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  1. After reading the 2005 season summary that is part of an excellent series on TD I was forced to think about second base where 2005 demonstrated the difficulty we had for many years. Here is a summary of our highs and lows: Billy Martin was our 2B in the first year in Minnesota and would last one year before becoming a coach and manager and then going to the Yankees again and again and again. If only he would stop hitting marshmallow salesmen. Bernie Allen had five years of average play (239 BA). In 1960, Allen led the Boilermakers to a record of 4-4-1 (2-4 Big Ten) and wins over #12 Notre Dame, Ohio State and #1 Minnesota Jerry Kindall was there for the championship with a career 213 batting average. His fame came in Arizona as their coach winning 860 games and three College World Series championships over 24 seasons (1973–1996). Then came ROD CAREW and he might have had a full career with us if Calvin Griffith had kept his racist mouth shut. Here is a summary from Wikipedia - "The greatest contact hitter in Twins history, he won the 1977 AL Most Valuable Player Award, setting a Twins record with a .388 batting average.Carew appeared in 18 straight All-Star Games and led the AL in hits three times, with his 239 hits in 1977 being twelfth most at the time. He won seven AL batting titles, the second most AL batting titles in history behind Ty Cobb, and on July 12, 2016 the AL batting title was renamed to the Rod Carew American League batting title." To make matters more painful he got his 3000th hit against Frank Viola! And what was it that Calvin said --"I'll tell you why we came to Minnesota. It was when we found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. Black people don't go to ballgames, but they'll fill up a rassling ring and put up such a chant it'll scare you to death. We came here because you've got good, hardworking white people here." Danny Thompson - An All-American at Oklahoma State he was diagnosed with leukemia at age 26. He said, “You don’t have time to get down,” he said. “You’ve got to keep your head up and go right at it.” After and excellent rookie season he slid over to SS and Carew went back to 2B. He died in 1976. Bob Randall - A lifetime 257 hitter who came to the Twins from the Dodgers and played all his major league games with the Twins (460) and took over 2B as Carew was again moved to 1B. He was with us five years and went on to be a college coach. Rob Wilfong - His claim to fame is that he lead the American League in sacrifice hits in 1979. He hit 262 in six years with the Twins and was traded to the Angels. Currently he is a scout for the Detroit Tigers (I hope he is finding some better players for them now). John Castino - he was moved to 2B in 1982. He led the league in fielding percentage at 2B in 1982, but if the switch to 2B was supposed to protect his back it did not work. He was out in 1984 when back fusion ended his career - as a person with back fusion I can sympathize. Tim Teufel - known for the Teufel shuffle at bat - a wiggle of the butt His best years would be with the Mets when he was at 2B for the World Series. He is currently their goodwill ambassador and minor league coach. He hit 265 in his six years with the Twins. He was traded for Billy Beane and two others. If only we had moved Beane into the front office and off the field! Steve Lombardozzi - he played in the 1987 World Series and hit .412 with a home run in Game 5. He hit 233 in five seasons with the Twins. In 1986 he led second basemen in fielding percentage. Wally Backman and Tommy Herr - Backman was traded for from the Mets where he was platooned with Tim Teufel. He hit 231 for us. "The Mets sent him and Mike Santiago to the Minnesota Twins for Jeff Bumgarner, Steve Gasser and Toby Nivens, none of whom emerged as a major leaguer.The Mets sent him and Mike Santiago to the Minnesota Twins for Jeff Bumgarner, Steve Gasser and Toby Nivens, none of whom emerged as a major leaguer." That year we also traded for Tommy Herr from the Cardinals, Herr announced that he didn’t really want to be in Minnesota. Backman was brought in to replace Herr and Backman announced that he was thrilled to be with the Twins and bought a house on Lake Minnetonka. Kent Hrbek said, “Tommy Herr never wanted to play here, so he didn’t fit in with the rest of us." Then he added, “Backman does fit in. You can see the difference just in the fact that Wally wants to have fun. Already, Backman and (Dan) Gladden are pulling pranks on each other.” Backman is a minor league manager with an excellent resume. Al Newman - 231 Twins average, he went on to be a coach with the team. He was acquired in a trade where we gave up pitcher Mike Schade (who?). He was allowed to leave as a free agent after 1991 and eventually ended up coaching the St Cloud Rox. Chuck Knoblauch - if we ignore some statements and actions and personality he might be the next greatest second baseman for the Twins after Rod Carew. Rookie of the year, part of the 1991 World Series team. Wiki says, "During the 1994–96 seasons, Knoblauch batted .312, .333, and .341, respectively, won the AL Gold Glove Award at second base in 1997, and stole over 40 bases in three consecutive seasons." Twins fans became irate when he requested that he be traded. When he returned he was booed, bottles and hot dogs were thrown at him. With the Yankees he developed the yips - he could not throw and that was the beginning of the end. He played 12 years, seven with the Twins where he had a 304 career average. His post baseball career in marred by his physical abuse of his former wife which came as he was about to be named to the Twins HOF. He was also named in the Mitchell report for HGH. Todd Walker - a member of the National College Baseball Hall of Fame was a first round draft pick who never prospered in MN and I blame Tom Kelly who seemed to resent the college degree and accomplishments of Walker. Walker his 285 for the Twins in five seasons and his career did better after he left us. He is now on the New England sports network and I was shocked to hear him when I tuned in on a game when I was working in Maine. He was acquired from the Twins in Theo Epstein's first trade. A quiet, studious and serious player "He really took baseball serious," Matt Lawton said. "Everything he did, he's always talking about hitting. He'd play a video game and he'd compare that video game to anything about hitting. He'd bring up something about hitting fastballs, hitting breaking balls." "Some of his former teammates in Minnesota said Walker's glove wasn't the only reason he was in Kelly's doghouse. Their stormy relationship led to him being traded to Colorado in July 2000. Lawton said Kelly wasn't particularly fond of first-round picks. Walker, who had an outstanding collegiate career at LSU, was the eighth overall pick in 1994. Lawton said it didn't take much for a first-round pick to rub Kelly the wrong way, citing pitcher Todd Ritchie and first baseman David McCarty as examples." https://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-xpm-2003-03-30-0303300603-story.html "You'd have to ask him all about that, but it certainly seemed that way," Walker said. "I certainly didn't do anything to warrant the way I was treated by him on and off the field. He had his good moments, and he certainly had his bad moments." Jay Canizaro - I have to admit this is the first of the second basemen I do not remember. In two years he hit 255 and went back to the minors. Luis Rivas - Venezuelan - a free swinger who was supposed to take over the base and become the man of the future pairing with Guzman at SS. But think of the free swinging of Rosario with no power and less contact! Six seasons with 262 average and 307 OBP and 383 slugging. Nick Punto - a Gardy favorite - the opposite of Walker this was a guy who hustled, got dirty, wanted to play, had a smile and attitude that made him a lovable piranha. But would you trade Walker for Punto - no way. He played for us for seven years and hit 248, 323 OBP, 324 Slugging. Luis Castillo - Dominican Republic - had a 299 BA for two years with the Twins. 720 OPS. He was with the Marlins for both their World Series. In 2007 he set a major league record for consecutive games at 2B without an error - 143. In August 2019, Castillo was cited on charges related to a drug trafficking and money laundering operation - he was not convicted. Alexi Casilla - Dominican - His biggest contribution was giving up his number so Jim Thome could have it. In seven years he hit 250 for the Twins with a 639 OPS. Orlando Hudson - Hudson hit .268 with a career-low .710 OPS. Hudson founded the C.A.T.C.H. Foundation, a 501c3 organization that seeks to provide resources and a support system for youth coping with autism. Brian Dozier - our third best second baseman in Twins history (my judgment). A member of the Southern Mississippi college team that played in the 2009 college world series. He started as a SS as so many players do and found a home at second. He was a Twin for seven years - hit 248/325/447 - which would be much better if we took his last five years - his HR totals per year are - 6,18,23, 28,42,34. I was say we got rid of him at the right time. He had peaked for us and although he continues to play his top HR since being traded is 20. Notorious for great half years paired with lousy halves it took patience to get the best from him. He became the first second baseman to hit 40 home runs. Jonathan Schoop - we hardly knew you although your 256/304/473 slash line fits many of our historic 2B men. Good luck in Detroit and say hi to Gardy. Luis Arraez - we hope he is the future. His 334 BA certainly makes us think of another great - Rod Carew. Let's hope flash-in-the-pan is something you never hear. I am very excited by him and his potential.
