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  1. This is an excerpt of an article originating at Zone Coverage. Click here to read it in full. On the surface, it was just a home run. In a year where 4,588 of them have been hit already, that hardly seems like a real headline-grabber. MLB hitters have been hitting home runs at a rate of 1.39 per game -- by far the most in a season in history. It's not even really close; the 2017 season ranks second at 1.27 long balls per nine, and no other season is over 1.20. The homer also came late in a game that ended 18-7. That type of score is more commonplace in today's game with balls flying out of the park at an unprecedented rate. Also more commonplace in today's game is position players pitching, and in this case, it was a position player serving up the hitter's second home run of the game. Alright, that's enough of that cryptic business. The home run was in Phoenix, and it came off the bat of Eduardo Escobar. That pitch was thrown by perhaps his best friend in all of baseball -- Washington Nationals second baseman Brian Dozier. If Dozier isn't his closest friend in the game, it's possible the guy catching is -- Nationals backstop Kurt Suzuki. So when Dozier -- a right-handed thrower -- attempted to sneak a 69 mph floater past Escobar -- a switch hitter batting from the right side -- the Diamondbacks' jack-of-all-trades crushed it into oblivion, well into the left-field seats. All three guys did a fairly good job of letting the moment play itself out, until Escobar did his customary home run celebration after rounding third. That's when Suzuki had to get involved, as he playfully told Escobar to get back into the dugout while Dozier simply smiled as he watched his former teammate round the bases. The trio was like mismatched socks -- a Hawaiian, a Mississippi boy and a guy from Venezuela -- who drew glee during their Twins days from bouncing around each other like said socks in a dryer.
  2. Yesterday, Parker unveiled our new Free Agent Tracker feature. This interactive database gives you a dynamic real-time look at players that are out there. By drilling the list down to catchers, we can get a specific view of the market for backstops. Each of these player is covered in the Offseason Handbook – which you've got grab if you haven't. (Donation-based download, free if you like!) Let's take a deeper look at the pages concerning this position: Just a terrible break for Wilson Ramos. A qualifying offer would have been a no-brainer prior to his devastating September knee injury, but now the Nationals had no choice but pass. His recovery will stretch well into next season, and his long-term future behind the plate is somewhat in doubt. His agent has suggested Ramos will seek a four to five year deal. Will that offer come? Probably not from the Twins. Matt Wieters is more plausible. The Orioles declined to extend a QO so he hits the open market unencumbered. The switch-hitter had one of the worst seasons of his career, with terrible timing, but was still a very solid player who's not that old. Jason Castro is my personal favorite among the free agent catchers. He was our choice in in the Twins Daily offseason blueprint. He ranks as one of the game's very elite pitch-framing specialists, and he's a capable hitter who can put the ball over the fence. Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press tweeted on Tuesday night that the Twins have expressed preliminary interest in Castro and plan to meet with his agent on Wednesday. But if the Twins want to take a less emphatic dive into the market, and aren't ready to give up on John Ryan Murphy quite yet, Alex Avila makes sense. As a lefty swinger he complements Murphy well and as a guy who's been around for eight years – many of them spent with dominant Tigers clubs – he might bring some of the veteran leadership that the Twins seem to be pursuing. The remainder of this free agent class doesn't really possess anyone who could be viewed as a starter or even a primary timeshare partner. The Twins need to be aiming higher than a backup. That's just the reality. What are your thoughts? Who would you target among this crop? Or would you shift your focus to another acquisition avenue in addressing this critical spot?
  3. Free agency officially kicked off on Tuesday morning. The Twins are very much in the market for a catcher, so today I thought we'd take a closer look at what is available.Yesterday, Parker unveiled our new Free Agent Tracker feature. This interactive database gives you a dynamic real-time look at players that are out there. By drilling the list down to catchers, we can get a specific view of the market for backstops. Each of these player is covered in the Offseason Handbook – which you've got grab if you haven't. (Donation-based download, free if you like!) Let's take a deeper look at the pages concerning this position: Download attachment: gmhbfac1.png Just a terrible break for Wilson Ramos. A qualifying offer would have been a no-brainer prior to his devastating September knee injury, but now the Nationals had no choice but pass. His recovery will stretch well into next season, and his long-term future behind the plate is somewhat in doubt. His agent has suggested Ramos will seek a four to five year deal. Will that offer come? Probably not from the Twins. Matt Wieters is more plausible. The Orioles declined to extend a QO so he hits the open market unencumbered. The switch-hitter had one of the worst seasons of his career, with terrible timing, but was still a very solid player who's not that old. Download attachment: gmhbfac2.png Jason Castro is my personal favorite among the free agent catchers. He was our choice in in the Twins Daily offseason blueprint. He ranks as one of the game's very elite pitch-framing specialists, and he's a capable hitter who can put the ball over the fence. Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press tweeted on Tuesday night that the Twins have expressed preliminary interest in Castro and plan to meet with his agent on Wednesday. But if the Twins want to take a less emphatic dive into the market, and aren't ready to give up on John Ryan Murphy quite yet, Alex Avila makes sense. As a lefty swinger he complements Murphy well and as a guy who's been around for eight years – many of them spent with dominant Tigers clubs – he might bring some of the veteran leadership that the Twins seem to be pursuing. Download attachment: gmhbfac3.png The remainder of this free agent class doesn't really possess anyone who could be viewed as a starter or even a primary timeshare partner. The Twins need to be aiming higher than a backup. That's just the reality. What are your thoughts? Who would you target among this crop? Or would you shift your focus to another acquisition avenue in addressing this critical spot? Click here to view the article
  4. Around lunchtime on Monday, the Minnesota Twins will hold a press conference formally announcing the two new head executives in their reconfigured baseball operations department. Then, it's on.Among the 28 teams who fell short of the World Series, most are deep into their offseason planning. Important deadlines come fast and furious after the conclusion of the playoffs, and that's why many front offices spend weeks laying the groundwork and playing through scenarios. The Twins have had no such luxuries. Derek Falvey's tenure with the Indians lasted as long as it possibly could have, placing him in catch-up mode as he takes over in the Minnesota front office. While he has undoubtedly been in communication with his new organization, up until last Wednesday Falvey remained an employee of the Cleveland Indians, and a very occupied one at that. Meanwhile, Rob Antony has been running the show. Moving forward he will presumably be third in line behind Falvey and new general manager Thad Levine. The trio will need to come together and make some quick decisions. The annual GM Meetings get underway on Monday and run through Thursday so Falvey and Levine are reportedly set to head straight to Scottsdale, AZ following the conclusion of their introductory press conference. This will be their first opportunity to rub shoulders with other execs as official representatives of the Minnesota Twins, so it should be an interesting week. So, how will their agenda shape up as the new leadership team acclimates? The free agency process has already been set into motion, as we're currently amidst a five-day exclusive negotiating window for impending free agents. The most prominent name in that mix for Minnesota is Kurt Suzuki, who won't be back, so the Twins aren't hindered much by being late to the game. But after the clock strikes midnight and Monday turns to Tuesday, free agency will officially be open for business. Names can start coming off the market quickly so the Twins need to rapidly identify targets and begin making contacts. The team's needs heading into the winter are fairly well defined. Of course, you can find an in-depth listing of free agents at positions of need in the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook, which is available for immediate download on a name-your-price basis. Here's a quick look at some other important upcoming dates as the new regime tackles its first Hot Stove season: November 18: Deadline to add prospects to the 40-man roster and protect them from Rule 5 draft eligibility. The Twins have some critical determinations to make before this point. A few weeks ago, Seth wrote about some pitchers and hitters who are on the bubble. December 1: On this date, Major League Baseball's current collective bargaining agreement expires. In order to avoid a work stoppage, the league and players association must reach agreement on a new deal before the end of this month. There is little reason to think they won't, given everything at stake, but the new CBA could include some significant changes. The draft bonus pool system, in particular, is expected to undergo some tweaking. This could have a distinct impact on the Twins, who of course will carry the No. 1 pick in each round next June. December 2: Non-tender deadline. By this date, the Twins must decide whether to extend offers to their six arbitration eligible players: Trevor Plouffe, Hector Santiago, Brandon Kintzler, Eduardo Escobar, Kyle Gibson and Ryan Pressly. We extensively analyze the cases for each player in the Handbook. December 5-8: Winter Meetings in Washington DC. This is the heart of Hot Stove season and the most gripping period of the offseason schedule, with non-stop frenetic rumors and breaking blockbusters. The Rule 5 draft takes place on the morning of the final day. After the Winter Meetings, things quiet down for the most part over the holidays, then kick back into gear in mid-January with arbitration agreement deadline. If you've been in a slumber waiting for the postseason to play out, the time has arrived. Things are about to get going in a hurry. Make sure you snag your Offseason Handbook, for as much or as little as you want, so you'll be ready for all the action. Click here to view the article
  5. Among the 28 teams who fell short of the World Series, most are deep into their offseason planning. Important deadlines come fast and furious after the conclusion of the playoffs, and that's why many front offices spend weeks laying the groundwork and playing through scenarios. The Twins have had no such luxuries. Derek Falvey's tenure with the Indians lasted as long as it possibly could have, placing him in catch-up mode as he takes over in the Minnesota front office. While he has undoubtedly been in communication with his new organization, up until last Wednesday Falvey remained an employee of the Cleveland Indians, and a very occupied one at that. Meanwhile, Rob Antony has been running the show. Moving forward he will presumably be third in line behind Falvey and new general manager Thad Levine. The trio will need to come together and make some quick decisions. The annual GM Meetings get underway on Monday and run through Thursday so Falvey and Levine are reportedly set to head straight to Scottsdale, AZ following the conclusion of their introductory press conference. This will be their first opportunity to rub shoulders with other execs as official representatives of the Minnesota Twins, so it should be an interesting week. So, how will their agenda shape up as the new leadership team acclimates? The free agency process has already been set into motion, as we're currently amidst a five-day exclusive negotiating window for impending free agents. The most prominent name in that mix for Minnesota is Kurt Suzuki, who won't be back, so the Twins aren't hindered much by being late to the game. But after the clock strikes midnight and Monday turns to Tuesday, free agency will officially be open for business. Names can start coming off the market quickly so the Twins need to rapidly identify targets and begin making contacts. The team's needs heading into the winter are fairly well defined. Of course, you can find an in-depth listing of free agents at positions of need in the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook, which is available for immediate download on a name-your-price basis. Here's a quick look at some other important upcoming dates as the new regime tackles its first Hot Stove season: November 18: Deadline to add prospects to the 40-man roster and protect them from Rule 5 draft eligibility. The Twins have some critical determinations to make before this point. A few weeks ago, Seth wrote about some pitchers and hitters who are on the bubble. December 1: On this date, Major League Baseball's current collective bargaining agreement expires. In order to avoid a work stoppage, the league and players association must reach agreement on a new deal before the end of this month. There is little reason to think they won't, given everything at stake, but the new CBA could include some significant changes. The draft bonus pool system, in particular, is expected to undergo some tweaking. This could have a distinct impact on the Twins, who of course will carry the No. 1 pick in each round next June. December 2: Non-tender deadline. By this date, the Twins must decide whether to extend offers to their six arbitration eligible players: Trevor Plouffe, Hector Santiago, Brandon Kintzler, Eduardo Escobar, Kyle Gibson and Ryan Pressly. We extensively analyze the cases for each player in the Handbook. December 5-8: Winter Meetings in Washington DC. This is the heart of Hot Stove season and the most gripping period of the offseason schedule, with non-stop frenetic rumors and breaking blockbusters. The Rule 5 draft takes place on the morning of the final day. After the Winter Meetings, things quiet down for the most part over the holidays, then kick back into gear in mid-January with arbitration agreement deadline. If you've been in a slumber waiting for the postseason to play out, the time has arrived. Things are about to get going in a hurry. Make sure you snag your Offseason Handbook, for as much or as little as you want, so you'll be ready for all the action.
