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  1. With Buxton in center and Kepler in right, the Twins are set at two of the three outfield positions, Behind them, however, there is a notable gap, both offensively and defensively. Among the guys that manned the outfield last year are Nick Gordon, Kyle Garlick, Brent Rooker, Alex Kirilloff, Jake Cave and Trevor Larnach. Gordon is an infielder who was pressed into emergency service in the outfield. His defensive marks are so-so and offensively he was not great in about 200 plate appearances. Garlick logged about 100 plate appearances and did well against left handed pitching, his defense was satisfactory but uninspiring, and he even played center field a couple of games before going down with injury. Rooker got over 200 PAs and hit nine homers, but was brutal in the outfield and disappointing at the plate, although he did rake in AAA. Kirilloff was hampered by injury but showed enough to certainly be part of the Twins' plans for 2022, although his best defensive position is definitely first base. Larnach started well, got beat up and slumped at the plate. and finally was sent back to St. Paul. Cave is the most experienced of the candidates, but has struggled mightily the last two seasons after being a valuable fill-in and fourth outfielder in 2018-19. Cave also grades well in left field, but is stretched a bit in center.All but Garlick and Cave are high draft choices by the Twins. Gordon is out of options and Garlick and Cave are not on the 40-man roster. I really don't dislike Nick Gordon or Brent Rooker but I see no role for either of them on a 2022 Twins team that now looks like they want to wrest away the Central title from the White Sox or at least make the expanded playoffs. Among the right handed hitters, Garlick is a better fit for a contending team because he has favorable splits against left handed pitching and is acceptable as a corner outfielder. I'm pulling for Larnach to seize left field. He has good power and a hitting profile that suggests that he could develop into a solid hitter despite last year's slide. As a seldom-used fourth or fifth outfielder, Cave would be okay in that he has lots of center field experience and is a defensive asset in left and he runs better than average. Gordon has very good wheels, but hasn't hit much and additionally with all of the second basemen in the Twins' system, it looks like his chance to be an every day player is non-existent, especially if he's #4 on the depth chart at shortstop. My opinion is that Kirilloff should play first base a majority of the time. He should hit enough to get time in left, but moving him there hurts the team defense at both first and left field. What would be ideal is to have a player with good defense and good speed who hits right handed who can fill left field and cover center in Buxton's absence. The only possibility of that in the organization who could help the club this year is Austin Martin, who does seem a ways away yet and who has played as much shortstop as center field. I am looking for others' opinions on this and checking to see if I'm missing something. What is the opinion of the Twins Daily faithful? Let's hear from you.
  2. The Opener is on the horizon! The Twins and all teams need to cut their roster down to 28 players. At the fringe of all rosters are players on minor league contracts. Most have big league experience, but aren’t on the 40-man roster. Many of these players will be added to active rosters before Opening Day, necessitating someone being dropped from the 40-man roster. The Twins are no exception. Pitchers Deven Smeltzer and Danny Coulombe and an outfielder (Cave or Garlick) could be added, but someone would have to be dropped from the 40-man roster and exposed to be claimed by any team. In the Twins case, who would be let go? It is a dangerous proposition. One has to weigh the value of the player, their chance to contribute both short term and long term and the chances another team will pick them up. Another factor is minor league options. If a player can be freely sent to the minors or recalled from the minors, it is a huge managerial factor. I think there are five possibilities for DFA now and when rosters are reduced to 26. 1) Jharel Cotton. Cotton was claimed from Texas and has no options. He’s looked decent in camp, but he was made available by the pitching-poor Rangers. 2) Similarly, John Romero was claimed by the Twins this spring. Any player that was exposed once is somewhat suspect, so Romero could be DFAed. 3) Cory Stashak. He was a find in 2019, but since has had injuries and when not injured, hasn’t been nearly as effective. 4)Nick Gordon. The speedy Gordon improved his stock last year by avoiding injury and playing acceptable center field. His problem is he wasn’t very good offensively and sits as no better than a third option at the three up-the-middle positions he’s played. He is out of options, so he can’t go back and forth from Triple A. 5) Brent Rooker. His skill set has been much debated on TD. He is the third or fourth option at DH and has poor defensive marks. Rooker has two options remaining, but he’s 27 and moving closer to suspect than prospect. Are the Twins forced to DFA any of these player in the next week or on May 1? Are there other players who could be moved off the 40-man roster? Please discuss.