  2. The Twins Best Second basemen The second base slot has changed dramatically in this era. With all the strikeouts and flyballs there are fewer double plays, fewer ground balls, and if there is the shift complicates who is where. But I will not emphasize those changes, I just want to look at the names and skills of the people who players second in our history. Billy Martin – that controversial manager (Twins and Yankees) that succeeded everywhere but off the field. The original Spark plug player who had so much drive he pushed everyone else too. He was the very first Minnesota Twin second baseman and played there 108 games in 1961. Another former manager, Billy Gardner, played 41 games, Ted Lepcio 22 games, Jose Valdivielso 15 games, Rich Rollins, Billy Consolo, Jim Snyder and Bill Tuttle also played multiple games at the position. By 1962, as often happened with Billy – he was gone and former Purdue QB Bernie Allen had the bag for every game! Allen was third in ROY ballots. In 1963 Bernie got some days off and only played second in 128 games. Johnny Goryl, another future manager, played there 34 games and to my great shock – VIC POWER – the outstanding fielding first baseman played second 18 times! 1964 looks like one of the first base years. Bernie Allen only played 71 games there, Minnesotan Jerry Kindall (future gopher coach) played 51, Johnny Goryl 28, Jim Snyder 25, and then Jay Ward, Bill Bethea, Frank Kostro and Bud Bloomfield rounded out the field of eight. 1965 and Jerry Kindall took over for 106 games and Frank Quilici played 52. Rich Rollins 16 and Bernie Allen 10, Frank Kostro 7 and Cesar Tovar 4. Tovar played everywhere and in one game he did play all nine positions. 1966 Bernie Allen had the most starts – 89 and Tovar was second with 74. That year Tovar also played SS, LF, and CF. Rich Rollins had 4 games there. 1967 Rod Carew took over and started 134 games, Tovar played 35, and Frank Quilici 13. 1968 Carew played 117, Quilici (49) beat out Tovar (19) for second place and Ron Clark played 9. 1969 Carew played 118, Tovar 41, and Quilici 36. The sixties had a variety of players and it wasn’t until Carew that we had a long term answer at the position. Martin started it, went to coaching, went to managing and then went elsewhere. Bernie Allen brought his football status for a while and Carew took over the position. Jerry Kindall played for us for two years and you wonder why when you look at his line - .183/.254/.262.516 over his career he played 511 games at second and ended his nine year career with a (-3) WAR. As it says in Wiki – since 1920 “2,000 at-bats has a lower career batting average than Kindall's .213”. He had something special and went to Arizona as their baseball coach. “Kindall is a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the author of Baseball: Play the Winning Way and co-editor of The Baseball Coaching Bible.” Billy Martin played 11 years in MLB, the last one with the Twins. 246/.275/.361/.636 and (-1) WAR for that year. In 1969 he managed the Twins and then followed that up with 15 more managerial years. Following the Kindall model, Frank Quilici played for us five years as a second baseman with the line .214/.281/.287/.569 and a five year WAR total of (-0.5). So for those three players we have an accumulate WAR of (-4.5). Along comes the All American boy, Purdue QB, Bernie Allen and he plays 5 of his 12 years with the Twins – 246/.316/.366/.682 and 3.2 WAR – almost enough to erase the other three on this list. Wiki has a summary of his college career, “Allen played college baseball for the Boilermakers, where he twice named Team MVP. A winner of 6 varsity letters, Allen was also a quarterback on the football team, selected as Team MVP in 1960. He platooned at quarterback in 1959, leading the Boilermakers to a 5-2-2 record and six weeks in the Top 15.[2] Earning the starting job in 1960, Allen led the Boilermakers to a record of 4-4-1 (2-4 Big Ten) and wins over #12 Notre Dame, Ohio State and #1 Minnesota, the AP and UPI National Champion.” Cesar Tovar deserves some recognition here. He was with us 8 of his 12 years with a line of 281/.337/.377/.714 and would be the best except he was never the starter at second. In all he earned 25.9 WAR with the Twins, but he played everywhere – his career totals for appearances are: OF (all three positions) 945; 3B 227; 2B 215; SS 77; DH 90; and one game at C, P, and 1B. So, the best of the sixties belongs to Rod Carew who plays 12 of his 19 seasons with the Twins. He hits - .334/.393/.448/.841, accumulates WAR 63.8 with the Twins, and he will play 1184 games at first and 1130 at 2B. Jump to the seventies. Who starts the most in 1970? Danny Thompson 81, Frank Quilici 74, and Rod Carew 45 with Tovar, and Minnie Mendoza getting the rest. Order was restored in 1971 with Carew at 2b 142 games and Steve Braun there 28. Danny Thompson plays 3 and Tovar came in from LF to play 2. 1972 Carew and Braun are still one and two and three is Dan Monzon. Monzon and Terrell are Carew’s caddies in 1973. In 1974 Monzon is out, Terrell is two and Luis Gomez and Sergio Ferrer get the crumbs. !975 Carew continues to dominate the bag, the same old backups continue to share what is available. Then in 1976 there is a shakeup. Carew is at first and Bob Randall starts 153 games and Terrell 31, Gomez 8, Carew 7, and Cubbage 2. It seems strange to have Carew with so few, but this is the future. With open season at second Randall holds on in 1977 to start 101 games and a new name – Rob Wilfong gets 66 games, Gomez, Terrell, Carew, and Sam Perlozzo share the rest. In 1978 the order stays the same Randall gets 115, Wilfong 80, Cubbage 5, Carew 4. And the decade ends with Wilfong taking the lead 133 games, Randall 71, and Cubbage 1. Randall plays five years for the Twins and has a 3.8 WAR with a slash line of .257/.310/.311/.621. Not bad for the position. Danny Thompson played 5 of 7 years with the Twins and had a 2.4 WAR. He is one of the sad stories in Twins lore as he died of leukemia at age 26. “Thompson appeared in 98 games in 1976 and went 1 for 3 in his final start for the Rangers on September 29, appropriately at shortstop in Minnesota's Metropolitan Stadium. In his final game on October 2, less than ten weeks before his death, he was used as a pinch hitter.” The only choice for the decade of the seventies is Rod Carew – the same as the sixties. The 1980s Rob Wilfong leads of the new decade at second base with 120 games at 2B and Pete Mackanin appeared in games. 1981 the same two dominated with 93 and 31. John Castino got in 4 and chuck Baker 3. In 1982 John Castino took over the lead with 96 and Ron Washington played 37. Larry Milbourne was in for 26 and Wilfong was only in 22. Castino was the only one to have a positive WAR that year at second. In 1983 had 132 games and Tim Teufel was second with 18 and Ron Washington had 14. Rob Wilfong was gone. Then Tim Teufel took over in 1984 with 157 and Ron Washington was his back up. Like the previous decades there was a constant turn over looking for the right guy. Teufel held on to 1985 with Ron Washington and Steve Lombardozzi splitting the rest of the appearances -26 and 24. Like the previous seasons the understood took over for the leader and Lombardozzi was the 1986 starter with Alvaro Espinoza (not related to the philosopher) as understudy. Ron Washington, Chris Pittaro, Greg Gagne, and Gary Gaetti all had a turn. Steve kept the starting position as the team headed to the world series in 1987 and Al Newman was his primary backup. Although Pittaro and Gagne got a taste of the bag. 1988 kept Lombardozzi in the lead, 90, but Tommy Herr appeared and was in 73. Of course, Tommy fits with the great, not necessarily positive, characters in Twins history. The Cardinals traded him for Tom Brunansky. This was not a bargain for us. The Argus Leader wrote, “Herr didn’t hide that he wasn’t thrilled to be in Minnesota, announced midway through the season he wouldn’t return in ’89, and batted just .263 with one homer. He spent half the season on the DL, and teammates and media questioned the seriousness of his injuries. He was traded to the Phillies for Shane