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  1. The Twins reportedly have expressed interest in re-signing free agent utilityman Marwin Gonzalez. MLB.com's Mark Feinsand shares the report and co-credits Twins beat writer Doh Young Park on the scoop: Ugh.
  2. After racing to a 10-2 start, the Minnesota Twins hit a speed bump against what should've been an exploitable soft spot in the schedule. A six-game winning streak gave way to a four-game losing streak as the team is suddenly overcome by sleepy and punchless performances. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 8/3 through Sun, 8/9 *** Record Last Week: 3-4 (Overall: 10-6) Run Differential Last Week: +1 (Overall: +23) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (0.5 GA) Bomba Counter: 25 (Pace: 94) Everything seemed to take a turn for the Twins on Thursday afternoon in Pittsburgh. With a two-run lead in the eighth inning, they appeared to be headed toward a seventh straight win. But the Pirates rallied to manufacture three runs against Sergio Romo and Taylor Rogers, despite not hitting anything especially hard. Rogers ended up getting walked off on a two-run ground ball single, and the Twins haven't won since. Making matters worse is the rash of negative injury news to emerge over the course of the week. Homer Bailey and Rich Hill were both placed on the Injured List, with fairly ominous issues. Bailey is bothered by right biceps tendinitis and, as of Saturday, had yet to resume throwing. Hill's injury seems more minor, as he's traveling with the team and going through his throwing progressions, but it's unsettling to hear about a 40-year-old experiencing shoulder fatigue after his first start of the season.On Friday the Twins announced that Josh Donaldson, who hadn't played for a week, was being placed on the Injured List retroactive to August 4th, meaning he'll miss most of next week at least. I had written on Thursday night about Donaldson's cursed (and blessed) massive calves, which have given him plenty of trouble in the past.On the bright side, Jake Odorizzi was activated to take Donaldson's place on the active roster, and made his season debut on Saturday. He looked okay, allowing two runs over three innings, but what's most important is that he's healthy and back in this depleted rotation. HIGHLIGHTS With the offense still looking to find its rhythm, pitching continues to steal the show. Granted, the Twins faced a soft slate of opponents over the past week, but their arms still deserve plenty of credit for taking care of business. With the exception of Saturday's lapse, it was another strong week for the pitchers, most notably: Randy Dobnak, who delivered yet another sterling performance with six scoreless innings against Pittsburgh on Wednesday. His ERA sits at 0.60 after three starts.Kenta Maeda, who made one make mistake the following day – a three-run homer – but was otherwise outstanding in delivering another quality start.Jorge Alcala, who joined the bullpen just ahead of the week and made three appearances, totaling five innings. He allowed two earned runs on three hits and struck out eight while walking only one. That last stat is most encouraging – if Alcala can keep his 99 MPH heater and hard slider in the zone, he's going be a difference-maker for the bullpen.Tyler Duffey, who pitched only once but extended his remarkable early-season run with a scoreless frame. On the season, Duffey has faced 16 batters and retired 15 of them – 10 on strikeouts. Very nearly perfect. It's interesting, though, that Alcala threw as many innings this past week as Duffey has all season, and that reflects a broader trend: Rocco Baldelli has seemed more inclined to use his lower-tier relief arms than his top dogs, even when his better options are well-rested. Trying to save as many bullets as possible for later? With Garver and Sanó both failing to click, the lineup's right-handed power threat is severely diminished, which might help explain why the teams is slugging just .339 off southpaws. Last year they had a collective .521 slugging percentage against lefties. Count Luis Arráez as another expected spark plug who's been fizzling of late. Since opening the season on a five-game hitting streak, he's gone just 3-for-25, including 3-for-16 over the past week while missing a couple games due to knee soreness. His plate approach is still just fine – he drew four walks with only one strikeout – but the results aren't there right now for the scrappy second baseman, who basically hit non-stop as a rookie. While the pitching staff has mostly been quite good, an overt outlier is Lewis Thorpe. He got the starting nod against Pittsburgh on Monday and was quite shaky, allowing three earned runs on six hits and four walks over four innings. His second appearance of the week came in relief, as Thorpe came in after Odorizzi's exit on Saturday night, and it was even more brutal: He was charged with three runs on three hits – including a home run allowed to light-hitting second baseman Nicky Lopez – while failing to record an out. This year's version of Thorpe looks very little like the intriguing whiff machine we saw last year; his velocity is now down, his command has been poor, and batters aren't getting fooled as evidenced by a 7.4% swinging strike rate. He frankly doesn't look like a very palatable option right now. One wonders if the Twins would consider swapping in a higher-upside arm like Jhoan Duran from the alternative training site to see if it provides a jolt. TRENDING STORYLINE Speaking of reinforcements, the offense could maybe use some right now. The current 18-to-12 ratio of pitchers to position players is quite lopsided, and a lot of key relievers just aren't getting much work. Perhaps that's by design, to an extent, but there have to be downsides to it in terms of maintaining sharpness. Travis Blankenhorn stands out as a sensible short-term add, given that he can play both infield positions (third and second) where the Twins have players banged up. If the team concludes that Donaldson will be out for a prolonged time, might they consider something a little more drastic? Like, say, shifting Sanó back across the diamond to third and using someone like Alex Kirilloff or Brent Rooker at first? Or even sliding a Jorge Polanco or Arráez to third and giving Royce Lewis a look? Of course, there's also a beloved guy by the name of Willians Astudillo who is now recovered from his COVID bout and ramping up in St. Paul... LOOKING AHEAD The Twins are off to Milwaukee to wrap up their road trip in a border battle against the Brewers. Dobnak will open the week tryin build upon his spectacular start to the season on Monday. After three games against the Brew Crew, the Twins get their only day off in the month of August, and then head back to Target Field for a rematch against Kansas City. MONDAY, 8/10: TWINS @ BREWERS – RHP Randy Dobnak v. RHP Adrian Houser TUESDAY, 8/11: TWINS @ BREWERS – TBD v. RHP Josh Lindblom WEDNESDAY, 8/12: TWINS @ BREWERS – RHP Kenta Maeda v. LHP Eric Lauer FRIDAY, 8/14: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Jakob Junis v. RHP Jake Odorizzi SATURDAY, 8/15: ROYALS @ TWINS – LHP Danny Duffy v. RHP Jose Berrios SUNDAY, 8/16: ROYALS @ TWINS – Kris Bubic vs Undecided Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps Game 10 | MIN 5, PIT 4: Nelson Cruz Delivers a Walk-Off Hit to Cap ComebackGame 11 | MIN 7, PIT 3: José Berríos Overcomes Command, DroneGame 12 | MIN 5, PIT 2: Randy Dobnak Delivers 6 Scoreless, Max Kepler Provides Key Insurance HomerGame 13 | PIT 6, MIN 5: Taylor Rogers Blows Save, Win Streak SnappedGame 14 | KCR 3, MIN 2: No Cruz, No Donaldson, No Arráez, No OffenseGame 15 | KCR 9, MIN 6: Brief 2020 Debut for Odorizzi; Royals Bust It Open Against BullpenGame 16 | KCR 4, MIN 2: Bad Day for Berríos, BatsMORE FROM TWINS DAILY— Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  3. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 8/3 through Sun, 8/9 *** Record Last Week: 3-4 (Overall: 10-6) Run Differential Last Week: +1 (Overall: +23) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (0.5 GA) Bomba Counter: 25 (Pace: 94) Everything seemed to take a turn for the Twins on Thursday afternoon in Pittsburgh. With a two-run lead in the eighth inning, they appeared to be headed toward a seventh straight win. But the Pirates rallied to manufacture three runs against Sergio Romo and Taylor Rogers, despite not hitting anything especially hard. Rogers ended up getting walked off on a two-run ground ball single, and the Twins haven't won since. Making matters worse is the rash of negative injury news to emerge over the course of the week. Homer Bailey and Rich Hill were both placed on the Injured List, with fairly ominous issues. Bailey is bothered by right biceps tendinitis and, as of Saturday, had yet to resume throwing. Hill's injury seems more minor, as he's traveling with the team and going through his throwing progressions, but it's unsettling to hear about a 40-year-old experiencing shoulder fatigue after his first start of the season. On Friday the Twins announced that Josh Donaldson, who hadn't played for a week, was being placed on the Injured List retroactive to August 4th, meaning he'll miss most of next week at least. I had written on Thursday night about Donaldson's cursed (and blessed) massive calves, which have given him plenty of trouble in the past. On the bright side, Jake Odorizzi was activated to take Donaldson's place on the active roster, and made his season debut on Saturday. He looked okay, allowing two runs over three innings, but what's most important is that he's healthy and back in this depleted rotation. HIGHLIGHTS With the offense still looking to find its rhythm, pitching continues to steal the show. Granted, the Twins faced a soft slate of opponents over the past week, but their arms still deserve plenty of credit for taking care of business. With the exception of Saturday's lapse, it was another strong week for the pitchers, most notably: Randy Dobnak, who delivered yet another sterling performance with six scoreless innings against Pittsburgh on Wednesday. His ERA sits at 0.60 after three starts. Kenta Maeda, who made one make mistake the following day – a three-run homer – but was otherwise outstanding in delivering another quality start. Jorge Alcala, who joined the bullpen just ahead of the week and made three appearances, totaling five innings. He allowed two earned runs on three hits and struck out eight while walking only one. That last stat is most encouraging – if Alcala can keep his 99 MPH heater and hard slider in the zone, he's going be a difference-maker for the bullpen. Tyler Duffey, who pitched only once but extended his remarkable early-season run with a scoreless frame. On the season, Duffey has faced 16 batters and retired 15 of them – 10 on strikeouts. Very nearly perfect. It's interesting, though, that Alcala threw as many innings this past week as Duffey has all season, and that reflects a broader trend: Rocco Baldelli has seemed more inclined to use his lower-tier relief arms than his top dogs, even when his better options are well-rested. Trying to save as many bullets as possible for later? https://twitter.com/SethTweets/status/1292575832234266625 In a quieter week for the bats, there were still some standouts at the plate. Most notable among them is Byron Buxton, who shook off an early-season slump to homer in three straight games, and now finds himself on a six-game hitting streak. He raised his OPS from .167 to .779 from Monday to Sunday. Seeing him start to get rolling at the bottom of the order is a huge positive as so many other players struggle, and injuries take their toll. Another key figure in the lineup, especially with Donaldson absent, is Marwin González, and he has risen to the occasion. He started all seven games last week, manning every infield position other than short and looking sharp at each one while going 8-for-26 with a homer and three RBIs. His .855 OPS on the season ranks behind only Nelson Cruz and Max Kepler, who both also had good weeks. For more on Marwin, check out Cody Pirkl's recent article expressing appreciation for González and what he brings to the table for Minnesota. LOWLIGHTS The Twins lineup still has not been able to get going. They've averaged fewer than four runs per game since the season-opening series in Chicago, and were held almost completely in check by a mediocre Royals staff. As Seth wrote over the weekend, Minnesota's struggles might be a little overstated in the context of the entire league, where offense is down generally, but it's still disturbing to see so many hitters in this vaunted group scuffling. At the head of that list is Mitch Garver, who just cannot seem to find it. He started four of the team's seven games last week and went 0-for-14, dropping his average to .094 on the season. He showed decent discipline, drawing four walks against five strikeouts, but the catcher isn't squaring up anything. According to Statcast, his home run against Cleveland last weekend is the only ball he's barrelled up all year; in 2019, Garver ranked among the league's top 4% of players in Barrel %. Also struggling mightily from the right side is Miguel Sanó. The first baseman hit a double and home run against the Pirates, but otherwise went 0-for-20 on the week with 12 strikeouts. For the year, he has struck out 23 times with only one non-intentional walk. Unlike Garver, Sanó is at least crushing the ball when he makes contact, so I expect him to get into a zone soon as he sees more pitches, but it hasn't happened yet. He went 0-for-11 in the KC series. https://twitter.com/NickNelsonMN/status/1292159138424918021 With Garver and Sanó both failing to click, the lineup's right-handed power threat is severely diminished, which might help explain why the teams is slugging just .339 off southpaws. Last year they had a collective .521 slugging percentage against lefties. Count Luis Arráez as another expected spark plug who's been fizzling of late. Since opening the season on a five-game hitting streak, he's gone just 3-for-25, including 3-for-16 over the past week while missing a couple games due to knee soreness. His plate approach is still just fine – he drew four walks with only one strikeout – but the results aren't there right now for the scrappy second baseman, who basically hit non-stop as a rookie. While the pitching staff has mostly been quite good, an overt outlier is Lewis Thorpe. He got the starting nod against Pittsburgh on Monday and was quite shaky, allowing three earned runs on six hits and four walks over four innings. His second appearance of the week came in relief, as Thorpe came in after Odorizzi's exit on Saturday night, and it was even more brutal: He was charged with three runs on three hits – including a home run allowed to light-hitting second baseman Nicky Lopez – while failing to record an out. This year's version of Thorpe looks very little like the intriguing whiff machine we saw last year; his velocity is now down, his command has been poor, and batters aren't getting fooled as evidenced by a 7.4% swinging strike rate. He frankly doesn't look like a very palatable option right now. One wonders if the Twins would consider swapping in a higher-upside arm like Jhoan Duran from the alternative training site to see if it provides a jolt. TRENDING STORYLINE Speaking of reinforcements, the offense could maybe use some right now. The current 18-to-12 ratio of pitchers to position players is quite lopsided, and a lot of key relievers just aren't getting much work. Perhaps that's by design, to an extent, but there have to be downsides to it in terms of maintaining sharpness. Travis Blankenhorn stands out as a sensible short-term add, given that he can play both infield positions (third and second) where the Twins have players banged up. If the team concludes that Donaldson will be out for a prolonged time, might they consider something a little more drastic? Like, say, shifting Sanó back across the diamond to third and using someone like Alex Kirilloff or Brent Rooker at first? Or