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  1. We’ve done it, Twins fans. We’ve officially made it to Spring Training! Baseball games at Target Field will be played before we know it. As the team assembles in Ft. Myers, some of the burning questions that will assuredly be asked of Rocco Baldelli are “Who will be hitting leadoff?” or “What will the batting order be?” It’s a fun exercise as a fan because there really seems to be no wrong answer with this team. If Rocco wanted to, he could draw names out of a hat and the 2020 Twins would score some runs. This lineup has no weak spots. Check out this article from Mike Petriello about how deep the Twins are. The 2020 lineup is similar to the ‘19 version except the Twins are getting a full season of Luis Arraez and of course, they added Josh Donaldson. I’ve been calling them the “Bomba Squad 2.0”. No matter how you slice it, the 2020 Twins lineup is downright silly. The definition of #FunToWatch. They have a real opportunity to break their own major league record of 307 bombas hit in 2019. It got me thinking… How does the 2020 Twins lineup potentially compare to one of the most lethal teams of all-time - The 1927 “Murderers’ Row '' New York Yankees? Of course, the ‘27 Yankees are widely considered to be one of the best, if not the best team in baseball history. They won 110 games, a record at the time, and cakewalked their way to a 4-game sweep of the Pirates in the World Series. Four players in the starting lineup ended up in the Hall of Fame: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, and Earle Combs. You might be asking yourself, there’s no way the 2020 team holds a candle to one of the best teams of all-time? Well, it’s potentially closer than you think… 1927 Yankees Top 9 Starting Position Players - SLG % C Pat Collins - .418 1B Lou Gehrig - .765* 2B Tony Lazzeri - .482 SS Mark Koenig - .382 3B Joe Dugan - .362 OF Bob Meusel - .510 OF Babe Ruth - .772* OF Earle Combs - .511 UTIL Ray Morehart - .328 *I would like to point out how insane Gehrig and Ruth’s SLG % were. They were #1 and #2 atop the league in 1927. The third highest SLG % that year was Al Simmons at .645. Those poor 1920’s era pitchers... Combined: AB’s: 4217 1B: 874 2B: 253 3B: 85 HR: 152 SLG: .53189 2020 Twins Top 9 Starting Position Players - Using ‘19 SLG% C Mitch Garver - .630 1B Miguel Sano - .576 2B Arraez - .439 SS Polanco - .485 3B Donaldson - .521 OF Rosario - .500 OF Buxton - .513 OF Kepler - .519 DH Cruz - .639 Combined: AB’s: 4008 1B: 608 2B: 244 3B: 16 HR: 247 SLG: .53193 That’s right. The 2020 Twins projected lineup actually out-slugged the 1927 Yankees (by .0004). Granted, the comparison is a little unfair since I am using 2019 stats. Not to mention the ‘27 Yankees performed better than the Twins in many scenarios (OPS, R/G, and AVG). But for this scenario, I choose to ignore that and only focus on the 2020 Twins being better than the 1927 Yankees at something. Speaking of something, SLG % isn’t the only stat that the 2020 Twins had an advantage over the 1927 Yankees. They also hit more home runs (247 - 152), had more total bases per plate appearance, and had more hitters with an above average OPS relative to the rest of the league. Think about these stats for a second. Who would have thought that entering the 2020 season, we’d be talking about the Twins and Murderers’ Row in the same breath. Imagine telling a Twins fan that after the 100-loss 2016 season. So there you have it. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have slowly constructed one of the most terrifying offenses in the game today, maybe...ever? OK, that might be a stretch. Only time will tell. Here’s to hoping the 2020 “Bomba Squad 2.0” season ends the same way as the Murderers’ Row - with a World Series victory.