Rawley and Tom Nieto after the season.” No one came close to whining and complaining about being in MN. He will not be considered for our best. Al Newman stepped in for him and Greg Gagne and an outfielder named Dan Gladden played second. The end of the decade the mix is really symptomatic of the 80s – now we start Wally Backman from the Mets. “Still uncomfortable with Steve Lombardozzi playing second and what seemed like a cast of thousands batting second, Minnesota sent three pitching prospects to the New York Mets on Dec. 7 for the 29-year-old Backman. Almost immediately, Backman announced that he was thrilled to be with the Twins and bought a house on Lake Minnetonka. "Tommy Herr never wanted to play here, so he didn't fit in with the rest of us," says first baseman and clubhouse leader Kent Hrbek. "Backman does fit in. You can see the difference just in the fact that Wally wants to have fun. Already, Backman and (Dan) Gladden are pulling pranks on each other." LA Times. Al Newman had the exact same number of games at second as Wally – 84, Doug Baker got in 25 times and Chip Hale 16. Where do I start looking for the best of this decade? John Castino played six years and lost his career on a bad back. .278/.329/.398/.727 and 15.2 WAR are pretty good, but he played 416 games at 3B and 232 at second. Tim Tuefel in three seasons with the Twins was .265/.342/.409/.751and 5.5 WAR looks okay. In 11 seasons he played 806 games at second. Steve Lombardozzi had a lot of promise, but produced .233/.307/.345/.652 and 4 WAR in four years. But to put it in perspective, the team was willing to trade Brunansky for Herr because they wanted to replace him. Rob Wilfong was with us six years - .262/.322/.360/.681 and 5.3 WAR for the Twins. In 11 years he was at Second 839 games. Wally Backman was in 87 games for the Twins, he does not qualify. I know it is not a well-remembered name, but Tim Tuefel was the second baseman of the 80s and that is a statement about the team and the decade. 1990s Al Newman began the decade with Fred Manique (a name I cannot remember) playing a significant number of games in reserve. Nelson Liriano also played many games at second. In the one game category were Chip Hale, Doug Baker, and OF – Kirby Puckett! Al did not keep the starting job, in 1991 our last WS championship year we found a second baseman to make us forget the 80s and perhaps at the end also forget Tommy Herr. His name was Chuck Knoblauch. Al Newman was backup and I always enjoy the scrubs at the end of the list – this time they are Gene Larkin (you got to be kidding) and Mike Pagliarulo. Or Course Knoblauch kept the position in 1992 and Jeff Reboulet was his primary backup. Donny Hill got in two games and so did that Kirby Puckett character again. Knoblauch again dominated 1993 with Chip Hale behind him, Reboulet next and Denny Hocking making a token stop at second. The same top two in 1994 with Jeff Reboulet. 1995 was the same but the scrubs were Brian Raabe and Puckett again. 1996 continued the stability with the same top three and then Todd Walker appears, Hocking and Raabe. In 1997 the only change were in number 2 and 3 – Hocking and Walker moving up. 1998 breaks up that lovely consistency and Todd Walker with all the promise in the world took over at the bag and Knoblauch was on his way to the big Apple from the Minneapple. Hocking and Brent Gates were two and three. The same three finished the decade with someone named Cleatus Davidson as the scrub. I am afraid there is no doubt – this decade was Knoblauch’s. His line was .304/.391/.416/.807 for seven seasons with a WAR of 38. He was on his way to a potential HOF career until he got the yips in NY. Todd Walker the heir apparent would have five years in MN with 285/.341/.413/.754 and 1.8 WAR. Like Ortiz he did not get along with Kelly’s ideas and seemed to be disliked for his college degree. He would play 12 years and get 10.5 WAR so he never achieved his first round draft expectations. 2000s The new best second baseman was Jay Canizaro 90, Hocking 47, Jason Maxwell 30, Todd Walker 19, and Luis Rivas 14. Luis took over in 2001 with Hocking behind him and Jason Maxwell behind him Rivas was still the leader with 93 games in 2002, with Hocking, Canizaro, and the scrubs were Warren Morris and David Lamb. The Rivas years solidified in 2003 with Luis starting 134 games and Hocking, was followed by Chris Gomez, Alex Prieto, Michael Cuddyer, and (this must be a joke) Mientkiewicz. In 2004 Michael Cuddyer moved up to second at second with 48 games there. Augie Ojeda, was third followed by the famous Nick Punto! Jose Offerman and Jason Bartlett got token games too. You could see it coming. In 2005 Rivas was second at second and Nick Punto was first. Behind them were Luis Rodriguez, Brent Abernathy, BRET BOONE, Michael Cuddyer and Juan Castro (no relation to Jason that I know). Luis Castillo played in 142 games in 2006, Followed by Punto, Rodriguez, Alexi Casilla. In 2007, Castillo’s days were numbered as we got into another scrum at second. Castillo 85, Casilla 52, Punto 25, Rodriguez 21. Alexi Casilla was the primary starter in 2008, followed by Brendan Harris, Nick Punto, and Matt Tolbert. Then some appearances by Matt Macri, Brian Buscher, and Howie Clark. Alexi was in the next scrum – 2009 with 72 games, Punto 63, Tolbert 36, Harris 11, and one for Cuddyer. Carew and Knoblauch were easy. Here is another tough choice. Nick Punto was with the Twins seven years - .248/.323/.324/.648 and 10.3 WAR While he played all over, his 408 games at second are the most of any position in his 1122 games played. Jay Canizaro .255/.308/.373/.682 for two years and (-0.4) WAR. Luis Rivas was with the Twins 6 of 8 years. .262/.307/.383/.690 (-0.9) total for those six years. Luis Castillo played 2 of his 15 years with the Twins. .299/.357/.363/.720 and 3.7 WAR for those two years. Alexi Casilla played 7 of 9 years with the Twins .250/.305/334/.639 3.6 WAR Base on WAR Rivas and Canizaro are out. Nick Punto was more productive in the same number of years than Casilla so I have to say that Luis Castillo was the best of the decade. 2010s Orlando Hudson began our last decade with 123 games, Alexi Casilla had 24, Matt Tolbert 20, Nick Punto 12, then Plouffe and Cuddyer and Harris. 2011 was another scrum, we obviously were looking for something – Casilla 56, Hughes 37, Tolbert 36, Cuddyer 17, Plouffe 17, Brian Dinkleman 11, and Nishioka 6. 2012 Alexi Casilla was back on top with 95, Jamie Carroll had 66, Eduardo Escobar 8, Plouffe 4, Hughes 3, Nishioka 3, and Darin Mastriani 1. In 2013 Dozier took over and was at second for 146 games. Jamie Carroll, Doug Bernier, Mastrioanni finished up. 2014 Dozier had 156 games and Escobar, Bernier, and Nunez had the rest. In 2015 the dominance was established and the same names appeared. The same was true for 2016, except the other names included Polanco, Danny Santana, and James Beresford. 2017 was the same except the other guys were Adrianza, Escobar, Goodrum (now a Tiger), and Santana. There is no real discussion here. This is Dozier’s decade. .248/.325/.447/.772 and 23.9 WAR. The choices come down to Rod Carew who plays 12 of his 19 seasons with the Twins. He hits - .334/.393/.448/.841, accumulates WAR 63.8 with the Twins, and he will play 1184 games at first and 1130 at 2B. Or Knoblauch.304/.391/.416/.807 for seven seasons with a WAR of 38. Or Dozier 248/.325/.447/.772 and 23.9 WAR I would take Carew/Knoblauch/Dozier and there is no 4 or 5. Compared to 108 first base candidates there were 77 men who played at second. https://twinsdaily.com/blogs/entry/11367-the-best-first-baseman-in-twins-history/ https://twinsdaily.com/blogs/entry/11365-the-best-catcher-in-twins-history/
  3. Well, it's late July and starting to wonder if any of the Twins players will reach the 20 homer mark this year. Rosario is currently sitting on 19, so he SHOULD be able to get up and over that benchmark. But will any other players on the team make it? Dozier and Escobar are two other possibilities, but one or both of those guys could end up being traded soon. Or could it be Kepler? He's now at 13 dingers and starting to look better lately.
