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  1. The Twins visit Seattle in the second game of their series with the Mariners. They lost last night 4-3 as the bullpen yielded three runs in four innings. The Twins continue to hit and allow home runs. They are (were) second in MLB in homers and third in allowing home runs. If you want to see home runs, go to a Twins game. JA Happ takes the hill versus a pretty weak Seattle lineup. Happ has struggled, as almost all of the Twins pitchers have, with allowing homers. The Twins bullpen leads MLB in losses, not a stat to lead the majors. Luis Arraez returns to the Twins starting lineup, hitting leadoff and playing second base. Nick Gordon gets another start in center field and apparently Byron Buxton is not yet ready to go. OK, diehard fans, enjoy another late night watching two below .500 teams square off. Pitchers: PLAYER W-L ERA WHIP IP H K BB HR J.A. Happ 3-2 5.75 1.37 56.1 60 39 17 10 C. Flexen 5-3 4.68 1.39 59.2 71 36 12 7 Lineups--Twins HITTERS H-AB RBI HR SB AVG L. Arraez2B 39-142 14 1 0 .275 J. Donaldson3B 45-186 26 10 0 .242 T. LarnachLF 27-99 9 3 0 .273 N. CruzDH 58-195 31 13 1 .297 J. PolancoSS 56-224 30 9 3 .250 A. KirilloffRF 31-122 19 5 0 .254 M. Sano1B 32-177 32 13 0 .181 N. GordonCF 11-32 2 1 5 .344 B. RortvedtC 6-40 4 1 0 .150 Mariners HITTERS H-AB RBI HR SB AVG J.P. CrawfordSS 64-234 23 3 2 .274 J. FraleyCF 14-51 15 4 4 .275 T. France1B 52-210 22 3 0 .248 K. Seager3B 55-255 40 13 2 .216 D. Moore2B 24-132 22 6 9 .182 T. MurphyC 23-127 14 6 0 .181 J. BauersRF 24-119 9 3 0 .202 L. TorrensDH 16-90 6 2 0 .178 S. Long Jr.LF 3-20 0 0 0 .150
  2. The Minnesota Twins find themselves doubled up in the loss column at the time of this post, at 13-26, and the biggest controversy is whether Yermin Mercedes should be able to swing 3-0 against Willians Astudillo. If that doesn't tell you how this season has gone, I'm not sure what will. I've already wrote about players that we could see traded, as well as ranked all the Twins MLB roster by trade value. I expect many of those moves to be made in July, although some could roll in earlier, especially with all of the injuries around Major League Baseball. When all of these expected moves come around, the Twins are going to have to fill these holes with players from the minor leagues, or possibly by players coming in from the trades. This series will take a look at the players the Twins front office will want to take a longer look at come late July, August, and September in order to put themselves in a position to succeed in 2022. RHP Randy Dobnak Dobnak came into the Twins organization as a feel good story, and even started a playoff game for the Twins. He also signed a 5 year extension this past offseason, which locked in financial security for the former Uber driver, and gave the Twins a cheap depth option for the foreseeable future. However, there is questions around Twins territory on whether Dobnak is an MLB starter, or more of a long man. With expected trades of JA Happ and Michael Pineda, and the likely DFA or move to the bullpen for Matt Shoemaker, the Twins will have plenty of chances to evaluate some of the AAA starters. Dobnak should, and likely will be, the first option to fill the hole. Dobnak relies on pinpoint control over his sinker, and a very good slider to pair with the sinker. In order to be an effective MLB starter, Dobnak will have to develop a reliable third pitch, with the changeup being the most likely. Even if Dobnak isn't a long term starter, he will be on the opening day roster in 2022. LHP Lewis Thorpe Lewis Thorpe is a former top prospect out of Australia, but certainly hasn't met those expectations thus far. The key to Thorpe being a useful arm in the major leagues all rely on his fastball velocity. Last season we saw Thorpe's velocity fall below 90, which was not the norm for him, and unsurprisingly, he got shelled. However, there were signs of hope for the southpaw during spring training, where he said he "refocused mentally and physically" and the results backed it up. Thorpe was sitting in the low 90's during spring training, but that has suddenly disappeared. During Thorpe's two spot starts thus far, he's once again sitting 89.7 MPH on the fastball, and shared that he's going through a dead arm phase. If Thorpe snaps out of his dead arm, and regains his velo, he has a chance at a starter to pair with his very good slider. However, if the fastball velo is only sustainable in short stints, a move to the pen seems inevitable. We'll get an answer on this question during the dog days of the 2021 summer. RHP Bailey Ober As I'm writing this article, Bailey Ober is pitching the first inning of his MLB debut. Ober is a big, right handed arm who stands at 6 feet 9 inches, but doesn't have the velo that matches the body. The Twins drafted Ober in the 12th round in 2017, which is the same draft where Royce Lewis was the #1 pick. The fact that Ober has already made his MLB debut, despite being a 12th round pick, means he's outperformed expectations. Bailey was added to the 40 man roster this past offseason, despite not throwing in a live game since 2019. Ober has four quality pitches, with the fastball sitting in the upper 80's, and the lower 90's on occasion. His best putaway pitch is a changeup, which moves with a lot of armside run. He also features a slider and curveball, but neither project as anything more than an average pitch. Despite the fastball not cracking 90, it has a lot of carry on it which allows him to successfully pitch in the upper part of the zone. With the next wave of top arms coming to Target Field soon in Johan Duran and Jordan Balazovic, Ober will have to perform well to stay apart of Minnesota's long term plans, as he is a starter or bust.
