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  1. Blame can be passed around when a team doesn't meet expectations. Who should receive blame for the Twins' failures, and who is most responsible? Image courtesy of Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports The Twins are finishing a terrible September that saw the team go from contender to pretender in a few weeks. There are plenty of reasons for fans to be frustrated, but the season's conclusion offers time to reflect on the 2022 campaign. Here are the people most responsible for the Twins' downfall this season. Culprit 1: The Front Office The front office will take the brunt of the blame for any team that falls short of its ultimate goal. Last off-season was unique because of the lockout, and Minnesota took a unique approach to construct the roster. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine thought the pitching pipeline was ready to contribute in 2022, so the team didn't need to acquire any of the best free agent pitchers. This plan failed as the team's farm system took a step back, and the pitching pipeline has yet to arrive. It's also easy to blame the front office for some of the prominent players the team acquired during the 2022 season. Minnesota traded Taylor Rogers shortly before Opening Day for Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan. The timing of the trade was terrible, even if Rogers ended up having a poor season. Paddack was terrific for four games before needing Tommy John surgery. Pagan has been one of baseball's worst relievers for multiple seasons, and the team continued to use him in high-leverage situations. Minnesota's front office received praise following July's trade deadline because it seemed like the team was "going for it." Neither of the other AL Central teams made significant moves, and the Twins acquired Tyler Mahle, Jorge Lopez, and Michael Fulmer. Mahle has struggled with a shoulder injury since being acquired, and Lopez hasn't lived up to his All-Star performance from the first half. Mahle's acquisition might be the most frustrating as he added his name to a growing list of injured pitchers the Twins acquired via trade. In the end, the front office was wrong about the organization's young pitchers being ready to contribute. Falvey and Levine didn't address the bullpen in the offseason, which haunted the team. It cost the team multiple prospects at the trade deadline after the club had already been treading water for most of June and July. Now, the front office is facing a critical offseason as this current group's winning window is closing. Culprit 2: Rocco Baldelli Minnesota's front office gave Baldelli a vote of confidence over the weekend when they said he is part of the team's long-term plans. Fans may still blame the manager for the team's poor performance for multiple months. Obviously, he has been dealing with one of baseball's most injured rosters, but the team doesn't seem to have much fight left in them. Last season, the team was out of the race for much of the season, but the club played well in September as younger players got an opportunity. This year's team played its worst baseball in September. Sometimes it's easy to forget that preseason models projected this team to finish around .500. Pitching staff usage is one of the most significant areas where fans blame a manager. Many will point fingers at Baldelli for his bullpen usage or for pulling his starters too early. However, it is also essential to consider that the team lost its pitching coach in the middle of the season. Minnesota's bullpen was terrible, and there is only so much Baldelli can do with the players on the roster. Also, Twins starters were rarely allowed to face a line-up for the third time, a philosophy many organizations have adopted in recent years. Baldelli deserves some blame, but even baseball's best manager wouldn't have won with Minnesota this season. Culprit 3: Injuries It's easy for anyone looking at the Twins' 2022 season to blame injuries for the team's poor performance. No American League team has put more players on the IL than the Twins this season. At one point, Minnesota had nearly a full roster of players on the IL, and it was a team that could be reasonably competitive in the AL Central. The Reds are the only club with more days lost to injury than the Twins, but anyone following the team knows that number doesn't tell the whole story. Minnesota allowed many players to stay off the IL even when injuries hampered their performance. Bryon Buxton talked his way out of multiple IL stints, and there were stretches where he struggled on the field. Jorge Polanco tried to play through an injury, Tyler Mahle made two starts at less than 100%, and Max Kepler played through a broken toe. Few organizations have the depth to withstand the number of injuries the Twins suffered in 2022. Reflecting on a season that started with renewed expectations can be challenging. However, there is plenty of blame to go around as the season winds to a close. Who deserves the most blame for the Twins' failures in 2022? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  2. The Twins are finishing a terrible September that saw the team go from contender to pretender in a few weeks. There are plenty of reasons for fans to be frustrated, but the season's conclusion offers time to reflect on the 2022 campaign. Here are the people most responsible for the Twins' downfall this season. Culprit 1: The Front Office The front office will take the brunt of the blame for any team that falls short of its ultimate goal. Last off-season was unique because of the lockout, and Minnesota took a unique approach to construct the roster. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine thought the pitching pipeline was ready to contribute in 2022, so the team didn't need to acquire any of the best free agent pitchers. This plan failed as the team's farm system took a step back, and the pitching pipeline has yet to arrive. It's also easy to blame the front office for some of the prominent players the team acquired during the 2022 season. Minnesota traded Taylor Rogers shortly before Opening Day for Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan. The timing of the trade was terrible, even if Rogers ended up having a poor season. Paddack was terrific for four games before needing Tommy John surgery. Pagan has been one of baseball's worst relievers for multiple seasons, and the team continued to use him in high-leverage situations. Minnesota's front office received praise following July's trade deadline because it seemed like the team was "going for it." Neither of the other AL Central teams made significant moves, and the Twins acquired Tyler Mahle, Jorge Lopez, and Michael Fulmer. Mahle has struggled with a shoulder injury since being acquired, and Lopez hasn't lived up to his All-Star performance from the first half. Mahle's acquisition might be the most frustrating as he added his name to a growing list of injured pitchers the Twins acquired via trade. In the end, the front office was wrong about the organization's young pitchers being ready to contribute. Falvey and Levine didn't address the bullpen in the offseason, which haunted the team. It cost the team multiple prospects at the trade deadline after the club had already been treading water for most of June and July. Now, the front office is facing a critical offseason as this current group's winning window is closing. Culprit 2: Rocco Baldelli Minnesota's front office gave Baldelli a vote of confidence over the weekend when they said he is part of the team's long-term plans. Fans may still blame the manager for the team's poor performance for multiple months. Obviously, he has been dealing with one of baseball's most injured rosters, but the team doesn't seem to have much fight left in them. Last season, the team was out of the race for much of the season, but the club played well in September as younger players got an opportunity. This year's team played its worst baseball in September. Sometimes it's easy to forget that preseason models projected this team to finish around .500. Pitching staff usage is one of the most significant areas where fans blame a manager. Many will point fingers at Baldelli for his bullpen usage or for pulling his starters too early. However, it is also essential to consider that the team lost its pitching coach in the middle of the season. Minnesota's bullpen was terrible, and there is only so much Baldelli can do with the players on the roster. Also, Twins starters were rarely allowed to face a line-up for the third time, a philosophy many organizations have adopted in recent years. Baldelli deserves some blame, but even baseball's best manager wouldn't have won with Minnesota this season. Culprit 3: Injuries It's easy for anyone looking at the Twins' 2022 season to blame injuries for the team's poor performance. No American League team has put more players on the IL than the Twins this season. At one point, Minnesota had nearly a full roster of players on the IL, and it was a team that could be reasonably competitive in the AL Central. The Reds are the only club with more days lost to injury than the Twins, but anyone following the team knows that number doesn't tell the whole story. Minnesota allowed many players to stay off the IL even when injuries hampered their performance. Bryon Buxton talked his way out of multiple IL stints, and there were stretches where he struggled on the field. Jorge Polanco tried to play through an injury, Tyler Mahle made two starts at less than 100%, and Max Kepler played through a broken toe. Few organizations have the depth to withstand the number of injuries the Twins suffered in 2022. Reflecting on a season that started with renewed expectations can be challenging. However, there is plenty of blame to go around as the season winds to a close. Who deserves the most blame for the Twins' failures in 2022? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  3. The Minnesota Twins are trending towards a finish to the 2022 Major League Baseball season that has them looking at something near a .500 record. It was hardly how this had to go, but not far off from where projections initially suggested. If the organization is going to avoid another shakeup, then 2023 is do or die. Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports Derek Falvey and Thad Levine took over the Minnesota Twins front office six seasons ago. 2023 will be year seven. In that timeframe the club has been to the postseason three times while winning two AL Central division titles. There’s certainly some success there, but ultimately it comes with an 0-6 record in the postseason, which has accounted for one-third of the 0-18 futility during October. There’s only a partial pass for the Twins to be had in 2022. The injuries were significant. 37 pitchers have been used for the first time in franchise history. Byron Buxton played injured from the jump, and time was missed by Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Max Kepler, and Jorge Polanco. All those things are fair to suggest that plenty has been working against Rocco Baldelli and his bosses. It’s also time to realize there’s no more room for error or excuses. It’s safe to say that the front office, and the manager, aren’t looking for a pass. Both those in the clubhouse and those employing it are looking for a way to create a sustainable winner for the future. Falvey was brought in to develop a pitching pipeline similar to that of Cleveland. Levine is a smart general manager who has made some shrewd moves. Baldelli can run a clubhouse and has orchestrated difficult decisions. For all the good each party has done, the results now have to follow. In year seven the Twins won’t, and shouldn’t be given the benefit of doubt. 2022 saw a franchise-high payroll that included the signing of superstar shortstop Carlos Correa. He fell into Minnesota’s lap and is likely gone over the offseason. It will be on the front office to appropriately name his replacement, and find ways to use that money. Plenty of the roster is penciled but almost all of it carries some level of uncertainty as to availability or expectation. There’s no more room for acquisitions like Dylan Bundy or Chris Archer. Every offseason addition has to be made under the premise of creating the best roster possible, with nothing added just to fill the fringes. Management can’t dictate any more reclamation projects to play a substantial role, and when something doesn’t work similar to Emilio Pagan this season, the plug has to be pulled. It’s more than fair to understand those running the Twins are an incredibly smart group with very good ideas. Both rooted in analytical outcomes and results based decision making, there’s probably never been a better group across the board. Ultimately though, the only thing that matters is the wins and losses, and they haven’t had enough of them. Over the winter the front office and coaching staff will need to find ways to improve internally. That will mean staffers being replaced, coaches being changed out, and developmental areas being addressed. This should be the last go-round for the collective as a whole, and there’s no excuse to forgo bringing in fresh faces to help reach the ultimate goal. There’s plenty of argument to be made that 2022 was never seen as the year to go “all in.” The trade deadline was navigated with a focus on the now, but a vision to the future as well. Fast forwarding to Opening Day 2023 and the future becomes now, with no more room for missteps. It’s time to come through on the vision, or change it entirely. View full article
