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  1. The Twins are nearly guaranteed a playoff in MLB’s restructured playoff format. It would take a massive collapse over the rest of the season for the Twins to finish out of the playoff picture. That being said, Minnesota needs to get healthy and be playing well over the course of the next month. Here’s how the Twins rank in relation to their current injury concerns: 5. Homer Bailey, RHP Injury: Biceps Bailey hasn’t pitched over 200 innings since the 2013 campaign as he has dealt with a multitude of injuries. He rebounded last year to post a 4.57 ERA and a 149 to 53 strike out to walk ratio in 163 1/3 innings. As of this weekend, Rocco Baldelli told reporters that Bailey hadn’t resumed throwing. Even with these concerns, Bailey was always going to be penciled in near the back of the Twins rotation. Luckily, Randy Dobnak’s continued success has made it easier to handle Bailey’s absence from the rotation. 4. Jake Odorizzi, RHP Injury: Back Strain Odorizzi made his first start of the season over the weekend and he allowed two earned runs on four hits over three innings. Back injuries can be tricky and it’s certainly easy for them to flare up with little to no notice. Odorizzi will be a free agent at season’s end so he is going to want to prove his value on the field this season. He has already missed multiple starts this season and it will be tough for him to prove his value if his back flares up. 3. Rich Hill, LHP Injury: Shoulder Hill hasn’t been a workhorse in his career as he has only pitch more than 140 innings once in his career. However, he has been one of baseball’s best pitchers when he has been able to be on the mound and he has made 12 postseason starts. Even if he misses multiple starts, Hill might be able to come back and be a strong pitcher down the stretch and help the Twins to win in October. He turned 40 back in March and any injury at his age is a concern. 2. Luis Arraez, 2B Injury: Knee So far this season, Arraez clearly hasn’t been himself at the plate as he is hitting .233/.320/.256 (.576) with one extra-base hit. He left one of the team’s intersquad when his knee was bothering him. He missed two games at the end of last week, but he was back in the line-up over the weekend. Arraez and others talked about the possibility of him hitting .400 this season, but the Twins would likely be happy with him getting closer to where he was hitting in his rookie season. This seems like an injury that could be nagging throughout the season even if he continues to play. 1. Josh Donaldson, 3B Injury: Calf Dondaldson has a history of calf injuries and this might have been one of the reasons more teams weren’t interested in his services on the free agent market. Minnesota was well aware of his previous injury history when they signed him, but that’s the risk a team takes when signing a player his age to a multi-year contract. Donaldson knows his body well and his routines include preparing his calves to be ready for the riggers of the season. The Twins need him ready for the end of September and the team’s possible postseason run. Which injury concerns you the most? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  2. 1st Inning: Making Martínez Sweat The bottom of the first was not a great showing for the Twins offense. They missed some big opportunities. Nelson Cruz popped out to foul territory on a 2-0 count with two in scoring position, and later Mitch Garver grounded out to third on 3-1 with the bases juiced. No one hit anything particularly hard. And yet ... this lineup still made life extremely difficult for Cardinals starter Carlos Martínez, who needed 21 pitches to get through the frame. While the Twins may have failed to cash in, it's the kind of high-stress experience for a pitcher that can set up an inning like the second, where Minnesota took off and pushed across five runs. Martínez, a very good pitcher with a 3.36 career ERA, was soon chased from the game after just 4 2/3 innings. 2nd Inning: Hip Hip, Jorge Punctuating the five-run outburst in the bottom of the second was No. 3 hitter Jorge Polanco, who launched a two-run homer into the right field plaza. He very nearly followed with another bomb from the other side in his following at-bat, two innings later, though Cards left fielder Tyler O'Neill was able to track it down at the warning track. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1288280300909400066 Polanco tends to get lost in a shuffle a bit for this offense, as a steadily solid hitter amidst a sea of flashy sluggers. He ranked sixth on the team in OPS+ last year, and he was a bit quiet down the stretch. It can be easy to forget he was the lone All-Star on a historic 2019 offense. One person who does not lose sight of Polanco's abilities at the plate is his manager. Polanco batted cleanup in the second game of this season in Chicago. That marks the only time since Rocco Baldelli took over as skipper that the shortstop has hit anywhere below third in the lineup. 3rd Inning: Living on the Edge The last time we saw Homer Bailey, it wasn't such a pretty sight. The newly signed right-hander got knocked around in his final tune-up start at Wrigley, as the Cubs took advantage of too many hittable pitches left up around the belt. His official debut was a different story. While he wasn't immune to mistakes, Bailey was executing far better this time out, peppering the borders of FSN's strike zone visualization to maximize the effectiveness of a so-so fastball. Here in the third inning, he was at the height of his prowess for the evening, striking out the side with some stellar pitch sequences. Impressively, it was his slider and not his highly-touted splitter doing much of the work. https://twitter.com/dohyoungpark/status/1288281129947148289 Bailey had a crisp outing, allowing four hits and two walks over five innings, with four strikeouts. It's a continuation of the trend we saw in 2019, which saw noticeable improvement in many indicators of hard contact (Barrel %, Sweet Spot %, XBA, XSLG). If he can keep dancing around the edges, while dropping the occasional slow breaking ball over the plate to catch a hitter off-guard, he's gonna be in good shape. 4th Inning: Here Comes the Rain It was a picture-perfect summer evening for the opener at Target Field, although the Bringer of Rain did make his first splash in the bottom of the fourth. Josh Donaldson watered the plants on the right-field overhang with an oppo shot that just barely cleared the wall. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1288285962984984576 One thing that's really struck me about Donaldson is that even when he doesn't square it up – and so far he hasn't done so much; prior to the bomb, he was 2-for-11 with two infield singles – he still puts a charge into the ball. That home run came on a ripe pitch over the middle, but he really didn't seem to get all of it. There have been a few other occasions, including his sacrifice fly earlier in the game, where the ball has carried surprisingly far off Donaldson's bat. This guy is as strong and powerful as advertised. 5th Inning: Bailey Bounces Back The lone blemish in Bailey's outing came here in the fifth, where he left a hanging offspeed pitch over the dish and O'Neill destroyed it for a two-run homer. Following a well-struck single to open the inning, it looked like the Twins starter might be starting to lose steam. But he buckled down and rattled off three straight outs – a pop-out to first and two grounders. That's the resiliency you like to see from a back-end starter. It was maybe more encouraging to me than his triple-K third. 6th Inning: Pesky Arráez The sixth was fairly uneventful, with Tyler Clippard entering to pitch a clean top half and Minnesota going down 1-2-3 in the bottom. But one guy who did not go easily was Luis Arráez. As ever. The scrappy second baseman drove a pitch the other way and nearly had extra bases, but O'Neill was able to chase it down in left with a diving grab near the line. Arráez makes pitchers and defenders work awfully hard to get him out. He still has yet to strike out through 12 plate appearances, and he's been hitting the ball pretty dang hard. To have a player like this near the bottom of your lineup (he's hit seventh twice and ninth once) is just an unbelievable advantage. 7th Inning: Stashak and Bullpen Depth Bailey was out of the game for Minnesota after five, but the Twins had no trouble filling in the remaining innings. Second out of the bullpen was Cody Stashak, who delivered his second scoreless outing of the young season. With the exception of a ground-ball double, Stashak was basically flawless, throwing 12 of 17 pitches for strikes and retiring the side with little trouble. Just as Arráez is a major asset at the lower part of the order, Stashak is a major asset in the middle of the bullpen. He's looked every bit as good as the 3.24 ERA and 25-to-1 K/BB ratio in last year's MLB debut suggested. 8th Inning: Buxton Drops the Ball Trevor May followed Stashak in the eighth. Leading off against him was Tommy Edman, who lifted a deep fly to center field. Byron Buxton, making his first appearance of the season, sprinted back, reached the wall, and had it measured. He leapt up, had it in his glove, and the ball glanced right off it over the fence. https://twitter.com/cjzer0/status/1288302537221832707 It was a bit strange to see from Buxton, for whom the spectacular has become almost routine. But among all the negative outcomes of him chasing a ball to the wall, a solo homer with a fairly comfortable lead is one we'll take. It was a tough break for May, but he recovered nicely by striking out the next three batters. His stuff looks absolutely filthy, as he induced seven swinging strikes on 21 pitches. 9th Inning: Where is Rogers? With the exception of Rich Hill (who starts tomorrow) only two players on the active roster had yet to see game action by this point: Sergio Romo and Taylor Rogers. Even in a save situation – albeit on the less-intense side – the Twins' top-tier closer remained unused. Romo tossed a clean ninth to close out the 6-3 victory. That leaves Rogers, one of the team's best and long-tenured players, as the only reliever we've yet to see. It doesn't necessarily point to any error in judgment from Baldelli, as there's been no real need to turn to the team's highest-leverage arm, but still it seems strange that Rogers hasn't even gotten in an inning of work while several others have made multiple appearances. Hopefully there's nothing bothering the southpaw physically, and this is all situational and strategic. Through the team's first four games in 2019, Rogers had already thrown four innings across three appearances. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. The Twins topped the Cardinals 6-3 in their home opener at Target Field on Tuesday night to move to 3-1 on the season. I watched the game and jotted down a specific note or thought based on the events of each inning. Let's run it back.1st Inning: Making Martínez Sweat The bottom of the first was not a great showing for the Twins offense. They missed some big opportunities. Nelson Cruz popped out to foul territory on a 2-0 count with two in scoring position, and later Mitch Garver grounded out to third on 3-1 with the bases juiced. No one hit anything particularly hard. And yet ... this lineup still made life extremely difficult for Cardinals starter Carlos Martínez, who needed 21 pitches to get through the frame. While the Twins may have failed to cash in, it's the kind of high-stress experience for a pitcher that can set up an inning like the second, where Minnesota took off and pushed across five runs. Martínez, a very good pitcher with a 3.36 career ERA, was soon chased from the game after just 4 2/3 innings. 