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  1. The Twins traded one of their top pitching prospects to acquire the veteran pitcher. Hard-throwing Brusdar Graterol is headed to the Dodgers, and then he will be dealt to the Red Sox in the Mookie Betts/David Price trade. Maeda is a 31-year-old right-hander from Japan. In his four seasons with the Dodgers, he has gone 47-35 with a 3.87 ERA in 137 games (103 starts). In 2019, he went 10-8 with a 4.04 ERA. In 153 2/3 innings, he walked 51 and struck out 169 batters. The Dodgers paid a $20 million posting fee to Hiroshima in 2015. Maeda signed an 8 year, $25 million deal with the Dodgers, receiving $3 million annually. He makes an extra $150,000 each year for making the Opening Day roster. He can earn up to $6.5 million each year based on number of starts. He can also make another $3.5 million each year based on innings pitched. He also receives $1 million for having been traded. Graterol saw time with the Twins in September 2019 and pitched well. He pitched a scoreless inning in his one playoff appearance. He became very popular prospect when reports surfaced that he was hitting triple-digits upon his return from Tommy John surgery. Last year, after returning from missing three months due to shoulder issues, he hit 104 mph in a game in Pensacola. At a Winter Caravan stop, pitching coach Wes Johnson said that Graterol was preparing for a role in the bullpen. He could get some time to develop and work more innings, eventually becoming a starter. But many believe his future is in the bullpen. The Twins Opening Day starting rotation now looks like this: Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kenta Maeda, Homer Bailey and Jhoulys Chacin, with Michael Pineda coming back after 39 games and Rich Hill potentially being back in June or July. Of course, Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe and Devin Smeltzer provide much depth. And, the Twins still have top pitching prospects Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran and more. What are your thoughts? Tom shared his thoughts shortly after the deal was rumored. https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1224891335611682817 More could develop as we learn more about this three, or four, team trade. Here is what we know, so far, about the overall four-team trade:
  2. Mookie Betts and David Price have finally been traded. They're headed to the Dodgers, but the Twins are involved in the deal. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Twins have acquired Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers in exchange for Brusdar Graterol. Graterol is expected to then be dealt to the Red Sox in this multi-team deal. The deals are all pending physicals.The Twins traded one of their top pitching prospects to acquire the veteran pitcher. Hard-throwing Brusdar Graterol is headed to the Dodgers, and then he will be dealt to the Red Sox in the Mookie Betts/David Price trade. Click here to view the article
  3. David Price is entering the fifth year of his seven-year, $217 million deal. In each of the next three seasons, he is guaranteed to make $32 million and he will be in his age-36 season at the end of the deal. The left-handed hurler has pitched over 2000 career innings, but he hasn’t had over 200 innings since the 2016 campaign. Since 2016, Price has averaged 119 innings with a 3.75 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. Last season, he posted a career high 10.7 SO/9, but it also came an increase in his BB/9 from under 8.0 to 9.1. Throughout his Red Sox tenure, there have been some health issues, but he has been able to post a 118 ERA+ with 609 strikeouts in 588 innings. Price is still a very good pitcher even if he isn’t the pitcher many fans will remember from when he was in contention for multiple Cy Youngs. His fastball is down a couple miles per hour from his career average (91.9 mph compared to 93.9 mph), but he can still top out at over 95 mph. This speed drop has meant he relies more on his change-up which he used 10% more than his career average last season. Price might still have some left in the tank. Since 2017, he is one of only 29 starters that have topped 350 innings with a strikeout-to-walk ratio over 3.00 and an ERA+ better than 110. There’s no guarantee that he will be able to keep up this pace over the next handful of seasons, but he has already shown the ability to adjust his pitching by relying more on his change-up. It’s no secret that Boston is trying to dump salary this off-season in an attempt to get under the luxury tax line. This will mean trading some of their more expensive players like Mookie Betts, JD Martinez, and/or Price. Betts could likely bring back a haul, but the 2018 MVP seems more likely to stick in Boston to lead their current core players. There are a few things Boston could do to make a deal happen. With the hefty amount remaining on Price’s deal, the Red Sox could agree to pay some of the remaining cost. Taking on a player with a higher salary would also be an option, but that wouldn’t help Boston to cut salary. The Red Sox could include another valuable piece to entice a trading team to take on more salary. If you were the Twins would you trade for Price? How much salary do you think the club would be willing to absorb? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  4. The Minnesota Twins are going to have money to spend and will need to spend to replenish the roster. What feels most Minnesotan is that the Twins will stretch those dollars as far as possible and sign a number of mid level free agents. What if they didn’t do that? What if the Twins were the team to bring in big salary and big names in a big trade. Here is what an offseason might look like if the Twins are able to bring in current Red Sox outfielder and former MVP Mookie Betts.This blueprint looks at capitalizing on one team's need to cut salary to avoid the luxury tax threshold and enter into the free agent market themselves. Before going too much further, lets lay out the big move and then explain why it may make any sense for the Twins to attempt to put together an offseason centered around such a move. 1. Trade Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, Jordan Balazovic and Nick Gordon to the Boston Red Sox for OF Mookie Betts and LHP David Price Un-Minnesota right? The Twins get a top-10 MLB player in Betts who can hit, field and has an MVP on his resume. The major downside for anyone trading for Betts this offseason is that they will only get him for one season. Price may not be the dominant David Price we remember, but if he is healthy, he still has the ability to contribute to a major league starting staff. While his ERA was 4.28 in 2019 his FIP was 3.62 and still has a swinging strike rate above 11%. The concern with Price is his contract and a decrease in velocity. The biggest return the Red Sox get is nearly $60 million in contracts off the books in 2020 and and additional $32 million per season owed to Price the next two seasons. Boston also gets two major league ready pieces in Rosario, who steps into Betts' role, and Sano, who fills their need at first base. With a vacancy at second, Gordon becomes a candidate there, and Balazovic gives the Red Sox a talented and controllable young arm that they covet. It would be great if the Twins didn’t have to give up both Sano and Rosario, but it sounds like the Red Sox are going to want a good haul for Betts to move him. Now for the rest of the moves that help fit those big contracts into the Twins payroll. A payroll that will obviously need to increase but will try and do so within reason. 2. Tender all arbitration-eligible players This becomes necessary to fill roster spots in a relatively affordable way with the extra salary being brought on board. 3. Sign RHP Jake Odorizzi for three years, $36 million Odorizzi will never be an ace but has proven that he can still be a very valuable part to a playoff rotation. The Twins staff also clearly knows how to get that out of him and to continue to allow them to work with Odorizzi will hopefully help maintain if not improve on those results. 4. Sign RHP Sergio Romo for one year, $3 million At $3 million Romo comes in relatively affordably when it comes to quality playoff caliber arms. His personality and experience is also always welcome and with the bulk of the Twins payroll going elsewhere, Romo can continue to mentor and lead the bullpen. 5. Sign Kyle Barraclough for one year, $1 million I personally highlighted Barraclough last week but didn’t expect to actually use him anywhere in a blueprint. Here I am trying to find a bargain bin arm that could bounce back and have an impact for the Twins in the bullpen. The hope here is that Barraclough would be able to reduce his hard hit rate and continue to create swing and misses but with much better results than he had in 2019. 