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  1. It's no secret that Minnesota's pitching was bad this season. They tied with Arizona for the worst ERA in baseball. Since the Twins last made the playoffs in 2010, every pitching staff has posted an ERA of 4.07 or higher. The only year the staff managed an ERA below 4.55 was the 2015 club. Pitching continues to be a giant hole for the Twins. The Twins Daily writers including minor league writers, voted for their top three pitcher of the year candidates. Three points were given for first place votes, two points for second place votes, and one point for third place votes. All seven ballots and point totals can be found below. In the end, Ervin Santana was the unanimous choice for the Twins Pitcher of the Year. Here is a quick reminder of our previous 2016 Twins Daily award winners: Most Improved- Brian Dozier Rookie of the Year- Max KeplerErvin Santana had something to prove during the 2016 season. This came a year after being suspended for 80 games for PED use, on the heels of a big off-season free agent deal. When he returned from suspension, he allowed four runs or more in six of his first ten games (6.05 ERA) including 11 home runs. He settled in from there, posting a 1.62 ERA and a 5-2 record over his last seven starts. Santana was able to build off of this strong finish in 2015 as the 2016 season began. Through his first seven starts, he had an ERA under 3.15 and a 32 to 14 strikeout to walk ratio. Even with these strong numbers, the Twins compiled a 1-6 record (Santana was 1-2). Over his next five starts, he allowed five runs or more in all but one of those games. His season ERA topped out at 5.10 and he had a rough 1-7 record. From June 19 through August 21 (11 starts), Santana saw his best stretch of the year and it's likely one of the main reasons he won this award. Across 75.1 innings pitched he limited opponents to 15 earned runs (1.79 ERA). Batters hit .202/.241/.285 against him. This stretch also included two complete games and one complete game shutout against Oakland. "I haven't had many decisions in a year-and-a-half of letting a guy go out there to get a shutout," Twins manager Paul Molitor said about his late-inning decision to keep Santana rolling. "But, he was dominant." Santana's dominance cooled down as the season wound to a close. In September, he averaged less than six innings per appearance while opponents got on base over 32% of the time against him. He struck out more than a batter an inning (36 SO in 34 IP) and posted a solid 2.65 ERA. However, there was only one start where he was given more than three runs of support and that was his final win of the year. While Santana was a lone bright spot in a struggling rotation, there were some other bullpen arms that compiled solid numbers. Minnesota went into the season thinking a back-end trio of Glen Perkins, Trevor May and Kevin Jepsen would be the key to winning games. Perkins missed almost the entire season, May tried to play through an injury, and Jepsen pitched terribly. This allowed other players to claim a role. Brandon Kintzler signed with the Twins in December from the Brewers organization. With the trio mentioned above, he likely was uncertain of his role in Minnesota. He wouldn't earn his first save until the beginning of June but he went on quite a stretch after taking over the job. Over his next 19 appearances, he allowed three earned runs (1.50 ERA) as opponents got on base less than 28% of the time. There were some rough appearances over the last month but he set career highs in saves and games finished. Other bullpen arms like Ryan Pressly and Fernando Abad were offered opportunities to prove they belonged at the big league level. Pressly set a career high in SO/9 and tossed over 75 innings for only the second time in his career. Abad signed on a minor league deal before the season. He posted a 2.65 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP before being dealt to the Red Sox at the trade deadline for RHP Pat Light. In a bad year that included plenty of poor pitching, Santana and part of the bullpen put together strong stretches. There was plenty of talk of trading Santana around this year's trade deadline. It will be interesting to see if the new regime keeps Santana around or uses him as a trade chip to build for the future. THE BALLOTS In an attempt to be transparent, here are the votes from our Twins Daily writers: Seth Stohs – 1.) Ervin Santana, 2.) Brandon Kintzler, 3.) Ryan Pressly/Taylor RogersParker Hageman – 1.) Ervin Santana, 2.) Brandon Kintzler, 3.) Fernando AbadNick Nelson – 1.) Ervin Santana, 2.) Brandon Kintzler, 3.) Ryan PresslyJeremy Nygaard – 1.) Ervin Santana, 2.) Brandon Kintzler, 3.) Ryan PresslyCody Christie – 1.) Ervin Santana, 2.) Brandon Kintzler, 3.) Fernando AbadSteve Lien – 1.) Ervin Santana, 2.) Brandon Kintzler, 3.) Ryan PresslyEric Pleiss – 1.) Ervin Santana, 2.) Ricky Nolasco, 3.) Buddy BoshersPOINTSErvin Santana- 21 Brandon Kintzler- 12 Ryan Pressly- 3.5 Ricky Nolasco- 2 Fernando Abad- 2 Buddy Boshers- 1 Taylor Rogers- 0.5 Feel free to discuss. How would your ballot look? Click here to view the article
  2. Ervin Santana had something to prove during the 2016 season. This came a year after being suspended for 80 games for PED use, on the heels of a big off-season free agent deal. When he returned from suspension, he allowed four runs or more in six of his first ten games (6.05 ERA) including 11 home runs. He settled in from there, posting a 1.62 ERA and a 5-2 record over his last seven starts. Santana was able to build off of this strong finish in 2015 as the 2016 season began. Through his first seven starts, he had an ERA under 3.15 and a 32 to 14 strikeout to walk ratio. Even with these strong numbers, the Twins compiled a 1-6 record (Santana was 1-2). Over his next five starts, he allowed five runs or more in all but one of those games. His season ERA topped out at 5.10 and he had a rough 1-7 record. From June 19 through August 21 (11 starts), Santana saw his best stretch of the year and it's likely one of the main reasons he won this award. Across 75.1 innings pitched he limited opponents to 15 earned runs (1.79 ERA). Batters hit .202/.241/.285 against him. This stretch also included two complete games and one complete game shutout against Oakland. "I haven't had many decisions in a year-and-a-half of letting a guy go out there to get a shutout," Twins manager Paul Molitor said about his late-inning decision to keep Santana rolling. "But, he was dominant." Santana's dominance cooled down as the season wound to a close. In September, he averaged less than six innings per appearance while opponents got on base over 32% of the time against him. He struck out more than a batter an inning (36 SO in 34 IP) and posted a solid 2.65 ERA. However, there was only one start where he was given more than three runs of support and that was his final win of the year. While Santana was a lone bright spot in a struggling rotation, there were some other bullpen arms that compiled solid numbers. Minnesota went into the season thinking a back-end trio of Glen Perkins, Trevor May and Kevin Jepsen would be the key to winning games. Perkins missed almost the entire season, May tried to play through an injury, and Jepsen pitched terribly. This allowed other players to claim a role. Brandon Kintzler signed with the Twins in December from the Brewers organization. With the trio mentioned above, he likely was uncertain of his role in Minnesota. He wouldn't earn his first save until the beginning of June but he went on quite a stretch after taking over the job. Over his next 19 appearances, he allowed three earned runs (1.50 ERA) as opponents got on base less than 28% of the time. There were some rough appearances over the last month but he set career highs in saves and games finished. Other bullpen arms like Ryan Pressly and Fernando Abad were offered opportunities to prove they belonged at the big league level. Pressly set a career high in SO/9 and tossed over 75 innings for only the second time in his career. Abad signed on a minor league deal before the season. He posted a 2.65 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP before being dealt to the Red Sox at the trade deadline for RHP Pat Light. In a bad year that included plenty of poor pitching, Santana and part of the bullpen put together strong stretches. There was plenty of talk of trading Santana around this year's trade deadline. It will be interesting to see if the new regime keeps Santana around or uses him as a trade chip to build for the future. THE BALLOTS In an attempt to be transparent, here are the votes from our Twins Daily writers: Seth Stohs – 1.) Ervin Santana, 2.) Brandon Kintzler, 3.) Ryan Pressly/Taylor Rogers Parker Hageman – 1.) Ervin Santana, 2.) Brandon Kintzler, 3.) Fernando Abad Nick Nelson – 1.) Ervin Santana, 2.) Brandon Kintzler, 3.) Ryan Pressly Jeremy Nygaard – 1.) Ervin Santana, 2.) Brandon Kintzler, 3.) Ryan Pressly Cody Christie – 1.) Ervin Santana, 2.) Brandon Kintzler, 3.) Fernando Abad Steve Lien – 1.) Ervin Santana, 2.) Brandon Kintzler, 3.) Ryan Pressly Eric Pleiss – 1.) Ervin Santana, 2.) Ricky Nolasco, 3.) Buddy Boshers POINTS Ervin Santana- 21 Brandon Kintzler- 12 Ryan Pressly- 3.5 Ricky Nolasco- 2 Fernando Abad- 2 Buddy Boshers- 1 Taylor Rogers- 0.5 Feel free to discuss. How would your ballot look?
  3. The Twins have some familiarity with the new arrival. Three years before Boston drafted him out of Monmouth University in the first round, Minnesota selected him in the 28th round of his New Jersey high school, though he didn't sign. Light struggled during his first few pro seasons as a starter, but since converting to a relief role last year he has turned himself back into an intriguing prospect with premium velocity. In the last two seasons between Double-A and Triple-A, he has amassed 103 strikeouts in 93 2/3 innings (9.9 K/9) though all the whiffs have come along with a whopping 54 walks (5.2 BB/9) Like many other young bullpen arms the Twins have targeted over the past few years, Light is a hard-throwing specimen with control problems and plentiful upside if he can iron them out. He's a nice return for Abad, who signed a minor-league deal during the offseason and went on to post a 2.65 ERA in 39 appearances for Minnesota. Abad's vacated roster spot goes to Jose Berrios, who will start tonight for the Twins in Cleveland. What are your thoughts on the deal?
