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Twitter

  1. Minnesota Twins owner Jim Pohlad might be the easiest grader in the world. He told the Pioneer Press' Charley Walters that he'd give Twins leadership -- Derek Falvey, Thad Levine and Rocco Baldelli -- an A+. View full video
  2. Minnesota Twins owner Jim Pohlad might be the easiest grader in the world. He told the Pioneer Press' Charley Walters that he'd give Twins leadership -- Derek Falvey, Thad Levine and Rocco Baldelli -- an A+.
  3. There’s no denying that 2021 has been a year of failed expectations for the Twins. Between ineffective performance and injuries, the team has fallen flat consistently. Looking at 2022, they have some big questions to answer. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will ultimately steer the direction of the 2022 club this offseason. It’s a very stripped-down roster compared to how this season started in terms of expectations, and how the front office decides to rebuild or retool is yet to be determined. However, there are still pieces in place, and answering questions about three key subjects could determine Minnesota’s outlook in the year ahead. Max Kepler Signed to an extension at the same time as Jorge Polanco, Kepler was given the larger contract. He responded by posting a career-best .855 OPS and was a key contributor on the Bomba Squad. In 155 games since he’s posted just a .737 OPS and 103 OPS+. To say he’s failed expectations would be putting it lightly. Still just 28 years old, Kepler does hope for a prime resurgence to be in front of him. Minnesota dreamed of a player ready to take a step forward, and they saw it for just a single season. Much of how the Twins were expected to compete in 2021 and beyond was reliant on the core of Kepler, Polanco, Miguel Sano, and Byron Buxton. Those players reaching the peaks of their potential at the same time was always the developmental hope. As pointed out by Twins Daily contributors Nash Walker and Tom Froemming, there’s a lot under the hood to like about Kepler. He’s a strong defender, and the inputs still suggest that production has room for positive regression. It’s getting late early, though, and the reality is results must follow. The Twins outfield could be crowded next season, with Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach joining Buxton and Kepler on more of a full-time basis. This winter, the front office may be tempted by dealing the German-born corner. What is the next step for Kepler, and does it happen with the Twins? Miguel Sano On the books for $9.25 million in 2022, Miguel Sano would seem to be in the Twins plans for the upcoming year fiscally. While there were times he looked essentially unplayable at the beginning of 2021, the reality is that he’s a hulking power hitter that’s always been susceptible to cold streaks. The timing wasn’t there out of the gate, but not playing him has often been fruitless. Since July 4, Sano has posted an .865 OPS, which has jumped up to an .895 OPS in September. He’s an asset at the dish while being a patient and potent slugger. The ability at first base leaves plenty to be desired, but there’s an argument to be made that keeps his head in the game rather than just having him hit. Presumably, the Twins won’t have a consistent designated hitter in 2022, which would seem optimal when it comes to roster construction. With Kirilloff worth taking time at first base and Josh Donaldson benefitting from days off in the field, rotating through bats makes sense. Where Miguel Sano fits into the Twins plans next season remains to be seen. Is he cast entirely as their designated hitter, how much time does he split with Kirilloff at first, and is the club more adequately prepared to ride with him through the low points? Starting Rotation Surprisingly the Twins bullpen has taken a positive turn down the stretch, and a unit that was a complete zero to start the year has produced in the latter half of the season. There are usable pieces there looking ahead to 2022, and even Alex Colome could wind up finding his option selected by Minnesota. When it comes to the rotation, the front office has its hands full. Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan look like future pieces, but counting on either of them to be the Opening Day starter seems like an acceptance of futility. Depth and quality would suggest a need for a higher ceiling option to be brought in, and where or how high Falvey aims should say plenty about the intentions for competitiveness. As was the case coming into 2021, Minnesota has plenty of top prospects on the pitching side. Many were shelved at different points throughout this season after having a year off in 2020, and relying on them as more than a bonus seems foolhardy. However, building a group punctuated with retread veterans shouldn’t be expected to move the needle much either. Derek Falvey’s calling card in coming to the Twins was pitching prowess, and while he’s helped develop some throughout the system, an overhaul like this will take some serious architecting. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  4. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will ultimately steer the direction of the 2022 club this offseason. It’s a very stripped-down roster compared to how this season started in terms of expectations, and how the front office decides to rebuild or retool is yet to be determined. However, there are still pieces in place, and answering questions about three key subjects could determine Minnesota’s outlook in the year ahead. Max Kepler Signed to an extension at the same time as Jorge Polanco, Kepler was given the larger contract. He responded by posting a career-best .855 OPS and was a key contributor on the Bomba Squad. In 155 games since he’s posted just a .737 OPS and 103 OPS+. To say he’s failed expectations would be putting it lightly. Still just 28 years old, Kepler does hope for a prime resurgence to be in front of him. Minnesota dreamed of a player ready to take a step forward, and they saw it for just a single season. Much of how the Twins were expected to compete in 2021 and beyond was reliant on the core of Kepler, Polanco, Miguel Sano, and Byron Buxton. Those players reaching the peaks of their potential at the same time was always the developmental hope. As pointed out by Twins Daily contributors Nash Walker and Tom Froemming, there’s a lot under the hood to like about Kepler. He’s a strong defender, and the inputs still suggest that production has room for positive regression. It’s getting late early, though, and the reality is results must follow. The Twins outfield could be crowded next season, with Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach joining Buxton and Kepler on more of a full-time basis. This winter, the front office may be tempted by dealing the German-born corner. What is the next step for Kepler, and does it happen with the Twins? Miguel Sano On the books for $9.25 million in 2022, Miguel Sano would seem to be in the Twins plans for the upcoming year fiscally. While there were times he looked essentially unplayable at the beginning of 2021, the reality is that he’s a hulking power hitter that’s always been susceptible to cold streaks. The timing wasn’t there out of the gate, but not playing him has often been fruitless. Since July 4, Sano has posted an .865 OPS, which has jumped up to an .895 OPS in September. He’s an asset at the dish while being a patient and potent slugger. The ability at first base leaves plenty to be desired, but there’s an argument to be made that keeps his head in the game rather than just having him hit. Presumably, the Twins won’t have a consistent designated hitter in 2022, which would seem optimal when it comes to roster construction. With Kirilloff worth taking time at first base and Josh Donaldson benefitting from days off in the field, rotating through bats makes sense. Where Miguel Sano fits into the Twins plans next season remains to be seen. Is he cast entirely as their designated hitter, how much time does he split with Kirilloff at first, and is the club more adequately prepared to ride with him through the low points? Starting Rotation Surprisingly the Twins bullpen has taken a positive turn down the stretch, and a unit that was a complete zero to start the year has produced in the latter half of the season. There are usable pieces there looking ahead to 2022, and even Alex Colome could wind up finding his option selected by Minnesota. When it comes to the rotation, the front office has its hands full. Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan look like future pieces, but counting on either of them to be the Opening Day starter seems like an acceptance of futility. Depth and quality would suggest a need for a higher ceiling option to be brought in, and where or how high Falvey aims should say plenty about the intentions for competitiveness. As was the case coming into 2021, Minnesota has plenty of top prospects on the pitching side. Many were shelved at different points throughout this season after having a year off in 2020, and relying on them as more than a bonus seems foolhardy. However, building a group punctuated with retread veterans shouldn’t be expected to move the needle much either. Derek Falvey’s calling card in coming to the Twins was pitching prowess, and while he’s helped develop some throughout the system, an overhaul like this will take some serious architecting. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. It’s easy to sit back and blame the front office or manager for the mess that has been the Minnesota Twins 2021 season. To do so rings hollow without context, and the time to learn has begun for future success. Former Twins World Series MVP brought up the idea that the organization has failed and changed direction due to the results of 2021. He’s not alone in suggesting that narrative, but to say such a result reflects organizational failure also conveniently ignores what took place the previous four years of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine’s tenure. There’s no denying that 2021 has gone poorly. Most importantly, the Twins pitching has fallen flat. The front office banked on J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker, and some mediocre bullpen additions to supplement a roster looking to rise. As injuries took their toll and ineffective play became prevalent, the entirety of the ship went up in flames. Looking back, though, this front office helped to architect a 26-win improvement and Postseason berth in their first season, as well as having won the division in back-to-back seasons before this year. 2019 will forever go down as among the best in franchise history, and the installment of Rocco Baldelli in 2019 has led to a .550 winning percentage through his first three seasons. Now that praises have been sung, and reality has been levied, it’s time for the trio to grow. For the first time in their tenure, Falvey and Levine fell short. They flopped on Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison previously, but this is a club that had heightened expectations, and virtually every acquisition or move of substance from this offseason went up in flames. Without embarking on a complete rebuild, they’ve traded the club’s ace and now could be without Kenta Maeda in the year ahead as well. The Twins don’t have the best farm system in baseball, and although they’ve been ranked closer to the middle, intriguing depth is there. Unfortunately, there’s been a host of arm injuries across baseball following the 2020 shutdown in the minors, and Minnesota’s best prospects have been hit especially hard. Falvey and Levine will need to work with internal staff to ensure those players' health and future projection while not relying solely on them for a return to relevance in 2022 and beyond. The duo will need to make a better showing than their track record has proven on the acquisition front. Unfortunately, free agency is often a field of landmines, but some teams avoid hitting them all, and Falvey will need to stop the string of consistent blowups. Spending should remain relatively intact, but supplementing the Twins back to the top won’t come entirely through the dollar on the open market. There should be belief in the infrastructure set up since Falvey and Levine have taken over. From baseball operations to the development and coaching staff, there are plenty of talented individuals guiding players down the right path. Putting moldable pieces in front of them should continue to be the goal, and the assumption is that the process will bear positive results. In the dugout, Rocco has his first chance to grow as well. Having dealt with adversity that everyone experienced in 2020 is different than fighting through a season in which results consistently left something to be desired. Baldelli has done well to connect with his players, and he’s been praised for decisions when things have gone right. Unfortunately, all of the coin flips went wrong to start the year, and he’s doubled down with some questionable steps at times since. For the former Rays star, the expectation should be that new faces (and possibly some younger ones) will filter into Target Field during the final month and into 2022. Baldelli will have to put his best foot forward when maximizing their potential while putting them in a position to best capitalize on the opportunity. Right now, the answers aren’t immediately evident, and this writer doesn’t pretend to have them all. That said, it will be on Derek Falvey, Thad Levine, and Rocco Baldelli to show they have the chops to find them. Everyone feels content when things are going well, but through adversity, you’re able to grow and presented with it for the first time that trio has their most significant opportunity yet. