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  1. Please, calm down. I’m not at all saying Berríos is, today, similar to what Santana was when the Mets acquired him from Minnesota. Nor that he will be nearly as good as the Venezuelan. But bear with me, while I look at what those two deals have in common. Their role in the Twins After the 2007 season, Santana was already one of baseball’s greatest pitchers, if not the best one. Mentioning his accolades up until that moment has no use here. They couldn’t afford him, so they found themselves forced to trade him. Berríos, right now, may not be the ace Johan was, but he is certainly one of baseball’s most reliable arms. Especially, you know, health-wise. So far in his career, Berríos hasn’t had any serious injury that cost him relevant playing time. His injury history is immaculate. Minus 2016, the year he got called up for the first time, and 2020, the 60-game season, Berríos has logged at least 145 innings in each season of his career. He’s having career numbers this year, which indicates that he’s only getting better. So he may not be as talented as Santana, but he’s a solid piece of this rotation. A player who could easily be a number three starter for the vast majority of MLB teams. And, at 27, which is two years younger than Santana when he was dealt, you just have to assume he’s just entering his prime. What if they stayed? My main point here is this. What could’ve happened if the Twins could afford Santana and signed him to an extension? And what may happen if they decide to hold on to José now? Everything from now on will be hypothetical, so get ready for many ‘what ifs.’ When Minnesota traded Santana, they knowingly gave up on a two-time Cy Young Award winner, the best starter they had since… Blyleven? Viola in ‘91? Or the best one ever? You decide. If he had stayed, he would’ve made that phenomenal Twins team even better. After a disappointing 79-83 record in 2007, Minnesota went on to win at least 87 games in each of the following three seasons, including a 94-win season in 2010, capping a second consecutive AL Central title. However good they were, those teams could never get past the Yankees in their trips to the ALDS. How much closer to winning a World Series would that particular team be, had Santana stayed? No one will ever know. But I think it’s fair to assume they would have much, much better odds. In conclusion, trading away Johan, even though it was the only logical solution given the club’s financial reality at that point, undeniably made the Twins a worse team. With that being said, let’s shift to Berríos’ case now. Realistically speaking, the Twins are a much better team with him around. No pitcher within the organization brings to the table, today, the same productivity from Berríos. Kenta Maeda bounced back very nicely, but there’s no way he’s had a better season than José so far. If you’re not looking at the prospect of a two or three-year rebuilding process, there’s no way you trade Berríos now. Minnesota’s chances of having a competitive rotation in 2022 are not better at all with the absence of Berríos. Unless, of course, they pull a huge free agent signing during the winter, which is very unlikely. Let me repeat myself: Berríos is no ace (yet), and he doesn’t bring to the table the same as Santana 13 years ago. But if you keep him, adding one or two good free agent arms during the winter could turn this rotation around next year. If you don’t, you’re considerably further along. What is the big difference? Like I said before, the Twins had no alternatives but to trade Santana. Revenue wasn’t the same, so it’s understandable. What you can question is how bad the return for Santana was. That deal turned out to be one of the worst in club history. But, yeah, trading him was a must. On the other hand, that certainly doesn’t seem to be the same case with Berríos now. First, a contract extension to José wouldn’t be nearly as expensive. Twins Daily’s Ted Schwerzler believes that a Berríos contract would look similar to those of Luis Severino, Aaron Nola, and Lance McCullers, ranging around the $12-15M AAV and going for four or five years. We don’t know the complete picture of Minnesota’s financial reality, but that doesn’t seem like a very expensive ask. The aftermath While the return for Santana was suboptimal, sadly, the remainder of Santana’s career was severely affected by injuries. While still a fine pitcher and pitching an amazing 2008 season, he needed to go through two season-ending surgeries in 2009 and 2010, the latter one also removing him from the entirety of 2011. Again turning to hypotheticals, if he had been healthy in New York, watching him pitch at a high level for a different team could be somewhat similar to watch David Ortiz slug his way into the Hall of Fame in a Red Sox uniform. What aggravates Ortiz’s case is the fact that no one saw that coming, unlike Santana. Still, it wouldn’t feel nice. Thinking about the comparison with Berríos, how frustrating would it be to see him actually become an ace for a different team? Many Twins fans don’t consider him ace material up until now. But are you willing to bet money that this will never change? How certain are you that he won’t be one of the league’s top starters two or three years from now? Offering a more optimistic perspective: how amazing would it be if Berríos actually becomes an ace and the Twins had already locked him up long-term with a ‘bargain’ of $15M AAV? He would not only be the cornerstone of the Twins rotation, but he would also serve as a mentor to all the exciting arms coming up from the farm. Just picture, three years from now, a rotation containing Berríos and names like Josh Winder, Jordan Balazovic, Griffin Jax, and Bailey Ober. Assuming the financial aspect isn’t an issue, the only thing standing between Berríos and a future with the Twins is whether the club wants him around or not – unlike Santana. A haul in exchange for him would obviously look nice. But keeping him may potentially be even more profitable. 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. We’re a few hours away from the 2021 trade deadline, and the Twins are on the verge of trading away José Berríos. ‘La Makina’ is, without a doubt, the greatest homegrown starting pitching talent Minnesota has developed in a long time. Is trading him similar, in any way, to trading Johan Santana back in 2008? Please, calm down. I’m not at all saying Berríos is, today, similar to what Santana was when the Mets acquired him from Minnesota. Nor that he will be nearly as good as the Venezuelan. But bear with me, while I look at what those two deals have in common. Their role in the Twins After the 2007 season, Santana was already one of baseball’s greatest pitchers, if not the best one. Mentioning his accolades up until that moment has no use here. They couldn’t afford him, so they found themselves forced to trade him. Berríos, right now, may not be the ace Johan was, but he is certainly one of baseball’s most reliable arms. Especially, you know, health-wise. So far in his career, Berríos hasn’t had any serious injury that cost him relevant playing time. His injury history is immaculate. Minus 2016, the year he got called up for the first time, and 2020, the 60-game season, Berríos has logged at least 145 innings in each season of his career. He’s having career numbers this year, which indicates that he’s only getting better. So he may not be as talented as Santana, but he’s a solid piece of this rotation. A player who could easily be a number three starter for the vast majority of MLB teams. And, at 27, which is two years younger than Santana when he was dealt, you just have to assume he’s just entering his prime. What if they stayed? My main point here is this. What could’ve happened if the Twins could afford Santana and signed him to an extension? And what may happen if they decide to hold on to José now? Everything from now on will be hypothetical, so get ready for many ‘what ifs.’ When Minnesota traded Santana, they knowingly gave up on a two-time Cy Young Award winner, the best starter they had since… Blyleven? Viola in ‘91? Or the best one ever? You decide. If he had stayed, he would’ve made that phenomenal Twins team even better. After a disappointing 79-83 record in 2007, Minnesota went on to win at least 87 games in each of the following three seasons, including a 94-win season in 2010, capping a second consecutive AL Central title. However good they were, those teams could never get past the Yankees in their trips to the ALDS. How much closer to winning a World Series would that particular team be, had Santana stayed? No one will ever know. But I think it’s fair to assume they would have much, much better odds. In conclusion, trading away Johan, even though it was the only logical solution given the club’s financial reality at that point, undeniably made the Twins a worse team. With that being said, let’s shift to Berríos’ case now. Realistically speaking, the Twins are a much better team with him around. No pitcher within the organization brings to the table, today, the same productivity from Berríos. Kenta Maeda bounced back very nicely, but there’s no way he’s had a better season than José so far. If you’re not looking at the prospect of a two or three-year rebuilding process, there’s no way you trade Berríos now. Minnesota’s chances of having a competitive rotation in 2022 are not better at all with the absence of Berríos. Unless, of course, they pull a huge free agent signing during the winter, which is very unlikely. Let me repeat myself: Berríos is no ace (yet), and he doesn’t bring to the table the same as Santana 13 years ago. But if you keep him, adding one or two good free agent arms during the winter could turn this rotation around next year. If you don’t, you’re considerably further along. What is the big difference? Like I said before, the Twins had no alternatives but to trade Santana. Revenue wasn’t the same, so it’s understandable. What you can question is how bad the return for Santana was. That deal turned out to be one of the worst in club history. But, yeah, trading him was a must. On the other hand, that certainly doesn’t seem to be the same case with Berríos now. First, a contract extension to José wouldn’t be nearly as expensive. Twins Daily’s Ted Schwerzler believes that a Berríos contract would look similar to those of Luis Severino, Aaron Nola, and Lance McCullers, ranging around the $12-15M AAV and going for four or five years. We don’t know the complete picture of Minnesota’s financial reality, but that doesn’t seem like a very expensive ask. The aftermath While the return for Santana was suboptimal, sadly, the remainder of Santana’s career was severely affected by injuries. While still a fine pitcher and pitching an amazing 2008 season, he needed to go through two season-ending surgeries in 2009 and 2010, the latter one also removing him from the entirety of 2011. Again turning to hypotheticals, if he had been healthy in New York, watching him pitch at a high level for a different team could be somewhat similar to watch David Ortiz slug his way into the Hall of Fame in a Red Sox uniform. What aggravates Ortiz’s case is the fact that no one saw that coming, unlike Santana. Still, it wouldn’t feel nice. Thinking about the comparison with Berríos, how frustrating would it be to see him actually become an ace for a different team? Many Twins fans don’t consider him ace material up until now. But are you willing to bet money that this will never change? How certain are you that he won’t be one of the league’s top starters two or three years from now? Offering a more optimistic perspective: how amazing would it be if Berríos actually becomes an ace and the Twins had already locked him up long-term with a ‘bargain’ of $15M AAV? He would not only be the cornerstone of the Twins rotation, but he would also serve as a mentor to all the exciting arms coming up from the farm. Just picture, three years from now, a rotation containing Berríos and names like Josh Winder, Jordan Balazovic, Griffin Jax, and Bailey Ober. Assuming the financial aspect isn’t an issue, the only thing standing between Berríos and a future with the Twins is whether the club wants him around or not – unlike Santana. A haul in exchange for him would obviously look nice. But keeping him may potentially be even more profitable. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  3. Bill Smith was in a no-win situation. In late-2007, He became the fifth general manager in Twins history, and he was immediately tasked with trading away baseball’s best starting pitcher. Minnesota had tried to work out an extension with two-time Cy Young award winner, but those conversations had stalled. The Twins were still multiple years away from a new stadium and the increased revenues they hoped it would provide, so the club looked to deal away one of the best pitchers in team history. During the offseason, there seemed to be three suitors for Santana’s services, the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mets. All three big market teams had the funds to meet Santana’s contract needs and they had the prospect capital to acquire a pitcher of his magnitude. Twins fans hoped to acquire some of the top talent available from these organizations. Boston had big-name prospects like Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, and Clay Buchholz. The Yankee’s system included Phil Hughes, Joba Chamerlain, Melky Cabrera, and Ian Kennedy. While some of the Mets top farm hands were Fernando Martinez, Carlos Gomez, Deolis Guerra, Kevin Mulvey, and Phil Humber. Rumors swirled for most of the offseason with many of the names mentioned above. Eventually, Minnesota settled on a package of players that included Gomez, Guerra, Mulvey, and Humber. Twins fans were disappointed, but maybe that was inevitable. Gomez, Guerra, and Humber had all been top-100 prospects during their professional careers, but it still didn’t feel like enough for the game’s best pitcher in the middle of his prime. The Mets were coming off a 2007 season where they collapsed at season’s end and they needed a boost to get them over the top in the NL East. Santana was a franchise altering player that could help them clear that bar. New York agreed to trade for Santana if they could sign him to an extension. He’d ink a six-year, $137.5 million and the rest is history. Santana’s first year in New York was his best as he led the league with over 234 innings pitched and a 2.53 ERA. He’d finish third in the Cy Young voting. In fact, his first three seasons were great for the Mets. He posted a 2.85 ERA with a 1.18 WHIP in 600 innings pitched, but injuries were starting to become a problem. Bone chips were removed from his elbow, he had rotator cuff surgery, and eventually shoulder injuries ended his career. From Minnesota’s perspective, things went from bad to worse. Gomez was rushed to the big leagues and hit .248/.293/.352 over two seasons. He’d be dealt to Milwaukee as part of the JJ Hardy trade, another bad Twins trade, and he’d become a two-time All-Star with the Brewers. The pitchers acquired in the deal struggled even more than Gomez in a Twins uniform. Guerra topped out at Triple-A in the Twins system and moved on to other organizations after 2014. He pitched in the big leagues last season with Philadelphia, but he has a career ERA of 4.81 with a 1.32 WHIP. Mulvey made two appearances with the Twins and allowed four earned runs in 1 1/3 innings. In 2009, he was sent to Arizona to complete the trade for Jon Rauch. Humber pitched in 13 games for the Twins with an ERA north of 6.00 and he was granted his free agency after two seasons. He’d go on to pitch for Kansas City, Chicago, and Houston and fans may remember his perfect game for the White Sox. Just a few years after the trade, none of the players Minnesota acquired were still on the roster. Santana’s time in New York didn’t end well, but he was able to pitch three very good seasons for the Mets before injuries shortened his career. At the same time, Twins fans are left wondering if a better deal could have been made with the Red Sox or Yankees. What are your thoughts after looking back at this trade? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Tom Brunansky MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  4. Case for Induction Santana isn’t the only player who had his career cut short due to injury and there are multiple examples of players like this in the Hall of Fame. Twins fans are well aware of the eye injury that ended Kirby Puckett’s career. Sandy Koufax retired at the age of 30 because of elbow problems and arthritis. Both players were first ballot Hall of Famers. Santana’s peak puts him near the same level as Koufax, who is considered one of the best pitchers all-time. According to JAWS, Santana ranks nearly a full point higher than Koufax. He also had more top five finishes in Cy Young voting and more top-5 finishes in player WAR. Santana finished with a higher ERA+, strikeout to walk ratio, and fewer walks per nine innings. https://twitter.com/NoDakTwinsFan/status/937720911200968704?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E937720911200968704%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Ftwinsdaily.com%2F_%2Fminnesota-twins-news%2Fjohan-santanae28099s-cooperstown-case-the-koufax-argument-r6250 While Koufax pitched in an era of pitching dominance, Santana’s era was known for offensive dominance. Since the expansion era (post-1993), Santana’s 136 ERA+ ranks sixth among starting pitchers. Take a look at the names ahead of him: Clayton Kershaw, Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, Brandon Webb, and Chris Sale. Martinez is already in the Hall. Kershaw and Sale look well on their way. ERA+ has Santana ranked higher than Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux, two previous Hall of Fame inductees. Case Against Induction Much like with Tony Oliva, Santana didn’t have the longevity to accumulate many of the important cumulative stat totals that are associated with being elected to the Hall of Fame. He couldn’t pitch over 3,000 innings or strikeout 2,000 batter or accumulate a larger career WAR total. Even though he is ahead of Koufax according to JAWS, he is behind players like Chuck Finely and Kevin Appier who don’t exactly feel like they should be in Cooperstown. One of the biggest reasons Santana might have been overlooked is the controversial 2005 Cy Young Award. The Athletic wrote about it earlier this week and I have previously discussed the topic here at Twins Daily. During the 2005 season, he led the AL in WHIP, strikeouts, most strikeouts per nine and fewest hits per nine. He won the 2004 and 2006 Cy Young, so a three-peat would have put him in rare company with only 11 three-time Cy Young winners. Prediction Fans have been able to see how starting pitching has changed in recent years. Gone are the days of pitchers going deep into games and seeing a line-up for a third time. Hall of Fame voters might also have to change their expectations when evaluating who gets into Cooperstown. Now, Santana must wait until he appears on the Veterans Committee ballot. It’s going to take time, but Santana is a Hall of Famer in my book. Did Santana deserve to stay on the ballot for more than one season? 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