  3. The Minnesota Twins are completing one of their most disappointing seasons in their history in one week. While they will only win around 70 games, they have major league talent under team control at every position except one--shortstop. Andrelton Simmons was acquired on a one-year deal and has shown himself to be a competent (not all-world) defender and has had a putrid offensive season. The consensus at this site is that he should not and will not return in 2022. By all measures, the 2021 Simmons has been among the worst hitters in MLB. Good luck elsewhere Simba. It didn't work out in Minnesota. Who replaces Simmons as the everyday SS next year? I think the question is interesting. The Twins can go several different directions, including moving Jorge Polanco back to short. I would think that any shortstop decision has to be made with an eye on some of the Twins top prospects. Royce Lewis will miss all of 2021 following knee surgery. Lewis has the potential to be the kind of five-tool star that Byron Buxton has teased us with when he has been healthy. Lewis also has a minor league resume that is considerably short of his potential and there are murmurs that he won't end up as a shortstop. Another top prospect is Austin Martin, obtained in the José Berríos trade, He also has a history at shortstop, but exclusively played outfield for Wichita since he was acquired by the Twins. Martin seems to have a much more refined hit tool than Lewis, with a high OBP and relatively low strikeouts. He hasn't demonstrated big power in the minors, however. Do the Twins believe either of these guys will be their everyday shortstop next year? I really doubt it. Lewis has almost no experience in the high minors and has essentially missed two years of baseball and while it is quite likely that Martin will make his major league debut next season, his most likely position will be outfield. A third minor league option is Wichita's regular shortstop this season, Jermaine Palacios. He has had a power surge and has been a shortstop through his minor league career. Could he make the jump? At least to start 2022, I think all three guys are longshots to even be on the major league roster. Of course, there are two possible candidates on the big league roster. Polanco has almost 500 games played at short, and while he isn't league average with the leather, he is a proven hitter. Nick Gordon has impressed, but despite playing a lot of shortstop in the minors, he's only logged 43 innings at short in this, his rookie year, with the Twins. Again, I have my doubts. However, I think the readiness of a replacement from the organization is the key to determining what type of player the Twins will seek to fill the void at shortstop. If they are convinced that one of their prospects will be an everyday shortstop in the majors by 2023, then the focus would be on more of a stopgap player, perhaps someone who might start the season as a regular, but could evolve into a utility player. If the feeling is that none of the prospects in the high minors can cut it as an everyday shortstop by 2023, then they have to sign someone with a bit more permanence. Signing someone from outside the organization for more than one year also would seem to create a glut of major league players. Sano and Kirilloff at first, Polanco, Arraez and Gordon at second, Donaldson at third with also Arraez capable at the hot corner. Add in that their near-certain Minor League Player of the Year, Jose Miranda, can fill first second and third and there seems to be too many players for the infield and DH positions. One additional thought--while he didn't get much love from Twins fans, I think the Twins missed Ehire Adrianza, or at least someone who could fill the role of Adrianza. Moving Polanco to shortstop whenever Simmons was hit for or had a day off seemed to disrupt the entire infield. Having a true backup shortstop who could fill in at other positions would have been a good thing for the Twins' roster. Having such a player in addition to Adrianza and Gordon might make the position player part of the roster very crowded. The frontline defense for the Twins was pretty good, but it seemed whenever a starter was subbed out, it would be for an inferior defender, sometimes weakening more than one position. I think that there is enough talent on the position player side for the Twins to contend, perhaps as soon as next year. To achieve the dream of contending, they would have to come up with pitching, but the late-season performances of Ryan and Ober offer hope that they might be pieces of the puzzle next year and that the minor leagues could possibly start producing good quality pitching from within the organization. There are decisions to be made. I don't see any clear path to solving the shortstop position problem, but there have to be answers somewhere. Falvey and Levine need to make the right choices in several areas to help bring the club back. Their jobs may depend on the choices they make.