even sliding a Jorge Polanco or Arráez to third and giving Royce Lewis a look? Of course, there's also a beloved guy by the name of Willians Astudillo who is now recovered from his COVID bout and ramping up in St. Paul... LOOKING AHEAD The Twins are off to Milwaukee to wrap up their road trip in a border battle against the Brewers. Dobnak will open the week tryin build upon his spectacular start to the season on Monday. After three games against the Brew Crew, the Twins get their only day off in the month of August, and then head back to Target Field for a rematch against Kansas City. MONDAY, 8/10: TWINS @ BREWERS – RHP Randy Dobnak v. RHP Adrian Houser TUESDAY, 8/11: TWINS @ BREWERS – TBD v. RHP Josh Lindblom WEDNESDAY, 8/12: TWINS @ BREWERS – RHP Kenta Maeda v. LHP Eric Lauer FRIDAY, 8/14: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Jakob Junis v. RHP Jake Odorizzi SATURDAY, 8/15: ROYALS @ TWINS – LHP Danny Duffy v. RHP Jose Berrios SUNDAY, 8/16: ROYALS @ TWINS – Kris Bubic vs Undecided Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps Game 10 | MIN 5, PIT 4: Nelson Cruz Delivers a Walk-Off Hit to Cap Comeback Game 11 | MIN 7, PIT 3: José Berríos Overcomes Command, Drone Game 12 | MIN 5, PIT 2: Randy Dobnak Delivers 6 Scoreless, Max Kepler Provides Key Insurance Homer Game 13 | PIT 6, MIN 5: Taylor Rogers Blows Save, Win Streak Snapped Game 14 | KCR 3, MIN 2: No Cruz, No Donaldson, No Arráez, No Offense Game 15 | KCR 9, MIN 6: Brief 2020 Debut for Odorizzi; Royals Bust It Open Against Bullpen Game 16 | KCR 4, MIN 2: Bad Day for Berríos, Bats MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  4. For Dustin Morse, collecting each of the team’s home run balls in Chicago was not “premeditated.” However, the first pitch of the season put in place some historic moments for the Twins in their first series of the year. Bomba 1: Kepler’s First Pitch Minnesota’s season started with a bang as Max Kepler took Lucas Giolito deep on the first pitch of the season. “Before I really even got my scorebook out, Kepler put one in the seats,” said Morse. “Being a little bit of a history buff, I knew it was going to be some type of record.” https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1286817990332350467?s=20 “I made a call to the White Sox and said, ‘Hey, how do I get that ball?’ and they said the best bet is probably just to go get it.” And so, the Bomba hunting journey began. Morse was in an unfamiliar ballpark amid a pandemic and that changed his path to the ball. “I took off for it and tried to navigate the right way to get out there. It wasn’t easy. There were doors that were locked and stairs that weren’t being used. I had to cut through some weird spots, parts of the ballpark I had never seen, kitchens and backdoors.” “I got out to right field and was able to track down the ball for Max or for the Twins. At the time, I didn’t know. I figured Max might want it. If not, the Twins would certainly take it.” Bomba 2: Kepler’s Second At-Bat Kepler wasted little time making Morse head out on another baseball hunting journey. In his second at-bat of the year, he hit another home run and Morse knew this had to be another historical moment. Time to track down another ball. “Then Max did it again,” said Morse. “I knew that was going to be historic. A guy to hit homers in back-to-back at-bats to start the season.” “At that point, I knew the process, so I could just go out and get it. It’s ours.” https://twitter.com/morsecode/status/1286833289140076544?s=20 Kepler plans to keep the balls and give them both to his parents. Bomba 3: Cruz, the Ageless Wonder Minnesota’s second game in Chicago didn’t go exactly as planned as Dallas Keuchel stymied the Twins for most of the game. Before the bullpen imploded, Nelson Cruz helped to make the game a little closer by cranking his first home run of the season. “Nelson Cruz put one in the seats and I kind of thought to myself, ‘Well that’s Nelson Cruz. How many guys have home runs when they are 40?’ Might as well get it. It’s just sitting out there.” https://twitter.com/morsecode/status/1287117340178612229?s=20 Morse continued, “At that point, I exchanged numbers with the [MLB] authenticator and he said, ‘Yeah, if you want to get it, I see it. So, then I was three-for-three and it kind of became a thing.” Bomba 4: Cave’s Grand Salami The Twins were clearly frustrated after Saturday’s loss and they took that frustration out on the White Sox pitching staff. Cave got the Bomba barrage started with a first inning grand slam. But this might have been the toughest home run for Morse to track down because of where it landed. “I thought, ‘All right, let’s do it.’ But that one was tricky, because it went into the White Sox bullpen and I just didn’t have the guts to go down there and ask those guys for a grand slam ball as we are piling on the runs.” “I ended up talking to my counterpart with the White Sox and he sent a text to one of the clubhouse attendants and one of the ball boys went down the line. He ended up getting it, bringing it in, and I met their PR guy in one of the back hallways and ended up getting the Cave ball.” Bomba 5: Cruz, the (Still) Ageless Wonder Before he was able get the Cave ball, Morse had already acquired Minnesota’s second home run of the day. Nelson Cruz hit his second home run of the year in the top of the fourth inning and luckily for Morse, that ball landed in a location that was a little more easily accessible. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1287472332160868357?s=20 “I ended up getting the Nelson Cruz ball, which was a blast out into left field, prior to getting the Cave ball and I ended up getting on a hot streak.” Bomba 6: Still Cruzing Cruz wasn’t done for the day after his fourth inning blast. He ended up tallying two doubles, two home runs and seven RBI on his way to being named the American League Player of the Week. Because of his post-game duties, the eighth inning is getting a little late in the game for Morse to track down a ball. “The second Cruz ball, at that point, was just something to do and I was able to get it. I was settled on kind of six-for-six. Kind of a fun cool story.” But the story wasn’t done there. Bomba 7: Marwin Makes It Tough If Morse wanted to complete his perfect weekend, it would take a sprint out to the stands after Gonzalez hit the team’s seven home run in the series. “My postgame job is setting up for the media and we do it all through Zoom in the Zoom Room. So I was in a conference room down in the tunnel kind of off of home plate. Buried kind of deep in the ballpark.” “I looked up and I saw Marwin up and I said to a couple of our advanced guys, ‘If Marwin puts one in the right field corner here, I am going to have a hard time.’ And the next pitch, he did it.” “I set up the Zoom for post-game and I decided I need to at least give it a try. I didn’t know how to get out there, so I had to backtrack toward left field and go up a level to come back down to right field… And there it was, seven-for-seven.” https://twitter.com/morsecode/status/1287505349436682242?s=20 More Bomba Hunting? Is Morse going to continue to try and hunt down all the home run balls for the Twins this season? “I don’t think I can keep up the pace,” he said. “I don’t think I will need to do it at home. We have a lot of good people and volunteers collecting balls at Target Field.” “The good news is as a team I think we will be able to collect most of them, but I don’t know how much longer I can bother the home team.” It certainly was exciting to follow Morse and his Bomba hunting escapades. Let’s home he has plenty more hunting to do throughout the rest of the 2020 season. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. Jake Cave, OF Byron Buxton’s injury is one of the biggest reasons Cave was given the opportunity to play in two of the team’s first three games. He certainly made his presence felt in Sunday’s game by cracking a first inning grand slam that put the Twins on the way to a blowout win. For the series, he finished 3-for-9 with six RBI. The argument can also be made that he is the best fourth outfielder in baseball. https://twitter.com/Brandon_Warne/status/1287454374978039810?s=20 Defensively, Cave has been playing in centerfield, which could be viewed as an interesting choice by manager Rocco Baldelli. Max Kepler is the better defender in center as he played nearly 460 innings there last season and was worth 4 DRS and 3.6 DEF. Cave was worth -3 DRS and -2.1 DEF, so there is little question that Baldelli should put Kepler in center. However, Cave’s impact was felt in both of the team’s victories this weekend so maybe this formula works (for now). Ehire Adrianza, IF Adrianza played in one of the team’s games this weekend and it was the only game the Twins lost, but he still can impact the game. He went 1-for-4 and scored one of the team’s three runs that game. His biggest influence comes on the defensive side of the ball because he is the best defensive infielder on the roster not named Josh Donaldson. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1287106518672908290?s=20 Last season, he played 59 innings or more at second base, first base, shortstop and third base. Looking at the regulars penciled in at those positions, it is going to be tough for Adrianza to get playing time at any of those spots this season. This means he will likely have to settle for being used sparingly unless an injury were to occur (knock on wood). Marwin Gonzalez, OF/1B Gonzalez entered the 2020 season in a different spot than last season. Miguel Sano started 2019 injured and this meant Gonzalez started the year as the team’s everyday third baseman. Sano isn’t injured this season, but his positive COVID-19 test kept him out of the start of Summer Camp, and he could have put his swing a little behind schedule. This allowed Gonzalez to start two games over the weekend and he went 2-for-8 with a homer. https://twitter.com/HomeRunVideos/status/1287518369462341633?s=20 One of the most impressive things from Gonzalez this weekend might have been his professional approach at the plate. On Saturday afternoon, he faced off against former teammate Dallas Keuchel who was rolling through the early innings. Gonzalez did his best to mess with Keuchel’s timing and even Justin Morneau made note of it from the booth. He did the same thing on Sunday when Reynaldo Lopez was struggling early in the game. Out of players still on the Twins, Gonzalez had the fifth most plate appearances last season, so it will be interesting to see how the club finds him at-bats this year. Which player adds the most to the Twins depth? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  6. There’s no denying that the Minnesota Twins are one of baseball’s most exciting teams. Their bullpen should rank among the league’s best, and the lineup is one that provides envy to virtually every other group out there. Kicking off a weird 2020 season though, they may need to make some changes. When Byron Buxton went down in a heap after tracking a fly ball on Monday night the worst was feared. Fortunately, it’s just a mid-foot sprain, and while that may have some lingering effects, there’s still reason to believe the recovery could be sooner rather than later. Unfortunately for the Twins, their starting first basemen is uninjured but has yet to show up to Summer Camp. Miguel Sano received a positive test diagnosis upon returning to Target Field. Quarantined and awaiting two negative COVID-19 tests before his return, the runway to ramp up for the season is running out. The Twins travel to Chicago in five days, play an exhibition against the Cubs in six, and open their 2020 campaign against the White Sox in eight. Calling a return that quickly rushed would be putting it lightly. So, where does that leave us? Let’s tackle the more probable scenario, who plays first base? That answer should be relatively straightforward with utility man Marwin Gonzalez sliding in. MarGo has started 154 games at first base in his career and has logged over 1,400 innings there. He’s still best suited in left field, but there really isn’t a position besides shortstop that he’s overly stretched in. Certainly, Sano’s bat would be preferred, but having Marwin trend back towards the .900 OPS he compiled while listening to the trash can would be a nice resurgence. Assuming Buxton isn’t back for Opening Day, or even a few games thereafter, Gonzalez is actually piece of that puzzle as well. Sliding Max Kepler to center and filling a corner spot with the utility man makes a ton of sense. With him already in the lineup, the next turn would logically be Jake Cave. While LaMonte Wade Jr. has a strong on-base presence, Cave is the more complete player. He should be avoided in center but has a good enough bat to play on the corners. Last season Cave finished with an .805 OPS, but what’s even more impressive is having done that after bottoming out at a .615 OPS prior to a May demotion. From his mid-June return through the end of the year he posted an .855 OPS. In 141 plate appearances from July 7 onward he generated a very nice .964 mark. The bat may be inconsistent, but it’s plenty capable. Both of these should be relatively short-term scenarios. For Sano, we see the effects of COVID-19 and what the virus is going to do to this season. A player with no symptoms tests positive and costs the team their services over a specific stretch of games. In a 60-game season, that missed time could be catastrophic, especially if said player is Josh Donaldson or Jose Berrios. On the Buxton side, contingency plans in the outfield remain a must for Minnesota. Unfortunate and unlucky as he is health wise, any absence by Byron will need to be evaluated in the short and long term. Immediately a Cave or Wade replacement makes sense. Knowing that him being out of the lineup opens a corner spot, both Brent Rooker and Trevor Larnach could then find themselves in the mix for a more prolonged absence. Let’s hope we aren’t discussing these scenarios too long into 2020, and their realities are few and far between. Minnesota has a shot at the World Series this year, but they’ll need all contributors for as much time as necessary. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  7. There is a competition for the Twins fifth starter job, and on Tuesday at Hammond Stadium, Randy Dobnak made another strong case for himself. The right-hander worked the first three innings and needed just 31 pitches. He gave up one hit - an infield single down the third base line. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out two batters. In spring, it’s about getting guys their work. Tyler Clippard came in for the fourth inning, and Randy Dobnak went down to the bullpen. “I threw 25 pitches in the bullpen.” Dobnak continued, “I don't know what the goal was, but I think it was like 55-60, plus all the warmups.” Rocco Baldelli said after the game that Dobnak pitched great. “he threw the ball very well. I think that he was doing everything he wanted to do out there. He spun the ball well. He got some swings and misses. He found himself in a very good place. So good, in fact, that he found himself throwing some extra pitches in the bullpen. But we're going to take that.” One inquisitive writer asked the manager after the game if it was almost tougher to evaluate Dobnak’s performance because it was so efficient. Baldelli noted, “I think there are times in spring training that you do almost hope that your pitchers get stressed. You want them to go out there and throw more pitches than they planned on, more pitches per inning than they planned on. You want there to be some runners on base. You want them to go back up a few bases. These things are going to happen during the season. Just to prepare them, I think it does help. You can never complain about an outing like that. He threw the ball very well. ” For Dobnak’s part, he’s not worrying about being too good this spring or too efficient. He said, “Still trying to work on some pitches here and there, but i'm still competing for a spot.” Dobnak is still working on things: “Today I was trying to get