  4. The Minnesota Twins just announced their first deadline day move. They are sending lefty reliever Fernando Abad to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for right-hander Pat Light. Light, 25, was drafted by the Red Sox 37th overall in 2012. He's a relief prospect that can touch triple digits with his heater.The Twins have some familiarity with the new arrival. Three years before Boston drafted him out of Monmouth University in the first round, Minnesota selected him in the 28th round of his New Jersey high school, though he didn't sign. Light struggled during his first few pro seasons as a starter, but since converting to a relief role last year he has turned himself back into an intriguing prospect with premium velocity. In the last two seasons between Double-A and Triple-A, he has amassed 103 strikeouts in 93 2/3 innings (9.9 K/9) though all the whiffs have come along with a whopping 54 walks (5.2 BB/9) Like many other young bullpen arms the Twins have targeted over the past few years, Light is a hard-throwing specimen with control problems and plentiful upside if he can iron them out. He's a nice return for Abad, who signed a minor-league deal during the offseason and went on to post a 2.65 ERA in 39 appearances for Minnesota. Abad's vacated roster spot goes to Jose Berrios, who will start tonight for the Twins in Cleveland. What are your thoughts on the deal? Click here to view the article
  5. http://traffic.libsyn.com/gleemangeek/Episode_268_Trade_Deadline_Recap.mp3
  6. Thanks to the MN Corn Growers, Aaron and John recap the trades the Twins didn't make (Kurt Suzuki & Ervin Santana) and the trades they did make (Eduardo Nunez, Fernando Abad, Ricky Nolasco & Alex Meyer) while drinking beer and eating a Royale with Cheese at Lyn-Lake's Iron Door Pub. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Stitcher or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click the Play button below. Click here to view the article
  7. Several Twins players have had their names mentioned in trade rumors over the last couple of weeks. The player seemingly most likely to be traded before the deadline is catcher Kurt Suzuki. He has been mentioned in rumors for a month, and teams can always use a backup catcher. Suzuki is putting together one of his best seasons with the bat and has always had a strong reputation for working with pitchers. When Jonathan Lucroy used his veto power to void a trade to Cleveland yesterday, it may have slowed the process. Cleveland is one possible destination for the Twins backstop, though there are several others that would be interested in Suzuki as well. At least two Twins bullpen arms are also garnering a lot of attention from scouts the last couple of weeks. Fernando Abad was terrific the first couple of months of the season. He hasn't been as good of late, but the left-hander should be of interest to some teams Brandon Kintzler, like Abad, came to the Twins on a minor league contract before the season. He began the season in Rochester. Since he has come up to the Twins, he has been terrific. Kintzler took over the closer's role and has been very good. He missed most of last season with a knee injury, but he has come back stronger this year. Since both players are under team control for at least another year, Rob Antony needs to weigh the return with what they believe the pitchers can be next year. On the other side of that coin, the Twins need to make room for the likes JT Chargois, Mason Melotakis and others. Could the Twins find a taker who wants Ervin Santana enough to take on the remainder (or most) of his contract and give the Twins a quality prospect or two? Toronto has reportedly shown a lot of interest of late. It's hard to imagine a Tommy Milone or Ricky Nolasco trade today, but could the Twins find a team to take them before the August waiver deadline? Could the Twins deal Brian Dozier for a big haul? Would they? Do they trust the potential of Jorge Polanco? If the Twins make a trade or three before the deadline, we will attempt to post a new article right away, but as rumors and other trades around the league occur, be sure to use this thread to discuss and make predictions. How many deals will the Twins make?
  8. At 3:00 central time today, the annual non-waivers trade deadline will pass. The Twins already made one move. Thursday night, they traded Eduardo Nunez to the San Francisco Giants for Adalberto Mejia. Will they be able to reach any more trade agreements today?Several Twins players have had their names mentioned in trade rumors over the last couple of weeks. The player seemingly most likely to be traded before the deadline is catcher Kurt Suzuki. He has been mentioned in rumors for a month, and teams can always use a backup catcher. Suzuki is putting together one of his best seasons with the bat and has always had a strong reputation for working with pitchers. When Jonathan Lucroy used his veto power to void a trade to Cleveland yesterday, it may have slowed the process. Cleveland is one possible destination for the Twins backstop, though there are several others that would be interested in Suzuki as well. At least two Twins bullpen arms are also garnering a lot of attention from scouts the last couple of weeks. Fernando Abad was terrific the first couple of months of the season. He hasn't been as good of late, but the left-hander should be of interest to some teams Brandon Kintzler, like Abad, came to the Twins on a minor league contract before the season. He began the season in Rochester. Since he has come up to the Twins, he has been terrific. Kintzler took over the closer's role and has been very good. He missed most of last season with a knee injury, but he has come back stronger this year. Since both players are under team control for at least another year, Rob Antony needs to weigh the return with what they believe the pitchers can be next year. On the other side of that coin, the Twins need to make room for the likes JT Chargois, Mason Melotakis and others. Could the Twins find a taker who wants Ervin Santana enough to take on the remainder (or most) of his contract and give the Twins a quality prospect or two? Toronto has reportedly shown a lot of interest of late. It's hard to imagine a Tommy Milone or Ricky Nolasco trade today, but could the Twins find a team to take them before the August waiver deadline? Could the Twins deal Brian Dozier for a big haul? Would they? Do they trust the potential of Jorge Polanco? If the Twins make a trade or three before the deadline, we will attempt to post a new article right away, but as rumors and other trades around the league occur, be sure to use this thread to discuss and make predictions. How many deals will the Twins make? Click here to view the article
  9. In the wake of his dismissal as general manager, there has been much discussion of Terry Ryan's missteps. Rightfully so. But despite the poor results this year, Ryan did make a few notably good moves, and many were the apparent result of savvy scouting. Amidst the focus on his shortcomings, we'll take a look at a few instances where Ryan's instincts paid off (and may continue to pay off long after he's gone).These five low-key decisions, dating back to the end of last season, all worked out better than anyone would have suspected. Three of them involve bullpen pickups, which is somewhat ironic considering that Ryan's lack of action on that front was a primary source of offseason criticism. Let's give the man his due: Believing in Fernando Abad Most fans, including myself, rolled their eyes when Abad became the highest-profile addition to the Twins bullpen during the offseason. For a team badly needing impact left-handed relievers, bypassing the big names on the market and settling for a guy who couldn't get a major-league deal left something to be desired. As it turns out, the Twins were astute in preferring Abad over the high-priced free agent alternatives. His numbers have been vastly superior to Antonio Bastardo or Tony Sipp, and he came with only a fraction of the contractual commitment. Now, Rob Antony may be able to flip Abad ahead of the deadline for a decent prospect. Signing Robbie Grossman Following a 2015 campaign that was poor across the board, the Astros released Grossman in November. He went on to sign a minor-league deal with the Indians. After six weeks with Cleveland's Triple-A affiliate, seeing no path to the majors, Grossman opted out and became a free agent. Ryan liked what he saw and snagged him, and now the outfielder is looking like a potential piece for the future. He certainly can't be counted on to maintain an .850 OPS long-term, but Grossman brings a skill set that offers good value off the bench. He's a switch-hitter. He's a solid fielder and runner. He has a keen eye at the plate, and walks enough to keep his OBP afloat through hitting slumps. And finally, he's only 26 with plenty of team control left. Uncovering Buddy Boshers Last year, Boshers was pitching in an independent league. He performed very well for the Somerset Patriots, and after the season he drew interest from a few different MLB clubs. No one pushed harder than the Twins, who landed him on a minor-league deal in December. What a find he is turning out to be. The 28-year-old southpaw has excelled consistently this year, whether in Rochester or Minnesota. In 20 appearances with the Red Wings, he has a 1.16 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 26-to-8 K/BB ratio. In 17 appearances with the Twins, he has a 2.81 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 18-to-3 K/BB. He misses bats, stays in the zone and devastates left-handed hitters. What's not to like? Boshers and Abad have become legitimate lefty bullpen options for the Twins going forward, along with Taylor Rogers who was drafted in TR's first year back at the helm. Give the exiled GM this much: he addressed this particular area effectively, albeit in characteristically subtle fashion. Trading Chris Herrmann for Daniel Palka It's safe to say that Chris Herrmann was not in Minnesota's plans this year, right? He was out of options, with a .530 career OPS, and his fringy receiving skills weren't exactly appealing to a team in need of help behind the plate. Somehow, Ryan managed to flip Herrmann for Palka, whose power-hitting skills have only grown more prolific in a new system. Palka's homer last Wednesday in Rochester was his 25th of the year in the minors. No Twin has more than 17. The 24-year-old put on a show in spring training with his long-ball theatrics and is reinforcing his power-hitting prowess with dominant numbers in Double-A and Triple-A. Acquiring Palka for a player who was on his way out will go down as a big win for Ryan. Betting on Brandon Kintzler Kintzler was once a very effective setup man for the Brewers, but had fallen off in recent years. Ryan believed that there was still something left, and it looks like he was right. With Glen Perkins out for the year, and Kevin Jepsen released, Kintzler has taken over the closer role. He has done a damn good job, converting all eight of his save chances despite lacking dominant stuff. Clearly he isn't a long-term ninth-inning solution but he does have the makings of a quality bullpen arm. The Jared Burton parallels are obvious. Click here to view the article
  10. These five low-key decisions, dating back to the end of last season, all worked out better than anyone would have suspected. Three of them involve bullpen pickups, which is somewhat ironic considering that Ryan's lack of action on that front was a primary source of offseason criticism. Let's give the man his due: Believing in Fernando Abad Most fans, including myself, rolled their eyes when Abad became the highest-profile addition to the Twins bullpen during the offseason. For a team badly needing impact left-handed relievers, bypassing the big names on the market and settling for a guy who couldn't get a major-league deal left something to be desired. As it turns out, the Twins were astute in preferring Abad over the high-priced free agent alternatives. His numbers have been vastly superior to Antonio Bastardo or Tony Sipp, and he came with only a fraction of the contractual commitment. Now, Rob Antony may be able to flip Abad ahead of the deadline for a decent prospect. Signing Robbie Grossman Following a 2015 campaign that was poor across the board, the Astros released Grossman in November. He went on to sign a minor-league deal with the Indians. After six weeks with Cleveland's Triple-A affiliate, seeing no path to the majors, Grossman opted out and became a free agent. Ryan liked what he saw and snagged him, and now the outfielder is looking like a potential piece for the future. He certainly can't be counted on to maintain an .850 OPS long-term, but Grossman brings a skill set that offers good value off the bench. He's a switch-hitter. He's a solid fielder and runner. He has a keen eye at the plate, and walks enough to keep his OBP afloat through hitting slumps. And finally, he's only 26 with plenty of team control left. Uncovering Buddy Boshers Last year, Boshers was pitching in an independent league. He performed very well for the Somerset Patriots, and after the season he drew interest from a few different MLB clubs. No one pushed harder than the Twins, who landed him on a minor-league deal in December. What a find he is turning out to be. The 28-year-old southpaw has excelled consistently this year, whether in Rochester or Minnesota. In 20 appearances with the Red Wings, he has a 1.16 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 26-to-8 K/BB ratio. In 17 appearances with the Twins, he has a 2.81 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 18-to-3 K/BB. He misses bats, stays in the zone and devastates left-handed hitters. What's not to like? Boshers and Abad have become legitimate lefty bullpen options for the Twins going forward, along with Taylor Rogers who was drafted in TR's first year back at the helm. Give the exiled GM this much: he addressed this particular area effectively, albeit in characteristically subtle fashion. Trading Chris Herrmann for Daniel Palka It's safe to say that Chris Herrmann was not in Minnesota's plans this year, right? He was out of options, with a .530 career OPS, and his fringy receiving skills weren't exactly appealing to a team in need of help behind the plate. Somehow, Ryan managed to flip Herrmann for Palka, whose power-hitting skills have only grown more prolific in a new system. Palka's homer last Wednesday in Rochester was his 25th of the year in the minors. No Twin has more than 17. The 24-year-old put on a show in spring training with his long-ball theatrics and is reinforcing his power-hitting prowess with dominant numbers in Double-A and Triple-A. Acquiring Palka for a player who was on his way out will go down as a big win for Ryan. Betting on Brandon Kintzler Kintzler was once a very effective setup man for the Brewers, but had fallen off in recent years. Ryan believed that there was still something left, and it looks like he was right. With Glen Perkins out for the year, and Kevin Jepsen released, Kintzler has taken over the closer role. He has done a damn good job, converting all eight of his save chances despite lacking dominant stuff. Clearly he isn't a long-term ninth-inning solution but he does have the makings of a quality bullpen arm. The Jared Burton parallels are obvious.