  5. The sound of a clanking spoon and jubilant laughs of a child resonate through the waves of Caleb Thielbar’s kitchen over Zoom. “Do I need to repeat anything or is he too loud? My wife’s at work and I got home a bit late so it’s lunchtime.” The 33 year old Randolph, Minnesota native has worn a wealth of hats over the years; St. Paul Saints standout, International League pitcher, DII pitching coach, a prospect that ‘shouldn't have made it,’ and most importantly, husband to Carissa and dad of Joshua. To Twins fans, he’s the pinnacle of feel-good stories in the franchise’s history. Coming off a stellar season in his second stint with his home-state team, baseball and the Minnesota Twins were staples in the Thielbar family since Caleb was a young boy. “Baseball was huge for my parents. Heck, my dad still played until I was 12 or 13 in various leagues,” Caleb recalled. “He was a pitcher.” Young Caleb took after his father Calvin, cementing his place on the mound in the youth leagues of south central Minnesota. Thielbar was a standout for the Randolph Rockets both on the bump and on the basketball court, scoring the second most points in school history. Courtesy of Caleb Thielbar “Growing up in a small town, if you could throw the ball hard and anywhere near the plate you were going to pitch,” Thielbar said. Thielbar and his father weren’t the only ones in the family who spent time on the diamond. Caleb’s mom Janet was the starting shortstop on her high school baseball team as a senior; an opportunity that connected her with assistant coach Calvin, her future husband. “The Greatest Place on Earth” Nestled just half an hour south of the Twin Cities, some of Caleb’s fondest childhood memories came from making the trek up to the Metrodome to watch his favorite team. Calvin would get tickets from work and the family would go to three or four games per year. Like most, Caleb knew that the Dome wasn’t the gold encrusted palace that other teams had to call home. That didn’t matter. “Going to the Metrodome, ears popping (through the doors), getting to the concourse where you couldn’t hear anything. All of a sudden you’d get into the stadium and start to hear the crack of the bat from batting practice.” For the wide-eyed Minnesota boy the Metrodome couldn’t have been more perfect. “I got to play in the Dome in college and we all kind of knew it wasn’t the nicest, but when you’re a kid and you're going to a Major League game you think it’s the greatest thing in the world,” Caleb recalled. Johan and Torii Growing up in the 90’s, the Twins were nothing to write home about. Yet when Caleb was striking out hitters on the bump for Randolph High School in the early 2000’s, Johan Santana was baffling hitters with his changeup and the Dome outfield was where homers went to die thanks to Torii Hunter. “Johan was my favorite pitcher growing up and all of us loved Torii, making those amazing catches,” Thielbar said. “Those were the two players I liked most because in high school when I wasn’t pitching I was playing centerfield.” Things came full circle for Thielbar this spring. Throwing his first bullpen of the year, a familiar face appeared behind the mound to watch and critique the crafty lefty. It was no other than Caleb’s childhood hero, Johan himself. “It was kind of surreal to have him there after growing up watching him your entire childhood,” Caleb said. Lifelong Learner There are few players in baseball that have seen their career evolve the way Thielbar has. From a blue-collar recruit who didn’t necessarily see himself being good enough to compete at South Dakota State to a big league pitcher who’s future seemed uncertain due to arm injuries, Caleb never gave up. “After having some arm problems with the Twins it did take a few years to get it back,” Thielbar said. “Luckily I was able to keep playing, most guys hang it up after that.” In between his time with the Twins, Thielbar spent two seasons across the Mississippi with the St. Paul Saints. He credits his time in the American Association towards where he’s at today. “I enjoyed my time with the Saints and was lucky to have a couple of good years with them,” Thielbar said. “I needed to learn how to stay healthy and the independent league was a really good place to do that.” A firm believer that there is always learning to do, regardless of the level, Thielbar’s grit was rewarded this year by achieving a goal that’s been in his mind since he was a boy in Randolph; winning an AL Central title. “Watching all of those (division titles) growing up, it became a goal of mine,” Thielbar said. “Not just winning it, but getting to do it with a lot of guys that I got to play with in the minors or that I already knew. They're a bunch of really good people and seeing them succeed is great.” MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  6. The Land of 10,000 Lakes has a rich history of cultivating homegrown talent in the sport of baseball. Hear the authentic stories of those who grew up in Minnesota and have had the chance to fulfill the childhood dream of wearing a Twins jersey.The sound of a clanking spoon and jubilant laughs of a child resonate through the waves of Caleb Thielbar’s kitchen over Zoom. “Do I need to repeat anything or is he too loud? My wife’s at work and I got home a bit late so it’s lunchtime.” The 33 year old Randolph, Minnesota native has worn a wealth of hats over the years; St. Paul Saints standout, International League pitcher, DII pitching coach, a prospect that ‘shouldn't have made it,’ and most importantly, husband to Carissa and dad of Joshua. To Twins fans, he’s the pinnacle of feel-good stories in the franchise’s history. Coming off a stellar season in his second stint with his home-state team, baseball and the Minnesota Twins were staples in the Thielbar family since Caleb was a young boy. “Baseball was huge for my parents. Heck, my dad still played until I was 12 or 13 in various leagues,” Caleb recalled. “He was a pitcher.” Young Caleb took after his father Calvin, cementing his place on the mound in the youth leagues of south central Minnesota. Download attachment: Thielbar Randolph.jpg Thielbar was a standout for the Randolph Rockets both on the bump and on the basketball court, scoring the second most points in school history. Courtesy of Caleb Thielbar “Growing up in a small town, if you could throw the ball hard and anywhere near the plate you were going to pitch,” Thielbar said. Thielbar and his father weren’t the only ones in the family who spent time on the diamond. Caleb’s mom Janet was the starting shortstop on her high school baseball team as a senior; an opportunity that connected her with assistant coach Calvin, her future husband. “The Greatest Place on Earth” Nestled just half an hour south of the Twin Cities, some of Caleb’s fondest childhood memories came from making the trek up to the Metrodome to watch his favorite team. Calvin would get tickets from work and the family would go to three or four games per year. Like most, Caleb knew that the Dome wasn’t the gold encrusted palace that other teams had to call home. That didn’t matter. “Going to the Metrodome, ears popping (through the doors), getting to the concourse where you couldn’t hear anything. All of a sudden you’d get into the stadium and start to hear the crack of the bat from batting practice.” For the wide-eyed Minnesota boy the Metrodome couldn’t have been more perfect. “I got to play in the Dome in college and we all kind of knew it wasn’t the nicest, but when you’re a kid and you're going to a Major League game you think it’s the greatest thing in the world,” Caleb recalled. Johan and Torii Growing up in the 90’s, the Twins were nothing to write home about. Yet when Caleb was striking out hitters on the bump for Randolph High School in the early 2000’s, Johan Santana was baffling hitters with his changeup and the Dome outfield was where homers went to die thanks to Torii Hunter. “Johan was my favorite pitcher growing up and all of us loved Torii, making those amazing catches,” Thielbar said. “Those were the two players I liked most because in high school when I wasn’t pitching I was playing centerfield.” Things came full circle for Thielbar this spring. Throwing his first bullpen of the year, a familiar face appeared behind the mound to watch and critique the crafty lefty. It was no other than Caleb’s childhood hero, Johan himself. “It was kind of surreal to have him there after growing up watching him your entire childhood,” Caleb said. Lifelong Learner There are few players in baseball that have seen their career evolve the way Thielbar has. From a blue-collar recruit who didn’t necessarily see himself being good enough to compete at South Dakota State to a big league pitcher who’s future seemed uncertain due to arm injuries, Caleb never gave up. “After having some arm problems with the Twins it did take a few years to get it back,” Thielbar said. “Luckily I was able to keep playing, most guys hang it up after that.” In between his time with the Twins, Thielbar spent two seasons across the Mississippi with the St. Paul Saints. He credits his time in the American Association towards where he’s at today. “I enjoyed my time with the Saints and was lucky to have a couple of good years with them,” Thielbar said. “I needed to learn how to stay healthy and the independent league was a really good place to do that.” A firm believer that there is always learning to do, regardless of the level, Thielbar’s grit was rewarded this year by achieving a goal that’s been in his mind since he was a boy in Randolph; winning an AL Central title. “Watching all of those (division titles) growing up, it became a goal of mine,” Thielbar said. “Not just winning it, but getting to do it with a lot of guys that I got to play with in the minors or that I already knew. They're a bunch of really good people and seeing them succeed is great.” 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
  7. For 13 years, Ron Gardenhire was at the helm of the Minnesota Twins. He would win six division titles and finish his Twins tenure with the second most wins in franchise history. On Saturday, he announced his retirement from baseball, but his legacy will be long lasting in Twins Territory.News broke on Sunday that Ron Gardenhire was retiring, effective immediately. The former Twins manager had been Detroit’s skipper for the last three seasons. He’s had a losing record in every season for the Tigers as they have been in full rebuild mode. Initially, his plan was to retire at the conclusion of the 2020 season, but a case of food poisoning and underlying health conditions pushed him into an early exit. In a press release, Gardenhire said, ““This is a bittersweet day for myself and my family. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the countless players and coaches that I’ve had the honor of working alongside for the last 16 seasons as manager. I’d also like to thank the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins for giving me the privilege of leading their clubhouses. While I’m stepping away from managing, I’ll be watching this group of Tigers closely in the next few years. There’s a lot of talent on this team, and a lot coming through the farm system. Tigers fans are going to enjoy the exciting times on the horizon.” Gardy’s Twins tenure started back in 1986 in his final year as a professional player. He played 117 games for the club’s Triple-A affiliate and hit .272/.347/.380 with 26 extra-base hits and a 70 to 45 strike out to walk ratio. He must have impressed the Twins, because he retired following the season and immediately started coaching in the Twins system. He quickly made his mark in his first three years as a minor league manager. He led teams in the Midwest League (Class A) and Southern League (Class AA) to one second place and two first place finishes. From there, he was promoted to being a coach on the big-league squad and he served as a coach for over the next decade (1991-2001). When Tom Kelly retired, Gardy took over with a flurry. In his first season as manager, he would lead the Twins to the AL Central crown and all the way to the ALCS before eventually losing to the eventual World Series champions, the Anaheim Angels. The Twins have yet to win a playoff series since that run, but Gardenhire’s impact was far from over. Minnesota would complete a three-peat of AL Central titles in 2004 before winning the title again in 2006. The club lost to the White Sox in Game 163 to end the 2008 season before coming back and winning a Game 163 against the Tigers to close out the Metrodome one year later. His final AL Central crown came in 2010 when he won his lone the AL Manager of the Year award. Many great players came to stardom under Gardenhire’s watchful eye. Johan Santana went on one of the greatest pitching runs in franchise history as he won two Cy Young awards before being traded to the Mets. Joe Mauer made his debut in 2004 and played a large portion of his potential Hall of Fame career under Gardenhire. Other players like Torii Hunter, Corey Koskie, Denard Span, Joe Nathan, Justin Morneau, and Michael Cuddyer would have long careers tied to Gardy’s tenure. Gardenhire’s personality was what separated him from previous Twins managers. He was able to connect with players and fans and he brought a passion that would overflow into the game. His club record 71 ejections would attest to that fact. If Twins teams were in contention, he pulled the right strings to be able to keep them in the race. Overall, he seemed to be able to get the best out of his players and to guide young players as they entered the league. Following the 2010 season, things went the wrong way in a hurry for Gardenhire and the Twins. For four straight seasons, the club lost over 90 games in the worst stretch of losing in franchise history. At his final Twins press conference, he said, “Sometimes people need to hear a different voice. They need a new face. I just want this organization to win; I’ll be rooting just like everybody else.” His 27 years in the Twins organization were over, but he was still part of the Twins family. Twins President Dave St. Peter said, “Baseball has always been better with Ron Gardenhire part of it. His legacy is highlighted by the hugely positive impact he made on players and staff. I will always remember his authentic connection to the fans. The Gardenhire family will always be part of the Twins family.” Twins fans might not have agreed with every on-field decision during the Gardenhire era, but his legacy will be felt throughout Twins Territory for years to come. Congratulations on retirement to Gardenhire and his family. May he stay healthy and enjoy the years ahead. What are some of your favorite Gardy memories? 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 Click here to view the article
