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Guess the Starting Nine for Opening Day in KC
stringer bell posted a topic in Minnesota Twins TalkI think about 24 of 26 players have clinched spots on the Opening Day roster. I am trying to get a handle on who will be starting lineup for Thursday's Miranda willopener. Some comments; 1) I think picking a batting order is pretty close to impossible. 2) Five, positions are not solid IMHO--1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base, left field and center field. Most of this revolves around whether Miranda will be able to play third base. It's apparent he'll start at first, if he doesn't start at third. Kyle Farmer would figure at third if Miranda can't go there. Gallo moves to left if Miranda is at first. Second base probably goes to Gordon--he's played there a lot this spring and is coming off a good offensive year in '22. 3) I'd really like to see Larnach starting, but if Gallo is in left and Buxton the DH, he's probably on the bench. Here's my best guess: Pitcher--Lopez. First Base--Miranda. Second Base---Gordon. Shortstop--Correa. 3rd Base--Farmer. Left Field--Gallo. Center Field--Taylor. Right Field--Kepler. Designated Hitter--Buxton. Catcher--Vazquez. What's everyone else got?
Five Questions About Alex Kirilloff
stringer bell posted a topic in Minnesota Twins TalkSeemingly the biggest injury question mark for the Twins is the status of Alex Kirilloff. He hasn't played in any spring games to date and has, at various times, been said to have experienced soreness and backed off from hitting activities. More recently reports are that he is taking batting practice against live pitching and that he isn't reporting any soreness. Still, with less than two weeks to go, it seems the odds of his starting on Opening Day are diminishing daily. I'll confess to being a big Kirilloff fan. I check daily to see if he is progressing and still believe he can be an All-Star first baseman. I have put together five questions about AK's health and future. Speculate away!! 1) Has Kirilloff's upside been effected by the wrist injuries? 2) Will Kirilloff be able to be available to play on a daily basis if/when he returns to game action? 3) Will Alex play any outfield this year? 4) Will the wear and tear of a full season cause pain in the wrist later in the season, regardless of the surgery? 5) When is it time to go to Plan B for Kirilloff and put a top prospect at first base?
Max Kepler For First Base 2020?
TwerkTwonkTwins posted a blog entry in Ryan Stephan's TwinpinionsMax Kepler was arguably the Minnesota Twins 2019 MVP last year (according to this particular website). He made huge offensive gains, provided incredible RF defense, and led the team with a 4.4 fWAR. Kepler's ability to step in for an injured Buxton in the second half saved their playoff hopes. Could Kepler's multi-positional flexibility come into play again in 2020? Surely it will, and I'd argue it could extend from the outfield to the infield. First base is a long-lost friend for Kepler. It is the weakest position in the Twins depth chart as it currently stands today. Let's walk through the pros and cons of plugging in Kepler at first base. Pros Keep Kepler Healthy Kepler was battling ailments all year last year, despite providing a huge lift when filling in for his injured comrade, Buxton. He had off-and-on knee issues in the beginning of the year and ended up missing the vast majority of September with a general shoulder injury (Rhomboid Muscle Strain). This injury affected his ability to swing a bat, and I’m sure it also impacted his ability to throw and field. We all saw the effects in the ALDS, as Kepler was hitless against the Yankees. Mixing in Kepler as a 1B option would allow him to rest his knee and reduce throwing situations. Playing 1B isn’t necessarily equal to a day of Rocco’s “rest and recovery”, but it must be a breather from knee and shoulder issues that an outfielder will encounter throughout the season. Allowing Kepler to play a less demanding position will increase his impact on the team throughout the year. Imagine his 4.4 fWAR total if he had played throughout September. There are effective OF additions that could boost the lineup. I know the current focus is on a certain southern 34-year-old third baseman. Or maybe it’s the #3 - #5 spots in the opening day rotation. I think there are ways to add value to this Twins team through a few remaining free agent outfielders. Having Kepler play more 1B could create an opportunity to mix in another potent bat. Marcell Ozuna is the top remaining OF addition on the market. He would definitely help the lineup – a 110 wRC+ and .337 wOBA are nothing to sneeze at. Ozuna has lost an edge defensively from his Marlins days, recording -5 Outs Above Average (OAA) in 2019. Maybe an argument could be made with switching him from LF to RF. Another intriguing name is Yasiel Puig. Puig had a down year in 2019, with a1.2 fWAR and a wRC+ of 101 (career average of 124). He’s not as defensively challenged as Ozuna, but his offensive numbers were quite pedestrian in 2019 after a