty of excitement between the two clubs. Over the past couple of years Minnesota has been challenged at the top of the AL Central by the Cleveland Indians. They were a good team, with plenty of exciting stars, but unfortunately the fanbase never showed up. Ranking 21st in attendance during the 2019 season, Cleveland’s support system has always seemed relatively nonexistent. Maybe that’s why ownership felt the need to tear things down in the midst of a competitive window, but this ballclub has never seen the vocal support that the LeBron-led Cavs or Cleveland Browns have experienced. Enter the Chicago White Sox. Yes, their attendance in 2019 was awful as well, ranking 23rd in all of Major League Baseball. However, as the organization has developed its young stars, there’s a vocal fan base in a very large market. The White Sox made the Postseason in 2020 for the first time since 2008. The time before that however, 2005, they swept the Houston Astros en route to a World Series title. This organization has seen success, even if it hasn’t been extremely recent. Often times I’ve suggested that seeing a competitive club on a yearly basis is my desire as a fan. While winning a World Series is the ultimate goal, the stark reality is that 29 teams fall short every season. If the full 162-game schedule can provide some drama, meaningful October baseball can be played, and excitement be had along the way, I will have enjoyed roughly eight months of the year from a sports perspective. Include a rivalry that sparks debate, discussion, and intensified importance on any number of games throughout the week and you’ve put a cherry on top. From guys like Barstool’s own White Sox Dave, or Twitter-famous ChiSoxFanMike, the White Sox have a well-represented fanbase. As with any situation there’s some rose-colored glasses type of takes, but it’s oddly refreshing to see banter and interaction each and every time Chicago’s South Side contingent is mentioned in the context of opinion. It’s foolish to think that an improved White Sox team with another year of youth development will finish behind Cleveland again in 2021. The Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox will battle all year at the top of the AL Central, and with both likely destined for the playoffs, it should provide plenty of must-see moments along the way. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  2. As teams begin to kick off a more traditional Spring Training with the goal of completing it entirely this season, we’re now looking forward to a full 162-game slate. The Twins return as repeat AL Central Division champions, and they’ll look for a three-peat in 2021. Shuffling has taken place throughout the Central with Chicago having had a strong offseason, Cleveland selling off, and Kansas City quietly making some noise. Last year I put this projection piece out in February, and then needed to come up with an amended version at the end of July. Let’s hope for good health and as much baseball as we can handle this time around. Here’s how I have the AL Central going, along with PECOTA projections in parenthesis. Minnesota Twins 97-63 (90-72) It’s more than fair to suggest the Twins could’ve taken further steps forward this offseason, however they had the least to improve upon. Piece did depart, but none of them were substantial contributors and the addition of Andrelton Simmons should make a massive impact defensively. This team is going to go as far as a healthy Josh Donaldson and Byron Buxton allow them too. It’d be great if Miguel Sano were the Nelson Cruz aging insurance along the way. Expect additions at the deadline, and a stable of prospects are near ready to contribute. Chicago White Sox 90-72 (82-80) There’s no denying that the South Siders have closed even more of the gap. That said, I still think this club is in for some regression given the unpredictability of youth. They broke out in a big way during a shortened 2020 campaign that afforded them the luxury of small sample sizes. Thinking back to the 2018 Twins, a similar swoon could happen here. The talent level is too great to drift too far, but they should be considered a runner-up. Postseason expectations are a must however, and they shouldn’t have much problem achieving that. Kansas City Royals 78-84 (72-90) While the Royals are not yet there, and they are waiting on some offensive prospects to step up, they did a lot of nice things this winter. The Mike Minor signing was an underrated one, and Carlos Santana should provide a steadying veteran presence for them. I like Brady Singer and Kris Bubic in the rotation and think there’s a different trajectory here than in years past. This isn’t a Kansas City club yet ready to compete, but they’re substantially better than the bottom feeding Tigers and should have more firepower than Cleveland. Cleveland Indians 77-85 (85-77) Rather than load up for one last go with a strong rotation and a final year of Francisco Lindor, Cleveland decided to punt on 2021. The rotation is top heavy with Shane Bieber and Aaron Civale, but beyond that there’s more question marks with upside than anything. They’ve done a good job developing arms, and I’d expect that to continue, but it still needs to be proven. There isn’t much talent in the field or at the plate, and if they aren’t going to compete it makes little sense to hang onto Jose Ramirez. Assuming he’s dangled at the deadline, they could accelerate the rebuild they’re now destined for. Detroit Tigers 65-97 (66-96) A.J. Hinch has a tall task in front of him as this isn’t a club rich with talent akin to the Astros teams he’s used to having led. That said, there’s going to be a handful of prospects that filter into Comerica this year, and Detroit has one of the best systems in the game. I’d expect some of those kids to take their lumps, and even if they do produce, there’s just not enough on the roster to raise the overall water level. That said, this club isn’t far from turning the corner and adding pieces with a focus on competing once again. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  3. The lineup should remain virtually unchanged going into 2021. Eddie Rosario is a prime non-tender candidate given his production and assume cost. Also noting that both Brent Rooker and Alex Kirilloff appear major league ready, there’s an immediate replacement to be had. If Nelson Cruz is retained, and hopefully only on a reasonable contract, then much of the punch should be back. Where Derek Falvey has work to do is on the pitching front. Minnesota was actually very good on the bump each of the past two seasons, but there’s an exodus of sorts that is taking place this winter. Only three of the rotation spots are accounted for, and finding more pitching is the goal of every organization. For a guy familiar with the former Cleveland Indians pitcher, a reunion between Derek and Trevor Bauer makes a lot of sense. Here’s the deal though, it’s highly unlikely and that’s because every team in baseball could use Trevor Bauer. He knows that, and every front office around the league knows that. Whether a multi-year deal is struck, or he sticks to his guns as a hired assassin on one-year pacts, the payday is going to come. Expected to be named the National League Cy Young winner, Bauer posted a ridiculous 1.73 ERA across 73.0 innings in 2020. He owned a 12.3 K/9 with just a 2.1 BB/9 en route to a 276 ERA+. Arguably no one in the game knows their body better than Bauer knows his, and he’s continued to push the boundaries of what can be expected from him. Turning 30 in January, there’s also expected to be plenty of mileage left on his arm. He wants to extract the most from himself in terms of performance and was able to convince the Reds to allow him an opportunity to pitch on just four days rest. Sustaining that throughout a full season would be a throwback of sorts, but he has it down to a science in order to make it work. Those additional trips to the mound would seemingly provide more value to any suitor, especially if only carrying the risk for a single season at a time. Circling back to what Minnesota has in front of them, they’re coming off inking the largest free agent contract in history. However, prorated pay in a Covid shortened sprint had the total expense checking in just north of $55 million, or 18th in baseball (and two spots shy of league average). Despite the losses in fan generated revenues this season, the reality is no franchises find themselves in a place of struggle, and especially not a Twins team right in the heart of their competitive window. It makes sense for the front office to spend a bit on the bullpen, hand out a nice chunk of change to Nelson Cruz, and maybe find a utility man that requires a little bit more of a monetary commitment. In all of that though, there’s not really an avenue to a significant expense. Minnesota will be up against plenty of competition for Bauer’s services, but handing him a blank check would be ego stroking and potentially enough to get it done. This should be great theater to watch unfold, and Twins Daily Women in Baseball participant Rachel Luba is going to have a field day representing her high-profile client. Where the Twins can allow themselves to enter the ring is in saying the top of the staff is yours, write the amount that will get it done. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  4. Today Twins vs Tigers 7:10 pm CDT Betting Line: MIN -150 O/U 8.5 Twins Starter: Jose Berrios (5-3) RHP 3.72 ERA Jose Berrios will take his final turn of the season for the Twins tonight. After a rough start to the year he’s been on cruise control of late. His last six outings have resulted in a 2.14 ERA with a 37/11 K/BB. Opponents have just a .547 OPS against him during that stretch and five of those outings have come against teams vying for Postseason spots. Interestingly, this will be Berrios’ fifth start against an NL Central team in 2020. He’s 4-0 with a 1.57 ERA and 27/7 K/BB in those contests. This serves as a tune up for game two of the Wild Card round and making sure he can keep things rolling against a playoff bound Reds team would be nice to see. Reds Starter: Tyler Mahle (2-2) RHP 3.57 ERA Cincinnati’s 25-year-old Mahle is having a breakout season. His 3.57 ERA is a career best, and it’s substantiated by a 3.96 FIP. He’s got an 11.1 K/9, reaching double digits for the first time in his career, and his 1.103 WHIP is well below the career norm. Although he hasn’t been overly dominant at any point this year, Mahle has been extremely consistent. He’s never allowed more than three runs in an outing, and he’s completed at least six innings in four of his eight starts. Shutting down the White Sox in his last time out, Mahle saw the Reds win for the first time when he was on the mound against an AL Central opponent. Twins Lineup https://twitter.com/tlschwerz/status/1309576127007068160?s=21 Reds Lineup https://twitter.com/reds/status/1309555208826093568?s=21 Division Recaptured Minnesota comes into tonight leading the AL Central Division by a full game. The Cleveland Indians swept the Chicago White Sox, coming from behind in the final three games, to give the Twins new life. Not holding a tiebreaker over Chicago, Rocco Baldelli’s club will need a win in hand to repeat. Postseason in Flux Minnesota could finish as high as the two seed and as low as the four seed. They’re looking at opponents such as the Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees, Houston Astros, and Chicago White Sox. Postseason Staff Taking Final Turn Kenta Maeda threw the last game against Detroit for Minnesota, lining him up to open the Wild Card round. Rocco Baldelli confirmed that was the intention, and Jose Berrios will be penciled in for game two with Michael Pineda slotting behind him after his final outing tomorrow night. Around the AL Central Cleveland 5, Chicago 4 Kansas City 8, Detroit 7 MIN 35-22 +57 run differential CWS 34-23 1.0 GB +68 CLE 33-24 2.0 GB +44 KC 24-33 11.0 GB -26 DET 22-33 12.0 GB -67