  4. Coming into the 2022 Major League Baseball season the Minnesota Twins were largely projected as a runner-up to the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central Division. Now with the regular season coming to a close and it not playing out that way, how would you define the year as a whole? Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports After limping through the last impactful series of the season against the Cleveland Guardians over the weekend, Minnesota’s postseason hopes were all but cooked. Having led the division for a vast majority of the season, injuries mounted and ultimately ruined any potential to hang on. That’s not to say injuries were the defining factor in falling short, Minnesota contributed to that plenty on their own as well. Relatively early on in the year, it was apparent that the AL Central was going to fade behind the competition. Chicago’s ineptitude was injury-related as well, but they were also horribly managed by Tony La Russa, and consistently played bad baseball defensively. Cleveland has a great manager in Terry Francona, and as expected, their pitching kept them in it while young players got their feet wet. Minnesota’s place in all of that got shuffled early after a strong May, but it shouldn’t be lost that no one seemed to want to win this division down the stretch. Therein lies the definition of the 2022 Minnesota Twins season: A failure to capitalize. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine didn’t throw all of Jim Pohlad’s resources at the 2022 season to suggest it was World Series or bust. Nothing about a bullpen addition of only Joe Smith said, “We’re all in.” However, what was done should’ve been enough and at every juncture, the Twins came up short. When the trade deadline came around and there was an opportunity to improve a winning ball club, the front office added a top-level starter in Tyler Mahle. They addressed the bullpen by bringing in Michael Fulmer and Jorge Lopez. Then, as it had all season long, it quickly was wiped out on and off the field. Every team has injuries, but very few had as many and those as impactful as the Twins. Byron Buxton played hurt from the jump. Pitching was constantly in flux. Alex Kirilloff never got better. They won through them, for a time. When Minnesota would create their own fortunes, generating base runners and putting guys in scoring position, they consistently failed to capitalize. Baserunning was bad, defense equally so. All season long the Twins found themselves with the opportunity to control their own destiny, run away and hide with the division, and create noise. Instead, they responded with more trips to the injured list, poor situational hitting, and an overall lack of execution. If we were to reflect on the season as a whole, taking a bit of a step back from the emotions down the stretch, maybe we should've seen this coming. After all, a .500 record was largely what was projected from the get-go. For a good portion of the season, all this team amounted to a .500 ballclub. Ultimately though, after creating their own good fortune, a wilting happened and nothing was done to substantiate it. There’s certainly a handful of different ways to get where Minnesota finished, but as The Athletic’s Aaron Gleeman put it, the Twins took the least enjoyable way to get there. Good teams capitalize on their opportunities, and although this one was masked as a good team for a while, they simply never capitalized on what was in front of them. View full article
  5. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine took over the Minnesota Twins front office six seasons ago. 2023 will be year seven. In that timeframe the club has been to the postseason three times while winning two AL Central division titles. There’s certainly some success there, but ultimately it comes with an 0-6 record in the postseason, which has accounted for one-third of the 0-18 futility during October. There’s only a partial pass for the Twins to be had in 2022. The injuries were significant. 37 pitchers have been used for the first time in franchise history. Byron Buxton played injured from the jump, and time was missed by Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Max Kepler, and Jorge Polanco. All those things are fair to suggest that plenty has been working against Rocco Baldelli and his bosses. It’s also time to realize there’s no more room for error or excuses. It’s safe to say that the front office, and the manager, aren’t looking for a pass. Both those in the clubhouse and those employing it are looking for a way to create a sustainable winner for the future. Falvey was brought in to develop a pitching pipeline similar to that of Cleveland. Levine is a smart general manager who has made some shrewd moves. Baldelli can run a clubhouse and has orchestrated difficult decisions. For all the good each party has done, the results now have to follow. In year seven the Twins won’t, and shouldn’t be given the benefit of doubt. 2022 saw a franchise-high payroll that included the signing of superstar shortstop Carlos Correa. He fell into Minnesota’s lap and is likely gone over the offseason. It will be on the front office to appropriately name his replacement, and find ways to use that money. Plenty of the roster is penciled but almost all of it carries some level of uncertainty as to availability or expectation. There’s no more room for acquisitions like Dylan Bundy or Chris Archer. Every offseason addition has to be made under the premise of creating the best roster possible, with nothing added just to fill the fringes. Management can’t dictate any more reclamation projects to play a substantial role, and when something doesn’t work similar to Emilio Pagan this season, the plug has to be pulled. It’s more than fair to understand those running the Twins are an incredibly smart group with very good ideas. Both rooted in analytical outcomes and results based decision making, there’s probably never been a better group across the board. Ultimately though, the only thing that matters is the wins and losses, and they haven’t had enough of them. Over the winter the front office and coaching staff will need to find ways to improve internally. That will mean staffers being replaced, coaches being changed out, and developmental areas being addressed. This should be the last go-round for the collective as a whole, and there’s no excuse to forgo bringing in fresh faces to help reach the ultimate goal. There’s plenty of argument to be made that 2022 was never seen as the year to go “all in.” The trade deadline was navigated with a focus on the now, but a vision to the future as well. Fast forwarding to Opening Day 2023 and the future becomes now, with no more room for missteps. It’s time to come through on the vision, or change it entirely.
  6. In the dire straits of September 2021, the Twins fanbase worried about the future of the franchise. The team had justifiably traded away both Nelson Cruz and José Berrios. Negotiations between Byron Buxton and the organization had fallen apart during the summer. A number of the team's exciting prospects were recovering from injuries and likely unavailable to at least start 2022. Plus, a contentious bargaining situation between the league and players had owners acting with caution. Image courtesy of Aaron Josefczyk-USA TODAY Sports Were the Twins to go the way of many teams and begin a long rebuild to return to contention? "I'm not using that word," Derek Falvey told the beat writers. Instead, 2022 would be a year for a reload. But what does a successful reload look like? The Twins set out to return to playoff contention as they had in 2019 and 2020. Doing so would require more money and trades than the team had done in previous years of Pohlad ownership. Teams often reload for playoff contention for several reasons but usually require a strong central core and only a few critical holes to fill. For the 2016 Red Sox, their last year with Hall of Famer David Ortiz and an ascending Mookie Betts, it meant grabbing David Price on a $217 million deal and Craig Kimbrel in a trade with San Diego. The team went from last to first in the division for the next three years, including a World Series ring in 2018. However, a better comparison for teams with smaller payrolls might be those 2005 White Sox. Their opening day lineup only featured three of the same faces from 2004, but none were rookies. Instead, Ozzie Guillén and Kenny Williams tried to rethink what kind of players to build around their core, grabbing AJ Pierzynski, Jermaine Dye, Tadahito Iguchi, and Scott Podsednik. Most of their core pitching returned, with Yankees pitcher Orlando Hernández filling in as their fifth man. Their salary ballooned from $65 million to $75 million, while the first-place Twins remained essentially static in the $50 million range. Of course, it was all worth it: the White Sox were an era-defining team, winning the division by six games, going on one of the all-time great post-season runs, and ending an 88-year-old championship drought. For the Twins going into 2022, there was enough in the revolver for one last go of a core set of players: Jorge Polanco, Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson, Luis Arraez, Mitch Garver, and Miguel Sano, plus some promise with Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, Trevor Larnach, and Alex Kirilloff to step up (not to mention the many hopes around the arrival of Royce Lewis). Their bullpen had enough interesting names to build around. So why didn't the Twins work? First, the Twins had too many holes to fill, particularly in the starting pitching realm. Ober and Ryan had less than 100 innings under their belts, and Kenta Maeda was merely a glimmer of promise for a late-season comeback. The Twins needed a Day One starter, but quickly missed names like Carlos Rodon, Marcus Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard, all of who made splashy but not impossible out-of-reach deals for the organization to match. When the market reopened, the Twins rebounded by making the smart move to trade their first-round draft pick for Sonny Gray. But then they went with not one not two but three different "fix me up" projects: Dylan Bundy, Chris Archer, and Chris Paddack. Beyond Gray, that left five essentially unproven starters on opening day. The bullpen additions were equally shaky with the additions of Joe Smith and Emilio Pagán while dealing Taylor Rogers. Most importantly, the Twins essentially committed almost no new money in this realm beyond their trade capital, an odd sign for a team serious about contending. Of course, the Twins put money down this season with a pair of $100+ million contracts: an extension of Buxton and a second in a blockbuster deal to commit $35.1 million a year to Carlos Correa. Bringing in a playoff specialist like Correa was the essential move they needed. It at least felt part of their decision to erase bad clubhouse vibes by flipping Josh Donaldson for Yankees veterans Gio Urshela and Gary Sánchez. Neither Urshela nor Sánchez were the top Bronx bombers, but there was plenty of sense they were the kind of players who understood big spots and big games. And yet, the Twins probably remained slim in other veteran talent to reinforce their lineup. The previous year had demonstrated that the team did not have their prospects ready to go as eight different men took to center field to fill in injury after injury. Whether the Twins expected this year's injury woes to be worse than last year, their decision to depend entirely on prospects to back up Buxton and Kepler felt short-sided with plenty of low-end veterans available on the market (Kevin Pillar for example took a minor league deal with the Dodgers). A strong reload rarely means depending on new players—those 2005 Sox were all veterans beyond their season call-up of closer Bobby Jenks—but the Twins seemingly put a lot of hope on what feels like too many prospects suddenly becoming core players. Jose Miranda, Griffin Jax, and Jhoan Duran, have made themselves essential to this year's success, but others still have question marks about their long term viability (whether injury or ability). Either way, building through prospects is similar to what this year's Mariners have done where team has done after a long rebuild where they plan on years of contention after making a number of high profile trades and signings of known quantities to reinforce any flops of their prospects (Julio Rodríguez and George Kirby has outshined all potential, while Jarred Kelenic has essentially disappeared). Reloads are not just about graduating prospects; it's about building with those who don't need time to figure out their success. In another world, Donaldson was traded for prospects rather than big leaguers, and you could imagine Buxton, Polanco, and even Arraez packing their bags for other ballparks. Watching multiple seasons of poor performance in the hope of a good team down the road is no one's idea of fun, so the fact that the Twins pushed this year remains a blessing. But in retrospect, their approach in the reload feels odd. The Twins did increase their salary by 20% this season, but in the end, they were perhaps not in the place for the reload that wins championships. What was missing from the Twins reload? Sound off in the comments. View full article
  7. After limping through the last impactful series of the season against the Cleveland Guardians over the weekend, Minnesota’s postseason hopes were all but cooked. Having led the division for a vast majority of the season, injuries mounted and ultimately ruined any potential to hang on. That’s not to say injuries were the defining factor in falling short, Minnesota contributed to that plenty on their own as well. Relatively early on in the year, it was apparent that the AL Central was going to fade behind the competition. Chicago’s ineptitude was injury-related as well, but they were also horribly managed by Tony La Russa, and consistently played bad baseball defensively. Cleveland has a great manager in Terry Francona, and as expected, their pitching kept them in it while young players got their feet wet. Minnesota’s place in all of that got shuffled early after a strong May, but it shouldn’t be lost that no one seemed to want to win this division down the stretch. Therein lies the definition of the 2022 Minnesota Twins season: A failure to capitalize. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine didn’t throw all of Jim Pohlad’s resources at the 2022 season to suggest it was World Series or bust. Nothing about a bullpen addition of only Joe Smith said, “We’re all in.” However, what was done should’ve been enough and at every juncture, the Twins came up short. When the trade deadline came around and there was an opportunity to improve a winning ball club, the front office added a top-level starter in Tyler Mahle. They addressed the bullpen by bringing in Michael Fulmer and Jorge Lopez. Then, as it had all season long, it quickly was wiped out on and off the field. Every team has injuries, but very few had as many and those as impactful as the Twins. Byron Buxton played hurt from the jump. Pitching was constantly in flux. Alex Kirilloff never got better. They won through them, for a time. When Minnesota would create their own fortunes, generating base runners and putting guys in scoring position, they consistently failed to capitalize. Baserunning was bad, defense equally so. All season long the Twins found themselves with the opportunity to control their own destiny, run away and hide with the division, and create noise. Instead, they responded with more trips to the injured list, poor situational hitting, and an overall lack of execution. If we were to reflect on the season as a whole, taking a bit of a step back from the emotions down the stretch, maybe we should've seen this coming. After all, a .500 record was largely what was projected from the get-go. For a good portion of the season, all this team amounted to a .500 ballclub. Ultimately though, after creating their own good fortune, a wilting happened and nothing was done to substantiate it. There’s certainly a handful of different ways to get where Minnesota finished, but as The Athletic’s Aaron Gleeman put it, the Twins took the least enjoyable way to get there. Good teams capitalize on their opportunities, and although this one was masked as a good team for a while, they simply never capitalized on what was in front of them.