decent 2018. I’d argue that he can be acquired on a shrewd one-year bounce back contract, as his market has shriveled. Maybe I’m more interested in seeing the arms of both Rosario and Puig in the same outfield. And the tongue GIFs. I’ll admit that I’m not too thrilled about either of those names above, but these are just two top-of-brain examples of how the front office can become more creative in adding value if Kepler’s playing time is reallocated to 1B. The trade market could offer more intriguing options. Marwin Remains A “Multi-Positional Everyday Player” Marwin Gonzalez is valuable because he can fill in across the diamond. He’s currently slated to receive the lion’s share of 1B starts as the roster appears in January. A career OPS+ of 101 and .418 SLG don’t necessarily scream everyday 1B. He also had a -2 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and a -5.3 UZR/150 at 1B in 2019. Rocco received some heat from the press last spring training when he deemed Gonzalez a “Multi-Positional Everyday Player”. It would be wise to allow him to plug holes as needed again in 2019, rather than limiting him at 1B. The cool kid in LA is doing it. Let's look at another LH OF, one who just happened to win the 2019 NL MVP. Since 2017, Cody Bellinger's MLB games by positions break down like this: Outfield: 263 - RF: 125 - CF: 107 - LF: 40 First Base: 239 Bellinger is a superior player, but Kepler and Bellinger have a similar power/speed skill set that make the 1B/OF blend work. They are among an exclusive club of MLB players that do. Both the Los Angeles and Minnesota organizations place a premium on versatility, and these two players are major reasons for that. The Los Angeles Dodgers have remained a powerhouse in the NL West for the better part of the decade due to their depth and flexibility. The Falvine regime has attempted the same by signing swiss-army-knife-man Marwin Gonzalez last year and increasing the positional flexibility of Luis Arraez, Ehire Adrianza, and Willians Astudillo. Injuries are inevitable, but versatility takes some of the sting out of a roster when they occur. Imitating how the Los Angeles Dodgers utilize the reigning NL MVP isn’t necessarily a bad thing, is it? Cons Kepler has minimal MLB experience at 1B Kepler has 1B experience. MLB experience? Some, but not so much. Emphasis on the not so much. Kepler has played 1B as a Minnesota Twin 3 times in his career. 0 of those appearances have been starts, for a total of 4.1 innings. I’m hoping that his multiple years playing 1B in the minors would ingrain the fundamentals of the position in his brain. We’ve heard about his genetic athleticism for years. However, it’s hard to ignore that he hasn’t played 1B since a 0.1 inning cameo in 2018. Kepler was among the best defenders in RF RF is clearly Kepler’s best defensive home. Kepler was third in UZR/150 in RF, and his 7 Outs Above Average (OAA) were tied for 10th among MLB leaders. Including him in the 1B mix would force the team to hand more innings to an inferior OF defender. This is probably my largest concern, because the Twins have an outstanding OF defense with a healthy Buxton and Kepler. Rosario is a defensive liability, but that liability is limited if Buxton can be shaded Rosario's way, as Kepler can track many balls down in RF. Verdict? I think there’s plenty of offseason left, and Donaldson is Plan A as of now. However, we’ve seen various Plan As fall through the cracks over the past few months. I think the thought of Kepler at 1B has to be entertained if an “impact” infielder can’t be acquired. I would still slate Kepler in as the opening day RF, but I believe that giving him a sizeable share of 1B would allow him to receive more rest and durability, create and maintain a more versatile roster, and allow the front office to get creative.
Who will be on first
mikelink45 posted a blog entry in mikelink45's BlogOkay, we know Joe is on first, but we do not know if Joe wants to stay there or go home and be a dad. Actually we do not know how Mrs Joe feels about this. Joe is the perfect compliment to our existing infield, not because he hits well, he and Robbie Grossman are the walk guys if you like that for your batters. But right now it is Joe's glove that is saving this rather mediocre group of fielders. First base is a nice place for Austin or Sano or Grossman, but we do not have the greatest fielders and they can use the security of a really good fielding first baseman. Ask the pitchers what they think. So Joe can play the I am not sure card and the FO can say we traded for Austin and Cave and have Sano and others ready for 1B and all can provide the tradition 1B power. Have fun with the negotiations - Joe is not coming back cheap. So who wins? Fielding and nostalgia or power and youth? I am not sure. This is the list of possible 1B for 2019 - how would you arrange them? Joe Mauer Tyler Austin Miguel Sano Robbie Grossman Jake Cave Brent Rooker Or do you sign a FA and set back all the young guys? The infield is not as strong as the outfield, the answers are much more complicated - defense versus batting.