  5. With just three games to go in the 60-game sprint Minnesota finds themselves in control of their own destiny. Needing to win a single game more than the White Sox to repeat as AL Central champions, they’ll look to knock off a hot Cincinnati Reds club looking to make the Postseason on their own.Today Twins vs Tigers 7:10 pm CDT Betting Line: MIN -150 O/U 8.5 Twins Starter: Jose Berrios (5-3) RHP 3.72 ERA Jose Berrios will take his final turn of the season for the Twins tonight. After a rough start to the year he’s been on cruise control of late. His last six outings have resulted in a 2.14 ERA with a 37/11 K/BB. Opponents have just a .547 OPS against him during that stretch and five of those outings have come against teams vying for Postseason spots. Interestingly, this will be Berrios’ fifth start against an NL Central team in 2020. He’s 4-0 with a 1.57 ERA and 27/7 K/BB in those contests. This serves as a tune up for game two of the Wild Card round and making sure he can keep things rolling against a playoff bound Reds team would be nice to see. Reds Starter: Tyler Mahle (2-2) RHP 3.57 ERA Cincinnati’s 25-year-old Mahle is having a breakout season. His 3.57 ERA is a career best, and it’s substantiated by a 3.96 FIP. He’s got an 11.1 K/9, reaching double digits for the first time in his career, and his 1.103 WHIP is well below the career norm. Although he hasn’t been overly dominant at any point this year, Mahle has been extremely consistent. He’s never allowed more than three runs in an outing, and he’s completed at least six innings in four of his eight starts. Shutting down the White Sox in his last time out, Mahle saw the Reds win for the first time when he was on the mound against an AL Central opponent. Twins Lineup Reds Lineup Division Recaptured Minnesota comes into tonight leading the AL Central Division by a full game. The Cleveland Indians swept the Chicago White Sox, coming from behind in the final three games, to give the Twins new life. Not holding a tiebreaker over Chicago, Rocco Baldelli’s club will need a win in hand to repeat. Postseason in Flux Minnesota could finish as high as the two seed and as low as the four seed. They’re looking at opponents such as the Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees, Houston Astros, and Chicago White Sox. Postseason Staff Taking Final Turn Kenta Maeda threw the last game against Detroit for Minnesota, lining him up to open the Wild Card round. Rocco Baldelli confirmed that was the intention, and Jose Berrios will be penciled in for game two with Michael Pineda slotting behind him after his final outing tomorrow night. Around the AL Central Cleveland 5, Chicago 4 Kansas City 8, Detroit 7 MIN 35-22 +57 run differential CWS 34-23 1.0 GB +68 CLE 33-24 2.0 GB +44 KC 24-33 11.0 GB -26 DET 22-33 12.0 GB -67 Click here to view the article
  6. It’s a bit unfortunate that 2020 has dealt the world the hand it has. On the sports front, and baseball in particular, the year has looked nothing like a traditional schedule. With Minnesota putting together arguably the most talented roster in franchise history, it’s unfortunate we didn’t get to see it perform over a full 162-game slate. What still matters however, is that all that talent is at the disposal of Rocco Baldelli when the games become win-or-go-home. The most likely opponents for the Twins in the Wild Card round of the Postseason look to be the New York Yankees, Houston Astros, or Cleveland Indians. We know the field at this point, and there’s no reason Minnesota can’t be excited about facing any of these teams. In reverse order though, here’s how I’ll argue the stack up, from easiest to toughest. 7. Toronto Blue Jays (Batting 18th Pitching 18th Fielding 18th) Somewhat of a surprise team, the Blue Jays have competed in what has been an up and down AL East this season. New York looked like a minor league team depending on which lineup you caught them with, and the Red Sox took ownership of the Orioles doldrums positioning. Toronto doesn’t do anything all that well, but they don’t have any glaring problem areas either. Bo Bichette is a stud, and right now Teoscar Hernandez has assumed the production intended for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Hyun-Jin Ryu has looked the part of the ace he was hoped to be, but they haven’t got much help on the pitching front elsewhere. Ken Giles isn’t coming back either, and the bullpen is plenty beatable. 6. Houston Astros (Batting 22nd Pitching 11th Fielding 28th) What a difference a year makes. Houston was probably always going to be seen as tough despite the fallout from their cheating scandal due to the number of weapons that can hurt you. Their problem is that many of them have been a shell of themselves, and the pitching isn’t there either. Gerrit Cole is gone and Justin Verlander is done. George Springer and Michael Brantley have hit, but Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa have been awful. You can’t let this team beat you, they have the talent to do so, but it isn’t the scary Astros anymore. 5. Oakland Athletics (Batting 10th Pitching 8th Fielding 3rd) Taking the Athletics down a notch was the massive loss of Matt Chapman. He’s a superstar and arguably the best defender in baseball at third base. There’s still thump in their lineup with Matt Olson and Marcus Semien, but one through nine isn’t where they’ll beat you. This team can pitch in the rotation and the bullpen, while converting outs at a high clip defensively. Oakland isn’t a team to take lightly but the +53-run differential and overall win tally seems to be aided by a very mediocre AL West. 4. Cleveland Indians (Batting 16th Pitching 1st Fielding 2nd) By now Twins fans have seen enough of the Indians to know what expectations are. The club can once again pitch, shocker, but they still can’t hit. Jose Ramirez has looked like an AL MVP candidate, but the middle of the order still features a black hole in Carlos Santana. The outfield production is atrocious, and they’ll rely on beating teams in low-scoring affairs. This isn’t a group you want to see in October. Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, and company can shut down any lineup. That said, there’s warts here and Minnesota has already handled them to the tune of a 7-3 record in 2020. 3. Chicago White Sox (Batting 1st Pitching 9th Fielding 9th) The rivalry has certainly been renewed, and it doesn’t matter who wins the division, the Southsiders will be coming for Minnesota plenty in the years ahead. The Twins split the season series with Chicago, and while a couple of those contests were lopsided, Rick Renteria’s club has the bats to do plenty of damage on their own. I think this unit is still a year away from settling into their own, but a series going up and down that lineup on a nightly basis would be as tense as it gets. Lucas Giolito is not an arm that has owned the Twins, and the rotation is barren behind him and Keuchel. Still though, it’s the bats that make this club worthy of a no-fly zone. 2. New York Yankees (Batting 7th Pitching 14th Fielding 13th) Going on season numbers for the Yankees are relatively hollow considering the amount of time they were without key players. Now a healthy Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have returned, and all bets are off. Gerrit Cole is an ace in every sense of the word, and Masahiro Tanaka is plenty consistent in his own right. I actually don’t think New York’s rotation is that much better than Minnesota’s but turning to Cole twice in a short series could be the trump card. There are questions as to whether Judge and Stanton have enough at bats to feel comfortable, but both are capable of going off at any time. Throw in Luke Voit and D.J. LeMahieu and you’ve once again got an opponent to avoid. 1. Tampa Bay Rays (Batting 11th Pitching 10th Fielding 8th) Maybe I’m overrating the Rays a bit given the opportunities they had against a more lackluster Yankees lineup, but this feels like the most complete team in the American League. Kevin Cash has this club clicking on all cylinders, and most of the names are guys a national landscape would gloss over. Brandon Lowe is a superstar, while Willy Adames has finally started living up to his potential. Tyler Glasnow is a problem on the mound and Nick Anderson may be the best reliever in baseball. Up and down this roster is a group of guys that constantly embody next man up, and anyone is capable of producing on a nightly basis. It’d be a fun narrative series for the Twins, but not one I’d want to willingly sign up for. *Overall ranks based on Fangraphs fWAR totals MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  7. So You’re Telling Me There’s A Chance Minnesota’s strong start to the shortened season greatly increased the club’s chances of qualifying for the postseason, especially considering the newly implemented expanded playoff format. The Twins are currently the seventh overall seed in the American League, but they have over a 90% chance of making the playoffs with the second highest change of winning one of the two wild card spots. Looking around the division and its looking increasingly likely that the AL Central will have three playoff teams and there is an outside chance at four clubs qualifying. Chicago and Cleveland have been back and forth at the top of the AL Central, but each club has over a 98% chance of making the playoffs. Tampa Bay and Oakland, the AL’s top-two teams, have the best odds to make the postseason tournament. Looking in the Rearview Mirror Behind the Twins in the AL standings are a group of teams that wouldn’t have even thought about being in playoff position under the old format. Toronto has a good young core of players, but they are a few years away from being strong contenders. That being said, they have an over .500 record and they a greater than 60% chance qualifying for the postseason. Another AL Central foe, the Tigers, sit behind the Blue Jays in the American League standings. Minnesota has had its fair share of trouble with the Tigers this season and now the Motor City Kitties head to Minneapolis for five games this weekend. Detroit is the final AL team with a record above .500 so the Twins would have to fall behind the Tigers to be out of playoff contention. Playoff Bound? At season’s start, Minnesota had the easiest strength of schedule compared to team’s records from last year. Obviously, the AL Central has been much more competitive than originally thought. Cleveland has the easiest strength of schedule (.479 winning %) among the contended AL Central teams. Chicago (.496) and Minnesota (.499) have nearly identical strength of schedules the rest of the way. The Tigers (.508) have the third hardest remaining schedule in the league. If the playoffs started today, the Twins would play a three-game series in Oakland to decided who makes it out of the first round. For a healthy Twins team, that would be a series the team could win. The A’s have also been off the field all week after someone in their organization tested positive for the coronavirus so they are going to be playing catch-up to get all 60-games played before season’s end. Houston trails Oakland by a handful of games in the AL West race so there is a possibility the Twins could end up heading to Texas. There’s also a chance the AL Central winner (Chicago or Cleveland) ends up with the number two overall seed and that could result in an intriguing match-up for the Twins. Luckily, the Yankees are in second place in the AL East, so a match-up with the Bronx Bombers is unlikely at this point. Realistically, everything is going to come down to a short three-game series at the start of the playoffs. The Twins haven’t won a single playoff game since 2004 and they haven’t won a playoff series since defeating Oakland back in 2002. It’s a weird season and the playoff race is only going to make it weirder. What are your thoughts on the Twins playoff chances? 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