  8. News broke on Sunday that Ron Gardenhire was retiring, effective immediately. The former Twins manager had been Detroit’s skipper for the last three seasons. He’s had a losing record in every season for the Tigers as they have been in full rebuild mode. Initially, his plan was to retire at the conclusion of the 2020 season, but a case of food poisoning and underlying health conditions pushed him into an early exit. In a press release, Gardenhire said, ““This is a bittersweet day for myself and my family. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the countless players and coaches that I’ve had the honor of working alongside for the last 16 seasons as manager. I’d also like to thank the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins for giving me the privilege of leading their clubhouses. While I’m stepping away from managing, I’ll be watching this group of Tigers closely in the next few years. There’s a lot of talent on this team, and a lot coming through the farm system. Tigers fans are going to enjoy the exciting times on the horizon.” Gardy’s Twins tenure started back in 1986 in his final year as a professional player. He played 117 games for the club’s Triple-A affiliate and hit .272/.347/.380 with 26 extra-base hits and a 70 to 45 strike out to walk ratio. He must have impressed the Twins, because he retired following the season and immediately started coaching in the Twins system. He quickly made his mark in his first three years as a minor league manager. He led teams in the Midwest League (Class A) and Southern League (Class AA) to one second place and two first place finishes. From there, he was promoted to being a coach on the big-league squad and he served as a coach for over the next decade (1991-2001). When Tom Kelly retired, Gardy took over with a flurry. In his first season as manager, he would lead the Twins to the AL Central crown and all the way to the ALCS before eventually losing to the eventual World Series champions, the Anaheim Angels. The Twins have yet to win a playoff series since that run, but Gardenhire’s impact was far from over. Minnesota would complete a three-peat of AL Central titles in 2004 before winning the title again in 2006. The club lost to the White Sox in Game 163 to end the 2008 season before coming back and winning a Game 163 against the Tigers to close out the Metrodome one year later. His final AL Central crown came in 2010 when he won his lone the AL Manager of the Year award. Many great players came to stardom under Gardenhire’s watchful eye. Johan Santana went on one of the greatest pitching runs in franchise history as he won two Cy Young awards before being traded to the Mets. Joe Mauer made his debut in 2004 and played a large portion of his potential Hall of Fame career under Gardenhire. Other players like Torii Hunter, Corey Koskie, Denard Span, Joe Nathan, Justin Morneau, and Michael Cuddyer would have long careers tied to Gardy’s tenure. Gardenhire’s personality was what separated him from previous Twins managers. He was able to connect with players and fans and he brought a passion that would overflow into the game. His club record 71 ejections would attest to that fact. If Twins teams were in contention, he pulled the right strings to be able to keep them in the race. Overall, he seemed to be able to get the best out of his players and to guide young players as they entered the league. Following the 2010 season, things went the wrong way in a hurry for Gardenhire and the Twins. For four straight seasons, the club lost over 90 games in the worst stretch of losing in franchise history. At his final Twins press conference, he said, “Sometimes people need to hear a different voice. They need a new face. I just want this organization to win; I’ll be rooting just like everybody else.” His 27 years in the Twins organization were over, but he was still part of the Twins family. Twins President Dave St. Peter said, “Baseball has always been better with Ron Gardenhire part of it. His legacy is highlighted by the hugely positive impact he made on players and staff. I will always remember his authentic connection to the fans. The Gardenhire family will always be part of the Twins family.” Twins fans might not have agreed with every on-field decision during the Gardenhire era, but his legacy will be felt throughout Twins Territory for years to come. Congratulations on retirement to Gardenhire and his family. May he stay healthy and enjoy the years ahead. What are some of your favorite Gardy memories? 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
  9. The 2000s Twins were again quite successful, winning six AL Central division titles. As has been the case in other decades, it was largely due to the hitters. But there were some really strong pitching performances as well from some very recognizable names.While the player names from the 1960s have a certain lore about them, the pitchers from the decade of 2000 were really good too. The staff was led by Brad Radke, a Twins Hall of Famer who was part of the Twins 1990s staff. Johan Santana came to the organization and immediately was good. Very soon after, he became the best pitcher in baseball for a dozen years. In addition, the bullpen you will see is very strong, led by a couple of Twins Hall of Famers. What you will see if a lot of strike throwers... which won't surprise you at all. So today, enjoy looking back at the top Twins pitchers from the first decade of the 21st century. SP - Johan Santana (2000-2007) 251 games, 175 starts, 93-44 with 1 save and a 3.22 ERA in 1,308 2/3 innings. 1,381 K. 364 BB. Santana was the left unprotected by the Houston Astros in the December 1999 Rule 5 draft. The Twins had arranged a trade with the Marlins to acquire Santana. They kept him around, working primarily out of the bullpen in 2000. He posted a 2.99 ERA in 108 1/3 innings in 2002. He went 12-3 with a 3.07 ERA in 158 1/3 innings in 2003. He increased his workload and made 18 starts. Finally in 2004 he became a full-time starter. He responded by going 20-6 with a 2.61 ERA and won his first Cy Young Award. He finished third in 2005 despite going 16-7 with a 2.87 ERA. He won his second Cy Young Award in 2006 when he went 19-6 with a 2.77 ERA. He led the league in ERA in 2004 and 2006. He led the league in WHIP, FIP, strikeouts and K/9 each year between 2004 and 2006. He won another 15 games in 2007. He received Cy Young votes each season between 2003 and 2007. He was traded to the Mets before the 2008 season. SP - Brad Radke (2000-2006) 214 games, 214 starts, 82-71 with 0 saves and a 4.16 ERA in 1,366 innings. 803 K. 206 BB. The Twins eighth-round pick in 1991, he was the Twins top pitcher of the previous decade and still was a top starter in this century’s first decade. He fought some shoulder issues, but in five of his seven seasons this decade, he worked at least 200 innings. Even with his shoulder tendons barely hanging on in 2006, he pitched 162 innings. Blessed with impeccable control, Radke was consistent. In all but his injured seasons, he posted better-than-average ERA. SP - Scott Baker (2005-2009) 111 games, 109 starts, 43-33 with 0 saves and a 4.27 ERA in 653 innings. 499 K. 149 BB. Baker was the Twins second-round draft pick in 2003 out of Oklahoma State. He moved quickly and made his debut in May of 2005. He was a slightly better than average pitcher for the Twins through his seven seasons with the team. He went 11-4 with a 3.45 ERA in 172 1/3 innings in 2008. In 2009, he worked a career-high 200 innings and was 15-9 with a 4.37 ERA. After missing the 2012 season due to Tommy John surgery, he pitched for the Cubs, Rangers and Dodgers over the next three seasons. SP - Carlos Silva (2004-2007) 129 games, 124 starts, 47-45 with 0 saves and a 4.42 ERA in 773 2/3 innings. 306 K. 112 BB. In 2001 and 2002, Silva pitched in 130 games out of the bullpen for the Phillies. After that season, he was part of the trade that sent Eric Milton to Philadelphia. The Twins moved him into their starting rotation. He went 14-8 with a 4.21 ERA over 33 starts and a career-high 203 innings in 2004. In 2005, he went 9-8 in 27 starts, with a 3.44 ERA. As impressive, he had the same number of walks as Wins that season, over 188 1/3 innings. He struggled in 2006, but in 2007, he went 13-14 with a solid 4.19 ERA in 202 innings. Over his four seasons with the Twins, he struck out just 3.6 batters per nine innings. He survived by working fast, getting a lot of sink and throwing a ton of strikes. He left after the 2007 season for a four-year, $48 million deal with the Mariners. SP - Eric Milton (2000-2003) 100 games, 99 starts, 42-26 with 0 saves and a 4.60 ERA in 608 2/3 innings. 445 K. 136 BB. Milton came to the Twins from the Yankees before the 1998 season in the Chuck Knoblauch trade. He had been a first-round pick by the pinstripers. He debuted in 1998. In 2000, he won 13 games. In 2001, he made the All-Star team and won 15 games with a 4.32 ERA in 220 innings. He won 13 more games in 2002. He missed most of the 2003 season with injury but returned late in the season for three starts. It was enough to impress the Phillies who acquired him after that season. RP - Joe Nathan (2004-2009) 412 games, 0 starts, 22-12 with 246 saves and a 1.87 ERA in 418 2/3 innings. 518 K. 120 BB. Nathan came up with the Giants in 1999 and remained with them through the 2003 season. That final season, he was a very good set-up man. That offseason, the Twins acquired Nathan and two other pitchers in exchange for AJ Pierzynski. Nathan wasn’t handed the closer job, but he quickly earned it and he absolutely took off. That first year, he posted a 1.62 ERA and 44 saves. Over his first six seasons with the Twins, he posted an ERA over 2.10 just once (2.70). He had at least 36 saves each season and a career-high 47 saves in 2009. He never had a WHIP over 1.02. He pitched in four All-Star Games. The Twins all-time saves leader became a Twins Hall of Famer. RP - LaTroy Hawkins (2000-2003) 267 games, 0 starts, 18-13 with 44 saves and a 3.09 ERA in 296 2/3 innings. 233 K. 101 BB. Hawkins was the Twins seventh-round pick in 1991. He debuted with the Twins in 1995. He was tried as a starting pitcher through the 1999 season. He moved to the bullpen in 2000. He recorded 42 saves between 2000 and 2001 but he struggled in that role. When Eddie Guardado took over as the team’s closer, Hawk moved into the set up role and became a force. He went 6-0 with a 2.13 ERA in 80 1/3 innings in 2002. In 2003, he went 9-3 with a 1.86 ERA in 77 1/3 innings. He had struggled with control to that point, but he walked just 15 batters each season. He left after the season as a free agent… and then he kept pitching through the 2015 season. Pitching very well. RP - Eddie Guardado (2000-2003) 280 games, 0 starts, 19-14 with 107 saves and a 3.42 ERA in 268 1/3 innings. 254 K. 82 BB. Guardado was the Twins 21st-round pick in 1990 and was in the big leagues by 1993. By 1996, he earned the moniker “Everyday Eddie” because the southpaw was used so much. By the turn of the century, he had become very reliable. He saw his ERA drop from near-5, to mid-4s, to high-3s. Between 2000 and 2001, he won 14 games. By the end of the 2001 season, he took over the closer role. In 2002, he went 1-3 with a 2.93 ERA. He led the league with 45 saves and pitched in his first All-Star Game. He returned to the mid-summer classic in 2003. That season, he went 3-5 with a 2.89 ERA and 41 saves. After the season, he left for the Mariners via free agency. He returned to the Twins in September of 2008 and pitched in nine games. RP - Matt Guerrier (2004-2009) 319 games, 3 starts, 14-18 with 4 saves and a 3.41 ERA in 401 innings. 268 K. 125 BB. Following the 2003 season, the Twins claimed Guerrier after he had been DFAd by the White Sox. He pitched in nine games for the Twins in 2004, but he then became a mainstay in the Twins bullpen, eventually moving in to a high-leverage role. He led the AL in appearances in both 2008 and 2009. In 2009, he went 5-1 with a 2.36 ERA, which was 86% better than league average. He posted an ERA well above league average in four of his five full seasons with the Twins in the decade. He left via free agency after the 2010 season. Spent two years there, then one with the Cubs before returning to the Twins for about a half season in 2014. RP - Juan Rincon (2001-2008) 386 games, 3 starts, 30-26 with 3 saves and a 3.69 ERA in 441 innings. 412 K. 182 BB. Rincon signed with the Twins in 1996 out of Venezuela. He made his debut in 2001 and spent most of the next eight seasons in a Twins uniform. He became a regular in 2003, but 2004 was likely his best season. He went 11-6 with a 2.63 ERA. In 82 innings, he struck out 106 batters. The following year, he posted a 2.45 ERA with more than a strikeout per inning. In 2006, he was 3-1 with a 2.91 ERA in 74 games. He wasn’t the same pitcher after his PED suspension in 2007 and was let go midway through the 2008 season. He continued to pitch into the 2010 season. What are your thoughts? Agree with the choices? Previous Installments Twins All-Decade Team, the '60s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team, the '60s (The Pitchers) Episode 15: Get t o Know the 1960s Twins (with Dave Mona) Twins All-Decade Team, the '70s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team, the '70s (The Pitchers) Episode 16: Get to Know the 1970s Twins (with Patrick Reusse) Twins All-Decade Team: the '80s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team: the '80s (The Pitchers) Episode 17: Get to know the 1980s Twins (with Howard Sinker) Twins All-Decade Team: the '90s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team: the '90s (The Pitchers) Twins All-Decade Team: the '00s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team: the '00s (The Pitchers) Click here to view the article
  10. While the player names from the 1960s have a certain lore about them, the pitchers from the decade of 2000 were really good too. The staff was led by Brad Radke, a Twins Hall of Famer who was part of the Twins 1990s staff. Johan Santana came to the organization and immediately was good. Very soon after, he became the best pitcher in baseball for a dozen years. In addition, the bullpen you will see is very strong, led by a couple of Twins Hall of Famers. What you will see if a lot of strike throwers... which won't surprise you at all. So today, enjoy looking back at the top Twins pitchers from the first decade of the 21st century. SP - Johan Santana (2000-2007) 251 games, 175 starts, 93-44 with 1 save and a 3.22 ERA in 1,308 2/3 innings. 1,381 K. 364 BB. Santana was the left unprotected by the Houston Astros in the December 1999 Rule 5 draft. The Twins had arranged a trade with the Marlins to acquire Santana. They kept him around, working primarily out of the bullpen in 2000. He posted a 2.99 ERA in 108 1/3 innings in 2002. He went 12-3 with a 3.07 ERA in 158 1/3 innings in 2003. He increased his workload and made 18 starts. Finally in 2004 he became a full-time starter. He responded by going 20-6 with a 2.61 ERA and won his first Cy Young Award. He finished third in 2005 despite going 16-7 with a 2.87 ERA. He won his second Cy Young Award in 2006 when he went 19-6 with a 2.77 ERA. He led the league in ERA in 2004 and 2006. He led the league in WHIP, FIP, strikeouts and K/9 each year between 2004 and 2006. He won another 15 games in 2007. He received Cy Young votes each season between 2003 and 2007. He was traded to the Mets before the 2008 season. SP - Brad Radke (2000-2006) 214 games, 214 starts, 82-71 with 0 saves and a 4.16 ERA in 1,366 innings. 803 K. 206 BB. The Twins eighth-round pick in 1991, he was the Twins top pitcher of the previous decade and still was a top starter in this century’s first decade. He fought some shoulder issues, but in five of his seven seasons this decade, he worked at least 200 innings. Even with his shoulder tendons barely hanging on in 2006, he pitched 162 innings. Blessed with impeccable control, Radke was consistent. In all but his injured seasons, he posted better-than-average ERA. SP - Scott Baker (2005-2009) 111 games, 109 starts, 43-33 with 0 saves and a 4.27 ERA in 653 innings. 499 K. 149 BB. Baker was the Twins second-round draft pick in 2003 out of Oklahoma State. He moved quickly and made his debut in May of 2005. He was a slightly better than average pitcher for the Twins through his seven seasons with the team. He went 11-4 with a 3.45 ERA in 172 1/3 innings in 2008. In 2009, he worked a career-high 200 innings and was 15-9 with a 4.37 ERA. After missing the 2012 season due to Tommy John surgery, he pitched for the Cubs, Rangers and Dodgers over the next three seasons. SP - Carlos Silva (2004-2007) 129 games, 124 starts, 47-45 with 0 saves and a 4.42 ERA in 773 2/3 innings. 