6. Trade OF Akil Baddoo and 2B/3B/OF Travis Blankenhorn to the Rockies for RHP Jon Gray This trade has the potential to be similar to what the Twins did with Odorizzi. Gray had a better season in 2019 than Odorizzi did before the Twins acquired him which is the reason for two prospects in this deal vs. the one when Odorizzi was acquired. Gray pitches with good velocity (96.1 mph) and induces ground balls at a high rate. He certainly can be a back end of the rotation starter, but hopefully the Twins could find the front-line starter the Rockies once thought they had in the right-hander. Gray has team control through 2021 and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to make $5.6 million this coming season. SUMMARY The lineup does look to lose a bit in the way of depth in comparison to the 2019 version of the Twins. There is no doubt that Betts makes the top end of the lineup much better. A healthy Cron hopefully contributes more to this lineup than he did down the stretch this past season. If not, there are the likes of Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach that the Twins could figure out how to get in the lineup in his place. Download attachment: Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 10.19.42 PM.png The starting rotation may still be lacking the true ace that is being sought. Berrios, Price, Odorizzi, and Gray each represent pitchers who have the potential to carry a team. Brusdar Graterol is also a possibility to figure in here. Graterol and Berrios likely represent the best chance for an emerging and dominant ace. Download attachment: Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 10.34.09 PM.png The hope here is that the bullpen was much better than what we saw of it in the playoffs, whether it was misuse or just bad execution. The 2020 Twins according to this blueprint will mostly need to see continued growth from many of these arms since it is mostly the same group returning. Download attachment: Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 10.34.19 PM.png Including the $0.5 million buyout for Martin Perez this puts the Twins payroll at $144.8 million. What would make this approach soar is if the front office got permission from ownership to spend even more to make the most of the one year of Betts. Maybe winning baseball for a second season would at least allow for payroll to be added at the trade deadline mid-summer. This approach would admittedly be a gamble. There is a lot going into 2020 and an added contract in Price’s that has the potential to soak up a large chunk of the payroll for the next three seasons. Betts is the type of player that may just be worth the gamble. Check out these other Offseason Blueprints: Building a Bullpenner What would your blueprint look like for the Twins this winter? Download your copy of the Offseason Handbook and use it to construct a champion. Share your vision for discussion in our Create a Blueprint forum thread. Meanwhile, stay tuned to TD as our writers will be formulating offseason plans from different perspectives all week long. Click here to view the article
  5. This blueprint looks at capitalizing on one team's need to cut salary to avoid the luxury tax threshold and enter into the free agent market themselves. Before going too much further, lets lay out the big move and then explain why it may make any sense for the Twins to attempt to put together an offseason centered around such a move. 1. Trade Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, Jordan Balazovic and Nick Gordon to the Boston Red Sox for OF Mookie Betts and LHP David Price Un-Minnesota right? The Twins get a top-10 MLB player in Betts who can hit, field and has an MVP on his resume. The major downside for anyone trading for Betts this offseason is that they will only get him for one season. Price may not be the dominant David Price we remember, but if he is healthy, he still has the ability to contribute to a major league starting staff. While his ERA was 4.28 in 2019 his FIP was 3.62 and still has a swinging strike rate above 11%. The concern with Price is his contract and a decrease in velocity. The biggest return the Red Sox get is nearly $60 million in contracts off the books in 2020 and and additional $32 million per season owed to Price the next two seasons. Boston also gets two major league ready pieces in Rosario, who steps into Betts' role, and Sano, who fills their need at first base. With a vacancy at second, Gordon becomes a candidate there, and Balazovic gives the Red Sox a talented and controllable young arm that they covet. It would be great if the Twins didn’t have to give up both Sano and Rosario, but it sounds like the Red Sox are going to want a good haul for Betts to move him. Now for the rest of the moves that help fit those big contracts into the Twins payroll. A payroll that will obviously need to increase but will try and do so within reason. 2. Tender all arbitration-eligible players This becomes necessary to fill roster spots in a relatively affordable way with the extra salary being brought on board. 3. Sign RHP Jake Odorizzi for three years, $36 million Odorizzi will never be an ace but has proven that he can still be a very valuable part to a playoff rotation. The Twins staff also clearly knows how to get that out of him and to continue to allow them to work with Odorizzi will hopefully help maintain if not improve on those results. 4. Sign RHP Sergio Romo for one year, $3 million At $3 million Romo comes in relatively affordably when it comes to quality playoff caliber arms. His personality and experience is also always welcome and with the bulk of the Twins payroll going elsewhere, Romo can continue to mentor and lead the bullpen. 5. Sign Kyle Barraclough for one year, $1 million I personally highlighted Barraclough last week but didn’t expect to actually use him anywhere in a blueprint. Here I am trying to find a bargain bin arm that could bounce back and have an impact for the Twins in the bullpen. The hope here is that Barraclough would be able to reduce his hard hit rate and continue to create swing and misses but with much better results than he had in 2019. 6. Trade OF Akil Baddoo and 2B/3B/OF Travis Blankenhorn to the Rockies for RHP Jon Gray This trade has the potential to be similar to what the Twins did with Odorizzi. Gray had a better season in 2019 than Odorizzi did before the Twins acquired him which is the reason for two prospects in this deal vs. the one when Odorizzi was acquired. Gray pitches with good velocity (96.1 mph) and induces ground balls at a high rate. He certainly can be a back end of the rotation starter, but hopefully the Twins could find the front-line starter the Rockies once thought they had in the right-hander. Gray has team control through 2021 and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to make $5.6 million this coming season. SUMMARY The lineup does look to lose a bit in the way of depth in comparison to the 2019 version of the Twins. There is no doubt that Betts makes the top end of the lineup much better. A healthy Cron hopefully contributes more to this lineup than he did down the stretch this past season. If not, there are the likes of Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach that the Twins could figure out how to get in the lineup in his place. The starting rotation may still be lacking the true ace that is being sought. Berrios, Price, Odorizzi, and Gray each represent pitchers who have the potential to carry a team. Brusdar Graterol is also a possibility to figure in here. Graterol and Berrios likely represent the best chance for an emerging and dominant ace. The hope here is that the bullpen was much better than what we saw of it in the playoffs, whether it was misuse or just bad execution. The 2020 Twins according to this blueprint will mostly need to see continued growth from many of these arms since it is mostly the same group returning. Including the $0.5 million buyout for Martin Perez this puts the Twins payroll at $144.8 million. What would make this approach soar is if the front office got permission from ownership to spend even more to make the most of the one year of Betts. Maybe winning baseball for a second season would at least allow for payroll to be added at the trade deadline mid-summer. This approach would admittedly be a gamble. There is a lot going into 2020 and an added contract in Price’s that has the potential to soak up a large chunk of the payroll for the next three seasons. Betts is the type of player that may just be worth the gamble. Check out these other Offseason Blueprints: Building a Bullpenner What would your blueprint look like for the Twins this winter? Download your copy of the Offseason Handbook and use it to construct a champion. Share your vision for discussion in our Create a Blueprint forum thread. Meanwhile, stay tuned to TD as our writers will be formulating offseason plans from different perspectives all week long.