  8. Were the Twins to go the way of many teams and begin a long rebuild to return to contention? "I'm not using that word," Derek Falvey told the beat writers. Instead, 2022 would be a year for a reload. But what does a successful reload look like? The Twins set out to return to playoff contention as they had in 2019 and 2020. Doing so would require more money and trades than the team had done in previous years of Pohlad ownership. Teams often reload for playoff contention for several reasons but usually require a strong central core and only a few critical holes to fill. For the 2016 Red Sox, their last year with Hall of Famer David Ortiz and an ascending Mookie Betts, it meant grabbing David Price on a $217 million deal and Craig Kimbrel in a trade with San Diego. The team went from last to first in the division for the next three years, including a World Series ring in 2018. However, a better comparison for teams with smaller payrolls might be those 2005 White Sox. Their opening day lineup only featured three of the same faces from 2004, but none were rookies. Instead, Ozzie Guillén and Kenny Williams tried to rethink what kind of players to build around their core, grabbing AJ Pierzynski, Jermaine Dye, Tadahito Iguchi, and Scott Podsednik. Most of their core pitching returned, with Yankees pitcher Orlando Hernández filling in as their fifth man. Their salary ballooned from $65 million to $75 million, while the first-place Twins remained essentially static in the $50 million range. Of course, it was all worth it: the White Sox were an era-defining team, winning the division by six games, going on one of the all-time great post-season runs, and ending an 88-year-old championship drought. For the Twins going into 2022, there was enough in the revolver for one last go of a core set of players: Jorge Polanco, Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson, Luis Arraez, Mitch Garver, and Miguel Sano, plus some promise with Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, Trevor Larnach, and Alex Kirilloff to step up (not to mention the many hopes around the arrival of Royce Lewis). Their bullpen had enough interesting names to build around. So why didn't the Twins work? First, the Twins had too many holes to fill, particularly in the starting pitching realm. Ober and Ryan had less than 100 innings under their belts, and Kenta Maeda was merely a glimmer of promise for a late-season comeback. The Twins needed a Day One starter, but quickly missed names like Carlos Rodon, Marcus Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard, all of who made splashy but not impossible out-of-reach deals for the organization to match. When the market reopened, the Twins rebounded by making the smart move to trade their first-round draft pick for Sonny Gray. But then they went with not one not two but three different "fix me up" projects: Dylan Bundy, Chris Archer, and Chris Paddack. Beyond Gray, that left five essentially unproven starters on opening day. The bullpen additions were equally shaky with the additions of Joe Smith and Emilio Pagán while dealing Taylor Rogers. Most importantly, the Twins essentially committed almost no new money in this realm beyond their trade capital, an odd sign for a team serious about contending. Of course, the Twins put money down this season with a pair of $100+ million contracts: an extension of Buxton and a second in a blockbuster deal to commit $35.1 million a year to Carlos Correa. Bringing in a playoff specialist like Correa was the essential move they needed. It at least felt part of their decision to erase bad clubhouse vibes by flipping Josh Donaldson for Yankees veterans Gio Urshela and Gary Sánchez. Neither Urshela nor Sánchez were the top Bronx bombers, but there was plenty of sense they were the kind of players who understood big spots and big games. And yet, the Twins probably remained slim in other veteran talent to reinforce their lineup. The previous year had demonstrated that the team did not have their prospects ready to go as eight different men took to center field to fill in injury after injury. Whether the Twins expected this year's injury woes to be worse than last year, their decision to depend entirely on prospects to back up Buxton and Kepler felt short-sided with plenty of low-end veterans available on the market (Kevin Pillar for example took a minor league deal with the Dodgers). A strong reload rarely means depending on new players—those 2005 Sox were all veterans beyond their season call-up of closer Bobby Jenks—but the Twins seemingly put a lot of hope on what feels like too many prospects suddenly becoming core players. Jose Miranda, Griffin Jax, and Jhoan Duran, have made themselves essential to this year's success, but others still have question marks about their long term viability (whether injury or ability). Either way, building through prospects is similar to what this year's Mariners have done where team has done after a long rebuild where they plan on years of contention after making a number of high profile trades and signings of known quantities to reinforce any flops of their prospects (Julio Rodríguez and George Kirby has outshined all potential, while Jarred Kelenic has essentially disappeared). Reloads are not just about graduating prospects; it's about building with those who don't need time to figure out their success. In another world, Donaldson was traded for prospects rather than big leaguers, and you could imagine Buxton, Polanco, and even Arraez packing their bags for other ballparks. Watching multiple seasons of poor performance in the hope of a good team down the road is no one's idea of fun, so the fact that the Twins pushed this year remains a blessing. But in retrospect, their approach in the reload feels odd. The Twins did increase their salary by 20% this season, but in the end, they were perhaps not in the place for the reload that wins championships. What was missing from the Twins reload? Sound off in the comments.
  9. The Minnesota Twins traded for Jorge Lopez at the 2022 Major League Baseball trade deadline. Acquiring the All-Star closer from the Baltimore Orioles, Minnesota looked to shore up their leaky bullpen. It hasn’t gone well. Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports Derek Falvey and Thad Levine orchestrated a near-flawless trade deadline for the Minnesota Twins. They grabbed a good starter in Tyler Mahle, and netted a bullpen piece in Michael Fulmer. Acquiring an All-Star closer in Jorge Lopez was a great get as well, but it’s hardly gone as planned. Lopez came to the Twins with a 1.68 ERA across 48 1/3 innings. He racked up 19 saves for Baltimore and virtually all of his work came in high leverage. He had a strong 10.1 K/9 and a WHIP below 1.000. If regression was going to hit, it shouldn’t have been expected to be brutal given a solid 3.00 FIP. Fast forward to where we are now and Lopez has made 15 appearances for the Twins totaling 14 1/3 innings. He owns a 4.40 ERA and an awful 11/9 K/BB. He hasn’t allowed a home run but is giving up more than ten hits per nine innings and every appearance is a tightrope act to get through. Before coming to Minnesota, Lopez was allowing just a 19.8% hard-hit rate and was getting whiffs 11.4% of the time. His fastball was being used 55% of the time and clocked in just shy of 98 mph on average. Lopez used the curveball 20% of the time and often twirled it as his out pitch. Since joining the Twins, he has continued using his fastball and the life remains the same. Instead of predominantly going to the curveball as a secondary offering, however, he’s dropped the usage and now is going with his changeup 20% of the time. The hard-hit rate is the same, but the whiff rate has dropped below 9%. It’s not at all abnormal for a pitcher to experience tweaks from a new organization, but it could be that the Twins have tinkered too much here. Although the sample size is small, and Lopez will remain in the organization for the next two seasons, swapping out secondary offerings has not produced positive results to this point. Lopez was hit around plenty as a starter, and reducing his repertoire has been integral in his advancement as a reliever. He’ll need to advocate for himself though if there’s a better belief in a specific secondary offering. When with Baltimore, it seemed the curveball paired just fine with his heat, and while it’s still there, the changeup replacing its usage may not be the best step forward. You can bet both Lopez and the Twins coaching staff will look to get him right the rest of the way, and the hope would be he finds another gear in 2023 as he returns to early-season form. That said, it may be time to reverse course on the current plan, at least through the duration of the season, to see if better results can be achieved. I don’t think Lopez has reverted to being a bad pitcher as he was in his starting days, but finding the right offerings to unlock his best self has to be a focus from here on out. Would you say that Lopez has been a disappointment in his short time with the Twins? View full article
  10. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine orchestrated a near-flawless trade deadline for the Minnesota Twins. They grabbed a good starter in Tyler Mahle, and netted a bullpen piece in Michael Fulmer. Acquiring an All-Star closer in Jorge Lopez was a great get as well, but it’s hardly gone as planned. Lopez came to the Twins with a 1.68 ERA across 48 1/3 innings. He racked up 19 saves for Baltimore and virtually all of his work came in high leverage. He had a strong 10.1 K/9 and a WHIP below 1.000. If regression was going to hit, it shouldn’t have been expected to be brutal given a solid 3.00 FIP. Fast forward to where we are now and Lopez has made 15 appearances for the Twins totaling 14 1/3 innings. He owns a 4.40 ERA and an awful 11/9 K/BB. He hasn’t allowed a home run but is giving up more than ten hits per nine innings and every appearance is a tightrope act to get through. Before coming to Minnesota, Lopez was allowing just a 19.8% hard-hit rate and was getting whiffs 11.4% of the time. His fastball was being used 55% of the time and clocked in just shy of 98 mph on average. Lopez used the curveball 20% of the time and often twirled it as his out pitch. Since joining the Twins, he has continued using his fastball and the life remains the same. Instead of predominantly going to the curveball as a secondary offering, however, he’s dropped the usage and now is going with his changeup 20% of the time. The hard-hit rate is the same, but the whiff rate has dropped below 9%. It’s not at all abnormal for a pitcher to experience tweaks from a new organization, but it could be that the Twins have tinkered too much here. Although the sample size is small, and Lopez will remain in the organization for the next two seasons, swapping out secondary offerings has not produced positive results to this point. Lopez was hit around plenty as a starter, and reducing his repertoire has been integral in his advancement as a reliever. He’ll need to advocate for himself though if there’s a better belief in a specific secondary offering. When with Baltimore, it seemed the curveball paired just fine with his heat, and while it’s still there, the changeup replacing its usage may not be the best step forward. You can bet both Lopez and the Twins coaching staff will look to get him right the rest of the way, and the hope would be he finds another gear in 2023 as he returns to early-season form. That said, it may be time to reverse course on the current plan, at least through the duration of the season, to see if better results can be achieved. I don’t think Lopez has reverted to being a bad pitcher as he was in his starting days, but finding the right offerings to unlock his best self has to be a focus from here on out. Would you say that Lopez has been a disappointment in his short time with the Twins?