306 K. 112 BB. In 2001 and 2002, Silva pitched in 130 games out of the bullpen for the Phillies. After that season, he was part of the trade that sent Eric Milton to Philadelphia. The Twins moved him into their starting rotation. He went 14-8 with a 4.21 ERA over 33 starts and a career-high 203 innings in 2004. In 2005, he went 9-8 in 27 starts, with a 3.44 ERA. As impressive, he had the same number of walks as Wins that season, over 188 1/3 innings. He struggled in 2006, but in 2007, he went 13-14 with a solid 4.19 ERA in 202 innings. Over his four seasons with the Twins, he struck out just 3.6 batters per nine innings. He survived by working fast, getting a lot of sink and throwing a ton of strikes. He left after the 2007 season for a four-year, $48 million deal with the Mariners. SP - Eric Milton (2000-2003) 100 games, 99 starts, 42-26 with 0 saves and a 4.60 ERA in 608 2/3 innings. 445 K. 136 BB. Milton came to the Twins from the Yankees before the 1998 season in the Chuck Knoblauch trade. He had been a first-round pick by the pinstripers. He debuted in 1998. In 2000, he won 13 games. In 2001, he made the All-Star team and won 15 games with a 4.32 ERA in 220 innings. He won 13 more games in 2002. He missed most of the 2003 season with injury but returned late in the season for three starts. It was enough to impress the Phillies who acquired him after that season. RP - Joe Nathan (2004-2009) 412 games, 0 starts, 22-12 with 246 saves and a 1.87 ERA in 418 2/3 innings. 518 K. 120 BB. Nathan came up with the Giants in 1999 and remained with them through the 2003 season. That final season, he was a very good set-up man. That offseason, the Twins acquired Nathan and two other pitchers in exchange for AJ Pierzynski. Nathan wasn’t handed the closer job, but he quickly earned it and he absolutely took off. That first year, he posted a 1.62 ERA and 44 saves. Over his first six seasons with the Twins, he posted an ERA over 2.10 just once (2.70). He had at least 36 saves each season and a career-high 47 saves in 2009. He never had a WHIP over 1.02. He pitched in four All-Star Games. The Twins all-time saves leader became a Twins Hall of Famer. RP - LaTroy Hawkins (2000-2003) 267 games, 0 starts, 18-13 with 44 saves and a 3.09 ERA in 296 2/3 innings. 233 K. 101 BB. Hawkins was the Twins seventh-round pick in 1991. He debuted with the Twins in 1995. He was tried as a starting pitcher through the 1999 season. He moved to the bullpen in 2000. He recorded 42 saves between 2000 and 2001 but he struggled in that role. When Eddie Guardado took over as the team’s closer, Hawk moved into the set up role and became a force. He went 6-0 with a 2.13 ERA in 80 1/3 innings in 2002. In 2003, he went 9-3 with a 1.86 ERA in 77 1/3 innings. He had struggled with control to that point, but he walked just 15 batters each season. He left after the season as a free agent… and then he kept pitching through the 2015 season. Pitching very well. RP - Eddie Guardado (2000-2003) 280 games, 0 starts, 19-14 with 107 saves and a 3.42 ERA in 268 1/3 innings. 254 K. 82 BB. Guardado was the Twins 21st-round pick in 1990 and was in the big leagues by 1993. By 1996, he earned the moniker “Everyday Eddie” because the southpaw was used so much. By the turn of the century, he had become very reliable. He saw his ERA drop from near-5, to mid-4s, to high-3s. Between 2000 and 2001, he won 14 games. By the end of the 2001 season, he took over the closer role. In 2002, he went 1-3 with a 2.93 ERA. He led the league with 45 saves and pitched in his first All-Star Game. He returned to the mid-summer classic in 2003. That season, he went 3-5 with a 2.89 ERA and 41 saves. After the season, he left for the Mariners via free agency. He returned to the Twins in September of 2008 and pitched in nine games. RP - Matt Guerrier (2004-2009) 319 games, 3 starts, 14-18 with 4 saves and a 3.41 ERA in 401 innings. 268 K. 125 BB. Following the 2003 season, the Twins claimed Guerrier after he had been DFAd by the White Sox. He pitched in nine games for the Twins in 2004, but he then became a mainstay in the Twins bullpen, eventually moving in to a high-leverage role. He led the AL in appearances in both 2008 and 2009. In 2009, he went 5-1 with a 2.36 ERA, which was 86% better than league average. He posted an ERA well above league average in four of his five full seasons with the Twins in the decade. He left via free agency after the 2010 season. Spent two years there, then one with the Cubs before returning to the Twins for about a half season in 2014. RP - Juan Rincon (2001-2008) 386 games, 3 starts, 30-26 with 3 saves and a 3.69 ERA in 441 innings. 412 K. 182 BB. Rincon signed with the Twins in 1996 out of Venezuela. He made his debut in 2001 and spent most of the next eight seasons in a Twins uniform. He became a regular in 2003, but 2004 was likely his best season. He went 11-6 with a 2.63 ERA. In 82 innings, he struck out 106 batters. The following year, he posted a 2.45 ERA with more than a strikeout per inning. In 2006, he was 3-1 with a 2.91 ERA in 74 games. He wasn’t the same pitcher after his PED suspension in 2007 and was let go midway through the 2008 season. He continued to pitch into the 2010 season. What are your thoughts? Agree with the choices? Previous Installments Twins All-Decade Team, the '60s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team, the '60s (The Pitchers) Episode 15: Get t o Know the 1960s Twins (with Dave Mona) Twins All-Decade Team, the '70s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team, the '70s (The Pitchers) Episode 16: Get to Know the 1970s Twins (with Patrick Reusse) Twins All-Decade Team: the '80s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team: the '80s (The Pitchers) Episode 17: Get to know the 1980s Twins (with Howard Sinker) Twins All-Decade Team: the '90s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team: the '90s (The Pitchers) Twins All-Decade Team: the '00s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team: the '00s (The Pitchers)
  11. The Puckett Clause Twins fans are well aware of the legend of Kirby Puckett. His career tragically ended too soon at the young age of 35 after 12 seasons. Puckett was a dominant player during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s as the Twins won two championships in a five year span. For 10 straight seasons, he was named an American League All-Star and he won six Gold Gloves for his defensive prowess. Some would argue he willed the Twins to a Game 7 of the 1991 World Series with his heroic actions in Game 6. Puckett was on a path for the Hall of Fame before his career was cut short. He wasn’t able to compile the same type of careers numbers that would scream Hall of Fame player. He only had two seasons in the top 10 for WAR and his career WAR only places him as the 184th all-time position player. That ties him with Brian Giles. Heck, even Joe Mauer ranks higher. There are plenty of people who believe he shouldn’t be part of Cooperstown’s elite group. The members of the BBWAA thought differently about Puckett. He was elected on his first ballot with 82.1% of the vote which easily cleared the 75% needed for induction. By receiving 36 more votes than were needed, he joined Dave Winfield in the Class of 2001. Puckett was able to pack enough into 12 seasons and the writers honored him for being one of baseball’s best for the better part of a decade. Applying the Puckett Clause Much like Puckett, Santana saw his career ended too early because of injury. Santana wasn’t hit in the head with a Dennis Martinez fastball. Instead, his golden left arm was betrayed by an ailing left shoulder. Some Santana supporters will point to his no-hitter on June 1, 2012 as his Puckett-Martinez moment. On the way to the first no-hitter in Mets’ franchise history, Santana tossed 134 pitches. At the conclusion of that contest, his season ERA dropped to 2.38 but he posted an 8.27 mark over his final ten appearances. He would never pitch in another MLB game. With writers limited to 10 names per ballot, it could be easy for some to ignore what Santana was able to accomplish. From 2003 through 2008, he pitched at much more than a Hall of Fame level. In over 1400 innings, he posted a 2.86 ERA (156 ERA+) while striking out four times as many batters as he walked. Throw in two Cy Young Awards and a third award that was stolen from him and it looks like he has a solid case for Cooperstown. As with Puckett, Santana didn’t have the longevity to accumulate many of the numbers needed to be deemed Hall of Fame worthy. He couldn’t pitch 3,000 innings. He couldn’t strike out 2,500 batters. He couldn’t accumulate a large career WAR total. If he had been able to pitch four or five more seasons in the back-end of a rotation, he’d be a lock for the Hall. His ailing shoulder took those seasons away. The greatness of careers shortened by injury should be given the benefit of the doubt. When Twins fans examine Kirby Puckett, it is clear that he was a Hall of Fame player. One high and tight fastball from Dennis Martinez deprived Twins Territory of the end of his career. Santana fits the same mold as he dominated the game before an injury forced him off the mound. The Puckett Clause applies and only strengthens Santana’s case for Cooperstown. Should the Puckett Clause be applied to Santana? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Don’t forget to stop back in the coming weeks as I continue to make the Cooperstown Case for Johan Santana.
  12. On a late summer day under the Metrodome’s Teflon covering, fans watched a master at work. Johan Santana dominated the Texas Rangers over eight shutout innings. He set a Twins team record with 17 strikeouts and allowed only two hits. For the over 36,000 fans in attendance, it was Mozart’s greatest symphony or Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. It was the music of a man on his way to the Hall of Fame. In a perfect world, Santana would have pitched into his late 30’s or early 40’s while continuing to be one of the best in the game. That ideal world didn’t play out and he never pitched a big league game after the age of 33. At the height of his career, there is no doubt that he was the best pitcher on the planet. This year will mark his first chance at being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. In this series, I will build up Santana’s case for enshrinement. The following is a paean to the career of the southpaw from Venezuela. A man who should and can be elected into the hallowed grounds of Cooperstown.The Puckett Clause Twins fans are well aware of the legend of Kirby Puckett. His career tragically ended too soon at the young age of 35 after 12 seasons. Puckett was a dominant player during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s as the Twins won two championships in a five year span. For 10 straight seasons, he was named an American League All-Star and he won six Gold Gloves for his defensive prowess. Some would argue he willed the Twins to a Game 7 of the 1991 World Series with his heroic actions in Game 6. Puckett was on a path for the Hall of Fame before his career was cut short. He wasn’t able to compile the same type of careers numbers that would scream Hall of Fame player. He only had two seasons in the top 10 for WAR and his career WAR only places him as the 184th all-time position player. That ties him with Brian Giles. Heck, even Joe Mauer ranks higher. There are plenty of people who believe he shouldn’t be part of Cooperstown’s elite group. The members of the BBWAA thought differently about Puckett. He was elected on his first ballot with 82.1% of the vote which easily cleared the 75% needed for induction. By receiving 36 more votes than were needed, he joined Dave Winfield in the Class of 2001. Puckett was able to pack enough into 12 seasons and the writers honored him for being one of baseball’s best for the better part of a decade. Applying the Puckett Clause Much like Puckett, Santana saw his career ended too early because of injury. Santana wasn’t hit in the head with a Dennis Martinez fastball. Instead, his golden left arm was betrayed by an ailing left shoulder. Some Santana supporters will point to his no-hitter on June 1, 2012 as his Puckett-Martinez moment. On the way to the first no-hitter in Mets’ franchise history, Santana tossed 134 pitches. At the conclusion of that contest, his season ERA dropped to 2.38 but he posted an 8.27 mark over his final ten appearances. He would never pitch in another MLB game. With writers limited to 10 names per ballot, it could be easy for some to ignore what Santana was able to accomplish. From 2003 through 2008, he pitched at much more than a Hall of Fame level. In over 1400 innings, he posted a 2.86 ERA (156 ERA+) while striking out four times as many batters as he walked. Throw in two Cy Young Awards and a third award that was stolen from him and it looks like he has a solid case for Cooperstown. As with Puckett, Santana didn’t have the longevity to accumulate many of the numbers needed to be deemed Hall of Fame worthy. He couldn’t pitch 3,000 innings. He couldn’t strike out 2,500 batters. He couldn’t accumulate a large career WAR total. If he had been able to pitch four or five more seasons in the back-end of a rotation, he’d be a lock for the Hall. His ailing shoulder took those seasons away. The greatness of careers shortened by injury should be given the benefit of the doubt. When Twins fans examine Kirby Puckett, it is clear that he was a Hall of Fame player. One high and tight fastball from Dennis Martinez deprived Twins Territory of the end of his career. Santana fits the same mold as he dominated the game before an injury forced him off the mound. The Puckett Clause applies and only strengthens Santana’s case for Cooperstown. Should the Puckett Clause be applied to Santana? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Don’t forget to stop back in the coming weeks as I continue to make the Cooperstown Case for Johan Santana. Click here to view the article
  13. Part 1: The Puckett Clause Part 2: The Koufax Argument Part 3: The Missing Cy Young The Cy Young Award is baseball’s highest pitching honor. Some pitchers are in the conversation for the award on a regular basis. For current baseball fans, names like Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander are regulars on the year-end balloting. In his prime, Johan Santana was in this elite group. When the 2018 Hall of Fame Ballot was released, one of the first items I noted was Santana’s high ranking on Baseball Reference’s Cy Young Award Share scale. His 2.72 shares rank him 13th all-time. This sandwiches him between Sandy Koufax and Justin Verlander. The only players in front of him who aren’t in the Hall of Fame are Roger Clemens (7.66 shares), Clayton Kershaw (4.56), Roy Halladay (3.50), and Max Scherzer (3.14). There’s a chance that all of those men eventually have a plaque in Cooperstown. Santana’s biggest resume flaw might be the Cy Young that was taken away from him. During the 2004 season, he posted a 20-6 record with a 2.61 ERA, 265 strikeouts and an 8.6 WAR on the way to his first Cy Young Award. He was nearly as good during second Cy Young season (2006) when he went 19-6 with a 2.77 ERA, 245 strikeouts and a 7.5 WAR. The season between his two Cy Youngs is the trophy that was stolen from him. Bartolo Colon was named the 2005 Cy Young Award winner. He went 21-8 that year with a 3.48 ERA, 157 strikeouts and a 4.0 WAR. Santana couldn’t match Colon’s win-loss record but he bested him in every other category. He finished that season with a 16-7 record including a 2.87 ERA, 238 strikeouts and a 7.2 WAR. Winning a third Cy Young is an elite resume item. There are ten three-time Cy Young winners and all of them are likely to eventually end up in the Hall. The list includes Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Clayton Kershaw, Steve Carlton, Pedro Martinez, Tom Seaver, Jim Palmer, Max Scherzer and Sandy Koufax. Had the voters picked the correct winner in 2005, Santana would have joined this elite group and even furthered his Hall of Fame resume. Ryan Romano at Beyond the Box Score wrote a piece in 2015 called “Cliff Lee and Johan Santana belong in the Hall of Fame.” He examined the peak value of these two players by looking at their WAR per 200 innings pitched and seasons of 5+ WAR. Santana ranks 10th all-time ahead of players like Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, and Bert Blyleven. This is just another measurement that puts Santana into elite company. Is Santana likely to be a first ballot Hall of Famer? The answer is no but there are very compelling arguments as to why he should eventually be enshrined. If the voters applied the Kirby Puckett Clause, Santana’s case gains some steam. After comparing Santana to Sandy Koufax, it’s easy to see how their peaks were similar. Lastly, his missing Cy Young would have lofted him into the elite group of sure-fire Hall of Fame pitchers. He was a master on the mound. A once in a generation pitcher. A pitcher who deserves his place in Cooperstown. Case closed.