2nd Inning: Hip Hip, Jorge Punctuating the five-run outburst in the bottom of the second was No. 3 hitter Jorge Polanco, who launched a two-run homer into the right field plaza. He very nearly followed with another bomb from the other side in his following at-bat, two innings later, though Cards left fielder Tyler O'Neill was able to track it down at the warning track. It was a bit strange to see from Buxton, for whom the spectacular has become almost routine. But among all the negative outcomes of him chasing a ball to the wall, a solo homer with a fairly comfortable lead is one we'll take. It was a tough break for May, but he recovered nicely by striking out the next three batters. His stuff looks absolutely filthy, as he induced seven swinging strikes on 21 pitches. 9th Inning: Where is Rogers? With the exception of Rich Hill (who starts tomorrow) only two players on the active roster had yet to see game action by this point: Sergio Romo and Taylor Rogers. Even in a save situation – albeit on the less-intense side – the Twins' top-tier closer remained unused. Romo tossed a clean ninth to close out the 6-3 victory. That leaves Rogers, one of the team's best and long-tenured players, as the only reliever we've yet to see. It doesn't necessarily point to any error in judgment from Baldelli, as there's been no real need to turn to the team's highest-leverage arm, but still it seems strange that Rogers hasn't even gotten in an inning of work while several others have made multiple appearances. Hopefully there's nothing bothering the southpaw physically, and this is all situational and strategic. Through the team's first four games in 2019, Rogers had already thrown four innings across three appearances. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  4. First of all, I think it’s important to state that I don’t think things are going to head the wrong way. This already good team only became stronger and is, in theory, bound to have another positive year. But maybe it’s important to imagine what alternative routes a team can take when facing unexpected adversities. Injuries are almost one-hundred percent impossible to foresee. So, there’s nothing a club and a player can do to completely avoid them. But, yeah, they’re the biggest risk for any team (ask the Yankees right now). Even last year, such a successful one for Minnesota, a number of key-players spent time sidelined, like Byron Buxton, Nelson Cruz, Mitch Garver, Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sanó, to name a few. But due to the impossibility of predicting injuries, let’s talk about things that could go wrong productivity-wise – like in 2018. The Twins rotation looks stable, with the returns of Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda, as well as with the signings of Rich Hill and Homer Bailey and the trade for Kenta Maeda. At the same time, most people logically consider it the potential Achilles heel of this group. That’s why we chose to focus on it in this article. Here are some things that could get in the way of starting pitching success for the Twins: José Berríos is definitely the Twins best starter. But last year he did show some signs for concern. Patrick Wozniak wrote about the problems he’s encountered as of late, including the decrease in his velocity and late-season struggles. Although Hill represents a potentially huge upside, especially for October baseball, there’s very little evidence that his health will not be an obstacle for that. By the time of his signing, a lot of people even wondered if he would be able to pitch at all, given his age and injury track record. Bailey has had a really rough last five and a half years in the majors. He’s dealt with several health issues, which ended up leading to to surgeries, including a Tommy John Surgery in 2015. Ever since, he’s never been the same good pitcher he was before 2013. In the four seasons before last year he had pitched 231 2/3 innings, with a 6.25 ERA and a 5.13 FIP. How he could represent an improvement over what the Twins got from Martín Pérez or Kyle Gibson last year is still uncertain. Maeda’s career splits between home and away games is considerable. His ERA as a starter goes from 3.16 pitching at Dodger Stadium to 4.70 away from it. He also displayed increases in his FIP (3.46 to 4.06) and OPS (.634 to .718) splits. Moving from the seventh most pitcher-friendly ballpark in baseball to the thirteenth in the same category (not to mention the colder weather) may cause him some trouble. I can’t stress this enough: I do not think most of these are happening. This is just a hypothetical worst-case scenario, just so people won’t be blindsided because of all the optimism generated by the good offseason, like I was in the beginning of 2018. Speaking of which, I ask the most important question: what is the difference between now and then? Is there an effective way the Twins could avoid that same outcome this year? In my opinion, yes. Should elements of this very unlikely catastrophe take place, the Twins this year have a much greater rotation depth than two years ago. Randy Dobnak is a prime candidate to have a good year, especially because of the early absences of both Pineda and Hill. Besides him, Devin Smeltzer, Lewis Thorpe and Sean Poppen are also in pursuit of their big break and have shown good signs last year. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. It’s the year 2018. The Twins are coming off a great, exciting season, reaching the playoffs for the first time in seven years. They increased the hype by making great signings during the offseason and spring training. Things didn’t work out, though. If anything is not going to work all that well this year, would the Twins be prepared to handle it?First of all, I think it’s important to state that I don’t think things are going to head the wrong way. This already good team only became stronger and is, in theory, bound to have another positive year. But maybe it’s important to imagine what alternative routes a team can take when facing unexpected adversities. Injuries are almost one-hundred percent impossible to foresee. So, there’s nothing a club and a player can do to completely avoid them. But, yeah, they’re the biggest risk for any team (ask the Yankees right now). Even last year, such a successful one for Minnesota, a number of key-players spent time sidelined, like Byron Buxton, Nelson Cruz, Mitch Garver, Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sanó, to name a few. But due to the impossibility of predicting injuries, let’s talk about things that could go wrong productivity-wise – like in 2018. The Twins rotation looks stable, with the returns of Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda, as well as with the signings of Rich Hill and Homer Bailey and the trade for Kenta Maeda. At the same time, most people logically consider it the potential Achilles heel of this group. That’s why we chose to focus on it in this article. Here are some things that could get in the way of starting pitching success for the Twins: José Berríos is definitely the Twins best starter. But last year he did show some signs for concern. Patrick Wozniak wrote about the problems he’s encountered as of late, including the decrease in his velocity and late-season struggles.Although Hill represents a potentially huge upside, especially for October baseball, there’s very little evidence that his health will not be an obstacle for that. By the time of his signing, a lot of people even wondered if he would be able to pitch at all, given his age and injury track record.Bailey has had a really rough last five and a half years in the majors. He’s dealt with several health issues, which ended up leading to to surgeries, including a Tommy John Surgery in 2015. Ever since, he’s never been the same good pitcher he was before 2013. In the four seasons before last year he had pitched 231 2/3 innings, with a 6.25 ERA and a 5.13 FIP. How he could represent an improvement over what the Twins got from Martín Pérez or Kyle Gibson last year is still uncertain.Maeda’s career splits between home and away games is considerable. His ERA as a starter goes from 3.16 pitching at Dodger Stadium to 4.70 away from it. He also displayed increases in his FIP (3.46 to 4.06) and OPS (.634 to .718) splits. Moving from the seventh most pitcher-friendly ballpark in baseball to the thirteenth in the same category (not to mention the colder weather) may cause him some trouble.I can’t stress this enough: I do not think most of these are happening. This is just a hypothetical worst-case scenario, just so people won’t be blindsided because of all the optimism generated by the good offseason, like I was in the beginning of 2018. Speaking of which, I ask the most important question: what is the difference between now and then? Is there an effective way the Twins could avoid that same outcome this year? In my opinion, yes. Should elements of this very unlikely catastrophe take place, the Twins this year have a much greater rotation depth than two years ago. Randy Dobnak is a prime candidate to have a good year, especially because of the early absences of both Pineda and Hill. Besides him, Devin Smeltzer, Lewis Thorpe and Sean Poppen are also in pursuit of their big break and have shown good signs last year. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  6. Prior to the 2019 season the Minnesota Twins took a chance on Michael Pineda. They paid him for the 2018 season with the intention of monitoring and directing his rehab. He rewarded them to the tune of a 4.01 ERA over 26 starts last year and was an anchor during a run to the Postseason. Once again in 2020, they’re taking the chance. After signing another two-year deal, this one doubling the previous pact, the Twins will be without Big Mike’s services for the first couple of months. After being reinstated from suspension (for an unapproved diuretic) he’ll return as a back-end starter for Rocco Baldelli’s staff. It remains to be seen how he’ll have been prepared to hit the ground running, but the hope would be that he picks up where he left off. The 4.01 ERA and 4.02 FIP are not all that noteworthy for the former Yankees starter, but it’s what he did down the stretch that jumps off the page. After owning a 5.34 ERA through his first 12 starts, he found a groove and turned a corner. Over his final 14 starts, from June 13 through September 6, Pineda posted a 2.96 ERA while allowing a .650 OPS against. He chalked up an 87/17 K/BB ratio and Minnesota went 10-4 in the contests he started. There was no denying his loss was a crushing one, as he appeared as a possible answer to the question of who would start game one of the ALDS. Once he returns this year, it will be in a very similar scenario. He’ll slot in behind the established top three, and he’ll be looked at as an addition as opposed to the necessary stopper. Minnesota would certainly love to see better than the 5.00+ ERA over his first handful of starts, but the rule won’t be how he finished either. Assuming that the Twins begin the year with Homer Bailey and Jhoulys Chacin at the back end of the group, they’ll be tasked with keeping the seats warm until someone is ready to step in. There’s no reason to believe they can’t outpitch their expectations but having someone like Pineda to fall back on is a major boost for the Twins. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have created an infrastructure that enhances development. We saw the emergence of unexpected arms like Devin Smeltzer and Randy Dobnak contribute a year ago. That can still take place in 2020, all while having proven veterans going out to do their thing. There’s no reason to believe starts will be spread across any less than 10 players, and top loading the second ground with the efforts Michael Pineda is coming off must be viewed as a major win. Results are never guaranteed, and he’ll still need to go out and make it happen, but a second go-round with Pineda seemed like an ideal situation for everyone involved. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  7. From 2009 to 2014, Homer Bailey was one of the more reliable starting pitchers in Major League Baseball on a yearly basis. Over that this, Bailey posted a 3.95 ERA (3.85 FIP) with a 7.7 K/9 and a 2.7 BB/9 across 917 innings pitched. This helped Bailey get a 6-year, $105-million contract extension from the Reds back in February of 2014. Ultimately, this went down as one of the worst contracts in recent history, as Bailey posted a horrendous 6.25 ERA (5.13 FIP) with a 6.7 K/9 and a 3.3 BB/9 over 231 and 2/3 innings pitched from 2015 to 2018. Over that timeframe, Bailey’s 6.25 ERA was easily the worst mark in Major League Baseball (min 200 IP). Given how bad he pitched in the four previous seasons, Homer Bailey’s 2019 was probably a career saving bounce back season. While the 4.57 ERA that Bailey posted in 2019 is not exactly popping off the charts, that is more than good enough to be a solid number five starter in most MLB starting rotations. For a quick comparison, Martin Perez had a 5.12 ERA as essentially the Twins fifth starter last season. So, if Bailey can replicate his 2019 performance in 2020, the Twins will be getting more than their money’s worth out of him. Now, it is easy to assume that 2019 was more of a fluke season, then an actual sign that Homer Bailey actually turned his career around, and I myself fell into that notion when the Twins first signed him. However, after doing some digging, there is reason for optimism that Bailey could repeat his performance again this season. However, simply thinking that Bailey will be able to do this again, given his history leading up to 2019, without any supporting evidence would be a fool’s errand. Fortunately, it appears as though the Twins have done their homework and are not just drinking the Kool-Aid on Homer Bailey. From a statistical standpoint, there are plenty of underlying indicators that Homer Bailey’s 4.57 ERA in 2019 was a true reflection of him as a pitcher, and not just a one-year fluke where he was lucky to have a lower ERA than he deserved (i.e. Ervin Santana in 2017). One of the most encouraging things to look at is Bailey’s improved strikeout rate, which was up to 21.4 percent. That was a big jump up from where Bailey had been at in previous years and was the highest strikeout rate he had posted in any season with at least 25 innings pitched since 2013 (which was the best year of Homer Bailey’s career). This, coupled with the fact that Homer Bailey kept his walk rate and home run rate in check, helped him post a respectable 4.11 FIP in 2019. When diving into the Statcast metrics, they tell more of the same story. In 2019, he held opposing hitters to a .267 expected AVG, a .419 expected SLG and a .318 expected wOBA. All three of those numbers were easily the best Homer Bailey has posted since the Statcast era began in 2015, and were only slightly behind the numbers that Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda put up last season. While numbers can be great, it is even better to have a tangible reason to back up the idea that Homer Bailey is actually an improved pitcher. Often times these tangible factors can be hard to identify, as they are hidden in a cluster of a number of not so obvious reasons, that had a cumulative effect on making a pitcher better. However, for Homer Bailey, there does seem to be one strong indicator that explains a lot of his improvement, and that is the adaptation of his splitter. For much of his career, Homer Bailey has relied on a balanced four-pitch mix of a four-seam fastball, a sinker, a changeup and a slider. However, in 2017, Bailey decided to all but ditch his changeup in exchange for a splitter. For the first year and a half of throwing the splitter, Homer Bailey was still clearly getting used to the new pitch that he had never thrown before in his career. However, after returning from nearly a two-month long stint on the DL for right knee inflammation, Homer Bailey found his form with the splitter which instantly became his best pitch. In 2019, opposing hitters accumulated just a 0.214 wOBA against Homer Bailey’s splitter. Among the 106 MLB pitchers who threw at least 500 changeups or splitters last season, that was the 12th lowest mark. So, we are talking about Homer Bailey developing a borderline elite level off-speed pitch this late in his career. A big factor in this was the high 38.2 percent whiff rate Homer Bailey had on his splitter. For reference, between Jake Odorizzi and Jose Berrios, they combined to have just one individual pitch with a whiff rate above 30 percent in 2019, and that was Jake Odorizzi’s fastball, which had a whiff rate of 30.8 percent. It is apparent that Homer Bailey noticed this too, as he drastically ramped up the use of his splitter in 2019, this time at the expense of his sinker, which was easily the worst pitch for Bailey throughout his entire career. He also started throwing more four-seam fastballs as well, and as a result Homer Bailey threw either a four-seamer or splitter on 75 percent of his pitches in 2019, with the other 25 percent coming from a combination of sliders and curveballs. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Homer Bailey continue to increase the usage of his splitter in 2020, to take full advantage of this gem of a pitch he found late in his career. If so, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if Homer Bailey has another strong season, and puts up an ERA in the low-to-mid 4s, which I’m sure all Twins fans would take out of the backend of the rotation.
  8. Homer Bailey signed a one-year deal with the Twins around the holidays. On Friday, he made his first appearance of spring. He worked two innings. He didn’t allow a run. He got two quick outs in the top of the first inning. JD Martinez hit a fly ball to right center. Bailey started walking off the field, thinking the inning was over. But the wind was blowing hard from left to right and the ball just kept going. LaMonte Wade leapt at the wall and robbed a home run. However, when his arm hit the wall, the ball trickled away. Martinez ended up on third base. But soon after, Bailey got a lazy fly ball to center for the third out. “I was actually walking off the mound, thinking it was a right-center gap, guy’s going to catch it on the run, inning over. Then you look the flag pole you see everything was drifting off to right field quite a bit. Big deal.” He continued, “I say ‘Big Deal, but if the next guy gets a single, I’m (upset) about it.” https://twitter.com/twinsdaily/status/1233456502071054336 Kepler Returns Max Kepler also played in his first game for the Twins this spring. He’s been dealing with what has been called a “minor back issue.” He led off and played right field. He went 0-for-2, but he hit the ball on the nose at least once. Following the game, Baldelli said, “Max has been ready to go for a little while. He was happy - he was smiling - to be on the field. Hit a ball good, and made a couple of nice plays in the field, and we got him out of there.” Kirilloff Launch In the sixth inning, Alex Kirilloff entered the game for Kepler, and he hit a single in his first at-bat. He later scored on an Eddie Rosario double. In the seventh inning, he came to the plate with Juan Graterol on first base. The new father got a pitch to his liking. “I just got a fastball in and was able to time it up, get the barrel on it and get a good swing on it.” https://twitter.com/twinsdaily/status/1233490888992661508 Baldelli,”He's a pretty gifted young hitter. This is a guy that's always had good at- bats, can find the barrel on different pitches in the zone. He can do some pretty nifty things the way he attacks the ball. He would have what you probably call the opposite of a grooved swing. He can do different things, and find different angles, and find the barrel. So, he hit that one really well. We were just talking about him a little bit in the dugout right as he was taking the swing, and we saw it. Got a chance to see it live. Really nice.“ On Saturday night, the Pirates come to Hammond Stadium to play the Twins. Baldelli said that Kirilloff is scheduled to play against his hometown team. “That's always fun, anytime anyone gets a chance to play...and the game's probably on, really all the games are on TV now. For a while, it was when you played the team from the hometown, that's when everyone got a chance to see you play, everyone from back home. So that's always a fun thing.” Nick Gordon Update Nick Gordon is yet to play in spring training games. He is working and at the ballpark each day. He is experiencing a gastrointestinal issue again this spring. Baldelli said after the game, “I can’t tell you that it’s the exact same issue but the way that it’s probably affecting him is probably somewhat similar.” “He’s been regaining strength and trying to gain some weight and start to feel better before he starts getting back to full baseball activities. So I can’t tell you that he’s fully there yet. We’re not pushing him to get him out on the field as fast as possible. It’s February. There’s no rush to really get him out there until he feels 100 percent and his body’s functioning right.” It’s really unfortunate for Gordon because there is no doubt he would be getting a lot of playing time this spring. Josh Donaldson Talking Shop Josh Donaldson went 1-for-3 on Friday. It was his first hit of the spring. He hit a double to the right-center field gap. So if you were worried about him not ever getting a hit during his career with the Twins, you can sigh a deep breath. Today was my first full day in Ft. Myers and at spring training, so I am last to this. However, what was really impressive to me, a half-hour after the game, we left the manager’s office and into the clubhouse. At a table, Donaldson was holding court with three Twins minor leaguers, talking hitting. Now I didn’t stand there and observe, but in the six seconds that I did see, all three players were glued to his every word.