  6. A prospect is promoted late in a season and impacts a team's championship aspirations. It is the stuff of an overly romantic novel. But baseball is a romantic game for a reason: stuff like this happens. Which brings us to the excitement surrounding Twins pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol, and his similarities to former Rays pitching prospect David Price.I think by now, we all know how great of a prospect Graterol is, so I won’t spend too much time talking about his 1.53 ERA across three minor league levels in 2019, to go along with the 2.74 ERA he posted in 2018, and the 2.70 ERA he posted in 2017. Not to mention his electric fastball that has been clocked as high as 103.8 MPH just last weekend. On Monday he will turn the ripe old age of 21. It is safe to say that Graterol has a promising future. Why can’t the present look equally as bright? Several pitchers have made an accelerated jump between AA and AAA to pitch for contending teams in need of their services, and have done so without that move jeopardizing their careers. One such player is David Price, whose promotion to the bigs in 2008 so far parallels Graterol's year. From their first year in 1998 through 2007, the Tampa Bay Rays were the laughingstock of major league baseball, compiling a meager .399 win percentage across that span. In fact, only once did they reach the 70-win mark. However, before the season, they changed their name from the Devil Rays to the Rays, and instantly went from bottom-feeders to AL East champions, winning 97 games. In September, the Rays made a big move to bolster their pitching staff by calling up their top pitching prospect David Price, despite him having thrown just 75 combined innings between AA and AAA. He was just the spark the Rays needed to take them all the way to the World Series. Price made five appearances (one start) before the end of the regular season. Over those five appearances, Price had a 1.93 ERA, with 12 strikeouts and four walks in 14 innings. During that Rays postseason run, Price made five more appearances, all in relief. In those five games, Price gave up just one earned run in 5 2/3 innings. He did this while pitching in high leverage situations, helping him collect a win probability added of 0.459 in that relatively small amount of work. In 2009, Price was moved back into the starting rotation, and has put together a strong career. It is possible that the Twins are planning on using Brusdar Graterol in a similar manner this season. Ever since he has returned from the shoulder condition that kept him sidelined for two months, Graterol has made seven strong outings, all of which having been two innings or less. In those seven outings, Graterol has pitched 11 1/3 innings without giving up a single run while striking out 12 batters and holding opposing hitters to a staggeringly low .382 OPS. With his recent call up to AAA, it appears the Twins are ramping him up to help out in their bullpen down the stretch. If Graterol is to help the Twins this postseason, he must first be placed on the Twins 40-man roster before the end of August. With the Twins currently having just 39 guys on their 40-man roster, there is already an open spot. For those of us hoping that the Twins can get a spark to jolt their pitching staff down the stretch, Brusdar Graterol might just be that guy. Click here to view the article
  7. I think by now, we all know how great of a prospect Graterol is, so I won’t spend too much time talking about his 1.53 ERA across three minor league levels in 2019, to go along with the 2.74 ERA he posted in 2018, and the 2.70 ERA he posted in 2017. Not to mention his electric fastball that has been clocked as high as 103.8 MPH just last weekend. On Monday he will turn the ripe old age of 21. It is safe to say that Graterol has a promising future. Why can’t the present look equally as bright? Several pitchers have made an accelerated jump between AA and AAA to pitch for contending teams in need of their services, and have done so without that move jeopardizing their careers. One such player is David Price, whose promotion to the bigs in 2008 so far parallels Graterol's year. From their first year in 1998 through 2007, the Tampa Bay Rays were the laughingstock of major league baseball, compiling a meager .399 win percentage across that span. In fact, only once did they reach the 70-win mark. However, before the season, they changed their name from the Devil Rays to the Rays, and instantly went from bottom-feeders to AL East champions, winning 97 games. In September, the Rays made a big move to bolster their pitching staff by calling up their top pitching prospect David Price, despite him having thrown just 75 combined innings between AA and AAA. He was just the spark the Rays needed to take them all the way to the World Series. Price made five appearances (one start) before the end of the regular season. Over those five appearances, Price had a 1.93 ERA, with 12 strikeouts and four walks in 14 innings. During that Rays postseason run, Price made five more appearances, all in relief. In those five games, Price gave up just one earned run in 5 2/3 innings. He did this while pitching in high leverage situations, helping him collect a win probability added of 0.459 in that relatively small amount of work. In 2009, Price was moved back into the starting rotation, and has put together a strong career. It is possible that the Twins are planning on using Brusdar Graterol in a similar manner this season. Ever since he has returned from the shoulder condition that kept him sidelined for two months, Graterol has made seven strong outings, all of which having been two innings or less. In those seven outings, Graterol has pitched 11 1/3 innings without giving up a single run while striking out 12 batters and holding opposing hitters to a staggeringly low .382 OPS. With his recent call up to AAA, it appears the Twins are ramping him up to help out in their bullpen down the stretch. If Graterol is to help the Twins this postseason, he must first be placed on the Twins 40-man roster before the end of August. With the Twins currently having just 39 guys on their 40-man roster, there is already an open spot. For those of us hoping that the Twins can get a spark to jolt their pitching staff down the stretch, Brusdar Graterol might just be that guy.
  8. There is plenty of hope at the dawning of a new season. Every team starts with an equal playing field. No batters have struck out. Pitchers have a perfect ERA. There are 162 games to separate the contenders from the pretenders. It’s an exciting time for every fan. The beginning of a new season also means players want to focus on the season. A lot of players and agents don’t want to be bogged down in contract negotiations. For Brian Dozier and the Minnesota Twins, this seems like the situation they are facing.Jerry Crasnick, one of ESPN’s national baseball writers, is reporting that contract talks between Brian Dozier and the Minnesota Twins have come to a halt. For those following the Twins this spring, it seemed like Dozier was destined for free agency. When he signed his current contract with Minnesota, the deal only bought out his remaining arbitration eligible seasons. For Dozier, it provided him some financial stability. At the same time, it allowed the Twins to have some cost certainty. Dozier and his agency took a gamble on Dozier being able to produce in his late 20s to set him up for free agency for his age-32 season. This is typically the time when players start to decline but Dozier has been one of the best hitting second basemen over the last two seasons. Barring an injury, Dozier might be headed for a big pay day. Next year’s free agent class looks stacked. Dozier will join a free agent class including Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, Dallas Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel, Charlie Blackmon, Andrew Miller, Daniel Murphy, Cody Allen, Adam Jones, and Andrew McCutchen. Other players like Clayton Kershaw and David Price could be free agents if they opt out of their current contracts. After this year’s cool free agent market, it will be interesting to see how much money will be thrown around next season. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado could get record-breaking deals. Heck, Harper could be headed for the richest contract of all time. For teams that miss out on the top tier free agents, there will be other options like Dozier waiting in the wings. As I wrote about this spring, Minnesota has a multiple top prospects in the middle infield. Nick Gordon will be knocking on the door of the big leagues this season. Other top prospects like Royce Lewis and Wander Javier also play up the middle. If Dozier signs with another organization, one of these players could take over at second base next year. What are your thoughts on a possible Dozier extension? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  9. Jerry Crasnick, one of ESPN’s national baseball writers, is reporting that contract talks between Brian Dozier and the Minnesota Twins have come to a halt. https://twitter.com/jcrasnick/status/979140242321100800 For those following the Twins this spring, it seemed like Dozier was destined for free agency. When he signed his current contract with Minnesota, the deal only bought out his remaining arbitration eligible seasons. For Dozier, it provided him some financial stability. At the same time, it allowed the Twins to have some cost certainty. Dozier and his agency took a gamble on Dozier being able to produce in his late 20s to set him up for free agency for his age-32 season. This is typically the time when players start to decline but Dozier has been one of the best hitting second basemen over the last two seasons. Barring an injury, Dozier might be headed for a big pay day. Next year’s free agent class looks stacked. Dozier will join a free agent class including Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, Dallas Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel, Charlie Blackmon, Andrew Miller, Daniel Murphy, Cody Allen, Adam Jones, and Andrew McCutchen. Other players like Clayton Kershaw and David Price could be free agents if they opt out of their current contracts. After this year’s cool free agent market, it will be interesting to see how much money will be thrown around next season. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado could get record-breaking deals. Heck, Harper could be headed for the richest contract of all time. For teams that miss out on the top tier free agents, there will be other options like Dozier waiting in the wings. As I wrote about this spring, Minnesota has a multiple top prospects in the middle infield. Nick Gordon will be knocking on the door of the big leagues this season. Other top prospects like Royce Lewis and Wander Javier also play up the middle. If Dozier signs with another organization, one of these players could take over at second base next year. What are your thoughts on a possible Dozier extension? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  10. Boston Red Sox The Red Sox and the Yankees are setting up for quite the battle in the AL East. FanGraphs is projecting both teams to finish with more than 90 wins. Boston has claimed back-to-back AL East titles but this might be the year for them to fall a little short. David Price might be the team’s biggest question mark after his 2017 campaign was shrouded with elbow issues. Dustin Pedroia is coming off of off-season knee surgery and isn’t expected to be back until the end of May. JD Martinez could add some offensive pop to a lineup that includes young hitters like Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, and Xander Bogaerts. Los Angeles Angels Mike Trout might be the best player of this generation and the Angels have only been to the playoffs one time during his career. The club’s last win in the playoffs was in 2009. Los Angeles added multiple pieces this off-season with the addition of Justin Upton, Ian Kinsler, Zack Cozart, and two-way Japanese star Shohoei Ohtani. Ohtani has struggled this spring but he wasn’t brought in to help the Angles to win pre-season games. Andrelton Simmons and Kinsler make-up the best defensive middle infield in the AL. Some computer models also think the Angels are set-up for failure this season. Houston should run away with the AL West so LA might be forced to fight for a Wild Card spot. Toronto Blue Jays Toronto should be in the playoff hunt but the division might be out of reach with the Yankees and the Red Sox fighting at the top. In 2017, the Blue Jays missed the playoffs for the first time since 2014. Toronto’s rotation will start the season without their ace, Marcus Stroman, sidelined with shoulder inflammation. Other pitchers like JA Happ, Marco Estrada and Aaron Sanchez help to complete a strong rotation but playing the rest of the AL East could hurt any starting staff. Offensively last season, the Blue Jays scored the fewest runs and Toronto’s lineup isn’t getting any younger. Seattle Mariners Twins fans might think they’ve had it rough but the Mariners haven’t qualified for the playoffs since 2001. Felix Hernandez hasn’t been the King over the last couple of seasons as his fastball dropped to barely over 90 miles an hour. Only three current starters (CC Sabathia, Bartolo Colon, Justin Verlander) have more innings pitched than Hernandez. Adding Dee Gordon should help the top of the lineup but his shift to center field comes with some questions. Some of the key offensive pieces are getting older as well. Robinson Cano will be 35, Nelson Cruz will be 37, and Kyle Seager will be 30. With a top-heavy American League, it looks like the Mariners playoff drought might continue. I was on 670 The Score out of Chicago this week to preview the AL Central. Take a listen here: https://670thescore.radio.com/media/audio-channel/nick-shepkowski-al-central-preview Who is the biggest threat to Minnesota taking a Wild Card spot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  11. For the first time in his professional career, Fernando Romero found himself on multiple national prospect rankings. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com ranked Romero as the 68th best prospect while Baseball Prospectus saw him sneak into the top-100 at number 97. ESPN’s Keith Law has him just inside his top-50. Most of this buzz is coming off of his potential to be a starting pitcher but he’s done very well this spring as a relief pitcher. Entering play on Sunday, Romero had yet to surrender a hit in five innings pitched. He continued that streak and added three more hitless innings to his resume. https://twitter.com/MikeBerardino/status/972921086634549254 One of the knocks on Romero has been his command. During his breakout 2016 campaign, he seemed to put it all together. He posted a 0.90 WHIP and a 1.5 BB/9. Last year, his WHIP bumped up to 1.35 and his BB/9 more than doubled (3.2 BB/9). This spring he has been focusing on attacking hitters. Even with that focus he was only successful on getting ahead of three out of the nine batters he faced on Sunday. When Seth interviewed Romero earlier this off-season, he made it clear that fastball command is where it all starts. “That’s all we do. Try to command the fastball and get them out with the slider or change up. Doesn’t matter.” With a fastball in the mid to upper 90s and a devastating slider, one has to wonder if Romero could help the Twins this season in a bullpen role. Former Cy Young winners like Johan Santana and David Price got their starts as relief pitchers. Romero has only pitched over 100 innings once in his career. If the Twins are in the playoff hunt, a shift to the bullpen could be one way he helps the club in 2018. Obviously, the ultimate goal is to have Romero near the top of a rotation. A one-two punch of Jose Berrios and Romero could be quite the homegrown tandem. Twins coaches, including Ivan Arteaga, have been working with Romero to refine his delivery. During the 2017 campaign, Romero was getting into the habit of falling off toward the first base side of the mound. This impacted his control as one can see from the numbers listed above. Coaches like Arteaga have helped him to focus on finishing with his momentum heading toward home plate. “He doesn’t need to overthrow,” Arteaga told the Pioneer Press. “He’s got velo. He’s got power. He just needed to understand that, which I think he did over time. Watching some video and working in the bullpen, he put a lot of effort into following the plan that we have for him.” Romero has impressed this spring and it seems like he could be destined for Target Field this season. Will it be as a starter or as a reliever? Only time will tell…
  12. So who is Alex Anthopoulos? What do Twins fans need to know about this potential candidate? He could be shaping the future of this organization for years to come and fans are hungry to see a winning team back on the field. Blue Jays Rising Anthopoulos served as the general manager and senior vice president of baseball operations with the Toronto Blue Jays from 2010-2015. Last season, he helped the Blue Jays end a 22-year playoff drought but he decided to leave after some changes to the team's front office. Mark Shapiro was brought in as president and CEO and it sounds like the Jays wanted to cut costs and stop trading away prospects. He currently works as the vice president of baseball operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers which seems like a springboard job to other positions in the baseball. Wheeling and Dealing During his time in Toronto, the 39-year old Anthopoulos was not afraid to make moves. Some of his biggest trades included: Acquiring 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson from Oakland for Brett Lawrie Sending Noah Syndergaard to the Mets for RA Dickey Pushing to get Troy Tulowitzki from the Rockies for Jose Reyes and other prospects Dealing a trio of left-handed pitchers to Detroit for David Price Besides his willingness to deal away prospects for established players, he also spent plenty of money on contracts for players like Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Many Twins fans have wanted the front office to be more active in making trades and spending money. As Nick alluded to earlier this week, this might not always be the best strategy. Scouting Background Anthopoulos has a background in scouting and he made major additions to the scouting department in Toronto. He created regional cross-checker positions and nearly doubled the size of the scouting team from 28 to 54. In doing so, he was able to shrink each scout's coverage area so they could spend less time traveling and more time working. "We get to see players more often -- more innings pitched, more at-bats, Anthopoulos said. "We've added layers we didn't have before." It seems likely that he would do some major shake-ups throughout the Twins' scouting team including bringing in some scouts who have previously worked with him. The Future When the Twins let Terry Ryan go, they made it clear that they would like to have someone hired by season's end. The Dodgers are four games up in the NL West and posed to make a playoff run. This could mean Anthopoulos continues to work in his current position until deep into October. When the Dodgers hired him, they had to know he was destined to get other opportunities. Maybe they would be willing to let him out of his current position so he can start finding Minnesota's next general manager. There're plenty of changes that still need to happen and hiring Anthopoulos might be just the first step. What are your thoughts on Anthopoulos? Is he the right fit for the Twins organization? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  13. Vegas’ Line: 86.5 wins What The Line Is Saying "How can the Red Sox NOT win with that lineup (and David Price)?" They’ll Beat Vegas If… Price is Price AND a few of the other arms step up. Also, Xander Boegarts & Mookie Betts reveals the location of the Fountain of Youth to David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and Dustin Pedroia. If you beat Vegas, you can win a free Harry’s Razor starter set. Just leave a comment with your choice of the “Over” or” Under” and your reasoning. At the end of the season, for each team, we’ll randomly pick one of the winning predictions for a free Truman Razor set. They’ll Lose To Vegas If… The lineup gets old. Strike that - they're already old. Make that "The various calcified joints throughout the Red Sox lineup embrace death's sweet release." I’ll Bet The…. UNDER I like the Red Sox rotation quite a bit more than last year, but that lineup looks like they are ready to age faster than an evil extra in an Indiana Jones film. Now it’s your turn. Give us your prediction in the comment section (you’ll need to register first) and you’re automatically entered. We’ll be giving out a free Harry’s Razor Truman Set to one of the winning correct predictions for each team, so we’ll be give away 15 sets of razors! You can also click over to Harry’s Razors and get $5 off on your first order using the promo code ‘gleeman’. We'll have another team tomorrow. Finally, prior to 4/5/16, you can also enter a prediction for any of the previous teams we’ve covered. Here they are: AL EAST Baltimore Orioles Tampa Bay Rays New York Yankees