  11. Starting Pitchers: Ervin Santana, Ricky Nolasco The Twins spent a lot of money on both of these pitchers on the free agent market and it hasn't gone according to plan. Santana spent the first part of his contract being suspended for 80 games and he hasn't been anything fantastic since returning to the mound. His name has even popped up in national headlines as "perhaps the most viable trade deadline pickup on the market." Nolasco has struggled with very brief flashes of being the pitcher the Twins thought they were getting. With both pitchers, the Twins would have to pay some of their remaining contracts. Santana is owed $27 million over the next two seasons and Nolasco is owed $24 million during the same stretch. That's a lot of money to two pitchers that haven't lived up to expectations but maybe both could be helped by moving to the National League. Trading one or both of these players would free up a second half rotation spot for the likes of Jose Berrios. Some Twins fans have even started the discussion about Trevor May being stretched out and put back in the rotation. Minnesota needs to see what they have in their young pitchers and the second half can offer them that opportunity. Relief Pitchers: Fernando Abad Contending teams pay a premium for effective relief pitching near the deadline (see Matt Capps for Wilson Ramos trade). Even Minnesota traded for relief help last year when Kevin Jepsen was acquired for a pair of pitching prospects. Jensen was designated for assignment over the weekend which can show how fickle relief pitchers can be. Abad has run into some rough outings in the last week but he still might be one of the team's most valuable trade pieces. As a left-handed relief pitcher, he has held lefties to batting under .175 and they are getting on-base less than 21% of the time. He also comes with an extra year of team control so that adds some value to him since he can't be a free agent until 2018. Much like trading one of the starting pitchers would open a spot for Berrios, dealing Abad could open a role for an up-and-coming relief arm. J.T. Chargois didn't get much of a look in his brief call-up so it would be nice to see more of him in the second half. Position Players: Brian Dozier, Eduardo Nunez, Trevor Plouffe, Kurt Suzuki Dozier isn't going to be part of the next winning team in Minnesota. He has busted out of his early season slump in a big way and he's under contract for the next two seasons for and average value of $7.5 million per year. Jorge Polanco has been ready for the big leagues but the Twins have no where to put him. Trading Dozier opens up a spot for Polanco and he could bring back an intriguing prospect or two. Nunez has been the biggest surprise on the Twins roster this season. For the first time in his career, he has become an everyday starter and he has taken full advantage of the opportunity. He is arbitration eligible for one more season and he can play multiple spots around the infield. For a team looking for a bench player with some versatility, Nunez could be their man. It might also be the first time in a while where the Twins have sold high on a player and not waited until his value was gone. The Miguel Sano outfield experiment seems to be coming to an end. Plouffe's time in Minnesota has included plenty of good moments and he has become a fan favorite. However, Plouffe would likely leave in free agency after the 2017 campaign so trading him now could result in more value. A contending team might need a bat off the bench or a replacement at third and Plouffe can serve both of those roles. He will be on the disabled list until for the next couple weeks so he might be able to be dealt until the off-season. Much like Dozier, Suzuki has broken out of his early-season offensive slump. His contract expires at the end of the year and the Twins will likely need to go in a different direction from the aging catcher. He is below average on the defensive side of the ball but Twins pitchers have like his ability to call games. Suzuki could serve in a back-up catcher role or be asked to fill in for an injured starting catcher. His veteran leadership and experience could be intriguing. There's the list of potential trade targets. Who else do you think the Twins should make available? What can Minnesota get back for the pieces that they have? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  12. The fireworks dust has settled and this means baseball's trade deadline is quickly approaching. Following next week's All-Star Game festivities in San Diego, contending teams will be wheeling and dealing to try to find the right pieces to push their organization to the next level. Minnesota's terrible first half has put them in a position to be sellers in 2016. This isn't a terrible position to be in but the Twins have been bad in recent years and the front office hasn't been willing to part with trade chips. Maybe this year will be different as Terry Ryan looks to add to one of the best farm systems in baseball. Who is available? What can the Twins get in return? Let's dive in...Starting Pitchers: Ervin Santana, Ricky Nolasco The Twins spent a lot of money on both of these pitchers on the free agent market and it hasn't gone according to plan. Santana spent the first part of his contract being suspended for 80 games and he hasn't been anything fantastic since returning to the mound. His name has even popped up in national headlines as "perhaps the most viable trade deadline pickup on the market." Nolasco has struggled with very brief flashes of being the pitcher the Twins thought they were getting. With both pitchers, the Twins would have to pay some of their remaining contracts. Santana is owed $27 million over the next two seasons and Nolasco is owed $24 million during the same stretch. That's a lot of money to two pitchers that haven't lived up to expectations but maybe both could be helped by moving to the National League. Trading one or both of these players would free up a second half rotation spot for the likes of Jose Berrios. Some Twins fans have even started the discussion about Trevor May being stretched out and put back in the rotation. Minnesota needs to see what they have in their young pitchers and the second half can offer them that opportunity. Relief Pitchers: Fernando Abad Contending teams pay a premium for effective relief pitching near the deadline (see Matt Capps for Wilson Ramos trade). Even Minnesota traded for relief help last year when Kevin Jepsen was acquired for a pair of pitching prospects. Jensen was designated for assignment over the weekend which can show how fickle relief pitchers can be. Abad has run into some rough outings in the last week but he still might be one of the team's most valuable trade pieces. As a left-handed relief pitcher, he has held lefties to batting under .175 and they are getting on-base less than 21% of the time. He also comes with an extra year of team control so that adds some value to him since he can't be a free agent until 2018. Much like trading one of the starting pitchers would open a spot for Berrios, dealing Abad could open a role for an up-and-coming relief arm. J.T. Chargois didn't get much of a look in his brief call-up so it would be nice to see more of him in the second half. Position Players: Brian Dozier, Eduardo Nunez, Trevor Plouffe, Kurt Suzuki Dozier isn't going to be part of the next winning team in Minnesota. He has busted out of his early season slump in a big way and he's under contract for the next two seasons for and average value of $7.5 million per year. Jorge Polanco has been ready for the big leagues but the Twins have no where to put him. Trading Dozier opens up a spot for Polanco and he could bring back an intriguing prospect or two. Nunez has been the biggest surprise on the Twins roster this season. For the first time in his career, he has become an everyday starter and he has taken full advantage of the opportunity. He is arbitration eligible for one more season and he can play multiple spots around the infield. For a team looking for a bench player with some versatility, Nunez could be their man. It might also be the first time in a while where the Twins have sold high on a player and not waited until his value was gone. The Miguel Sano outfield experiment seems to be coming to an end. Plouffe's time in Minnesota has included plenty of good moments and he has become a fan favorite. However, Plouffe would likely leave in free agency after the 2017 campaign so trading him now could result in more value. A contending team might need a bat off the bench or a replacement at third and Plouffe can serve both of those roles. He will be on the disabled list until for the next couple weeks so he might be able to be dealt until the off-season. Much like Dozier, Suzuki has broken out of his early-season offensive slump. His contract expires at the end of the year and the Twins will likely need to go in a different direction from the aging catcher. He is below average on the defensive side of the ball but Twins pitchers have like his ability to call games. Suzuki could serve in a back-up catcher role or be asked to fill in for an injured starting catcher. His veteran leadership and experience could be intriguing. There's the list of potential trade targets. Who else do you think the Twins should make available? What can Minnesota get back for the pieces that they have? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  13. We are about a month away from the All-Star game, but it is about the time we can start thinking about who will be the Twins' representative for the All-Star game. There are no clear-cut favorites at this point, especially given the team's horrid start. However, even though the team is terrible, there have been a few bright spots on the team. I will give you a top three. 3. Joe Mauer, 1B If you were to ask this question a month ago, Mauer would probably have been No. 1 on this list. He got off to a terrific start, but cooled down considerably for a good portion in the month of May before turning it on the past few weeks. He has raised his batting average to .281 and has six homeruns, but just 21 RBI. Kansas City's Eric Hosmer and Detroit's Miguel Cabrera are having fantastic years, but after that it is a toss-up. He has the third highest batting average among American League first basemen, but I think his lack of homeruns and runs batted in will hurt him. However, if he keeps playing like he has the past few weeks, I see no reason why Mauer could not vault himself up to the top spot on this list. 2. Eduardo Nunez, SS Most people would put him as No. 1 on this list and I would have no complaints with that. Nunez has had a career year for the Twins. He is No. 2 in the entire league in batting average among shortstops at .337 and among the leaders in homeruns for a shortstop with nine. His lack of runs batted in may hurt, as he only has 24, but some of that has to do with players in front of him in the lineup not getting on base and leadoff hitters don't get many RBI chances. Ultimately, I believe the biggest reason he might not be the Twins All-Star representative is his position. There are so many great shortstops in the American League that it will be tough to beat out some of the others. It will be difficult for Nunez to beat out Francisco Lindor, Xander Bogarts, Carlos Correa and especially Manny Machado. 1. Fernando Abad, RP This may be a surprising choice for the top spot, but I think he is more than worthy. Abad has been a revelation this year after signing a minor league contract this past winter. In an otherwise leaky bullpen, he has stood out. He has only allowed two earned runs in 20.2 innings for an 0.87 ERA. He also has 21 strikeouts. In recent years, it seems like All-Star managers have been more willing to take set-up men. Even though there a number of good set-up men in the American League, Abad is certainly worth a roster spot and that is why he takes over the top spot. Feel free to rip away if you disagree...