  9. Homers were a big part of the Twins spring training story on Friday afternoon at Hammond Stadium. Homer Bailey made his first appearance in a Twins uniform. Alex Kirilloff’s seventh inning, two-run homer gave the Twins a little insurance.Homer Bailey signed a one-year deal with the Twins around the holidays. On Friday, he made his first appearance of spring. He worked two innings. He didn’t allow a run. He got two quick outs in the top of the first inning. JD Martinez hit a fly ball to right center. Bailey started walking off the field, thinking the inning was over. But the wind was blowing hard from left to right and the ball just kept going. LaMonte Wade leapt at the wall and robbed a home run. However, when his arm hit the wall, the ball trickled away. Martinez ended up on third base. But soon after, Bailey got a lazy fly ball to center for the third out. “I was actually walking off the mound, thinking it was a right-center gap, guy’s going to catch it on the run, inning over. Then you look the flag pole you see everything was drifting off to right field quite a bit. Big deal.” He continued, “I say ‘Big Deal, but if the next guy gets a single, I’m (upset) about it.” Baldelli,”He's a pretty gifted young hitter. This is a guy that's always had good at- bats, can find the barrel on different pitches in the zone. He can do some pretty nifty things the way he attacks the ball. He would have what you probably call the opposite of a grooved swing. He can do different things, and find different angles, and find the barrel. So, he hit that one really well. We were just talking about him a little bit in the dugout right as he was taking the swing, and we saw it. Got a chance to see it live. Really nice.“ On Saturday night, the Pirates come to Hammond Stadium to play the Twins. Baldelli said that Kirilloff is scheduled to play against his hometown team. “That's always fun, anytime anyone gets a chance to play...and the game's probably on, really all the games are on TV now. For a while, it was when you played the team from the hometown, that's when everyone got a chance to see you play, everyone from back home. So that's always a fun thing.” Nick Gordon Update Nick Gordon is yet to play in spring training games. He is working and at the ballpark each day. He is experiencing a gastrointestinal issue again this spring. Baldelli said after the game, “I can’t tell you that it’s the exact same issue but the way that it’s probably affecting him is probably somewhat similar.” “He’s been regaining strength and trying to gain some weight and start to feel better before he starts getting back to full baseball activities. So I can’t tell you that he’s fully there yet. We’re not pushing him to get him out on the field as fast as possible. It’s February. There’s no rush to really get him out there until he feels 100 percent and his body’s functioning right.” It’s really unfortunate for Gordon because there is no doubt he would be getting a lot of playing time this spring. Josh Donaldson Talking Shop Josh Donaldson went 1-for-3 on Friday. It was his first hit of the spring. He hit a double to the right-center field gap. So if you were worried about him not ever getting a hit during his career with the Twins, you can sigh a deep breath. Today was my first full day in Ft. Myers and at spring training, so I am last to this. However, what was really impressive to me, a half-hour after the game, we left the manager’s office and into the clubhouse. At a table, Donaldson was holding court with three Twins minor leaguers, talking hitting. Now I didn’t stand there and observe, but in the six seconds that I did see, all three players were glued to his every word. Click here to view the article
  10. The Perez experiment is considered a failure in the eyes of many fans, but I'm not sure that's entirely fair. I was as skeptical as anyone of the value-driven acquisition at first, until I got down to spring training and saw the lefty with my own two eyes. All the talk about a mid-90s fastball and newly weaponized cutter... it was legit. He looked fantastic. That carried over into the regular season. Through his first handful of turns in the rotation, Perez looked almost unhittable. The fastball/cutter combo was playing exactly to plan, and it appeared Minnesota's front office had unearthed an absolute gem. Things turned ugly from there, but Perez still wasn't a crippling liability; the Twins went 11-10 in his starts after June 1st, even as he posted a 5.93 ERA. He did what he needed as a fifth starter on a phenomenal offensive team. (And his appeal didn't totally wear off, since Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox quickly snatched him up for almost twice what Minnesota paid a year ago.) But obviously, the Twins needed to aim higher with his replacement in efforts to upgrade the rotation. The similarities with Bailey aren't hard to see. Both were former top prospects who'd shown only flashes of excellence in the majors. Both went on intriguing late runs to finish the prior season – Perez showing gas out of the Rangers bullpen in late 2018, and Bailey looking brilliant down the stretch for Oakland in 2019. And in both cases, the Twins saw specific things they felt they could activate or tweak to improve results. The quotes from Derek Falvey after both signings ring quite similar. https://twitter.com/SKORNorth/status/1100844737102299137 https://twitter.com/betsyhelfand/status/1212109208012951552 The key distinction, however, is that Bailey has already actualized his revival to some degree, riding his adjustments to a 2.25 ERA and 48-to-7 K/BB ratio in his final eight starts with the A's. The splitter he began unleashing with devastating efficacy is surely at the heart of Minnesota's assessment. https://twitter.com/DanHayesMLB/status/1212124592732622854 https://twitter.com/AlexFast8/status/1212060314180739072 Perez's upside was always theoretical, founded on a brief bullpen stint and a lot of projection, unlike Bailey's fairly convincing stretch run which included impressive showings against the Yankees (twice) and Astros. Plus, Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson now has a year of experience under his belt, whereas last year he was finding his way as a first-time MLB coach straight out of college. So there's more palpable reason for enthusiasm in Bailey's case. Still, one thing I can't get past is the lack of demand for either player on the open market. It wasn't terribly surprising that Perez got only one year and $3.5 million guaranteed, given his ugly 2018 season and the leap of faith being taken by Minnesota's front office in his case. But Bailey's late-season dominance in 2019 was on display for all to see. That splitter is no secret. He still couldn't get more than $7 million guaranteed, at a time where the hunger for quality starting pitching is ravenous? That's conspicuous. It doesn't mean the Twins are wrong to believe in Bailey, but clearly they're bigger believers than others – including the Athletics, who saw his prowess first-hand and didn't seemingly push too hard to retain him. After seeing Minnesota's ostensible "bargain" deals for Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison in 2018 prove to be anything but, there's a warranted wariness that comes along with these low-dollar one-year pacts. That sort of drives back to a general frustration with the team's continued lack of spending to address needs. It's not the money that matters, but what it represents: a willingness to aggressively pursue assets that are generating market demand. The signing announced in tandem with Bailey – Rich Hill for $3 million plus incentives – falls into the exact same basket. It wouldn't shock me in the least if Bailey turns into a quality mid-rotation starter for Minnesota, joining the stable that is already in place. He's likely to be an upgrade over Perez, but right now, that isn't the guy he's replacing. It's Kyle Gibson, who signed with Texas for $30 million, for three years, early in the offseason. (Market demand.) It's Gibson's spot the Twins should now be seeking to upgrade, and hopefully in a very significant way. As enticing a proposition for late-season impact as Hill might be, the 40-year-old shouldn't be viewed as more than a wild-card factor. There's still work left to do, and if the flexibility preserved by these budget-friendly signings is put to good use, the Bailey and Hill moves will look all the better in hindsight. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  11. For a few glorious weeks, it appeared the Twins had struck gold with Martin Perez, an under-the-radar free agent signing that initially seemed to validate the front office's questionable rotation gamble. Then, it all fell apart. Newly signed right-hander Homer Bailey is a similar specimen in many ways. Can he sustain as a success story for Minnesota?The Perez experiment is considered a failure in the eyes of many fans, but I'm not sure that's entirely fair. I was as skeptical as anyone of the value-driven acquisition at first, until I got down to spring training and saw the lefty with my own two eyes. All the talk about a mid-90s fastball and newly weaponized cutter... it was legit. He looked fantastic. That carried over into the regular season. Through his first handful of turns in the rotation, Perez looked almost unhittable. The fastball/cutter combo was playing exactly to plan, and it appeared Minnesota's front office had unearthed an absolute gem. Things turned ugly from there, but Perez still wasn't a crippling liability; the Twins went 11-10 in his starts after June 1st, even as he posted a 5.93 ERA. He did what he needed as a fifth starter on a phenomenal offensive team. (And his appeal didn't totally wear off, since Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox quickly snatched him up for almost twice what Minnesota paid a year ago.) But obviously, the Twins needed to aim higher with his replacement in efforts to upgrade the rotation. The similarities with Bailey aren't hard to see. Both were former top prospects who'd shown only flashes of excellence in the majors. Both went on intriguing late runs to finish the prior season – Perez showing gas out of the Rangers bullpen in late 2018, and Bailey looking brilliant down the stretch for Oakland in 2019. And in both cases, the Twins saw