  6. Sometimes it's OK to admit when you're wrong... But hey, I stood in there, took my shot, and like so many Twins at-bats this year, most of my predictions ended up as swings and misses. We are about to enter the month of September. The Twins 2016 season story was written way back in April, and they’ve had the final nails pounded in the last two weeks. An 11-game losing streak is never a positive for a team. So, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at my player predictions from mid-March. I think the theme of today’s story is, “It’s good to admit your mistakes.” There are a few where you’ll look at my prediction and wonder what I was thinking. I did also add the national projections from Zips, Steamer, PECOTA and Marcels and we can mock them too. It’s hard to think of now, but heading into the season, expectations were pretty high. I was hoping for 82-84 wins. Well, they’ve already hit 82 losses and have been trying for their 50th win for 11 games now. Below, you will find each player I did a prediction for. You’ll see my predictions with a link to that article. For each player, I added a few more things I was looking for this season and found a couple of key stats for each player. Click the links and re-read those. Again, I do think to remind us that projections are just that… they’re educated (or at least semi-educated) guesses. Obviously injury factors into some of these seasons as well. And hey, I may have even been fairly close on some.So enjoy this look back. Byung Ho Park 2016 Seth’s Preseason Prediction: .247/.318/.423 (.741) with 23-2B, 20-HR ZIPS: .266/.333/.463 (.796) Steamer: .256/.329/.487 (.816) PECOTA: .255/.326/.442 (.768) 2016 Actual (to date): .191/.275/.409 (.684) with 9-2B, 1-3B, 12-HR. SUMMARY: No one was real sure how to project Park. He was a big-time power hitter coming from Korea where he also struck out a tremendous amount. He certainly showed some power potential at times, but a sore wrist really affected his play (even if the team and player insist it didn’t). He was optioned to AAA Rochester after 62 games and struggled there (except for a one-week stretch). His season ended officially earlier this week when he had hand surgery. I guess of the four projections listed above, mine would have been the closest, which isn’t something to be proud or happy about. Miguel Sano 2016 Seth’s Preseason Prediction: .287/.398/.538 (.936) with 37-2B, 1-3B, 35-HR ZIPS: .249/.337/.491 (.828) Marcels: .272/.368/.497 (.865) Steamer: .257/.345/.510 (.855) PECOTA: .245/.339/.496 (.835) 2016 Actual (to date): .244/.329/.465 (.794) with 18-2B, 20-HR SUMMARY: Apparently, I just wanted to believe that the Twins could have really nice things. Now Sano is having a bad year. A look at his OPS says that he’s doing OK. But he did set the bar way too high in his debut second half. The hope was that he could take off from there and keep hitting. We knew that he would strike out a lot. I predicted 220 or so. He missed nearly six weeks due to his hamstring injury, or he might be there. He will pass Brian Dozier’s one year old Twins strikeout record, likely this week, so he’s got that. So yeah, the national rankings were also too high on him just not as much. I believe that Sano can reach the numbers I projected for him in 2016… it’ll just be later. Byron Buxton 2016 Seth’s Preseason Prediction: .247/.302/.424 (.726) with 18-2B, 1-3B, 11-HR ZIPS: .266/.310/.405 (.715) Marcel: .244/.300/.386 (.686) Steamer: .259/.309/.400 (709) PECOTA: .253/.309/.401 (.710) 2016 Actual (to date): .193/.247/.315 (.561) with 13-2B, 4-3B, 1-HR SUMMARY: Even the most pessimistic of projections was .125 too high. Buxton started slow and just wasn’t able to find success at the plate in 2016. Well he has - to some degree in AAA. The reality is that he just swings and misses too much to be successful right now. He was named the International League’s Hitter of the Week last week. He hit about .310 with homers in four straight games, and yet, he struck out about 42% of his plate appearances. I still believe that Buxton can be a star in the league. His defense alone in center field makes a pitching staff better, but 2016 just wasn’t his year. Eddie Rosario 2016 Seth’s Preseason Prediction: .282/.316/.457 (.773) with 28-2B, 9-3B, 17-HR ZIPS: .256/.287/.415 (.702) Marcels: .269/.304/.457 (.761) Steamer: .257/.291/.411 (.702) PECOTA: .250/.280/.402 (.682) 2016 Actual (to date): .266/.291/.418 (.709) with 15-2B, 2-3B, 8-HR SUMMARY: The assumption in the offseason was that Rosario would regress. I stayed optimistic that things would break well for the Twins and Rosario. Things were bad enough that he was demoted to Rochester for most of May. Since his return he’s been better. The issue remains his inability to control the strike zone. Now that doesn’t have to mean walks, though that is often a byproduct of a better approach. It just means that he has to know which pitches are strikes and which pitches he can drive, and swing at those, and not swing at things well off the plate. He’s been a little better with that since his return, but still will look silly at times. Eduardo Escobar 2016 Seth’s Preseason Prediction: .246/.295/.389 (.684) with 33-2B, 3-3B, 13-HR ZIPS: .256/.302/.409 (.711) Marcels: .250/.270/.444 (.715) Steamer: .261/.310/.393 (.703) PECOTA: .253/.294/.375 (.659) 2016 Actual (to date): .269/.299/.389 (.688) with 14-2B, 2-3B, 5-HR SUMMARY: Escobar was finally going to get his opportunity to be an everyday player this year after putting up terrific second halves the last two seasons. Unfortunately, he struggled early and then got hurt. Then Eduardo Nunez put together an allsStar rest of the half and Escobar found himself back on the bench. Now Jorge Polanco is getting most of the starts at shortstop. My projection, at least if you take away the batting average, looks pretty good with the rate numbers. However, the counting numbers just aren’t there because of the lack of playing time. Trevor Plouffe 2016 Seth’s Preseason Prediction: .252/.314/.442 (.756) with 38-2B, 1-3B, 25-HR ZIPS: .252/.315/.427 (.742) Marcels: .251/.313/.423 (.736) Steamer: .250/.315/.422 (.737) PECOTA: .246/.310/.418 (.728) 2016 Actual (to date): .260/.299/.409 (.708) with 13-2B, 1-3B, 9-HR. SUMMARY: It’s been a really tough year for Plouffe. He’s had several stints on the disabled list, and he has had some long slumps.He just isn’t getting on base the way you would hope, the way he has in the past. He’s shown some power, but didn’t take a step forward. The Twins have an interesting decision to make with him. Do they give him $8 million to keep him around and play 3B, or do they trust Miguel Sano to be adequate defensively at the hot corner. Comes down to if you think he can play more and play better than he has in 2016. Brian Dozier 2016 Seth’s Preseason Prediction: .255/.342/.457 (.799) with 35-2B, 2-3B, 26-HR ZIPS: .244/.318/.437 (.756) Marcels: Steamer: .241/.319/.405 (.724) PECOTA: 2016 Actual (to date): .270/.342/.538 (.880) with 31-2B, 5-3B, 30-HR SUMMARY: Our projections for Dozier would have looked silly had we looked a them in late May. Why were we all so optimistic? And then he took off and hasn’t stopped hitting and hitting for power since then. I projected an optimistic .015 increase in batting average which would help propel him toward an .800 OPS. Now that just looks incredibly low, but the national rankings expected even less. Dozier already has 30 homers and more triples than I projected, and he’s just four doubles shy. It’s been a phenomenal three month run for Dozier. And Twins fans can just imagine the numbers he could put up if he put it all together for a full season. Joe Mauer 2016 Preseason Prediction: .294/.363/.426 (.789) with 33-2B, 1-3B, 13-HR ZIPS: ..276/.356/.387 (.742) Marcels: .274/.349/.400 (.749) Steamer: .274/.355/.390 (.745) PECOTA: .279/.360/.387 (.747) 2016 Actual (to date): .275/.375/.401 (.777) with 17-2B, 4-3B, 10-HR SUMMARY: As we approach September, Mauer’s season has been full of mini-hot and mini-cold streaks, but overall, it has been a very solid season for the 33-year-old. After two really rough seasons, Mauer has looked a little more like the Mauer of old. No, the batting average hasn’t come all the way back, but he is again taking a lot of walk, and striking out less. The lack of doubles early in the season were inexplicable, though they’ve come back up a little bit. For the most part, he has remained healthy, played well defensively, and been a good top of the lineup hitter for the Twins. Kurt Suzuki 2016 Seth’s Preseason Prediction: .271/.320/.334 (.654) with 15-2B, 2-HR ZIPS: .253/.305/.334 (.639) Steamer: .253/.308/.354 (.662) PECOTA: .247/.299/.349 (.648) 2016 Actual (to date): .277/.318/.421 (.740) with 22-2B, 1-3B, 6-HR SUMMARY: Suzuki has played like 2014 first-half Suzuki most of the last few months. I thought that the Twins would start the season with Suzuki playing two out of three games but that it would transition to a 50/50 split in the second and third months. I figured by this time that the Twins would still be competing and John Ryan Murphy would be catching two out of three. Suzuki has hit well. Maybe it’s the Axe Bat, or maybe the fact that he is playing less overall has kept him fresh. As you can see, my .654 OPS prediction was right in line with the other projections, and he has been much better than that, even displaying some pop. John Ryan Murphy 2016 Seth’s Preseason Prediction: .280/.337/.407 (.744) with 19-2B, 1-3B, 8-HR ZIPS: .245/.295/.379 (.674) Steamer: .253/.306/.394 (.700) Marcels: .269/.323/.396 (.719) PECOTA: .254/.305/.390 (.695) 2016 Actual (to date): .075/.119/.100 (.219) with 1-2B (11 G, 40 PA) SUMMARY: Yeah, I was bullish on Murphy coming into the season. I figured he’s been solid as Brian McCann’s backup the last few years. He’s displayed some pop in his bat in limited time. And, defensively, he was said to be ‘average’ which was a significant improvement over what we’ve seen the last couple of years. Well, the defense is fine, but Murphy just hasn’t hit all year. He had like three hits in spring training. And he hit .075 in the season’s first month (admittedly a very small sample size). Unfortunately, his trip to Rochester hasn’t helped much. In his last 27 games, he’s hit .302/.337/.360 (.697) but his hot streaks have been overwhelmed by some long cold streaks. OVERALL SUMMARY: As with all of the preseason projections, I had a few that I was close on, and a few that I was way off on. As you might expect, I was a bit too optimistic on several players. Brian Dozier has significantly exceeded his projections. So have Kurt Suzuki and Joe Mauer. But for the most part, the Twins hitters have been as hoped, or worse (specifically Byungho Park, Byron Buxton and John Ryan Murphy). I recommend clicking into my preseason projection articles for more detailed keys to success and predictions. Some of them are now funny to read. Others are fairly spot on. And go into the Comments and see how your preseason predictions look now. Again, I also predicted the Twins would win about 82-84 games, so in general, my prediction game wasn’t too good this year. And, the Twins hitting has actually not been too terrible overall, especially the last two months or so when they’ve been one of the highest-scoring teams in baseball. Click here to view the article