  3. The Twins returned home after a nightmarish road trip but saw little improvement in their play, falling to 3-7 at Target Field with a thoroughly lackluster performance against Pittsburgh. This team is in an astonishingly deep funk. Can they find their way out? Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 4/19 through Sun, 4/25 *** Record Last Week: 1-5 (Overall: 7-13) Run Differential Last Week: -15 (Overall: -9) Standing: 4th Place in AL Central Last Week's Game Recaps: Game 15 | OAK 7, MIN 0: Hapless Twins Continue Woeful Streak; Swept by Athletics Game 16 | OAK 1, MIN 0: Hapless Twins Continue Woeful Streak; Swept by Athletics Game 17 | OAK 13, MIN 12: Offensive Breakout Wasted in Total Unraveling Game 18 | MIN 2, PIT 0: Happ Takes No-hitter into 8th, Twins Blank Bucs Game 19 | PIT 6, MIN 2: Lineup Sleepwalks in Another Dire Loss Game 20 | PIT 6, MIN 2: Déjà Vu All Over Again NEWS & NOTES Between COVID-related maneuvering, injury replacements, and procedural moves, there was a ton of roster action over the past week. Let's quickly get caught up: On Tuesday, Max Kepler, Kyle Garlick and Caleb Thielbar were placed on the COVID-IL. They were replaced on the roster by Brent Rooker, Travis Blankenhorn, and Luke Farrell, who were all traveling with the team as taxi squad members. Lewis Thorpe was called up as the 27th man during the doubleheader in Anaheim, then returned to the minors.The next day, JT Riddle joined others on the COVID-IL, having been deemed a close contact. Tomás Telis came over from the taxi squad to replace him.On Friday, Telis and Blankenhorn were returned to the alternate site, and Miguel Sanó was placed on the IL with a hamstring injury. Taking over those roster spots were Alex Kirilloff, Nick Gordon, and Tzu-Wei Lin.On Saturday, Thielbar was reactivated after clearing COVID protocols, sending Farrell back to the alternate site.Having thrown 4 ⅔ strong innings in relief on Saturday, Smeltzer was swapped out from the bullpen for a fresh arm – Cody Stashak, who rejoined the roster on Sunday.It also sounds as though Andrelton Simmons is past his bout with COVID and ready to return, possibly as soon as Monday, although he hasn't yet been activated. Presumably Gordon, who didn't appear in the Pittsburgh series, will be sent out to make room. HIGHLIGHTS Rocco Baldelli has dealt with his share of unwelcome problems and headaches in the first month of the season, but we can probably file this one under "nice problems to have": Deciding whether or not to keep starters in games as they chase no-hitters and their pitch counts mount. José Berríos put the manager in such a spot a couple weeks ago, with six hitless frames in Milwaukee, and now J.A. Happ became the latest, carrying a no-no bid into the eighth against Pittsburgh on Friday. Fortunately, for Rocco, Happ took the decision out of his hands, giving up a double with one out in the eighth inning, but he finished with a stellar line: 7.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K. Left Field The Twins moved on from Eddie Rosario during the offseason because they understandably felt they had enough to cover for his absence in left field. Thus far, this has not proven to be the case. Minnesota's left fielders have collectively gone 10-for-74 (.135) with zero home runs, 30 strikeouts, and two walks. Kirilloff, a hopeful savior, is hitless through 14 plate appearances. First Base Primarily due to Sanó's pre-injury struggles, first base has been a void of offensive production, with a .157 batting average and only three extra-base hits (all home runs). Willians Astudillo has been an uninspiring replacement. Catcher Both Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers are, incredibly, striking out in nearly half of their plate appearances. The struggles of Jeffers – who is slashing .167/.242/.200 with 16 strikeouts in 33 plate appearances – are especially pressing, given that he's a 23-year-old who is still developing as a player. The Twins may need to start thinking about how they'll proceed at the catcher position if they determine Jeffers needs more time in the minors. Who knows what can be done with the dazed-and-confused Garver. Second Base Like catcher, this position looked like a clear source of strength coming into the season, but has proven to be anything but. Owing mostly to Jorge Polanco's struggles, Twins second basemen had produced a .164/.235/.205 slash line before Arraez lifted those numbers slightly on Sunday. The pitching has largely not been good, especially in the disastrous meltdown that transpired on Thursday. Starters are laboring and the bullpen has been full of leaks, top to bottom. But it almost doesn't matter, because the offense has been so persistently incapable of scoring runs. There are some very talented hitters here, and I have to believe an awakening is forthcoming. But then again, so many of these familiar issues trace back to last year's struggles – especially in the playoffs. Watching inning after inning of lethargic, non-competitive at-bats against unremarkable pitchers, you can't help but wonder ... is this a closer approximation to the Twins in their true form than the juggernaut that emerged in 2019? TRENDING STORYLINE In the early part of his tenure, Baldelli's teams developed a reputation for resilience. They routinely bounced back from losses and overcame adversity on the way to a 101-win season in his managerial debut. When the times got tough, those Twins got tougher. (Up until October, anyway.) Of late, this trait has been completely amiss. The Twins have seen their troubles snowball as the month progresses. Losing two of three while scoring six runs at home against that Pirates team is just brutal. So now, we'll simply have to see if Rocco and his Twins can find some resilience within themselves. They whiffed on a juicy get-right opportunity against Pittsburgh, and if the miserable play carries forward into the next week it's going start getting costly: six games lie ahead against teams the Twins are chasing in the standings. It sounds like Simmons will be back very soon. Kepler and Garlick hopefully are not far behind. The Twins will gradually return to full strength. The pressure is mounting for them to show it's a team worth believing in. One wonders how much longer this can go on before the front office steps in and takes some kind of significant action, rather than waiting for things to get right on their own. We're moving past the realm of overreactions to small samples. LOOKING AHEAD Only three of Minnesota's first 21 games came against a division rival, and they featured the least relevant one (Detroit) at that. Now, the Twins are about to get a heavy dose of the AL Central – 25 of their next 38 games – and it starts with a slate of six match-ups against Cleveland and the Royals this week. Of note: The Twins will luckily miss Shane Bieber in the Cleveland series. We'll take whatever breaks we can get at this point. MONDAY, 4/26: TWINS @ CLEVELAND – RHP José Berríos v. RHP Zach Plesac TUESDAY, 4/27: TWINS @ CLEVELAND – RHP Kenta Maeda v. RHP Aaron Civale WEDNESDAY, 4/28: TWINS @ CLEVELAND – LHP J.A. Happ v. LHP Logan Allen FRIDAY, 4/30: ROYALS @ TWINS – LHP Mike Minor v. RHP Michael Pineda SATURDAY, 5/1: ROYALS @ TWINS – LHP Danny Duffy v. RHP Matt Shoemaker SUNDAY, 5/2: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Brad Keller v. RHP José Berríos 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. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 4/19 through Sun, 4/25 *** Record Last Week: 1-5 (Overall: 7-13) Run Differential Last Week: -15 (Overall: -9) Standing: 4th Place in AL Central Last Week's Game Recaps: Game 15 | OAK 7, MIN 0: Hapless Twins Continue Woeful Streak; Swept by Athletics Game 16 | OAK 1, MIN 0: Hapless Twins Continue Woeful Streak; Swept by Athletics Game 17 | OAK 13, MIN 12: Offensive Breakout Wasted in Total Unraveling Game 18 | MIN 2, PIT 0: Happ Takes No-hitter into 8th, Twins Blank Bucs Game 19 | PIT 6, MIN 2: Lineup Sleepwalks in Another Dire Loss Game 20 | PIT 6, MIN 2: Déjà Vu All Over Again NEWS & NOTES Between COVID-related maneuvering, injury replacements, and procedural moves, there was a ton of roster action over the past week. Let's quickly get caught up: On Tuesday, Max Kepler, Kyle Garlick and Caleb Thielbar were placed on the COVID-IL. They were replaced on the roster by Brent Rooker, Travis Blankenhorn, and Luke Farrell, who were all traveling with the team as taxi squad members. Lewis Thorpe was called up as the 27th man during the doubleheader in Anaheim, then returned to the minors. The next day, JT Riddle joined others on the COVID-IL, having been deemed a close contact. Tomás Telis came over from the taxi squad to replace him. On Friday, Telis and Blankenhorn were returned to the alternate site, and Miguel Sanó was placed on the IL with a hamstring injury. Taking over those roster spots were Alex Kirilloff, Nick Gordon, and Tzu-Wei Lin. On Saturday, Thielbar was reactivated after clearing COVID protocols, sending Farrell back to the alternate site. Having thrown 4 ⅔ strong innings in relief on Saturday, Smeltzer was swapped out from the bullpen for a fresh arm – Cody Stashak, who rejoined the roster on Sunday. It also sounds as though Andrelton Simmons is past his bout with COVID and ready to return, possibly as soon as Monday, although he hasn't yet been activated. Presumably Gordon, who didn't appear in the Pittsburgh series, will be sent out to make room. HIGHLIGHTS Rocco Baldelli has dealt with his share of unwelcome problems and headaches in the first month of the season, but we can probably file this one under "nice problems to have": Deciding whether or not to keep starters in games as they chase no-hitters and their pitch counts mount. José Berríos put the manager in such a spot a couple weeks ago, with six hitless frames in Milwaukee, and now J.A. Happ became the latest, carrying a no-no bid into the eighth against Pittsburgh on Friday. Fortunately, for Rocco, Happ took the decision out of his hands, giving up a double with one out in the eighth inning, but he finished with a stellar line: 7.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1385956696435007489 Happ's performance could hardly be described as dominant, but he was effective in exactly the way you'd expect from a seasoned veteran southpaw. He mixed pitches, threw strikes, kept hitters off-balance, and limited hard contact. (He also benefited from some luck, for which the Twins were beyond due.) No one should be fooled into thinking he's suddenly an ace, but it's a nice luxury to have a starter with those kinds of chops in the back half of your rotation. Failures of the Twins' lineup have not been attributable to its central cogs. Nelson Cruz launched three more home runs, with Sunday's bomb tying him for the big-league lead. Josh Donaldson looks healthy and locked in – his four-hit game on Thursday reminds us of what he can do. Luis Arraez keeps hitting and getting on base atop the order. Byron Buxton continues to flat-out mash, with a clutch extra-innings homer in Oakland and a go-ahead RBI single on Sunday. Recently we've also started to see his defensive impact come into play. He made a pair of phenomenal catches in center field and they both came at crucial times. His play in Oakland will go down as one of the year's best in baseball. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1384996545251086338 https://twitter.com/Nashwalker9/status/1386028081144602626 It's amazing that the Twins have been so chronically incapable of producing runs and winning games when Buxton is doing what he's doing. It really is. Only worsens the sting. LOWLIGHTS We're still in the first month of the season, but even the most big-picture analytical thinker has to be harboring legitimate concerns about the state and outlook of this club. They've got a lot of time left to turn it around, but the Twins are digging themselves quite a hole, and giving reason to wonder if they're even capable of the sort of 180-degree reversal needed to get back into the contention mix. The lineup had a rare outburst on Wednesday, scoring 12 runs in a gutting loss. Outside of that, this was one of the most dreadful and dreary weeks in memory for a Minnesota Twins offense, which put up six total runs in five other games. The Twins were shut out in both ends of a doubleheader against the A's, and then held to two runs in each of their three games against a Pirates team that entered the series with a 4.75 ERA. Several different positional units have been prime contributors to this run-scoring malaise: https://twitter.com/NickNelsonMN/status/1386358653758758913 Left Field The Twins moved on from Eddie Rosario during the offseason because they understandably felt they had enough to cover for his absence in left field. Thus far, this has not proven to be the case. Minnesota's left fielders have collectively gone 10-for-74 (.135) with zero home runs, 30 strikeouts, and two walks. Kirilloff, a hopeful savior, is hitless through 14 plate appearances. First Base Primarily due to Sanó's pre-injury struggles, first base has been a void of offensive production, with a .157 batting average and only three extra-base hits (all home runs). Willians Astudillo has been an uninspiring replacement. Catcher Both Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers are, incredibly, striking out in nearly half of their plate appearances. The struggles of Jeffers – who is slashing .167/.242/.200 with 16 strikeouts in 33 plate appearances – are especially pressing, given that he's a 23-year-old who is still developing as a player. The Twins may need to start thinking about how they'll proceed at the catcher position if they determine Jeffers needs more time in the minors. Who knows what can be done with the dazed-and-confused Garver. Second Base Like catcher, this position looked like a clear source of strength coming into the season, but has proven to be anything but. Owing mostly to Jorge Polanco's struggles, Twins second basemen had produced a .164/.235/.205 slash line before Arraez lifted those numbers slightly on Sunday. The pitching has largely not been good, especially in the disastrous meltdown that transpired on Thursday. Starters are laboring and the bullpen has been full of leaks, top to bottom. But it almost doesn't matter, because the offense has been so persistently incapable of scoring runs. There are some very talented hitters here, and I have to believe an awakening is forthcoming. But then again, so many of these familiar issues trace back to last year's struggles – especially in the playoffs. Watching inning after inning of lethargic, non-competitive at-bats against unremarkable pitchers, you can't help but wonder ... is this a closer approximation to the Twins in their true form than the juggernaut that emerged in 2019? TRENDING STORYLINE In the early part of his tenure, Baldelli's teams developed a reputation for resilience. They routinely bounced back from losses and overcame adversity on the way to a 101-win season in his managerial debut. When the times got tough, those Twins got tougher. (Up until October, anyway.) Of late, this trait has been completely amiss. The Twins have seen their troubles snowball as the month progresses. Losing two of three while scoring six runs at home against that Pirates team is just brutal. So now, we'll simply have to see if Rocco and his Twins can find some resilience within themselves. They whiffed on a juicy get-right opportunity against Pittsburgh, and if the miserable play carries forward into the next week it's going start getting costly: six games lie ahead against teams the Twins are chasing in the standings. It sounds like Simmons will be back very soon. Kepler and Garlick hopefully are not far behind. The Twins will gradually return to full strength. The pressure is mounting for them to show it's a team worth believing in. One wonders how much longer this can go on before the front office steps in and takes some kind of significant action, rather than waiting for things to get right on their own. We're moving past the realm of overreactions to small samples. LOOKING AHEAD Only three of Minnesota's first 21 games came against a division rival, and they featured the