  4. To Extend, or Not to Extend ... The Case for Brian Dozier The 2018 Twins offseason will undoubtedly have many questions. The usual "will they, won't they" Hot Stove talk of free agent signings, the Winter Meetings and trade talk circulating. While there is no doubt the Twins have holes to fill (Relief pitching, Starting pitching, maybe a right handed power bat, etc.), one question seems to loom large: What is the future of Brian Dozier? Dozier entered the 2017 season for the Twins, his age 30 season, and once again put up stellar numbers across the board. He lead the team in WAR (wins above replacement) with a mark of 4.9, hit 34 home runs, was a catalyst out of the leadoff spot and makes a strong case for most valuable player on the club. He was undoubtedly the heart and soul of a Twins team that, at times in prior seasons, has desperately needed strong veteran leadership. That said, the 2018 season is the last of Dozier's 4 year, 20 million dollar extension he signed prior to the 2015 season, and the Twins second bagger will enter another offseason (probably) with more trade talk and contract extension speculation. Not knowing how Dozier would like to handle the next season, I can assume three scenarios how the organization can proceed with Dozier this offseason - Trade Brian Dozier Certainly a case can be made for trading Dozier. His trade value is high, the Twins need starting pitching and if you could find a willing trade partner to make you a deal you couldn't refuse, why not? Reality is, the market for Second baseman is weak. Most clubs, while they value the position, hold the prospect of a power hitting 2B as a luxury. There is a reason, for both clubs, that Dozier didn't move last offseason to the Dodgers. The Twins needed more than Jose De Leon, and the Dodgers were not going to move their untouchable prospects (Buehler, Verdugo, Bellinger) to aquire Dozier. Ergo, no deal. The situation is likely the same this offseason. Hang on and let him leave a Free Agent Another plausible route, the Twins may view Dozier as an important, but expendable cog in the lineup that is getting younger and more athletic every year. With Dozier entering the year at 31 years old, perhaps they ride one last year and hope he turns in another solid performance (maybe the playoffs?) and mutually part ways with Dozier, him exploring his first taste of Free Agency and the Twins, likely, hoping for a compensation pick. I would handicap this particular scenario on the low end of the spectrum, the Twins seem to value Dozier and his intangibles, an unclear replacement in the minor leagues is not looming (Nick Gordon doesn't seem to be pushing the door on Dozier, though turning in a solid season himself), and the value attached to a compensation pick is nominal, especially to a club that fancies themselves contenders. Extend Brian Dozier before Free Agency This is the meat and potatoes argument. There are a lot of reasons to extend Dozier beyond the 2018 season, but the new regime will have to look at the value Dozier will provide rather than pay him for the value he has provided. To break that down, we'll have to do a little research. A Case Study in Second Baseman First, I think we need to understand how rare Second basemen like Brian Dozier are, not from a power or intangible standpoint, but from an age standpoint relative to their contract and statistics. Only 8 teams in the MLB show a second baseman over the age of 30 in their depth chart as a projected starter. For the purpose of this article I've take the liberty to exclude a few players from the conversation: (Super) Utility Players- Ben Zobrist Utility Players- Danny Espinosa, Chase Utley, Jason Kipnis (Ok, I know, Utley isn't exactly a Utility player, but hes no starting 2B either) Free Agents- Neil Walker While all of the players above are over the age of 30, none of them is an expected starting 2B, with the exception of perhaps Neil Walker. Without knowing his future, or where he'll end up, I've left him out. So, where does that leave us? With 8 players (Dozier not included): Brandon Phillips, 36 - LAA, 6 year/$72.5MM, expires end of 2018 Ian Kinsler, 35 - DET Club Option, 2018, $12MM Dustin Pedroia, 34 - BOS, 8 year/$110MM, expires end of 2022 Robinson Cano, 34 - SEA, 10 year/$240MM, expires end of 2024 Daniel Murphy, 32 - WAS, 3 year/$37.5MM expires end of 2018 Logan Forsythe, 31 - LAD, 2 year/10.25MM expires end of 2018 Jed Lowrie, 33 - OAK, 3 year/$23MM expires end of 2019 From here, we have to break it down a little further into categories of type-player. I separated by All Star, MLB regular and stopgap option. In the "All Star" section, Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia are headliners both being paid well into their late 30's early 40's, but we can also include Daniel Murphy and Ian Kinsler in the category, both are worthy for argument. Brian Dozier would fit in this category as well.Brandon Phillips is an aging, but competent MLB regular second baseman, so we can discuss him in further detail also. The Stopgap players I've included are Forsythe and Lowrie. For the most part, Forsythe has been a disappointment in LA this season, while I wouldn't be shocked if the Dodgers brought him back, I would be if he were starting. The ageless Chase Utley has been serviceable, but father time has to catch up at some point, right? I expect the Dodgers to be big players for Ian Kinsler over the offseason, as they would more than happily trade some bobbles for the $12 Million he's owed. Jed Lowrie is also listed here, while he could be said to be a decent MLB regular, I'm not convinced there is a club outside of Oakland (maybe San Diego) that would be willing to plug him in the everyday lineup at this point. Franklin Barreto is looming as his replacement in Oakland, also. We would be remiss to include these two as worthy comparisons for Dozier. We need to be honest with ourselves, the Twins will not (nor do I believe they should) give Dozier a contract like Robinson Cano's monster deal, or Pedroia's slightly less goliath contract. Regardless of the numbers these two great players have put up, the Twins will not match that type of contract. For fun, I've compared their stats anyway. The more interesting comparisons happen when you look at Daniel Murphy, Ian Kinsler and (somewhat) Brandon Phillips. Daniel Murphy Age 30-32 Slash line avg. .316/.365/.529 avg HR/YR 20.6 fWAR 4.1 Murphy seems to be a good analog for Dozier-esque career progression. Besides a cup of coffee in his age 24 season, Murphy debuted as a regular at age 26, with good - not great - numbers until age 28. Murphy put up two solid seasons in his age 28 and 29 seasons. In his age 30 season, he again slashed very well (.281/.322/.449) and hit a career high 14 home runs, followed by an amazing World Series run by the Mets where Murphy was undoubtedly be biggest offensive factor. The Mets decided to let Murphy leave in free agency (It was reported Murphy wanted to remain a Met, and his loyalty likely cost him suitors) and eventually signed with the Washington Nationals. His 3 year contract for $37.5 million dollars is considered a