  11. Twins fans have been left frustrated at the end of the last two seasons, but for entirely different reasons. Here are four reasons why the 2022 season is more frustrating than last year. Image courtesy of David Banks-USA TODAY Sports Nearly every baseball fan base will suffer frustration in any given season. Only one team walks away with the World Series title, and even the best clubs go through slides in a 162-game season. Minnesota still has a small window to reach the postseason, but it will take a tremendous turnaround from a very injured roster. So, what makes this season more frustrating than last year? Early-Season Success Most national projections had the Twins as the second-best team in the AL Central going into the season. Minnesota's early success masked the fact that the club was likely heading for a .500 record. Obviously, projections can be taken with a grain of salt, but the Twins' early season success changed the team's outlook. The AL Central was a mess, and it looked like the Twins had an opportunity to capitalize on one of baseball's worst divisions. During the 2021 season, the team was out of playoff contention by the end of the season's first month. While this was frustrating, it was easier for fans not to get wrapped up in the team's poor play for the remainder of the year. Trade Deadline Success and Failure As July ended, the Twins were playing poorly, but they still sat at the top of the AL Central. Even so, the front office went into the trade deadline looking to add pieces to the roster. For the first time under this regime, it felt like the front office was trying to set the Twins up for second-half success and a possible playoff run. On paper, the players acquired at the deadline looked like a success, but it has turned into a failure. Tyler Mahle is injured, and likely won't pitch again in 2022. Jorge Lopez hasn't been a dominant reliever with the Twins while being pushed out of the closer role. Ideally, both players would lead Minnesota to a division title, which adds to fans' frustration when they aren't meeting expectations. Mounting Injuries Last season, it didn't matter if there were injured players because the Twins were out of contention. Every team deals with injuries, but they have been catastrophic for the 2022 Twins. Injuries have become the theme for Minnesota as the club has put more players on the injured list than any other American League team. This has to be frustrating for the coaching staff because it feels like the team is playing without a full deck. It becomes easy to point fingers when a club isn't performing as expected, but the Twins can field a full roster of currently injured players. Not Meeting Injury Timelines Another frustration related to injuries is how frequently the club has been wrong about timelines for players to return. It has been standard practice for teams to provide an injury timeline when a player goes on the IL. Unfortunately, the club has placed numerous players on the IL, but they haven't seemed to be able to get return timelines correct for multiple seasons. Traditionally, Minnesota has been conservative with their provided injury timelines, so one would hope the players could meet those timelines. For fans, this can add to frustration levels because there is an expectation that the team will improve when players get back on the field. Ultimately, the 2022 season has been frustrating for everything involved with the Twins. Fans have every right to be frustrated as the club has squandered an opportunity for a third division title in the last four seasons. Do you think the 2022 season has been more frustrating than 2021? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  12. Coming into the season, off of a long lockout, the Minnesota Twins were not seen as favorites. Even after signing a superstar in Carlos Correa, the questions about pitching remained. Yes, Sonny Gray was acquired, but Kenta Maeda was expected to be out most of the year, and a young duo in Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober were expected to carry the load. Bullpen questions remained, and only Joe Smith was brought in to answer them. After a mediocre first month, Rocco Baldelli had his guys clicking through May. Maybe the one period of relative health throughout the whole season, Minnesota’s manager orchestrated an 18-12 record. It’s been .500 or worse each month since then, and despite the initial expectations, it’s hard to suggest they weren’t raised after Derek Falvey and Thad Levine provided reinforcements at the deadline. Whether Minnesota claws back and makes the postseason or not, the manager has plenty to sort through this season. Baldelli has now managed more than 500 games for Minnesota and has accumulated a winning record. His win percentage is .533, well above Ron Gardenhire’s .484, Paul Molitor’s .471, or Tom Kelly’s .478. The Twins have won the division twice during his four-year tenure, and they should be seen as a candidate to do so again in 2023. It’s not fair to chalk 2022 up as a wash entirely because of injuries. Baldelli has consistently operated with half of his deck, but there’s been ample opportunity to provide better results. It’s probably worth wondering how things would have gone if Minnesota had seen even a slightly better outcome in terms of the guys they’ve lost to injury. It’s also not fair to suggest Baldelli has failed given the hurdles he’s had to clear. Ultimately a front office wants a manager to be their representative of process in the clubhouse. I think it’s safe to say that Baldelli is in lockstep with his bosses. It’s also more than evident that Baldelli gets along with his players, and has their respect as well. Both of those realities are integral when deciding to keep someone in the position. Unlike Molitor before him, it seems that Baldelli is able to effectively communicate with the guys on the field, and is able to get buy-in when wanting players to try new things. If the Twins were to change course, it probably would have a ripple effect throughout the clubhouse, and that sort of shakeup may not be beneficial given the youth expected to produce in 2023 and beyond. Consistency among leadership can be viewed as a positive, and Baldelli has already connected with so many that will take on larger roles in the years ahead. Should Minnesota make a move, and I think there's an opportunity for them to do so, it will come throughout the coaching staff as a whole. Maybe there's opportunity to shore up baserunning or generate a secondary voice in the clubhouse. Pete Maki has been fine in Wes Johnson’s position, but a more established pitching coach makes sense as well. At times throughout this season, it’s seemed the clubhouse needed a more vocal leader to beg for accountability or change. While that’s not Baldelli’s demeanor and isn’t really that of Correa or Byron Buxton, it could be that of a performance coach or someone tabbed with the background solely to rise to the occasion. We’ll see changes this offseason, there will be more than a few on the coaching staff, but I think it’s safe to say the front office should and will retain their manager.
  13. It’s hard finding a way to define the Minnesota Twins 2022 season. Expected to compete for the division, but ultimately seen behind the Chicago White Sox, the Twins held first place for much of the year before sputtering at the end. What falls on Rocco Baldelli’s shoulders, and how should we view his future? Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports Coming into the season, off of a long lockout, the Minnesota Twins were not seen as favorites. Even after signing a superstar in Carlos Correa, the questions about pitching remained. Yes, Sonny Gray was acquired, but Kenta Maeda was expected to be out most of the year, and a young duo in Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober were expected to carry the load. Bullpen questions remained, and only Joe Smith was brought in to answer them. After a mediocre first month, Rocco Baldelli had his guys clicking through May. Maybe the one period of relative health throughout the whole season, Minnesota’s manager orchestrated an 18-12 record. It’s been .500 or worse each month since then, and despite the initial expectations, it’s hard to suggest they weren’t raised after Derek Falvey and Thad Levine provided reinforcements at the deadline. Whether Minnesota claws back and makes the postseason or not, the manager has plenty to sort through this season. Baldelli has now managed more than 500 games for Minnesota and has accumulated a winning record. His win percentage is .533, well above Ron Gardenhire’s .484, Paul Molitor’s .471, or Tom Kelly’s .478. The Twins have won the division twice during his four-year tenure, and they should be seen as a candidate to do so again in 2023. It’s not fair to chalk 2022 up as a wash entirely because of injuries. Baldelli has consistently operated with half of his deck, but there’s been ample opportunity to provide better results. It’s probably worth wondering how things would have gone if Minnesota had seen even a slightly better outcome in terms of the guys they’ve lost to injury. It’s also not fair to suggest Baldelli has failed given the hurdles he’s had to clear. Ultimately a front office wants a manager to be their representative of process in the clubhouse. I think it’s safe to say that Baldelli is in lockstep with his bosses. It’s also more than evident that Baldelli gets along with his players, and has their respect as well. Both of those realities are integral when deciding to keep someone in the position. Unlike Molitor before him, it seems that Baldelli is able to effectively communicate with the guys on the field, and is able to get buy-in when wanting players to try new things. If the Twins were to change course, it probably would have a ripple effect throughout the clubhouse, and that sort of shakeup may not be beneficial given the youth expected to produce in 2023 and beyond. Consistency among leadership can be viewed as a positive, and Baldelli has already connected with so many that will take on larger roles in the years ahead. Should Minnesota make a move, and I think there's an opportunity for them to do so, it will come throughout the coaching staff as a whole. Maybe there's opportunity to shore up baserunning or generate a secondary voice in the clubhouse. Pete Maki has been fine in Wes Johnson’s position, but a more established pitching coach makes sense as well. At times throughout this season, it’s seemed the clubhouse needed a more vocal leader to beg for accountability or change. While that’s not Baldelli’s demeanor and isn’t really that of Correa or Byron Buxton, it could be that of a performance coach or someone tabbed with the background solely to rise to the occasion. We’ll see changes this offseason, there will be more than a few on the coaching staff, but I think it’s safe to say the front office should and will retain their manager. View full article
  14. Nearly every baseball fan base will suffer frustration in any given season. Only one team walks away with the World Series title, and even the best clubs go through slides in a 162-game season. Minnesota still has a small window to reach the postseason, but it will take a tremendous turnaround from a very injured roster. So, what makes this season more frustrating than last year? Early-Season Success Most national projections had the Twins as the second-best team in the AL Central going into the season. Minnesota's early success masked the fact that the club was likely heading for a .500 record. Obviously, projections can be taken with a grain of salt, but the Twins' early season success changed the team's outlook. The AL Central was a mess, and it looked like the Twins had an opportunity to capitalize on one of baseball's worst divisions. During the 2021 season, the team was out of playoff contention by the end of the season's first month. While this was frustrating, it was easier for fans not to get wrapped up in the team's poor play for the remainder of the year. Trade Deadline Success and Failure As July ended, the Twins were playing poorly, but they still sat at the top of the AL Central. Even so, the front office went into the trade deadline looking to add pieces to the roster. For the first time under this regime, it felt like the front office was trying to set the Twins up for second-half success and a possible playoff run. On paper, the players acquired at the deadline looked like a success, but it has turned into a failure. Tyler Mahle is injured, and likely won't pitch again in 2022. Jorge Lopez hasn't been a dominant reliever with the Twins while being pushed out of the closer role. Ideally, both players would lead Minnesota to a division title, which adds to fans' frustration when they aren't meeting expectations. Mounting Injuries Last season, it didn't matter if there were injured players because the Twins were out of contention. Every team deals with injuries, but they have been catastrophic for the 2022 Twins. Injuries have become the theme for Minnesota as the club has put more players on the injured list than any other American League team. This has to be frustrating for the coaching staff because it feels like the team is playing without a full deck. It becomes easy to point fingers when a club isn't performing as expected, but the Twins can field a full roster of currently injured players. Not Meeting Injury Timelines Another frustration related to injuries is how frequently the club has been wrong about timelines for players to return. It has been standard practice for teams to provide an injury timeline when a player goes on the IL. Unfortunately, the club has placed numerous players on the IL, but they haven't seemed to be able to get return timelines correct for multiple seasons. Traditionally, Minnesota has been conservative with their provided injury timelines, so one would hope the players could meet those timelines. For fans, this can add to frustration levels because there is an expectation that the team will improve when players get back on the field. Ultimately, the 2022 season has been frustrating for everything involved with the Twins. Fans have every right to be frustrated as the club has squandered an opportunity for a third division title in the last four seasons. Do you think the 2022 season has been more frustrating than 2021? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  15. The Minnesota Twins postseason hopes are dwindling, and for a team that splurged on the starting lineup this season, no one should be happy with how things went. What happens to the front office when the dust settles, and should they be back? Image courtesy of © Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports First and foremost, yes Derek Falvey and Thad Levine should and will be back for the Twins in 2023. Now that that’s out of the way, there’s absolutely more to dissect here. Coming into 2022, Carlos Correa fell into the Minnesota Twins' lap. He needed a place to play, and the Twins had money to spend. $35.1 million allowed Correa to claim the richest contract by average annual value for an infielder across Major League Baseball history. He’s now produced to a point worth that valuation, and he’s going to get paid this offseason. The Twins structured his contract to allow for the length he sought last year, and the opt-outs allow him to capitalize on timing. Yes, he’s opting out. No, that doesn’t mean Minnesota can’t find a way to bring him back. Just because Correa was on this team didn’t mean that the front office was going all in. Jhoan Duran was not intended to make the Opening Day roster, and Jose Miranda started the year in St. Paul. Despite swinging a trade for Sonny Gray, Minnesota’s pitching depth included Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer rounding out the rotation. Joe Smith, an aging veteran, was the only bullpen addition. In short, there were some big moves made, but this was a rather conservative stance on talent acquisition. The goal from the beginning for this front office has been to create a sustainable winner. While they haven’t necessarily done that, they certainly haven’t failed either. Minnesota has been consistently competitive for the bulk of the past few years, and the farm system has begun to bear fruit. The Twins minor league rankings have dropped in large part due to the graduations. The development of names like Jose Miranda and Joe Ryan has been substantial, and being able to turn prospects like Cade Povich and Spencer Steer into big-league assets is a testament to growth. Falvey and Levine have consistently focused on the future though, and as they barrel towards it, now would be a misguided time to pull the plug. The core of Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, and Miguel Sano was not their group. That talent was a catalyst during the Bomba Squad season, and they remain intact now, but the pairing of what this front office has developed is where they want to go. Royce Lewis, Miranda, and a fast emergence of Brooks Lee, Matt Wallner, Trevor Larnach, and Alex Kirilloff are what Falvey and Levine see in the lineup. They’re hoping to have the likes of Simeon Woods Richardson, Jordan Balazovic, Ronny Henriquez, Blayne Enlow, and Cole Sands give them real starter innings. Everyone mentioned there is close, and they all should provide a higher ceiling than the depth thrust onto the Twins roster this season. Of course, no plans are guaranteed, so maybe this wave flops or fails to develop, but after years of Terry Ryan or his referred successors, there’s just very little reason for ownership to pull the plug now. View full article
  16. First and foremost, yes Derek Falvey and Thad Levine should and will be back for the Twins in 2023. Now that that’s out of the way, there’s absolutely more to dissect here. Coming into 2022, Carlos Correa fell into the Minnesota Twins' lap. He needed a place to play, and the Twins had money to spend. $35.1 million allowed Correa to claim the richest contract by average annual value for an infielder across Major League Baseball history. He’s now produced to a point worth that valuation, and he’s going to get paid this offseason. The Twins structured his contract to allow for the length he sought last year, and the opt-outs allow him to capitalize on timing. Yes, he’s opting out. No, that doesn’t mean Minnesota can’t find a way to bring him back. Just because Correa was on this team didn’t mean that the front office was going all in. Jhoan Duran was not intended to make the Opening Day roster, and Jose Miranda started the year in St. Paul. Despite swinging a trade for Sonny Gray, Minnesota’s pitching depth included Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer rounding out the rotation. Joe Smith, an aging veteran, was the only bullpen addition. In short, there were some big moves made, but this was a rather conservative stance on talent acquisition. The goal from the beginning for this front office has been to create a sustainable winner. While they haven’t necessarily done that, they certainly haven’t failed either. Minnesota has been consistently competitive for the bulk of the past few years, and the farm system has begun to bear fruit. The Twins minor league rankings have dropped in large part due to the graduations. The development of names like Jose Miranda and Joe Ryan has been substantial, and being able to turn prospects like Cade Povich and Spencer Steer into big-league assets is a testament to growth. Falvey and Levine have consistently focused on the future though, and as they barrel towards it, now would be a misguided time to pull the plug. The core of Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, and Miguel Sano was not their group. That talent was a catalyst during the Bomba Squad season, and they remain intact now, but the pairing of what this front office has developed is where they want to go. Royce Lewis, Miranda, and a fast emergence of Brooks Lee, Matt Wallner, Trevor Larnach, and Alex Kirilloff are what Falvey and Levine see in the lineup. They’re hoping to have the likes of Simeon Woods Richardson, Jordan Balazovic, Ronny Henriquez, Blayne Enlow, and Cole Sands give them real starter innings. Everyone mentioned there is close, and they all should provide a higher ceiling than the depth thrust onto the Twins roster this season. Of course, no plans are guaranteed, so maybe this wave flops or fails to develop, but after years of Terry Ryan or his referred successors, there’s just very little reason for ownership to pull the plug now.
  17. The Minnesota Twins are one of the most forward thinking front offices in baseball. They employ a bevy of intelligent people that use ample amounts of information in order to put the best team on the field. Now coming to the final month, they have two players that couldn’t be from more opposite schools of thought. This offseason Derek Falvey made former Los Angeles Angels pitcher Dylan Bundy his first pitching acquisition when he was signed to a one-year deal worth $6 million. An $11 million team option was tied to 2023, and the hope for the Twins was that they could recapture the 3.29 ERA (and 2.95 FIP) that had Bundy finish 9th in the American League Cy Young voting during the 2020 season. That would be a difficult task considering how bad he was last season for Los Angeles. Bundy owned a 6.06 ERA along with a 5.51 FIP. He was allowing two homers every nine innings, and he pitched in just 90 2/3 innings. The velocity actually ticked up to 90.8 mph last year, but the whiff rate dropped below 10% for the first time in his career. Still, Minnesota’s plan was a value play. Bundy, alongside the eventual signing of Chris Archer, represented an opportunity to squeeze something out of nothing at the back end of the pen. To date, Bundy has thrown slower, struck out fewer batters, and his Statcast page makes Minnesota look warm in January. The notable reality here is what’s happened. Sure, Bundy doesn’t put the ball by anyone, and his start is hardly worth making note of. He does generate a strong chase rate and limits walks, but based on expected outcomes, regression should hit him hard. Yet, it hasn’t. He owns a FIP in line with his ERA, and an expected ERA of 3.98. No matter how you cut it, the stuff doesn’t match the results, but the job has gotten done. I wouldn’t guess Minnesota is itching to hand out the $11 million in 2023, but they’ve got to be happy with the surplus value this season. On the flip side, there’s Emilio Pagan. Acquired from the San Diego Padres for Taylor Rogers just before Opening Day, Pagan was picked as a closer type with hopes of regaining his 2019 stuff with Tampa Bay. It began with a poor first outing against the Seattle Mariners, and the reliever has never recovered. Pagan is under team control through 2023, certainly part of the allure in acquiring him. He can be tendered a deal through arbitration and won’t break Minnesota’s bank. The problem is that the results have culminated to the tune of 5.04 ERA, 2.0 HR/9, six losses, and seven blown saves. In short, he’s largely been the difference between winning or losing the American League Central division. The reason Pagan continues to be given a leash is that everything except the results says he should be good. Velocity is up, his xFIP is just 3.30, he owns nearly a 36% chase rate and gets whiffs 14% of the time. In an age where velocity is king and misses matter, Pagan checks those boxes. His Statcast page shows a nearly inverse result of Bundy’s. Pagan has everything going for him until wood meets leather, and then it’s an absolute nightmare. It’s been a very interesting situation for the Twins to manage this year. Rocco Baldelli has constantly been hamstrung with a bullpen including an unusable pitcher in Pagan. He’s been kept around on the hopes that tweaks will lead to expected or desired results becoming reality. Bundy isn’t the piece you build around, but he’s not the reason you lose now. Pagan is the type you hope to have become an asset, but you’ll take your lumps along the way. This season Minnesota may have tied themselves to the wrong horse for long enough that it bites them. An analytical approach is how you seek to gain value and create sustainability, but there’s more than enough room for hiccups along the way. For a team threading the needle so tightly, we’ll have to see whether whatever happens in 2023 was worth whatever took place in 2022. View full article
  18. This offseason Derek Falvey made former Los Angeles Angels pitcher Dylan Bundy his first pitching acquisition when he was signed to a one-year deal worth $6 million. An $11 million team option was tied to 2023, and the hope for the Twins was that they could recapture the 3.29 ERA (and 2.95 FIP) that had Bundy finish 9th in the American League Cy Young voting during the 2020 season. That would be a difficult task considering how bad he was last season for Los Angeles. Bundy owned a 6.06 ERA along with a 5.51 FIP. He was allowing two homers every nine innings, and he pitched in just 90 2/3 innings. The velocity actually ticked up to 90.8 mph last year, but the whiff rate dropped below 10% for the first time in his career. Still, Minnesota’s plan was a value play. Bundy, alongside the eventual signing of Chris Archer, represented an opportunity to squeeze something out of nothing at the back end of the pen. To date, Bundy has thrown slower, struck out fewer batters, and his Statcast page makes Minnesota look warm in January. The notable reality here is what’s happened. Sure, Bundy doesn’t put the ball by anyone, and his start is hardly worth making note of. He does generate a strong chase rate and limits walks, but based on expected outcomes, regression should hit him hard. Yet, it hasn’t. He owns a FIP in line with his ERA, and an expected ERA of 3.98. No matter how you cut it, the stuff doesn’t match the results, but the job has gotten done. I wouldn’t guess Minnesota is itching to hand out the $11 million in 2023, but they’ve got to be happy with the surplus value this season. On the flip side, there’s Emilio Pagan. Acquired from the San Diego Padres for Taylor Rogers just before Opening Day, Pagan was picked as a closer type with hopes of regaining his 2019 stuff with Tampa Bay. It began with a poor first outing against the Seattle Mariners, and the reliever has never recovered. Pagan is under team control through 2023, certainly part of the allure in acquiring him. He can be tendered a deal through arbitration and won’t break Minnesota’s bank. The problem is that the results have culminated to the tune of 5.04 ERA, 2.0 HR/9, six losses, and seven blown saves. In short, he’s largely been the difference between winning or losing the American League Central division. The reason Pagan continues to be given a leash is that everything except the results says he should be good. Velocity is up, his xFIP is just 3.30, he owns nearly a 36% chase rate and gets whiffs 14% of the time. In an age where velocity is king and misses matter, Pagan checks those boxes. His Statcast page shows a nearly inverse result of Bundy’s. Pagan has everything going for him until wood meets leather, and then it’s an absolute nightmare. It’s been a very interesting situation for the Twins to manage this year. Rocco Baldelli has constantly been hamstrung with a bullpen including an unusable pitcher in Pagan. He’s been kept around on the hopes that tweaks will lead to expected or desired results becoming reality. Bundy isn’t the piece you build around, but he’s not the reason you lose now. Pagan is the type you hope to have become an asset, but you’ll take your lumps along the way. This season Minnesota may have tied themselves to the wrong horse for long enough that it bites them. An analytical approach is how you seek to gain value and create sustainability, but there’s more than enough room for hiccups along the way. For a team threading the needle so tightly, we’ll have to see whether whatever happens in 2023 was worth whatever took place in 2022.