  8. Welcome back to another exciting Twins Daily game thread extravaganza! The match up tonight between the Minnesota Twins and the Cleveland Indians should be another drama filled match up. I can't believe it's already August 1st. The whole calendar this year seems to be off...My college kids (all three) have been home since March and thankfully, so far they are still set to head back to school over the next few weeks. It's actually been nice to have them home this long but I think its time they leave the nest for awhile. I think they are ready to fly the coop too. I don't know if anyone else is in the same situation with college kids but my wallet could use a break as well. Forget how expensive tuition is, these kids drink all my beer and booze and its becoming expensive! What does this have to do with baseball you might ask? Not a lot, just seems weird to have my kids home this long and for the Twins to have only played 7 games through August 1st. I didn't realize how much I missed baseball until the season started a week or so ago. It's still weird not seeing any fans in the stands but I guess this is the way it will be for awhile. With no spectators in the stands it got me thinking about what MLB could do to generate more television interest and drama during the game. I dislike the fake fan noise and lame cheers they play in the background. I'd much prefer it if they put a mic on a few of the players during the entire game. I'd also prefer they pump loud music over the PA system during the entire inning. It would be fun to see how that experiment played out (this is a bad idea if they play music I don't like). The card board cutouts are kind of lame too. Maybe they should use mannequins instead...Don't be shy, it's only a game thread! Throw out some suggestions you would like to see MLB implement with no fans in the stands. Curious to see if anyone has better ideas. I don't have much time to add to this game thread intro as I have to go dodge Covid 19 at a graduation party soon. Wish me luck! Go Twins! Tonights Lineups: Minnesota Twins: 1. Max Kepler (RF) 2. Jorge Polanco (SS) 3. Nelson Cruz (DH) 4. Eddie Rosario (LF) 5. Mitch Garver © 6. Luis Arraez (2B) 7. Miguel Sano (1B) 8. M. Gonzalez (3B) 9. Byron Buxton (CF) Kenta Maeda (P) 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA Cleveland Indians: 1. C. Hernandez (2B) 2. Jose Ramirez (3B) 3. F. Lindor (SS) 4. C. Santana (1B) 5. F. Reyes (DH) 6. B. Zimmer (CF) 7. D. Santana (RF) 8. Sandy Leon © 9. D. Johnson (LF) Carlos Carrasco (P) 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA 15% of rain and 76 degrees, 7mph wind
  9. We’ve finally made it and baseball is back in just a matter of days. The Minnesota Twins will kick off this 60-game sprint in Chicago, and they’ll look to distance themselves from a team looking to prove they’re ready. I put out a 162-game projection back in February, but with so many logistical changes and update is necessary. I don’t foresee any changes in the positioning among the teams from where I had them at the beginning of the year, but we’re obviously only going to play roughly one-third of the games now. There’s significantly more volatility involved, and it will play against Minnesota more than any other club. That said, here’s how the division shakes out this season, and in parenthesis what the PECOTA projections are for each team in this scenario: Minnesota Twins 36-24 (35-25) There’s no argument to be made that Minnesota isn’t the best team in this division. They have arguably the best lineup in baseball and aren’t far behind with their bullpen. The rotation is cemented in depth and there’s plenty of candidates to be a top-tier arm as well. Josh Donaldson is a massive addition and having Rich Hill from the jump should be a nice boost. The Twins have stiffer competition in the White Sox this year, but it’s hard not to see the Indians having taken a step backwards. Cleveland Indians 32-28 (32-28) While it won’t be long before Chicago overtakes Cleveland, I’m not sure it happens in 2020. Cleveland still has an awesome rotation at the top with Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber. Clevinger is already a health risk though, and Carlos Carrasco’s return is a question mark. Save for Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, there’s also concerns about star power in the lineup. Should this club stumble out of the gate, maybe Lindor gets moved at the deadline. Chicago White Sox 31-29 (31-29) I’m all in on Luis Robert, he’s going to be a stud. What his career ends up being remains to be seen, and while I think he could break out right away, there’s still plenty more that needs to go right for the White Sox. Lucas Giolito faded at times in 2019, and neither Dallas Keuchel nor Gio Gonzalez are impact pitchers anymore. Yasmani Grandal is a huge addition, but someone had to supplement the flash in the pan that was James McCann a year ago. The Southsiders will be knocking at the door soon, and the shortened season helps their chances, but give it one more year. Kansas City Royals 24-36 (25-35) Down here you’re really competing for the best of the worst, and I’m not certain what way these final two shake out. It’s my belief that the Royals slide will be less drastic than the volatility of the Tigers prospects. Kansas City isn’t good, and they aren’t exciting either. There are some pieces here though that can squeak out enough to stay out of the bottom spot in the division. Detroit Tigers 22-38 (26-34) I’m really excited to see what Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Alex Faedo, and Riley Greene can do. Unfortunately, none of those guys will be on the Opening Day roster, and while watching Miguel Cabrera chase down records is fun, there’s nothing else of note here. I don’t think Ron Gardenhire is the right guy to push a prospect-laden team forwards as that’s where he ended his tenure with the Twins, so he may see his way out around the time new faces make their debuts. In case you missed it, here’s how I have the yearly awards and Postseason shaking out as well: Award Winners and World Series Victors For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  10. You may not yet know Rachel Luba’s name, but you absolutely know who she represents. Former Cleveland pitcher and current Cincinnati Reds hurler Trevor Bauer met the founder of Luba Sports during his time at UCLA. In 2020 Rachel successfully negotiated the second highest contract for an arbitration-eligible pitcher in MLB history. At $17.5 million it was a number that trails only David Price’s $19.75 figure from 2015. Paving a Path Part 1: Britt Ghiroli Paving a Path Part 2: Melanie Newman The former gymnast set out to create her own path in a very male dominated industry and is doing so by taking non-traditional steps to differentiate the experience and set herself apart. With a branding and content strategy pushing the envelope for a connection between clients and fans further on a daily basis, it’s clear to see why she’s among the brightest names in the sport. She took some time to answer a few questions, and there’s a ton to dive into: Twins Daily: Being a former Division 1 gymnast and longtime athlete yourself, it's not surprising that you'd find a career within sports. When did that path become baseball and how did you know being an agent was your calling? Rachel Luba: I was an athlete my entire life, I started gymnastics at the age of two. Unfortunately, gymnastics isn’t a career you can have into adulthood and make money off of, so I knew once I was retired, I needed to find something else to do within sports. I was always drawn towards the individual athlete rather than working for a team, which tends to be the more popular route, but for me being an individual athlete my entire life it was the path I realized that I was passionate about. In college as a student athlete myself, I became good friends with a lot of the UCLA baseball players helping them manage their daily lives and schoolwork. I enjoyed learning about their industry which was very different than anything I had grown up with in the sport of gymnastics. Learning more about it, that’s when I really decided I wanted to work in baseball. TD: With representation I'd imagine the process involves a good deal of networking as well as talent evaluation. What do you feel like drives clients to Luba Sports specifically? RL: It’s a very different type of agency compared to the many others out there. Most agencies offer plenty of services, take a percentage of the contract, and everything is the same across the board. What clients tend to end up feeling is that they aren’t necessarily getting all of those services they were promised prior to the contract. Really the money an agency generates comes from the on-field contract, and once that contract is locked in, that’s all taken care of regardless whether the player leaves the next day. My client Trevor Bauer for example, has additional services that have tied incentives for me as an agent, that then ensure the relationship extends beyond that initial contract. Players create a certain value on the field and then pay a portion of that to an agent when signing a contract. Tying it more into a service provided structure, there’s opportunity to utilize the agency in whatever way best suits the athlete’s needs. As the industry and valuations of play on the field has changed, players see a benefit to pay for the value of services provided by an agent rather than just a set percentage of their negotiated contracts. TD: Trevor Bauer is obviously the most notable player you work with. You both have worked tremendously to create revenue streams and channels of interactivity outside of the game. How important has that diversification been, and where do your creative strategies come from? RL: This is something that we have been tremendously focused on. Trevor’s five-year goal was to be the most internationally recognized name in baseball, which means we needed to start getting his brand out there and expanding his audience. One of the initial hurdles was that Trevor Bauer’s story was often originally told by the media and misrepresented who he was. He has so many different interests and we wanted to find the niche audience where he could express and explore each of those. He needed to start talking more. Without his voice, the media or whoever else, was allowed to create the stories they thought were reflective of him. Trevor is passionate about teaching, and it’s derived from his engineering background. The way in which he uses Twitter, Instagram, and now YouTube as a resource to explore that creativity seemed like the perfect match. Getting his message, values, and personality out there was the goal, and is something we’ve done a great job of thus far. TD: As a female in a male dominated industry have you felt an uphill battle to establish yourself, and is there an additional sense of pride in earning and deserving a seat at the table? RL: It’s been an uphill battle from the very beginning. People told me “that’s cute” and didn’t take seriously that this was what I really wanted to do. Some offered their “advice” in warning me this wasn’t a great path or in an effort to deter me from the decision. A mentor of mine told me that in baseball, when a man walks into a room it’s viewed that he belongs there and knows what he’s doing. When you walk into a room, it will be assumed you’re a secretary, girlfriend, or a wife. You have to prove otherwise. Whether diving in depth into analytics, having a substantial among of arbitration credentials, or something else entirely, I set myself up to be overly qualified in order to prove my worth. I feel like getting Trevor the second highest salary for a starting pitcher in arbitration validates my place, but there will always be people questioning how I got here. The reality is people will always be looking to question my validity. In a specific YouTube video, I found myself unsure of an answer (as did Trevor), and upon checking with the MLBPA, they too told me they’d need to get back after double checking they had the right information. Being a female, my uncertainty was labeled as stupid, wrong, and out of place. Absolutely there’s pride involved. It took me several days to soak it in upon landing my first