specific things they felt they could activate or tweak to improve results. The quotes from Derek Falvey after both signings ring quite similar. Perez's upside was always theoretical, founded on a brief bullpen stint and a lot of projection, unlike Bailey's fairly convincing stretch run which included impressive showings against the Yankees (twice) and Astros. Plus, Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson now has a year of experience under his belt, whereas last year he was finding his way as a first-time MLB coach straight out of college. So there's more palpable reason for enthusiasm in Bailey's case. Still, one thing I can't get past is the lack of demand for either player on the open market. It wasn't terribly surprising that Perez got only one year and $3.5 million guaranteed, given his ugly 2018 season and the leap of faith being taken by Minnesota's front office in his case. But Bailey's late-season dominance in 2019 was on display for all to see. That splitter is no secret. He still couldn't get more than $7 million guaranteed, at a time where the hunger for quality starting pitching is ravenous? That's conspicuous. It doesn't mean the Twins are wrong to believe in Bailey, but clearly they're bigger believers than others – including the Athletics, who saw his prowess first-hand and didn't seemingly push too hard to retain him. After seeing Minnesota's ostensible "bargain" deals for Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison in 2018 prove to be anything but, there's a warranted wariness that comes along with these low-dollar one-year pacts. That sort of drives back to a general frustration with the team's continued lack of spending to address needs. It's not the money that matters, but what it represents: a willingness to aggressively pursue assets that are generating market demand. The signing announced in tandem with Bailey – Rich Hill for $3 million plus incentives – falls into the exact same basket. It wouldn't shock me in the least if Bailey turns into a quality mid-rotation starter for Minnesota, joining the stable that is already in place. He's likely to be an upgrade over Perez, but right now, that isn't the guy he's replacing. It's Kyle Gibson, who signed with Texas for $30 million, for three years, early in the offseason. (Market demand.) It's Gibson's spot the Twins should now be seeking to upgrade, and hopefully in a very significant way. As enticing a proposition for late-season impact as Hill might be, the 40-year-old shouldn't be viewed as more than a wild-card factor. There's still work left to do, and if the flexibility preserved by these budget-friendly signings is put to good use, the Bailey and Hill moves will look all the better in hindsight. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  12. Thad Levine has gone on record noting the Twins interest in Zack Wheeler. They were reportedly in on Hyun-Jin Ryu, and there was question about a few other arms that may make sense. Ultimately though, Minnesota never landed that big fish pitcher. When they decided that Plan A was no longer the preferred route, a shift in focus became necessary. In doing so, it cemented everything else they did, and helped to establish an offseason of success with 2020 square in their sights. Instead of giving just a singular grade to the work as a whole, let’s break things down individually: Backup Catcher- Alex Avila replaces Jason Castro In 2019 Mitch Garver emerged as one of the game’s best. He took massive steps forward behind the dish and was unquestionably the best with the bat. Needing a new battery mate, the decision was made to move on from Castro. Alex Avila posted a .775 OPS and was exactly average by OPS+ standards last year. He is an adequate defender and is just two years removed from a career season with the divisional for Tigers. This wasn’t flashy by any means, but it’s a fair swap by all measures. Grade C Corner Infielder- Josh Donaldson replaces C.J. Cron With Cron being non-tendered by Minnesota, it was time to decide if first or third base was the position being addressed. Once the pitching market shifted, the Twins best opportunity for impact came from one of the best players to hit the open market. Josh Donaldson significantly elevates the infield defense, Miguel Sano could arguably be better suited for first base, and Rocco Baldelli will now write out a lineup card that features the best nine in baseball. Donaldson is a star, and the richest Twins' free agent deal in history was more than well deserved. This one was as much a bomba as those he’ll hit this year at Target Field. Grade A+ Starting Pitcher- Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda retained. Homer Bailey and Rich Hill replace Kyle Gibson and Martin Perez These moves received plenty of consternation in the scope of the offseason as a whole, but viewed individually, they seem pretty great. Odorizzi was arguably Minnesota’s best pitcher last season, and Pineda was lights out down the stretch. Getting that duo back at what equates to less than market value is a good deal. Grade B Bailey isn’t a sexy name, but neither was Kyle Gibson. The longtime Reds ace posted a 4.57 ERA last year but had a 3.65 FIP with Oakland in his final 73.1 IP. As a third or fourth starter with an assist from Wes Johnson, I think you could do a lot worse. Grade C- Arguably the biggest win here is in the form of a guy who could definitely be considered “impact.” Despite a 15-year major league pitching career, Rich Hill has accumulated only 937 innings while making 156 starts. The bad is that he’s a 40-year-old with an extensive injury history. The good news though, is essentially everything else. Hill hasn’t seen a dip in his stuff, he mows down opposing hitters, and he’s got 12 postseason starts under his belt. The 4.10 FIP last year is reason for pause, but if he can go back to limiting the long ball, he’ll be great down the stretch. Grade B+ Relief Pitching- Sergio Romo retained. Tyler Clippard replaced Sam Dyson. At the trade deadline Minnesota made a swap with the Miami Marlins for the veteran righty. Now a slider specialist, Romo was having a plenty fine year for the fish. After producing to the tune of a 3.35 FIP and 10.7 K/9 in 22.2 IP, his presence in the clubhouse was one that made sense to welcome back. He gets a slight bump in pay with a team option for 2022. He’ll be 39, but he still looks the part of a guy that can contribute high-leverage innings. Grade C+ Coming over from a division rival in Cleveland, Clippard had his best year since 2014. The 2.90 ERA is sparkly, and the 3.89 FIP suggests it’s at least somewhat for real. He can rack up strikeouts, limits hits, and actually saw a slight decrease in the long ball a year ago. Sam Dyson was supposed to be a bit better based on his Giants numbers, but that blew up and his shoulder is done. Clippard provides plenty of reason to believe in a similar or better level of success. Grade C Overall: Minnesota needed pitching this offseason, and while they didn’t get the top-of-the-rotation arm, they did take steps forward. On top of that, the team found a way to improve an already lethal lineup and adding further run support is another avenue to success. Minnesota looked pretty dead in the water up until the Donaldson signing, even if it was enough to hold serve in the division. That should be a reminder that situations are consistently fluid, and the front office is actively trying to get better. They are soon closing the door on an opportunity to spend dollars, but they remain incredibly rich in prospect capital. Before the leaves fall and October baseball begins, the Twins have more work to do. Not only is there a need to win games and position themselves for postseason baseball, they’ll need a reinforcement or two in order to stack up. The top-tier pitcher is what holds the grade back, but it’s hard to be anything less than pleased by the overall result. Grade B+ MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  13. Going into the offseason Derek Falvey and Thad Levine used the word impact. Specifically, they were talking about pitching. When that market went sideways on them, the refrain turned to making an impact on the roster overall, and it was the Bringer of Rain that saved their grade.Thad Levine has gone on record noting the Twins interest in Zack Wheeler. They were reportedly in on Hyun-Jin Ryu, and there was question about a few other arms that may make sense. Ultimately though, Minnesota never landed that big fish pitcher. When they decided that Plan A was no longer the preferred route, a shift in focus became necessary. In doing so, it cemented everything else they did, and helped to establish an offseason of success with 2020 square in their sights. Instead of giving just a singular grade to the work as a whole, let’s break things down individually: Backup Catcher- Alex Avila replaces Jason Castro In 2019 Mitch Garver emerged as one of the game’s best. He took massive steps forward behind the dish and was unquestionably the best with the bat. Needing a new battery mate, the decision was made to move on from Castro. Alex Avila posted a .775 OPS and was exactly average by OPS+ standards last year. He is an adequate defender and is just two years removed from a career season with the divisional for Tigers. This wasn’t flashy by any means, but it’s a fair swap by all measures. Grade C Corner Infielder- Josh Donaldson replaces C.J. Cron With Cron being non-tendered by Minnesota, it was time to decide if first or third base was the position being addressed. Once the pitching market shifted, the Twins best opportunity for impact came from one of the best players to hit the open market. Josh Donaldson significantly elevates the infield defense, Miguel Sano could arguably be better suited for first base, and Rocco Baldelli will now write out a lineup card that features the best nine in baseball. Donaldson is a star, and the richest Twins' free agent deal in history was more than well deserved. This one was as much a bomba as those he’ll hit this year at Target Field. Grade A+ Starting Pitcher- Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda retained. Homer Bailey and Rich Hill replace Kyle Gibson and Martin Perez These moves received plenty of consternation in the scope of the offseason as a whole, but viewed individually, they