  14. One advantage to falling out of postseason contention within the first two months of the season is that it enables a team like the Minnesota Twins to clearly establish itself as a seller well ahead of the trade deadline.In this age of multiple wild card entrants, the vast majority of clubs around baseball are fancying themselves postseason contenders. This makes the market more favorable for teams in such a position as Minnesota's. Trade partners will generally give up a bit more to acquire help in June than July, for obvious reasons, and the Twins have no real reason to wait around. Unfortunately, in accordance with the "Total System Failure" framework of this 2016 season, nearly every player who looked like a potentially attractive trade chip has scuffled and drained his value. This is particularly painful in a few key spots, as we'll discuss below. It's not all bad, though. There won't be any blockbuster swap that brings back elite talent, but there are a few intriguing possibilities to be considered. Let's break down the roster and see where things stand as we head into June. CATCHER: It's possible that someone could take interest in Kurt Suzuki as a backup but the Twins have no usable alternative to fall back on and Suzuki's .570 OPS wouldn't fetch much anyway. This is a position where the Twins should solely be looking to add, not subtract. INFIELD: Eduardo Nunez is the hot name here. He is enjoying a very strong year, with a .314/.347/.482 slash line, and while it seems a bit flukish, he has continued to hit into late May and is also coming off a 2015 season in which he posted a career-high OPS. He doesn't turn 29 for a month. Combine the clear upward offensive trajectory with his defensive versatility, and Nunez could garner some real interest. Trevor Plouffe will be much discussed because he's on a one-year commitment and dealing him would open third base for Miguel Sano, but unfortunately he's playing terribly. Would Terry Ryan ship out Plouffe, a former first-round pick and a core veteran staple, for a mid-level prospect? At this point it's not unthinkable. Parting with Brian Dozier or Eduardo Escobar would open a spot for Jorge Polanco but neither has done anything to create a market. OUTFIELD: Ryan won't even think about giving up Sano, Byron Buxton or Max Kepler, and rightfully so. Trading Eddie Rosario over the offseason would have been a good idea if the opportunity arose, but now he has turned into a pumpkin. I actually think Danny Santana might attract some suitors as a bench piece because he can play several positions and offers plenty of speed, but he won't bring back anything special. ROTATION: The only rotation members who would have any credibility as trade candidates are Tyler Duffey and Ervin Santana, but the Twins can't really afford to lose either of them at this point considering how things have played out with the rest of the starters. It would have been really nice if Ricky Nolasco could have kept up his April pace and made himself appealing to a team needing a fifth starter, but alas, it looks like the only way he's leaving is by DFA. BULLPEN: This one hurts. There are many contenders looking for help in the bullpen, including the Red Sox (who just lost key setup man Carson Smith for the season) and the Rangers (who are second in the West but have the worst bullpen ERA in the AL). Depressingly, every reliever that might have brought back a decent haul has inspired no confidence. At the top of that list is Kevin Jepsen, who is pitching as poorly as he ever has, because of course. Trevor May has melted down this month, as has Ryan Pressly to a lesser extent. Michael Tonkin doesn't have a big-league track record. Fernando Abad has been the bullpen's best performer but as a lefty specialist with an uneven history, he's not the kind of arm that commands a meaningful return. SUMMARY Even in circumstances like these, where major shakeups are warranted, it's simply not good strategy to be trading assets with depressed value. That rules out the idea of flipping someone like Dozier or Glen Perkins (if he ever gets healthy). No one is taking those contracts and giving up anything. Nunez looks like a nice chip if he keeps hitting, and Santana might bring back a Single-A type, but there aren't many other opportunities to build a marketplace. Plouffe is going to be the most interesting case. On the one hand, it would be a shame to sell low on someone who's been a very solid player over the years. On the other hand, Sano needs to get out of right field, and it's not clear Plouffe is in the team's plans beyond 2016. It might end up being a "take what you can get" scenario. As it happens, the defending champs just lost third baseman Mike Moustakas for the year to a torn ACL. It wouldn't be a bad thing for Plouffe to get on a hot streak, as he is wont to do. What are your thoughts? If you were in the GM's chair, what would be your approach as the trade deadline draws nearer? Click here to view the article
  15. In this age of multiple wild card entrants, the vast majority of clubs around baseball are fancying themselves postseason contenders. This makes the market more favorable for teams in such a position as Minnesota's. Trade partners will generally give up a bit more to acquire help in June than July, for obvious reasons, and the Twins have no real reason to wait around. Unfortunately, in accordance with the "Total System Failure" framework of this 2016 season, nearly every player who looked like a potentially attractive trade chip has scuffled and drained his value. This is particularly painful in a few key spots, as we'll discuss below. It's not all bad, though. There won't be any blockbuster swap that brings back elite talent, but there are a few intriguing possibilities to be considered. Let's break down the roster and see where things stand as we head into June. CATCHER: It's possible that someone could take interest in Kurt Suzuki as a backup but the Twins have no usable alternative to fall back on and Suzuki's .570 OPS wouldn't fetch much anyway. This is a position where the Twins should solely be looking to add, not subtract. INFIELD: Eduardo Nunez is the hot name here. He is enjoying a very strong year, with a .314/.347/.482 slash line, and while it seems a bit flukish, he has continued to hit into late May and is also coming off a 2015 season in which he posted a career-high OPS. He doesn't turn 29 for a month. Combine the clear upward offensive trajectory with his defensive versatility, and Nunez could garner some real interest. Trevor Plouffe will be much discussed because he's on a one-year commitment and dealing him would open third base for Miguel Sano, but unfortunately he's playing terribly. Would Terry Ryan ship out Plouffe, a former first-round pick and a core veteran staple, for a mid-level prospect? At this point it's not unthinkable. Parting with Brian Dozier or Eduardo Escobar would open a spot for Jorge Polanco but neither has done anything to create a market. OUTFIELD: Ryan won't even think about giving up Sano, Byron Buxton or Max Kepler, and rightfully so. Trading Eddie Rosario over the offseason would have been a good idea if the opportunity arose, but now he has turned into a pumpkin. I actually think Danny Santana might attract some suitors as a bench piece because he can play several positions and offers plenty of speed, but he won't bring back anything special. ROTATION: The only rotation members who would have any credibility as trade candidates are Tyler Duffey and Ervin Santana, but the Twins can't really afford to lose either of them at this point considering how things have played out with the rest of the starters. It would have been really nice if Ricky Nolasco could have kept up his April pace and made himself appealing to a team needing a fifth starter, but alas, it looks like the only way he's leaving is by DFA. BULLPEN: This one hurts. There are many contenders looking for help in the bullpen, including the Red Sox (who just lost key setup man Carson Smith for the season) and the Rangers (who are second in the West but have the worst bullpen ERA in the AL). Depressingly, every reliever that might have brought back a decent haul has inspired no confidence. At the top of that list is Kevin Jepsen, who is pitching as poorly as he ever has, because of course. Trevor May has melted down this month, as has Ryan Pressly to a lesser extent. Michael Tonkin doesn't have a big-league track record. Fernando Abad has been the bullpen's best performer but as a lefty specialist with an uneven history, he's not the kind of arm that commands a meaningful return. SUMMARY Even in circumstances like these, where major shakeups are warranted, it's simply not good strategy to be trading assets with depressed value. That rules out the idea of flipping someone like Dozier or Glen Perkins (if he ever gets healthy). No one is taking those contracts and giving up anything. Nunez looks like a nice chip if he keeps hitting, and Santana might bring back a Single-A type, but there aren't many other opportunities to build a marketplace. Plouffe is going to be the most interesting case. On the one hand, it would be a shame to sell low on someone who's been a very solid player over the years. On the other hand, Sano needs to get out of right field, and it's not clear Plouffe is in the team's plans beyond 2016. It might end up being a "take what you can get" scenario. As it happens, the defending champs just lost third baseman Mike Moustakas for the year to a torn ACL. It wouldn't be a bad thing for Plouffe to get on a hot streak, as he is wont to do. What are your thoughts? If you were in the GM's chair, what would be your approach as the trade deadline draws nearer?