client and doing my first contract. I reflected a few days later on all of the people up to this point that continue telling me I can’t or it’s not possible. A lot of work went into this and a lot of people doubted you, be proud of yourself. I’m not done though, so while there is pride, it’s just part of the process and we have a long ways to go. TD: Being that baseball is currently shelved, what does that do for the life of an agent. While being involved with the resumption of the sport at least in a secondary sense, is some of the job now playing counselor or therapist and listening to frustrations in a difficult time? RL: It’s been a rollercoaster and you never really know what the days hold for you. Whether calls with the union or discussing implications with players, each day you have a plan and then it can end up being totally different. This isn’t what I expected for my first year of starting an agency, but I’m enjoying all of the curveballs being thrown my way. Being there for your clients, whether daily life situations or the mental aspects of an unprecedented time, was certainly an additional job responsibility no one saw coming. TD: What's next for you? Is the goal to continue creating a larger brand? Expanding into different sports or forms of representation? RL: First and foremost, I want to keep growing my agency and my brand. The latter is a stress I make to players, so it’s something I remain aware of for myself and intend to be an example. I hope to grow in the baseball industry as well as branching into other sports. I want to take Luba Sports and this type of representation to other sports. My vision is that I would have different divisions for each sport all utilizing the same unique financial fee structure. TD: It's not only baseball that's on hold, and with sports paused completely, what have you been doing to keep yourself busy. California obviously lends itself to nice weather, but what are some of your favorite hobbies outside of the game? RL: I’ve been back and forth between California and Arizona. Baseball has kept me busy enough, it has not been slow, and probably has been busier than during the actual season. Lots of work, and a lot of content helping Momentum with some of their things. I’ve done a lot of foundational work for my website and agency as a whole. Working out has always been a huge part of my life and has helped to keep me sane. Follow Rachel and check out her work here. Check back in next week for the final entry in this Women in Baseball series. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  11. Going into the 2019 season just about every outlet had the Minnesota Twins as a clear second place finisher in the AL Central. They were an up and coming story, but not yet ready to break through. I found myself disagreeing with that and suggested they’d win the division. In 2020, it happens again.Rewind to this time last year and just about every projection system had a good but not great view of Minnesota under first-year manager Rocco Baldelli. PECOTA tabbed the Twins for a .500 record, while the Sporting News’s panel had them registering 83 wins. In 2020 PECOTA calls the Bomba Squad odds-on favorites to win the division tallying 93 victories. The result looks correct, but I’ll take aim at the final records and results within the shifting Central. 1. Minnesota Twins 98-64 (93-69*) Last year I characterized the Twins position by saying “no team has done more in the division to take strides forward.” That may not hold true in comparison to the Chicago White Sox for 2020, but Minnesota was a substantially better squad to begin with. They don’t need to win 101 games this time around, but they won’t be any less dominant. Josh Donaldson makes the lineup look like the best in the game, and Kenta Maeda provides stability to a deep rotation. They’ll add down the stretch if need be, and there’s bottom feeders to still pick on. Expecting a slight slide from Cleveland, wins won’t be hard to come by. 2. Cleveland Indians 85-77 (86-76*) It looked like Cleveland would take a step back last year, but it wasn’t quite as substantiated as I may have expected. Gone are both Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer. The outfield has more questions than answers, and Francisco Lindor could conceivably be on his way out at any time. As has always been the case, the rotation will remain a threat, and you can bet they’ll develop another arm or two that will make an impact. The Indians should be competitive, but I don’t think the second Wild Card is coming from this division, and the dive off the deep end could be immediate here. 3. Chicago White Sox 84-78 (83-79*) Easily viewed as the darlings of the offseason, the White Sox did a ton to add talent on the 26-man roster. With internal pieces beginning to mature, it made sense to supplement. Yasmani Grandal is a massive get for them, but that’s really where the talent additions cease to outweigh the names. Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Keuchel are known commodities, but neither fit real well as ground ball pitchers in front of a poor defense. Nomar Mazara isn’t a good defender, and his corner partner Eloy was rough during his rookie year. Luis Robert could certainly be the real deal out of the gate, but the Southsiders seems to be looking for a lot from Nick Madrigal. Lucas Giolito put together a nice half-season, and Michael Kopech will factor in, but it’s actually Reynaldo Lopez I may be most intrigued by. This is a squad worth watching, and they’ll make some noise, but this is much more the 2017 Twins than it is the 2019 version. 4. Kansas City Royals 61-101 (68-94*) Things get ugly in a hurry here at the bottom of the AL Central. Kansas City won just 59 games a year ago, and they did very little in terms of adding talent. Whit Merrifield is a star, and Jorge Soler broke out, but the roster is really void of much else. Maikel Franco is a dart throw at third, and retaining 36-year-old Alex Gordon is more nostalgia than anything else. Maybe Salvador Perez returns from a missed 2019 and is a threat, but then again he’s never been much of a bat anyways. The Royals could easily bring up the rear in the division, but I’ll give them the benefit of doubt that they keep some of the gap established between them and Detroit a year ago. 5. Detroit Tigers 55-107 (69-93*) Across baseball in 2019, only the AL Central had two teams lose 100 or more games. That seems near certain to repeat itself in my estimation. Detroit added some veteran talent in Jonathan Schoop and C.J. Cron to bolster the infield. Miguel Cabrera looks cooked though, and Cameron Maybin probably represents their best free agent acquisition. Matt Boyd looked the part of a staff ace for part of the year, and if he can get back to that at the beginning of 2020, they’d be silly not to move him by the deadline. I like Spencer Turnbull a decent amount, but Casey Mize should show up for this group in the next handful of months. With Mize being potentially joined by Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal, and Alex Faedo this year, fans will have plenty of their future to watch. It probably won’t pan out much better immediately, but they have hope. *Designates 2020 PECOTA projection as of February 17, 2020 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  12. Rewind to this time last year and just about every projection system had a good but not great view of Minnesota under first-year manager Rocco Baldelli. PECOTA tabbed the Twins for a .500 record, while the Sporting News’s panel had them registering 83 wins. In 2020 PECOTA calls the Bomba Squad odds-on favorites to win the division tallying 93 victories. The result looks correct, but I’ll take aim at the final records and results within the shifting Central. 1. Minnesota Twins 98-64 (93-69*) Last year I characterized the Twins position by saying “no team has done more in the division to take strides forward.” That may not hold true in comparison to the Chicago White Sox for 2020, but Minnesota was a substantially better squad to begin with. They don’t need to win 101 games this time around, but they won’t be any less dominant. Josh Donaldson makes the lineup look like the best in the game, and Kenta Maeda provides stability to a deep rotation. They’ll add down the stretch if need be, and there’s bottom feeders to still pick on. Expecting a slight slide from Cleveland, wins won’t be hard to come by. 2. Cleveland Indians 85-77 (86-76*) It looked like Cleveland would take a step back last year, but it wasn’t quite as substantiated as I may have expected. Gone are both Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer. The outfield has more questions than answers, and Francisco Lindor could conceivably be on his way out at any time. As has always been the case, the rotation will remain a threat, and you can bet they’ll develop another arm or two that will make an impact. The Indians should be competitive, but I don’t think the second Wild Card is coming from this division, and the dive off the deep end could be immediate here. 3. Chicago White Sox 84-78 (83-79*) Easily viewed as the darlings of the offseason, the White Sox did a ton to add talent on the 26-man roster. With internal pieces beginning to mature, it made sense to supplement. Yasmani Grandal is a massive get for them, but that’s really where the talent additions cease to outweigh the names. Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Keuchel are known commodities, but neither fit real well as ground ball pitchers in front of a poor defense. Nomar Mazara isn’t a good defender, and his corner partner Eloy was rough during his rookie year. Luis Robert could certainly be the real deal out of the gate, but the Southsiders seems to be looking for a lot from Nick Madrigal. Lucas Giolito put together a nice half-season, and Michael Kopech will factor in, but it’s actually Reynaldo Lopez I may be most intrigued by. This is a squad worth watching, and they’ll make some noise, but this is much more the 2017 Twins than it is the 2019 version. 4. Kansas City Royals 61-101 (68-94*) Things get ugly in a hurry here at the bottom of the AL Central. Kansas City won just 59 games a year ago, and they did very little in terms of adding talent. Whit Merrifield is a star, and Jorge Soler broke out, but the roster is really void of much else. Maikel Franco is a dart throw at third, and retaining 36-year-old Alex Gordon is more nostalgia than anything else. Maybe Salvador Perez returns from a missed 2019 and is a threat, but then again he’s never been much of a bat anyways. The Royals could easily bring up the rear in the division, but I’ll give them the benefit of doubt that they keep some of the gap established between them and Detroit a year ago. 5. Detroit Tigers 55-107 (69-93*) Across baseball in 2019, only the AL Central had two teams lose 100 or more games. That seems near certain to repeat itself in my estimation. Detroit added some veteran talent in Jonathan Schoop and C.J. Cron to bolster the infield. Miguel Cabrera looks cooked though, and Cameron Maybin probably represents their best free agent acquisition. Matt Boyd looked the part of a staff ace for part of the year, and if he can get back to that at the beginning of 2020, they’d be silly not to move him by the deadline. I like Spencer Turnbull a decent amount, but Casey Mize should show up for this group in the next handful of months. With Mize being potentially joined by Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal, and Alex Faedo this year, fans will have plenty of their future to watch. It probably won’t pan out much better immediately, but they have hope. *Designates 2020 PECOTA projection as of February 17, 2020 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  13. Today we received the highly anticipated PECOTA projections from Baseball Prospectus. Put out around this time each year, they are the gold standard among projection systems when it comes to putting a number to teams' win totals. Often there’s an organization or two that feels scorned, but Minnesota is sitting