seem pretty great. Odorizzi was arguably Minnesota’s best pitcher last season, and Pineda was lights out down the stretch. Getting that duo back at what equates to less than market value is a good deal. Grade B Bailey isn’t a sexy name, but neither was Kyle Gibson. The longtime Reds ace posted a 4.57 ERA last year but had a 3.65 FIP with Oakland in his final 73.1 IP. As a third or fourth starter with an assist from Wes Johnson, I think you could do a lot worse. Grade C- Arguably the biggest win here is in the form of a guy who could definitely be considered “impact.” Despite a 15-year major league pitching career, Rich Hill has accumulated only 937 innings while making 156 starts. The bad is that he’s a 40-year-old with an extensive injury history. The good news though, is essentially everything else. Hill hasn’t seen a dip in his stuff, he mows down opposing hitters, and he’s got 12 postseason starts under his belt. The 4.10 FIP last year is reason for pause, but if he can go back to limiting the long ball, he’ll be great down the stretch. Grade B+ Relief Pitching- Sergio Romo retained. Tyler Clippard replaced Sam Dyson. At the trade deadline Minnesota made a swap with the Miami Marlins for the veteran righty. Now a slider specialist, Romo was having a plenty fine year for the fish. After producing to the tune of a 3.35 FIP and 10.7 K/9 in 22.2 IP, his presence in the clubhouse was one that made sense to welcome back. He gets a slight bump in pay with a team option for 2022. He’ll be 39, but he still looks the part of a guy that can contribute high-leverage innings. Grade C+ Coming over from a division rival in Cleveland, Clippard had his best year since 2014. The 2.90 ERA is sparkly, and the 3.89 FIP suggests it’s at least somewhat for real. He can rack up strikeouts, limits hits, and actually saw a slight decrease in the long ball a year ago. Sam Dyson was supposed to be a bit better based on his Giants numbers, but that blew up and his shoulder is done. Clippard provides plenty of reason to believe in a similar or better level of success. Grade C Overall: Minnesota needed pitching this offseason, and while they didn’t get the top-of-the-rotation arm, they did take steps forward. On top of that, the team found a way to improve an already lethal lineup and adding further run support is another avenue to success. Minnesota looked pretty dead in the water up until the Donaldson signing, even if it was enough to hold serve in the division. That should be a reminder that situations are consistently fluid, and the front office is actively trying to get better. They are soon closing the door on an opportunity to spend dollars, but they remain incredibly rich in prospect capital. Before the leaves fall and October baseball begins, the Twins have more work to do. Not only is there a need to win games and position themselves for postseason baseball, they’ll need a reinforcement or two in order to stack up. The top-tier pitcher is what holds the grade back, but it’s hard to be anything less than pleased by the overall result. Grade B+ MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  14. There have been plenty of roster projections and free agent discussions from all corners of Twins Territory this winter. Although Gibson has been somewhat of a polarizing pitcher over his tenure with the Twins, he’d have been a solid fit at the back end of a rotation. Dealing with health issues for much of the season he contributed a significant slide last year following the step forward in 2018. Ultimately the Texas Rangers saw the projectable upside and handed him a nice three-year contract. There’s some risk involved for a guy who has pitched more than 160 innings just once since 2015, but the 2018 version was a considerable asset. Gibson came off the board early, and while Minnesota was more focused on the likes of Zack Wheeler, a pivot was forced when the “impact” arms they sought signed elsewhere. Rich Hill was grabbed earlier this week, and is reflective of that definition when healthy, but it’s the other guy who draws all the parallels. Homer Bailey isn’t a sexy name at all, and I’m not yet sure how I feel about it, but I can understand where the Twins saw an opportunity to upgrade on Gibson. Bailey is two years older than the former Twins first-round pick, and he’s pitched nearly double the number of big-league seasons. Even still, the longtime Reds pitcher owns a career 4.57 ERA, 7.4 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. It’s almost scary how close that is to Gibby’s career 4.52 ERA 7.0 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 numbers. So, if the thought was that Kyle could work at the back of Minnesota’s rotation, and he should be in line for a bounce back with a clean bill of health, why turn here... right? Again, Gibson was off the board early, and Bailey represents Minnesota responding to the situation more than anything. However, he was had on just a one-year $7 million deal and has already shown signs of improvement. For 12 years the Reds miscast Bailey as their ace. He routinely struggled with injury, and 2019 was the first season he topped 145 innings since 2013. After being serviceable in 18 starts for the Kansas City Royals, it was in 13 outings for the Oakland Athletics that things may have clicked. The 4.30 ERA isn’t glowing by any means, but he posted a 3.65 FIP, 8.3 K/9 and a career best 1.8 BB/9. The 2.9 fWAR was a high-water mark since 2013, and it appears that the time in the bay area might have been a turning point. Never a real hard thrower, Bailey has held a 93-mph average velocity since 2015. What he did with the Athletics however was to elevate the use of his splitter. After using it just 12.9% of the time over the course of his career, he more than doubled that mark last season. Batters couldn’t hit it, generating just a .182 average on the pitch, and he had a whiff rate that nearly reached 40%. So, while Gibson’s allure is rooted in the premise of a health-related rebound, Bailey presents the opportunity to expand on something that has already worked. Minnesota, through the eyes of Wes Johnson and other adept coaches in the system, has become significantly more associated with pitching development. Should Bailey be provided even more usable information from within the Twins clubhouse, taking another step forward is hardly out of the question. I’d be hesitant to expect a near-34-year-old to drastically shift from career norms, but a nice uptick isn’t abnormal either. This same think tank may have seen the breakout of Anibal Sanchez coming, and this is an opportunity for them to execute fully on a similar scenario. Much like Kyle Gibson would have been, the acquisition of Bailey wasn’t a well-received one. Although he doesn’t have the upper-echelon name recognition, he draws parallels to the guy he could replace, and has already shown why the gamble is a worthy one. This story will unfold throughout the season, but Rocco Baldelli’s staff is better today because Homer Bailey is in it.
  15. The Twins front office has been busy this offseason. To this point, they have signed Jake Odorizzi to the qualifying offer. They brought back Michael Pineda on a two-year contract. They brought back Sergio Romo and brought in another veteran bullpen arm in Tyler Clippard. They took care of the backup catcher spot by signing veteran Alex Avila. And on Tuesday, they signed veteran starters Homer Bailey and Rich Hill. All that, along with the business-as-usual events such as minor league signings and bringing in new coaches throughout the organization. They have hired Mike Bell as bench coach, but they still need to hire an assistant pitching coach/bullpen coach. While the core of 2019’s 101-win team is largely still intact, Rocco Baldelli will have plenty of new faces as well. Let's take a look around the diamond and see what the Twins roster might look like if the season were to start today. Hopefully it gives Twins fans a glimpse at the work that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have ahead of them to fill out Rocco Baldelli's second Opening Day roster: Catcher (3) - Mitch Garver, Alex Avila, Willians Astudillo No question. Silver Slugger award winner Mitch Garver earned the Twins starting catcher gig. Alex Avila will be the #2 catcher, and yet we know that means he will likely catch a lot due to the team’s emphasis on rest. As the roster is currently comprised, Astudillo represents a good 26th roster option, at least until the team signs a first baseman or third baseman. Then he is an ideal 27th man for a 26-man roster. Non 40-man options: Tomas Telis, Juan Graterol Infielders (5) - Marwin Gonzalez (1B), Luis Arraez (2B), Jorge Polanco (SS), Miguel Sano (3B), Ehire Adrianza (UT) Clearly the Twins are going hard after third baseman Josh Donaldson. If they sign him, Sano moves over to first base and the infield is set. Sano at first base. Luis Arraez at second base. Donaldson and third base. Jorge Polanco at shortstop. Adrianza backs up four spots. Gonzalez backs up two spots and two outfield spots too. If they don’t sign Donaldson, Sano probably stays at third base and they bring in a Mitch Moreland type to play first base for a year. 40-man Options: Travis Blankenhorn, Nick Gordon Non 40-Man Options: Alex Kirilloff, Cody Asche, Jack Reinheimer, Wilfredo Tovar, Zander Wiel Outfielders (4) - Eddie Rosario (LF), Byron Buxton (CF), Max Kepler (RF), Jake Cave (4th) Rosario is still a Twin! He may not have had a great year, but when a guy hits .276 (.800) with 28 doubles, 32 homers and 109 RBI, he shouldn’t be traded for just anything. Hopefully Buxton and his shoulder will be ready by Opening Day. And hopefully Kepler can continue to grow upon the progress he made in 2019. Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade will likely battle it out for an outfield spot as Marwin Gonzalez can also play out there. 