  14. Beat Vegas and win a Harry’s Razor starter kit! The question before last year was either "How can the Red Sox NOT win with that lineup" or "How can the Red Sox win with that rotation?" The team was true to form, ended up with 78 wins, good for last place in the AL East. This offseason, they bandaged up their rotation with a hell of a Bandaid: they signed David Price.Vegas’ Line: 86.5 wins What The Line Is Saying "How can the Red Sox NOT win with that lineup (and David Price)?" They’ll Beat Vegas If… Price is Price AND a few of the other arms step up. Also, Xander Boegarts & Mookie Betts reveals the location of the Fountain of Youth to David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and Dustin Pedroia. If you beat Vegas, you can win a free Harry’s Razor starter set. Just leave a comment with your choice of the “Over” or” Under” and your reasoning. At the end of the season, for each team, we’ll randomly pick one of the winning predictions for a free Truman Razor set. They’ll Lose To Vegas If… The lineup gets old. Strike that - they're already old. Make that "The various calcified joints throughout the Red Sox lineup embrace death's sweet release." I’ll Bet The…. UNDER I like the Red Sox rotation quite a bit more than last year, but that lineup looks like they are ready to age faster than an evil extra in an Indiana Jones film. Now it’s your turn. Give us your prediction in the comment section (you’ll need to register first) and you’re automatically entered. We’ll be giving out a free Harry’s Razor Truman Set to one of the winning correct predictions for each team, so we’ll be give away 15 sets of razors! You can also click over to Harry’s Razors and get $5 off on your first order using the promo code ‘gleeman’. We'll have another team tomorrow. Finally, prior to 4/5/16, you can also enter a prediction for any of the previous teams we’ve covered. Here they are: AL EAST Baltimore Orioles Tampa Bay Rays New York Yankees Click here to view the article
  15. David Price is the top pitcher on the trade market. In the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook, we projected that Price will sign a bigger contract that Max Scherzer’s seven year, $210 million deal signed last year. It’s hard to imagine the Twins signing a pitcher for $30 million a year over more than half a decade. So then there is the second tier. Names in this group include Johnny Cueto, Zach Greinke and Jordan Zimmerman. There is a good chance that these three pitchers will get at least $25 million per season for at least five seasons. Those four pitchers are the aces in the group. Along with committing $150 million or more, these players would cost the Twins their first-round draft pick in 2016, the 17th overall pick. If you want, you can add Jeff Samardzija to the group, but his 6.29 ERA in the 2nd half exemplifies the inconsistency that has marked his career. The next group includes guys like Mike Leake, Wei-Yin Chen, Scott Kazmir and Brett Anderson. These guys are $13-15 million guys, and likely would also cost the first round pick. Now, many will tell you that there isn’t a salary cap in baseball. That is true. However, businesses (which is what MLB teams are) do have to spend appropriately to their revenues. Why do I mention that? Because if the Twins are going to make a big splash in free agency with a starting pitcher, they would also need to make some moves to reduce their current payroll. How can they do that? Well, it’s easy to say they could get rid of Nolasco. However, if they are able to trade him, the Twins will have to still pay a huge chunk of his salary. The team could non-tender Tommy Milone, or they could trade him. However, that’s only $5 million. They could trade Trevor Plouffe, and that would open up about $8 million more. That’s $13 million. Is it possible that the Twins would also be willing to trade someone like Phil Hughes or Ervin Santana to open up another $12-13 million. That would get them to about $25 million. That might be enough to pick up one of the ace-like pitchers. If you’re looking for my opinion, I would feel comfortable sticking with the Twins current pitching options. Phil Hughes needs to be the 2014 version, and after a frustrating 2015, I think he would put in the work to get back to what he was. Having Ervin Santana for a full season would certainly benefit the team. The hope would be that Kyle Gibson would continue to be more consistent and take another step forward. Obviously it would be great if Tyler Duffey would pitch close to how he pitched down the stretch. At just 25 next season, he could develop into a mainstay in the rotation. Trevor May warrants another opportunity as a starter. He’s still just 26. And, of course, they need to do what is best for JO Berrios as well because he’s got the potential to be a guy you would feel good starting a playoff game for years to come as well. That rotation may not have the definition of an ace by many accounts. However, I feel good about the potential of Duffey and Berrios becoming long-term, reliable starters. I have a comfort level in Kyle Gibson and Ervin Santana. And, I do think that Hughes will bounce back in 2016. That’s a pretty solid staff, and I would feel comfortable with several of them making playoff starts. And that doesn’t even count Tommy Milone who, at times, was the Twins top starter in 2015 and actually has made playoff starts. And, though we haven’t discussed it to this point, having an outfield defense that will, at some point, include Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton and Aaron Hicks will help any pitching staff.
  16. I was on a radio show on 1390 The Fan in St. Cloud yesterday, and the first question I was asked about the Twins offseason was if I thought the team would attempt to acquire an ace in the offseason. It is a very fair question. As we watched the playoffs unfold this year, there were aces all over. The New York Mets started four young pitchers who topped 95 with their fastball and have really good secondary pitches. The Royals added Johnny Cueto at the trade deadline. The Blue Jays added David Price at the deadline. The Astros had Dallas Kuechel. The Dodgers had Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke. The Minnesota Twins have some depth at starting pitcher, and they made huge improvements as a group in 2015. For the first time in several years, they did not finish last in starters ERA. The last two offseasons, Terry Ryan has spent $100 million combined for Ricky Nolasco and Ervin Santana. Neither would fit the category of ace, but before signing with the Twins, they both had been solid, inning- eating pitchers for an extended period of time. Phil Hughes pitched like an Ace in 2014, but he came back down to earth in 2015. Tommy Milone won’t fit anyone’s definition of an ace, but he pitched well much of 2015. Kyle Gibson isn’t a big strikeout pitcher, but he topped 180 innings and was the Twins top pitcher in 2015. Tyler Duffey pitched like an ace down the stretch. Trevor May showed at times in the first half that he can be a solid MLB starter. He is capable of missing bats. And, we all look forward to the day when JO Berrios is in the rotation and what he could become. In the Twins Daily Offseason GM Handbook, Terry Ryan was asked how he would define an Ace. “We have a definition of an ace. It’d be quality innings, it’d be a guy that can get you a win when you need it, it would be a guy that’s got pitchability, it’d be a guy that gets into the seventh or eighth more often than not, those types of things. That’s an ace. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be a guy that throws 96. Maddux was an ace for a long time, he didn’t throw 96, and he did all those things I just mentioned.” As I wrote last month, velocity certainly doesn’t hurt but it isn’t a requirement for an Ace. Ryan continued, “Radke was our ace for a long time, and people argue that he wasn’t a No. 1. OK, that’s a good response. But he also pounded out 230 innings every year for a decade. He might not be the guy you want going up against some of these bigshots, but he also was the type of guy that you feel pretty good about taking the mound.” Over the course of his 12 seasons with the Twins, Radke quietly put up 45.6 bWAR. In the Twins 55 year history, only five Twins players have accumulated a higher bWAR. Those players are Rod Carew (63.7), Harmon Killebrew (53.7), Kirby Puckett (50.9), Bert Blyleven (49.3), and Joe Mauer (47.8). The next pitchers in line include Johan Santana (35.5 in 8 seasons), Jim Kaat (31.7 in 13 seasons) and Frank Viola (27.2 in 8 seasons). Think back to the Twins World Series teams of the past. The 1965 team had Jim Kaat, Camilo Pascual and Mudcat Grant. The 1987 team was led by Frank Viola and Bert Blyleven. The 1991 team had Jack Morris, Kevin Tapani and Scott Erickson. So, let’s get back to the 2015-2016 offseason and the original question. Do the Twins need an ace to get to the next step, to get to the playoffs and compete for another World Series title? The obvious answer is that it certainly wouldn’t hurt. None of the seven starters that will be competing for spots in the 2016 starting rotation are going to sit at 94+ mph. Trevor May averaged 93.2 mph on his fastball in 2015, but that was heightened by his time in the bullpen when he regularly hit 95 mph. Mike Pelfrey’s average fastball was 93.0 mph, but he is now a free agent and unlikely to return. Ervin Santana was next at 92.5. Then Kyle Gibson at 92.0 mph. Phil Hughes’ velocity dropped to 90.7 in 2015. Tommy Milone’s average fastball was just 87.6. However, Phil Hughes topped 200 innings in 2014. He had pitched 190 innings one other time in his career. Ervin Santana pitched more than 200 innings five times in his career, and reached 196 innings one other time. Ricky Nolasco went past 200 innings twice and was over 185 innings three other times. Tyler Duffey threw 196 innings between the big leagues and minor leagues in 2015. He’s got the size and strength to be the type of pitcher who can get to 200 innings consistently. Could the Twins acquire an ace this offseason? Could they acquire one in a trade? The Twins certainly have the prospects required to acquire pretty much any starting pitcher that might be available. This week, Billy Beane said that he didn’t think that there was much likelihood that he would trade Sonny Gray. However, as Nick wrote last month, acquiring Gray (or any ace-type pitcher) will take a combination of players such as Max Kepler and JO Berrios. Is it possible that the Twins could sign an ace this offseason?David Price is the top pitcher on the trade market. In the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook, we projected that Price will sign a bigger contract that Max Scherzer’s seven year, $210 million deal signed last year. It’s hard to imagine the Twins signing a pitcher for $30 million a year over more than half a decade. So then there is the second tier. Names in this group include Johnny Cueto, Zach Greinke and Jordan Zimmerman. There is a good chance that these three pitchers will get at least $25 million per season for at least five seasons. Those four pitchers are the aces in the group. Along with committing $150 million or more, these players would cost the Twins their first-round draft pick in 2016, the 17th overall pick. If you want, you can add Jeff Samardzija to the group, but his 6.29 ERA in the 2nd half exemplifies the inconsistency that has marked his career. The next group includes guys like Mike Leake, Wei-Yin Chen, Scott Kazmir and Brett Anderson. These guys are $13-15 million guys, and likely would also cost the first round pick. Now, many will tell you that there isn’t a salary cap in baseball. That is true. However, businesses (which is what MLB teams are) do have to spend appropriately to their revenues. Why do I mention that? Because if the Twins are going to make a big splash in free agency with a starting pitcher, they would also need to make some moves to reduce their current payroll. How can they do that? Well, it’s easy to say they could get rid of Nolasco. However, if they are able to trade him, the Twins will have to still pay a