least relevant one (Detroit) at that. Now, the Twins are about to get a heavy dose of the AL Central – 25 of their next 38 games – and it starts with a slate of six match-ups against Cleveland and the Royals this week. Of note: The Twins will luckily miss Shane Bieber in the Cleveland series. We'll take whatever breaks we can get at this point. MONDAY, 4/26: TWINS @ CLEVELAND – RHP José Berríos v. RHP Zach Plesac TUESDAY, 4/27: TWINS @ CLEVELAND – RHP Kenta Maeda v. RHP Aaron Civale WEDNESDAY, 4/28: TWINS @ CLEVELAND – LHP J.A. Happ v. LHP Logan Allen FRIDAY, 4/30: ROYALS @ TWINS – LHP Mike Minor v. RHP Michael Pineda SATURDAY, 5/1: ROYALS @ TWINS – LHP Danny Duffy v. RHP Matt Shoemaker SUNDAY, 5/2: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Brad Keller v. RHP José Berríos 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. Projected Rotation: Kenta Maeda, José Berríos, Michael Pineda, J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker Depth: Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, Lewis Thorpe, Bailey Ober Prospects: Jhoan Duran, Jordan Balazovic, Matt Canterino, Blayne Enlow, Cole Sands THE GOOD Let's start at the top. Kenta Maeda: The long-awaited ace and reigning Cy Young runner-up. Maeda's first year in a Minnesota uniform yielded the best performance we've seen from a Twins starting pitcher since Johan Santana left town. One of the great sadnesses of the shortened 2020 season was that we didn't get to see him do more of it. From his first turn to his last, Maeda was superb. He never gave up more than three runs in a game, or more hits than innings pitched in a start. His whiff rate was third-highest in the game behind Jacob deGrom and Lucas Giolito. Maeda shut down Houston with five shutout innings in the playoffs. A month prior, he came within three outs of no-hitting Milwaukee at Target Field. With an offspeed-heavy mix and impeccable command, he left opposing batters helpless. https://twitter.com/MLB/status/1295914048043786241 This was a different version of Maeda than we ever saw in Los Angeles, where he was more good than great, leading to natural questions about how repeatable the breakout is. Indeed, the righty probably won't be quite so thoroughly dominant in a full-length follow-up, but there's little reason to think he won't be a credible rotation-fronter. The question is whether José Berríos will join him in that category. He's a very good starter, and one of the most reliably durable in the game, but Berríos hasn't quite been able to take that step into the highest tier despite flirting with it frequently. Last season might look like a setback, at a glance – his 4.00 ERA and 1.32 WHIP were both highest since Berríos' rocky debut in 2016. But they're also misleading, and emblematic of 2020's small-sample haziness. He gave up five runs in four innings against Chicago on Opening Day. From that point forward, the righty posted a 3.51 ERA and 1.27 WHIP, holding opponents to a .225 average. Same old Berríos. That's not including his postseason start against Houston, where he allowed one run on two hits in five frames. We'll see if he can find something more, and if he does, the Twins will boast one of the league's best 1-2 punches in the rotation. But they'd also be happy to get that same old Berríos again, because his baseline is a pretty damn good. And also: Minnesota has another underrated starter in the frontline discussion. Michael Pineda is finally coming into a season unhindered by injury rehab or suspension. When on the mound for Minnesota, he has consistently pitched well, and the Twins have played .677 baseball. He's 32 and playing for his next contract with free agency upcoming. As Twins GM Thad Levine put it, Pineda "has put himself in the best position he can to have a robust second chapter to his career.” https://twitter.com/NickNelsonMN/status/1361852125551157250 J.A. Happ is not a super flashy addition at age 38, but he's been basically as good as Berríos over the past handful of seasons, and he's a great asset as your fourth starter. Matt Shoemaker rounds out the rotation as a $2 million flier who probably has a 50/50 shot at lasting until the All-Star break. But as with any signing by this front office, there's upside here that's easy to see. The offseason additions might not have been too exciting, but what does excite about Minnesota's rotation picture this year is the internal depth. Randy Dobnak and Lewis Thorpe both offer plenty of intrigue, especially with their buzz-stirring spring camps. Devin Smeltzer is a better eighth option than most other teams have. And that's before you turn to the farm. The Twins' top three pitching prospects – Jhoan Duran, Jordan Balazovic, Matt Canterino – are verging on big-league ready. It's hard to say for sure since the 2020 minor-league season was wiped out, but had it been played, it's very possible any of those three would now be banging on the door – if not already debuted. Each is capable of a serious impact in short order, and the Twins are quietly counting on that to some degree. THE BAD One might argue the Twins have been extraordinarily lucky with the health of their starting pitchers over the past couple years. (Jake Odorizzi and Homer Bailey would disagree, but they're gone.) Berríos has continued to take the mound every fifth day, as usual. Maeda did the same in 2020, while transitioning from starter-reliever hybrid to relative workhorse. He experienced no issues, even after accruing a career-high 115 pitches in his no-hit bid. Pineda, so often injured before coming to Minnesota, has been perfectly healthy outside of the suspension. (Phantom DL stints not withstanding.) I'm not over here to trying to jinx anything. But it has to be acknowledged that this probably won't last forever. The rigors of being a starting pitcher in the major leagues are immense, and right now these guys are grappling with the transition back to a full-season workload, in the wake of 2020's disruption. If one of those top three starters goes down? Suddenly the Twins rotation doesn't look quite so sturdy anymore. Happ might be a nice luxury in the back half, but he's not necessarily someone you want to be depending on toward the front. Shoemaker, Dobnak, Thorpe and Smeltzer all have their own varying levels of promise and mystique, but also serious hurdles to overcome. The top prospects may well all need more seasoning, These aren't unique problems – all pitchers across the league will be facing the same readjustment challenges this year, and no team has infinite starting depth – but the Twins will need a bit of luck on their side to fulfill their potential in the rotation. They're relying heavily on some internal developments playing out well, because it's questionable whether the free agent talent incoming (Happ, Shoemaker) is better than the talent outgoing (Odorizzi, Rich Hill). Questionable might be putting it kindly. THE BOTTOM LINE This is a deep, well-rounded group with a high ceiling and a number of electrifying wild cards in play. Odorizzi is a significant loss, which should not be discounted, but the fact is, the Twins managed to post the second-best rotation ERA, FIP, and fWAR in the American League last year without him. An important thing to keep in mind is that, by retaining all prospect capital in the offseason, the Twins have positioned themselves nicely for a trade as the deadline approaches. That'll probably be a big storyline this summer, but I'm more eager to see what the system can provide internally after four years of remarkable progression under the new front office. "After four years of assembling the infrastructure and creating a culture of fearless development," wrote Dan Hayes at The Athletic recently, "the Twins front office feels as if its pitching pipeline is finally ready to churn out impressive arms at a more consistent rate." Their exhaustive work will be put to the test in what's certain to be a daunting and discombobulating year for MLB starting pitchers, with workloads thrown askew. READ OTHER 2021 POSITION ANALYSIS ARTICLES Catcher First Base Second Base Third Base Shortstop Left Field Center Field Right Field Designated Hitter