40-man Options: LaMonte Wade, Luke Raley, Gilberto Celestino Non-40-man Options: Brent Rooker, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach Designated Hitter (1) - Nelson Cruz I feel pretty comfortable with this one. Starting Pitchers (5) - Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda, Homer Bailey, Rich Hill (maybe in June) As of now, the Opening Day rotation will consist of Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi and Homer Bailey. Michael Pineda will have to miss about six weeks due to his suspension, and Rich Hill will be out until sometime in June after having a modified Tommy John surgery. The question becomes… who will make starts for the Twins until Pineda and Hill are ready to pitch? Short-Term Starter Options - Lewis Thorpe, Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, Brusdar Graterol, Last week, I wrote about the idea of Brusdar Graterol being a “primary” pitcher. Another option would be for him to get starts until Hill comes back in June. At that point, a decision could be made about how to proceed. Keep him starting, or move him to the bullpen to limit his innings. Thorpe, Dobnak and Smeltzer all made starts for the Twins in 2019 and had varying levels of success. All four should be a part of future Twins plans. The Bullpen (8): Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May, Sergio Romo, Tyler Clippard, Zack Littell, Cody Stashak, Matt Wisler. Taylor Rogers became a top reliever in the league in 2019, and Duffey and May both took huge strides in the second half. So did Zack Littell and Cody Stashak who pitched well in their rookie seasons. Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard provide a veteran presence and know-how. Wisler is out of option, so he would have to make the team or be placed on waivers. He’s got impressive strikeout rates. The bullpen has a chance to be a strength and has plenty of good depth. It will be interesting to see how the pecking order changes over the course of the season. Other Bullpen Options 40-man Roster: Ryne Harper, Fernando Romero, Sean Poppen, Jorge Alcala, (Graterol, Dobnak, Smeltzer, Thorpe) Non 40-man Roster: Blaine Hardy, Ryan Garton, Mitch Horacek, Caleb Thielbar, Daniel Coulombe So, what do the Twins need to do over the remainder of the offseason? (There is likely no huge rush at this point. We have seen free agency trickle into spring training if not into the season. The trade market is always open..) Corner Infielder - The Twins appear to be going after Josh Donaldson very strongly. Getting him would add a huge bat to an already potent lineup while improving the defense in the infield. If Donaldson signs elsewhere, it is likely that the Twins sign a first baseman in the Mitch Moreland mold. Outfield - While it shouldn’t be a huge priority, a right-handed hitting outfielder might make sense as a platoon option with lefties Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler. It also makes sense for the guy to be able to play center field well when Byron Buxton is out of the lineup. Kevin Pillar makes a lot of sense. Starting Pitching - I think the additions of Bailey and Hill on Tuesday likely signal the end of the Twins efforts in attracting starting pitchers. Unless teams drop their trade prices on possible ace-like pitchers (Jon Gray, German Marquez as examples), the Twins have improved their staff while giving themselves quality depth. That's where the Twins roster is right this moment, as well as some areas of need. What do you consider the Twins areas of strength, and how would you prioritize their areas of need the rest of the offseason?
  16. Happy New Years Day! As the calendar changes from 2019 to 2020, let’s take a look at what the current Minnesota Twins roster might look like if the season started today. The Twins added two pitchers on Tuesday, likely completing their search for pitching. What is left to do?The Twins front office has been busy this offseason. To this point, they have signed Jake Odorizzi to the qualifying offer. They brought back Michael Pineda on a two-year contract. They brought back Sergio Romo and brought in another veteran bullpen arm in Tyler Clippard. They took care of the backup catcher spot by signing veteran Alex Avila. And on Tuesday, they signed veteran starters Homer Bailey and Rich Hill. All that, along with the business-as-usual events such as minor league signings and bringing in new coaches throughout the organization. They have hired Mike Bell as bench coach, but they still need to hire an assistant pitching coach/bullpen coach. While the core of 2019’s 101-win team is largely still intact, Rocco Baldelli will have plenty of new faces as well. Let's take a look around the diamond and see what the Twins roster might look like if the season were to start today. Hopefully it gives Twins fans a glimpse at the work that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have ahead of them to fill out Rocco Baldelli's second Opening Day roster: Catcher (3) - Mitch Garver, Alex Avila, Willians Astudillo No question. Silver Slugger award winner Mitch Garver earned the Twins starting catcher gig. Alex Avila will be the #2 catcher, and yet we know that means he will likely catch a lot due to the team’s emphasis on rest. As the roster is currently comprised, Astudillo represents a good 26th roster option, at least until the team signs a first baseman or third baseman. Then he is an ideal 27th man for a 26-man roster. Non 40-man options: Tomas Telis, Juan Graterol Infielders (5) - Marwin Gonzalez (1B), Luis Arraez (2B), Jorge Polanco (SS), Miguel Sano (3B), Ehire Adrianza (UT) Clearly the Twins are going hard after third baseman Josh Donaldson. If they sign him, Sano moves over to first base and the infield is set. Sano at first base. Luis Arraez at second base. Donaldson and third base. Jorge Polanco at shortstop. Adrianza backs up four spots. Gonzalez backs up two spots and two outfield spots too. If they don’t sign Donaldson, Sano probably stays at third base and they bring in a Mitch Moreland type to play first base for a year. 40-man Options: Travis Blankenhorn, Nick Gordon Non 40-Man Options: Alex Kirilloff, Cody Asche, Jack Reinheimer, Wilfredo Tovar, Zander Wiel Outfielders (4) - Eddie Rosario (LF), Byron Buxton (CF), Max Kepler (RF), Jake Cave (4th) Rosario is still a Twin! He may not have had a great year, but when a guy hits .276 (.800) with 28 doubles, 32 homers and 109 RBI, he shouldn’t be traded for just anything. Hopefully Buxton and his shoulder will be ready by Opening Day. And hopefully Kepler can continue to grow upon the progress he made in 2019. Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade will likely battle it out for an outfield spot as Marwin Gonzalez can also play out there. 40-man Options: LaMonte Wade, Luke Raley, Gilberto Celestino Non-40-man Options: Brent Rooker, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach Designated Hitter (1) - Nelson Cruz I feel pretty comfortable with this one. Starting Pitchers (5) - Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda, Homer Bailey, Rich Hill (maybe in June) As of now, the Opening Day rotation will consist of Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi and Homer Bailey. Michael Pineda will have to miss about six weeks due to his suspension, and Rich Hill will be out until sometime in June after having a modified Tommy John surgery. The question becomes… who will make starts for the Twins until Pineda and Hill are ready to pitch? Short-Term Starter Options - Lewis Thorpe, Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, Brusdar Graterol, Last week, I wrote about the idea of Brusdar Graterol being a “primary” pitcher. Another option would be for him to get starts until Hill comes back in June. At that point, a decision could be made about how to proceed. Keep him starting, or move him to the bullpen to limit his innings. Thorpe, Dobnak and Smeltzer all made starts for the Twins in 2019 and had varying levels of success. All four should be a part of future Twins plans. The Bullpen (8): Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May, Sergio Romo, Tyler Clippard, Zack Littell, Cody Stashak, Matt Wisler. Taylor Rogers became a top reliever in the league in 2019, and Duffey and May both took huge strides in the second half. So did Zack Littell and Cody Stashak who pitched well in their rookie seasons. Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard provide a veteran presence and know-how. Wisler is out of option, so he would have to make the team or be placed on waivers. He’s got impressive strikeout rates. The bullpen has a chance to be a strength and has plenty of good depth. It will be interesting to see how the pecking order changes over the course of the season. Other Bullpen Options 40-man Roster: Ryne Harper, Fernando Romero, Sean Poppen, Jorge Alcala, (Graterol, Dobnak, Smeltzer, Thorpe) Non 40-man Roster: Blaine Hardy, Ryan Garton, Mitch Horacek, Caleb Thielbar, Daniel Coulombe So, what do the Twins need to do over the remainder of the offseason? (There is likely no huge rush at this point. We have seen free agency trickle into spring training if not into the season. The trade market is always open..) Corner Infielder - The Twins appear to be going after Josh Donaldson very strongly. Getting him would add a huge bat to an already potent lineup while improving the defense in the infield. If Donaldson signs elsewhere, it is likely that the Twins sign a first baseman in the Mitch Moreland mold.Outfield - While it shouldn’t be a huge priority, a right-handed hitting outfielder might make sense as a platoon option with lefties Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler. It also makes sense for the guy to be able to play center field well when Byron Buxton is out of the lineup. Kevin Pillar makes a lot of sense.Starting Pitching - I think the additions of Bailey and Hill on Tuesday likely signal the end of the Twins efforts in attracting starting pitchers. Unless teams drop their trade prices on possible ace-like pitchers (Jon Gray, German Marquez as examples), the Twins have improved their staff while giving themselves quality depth.That's where the Twins roster is right this moment, as well as some areas of need. What do you consider the Twins areas of strength, and how would you prioritize their areas of need the rest of the offseason? Click here to view the article