  7. So enjoy this look back. Byung Ho Park 2016 Seth’s Preseason Prediction: .247/.318/.423 (.741) with 23-2B, 20-HR ZIPS: .266/.333/.463 (.796) Steamer: .256/.329/.487 (.816) PECOTA: .255/.326/.442 (.768) 2016 Actual (to date): .191/.275/.409 (.684) with 9-2B, 1-3B, 12-HR. SUMMARY: No one was real sure how to project Park. He was a big-time power hitter coming from Korea where he also struck out a tremendous amount. He certainly showed some power potential at times, but a sore wrist really affected his play (even if the team and player insist it didn’t). He was optioned to AAA Rochester after 62 games and struggled there (except for a one-week stretch). His season ended officially earlier this week when he had hand surgery. I guess of the four projections listed above, mine would have been the closest, which isn’t something to be proud or happy about. Miguel Sano 2016 Seth’s Preseason Prediction: .287/.398/.538 (.936) with 37-2B, 1-3B, 35-HR ZIPS: .249/.337/.491 (.828) Marcels: .272/.368/.497 (.865) Steamer: .257/.345/.510 (.855) PECOTA: .245/.339/.496 (.835) 2016 Actual (to date): .244/.329/.465 (.794) with 18-2B, 20-HR SUMMARY: Apparently, I just wanted to believe that the Twins could have really nice things. Now Sano is having a bad year. A look at his OPS says that he’s doing OK. But he did set the bar way too high in his debut second half. The hope was that he could take off from there and keep hitting. We knew that he would strike out a lot. I predicted 220 or so. He missed nearly six weeks due to his hamstring injury, or he might be there. He will pass Brian Dozier’s one year old Twins strikeout record, likely this week, so he’s got that. So yeah, the national rankings were also too high on him just not as much. I believe that Sano can reach the numbers I projected for him in 2016… it’ll just be later. Byron Buxton 2016 Seth’s Preseason Prediction: .247/.302/.424 (.726) with 18-2B, 1-3B, 11-HR ZIPS: .266/.310/.405 (.715) Marcel: .244/.300/.386 (.686) Steamer: .259/.309/.400 (709) PECOTA: .253/.309/.401 (.710) 2016 Actual (to date): .193/.247/.315 (.561) with 13-2B, 4-3B, 1-HR SUMMARY: Even the most pessimistic of projections was .125 too high. Buxton started slow and just wasn’t able to find success at the plate in 2016. Well he has - to some degree in AAA. The reality is that he just swings and misses too much to be successful right now. He was named the International League’s Hitter of the Week last week. He hit about .310 with homers in four straight games, and yet, he struck out about 42% of his plate appearances. I still believe that Buxton can be a star in the league. His defense alone in center field makes a pitching staff better, but 2016 just wasn’t his year. Eddie Rosario 2016 Seth’s Preseason Prediction: .282/.316/.457 (.773) with 28-2B, 9-3B, 17-HR ZIPS: .256/.287/.415 (.702) Marcels: .269/.304/.457 (.761) Steamer: .257/.291/.411 (.702) PECOTA: .250/.280/.402 (.682) 2016 Actual (to date): .266/.291/.418 (.709) with 15-2B, 2-3B, 8-HR SUMMARY: The assumption in the offseason was that Rosario would regress. I stayed optimistic that things would break well for the Twins and Rosario. Things were bad enough that he was demoted to Rochester for most of May. Since his return he’s been better. The issue remains his inability to control the strike zone. Now that doesn’t have to mean walks, though that is often a byproduct of a better approach. It just means that he has to know which pitches are strikes and which pitches he can drive, and swing at those, and not swing at things well off the plate. He’s been a little better with that since his return, but still will look silly at times. Eduardo Escobar 2016 Seth’s Preseason Prediction: .246/.295/.389 (.684) with 33-2B, 3-3B, 13-HR ZIPS: .256/.302/.409 (.711) Marcels: .250/.270/.444 (.715) Steamer: .261/.310/.393 (.703) PECOTA: .253/.294/.375 (.659) 2016 Actual (to date): .269/.299/.389 (.688) with 14-2B, 2-3B, 5-HR SUMMARY: Escobar was finally going to get his opportunity to be an everyday player this year after putting up terrific second halves the last two seasons. Unfortunately, he struggled early and then got hurt. Then Eduardo Nunez put together an allsStar rest of the half and Escobar found himself back on the bench. Now Jorge Polanco is getting most of the starts at shortstop. My projection, at least if you take away the batting average, looks pretty good with the rate numbers. However, the counting numbers just aren’t there because of the lack of playing time. Trevor Plouffe 2016 Seth’s Preseason Prediction: .252/.314/.442 (.756) with 38-2B, 1-3B, 25-HR ZIPS: .252/.315/.427 (.742) Marcels: .251/.313/.423 (.736) Steamer: .250/.315/.422 (.737) PECOTA: .246/.310/.418 (.728) 2016 Actual (to date): .260/.299/.409 (.708) with 13-2B, 1-3B, 9-HR. SUMMARY: It’s been a really tough year for Plouffe. He’s had several stints on the disabled list, and he has had some long slumps.He just isn’t getting on base the way you would hope, the way he has in the past. He’s shown some power, but didn’t take a step forward. The Twins have an interesting decision to make with him. Do they give him $8 million to keep him around and play 3B, or do they trust Miguel Sano to be adequate defensively at the hot corner. Comes down to if you think he can play more and play better than he has in 2016. Brian Dozier 2016 Seth’s Preseason Prediction: .255/.342/.457 (.799) with 35-2B, 2-3B, 26-HR ZIPS: .244/.318/.437 (.756) Marcels: Steamer: .241/.319/.405 (.724) PECOTA: 2016 Actual (to date): .270/.342/.538 (.880) with 31-2B, 5-3B, 30-HR SUMMARY: Our projections for Dozier would have looked silly had we looked a them in late May. Why were we all so optimistic? And then he took off and hasn’t stopped hitting and hitting for power since then. I projected an optimistic .015 increase in batting average which would help propel him toward an .800 OPS. Now that just looks incredibly low, but the national rankings expected even less. Dozier already has 30 homers and more triples than I projected, and he’s just four doubles shy. It’s been a phenomenal three month run for Dozier. And Twins fans can just imagine the numbers he could put up if he put it all together for a full season. Joe Mauer 2016 Preseason Prediction: .294/.363/.426 (.789) with 33-2B, 1-3B, 13-HR ZIPS: ..276/.356/.387 (.742) Marcels: .274/.349/.400 (.749) Steamer: .274/.355/.390 (.745) PECOTA: .279/.360/.387 (.747) 2016 Actual (to date): .275/.375/.401 (.777) with 17-2B, 4-3B, 10-HR SUMMARY: As we approach September, Mauer’s season has been full of mini-hot and mini-cold streaks, but overall, it has been a very solid season for the 33-year-old. After two really rough seasons, Mauer has looked a little more like the Mauer of old. No, the batting average hasn’t come all the way back, but he is again taking a lot of walk, and striking out less. The lack of doubles early in the season were inexplicable, though they’ve come back up a little bit. For the most part, he has remained healthy, played well defensively, and been a good top of the lineup hitter for the Twins. Kurt Suzuki 2016 Seth’s Preseason Prediction: .271/.320/.334 (.654) with 15-2B, 2-HR ZIPS: .253/.305/.334 (.639) Steamer: .253/.308/.354 (.662) PECOTA: .247/.299/.349 (.648) 2016 Actual (to date): .277/.318/.421 (.740) with 22-2B, 1-3B, 6-HR SUMMARY: Suzuki has played like 2014 first-half Suzuki most of the last few months. I thought that the Twins would start the season with Suzuki playing two out of three games but that it would transition to a 50/50 split in the second and third months. I figured by this time that the Twins would still be competing and John Ryan Murphy would be catching two out of three. Suzuki has hit well. Maybe it’s the Axe Bat, or maybe the fact that he is playing less overall has kept him fresh. As you can see, my .654 OPS prediction was right in line with the other projections, and he has been much better than that, even displaying some pop. John Ryan Murphy 2016 Seth’s Preseason Prediction: .280/.337/.407 (.744) with 19-2B, 1-3B, 8-HR ZIPS: .245/.295/.379 (.674) Steamer: .253/.306/.394 (.700) Marcels: .269/.323/.396 (.719) PECOTA: .254/.305/.390 (.695) 2016 Actual (to date): .075/.119/.100 (.219) with 1-2B (11 G, 40 PA) SUMMARY: Yeah, I was bullish on Murphy coming into the season. I figured he’s been solid as Brian McCann’s backup the last few years. He’s displayed some pop in his bat in limited time. And, defensively, he was said to be ‘average’ which was a significant improvement over what we’ve seen the last couple of years. Well, the defense is fine, but Murphy just hasn’t hit all year. He had like three hits in spring training. And he hit .075 in the season’s first month (admittedly a very small sample size). Unfortunately, his trip to Rochester hasn’t helped much. In his last 27 games, he’s hit .302/.337/.360 (.697) but his hot streaks have been overwhelmed by some long cold streaks. OVERALL SUMMARY: As with all of the preseason projections, I had a few that I was close on, and a few that I was way off on. As you might expect, I was a bit too optimistic on several players. Brian Dozier has significantly exceeded his projections. So have Kurt Suzuki and Joe Mauer. But for the most part, the Twins hitters have been as hoped, or worse (specifically Byungho Park, Byron Buxton and John Ryan Murphy). I recommend clicking into my preseason projection articles for more detailed keys to success and predictions. Some of them are now funny to read. Others are fairly spot on. And go into the Comments and see how your preseason predictions look now. Again, I also predicted the Twins would win about 82-84 games, so in general, my prediction game wasn’t too good this year. And, the Twins hitting has actually not been too terrible overall, especially the last two months or so when they’ve been one of the highest-scoring teams in baseball.