bargain, considering the value ($44.2MM fValue in '16, $34.7MM fValue in '17)* *fValue is a Fangraphs value metric that measures the amount of money the players WAR stat would convert in free agency Ian Kinsler Age 30-34 Slash line avg. .278/.333/.434 avg HR/YR 17.6 fWAR 4.12 Age 35 and over Slash line avg. .236/.313/.412 avg HR/YR 22 fWAR 2.4 Ok, admittedly, its a little misleading to include a 35 and over category that includes a single season, but this is where it starts to become a little less cloudy. Kinsler, like Murphy and Dozier, didn't really emerge to be a dominant MLB starter until his age 26 season (Kinsler debuted at 24 and played the majority of full seasons at age 24 and 25). He was one of the top second basemen in the game for several seasons, including his age 29 season (trend starting to form, here) where he collected an amazing 7.2 fWAR. Kinsler continued to be solid through his age 30-34 seasons, compiling an average fValue score of $31.32 - a definite bargain when considering his 5 year, $75 million dollar contract he'd signed with the Rangers following his age 29 season. While his 2.4 fWAR in 2017 is respectable, Kinsler is an elite defender at second base. His UZR and DRS numbers are at or near the top of all eligible second basemen. For contrast, while Dozier isn't a poor defender, per se, his defensive metrics aren't nearly as dominating as Kinsler. Dozier's WAR numbers come predominately from his bat, Kinsler was largely saved by the glove. Brandon Phillips Age 30-34 Slash line avg. .280/.324/.410 avg HR/YR 14.8 fWAR 3.12 Age 35 and over Slash line avg. .288/.320/.416 avg HR/YR 12 fWAR 1.3 Again, there is no Brian Dozier clone (that I'm aware of...) and Phillips is not the greatest analog, but they do share some things in common. Phillips was an All Star, making the All Star team 3 times in his career, playing serviceable (and probably flashier than necessary) defense at second base. The biggest commonality is the teams they play for, and this is why I've included Phillips in this discussion. Phillips, while never the "bopper" Dozier is, but he was and still is, wildly popular in Cincinnati. He was rewarded for his loyalty and stellar play of his 20's and early 30's by signing a 6 year, 72.5 Million dollar contract to play out the rest of his career in the bandbox that is Great America Smallpark, uhhh I mean, Ballpark. We can use Phillips as a precautionary tale of buying too many years into the natural declining mid-late 30's. But, Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia? Yes, I have purposely omitted Cano and Pedroia from the conversation, more because (A.) the Red Sox and Mariners forked out a ton of money to lock them away, something the Twins (I can say with 99.8% certainty) will not do with Dozier and (B.) the more research I did, the more I found the same patterns as with Murphy, Kinsler and Phillips, anyway. For instance: fWAR and fValue numbers Murphy (30-32 seasons) 4.1 fWAR avg. fValue $32.86 Kinsler (30-34 seasons) 4.12 fWAR avg fValue $31.32 Phillips (30-34 seasons) 3.12 fWAR avg fValue $23.26 Pedroia (30-34 seasons) 3.5 fWAR avg fValue $27.55 Cano (30-34 seasons) 4.46 fWAR avg fValue $34.56 Phillips (35 and over) 1.3 fWAR avg fValue $10.35 (41% decrease in fWAR, 44% decrease fValue) Kinsler (35 and over) 2.4 fWAR avg fValue $19.00 (58% decrease in fWAR, 60% decrease fValue) How does Brian Dozier Stack up? Career Slash (age 25-30) .248/.322/.441 avg HR/YR 25.16 fWAR 3.47 Dozier stacks up remarkably well with this group, putting up similar slash and WAR values, most of the value tied into his age 29 (2016, 5.9 WAR) and age 30 (2017, 4.9 WAR) seasons. Dozier enters his age 31 season, and using his peers as comparison, he should have a few good/great seasons ahead of him. The lesson, when viewing a possible Dozier contract extension this off season, is to avoid paying for prior accomplishments as much as possible and anticipate the value you will receive for the remainder of the term. Easier said than done, I know. The Twins, if looking to sign Brian Dozier in the off season, should look to lock him for his age 31-34 seasons. A three year deal, four max. Buying into the age 35 and over years is buying into decline, and ultimately a very expensive, less athletic utility player. Obviously this analysis is in a vacuum, not taking into consideration factors like payroll variations and what players are coming off the books, and priorities in the organization (i.e. investing money in pitching, other positions, etc.). However, the general trend in modern second baseman in Doziers talent bracket lends itself to buying into the age 30-34 seasons and avoiding the age 35 and up. Second base, even with the Chase Utley Rule, is still a fairly fragile position that tends to decline faster than other positions (other than catcher). With Doziers' track record, talent and intangible leadership skills, having Dozier for the next 3 or 4 seasons to lead the next crop of young talented Twins may be just the type of move the Twins need. As long as we're mindful not to pay for the Dozier of 2017 in 2022.
  5. I didn't want to start this thread until the Twins clinched the postseason. Well it's happened! There are four games remaining and the Twins can prepare for their playoff game, most likely against the Yankees. In the last week, I've pondered over who should be named the Twins MVP for 2017. At the All-Star break, I'm sure the consensus pick would have been Miguel Sanó and now I don't think he's even in the top five. There are easily five or more candidates for Twins MVP for the season. I'll list a bunch of them with a short case for the honor. Alphabetically here are my candidates: 1) Byron Buxton--He leads the club in bWAR, mostly because of elite defense. After a disappointing first half offensively, since the All-Star game he's been a .300 hitter with a .921 OPS. In addition BB is 28 for 29 stealing bases. 2) Brian Dozier--The leadoff man again has exceeded 30 homers and 90 RBI. For the fourth straight year, he's scored more than 100 runs. He has a career high OBP and is durable, again exceeding 150 games and will likely pass 700 plate appearances. 3) Eduardo Escobar--He's stepped in for Sanó and performed admirably. Career highs in homers and RBIs plus solid defense. 4) Joe Mauer--Vintage Joe Mauer returned for the stretch run, hitting .336 in August and .362 so far in September. Mauer raised his batting average well over .300 and his OPS over .800 for the season and has been outstanding on defense. 5) Eddie Rosario--Another guy who took off after the All-Star break. Rosario has put together a terrific season with 27 homers and an .848 OPS for the season. 7) Miguel Sanó--He earned All-Star recognition and was the focus of the Twins' surprising first half. Despite missing the last 40 games, Sano is second on the club in homers and third in RBI. Sanó performed admirably at third base and certainly stepped up this year. 8) Ervin Santana--Unquestionably the Twins #1 starter. He was elite early in the season and while he has regressed, he has been outstanding for the season. He has 16 wins, 200+ innings and a low 3s ERA.