  6. If the Twins have ever fielded a better and deeper rotation than the one they're set to line up this year, I can't remember it. From top to bottom (and beyond) this unit looks stacked.Projected Rotation: Kenta Maeda, José Berríos, Michael Pineda, J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker Depth: Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, Lewis Thorpe, Bailey Ober Prospects: Jhoan Duran, Jordan Balazovic, Matt Canterino, Blayne Enlow, Cole Sands THE GOOD Let's start at the top. Kenta Maeda: The long-awaited ace and reigning Cy Young runner-up. Maeda's first year in a Minnesota uniform yielded the best performance we've seen from a Twins starting pitcher since Johan Santana left town. One of the great sadnesses of the shortened 2020 season was that we didn't get to see him do more of it. From his first turn to his last, Maeda was superb. He never gave up more than three runs in a game, or more hits than innings pitched in a start. His whiff rate was third-highest in the game behind Jacob deGrom and Lucas Giolito. Maeda shut down Houston with five shutout innings in the playoffs. A month prior, he came within three outs of no-hitting Milwaukee at Target Field. With an offspeed-heavy mix and impeccable command, he left opposing batters helpless. J.A. Happ is not a super flashy addition at age 38, but he's been basically as good as Berríos over the past handful of seasons, and he's a great asset as your fourth starter. Matt Shoemaker rounds out the rotation as a $2 million flier who probably has a 50/50 shot at lasting until the All-Star break. But as with any signing by this front office, there's upside here that's easy to see. The offseason additions might not have been too exciting, but what does excite about Minnesota's rotation picture this year is the internal depth. Randy Dobnak and Lewis Thorpe both offer plenty of intrigue, especially with their buzz-stirring spring camps. Devin Smeltzer is a better eighth option than most other teams have. And that's before you turn to the farm. The Twins' top three pitching prospects – Jhoan Duran, Jordan Balazovic, Matt Canterino – are verging on big-league ready. It's hard to say for sure since the 2020 minor-league season was wiped out, but had it been played, it's very possible any of those three would now be banging on the door – if not already debuted. Each is capable of a serious impact in short order, and the Twins are quietly counting on that to some degree. THE BAD One might argue the Twins have been extraordinarily lucky with the health of their starting pitchers over the past couple years. (Jake Odorizzi and Homer Bailey would disagree, but they're gone.) Berríos has continued to take the mound every fifth day, as usual. Maeda did the same in 2020, while transitioning from starter-reliever hybrid to relative workhorse. He experienced no issues, even after accruing a career-high 115 pitches in his no-hit bid. Pineda, so often injured before coming to Minnesota, has been perfectly healthy outside of the suspension. (Phantom DL stints not withstanding.) I'm not over here to trying to jinx anything. But it has to be acknowledged that this probably won't last forever. The rigors of being a starting pitcher in the major leagues are immense, and right now these guys are grappling with the transition back to a full-season workload, in the wake of 2020's disruption. If one of those top three starters goes down? Suddenly the Twins rotation doesn't look quite so sturdy anymore. Happ might be a nice luxury in the back half, but he's not necessarily someone you want to be depending on toward the front. Shoemaker, Dobnak, Thorpe and Smeltzer all have their own varying levels of promise and mystique, but also serious hurdles to overcome. The top prospects may well all need more seasoning, These aren't unique problems – all pitchers across the league will be facing the same readjustment challenges this year, and no team has infinite starting depth – but the Twins will need a bit of luck on their side to fulfill their potential in the rotation. They're relying heavily on some internal developments playing out well, because it's questionable whether the free agent talent incoming (Happ, Shoemaker) is better than the talent outgoing (Odorizzi, Rich Hill). Questionable might be putting it kindly. THE BOTTOM LINE This is a deep, well-rounded group with a high ceiling and a number of electrifying wild cards in play. Odorizzi is a significant loss, which should not be discounted, but the fact is, the Twins managed to post the second-best rotation ERA, FIP, and fWAR in the American League last year without him. An important thing to keep in mind is that, by retaining all prospect capital in the offseason, the Twins have positioned themselves nicely for a trade as the deadline approaches. That'll probably be a big storyline this summer, but I'm more eager to see what the system can provide internally after four years of remarkable progression under the new front office. "After four years of assembling the infrastructure and creating a culture of fearless development," wrote Dan Hayes at The Athletic recently, "the Twins front office feels as if its pitching pipeline is finally ready to churn out impressive arms at a more consistent rate." Their exhaustive work will be put to the test in what's certain to be a daunting and discombobulating year for MLB starting pitchers, with workloads thrown askew. READ OTHER 2021 POSITION ANALYSIS ARTICLES CatcherFirst BaseSecond BaseThird BaseShortstopLeft FieldCenter FieldRight FieldDesignated Hitter Click here to view the article
  7. Since we last checked in before the New Year, the Twins have made only one major-league addition, although it was a fairly significant one: signing veteran left-hander J.A. Happ last week to a one-year, $8 million deal. Here's how the projected roster and payroll currently shape up with Happ in the mix: Accounting for Kenta Maeda's very achievable incentives ($7-9 million), the Twins are currently slated to spend a little north of $100 million, providing ample flexibility for further additions. With this in mind, let's get up to speed on the latest happenings and rumors. HOPPING ON HAPP The Twins addressed a critical need in their rotation by adding the seasoned southpaw on a one-year contract. He offers plenty of experience and a consistent track record of production, bringing more certainty to the rotation by pushing Randy Dobnak into the fifth spot and unseating Devin Smeltzer, Lewis Thorpe, or whatever rookie was lined up for it previously. At this point Minnesota has a credible rotation to move forward with, technically speaking, but I very much suspect they'll add one more starting pitcher on a major-league deal (or trade). Top remaining free agent prizes within the Twins' potential range include Masahiro Tanaka (said to be seeking up to $20 million in salary), Jake Odorizzi (said to be seeking a three-year deal), and James Paxton. Plenty of trade possibilities also remain on the table, although one compelling name came off the board in recent days when the Yankees acquired Jameson Taillon from Pittsburgh. Learn more about Happ and the impact of his signing: Report: Twins to Sign LHP J.A. Happ: Seth Stohs and Tom Froemming tag-teamed on this quick reaction piece after Happ signed, sharing some info about the contract, his recent history, and his Statcast data. How the Twins Might Tweak J.A. Happ: Matthew Trueblood dug into trends around pitch usage and effectiveness to analyze how the notoriously tinker-y Twins might help the left-hander optimize his repertoire. 5 Things for Twins Fans to Know About J.A. Happ: I explored five different facts about Happ and his intriguing qualities. The notes about his performance trend coming out of 2020, and Minnesota's track record of reducing HR rates, show there's more than meets the eye. QUALITY FREE AGENCY FITS ARE DWINDLING How quickly has the Hot Stove fired up? One week ago I shared my personal top 10 favorite remaining free agent targets for the Twins. At that point, all were available in a stagnating market. In seven days since, four of those options have been signed away, including my No. 1 choice. 