huge chunk of his salary. The team could non-tender Tommy Milone, or they could trade him. However, that’s only $5 million. They could trade Trevor Plouffe, and that would open up about $8 million more. That’s $13 million. Is it possible that the Twins would also be willing to trade someone like Phil Hughes or Ervin Santana to open up another $12-13 million. That would get them to about $25 million. That might be enough to pick up one of the ace-like pitchers. If you’re looking for my opinion, I would feel comfortable sticking with the Twins current pitching options. Phil Hughes needs to be the 2014 version, and after a frustrating 2015, I think he would put in the work to get back to what he was. Having Ervin Santana for a full season would certainly benefit the team. The hope would be that Kyle Gibson would continue to be more consistent and take another step forward. Obviously it would be great if Tyler Duffey would pitch close to how he pitched down the stretch. At just 25 next season, he could develop into a mainstay in the rotation. Trevor May warrants another opportunity as a starter. He’s still just 26. And, of course, they need to do what is best for JO Berrios as well because he’s got the potential to be a guy you would feel good starting a playoff game for years to come as well. That rotation may not have the definition of an ace by many accounts. However, I feel good about the potential of Duffey and Berrios becoming long-term, reliable starters. I have a comfort level in Kyle Gibson and Ervin Santana. And, I do think that Hughes will bounce back in 2016. That’s a pretty solid staff, and I would feel comfortable with several of them making playoff starts. And that doesn’t even count Tommy Milone who, at times, was the Twins top starter in 2015 and actually has made playoff starts. And, though we haven’t discussed it to this point, having an outfield defense that will, at some point, include Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton and Aaron Hicks will help any pitching staff. Click here to view the article
  17. Despite not having to face Price every night, the Twins still managed to have one of the least potent lineups post-break. Hits are frequently a precursor to runs. Runs, as the rules would have it, are needed to win baseball games. After scoring 4.3 runs per game in the first half of the year (ninth place), they have struggled mightily to push players across the plate as of late. Through 17 second-half games, the Twins have averaged almost one full run less (3.4 per game) in that time. One of the cornerstones to the team’s first-half success, timely hitting, has all but disappeared. The Twins hit a robust .283 with runners in scoring position prior to the Midsummer Classic (4th in MLB) and have dropped to .218 (26th) since. The ability to accumulate hits at a clip higher than the norm is frankly unsustainable and one of the reasons the team outperformed expectations early on, but now the hits are not coming in any situations -- men on, men off, night, day, home or road. Nothing. Following a night in Toronto in which the soft-tossing Marco Estrada limited the lineup to just two hits resulting in a solitary run -- on a sacrifice fly, no less -- the Twins second-half batting average slipped to .213, the lowest in baseball. This series was supposed to matter. The Twins were desperately clinging to the last wild card and starting a four-game set against an opponent that was looking to steal that ticket from them. To show how serious they are about October baseball, the Blue Jays armed themselves to the gills, preparing for all- out war. So far, it appears that the Twins have brought a knife to a bazooka fight. A rubber knife. That a dog has chewed on. Now, in a whimper of a dog missing its rubber knife, the Twins find themselves on the outside looking in on the postseason. Without some efforts from the offense, there is little hope of getting that spot back. That sort of decline is expected out of a lineup that is loaded with young, unpolished hitters but the Twins’ most notable area of offensive weakness comes from the three professional, veteran hitters at the top of the order. In the beginning of the season the Twins’ top three hitters -- a combination of Brian Dozier, Torii Hunter and Joe Mauer -- scored an average of nearly two runs per game (1.6) thanks to a steady mixture of collecting hits, getting on-base and Dozier popping dingers. Now the Twins’ top of the order throng has been effectively shut down. Dozier can’t find any real estate when he puts the ball in play and far too often he isn’t even able to do that, striking out in over 30% of his plate appearances. Hunter has regressed significantly over the month of July, batting .193/.230/.351 over his last 61 plate appearances. Mauer, meanwhile, had put together a string of strong games heading into the break but seemingly lost his plate awareness, taking more defensive swings or watching strike three whistle past. What makes this development particularly damning is that it effectively renders Miguel Sano, the lineup’s most tactical weapon, useless. While onlookers celebrate Sano’s patience and zone recognition (a fantastic skill set to have, by the way) the bigger picture is missed. The purpose of the cleanup hitter is to drive in runs. Sano proved that he could do that in the minors and hit the ball really hard in his arrival to the majors. Once he showed he could do unforgivable things to fastballs, opposing teams quickly rationed those pitches. With no one regularly on base ahead of him nor anyone behind him in the order able to contribute, teams happily throw the big man sliders away and let him trot to first base instead of around all of them. The Twins had an opportunity to upgrade some of the underperforming positions in the lineup at the trade deadline but chose not to. Which is fine. The Twins want to dance with the date they brought to the party, for better or worse. If they expect to regain their playoff slot, they need big contributions from the top of the order.
  18. What does Ronda Rousey’s last opponent and the Minnesota Twins’ lineup have in common? Neither can hit. Well, that’s not entirely accurate however, as Bethe Correia hit the mat pretty hard. The Twins’ offense, on the other hand, look like they couldn’t even hit the mat at this point. Sure, pitchers like David Price can make even the best hitters feel like they are swinging a car antenna but, as shocking new research revealed, the Twins have not faced David Price in all 17 games since the All-Star break.Despite not having to face Price every night, the Twins still managed to have one of the least potent lineups post-break. Hits are frequently a precursor to runs. Runs, as the rules would have it, are needed to win baseball games. After scoring 4.3 runs per game in the first half of the year (ninth place), they have struggled mightily to push players across the plate as of late. Through 17 second-half games, the Twins have averaged almost one full run less (3.4 per game) in that time. One of the cornerstones to the team’s first-half success, timely hitting, has all but disappeared. The Twins hit a robust .283 with runners in scoring position prior to the Midsummer Classic (4th in MLB) and have dropped to .218 (26th) since. The ability to accumulate hits at a clip higher than the norm is frankly unsustainable and one of the reasons the team outperformed expectations early on, but now the hits are not coming in any situations -- men on, men off, night, day, home or road. Nothing. Following a night in Toronto in which the soft-tossing Marco Estrada limited the lineup to just two hits resulting in a solitary run -- on a sacrifice fly, no less -- the Twins second-half batting average slipped to .213, the lowest in baseball. This series was supposed to matter. The Twins were desperately clinging to the last wild card and starting a four-game set against an opponent that was looking to steal that ticket from them. To show how serious they are about October baseball, the Blue Jays armed themselves to the gills, preparing for all- out war. So far, it appears that the Twins have brought a knife to a bazooka fight. A rubber knife. That a dog has chewed on. Now, in a whimper of a dog missing its rubber knife, the Twins find themselves on the outside looking in on the postseason. Without some efforts from the offense, there is little hope of getting that spot back. That sort of decline is expected out of a lineup that is loaded with young, unpolished hitters but the Twins’ most notable area of offensive weakness comes from the three professional, veteran hitters at the top of the order. In the beginning of the season the Twins’ top three hitters -- a combination of Brian Dozier, Torii Hunter and Joe Mauer -- scored an average of nearly two runs per game (1.6) thanks to a steady mixture of collecting hits, getting on-base and Dozier popping dingers. Now the Twins’ top of the order throng has been effectively shut down. Dozier can’t find any real estate when he puts the ball in play and far too often he isn’t even able to do that, striking out in over 30% of his plate appearances. Hunter has regressed significantly over the month of July, batting .193/.230/.351 over his last 61 plate appearances. Mauer, meanwhile, had put together a string of strong games heading into the break but seemingly lost his plate awareness, taking more defensive swings or watching strike three whistle past. What makes this development particularly damning is that it effectively renders Miguel Sano, the lineup’s most tactical weapon, useless. While onlookers celebrate Sano’s patience and zone recognition (a fantastic skill set to have, by the way) the bigger picture is missed. The purpose of the cleanup hitter is to drive in runs. Sano proved that he could do that in the minors and hit the ball really hard in his arrival to the majors. Once he showed he could do unforgivable things to fastballs, opposing teams quickly rationed those pitches. With no one regularly on base ahead of him nor anyone behind him in the order able to contribute, teams happily throw the big man sliders away and let him trot to first base instead of around all of them. The Twins had an opportunity to upgrade some of the underperforming positions in the lineup at the trade deadline but chose not to. Which is fine. The Twins want to dance with the date they brought to the party, for better or worse. If they expect to regain their playoff slot, they need big contributions from the top of the order. Click here to view the article
  19. Anyone interested in what the Jays are doing? They're acquired Troy Tulowitzski, David Price, Mark Lowe, and now even Ben Revere! They must be running out of prospects to deal. I suppose they're trying to catch the Yankees, but they're also chasing the Twins. Honestly... the four game series (Monday to Thursday) against the Jays is going to be very pivotal for both teams. Who will come out on top? In my opinion... making this many trades isn't a good idea. They're going to be stuck in the cellar after 2016 without any prospects left. (though, hey, I know nothing about the Jays' farm system. I'll stop talking.)