  6. While awaiting late starting games, I revisited the "idea" of trading Brian Dozier. I began by asking which teams were not out of contention and had a 2B "significantly" poorer than Dozier. That led me to three teams: Bosox, Indians and Rangers. I found no NL teams that met both criteria. I immediately excluded in-division Cleveland. I then looked at the Bosox's cupboard of potential prospects and found it pretty much bare. That left the Rangers. And, lo and behold, they have three top-tier left-handed starting pitching prospects: Y. Mendez (#2) B. Martin (#5), and C. Ragans (#8) Surely, they could part with one of three. Just sayin'
  7. Just what we need another Dozier related post... Wonder if real pending deadline for a Dozier deal is January 26th With BD winning 3 Twins Diamond Awards would you announce a trade before or after handing them out on the 26th? If you forgot who won what Seth recaps here http://twinsdaily.com/topic/24137-twins-announced-2016-diamond-awards/
  8. Yep, the Twins are bad. They almost certainly will lose 100 games and finish last in the AL Central. Management has been trashed regularly on Twins Daily and has deserved the scorn of the fan base. Articles have been written and several threads have discussed trading just about every veteran on the roster. I submit to everyone that the position players aren't that bad and not that much needs to be done. There is enough talent to score plenty of runs. Pitching, on the other hand, is a problem. The only home grown pitcher in the rotation for more than a year is Kyle Gibson. Tyler Duffey has had a couple of moments, but his numbers this year don't inspire confidence. There is talent but I don't know when or if it will ever develop. The bullpen has evolved a bit this year. The supposed end of the bullpen has imploded almost completely--Glen Perkins has a career-threatening injury, Kevin Jepsen was just DFAed, and Trevor May has been both injured and ineffective. I think that reforming the pitching staff is Problem #1 and Problem #2 is defense. All of that has to do with suppressing runs. Last year, for whatever reason, the rotation and bullpen performed much better than it had in all of the 90-loss seasons. They ranked in the middle in runs allowed. This year the Twins are last by a long ways in runs allowed. They are something like 1-34 when they score less than four runs. Too many veterans occupy spots in the rotation and too much money is invested in them. Some of those guys need to go. They are over thirty and most likely will never be better than they are now. The Twins bullpen has traditionally carried several guys who depended on their defense to make plays behind them. The bullpen has evolved somewhat, but isn't that effective. What transactions need to happen? I think at least one of Nolasco/Santana has to go. The live arms in the minors need to be tried, even if they aren't that effective. On the trade front, several players could go. I just saw an article on mlbtraderumors.com that lists Kinzler as a sneaky trade candidate, Abad could be on several team's radar and several position players might be gone--Nuñez, Suzuki, Plouffe (if healthy), perhaps Grossman--and most of this is addition by subtraction or moving on to the next season. The team could get better fast in scoring runs if Sano, Buxton, and Kepler live up to the hype and become solid regulars or better than that. Maybe the pitching and defense can get better fast. IMHO, it's harder to project pitchers than position players. I don't think it's a rebuild, it is a recasting.
  9. The St. Louis Cardinals yesterday sent down second baseman Kolten Wong, even though they signed Wong to a $25 million contract three months ago. Wong has been terrible for the Cards, with a .591 OPS so far this year. It made sense for them to send him down, given that the Cardinals are contending and have plenty of other middle infield options. My question: Should the Twins do the same with Brian Dozier? Dozier is often considered on par with Wong. He, too, has a long-term deal. He's been a bit better than Wong this year, with a .649 OPS on the season. Yet Dozier was not very good in the second half of last year. His pull-happy approach has made it more difficult for him to get hits given modern shifting strategies. And pitchers just aren't giving him the same pitches they did to make him an all star last year. Perhaps the Twins should send Dozier down and instruct him to start hitting the ball the other way. Then again, the Twins aren't exactly contending like the Cardinals, so the Twins could afford to let Dozier fix himself up here. In addition, Dozier is a potential trade candidate if he can fix himself, and sending him down would eliminate whatever trade value he had. And Dozier perhaps earned the right to fix himself in the majors. But he's had a year to do that, and still hasn't done so. Regardless, the Twins have to figure out which Brian Dozier they have, because they have Jorge Polanco waiting in the wings to take over the second base job.
  10. I know it's still Spring Training, but I was hoping the Twins were going to maybe not lean on Dozier so much and give him a day off here and there so he doesn't wear out in the 2nd half this season. Maybe it's just me, but he sure seems to be playing A LOT in Florida (Like every game). So, basically I am wondering if I am just imagining it or is he playing quite a bit for a veteran, especially one who seems to be in regular season form already. I see he is in the lineup again today. What is everyone else's thoughts? Maybe I am over-reacting but compared to someone that needs as many as bats as possible (Buxton - Who is out of the lineup today) he sure plays a lot.
  11. "You never know what you're gonna get" (from Forrest Gump), this little witticism also applies to baseball players. Every front office projects what their prospects will become, but it is never a sure bet. Consider two current Minnesota Twins: Brian Dozier came to the Twins as a shortstop, thought to be fundamentally sound in the field, but without great tools. As a hitter, he had never hit below .274 and never exceeded nine homers in a season, with his top year yielding at .320 average in a year split between advanced A ball and AA. Typical middle infielder profile. Sometime in 2013, the scouting report changed--Dozier has become a second baseman and a guy with a low batting average, but with the most extra base sock for his position in major league baseball. It could be argued that from the start of 2014 (or perhaps midseason of 2013) until the All-Star break in 2015 that Dozier put together elite numbers based on his power numbers. Overall, despite the low batting average and middling overall OBP, Dozier has established himself as a hitter based on his extra-base hits. Since 2013 he has compiled 105 doubles and 69 homers from second base. Now, lets look at Oswaldo Arcia: Coming through the system, the most used comp for Arcia was Bobby Abreu, a fine hitter with some power. Arcia hit his way throught the minors, always as a young player for the league. He topped out at 17 homers in 2012, splitting his season between A+ and AA and hitting a combined .320. As a Twin, Arcia has become a true home run threat, hitting 34 homers (including some prodigious long balls) in under 800 plate appearances in 2013 and 2014. However, the batting average and more importantly strike zone discipline have diminished dramatically. Both players have increased their power numbers at the highest level, but lost something in the transition. Dozier hasn't cracked .250 for batting average and this season set the club strikeout record. Arcia's K percentage is much higher than Dozier's and he seldom takes a free pass, in fact this year for the Twins Arcia didn't get a non-intentional walk (65 PAs). I think the Twins would be happy if both Dozier and Arcia became more complete hitters, even if it costs a few home runs. In Arcia's case, I think his time in Minnesota will end if he doesn't modify his approach (and results), while with Dozier, becoming someone who uses the whole field more often would be an adjustment to the adjustments that major league pitchers have used on him.
  12. For reasons I can't get into, I'm not at my accustomed place(s) on a Sunday morning. It has given me a chance to think about some random things pertaining to the Twins. I don't want to rival Brian or Always 33, but here are some things I am pondering on a Sunday morning: 1) Paul Molitor was a first ballot Hall-of-Famer. He had the requisite 3000 hits, a high number of stolen bases and a World Series ring. He finished his career with the Twins and played three years for them. Included in those seasons was an outstanding 1996, in which he had 225 hits, drove in 113 and won a Silver Slugger. My question is, if Molitor had retired after playing for the Blue Jays and not toiled three years for the Twins, would he have made the Hall? 2) Brian Dozier is my favorite current Twin. He made his first All-Star appearance (which he deserved) and had an incredible first half of 2015. Since the All-Star break, Dozier has not hit well. I believe his OPS is about .665. He run production has suffered and the power has diminished. His OBP is much lower than last year. Has the league figured him out? Will he have to make adjustments to use the whole field? Should he bunt more for base hits? 3) Last year, the Twins weren't good, but especially in the second half of the season they could score runs. This year, they are struggling. While three players that contributed last year (Arcia, Santana, Vargas) were demoted, the Twins have added a rejuvenated Aaron Hicks, Eddie Rosario and especially Miguel Sano to make up for the heavy regression from the three noted above. Yet, this year the Twins are below the median for run scoring. They've increased their power, relative to the league, but are drawing fewer free passes and no one is hitting for a high average. Is this expected regression or was last year a fluke? 4) I have maintained that the Yankees or Blue Jays get one wild card spot, while the Twins are competing with Houston, Texas and the Angels for the second slot. Toronto is on the verge of sweeping the Yankees and with the Yanks injuries and remaining schedule, maybe the Twins can overtake the Evil Empire. Is there a chance that New York can miss the playoffs? Should the Twins consider New York "in play"? 5) Danny Santana was the surprise Rookie of the Year for the Twins last season. He was given the shortstop position to start 2015 (his natural position) and truly has had a miserable major league season. In 64 games at short, he has managed to register as one of the worst defenders at the position, while registering an OPS+ of 45. Late this year, the Twins have resurrected last year's quasi-incumbent, Eduardo Escobar. Esco has hit very well and done his usual capable job on defense. Do the last two seasons guarantee Escobar the starting nod at shortstop next year? What is Santana's future with the Twins? The Twins have another huge game today in Chicago. I hope people have time to offer their opinion about my scattered thoughts. Enjoy the game today or maybe the great out-of -doors or maybe some football today.