Who's at First
mikelink45 posted a blog entry in mikelink45's BlogWow - no Abbott and Costello needed for this joke - just Falvey and Levine. The Twins are playing right now against the Rangers - okay, just 60 games left, open roster, we could bring up Vargas, Wade, Petit, Wiel and have a nice surprise players at first base. Or we could stay with Mauer or Austin, or give Sano or Grossman the 1B glove for a day. But not this advanced metrics group of geniuses - nope we outsmarted everyone. We swung a secret trade of Wilson for Gimenez to boost our future and not behind the plate - nope, we needed to get Gimenez bat in the line up and Astudillo was set for catcher, so Gimenez at 1B. Wow, I wonder how Chris stacks up among all 1B in the majors this year? How about last? Only the Twins were smart enough to redefine what a 1B player should look like and ignore the eight who might be considered for the position to come up with New Baseball. Forget Moneyball; we are into Washed Up Ball. Of course he is in position to take the mound after Belisle does his mound magic. Update - I was so upset I could not wait for Texas to score 18 runs, but now it is over and Belisle gave up a run without a hit, out, error, but one big HBP and then thrown out. This allowed him to secure his 8.01 ERA and then as I had anticipated our pitcher in waiting Gimenez came it - let's hear the collective Hooray! And one inning, six hits, and five runs later the game was over. Falvey, Levine - congratulations on maneuvering our roster so we could accomplish this great feat!
Postseason Review: Joe Mauer
stringer bell posted an article in TwinsI was among those who thought that Mauer would be able to play more games and provide more power when he abandoned catching. For the 2014 season, I was wrong. Mauer had a career-low .277 batting average and managed only 518 plate appearances. Mauer's OPS and OPS+ approached career lows, as well, and he managed only four homers, about one homer per 130 plate appearances. In addition, Joe continued a disturbing trend of increasing strikeouts. He fanned 96 times, about 18.5 percent of the time, compared to maxing out at less than 12 percent his first eight years in the league. His strikeout percentage has increased dramatically each of his last three seasons. This year, Mauer suffered injuries, missing games with back spasms, an elbow injury and mid-year went on the DL with an oblique injury that reportedly bothered him for most of the rest of the season. It has also been reported that Mauer was rusty coming in to the spring because he didn't have his normal workout regimen due to the concussion. Combined with the adjustment of switching full time to first base, Mauer had an uncomfortable first half of the season. At the All-Star break, he was hitting .271 with a .695 OPS. Joe picked up the pace after the All-Star break. His OBP after the break was .397 and his OPS after the break was .805. Mauer also had fairly dramatic platoon splits. Against left-handers, he managed only four extra base hits and had an OPS of .654 (.776 against righties). No one can dispute that Mauer's numbers were far below career norms. The question is whether he is going hard in to decline mode or whether he can recapture his Hall of Fame- worthy form from his first ten years in the majors. No one really knows and no one knows the extent of the injuries, including the concussion he suffered in 2013. My speculation is that Mauer has long been a premier player using his somewhat unique approach. I think that he now needs to adjust that approach. He needs to be more aggressive early in the count and find pitches to drive. He also needs to be stronger, so that some of his 360-foot fly balls turn into 380-foot home runs. Defensively, Mauer looked uncomfortable at first at the beginning of the year. By playing 100 games at first, he got more comfortable and became a pretty good defensive first baseman. All of that matters little if he can't come back and again be a top hitter.