  2. When rumors started floating around last week about the Twins' interest in Marwin Gonzalez, I found myself quite surprised. While I still contend that the Twins would be better off spending said money on Keuchel or Kimbrel if they would sign a two or three year contract, it is hard to find fault in adding another above average bat for the lineup. My concern now is how do the Twins find 500 AB for Gonzalez when all of the starting positions are essentially spoken for. I did some digging and believe it can be done without sacrificing continued development of our younger players. Let's start with the assumption that the following players will hold down starting positions followed by the number of plate appearances I would project them to get this coming season. C - Garver, Castro - 650 1B - Cron - 550 2B - Schoop - 550 SS - Polanco - 600 3B - Sano - 550 LF - Rosario - 600 CF - Buxton - 550 RF - Kepler - 600 DH - Cruz - 550 This totals up to 5200 PA for the starters. Last season the Twins tallied a little over 6100 PA not including those taken by pitchers. That leaves 900 PA for the bench. The 650 PA for the catchers is approximately what they totaled for the team last year. Since Gonzalez can essentially sub for any of those positions, I think it is easy to see that he can get to 500 plate appearances this year. Baldelli will need to be creative and use Gonzalez as a true super utility player. Looking at the projected PA, Gonzalez would need to account mostly for PA at 1B, 2B, 3B and OF. I will guess that he will play 3B the most (with Sano slotting in to take away some PA from Cron) followed closely by OF, then 2B and SS. I doubt they will actually play him at 1B much as I would guess that Gonzalez is a better 3B than Sano. If Gonzalez can perform with the bat near past levels while moving around this much it would be of great benefit to the Twins. They can keep players healthy with roughly a game off once every one or two weeks. Adding Gonzalez puts the Twins at 11 position players with the 10 above. The Twins are likely to have 13 pitchers and 12 hitters on their roster. Since Astudillo and Cave both have options, it is likely they start in AAA. In order to get to 500 PA, Gonzalez will need to be the primary sub for the OF so Cave should be in AAA. I like both Cave and Astudillo, but having options dooms them to AAA. That leaves Austin and Adrianza for the final spot. Maybe the Twins keep both at the start of the season and only have 12 pitchers, but it is likely one will hit waivers at some point. My choice would be to keep Austin as a bat off the bench, especially since we have Torreyes likely at AAA as a fallback in case we lost Adrianza on waivers. If Adrianza doesn't get claimed, the Twins have solid depth at AAA in case of injuries, possibly better depth than we've had in some time. The more I look at this signing, the more I like it. Now find a way to sign Keuchel or Kimbrel.
  3. I was curious where we stand as a team - right now. Since the fast and furious signings seem to be in a lull (facetious statement). Let's put the team on the field as they are now composed and see how they stack up using their 2018 WAR and the Total Zone Fielding Runs above average and the 2019 projection - all from Baseball Reference WAR RTOT Projection Polanco SS 1.5 , -2 270/329/415 Rosario LF 3.6 -10 278/319/464 Cron 1B 2 4 253/316/455 Sano 3B -0.5 -2 239/322/452 Austin DH 0.5 236/301/446 Cave CF 1.5 -2 259/317/455 Kepler RF 2.8 16 235/317/419 Schoop 2B 1.4 1 259/302/448 Castro C 2.5 3 222/309/370 using 2017 numbers Adrianza U 0.4 -3 249/307/385 Buxton CF -0.3 3 237/297.393 Garver C 0.9 -16 254/325/407 Torreyes U 0.3 - 2 270/312/384 What do you think? 16.6 WAR total. RTOT - 16. Can we hit, can we field? I will look at the pitchers a little later. I just need to digest what these totals tell us. Our does this all hinge on Sano and Buxton like I talked about in - https://twinsdaily.com/blogs/entry/11292-%7B%3F%7D/ Do we need more or do we look forward to another year with the moves that are made? https://twinsdaily.com/blogs/entry/11289-%7B%3F%7D/
  4. I've not followed this season as closely as I would have liked, but it has been disappointing for sure. In reading the posts after the Twins traded a quarter of their roster, mostly for prospects, it seemed that the back channel conversation was about when the Twins would be good enough to contend. I think they can as soon as next year. First of all, the lineup has a lot of young veterans who could (and should) make a step forward next year. Sano and Buxton have had high expectations, but only about a season and a half of good results between the two of them--Sano's rookie year and first half of 2017 and Buxton's second half of '17--Kepler hasn't become even a good player despite excellent tools and a great swing, Rosario has broken out, Polanco missed half a season with a suspension. I think three or four of those five could be All-Stars or near All-Stars next year. I'm thinking that an acquisition or two of pitchers with what is coming back next year will make the mound corps pretty good. Berrios has a ways to go, but he's had a handful of dominant starts, Gibson has been very good, and even when he doesn't have his best stuff, he's given the team a chance to win. Add a solid starter and then pick from Meija, Pineda, Gonsalves, Odorizzi, maybe Stewart and Slegers to fill out the rotation. In the bullpen, a veteran arm or two with Rogers, Moya, Hildy, a perhaps revitalized Reed are the start of a good pen. There is money to spend so that shouldn't be a problem. Catching should be better with Castro and an improved Garver manning that duty. There seem to be three or four "super teams" and Cleveland is also very good, but things can change pretty quickly. I certainly hope that the FO approaches 2019 with the idea of contending. I'm too old to wait for rebuilds lasting several years!