  13. Sure was fun beating the Yankees yesterday, wasn't it? The Twins hit four home runs in that game. How many games has happened in this year? Of course, today A-Roid hit 3 massive, soul-crushing home runs by himself tonight, just in case anybody was wondering who the real bully boys are. I wonder if Miguel Sano was watching that and thinking, "I can do that." I hope so, Miguel. Swing hard. Meanwhile, the Twins still have a major problem with a lack of home run hitting power in their daily lineup. You can see that the Yankees have no such problem. They will never sign a Kurt Suzuki or a Shane Robinson. They don't want Joe Mauer, and they could care less that Eddie Rosario is a surprisingly good outfielder with good hands at the plate. They don't want Aaron Hicks, either, unless he starts jacking homers from both sides like Mantle. They don't want Torii Hunter. He's too friendly. Bully Boys. As a fan, you don't want to hang out with them, and they won't hang out with your wimpy ass, either. You cheer, they perform; otherwise, stay out of their way. Oswaldo Arcia is a bully boy. Had kind of a macho streak that pissed off Twins management, so now he's in the AAA doghouse. He's not the greatest fielder, partly because it's just not his thing. His thing is standing at the plate and looking like he's not just going to hit your pitch over the fence, but then he's going to spit on your mother. It's a little bit frightening, like A-Roid. And the other Yankees. Having a bunch of bully boys on your team isn't the only way to win a championship, but it's certainly one way to do it. The Yankees have lots of bully boys, including their new closer. Our closer didn't look much like a bully boy tonight. He was facing bigger ones.
  14. The Twins didn't score many runs in Boston until they faced a knuckleballer and took advantage of leaky Boston defense. They had one good inning in two games against the Brewers. They still have a good number of runs scored and a positive run differential. They sit in first place by one game with the second-place Royals due in town Monday. In the very successful month of May, the Twins were led by the four guys who usually hit in the first four spots in the order. After a hot first half of the month, Hunter has leveled off and still carries good numbers. Mauer slumped much of the month, but managed to drive in an inordinate amount of runs by being very successful with runners on base, he is showing signs of warming up, but has a long way to reach his career norms. Plouffe is currently in a deep slump after being a consistent run producer and power threat for the first two months. Finally, Dozier remains hot, raising his average above .260 while on an extra-base hit rampage. The club needs help from someone beside those four guys. Twins Daily has had plenty of people complaining about the position players on the team. Shane Robinson, Eduardo Nuñez, Danny Santana, and Chris Herrmann all have detractors who think they shouldn't be on the 25-man roster. Of course, there remain 13 pitchers, leaving one less bench player. Oswaldo Arcia, Kennys Vargas and Josmil Pinto have all played for the Twins and are at Rochester now waiting to be recalled. The pitching staff also has suspects among their ranks, probably all in the bullpen. Brian Duensing's numbers are terrible, Tim Stauffer has failed to impress, and Aaron Thompson has regressed hard. With Michael Tonkin, AJ Achter and Lester Oliveros laboring in Rochester, it would seem to make sense to part company with the soft tossing older veterans. Since the club is in first place, perhaps the pressure isn't as great to make a move. However, they probably need to make a move or two before the current lull becomes a full-blown slump. If I were sitting in the GM's chair, I would send Danny Santana to Rochester and replace him with Vargas. Santana seems to have lost confidence and a trip to Rochester might restore that confidence. Vargas' numbers in AAA have been good (SSS) and the club desperately needs a threat (preferably LH) to hit behind Plouffe. If the bullpen is settled after the next turn of starters, perhaps they can reduce the bullpen. The obvious candidates to be let go would be Duensing and Stauffer, but it wouldn't surprise me if Aaron Thompson is optioned instead. Perhaps then it would be time for Arcia to return and try his luck in the outfield. It is less than one month from Ervin Santana getting back and pitching with the Twins. Another pitching decision would have to be made at that time. As long as they are in the hunt, development as a major leaguer takes second place to winning games. It will be interesting to see what happens with calendars turning from spring to fall.
  15. As the season has gone on, I've changed my desktop background several times. It seems to be a jinx. I started with Dozier, but when his average plunged below .200 in April, I switched to Mauer. Mauer was well over .300 but slipped to about .280 when I switched to Plouffe. Trevor is now struggling, so today I switched to Hunter. Should I have picked Stauffer or Duensing?
  16. Let's face it. Plan A for the lead-off hitter has struggled. Danny Santana's slash line is .203/.237/.441, no adequate for any position in the lineup. All of us would expect him to regress to the mean eventually and hit closer to last year's numbers. However, his lack of selectivity has been a constant in almost 500 major league plate appearances. It may be that the lead-off duties have added additional pressure for Santana. I think it would be prudent to move him down in the lineup and restore his confidence. Brian Dozier strikes out a lot and doesn't provide the stolen base threat that Santana provides. However, Dozier sees many more pitches per at-bat, draws quite a few walks and is a threat to turn around any inside fastball. Dozier struggled big-time as a cleanup hitter, but his record batting first is pretty good. I think it will help the Twins greatly to bat Dozier lead-off for the near future.
  17. I watched the entire game last night and Felix was great. Hughes was pretty good, a little lucky early, but he finished strong. Because of so many day games and other things going on in my life, I haven't watched all that much of the games so far. I probably shouldn't make judgments based on watching so little and checking early (SSS) stats, but here goes: Get Dozier out of the cleanup spot. He looks like he's pressing with RISP and he is much better as a table setter. I think the team should move him to leadoff and move Santana down until Danny finds his form. If not that, flip flop Dozier for Plouffe. Trevor has been far and away the best hitter on the team since his walk off homer vs. Cleveland. I thought Schafer had a nice game last night. He made one pretty difficult catch and caught everything hit his way. He got a hit and made contact in all three of his at-bats. Actually the outfield had a good game defensively all around, that was refreshing to see. I would give Schafer another week as a platoon guy to see if his slump was a blip or if he just can't sustain good offensive performance. Vargas isn't hitting and I think the clock is ticking for him as well. If there isn't a real improvement in the next couple of weeks, I think a trip to Rochester is in order. Perhaps a game with Arcia at DH and Escobar in left will give him the proper message. The Twins pitching has been better than their hitting. They are last in almost every major stat in team hitting. Their pitching is in the bottom half all the way around and they still are far behind in strike outs. Considering the struggles of Duensing, Thielbar, Boyer and Stauffer, that is actually not too bad.