  14. With an 11:30 announcement at Hammond Stadium opened by Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame broadcaster John Gordon, the Twins' Class A-Advanced affiliate became the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels. photo of John Gordon by Steve Buhr Known as the Miracle since their final years in Miami before moving to Fort Myers in 1992, the organization was bought by Andrew Kaufmann's Zawyer Sports before last season. The Mussels' Broadcast and Media Relations Manager, Marshall Kelner, explained the change after the announcement ceremony. "We just wanted to start a new era of baseball in Fort Myers," Kelner said. "It doesn't take away from all of the great history of the Miracle, as we covered today with all of the former Twins players like Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer and Joe Mauer, who played for the Miracle on their way to the big leagues and the current core of the Twins all came through here. We also had a Twins Hall of Famer, Johan Santana here, so pretty cool all these Twins legends and local community leaders here." photo of Johan Santana by Steve Buhr In a press statement released in conjunction with the rebranding announcement, the Mussels indicated that the mascot, Mussel Man, would be sharing mascot duties with Sway, the palm tree mascot that's been roaming the stands at Fort Myers games since 2015. Graphic from Fort Myers Mighty Mussels
  15. Yesterday, Nick wrote an article talking about how the Twins deserve creditfor acquiring Jake Odorizzi and working with him to find his best self in 2019. Today, I wanted to continue the “Finding the Next Gerrit Cole” theme by literally trying to find someone who could possibly provide the type of impact that Cole had on the Astros. Maybe there is one potential trade candidate out there who fits that mold.Twins fans (at least those who read Twins Daily) have known about Jon Gray and his pitching talents since before the Colorado Rockies made him the third overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft. The Twins Geek wrote up a Draft Profile on the flame-thrower from Oklahoma. That year, Gray was taken after the Astros took Mark Appel and the Cubs selected Kris Bryant. One pick after the Rockies drafted Gray, the Twins used the fourth overall pick on Kohl Stewart. Gerrit Cole, of course, was the first overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of UCLA. Cole is listed at 6-foot-4. Gray is listed at 6-foot-4. Cole is listed at 225 pounds. Gray is listed at 227 pounds. Of course, height and weight are important in scouting, but in this analysis, it means nothing. There are dozens of MLB (and minor league) pitchers that are 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds or so. I thought it would be interesting to compare more to see how similar the two might be. To do so, I looked at Gerrit Cole in 2017. He was 26 years old and had two more years of arbitration remaining. In 2019, Jon Gray was 27 years old, and as we look forward, he has two more years before he can become a free agent. So let’s take a look at how Gerrit Cole performed for the Pirates in 2017 and compare it to how Jon Gray pitched for the Rockies in 2019. And hey, just for fun, let’s throw Cole’s 2019 numbers in there too. What does it show us? Obviously we know that Win-Loss record doesn’t tell us anything. Gray’s ERA was better, but Cole held a slight advantage in xFIP (Fielding Independent Pitching). Cole had the better WHIP. It might surprise people to see that Gray actually struck out more batters, though it’s statistically close enough, especially when strikeouts continue to increase across the league. Cole had better control. The biggest difference is that Cole topped 200 innings in 2017 while Gray pitched just 150 innings in 2019. Gray went on the injured list in mid-August with a fractured left foot. He had surgery and should be ready in advance of spring training. He had a similar foot/ankle injury in 2017 that cost him two-and-a-half months. Gray gets more ground balls, though I can’t help but wonder if that’s due to how he chooses to pitch in Colorado.The two had very similar strikeout rates. Again, comparing those numbers to what Cole became in 2019 is more just fun than anything else, something to dream on. Some will say that Gray isn’t as good as Cole was in 2017. I think that the numbers above show that they are more similar statistically than we may have even thought. But I think it’s more important to look at how they pitch to see whether or not they are similar. Is their stuff comparable? Here are some numbers, again comparing Gray in 2019 with Cole in 2017. And, of course, I needed to add Cole in 2019 to the chart for fun, but also for a point. (SETH CORRECTION: Jon Gray threw 33.5% sliders, not 13.5% Sorry if that created confusion.) I happen to think this chart is really interesting. Again, comparing Gray in 2019 with Cole in 2017, there are a lot of similarities. They both had an average fastball of 96 mph. They both throw 88 mph sliders. Gray’s curveball came in just a little slower, and so did his changeup. Cole threw more fastballs. Gray threw a lot of sliders and didn’t throw many changeups. Cole gave up less contact and got a higher percentage of swing-and-misses on strikes. It all speaks to his stuff being right on par with Garret Cole’s in 2017. The Big Question In my mind, the big question is - and should be with any pitcher the Twins consider with trades or free agency: Do the Twins pitching coaches, coordinators and evaluators think that Jon Gray can take it a step up from his 2019 numbers the same way that Cole’s performance jumped from 2017 to 2019? Cole added one mph on his fastball and on his slider. He did so while throwing a fewer fastballs and changeups and a few more sliders and curveballs. Can Jon Gray add a tick or two to his velocity? Can his pitch mix be altered in such a way to reduce his contact rate and improve his swing-and-miss stuff? Ultimately that’s what the Twins brass needs to consider. What Might it Take? If they do consider Gray to be a guy that could take a step forward in performance and possibly be an elite starting pitcher, well, then they need to figure out what they are willing to give up to acquire him from the Rockies. So again, let’s look at Gerrit Cole for a comparison. The Houston Astros acquired Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for four players: RHP Michael Feliz - He was 24 years old and spent two-plus seasons with the Astros before the trade. He had a 5.13 ERA over that time period before the deal.OF Jason Martin - He was a 22-year-old at the time of the deal. He split 2017 between High-A and AA and hit 35 doubles and 18 home runs that season.1B/3B Colin Moran - He was 25 and had been a high draft pick. He was a Top 100 prospect in previous years but no longer at the time of the deal.RHP Joe Musgrave - He was a 24-year-old, a first-round pick in 2011. He spent time as a part-time starter with the Astros in 2016 and 2017.So what might a similar deal look like for the Twins.Obviously this is a hypothetical, but I think it would take something similar to the below. I think that the package should be similar, but still a little less than what was required to acquire Cole.RHP Fernando Romero - Romero is currently 24-years-old and has spent parts of 2018 and 2019 in the big leagues. While his numbers in 2019, his first year as a bullpen arm, didn’t do great, his potential is still high.IF Travis Blankenhorn - He was just added to the 40-man roster, but like Martin, he split 2019 between High-A and AA and hit 19 home runs despite missing a bit more than a month with a broken finger.OF/1B - Brent Rooker - Can you imagine what Brent Rooker could do to baseballs in the Mile High City? Rooker had been in the Top 100 prospects last year but injuries cost him time in 2019. But his power is legit.RHP Griffin Jax - Now, when I put this together, I wasn’t sure if Jax would be added to the 40-man roster. The Denver (area) native wasn’t added to the 40-man roster, so he’s less likely to be tradable until after the Rule 5 draft. But there are any number of similar pitchers in the organization that the Rockies might have an interest in as well. If I were to keep the theme of Denver-area people, Bailey Ober might be a candidate. Or, might it take a pitcher with some big-league service time like a Devin Smeltzer or even Lewis Thorpe to be a sufficient final piece?Let’s be honest. There’s no way to know what the Rockies would ask for. Maybe instead of four similar prospects, they may ask for one big prospect with one lesser prospect, or maybe the fourth player in this deal could be two other players. SUMMARY The Twins - and every team in baseball - want to find the next Gerrit Cole.Rockies ace Jon Gray has a lot of similarities to Gerrit Cole pre-trade, both statistically and in terms of stuff.The Twins - and every team in baseball - will need to attempt to evaluate if they have ways that could make Gray take the next step toward becoming an elite starter.Determine how much your team is willing to trade in exchange for Jon Gray (and then go-ahead and try to convince the Rockies that it is enough).Hope! Hey, just because there are similarities between pitchers (age, size, stats and stuff) does not necessarily mean that they will have the same success. There is a lot of luck involved. But Derek Falvey has a reputation for developing pitchers. Wes Johnson got a lot of credit for some of the Twins pitching successes and improvements in 2019.If nothing else, it’s fun to think about. Finding the next Gerrit Cole is half the battle. Helping him develop into that pitcher is another thing. Maybe there are red flags, concerns about Jon Gray specifically. Maybe there are other issues that the Twins need to factor and consider. We can’t know it all, but as fans, we’ve been waiting for a true Ace since Johan Santana. Click here to view the article
  16. Twins fans (at least those who read Twins Daily) have known about Jon Gray and his pitching talents since before the Colorado Rockies made him the third overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft. The Twins Geek wrote up a Draft Profile on the flame-thrower from Oklahoma. That year, Gray was taken after the Astros took Mark Appel and the Cubs selected Kris Bryant. One pick after the Rockies drafted Gray, the Twins used the fourth overall pick on Kohl Stewart. Gerrit Cole, of course, was the first overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of UCLA. Cole is listed at 6-foot-4. Gray is listed at 6-foot-4. Cole is listed at 225 pounds. Gray is listed at 227 pounds. Of course, height and weight are important in scouting, but in this analysis, it means nothing. There are dozens of MLB (and minor league) pitchers that are 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds or so. I thought it would be interesting to compare more to see how similar the two might be. To do so, I looked at Gerrit Cole in 2017. He was 26 years old and had two more years of arbitration remaining. In 2019, Jon Gray was 27 years old, and as we look forward, he has two more years before he can become a free agent. So let’s take a look at how Gerrit Cole performed for the Pirates in 2017 and compare it to how Jon Gray pitched for the Rockies in 2019. And hey, just for fun, let’s throw Cole’s 2019 numbers in there too. What does it show us? Obviously we know that Win-Loss record doesn’t tell us anything. Gray’s ERA was better, but Cole held a slight advantage in xFIP (Fielding Independent Pitching). Cole had the better WHIP. It might surprise people to see that Gray actually struck out more batters, though it’s statistically close enough, especially when strikeouts continue to increase across the league. Cole had better control. The biggest difference is that Cole topped 200 innings in 2017 while Gray pitched just 150 innings in 2019. Gray went on the injured list in mid-August with a fractured left foot. He had surgery and should be ready in advance of spring training. He had a similar foot/ankle injury in 2017 that cost him two-and-a-half months. Gray gets more ground balls, though I can’t help but wonder if that’s due to how he chooses to pitch in Colorado.The two had very similar strikeout rates. Again, comparing those numbers to what Cole became in 2019 is more just fun than anything else, something to dream on. Some will say that Gray isn’t as good as Cole was in 2017. I think that the numbers above show that they are more similar statistically than we may have even thought. But I think it’s more important to look at how they pitch to see whether or not they are similar. Is their stuff comparable? Here are some numbers, again comparing Gray in 2019 with Cole in 2017. And, of course, I needed to add Cole in 2019 to the chart for fun, but also for a point. (SETH CORRECTION: Jon Gray threw 33.5% sliders, not 13.5% Sorry if that created confusion.) I happen to think this chart is really interesting. Again, comparing Gray in 2019 with Cole in 2017, there are a lot of similarities. They both had an average fastball of 96 mph. They both throw 88 mph sliders. Gray’s curveball came in just a little slower, and so did his changeup. Cole threw more fastballs. Gray threw a lot of sliders and didn’t throw many changeups. Cole gave up less contact and got a higher percentage of swing-and-misses on strikes. It all speaks to his stuff being right on par with Garret Cole’s in 2017. The Big Question In my mind, the big question is - and should be with any pitcher the Twins consider with trades or free agency: Do the Twins pitching coaches, coordinators and evaluators think that Jon Gray can take it a step up from his 2019 numbers the same way that Cole’s performance jumped from 2017 to 2019? Cole added one mph on his fastball and on his slider. He did so while throwing a fewer fastballs and changeups and a few more sliders and curveballs. Can Jon Gray add a tick or two to his velocity? Can his pitch mix be altered in such a way to reduce his contact rate and improve his swing-and-miss stuff? Ultimately that’s what the Twins brass needs to consider. What Might it Take? If they do consider Gray to be a guy that could take a step forward in performance and possibly be an elite starting pitcher, well, then they need to figure out what they are willing to give up to acquire him from the Rockies. So again, let’s look at Gerrit Cole for a comparison. The Houston Astros acquired Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for four players: RHP Michael Feliz - He was 24 years old and spent two-plus seasons with the Astros before the trade. He had a 5.13 ERA over that time period before the deal. OF Jason Martin - He was a 22-year-old at the time of the deal. He split 2017 between High-A and AA and hit 35 doubles and 18 home runs that season. 