1. Jurickson Profar, UTIL 2. Jake Odorizzi, SP 3. James Paxton, SP 4. Andrelton Simmons, SS 5. Nelson Cruz, DH 6. Trevor Rosenthal, RP 7. Kirby Yates, RP 8. José Quintana, SP 9. Kiké Hernández, UTIL 10. Tyler Clippard, RP Both Profar and Hernández got the exact AAV projected in the article ($7 million) although Profar's came on a weirdly player-friendly three-year contract with two opt-outs, and Hernández's two-year deal apparently came with the promise of a regular starting role at one position. So I'm not sure the Twins realistically could or should have won either of those biddings. The pool of standout utility options to replace Marwin González in the requisite super utility role is shrinking fast, although there are other free agents out there – Tommy La Stella, Jonathan Villar, Asdrubal Cabrera, etc. – who could still viably fill it. At this point my strong preference is to add a starting shortstop and move Jorge Polanco into the utility role. So if I'm reconfiguring the above list, I now have Simmons at the top. Meanwhile, the bullpen remains an area of need. Hansel Robles is hardly enough to replace all the quality production that's been lost to free agency. I get the sense the Twins were finalists for Kirby Yates, who ended up signing with Toronto for $5.5 million, but were never going to go anywhere near as high as Washington did to get Brad Hand ($10.5 million). Trevor Rosenthal feels unlikely at this point. At that part it's hard to find anything constituting an upgrade in free agency. Maybe Alex Colomé? MORE ON THE FORMER UTILITY MEN A couple of recent rumblings regarding the Twins' previous stable of versatile backups: A report last week via MLB.com's Mark Feinsand and Doh Young Park suggests that the Twins have "expressed interest in a reunion" with González: https://twitter.com/Feinsand/status/1351688079673876481 I'm dubious of how serious this interest is (and wonder if the tip came from agent Scott Boras, in an effort to enliven his client's market). That is in large part because I have enough respect for Minnesota's front office to trust that they know better. González was not especially impressive during his time with the Twins and looked flat-out cooked by the end of it, with his production and athleticism rapidly waning. Even in the lesser secondary utility gig previously filled by Ehire Adrianza, I don't see González as a fit. I'd rather just have Adrianza reprise the role. However, it doesn't sound as though that's going to happen, as Adrianza issued an official farewell to Twins fans on Instagram over the weekend: https://twitter.com/SethTweets/status/1353056033216708610 UPPING THE ANTE FOR CRUZ The Twins continue to engage with Nelson Cruz, and there's evidence they have heightened their pursuit. Jon Heyman reported on Friday that the Twins have "upgraded the dollars in their 1-year offer," but adds that Cruz remains intent on seeing through the universal DH decision. https://twitter.com/JonHeyman/status/1352682159866318851 It's almost February. Still no clarity from MLB on whether DH will be in place for NL teams. (I would assume no, but can't blame Cruz and his agent for waiting on finality.) Pretty unreal. TWINS OUT ON BAUER? In an interesting series of events, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic published an article on the Mets' pursuit of top free agent Trevor Bauer indicating that the Twins were in his mix, but he updated the piece soon after with a correction: "The Mets are not the only club talking about signing him," Rosenthal wrote. "The Dodgers and Blue Jays are among the other clubs believed to be in the mix. The Twins are not, sources said, in response to an earlier version of this story." Some fans are surely disappointed to hear that Minnesota is likely out on the free agent market's top prize. Not me. Bauer seems like the ultimate buy-high trap, coming off of what technically qualifies as a career year and Cy Young Award. Prior to 2020, his track record was much more good than great. Add in the problematic personality and surely exorbitant price, and Bauer is simply more trouble than he's worth, in my opinion. Do you agree or disagree? What would you like to see the Twins do here in the final weeks of the offseason? Is your confidence wavering or are you keeping the faith? Sound off in the comments. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  8. Yes, this article's title is a play on the name of Minnesota's latest free agent signing. But it's also a way to say that this slow-moving offseason is starting to heat up. It's time for the Twins to get moving.Since we last checked in before the New Year, the Twins have made only one major-league addition, although it was a fairly significant one: signing veteran left-hander J.A. Happ last week to a one-year, $8 million deal. Here's how the projected roster and payroll currently shape up with Happ in the mix: Download attachment: twinsroster12221.png Accounting for Kenta Maeda's very achievable incentives ($7-9 million), the Twins are currently slated to spend a little north of $100 million, providing ample flexibility for further additions. With this in mind, let's get up to speed on the latest happenings and rumors. HOPPING ON HAPP The Twins addressed a critical need in their rotation by adding the seasoned southpaw on a one-year contract. He offers plenty of experience and a consistent track record of production, bringing more certainty to the rotation by pushing Randy Dobnak into the fifth spot and unseating Devin Smeltzer, Lewis Thorpe, or whatever rookie was lined up for it previously. At this point Minnesota has a credible rotation to move forward with, technically speaking, but I very much suspect they'll add one more starting pitcher on a major-league deal (or trade). Top remaining free agent prizes within the Twins' potential range include Masahiro Tanaka (said to be seeking up to $20 million in salary), Jake Odorizzi (said to be seeking a three-year deal), and James Paxton. Plenty of trade possibilities also remain on the table, although one compelling name came off the board in recent days when the Yankees acquired Jameson Taillon from Pittsburgh. Learn more about Happ and the impact of his signing: Report: Twins to Sign LHP J.A. Happ: Seth Stohs and Tom Froemming tag-teamed on this quick reaction piece after Happ signed, sharing some info about the contract, his recent history, and his Statcast data.How the Twins Might Tweak J.A. Happ: Matthew Trueblood dug into trends around pitch usage and effectiveness to analyze how the notoriously tinker-y Twins might help the left-hander optimize his repertoire.5 Things for Twins Fans to Know About J.A. Happ: I explored five different facts about Happ and his intriguing qualities. The notes about his performance trend coming out of 2020, and Minnesota's track record of reducing HR rates, show there's more than meets the eye.QUALITY FREE AGENCY FITS ARE DWINDLING How quickly has the Hot Stove fired up? One week ago I shared my personal top 10 favorite remaining free agent targets for the Twins. At that point, all were available in a stagnating market. In seven days since, four of those options have been signed away, including my No. 1 choice. 