  16. Byung Ho Park, designated power hitter If you haven’t been paying attention and I told you that Byung Ho was on fire, you might think that I just ate some hot wings. And while you might not be wrong, that’s not what I’m talking about in this particular case. Over his last seven games, Park is batting 8-for-25 (.320) and has increased his batting average from .216 to a more respectable .250. More impressively, though, is that we’ve started to see more glimpses of the advertised power. In his first 15 games, Park had six extra-base hits (two doubles, four home runs) and a slugging percentage of .532 (which would still lead the team). But since April 26, Park has erupted for two more doubles, a triple and three more home runs. He’s now run his slugging percentage up to .605 which is good for sixth in all of the American League. And though you’ll typically get lots of strikeouts with power guys - and Park does have 25 - he has improved in that regard as well. In his first seven games, 13 strikeouts. In his last seven games, seven strikeouts. Park is proving to be a legitimate middle-of-the-order masher who has risen to the top - at least for the time being - of Twins contenders for American League Rookie of the Year. Fernando Abad, relief pitcher There’s not even a specific time period to talk about with Abad. He’s been a filthwad to hitters all season. As a lefty-on-lefty guy, Abad has retired 15 of the 16 hitters he’s faced… and the only batter who has reached was on a walk. Right-handed hitters are batting .231 off of him, but all of the hits have been singles . With Kevin Jepsen’s struggles and no return in sight for Glen Perkins, could Abad be the best internal option to fill the closer role? His ERA of 0.00 is backed strongly by a 1.47 FIP. His WHIP is 0.75 and his K/9 is over 9.0. In the beginning of a season filled with sour grapes, Abad has been one of the lone bright spots. The 30-year-old Abad will remain under team control for 2017 as well, eligible for his third and final year of arbitration. Juan Centeno, Rochester catcher Way back in early December of 2015, the Twins claimed John Hicks off waivers from Seattle and he immediately became the “depth” of the catching position. With options remaining, he’d be sent to Rochester and whenever the need for a catcher popped up, Hicks would be recalled and on the major league team. And then a funny thing happened. Despite batting over .300 (but having an OBP under .300) and outplaying the newly-acquired John Ryan Murphy, Hicks was sent to AAA and lost on waivers to the Tigers in late April in Retiregate. But no one panicked. And Centeno is a big reason for that. Centeno crushed it in spring training, batting .375 and demonstrating extra-base power. He wasn’t going to make the team, but he made a lasting impression. He’s continued to hit well after getting more regular playing time (.273 over his last ten games with a home run and three walks compared to two strikeouts) and could figure prominently into the Twins season if John Ryan Murphy continues to not hit a nine-year-old's weight let alone his own and/or Kurt Suzuki continues to get dinged and hits the disabled list. Let’s just hope that in the event the Twins clear a roster spot to add Centeno that he doesn’t instead decide to retire. Who’s impressed you?
  17. Every outing gets a “grade” of either Yes or No. Yes, he got the job done. No, he did not perform well for the situation he was called into. We have looked at this a couple of times already this month, so I thought a monthly recap would be important. It will also give us a basis for what happens in May, June and beyond. Here are the overall success rates of the relievers in April: Pitcher -- Yes-No (Success Rate) Casey Fien -- 8-4 (66.7%) Trevor May -- 7-5 (58.3%) Fernando Abad -- 11-0 (100.0%) Ryan Pressly -- 8-3 (72.7%) Michael Tonkin -- 7-3 (70.0%) Kevin Jepsen -- 5-5 (50.0%) Ryan O’Rourke -- 5-2 (71.4%) Glen Perkins - 0-2 (0.0%) Taylor Rogers -- 1-0 (100.0%) Alex Meyer -- 0-1 (0.0%) So, in the season’s first month, Paul Molitor has gone to his bullpen 76 times. 52 of those times, or 68.4%, have been successful. As I’ve acknowledged all along, this is subjective number based on my interpretation of what getting the job done is for a reliever. But it does give a good sense of where they are. I’m certain it will be of no surprise to read that Kevin Jepsen has struggled, and since he’s been the closer, his non-successful outings have cost leads and in some cases games. Likewise, if you’ve watched, you’re likely not surprised to see that Fernando Abad has been perfect to this point. In case you were wondering: Fernando Abad - 11 G, 10.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 5 hits, 3 walks, 12 strikeouts. Tony Sipp - 11 G, 8.1 IP, 5.40 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 10 hits, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts. Antonio Bastardo - 9 G, 10.1 IP, 2.61 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 9 hits, 3 walks, 16 strikeouts. (Note - yes, I realize this is small sample size and could very well be flipped upside down in May which, of course, is the very nature of relief pitching.) I won’t pretend know where these numbers will go, or if 68% success rate is good. What it does show is that four of the seven relievers used most often are within four percent of the average. Trevor May is about 10% below, and Kevin Jepsen is almost 20% below the average. Fernando Abad is 32% above the average. I would not be shocked if the average each month stays in the 67-75% range, and within each month, there will be a couple of outliers. We shall find out. For good or ill.
  18. May is upon us. While the Minnesota Twins lost again on Sunday, May 1, I would certainly assume that they are ready to be done with April. An 0-9 start and an overall record of 7-17 is something that the Twins would like to move past. The Twins’ bullpen wasn’t good in April. I think we can all agree with that, and the number of blown saves alone would illustrate it well. Obviously any time that a late-inning bullpen guy has a bad outing, it is likely to cost the team the game, or at least lessen the odds of the team winning. But one thing I wanted to know going into the season, something I’ve been curious about for years, is how often can the manager call to a guy in the bullpen and that reliever got the job done. In other words, how reliable is the pitcher? If Paul Molitor calls on Ryan Pressly in the 7th or 8th inning how often did Pressly leave the game having done his job?Every outing gets a “grade” of either Yes or No. Yes, he got the job done. No, he did not perform well for the situation he was called into. We have looked at this a couple of times already this month, so I thought a monthly recap would be important. It will also give us a basis for what happens in May, June and beyond. Here are the overall success rates of the relievers in April: Pitcher -- Yes-No (Success Rate) Casey Fien -- 8-4 (66.7%) Trevor May -- 7-5 (58.3%) Fernando Abad -- 11-0 (100.0%) Ryan Pressly -- 8-3 (72.7%) Michael Tonkin -- 7-3 (70.0%) Kevin Jepsen -- 5-5 (50.0%) Ryan O’Rourke -- 5-2 (71.4%) Glen Perkins - 0-2 (0.0%) Taylor Rogers -- 1-0 (100.0%) Alex Meyer -- 0-1 (0.0%) So, in the season’s first month, Paul Molitor has gone to his bullpen 76 times. 52 of those times, or 68.4%, have been successful. As I’ve acknowledged all along, this is subjective number based on my interpretation of what getting the job done is for a reliever. But it does give a good sense of where they are. I’m certain it will be of no surprise to read that Kevin Jepsen has struggled, and since he’s been the closer, his non-successful outings have cost leads and in some cases games. Likewise, if you’ve watched, you’re likely not surprised to see that Fernando Abad has been perfect to this point. In case you were wondering: Fernando Abad - 11 G, 10.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 5 hits, 3 walks, 12 strikeouts.Tony Sipp - 11 G, 8.1 IP, 5.40 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 10 hits, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts.Antonio Bastardo - 9 G, 10.1 IP, 2.61 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 9 hits, 3 walks, 16 strikeouts.(Note - yes, I realize this is small sample size and could very well be flipped upside down in May which, of course, is the very nature of relief pitching.) I won’t pretend know where these numbers will go, or if 68% success rate is good. What it does show is that four of the seven relievers used most often are within four percent of the average. Trevor May is about 10% below, and Kevin Jepsen is almost 20% below the average. Fernando Abad is 32% above the average. I would not be shocked if the average each month stays in the 67-75% range, and within each month, there will be a couple of outliers. We shall find out. For good or ill. Click here to view the article
  19. But let’s take a step back first. I went into last week’s article wanting a stat that would tell me how often a relief pitcher came in and did his job.A simple, yes or no. Yes, there are similar stats such as FanGraphs' Shutdowns and Meltdowns. There may need to be an accounting for leverage. So, this isn’t a perfect stat, but what it does is says that when Paul Molitor calls a guy’s name, he did what was needed in that situation for the team. In theory, it may tell Molitor whether or not the pitcher should be relied upon. THE FIRST SEVEN Let’s start by looking back at the results we showed through seven games. This is through games played April 11. Glen Perkins was 0/2 (0%). Kevin Jepsen was ⅓ (33%) Trevor May was 0/3 (0%). Casey Fien was ⅓ (33%). Ryan Pressly was ¾ (75%) Michael Tonkin was 0/1 (0%) Fernando Abad was 3/3 (100%) Through seven games, the Twins bullpen combined to be 8/19 (42%) successful. I don’t know what a good number is, but I’m certain that 42% is not. We also know that there is enough track record in the above group to know that it wouldn’t stay that bad forever. Even with Perkins going to the disabled list, it couldn’t stay that bad… Or could it? THE NEXT SEVEN So, let’s look at how the bullpen performed games eight through 14. Was it any better? Kevin Jepsen was ¾ (75%). Trevor May was ⅔ (67%) Casey Fien was 2/2 (100%) Ryan Pressly was 3/3 (100%) Michael Tonkin was 3/3 (100%) Fernando Abad was 3/3 (100%) Taylor Rogers was 1/1 (100%) Ryan O’Rourke was 2/2 (100%) That certainly looks a lot better. In the second set of seven games, the Twins bullpen members were successful in 19 out of 21 opportunities. That’s 90.5% which I have to assume is very good. Of course, as I mentioned above, four pitchers who were at 100% in the second week threw in last night’s game and went 0/4. So, here is an update of how the Twins bullpen members have performed through the team’s first 15 games (includes Wednesday’s game too). THROUGH 15 GAMES Glen Perkins is 0/2 (0%) Kevin Jepsen is 4/7 (57.1%) Trevor May is 2/6 (33.3%) Casey Fien is 3/6 (50.0%) Ryan Pressly is 6/8 (75.0%) Michael Tonkin is ⅗ (60.0%) Fernando Abad is 6/6 (100%) Taylor Rogers is 1/1 (100%) Ryan O’Rourke is ⅔ (66.7%) Overall, the team is now 27/44 (61.4%). Again, there is no real context to that number, though I still have to believe that a “good” number should be around 75%, but it may be higher. If you want to factor in for leverage, clearly Perkins, Jepsen and May are being placed in the highest leverage situations, though we have seen Abad, Pressly and Fien in some as well. Last night, Michael Tonkin was placed in a bases-loaded, one out situation and it didn’t go well, but he was very successful when the Twins needed him to get Mike Trout and Albert Pujols out over the weekend. Meanwhile, JT Chargois is sitting in Chattanooga, dominating AA hitters. He has faced 15 batters so far. He’s given up no hits, no walks, hasn’t hit a batter. No base runners through five outings. He’s also struck out nine batters. Nick Burdi is back in Chattanooga looking to get his season started off right. There are some options. Bullpens, and relief pitchers, do have a tendency to be a bit streaky. It is rare to find relievers who are consistently good from year to year. Even within a season, it's normal to have good and bad stretches. It is going to be very interesting to see how this plays out over the season. Who will step up and be more consistent, and how long will Terry Ryan be patient with some of these pitchers? So, what do you think? Any further observations on the Twins bullpen? Do any of the numbers above surprise you?