  19. The Twins waited until Tuesday, the trade deadline, to make their moves, but in the end, they added right-handed starter Tyler Mahle, right-handed relievers Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer, and a backup catcher option in Sandy Leon. It came at a price as the Twins dealt infielders Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand, left-handed pitchers Cade Povich, Steve Hajjar and Juan Rojas, right-handed pitchers Yennier Cano, Sawyer Gipson Long and Juan Nunez. Seth Stohs: As you know, I don’t like to see prospects traded, and yet, I fully understand that it is a necessary evil in order for the big-league club to add talent and fill holes. Before the deadline, the obvious question is: What do the Twins need to do? I would tell people that they need to add at least one starter, two reliable relievers, and another catching option. That’s exactly what the Twins front office did. Mahle now rejoins Sonny Gray at the top of the Twins rotation. Lopez should team with Jhoan Duran at the end of ball games. Fulmer should slot into 7th and 8th innings with Griffin Jax. Back to the prospects, Spencer Steer has a chance to be a really good player, but with the Twins, he’s behind Jose Miranda and others. Same with Christian Encarnacion-Strand who has destroyed baseballs since entering pro ball in 2021. Steve Hajjar has had an up and down season, but he has a chance to be good if healthy. Cade Povich has a chance to be a mid-rotation starter, maybe even more. The Twins had to give up something in order to get something, but they did just that. The front office made the necessary moves. The question, in my mind, is if the Twins added enough to stay ahead of the White Sox in the AL Central. We shall see. Jeremy Nygaard: For me, the long and the short of it is that you hope your prospects turn into productive players. Not that they’re great comparisons, but you hope you can develop Cade Povich into a player with Tyler Mahle’s ability. You hope that any of those other pitching prospects that were dealt if they fail as starters, turn into really good relievers like Jorge Lopez. And that’s exactly how the teams that dealt Mahle and Lopez feel too. They just acquired three or four chances. Nobody that the Twins dealt is sure things and like you mentioned, Seth, even Steer was going to have a hard time breaking into the lineup. It’s hard not to like the deals they made because they give the Twins a chance to go deeper this year, Mahle will be a big part of the rotation in ‘23 and Lopez helps the bullpen for the next two years. Plus they still have all their top prospects. Sure, Fulmer was a rental, but at a low cost. Now, if you want to talk about if Lopez has two more years being the dude he is now… well, that’s another story. Melissa Berman: Tuesday represented the most active trade deadline day the Twins have had in years, maybe ever, and is a clear message from the front office: "We see ourselves as serious contenders, and we want to win now." While losing high-flying prospects like Steer and Encarnacion-Strand is unfortunate, it simultaneously is a vote of confidence for the Twins' young corps of Arraez, Miranda, Lewis, Kirilloff, and Larnach. When healthy, each player has produced at a high level, and it is outwardly apparent that the Twins see them in their long-term outlook. Consequently, there would not be a lot of places for these hitting prospects to go in the Twins organization. The Twins made good moves on Tuesday that provide them with much-needed help for the rest of the 2022 season and several more to come. Contrast the multitude of Twins moves with the Chicago White Sox, who only added reliever Jake Diekman, and the Cleveland Guardians, who added pitcher Ian Hamilton. The lack of moves could mean one of two things: the teams think they can compete with what they currently have, or, conversely, they don't see themselves as serious division contenders this season. Rebuilding and major retooling of lineups are best done in the offseason with the free agent market at a team’s disposal. Time will tell if the AL Central, currently the most competitive division race in baseball, will stay a close three-horse race, and if the Twins’ moves will be enough to keep them on top. Rena Wang: To echo Melissa, it was exciting as a fan to see the Twins so active at the trade deadline for the first time in years. We’ve become accustomed to disappointment and a lack of urgency to win (CC. the trade Correa crew), but we’ve known in the back of our minds all along that the Twins’ front office is ready to win with the moves that were made in the offseason. It's always painful to lose prospects, especially Christian Encarnacion-Strand who was recently named the Minor League Hitter of the Month for the second time, but the definition of a prospect speaks for itself. I’m always an advocate of taking a risk for something tangible and certain. The Twins also exceeded expectations by trading for Jorge López, the best young closer in baseball. Although Michael Fulmer fits the profile of the average Twins’ trade target, he’s having a career season in the bullpen and would slot in perfectly with Griffin Jax and Tyler Duffey as a middle reliever. Tyler Mahle is the starter that the Twins desperately need with Bailey Ober headed to the 60-Day IL. All in all, if these trade targets continue to perform as advertised, the Twins have a real shot to compete for the first time in years. Theo Tollefson: The Falvey and Levine regime had their best trade deadline to date Tuesday. They acquired the bare minimum of what many Twins fans had been asking for since mid-June with a reliable middle-of-the-rotation starter and two backend relievers. Tyler Mahle was the best acquisition of them all. Mahle has had much better numbers on the road this year than he had at Great American Ballpark with the Red. Given that Target Field is more of a pitcher-friendly ballpark than GAB, Mahle should find himself more comfortable in his new home ballpark for the next year and a half with the Twins. Jorge Lopez was a surprise acquisition but a welcomed one at that. Lopez has finally reached the potential he was given as a prospect with the Brewers over seven years ago. Although Rocco Baldelli has never officially designated someone as the closer in his five years as manager, people can expect Lopez to unofficially fill that role for the Twins and take a load off of Duran and the rest of the bullpen. Michael Fulmer is just another good addition for a depleted Twins bullpen. He will certainly help in any role he is used for in relief. The Twins did give up a good amount of prospects to acquire who they needed this deadline, but they did not sell their entire farm system as the Padres did to get what they needed. This sets the team up well to win the AL Central this season and retool themselves for next year as well. Nash Walker: The Twins filled their biggest hole with a bang in Jorge López. They so badly needed a high-leverage right-handed reliever to pair with Jhoan Duran in the back of the bullpen. Other than Josh Hader, López was the best reliever dealt during the deadline. He’s also under team control through 2024, a significant wrinkle that sets up the Twins’ backend for the future. Tyler Mahle was my No. 1 target for the Twins when combining every factor. He should thrive outside of Cincinnati and I love his stuff. He knows how to pitch and there’s room for upside. Mahle is a mid-rotation starter *right now,* but I think there’s a real chance he’s a frontline starter very soon. Could they have used another starter? No question. Mahle is a great addition either way. After Mahle and López, I was hoping the Twins wouldn’t stop short. They then traded for Michael Fulmer, who I think is one of the more underrated relievers in baseball. Fulmer shuts down right-handed hitters and the Twins now boast a strength in the bullpen with Duran, López, Griffin Jax and Fulmer. It was a good finish to a good deadline. Let’s see how it plays out. Matt Braun: This was exactly the trade deadline the Twins needed; each move perfectly covered a weakness and two of the deals netted players who will impact future Twins teams as well. It’s hard to complain about that. What excites me—beyond the added talent—is that the team found a way to trade uncertain or blocked prospects without losing the big names. Spencer Steer is a major loss, but he had no easy path to the Twins; Cade Povich is a serious blow—I thought that he had the potential to become a solid mid-rotation arm—but he’s the only player I’m truly worked up over. Tyler Mahle is the dude. I’ve wanted Mahle on the team for years; I think his performance has another gear left and moving him away from a little league ballpark will neutralize his home run issue. I’m absolutely ecstatic that the Twins snagged him away from the Reds, and I might argue that he would be a theoretical game 1 starter (don’t worry, I knocked on wood after typing that). Jorge López is another great get. His stuff is mind-bending, he’s only 29, and the Twins will have him for two more years following this season. He and Jhoan Duran in the back-end may be the best—and nastiest—1-2 punch the team has had in a long time. Michael Fulmer is an acceptable get; he fills the 6th/7th inning role adequately—although his control worries me—and a middle relief piece deepens the bullpen. Gone are the days of Tyler Thornburg pitching in the 8th inning. My only qualm is that Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer still constitute 40% of the starting rotation. That’s not a terrible problem—every team will tell you that they aren’t fully comfortable with their starting staff—but it’s still an area the team could have improved upon. Netting Carlos Rodón would have made this an award-winning deadline; instead, it’s a great one. Your Turn: Share your thoughts in the comments below. Try to keep it to 150-200 words, and enjoy reading the thoughts of others.