  8. Minnesota is actually near the top of the American League when it comes to turning double plays. Only the Texas Rangers have turned more double plays than the Minnesota Twins. On the surface, this seems like it could be a positive place for the Twins to be. But when one digs a little further, there are some hidden problems. Twins pitchers have been able to collect more double plays because they are allowing more base runners than other teams. Minnesota has allowed the highest batting average in the AL by 13 points. They also rank last in WHIP, BABIP, and left on-base %. According to FanGraphs WAR, Twins pitchers rank ahead of only the Angles and they trail the Yankees, the highest ranking team, by over 10 WAR. Another hidden problem has been Minnesota's defensive problems. The Twins defense has a negative 33.5 defensive runs saved (DRS), the second worst mark in the American League. Following this weekend's tough series in Toronto, the Twins have now committed 100 defensive errors (55 fielding errors and 43 throwing errors). The next closest team in the AL is 17 errors behind the Twins. Earlier this season, I discussed Minnesota's defensive dilemma and things haven't gotten better according to the latest update (through August 7, 2016) of SABR's Defensive Index (SDI). Joe Mauer dropped from second to fourth among AL first basemen. Brian Dozier continues to rank near the bottom among second baseman with a -3.2 SDI. Like Dozier, Kurt Suzuki ranks as the third worst player at his position. Other players haven't accumulated enough time to be featured in the rankings but there are not many positives to be found among that cohort either. Max Kepler has the most errors among all right fielders in the American League. Not to be outdone, Robbie Grossman has the most errors among all left fielders in the American League. Then there was this play from over the weekend. If Minnesota wants to dig out of their current hole, there are plenty of changes that need to occur. One of the easiest ways to improve the pitching staff is to have better defense behind them. Twins' pitchers are giving up hits and the defense isn't helping the situation. Even with double plays piling up, there are other glaring holes. Big innings can be avoided with better defense. Starters can make it deeper into games with better defense. The bullpen can be relied on less often with better defense. When fans walk through Gate 34, they pass a giant glove with all the names of former Gold Glove winners. Fielding was part of the heart of the organizational philosophy. Now that heart seems to be broken.
  9. Tyler Duffey, RHP Duffey pitched well for the while the Twins were still in the postseason hunt. He finished the year boasting a 5-1 record with a very respectable 3.10 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. Call it the "Scott Diamond Effect" but it seems unlikely for him to keep up this pace into the 2016 campaign. He was never considered one the organization's top pitching prospects, as he averaged 7.4 SO/9 and a 3.73 ERA over four minor league seasons. Can the Twins get by with Duffey as a back of the rotation starter? Sure, he can fit into this role. Baseball Reference projects him to compile a 3.64 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP in just under 90 innings of work. Both of these totals would be better than his minor league track record and he hasn't exactly been lights out this spring as he works on his change-up. With top pitching prospect Jose Berrios in the wings, it seems likely that Duffey could find himself out of a starting spot at some point this season. Glen Perkins, LHP Perkins has made the All-Star Game in each of the last three seasons and he's even been asked to close out the game for the AL each of the last two years. However, the end of last season was a little rough for the Twins closer as he tried to play through an injury and posted some poor numbers along the way. World Series legend Jack Morris even hinted that Perkins might not exactly be in shape in a Twin Cities radio interview last year. While Perkins has been able to accumulate over 30 saves in each of the last three seasons, his other numbers have been on the decline. His first three years in the bullpen he posted a 2.45 ERA with a 1.06 WHIP and 10.2 SO/9. The last two years those numbers have declined to a 3.49 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP, and 9.1 SO/9. Perkins turned 33 at the beginning of March and the organization has a young core of bullpen arms working their way toward Target Field. If the recent trend continues, the team might have to look at other options. Kurt Suzuki, C Suzuki has been on the decline for most of the last year and a half so to say he will be a bust at this point in his career might not be too big of a stretch. After hitting .309/.365/.396 in his first 65 games with the Twins, he went on to hit .259/.323/.339 in the second half of 2014. Last season was even worse as he finished the year hitting .240/.296/.314 while taking a beating behind the plate. He had the lowest caught stealing percentage (15%) of any AL catcher with at least 600 innings behind the dish. The Twins had to add some depth to the catching ranks and they were able to do that this offseason. Minnesota has been clear that Suzuki is their starter and he should be to reward him for his work with the pitching staff over the last couple of years. However, John Ryan Murphy will likely start to play more frequently as the season progresses. This could help Suzuki's performance if he isn't out there for over 130 games but it's hard to know how much he has left in the tank. His days as a starting catcher could be coming to an end Who do you think is set-up to bust this season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  10. Aaron and John talk about the Twins' pitching and defense bringing them back to reality, Byron Buxton's latest stint in the minors, pitching staff comings and goings, Kurt Suzuki on trade waivers, Brian Dozier refusing to stop hitting homers, Miguel Sano's elbow problems, what to do with Trevor May, and the worst decisions you can make with food after the bar closes. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Stitcher or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click the Play button below. Click here to view the article
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  12. The Twins and interim-GM Rob Antony were active near the August 1st non-waiver trade deadline. We are nearly one-third of the way through August, and we have to wonder how busy the team will be before August 31 waiver deadline. In this article, we’ll give a refresher on what can happen during August. We’ll also take a look at which Twins players could be dealt in August.Let’s start with a reminder of the Rules of the August (waiver trade deadline). First and foremost, in order for a player to be traded in August, he has to be placed on revocable trade waivers. If a player is claimed, three things can happen. If the player is claimed by a team, the two teams have 48 hours to work out a trade agreement.The team can allow the player - and the entirety of their remaining contract - to go to the claiming team.The team can pull the player back from waivers.Now, a team can place a player on waivers a second time. However, the player can not be pulled back if he is claimed. If a player passes through waivers, he can be traded to any team. In August, nearly all players are placed on waivers once, even if the team has no interest in trading the player at that time. Why? Well, maybe the team could get offered a package they just can’t turn down. If nothing else, it allows them to gauge interest in players for potential offseason moves. Rob Antony is likely to put most Twins players on the roster on waivers, but we know that Max Kepler, Jose Berrios and Miguel Sano aren’t going to get traded. We know that Taylor Rogers, Trevor May and Ryan Pressly aren’t getting traded. However, there are a lot of Twins players who could be discussed or even traded. I’ll try to come up with a list and you can decide for yourself if you think they could or even should be traded this month. Some will be the names we heard in July. Other names might arise either as a fallback plan or as an injury replacement. THE PITCHERS Ervin Santana - His name was mentioned a lot in July as a possible trade candidate. With his long history of productive pitching and a very reasonable contract for the next two seasons, one would think Santana would get claimed. Of course, that limits the likelihood of the Twins trading him. As Rob Antony pointed out on his radio show on Sunday, they decided that if they would trade Santana, it would be for a package that they were very happy with. In other words, the Twins aren’t giving him away. Brandon Kintzler - Kintzler’s name was mentioned in trade rumors as well. Signed to a minor league contract before the season, Kintzler spent the first month in Rochester. However, since coming up to the Twins he has done well. In particular, he has done a terrific job as the Twins closer since Kevin Jepsen was removed from the role. The reality is that if the Twins traded him, they would be selling high. However, he will have another year of arbitration remaining. Even if he is in a seventh-inning role, he will have earned what he will get paid in 2017.With several options in the upper levels, selling high would seem to make a lot of sense. However, at his 2016 salary, he would likely be claimed which might limit the return. Tommy Milone - The left-hander might be of interest to the right team. His most recent outing out of the pen was successful, a role he had very limited experience in. However, he has a lot of experience and success as a starter in his career. A team that is looking for a swing man might find Milone to be a good option. Buddy Boshers - Maybe a surprise name on this list, the Twins signed him out of independent league ball in the offseason. With a much-improved array of breaking pitches, he has come a long way. Though he hasn’t been quite as good since coming back to the big leagues he was very good in AAA and in his earlier stint with the Twins. The team obviously isn’t going to trade Taylor Rogers, but maybe there’s a team in need of a left-hander. It would obviously be a minor return. Michael Tonkin - Another surprising name. Tonkin has done a nice job in his final opportunity with the Twins this year. He was one of the final men to make the 25-man roster, and only really made it because he was out of options. He’s certainly had his ups and downs this year, but he does have 65 strikeouts in 55 innings this year. What is a front office supposed to make of Tonkin and his 2017 outlook. Maybe there is a team that thinks he can pitch in the 6th or 7th inning the rest of this year and maybe become a late-inning option. The Twins front office will need to decide what Tonking can be here, and how he compares with some of the prospects who are close. THE HITTERS Kurt Suzuki - He certainly seems to be an obvious candidate to be traded. However, reports indicate there was minimal interest in the backstop due to his defense. He is having a terrific offensive season, however. If a playoff-caliber team needs a solid, reliable backup catcher who will be able to handle any situation, Suzuki would fit the bill. Suzuki is a free agent at season’s end, and if the Twins really want him back in 2017, they can sign him as a free agent in the offseason. Trevor Plouffe - There certainly would have been talked about as a July deadline trade candidate if not for his broken ribs. He’s back now and if he can play well for the next couple of weeks his name will be mentioned prominently again. He has one