  20. The Twins lost again on Wednesday night to fall to 4-11 on the still-young season. After starting 0-9, the team rattled off four straight wins before losing the last two days to Milwaukee. Just over a week ago, I wrote about the Twins bullpen failure during the first week of the season. Today, I am going to update you on how things have been going. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t do it a day earlier probably. And let’s be honest, the bullpen is not the only reason that the Twins are struggling. The offense has at least started hitting for some power of late, but there have been many missed opportunities. Defensively, the team is a mess. Adding to that, the team’s closer, top utility man, and third baseman/clean-up hitter are injured. But let’s get back to the bullpen. I wrote that it was unfortunate that I didn’t write this a day sooner. Why? Because last night, four Twins relievers entered the game and none of them really threw well. They certainly weren’t helped by their defense, but the results for each just isn’t where we, or they, would want them.But let’s take a step back first. I went into last week’s article wanting a stat that would tell me how often a relief pitcher came in and did his job.A simple, yes or no. Yes, there are similar stats such as FanGraphs' Shutdowns and Meltdowns. There may need to be an accounting for leverage. So, this isn’t a perfect stat, but what it does is says that when Paul Molitor calls a guy’s name, he did what was needed in that situation for the team. In theory, it may tell Molitor whether or not the pitcher should be relied upon. THE FIRST SEVEN Let’s start by looking back at the results we showed through seven games. This is through games played April 11. Glen Perkins was 0/2 (0%). Kevin Jepsen was ⅓ (33%) Trevor May was 0/3 (0%). Casey Fien was ⅓ (33%). Ryan Pressly was ¾ (75%) Michael Tonkin was 0/1 (0%) Fernando Abad was 3/3 (100%) Through seven games, the Twins bullpen combined to be 8/19 (42%) successful. I don’t know what a good number is, but I’m certain that 42% is not. We also know that there is enough track record in the above group to know that it wouldn’t stay that bad forever. Even with Perkins going to the disabled list, it couldn’t stay that bad… Or could it? THE NEXT SEVEN So, let’s look at how the bullpen performed games eight through 14. Was it any better? Kevin Jepsen was ¾ (75%). Trevor May was ⅔ (67%) Casey Fien was 2/2 (100%) Ryan Pressly was 3/3 (100%) Michael Tonkin was 3/3 (100%) Fernando Abad was 3/3 (100%) Taylor Rogers was 1/1 (100%) Ryan O’Rourke was 2/2 (100%) That certainly looks a lot better. In the second set of seven games, the Twins bullpen members were successful in 19 out of 21 opportunities. That’s 90.5% which I have to assume is very good. Of course, as I mentioned above, four pitchers who were at 100% in the second week threw in last night’s game and went 0/4. So, here is an update of how the Twins bullpen members have performed through the team’s first 15 games (includes Wednesday’s game too). THROUGH 15 GAMES Glen Perkins is 0/2 (0%) Kevin Jepsen is 4/7 (57.1%) Trevor May is 2/6 (33.3%) Casey Fien is 3/6 (50.0%) Ryan Pressly is 6/8 (75.0%) Michael Tonkin is ⅗ (60.0%) Fernando Abad is 6/6 (100%) Taylor Rogers is 1/1 (100%) Ryan O’Rourke is ⅔ (66.7%) Overall, the team is now 27/44 (61.4%). Again, there is no real context to that number, though I still have to believe that a “good” number should be around 75%, but it may be higher. If you want to factor in for leverage, clearly Perkins, Jepsen and May are being placed in the highest leverage situations, though we have seen Abad, Pressly and Fien in some as well. Last night, Michael Tonkin was placed in a bases-loaded, one out situation and it didn’t go well, but he was very successful when the Twins needed him to get Mike Trout and Albert Pujols out over the weekend. Meanwhile, JT Chargois is sitting in Chattanooga, dominating AA hitters. He has faced 15 batters so far. He’s given up no hits, no walks, hasn’t hit a batter. No base runners through five outings. He’s also struck out nine batters. Nick Burdi is back in Chattanooga looking to get his season started off right. There are some options. Bullpens, and relief pitchers, do have a tendency to be a bit streaky. It is rare to find relievers who are consistently good from year to year. Even within a season, it's normal to have good and bad stretches. It is going to be very interesting to see how this plays out over the season. Who will step up and be more consistent, and how long will Terry Ryan be patient with some of these pitchers? So, what do you think? Any further observations on the Twins bullpen? Do any of the numbers above surprise you? Click here to view the article
  21. 2015 was a positive season for the Minnesota Twins. Yet, when the season ended, it was clear that there were needs in the organization that needed to be addressed. Foremost among them was the bullpen. In Parker’s interview for the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook, he asked Terry Ryan, “Where would you prioritize the bullpen in general this offseason?” Ryan responded with, “High.” Parker probed, “Highest priority?” Ryan said, “It’s pretty close up there. Pitching is always the most prioritized area of any team.” That interview was in October. The offseason came and went and the Twins signed exactly zero pitchers to major league contracts, starters or relievers.Granted, the Twins signed MLB veteran lefty reliever Fernando Abad to a minor league contract. There was never really any question that he would make the Opening Day roster. Abad was one of several pitchers signed to minor league deals. Besides Abad, the only pitcher who really had a chance at cracking the Opening Day roster was right-hander Brandon Kintzler, another veteran with several years of big league service time. Dan Runzler and Buddy Boshers were nice stories for spring training, and maybe one of them will perform at AAA and eventually get a promotion back to the big leagues. There were not many bullpen jobs available. Glen Perkins is signed for another year. Kevin Jepsen, after what he did for the Twins after last year’s trade deadline, was coming back, and that’s a good thing. We can debate bringing back Casey Fien, but once he was re-signed, he was a given. Trevor May got some opportunity this spring to start, but we all knew that he would go to the bullpen. Michael Tonkin was out of options. Ricky Nolasco was a possibility for a bullpen spot depending upon spring training performance. Again, there were only one or two jobs to be competed for. In my opinion, I was always comfortable with Twins not wanting to go beyond one year with any relief pitcher for a few reasons. First and foremost, there are very few relievers who are good for multiple years, especially free agent pitchers who are already 31 years old, or older. Most likely, during a two-year contract, the pitcher would be good one of the years. In a three-year contract, you could hope beyond hope that you get two decent years. Of course, we can follow the next three years of Tony Sipp and Antonio Bastardo to see how they pan out. Secondly, the Twins are loaded with relief pitching prospects, guys that we hope are ready sometime in 2016. Guys that we don’t want to see blocked by mediocre veterans. In the same Offseason Handbook Terry Ryan interview, Ryan was asked about the power arms in the system and if they could surface in 2016. He said, “Yeah, we do. I do. I would expect some of those guys to surface this year. I was hoping maybe last year but it was maybe one year premature. Some of those guys had a few struggles, and that’s not a bad thing. Alright, now you know what you’ve gone through. Now you can take a step back. A few of them are out in that Arizona Fall League which is good. I would think that some of those guys are going to surface this year which would be well received here. We can use some of that influx of people. I would like to see some of those relief pitchers there.” In 2016, the following pitchers could come up and contribute to the Minnesota Twins. (Note-That is not saying all of them will, just that they are at a point in their career and development that it is possible) 40-Man Roster Alex Meyer JR Graham JT Chargois Taylor Rogers Ryan O’Rourke Mason Melotakis Pat Dean Non-Roster Nick Burdi Jake Reed Logan Darnell Brandon Peterson Alex Wimmers Now that’s 12 names. Most likely no more than two to four will actually come up in 2016, but by the end of 2017 several more of them will and potentially other names like Luke Bard, Trevor Hildenberger and Yorman Landa will be ready. All of that is well and good, but for a team that expected to compete in 2016, performance matters. And through one week - a very small percentage of the season - the bullpen has been one of the biggest issues contributing to the Twins 0-7 loss. It’s not the only contributing factor. The complete lack of offense and run scoring has pushed the bullpen issues into the spotlight a lot this first week. They have had three one-run losses and two-two run losses. In a couple of the games, the Twins lost leads in the late innings. I’ve always wanted to establish a statistic of sorts to help measure the effectiveness of a relief pitcher. I think it’s fair to