  20. The Tigers' road to their fifth straight divisional Central Division championship has been bumpy. After averaging 92 wins per year for the last four years, the Tigers have been struggling to clear .500. Their offense has been their savior; ranking third in the American League in runs scored. However, a lot of that was fueled by Miguel Cabrera and his 1.034 OPS, and he’s not going to be around for this series – or for this month. Cabrera has a Grade 3 calf strain and is expected to be sidelined for six weeks, meaning the Tigers won’t have him back until mid-August, two weeks after the trade deadline. However, his absence hasn’t significantly slowed down the potent Tigers lineup. In the five games he’s been out, they’ve still averaged more than seven runs per game. Manager Brad Ausmus can still write high-powered names in the lineup, like J.D. Martinez (24 HR), Yoenis Cespedes (800+ OPS) and Viktor Martinez, who has a 1.111 OPS since Cabrera was put on the disabled list. The Tigers enter today’s game 2.5 games behind the Twins, meaning a series win would put them right back in the mix for the Wild Card race. On the other hand, a series loss would put them back down to .500 and 4.5 games back. If they fall much further, the Tigers are going to need to make a tough decision. That’s because a few of their best players - starting pitcher David Price, closer Joakim Soria, and Cespedes - will become free agents at the end of the year. As General Manager Dave Dombrowski found out this summer with Max Scherzer, losing players like that for nothing can really hurt the future of a team. He’ll need to at least entertain the idea of swapping those players for players that can help them in 2016, when perhaps pitcher Justin Verlander (6.75 ERA) returns to form and Cabrera is again healthy. For those reasons, it’s hard to know for which team this is a bigger series. But make no mistake – it’s big. Let’s look at the pitching matchups. Thursday – 7:10 – David Price (8-2, 2.54) vs Mike Pelfrey (5-5, 3.94) Mike Pelfrey might be looking forward to a restful All-Star break more than most; he’s had three bad starts of his last five. Price, meanwhile, has a 1.90 ERA since June 1. The Tigers have a great opportunity to reassert their season-long dominance in the first game of this series. Friday – 7:10 – Justin Verlander (0-2, 6.75) vs Ervin Santana (0-0, 2.25) Both teams’ destinies are tied closely to these two starters who have been out most of the season. Verlander missed time with a triceps strain and had been inconsistent in his four starts since. Santana faced an 80-game suspension for PED use but was dominant in his first start last Sunday. Saturday – 3:05 – TBA, but probably Alfredo Simon (8-5, 4.18) vs. Phil Hughes (7-6, 4.19) Those stats couldn’t be much closer for these two, but the expectations couldn’t be much further apart. Hughes is supposed to be the Twins workhorse, and has been with 111.2 IP, but a slow start and WAY too many home runs have hurt his overall numbers. Simon has been hanging on to the Tigers’ back of the rotation for well over a year. Sunday – 1:10 – TBA, but probably Shane Greene (4-6, 5.82 ERA) vs. Kyle Gibson (7-6, 3.04) Greene is in the minors, but looks to be the likely callup. He was in Detroit’s rotation until he was demoted to Toledo in the beginning of June. Gibson has looked increasingly dominant each month of the season; his K/9 rate by month: April – 2.4, May – 5.4, June – 8.2, July – 9.0.
  21. This looks like the most compelling home series the Twins have played in five years. Is it the worst possible time to play the Tigers, or the best? On the one hand, the Tigers offense is clicking, they’ve won four of their last five series, and they’re 7-2 already this season versus Twins, the team they need to catch if they want to return to the postseason. On the other hand, the Tigers are barely above .500, they just lost their star player, their pitching has been abysmal, and a losing series (or, god forbid, a sweep) could make them re-evaluate their status at the trade deadline.The Tigers' road to their fifth straight divisional Central Division championship has been bumpy. After averaging 92 wins per year for the last four years, the Tigers have been struggling to clear .500. Their offense has been their savior; ranking third in the American League in runs scored. However, a lot of that was fueled by Miguel Cabrera and his 1.034 OPS, and he’s not going to be around for this series – or for this month. Cabrera has a Grade 3 calf strain and is expected to be sidelined for six weeks, meaning the Tigers won’t have him back until mid-August, two weeks after the trade deadline. However, his absence hasn’t significantly slowed down the potent Tigers lineup. In the five games he’s been out, they’ve still averaged more than seven runs per game. Manager Brad Ausmus can still write high-powered names in the lineup, like J.D. Martinez (24 HR), Yoenis Cespedes (800+ OPS) and Viktor Martinez, who has a 1.111 OPS since Cabrera was put on the disabled list. The Tigers enter today’s game 2.5 games behind the Twins, meaning a series win would put them right back in the mix for the Wild Card race. On the other hand, a series loss would put them back down to .500 and 4.5 games back. If they fall much further, the Tigers are going to need to make a tough decision. That’s because a few of their best players - starting pitcher David Price, closer Joakim Soria, and Cespedes - will become free agents at the end of the year. As General Manager Dave Dombrowski found out this summer with Max Scherzer, losing players like that for nothing can really hurt the future of a team. He’ll need to at least entertain the idea of swapping those players for players that can help them in 2016, when perhaps pitcher Justin Verlander (6.75 ERA) returns to form and Cabrera is again healthy. For those reasons, it’s hard to know for which team this is a bigger series. But make no mistake – it’s big. Let’s look at the pitching matchups. Thursday – 7:10 – David Price (8-2, 2.54) vs Mike Pelfrey (5-5, 3.94) Mike Pelfrey might be looking forward to a restful All-Star break more than most; he’s had three bad starts of his last five. Price, meanwhile, has a 1.90 ERA since June 1. The Tigers have a great opportunity to reassert their season-long dominance in the first game of this series. Friday – 7:10 – Justin Verlander (0-2, 6.75) vs Ervin Santana (0-0, 2.25) Both teams’ destinies are tied closely to these two starters who have been out most of the season. Verlander missed time with a triceps strain and had been inconsistent in his four starts since. Santana faced an 80-game suspension for PED use but was dominant in his first start last Sunday. Saturday – 3:05 – TBA, but probably Alfredo Simon (8-5, 4.18) vs. Phil Hughes (7-6, 4.19) Those stats couldn’t be much closer for these two, but the expectations couldn’t be much further apart. Hughes is supposed to be the Twins workhorse, and has been with 111.2 IP, but a slow start and WAY too many home runs have hurt his overall numbers. Simon has been hanging on to the Tigers’ back of the rotation for well over a year. Sunday – 1:10 – TBA, but probably Shane Greene (4-6, 5.82 ERA) vs. Kyle Gibson (7-6, 3.04) Greene is in the minors, but looks to be the likely callup. He was in Detroit’s rotation until he was demoted to Toledo in the beginning of June. Gibson has looked increasingly dominant each month of the season; his K/9 rate by month: April – 2.4, May – 5.4, June – 8.2, July – 9.0. Click here to view the article
  22. Year In Review Year after year, as free agent after free agent left the Rays, we would see stories about how the Rays successful run was over and a betting line that matched it. And year after year, that meant easy money for anyone betting the "over." Finally, last year, that was not such an easy call when a value of 88.5 was established, a higher number than even the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox had to beat. Sure enough, it all went to hell. Their pitching mostly held up, finishing with a 3.56 ERA. But the Rays finally ran out of patches for their lineup, scoring 88 runs fewer than the year before and sinking to last in the American League in runs scored. By midseason, they had traded away their ace, David Price. They finished with just 77 wins, their lowest total since 2007, when Rays were still preceded by "Devil." And then things got worse. The changes this offseason were probably more symbolic than impactful; they may not cost the Rays many wins this year, but the message is clear: their window of opportunity slammed shut. Both their GM, Andrew Friedman, and their manager, Joe Maddon, bailed on them for more promising (and - surprise - cash-rich) teams. (The lesson? It turns out that in the long run in MLB being richer is better than being smarter. And if you doubt it, just watch where the smart guys end up going.) There are also plenty of changes on the field. They turned over their starting shortstop, second baseman, catcher and two outfielders and replaced them with...well, mostly with patches and prospects for the next rebuild, which they hope to start sooner rather than later. Vegas Says "I won't make that mistake again. They're done. But they still have a pretty good pitching staff." - 78.5 wins. Beating Vegas On the one hand, this franchise has been underestimated for most of the last eight years by the betting public, so I can't blame anyone for betting the over. But two things lead me to the "under", one spiritual and one practical. Spiritually, it's hard to rally when hope has left the building. Sure, an organization can embrace a "last stand" mentality, but that usually requires a cause a little more noble than a third-place finish. If the Rays don't thrive immediately, there is going to be enormous pressure to continue to look at the future. The team already consists of more than their share of "stop gap" players, and that's the sort that are easily traded away for some future chits. And sooner or later, they're going to get around to wondering just what kind of return Evan Longoria and his technicolor contract can fetch. And practically, this looks like the worst team in the AL East. Personally, I don't think they're going to be all alone in that regard; one of the other four will likely unexpectedly flame out. But the worst team in a division can have quite a bit of room to sink below their Vegas total. So I'm not sure I would bet on it, but put me down for the "under".