  5. I like Baseball Reference’s similarity scores so I thought we should look at our lineup and see it in an alternative universe – with the most similar players according to the reference (with Sano still in the lineup): Brian Dozier - Earl Williams Eddie Rosario - Yasmany Tomas Eddie Escobar - Jose Castillo Miguel Sano - Michael Conforto Max Kepler - Elijah Dukes Logan Morrison - Garrett Jones Robbie Grossman - Bud Metheny Juan Castro - John McDonald Jorge Polanco - Tim Anderson Since Mitch Garver and Ehire Adrianza have no similarity listed. I went to Juan Castro and Jorge Polanco. Mauer has a similarity score that matches Dustin Pedroia. Byron Buxton has his similarity score match Byron Browne. Look at the similarities and substitute them in your lineup. Would that lineup be one you want to go to the season with? Put in Byron Browne and Dustin Pedroia for Mauer and Buxton and you still have a lineup that has no punch. Most of the equivalents are not names any of us know. Going down the similarity scores you will eventually find current or known entities, but I just wanted to move from our home team bias and see where our players rank within baseball history. We have a ways to go. I think Rosario and Escobar will bring up even better names if they continue like this, but really, somethings need to be done. On the pitching side: Jose Berrios - David Nied Fernando Romero - None Jake Odorizzi - Danny Salazar Lance Lynn - Mat Latos Kyle Gibson - Steve Parris Addison Reed - Chris Perez Fernando Rodney - Jason Isringhausen We do much better, as expected with pitching. Berrios will move up as he continues his development and so will Romero, but I still hope for more from Gonsalves. So this is your Minnesota Twins team by equivalency. How do they look when their masks are off?
  6. At the All-Star break, the Twins sit with a terrible 32-56 record and it is only that good because they've won the last three series against three AL West clubs. For most of the season, the Twins have scored the fewest runs in the AL while allowing the most. I wasn't totally surprised that the Twins pitching staff was bad, but it just doesn't seem right that they would be last in runs scored justifiably because they weren't getting on base and not hitting when they did manage to get runners in scoring position. With good work of late from their offense, the Twins have improved in offensive categories. They rank 10th in runs scored, 8th in OPS and slugging, 9th in OBP and 10th in homers. I would expect those numbers to continue to rise. There's plenty of talent and a lot of them are starting to realize their potential. Certainly, the pitching needs to improve, both the rotation and the back end of the bullpen. However, some guys have stepped up. Fernando Abad was brilliant for the first quarter of the season, but has faded. Brandon Kinzler was signed to a minor league contract, but recalled this spring and has been pretty good. Taylor Rogers looks like he belongs in the bullpen and Ryan Pressly and Michael Tonkin have shown enough to hold spots in the Twins bullpen. There is enough offense to be a good team soon. There isn't enough pitching. The Twins don't have an ace and their most consistent veteran is supposedly on the block. I am of the opinion that every trade made by the Twins from now until they are a true contender has to bring back pitching or catching. It is my belief that the Twins will be good again when their staff is better than average. I'm willing to bet the members of that staff will be homegrown or acquired in minor deals or the Rule V Draft. Signing free agent pitchers is like going against the house in Vegas. You might win once in a while, but long term the house always wins. Ryan has attempted to sign pitchers to eight figure (per year) contracts and it hasn't worked out. I expect the Twins to be more competitive in the second half of the season. I sincerely hope they trade a couple of veterans to allow the kids to play. Chargois and Berrios can cut their teeth in the major leagues. Some of Suzuki, Plouffe, Nuñez, Santana, Nolasco, and Abad should be sold off. I really don't think they are that far away, if they can get middle of the pack pitching. The other factor, which I think is overlooked in the Twins demise this year is defense. The pitching staff has enough trouble getting three outs in an inning and too often, because of misplays, a fourth or fifth out has been donated to the opponent. If the Twins get a new catcher or catching tandem, I would hope they get a solid defender who can limit opponent's running game. Also, another glaring deficiency has been shortstop. Eduardo Nuñez is below average as a shortstop and Eduardo Escobar has had a poor year playing short IMHO. A trade of Nuñez would probably net better defense at short