pretty heading into 2020.It should be expected that the Twins would be seen as the odds-on favorite to repeat in the AL Central division. After winnings 101 games a year ago, they got better this offseason and widened the talent gap between themselves and the Cleveland Indians. Although the White Sox were the darlings of the winter, it is expected that they still have a ways to go. Download attachment: Capture.PNG PECOTA sees the AL Central winner crossing the finish line with 93 victories. That would give them a seven-game advantage over the Indians, which is just one game less than they won the division by a year ago. It’s the White Sox that understandably see the largest boost in winning, and while bad, both the Royals and Tigers cross the 60-win threshold. With projection systems it’s important to understand that these values are derived using an algorithm and are produced utilizing multiple inputs. Specifically, for PECOTA, there are three elements to consider. From Baseball Prospectus, you have: • Major-league equivalencies, to allow us to use minor-league stats to project how a player will perform in the majors. • Baseline forecasts, which use weighted averages and regression to the mean to produce an estimate of a player's true talent level. • A career-path adjustment, which incorporates information about how comparable players' stats changed over time. In general, that means there’s an assumed amount of variability. The Twins winning the division with 93 wins would be the 50th percentile of their outcomes. As evidenced by the bell curves below, a 100th percentile would have them somewhere near a franchise record of 105 wins. We can also see that it’s both the Indians and White Sox that have the largest amount of volatility on the positive sides of their outcomes. Download attachment: Curve.PNG Relative to the American League as a whole, it’s clear Minnesota is viewed favorably. Trailing only the Yankees (99) and Astros (98), they are on the heels of the best teams in baseball. The National League is understandably looked down upon as a whole. Los Angeles checks in with 103 wins while no other division winner is seen capable of reaching 90. Considering the narrow range of expectations among clubs in both the NL East and Central, it’s fair to believe that no one may run away from the pack. As far as getting to the postseason is concerned, the Twins are given 89.2% odds in that department. PECOTA projected the Twins for 81 wins going into 2019, and the 20 additional they produced on top of that would have advanced beyond their 100th percentile expectation. In short, they are certainly being viewed in a positive light earned through positive performance. Again, these are just projections and using them as hard and fast outcomes doesn’t seem wise. However, if the Twins are to win the division (and they likely will), surpassing that 93-win threshold is a pretty decent bet. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have provided some great pieces for Rocco Baldelli and his staff. The team capitalized on their abilities last year and doing so again should bear more fruit. *Concerning projections totaling 103 games, Baseball Prospectus noted a glitch and the results remaining incorrect due to a caching issue. The win totals are accurate. Full game totals are derived by taking 162 games and subtracting the win column to come up with record. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  14. It should be expected that the Twins would be seen as the odds-on favorite to repeat in the AL Central division. After winnings 101 games a year ago, they got better this offseason and widened the talent gap between themselves and the Cleveland Indians. Although the White Sox were the darlings of the winter, it is expected that they still have a ways to go. PECOTA sees the AL Central winner crossing the finish line with 93 victories. That would give them a seven-game advantage over the Indians, which is just one game less than they won the division by a year ago. It’s the White Sox that understandably see the largest boost in winning, and while bad, both the Royals and Tigers cross the 60-win threshold. With projection systems it’s important to understand that these values are derived using an algorithm and are produced utilizing multiple inputs. Specifically, for PECOTA, there are three elements to consider. From Baseball Prospectus, you have: • Major-league equivalencies, to allow us to use minor-league stats to project how a player will perform in the majors. • Baseline forecasts, which use weighted averages and regression to the mean to produce an estimate of a player's true talent level. • A career-path adjustment, which incorporates information about how comparable players' stats changed over time. In general, that means there’s an assumed amount of variability. The Twins winning the division with 93 wins would be the 50th percentile of their outcomes. As evidenced by the bell curves below, a 100th percentile would have them somewhere near a franchise record of 105 wins. We can also see that it’s both the Indians and White Sox that have the largest amount of volatility on the positive sides of their outcomes. Relative to the American League as a whole, it’s clear Minnesota is viewed favorably. Trailing only the Yankees (99) and Astros (98), they are on the heels of the best teams in baseball. The National League is understandably looked down upon as a whole. Los Angeles checks in with 103 wins while no other division winner is seen capable of reaching 90. Considering the narrow range of expectations among clubs in both the NL East and Central, it’s fair to believe that no one may run away from the pack. As far as getting to the postseason is concerned, the Twins are given 89.2% odds in that department. PECOTA projected the Twins for 81 wins going into 2019, and the 20 additional they produced on top of that would have advanced beyond their 100th percentile expectation. In short, they are certainly being viewed in a positive light earned through positive performance. Again, these are just projections and using them as hard and fast outcomes doesn’t seem wise. However, if the Twins are to win the division (and they likely will), surpassing that 93-win threshold is a pretty decent bet. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have provided some great pieces for Rocco Baldelli and his staff. The team capitalized on their abilities last year and doing so again should bear more fruit. *Concerning projections totaling 103 games, Baseball Prospectus noted a glitch and the results remaining incorrect due to a caching issue. The win totals are accurate. Full game totals are derived by taking 162 games and subtracting the win column to come up with record. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  15. Brief Overview: Like a bad case of the flu, the Indians just refuse to go away as they continue to fight tooth and nail until the end of the season for the AL Central crown. The Twins still continue to occupy the throne, but chinks in their armor have been revealed lately in the form of the Pineda suspension and the Buxton injury that will knock him out for the rest of 2019. Throw in all of the injuries to, uhhh, gestures broadly, and the armor is so non-existent that everyone can see the Hello Kitty underwear underneath it. What They Do Well: At times, credit needs to be given where it is due and the Indians deserve a lot of credit for how they have played the Twins this season. The season record is 9-7 in favor of Cleveland as they have outscored the Twins by four runs. Is this a good indicator of whether a team is good or not? Not necessarily, keep in mind that the Rockies actually lead the season series against the Dodgers and the Dodgers ended up in the World Series while the Rockies ended in the not-World Series. The Indians are also an excellent team as far as fielding goes as their UZR/150 is the highest in MLB. I don’t have the time to explain what UZR is (you can read about it here if you so please), but even given the generally large room for error in advanced fielding metrics, I can easily buy that they are an elite fielding team. Because of this, the Twins will likely find themselves having balls be caught that might have been hits in other scenarios which will most certainly be frustrating to watch. What They Do Not Do Well: I’m not sure what to make of this, but the Indians’ pitching staff gives up the least amount of ground balls in the AL as their 39.9 GB% is only higher than the Marlins among all of MLB. To the extent of my understanding, having a high or low GB% isn’t inherently a bad or good thing as much as it is an indication of how that staff pitches. There are good pitching staffs who get a low amount of ground balls and there are bad pitching staffs that get a lot of them, just expect a lot of fly balls as this Cleveland pitching goes up against the offense that hits more fly balls than anyone else in baseball. I mentioned it last week but their bullpen since the start of August still has not been good. Their bullpen has been worth just .1 fWAR since then and part of their issues has stemmed from the 12th worst BB/9 rate among other MLB bullpens over that time. Specifically, only one of their relievers has been worth more than .1 fWAR (Óliver Pérez) and multiple members who were once key cogs have since fallen off the metaphorical cliff. Seriously, walk around Cleveland and you’ll see multiple “Have you seen this man?” posters plastered around with Brad Hand’s face on them. Individuals Of Note: The Indians recently called up a reliever named James Karinchak who is perfectly normal besides his cartoonishly high K percent of 59.2%. For context, the highest recorded K% for a qualified reliever is Aroldis Chapman’s 2014 season in which he struck out 52.5% of all batters he faced, meaning that Karinchak is in uncharted territory with his strikeouts. Keep an eye out if he comes into a game this series because the whiffs may be strong enough to cool the first few rows of fans. It appears that the Twins will get to face both Shane Bieber and Mike Clevinger in this series. I’ve talked about Mike Clevinger and his wanna-be Steven Tyler act, but let’s focus on the Biebs for this one. Bieber was a top prospect for a bit as he made his name as a strike-throwing machine with refined mechanics. As usual, the Indians worked their magic on suga-Shane over here and the result in 2019 has been an elite starter of the old-school variety as the 24-year-old is third in the majors in innings pitched in 2019. Beyond just soaking up innings like a rather large sponge, Bieber has upped his strikeouts to an impressive level as his K% is eighth among all qualified starters in MLB. Recent History: The Twins and Indians last played at Target field just a few days ago and theIndians took the series 2-1. The Indians also own the season series at 9-7. Recent Trajectories: The Twins are 10-6 over their last five series while the Indians are also 10-6 over their last five series. Pitching Match-ups: Friday: Odorizzi vs Civale Saturday: TBD vs Clevinger Sunday: Berríos vs Bieber Ending Thoughts: This is the final chance for the Twins to exert their status on the Indians as well as it the Indians final chance to knock the Twins down a few pegs. Yes, the Twins are banged up pretty well right now, but no one is going to feel bad for them, especially the team that is getting ready to host them. No matter what, the Twins will be guaranteed to have a lead in the division after the series, but some things will need to change quickly for their division leader status to match up with how they have played over the last two series. At least one win is mandatory and anything more than that pretty solidly sets the Twins up to take the division heading into the Charmin ultra-soft part of the schedule. What do I predict? Hmmm, you know, this is a tough one to get a read on because nothing would be more hilariously baseball than the C-list Twins going into Cleveland and sweeping. I’ll just say that they take two games and head on my way.