more year of arbitration remaining and will likely get to about $9 million in 2017. The defense at the hot corner of Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco could factor into the decision. Danny Santana - The Twins and specifically Paul Molitor seems to love the game of Danny Santana. He’s a terrific athlete with good speed and a big arm. He had the strong MLB debut in 2014 and then he struggled mightily in 2015. He is out of options so he made the team as a utility player this year, able to play six positions. What is his role going forward with the Twins? Can he be the primary utility man? Or could there be a team interested in giving him a chance for a bigger role? Kennys Vargas - Despite looking the complete opposite of Danny Santana, there are similarities between the two. Vargas debuted in 2014’s second half and showed power potential. However, he really struggled in 2015. He’ll be out of options in 2017 and there is certainly a log jam of DH and first base options in the organization. Could the Twins trade him? Byung Ho Park - After a $25 million commitment, could the Twins deal Park in the right deal? Again, it’s about the log jam at first base and DH. He has 10 AAA homers, but he hasn’t really hit well there either. It would seem to be a sell-low on a guy with three years remaining. I’d be surprised. Eduardo Escobar - Eduardo Nunez was already traded. Jorge Polanco is far from a given as a future shortstop, and Escobar has had some great second halves. Because in the worst case, he’s still a versatile utility player, he’d be a guy to keep around. It’s also why teams could show interest. Robbie Grossman - Another guy brought in on a minor league deal, Grossman took off right away for the Twins. He has cooled off and his playing time has lessened but if a team is looking for a fourth or fifth outfielder who can put together a quality plate appearance, maybe Grossman can be that guy. So there you have it, a list of Twins players that could still be moved in August. Some of course, are more likely to be traded than others. I would say that Suzuki and Kintzler are the two players most likely to get traded this month. In each case, the return would likely be a player that we have never heard of Click here to view the article
  13. Let’s start with a reminder of the Rules of the August (waiver trade deadline). First and foremost, in order for a player to be traded in August, he has to be placed on revocable trade waivers. If a player is claimed, three things can happen. If the player is claimed by a team, the two teams have 48 hours to work out a trade agreement. The team can allow the player - and the entirety of their remaining contract - to go to the claiming team. The team can pull the player back from waivers. Now, a team can place a player on waivers a second time. However, the player can not be pulled back if he is claimed. If a player passes through waivers, he can be traded to any team. In August, nearly all players are placed on waivers once, even if the team has no interest in trading the player at that time. Why? Well, maybe the team could get offered a package they just can’t turn down. If nothing else, it allows them to gauge interest in players for potential offseason moves. Rob Antony is likely to put most Twins players on the roster on waivers, but we know that Max Kepler, Jose Berrios and Miguel Sano aren’t going to get traded. We know that Taylor Rogers, Trevor May and Ryan Pressly aren’t getting traded. However, there are a lot of Twins players who could be discussed or even traded. I’ll try to come up with a list and you can decide for yourself if you think they could or even should be traded this month. Some will be the names we heard in July. Other names might arise either as a fallback plan or as an injury replacement. THE PITCHERS Ervin Santana - His name was mentioned a lot in July as a possible trade candidate. With his long history of productive pitching and a very reasonable contract for the next two seasons, one would think Santana would get claimed. Of course, that limits the likelihood of the Twins trading him. As Rob Antony pointed out on his radio show on Sunday, they decided that if they would trade Santana, it would be for a package that they were very happy with. In other words, the Twins aren’t giving him away. Brandon Kintzler - Kintzler’s name was mentioned in trade rumors as well. Signed to a minor league contract before the season, Kintzler spent the first month in Rochester. However, since coming up to the Twins he has done well. In particular, he has done a terrific job as the Twins closer since Kevin Jepsen was removed from the role. The reality is that if the Twins traded him, they would be selling high. However, he will have another year of arbitration remaining. Even if he is in a seventh-inning role, he will have earned what he will get paid in 2017.With several options in the upper levels, selling high would seem to make a lot of sense. However, at his 2016 salary, he would likely be claimed which might limit the return. Tommy Milone - The left-hander might be of interest to the right team. His most recent outing out of the pen was successful, a role he had very limited experience in. However, he has a lot of experience and success as a starter in his career. A team that is looking for a swing man might find Milone to be a good option. Buddy Boshers - Maybe a surprise name on this list, the Twins signed him out of independent league ball in the offseason. With a much-improved array of breaking pitches, he has come a long way. Though he hasn’t been quite as good since coming back to the big leagues he was very good in AAA and in his earlier stint with the Twins. The team obviously isn’t going to trade Taylor Rogers, but maybe there’s a team in need of a left-hander. It would obviously be a minor return. Michael Tonkin - Another surprising name. Tonkin has done a nice job in his final opportunity with the Twins this year. He was one of the final men to make the 25-man roster, and only really made it because he was out of options. He’s certainly had his ups and downs this year, but he does have 65 strikeouts in 55 innings this year. What is a front office supposed to make of Tonkin and his 2017 outlook. Maybe there is a team that thinks he can pitch in the 6th or 7th inning the rest of this year and maybe become a late-inning option. The Twins front office will need to decide what Tonking can be here, and how he compares with some of the prospects who are close. THE HITTERS Kurt Suzuki - He certainly seems to be an obvious candidate to be traded. However, reports indicate there was minimal interest in the backstop due to his defense. He is having a terrific offensive season, however. If a playoff-caliber team needs a solid, reliable backup catcher who will be able to handle any situation, Suzuki would fit the bill. Suzuki is a free agent at season’s end, and if the Twins really want him back in 2017, they can sign him as a free agent in the offseason. Trevor Plouffe - There certainly would have been talked about as a July deadline trade candidate if not for his broken ribs. He’s back now and if he can play well for the next couple of weeks his name will be mentioned prominently again. He has one more year of arbitration remaining and will likely get to about $9 million in 2017. The defense at the hot corner of Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco could factor into the decision. Danny Santana - The Twins and specifically Paul Molitor seems to love the game of Danny Santana. He’s a terrific athlete with good speed and a big arm. He had the strong MLB debut in 2014 and then he struggled mightily in 2015. He is out of options so he made the team as a utility player this year, able to play six positions. What is his role going forward with the Twins? Can he be the primary utility man? Or could there be a team interested in giving him a chance for a bigger role? Kennys Vargas - Despite looking the complete opposite of Danny Santana, there are similarities between the two. Vargas debuted in 2014’s second half and showed power potential. However, he really struggled in 2015. He’ll be out of options in 2017 and there is certainly a log jam of DH and first base options in the organization. Could the Twins trade him? Byung Ho Park - After a $25 million commitment, could the Twins deal Park in the right deal? Again, it’s about the log jam at first base and DH. He has 10 AAA homers, but he hasn’t really hit well there either. It would seem to be a sell-low on a guy with three years remaining. I’d be surprised. Eduardo Escobar - Eduardo Nunez was already traded. Jorge Polanco is far from a given as a future shortstop, and Escobar has had some great second halves. Because in the worst case, he’s still a versatile utility player, he’d be a guy to keep around. It’s also why teams could show interest. Robbie Grossman - Another guy brought in on a minor league deal, Grossman took off right away for the Twins. He has cooled off and his playing time has lessened but if a team is looking for a fourth or fifth outfielder who can put together a quality plate appearance, maybe Grossman can be that guy. So there you have it, a list of Twins players that could still be moved in August. Some of course, are more likely to be traded than others. I would say that Suzuki and Kintzler are the two players most likely to get traded this month. In each case, the return would likely be a player that we have never heard of
  14. Several Twins players have had their names mentioned in trade rumors over the last couple of weeks. The player seemingly most likely to be traded before the deadline is catcher Kurt Suzuki. He has been mentioned in rumors for a month, and teams can always use a backup catcher. Suzuki is putting together one of his best seasons with the bat and has always had a strong reputation for working with pitchers. When Jonathan Lucroy used his veto power to void a trade to Cleveland yesterday, it may have slowed the process. Cleveland is one possible destination for the Twins backstop, though there are several others that would be interested in Suzuki as well. At least two Twins bullpen arms are also garnering a lot of attention from scouts the last couple of weeks. Fernando Abad was terrific the first couple of months of the season. He hasn't been as good of late, but the left-hander should be of interest to some teams Brandon Kintzler, like Abad, came to the Twins on a minor league contract before the season. He began the season in Rochester. Since he has come up to the Twins, he has been terrific. Kintzler took over the closer's role and has been very good. He missed most of last season with a knee injury, but he has come back stronger this year. Since both players are under team control for at least another year, Rob Antony needs to weigh the return with what they believe the pitchers can be next year. On the other side of that coin, the Twins need to make room for the likes JT Chargois, Mason Melotakis and others. Could the Twins find a taker who wants Ervin Santana enough to take on the remainder (or most) of his contract and give the Twins a quality prospect or two? Toronto has reportedly shown a lot of interest of late. It's hard to imagine a Tommy Milone or Ricky Nolasco trade today, but could the Twins find a team to take them before the August waiver deadline? Could the Twins deal Brian Dozier for a big haul? Would they? Do they trust the potential of Jorge Polanco? If the Twins make a trade or three before the deadline, we will attempt to post a new article right away, but as rumors and other trades around the league occur, be sure to use this thread to discuss and make predictions. How many deals will the Twins make?