  7. How do we keep Trevor and Miguel in the lineup together? How do we find the right catcher? How do we shore up the bullpen? Should Torii Hunter have a role? Do we need another starter, or just swap out some that we have? Can we afford an ace? How do we do all this under a scenario that the F.O. might actually consider, from an economic perspective? I think it can all be done, by next spring, with relatively few moves. But two of them are big. We would trade Brian Dozier and Kyle Gibson. We would not resign Cotts, Boyer, Hunter, Pelfrey, Robinson, or Nunez. We would sign two free agent relief pitchers. The idea is that the combination of Gibson/Dozier brings a cost-controlled young defensive catcher with offensive upside and front-line pitching prospect, perhaps a year away from the bigs. The holes get plugged in a different way than I've seen, as well. It's not Polanco to 2nd, but Rosario. The defensive arrangement would be young stud/Suzuki at catcher (keeping Kurt below his vesting option), Mauer, Rosario, Escobar, and Sano around the infield. Outfield would be Plouffe in left, Buxton in center, and Hicks in right. We would move Hunter to a coaching role. Customary DH is a combination of Arcia/ABWIII/Vargas. Bench is Suzuki, ABW, Santana, and Vargas. We have some pop in our pinch hitters for a change. Rosario/ABW/Arcia would be Plouffe's backup in left, Hicks would be depth in center, Arcia and ABW would be behind Hicks in right. Plouffe, Escobar and Santana would back up third, Santana would back up SS and 2nd, and Plouffe, Vargas, Sano would back up 1B. Max Kepler would start at AAA. Starters would be Hughes, Santana, Nolasco, Duffy, and May with Berrios, Milone, Meyer and the prospect received for Dozier/Gibson in the wings. Bullpen would be Jepson, Perkins, Duensing, Neftali Feliz, Tommy Hunter (both F.A. acquisitions), and some combination of existing relief and starters (thinking right now Milone and Meyer). "A" lineup is Hicks, Mauer, Sano, Arcia (putting a lot of stock in this guy's rebound, no doubt), Plouffe, Rosario, Escobar, catcher, Buxton. But the big keys to this transformation are moving Rosario to second base and Plouffe to left field (and given Plouffe's ability to play SS and 3B, I think he can be an effective LF, though not trying to clone the Alex Gordon experiment and expect the same results). This allows us to trade Dozier, keep Rosario in the lineup at a position where his OBP doesn't hurt you, keep Plouffe and still play Sano, and beefs up the three biggest holes - catcher, potential frontline starter, and relief, all while being cost-controlled and maintaining budget. And the trades are not that substantial - some combination of Gibson and Dozier for a great catcher and starting pitcher prospect. Or it could be simplified, depending on how you want to approach it, and Dozier is traded for a catcher, and Gibson remains. I just feel both are sell-high candidates right now, and this team has not sold high on anyone in a long time - they've looked for other team's castoffs and low-dollar free agents, but this gives them trade chips that will bring back quality in return. How would you shape the roster for next year?
  8. The Twins have a split-squad double-header today and lots of guys are playing. Here is the lineup for the Twins against the Rays today: Alexi Casilla 2B Jamey Carroll SS Trevor Plouffe LF Chris Parmelee 1B Danny Valencia 3B Brian Dinkelman RF Steve Pearce DH Drew Butera C Joe Benson CF Pitchers: Terry Doyle, Scott Diamond, Luis Perdomo, Aaron Thompson, Lester Oliveros, PJ Walters, Casey Fien
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