  16. Brief Overview: The ride of the season has brought these two teams back to face off against each other in the penultimate regular season series between them. The Twins are riding high after climbing higher in their division lead while the Indians have scuffled recently. Ever since the Indians took over sole possession of the division for exactly one entire day, it has been rough sailing for them as they have gone 9-13 while losing a few key pieces to injury. What They Do Well: Hey, the Indians have great starting pitching, shocker, isn’t it? Despite Corey Kluber being out for most of the year, Carlos Carrasco being out after being diagnosed with leukemia (but he has since returned as a reliever, which is amazing to see), and Trevor Bauer being traded, the Indians have the fifth-best starting pitching in all of baseball by fWAR. The secret sauce’s ingredients has been the development of Shane Bieber and Mike Clevinger into aces along with impacts from Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale. Although, peripherals suggest some regression for both of the latter arms. Nevertheless, the Indians’ starting rotation remains a force that will certainly test the Twins’ offense. They not only can pitch, but the lumber in Cleveland is well brought as well. Ever since August (basically when they acquired Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes), they have been the ninth-best offense by wRC+ with a respectable 105 mark. I’m sure you want a frame of reference for that, so be aware that Doug Mientkiewicz held a wRC+ of 104 when he was with the Twins. The Indians have cleaned up one of the aspects of their game that was once a negative and the result has been a well-rounded team that can hold its own. What They Do Not Do Well: For months, I said that I didn’t think the Indians’ bullpen was that good and for months, I looked like a crazy man yelling conspiracies with a megaphone in downtown Seattle (it happens). BUT, since the start of August, the Indians have the 20th best bullpen by fWAR and their 4.86 FIP is the 13th worst in baseball over that time period. What happened? Well, the once reliable Brad Hand has a ghastly 7.15 ERA over that time period as his peripherals have also went down the toilet. Both Nick Wittgren and Tyler Clippard have great ERAs but they also both have peripherals that would make anyone blush (that is, in a bad way). Really, beyond them, there isn’t much in the form of a quality reliever that can be trusted for an inning no matter who the batters are, Tyler Duffey might be the best reliever on the Indians if he were there (thank goodness he isn’t). This is going to be a strange one, but they really don’t play well against good teams at all. Take this stat from Andrew Simon: https://twitter.com/AndrewSimonMLB/status/1169705818578718722 Now, beating up on bad teams is pretty much the meta for the AL as a whole as there are many, many teams who would rather lose than win, but it is telling to see that they are bloated on the end of beating teams of poor caliber. The Indians are just 20-32 against teams at or above .500 which is the 19th best mark in baseball. The Twins are 28-32 under the same stipulation and the question for them is whether they can beat teams that are actually good, so the question remains even harsher on the Indians. Individuals Of Note: Mike Clevinger in 2019 so far has made the great decision to strike out more batters while walking a hair fewer, a pretty smart combo I must admit. The result has been an incredible 12.77 K/9 which would be the third-highest mark in MLB among qualified starters if he had the innings to qualify. On top of that (or more accurately, something that feeds into that), his average fastball velocity is up two ticks from 93.6 MPH to 95.8 MPH and his swinging strike % is in the stratosphere at a 15.5% rate. Basically, this is a long way of saying that he good, real good. Oh, and he is scheduled to start on Sunday. I previously mentioned the Puig and Reyes deal in which they dealt from a position of strength to help a part of the team that was very weak, but Puig and Reyes have been sufficiently meh since the deal. Since the start of August, Puig holds a below-average 92 wRC+ and Reyes is at 111. Reyes’ defense (or lack thereof) knocks his value down and both players have been worth just .1 fWAR over that time period which spans over 120 plate appearances for both players. Baseball is naturally a streaky sport, but it seems like the Indians didn’t get the boost they were hoping for from both guys when they acquired them. Recent History: The Twins and Indians last played at Target field in early August. The Indians won that 3-1 and the Indians hold the season series by a tally of 7-6. Recent Trajectories: The Twins are 11-5 over their last five series while the Indians are 7-9 over their last five series. Pitching Matchups: Friday: Pineda vs Plutko Saturday: Odorizzi vs Civale Sunday: TBD vs Clevinger Ending Thoughts: The magic number for the Twins is currently 16 and this series will be a great opportunity to knock that number down a few pegs as each win counts as two towards the magic number. The pitching match-ups fall pretty decently in the Twins’ favor as they get their ace against the Indians’ worst starter and they get their All-Star starter against a rookie as well. The Sunday game may be interesting but now is the chance to show the Indians why you are the top team in the division. I’m feeling a 2-1 series in favor of the Twins and my mojo may be slightly regained after correctly calling the previous series, so watch out if you are an aspiring fortune-teller out there.
  17. WHAT A THROW! Still very high off the end of that game, I, your humble writer and guide, will attempt to put together a sufficient preview laced with as much snark as I am feeling at the moment. I know it has been said about every series so far, but this series actually will be the biggest one (so far) of the year as the Twins get a shot at the team chasing them in the standings. The band this week is The Black Keys who are from Akron, not Cleveland, but all of Ohio is the same to me so I don’t care.Brief Overview: The ride of the season has brought these two teams back to face off against each other in the penultimate regular season series between them. The Twins are riding high after climbing higher in their division lead while the Indians have scuffled recently. Ever since the Indians took over sole possession of the division for exactly one entire day, it has been rough sailing for them as they have gone 9-13 while losing a few key pieces to injury. What They Do Well: Hey, the Indians have great starting pitching, shocker, isn’t it? Despite Corey Kluber being out for most of the year, Carlos Carrasco being out after being diagnosed with leukemia (but he has since returned as a reliever, which is amazing to see), and Trevor Bauer being traded, the Indians have the fifth-best starting pitching in all of baseball by fWAR. The secret sauce’s ingredients has been the development of Shane Bieber and Mike Clevinger into aces along with impacts from Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale. Although, peripherals suggest some regression for both of the latter arms. Nevertheless, the Indians’ starting rotation remains a force that will certainly test the Twins’ offense. They not only can pitch, but the lumber in Cleveland is well brought as well. Ever since August (basically when they acquired Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes), they have been the ninth-best offense by wRC+ with a respectable 105 mark. I’m sure you want a frame of reference for that, so be aware that Doug Mientkiewicz held a wRC+ of 104 when he was with the Twins. The Indians have cleaned up one of the aspects of their game that was once a negative and the result has been a well-rounded team that can hold its own. What They Do Not Do Well: For months, I said that I didn’t think the Indians’ bullpen was that good and for months, I looked like a crazy man yelling conspiracies with a megaphone in downtown Seattle (it happens). BUT, since the start of August, the Indians have the 20th best bullpen by fWAR and their 4.86 FIP is the 13th worst in baseball over that time period. What happened? Well, the once reliable Brad Hand has a ghastly 7.15 ERA over that time period as his peripherals have also went down the toilet. Both Nick Wittgren and Tyler Clippard have great ERAs but they also both have peripherals that would make anyone blush (that is, in a bad way). Really, beyond them, there isn’t much in the form of a quality reliever that can be trusted for an inning no matter who the batters are, Tyler Duffey might be the best reliever on the Indians if he were there (thank goodness he isn’t). This is going to be a strange one, but they really don’t play well against good teams at all. Take this stat from Andrew Simon: Now, beating up on bad teams is pretty much the meta for the AL as a whole as there are many, many teams who would rather lose than win, but it is telling to see that they are bloated on the end of beating teams of poor caliber. The Indians are just 20-32 against teams at or above .500 which is the 19th best mark in baseball. The Twins are 28-32 under the same stipulation and the question for them is whether they can beat teams that are actually good, so the question remains even harsher on the Indians. Individuals Of Note: Mike Clevinger in 2019 so far has made the great decision to strike out more batters while walking a hair fewer, a pretty smart combo I must admit. The result has been an incredible 12.77 K/9 which would be the third-highest mark in MLB among qualified starters if he had the innings to qualify. On top of that (or more accurately, something that feeds into that), his average fastball velocity is up two ticks from 93.6 MPH to 95.8 MPH and his swinging strike % is in the stratosphere at a 15.5% rate. Basically, this is a long way of saying that he good, real good. Oh, and he is scheduled to start on Sunday. I previously mentioned the Puig and Reyes deal in which they dealt from a position of strength to help a part of the team that was very weak, but Puig and Reyes have been sufficiently meh since the deal. Since the start of August, Puig holds a below-average 92 wRC+ and Reyes is at 111. Reyes’ defense (or lack thereof) knocks his value down and both players have been worth just .1 fWAR over that time period which spans over 120 plate appearances for both players. Baseball is naturally a streaky sport, but it seems like the Indians didn’t get the boost they were hoping for from both guys when they acquired them. Recent History: The Twins and Indians last played at Target field in early August. The Indians won that 3-1 and the Indians hold the season series by a tally of 7-6. Recent Trajectories: The Twins are 11-5 over their last five series while the Indians are 7-9 over their last five series. Pitching Matchups: Friday: Pineda vs Plutko Saturday: Odorizzi vs Civale Sunday: TBD vs Clevinger Ending Thoughts: The magic number for the Twins is currently 16 and this series will be a great opportunity to knock that number down a few pegs as each win counts as two towards the magic number. The pitching match-ups fall pretty decently in the Twins’ favor as they get their ace against the Indians’ worst starter and they get their All-Star starter against a rookie as well. The Sunday game may be interesting but now is the chance to show the Indians why you are the top team in the division. I’m feeling a 2-1 series in favor of the Twins and my mojo may be slightly regained after correctly calling the previous series, so watch out if you are an aspiring fortune-teller out there. Click here to view the article
  18. Apparently Carlos Carrasco has been diagnosed with leukemia. While the Indians and MLB haven't made an official announcement, he gave an interview in the DR. https://sports.yahoo.com/carlos-carrasco-diagnosed-leukemia-103854235.html This is bigger than baseball. Hopefully he can get the treatment he needs.