1. Jurickson Profar, UTIL 2. Jake Odorizzi, SP 3. James Paxton, SP 4. Andrelton Simmons, SS 5. Nelson Cruz, DH 6. Trevor Rosenthal, RP 7. Kirby Yates, RP 8. José Quintana, SP 9. Kiké Hernández, UTIL 10. Tyler Clippard, RP Both Profar and Hernández got the exact AAV projected in the article ($7 million) although Profar's came on a weirdly player-friendly three-year contract with two opt-outs, and Hernández's two-year deal apparently came with the promise of a regular starting role at one position. So I'm not sure the Twins realistically could or should have won either of those biddings. The pool of standout utility options to replace Marwin González in the requisite super utility role is shrinking fast, although there are other free agents out there – Tommy La Stella, Jonathan Villar, Asdrubal Cabrera, etc. – who could still viably fill it. At this point my strong preference is to add a starting shortstop and move Jorge Polanco into the utility role. So if I'm reconfiguring the above list, I now have Simmons at the top. Meanwhile, the bullpen remains an area of need. Hansel Robles is hardly enough to replace all the quality production that's been lost to free agency. I get the sense the Twins were finalists for Kirby Yates, who ended up signing with Toronto for $5.5 million, but were never going to go anywhere near as high as Washington did to get Brad Hand ($10.5 million). Trevor Rosenthal feels unlikely at this point. At that part it's hard to find anything constituting an upgrade in free agency. Maybe Alex Colomé? MORE ON THE FORMER UTILITY MEN A couple of recent rumblings regarding the Twins' previous stable of versatile backups: A report last week via MLB.com's Mark Feinsand and Doh Young Park suggests that the Twins have "expressed interest in a reunion" with González: It's almost February. Still no clarity from MLB on whether DH will be in place for NL teams. (I would assume no, but can't blame Cruz and his agent for waiting on finality.) Pretty unreal. TWINS OUT ON BAUER? In an interesting series of events, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic published an article on the Mets' pursuit of top free agent Trevor Bauer indicating that the Twins were in his mix, but he updated the piece soon after with a correction: "The Mets are not the only club talking about signing him," Rosenthal wrote. "The Dodgers and Blue Jays are among the other clubs believed to be in the mix. The Twins are not, sources said, in response to an earlier version of this story." Some fans are surely disappointed to hear that Minnesota is likely out on the free agent market's top prize. Not me. Bauer seems like the ultimate buy-high trap, coming off of what technically qualifies as a career year and Cy Young Award. Prior to 2020, his track record was much more good than great. Add in the problematic personality and surely exorbitant price, and Bauer is simply more trouble than he's worth, in my opinion. Do you agree or disagree? What would you like to see the Twins do here in the final weeks of the offseason? Is your confidence wavering or are you keeping the faith? Sound off in the comments. 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
  9. Bill Boxmeyer had a lot of downtime. The 37-year-old White Bear Lake man lives alone and has been working remote for his IT job since March. With not much else to do, Boxmeyer had hours to learn a new skill, read the great works of literature, or leave angry comments on Facebook. He chose a different path. "I figured I'd learn everything there was to know about the pitcher J.A. Happ," said Boxmeyer. "Yes, I know it sounds weird. But now who's laughing?" Happ is reportedly signing a one-year deal with Boxmeyer's favorite team, the Minnesota Twins. "The first thing you need to know is the 'J.A.' stands for 'James Anthony' but everyone calls him 'Jay'," said Boxmeyer. "As far as Happ facts go, that's the bare minimum you have to know or you're just going to embarrass yourself." What drove Boxmeyer to not only focus his pandemic nights and weekends on a baseball player, but also on a seemingly random player like Happ? "Yeah, that's a toughie," admitted Boxmeyer. "I had no interest in learning to bake or sew or anything like that, and I never got into video games. What I do like is someone who really drills down on one subject and is an expert on it, regardless of the relevancy or any overriding benefit to humanity. There's a guy I saw on the HGTV who is an expert on gravel. Who gives a damn about gravel? This guy does! "So I decided I would be the gravel guy, but for J.A. Happ, who married Morgan Cawley in 2014. They have two children." The fact that Happ appears to be on track to start for the Twins in 2021 continues to amaze the UW-Stout alum. "I can't believe my luck, I'm not going to sugarcoat it," said Boxmeyer. "Once things open up a bit, I can go to the pub or even Target Field, and if anyone has any questions about that night's starting pitcher, they are sitting next to the one guy who can tell you anything you want to know about the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year runner-up." As for other avenues of intellectual pursuit, Boxmeyer says he does have one regret. "I work for an international pharmaceutical company, and I initially thought it would be good to just thoroughly educate myself on vaccine distribution and supply chains," said Boxmeyer. "I have to say that would have been way more useful. Like, both for myself and humanity. That said, I would not have known that Happ went on the injured list in 2018 with hand, foot, and mouth disease. And now you do, too."
  10. First, you can get the requisite details about Happ in Seth and Tom's story from when the news broke. That article puts his deal into context and includes info about the veteran lefty's repertoire and recent history. Here I'll dig a little deeper with five facts about Happ that are especially noteworthy for Twins fans. 1. Things ended sourly between Happ and the Yankees. Happ just completed a two-year, $32 million contract, with the latter season being described as "messy" by the New York Post. The left-hander was none too shy about expressing his displeasure with what he perceived as intentional efforts by New York to limit his innings and circumvent a $17 million vesting option. Happ ended up coming one start short of the trigger in 2020, and now will end up making $9 million less with the Twins. This strikes me for two reasons. First, because it marks the second straight offseason where the Twins acquired a starting pitcher who was displeased with his previous team's handling of him, and how it impacted his earnings. (Kenta Maeda's starting-based incentives were suppressed in Los Angeles by his hybrid usage.) Second, because it means Happ might hold a bit of a grudge against the Yankees. Hey, we'll take it. 2. Happ was never viewed as a particularly strong prospect in the minors. Despite being a third-round draft pick who performed well in the minors, and possessed desirable attributes as a 6-foot-5 left-handed pitcher, Happ never drew a ton of hype in prospect circles. This was mainly because of his middling fastball velocity, which sat in the 80s and hardly conveyed dominant upside while coming up with the Phillies. Alas, Happ is still plugging away in the majors, some 17 years after being drafted and 14 years after arriving. He has thrown more than 1,700 innings with a sub-4 career ERA. Meanwhile, many of the prospects who appeared on those lists ahead of him never even reached the big leagues. It's a reminder that rankings and industry assessments are only worth so much. Keep that in mind before you write off the unheralded Randy Dobnak – currently slotted as the No. 5 starter behind Happ – due to a second-half slump in 2020. 3. Happ seemingly turned a corner last year. By the time he got clubbed around in his second start for New York in 2020, it's fair to say Happ was a maligned figure at Yankee Stadium. He was coming off a disappointing first year in pinstripes, and had given up eight runs across his first two turns of the abbreviated season. From then on, however, Happ was brilliant. Over his final seven starts he posted a 2.34 ERA and held opponents to a .200/.241/.340 slash. Matt Wallach wrote at Pitcher List in September about how Happ was changing the narrative, outperforming even Gerrit Cole over a five-week stretch. Wallach highlighted a few noticeable changes in approach aiding Happ's success: more sinkers thrown to lefties, more four-seamers to righties, more locating down in the zone. Looking at his circumstances, the Happ signing actually reminds me a lot of Homer Bailey, who himself had turned a corner by making tweaks in Oakland before the Twins signed him to a nearly identical contract (one year, $7 million). Last year's Bailey signing obviously didn't work out due to injury, but the righty showed fleeting promise when he was on the mound to validate the front office's thinking. Adding Happ to the back half of this rotation represents a similar type of gambit, although here the Twins have paid more to acquire a much safer bet. In 80 innings over his past 15 starts, dating back to 2019, Happ has a 2.97 ERA. 4: By some measures, Happ is right on par with Minnesota's rotation-fronting trio. A directive for the front office this winter was to add a starting pitcher who was at least at the level of their returning top three. I still think they need to do so after signing Happ. That said, a case can be made that he's not far off from being in the category of Maeda, José Berríos and Michael Pineda. As I mentioned on Twitter, by FanGraphs' WAR measurement, Happ stacks up pretty closely to Maeda and Berríos over the past five years, and is well ahead of the oft-unavailable Pineda. https://twitter.com/NickNelsonMN/status/1352408040222416896 Granted, that sample includes Berríos' brutal rookie year in 2016, but it also includes Happ's most recent stretch in New York, which looks in some ways to be the outlier of an otherwise outstanding post-30 track record. 