more depth on my slider. I've been working on that lately.” He added,“The changeup’s been working pretty well for me. Threw a few today that were pretty nice. I'm pleased with that. Next step will be the slider. Then I'll work on the sinker.” He was also excited to find himself with a defense filled with regulars. “Yeah. They're good. I get a lot of ground balls, so having the infield out there is nice to have. Marwin made a nice play in the first inning. Donaldson made a nice play. Polanco made a nice play. So, it's nice to have them out there.” In the first inning, Marwin Gonzalez made a diving play. In the second inning, Jorge Polanco made a nice play on a slow roller in the hole to his right. The next batter hit a ball to Josh Donaldson’s left. Donaldson made a tough play look easy. Dobnak finds himself in competition with veteran Jhoulys Chacin and fellow 2019 debuters Devin Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe. Camp is nearly half over, how do you think the fifth starting job is shaping up? Marwin Gonzalez Debuts There were no boos (at least none that were noticeable) when Marwin Gonzalez’s name was announced in the starting lineup or when he came to the plate for his two at-bats. The versatile, everyday player made his first appearance this spring. He had knee surgery in October and did very little for about two months. He began with light workouts in December. https://twitter.com/DanHayesMLB/status/1234929209954443264 He has been working hard since to get ready for play. He got tested right away and succeeded with the diving play at second base. His bat sure looked ready to roll. He said after his day was complete, “"Happy to be back on the field. I was kind of nervous about my knee, but it felt good."” Gonzalez hit a two-run double down the right field line in his first at-bat. Gonzalez said, "I was aggressive, man. I swung at four out of four pitches in that first at-bat." His second at-bat ended with a long home run to right-center field. “That was good. That wasn't the plan, but that was good.” https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1234927024738885640 Baldelli said, “Marwin put some excellent swings on the ball. I think his blood got flowing right away in the game having to make that play right off the bat and coming off of surgery and an offseason of hard work and rehabbing himself, that definitely gives you a lot of confidence” Sano Update Miguel Sano made a couple of nice plays at first base on Tuesday afternoon. But we’re here for the Bombas, right? Sano hit a line drive single to left field in his first at-bat and showed some speed in scoring from first base easily on Gonzalez’s double. In his seventh-inning at bat against Tigers RHP prospect Kyle Funkhouse, Sano connected for a long home run to right-center. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1234938433874923520 Colina Impressive Edwar Colina threw a scoreless ninth inning. He was hitting 99 with regularity and the scoreboard did show 100 mph on one pitch. He also showed a good, sharp slider at 85-87. The final batter hit a line drive back at him that hit him in the foot and bounced toward first base. He collected himself, ran to first and the final out was recorded. Following the game, he said he was just fine. Nick Gordon Update The Twins have a complete day off on Wednesday. Baldelli said a couple of players will just play some catch, but the team will not be working out at all. Nick Gordon is expected to play when the Twins return to action on Thursday. Baldelli noted, “He's cleared. He's ready to go.” Any questions, feel free to ask.
  8. In a battle of AL Central foes, the Twins topped Ron Gardenhire, Kennys Vargas and the Detroit Tigers. Randy Dobnak looked impressive. Maybe too impressive? Marwin Gonzalez had an impressive spring debut. Edwar Colina hitting 100. More notes from today at Hammond Stadium.There is a competition for the Twins fifth starter job, and on Tuesday at Hammond Stadium, Randy Dobnak made another strong case for himself. The right-hander worked the first three innings and needed just 31 pitches. He gave up one hit - an infield single down the third base line. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out two batters. In spring, it’s about getting guys their work. Tyler Clippard came in for the fourth inning, and Randy Dobnak went down to the bullpen. “I threw 25 pitches in the bullpen.” Dobnak continued, “I don't know what the goal was, but I think it was like 55-60, plus all the warmups.” Rocco Baldelli said after the game that Dobnak pitched great. “he threw the ball very well. I think that he was doing everything he wanted to do out there. He spun the ball well. He got some swings and misses. He found himself in a very good place. So good, in fact, that he found himself throwing some extra pitches in the bullpen. But we're going to take that.” One inquisitive writer asked the manager after the game if it was almost tougher to evaluate Dobnak’s performance because it was so efficient. Baldelli noted, “I think there are times in spring training that you do almost hope that your pitchers get stressed. You want them to go out there and throw more pitches than they planned on, more pitches per inning than they planned on. You want there to be some runners on base. You want them to go back up a few bases. These things are going to happen during the season. Just to prepare them, I think it does help. You can never complain about an outing like that. He threw the ball very well. ” For Dobnak’s part, he’s not worrying about being too good this spring or too efficient. He said, “Still trying to work on some pitches here and there, but i'm still competing for a spot.” Dobnak is still working on things: “Today I was trying to get more depth on my slider. I've been working on that lately.” He added,“The changeup’s been working pretty well for me. Threw a few today that were pretty nice. I'm pleased with that. Next step will be the slider. Then I'll work on the sinker.” He was also excited to find himself with a defense filled with regulars. “Yeah. They're good. I get a lot of ground balls, so having the infield out there is nice to have. Marwin made a nice play in the first inning. Donaldson made a nice play. Polanco made a nice play. So, it's nice to have them out there.” In the first inning, Marwin Gonzalez made a diving play. In the second inning, Jorge Polanco made a nice play on a slow roller in the hole to his right. The next batter hit a ball to Josh Donaldson’s left. Donaldson made a tough play look easy. Dobnak finds himself in competition with veteran Jhoulys Chacin and fellow 2019 debuters Devin Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe. Camp is nearly half over, how do you think the fifth starting job is shaping up? Marwin Gonzalez Debuts There were no boos (at least none that were noticeable) when Marwin Gonzalez’s name was announced in the starting lineup or when he came to the plate for his two at-bats. The versatile, everyday player made his first appearance this spring. He had knee surgery in October and did very little for about two months. He began with light workouts in December. Colina Impressive Edwar Colina threw a scoreless ninth inning. He was hitting 99 with regularity and the scoreboard did show 100 mph on one pitch. He also showed a good, sharp slider at 85-87. The final batter hit a line drive back at him that hit him in the foot and bounced toward first base. He collected himself, ran to first and the final out was recorded. Following the game, he said he was just fine. Nick Gordon Update The Twins have a complete day off on Wednesday. Baldelli said a couple of players will just play some catch, but the team will not be working out at all. Nick Gordon is expected to play when the Twins return to action on Thursday. Baldelli noted, “He's cleared. He's ready to go.” Any questions, feel free to ask. Click here to view the article