1B/3B Colin Moran - He was 25 and had been a high draft pick. He was a Top 100 prospect in previous years but no longer at the time of the deal. RHP Joe Musgrave - He was a 24-year-old, a first-round pick in 2011. He spent time as a part-time starter with the Astros in 2016 and 2017. So what might a similar deal look like for the Twins.Obviously this is a hypothetical, but I think it would take something similar to the below. I think that the package should be similar, but still a little less than what was required to acquire Cole. RHP Fernando Romero - Romero is currently 24-years-old and has spent parts of 2018 and 2019 in the big leagues. While his numbers in 2019, his first year as a bullpen arm, didn’t do great, his potential is still high. IF Travis Blankenhorn - He was just added to the 40-man roster, but like Martin, he split 2019 between High-A and AA and hit 19 home runs despite missing a bit more than a month with a broken finger. OF/1B - Brent Rooker - Can you imagine what Brent Rooker could do to baseballs in the Mile High City? Rooker had been in the Top 100 prospects last year but injuries cost him time in 2019. But his power is legit. RHP Griffin Jax - Now, when I put this together, I wasn’t sure if Jax would be added to the 40-man roster. The Denver (area) native wasn’t added to the 40-man roster, so he’s less likely to be tradable until after the Rule 5 draft. But there are any number of similar pitchers in the organization that the Rockies might have an interest in as well. If I were to keep the theme of Denver-area people, Bailey Ober might be a candidate. Or, might it take a pitcher with some big-league service time like a Devin Smeltzer or even Lewis Thorpe to be a sufficient final piece? Let’s be honest. There’s no way to know what the Rockies would ask for. Maybe instead of four similar prospects, they may ask for one big prospect with one lesser prospect, or maybe the fourth player in this deal could be two other players. SUMMARY The Twins - and every team in baseball - want to find the next Gerrit Cole. Rockies ace Jon Gray has a lot of similarities to Gerrit Cole pre-trade, both statistically and in terms of stuff. The Twins - and every team in baseball - will need to attempt to evaluate if they have ways that could make Gray take the next step toward becoming an elite starter. Determine how much your team is willing to trade in exchange for Jon Gray (and then go-ahead and try to convince the Rockies that it is enough). Hope! Hey, just because there are similarities between pitchers (age, size, stats and stuff) does not necessarily mean that they will have the same success. There is a lot of luck involved. But Derek Falvey has a reputation for developing pitchers. Wes Johnson got a lot of credit for some of the Twins pitching successes and improvements in 2019. If nothing else, it’s fun to think about. Finding the next Gerrit Cole is half the battle. Helping him develop into that pitcher is another thing. Maybe there are red flags, concerns about Jon Gray specifically. Maybe there are other issues that the Twins need to factor and consider. We can’t know it all, but as fans, we’ve been waiting for a true Ace since Johan Santana.
  17. This season has been the best yet for Berrios in the big leagues. He was named to his second straight All-Star Game (despite some unnecessary finagling) and has posted strong tallies across the board. What he hasn’t done though, is maintain a consistent level of dominance required to take that next step and claim the title of “ace,” coveted by many and held by few. Viewing the year in small snapshots provides plenty of interesting talking points. Here are a few of the interesting outliers already in the books. 1. Better but Maybe Worse Through 25 starts Berrios has posted a 3.37 ERA which is a career low by nearly 0.5 runs. Beyond the surface though, we find a 3.92 FIP (in line with the 3.90 2018 mark) and a bit gaudier 4.43 xFIP (compared to 3.89 in 2018). In terms of regression, we could see more before the dust settles. The 8.4 H/9 is a full-season career worst, and the HR/9 has risen after giving up 7 in his past eight starts. The long ball is harder to control in 2019 than ever before, and for a guy with a short stature the downward plane on each pitch is less advantageous. 2. Oh Whiff Have You Forsaken Me Last season Berrios reached the 200-strikeout mark for the first time in his career. Pitching 192.1 innings he tallied a K/9 of 9.5. Owning a minor league career 9.6 K/9, something above 9.0 at the big leagues would be a great outcome for who has always expected to be a strikeout pitcher. In 157.2 IP this season, Berrios has just 150 strikeouts which breaks down to an 8.6 K/9. That’s the exact same ratio he posted in 2017 across 145.2 IP while turning in a 3.89 ERA. Major league baseball is on pace to set another record in strikeouts this season, but Jose hasn’t yet been the benefactor of that trend. 3. Wins Will Ever Matter The short answer is no, and the longer answer is heck no. Even still, the Twins are in the midst of a nearly 100-win campaign and Jose has exactly 10 wins through 25 turns. Despite posting a better ERA than both Jake Odorizzi and Kyle Gibson, each of his counterparts trump him in the wins category. The 2017 Twins won just 83 games and made the wild card game during the last week of the season. Berrios made 26 appearances (25 starts) and won 14 games that year. Now he should make something like seven more turns in the regular season, and conceivably could finish with 17 wins and a new career high, but that would throw the pace and ratio all out of whack on furthering the idea that pitcher wins are fickle and dumb. 4. Bruising Body Blows You may have heard that the Athletics' Khris Davis is a fan of the .247 batting average (though he’s going to be stretched to make it five consecutive years this season). What you probably didn’t know is that Jose Berrios has a small run of his own going. After leading the big leagues in HBP during 2017, he totaled the same number (13) a year ago. In 2019 he’s plunked eight opponents, which puts him on pace for just 10 when all is said and done. There’s nothing wrong with pitching inside, and the two-seam action on his secondary fastball has been a main culprit in getting in on hitters in the past. If we’re going for a trifecta here though, knuckles and gluteus maximus’ (maximi?) will need to be on the lookout. 5. Bump it With the Booty Much has been made down the stretch about Jose Berrios and his fastball velocity. Having pumped 95 and 96 mph at times, he’s worked more in the 91-93 mph range as the summer has worn on. His overall velocity is just a tad off at 93.4 mph (93.8 mph in 2018), but there was a clear decline to start August. Wes Johnson has been noted as a velocity guru, and much of a pitcher’s strength comes from sitting back in his hips and driving with your butt. There could be mechanical issues going on, or it could be nothing more than wear and tear. Fangraphs had three starts from July 31 to Aug 11 in which Jose averaged 90.8, 91.8, and 91.7 mph on his fastball. His last outing against the Rangers was back up to 93.0 mph and that’s virtually where he’s sat all year. We’ll see where it goes from here. 6. An Emerging Offering Zack Pierce wrote a piece for The Athletic back in March that highlighted the emergence of Jose Berrios’ changeup. The Twins starter was fresh off a 10-strikeout Opening Day performance against the Cleveland Indians. Fast forward to today and the pitch has been thrown a career high 14.9% of the time. Over a 5% increase from 2018, Berrios has utilized an offering once perfected by Minnesota starter Johan Santana. Needing something to pair with the fastball/curveball combo, Berrios has gotten 2.1% of his 11% swinging strike rate from the offering. Nearly 20% from an offering not intended to fool or overpower, it’s an admirable step in the right direction. 7. Summer Sorrows Show Sun on Horizon For whatever reason Jose Berrios and his repertoire is not a fan of August. Over the course of his career he owns a 5.92 ERA across 19 starts during the month. His K/9 remains strong but the WHIP gets ugly and things go awry. With an 8.44 ERA (mainly due to the worst start of his career) during three starts this month, the trend has continued. Thankfully he’ll make just two more starts before the calendar turns, and both come against the hapless Detroit Tigers. September has generally represented a reprieve (4.77 ERA), and even if that’s because of watered down competition, getting right for the postseason should be the lone remaining focus.
  18. First World Series Run Since the club moved to Minnesota, the 1965 squad was the lone team to win over 100 games. With a 102-60 record (.630 W-L%), the team also has the highest winning percentage of any Twins team. During the 2019 campaign, the Twins have a .692 W-L%. It seems unlikely for the club to continue on that pace but it seems like they could get to 103 wins. Minnesota’s line-up that season featured greats like Harmon Killebrew, Tony Olivia, Bob Allison, and Earl Battey. Shortstop Zoilo Versalles would be named the AL MVP. The rotation consisted of some strong arms as well. Mudcast Grant, Jim Kaat and Jim Perry all had sub-3.30 ERAs, while Kaat and Grant combined to pitch over 534 innings. The Twins ran into the Dodgers and Sandy Koufax in the World Series, which stopped the club from being a champion. Still the 1965 team, might be one of the best teams from top to bottom. Baltimore Blues Teams Two of Minnesota’s best team contenders also fell short of their World Series goal. Both the 1969 and 1970 squads were able to qualify for the ALCS. Unfortunately, the Baltimore Orioles made quick work of the Twins in both years. Jim Perry was in quite the two-year stretch for being in his age-33 and age-34 seasons. He led the team in WAR in 1969 but he was actually awarded the AL Cy Young in 1970. In these two seasons, he combined to have a 44-18 record with a 2.93 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. He averaged 270 innings pitched and along with 160 strikeouts per season. Tony Oliva’s best professional season was in 1970. He 7.0 WAR led the team. He also led the American League in hits and doubles. Killebrew was also in the prime of his Hall of Fame career. Between the two seasons, he hit 90 home runs. Killebrew would take home the 1969 MVP. Oliva would finish second in the MVP voting one year later. World Series Wins Minnesota’s first World Series winning club didn’t exactly have a stellar regular season. The 1987 Twins finished the regular season at 85-77, which was two games better than the Royals. If the Twins were in the AL East that year, their record would have placed them fifth. The Tigers had trounced through the AL East that year with a 98-64 record, but the Twins were able to dispose of them in five games. Minnesota had to go to seven games against the Cardinals, but they won every game in the Metrodome to clinch the title. Frank Viola was the MVP and a poor regular season record was long forgotten. Minnesota’s second World Series winning club managed a better regular season than the first. They finished the year at 95-67, which was the best record in the American League. Do you know who lead the team in WAR that year? According to Baseball Reference, Kevin Tapani, Shane Mack, and Scott Erickson were the team’s top three players. For many, the 1991 World Series is considered the best Fall Classic of all-time. There were three extra-inning games including both games six and seven. Five of the seven games were decided by one run or less. All Twins fans know how this one ended. Puckett ended Game 6 and Morris dominated in Game 7. Metrodome Era Minnesota won the division five times from 2002-2009 with Ron Gardenhire at the helm. The 2002 club was deemed “The Team that Saved Baseball.” While that club shocked many by making the ALCS, the 2006 club might have been the best club in the Metrodome era. On the mound, Minnesota had the best one-two punch in the game. Johan Santana was in a stretch of being the best pitcher in the game. To join him, a young Francisco Liriano was showing he had the stuff to be among the league’s best. Liriano tried to pitch through pain in August but by November he was scheduled for Tommy John surgery. It’s hard to imagine any team that would have been able to beat Santana and Liriano multiple times in a seven-game series. Not to mention, Joe Nathan was anchoring the backend of a solid bullpen. At the plate, Joe Mauer was putting it all together at the big-league level. He won his first batting title, his first Silver Slugger, and he was an All-Star for the first time. Justin Morneau would be named the American League MVP as he beat out the likes of Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, and Frank Thomas. For many, Liriano’s injury cost the Twins a shot at World Series title. How good is the current team? Is it better than the 2006 squad? Is it better than the World Series clubs? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  19. Maybe fans shouldn’t have doubted the Twins front office. Thad Levine was very familiar with Perez from his own days in the Rangers front office. Before joining the Twins, Derek Falvey might have been best known for what he was able to do with the Cleveland pitching staff. Everything’s Bigger in Texas Perez was a regular part of the Ranger’s rotation from 2016-2017. During that time, he averaged over 190 innings per season, but he struggled to get consistent outs. He ranked near the top of the league in earned runs allowed and walks. Also, he wasn’t striking out batters on a consistent basis. He averaged just over five strikeouts per nine innings pitched. Statcast paints an even bleaker picture of what he was doing on the mound. His XBA ranked in the bottom 6% in the league for three consecutive seasons. In his last full season as a starter, his XSLG was in the bottom 7% of the league and his WOBA was in the bottom 1% of league. His strikeout percentage was also in the bottom 7% of the league for three straight seasons. Moving to the bullpen in 2018 didn’t help many of his numbers. His WHIP ballooned to 1.78, a career high. His strikeout and walk rates also stayed nearly the same. Perez’s hits per nine and home runs per nine average jumped to twice his career average. It was time for a change. The Birth of a Cutter During spring training, Perez got some advice from Johan Santana and Jake Odorizzi. From this advice, he was able to add a cut fastball that has kept batters off-balance. This pitch has become a secret weapon as hitters have been unable to solve this new addition to his pitching repertoire. https://twitter.com/NoDakTwinsFan/status/1126214757931986944 Perez has thrown his new found pitch 34.8% of the time this season. He has 39 strikeouts and 13 of them have been as a result of the cutter. When facing Houston’s potent line-up, he limited the Astros to four hits over eight shutout innings. In that start, he threw his cutter on 43 of his 100 pitches. https://twitter.com/NoDakTwinsFan/status/1126167665347833856 Perez seemed to put it all together on Monday night against Toronto. He collected a season high nine strikeouts in seven shutout innings. Five of his nine strikeouts came on the cutter. Out of his 102 pitches against the Blue Jays, he threw his cutter 34 times. Blue Jays hitters only managed one hit against the cutter. Will Perez be able to keep this up in the months and weeks ahead? Will the league eventually be able to figure him out? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  20. For many Twins fans, the signing of Martin Perez wasn’t viewed in a positive light. The left-handed hurler had struggled in recent years with Texas. So far this season, he’s turned into one of the bright spots on a very strong Twins team. One pitch has made all the difference for Mr. Perez.Maybe fans shouldn’t have doubted the Twins front office. Thad Levine was very familiar with Perez from his own days in the Rangers front office. Before joining the Twins, Derek Falvey might have been best known for what he was able to do with the Cleveland pitching staff. Everything’s Bigger in Texas Perez was a regular part of the Ranger’s rotation from 2016-2017. During that time, he averaged over 190 innings per season, but he struggled to get consistent outs. He ranked near the top of the league in earned runs allowed and walks. Also, he wasn’t striking out batters on a consistent basis. He averaged just over five strikeouts per nine innings pitched. Statcast paints an even bleaker picture of what he was doing on the mound. His XBA ranked in the bottom 6% in the league for three consecutive seasons. In his last full season as a starter, his XSLG was in the bottom 7% of the league and his WOBA was in the bottom 1% of league. His strikeout percentage was also in the bottom 7% of the league for three straight seasons. Moving to the bullpen in 2018 didn’t help many of his numbers. His WHIP ballooned to 1.78, a career high. His strikeout and walk rates also stayed nearly the same. Perez’s hits per nine and home runs per nine average jumped to twice his career average. It was time for a change. The Birth of a Cutter During spring training, Perez got some advice from Johan Santana and Jake Odorizzi. From this advice, he was able to add a cut fastball that has kept batters off-balance. This pitch has become a secret weapon as hitters have been unable to solve this new addition to his pitching repertoire. Perez has thrown his new found pitch 34.8% of the time this season. He has 39 strikeouts and 13 of them have been as a result of the cutter. When facing Houston’s potent line-up, he limited the Astros to four hits over eight shutout innings. In that start, he threw his cutter on 43 of his 100 pitches. Perez seemed to put it all together on Monday night against Toronto. He collected a season high nine strikeouts in seven shutout innings. Five of his nine strikeouts came on the cutter. Out of his 102 pitches against the Blue Jays, he threw his cutter 34 times. Blue Jays hitters only managed one hit against the cutter. Will Perez be able to keep this up in the months and weeks ahead? Will the league eventually be able to figure him out? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  21. Let’s back up a little. Minnesota agreed to a one-year contract with Sánchez on Feb. 16 of last year, worth $2.5 million, with $500,000 guaranteed. Back then, that deal was a thinker. Why were the Twins chasing after a pitcher who appeared to be way past his prime? They weren’t getting the Cy Young candidate version of Sanchez who once led the AL in ERA and FIP (2.57 ERA and 2.39 FIP in 2013). They were getting a pitcher who had had an ERA of 5.67 in the three previous seasons combined and saw the velocity of his primary pitch, the Four Seamer, drop from 92.4 mph to 90.7 in the same span. The main explanation given at the time was the coaching staff and Sánchez were willing to reinvent his pitch selection and make adjustments to his mechanics, as stated by the player himself in this Rhett Bollinger report last year. The club believed if he relied more on his varied offerings, he would miss more bats. And that made a lot of sense. Even during 2017, perhaps his worst season, Sánchez's most effective pitches were extremely underused. His cutter, which struck out batters 33.3% of time and had a .235 BA, was used only 7.3% of time. During that same season, his sinker was used 23.4% of the time despite that pitch having a .311 batting average against and giving up a leading nine home runs. His first impression couldn’t have been better. Sánchez's first outing with the Twins came Feb. 27 against the Red Sox. He pitched two perfect innings and struck out one batter. Four days later disaster struck, as he gave up six earned runs on five hits, in two innings of work against the Pirates. Nothing out of the ordinary, especially because we’re talking about spring training. There would have been plenty of time to figure things out. But plans changed. On March 10, the Twins announced the signing of Lance Lynn to a one-year, $12 million contract. Two days later, Sánchez was released by Minnesota and four days after that, signed a minor league contract with the Braves. He went on to find redemption in Atlanta, by having his best season since 2013. He pitched 136 2/3 innings for the Braves, posting a fantastic 2.83 ERA and a 3.62 FIP. He struck out 8.9 batters per nine, which was slightly above his career average of 8.0 through 2017. Coming back to his pitch selection, here is a breakdown of how different his pitch usage was in 2018 in comparison with the year before, per Baseball Savant: 2017 pitch usage Four Seamer – 26.2% (.340 BA, 6 HR, 21 SO) Sinker – 23.4% (.311 BA, 9 HR, 24 SO) Split Finger – 18.1% (.239 BA, 4 HR, 34 SO) Slider – 12.4% (.471 BA, 4 HR, 3 SO) 2018 pitch usage Four Seamer – 33% (.262 BA, 5 HR, 22 SO) Cutter – 20.2% (.206 BA, 5 HR, 34 SO) Split Finger – 19% (.165 BA, 2 HR, 33 SO) Curve – 9.3% (.379 BA, 1 HR, 6 SO) So, Sánchez found success by relying more on pitches that had been proven effective previously, while also working on his mechanics. Can Pérez be the new Sánchez? Exactly like Sánchez last year, there’s absolutely no way to know for sure if Pérez is going to have a good season or not. It’s like the Twins are on the eve of a blind date right now. But one thing is certain: he has to make major changes. Thanks to this beautifully written story by Dan Hayes, of The Athletic, we can see a glimpse into how the coaching staff is approaching Pérez to achieve such changes. Hayes writes that “the Twins asked the left-hander to make a moderately significant mechanical change in which he incorporates his hips more into his delivery”. That has already had a huge impact. Not once in his career has Pérez had a pitch that averaged more than 93.4 mph in a season (four seamer, 2016). This spring, he's touched 97 mph multiple times and has maintained an average of 95 mph in his fastball. Hayes also writes that during his spring outings so far, Pérez abandoned the slider, by far his worst pitch last year (.467 batting average and .867 slugging against). In its place, he has adopted a cutter, which has been admired by everybody watching the games. Going back to his best season in the majors, 2013, it’s easy to notice how drastically Pérez's pitch selection changed in comparison with 2018, arguably his worst in the majors. 2013 pitch usage Four Seamer – 35.2% (.338 BA, 3 HR, 12 SO) Changeup – 23.7% (.174 BA, 4 HR, 45 SO) Sinker – 22.4% (.291 BA, 4 HR, 15 SO) 2018 pitch usage Sinker – 50.6% (.291 BA, 4 HR, 33 SO) Changeup – 17.5% (.348 BA, 3 HR, 12 SO) Four Seamer – 16.4% (.400 BA, 3 HR, 2 SO) Better quality fastballs with increased velocity could do the trick. If he could also manage to recover the changeup he had in 2013, things could get even better. That was his only season with a sub-4.00 ERA (3.62 in 124 1/3 innings of work). Per Twins beat reporter By Do-Hyoung Park, Pérez is getting advice on his changeup from fellow countryman and Twins Hall of Famer Johan Santana. Park writes that the soon-to-be 28 year-old “is trying to emphasize attacking hitters inside with his fastball and utilizing his changeup.” And you can tell how comfortable Pérez is feeling with all theses changes by looking at this quote from him on that same story: “Before, I just used my arms. Now, I’m using all my body, and you guys can see the results. I don’t miss inside anymore”. His most recent outing wasn’t nearly as good as the previous three, but that’s part of spring baseball. He gave up five earned runs in four innings of work Thursday against the Pirates. It’s wait and see time. Pérez being brought in meant valuable youngsters expecting their shot in the rotation were made to wait a bit longer. I’m talking about Adalberto Mejía and Fernando Romero, both moved up to the bullpen. So, there’s a lot at stake for Pérez here, and the front office appears to have foregone other free agents in order to give him an opportunity. If he manages to pull the Aníbal Sánchez this year and/or more, Minnesota will have hit jackpot.
  22. For most of the past decade, the Twins have taken their lumps in the starting rotation. Top prospects have flamed out or materialized on a slower trajectory. Free agents have largely been overpaid while underproducing, and only Ervin Santana has shown a glimpse of the Johan that came before him. It’s now though, that a 32nd overall pick from Puerto Rico, could be looking at as good of an opportunity as ever. Jose Berrios is coming off his best season as a big leaguer, and the first in which he pitched in the majors from the beginning. Tallying 192.1 IP, the Bayamon native posted a 3.84 ERA to go along with a 9.5 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9. He earned his first All Star appearance and posted a career best 3.3 fWAR to lead all Minnesota pitchers. There’s no denying the 2018 campaign was a good one for the 24-year-old, but there’s also avenue for improvement. Over the course of the offseason, one of the most impressive developments for the organization has been the infusion of coaching talent. Specifically relating to Berrios, Wes Johnson and Jeremy Hefner will have a significant impact on a young and moldable arm in the years ahead. While Johnson doesn’t have the big-league track record, he’s got a list of accolade at the amateur level that doesn’t stop. His teaching along with the delivery of former big-leaguer Hefner, should go far to help the Twins staff unlock a new level of potential. Although Johnson is known as a velocity guru, I’d assume there’s plenty of other knowledge he may be able to impart on Berrios. Jose has shoved right around 94 mph on average over the course of his career. His ridiculous bender is a great strikeout pitch, and his pitchability has improved while learning the tendencies of major league hitters. If there’s a middle ground to be found in looking for the next step, it’s probably in quality of contact allowed. Berrios gave up a career worst 34.2% hard hit balls last season, while allowing 12.8% of fly balls to leave the yard. His stature has always provided pause on his downward plane, and questions regarding how often pitches will result in homers. On the flip side, Berrios generated a career best 11.2% swinging strike rate and got opposing batters to chase almost one-third of the time last year. There’s really no avenue to suggest that Berrios does anything poorly. He’s well above average across the board, but it’s the smaller tweaks that may help to unlock that next tier. A year ago, he finished 11th in fWAR among American League starters. Based on betting prognostications, that’s roughly where he’s viewed going into the 2019 season. Given the assumption for continued growth from talented youth, I’m betting on another step forward being taken. As someone who has suggested an idea that the Twins are in for a great year, and Byron Buxton’s emergence will pace the offense, it’s Berrios having a coming out party that should be a blast on the bump.