  15. At 3:00 central time today, the annual non-waivers trade deadline will pass. The Twins already made one move. Thursday night, they traded Eduardo Nunez to the San Francisco Giants for Adalberto Mejia. Will they be able to reach any more trade agreements today?Several Twins players have had their names mentioned in trade rumors over the last couple of weeks. The player seemingly most likely to be traded before the deadline is catcher Kurt Suzuki. He has been mentioned in rumors for a month, and teams can always use a backup catcher. Suzuki is putting together one of his best seasons with the bat and has always had a strong reputation for working with pitchers. When Jonathan Lucroy used his veto power to void a trade to Cleveland yesterday, it may have slowed the process. Cleveland is one possible destination for the Twins backstop, though there are several others that would be interested in Suzuki as well. At least two Twins bullpen arms are also garnering a lot of attention from scouts the last couple of weeks. Fernando Abad was terrific the first couple of months of the season. He hasn't been as good of late, but the left-hander should be of interest to some teams Brandon Kintzler, like Abad, came to the Twins on a minor league contract before the season. He began the season in Rochester. Since he has come up to the Twins, he has been terrific. Kintzler took over the closer's role and has been very good. He missed most of last season with a knee injury, but he has come back stronger this year. Since both players are under team control for at least another year, Rob Antony needs to weigh the return with what they believe the pitchers can be next year. On the other side of that coin, the Twins need to make room for the likes JT Chargois, Mason Melotakis and others. Could the Twins find a taker who wants Ervin Santana enough to take on the remainder (or most) of his contract and give the Twins a quality prospect or two? Toronto has reportedly shown a lot of interest of late. It's hard to imagine a Tommy Milone or Ricky Nolasco trade today, but could the Twins find a team to take them before the August waiver deadline? Could the Twins deal Brian Dozier for a big haul? Would they? Do they trust the potential of Jorge Polanco? If the Twins make a trade or three before the deadline, we will attempt to post a new article right away, but as rumors and other trades around the league occur, be sure to use this thread to discuss and make predictions. How many deals will the Twins make? Click here to view the article
  16. During last week's All-Star Break, SABR released their updated rankings for the SABR Defensive Index (SDI). According to SABR, the Defensive Index draws on and aggregates two types of existing defensive metrics: those derived from batted ball location-based data and those collected from play-by-play accounts. The SDI rankings were updated through games as of July 10, 2016. It allows fans to compare the defense of their everyday players in relation to other players at the same position in the American League. Zero is the baseline score for SDI so a player with a positive score is doing well and a player with a negative score is not doing so well. Here are the position players that have qualified so far this year and how they compare to other players at their position in the American League. Joe Mauer, First Base SDI Score: 2.8 While Mauer's bat might have cooled off a little in recent weeks, his defense continues to be strong at first base. Mauer trails only Mitch Moreland in the AL SDI rankings for first base. This is a vast improvement over Mauer's play even as recently as last season. In 2015, Mauer posted a -0.1 SDI score and finished ranked tied for the fourth worst defensive AL first baseman. It might be tough for Mauer to catch Moreland for the top spot in the AL but he should be a Gold Glove finalist at first base. Brian Dozier, Second Base SDI Score: -4.5 I wrote about Dozier's defensive ineptitude during the off-season in hopes that he could make a turn-around similar to Jose Altuve. Unfortunately, Dozier's defense hasn't improve and he might actually be getting worse. Only Johnny Giavotella of the Angels ranks lower than Dozier according to the SDI. Last year, Dozier was able to finish ahead of only Robinson Cano and Giavotella. He finished with a -6.1 SDI score last season so it looks like Dozier will shatter that mark in 2016. Many Twins fans associate Dozier with playing good defense but that's not the case. He struggles to get to balls that are routinely gotten to by other players at his position. Eduardo Escobar, Shortstop SDI Score: -1.1 While Eduardo Nunez has taken over the full-time shortstop role, he had played over 60 fewer innings at shortstop compared to Eduardo Escobar when this update was released. Nunez will likely be featured on SDI updates the rest of the season. However, he likely won't score very well and he might not be in a Twins uniform by the end of the month. Only four shortstops in the AL have posted positive SDI marks this season. Escobar ranks fifth on the list ahead of players like Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, and Elvis Andrus. In the final 2015 SDI rankings, Escobar finished ninth in the AL (-1.4 SDI score). Overall, he has moved up in the rankings but his score is trending in the wrong direction. Kurt Suzuki, Catcher SDI Score: -2.5 Suzuki has never been known for his defensive prowess. He has a hard time throwing out runners but Twins pitchers like throwing with him behind the plate. Suzuki currently sits in ninth place in the AL which ranks him ahead of five qualifying catchers. He was the worst ranking catcher according to SDI last season with a -8.4, a total that was more than four times worse than the next qualifying catcher. At this juncture of the season, only one everyday player has a positive score which is scary considering the state of the Twins pitching staff. Young players like Max Kepler and Byron Buxton haven't played enough innings to qualify but they both should score well in future updates. With Miguel Sano's recent struggles at third base, Minnesota's infield is almost entirely composed of sub-par defensive players. With young pitchers like Tyler Duffey and (eventually) Jose Berrios trying to establish themselves, it's imperative for the defense behind them to be strong. Right now, there are some holes in Minnesota's defense but the next month could see some changes as veteran players are dealt away. Did any of the SDI scores surprise you? Who would you put in Minnesota's best defensive line-up? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  17. Boston had been mentioned as a possible destination for Ervin Santana, who suddenly carries intriguing trade value, but is now off the board for starting pitching. And yet, one position where the Red Sox, along with many other contenders, could still use help is catcher. It's a source of offensive weakness across the league. American League catchers collectively have a .671 OPS, which is 60 points lower than the next-worst position (left field). This makes the timing of Kurt Suzuki's astonishing evolution with the bat quite fortuitous. It's difficult to comprehend, but after his scorching last six weeks Suzuki suddenly leads all AL catchers in batting average and ranks third in OPS. Given the generally subpar level of play that we've seen from him over the past two years, it's tempting to pass this off as a fluke. But Suzuki's torrid streak has sustained for quite a while and shows no signs of dissipating. What triggered this shocking turnaround? Optimal health at last? A new bat type? Plain and simple adjustments? Who knows, but this much is clear: Terry Ryan now stands at a point of great leverage. The Case For Trading Suzuki Boston's willingness to surrender Anderson Espinoza, one of the most highly regarded young arms in the minors, for Pomeranz signals that we're looking at a seller's market. The addition of a second wild-card slot means that 19 MLB teams are realistically in the postseason race, and looking for an edge. Picking up a catcher who is in the zone like Suzuki would provide just that. Some teams are flat-out desperate for any kind of offensive threat behind the plate. The Indians, who currently lead the AL Central, have had no choice but to stick with Yan Gomes as their regular despite his .166 average and .516 OPS. The Tigers are chasing them with James McCann – owner of a .208 average and .563 OPS – as their majority backstop. The third-place White Sox are trotting out Dioner Navarro, who is also batting .208. And that's just in this division. The aforementioned Red Sox, who have demonstrated an all-in type of aggressiveness, may fancy the idea of bringing in a well respected and red-hot veteran like Suzuki to bang liners off the Green Monster. He's inexpensive this year. He has a very reasonable $6 million option attached to his contract for next year. His unceasing toughness sets a good example, and pitchers love working with him. It isn't difficult to envision a scenario in which Suzuki garners some significant offers, especially if he keeps raking for a couple more weeks. Can the Twins, now thrust back into rebuilding mode, afford to pass them up? The Case For Keeping Suzuki The problem with giving up Suzuki is that the cupboard is completely bare for 2017. John Ryan Murphy is batting .208 with a .558 OPS in Triple-A, and he qualifies as the next most credible option in the organization as a starting catcher. If the Twins have aspirations of bouncing back and returning to contention next year – and it's not that far-fetched – they either need keep Suzuki and activate his option, or enter the offseason frantically searching for an answer. Are they ready to get into a high-stakes bidding war for Wilson Ramos or Matt Wieters, given the number of clubs seeking such players? Not likely. This team has stuck with Suzuki through some lean times. He stayed in the lineup steadily last year even while posting terrible numbers, and during the offseason, the front office brought in more of a caddy/protege than replacement. Now that he's finally playing up to his potential, and the organization is bereft of contingency plans, it won't be easy to pry Suzuki away. It all comes down to getting an offer that can't be refused. With 17 days remaining until the deadline, we'll see it if comes.
  18. The All Star break is over. Now, with just over two weeks until the deadline, it’s trade season. That much was made clear on Thursday, when the Red Sox dealt a top pitching prospect to San Diego in exchange for impact starter Drew Pomeranz.Boston had been mentioned as a possible destination for Ervin Santana, who suddenly carries intriguing trade value, but is now off the board for starting pitching. And yet, one position where the Red Sox, along with many other contenders, could still use help is catcher. It's a source of offensive weakness across the league. American League catchers collectively have a .671 OPS, which is 60 points lower than the next-worst position (left field). This makes the timing of Kurt Suzuki's astonishing evolution with the bat quite fortuitous. It's difficult to comprehend, but after his scorching last six weeks Suzuki suddenly leads all AL catchers in batting average and ranks third in OPS. Given the generally subpar level of play that we've seen from him over the past two years, it's tempting to pass this off as a fluke. But Suzuki's torrid streak has sustained for quite a while and shows no signs of dissipating. What triggered this shocking turnaround? Optimal health at last? A new bat type? Plain and simple adjustments? Who knows, but this much is clear: Terry Ryan now stands at a point of great leverage. The Case For Trading Suzuki Boston's willingness to surrender Anderson Espinoza, one of the most highly regarded young arms in the minors, for Pomeranz signals that we're looking at a seller's market. The addition of a second wild-card slot means that 19 MLB teams are realistically in the postseason race, and looking for an edge. Picking up a catcher who is in the zone like Suzuki would provide just that. Some teams are flat-out desperate for any kind of offensive threat behind the plate. The Indians, who currently lead the AL Central, have had no choice but to stick with Yan Gomes as their regular despite his .166 average and .516 OPS. The Tigers are chasing them with James McCann – owner of a .208 average and .563 OPS – as their majority backstop. The third-place White Sox are trotting out Dioner Navarro, who is also batting .208. And that's just in this division. The aforementioned Red Sox, who have demonstrated an all-in type of aggressiveness, may fancy the idea of bringing in a well respected and red-hot veteran like Suzuki to bang liners off the Green Monster. He's inexpensive this year. He has a very reasonable $6 million option attached to his contract for next year. His unceasing toughness sets a good example, and pitchers love working with him. It isn't difficult to envision a scenario in which Suzuki garners some significant offers, especially if he keeps raking for a couple more weeks. Can the Twins, now thrust back into rebuilding mode, afford to pass them up? The Case For Keeping Suzuki The problem with giving up Suzuki is that the cupboard is completely bare for 2017. John Ryan Murphy is batting .208 with a .558 OPS in Triple-A, and he qualifies as the next most credible option in the organization as a starting catcher. If the Twins have aspirations of bouncing back and returning to contention next year – and it's not that far-fetched – they either need keep Suzuki and activate his option, or enter the offseason frantically searching for an answer. Are they ready to get into a high-stakes bidding war for Wilson Ramos or Matt Wieters, given the number of clubs seeking such players? Not likely. This team has stuck with Suzuki through some lean times. He stayed in the lineup steadily last year even while posting terrible numbers, and during the offseason, the front office brought in more of a caddy/protege than replacement. Now that he's finally playing up to his potential, and the organization is bereft of contingency plans, it won't be easy to pry Suzuki away. It all comes down to getting an offer that can't be refused. With 17 days remaining until the deadline, we'll see it if comes. Click here to view the article
  19. PintoWF

    Coming In Hot

    Kurt Suzuki, the Twins catcher I still believe is just a stopgap for the organization, has been white-hot the last 28 games. His line of .379/.402/.592/.994 over that time is one of the best for a catcher over the last month plus. Max Kepler has been just as hot driving in 33 runs over the last 37 games. Of those 33 RBIs, 18 have come in the last 10 games. He has also hit five home runs with a ridiculous slugging percentage of .622 in those 10 games as well. That's fifth best of any rookie in the majors with at least 25 plate appearances. Minnesota has done most of their damage against the Texas Rangers. Seven of the 10 games this month have come against the American League's best team. The Twins have averaged eight runs per game while hitting 14 home runs, 15 doubles and a .328 team batting average. The run scoring against Texas is something of a tradition. The Twins have averaged 4.76 runs again against Texas since 2010, the best mark for Minnesota against any American League opponent. What are we to feel about all of this? Is this a product of the opponent? A hot team? A handful of players getting hot at the same time? First, feel happy. Some positivity from a season void of it. Second, feel optimism. Kepler. Kennys Vargas. Robbie Grossman. Even Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario. They've all had a hand in this offense going crazy over the last 10 games. Not only that, they've played well in the field. At positions they were meant to play. Sano, a third baseman, is actually playing third base. Not the outfield. Meaning Kepler is getting time in right field at the major league level and not at AAA where he has already proven himself. (Side-note: The injury to Trevor Plouffe might be a blessing in disguise. This is what the team, defensively, should look like. Sano playing his natural position and a rotation of Byron Buxton, Grossman, Rosario and Kepler in the outfield. It seems to be working.) Third, don't get your hopes up that this is the start of something great for this year. The Texas pitching staff isn't all that great. The starters are good but the bullpen is dreadful. The Twins crushed an already bad bullpen into submission by taxing them to the limit. Frankly, the All-Star break could not have come soon enough for Texas. The Twins, by comparison, could have done without the stoppage in play. They could also use some more games against the AL West. Of their 32 wins, 15 have come from teams that hail from that division. They have just seven more games, three against Seattle and four against Houston, left to play against AL West teams. Fourth, it is only 10 games. A small snippet in time. Nothing to get overly hyped about if you're a Twins fan as this team will certainly find its level soon. Especially with how young this roster is. All of those things aside, it still makes you smile, if only for a moment. A break from the monotonous pounding the team had been taking. If you want to enjoy it, by all means, enjoy. Don't let my negativity drag you down. Whoop it up, baby. The Twins are coming in hot.