  9. Players are going to continue to chase a higher number of pitches especially with launch angle and exit velocity becoming more prevalent in the baseball vernacular. Last season, the MLB average was 28.8% for chase percentage with a 57.6% chase contact percentage. Compared to previous seasons, chase percentage has gone up each year from 27.3% in 2017 to 27.6% in 2018. Not all Twins hitters need to improve their chase rate. Mitch Garver was much better than the league average with a 17.4 chase % and it was no surprise for Luis Arraez to be better than league average (24.3 chase %). Other Twins better than league average included Miguel Sano (26.2%), Jorge Polanco (26.6%), Nelson Cruz (27.2%), and Max Kepler (27.6%). These players could certainly make improvements this year, but they were already better than or close to league average. Sano might be a surprising name to be included in the list above, because of his offensive profile. He is a larger player that is considered a power hitter and this player type typically has big swings that can result in a lot of strikeouts. Sano’s chase % was less than two points lower than Arraez, who became well known for his eye at the plate during his rookie season. Sano was even a full point better than Cruz, his hitting mentor, in relation to chase %. Newly signed Josh Donaldson has fared well with chase percentage even though, like Sano, he fits the profile of a power hitter. For his career, he has a 22.6 chase % while last season he was slightly higher at 23.1%. Last season, he also made more contact outside of the zone (60.0 chase contact %), a career high. His veteran approach at the plate could help other players especially some of the younger players in the organization. Eddie Rosario is an interesting case when it comes to chase percentage. He led all Twins players with a 43.1 chase % and it placed him fifth in all of baseball. What makes him interesting is the amount of contact he makes outside of the zone (over 70% of the time) and that puts him in baseball’s top 20. It’s hard to imagine Rosario changing his offensive approach at this point in his career, but it would be nice if he could get his chase % below 40%. Byron Buxton and Marwin Gonzalez had similar profiles when it came to chase % with Buxton’s chase percentage (33.9 %) only 0.4% higher than Gonzalez. Prior to the 2019 season, Buxton’s career chase % was under 32% and it seems like he could get back to that mark if he is healthy. Gonzalez had his career best chase % with the 2017 Astros and most fans are familiar with the cheating scandal surrounding that club. His chase % last season might have been the best of his career when excluding the 2017-18 seasons. Baseball is continuing to evolve, but some small changes for Twins batters could help the club reach their ultimate goal. Which Twins batters can make the biggest changes with chase % in 2020? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  10. Minnesota Twins super-utility player Marwin Gonzalez addressed the media about his participation in the Houston Astros electronically-based sign-stealing scandal. He started with an apology. “I'm remorseful for everything that happened in 2017, for everything that we did as a group, and for the players that were affected directly by us by doing this and some other things," said Gonzalez. "That's why I feel more regret, and that's why I'm remorseful.”Gonzalez obviously wanted to make it clear that he most regretted how it impacted the fraternity of fellow ballplayers, some of who are on his team this year. Twins reliever Rich Hill was on the Los Angeles Dodgers team that the Astros beat in the World Series. Twins starting pitcher Jose Berrios was hit hard by the Astros in 2017 in his road start against them. Gonzalez plans to talk to them specifically. “I just got here yesterday,” said Gonzalez. “Obviously, we're teammates now and we're going to have a great relationship as I spend more time with these guys as a young family. Hopefully it's eight months, including spring training. That means that we're going to fight in the playoffs and try to bring a championship back to this city. That's plenty of time to talk. I'm sure we're going to have a great relationship.” The 2017 Astros won the World Series and Marwin Gonzalez had a career year, posting career-high numbers. It was later revealed that the Astros used electronic means to steal signals and then signal batters by banging a trash can in the dugout. Gonzalez was the recipient of more “bangs” than any other Astro, and his chase percentage on offspeed pitches point to him gaining a significant advantage that year. Gonzalez, a Scott Boras client, signed a two-year, $21 million contract with the Twins in late February 2019. The multi-positional every day player will be a free agent at the end of the 2020 season. MLB decided that the players involved in the cheating scandal would not be fined or suspended. In recent weeks, we have heard from former Astros players such as Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton. Morton talked at Rays camp on Monday and said, “Personally, I regret not doing more to stop it. I don’t know what that would have entailed.” Penalties and suspensions have been levied against Astros' management and their general manager and manager were both fired. They were also fined the maximum amount allowed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement and lost four draft picks, their first- and second-round picks in 2020 and 2021. This was Gonzalez's first time talking publicly about the revelations. He was not at Twins Fest last month as he continued to rehab from offseason knee surgery. After his media scrum, he communicated through the Twins that it would be the last time he addressed the topic this season. Click here to view the article
  11. Gonzalez obviously wanted to make it clear that he most regretted how it impacted the fraternity of fellow ballplayers, some of who are on his team this year. Twins reliever Rich Hill was on the Los Angeles Dodgers team that the Astros beat in the World Series. Twins starting pitcher Jose Berrios was hit hard by the Astros in 2017 in his road start against them. Gonzalez plans to talk to them specifically. “I just got here yesterday,” said Gonzalez. “Obviously, we're teammates now and we're going to have a great relationship as I spend more time with these guys as a young family. Hopefully it's eight months, including spring training. That means that we're going to fight in the playoffs and try to bring a championship back to this city. That's plenty of time to talk. I'm sure we're going to have a great relationship.” The 2017 Astros won the World Series and Marwin Gonzalez had a career year, posting career-high numbers. It was later revealed that the Astros used electronic means to steal signals and then signal batters by banging a trash can in the dugout. Gonzalez was the recipient of more “bangs” than any other Astro, and his chase percentage on offspeed pitches point to him gaining a significant advantage that year. Gonzalez, a Scott Boras client, signed a two-year, $21 million contract with the Twins in late February 2019. The multi-positional every day player will be a free agent at the end of the 2020 season. MLB decided that the players involved in the cheating scandal would not be fined or suspended. In recent weeks, we have heard from former Astros players such as Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton. Morton talked at Rays camp on Monday and said, “Personally, I regret not doing more to stop it. I don’t know what that would have entailed.” Penalties and suspensions have been levied against Astros' management and their general manager and manager were both fired. They were also fined the maximum amount allowed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement and lost four draft picks, their first- and second-round picks in 2020 and 2021. This was Gonzalez's first time talking publicly about the revelations. He was not at Twins Fest last month as he continued to rehab from offseason knee surgery. After his media scrum, he communicated through the Twins that it would be the last time he addressed the topic this season.