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  6. Former Twins World Series MVP brought up the idea that the organization has failed and changed direction due to the results of 2021. He’s not alone in suggesting that narrative, but to say such a result reflects organizational failure also conveniently ignores what took place the previous four years of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine’s tenure. There’s no denying that 2021 has gone poorly. Most importantly, the Twins pitching has fallen flat. The front office banked on J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker, and some mediocre bullpen additions to supplement a roster looking to rise. As injuries took their toll and ineffective play became prevalent, the entirety of the ship went up in flames. Looking back, though, this front office helped to architect a 26-win improvement and Postseason berth in their first season, as well as having won the division in back-to-back seasons before this year. 2019 will forever go down as among the best in franchise history, and the installment of Rocco Baldelli in 2019 has led to a .550 winning percentage through his first three seasons. Now that praises have been sung, and reality has been levied, it’s time for the trio to grow. For the first time in their tenure, Falvey and Levine fell short. They flopped on Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison previously, but this is a club that had heightened expectations, and virtually every acquisition or move of substance from this offseason went up in flames. Without embarking on a complete rebuild, they’ve traded the club’s ace and now could be without Kenta Maeda in the year ahead as well. The Twins don’t have the best farm system in baseball, and although they’ve been ranked closer to the middle, intriguing depth is there. Unfortunately, there’s been a host of arm injuries across baseball following the 2020 shutdown in the minors, and Minnesota’s best prospects have been hit especially hard. Falvey and Levine will need to work with internal staff to ensure those players' health and future projection while not relying solely on them for a return to relevance in 2022 and beyond. The duo will need to make a better showing than their track record has proven on the acquisition front. Unfortunately, free agency is often a field of landmines, but some teams avoid hitting them all, and Falvey will need to stop the string of consistent blowups. Spending should remain relatively intact, but supplementing the Twins back to the top won’t come entirely through the dollar on the open market. There should be belief in the infrastructure set up since Falvey and Levine have taken over. From baseball operations to the development and coaching staff, there are plenty of talented individuals guiding players down the right path. Putting moldable pieces in front of them should continue to be the goal, and the assumption is that the process will bear positive results. In the dugout, Rocco has his first chance to grow as well. Having dealt with adversity that everyone experienced in 2020 is different than fighting through a season in which results consistently left something to be desired. Baldelli has done well to connect with his players, and he’s been praised for decisions when things have gone right. Unfortunately, all of the coin flips went wrong to start the year, and he’s doubled down with some questionable steps at times since. For the former Rays star, the expectation should be that new faces (and possibly some younger ones) will filter into Target Field during the final month and into 2022. Baldelli will have to put his best foot forward when maximizing their potential while putting them in a position to best capitalize on the opportunity. Right now, the answers aren’t immediately evident, and this writer doesn’t pretend to have them all. That said, it will be on Derek Falvey, Thad Levine, and Rocco Baldelli to show they have the chops to find them. Everyone feels content when things are going well, but through adversity, you’re able to grow and presented with it for the first time that trio has their most significant opportunity yet. 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. Byron Buxton is quite arguably the most talented player in Minnesota Twins history. His athleticism is unmatched, and his production is unparalleled. Then there’s the caveat, when healthy. With the hometown nine looking at the doldrums of the division, and the 2021 Major League Baseball trade deadline looming, plenty of storms are brewing on the roster construction front. One of the most reported is that of Minnesota’s failed attempts at a contract extension with their star centerfielder. Currently shelved after being hit by a pitch, Buxton had rebuffed the latest seven-year, $80 million pact that would add addition earning opportunity through incentives. That deal was just a $7 million increase over the previous offer, and still nearly $20 million shy of where this front office paid another oft-injured 3rd basemen (who is five years older) just two seasons ago. The refrain regarding Buxton’s availability is a common one, he has been shelved often throughout his career. The reality though, is that it is through the injury history where the Twins find themselves offered grace. Because he’s been unavailable, Buxton’s $200 million or more payday is not going to happen. He would command plenty on the open market with more competition bidding on his services, but it’s the Twins who have the table and the realistic opportunity because of how his career has played out. Coming into 2021 the team was expected to be good. Unfortunately, the front office has watched each of its offseason acquisitions tie together career-worst seasons, as well as regression from plenty of holdover talents. Unless there’s an admittance of poor talent assessment virtually across the whole roster, then there should be reason to look at this season as an outlier. 2022 represents an opportunity to reload. If the core of this club was seen as competitive before, and that’s been proven through their track record of winning, an alteration of that belief shouldn’t be so swift. To suggest there’s an attempt at competing in the year ahead while dealing the team’s best player would be hollow at best. Certainly, both Jose Berrios and Buxton should command a haul when it comes to prospect capital in exchange for their services. The volatility of those players will always be high however, and you’d need at least two reaching something like the 95th percentile of their hopefully outcomes to feel good about what you gave up. Berrios would love a gaping hole in an already poor rotation, and Buxton’s presence would be missed on a nightly basis. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have put in an infrastructure of sustainability and competitiveness. They should be commended for that. Bailing on that process at the Major League level rather than supplementing what they have fostered would be a hard pill to swallow, and one worthy of substantial criticism. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  8. No, the problem is not that the Twins don’t spend money, but rather that they don’t know HOW to spend money. Said another way, they don’t correctly know how to spend money. As we embark upon a quasi-deadline for homegrown talents like Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios, it seems the front office is faced with a decision to extend or deal both talents. Buxton would be looking at a payday north of $200 million as a free agent coming off a season of health. Jose Berrios wants to max out his value, and it seems he’s all but gone in this club’s mind. Those are problems, but only because they compound an already developing issue. Way back when the Twins paid Joe Mauer. He was worth every penny and was underpaid throughout his career. Nothing about his contract hamstrung a mid-market team without a salary cap. What prevented the hometown nine from winning was the lack of supplementation on the roster, both in youth and acquired talent. Fast forward to where we are now, and once again, the Twins are showing a lack of ability to spend wisely. This club paid Josh Donaldson nearly $100 million following one season with Atlanta. The Bringer of Rain posted a .259/.379/.521 slash line in 2019 while playing in 155 games. His first year in Minnesota was challenging in that the pandemic cut short any real season, but nagging leg injuries kept him to just 28 games and out of the most important during October. Look at what Donaldson has done for Minnesota, however, and it’s nothing short of what this club should’ve hoped. After his 124 OPS+ in Atlanta, Donaldson has posted a .244/.358/.485 slash and 135 OPS+ with the Twins. The slugging has slid a bit, but the ball has changed, and arguably the only knock has been losing a step defensively. After an injury-plagued season a year ago, he’s been one of the most consistently available Twins in 2021. So, here we are with a big contract given out to a free agent that’s performing, and Minnesota is looking at a teardown. Donaldson could be had for salary relief, Berrios could command prospects, and Buxton may be the most exciting asset the sport has seen in a long time. Once again, though, this club looks to have failed to spend. Over the winter, the thought process should’ve been acquiring talent to supplement this group. Alex Colome and Hansel Robles had appeal on paper, but neither is the impact arm the provides insurance for the group headlined by Taylor Rogers and Tyler Duffey. J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker were veteran starters with relatively decent floors, but neither would push Berrios or Kenta Maeda for the top of the rotation duty. When acquiring talent to raise the water level, this organization changed out oars and continued to tread water. Donaldson was a significant expense, and nothing was done to truly supplement him. Here we are now facing an awful result, and the outcome could be moving assets for hope in the future. Target Field was opened under the assumption that Minnesota would be able to retain its homegrown talent. Watching Buxton and Berrios be moved isn’t a reality that is supposed to take place. Suppressed payrolls for much of the past decade should pave the way for an influx of dollars to be utilized around a core that’s shown it can compete. Right now, it feels like that couldn’t be further from the truth. I don’t believe that Minnesota’s strategy should be to play in the pool near a $200 million mark. Acquiring top-tier talent only to keep them on an island and then piecing things out for another cycle when things go wrong looks like a misappropriated allocation of funds. Development isn’t linear and should be the focus internally. Still, it’s time this organization made financial commitments to those they’ve seen bear fruit and then continue to support the roster as a whole with acquired talent that makes more sense than just cents on the dollar. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  9. For years, fans have complained about the payroll of the Minnesota Twins. You simply cannot spend your way to a World Series; ask the New York Yankees. That said, this organization may very well still have an allocation problem. No, the problem is not that the Twins don’t spend money, but rather that they don’t know HOW to spend money. Said another way, they don’t correctly know how to spend money. As we embark upon a quasi-deadline for homegrown talents like Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios, it seems the front office is faced with a decision to extend or deal both talents. Buxton would be looking at a payday north of $200 million as a free agent coming off a season of health. Jose Berrios wants to max out his value, and it seems he’s all but gone in this club’s mind. Those are problems, but only because they compound an already developing issue. Way back when the Twins paid Joe Mauer. He was worth every penny and was underpaid throughout his career. Nothing about his contract hamstrung a mid-market team without a salary cap. What prevented the hometown nine from winning was the lack of supplementation on the roster, both in youth and acquired talent. Fast forward to where we are now, and once again, the Twins are showing a lack of ability to spend wisely. This club paid Josh Donaldson nearly $100 million following one season with Atlanta. The Bringer of Rain posted a .259/.379/.521 slash line in 2019 while playing in 155 games. His first year in Minnesota was challenging in that the pandemic cut short any real season, but nagging leg injuries kept him to just 28 games and out of the most important during October. Look at what Donaldson has done for Minnesota, however, and it’s nothing short of what this club should’ve hoped. After his 124 OPS+ in Atlanta, Donaldson has posted a .244/.358/.485 slash and 135 OPS+ with the Twins. The slugging has slid a bit, but the ball has changed, and arguably the only knock has been losing a step defensively. After an injury-plagued season a year ago, he’s been one of the most consistently available Twins in 2021. So, here we are with a big contract given out to a free agent that’s performing, and Minnesota is looking at a teardown. Donaldson could be had for salary relief, Berrios could command prospects, and Buxton may be the most exciting asset the sport has seen in a long time. Once again, though, this club looks to have failed to spend. Over the winter, the thought process should’ve been acquiring talent to supplement this group. Alex Colome and Hansel Robles had appeal on paper, but neither is the impact arm the provides insurance for the group headlined by Taylor Rogers and Tyler Duffey. J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker were veteran starters with relatively decent floors, but neither would push Berrios or Kenta Maeda for the top of the rotation duty. When acquiring talent to raise the water level, this organization changed out oars and continued to tread water. Donaldson was a significant expense, and nothing was done to truly supplement him. Here we are now facing an awful result, and the outcome could be moving assets for hope in the future. Target Field was opened under the assumption that Minnesota would be able to retain its homegrown talent. Watching Buxton and Berrios be moved isn’t a reality that is supposed to take place. Suppressed payrolls for much of the past decade should pave the way for an influx of dollars to be utilized around a core that’s shown it can compete. Right now, it feels like that couldn’t be further from the truth. I don’t believe that Minnesota’s strategy should be to play in the pool near a $200 million mark. Acquiring top-tier talent only to keep them on an island and then piecing things out for another cycle when things go wrong looks like a misappropriated allocation of funds. Development isn’t linear and should be the focus internally. Still, it’s time this organization made financial commitments to those they’ve seen bear fruit and then continue to support the roster as a whole with acquired talent that makes more sense than just cents on the dollar. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  10. Coming into 2021 this was supposed to be a good Major League roster. Rocco Baldelli was piloting a club coming off two-straight AL Central division titles, and there was no reason to believe they wouldn’t contend with the rival Chicago White Sox. Fast forward to where we are now, and the reality couldn’t be further from that promise. Minnesota has dealt with a plethora of injuries. Byron Buxton leads the team with 2.7 fWAR yet has played just 27 games. Kenta Maeda took massive steps backwards, Josh Donaldson has been good not great, and injuries have crushed the roster all over. Ineffectiveness first from the bullpen, and then sustained by the rotation, have worked wonders to sink an already bludgeoned ship. So, it’s not about if pieces move; that’s a certainty. Now, we’re going to find out if the front office sees a way forward, or if they’re admitting a massive miscalculation in what they have. As Nick Nelson pointed out yesterday, the Twins most desirable talents are a duo (trio?) of players they shouldn’t want to trade. Jose Berrios and Taylor Rogers (along with the unmentioned Buxton) are worthy of the biggest haul. For a team that should be in a position to retool and reset before 2022 kicks off, moving any of them would suggest a disbelief in that being a workable process. There’s no doubt that signing Jose Berrios and Byron Buxton to long term deals makes sense from a talent perspective. They aren’t players you can just replace, and without considering alternative ramifications, they are assets you should want on your roster until they leave on their own volition. It also stands to reason that dealing them prior to their final year of team control would increase the return. No matter what prospect capital is brought back, the impact won’t immediately be felt and may never come to fruition. Maybe Miguel Sano and Max Kepler aren’t the players Derek Falvey and Thad Levine envisioned them to be when offering contract extensions. That’s an unfortunate reality, more so with the tools Kepler should possess, but one that’s ultimately understandable. You’d be trading either at a low point in their value, but there’s a very clear backup plan in each scenario as well. Making deals that involve either of those two wouldn’t necessarily shift the future course for this club. On the flip side, having to replace the ace of a staff on a bad rotation, the lockdown arm in a bad bullpen, or arguably the most athletically-gifted player in the sport is going to be a catastrophic hurdle in the near future. If that’s what’s deemed necessary, then the ultimate direction envisioned by this front office has been incredibly poorly executed, and we’re starting over from the prospect level. Give it to Falvey and Levine; their infrastructure has seemed sound. There’s been decent development on the farm, and while injuries have hurt that progression plenty in 2021, it doesn’t take away from what appears to be coming. If a complete rebuild of the Major League roster needs to take place at this point though, it looks as if the last two division titles and supplementation of that core may have been more about timely circumstances than well designed execution. The duo doesn’t have a great free agency track record, and while they’ve made a few shrewd deals, largely they’ve failed to evaluate their own near-ready and currently available big league talent. When the calendar flips on July the Twins should have a vastly different looking roster. That’s expected. If even one of three key names move, well then, this front office has much less going for it than was originally thought. 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. We are just weeks from the 2021 Major League Baseball trade deadline, and there is no denying the Minnesota Twins are destined to be sellers. To what extent, though, will highlight just how bad the front office sees the fall. Coming into 2021 this was supposed to be a good Major League roster. Rocco Baldelli was piloting a club coming off two-straight AL Central division titles, and there was no reason to believe they wouldn’t contend with the rival Chicago White Sox. Fast forward to where we are now, and the reality couldn’t be further from that promise. Minnesota has dealt with a plethora of injuries. Byron Buxton leads the team with 2.7 fWAR yet has played just 27 games. Kenta Maeda took massive steps backwards, Josh Donaldson has been good not great, and injuries have crushed the roster all over. Ineffectiveness first from the bullpen, and then sustained by the rotation, have worked wonders to sink an already bludgeoned ship. So, it’s not about if pieces move; that’s a certainty. Now, we’re going to find out if the front office sees a way forward, or if they’re admitting a massive miscalculation in what they have. As Nick Nelson pointed out yesterday, the Twins most desirable talents are a duo (trio?) of players they shouldn’t want to trade. Jose Berrios and Taylor Rogers (along with the unmentioned Buxton) are worthy of the biggest haul. For a team that should be in a position to retool and reset before 2022 kicks off, moving any of them would suggest a disbelief in that being a workable process. There’s no doubt that signing Jose Berrios and Byron Buxton to long term deals makes sense from a talent perspective. They aren’t players you can just replace, and without considering alternative ramifications, they are assets you should want on your roster until they leave on their own volition. It also stands to reason that dealing them prior to their final year of team control would increase the return. No matter what prospect capital is brought back, the impact won’t immediately be felt and may never come to fruition. Maybe Miguel Sano and Max Kepler aren’t the players Derek Falvey and Thad Levine envisioned them to be when offering contract extensions. That’s an unfortunate reality, more so with the tools Kepler should possess, but one that’s ultimately understandable. You’d be trading either at a low point in their value, but there’s a very clear backup plan in each scenario as well. Making deals that involve either of those two wouldn’t necessarily shift the future course for this club. On the flip side, having to replace the ace of a staff on a bad rotation, the lockdown arm in a bad bullpen, or arguably the most athletically-gifted player in the sport is going to be a catastrophic hurdle in the near future. If that’s what’s deemed necessary, then the ultimate direction envisioned by this front office has been incredibly poorly executed, and we’re starting over from the prospect level. Give it to Falvey and Levine; their infrastructure has seemed sound. There’s been decent development on the farm, and while injuries have hurt that progression plenty in 2021, it doesn’t take away from what appears to be coming. If a complete rebuild of the Major League roster needs to take place at this point though, it looks as if the last two division titles and supplementation of that core may have been more about timely circumstances than well designed execution. The duo doesn’t have a great free agency track record, and while they’ve made a few shrewd deals, largely they’ve failed to evaluate their own near-ready and currently available big league talent. When the calendar flips on July the Twins should have a vastly different looking roster. That’s expected. If even one of three key names move, well then, this front office has much less going for it than was originally thought. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  12. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine had some tough decisions to make during their first year at the helm of the Minnesota Twins. Are there any lessons that can be learned from the 2017 trade deadline? Minnesota was one of the biggest surprises during the 2017 season after losing an MLB high 103-games the previous season. As the calendar turned to July, the Twins found themselves two games behind the Cleveland and the team stayed within striking distance for much of the month. However, as July ended and the trade deadline approached, the club lost seven of nine games and sat 6.5 games back in the division. The team went from buyers to sellers over a few days and that’s how the deadline played out. Falvey and Levine made it clear entering the deadline that the team wasn’t going to sway from their long-term vision. "In order to accomplish that, we maybe started the year not anticipating being a clear buyer at the Deadline," Levine said at the time. "I don't think we feel that's changed dramatically, other than maybe adding his one qualifier: We're probably not going to be inclined to spend lavishly on short-term assets, but we would be very open to spending aggressively on assets that we could use to propel our team forward this year and for years to come.” The 2017 season impacted the team’s decision making at the trade deadline, because it shifted them from being likely sellers to contemplating buying. The team held on to veterans like Brian Dozier, Ervin Santana, and Joe Mauer. There was also the debacle that was the Jaime Garcia trade as the front office went from buyers to sellers in less than a week. After the deadline, the team went on a run to finish in the second Wild Card spot, but there might be some lessons learned by the front office. During the 2021 season, Minnesota is having another surprising season, but it is for all the wrong reasons. The Twins entered the season believing they would be fighting for a third straight AL Central title and now the club sits double digit games out of first. Looking at the team’s upcoming schedule and it’s easy to imagine a scenario where the club might be facing a 2017 decision before the trade deadline. Leading into the All-Star Game, the Twins have 12 straight intra-division games including six against the division leading White Sox. The Twins have too much talent to be this far below .500 for the entire season, so they may accidentally improve as the season progresses. Minnesota’s pitching has improved, and the offense has become more of the force they were expected to be at season’s start. There’s certainly a realistic chance of the Twins being within 6.5 games or better at the trade deadline. This can put them in a similar position as 2017, but this time the team was expected to be a contender. Many expect the Twins to be sellers before the trade deadline, but they hold their destiny in their own hands. Veterans like Nelson Cruz, Andrelton Simmons, and Michael Pineda can be dealt, but the club might also find themselves back in the playoff race with plenty of lessons learned from 2017. Do you think the front office learned from 2017 deadline? How will it impact the 2021 trade deadline? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  13. Minnesota was one of the biggest surprises during the 2017 season after losing an MLB high 103-games the previous season. As the calendar turned to July, the Twins found themselves two games behind the Cleveland and the team stayed within striking distance for much of the month. However, as July ended and the trade deadline approached, the club lost seven of nine games and sat 6.5 games back in the division. The team went from buyers to sellers over a few days and that’s how the deadline played out. Falvey and Levine made it clear entering the deadline that the team wasn’t going to sway from their long-term vision. "In order to accomplish that, we maybe started the year not anticipating being a clear buyer at the Deadline," Levine said at the time. "I don't think we feel that's changed dramatically, other than maybe adding his one qualifier: We're probably not going to be inclined to spend lavishly on short-term assets, but we would be very open to spending aggressively on assets that we could use to propel our team forward this year and for years to come.” The 2017 season impacted the team’s decision making at the trade deadline, because it shifted them from being likely sellers to contemplating buying. The team held on to veterans like Brian Dozier, Ervin Santana, and Joe Mauer. There was also the debacle that was the Jaime Garcia trade as the front office went from buyers to sellers in less than a week. After the deadline, the team went on a run to finish in the second Wild Card spot, but there might be some lessons learned by the front office. During the 2021 season, Minnesota is having another surprising season, but it is for all the wrong reasons. The Twins entered the season believing they would be fighting for a third straight AL Central title and now the club sits double digit games out of first. Looking at the team’s upcoming schedule and it’s easy to imagine a scenario where the club might be facing a 2017 decision before the trade deadline. Leading into the All-Star Game, the Twins have 12 straight intra-division games including six against the division leading White Sox. The Twins have too much talent to be this far below .500 for the entire season, so they may accidentally improve as the season progresses. Minnesota’s pitching has improved, and the offense has become more of the force they were expected to be at season’s start. There’s certainly a realistic chance of the Twins being within 6.5 games or better at the trade deadline. This can put them in a similar position as 2017, but this time the team was expected to be a contender. Many expect the Twins to be sellers before the trade deadline, but they hold their destiny in their own hands. Veterans like Nelson Cruz, Andrelton Simmons, and Michael Pineda can be dealt, but the club might also find themselves back in the playoff race with plenty of lessons learned from 2017. Do you think the front office learned from 2017 deadline? How will it impact the 2021 trade deadline? 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
  14. The Minnesota Twins established a new front office under Derek Falvey and Thad Levine with the expectation that organizational pitching woes would be averted. It started that way, but things flopped hard in 2021. Across the division in Cleveland, Falvey grew a reputation for being able to develop pitching. Minnesota needed to overhaul that aspect of their development, and the early returns were promising. Despite the Bomba Squad emerging in 2019, Minnesota also became the best pitching version of itself that the franchise had seen in years. Taylor Rogers was elite, Tyler Duffey was transformed, and a number of fliers worked out. Enter 2021 and things couldn’t be further from that reality. This Twins club owns the 29th overall fWAR mark from their pitching staff, and both starters and relievers have been collectively terrible. The lineup took a bit to get going, but it hasn’t been an issue for weeks. With the White Sox now having all but ended Minnesota’s chances in the year ahead, a look at 2022 puts both Falvey and Levine squarely on the hot seat. Given the amount of talent eyeing a return on this roster, and the unexpected nature of these results, a full rebuild should not be the course of action in 2022. Reloading and trying it again with some new pieces makes all the sense in the world. What the front office must not do again however, is look to shop in the bargain bin and think the process will entirely translate into results. I have long harped on the infrastructure brought in by this front office as being exceptional. That still rings true. Wes Johnson is a good pitching coach, and throughout the farm there’s intelligent instructors. At some point though, you can’t bank entirely on a blueprint squeeze more juice from an already cashed fruit. J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker were fine back-end additions, but they both relied entirely on depth with nothing done to raise the water level. From the vantage point we have now, walking through this smoldering warzone, Falvey has virtually nothing to show for this season. The plethora of waiver claims all failed to pan out, save for the small sample of Luke Farrell. Happ and Shoemaker have been terrible. Randy Dobnak was extended, then optioned, and has never had a real defined role. On the farm, each of the top prospects has now gone down with arm issues, likely due to the year off. Yes, Josh Winder and Jordan Balazovic look good, but there’s more reason to be cautious than excited at this point. In the year ahead it will be on the Twins to use their depth as a fall back plan rather than seeing it as a source of reliance. Signings like Happ and Shoemaker indicated a belief one or both would soon be bumped as prospects came for their spots. Now Shoemaker is gone entirely, and the lack of options becomes even more glaring with yet another miss added to the books. Jose Berrios has been good, but not yet elevated to the next step, and now the talk of trading him lands even more into a questionable realm for me. Over the winter the plan has to be pitching, spending on it, and making sure it’s right. Relief arms are generally fickle year over year. Expecting Alexander Colome to fall this hard wasn’t a good bet. In 2022 you can reshuffle that group and bring in new faces, but they can’t be supplemented with a bunch of fall back options just ran out in case of emergency. The starting staff needs a legit arm that slots in to the top three, and that’s on top of paying or at least keeping Berrios. One bad season in the midst of such turnaround isn’t going to cost the front office their jobs, but there is plenty of reason to question why Derek Falvey hasn’t come through with his calling card should we see two years’ worth of these results. It’s time to right this ship, fix it, and prove the belief has been warranted. Dollars, development, whatever path you want to take, pitching can not be a problem for the Twins in the year ahead. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  15. Across the division in Cleveland, Falvey grew a reputation for being able to develop pitching. Minnesota needed to overhaul that aspect of their development, and the early returns were promising. Despite the Bomba Squad emerging in 2019, Minnesota also became the best pitching version of itself that the franchise had seen in years. Taylor Rogers was elite, Tyler Duffey was transformed, and a number of fliers worked out. Enter 2021 and things couldn’t be further from that reality. This Twins club owns the 29th overall fWAR mark from their pitching staff, and both starters and relievers have been collectively terrible. The lineup took a bit to get going, but it hasn’t been an issue for weeks. With the White Sox now having all but ended Minnesota’s chances in the year ahead, a look at 2022 puts both Falvey and Levine squarely on the hot seat. Given the amount of talent eyeing a return on this roster, and the unexpected nature of these results, a full rebuild should not be the course of action in 2022. Reloading and trying it again with some new pieces makes all the sense in the world. What the front office must not do again however, is look to shop in the bargain bin and think the process will entirely translate into results. I have long harped on the infrastructure brought in by this front office as being exceptional. That still rings true. Wes Johnson is a good pitching coach, and throughout the farm there’s intelligent instructors. At some point though, you can’t bank entirely on a blueprint squeeze more juice from an already cashed fruit. J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker were fine back-end additions, but they both relied entirely on depth with nothing done to raise the water level. From the vantage point we have now, walking through this smoldering warzone, Falvey has virtually nothing to show for this season. The plethora of waiver claims all failed to pan out, save for the small sample of Luke Farrell. Happ and Shoemaker have been terrible. Randy Dobnak was extended, then optioned, and has never had a real defined role. On the farm, each of the top prospects has now gone down with arm issues, likely due to the year off. Yes, Josh Winder and Jordan Balazovic look good, but there’s more reason to be cautious than excited at this point. In the year ahead it will be on the Twins to use their depth as a fall back plan rather than seeing it as a source of reliance. Signings like Happ and Shoemaker indicated a belief one or both would soon be bumped as prospects came for their spots. Now Shoemaker is gone entirely, and the lack of options becomes even more glaring with yet another miss added to the books. Jose Berrios has been good, but not yet elevated to the next step, and now the talk of trading him lands even more into a questionable realm for me. Over the winter the plan has to be pitching, spending on it, and making sure it’s right. Relief arms are generally fickle year over year. Expecting Alexander Colome to fall this hard wasn’t a good bet. In 2022 you can reshuffle that group and bring in new faces, but they can’t be supplemented with a bunch of fall back options just ran out in case of emergency. The starting staff needs a legit arm that slots in to the top three, and that’s on top of paying or at least keeping Berrios. One bad season in the midst of such turnaround isn’t going to cost the front office their jobs, but there is plenty of reason to question why Derek Falvey hasn’t come through with his calling card should we see two years’ worth of these results. It’s time to right this ship, fix it, and prove the belief has been warranted. Dollars, development, whatever path you want to take, pitching can not be a problem for the Twins in the year ahead. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  16. There’s no way of putting this lightly, the Twins have been awful in 2021. After starting 5-2 they have fallen, tripped, and smacked their faces right on the proverbial sidewalk. Rocco, the front office, and players all deserve a differing part of the blame, but the results have been nothing short of terrible. I don’t expect that to continue over a full 162 games, but regardless of what happens, this strikes me more as outlier than indicative of the future. Why is that important? Looking at 2022, the Twins will need to decide a path forward. That starts now and the groundwork begins to be laid. Someone very likely needs to be fired for this debacle. Maybe that’s the hitting coach, or maybe it’s a clubhouse attendant. I don’t really care who it is, and I’m not sure it’s productive in many veins other than sending a message. That said, unless the analysis by so many was so wrong, then there’s plenty to build from here. Could the front office have done more this offseason? Potentially, but the landmines are all over the place there. Trevor May would be nice, but goodbye to Andrelton Simmons or Nelson Cruz then. Other bullpen pieces with ties have all been bad save for Liam Hendriks, who would’ve been a substantial cost in only helping one area. Maybe a better 4th starter made sense, but hey, James Paxton is already done for the year and Corey Kluber has been a bit more lucky than good despite his recent no hitter. What they could’ve done and what they did on the open market isn’t too wide of a divide. That brings us to the reality moving forward. What the Twins have in terms of relevance still banks heavily on pieces that were committed to on the basis of assumed production. Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, and Miguel Sano were all signed to extensions on the basis of upward trajectory. It’s fair to assess all three as having fallen short of expectations, but where do they fit going forward. Is it so bad that they aren’t lineup fixtures at all? If so, that’d be damning for the front office and quite a fall in terms of development. Jose Berrios and Byron Buxton remain as key pieces, while Josh Donaldson still has multiple years left on his deal. From there Minnesota was always going to be in a place of opportunity. Cruz, J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker, and Simmons are all on one-year deals. So too is Alex Colome and Hansel Robles. The front office gave themselves flexibility in this roster construction to re-tool rather than rebuild. Alex Kirilloff has an opportunity to establish himself, as does Trevor Larnach. Down the stretch guys like Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic should become potential solutions, and they’ll all provide a clearer picture heading into 2022. If there’s uncertainty for the year ahead, it’s whether the season happens at all given the MLBPA and MLB’s looming CBA discussions. Should cooler heads prevail though, tearing this down and starting over would seem like a rash over reaction by this front office. They’ve put the right developmental and coaching pieces in place, and we’ve seen that bear fruit throughout the organization. Rather than second guessing that at this point, it makes sense to crumple up this calendar, toss it out, and recalibrate with new assets from a position that should be relatively similar to where they found themselves after 2020. A weird year interrupted by pandemic issues likely hid some of the more notable regression we may have seen from some major league contributors. Now having that rear its head, deciding whether it’s a small sample or indicative of more remains the key focus going forward. This ship will turn some the rest of the way, and although the Twins won’t make the Postseason, they shouldn’t embark on an offseason with any less certainty as to who they are than they entered 2021 with initially. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  17. Coming into this season the AL Central Division was expected to be a race between the hometown Minnesota Twins and rival Chicago White Sox. Welcome to the plot twist, but that doesn’t change the future. There’s no way of putting this lightly, the Twins have been awful in 2021. After starting 5-2 they have fallen, tripped, and smacked their faces right on the proverbial sidewalk. Rocco, the front office, and players all deserve a differing part of the blame, but the results have been nothing short of terrible. I don’t expect that to continue over a full 162 games, but regardless of what happens, this strikes me more as outlier than indicative of the future. Why is that important? Looking at 2022, the Twins will need to decide a path forward. That starts now and the groundwork begins to be laid. Someone very likely needs to be fired for this debacle. Maybe that’s the hitting coach, or maybe it’s a clubhouse attendant. I don’t really care who it is, and I’m not sure it’s productive in many veins other than sending a message. That said, unless the analysis by so many was so wrong, then there’s plenty to build from here. Could the front office have done more this offseason? Potentially, but the landmines are all over the place there. Trevor May would be nice, but goodbye to Andrelton Simmons or Nelson Cruz then. Other bullpen pieces with ties have all been bad save for Liam Hendriks, who would’ve been a substantial cost in only helping one area. Maybe a better 4th starter made sense, but hey, James Paxton is already done for the year and Corey Kluber has been a bit more lucky than good despite his recent no hitter. What they could’ve done and what they did on the open market isn’t too wide of a divide. That brings us to the reality moving forward. What the Twins have in terms of relevance still banks heavily on pieces that were committed to on the basis of assumed production. Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, and Miguel Sano were all signed to extensions on the basis of upward trajectory. It’s fair to assess all three as having fallen short of expectations, but where do they fit going forward. Is it so bad that they aren’t lineup fixtures at all? If so, that’d be damning for the front office and quite a fall in terms of development. Jose Berrios and Byron Buxton remain as key pieces, while Josh Donaldson still has multiple years left on his deal. From there Minnesota was always going to be in a place of opportunity. Cruz, J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker, and Simmons are all on one-year deals. So too is Alex Colome and Hansel Robles. The front office gave themselves flexibility in this roster construction to re-tool rather than rebuild. Alex Kirilloff has an opportunity to establish himself, as does Trevor Larnach. Down the stretch guys like Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic should become potential solutions, and they’ll all provide a clearer picture heading into 2022. If there’s uncertainty for the year ahead, it’s whether the season happens at all given the MLBPA and MLB’s looming CBA discussions. Should cooler heads prevail though, tearing this down and starting over would seem like a rash over reaction by this front office. They’ve put the right developmental and coaching pieces in place, and we’ve seen that bear fruit throughout the organization. Rather than second guessing that at this point, it makes sense to crumple up this calendar, toss it out, and recalibrate with new assets from a position that should be relatively similar to where they found themselves after 2020. A weird year interrupted by pandemic issues likely hid some of the more notable regression we may have seen from some major league contributors. Now having that rear its head, deciding whether it’s a small sample or indicative of more remains the key focus going forward. This ship will turn some the rest of the way, and although the Twins won’t make the Postseason, they shouldn’t embark on an offseason with any less certainty as to who they are than they entered 2021 with initially. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  18. When a team is successful, it’s only natural for other organizations to want to try and steal some of that success. That can come from hiring away other team’s front office personnel and coaches. The Twins have seen multiple coaches be snagged by other teams over the last handful of years, but the Derek Falvey and Thad Levine combo have stayed together at the top of the organization. However, they may not stay together forever. After just 21 games, the Colorado Rockies are looking for a new person to take over their general manager role. This is the first time since 2014 that Colorado is looking for a new general manager. Jeff Bridich resigned earlier in the week and it sounds like the club will wait until this winter to hire a permanent replacement. According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, Levine is “the leading candidate to become only the fourth Rockies’ GM in history.” Levine has ties to the Rockies organization as he served in a variety of roles with the club from 1999-2005 including senior director of baseball operations. He left for Texas after that and joined the Twins back in 2016. Colorado isn’t exactly an easy place to be a general manager. Just this winter, the former GM was forced to trade All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado in a deal that included the Rockies paying $51 million of his remaining $199 million salary. Trevor Story, now the team’s best player, will be a free agent at season’s end. They also have one of the worst ranked farm systems in baseball, so there isn’t a lot of reason for optimism moving forward. Next season will be Colorado’s 30th and the team has never won a division title. Things aren’t looking that great for 2021 either as the team currently sits at 8-14, the lowest winning percentage in the National League. The Twins were coming off some rough seasons when Levine joined the organization, but they weren’t nearly as big of a mess as the current state of the Rockies. Other organizations have shown interest in Levine over the last three years. Back in 2018, the Mets were interested in interviewing Levine for their GM spot. This past offseason he was one of the top contenders for the President of Baseball Operations position in Philadelphia. He took his name out of the running for that job, because he was committed to his role with the Twins. In fact, he is signed with Minnesota through 2024. It seems likely for Levine to have a chance to take over his own front office at some point in the future. His name is going to continue to be floated out there for nearly every opening. There are clearly some connections to his time in Colorado, but the Rockies are a mess of a franchise. It doesn’t seem like the right opportunity, but that doesn’t mean Levine will be a Twin for life. Do you think Levine will seriously consider the Rockies job? Leave a COMMENT and join 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