  18. The signing of Torii Hunter has brought off-the-field issues back to the fore for the Twins. Part of the reason for signing Hunter has been for clubhouse leadership, mentoring of young players, and also bring back fans to the park. Hunter's pros and cons in these areas have been analyzed more than the break on Phil Hughes' spike curve. I weighed in on several threads saying that it wasn't possible to measure if there would be any effect and I doubted there would be much effect anyway. This commentary does bring up questions about the Twins' clubhouse and whether a lack of leadership has been at the root of the Twins' struggles for the last four years. I am of the opinion that talent and winning are much more a component than whether Torii Hunter or Kirby Puckett are a positive clubhouse influence. I think that some of the guys who have been looked at as clubhouse leaders are more likely just the gregarious guys who give good quotes to the media. The Twins have had a succession of nice guys who are accessible such as Dozier, Cuddyer, Hunter and Puckett. I don't know if all of them were truly leaders or just media darlings. Guys like Joe Mauer have never been vocal, but they might be leaders just as well. To me, it is still much more about talent than it is about attitude.
  19. RandBall has been prolific lately. Just yesterday, he wrote about Twins to watch for the last 50-some games of the season. He listed Escobar, Plouffe, Parmelee, Mauer, and Arcia. http://blog.startribune.com/sports/randball/wednesday-important-final-two-months-for-these-5-twins-hitters-edition-wha-happened All of those guys are interesting, but to me there are more--I want to see if Dozier can finish strong and be regarded as a top 2B, I am interested in current minor leaguers who will probably be recalled by September (Pinto, Hicks) and guys who could figure next year (Buxton, Rosario). While it is all about the future, there are plenty of stories left to watch and the success or failure of many players will figure greatly in the Twins' off season.
  20. This will include a bit of a 2014 blueprint, some prognostication and some thinking outside the box. I would like to see some other predictions for the coming season. 1) The Twins starting rotation will add two free agents. However the most improvement will come from within, with improvement from Kyle Gibson, emergence of Alex Myer, and a bounceback from one of Vance Worley or Scott Diamond. 2) Joe Mauer will be a contender for both a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove. He will exceed .900 for OPS and 20 for home runs. Mauer will be the Twins lone representative at the All-Star game at Target Field. 3) Josh Willingham will be traded after gaining some value with a 2014 that more resembles 2012 than 2013. 4) Josmil Pinto will not make the club out of spring training. He will be in the majors by Memorial Day and play more games at catcher than any other Twins receiver. 5) Aaron Hicks will start the season in Rochester and start somewhat slowly, but will be with Minnesota by the All-Star break. 6) The bullpen will be seen as far less effective in 2014 than 2013. Casey Fien and Caleb Thielbar will regress significantly. 7) Byron Buxton won't be recalled until September at the earliest. 8) Oswaldo Arcia will get demoted to Rochester one more time before he really "gets it" and becomes a force in the middle of the Twins' lineup. 9) Miguel Sano will be promoted before midseason. His batting average will be below .250, but he will show great power and pretty good plate discipline. Trevor Plouffe won't be on the Twins team by September 1. 10) Brian Dozier will follow up his "breakthrough" by increasing his batting average, but not hitting for power. Eddie Rosario will be promoted in Sepember and share time with him at second. My guess is that the team will improve it's record after another slow start and that there will be a lot of optimism for 2015 after a good finish.
  21. After his nice game yesterday, I figured Dozier's stats wouldn't be too horrible to look at and I see a pretty decent major league second baseman. I have said for weeks that I think Dozier's "D" has been top-tier and his offensive numbers are not too bad. The OPS is at .695 and he has been pretty good since the end of May. His splits show he's good at home and good against lefties. He has performed the best of all Twins' leadoff hitters, hitting .245 with a .718 OPS. Since the end of May, he has shown more power and patience, making his offense since then a small positive. Dozier's adequacy makes rushing Eddie Rosario a non-issue. Perhaps he becomes a trade chip when Eddie is ready, perhaps he tries again at shortstop or becomes a backup middle infielder. I think he has earned a starting spot for next year to start the season.
  22. I imagine we'll hear Dickbert say something like "this is a big start for Diamond" and we'll almost hear the "dum, dum, dum, daah" from the orchestra after the words are uttered. If Diamond doesn't improve tonight, it is likely he'll be getting reacquainted with Rochester, New York. In his favor, he will be facing a team that is crippled by injuries and has shown particular weakness against left handers. However, they are the Yankees and their lesser players have managed to always shine against the Twins. Diamond needs to neutralize the few star players left in the lineup and keep the ball in the park. I imagine the Twins will struggle against Pettitte. I can't remember the last poor game Pettitte had against the Twins, but it has been awhile. I expect that Dozier will lead off, but otherwise the lineup should be similar to what it has been this month. Mauer is due to snap out of his funk and Plouffe has been swinging well. I hope the Twins can scratch out four or five runs.
  23. The Twins again started the season with a new tandem in the middle infield. The two guys this year, Pedro Florimon and Brian Dozier. In 2012, Dozier and Florimon were both shortstops with Dozier playing the middle portion of the schedule as the regular shortstop and Florimon finishing the season, approximately the last third of the schedule, as the primary shortstop. The decision was made to move Dozier to second base. He opened 2013 spring training as the favorite to secure the position and did become the Opening Day second sacker. Florimon was awarded shortstop. Nearing the halfway point of the season, both players' numbers are underwhelming. My question as a thread topic is, which of these two will have the longer tenure as a regular with the Twins? Here are some particulars: Dozier turned 26 in May. He hit a disappointing .234 in 2012 with a .603 OPS. He didn't field well at short and was demoted in August and didn't return when rosters were expanded. Dozier has opened eyes as a second baseman, but his hitting is pretty much the same--.230 BA and .624 OPS. Dozier has no prospects behind him in Rochester, but Top Ten prospect Eddie Rosario looms in New Britain. June has been Dozier's best month so far, hitting .297 with an .894 OPS. Florimon is also 26. He received his first extended major league time in 2012, hitting .219 with a .579 OPS in 54 games. He has demonstrated good range and an extremely strong throwing arm at short, but has been a bit inconsistent in the field. Florimon started 2013 by hitting relatively well, but in June, Pedro has fallen off--hitting just .114 with a .388 OPS. In addition, his defense has taken a bit of a downturn. Overall, Florimon is hitting . 227 with a .632 OPS. There doesn't appear to be a prospect on the horizon to replace this year's incumbent. Obviously, the tougher defensive position is shortstop and offensive production from a second baseman needs to be higher in order to maintain a spot in the lineup. I think that Dozier's offense and defense will end up being better than Florimon. I expect that Dozier will remain a Twins regular until Rosario arrives, probably 2015. I don't think Florimon lasts as a regular through 2013.
  24. It is the 1st of June and still the middle infield has stayed intact. With Dozier at 2ed and Floirmon at short. Which is surprising with no one thinking either of these guys were legitimate Major League starters. And with all the recent struggles the Twins have had in the middle infield they seem I have a new combo each season and they always demote one 2ed/SS and bring up a new one because it failed. So my question is, is this the longest a middle infield combo has lasted, in maybe the last five years? If not please include who did out play Dozier and Floirmon.
  25. DickBert commented several times that Florimon was "attacking the ball" on grounders to the left side. Also, a topic of conversation was that Dozier was better at second because he could wait back, inferring that shortstops couldn't effectively wait for extra hops. I happen to believe this is true in Dozier's case because he doesn't have a gun like Florimon and Escobar. Also, in the strib gamer for today, it was indicated that Plouffe also wasn't attacking the ball at third and that apparently was a reason he wasn't in the starting lineup. Gardyspeak, or is there something to this?
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