  12. Back in early January Nick Nelson wrote about how the Twins may have been impacted by cheaters. We know that Houston and Boston were involved, but we aren’t sure how far that reach expanded. Thanks to Tony, who Marc Carig did a great job speaking with over at The Athletic, we now can see a pretty direct picture of the tainted Twins happenings. Here’s the thing, it actually appears like the Astros started off the year relatively clean. Maybe they were feeling out their new system, or maybe it was around the time that A.J. Hinch went on his smashing spree. Nonetheless, it was in July that Minnesota traveled to Minute Maid Park, and it was game one that produced the second most egregious results of the regular season. https://twitter.com/tlschwerz/status/1222576191036698627 During the three-game series in Texas, Twins pitchers threw 472 pitches. Of those, there were trash can bangs on 112 pitches, a whopping 24%. In game one, 48 of a total 179 (27%) pitches were tipped off. 84 total pitches thrown that day were not fastballs. That means Houston hitters knew, at a 57% clip, when they’d see a breaking pitch during that specific game. Not surprisingly, the results suggested this was the case as well. Houston scored 10 runs that day, hanging seven on starter Jose Berrios. Phil Hughes came on to get the final out in the second inning but was tagged for three runs on five hits while allowing two dingers on his own. The Astros grabbed 10 runs before Minnesota was able to record nine outs. Good day at the office to be sure, but certainly not as impressive when it’s coming in on a tee. The Twins fared better in game two and three, splitting the affairs, but 64 more Rubbermaid bangs were used over the course of that action. https://twitter.com/PJHughes45/status/1222623675796484096 Hughes had opined when the original story broke that this was a game he thought back to. Knowing it was the one time he pitched against the Astros on the road, and proceeded to get lit up, it isn’t a surprise it would stick in his memory. His tweets today immediately pointed to that performance and give significant credibility to the advantages Houston had. More bad news is that it wasn’t just the 2017 Twins who felt the impact of these exploits. Matthew Trueblood recently wrote how Marwin Gonzalez likely benefitted from Houston’s scheme. He posted a career best OPS, and despite favorable numbers on the road, Nick Nelson pointed out a wOBA that jumped off the page in the friendly confines of Fresh Squeezed Park. What’s more, the analysis provided by Mr. Adams shows that Marwin didn’t only participate, but he may have been a ringleader. No Astros player was given more hints as to what was coming than Gonzalez received. If he knew breaking pitches were coming that often, it’s pretty apparent why he would have posted career bests across the board. https://twitter.com/adams_at/status/1222506722276843527 There’s a ton to unpack here and heading over to signstealingscandal.com will allow you to dig to your hearts' content. It’s interesting that Jose Altuve was the batter at the plate the least when the garbage can rang out, but if he was wearing an electronic device as suggested then there’s probably less of a need to be involved. Former, and very short-term, New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran appears near the top of the leaderboard which isn’t a surprise given his named involvement. At the end of the day, this whole orchestration will go down as one of baseball’s greatest transgressions. A wild card-reaching Twins team was definitely exploited on the arms of Berrios and Hughes, and a current utility man will likely have question marks follow his production wherever he goes. This doesn’t change punishments or make any new ones more likely, but it definitely points to the negative impact on the Twins as being more drastic than on most other teams MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  13. The sign stealing allegations have ran rampant regarding the 2017 Houston Astros, and penalties have already been levied. Lurking in the background was Tony Adams, an Astros fan that did his own digging, and now we have some crosshairs right on how the Twins were impacted.Back in early January Nick Nelson wrote about how the Twins may have been impacted by cheaters. We know that Houston and Boston were involved, but we aren’t sure how far that reach expanded. Thanks to Tony, who Marc Carig did a great job speaking with over at The Athletic, we now can see a pretty direct picture of the tainted Twins happenings. Here’s the thing, it actually appears like the Astros started off the year relatively clean. Maybe they were feeling out their new system, or maybe it was around the time that A.J. Hinch went on his smashing spree. Nonetheless, it was in July that Minnesota traveled to Minute Maid Park, and it was game one that produced the second most egregious results of the regular season. During the three-game series in Texas, Twins pitchers threw 472 pitches. Of those, there were trash can bangs on 112 pitches, a whopping 24%. In game one, 48 of a total 179 (27%) pitches were tipped off. 84 total pitches thrown that day were not fastballs. That means Houston hitters knew, at a 57% clip, when they’d see a breaking pitch during that specific game. Not surprisingly, the results suggested this was the case as well. Houston scored 10 runs that day, hanging seven on starter Jose Berrios. Phil Hughes came on to get the final out in the second inning but was tagged for three runs on five hits while allowing two dingers on his own. The Astros grabbed 10 runs before Minnesota was able to record nine outs. Good day at the office to be sure, but certainly not as impressive when it’s coming in on a tee. The Twins fared better in game two and three, splitting the affairs, but 64 more Rubbermaid bangs were used over the course of that action. Hughes had opined when the original story broke that this was a game he thought back to. Knowing it was the one time he pitched against the Astros on the road, and proceeded to get lit up, it isn’t a surprise it would stick in his memory. His tweets today immediately pointed to that performance and give significant credibility to the advantages Houston had. More bad news is that it wasn’t just the 2017 Twins who felt the impact of these exploits. Matthew Trueblood recently wrote how Marwin Gonzalez likely benefitted from Houston’s scheme. He posted a career best OPS, and despite favorable numbers on the road, Nick Nelson pointed out a wOBA that jumped off the page in the friendly confines of Fresh Squeezed Park. What’s more, the analysis provided by Mr. Adams shows that Marwin didn’t only participate, but he may have been a ringleader. No Astros player was given more hints as to what was coming than Gonzalez received. If he knew breaking pitches were coming that often, it’s pretty apparent why he would have posted career bests across the board. There’s a ton to unpack here and heading over to signstealingscandal.com will allow you to dig to your hearts' content. It’s interesting that Jose Altuve was the batter at the plate the least when the garbage can rang out, but if he was wearing an electronic device as suggested then there’s probably less of a need to be involved. Former, and very short-term, New York Mets manager Carlos Beltran appears near the top of the leaderboard which isn’t a surprise given his named involvement. At the end of the day, this whole orchestration will go down as one of baseball’s greatest transgressions. A wild card-reaching Twins team was definitely exploited on the arms of Berrios and Hughes, and a current utility man will likely have question marks follow his production wherever he goes. This doesn’t change punishments or make any new ones more likely, but it definitely points to the negative impact on the Twins as being more drastic than on most other teams MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  14. I have been a Twins fan since I was six years old, when they moved to the Twin Cities from Washington. After nearly sixty years, I doubt that that will ever be a fan of another baseball team or lose interest in "my team". In the course of the 59 years that the Twins have been the Twins, I have always had a favorite player or two every year. Sometimes that guy is a star, often he's not the star of the team. My favorites have included some obscure guys like Gary Wayne, Geoff Zahn, and Ron Washington, some good players like Gary Ward, Gary Gaetti, Brian Dozier and Michael Cuddyer and some All-Stars. I've always checked the box scores when I missed a game, to see how my favorite did. I've always advocated for my favorite player and enjoyed breakouts from such players as Greg Gagne and Brian Dozier. All of this is a preface for my current favorite player--Marwin Gonzalez. I like the way Gonzalez goes about his business, the way that he has fit in the clubhouse and how he is willing to play anywhere without complaint or preference for one position or another. Gonzalez looks like he will be affected by the signing of Josh Donaldson. He figured to have regular duty at one of the corners of the infield and now there will be a regular at both corners and probably in all the outfield positions. I hope Marwin gets consistent playing time when all are healthy and know that he will do well if there is an injury or ineffectiveness at one of the infield corners or in the outfield. I'd like to see my current favorite get his customary 500 plate appearances. I think with that number of at-bats he will perform quite well.