5. Happ's biggest weakness is one that the Twins have proven very adept at solving. The lefty's primary downfall in New York was that his home run rate went off the charts. Happ's career 1.1 HR/9 average jumped to 1.7 during his time in the Bronx. He went from being roughly average at keeping the ball in the yard to one of the league's worst. The good news is that escaping Yankee Stadium and its cartoonish dimensions will help enough on its own. The better news is that Minnesota has shown a penchant for addressing this specific issue. When the Twins acquired Jake Odorizzi from Tampa, the main reason they got him so cheaply is because Odorizzi's proneness to home runs had diminished his effectiveness. After allowing 1.6 HR/9 during his final two years with the Rays, Odorizzi reduced that average to 1.0 in 2018/19 with the Twins, progressively getting better. He went from one of the league's worst at keeping the ball in the yard to roughly average. He also made his first All-Star Game. When the Twins acquired Pineda as a free agent, he too had formed a reputation as one of the league's most homer-prone starters. In his final two seasons with the Yankees, Pineda allowed 1.6 HR/9 on average. In 2019/20 with the Twins, he allowed 1.2 HR/9, progressively getting better (he allowed zero in five starts last year). He went from one of the league's worst at keeping the ball in the yard to roughly average. And he has led the Twins to a 21-10 record in his starts. Suffice to say, while I was feeling lukewarm about Happ's signing as an initial reaction, my faith in this front office has given me confidence. And as you unpack some of these truths about Happ, placing them against the backdrop of the Twins' past actions and larger strategy, it gets a lot easier to feel excited about what they've got in the 38-year-old southpaw. 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. This afternoon the Minnesota Twins made their first big splash of the winter in signing former Yankees starter J.A. Happ. He’s nothing flashy by any means, but the $8 million pact will move the salary needle. Here’s the deal with Happ, he was passable in 2020 and his Baseball Savant metrics paint a prettier picture than a 4.57 FIP can (even with a 3.47 ERA). He was victimized by the longball at Yankee Stadium more often than he has been previously in his career, but he’s just a modest strikeout pitcher. Ultimately, he takes the place of Rich Hill on the 2021 Twins club and there’s nothing wrong with that. If Wes Johnson can utilize Happ as a 5th starter that eats innings and keeps the offense within striking distance, he’ll make turns all season long. If he posts a 5.00+ FIP a la 2019 he could be a candidate to be bumped when Randy Dobnak or one of the other prospects force their way into the picture. It’s not glamorous, but it doesn’t preclude them from making any other moves. Minnesota still needs a better arm in the rotation, and I have made the point since the beginning of winter that a trade seemed likely for a rotation arm. With Happ in the fold, I’m more confident than ever it will happen. Assuming Nelson Cruz is eventually brought back as the team’s designated hitter, plopping down $12 million or so on Jake Odorizzi becomes less feasible. A controllable starter still in arbitration can be had for less, and the prospect capital is where the spend comes. I don’t think Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will fill out their bench solely with internal options, and at least one other relief arm still needs to be acquired. By allowed something like $14 million after a Cruz deal, there’s enough left on the bone to make a handful of different directions work. Right now, just one of the four open spots on the 40-man roster has been utilized, and there could be more opened up with a player in that group sent as part of any package. There’s less than a month until Spring Training is supposed to kick off, and I told you it would be busy. For more from Off the Baggy, click her. Follow @tlschwerz
  12. Greetings from Target Field, where it is sunny and warm as the Twins look to make it two in a row over the visiting Toronto Blue Jays. It’ll be righty Bartolo Colon (4.69 ERA, 4.94 FIP in 63.1 innings with the Twins) on the mound for the Twins and the second lefty in a row on the mound for Toronto in J.A. Happ (3.73 ERA, 4.00 FIP in 125.1 innings). More on that in a bit. It’s Big Sexy night at Target Field, and it’s not just because Colon is taking the mound. The Twins had a special ticket package that included a ticket to the game and a special t-shirt, and it sold out in advance of Friday night’s game. What exactly encompasses the mystique of Big Sexy? Manager Paul Molitor tried to describe it. “I’m sure there are a lot of people who have tried to describe it,” Molitor offered. “The fact he’s been able to continually deny the odds and do what he’s done in the game, do it in a way that’s colorful, doing it in a way that’s obviously very fun-loving in terms of his attitude toward the game. he knows the seriousness of baseball, but he could just as well be playing a little sandlot ball with his buddies. you just never know what particular antic he’s going to bring to a game.” It’s not just a sideshow, though, Molitor said. The burly righty has done a good job cutting the tension for a club that’s in the middle of a race to the postseason. “Added to that, he’s pitching pretty good baseball,” Molitor said. “(Colon) along with other guys out there, are like ‘Hey, everything’s going to be fine.’ Guys, for the most part, are just doing what they’re doing. We haven’t seen too many guys show up in terms of pressure affecting how they pitch or hit. There’s going to be moments — the game gets pretty big at times. We just try to slow it down. But having those veteran presences certainly helps.” On a nice note, Jose Berrios and his wife Jannieliz welcomed their second child on Friday afternoon around 2:20. It’s a healthy baby boy named Diego, and Molitor said that he told Jose to take some time to be with his family before showing up to the ballpark sometime tonight. There had been some chatter about Berrios dealing with fatigue of late, though Molitor said that’s more of a general fatigue as opposed to arm fatigue. “I think it’s more general fatigue than arm,” Molitor said. “We’re just going to try to be smart, whether it’s how long we let him go on a given day to the fact that we all know how he works out. We’ve been trying to get him to back off a little bit. Not to stop working out, but just to conserve the best you can for the days you pitch. We’ll have to see when he goes out there how he looks on a given day and how he’s feeling. I’m not concerned to the point where I have to back him off a start or anything, but you have to keep an eye on these things late in the year.” Molitor added that Berrios is not throwing full bullpens at this point in the year, and that his last one was limited to just 15 pitches. For the full story, click here to read it on Zone Coverage.
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