  19. An argument can be made that Jordan Balazovic is the best pitching prospect in the Twins organization even though he doesn’t rank as the top pitcher on the Twins Daily list. So, what’s changed with Balazovic over the last year?Position: RHP Age: 22 (DOB: 9-17-1998) 2019 Stats (Low-A/High-A): 93.2 IP, 2.69 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 12.4 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 ETA: 2022 2020 Ranking: 5 2019 Ranking: NA National Top 100 Rankings BA: NR | MLB: 97 | ATH: 63 |BP: NR What’s To Like Canada hasn’t exactly been a hotbed of MLB pitching talent, but Balazovic looks to buck that trend in the years to come. Last year, he was added to the organization’s alternate site in St. Paul before ending the year in the team’s instructional league. By season’s end, he was added to Minnesota’s 40-man roster and that leaves him even closer to making his big-league debut even though he has yet to make an appearance above the High-A level. One positive to come out of last year’s pandemic was Balazovic was able to concentrate on adding weight to his lanky frame. When Minnesota selected him in the fifth round, he was a long and lean 17-year-old that was listed at 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds. Since then, he has added two inches in height and bulked up to 217 pounds. This has helped his fastball move from the high-80s into the mid-90s. Many scouting reports praise him for his pitching deception as hitters can’t pick up the ball well out of his hand. Typically, he uses his fastball at the top of the zone, and it has helped him to post SO/9 totals north of 11.0 over the last two seasons. He throws strikes and he has four pitches that he isn’t afraid to throw in any situation, which make him a very projectable big-league arm. What’s Left To Work On Like many budding pitching prospects, Balazovic continues to refine his secondary pitches. His change-up is the biggest work in progress, but he has made significant strides since joining the organization and it has a chance to be an above average pitch. This pitch will help him to attack left-handed hitters, but he might already be able to do that since lefties only hit .189/.232/.269 against him in 2019. Currently, his slider is his out pitch although he uses his curveball to get strikes as well. He has yet to pitch over 100 innings in any professional season, so that will be an important milestone for 2021. His violent delivery helps to add some deception, but this can also be a concern. Some pitchers with violent deliveries suffer from health or control issues, but neither of these have been a concern so far in Balazovic’s career (knock on wood). What’s Next Last season, Balazovic worked hard to make sure he got invited to the alternate site before the season ended. This allowed the coaching staff to work closely with him and for the front office to get a better idea of how ready he was to take the next step. As mentioned last week, he is good friends with Blayne Enlow, another Twins top pitching prospect, and they keep pushing each other up the organizational ladder. How aggressive will the Twins be with Balazovic this season? It seems most likely that he would spend the majority of the season at Double-A with an outside chance of appearing with St. Paul before the season is complete. Last winter, president of baseball operation Derek Falvey said that he expected Balazovic and Jhoan Duran to make their MLB debuts. It didn’t happen in 2020, so the time might be right in 2021. Do you think Balazovic should be the Twins top pitching prospect? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Twins Daily 2021 Top 20 Prospects Honorable Mentions 20. Bailey Ober, RHP 19. Jose Miranda, INF 18. Alerick Soularie, OF 17. Ben Rortvedt, C 16. Edwar Colina, RHP 15. Cole Sands, RHP 14. Misael Urbina, OF 13. Matt Wallner, OF 12. Brent Rooker, OF/1B 11. Gilberto Celestino, OF 10. Blayne Enlow, RHP 9. Matt Canterino, RHP 8. Aaron Sabato, 1B 7. Keoni Cavaco, SS 6. Jordan Balazovic, RHP Stop by tomorrow for prospect #5! 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
  20. Position: RHP Age: 22 (DOB: 9-17-1998) 2019 Stats (Low-A/High-A): 93.2 IP, 2.69 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 12.4 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 ETA: 2022 2020 Ranking: 5 2019 Ranking: NA National Top 100 Rankings BA: NR | MLB: 97 | ATH: 63 |BP: NR What’s To Like Canada hasn’t exactly been a hotbed of MLB pitching talent, but Balazovic looks to buck that trend in the years to come. Last year, he was added to the organization’s alternate site in St. Paul before ending the year in the team’s instructional league. By season’s end, he was added to Minnesota’s 40-man roster and that leaves him even closer to making his big-league debut even though he has yet to make an appearance above the High-A level. One positive to come out of last year’s pandemic was Balazovic was able to concentrate on adding weight to his lanky frame. When Minnesota selected him in the fifth round, he was a long and lean 17-year-old that was listed at 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds. Since then, he has added two inches in height and bulked up to 217 pounds. This has helped his fastball move from the high-80s into the mid-90s. Many scouting reports praise him for his pitching deception as hitters can’t pick up the ball well out of his hand. Typically, he uses his fastball at the top of the zone, and it has helped him to post SO/9 totals north of 11.0 over the last two seasons. He throws strikes and he has four pitches that he isn’t afraid to throw in any situation, which make him a very projectable big-league arm. What’s Left To Work On Like many budding pitching prospects, Balazovic continues to refine his secondary pitches. His change-up is the biggest work in progress, but he has made significant strides since joining the organization and it has a chance to be an above average pitch. This pitch will help him to attack left-handed hitters, but he might already be able to do that since lefties only hit .189/.232/.269 against him in 2019. Currently, his slider is his out pitch although he uses his curveball to get strikes as well. He has yet to pitch over 100 innings in any professional season, so that will be an important milestone for 2021. His violent delivery helps to add some deception, but this can also be a concern. Some pitchers with violent deliveries suffer from health or control issues, but neither of these have been a concern so far in Balazovic’s career (knock on wood). What’s Next Last season, Balazovic worked hard to make sure he got invited to the alternate site before the season ended. This allowed the coaching staff to work closely with him and for the front office to get a better idea of how ready he was to take the next step. As mentioned last week, he is good friends with Blayne Enlow, another Twins top pitching prospect, and they keep pushing each other up the organizational ladder. How aggressive will the Twins be with Balazovic this season? It seems most likely that he would spend the majority of the season at Double-A with an outside chance of appearing with St. Paul before the season is complete. Last winter, president of baseball operation Derek Falvey said that he expected Balazovic and Jhoan Duran to make their MLB debuts. It didn’t happen in 2020, so the time might be right in 2021. Do you think Balazovic should be the Twins top pitching prospect? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Twins Daily 2021 Top 20 Prospects Honorable Mentions 20. Bailey Ober, RHP 19. Jose Miranda, INF 18. Alerick Soularie, OF 17. Ben Rortvedt, C 16. Edwar Colina, RHP 15. Cole Sands, RHP 14. Misael Urbina, OF 13. Matt Wallner, OF 12. Brent Rooker, OF/1B 11. Gilberto Celestino, OF 10. Blayne Enlow, RHP 9. Matt Canterino, RHP 8. Aaron Sabato, 1B 7. Keoni Cavaco, SS 6. Jordan Balazovic, RHP Stop by tomorrow for prospect #5! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  21. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have landed two more big free agency punches. The intrepid front office duo ended their extended standoff with Nelson Cruz Tuesday night, signing the beloved DH a one-year $13 million deal. Then, they bolstered the bullpen Wednesday afternoon by adding Alex Colomé to an affordable one-year contract with a mutual option for a second season. In Cruz, we know what we’re getting – or at least we hope we do. The 40-year-old slugger has hit for power as well as anybody in the game in his two seasons in a Twins jersey, but he’s just that – a 40-year-old slugger. Father Time – with a 43-year-old Tom Brady in another Superbowl – has been taking a beating recently, but he’s still undefeated. And though Cruz has been remarkably resistant to decline, he will give way to the inevitability of age soon. The Twins just hope it’s not this year. If Cruz is the same guy he has been, then Nelly will be the lead slugger in a lineup full of them and his $13 million price tag will be money well spent. Colomé will be pretty familiar with the Twins as well. After all, he’s limited Twins hitters to a .214 average in 22 appearances against the club. Colomé primarily uses a four-seam and cutter to get his outs and, though he has a power arm, he isn’t the strikeout guy some of the rest of the Twins’ relievers are. Instead, he relies on the cutter to create ground balls and soft contact. Colomé’s career ERA is under three and, in his shortened 2020 season, it was 0.81 in 21 appearances. There’s no reason to believe he can’t be that dominant again with the Twins, especially because Minnesota’s revamped infield defense ought to serve a contact pitcher like Colomé very well. Alex Colomé will be a valuable piece in the Twins' bullpen It seems then that, at long last, the Twins have crossed off all the items on their offseason shopping list. After these two moves, the Twins have filled holes in the rotation and the bullpen, and at shortstop and DH. And, though the wait for substantial free agent activity was at times excruciating, the team is better today that it was at the start of the offseason. With one or two more signings for a cheap arm or utility depth, the Twins will be clear AL Central favorites again, if they aren’t already. Today, at the end of this free agency rush, the worries we as Twins fans had during the dry spell seem silly, and really, they always were. Falvey and Levine haven’t failed us yet, but, like someone fresh out of a toxic relationship, we were expecting to get hurt, even though the person we’re with now has done nothing wrong. Terry Ryan scarred us by sticking to old school baseball well into the 21st century and by paying Ervin Santana, but “Falvine” aren’t like that. They are calculated and competent, patient but opportunistic. They are the perfect duo to have making personnel decisions in the modern-day MLB. Yeah, it took a while, but they were always in control. The Cruz deal moved at a snail’s pace because that’s what was needed to get him on a team-friendly deal. They moved on Simmons almost immediately after Semien signed elsewhere. These guys don’t miss the boat. They don’t hurt the team like Terry Ryan did. They know what they’re doing. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have the Twins in a great spot again It’ll take time before we get used to the fact that the Twins are a competent, forward-thinking MLB organization. Even now, I’m worried – against my better judgement – that, with a bunch of one-year deals, we’ll have to go through all of this again next offseason. Though that’s probably the case, if getting a better baseball team in exchange for a few months of waiting is all we have to “go through,” then that’s fine by me. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine haven’t “lost” an offseason yet; they just take a while to win them. So, next year, when we do this again, remember who’s in charge and be patient for a few weeks. You’ll probably like where the team ends up. Update: Minutes after this went up, the Twins dealt for a cheap arm like I mentioned above in Shaun Anderson from the Giants.