  20. My cell phone is what keeps me updated. Life, politics, sports. Whatever. That includes the Minnesota Twins. Whenever they score, or are scored upon, I get an update. Lately I have been seeing more of the former. The Twins have averaged 7.8 runs per game in July while going 7-3 to begin the month. They have scored in double figures four times in those ten games. Compare that with just one instance of double figure scoring in the first 78 games.Kurt Suzuki, the Twins catcher I still believe is just a stopgap for the organization, has been white-hot the last 28 games. His line of .379/.402/.592/.994 over that time is one of the best for a catcher over the last month plus. Max Kepler has been just as hot driving in 33 runs over the last 37 games. Of those 33 RBIs, 18 have come in the last 10 games. He has also hit five home runs with a ridiculous slugging percentage of .622 in those 10 games as well. That's fifth best of any rookie in the majors with at least 25 plate appearances. Minnesota has done most of their damage against the Texas Rangers. Seven of the 10 games this month have come against the American League's best team. The Twins have averaged eight runs per game while hitting 14 home runs, 15 doubles and a .328 team batting average. The run scoring against Texas is something of a tradition. The Twins have averaged 4.76 runs again against Texas since 2010, the best mark for Minnesota against any American League opponent. What are we to feel about all of this? Is this a product of the opponent? A hot team? A handful of players getting hot at the same time? First, feel happy. Some positivity from a season void of it. Second, feel optimism. Kepler. Kennys Vargas. Robbie Grossman. Even Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario. They've all had a hand in this offense going crazy over the last 10 games. Not only that, they've played well in the field. At positions they were meant to play. Sano, a third baseman, is actually playing third base. Not the outfield. Meaning Kepler is getting time in right field at the major league level and not at AAA where he has already proven himself. (Side-note: The injury to Trevor Plouffe might be a blessing in disguise. This is what the team, defensively, should look like. Sano playing his natural position and a rotation of Byron Buxton, Grossman, Rosario and Kepler in the outfield. It seems to be working.) Third, don't get your hopes up that this is the start of something great for this year. The Texas pitching staff isn't all that great. The starters are good but the bullpen is dreadful. The Twins crushed an already bad bullpen into submission by taxing them to the limit. Frankly, the All-Star break could not have come soon enough for Texas. The Twins, by comparison, could have done without the stoppage in play. They could also use some more games against the AL West. Of their 32 wins, 15 have come from teams that hail from that division. They have just seven more games, three against Seattle and four against Houston, left to play against AL West teams. Fourth, it is only 10 games. A small snippet in time. Nothing to get overly hyped about if you're a Twins fan as this team will certainly find its level soon. Especially with how young this roster is. All of those things aside, it still makes you smile, if only for a moment. A break from the monotonous pounding the team had been taking. If you want to enjoy it, by all means, enjoy. Don't let my negativity drag you down. Whoop it up, baby. The Twins are coming in hot. Click here to view the article
  21. My cell phone is what keeps me updated. Life, politics, sports. Whatever. That includes the Minnesota Twins. Whenever they score, or are scored upon, I get an update. Lately I have been seeing more of the former. The Twins have averaged 7.8 runs per game in July while going 7-3 to begin the month. They have scored in double figures four times in those ten games. Compare that with just one instance of double figure scoring in the first 78 games. Kurt Suzuki, the Twins catcher I still believe is just a stopgap for the organization, has been white-hot the last 28 games. His line of .379/.402/.592/.994 over that time is one of the best for a catcher over the last month plus. Max Kepler has been just as hot driving in 33 runs over the last 37 games. Of those 33 RBIs, 18 have come in the last 10 games. He has also hit five home runs with a ridiculous slugging percentage of .622 in those 10 games as well. That's fifth best of any rookie in the majors with at least 25 plate appearances. Minnesota has done most of their damage against the Texas Rangers. Seven of the 10 games this month have come against the American League's best team. The Twins have averaged eight runs per game while hitting 14 home runs, 15 doubles and a .328 team batting average. The run scoring against Texas is something of a tradition. The Twins have averaged 4.76 runs again against Texas since 2010, the best mark for Minnesota against any American League opponent. What are we to feel about all of this? Is this a product of the opponent? A hot team? A handful of players getting hot at the same time? First, feel happy. Some positivity from a season void of it. Second, feel optimism. Kepler. Kennys Vargas. Robbie Grossman. Even Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario. They've all had a hand in this offense going crazy over the last 10 games. Not only that, they've played well in the field. At positions they were meant to play. Sano, a third baseman, is actually playing third base. Not the outfield. Meaning Kepler is getting time in right field at the major league level and not at AAA where he has already proven himself. (Side-note: The injury to Trevor Plouffe might be a blessing in disguise. This is what the team, defensively, should look like. Sano playing his natural position and a rotation of Byron Buxton, Grossman, Rosario and Kepler in the outfield. It seems to be working.) Third, don't get your hopes up that this is the start of something great for this year. The Texas pitching staff isn't all that great. The starters are good but the bullpen is dreadful. The Twins crushed an already bad bullpen into submission by taxing them to the limit. Frankly, the All-Star break could not have come soon enough for Texas. The Twins, by comparison, could have done without the stoppage in play. They could also use some more games against the AL West. Of their 32 wins, 15 have come from teams that hail from that division. They have just seven more games, three against Seattle and four against Houston, left to play against AL West teams. Fourth, it is only 10 games. A small snippet in time. Nothing to get overly hyped about if you're a Twins fan as this team will certainly find its level soon. Especially with how young this roster is. All of those things aside, it still makes you smile, if only for a moment. A break from the monotonous pounding the team had been taking. If you want to enjoy it, by all means, enjoy. Don't let my negativity drag you down. Whoop it up, baby. The Twins are coming in hot.
  22. The Minnesota Twins have the worst team ERA in the American League and their starters combined ERA, 5.59, is over a full run higher than the league average. As I have said before, there is no real help in sight. The same can be said for the catching situation. Past Kurt Suzuki, in his third year as a Twin, the orginization has nothing promising. The best catcher in the minors is A.J. Murray. Murray, the Class-A Cedar Rapids' main catcher, leads the team in home runs, doubles and RBIs. He also leads them in strikeouts and has allowed 34 stolen bases. That's it. That's as deep as it gets at that position. The reason I bring this up is because I'm a firm believer in a catcher having a significant impact on pitching success. The pitching staff as a whole feels much more comfortable when the guy behind the plate has everything together. The arm, the ability to call a good game and an understanding of what is working for that pitcher on a particular night. Players like Salvador Perez and Buster Posey are unique. A player like Joe Mauer was unique. They could hit as well as be the best defensively at their position. And it would be fine if Suzuki could do one or the other really well. But he's not. What's the saying from the show Heroes? "Save the cheerleader, save the world?" While not in the world saving business, the success of an organization revolves around a pitching staff. Develop a catcher to help guide a pitching staff and you could save an organization. Develop a catcher, develop the pitching staff. Or something like that.