Postseason Summary--Joe Mauer
stringer bell posted a blog entry in stringer bell's BlogJoe Mauer is a former MVP and a three-time batting champion. As a catcher, he has won five Silver Sluggers and three Gold Gloves. These are Hall of Fame credentials for a 31-year-old. Last year, Mauer was shut down after suffering a concussion. The symptoms were present until well into the offseason. Mauer and his advisors decided it was time to give up catching. With the exit of Justin Morneau, a move to first base was an easy call. I was among those that thought that Mauer would be able to play more games and provide more power as long as he abandoned catching. For the 2014 season, I was wrong. Mauer had a career-low .277 batting average and managed only 518 plate appearances. Mauer's OPS and OPS+ approached career lows, as well, and he managed only 4 homers, about one homer per 130 plate appearances. In addition, Joe continued a disturbing trend of increasing strikeouts. He fanned 96 times, about 18.5% of the time, compared to maxing out at less than 12 percent his first eight years in the league. His strikeout percentage has increased dramatically each of his last three seasons. Mauer suffered injuries, missing games with back spasms and an elbow injury and getting disabled with an oblique injury that reportedly bothered him for most of the rest of the season. It has also been reported that Mauer was rusty coming in to the spring because he didn't have his normal workout regimen due to the concussion. Combined with the adjustment of switching fulltime to first base, Mauer had an uncomfortable first half of the season. At the All-Star break, he was hitting .271 with a .695 OPS. Joe picked up the pace after the All-Star break. His OBP after the break was .397 and his OPS after the break was .805. Mauer had pretty dramatic platoon splits. Against left handers, he managed only four extra base hits and had an OPS of .654 (.776 against right handers). No one can dispute that Mauer's numbers were far below career norms. The question is whether he is going hard in decline mode or whether he can recapture his Hall of Fame worthy form from his first ten years in the majors. No one really knows and no one knows the extent of the injuries, including the concussion he suffered in 2013. My speculation is that Mauer has long been a premier player using his somewhat unique approach. I think that he now needs to adjust that approach. He needs to be more aggressive early in the count and find pitches to drive. He also needs to be stronger, so that some of his 360 foot fly balls turn into 380 foot home runs. Defensively, Mauer looked uncomfortable at first at the beginning of the year. By playing 100 games at first, he got more comfortable and became a pretty good defensive first baseman. All of that matters little if he can't come back and again be a top hitter.
Put Your Hands together for Joe Mauer
PeanutsFromHeaven posted a blog entry in Peanuts from HeavenSince returning from the disabled list, Joe Mauer has been quietly reassembling himself, like a hitting terminator emerging from the blazing hell fires of suckitude, back into the consistent--if robotic--man we all know and respect. http://www.jamescamerononline.com/terminator221301.png Mauer mid-rehab stint While the hitting was something we all thought could return, we're glad to see that Mauer's defense has also been less terrible than in the past. We like to imagine that the reason for this is that Mauer has finally taken our advice and begun using his prime position at first base to develop his chops in a second career: stand-up comedian. His time on the Disabled List was clearly beneficial to crafting a solid two minute set, and we at Peanuts from Heaven are proud to imagine the totally fake, and utterly made-up Joe Mauer comedy set, so everyone, please welcome to the Target Field first base bag....Joe Mother-Loving Mauer! Mauer: Hello, it's a real pleasure to be here tonight. You seem like a, uhhhhhhhhh, very nice, you know, group of people. I'm going to say some things that I find comical, and I, uhhhh, hope you like them. Okay. Start out with a classic here... Knock-knock.... .... knock-knock... .... It'll be faster if I do both parts, so, uhhh, who's there? ...Joe Mauer... ....Joe Mauer who?... ...My name's Joe Mauer and, ummmmmm...I'll be your first base comedian tonight... ..... .... okay... ... Have you ever noticed how much fun it is to play baseball? ..... I have. .... Do you know what I like about playing first base? ... When guys in the clubhouse talk about girls, I can say that I've just been to first base with a lot of people.... ...and it's not a lie... ...because lying would be wrong.... .... That's uh....that's...that's pretty great, you know. ... Thank you. ... So I, uhh, I had some milk before the game today. ... Do you like milk? ... You should try some, it's really great. and uhh...helps you build strong bones. ...yeah... ... I was uhhh, on the disabled list recently you know? And the thing about the disabled list is that it's sort of like being on the naughty list with Santa. Except instead of a lump of coal, you get a massive radiating pain in part of your body and a tidal wave of insults from fans who think you're an overpaid cry baby. ... Okay, that's my time...Your next comedian is Brian "You might be middle-infielder" Dozier.