say that ERA and even WHIP are not the best statistics to measure the reliability of a reliever. Because relief pitchers generally pitch one, and maybe two, innings once or twice a week, one or two really bad outings can affect how the pitcher’s numbers look for much of the season. To me, I want to know how often a reliever came into a game, into a situation and got the job done. All pitchers are going to have a few clunkers, so I’m going to try something new this year. I’m going to look at each and every appearance by relief pitchers throughout this season and determine whether or not the pitcher did what he was brought in to do. Someone else can name this stat, if it’s worthwhile. Frankly, the reality is that this is subjective. Pitching well or getting the job done can mean different things to different people. For instance, if Trevor May comes in to a situation where there are runners on 1st and 3rd and nobody out and gets out of that inning with just one run scoring, I think he got the job done. If Michael Tonkin comes in with runners on and the Twins already down 8-0 in the 2nd inning, but he leaves the game with the Twins down 11-0 after the fifth or sixth inning, I think he did his job. If Glen Perkins comes in to a game with a 2-run lead and give up just one hit but no runs in the inning, he got the job done. If he comes in to a game with a three-run lead, gives up two runs on three hits and two walks but gets the save, I can’t say that he did his job. So using my opinion, along with box scores and often watching on TV, here are how the members of the 2016 Twins bullpen grade out by this method through the way-too-small-of-a-sample-size of seven games. This stat may be more valuable in six to eight weeks, but here is the introduction: Pitcher Y N Success Glen Perkins 0 2 0.0% Kevin Jepsen 1 2 33.3% Trevor May 0 3 0.0% Casey Fien 1 2 33.3% Ryan Pressly 3 1 75.0% Michael Tonkin 0 1 0.0% Fernando Abad 3 0 100.0% Y=Yes, they got the job done. N=No, they didn't Success = percentage Aside from Fernando Abad and Ryan Pressly, it’s been a tough go for the Twins bullpen so far this season. As I would say to everyone after a poor seven-game start to the season, it is a long season, and things will (most likely) normalize over the course of the next couple of months. I don’t know what is good or bad with these percentages. Is 85% good, or is 70% good? I think we can agree from the start that 50% and lower would not qualify as good. The bullpen was said to be a focus in the offseason. Little significant was done to address it in the offseason which has made it a large focus in the team’s slow start. It is certainly something that warrants monitoring throughout the season. Click here to view the article
  22. Granted, the Twins signed MLB veteran lefty reliever Fernando Abad to a minor league contract. There was never really any question that he would make the Opening Day roster. Abad was one of several pitchers signed to minor league deals. Besides Abad, the only pitcher who really had a chance at cracking the Opening Day roster was right-hander Brandon Kintzler, another veteran with several years of big league service time. Dan Runzler and Buddy Boshers were nice stories for spring training, and maybe one of them will perform at AAA and eventually get a promotion back to the big leagues. There were not many bullpen jobs available. Glen Perkins is signed for another year. Kevin Jepsen, after what he did for the Twins after last year’s trade deadline, was coming back, and that’s a good thing. We can debate bringing back Casey Fien, but once he was re-signed, he was a given. Trevor May got some opportunity this spring to start, but we all knew that he would go to the bullpen. Michael Tonkin was out of options. Ricky Nolasco was a possibility for a bullpen spot depending upon spring training performance. Again, there were only one or two jobs to be competed for. In my opinion, I was always comfortable with Twins not wanting to go beyond one year with any relief pitcher for a few reasons. First and foremost, there are very few relievers who are good for multiple years, especially free agent pitchers who are already 31 years old, or older. Most likely, during a two-year contract, the pitcher would be good one of the years. In a three-year contract, you could hope beyond hope that you get two decent years. Of course, we can follow the next three years of Tony Sipp and Antonio Bastardo to see how they pan out. Secondly, the Twins are loaded with relief pitching prospects, guys that we hope are ready sometime in 2016. Guys that we don’t want to see blocked by mediocre veterans. In the same Offseason Handbook Terry Ryan interview, Ryan was asked about the power arms in the system and if they could surface in 2016. He said, “Yeah, we do. I do. I would expect some of those guys to surface this year. I was hoping maybe last year but it was maybe one year premature. Some of those guys had a few struggles, and that’s not a bad thing. Alright, now you know what you’ve gone through. Now you can take a step back. A few of them are out in that Arizona Fall League which is good. I would think that some of those guys are going to surface this year which would be well received here. We can use some of that influx of people. I would like to see some of those relief pitchers there.” In 2016, the following pitchers could come up and contribute to the Minnesota Twins. (Note-That is not saying all of them will, just that they are at a point in their career and development that it is possible) 40-Man Roster Alex Meyer JR Graham JT Chargois Taylor Rogers Ryan O’Rourke Mason Melotakis Pat Dean Non-Roster Nick Burdi Jake Reed Logan Darnell Brandon Peterson Alex Wimmers Now that’s 12 names. Most likely no more than two to four will actually come up in 2016, but by the end of 2017 several more of them will and potentially other names like Luke Bard, Trevor Hildenberger and Yorman Landa will be ready. All of that is well and good, but for a team that expected to compete in 2016, performance matters. And through one week - a very small percentage of the season - the bullpen has been one of the biggest issues contributing to the Twins 0-7 loss. It’s not the only contributing factor. The complete lack of offense and run scoring has pushed the bullpen issues into the spotlight a lot this first week. They have had three one-run losses and two-two run losses. In a couple of the games, the Twins lost leads in the late innings. I’ve always wanted to establish a statistic of sorts to help measure the effectiveness of a relief pitcher. I think it’s fair to say that ERA and even WHIP are not the best statistics to measure the reliability of a reliever. Because relief pitchers generally pitch one, and maybe two, innings once or twice a week, one or two really bad outings can affect how the pitcher’s numbers look for much of the season. To me, I want to know how often a reliever came into a game, into a situation and got the job done. All pitchers are going to have a few clunkers, so I’m going to try something new this year. I’m going to look at each and every appearance by relief pitchers throughout this season and determine whether or not the pitcher did what he was brought in to do. Someone else can name this stat, if it’s worthwhile. Frankly, the reality is that this is subjective. Pitching well or getting the job done can mean different things to different people. For instance, if Trevor May comes in to a situation where there are runners on 1st and 3rd and nobody out and gets out of that inning with just one run scoring, I think he got the job done. If Michael Tonkin comes in with runners on and the Twins already down 8-0 in the 2nd inning, but he leaves the game with the Twins down 11-0 after the fifth or sixth inning, I think he did his job. If Glen Perkins comes in to a game with a 2-run lead and give up just one hit but no runs in the inning, he got the job done. If he comes in to a game with a three-run lead, gives up two runs on three hits and two walks but gets the save, I can’t say that he did his job. So using my opinion, along with box scores and often watching on TV, here are how the members of the 2016 Twins bullpen grade out by this method through the way-too-small-of-a-sample-size of seven games. This stat may be more valuable in six to eight weeks, but here is the introduction: Pitcher Y N Success Glen Perkins 0 2 0.0% Kevin Jepsen 1 2 33.3% Trevor May 0 3 0.0% Casey Fien 1 2 33.3% Ryan Pressly 3 1 75.0% Michael Tonkin 0 1 0.0% Fernando Abad 3 0 100.0% Y=Yes, they got the job done. N=No, they didn't Success = percentage Aside from Fernando Abad and Ryan Pressly, it’s been a tough go for the Twins bullpen so far this season. As I would say to everyone after a poor seven-game start to the season, it is a long season, and things will (most likely) normalize over the course of the next couple of months. I don’t know what is good or bad with these percentages. Is 85% good, or is 70% good? I think we can agree from the start that 50% and lower would not qualify as good. The bullpen was said to be a focus in the offseason. Little significant was done to address it in the offseason which has made it a large focus in the team’s slow start. It is certainly something that warrants monitoring throughout the season.