  23. It is a conversation with every hard-throwing pitching prospect in baseball. Can he make it to the big leagues as a starter, or does he need to be moved to the bullpen? Fernando Romero has found himself in that situation for a while now, and it is likely that decision will ultimately be made in 2019. Will Romero get another opportunity to start, or will be be moved to the bullpen.Why do the Twins need to make a determination on Fernando Romero so quickly? We’ll get to that, but first, let’s take a look at his background, why he should remain a starter, and why the bullpen could be an option for him as well. Regardless, it will be interesting to see what Derek Falvey, Thad Levine, Rocco Baldelli, Wes Johnson and Jeremy Heffner end up doing with Fernando Romero and the pitching staff in 2010. BACKGROUND Fernando Romero burst on the prospect scene way back in 2013 when he debuted stateside with the GCL Twins. Over 45 innings, Romero posted a 1.60 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, and struck out 47 batters while walking just 13. In 2014, he was quickly promoted to Cedar Rapids. However, after just three starts he was shut down and had to undergo Tommy John surgery. He missed the rest of 2014 and all of 2015. His return was slowed by a knee injury in 2015. Early in 2016, Romero returned and went to the Kernels. However, he made just five starts and went 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA. In 28 innings, he walked just five and struck out 25 batters. He moved up to Ft. Myers and continued to pitch well. In 11 starts, he went 5-2 with a 1.88 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP. Over 62 1/3 innings, he walked 10 and struck out 65 batters. With the strong showing and his prospect status, it was an easy decision to add him to the 40-man roster in November of 2016. Twins Daily named him the #1 Twins Prospect heading into the 2017 season. In 2017, Romero spent the season at Double-A Chattanooga. He pitched 125 innings over 24 games (23 starts). He went 11-9 with a 3.53 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP. He walked 45 and struck out 120. Prior to the 2018 season, he was ranked by Twins Daily as the #2 Twins Prospect. (It took having the #1 overall draft pick to move Romero down to #2.) For the second straight year, Romero began the season by impressing the Twins coaching staff and front office with a strong spring training. He began the season in Rochester. On May 2nd, Romero was called up to make his major league debut. He tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the Toronto Blue Jays to earn his first win. His next outing was in St. Louis and he threw six shutout frames to improve to 2-0. After making ten starts, he was optioned to Rochester and made just one start for the Twins the rest of the season (mid-July). Overall with the Twins, he went 3-3 with a 4.69 ERA, a 1.42 WHIP. At Rochester, he went 5-6 with a 3.57 ERA but a 1.29 WHIP. Combined, he worked 146 1/3 innings. STARTER So why should the Twins continue to give him an opportunity to start? There are several reasons. First, he had a pretty good showing early in his big-league career as a starter. In his first five starts, he went 2-1 with a 1.88 ERA. In 28 2/3 innings, he struck out 29 batters. Not only did he put up solid numbers, he showed really good stuff. His fastball sat between 92 and 95 mph and touched 96 and even 97 at times, and he maintained that through the first five innings. He did show a good breaking ball early, something that those who watched his Triple-A didn’t see consistently. He also showed a solid changeup most of the time. He spent the full season at age 23. One thought would be to continue the development as a starter, hoping that he could find more consistency with his breaking pitches and changeup. Despite missing two years, Romero was able to reach 146 1/3 innings in 2018. Ideally, with a 20% increase, he could jump up to 175 innings, a real solid number for a mid-to-late, young starting pitcher. Over Romero’s final six starts with the team, he went 1-2 with a 7.67 ERA and a 1.74 WHIP in 27 innings. BULLPEN 2019 is a crucial season for this decision to be made thanks to the rules of the Rule 5 draft. The Twins had to add Romero to their 40-man roster in November of 2016, so he used up option years in 2017 and 2018. If optioned in 2019, he would be out of options starting in 2020. At Twins Fest, Derek Falvey would not commit to Romero being moved to the bullpen, even after the addition of Martin Perez. “I wouldn’t say that’s a definite at this point, but I would say that he is definitely an option (for the bullpen).” There are several factors that go into this kind of decision, but the eye test tells people that Romero could be a force in the bullpen. And that’s something that Falvey acknowledged as well. “Fernando is someone who you watch the first few innings and you think, ‘that could be pretty special out of the bullpen.’ That’s something we’ve always talked about.” There are varying opinions on what is best for pitchers who have had Tommy John surgery, so that’s another factor according to the Twins Chief Baseball Officer. “It’s a balance. You want to think about what’s best for his health. What’s best for his long-term? He is somebody who has history with Tommy John surgery. Is there some benefit to him working out of the bullpen?” That’s part of it, but Falvey continued with the other part of the balance. “Certainly developing third pitch and getting some more variation to his repertoire is important if he is going to continue being a starter.” Don’t forget, as so many Twins fans recall, the Johan Santana spent a couple of seasons in the Twins bullpen, used in a variety of roles, before joining the starting rotation in 2004 (his first Cy Young season). There is a lot of truth to the old saying that most of the best relief pitchers in baseball were starters early in their career. A look at some of the top relievers in Twins history certainly shows that. Joe Nathan, Rick Aguilera, Eddie Guardado and Glen Perkins were all starting pitchers early in their careers. Even top relievers such as JC Romero, Juan Rincon, LaTroy Hawkins and others made starts early in their big league years. THE FIFTH STARTER SPOT I think most would agree that Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda are at least penciled into the Opening Day starting rotation. They may not need a fifth starter for a little while either, but at some point, they will need one. Martin Perez will most likely be on the Opening Day roster and is the favorite for the fifth starter spot as we speak. But there are several candidates for that spot. Some will certainly head to Rochester to start the season, but the bullpen just might be an opportunity for some of the pitchers as well. As the Twins CBO, Falvey needs to think about the big picture to the 2019 season and beyond. He needs to factor in a lot of things such as contracts, options, injuries and more. He notes, “We don’t know exactly what our team will look like on Opening Day. The reality is we’ll have injuries - hopefully less than last year - but we’ll have injuries. We’ll have struggles. We’re going to have to find ways to get those guys to step up. I think about someone like Stephen Gonsalves, or Kohl Stewart, or Fernando Romero, or Zack Littell, or Adalberto Mejia. All those guys will compete to be potential starting options for us, but if we stay healthy, maybe there’s an opportunity for those guys in the ‘pen.” YOUR TURN What will happen? How do you foresee this situation playing out. Consider what might happen as well if there is an injury. Who would you think would be the next in line? Specifically, what would you do with Fernando Romero? Clearly he’s got good fastball velocity and the potential to have three good pitches. We likely all agree that getting 175 innings out of a pitcher is probably more valuable than getting 60 to 70 innings from a reliever. Obviously Adalberto Mejia being out of options factors into decisions on him. Does Romero having just one option remaining force their hand and push a decision more quickly? Should it? What other factors would be instrumental in your decision? Click here to view the article
  24. Why do the Twins need to make a determination on Fernando Romero so quickly? We’ll get to that, but first, let’s take a look at his background, why he should remain a starter, and why the bullpen could be an option for him as well. Regardless, it will be interesting to see what Derek Falvey, Thad Levine, Rocco Baldelli, Wes Johnson and Jeremy Heffner end up doing with Fernando Romero and the pitching staff in 2010. BACKGROUND Fernando Romero burst on the prospect scene way back in 2013 when he debuted stateside with the GCL Twins. Over 45 innings, Romero posted a 1.60 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, and struck out 47 batters while walking just 13. In 2014, he was quickly promoted to Cedar Rapids. However, after just three starts he was shut down and had to undergo Tommy John surgery. He missed the rest of 2014 and all of 2015. His return was slowed by a knee injury in 2015. Early in 2016, Romero returned and went to the Kernels. However, he made just five starts and went 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA. In 28 innings, he walked just five and struck out 25 batters. He moved up to Ft. Myers and continued to pitch well. In 11 starts, he went 5-2 with a 1.88 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP. Over 62 1/3 innings, he walked 10 and struck out 65 batters. With the strong showing and his prospect status, it was an easy decision to add him to the 40-man roster in November of 2016. Twins Daily named him the #1 Twins Prospect heading into the 2017 season. In 2017, Romero spent the season at Double-A Chattanooga. He pitched 125 innings over 24 games (23 starts). He went 11-9 with a 3.53 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP. He walked 45 and struck out 120. Prior to the 2018 season, he was ranked by Twins Daily as the #2 Twins Prospect. (It took having the #1 overall draft pick to move Romero down to #2.) For the second straight year, Romero began the season by impressing the Twins coaching staff and front office with a strong spring training. He began the season in Rochester. On May 2nd, Romero was called up to make his major league debut. He tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the Toronto Blue Jays to earn his first win. His next outing was in St. Louis and he threw six shutout frames to improve to 2-0. After making ten starts, he was optioned to Rochester and made just one start for the Twins the rest of the season (mid-July). Overall with the Twins, he went 3-3 with a 4.69 ERA, a 1.42 WHIP. At Rochester, he went 5-6 with a 3.57 ERA but a 1.29 WHIP. Combined, he worked 146 1/3 innings. STARTER So why should the Twins continue to give him an opportunity to start? There are several reasons. First, he had a pretty good showing early in his big-league career as a starter. In his first five starts, he went 2-1 with a 1.88 ERA. In 28 2/3 innings, he struck out 29 batters. Not only did he put up solid numbers, he showed really good stuff. His fastball sat between 92 and 95 mph and touched 96 and even 97 at times, and he maintained that through the first five innings. He did show a good breaking ball early, something that those who watched his Triple-A didn’t see consistently. He also showed a solid changeup most of the time. He spent the full season at age 23. One thought would be to continue the development as a starter, hoping that he could find more consistency with his breaking pitches and changeup. Despite missing two years, Romero was able to reach 146 1/3 innings in 2018. Ideally, with a 20% increase, he could jump up to 175 innings, a real solid number for a mid-to-late, young starting pitcher. Over Romero’s final six starts with the team, he went 1-2 with a 7.67 ERA and a 1.74 WHIP in 27 innings. BULLPEN 2019 is a crucial season for this decision to be made thanks to the rules of the Rule 5 draft. The Twins had to add Romero to their 40-man roster in November of 2016, so he used up option years in 2017 and 2018. If optioned in 2019, he would be out of options starting in 2020. At Twins Fest, Derek Falvey would not commit to Romero being moved to the bullpen, even after the addition of Martin Perez. “I wouldn’t say that’s a definite at this point, but I would say that he is definitely an option (for the bullpen).” There are several factors that go into this kind of decision, but the eye test tells people that Romero could be a force in the bullpen. And that’s something that Falvey acknowledged as well. “Fernando is someone who you watch the first few innings and you think, ‘that could be pretty special out of the bullpen.’ That’s something we’ve always talked about.” There are varying opinions on what is best for pitchers who have had Tommy John surgery, so that’s another factor according to the Twins Chief Baseball Officer. “It’s a balance. You want to think about what’s best for his health. What’s best for his long-term? He is somebody who has history with Tommy John surgery. Is there some benefit to him working out of the bullpen?” That’s part of it, but Falvey continued with the other part of the balance. “Certainly developing third pitch and getting some more variation to his repertoire is important if he is going to continue being a starter.” Don’t forget, as so many Twins fans recall, the Johan Santana spent a couple of seasons in the Twins bullpen, used in a variety of roles, before joining the starting rotation in 2004 (his first Cy Young season). There is a lot of truth to the old saying that most of the best relief pitchers in baseball were starters early in their career. A look at some of the top relievers in Twins history certainly shows that. Joe Nathan, Rick Aguilera, Eddie Guardado and Glen Perkins were all starting pitchers early in their careers. Even top relievers such as JC Romero, Juan Rincon, LaTroy Hawkins and others made starts early in their big league years. THE FIFTH STARTER SPOT I think most would agree that Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda are at least penciled into the Opening Day starting rotation. They may not need a fifth starter for a little while either, but at some point, they will need one. Martin Perez will most likely be on the Opening Day roster and is the favorite for the fifth starter spot as we speak. But there are several candidates for that spot. Some will certainly head to Rochester to start the season, but the bullpen just might be an opportunity for some of the pitchers as well. As the Twins CBO, Falvey needs to think about the big picture to the 2019 season and beyond. He needs to factor in a lot of things such as contracts, options, injuries and more. He notes, “We don’t know exactly what our team will look like on Opening Day. The reality is we’ll have injuries - hopefully less than last year - but we’ll have injuries. We’ll have struggles. We’re going to have to find ways to get those guys to step up. I think about someone like Stephen Gonsalves, or Kohl Stewart, or Fernando Romero, or Zack Littell, or Adalberto Mejia. All those guys will compete to be potential starting options for us, but if we stay healthy, maybe there’s an opportunity for those guys in the ‘pen.” YOUR TURN What will happen? How do you foresee this situation playing out. Consider what might happen as well if there is an injury. Who would you think would be the next in line? Specifically, what would you do with Fernando Romero? Clearly he’s got good fastball velocity and the potential to have three good pitches. We likely all agree that getting 175 innings out of a pitcher is probably more valuable than getting 60 to 70 innings from a reliever. Obviously Adalberto Mejia being out of options factors into decisions on him. Does Romero having just one option remaining force their hand and push a decision more quickly? Should it? What other factors would be instrumental in your decision?
  25. Roy Halladay is an overwhelming first ballot Hall of Famer in the esteemed eye of the BBWA. And Johan Santana wasn't worth a vote last year by Mr. Stark or any other prominent media member of the BBWA who have published their ballots. That’s total crap. Here are the two guys’ peaks: Halladay peak 2002 to 2011: 148 ERA+, 170 K/year, 1.11 WHIP, 3.12 FIP, 219 IP Santana peak 2002 to 2010: 150 ERA+, 198 K/year, 1.08 WHIP, 3.27 FIP, 198 IP Halladay pitched more innings but that makes Santana's K's even more impressive (9.0 K/9 vs. 7.0 K/9). The awards are similar. The peak is not quick, it's 8-9 years. I’m not saying that Halladay wasn’t better – there’s value to doing it longer and Halladay likely wins on that. But its narrow and to not even discuss Santana but view Halladay as a shoo-in? Ridiculous. Halladay was arguably not the best pitcher during his peak, Santana was. And even that longevity is suspect. Halladay pitched in five other seasons and Santana in three. Here are those numbers: Halladay non-peak: 87 ERA+, 70K/year, 1.45 WHIP, 4.36 FIP, 92.1 IP Santana non-peak: 82 ERA+, 67K/year, 1.53 WHIP, 4.64 FIP, 82 IP While Halladay comes out better, those numbers are not markedly different. So the difference between HOF Halladay and One Ballot Johan is that Halladay pitched parts of five other seasons where he was a slightly better below-average pitcher? That’s crap and begs the question why the two guys, from the same era, are viewed differently. There are two answers to that: (1) Halladay gets the attention because of his tragic demise, which is a stupid and false narrative. Tragic demises should be irrelevant to the HOF unless the player was on a humanitarian mission that robbed him of a chunk of his career - like Roberto Clemente. An Roy Halladay decidedly wasn't on a humanitarian mission and should actually be castigated for the manner of his death. Roy Halladay died when he crashed his private plane while high on a morphine and methamphetamine speedball. He could have killed someone, it's no different than drunk driving. Would we feel so bad if that plane had landed on someone's house and killed a kid? Decidedly not a tragic death in any sense that matters to the Hall discussion. Even stranger, the BBWA didn't consider Santana blowing out his arm when he was near the top of his game tragic. While trivial in the real world sense, Santana's tragedy is more applicable from a HOF stance: Santana was robbed of the chance for a strong mid 30s peak while we know Halladay didn’t have that in him because we watched him shrivel, retire, and then start piloting planes while high. Yet Halladay is somehow more tragic? ​(2) Halladay succeeded on the East Coast while Santana was injured in his time on the East Coast. The BBWA pays better attention to smaller markets today with the dawn of social media and fantasy baseball but the 2000s were a period when the East Coast dominated the national discourse. Johan's excellence with the Twins slipped under the radar to an extent (and cost him at least one Cy Young) while Halladay was always in big markets and got the headlines. Santana also got hurt with the Mets when he did head to a big market, further tainting his legacy in the pea-sized minds of the BBWA. Its regionalism and sensationalism and its crap. I'd just like one of these baseball writers to man up and say "We got last year wrong." Fat chance but it would be nice to hear after three months of “Halladay is a shoo-in” while the 2nd greatest Twins player of the past 25 years remains unheralded.
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