  23. As we continue to prepare for the 2016 MLB Draft, today I present a review of the catchers in the Minnesota Twins organization. Yesterday, we reviewed the Outfielders. Next week, we’ll continue with the Infielders and the pitchers while I’ll also post my updated Top 30 Twins Prospect rankings. Why look at the organization’s depth before the draft? As we mentioned yesterday, taking "best player available" is always the right strategy early in the draft, but in the later rounds, it might be important to add some depth at other positions as they look to fill some rosters.Minnesota Twins - Kurt Suzuki, Juan Centeno The Twins signed Suzuki before the 2014 season to a nice, one-year contract. He had an all-star caliber first half, so they extended him and he immediately turned back into the catcher and hitter he had been the previous few seasons. The Twins have played him less this year, ensuring that his $6 million option will not vest. Juan Centeno was brought in as a minor league free agent. He had a solid spring training and when John Ryan Murphy struggled and was sent to Rochester, the 26-year-old was called up and is off to a good start. Rochester Red Wings - John Ryan Murphy, Carlos Paulino Murphy came over from the Yankees where he spent parts of three seasons backing up Brian McCann. Nothing in his MLB or minor league track record indicated he would slump as badly as he did in the season’s first month. However, he is still young and can become a starting-caliber MLB catcher. Carlos Paulino also was invited to MLB spring training after joining the Twins organization a year ago. He is a defense-first catcher. Chattanooga Lookouts - Stuart Turner, Mitch Garver, Jairo Rodriguez In a way, Stuart Turner and Mitch Garver have been linked since they were drafted in the 2013 draft. At the same time, this is the first year they have been on the same team since that summer in Elizabethton. While the senior-sign Garver began his first full season in Cedar Rapids, Turner (who signed after his junior season at Ole Miss) skipped straight to High-A. While Garver was our hitter of the year in 2014, Turner has struggled with the bat. Turner spent all of 2015 in Chattanooga while Garver is there for the first time. Turner has the reputation as a better defensive catcher while Garver is known for a bigger bat. Reports indicate that Garver has narrowed the gap defensively. He stacks up among the best in the minor leagues at pitch framing while throwing out about 73% of would-be base stealers. Garver just returned to the lineup on Wednesday after suffering a concussion. Jairo Rodriguez is one of the longest-tenured players in the Twins organization. He has played throughout the system over the last eight or nine years, serving as a backup (or third catcher) where needed. Ft. Myers Miracle - Brian Navarreto, Kevin Garcia Brian Navarreto has a powerful arm. He also has size that one might think could develop some power. To this point, however, he hasn’t hit at all. Kevin Garcia signed with the Twins before spring training after being let go by the Tigers after a couple of pro seasons. He began this season in extended spring but came up when Alex Swim abruptly retired. Cedar Rapids Kernels - AJ Murray, Brian Olson AJ Murray has been one of the better hitters in the organization so far this year. He takes quality atebats, gets on base and has some power. He also has been the primary catcher behind the plate. Olson was a late-round pick a year ago. He hit well in the GCL and in Elizabethton last year. While he started the season in EST, he has hit well over .300 since joining the Kernels. Extended Spring Training - Bryant Hayman, Robert Molina, Rainis Silva, Jhon Alvarez, Jose Ortiz, Kerby Camacho (Suspended) Rainis Silva is the best prospect of this group. He is very good defensively. He spent a little time in Cedar Rapids last year before the Elizabethton season started. Hayman started the season in Cedar Rapids this year but was recently sent back to extended spring. Molina played last year in the GCL. He also gets time at first base. Alvarez and Ortiz are in the States after playing in the Dominican Summer League last year. Top Prospects 1.) Mitch Garver, 2.) Stuart Turner, 3.) AJ Murray Draft Thoughts It is very difficult to get a catcher to the big leagues for several reasons. Injury/Concussion - Yes, there are a lot of catcher concussions due to repeated foul tips to the face mask as well as “regular” injuries. It is a position of attrition in some ways.Most organizations value defense above hitting for catchers for obvious reasons. They have to be smart and call a good game while working with individual pitchers, but they also need to have a strong arm and enough accuracy to help control a running game. Pitch framing and ability to block balls in the dirt are also important.However, a starting catcher also needs to hit enough . “Enough” can be dependent on team.Look at the number of catchers the organization keeps at extended spring training. In some ways, an organization needs to draft a few catchers every year just to help with bullpens in the rookie leagues and in spring training (and EST). In the past, the Twins have typically drafted at least one catcher in the top ten rounds. They then will draft a couple more in the later rounds. Just a few years ago, the Twins drafted Stuart Turner, Jorge Fernandez and Mitch Garver in the first nine rounds. The Twins have quantity of catchers. In my opinion, they should take one in the top three or four rounds if they believe he can develop into a starter at some point. Then maybe add one or two in the late rounds. Click here to view the article
  24. Minnesota Twins - Kurt Suzuki, Juan Centeno The Twins signed Suzuki before the 2014 season to a nice, one-year contract. He had an all-star caliber first half, so they extended him and he immediately turned back into the catcher and hitter he had been the previous few seasons. The Twins have played him less this year, ensuring that his $6 million option will not vest. Juan Centeno was brought in as a minor league free agent. He had a solid spring training and when John Ryan Murphy struggled and was sent to Rochester, the 26-year-old was called up and is off to a good start. Rochester Red Wings - John Ryan Murphy, Carlos Paulino Murphy came over from the Yankees where he spent parts of three seasons backing up Brian McCann. Nothing in his MLB or minor league track record indicated he would slump as badly as he did in the season’s first month. However, he is still young and can become a starting-caliber MLB catcher. Carlos Paulino also was invited to MLB spring training after joining the Twins organization a year ago. He is a defense-first catcher. Chattanooga Lookouts - Stuart Turner, Mitch Garver, Jairo Rodriguez In a way, Stuart Turner and Mitch Garver have been linked since they were drafted in the 2013 draft. At the same time, this is the first year they have been on the same team since that summer in Elizabethton. While the senior-sign Garver began his first full season in Cedar Rapids, Turner (who signed after his junior season at Ole Miss) skipped straight to High-A. While Garver was our hitter of the year in 2014, Turner has struggled with the bat. Turner spent all of 2015 in Chattanooga while Garver is there for the first time. Turner has the reputation as a better defensive catcher while Garver is known for a bigger bat. Reports indicate that Garver has narrowed the gap defensively. He stacks up among the best in the minor leagues at pitch framing while throwing out about 73% of would-be base stealers. Garver just returned to the lineup on Wednesday after suffering a concussion. Jairo Rodriguez is one of the longest-tenured players in the Twins organization. He has played throughout the system over the last eight or nine years, serving as a backup (or third catcher) where needed. Ft. Myers Miracle - Brian Navarreto, Kevin Garcia Brian Navarreto has a powerful arm. He also has size that one might think could develop some power. To this point, however, he hasn’t hit at all. Kevin Garcia signed with the Twins before spring training after being let go by the Tigers after a couple of pro seasons. He began this season in extended spring but came up when Alex Swim abruptly retired. Cedar Rapids Kernels - AJ Murray, Brian Olson AJ Murray has been one of the better hitters in the organization so far this year. He takes quality atebats, gets on base and has some power. He also has been the primary catcher behind the plate. Olson was a late-round pick a year ago. He hit well in the GCL and in Elizabethton last year. While he started the season in EST, he has hit well over .300 since joining the Kernels. Extended Spring Training - Bryant Hayman, Robert Molina, Rainis Silva, Jhon Alvarez, Jose Ortiz, Kerby Camacho (Suspended) Rainis Silva is the best prospect of this group. He is very good defensively. He spent a little time in Cedar Rapids last year before the Elizabethton season started. Hayman started the season in Cedar Rapids this year but was recently sent back to extended spring. Molina played last year in the GCL. He also gets time at first base. Alvarez and Ortiz are in the States after playing in the Dominican Summer League last year. Top Prospects 1.) Mitch Garver, 2.) Stuart Turner, 3.) AJ Murray Draft Thoughts It is very difficult to get a catcher to the big leagues for several reasons. Injury/Concussion - Yes, there are a lot of catcher concussions due to repeated foul tips to the face mask as well as “regular” injuries. It is a position of attrition in some ways. Most organizations value defense above hitting for catchers for obvious reasons. They have to be smart and call a good game while working with individual pitchers, but they also need to have a strong arm and enough accuracy to help control a running game. Pitch framing and ability to block balls in the dirt are also important. However, a starting catcher also needs to hit enough . “Enough” can be dependent on team. Look at the number of catchers the organization keeps at extended spring training. In some ways, an organization needs to draft a few catchers every year just to help with bullpens in the rookie leagues and in spring training (and EST). In the past, the Twins have typically drafted at least one catcher in the top ten rounds. They then will draft a couple more in the later rounds. Just a few years ago, the Twins drafted Stuart Turner, Jorge Fernandez and Mitch Garver in the first nine rounds. The Twins have quantity of catchers. In my opinion, they should take one in the top three or four rounds if they believe he can develop into a starter at some point. Then maybe add one or two in the late rounds.
  25. They have already given up on the latter acquisition. John Hicks was placed on waivers to make room for Jose Berrios and was immediately claimed by the Tigers, leaving Minnesota with two catchers on the 40-man roster. One is Kurt Suzuki, who is likely in his last year with the Twins. The other is John Ryan Murphy, who is off to an utterly miserable start in his new uniform. When they traded Aaron Hicks for Murphy during the offseason, the Twins were hopeful that the improving 24-year-old backstop, a former prep star and second-round draft pick, could develop into a fixture behind the plate. Instead, he just looks like a player that badly needs to be fixed. Murphy was slow to get going in spring training. Given the lion's share of reps at catcher, he collected just five singles in 36 at-bats for a .139 average. "It's timing more than anything," said Joe Vavra, a former hitting instructor turned bench coach, when asked about the newcomer's struggles at the time. Timing still appears to be Murphy's primary issue, and I'm not talking about the poor timing of batting .086 in your first month when trying to make an impression on a new organization and fanbase. In April, Murphy put up a dreadful .225 OPS and it wasn't because opposing pitchers were flat-out overwhelming him. He struck out only five times in 38 plate appearances, but still managed just three hits – a pair of singles and a ground ball double. His BABIP currently stands at .100, meaning he is only getting a hit on one out of 10 balls he puts into play. It's not hard to see why when you look at his batted ball data; Murphy has hit a grounder or fly ball almost 90 percent of the time, with a meager 10.3 percent line drive rate. That is a rather blatant indication that his timing is off, and he's not quite squaring up the ball. The best way to resolve that problem is with regular at-bats. Murphy hasn't gotten those. Only once has he started consecutive games and usually he's been on the bench for multiple days between appearances. It's a bit of a hard sell to suggest that a guy whose batting average starts with zero should be playing more regularly, but I believe that would be the best course for Paul Molitor at this point. Murphy is bound to start collecting some hits and even if he doesn't you're not losing all that much by taking Kurt Suzuki's bat out of the lineup. Plus, additional rest could only be beneficial for the veteran, who has logged more than 9,000 MLB innings at catcher and routinely takes a beating. The other option for ramping up Murphy's at-bat count would be to send him to the minors, where he could start everyday, but unfortunately the aforementioned decision to waive Hicks leaves the Twins with no readily available replacement. In order to demote Murphy, another catcher would need to be added to the 40-man. Stuart Turner and Mitch Garver, the two best catching prospects in the system (faint praise), are both at Double-A and batting around .250. Neither belongs in the majors right now. The current starter in Rochester is Juan Centeno, a 26-year-old non-prospect with a .589 OPS at Triple-A. Unless Ryan can pull off a trade or salvage something off of the waiver wire, there's really no feasible option for replacing Murphy, not to mention Suzuki if he got injured. It's a bad situation, and there aren't any great options. But the Twins saw something in Murphy, and so now they might as well give him some more regular exposure to find out if it can emerge. Given the alternatives, they really need it to.
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