  23. In dropping four players and getting the spring training roster to 25, the Twins most likely have their Opening Day roster. That said, with five days until Opening Day, anything can happen. LH RP Fernando Abad has not yet been added to the Twins 40-man roster. The Twins theoretically could still take Michael Tonkin off of their 40-man roster if there is someone else they would like to add from another organization. There were a couple of big stories in today's transactions. First, Ricky Nolasco "wins" the 5th starter job. Tyler Duffey was optioned to Rochester where he will work through some things. It was clear that he would need a third pitch (probably the change-up he's been working on to be a viable long-term starter. He was asked at the beginning of spring training to work on it. He did, and he struggled. So it makes sense to send him to Rochester where he can continue to work on that pitch. But it was more than that. Duffey noted that in some games hitters were sitting on his curveball, and hitting his fastball. While fans (and in my opinion, the Twins) wanted Duffey to be in the rotation to start the season, it is clear that he needs to work through a couple of things. I expect Duffey will be back with the Twins within four to six weeks, though Jose Berrios will likely factor into the timing as well. As for Nolasco, it is my opinion that his salary got him an opportunity to be in the rotation, but it was more about Duffey's issues that allowed him to actually be in the rotation. His numbers were certainly not inspiring in spring training. Then again, he's healthy and his curveball is terrific. It would be nice if he could return to the form from his days in Miami. I don't know that I would expect it. (I wouldn't.) His leash could (and should) be short. The other possibly controversial decision is keeping Michael Tonkin on the roster. While he is out of options, he really struggled for the first month of spring training. However, he has been very good his last three or four outings. He throws 94-96 and he does have a slider that can be effective. He's certainly not a guy who you would want to lose for nothing. As their roster is currently set, the Twins really don't have any relievers who can throw more than two innings. If the starters do their job most times out, that shouldn't be an issue, but a couple of consecutive sub-four inning starts and it could create issues. Then again, they are fully capable of calling down to Rochester and calling guys up in those scenarios. Brandon Kintzler is a veteran who will go to Rochester. No word on whether he's got an opt-out at some point in the season. It does appear that Fernando Abad has made the roster. He will still need to be added to the 40-man roster before Monday. Two weeks ago, Mike Strong was removed from the 40-man roster so there is a spot. Abad is the only left-hander in the bullpen aside from closer Glen Perkins. Ryan O'Rourke and Logan Darnell had very solid camps. O'Rourke did what O'Rourke does. He gets lefties out, and did better (in the small sample) against right-handed bats. Logan Darnell would have been the options as a long-reliever. So, as of right now, the Twins Opening Day roster looks like this (subject to change): SP - Ervin Santana, Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes, Tommy Milone, Ricky Nolasco RP - Glen Perkins, Kevin Jepsen, Trevor May, Casey Fien, Michael Tonkin, Ryan Pressly, Fernando Abad C - Kurt Suzuki, John Ryan Murphy IF - Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe, Eduardo Escobar, Eduardo Nunez, Byung Ho Park OF - Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Oswaldo Arcia, Danny Santana
  24. On Tuesday morning, the Twins made four roster moves leaving their roster at 25. The Twins optioned LH RP Ryan O'Rourke and RHP Tyler Duffey to Rochester. They also re-assigned LH RP Logan Darnell and RH RP Brandon Kintzler to minor league camp.In dropping four players and getting the spring training roster to 25, the Twins most likely have their Opening Day roster. That said, with five days until Opening Day, anything can happen. LH RP Fernando Abad has not yet been added to the Twins 40-man roster. The Twins theoretically could still take Michael Tonkin off of their 40-man roster if there is someone else they would like to add from another organization. There were a couple of big stories in today's transactions. First, Ricky Nolasco "wins" the 5th starter job. Tyler Duffey was optioned to Rochester where he will work through some things. It was clear that he would need a third pitch (probably the change-up he's been working on to be a viable long-term starter. He was asked at the beginning of spring training to work on it. He did, and he struggled. So it makes sense to send him to Rochester where he can continue to work on that pitch. But it was more than that. Duffey noted that in some games hitters were sitting on his curveball, and hitting his fastball. While fans (and in my opinion, the Twins) wanted Duffey to be in the rotation to start the season, it is clear that he needs to work through a couple of things. I expect Duffey will be back with the Twins within four to six weeks, though Jose Berrios will likely factor into the timing as well. As for Nolasco, it is my opinion that his salary got him an opportunity to be in the rotation, but it was more about Duffey's issues that allowed him to actually be in the rotation. His numbers were certainly not inspiring in spring training. Then again, he's healthy and his curveball is terrific. It would be nice if he could return to the form from his days in Miami. I don't know that I would expect it. (I wouldn't.) His leash could (and should) be short. The other possibly controversial decision is keeping Michael Tonkin on the roster. While he is out of options, he really struggled for the first month of spring training. However, he has been very good his last three or four outings. He throws 94-96 and he does have a slider that can be effective. He's certainly not a guy who you would want to lose for nothing. As their roster is currently set, the Twins really don't have any relievers who can throw more than two innings. If the starters do their job most times out, that shouldn't be an issue, but a couple of consecutive sub-four inning starts and it could create issues. Then again, they are fully capable of calling down to Rochester and calling guys up in those scenarios. Brandon Kintzler is a veteran who will go to Rochester. No word on whether he's got an opt-out at some point in the season. It does appear that Fernando Abad has made the roster. He will still need to be added to the 40-man roster before Monday. Two weeks ago, Mike Strong was removed from the 40-man roster so there is a spot. Abad is the only left-hander in the bullpen aside from closer Glen Perkins. Ryan O'Rourke and Logan Darnell had very solid camps. O'Rourke did what O'Rourke does. He gets lefties out, and did better (in the small sample) against right-handed bats. Logan Darnell would have been the options as a long-reliever. So, as of right now, the Twins Opening Day roster looks like this (subject to change): SP - Ervin Santana, Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes, Tommy Milone, Ricky Nolasco RP - Glen Perkins, Kevin Jepsen, Trevor May, Casey Fien, Michael Tonkin, Ryan Pressly, Fernando Abad C - Kurt Suzuki, John Ryan Murphy IF - Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe, Eduardo Escobar, Eduardo Nunez, Byung Ho Park OF - Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Oswaldo Arcia, Danny Santana Click here to view the article
  25. (As always, this is just a projection, a prediction of what a roster could look like on Opening Day. It is fully my opinion based on observation, reading, and too much time thinking about such things. Names in bold are givens, in my opinion.) Starting Pitchers (5): Ervin Santana, Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes, Tommy Milone, Tyler Duffey (remaining: Logan Darnell) The top three pitchers have been announced as the Twins opening series starters. They have yet to name the fourth and fifth starters, so there are some questions. In my mind, Tommy Milone has been a given all along, even if they haven’t said it yet. So, it really comes down to Tyler Duffey and Ricky Nolasco. Nolasco has pitched better, especially of late. Duffey has, frankly, struggled. They each have one more start to go before a decision would be made, and maybe they could both go to Washington and make starts before a final decision is made. I’m going to leave it at Tyler Duffey, but I feel very little confidence in that right now. In my mind, the Twins brass needs to ask this question; Is it better to have a two-pitch Duffey in the rotation right away, or better to send him to Rochester for two months to attempt to improve his change-up? Frankly, if he doesn’t develop the change-up as a quality third pitch, his long-term future is likely to be in the bullpen. Relief Pitchers (8): Glen Perkins, Kevin Jepsen, Trevor May, Casey Fien, Fernando Abad, Ricky Nolasco, Michael Tonkin, Ryan Pressly (remaining: Ryan O’Rourke (40), Brandon Kintzler, Dan Runzler) First, I think if Tyler Duffey is not named the fifth starter, he will be optioned to Rochester. However, if Nolasco is not a starter, they will have to move him to the bullpen. That’s just the reality. We will see how that goes. So, that’s either zero or one roster spot. The first five names listed above are givens. No question about that in my mind. Though Abad hasn’t been great, I feel that he is going to be given a spot. Removing Mike Strong from the 40-man roster makes that even more likely. So there are five givens, and since I show Duffey as starting, that would make Nolasco a given as well. That puts us as six, and I think that Ryan Pressly has earned a job. I bolded his name above as a given, but not 100% certain. The elephant in the room remains Michael Tonkin. When I was there eight days ago, he was not good, and I was certain that he would not make the roster. In his most recent outing, he threw two terrific, perfect innings. He still throws 95. He has a slider. It just hasn’t translated well to the big leagues, though he was better last September. The other option, and the option that I’m projecting today, is going with a 13-man pitching staff. That isn’t ideal in the middle of the season much less at the beginning. No one wants that. Molitor and Ryan know that isn’t ideal. But, if they have any belief in Michael Tonkin, they won’t let him go for nothing. (Note – I also think that Terry Ryan may be trying to make a trade.) Catchers (2): Kurt Suzuki, John Ryan Murphy (likely sent down yet: John Hicks (40), Juan Centeno) Coming into spring training, it was pretty much a given that Suzuki would start and Murphy would be his backup. They added some quality AAA depth in John Hicks and Juan Centeno, a couple of 26-year-olds. 24-year-old Murphy has just two hits in 25 at-bats and has thrown out just one of six base stealers in camp. We all know that spring stats don’t mean much at all, and Murphy is someone they believe in. He needs to work with the big league pitchers. That said, you could argue that if Duffey, Berrios and Meyer are in the Rochester starting rotation, you could send him down for four to six weeks and have him work with those guys. If that were to happen, Hicks would be the Opening Day backup. I still expect John Ryan Murphy to back up Kurt Suzuki to start the season. Infielders (6): Joe Mauer, Byung Ho Park, Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, Trevor Plouffe, Eduardo Nunez (sent down yet: James Beresford) These spots are pretty much already set. Beresford is still around, showing that he is likely in line for that Doug Bernier role that we’ve seen the last three years. If there is an opening for a backup infielder, I think Beresford is that guy. If there is an injury and they would need more of a starter (at SS or 2B), they would likely call up Jorge Polanco. Not a lot more to say with this group. These have all been givens throughout the spring, and also remember that Danny Santana can play three infield spots as well. Outfielders (4): Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, Danny Santana, Oswaldo Arcia (sent down yet: Byron Buxton (40), Darin Mastroianni, Carlos Quentin) All- right, here is where things get interesting for Twins fans, and more so, for Twins pitchers. Byron Buxton came to camp given the opportunity to win the starting center field job. He missed a couple of games with illness and one due to rain. He has been good, as expected, in the outfield. He has had a couple of good offensive games. Most of the time, he’s had a couple of bad at-bats each game, and one or two OK (or even good) at-bats as well when getting three or four plate appearances. I am starting to wonder if Buxton could start the season in Rochester. As we have said above with Duffey, or as we see with the Kepler demotion, there has to be a fine line between wanting to have the players on the big league roster with doing what is best for the players and the team in the short term and long term. It might be ideal for him to go to Rochester for a month and lead off every game. Get him as many at-bats as possible. Right now, I feel like the odds of Buxton being on the Opening Day roster right around 50/50. If this is the outfield that they went with on Opening Day, there would be two possible outfield configurations lineups: 1.) Rosario (LF), Santana (CF), Sano (RF), or 2.) Arcia (LF), Rosario (CF), Sano (RF) Obviously Arcia would be able to play right field as well to give Sano a day off if needed. Santana can at least cover some ground in the corner spots as well. If Buxton is sent down, I don’t think it would be for very long. The Twins aren’t going to want to stay at 13 pitchers for very long. They want his defense and speed patrolling center field for the big league pitchers. I’d also add that I think if Terry Ryan could trade Michael Tonkin before Opening Day, then Buxton would be in the big leagues and the Twins would have 13 hitters and 12 pitchers. The Twins have just a few really tough decisions to make in the next seven days. I see there being 22 givens to be on the roster (pending injury, unexpected trade, etc.). That means three roster spots are up for grabs between these players: (Tyler Duffey, Michael Tonkin, Byron Buxton, John Ryan Murphy, John Hicks, maybe Ryan O'Rourke) YOUR TURN Let’s see your rosters for Opening Day and what you would do.
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