  22. Nobody usually celebrates finishing sixth in anything but it could be understood if Derek Falvey fired off a low-key fist pump after the Twins pitching staff finished the 2020 season with the sixth-highest strikeout rate in baseball. After all, in 2016 the Twins had finished with the 3rd lowest strikeout rate in baseball, which was actually a marginal improvement after finishing dead-last in the previous six seasons. The last time they finished in the top-10 in strikeout rate was when Johan Santana was in the rotation. It would seem that when the Twins traded him to the Mets, they must have packed their blueprint for striking hitters out along with him. So, after years of wallowing at the bottom of the league, Falvey finally gave them a new one.A younger generation of fans might not recall that for a stretch in the 2000s, the Twins’ pitchers were a perennial top-10 strikeout staff. That was mostly due to one man: Johan Santana. In 2006, with Santana and Francisco Liriano in the same rotation, they led the American League while finishing behind only the Chicago Cubs in strikeout rate overall. It was a glorious era of missing bats in Minnesota. The Johan Santana trade happened right as strikeouts began to skyrocket. The Twins, however, never got the memo. From 2008 until 2016 they never finished higher than 23rd out of the 30 teams. By 2011 Minnesota was ensconced as the anti-strikeout team, actively bragging about their ability to hit bats and finishing last in strikeouts. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what was to blame. There were obvious factors like targeting free agents with low strikeout arms, a philosophy of developing sinkerball pitchers, and encouraging quick contact (“I’m not trying to strike people out,” Nick Blackburn readily admitted in 2012). Meanwhile pitchers with swing-and-miss potential like Liriano and Scott Baker battled injuries and ineffectiveness. They were also pushed by coaches toward pitching to contact. When it became beyond apparent that the game had shifted toward big velocity, the front office tried to course correct by drafting college power arms, trading a future Gold Glove shortstop and two starting center fielders for more hard-throwers. Prompted by 2016’s “Total System Failure”, ownership finally accepted that it could no longer continue on the same path. And because a lot of the failure stemmed from years of poor pitching performances and inability to develop it consistently, it was no surprise when the person chosen to lead baseball operations was a pitching savant. Interestingly, Falvey and company did not make any sudden or major moves. With the exception of adding Jason Castro and Chris Gimenez as catchers -- one a strong framer, the other a strong clubhouse presence -- the 2017 team advanced with the same set of arms as the previous year. They retained the same pitching coach. By simply progressing to the mean, the Twins’ pitching staff finished a half-run better in ERA, 20 points lower in batting average and winning 26 more games overall. Yet at the conclusion of Falvey’s first year, the staff dropped to 28th in strikeout rate. That wasn’t necessarily by design but it was clear that Falvey spent his first season evaluating what he currently had at his disposal. After that task was completed, the real work began. It was that offseason in which the organization held a pivotal meeting. The Twins had recently hired two key people to lead the pitching development process: Pete Maki from Duke to be the team’s minor league pitching coordinator and pitching analyst Josh Kalk from the Tampa Bay Rays. In order to create a unified vision for the team’s pitching, they hosted a summit with coaches, coordinators, front office members and former players turned advisors. With so many great minds in one room, there is potential danger for certain personalities to dominate the conversation. Front office officials, based on their title alone, might carry more sway in the conversation. Long-time instructors could have belittled and dismissed ideas from newly hired college coaches. A former pitcher-turned-advisor might be vocal about how things were done in his day and poo-poo this new age technobabble nonsense. None of that happened, however. “You almost set ground rules for things like that. Where you start at the outset and say, this is egoless, hierarchy doesn't matter, this is about us brainstorming and think-tanking,” said Falvey, discussing the team’s pitching summit in the winter of 2018. “Let's vet it. Let's talk about it. Let's disagree.” Falvey came away impressed by the group’s dynamic. “I know we are in a good place organizationally when we were sitting in that room and two guys had totally different opinions and they went back and forth and then the meeting ended and they still talked and walked out the room. That's a healthy place to be. Because we're never going to agree completely, if we do that just means we are saying yes to one idea. If we can disagree and actually, genuinely talk about different perspectives, we’ve got a chance to make up ground and be better.” What is notable is not just the brainstorming, but Falvey’s emphasis on allowing for disagreement. Research has shown that creativity is substantially increased when members are allowed to criticize one another’s ideas. Provided that the criticism goes beyond the “oh man that will never work” shutdown, it can spark a cycle of critical feedback that can lead to creative breakthroughs — such as entertaining the notion of hiring a major league pitching coach straight from the college ranks. Wes Johnson’s name likely did not arise at the gathering that year. Still, that mindset eventually led the organization in the right direction. If they had stayed within the pool of established pitching coaches -- as was the norm -- it is hard to say where the team would be right now. “This is the way we’ve always done it” is considered a poisonous phrase. It is partially responsible for why the Twins held so tightly to a pitching philosophy long after it became productive to do so. The new front office fought hard to avoid that from happening again. It was preferable, but not necessarily a prerequisite, to hire employees who came from outside of baseball. Those hires wouldn’t be tainted by a preconceived notion of how things are done in professional baseball. With new eyes comes fresh ideas. Similarly, on the field the Twins added Johnson and Jeremy Hefner, who had no coaching experience, as the primary and assistant pitching coach in 2019. Throughout the organization, coaches and instructors were given free reign to try new methods and techniques at the lower levels -- some of which led to significant changes at the big league level (i.e. the catchers one-leg stance). If you follow them on Twitter, you will find the coaches as a collective very active during the offseason, sharing new research, training methods and working on things. No one is sitting around and waiting for spring training to start. “If you wait to know if you’re right about something, you will never try,” the Twins’ assistant GM Jeremy Zoll said on The Mound Visit podcast last April, expressing the organization’s willingness to challenge existing ideas. Minor league coaches were given resources to experiment. Nothing was off-limits but results had to be documented and demonstrated useful. Not everything they have tried worked but they were trying. While some teams choose a top-down method -- planning with a select leadership group at the top and distributing the marching orders to staff in the field -- members of the Twins organization spoke highly of the way the senior officials of the front office and major league coaching staff looked to them for suggestions. Rather than top-down, ideas are shared in every direction. Ultimately the strikeouts themselves came from the players. Players who embraced ideas and concepts generated from people throughout the organization. Those ideas and concepts made it to the players because the organization created an open flow of communication. To wit: One reason the team’s swing-and-miss numbers spiked in 2020 was due to the well-designed pitch sequencing and strategies created by Kalk and his team of analysts. A major change made during Falvey’s tenure was an increase in slider-driven pitchers. Pitchers in the system had been encouraged to transition away from curveballs and into sliders. Sliders, Kalk found, had the ability to hide in a fastball’s tunnel longer. As a game-calling strategy, these were summoned more frequently than any other team in the league: In 2020, Twins catchers flashed the slider sign 28% of the time -- well above the league average of 18%. What’s more is that they were not afraid to come at hitters with back-to-back sliders more often than any other team. Aided by technology, the Twins created a development plan to help their pitchers increase break in their sliders. The front office also targeted available pitchers who had the foundations of a solid slider but just needed a slight tweaking (Matt Wisler, Kenta Maeda) to supercharge that offering. To implement this plan on the field, the Twins turned to Wes Johnson. Johnson’s reputation as an educator and innovator preceded him. He spent a significant amount of time on the speaking circuit, providing other coaches with glimpses into the methods he used to make college pitchers better. His ability to distill difficult biomechanical insights into transferable skills is lauded throughout the industry. And there’s little question that pitchers have benefited from his tutelage. Of course, Derek Falvey’s mission wasn’t to improve the team’s strikeout rate. Similar to how Moneyball was not about finding cheap players through statistics, Falvey’s overhaul of the organization was not focused on increasing strikeouts -- it was to create an environment that works to stay ahead of current trends and continuously adapt. While high fastball and sharp sliders are in vogue now, hitting styles might adjust. The best organizations are the ones that are constantly trying to push convention and establish new ideas. Those organizations are built to last. Ending the year sixth in strikeout rate is about as minor of a victory as one can get. But the consistent upward mobility in that category is a sign that Falvey’s plan of improving pitching overall is progressing. It might not be a World Series title but climbing the ladder in strikeout rate is at least worthy of a low-key fist pump. Click here to view the article
  23. A younger generation of fans might not recall that for a stretch in the 2000s, the Twins’ pitchers were a perennial top-10 strikeout staff. That was mostly due to one man: Johan Santana. In 2006, with Santana and Francisco Liriano in the same rotation, they led the American League while finishing behind only the Chicago Cubs in strikeout rate overall. It was a glorious era of missing bats in Minnesota. The Johan Santana trade happened right as strikeouts began to skyrocket. The Twins, however, never got the memo. From 2008 until 2016 they never finished higher than 23rd out of the 30 teams. By 2011 Minnesota was ensconced as the anti-strikeout team, actively bragging about their ability to hit bats and finishing last in strikeouts. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what was to blame. There were obvious factors like targeting free agents with low strikeout arms, a philosophy of developing sinkerball pitchers, and encouraging quick contact (“I’m not trying to strike people out,” Nick Blackburn readily admitted in 2012). Meanwhile pitchers with swing-and-miss potential like Liriano and Scott Baker battled injuries and ineffectiveness. They were also pushed by coaches toward pitching to contact. When it became beyond apparent that the game had shifted toward big velocity, the front office tried to course correct by drafting college power arms, trading a future Gold Glove shortstop and two starting center fielders for more hard-throwers. Prompted by 2016’s “Total System Failure”, ownership finally accepted that it could no longer continue on the same path. And because a lot of the failure stemmed from years of poor pitching performances and inability to develop it consistently, it was no surprise when the person chosen to lead baseball operations was a pitching savant. Interestingly, Falvey and company did not make any sudden or major moves. With the exception of adding Jason Castro and Chris Gimenez as catchers -- one a strong framer, the other a strong clubhouse presence -- the 2017 team advanced with the same set of arms as the previous year. They retained the same pitching coach. By simply progressing to the mean, the Twins’ pitching staff finished a half-run better in ERA, 20 points lower in batting average and winning 26 more games overall. Yet at the conclusion of Falvey’s first year, the staff dropped to 28th in strikeout rate. That wasn’t necessarily by design but it was clear that Falvey spent his first season evaluating what he currently had at his disposal. After that task was completed, the real work began. It was that offseason in which the organization held a pivotal meeting. The Twins had recently hired two key people to lead the pitching development process: Pete Maki from Duke to be the team’s minor league