  17. According to Dan Hayes, the Minnesota Twins are signing two starting pitchers, Rich Hill and Homer Bailey. (UPDATE: The Twins have confirmed the signings.) Bailey is a 33-year-old right-hander who posted a 4.57 ERA last year and finished his year with the Oakland A’s. Rich Hill is a 39-year-old left-hander who posted a 2.45 ERA last year, but will not be able to pitch until June or July due to elbow surgery he underwent in October. Neither represents the Twins' stated offseason goal of adding an “impact” pitcher, and might represent an acknowledgement it’s possible no such move is coming, or at least an insurance policy if it does not.The Twins missed out on the starting pitchers at the top of this year’s free agent market, though they retained veterans Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda. Bailey is a pitcher Twins Daily’s Tom Froemming has brought up frequently this offseason. Earlier this month, Tom pointed out some ways in which Bailey compares favorably to Madison Bumgarner. Bailey gave up a lower OPS to non-pitchers (.719 vs. .764), had a higher K% vs. non-pitchers (21.4 vs. 21.3), surrendered a lower hard hit % (38.7 vs. 41.5) and a lower barrels/plate appearance % (4.0 vs. 6.3). The moves will likely disappointTwins fans, who have been waiting for the team to achieve its offseason goal of adding “impact” pitching, as neither pitcher represents impact pitching, or even an upgrade to last year’s starting rotation. They do, however, establish a “floor” for the starting rotation, which still had two vacant spots, not to mention Pineda missing the first 39 games of the season due to a PED suspension going back to September. Instead of filling those 2+ spots with internal candidates like Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe, they now, in theory, have all five spots covered by Jose Berrios, Odorizzi, Pineda, Bailey & Hill - though they will still need coverage at the beginning of the season for Pineda and Hill. Bailey's $7M one-year deal and Hill's $3+M guaranteed also leave payroll room for a more significant move this offseason. Twins Daily projects the Twins to have about a $116M payroll after the signing, below last year's level, and about $20 million below our projection of the Twins team's payroll budget. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  18. The Twins missed out on the starting pitchers at the top of this year’s free agent market, though they retained veterans Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda. Bailey is a pitcher Twins Daily’s Tom Froemming has brought up frequently this offseason. Earlier this month, Tom pointed out some ways in which Bailey compares favorably to Madison Bumgarner. Bailey gave up a lower OPS to non-pitchers (.719 vs. .764), had a higher K% vs. non-pitchers (21.4 vs. 21.3), surrendered a lower hard hit % (38.7 vs. 41.5) and a lower barrels/plate appearance % (4.0 vs. 6.3). https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1212058730394767360 Tom also used Bailey as a case study in pointing out how it may not be the worst-case scenario if Jake Odorizzi were to decline his qualifying offer. . Bailey had a better ERA, WHIP and xwOBA than both Odorizzi and Jose Berrios from June 13 forward.Hill has been outstanding - when he's been on the mound. He's had a career ERA of 3.82, including a 2.91 ERA since 2015. But he also hasn't been able to make more than 25 starts since 2007. His contract reflects the risk and reward he presents: he will make $3M guaranteed, with the possibility of making an additional $9.5M in performance bonuses. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1212058963266682881 The moves will likely disappointTwins fans, who have been waiting for the team to achieve its offseason goal of adding “impact” pitching, as neither pitcher represents impact pitching, or even an upgrade to last year’s starting rotation. They do, however, establish a “floor” for the starting rotation, which still had two vacant spots, not to mention Pineda missing the first 39 games of the season due to a PED suspension going back to September. Instead of filling those 2+ spots with internal candidates like Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe, they now, in theory, have all five spots covered by Jose Berrios, Odorizzi, Pineda, Bailey & Hill - though they will still need coverage at the beginning of the season for Pineda and Hill. Bailey's $7M one-year deal and Hill's $3+M guaranteed also leave payroll room for a more significant move this offseason. Twins Daily projects the Twins to have about a $116M payroll after the signing, below last year's level, and about $20 million below our projection of the Twins team's payroll budget. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  19. Still, it’s a good month and a half until pitchers and catchers report, and absent a Josh Donaldson signing or a franchise-altering trade, you have a grim winter stretch ahead of you. You’ll need to start talking yourself into Bailey and Hill being the saviors this rotation so desperately needs. Here’s how: Homer Bailey has thrown two no-hitters in his career. Yes, they were 7-8 years ago. But! The Rule of Threes exists for a reason. He’s due! Rich Hill just got arrested because his wife got arrested over the NFL’s exquisitely dumb personal bag policy. He’s a bad boy who fights for justice and stands up for his family! This is arguably the most interesting thing a Twins player has done off the field since Steve Lombardozzi and Dan Gladden started wrasslin’ on the Dazzle Man’s property. This is just a note that I would watch a 30-for-30 about that fight right now. The AL Central is going to be bad again. Detroit and Kansas City will be SuperFund sites. Chicago will be interesting and annoying but probably nothing more than that. Nobody knows what Cleveland is doing but no one thinks it’s good. You can probably ride this rotation as it stands to another title and move the impact pitching goal posts to a midseason trade. Reiterating that we need a documentary about the Lombo/Gladden fight or the bad vibes of the whole 1988 season. Gaetti finding the Lord and alienating Hrbek, the Brunansky/Herr disaster, the trade of future Moneyball architect Billy Beane…it’s all there, folks. Houston gets a postseason ban for cheating. Hey, they do it in college sports all the time! Take a seat, you garbage can-banging scofflaws. The New York Yankees get contracted for reasons. The Twins are going to the World Series with Homer Bailey and Rich Hill leading the way. There. I’ve talked you into it. If the Gophers can beat Auburn in a New Year’s Day bowl game, this can happen too. (That said they should definitely trade for somebody. Anybody. Please.)
  20. Today the Minnesota Twins announced one-year contracts with veteran starting pitchers Homer Bailey and Rich Hill. The former immediately slots into the starting rotation while the latter won't be an option until early summer. With both acquisitions it's evident that the front office has an eye on building depth for a deep run. Last Postseason Rocco Baldelli turned to rookie arm Randy Dobnak at Yankees Stadium. It seemed like a logical move given all of the available options, but predictably it went awry. Rather than needing to go down another unproven path, it's been in stabilizing the foundation that Minnesota has operated in constructing a winner for 2020. Early on in the offseason Thad Levine suggested that the front office was aware of the need for impact pitching. Jake Odorizzi was a nice returning addition, and Michael Pineda may have been the best 5th starter in baseball last year. Looking for another arm to slot into the top three of the rotation, there has yet to be that level of acquisition made. I can listen on Rich Hill fitting that bill, but there's a good deal of uncertainty surrounding his efforts, and we won't know his capabilities until June at the earliest. Dating back to 2015 Hill has been one of the best pitchers in baseball. In that time he's posted a 2.91 ERA and 3.43 FIP with a 10.7 K/9 and a 2.8 BB/9 total. Not an overpowering arm, he's a magician when it comes to putting the ball past hitters, and that's made him a key cog in a very good Los Angeles Dodgers rotation. The reason he's available however, is because a 40th birthday is upcoming and it's yet to be seen how his elbow responds to recent surgery. There's obviously a good deal of belief in what Hill has left as evidenced by the Twins monetary commitment to him. Although the guaranteed salary is just $3 million, he can push that total all the way up to $12.5 million by contributing 75 innings or 15 starts. Extrapolate that figure to a full season and you're looking at a guy that would represent a commitment above $24 million. In Homer Bailey, the addition is a bit different. He doesn't have the high upside that Hill does, and the floor is relatively unremarkable. After being bad for quite a few years, he took considerable steps forward in 2019, and showed very well after being dealt to the Oakland Athletics. His 3.65 FIP was one of the best marks of his career, and his walk rate took a nice dive. Minnesota's front office had already entrenched Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi at the top of their rotation. Bailey should fit in a the 4th option with Pineda eventually sliding into the five-hole come May. Hill can pitch out of any of the top three spots from June onwards, but banking on his contributions seems a bit lofty given the present opportunity. This is where the final step lies. Having built the roster backwards this winter, it's in the last touch that Minnesota can truly put this over the top. A corner infielder is still needed, and a Josh Donaldson signing would be monumental. Sure, Marwin Gonzalez can play first base, but removing his utility would seem to limit his upside. Hill and Bailey could round out the rotation, but swinging a trade for an upper-tier arm should still be the goal. Before these moves were made official my belief was that the Twins were two Opening Day arms away from calling it good. Bailey represents one of them, and the second is still to be determined. The 40 man roster is now full, prospects are aplenty, and opportunity is there for the taking. Falvey and Levine finding a trade of their liking to bolster the top half makes a depth group highlighted by Hill and supplemented by names like Thorpe, Smetlzer, Dobnak, and Graterol all the more exciting. On it's own, this pair of pistols can't be seen as enough. With a last boost to the top of the ladder, then it's more than worthy of calling the offseason complete. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
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