  23. They've been the sabrmetric darling for years, and Vegas finally bought in last year - just in time for things to fall apart. Vegas noticed and further noticed the offseason in which the Rays looked like they were embracing a rebuilding philosophy. So how about this year?Year In Review Year after year, as free agent after free agent left the Rays, we would see stories about how the Rays successful run was over and a betting line that matched it. And year after year, that meant easy money for anyone betting the "over." Finally, last year, that was not such an easy call when a value of 88.5 was established, a higher number than even the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox had to beat. Sure enough, it all went to hell. Their pitching mostly held up, finishing with a 3.56 ERA. But the Rays finally ran out of patches for their lineup, scoring 88 runs fewer than the year before and sinking to last in the American League in runs scored. By midseason, they had traded away their ace, David Price. They finished with just 77 wins, their lowest total since 2007, when Rays were still preceded by "Devil." And then things got worse. The changes this offseason were probably more symbolic than impactful; they may not cost the Rays many wins this year, but the message is clear: their window of opportunity slammed shut. Both their GM, Andrew Friedman, and their manager, Joe Maddon, bailed on them for more promising (and - surprise - cash-rich) teams. (The lesson? It turns out that in the long run in MLB being richer is better than being smarter. And if you doubt it, just watch where the smart guys end up going.) There are also plenty of changes on the field. They turned over their starting shortstop, second baseman, catcher and two outfielders and replaced them with...well, mostly with patches and prospects for the next rebuild, which they hope to start sooner rather than later. Vegas Says "I won't make that mistake again. They're done. But they still have a pretty good pitching staff." - 78.5 wins. Beating Vegas On the one hand, this franchise has been underestimated for most of the last eight years by the betting public, so I can't blame anyone for betting the over. But two things lead me to the "under", one spiritual and one practical. Spiritually, it's hard to rally when hope has left the building. Sure, an organization can embrace a "last stand" mentality, but that usually requires a cause a little more noble than a third-place finish. If the Rays don't thrive immediately, there is going to be enormous pressure to continue to look at the future. The team already consists of more than their share of "stop gap" players, and that's the sort that are easily traded away for some future chits. And sooner or later, they're going to get around to wondering just what kind of return Evan Longoria and his technicolor contract can fetch. And practically, this looks like the worst team in the AL East. Personally, I don't think they're going to be all alone in that regard; one of the other four will likely unexpectedly flame out. But the worst team in a division can have quite a bit of room to sink below their Vegas total. So I'm not sure I would bet on it, but put me down for the "under". Click here to view the article
  24. Terry Ryan and the Minnesota Twins extended Phil Hughes through 2019, effectively making his contract a five-year, $58 million deal. He will earn $9.2 million in 2015 and 2016 before earning $13.2MM annually from 2017 to 2019. Considering his 2014 numbers, the $11.6 million per year average salary is more than reasonable. This blog was originally published at Go Gonzo Journal. If you consider the Twins’ recent signing of Ervin Santana, the extension looks even better. Ryan cut a check to Santana for four years and $55 million – a reasonable price to pay for a proven middle-of-the-rotation starter. But that’s roughly $2 million more per year for a guy whose numbers weren't in Hughes’ ballpark. Santana’s FIP (3.39), xFIP (3.47), and SIERA (3.63) indicate he was better than his ERA (3.95), but not nearly as good as Hughes. Hughes had the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in baseball history last season at 11.63, allowing less than a walk per game. He gave up as many homers (16) as walks in 2014. His 3.52 ERA was inflated due to terrible outfield defense and below-average infield defense. In fact, Hughes’ sabermetric numbers make him look like a god. FIP (2.65), xFIP (3.18) and SIERA (3.17) all show that Hughes was a lot better than his ERA. He finished seventh in the 2014 Cy Young voting, however, most wouldn't consider him an ace, despite finishing tied for fourth among all pitchers with 6.1 Wins Above Replacement last season. The two guys he tied, David Price and Jon Lester, will both make more than Hughes next season. Price made $14 million in arbitration last year, and Lester signed a monstrous six-year deal worth nearly $26 million per year on average. The extension includes a limited no-trade clause allowing Hughes to block trades to three teams each year, so if Hughes can repeat his ace-like 2014 season, Terry Ryan will have an excellent trade chip with a team-friendly contract. If Hughes gets hurt or takes a step back, the deal doesn't look as good, but given his strategy of limiting free passes and forcing harmless fly balls in big Target Field, I don't think it’s likely he regresses. He’s a new man in Minnesota. I mostly like the deal except I would have waited until after the 2015 season to do it. Hughes was set to make just $8 million next year, but the difference between $8 million and $9.2 million or even $11.6 million is negligible. Also, Hughes could have performed even better in 2015 and priced himself out of Minnesota, so Terry Ryan hit it out of the park with this deal. Hughes and Santana look to be the veterans that will lead this young Twins squad into the future, and if they're still around when Byron Buxton roams center field, their numbers will look even better. Let’s just hope Ryan doesn't fail to trade Hughes or Santana when they're most valuable.
  25. Throughout the past couple months David Price has had to deal with rumors of being traded. He already told the media about a month go that he didn't like hearing the rumors. He just wanted the Tampa Bay Rays to make up their mind. It's unclear if Price will be dealt because the Rays have less than a week to trade him. David Price is an ace and could be in the talks for Cy Young this year with a 3.08 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 183 strikeouts, and 11 wins over 163 innings. It's hard to get rid of a pitcher like that because the Rays need something big in return. The another problem with this trade is that the Rays are starting to get on a hot streak. The Tampa Bay Rays have been playing some great baseball this month and are now 7.5 games back in the AL East and 4 games back in the AL Wild Card. When the rumors started circulating about Price being traded, the Rays were done and looking towards next year. Now they might want to keep Price around throughout the rest of the season because there's a good possibility that the Rays might make the postseason and go far. I'm glad there's only less than a week left until the Trade Deadline because then the rumors stop until this offseason. Hopefully the Rays keep David Price as their ace and continue strong until the end of the season. But if the Rays trade him this week, I hope they trade him to a contending team because I would love to see Price with a ring at the end of this season.
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