  4. The Twins Farm System is stacked, it's not Buxton and Sano stacked, but come on! Is there an ace pitcher or other top end pitching talent? No. Is there another bomber barreling towards Target Field? No. Is there top ten minor league talent waiting in the wings? Not yet. How then is our farm stacked? We have these guys: Engelb Vielma – 22 years old Nick Gordon – 21 years old Wander Javier – 18 years old Royce Lewis – 18 years old Jelfry Marte – 16 years old There are few things more tantalizing than a highly touted prospect at a highly touted position. A Short Stop that can field AND hit AND hit for power! Amazing! Everyone wants that and will do unspeakable things for it. Now, bear in mind, the Twins do not have one of those players. What they do have, however, are five touted minor leaguers that will offer admirable things to a major league club very soon. Simply put, prospects are just fun. They just offer so much to an organization that has seen so much losing. How much fun was it when Buxton was going to turn into Willie Mays? Hearing about Sano and his bombs that went so far no one could see them land; amazing! Often we, fans and otherwise, overlook their deficiencies for whatever mysterious potential is written or talked about. Someday, soon, someone is going to do that with Gordon, Javier, Lewis, or Marte. I believe, that one can make an argument the Twins have much of what they need to compete for many years. Buxton is already the best fielding Center Fielder in the league. Sano is turning into the franchise changing talent all Twins fans hoped for. Berrios is on his way to pitching domination. Mix in other talented players like Kepler, Rosario, Polanco, and Mejia and the Twins have a strong core built for the future. Not all players will stick around, but all should and will continue to improve. Only a few pieces are still missing, namely an ace. Alex Meyer was supposed to be something special, he wasn't. Trevor May, Phil Hughes, throw in Nolasco even, and what we have in recent past is disappointment. The Twins have not been able to develop a top end pitcher and they haven't been able to sign one either. However, soon, we will be able to trade for one. When the Cubs won their World Series, they did it with found or bought pitching talent. Jon Lester, free agent. Jake Arrieta, trade. John Lackey, free agent. Aroldis Chapman, trade. They only really developed Kyle Hendricks, a big congrats on that. Look around the MLB, how many teams develop their own top of the end rotation pitching? The Red Sox traded for Chris Sale. The Nationals signed Max Scherzer. The Diamondbacks signed Zack Greinke and before that the Dodgers did the same and before that the Angels traded for him. Pitching, especially starting pitching is barely better than a coin flip. Personally, I fell in love with the idea of Lewis Thrope and he missed two years of pro ball. Tyler Jay and Kohl Stewart have been major Twins disappointments. However, it is not just this organization. Look at recent draft history for supposed top pitching talent. Mark Appel, Jon Gray, Brady Aiken, Tyler Kolek, Carlos Rodon, Aaron Nola. All have failed to meet their own expectations. If not this trade deadline, it will be soon. “It” is of course, the time in which the Twins strike and move one their own tantalizing, mysterious, great, yet flawed, talented youngsters for their own ace stud. Nick Gordon rates as the Twins top prospect. Royce Lewis was the first overall pick and is very toolsy. Jelfry and Wander are the next in a line of international signings. Fans love these prospects because they are ours and because they offer great potential. However, in whatever a prospect may become, we know what Chris Sale is. Or we know who Max Scherzer is. One trade and once Mauer is off the books, one free agent signing. That is really as far away as the Twins are. This is season is nice, playoff contention is fun. However, World Series contention is amazing and that should be the goal. One trade and one free agent. Soon.
  5. Last year, I commented in August that one of the most positive developments of the season was the team's strength at shortstop. Danny Santana hit like a major leaguer and showed tools that suggested he could be a good or better shortstop. Escobar did well when given a chance. In the minors, the Twins drafted Gordon and Polanco had a nice year in the minor leagues. To boot, Polanco did well in his "cup of coffee" when the Twins had multiple injuries and recalled Polanco. With the roster flux currently, much discussion has focused on promoting prospects. Many have suggested that Polanco could be installed as the Twins regular shortstop immediately. Others have said that he should be promoted to Triple A Rochester. I have my doubts. First and foremost, I remain unconvinced that Polanco is a major league shortstop. He seems to have the necessary range and good hands, but he seems to be trying to compensate for a substandard throwing arm. The Twins advanced Brian Dozier all the way to the majors before deciding he was a better fit at second base. I personally think the same is true for Polanco. He's committed 16 errors to date, most of them on throws. Secondly, Polanco may or may not be a better hitter than the shortstops ahead of him in the system. I am not convinced that his hitting is that good. He is hitting .295 at Chattanooga, with an OPS of .745, that is good for a shortstop, but those number aren't dominant, not even close. I've seen Polanco play several games and he looks comfortable in the field and at the plate. He's a switch hitter without big platoon splits and he is a good base runner. However, hitting and fielding are the two major components of a position player. Is there something I'm missing that indicates this guy is ready? Edit: I posted this in the Twins Talk Forum. If the mods see fit, move it to Minor League Talk. There has been much discussion about major league transactions and Polanco has been mentioned and he did already debut with the Twins.
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