  20. The Minnesota Twins added a starting pitcher, two relief pitchers and a backup catcher option before Tuesday’s MLB trade deadline. They lost some really good prospects to do so. With a day to reflect, what are your thoughts on what the Twins did at the deadline? The Twins waited until Tuesday, the trade deadline, to make their moves, but in the end, they added right-handed starter Tyler Mahle, right-handed relievers Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer, and a backup catcher option in Sandy Leon. It came at a price as the Twins dealt infielders Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand, left-handed pitchers Cade Povich, Steve Hajjar and Juan Rojas, right-handed pitchers Yennier Cano, Sawyer Gipson Long and Juan Nunez. Seth Stohs: As you know, I don’t like to see prospects traded, and yet, I fully understand that it is a necessary evil in order for the big-league club to add talent and fill holes. Before the deadline, the obvious question is: What do the Twins need to do? I would tell people that they need to add at least one starter, two reliable relievers, and another catching option. That’s exactly what the Twins front office did. Mahle now rejoins Sonny Gray at the top of the Twins rotation. Lopez should team with Jhoan Duran at the end of ball games. Fulmer should slot into 7th and 8th innings with Griffin Jax. Back to the prospects, Spencer Steer has a chance to be a really good player, but with the Twins, he’s behind Jose Miranda and others. Same with Christian Encarnacion-Strand who has destroyed baseballs since entering pro ball in 2021. Steve Hajjar has had an up and down season, but he has a chance to be good if healthy. Cade Povich has a chance to be a mid-rotation starter, maybe even more. The Twins had to give up something in order to get something, but they did just that. The front office made the necessary moves. The question, in my mind, is if the Twins added enough to stay ahead of the White Sox in the AL Central. We shall see. Jeremy Nygaard: For me, the long and the short of it is that you hope your prospects turn into productive players. Not that they’re great comparisons, but you hope you can develop Cade Povich into a player with Tyler Mahle’s ability. You hope that any of those other pitching prospects that were dealt if they fail as starters, turn into really good relievers like Jorge Lopez. And that’s exactly how the teams that dealt Mahle and Lopez feel too. They just acquired three or four chances. Nobody that the Twins dealt is sure things and like you mentioned, Seth, even Steer was going to have a hard time breaking into the lineup. It’s hard not to like the deals they made because they give the Twins a chance to go deeper this year, Mahle will be a big part of the rotation in ‘23 and Lopez helps the bullpen for the next two years. Plus they still have all their top prospects. Sure, Fulmer was a rental, but at a low cost. Now, if you want to talk about if Lopez has two more years being the dude he is now… well, that’s another story. Melissa Berman: Tuesday represented the most active trade deadline day the Twins have had in years, maybe ever, and is a clear message from the front office: "We see ourselves as serious contenders, and we want to win now." While losing high-flying prospects like Steer and Encarnacion-Strand is unfortunate, it simultaneously is a vote of confidence for the Twins' young corps of Arraez, Miranda, Lewis, Kirilloff, and Larnach. When healthy, each player has produced at a high level, and it is outwardly apparent that the Twins see them in their long-term outlook. Consequently, there would not be a lot of places for these hitting prospects to go in the Twins organization. The Twins made good moves on Tuesday that provide them with much-needed help for the rest of the 2022 season and several more to come. Contrast the multitude of Twins moves with the Chicago White Sox, who only added reliever Jake Diekman, and the Cleveland Guardians, who added pitcher Ian Hamilton. The lack of moves could mean one of two things: the teams think they can compete with what they currently have, or, conversely, they don't see themselves as serious division contenders this season. Rebuilding and major retooling of lineups are best done in the offseason with the free agent market at a team’s disposal. Time will tell if the AL Central, currently the most competitive division race in baseball, will stay a close three-horse race, and if the Twins’ moves will be enough to keep them on top. Rena Wang: To echo Melissa, it was exciting as a fan to see the Twins so active at the trade deadline for the first time in years. We’ve become accustomed to disappointment and a lack of urgency to win (CC. the trade Correa crew), but we’ve known in the back of our minds all along that the Twins’ front office is ready to win with the moves that were made in the offseason. It's always painful to lose prospects, especially Christian Encarnacion-Strand who was recently named the Minor League Hitter of the Month for the second time, but the definition of a prospect speaks for itself. I’m always an advocate of taking a risk for something tangible and certain. The Twins also exceeded expectations by trading for Jorge López, the best young closer in baseball. Although Michael Fulmer fits the profile of the average Twins’ trade target, he’s having a career season in the bullpen and would slot in perfectly with Griffin Jax and Tyler Duffey as a middle reliever. Tyler Mahle is the starter that the Twins desperately need with Bailey Ober headed to the 60-Day IL. All in all, if these trade targets continue to perform as advertised, the Twins have a real shot to compete for the first time in years. Theo Tollefson: The Falvey and Levine regime had their best trade deadline to date Tuesday. They acquired the bare minimum of what many Twins fans had been asking for since mid-June with a reliable middle-of-the-rotation starter and two backend relievers. Tyler Mahle was the best acquisition of them all. Mahle has had much better numbers on the road this year than he had at Great American Ballpark with the Red. Given that Target Field is more of a pitcher-friendly ballpark than GAB, Mahle should find himself more comfortable in his new home ballpark for the next year and a half with the Twins. Jorge Lopez was a surprise acquisition but a welcomed one at that. Lopez has finally reached the potential he was given as a prospect with the Brewers over seven years ago. Although Rocco Baldelli has never officially designated someone as the closer in his five years as manager, people can expect Lopez to unofficially fill that role for the Twins and take a load off of Duran and the rest of the bullpen. Michael Fulmer is just another good addition for a depleted Twins bullpen. He will certainly help in any role he is used for in relief. The Twins did give up a good amount of prospects to acquire who they needed this deadline, but they did not sell their entire farm system as the Padres did to get what they needed. This sets the team up well to win the AL Central this season and retool themselves for next year as well. Nash Walker: The Twins filled their biggest hole with a bang in Jorge López. They so badly needed a high-leverage right-handed reliever to pair with Jhoan Duran in the back of the bullpen. Other than Josh Hader, López was the best reliever dealt during the deadline. He’s also under team control through 2024, a significant wrinkle that sets up the Twins’ backend for the future. Tyler Mahle was my No. 1 target for the Twins when combining every factor. He should thrive outside of Cincinnati and I love his stuff. He knows how to pitch and there’s room for upside. Mahle is a mid-rotation starter *right now,* but I think there’s a real chance he’s a frontline starter very soon. Could they have used another starter? No question. Mahle is a great addition either way. After Mahle and López, I was hoping the Twins wouldn’t stop short. They then traded for Michael Fulmer, who I think is one of the more underrated relievers in baseball. Fulmer shuts down right-handed hitters and the Twins now boast a strength in the bullpen with Duran, López, Griffin Jax and Fulmer. It was a good finish to a good deadline. Let’s see how it plays out. Matt Braun: This was exactly the trade deadline the Twins needed; each move perfectly covered a weakness and two of the deals netted players who will impact future Twins teams as well. It’s hard to complain about that. What excites me—beyond the added talent—is that the team found a way to trade uncertain or blocked prospects without losing the big names. Spencer Steer is a major loss, but he had no easy path to the Twins; Cade Povich is a serious blow—I thought that he had the potential to become a solid mid-rotation arm—but he’s the only player I’m truly worked up over. Tyler Mahle is the dude. I’ve wanted Mahle on the team for years; I think his performance has another gear left and moving him away from a little league ballpark will neutralize his home run issue. I’m absolutely ecstatic that the Twins snagged him away from the Reds, and I might argue that he would be a theoretical game 1 starter (don’t worry, I knocked on wood after typing that). Jorge López is another great get. His stuff is mind-bending, he’s only 29, and the Twins will have him for two more years following this season. He and Jhoan Duran in the back-end may be the best—and nastiest—1-2 punch the team has had in a long time. Michael Fulmer is an acceptable get; he fills the 6th/7th inning role adequately—although his control worries me—and a middle relief piece deepens the bullpen. Gone are the days of Tyler Thornburg pitching in the 8th inning. My only qualm is that Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer still constitute 40% of the starting rotation. That’s not a terrible problem—every team will tell you that they aren’t fully comfortable with their starting staff—but it’s still an area the team could have improved upon. Netting Carlos Rodón would have made this an award-winning deadline; instead, it’s a great one. Your Turn: Share your thoughts in the comments below. Try to keep it to 150-200 words, and enjoy reading the thoughts of others. View full article
  21. Not so long ago, it appeared as though the Twins might be able to get by with a couple of bullpen pickups at the trade deadline. Not that doing so was going to make them World Series favorites or anything, but when the offense was clicking and supported by a consistently solid rotation? The front office might have believed – or at least publicly advanced – that a few relief upgrades would sufficiently help them secure the division and present a credible postseason threat. Much has changed in a few weeks' time. With the rotation nosediving into the break, and their lineup now missing a key piece in Ryan Jeffers, the Twins have seen their list of needs grow as the deadline approaches. At this point, to position themselves as true contenders, it feels like they need to add a frontline starter for sure, and they could really use a catcher. Meanwhile those pesky bullpen needs have not gone away. Far from it. That makes for a hefty shopping list. To fulfill all of these needs at high-demand positions in a seller's market will be very costly. Facing this harsh reality, the front office is going to have to ask itself: Is it worth it? Acquiring the kind of impact talent needed to put this team in a strong position will mean making painful sacrifices. If they really want to push, the Twins will need to part with a quantity of high-caliber prospect talent and maybe even established young players like José Miranda, Trevor Larnach, or Alex Kirilloff. There's also a strong case to be made that big, splashy deadline moves aren't as impactful as many perceive – not to mention the frequency of costly backfires. (Imagine if the Twins traded Byron Buxton for Noah Syndergaard at the 2019 deadline.) Atlanta's 2021 exemplifies how a more conservative, low-wattage approach to addressing various needs can work. Of course, such thinking won't do much to satiate fans who are hungry for decisive and definitive action. And maybe that's the right attitude. Even if Derek Falvey and Thad Levine always seemed to be setting their gaze more on 2023 and beyond with the latest offseason strategy, they can't take for granted where they're at right now. They can't take for granted they'll have Buxton and Luis Arraez both healthy and playing at an All-Star level next year. They can't take for granted they'll have anything approximating the force that is Carlos Correa on their roster. They can't take for granted they'll be in first place at the break, with a chance to act as a buyer and aspiring champ, because we saw just last year how the best laid plans can go awry. Logical as they are, this front office understands that once you get to the playoffs, anything can happen. (Yes, even for the Twins.) They know that these opportunities don't present themselves every year. And they didn't throw $35 million at Correa for no reason. All of which leads me to believe the Twins will assuredly be active at the trade deadline. They are going to make multiple moves. As to how bold and audacious those additions will be? That's the big question, and we'll find out soon enough. With the deadline now less than two weeks away, we'll be covering every rumor worth sharing here at Twins Daily. And starting today, we're rolling out special trade deadline preview content for those who contribute to the caretaker fund at any tier. Each of the next six weekdays we'll be sending out "Division Dossiers" with breakdowns of buyers and sellers, as well as trade targets who might appeal to the Twins from each team. This is the top-secret intel you need to be ready for anything during Deadline SZN. Check out a preview snippet below, and if you haven't already, sign up as a caretaker now to get the full dossier plus five more in the week ahead.