  19. It has been a week since the Minnesota Twins' last off day, and in that time they've played six games, all on the road and all against divisional opponents. The Good: The good news is that the Twins still don't have a losing segment on their schedule. This means that they have yet to have a losing road trip or home stand. The team ended the week with a slug fest against the Detroit Tigers, but early in the week it was Jose Berrios' start that snapped a 2-game losing "streak." Berrios looked like everything an ace should be, righting the team's ship following two poor performances, the first game being Devin Smeltzer looking good except for four mistake pitches that were belted for home runs and the second a game where the Twins pitching and defense squandered an offense that put up 7 runs. Of course Berrios wouldn't have been able to win the game if it wasn't for Max "Power" Kepler breaking his 0-21 at-bat streak with 3 home runs. The Twins bats are still another good, with the team hitting 16 more home runs to bring their season total to 125. The Bad: I'm going to have to say that the bad of this week was probably a few pitchers just losing it when they needed it. The week started with Smeltzer's mistakes leading to 5 runs, which was the first loss. Game two featured 7 Twins' runs, but also featured Blake Parker giving up 3 runs in one inning and the team losing by 2. Skipping to the Twins 9-3 loss on Saturday in Detroit, starter Kyle Gibson gave up 5 runs while reliever Matt Magill gave up 4 in one inning. So, the Twins definitely need to find some more consistency especially out of the bullpen. It is worth noting that Smeltzer has been sent back down to triple-A with the return of Michael Pineda. The Ugly: The Twins not landing Craig Kimbrel. This is less about the team and more about the fans around the team. Reports are that the Twins made a very competitive offer, but Kimbrel decided to sign with the Chicago Cubs, reportedly because he wanted at least a three year deal. The reception by fans has not been happy. Kimbrel undoubtedly has elite stuff, and could be key to a Cubs playoff run, which would only make Twins fans more angry. Of course I alluded to it before, but the casual fan saw Kimbrel as the move to solidify the bullpen and give consistency to a group that can really rely on one maybe two pitchers in high leverage situations. However, I don't know that the Kimbrel move would have done that. Kimbrel has yet to face any big league hitters this year, and likely won't see the field for another few weeks. Nobody knows where his stuff will be after not having pitched since last October, it might take a month to figure out, or he might not be very good for the whole rest of this year. The final gripe that I've seen with this deal, or lack thereof, is that this is "typical Pohlad penny-pinching." However, Kimbrel's issue wasn't with money but with years, so the Twins may have been ready to put up the money, but didn't want to lock themselves in and be prevented from making moves in the future. In any case, this was a miss on a free agent that is sure to cause a rift between a lot of fans and the team, especially if the bullpen does not perform up to snuff for what should be a good playoff team.
  20. Box Score Berrios: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 69.2% strikes (74 of 107 pitches) Home Runs: Kepler 3 (15) Multi-Hit Games: Kepler (4 for 4, 3 HR, BB) WPA of +0.1: Kepler .310; Berrios .229; Rogers .200 WPA of -0.1: Magill -.193 (Chart via FanGraphs) Kepler got the scoring going on the second pitch of the game when he ended his 0-for-21 streak with a solo shot. This was the third time this season that Kepler hit a first inning leadoff homerun for the Twins. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1136773656049344513 Kepler added to the scoring again in the top of the third when he took Trevor Bauer deep for the second time tonight. This time it was on a two-strike slider after Kepler did a good job spoiling a couple good two-strike pitches from Bauer. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1136782401768529920 The Twins struck again in the top of the fifth after Kepler leadoff the inning with a walk. Jorge Polanco then grounded into a fielder’s choice before Mitch Garver drove him in from first with an RBI double. In the seventh Kepler struck again for his third home run of the game, giving the Twins a 5-1 lead. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1136802170697789440 For his second straight start Jose Berrios had a good outing to get the Twins back on their winning ways after a tough loss. Berrios absolutely shut down the Indians lineup for six plus innings tonight, but made just one mistake to Roberto Perez in the fifth inning that he drove over the wall in the right-center field gap. Berrios had the changeup working especially well, picking up four of his six strikeouts with it. Despite being over a hundred pitches through six innings, Rocco Baldelli left Berrios in to start the seventh. He did a good job getting Jose Ramirez to roll over on a changeup, but Jonathan Schoop bobbled the ball and Ramirez reached, ending the night for Berrios. Matt Magill came in to relieve Berrios, hoping to bounce back from his terrible outing on Sunday in Tampa. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be, as he walked Jordan Luplow on four pitches and gave up an RBI single to Tyler Naquin, causing Baldelli to go back to the pen to get Trevor May to get out of the jam. May came in doing his part, allowing just one run to score, on a sac-fly from Roberto Perez, before getting Leoyns Martin and Francisco Lindor to get out of the jam. Taylor Rogers came in to start the eighth inning and picked up a two inning save. Rogers looked unhittable getting each of the first five guys he faced out, three of which were via the strikeout. However, he made things interesting after he gave up a two-out home run to Oscar Mercado. Rogers shut the door on the Twins win on the next batter getting Roberto Perez to groundout. Postgame with Baldelli https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1136829468763230208 Bullpen Usage Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days: Next Three Games Fri at DET, 6:10 pm CT (TBD-Boyd) Sat at DET, 3:10 pm CT (Gibson-TBD) Sun at DET, 12:10 pm CT (Odorizzi-Carpenter) Last Game CLE 9, MIN 7: Bullpen Crumbles on Night Kimbrel Signs With Cubs
  21. Max Kepler had himself quite the night, taking Indians All-Star pitcher Trevor Bauer deep three times in the Twins 5-4 win in Cleveland. Overall, Kepler finished the night going 4-for-4 with a walk, and out hitting the rest of the Twins team, who had just three hits, and equaling the number hits the Indians had on the night. After losing the first two games of the series, tonight felt like a big game for the Twins to keep the Indians from gaining any momentum as we head into the summer months. Sure an 8.5 game lead on the division is still pretty big, but 10.5 just feels so much bigger.Box Score Berrios: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 69.2% strikes (74 of 107 pitches) Home Runs: Kepler 3 (15) Multi-Hit Games: Kepler (4 for 4, 3 HR, BB) WPA of +0.1: Kepler .310; Berrios .229; Rogers .200 WPA of -0.1: Magill -.193 Download attachment: vs Indians 6-6-2019.PNG (Chart via FanGraphs) Kepler got the scoring going on the second pitch of the game when he ended his 0-for-21 streak with a solo shot. This was the third time this season that Kepler hit a first inning leadoff homerun for the Twins. Kepler added to the scoring again in the top of the third when he took Trevor Bauer deep for the second time tonight. This time it was on a two-strike slider after Kepler did a good job spoiling a couple good two-strike pitches from Bauer. The Twins struck again in the top of the fifth after Kepler leadoff the inning with a walk. Jorge Polanco then grounded into a fielder’s choice before Mitch Garver drove him in from first with an RBI double. In the seventh Kepler struck again for his third home run of the game, giving the Twins a 5-1 lead. For his second straight start Jose Berrios had a good outing to get the Twins back on their winning ways after a tough loss. Berrios absolutely shut down the Indians lineup for six plus innings tonight, but made just one mistake to Roberto Perez in the fifth inning that he drove over the wall in the right-center field gap. Berrios had the changeup working especially well, picking up four of his six strikeouts with it. Despite being over a hundred pitches through six innings, Rocco Baldelli left Berrios in to start the seventh. He did a good job getting Jose Ramirez to roll over on a changeup, but Jonathan Schoop bobbled the ball and Ramirez reached, ending the night for Berrios. Matt Magill came in to relieve Berrios, hoping to bounce back from his terrible outing on Sunday in Tampa. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be, as he walked Jordan Luplow on four pitches and gave up an RBI single to Tyler Naquin, causing Baldelli to go back to the pen to get Trevor May to get out of the jam. May came in doing his part, allowing just one run to score, on a sac-fly from Roberto Perez, before getting Leoyns Martin and Francisco Lindor to get out of the jam. Taylor Rogers came in to start the eighth inning and picked up a two inning save. Rogers looked unhittable getting each of the first five guys he faced out, three of which were via the strikeout. However, he made things interesting after he gave up a two-out home run to Oscar Mercado. Rogers shut the door on the Twins win on the next batter getting Roberto Perez to groundout. Postgame with Baldelli Bullpen Usage Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days: Download attachment: 6-6-2019 vs Indians.PNG Next Three Games Fri at DET, 6:10 pm CT (TBD-Boyd) Sat at DET, 3:10 pm CT (Gibson-TBD) Sun at DET, 12:10 pm CT (Odorizzi-Carpenter) Last Game CLE 9, MIN 7: Bullpen Crumbles on Night Kimbrel Signs With Cubs Click here to view the article
  22. This just hit the wire. Apparently Carlos Carrasco has been diagnosed with some sort of blood condition. Hopefully he gets the medical care he needs to get back on the field. https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/26904907/carrasco-blood-condition-indefinitely