pitching coordinator and pitching analyst Josh Kalk from the Tampa Bay Rays. In order to create a unified vision for the team’s pitching, they hosted a summit with coaches, coordinators, front office members and former players turned advisors. With so many great minds in one room, there is potential danger for certain personalities to dominate the conversation. Front office officials, based on their title alone, might carry more sway in the conversation. Long-time instructors could have belittled and dismissed ideas from newly hired college coaches. A former pitcher-turned-advisor might be vocal about how things were done in his day and poo-poo this new age technobabble nonsense. None of that happened, however. “You almost set ground rules for things like that. Where you start at the outset and say, this is egoless, hierarchy doesn't matter, this is about us brainstorming and think-tanking,” said Falvey, discussing the team’s pitching summit in the winter of 2018. “Let's vet it. Let's talk about it. Let's disagree.” Falvey came away impressed by the group’s dynamic. “I know we are in a good place organizationally when we were sitting in that room and two guys had totally different opinions and they went back and forth and then the meeting ended and they still talked and walked out the room. That's a healthy place to be. Because we're never going to agree completely, if we do that just means we are saying yes to one idea. If we can disagree and actually, genuinely talk about different perspectives, we’ve got a chance to make up ground and be better.” What is notable is not just the brainstorming, but Falvey’s emphasis on allowing for disagreement. Research has shown that creativity is substantially increased when members are allowed to criticize one another’s ideas. Provided that the criticism goes beyond the “oh man that will never work” shutdown, it can spark a cycle of critical feedback that can lead to creative breakthroughs — such as entertaining the notion of hiring a major league pitching coach straight from the college ranks. Wes Johnson’s name likely did not arise at the gathering that year. Still, that mindset eventually led the organization in the right direction. If they had stayed within the pool of established pitching coaches -- as was the norm -- it is hard to say where the team would be right now. “This is the way we’ve always done it” is considered a poisonous phrase. It is partially responsible for why the Twins held so tightly to a pitching philosophy long after it became productive to do so. The new front office fought hard to avoid that from happening again. It was preferable, but not necessarily a prerequisite, to hire employees who came from outside of baseball. Those hires wouldn’t be tainted by a preconceived notion of how things are done in professional baseball. With new eyes comes fresh ideas. Similarly, on the field the Twins added Johnson and Jeremy Hefner, who had no coaching experience, as the primary and assistant pitching coach in 2019. Throughout the organization, coaches and instructors were given free reign to try new methods and techniques at the lower levels -- some of which led to significant changes at the big league level (i.e. the catchers one-leg stance). If you follow them on Twitter, you will find the coaches as a collective very active during the offseason, sharing new research, training methods and working on things. No one is sitting around and waiting for spring training to start. “If you wait to know if you’re right about something, you will never try,” the Twins’ assistant GM Jeremy Zoll said on The Mound Visit podcast last April, expressing the organization’s willingness to challenge existing ideas. Minor league coaches were given resources to experiment. Nothing was off-limits but results had to be documented and demonstrated useful. Not everything they have tried worked but they were trying. While some teams choose a top-down method -- planning with a select leadership group at the top and distributing the marching orders to staff in the field -- members of the Twins organization spoke highly of the way the senior officials of the front office and major league coaching staff looked to them for suggestions. Rather than top-down, ideas are shared in every direction. Ultimately the strikeouts themselves came from the players. Players who embraced ideas and concepts generated from people throughout the organization. Those ideas and concepts made it to the players because the organization created an open flow of communication. To wit: One reason the team’s swing-and-miss numbers spiked in 2020 was due to the well-designed pitch sequencing and strategies created by Kalk and his team of analysts. A major change made during Falvey’s tenure was an increase in slider-driven pitchers. Pitchers in the system had been encouraged to transition away from curveballs and into sliders. Sliders, Kalk found, had the ability to hide in a fastball’s tunnel longer. As a game-calling strategy, these were summoned more frequently than any other team in the league: In 2020, Twins catchers flashed the slider sign 28% of the time -- well above the league average of 18%. What’s more is that they were not afraid to come at hitters with back-to-back sliders more often than any other team. Aided by technology, the Twins created a development plan to help their pitchers increase break in their sliders. The front office also targeted available pitchers who had the foundations of a solid slider but just needed a slight tweaking (Matt Wisler, Kenta Maeda) to supercharge that offering. To implement this plan on the field, the Twins turned to Wes Johnson. Johnson’s reputation as an educator and innovator preceded him. He spent a significant amount of time on the speaking circuit, providing other coaches with glimpses into the methods he used to make college pitchers better. His ability to distill difficult biomechanical insights into transferable skills is lauded throughout the industry. And there’s little question that pitchers have benefited from his tutelage. Of course, Derek Falvey’s mission wasn’t to improve the team’s strikeout rate. Similar to how Moneyball was not about finding cheap players through statistics, Falvey’s overhaul of the organization was not focused on increasing strikeouts -- it was to create an environment that works to stay ahead of current trends and continuously adapt. While high fastball and sharp sliders are in vogue now, hitting styles might adjust. The best organizations are the ones that are constantly trying to push convention and establish new ideas. Those organizations are built to last. Ending the year sixth in strikeout rate is about as minor of a victory as one can get. But the consistent upward mobility in that category is a sign that Falvey’s plan of improving pitching overall is progressing. It might not be a World Series title but climbing the ladder in strikeout rate is at least worthy of a low-key fist pump.
  24. Welcome to a new era of Minnesota Twins baseball. This isn’t the Terry Ryan regime anymore, and it hasn’t been for quite some time. What was ushered in with Derek Falvey represented a more progressive way of thinking. Unfortunately, the downside to that is having other organizations looking to play copycat. Now that is beginning to come full circle. Last offseason the Twins lost their hitting coach. James Rowson was the architect behind a lineup that hit the most home runs in Major League Baseball history, and his championing of launch angle and exit velocity was a far cry from the contact approach of yesteryear. Rudy Hernandez and Edgar Varela remained, but Twins fans often wondered if Rowson’s departure didn’t explain some of the step backwards this season. While the offseason is hardly aged yet as we head into 2021, the Twins have seen a few coaches poached from their minor league ranks as well. Although it’s big league losses like Rowson and Derek Shelton that resonate most with the casual fan, it’s the absence of names like Tanner Swanson and J.P. Martinez that really signify the strength of organization infrastructure. Today it was announced that Twins General Manager Thad Levine is a “significant player” in the Phillies search for a new head of baseball operations. That’s an appealing job no doubt, given Levine’s hand in retooling the Twins organization. Philadelphia has fallen flat on developing prospects, and now they are Bryce Harper, Aaron Nola, and Zack Wheeler with little else to make a serious run. Orchestrating that turnaround on his own without sharing credit under Falvey has to be an exciting premise. Initially that would seem like a brutal blow for Minnesota. Levine and Falvey have seemingly been connected at the hip, and since their introductory press conference they’ve consistently talked about a collaborative environment. What has become apparent since that time, however, is that Falvey is no stranger to identifying and hiring the right people in the right positions. It’s because of the Twins infrastructure that he has orchestrated that teams are interested in pulling from the club. Ken Rosenthal recently wrote a piece that included bit praising the Twins throughout the contract negotiation period with their arbitration eligible players. Agents noted that Levine was great to work with and that comes across as a glowing report for Minnesota’s GM. Expecting Falvey to find someone internally or externally to replace those shoes is hardly unfathomable, however. That’s not to say losing Levine is without consequence but trusting in the process from the top down has truly become something easy to buy into. I’d prefer not to see Minnesota lose Thad Levine prior to reaching the peak with a World Series that this organization is now directed towards. However, as architectural as he has been throughout the years here, I believe the process and structure in place will continue bearing fruit regardless of the replacement. The Twins have turned themselves into an organization akin to the Tampa Bay Rays from a front office and coaching perspective. That’s more than an enviable reality to look into. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  25. It’s completely tone deaf to suggest that owning a major league sports franchise is a losing business venture, the reality is that revenues won’t be at their traditional levels in 2020. With no fans in the stands organizations have lost out on lucrative ticket sales, concessions, and other traditional operating dollars. Because of this, the assumption is that payrolls across the league will take a step backwards in 2021. What we don’t know if where the ripple effect will end. Free agency and talent acquisition still take place on a competitive market. There are 30 suitors for any one position (as long as the designated hitter remains universal), and varying levels of need and risk factors that come into play. Attempting to land a non-committed player will likely never be as straightforward as a one-way exchange of figures. However, was does reduced cash flow throughout the sport look like, and how does a potential lockout in 2022 impact things further? While doing our Offseason Live show focused on the Twins 2021 payroll, the general assumption is some level of decrease. Without knowing the percentage, we are operating in a world of hypotheticals. It is fair to suggest that a non-tender of Eddie Rosario is probably the most logical cost cutting move to make. The next biggest swing comes in the form of a reunion with designated hitter Nelson Cruz. Likely representative of the Twins big splash for 2021, his price tag won’t be cheap. Where things get interesting is when the market starts to bear fruit. In a normal scenario a guy like Cruz, coming off the season he had, might be looking at something like $14-16 million per year. He wants a two-year deal, and though that’s a fair ask, he’s still going to be 41 years old. Dealing with a new set of parameters, does the market value for all players take a percentage step backwards in relation to that of the payroll? Say a 20% decrease in year over year spend, does that make Cruz’s new best get something like $11-12 million? To me, it’s in that question that we see just how aggressive Minnesota can be in filling their needs. Coming into 2020 with a $140 million commitment, there should be no reason they don’t continue to dole out cash as they supplement a window of opportunity. That can still take place even if it’s in a different form. Maybe they jump from 17th overall in payroll to the top 15. Maybe instead of a 20% cut they only step backwards 10%. Whatever happens, the Twins will need to be ready to pivot and pounce. Right now, the goal should be to start making assessments on what virtually every player will make and be worth. Once the first couple of deals have been made, assess and compare. From there you should have a good idea as to how to approach potential fits and keeping in mind a need for aggressiveness should be at the forefront. Today we can make determinations on what needs are there, and even predict some of the departures. Understanding how to put the puzzle together when we don’t know how many pieces it is will prove tricky. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
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