  22. This front office has an interesting history with the trade deadline – starting with their controversial first go at it in 2017 when they flip-flopped from buyers to sellers in about a week's time, stirring up some angst in the home clubhouse. The 2022 trade deadline has a chance to be this regime's most pivotal and pressure-packed yet. How much are the Twins willing to push – and sacrifice – in order to supplement a flawed, fading first-place team? Not so long ago, it appeared as though the Twins might be able to get by with a couple of bullpen pickups at the trade deadline. Not that doing so was going to make them World Series favorites or anything, but when the offense was clicking and supported by a consistently solid rotation? The front office might have believed – or at least publicly advanced – that a few relief upgrades would sufficiently help them secure the division and present a credible postseason threat. Much has changed in a few weeks' time. With the rotation nosediving into the break, and their lineup now missing a key piece in Ryan Jeffers, the Twins have seen their list of needs grow as the deadline approaches. At this point, to position themselves as true contenders, it feels like they need to add a frontline starter for sure, and they could really use a catcher. Meanwhile those pesky bullpen needs have not gone away. Far from it. That makes for a hefty shopping list. To fulfill all of these needs at high-demand positions in a seller's market will be very costly. Facing this harsh reality, the front office is going to have to ask itself: Is it worth it? Acquiring the kind of impact talent needed to put this team in a strong position will mean making painful sacrifices. If they really want to push, the Twins will need to part with a quantity of high-caliber prospect talent and maybe even established young players like José Miranda, Trevor Larnach, or Alex Kirilloff. There's also a strong case to be made that big, splashy deadline moves aren't as impactful as many perceive – not to mention the frequency of costly backfires. (Imagine if the Twins traded Byron Buxton for Noah Syndergaard at the 2019 deadline.) Atlanta's 2021 exemplifies how a more conservative, low-wattage approach to addressing various needs can work. Of course, such thinking won't do much to satiate fans who are hungry for decisive and definitive action. And maybe that's the right attitude. Even if Derek Falvey and Thad Levine always seemed to be setting their gaze more on 2023 and beyond with the latest offseason strategy, they can't take for granted where they're at right now. They can't take for granted they'll have Buxton and Luis Arraez both healthy and playing at an All-Star level next year. They can't take for granted they'll have anything approximating the force that is Carlos Correa on their roster. They can't take for granted they'll be in first place at the break, with a chance to act as a buyer and aspiring champ, because we saw just last year how the best laid plans can go awry. Logical as they are, this front office understands that once you get to the playoffs, anything can happen. (Yes, even for the Twins.) They know that these opportunities don't present themselves every year. And they didn't throw $35 million at Correa for no reason. All of which leads me to believe the Twins will assuredly be active at the trade deadline. They are going to make multiple moves. As to how bold and audacious those additions will be? That's the big question, and we'll find out soon enough. With the deadline now less than two weeks away, we'll be covering every rumor worth sharing here at Twins Daily. And starting today, we're rolling out special trade deadline preview content for those who contribute to the caretaker fund at any tier. Each of the next six weekdays we'll be sending out "Division Dossiers" with breakdowns of buyers and sellers, as well as trade targets who might appeal to the Twins from each team. This is the top-secret intel you need to be ready for anything during Deadline SZN. Check out a preview snippet below, and if you haven't already, sign up as a caretaker now to get the full dossier plus five more in the week ahead. View full article
  23. The pace of the Twins offseason went from zero to 100 once the lockout ended, with a flurry of moves by Minnesota’s management duo (President of Baseball Ops Derek Falvey and GM Thad Levine) leading to a radically different opening day lineup. And the pace has not slowed down. Shortly after moving closer Taylor Rogers and prospect Brent Rooker to the Padres for pitchers Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan, the team announced that they traded team mascot TC Bear to the Jacksonville (FL) Zoo and Gardens. In return, they’re receiving a significant number of snakes, reptiles, and other creatures. “I’m just going to come right out and say that I don’t know what we’re going to do with a half-dozen Burmese pythons,” said Falvey. “But we hadn’t made a trade in a good 2-3 hours, and the rush of acquiring and sending away assets is unbeatable. We’re hooked, baby!” Levine, who said he hasn’t slept since Monday afternoon, was equally enthused if unclear about the trade. “Do you know if a monitor lizard is cool with letting relievers ride him out of the bullpen,” said Levine. “I don’t want to get on PETA’s radar, but I’ll be honest, I don’t know where we’re going to put him otherwise. GOD I LOVE TRADING, CAN’T BEAT IT.” Neither Falvey nor Levine would comment on the fact that TC Bear is not a real bear, but in fact a person in a pretend bear costume who is being sent to a zoo to live among real bears that will likely visit mind-bending violence upon him. “He’s dealing with it as best he can,” said a source close to the man who wears the costume. “Is it as bad as when (former Twin) Andrelton Simmons demanded to speak to the mayor of the talking bear village where TC Bear lives about repealing their mask mandate? No. Still, the threat of mauling is one he takes seriously.” The team says there are no further moves in the offing, and rumors that Minnesota is trading an old Metrodome urinal trough for a shoebox of expired prescription drugs are unfounded but they're very open to it and would throw in a gently-used Mike Maksudian.
  24. "The rush of acquiring and sending away assets is unbeatable. We’re hooked, baby,” said a manic Falvey. The pace of the Twins offseason went from zero to 100 once the lockout ended, with a flurry of moves by Minnesota’s management duo (President of Baseball Ops Derek Falvey and GM Thad Levine) leading to a radically different opening day lineup. And the pace has not slowed down. Shortly after moving closer Taylor Rogers and prospect Brent Rooker to the Padres for pitchers Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan, the team announced that they traded team mascot TC Bear to the Jacksonville (FL) Zoo and Gardens. In return, they’re receiving a significant number of snakes, reptiles, and other creatures. “I’m just going to come right out and say that I don’t know what we’re going to do with a half-dozen Burmese pythons,” said Falvey. “But we hadn’t made a trade in a good 2-3 hours, and the rush of acquiring and sending away assets is unbeatable. We’re hooked, baby!” Levine, who said he hasn’t slept since Monday afternoon, was equally enthused if unclear about the trade. “Do you know if a monitor lizard is cool with letting relievers ride him out of the bullpen,” said Levine. “I don’t want to get on PETA’s radar, but I’ll be honest, I don’t know where we’re going to put him otherwise. GOD I LOVE TRADING, CAN’T BEAT IT.” Neither Falvey nor Levine would comment on the fact that TC Bear is not a real bear, but in fact a person in a pretend bear costume who is being sent to a zoo to live among real bears that will likely visit mind-bending violence upon him. “He’s dealing with it as best he can,” said a source close to the man who wears the costume. “Is it as bad as when (former Twin) Andrelton Simmons demanded to speak to the mayor of the talking bear village where TC Bear lives about repealing their mask mandate? No. Still, the threat of mauling is one he takes seriously.” The team says there are no further moves in the offing, and rumors that Minnesota is trading an old Metrodome urinal trough for a shoebox of expired prescription drugs are unfounded but they're very open to it and would throw in a gently-used Mike Maksudian. View full article
  25. In the fanfare and celebration of signing Carlos Correa, you'd be forgiven if you missed the Twins inking 38-year-old Joe Smith to a one-year pact. Smith, an MLB pitcher since the Bush administration, is precisely the style of reliever favored by Falvey and company. His average fastball hasn’t tickled 90 MPH in years, and much of his effectiveness is rooted in “funkiness,” a pitching trait in the Potter Stewart philosophy of “I know it when I see it.” In the case of Smith, his unique, low arm slot is his special calling card. Smith now joins the likes of Matt Belisle, Fernando Rodney, Zach Duke, Sergio Romo, and Tyler Clippard as an “unusual Twins reliever” acquired during the Falvey regime. That is to say, these bullpeners are (or were) atypical in their archetype—age or poor fastball velocity lowered the industry opinion of them, whether fair or not. But the Twins, perhaps believing in a philosophical blind spot, decided to trust in their past effectiveness and were rewarded with mixed but generally positive results. Belisle caught fire in the second half of 2017 to help lead the team to their first playoff appearance in seven years, Rodney and Duke both performed just well enough to net prospects in 2018, Romo was crucial in cementing a shaky Twins bullpen in 2019, and Clippard was a quality reliever for the Twins during the truncated 2020 season. Of course, the Twins haven’t solely focused on cast-offs from the island of misfit toys; they have signed or acquired more prototypical relievers like Addison Reed, Sam Dyson, and Alex Colomé on top of their usual assortment of unique funkmasters. Funny enough, it seems like they have had better fortune with odd relievers than with your more standard ones, but that isn’t quite the point of this article. Why ignore velocity? The Twins, as pointed out by Tom Froemming, had a velocity problem in May 2021 and had not fixed that issue by October 2021. It is March 2022, and the symptoms still persist. None of the four assumed starters possess an average fastball velocity that tops 93 MPH—a fact entirely at odds with the front office’s implications that velocity would be a top priority when they took over command of decision-making in 2016. Both newly-acquired starters, Sonny Gray and Dylan Bundy, are more masters of breaking balls than fireballers. Taylor Rogers and Jorge Alcala are the only true flamethrowers established in the bullpen. When diagnosing the malady, we must remember that there is nuance in team building; teams like the Twins count all their chips to the last penny as their room for error is smaller than other franchises. The team could quickly cash in and deal their top prospects for high-octane arms or sign the fastest-tossing relievers with little care for the long-term implications of those decisions. Still, such moves would not only likely hurt the franchise, but it would also open them up to being dunked on by randoms on Twitter years in the future, and that’s a risk no one wants to take. Why ignore velocity? Velocity is expensive, perhaps too much so. Corey Knebel (96.5 MPH) signed for $10 million, Joe Kelly (98.1 MPH) signed for $17 million over two years, and Kendall Graveman (96.5 MPH), signed for $24 million over three years. With no disrespect, none of those three players have been particularly consistent in their performance (or with health), but teams see their “stuff” and can’t help but imagine a perfect world where it all comes together for such a player. Trading for velocity can also be expensive. The White Sox parted with two young, talented players in Nick Madrigal and Codi Heuer to acquire Craig Kimbrel, the Padres gave up their 9th best prospect, Mason Thompson, for half a season of Daniel Hudson, and the fact that the Twins received anyone for Hansel Robles showed that teams are willing to ignore performance in favor of the allure of stuff. The same can be said for prospects. Arms that can sit in the high-90s are valued highly because the upside of that player is tantalizing. We’ve seen the natural sheen of “stuff” blind teams into ignoring risk because they see the next Roger Clemens in an arm that will likely flame out in high-A. The Twins have recognized this and seem to tap their higher-velo arms in deals; Huascar Ynoa, Luis Gil, Brusdar Graterol, and Chase Petty all own big fastballs, but now pitch for other organizations. The guess is that the team is leveraging industry opinions on fastball velocity to acquire major-league talent they otherwise could not have if the pitcher were your average 93-95 MPH Joe. Or, to simplify, they think other teams over-value fastballs and are trying to find value in overlooked arms. Consider the Smith signing; $2.5 million for Joe Smith’s consistency is a bargain if you choose to look at his performance absent velocity implications. The Gray trade looks exquisite as well. Acquiring a great starting pitcher for a pitcher four or so years away from debuting is a masterclass in fleecing. Has it worked? The results are iffy. Twins pitching was undeniably elite in 2019 and 2020 when their team average fastball velocity sat in the bottom five of the league but fell off entirely in 2021. We shall see how 2022 plays out, but the prospects so far do not look good. Shoot, 43-year-old Johan Santana might be an upgrade to the starting rotation. That isn’t to say the team is completely ignoring velocity. Jordan Balazovic is capable of sitting 94-95, Jhoan Duran hits 100 daily, Josh Winder can sit in the mid-90s, and Matt Canterino can do the same. The team is still focusing on velocity, but more on developing said heat, not paying for it upfront. If a pitching prospect can throw hard, great, but their velocity isn’t as prioritized as other aspects of their game. If another team overvalues a prospect’s velocity? Ship him off and receive a more bountiful return than expected. Again, it is unclear if the plan has been successful or not, but the Twins unquestionably believe in their process.
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