  23. In what equates to the smallest of sample sizes, the Minnesota Twins thumped the Cleveland Indians all over the diamond to begin the 2019 season. Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda, and Martin Perez baffled Tribe hitters, and the home team looked like one worthy of competing in the AL Central division. Sure, this Terry Francona lineup was watered down in almost every way imaginable, but that’s really the backbone of this argument isn’t it? Through his team’s first three games, Francona has needed to trout out Eric Stamets, Max Moroff, and Jordan Luplow for meaningful at bats. Brad Miller started at second base despite being inked to a deal just a week ago, and Tyler Naquin struck out in six of his seven at bats. 23-year-old Jake Bauers is the starting left fielder after being moved on from by the Rays, and Roberto Perez looked as much like Drew Butera behind the plate as he did standing in front of it. Sure, Francisco Lindor is not in this current lineup, and Jose Ramirez is still probably shaking off some lingering effects caused by a near-serious injury. All offseason though, the talk of this team surrounded the possibility of dealing one or both of Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, which only further highlights the notion of pitching and not much else. Lindor and Ramirez are truly an elite tandem for the Indians, but can they be expected to top what amounted to career years a season ago? Even if they do, with a watered-down sum of parts, will it matter for Cleveland? We are nowhere near a point that conclusions can be made regarding the Twins, Indians, or the division. This small of a sample size only gives us numbers that are fun to illogically dream upon. The opening that was wondered about over the offseason appears to at least be a potential reality as the games begin to matter. The Twins did what they needed to in taking a series at home from the reigning division winner. They did so by executing in multiple facets of the action, and it was a ball being put in play away from a sweep. For both clubs, we’ll need to at least head into June before any real conclusions can be drawn. Rocco Baldelli will continue to have his team prepared on a game-by-game basis until that point, but you can bet the goal will also be to put distance between themselves and the club that did little to stay on top. Ownership for the Indians has publicly stated that players like Lindor may not be affordable for the long haul, and we’ve already seen them fail to supplement for an offseason. Further lack of fan interest and an emergence from this Twins club should continue to spell disaster for the 2016 runner up, and in Twins Territory that’s all we can hope for. It certainly helps that the bottom trio of divisional opponents should spend the year in the doldrums, but the reality is that Minnesota was always going to need to knock off Cleveland for any real run of significance. Doing so out of the gate is something to build upon, and they’ll have plenty more opportunity to do so as the year progresses. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  24. We are now at the point in the Major League Baseball calendar where exhibition games have commenced, teams are looking at how to fill out their 25-man roster, and the regular season is on the horizon. Although a few marquee free agents remain, I’m at a point where I feel good about how what could potentially be baseball’s worst division, is going to play out. The incumbent division winning Cleveland Indians are ready to defend their throne and it’ll be on a challenger to emerge. Including current PECOTA projections (as of February 26, 2019) next to predicted records, here’s how this writer has the standings for the American League Central playing out: 1. Minnesota Twins 92-70 (83-79) No team has done more in the division to take strides forward than the Twins for 2019. While that’s great in a vacuum, no team was also able to make bigger moves than Minnesota as well. I’ve dug deeper into why I think this is realistic in a secondary piece here, but the front office must be hoping what they’ve done is enough. Despite what’s being billed as a “wait and see” type approach, I’m all in on the Falvey and Levine being vindicated in their decision making. 2. Cleveland Indians 89-73 (96-66) Quite opposite of the Twins, arguably no team within the division has gotten worse than the Indians. Cleveland loses Michael Brantley as well as Carlos Santana. They’ve replaced the latter with Edwin Encarnacion, but there’s no outfield to speak of, and significant reliance on repeat performances. Trevor Bauer, Jose Ramirez, and Francisco Lindor all posted career year’s in 2018, all while Cleveland mustered just 91 wins. Lindor will miss the beginning of the season, and despite the rotation still being among the best in baseball, it’s hard not wondering what else to fall in love with surrounding this team. 3. Chicago White Sox 73-89 (70-92) One of the trendiest teams in baseball right now, the White Sox are being lauded for their stellar farm system. There’s no denying that Eloy Jimenez is a stud, and he’s backed by names like Kopech, Cease, and Robert. The first starter on that list is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery though, and there’s always an incredible amount of volatility when it comes to top prospects (ask Twins fans about that.) Manny Machado would’ve moved the needle for this franchise, but instead of going all in, Kenny Williams signed friends and family hoping that would be enough. Chicago will get there, and an 11-game jump in the win column from 2018 is no small task, but that’s about where the fun ends. 4. Kansas City Royals 69-93 (72-90) Welcome to the dreaded middle ground. It was great for the Royals that they popped up and won a World Series, as the fanbase could be looking at mediocrity or worse for quite some time. The big-league club is void of any real star potential, and the farm system is among the worst in baseball. Kansas City can’t spend big with it making any sort of a difference, but they’ve also yet to hit on any prospects that put them in a better light going forward. If you’re a Royals fan, the highlight of the season is June 3rd when Dayton Moore will have the second overall pick in the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft. 5. Detroit Tigers 62-100 (67-95) If Kansas City is considered the dreaded middle ground, then Detroit is trending in a much better direction. The Tigers have a strong farm system headlined by pitching stalwarts, and they also hold the 5th overall pick this summer. There’s still plenty of questions surrounding both Michael Fulmer and Matthew Boyd, and Detroit is hoping to see Nicholas Castellanos take yet another step forward, but there’s some building blocks here. Miguel Cabrera is on his way to Cooperstown, but Niko Goodrum has provided some immediate intrigue in the infield. This team won’t be good in 2019, but they could certainly flip the script in the coming years. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  25. The National League team I root for is the San Diego Padres, so it hurt even more when the Cleveland Indians traded catching prospect Franciso Mejia to San Diego for All Star closer Brad Hand and reliever Adam Cimber to bolster their most glaring weakness headed into the “second half” of the season. Remember, Cleveland was the team that didn’t think Matt Belisle was fit to stay in their reliever corps. Why the Twins made a move for Belisle is beyond me, but we’re already getting off topic. Hand was the subject of many trade rumors last July, and after the season had ended. The Padres apparently waited for the right opportunity and got a very good prospect from the Indians’ minor league system. Getting a pitcher of Cimber’s caliber is just the icing on top for Cleveland, still missing Cody Allan, Josh Tomlin, and Andrew Miller from their bullpen as they deal with injuries. Dan and I were not large proponents of the Twins selling this trade deadline on the last two Supershows, mentioning Brian Dozier as the one player we’d be okay with leaving to get a chance to win on a contender. With a bolstered bullpen, and an offense slowly waking up from a first-half slumber, the Indians may make another improbable run and find themselves twenty games ahead of Minnesota and Detroit if their production stays consistent, and their players stay healthy. People were quick to point out Brad Hand as the best piece in the trade, but Adam Cimber is actually having a slightly better season than Minnesota’s own, though not by much: Cimber – 48.1 IP, 3.17 ERA, 10 BB, 51 SO, 2.32 FIP, and a 1.076 WHIP Hand – 44.1 IP, 3.05 ERA, 15 BB, 65 SO, 3.17 FIP, and a 1.083 WHIP Cimber also owns a .4 WAR in 2018, to Hand’s -0.1. Not much is separating these two pitchers, and their numbers are far and away better than just about anything Cleveland trotted out before the All Star Break. Twins fans should be worried about the arrival of Hand and Cimber to Cleveland, but is it a forgone conclusion that the Tribe will run away with the AL Central? Should Cleveland fans be gearing up for a ticker tape parade come October? I’m not so sure. Here’s what Cleveland did in the win/loss column for the first 95 games of their season: 28-13 vs. AL Central 24-30 vs. rest of league As much as I’ll hold out hope that the Twins make one of the most impressive runs in August and September, I will concede that it doesn’t look great for the Twin Cities Twins. However, winning the division isn’t everything. Here’s how Cleveland stacks up against their potential playoff partners: 2-5 vs. NYY 2-5 vs. SEA 3-4 vs. HOU 7 games remaining against BOS With 67 games remaining in their schedule, Cleveland will get DET (6 total / 3 @ home) KC (10 total / 3 @ home) MIN (10 total / 7 @ home) and CHW (9 total / 3 @ home). 35 of Cleveland’s remaining games are vs. AL Central opponents. 19 at home vs. 16 on the road. The Indians’ front office is hoping that Hand and Cimber bolster bullpen, that the rest of the team stays healthy, and that they win more on road; especially against non-AL Central opponents. The Indians would have the 3rd best record in the AL East and the 4th best in the AL West. Yikes. Let’s break down what Cleveland’s AL Central record looks like: KC 4-2 (H) 3-0 (A) DET 4-0 (H) 3-3 (A) MIN 2-1 (H) 2-4 (A) CHW 6-0 (H) 2-2 (A) That’s a record of 16-3 at home vs. 10-9 away against AL Central opponents. Clearly the Indians are better at home than on the road, and if not for the Twins taking 4 of 6 from them at Target Field, the ratio would look a lot better. It’s hard for me to sit down and look at Cleveland’s roster and point and scream that they’ll have a chance at making it out of the ALDS, let alone winning the ALCS or the World Series. They’re a good team being floated by a bad division, something Twins fans are all too familiar with. Even with Corey Kluber, Francisco Lindor, and the newly acquired Brad Hand; Cleveland will still have a tall task ahead of them once/if they make it out of the AL Central. The Indians do not have winning records against New York, Seattle, and Houston during the regular season; and I can’t see Boston losing more than they win in their upcoming 7 games. Stranger things have happened in baseball, but the path to the World Series in the AL Central will almost be impossible to navigate in 2018. - Panda Pete (Originally posted on TwinsAndLosses.com)
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