  15. MLB Statcast recently unveiled its Outs Above Average (OAA) rankings for MLB infielders (it was previously only available for outfielders) and the numbers make a compelling case for Marwin Gonzalez. With Gonzalez rated as Minnesota’s best defensive infielder and a current need to fill in C.J. Cron’s place at first base, moving Miguel Sano to first and slotting Gonzalez into the everyday third base role may be the Twins best move going forward. According to MLB’s Baseball Savant site (where Statcast is featured), “Outs Above Average (OAA) is the cumulative effect of all individual plays a fielder has been credited or debited with, making it a range-based metric of fielding skill that accounts for the number of plays made and the difficulty of them.” OAA measures the distance and time it takes a fielder to reach the ball, how far the fielder is from the base the ball will be thrown to, and how fast the baserunner is. Based on OAA, Gonzalez is far and away the Twin’s best returning infield option. In 2019 he was good for a 7 OAA, meaning he was seven outs above the average infielder. That may not seem like a lot, but it places Gonzalez as the 19th best infielder in all of baseball (Javier Baez led all of baseball with a 19 OAA). Of the returning Twins infielders, Gonzalez is the only one who posted an above-average ranking (Jonathan Scope was second with a 5 OAA, but will be replaced by Luis Arraez’s -6 OAA). He successfully completed 93% of the plays he was involved in with just an 88% estimated success rate, meaning that he made 5% more plays than he was expected to. Placing Gonzalez at third would push Sano to first, which may not be such a bad thing. Sano finished 2019 with a -5 OAA, which, while not terrible is significantly below average. Sano is likely to move off third sooner or later, and with Gonzalez as the superior defensive option, now may be a good time. Sano has some experience playing first base and seems athletic enough to be at least an average defender once he settles in. His 137 wRC+ in 2019 ensures that his bat is certain to fit in at first. Moving Gonzalez into the everyday third base role does raise a few concerns. The first being Gonzalez’s bat. Gonzalez got off to a notoriously slow start in 2019 after signing late and missing most of spring training, and finished the year as a below average hitter with a 93 wRC+. However, his numbers were much better after April (he had just a 33 wRC+ in Mar./Apr.) and he has been a slightly above average hitter over the course of his career. With above-average defense and an average bat he would be a net positive at third. Minnesota also has a stacked lineup, so having one position filled with an average hitter isn’t really an issue. The other concern would be the utility role with Gonzalez moving to third full time. Gonzalez’s ability to fill in anywhere was huge in Minnesota’s injury-plagued 2019 and not having him available for that role in 2020 would seem a detriment. However, Minnesota has another great option for the utility role in Ehire Adrianza. Adrianza rates as the Twins second best returning infielder with a -1 OAA and has the ability to play all around the infield, including shortstop. He also had a really good offensive year in 2019 (relative to being a utility infielder), with a 102 wRC+. Plus, the need for Gonzalez to fill in in the outfield is mitigated by the depth of Jake Cave, Lamonte Wade, and near-ready prospects like Alex Kirilloff, Brent Rooker, Luke Raley, and Trevor Larnach. There are legitimate concerns with Minnesota’s infield defense coming into the 2020 season, and moving Sano to first and letting Gonzalez take over third should help some. Additionally, with Adrianza in the main utility role, his ability to play average defense would give the Twins an occasional defensive upgrade over Arraez at second or Jorge Polanco at short, who had a team-worst -16 OAA in 2019 (read Twerk Twonk Twin’s recent blog post for a great breakdown of Polanco’s defense). With Minnesota unlikely to sign Josh Donaldson, and really only Mitch Moreland left on the first base free-agent market, moving Gonzalez to third seems to be the best option for 2020. If someone like Alex Kirilloff emerges and Minnesota decides to put him at first, Gonzalez can always slide back into the utility role, but Gonzalez’s presence at third with an increased utility role for Adrianza at least gives the infield defense some hope. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  16. Tonight we received the news that Eric Thames had signed with the Washington Nationals for the VERY reasonable price of $4m. Thames put together a slash line of .247/346/.505 last season, as well as 1.9 fWAR. He was likely a secondary option for the Minnesota Twins this offseason, who in my opinion very much still in need of a corner infielder after seeing C.J. Cron sign with the Tigers for $6.1m. First base was always a position the Twins were likely to wait on filling, as there were plenty of options on the market. Thames could have admirably platooned with his .877 OPS against righties. As somebody who had already moved on from Donaldson, I wondered why the Twins would allow Thames to go for such a cheap price. Shortly thereafter, I got my answer. According to Darren Wolfson, the Twins do not appear to be engaged in the corner infield market. In my opinion, there are two reasons this may be the case. The first is the most likely in my opinion. Josh Donaldson remains on the free agent market. It may be fair to say that the Washington Nationals are out of the bidding war after signing Starlin Castro, Asdrubal Cabrera, and finally Eric Thames. The bigger issue however is the Atlanta Braves involvement. Donaldson has grown up in the area and has been up front about his desire to return in 2020. The last update on the situation had all teams offering 4 years for undisclosed amounts to lock Donaldson up. As we've seen this offseason however, the price may become a moot point to some extent. In fact, it has now been reported that Donaldson may not have any interest in signing with the Twins at all. As I had worried throughout this entire saga, Donaldson may have just been using the Twins to bulk his offer up from the Braves. This report also explains that the Twins are exploring other options, which is perplexing given the above report from Wolfson. It appears the Twins aren't willing to let go of hope of signing Donaldson after making no progress on the "impact" talent acquisition mentioned at the start of the offseason. The second scenario for the Twins passing over the corner infield free agent market is a more troubling one for me. There have been rumblings of the Twins using Marwin Gonzalez as a full time first baseman this winter, and they could be content with their internal options rather than spending in free agency. I had actually just written a blog on Marwin Gonzalez having a better year offensively in 2020 citing a full spring training and hopefully less injuries. I was not advocating however that he be given a full time role as a corner infielder. With league average wRC+ coming in at 100, Marwin was 7% worse in 2019 with 93. The bar to clear for "league average" on offense is higher for corner infield as a position that typically houses premier hitters. Even if Marwin rebounds to a bit above league average on offense in 2020, they will still likely have an offensively below average first baseman. On top of that, he would no longer be utilized so widely on the field, which has been his main source of value in his career. They will essentially be taking value away from the roster to fill a spot that they could have easily done more effectively in free agency. Regardless of reason, the thoughts above remain true. If the Twins don't sign another corner infielder and get stuck with internal options for a premier position like 1B, this will be yet another failure this offseason. Unlike with Bumgarner and Wheeler, this will have been an avoidable one. The offense will no doubt regress to some extent. The rotation is already an injury away from being a mess again. Every roster spot that we put a bandaid on instead of seriously addressing is another opportunity for the teams in the AL Central. If the Donaldson decision is holding up other deals, it's time to come to a conclusion one way or another. If the Twins front office believes they have their man already for corner infield, I seriously doubt it, but we'll have to wait and see. One thing is for certain though. Sitting here in January coming off 101 wins with over $10m less in payroll and this roster is not what I had pictured in October.
  17. There's been talk for a very long time about the Twins getting Josh Donaldson and moving Miguel Sano to 1st. Last week, I listed all the reasons why signing Donaldson was a good idea. Today, I'm going to list the reasons why it might not be such a good idea. PRICE One of the main things that might not be good about signing Donaldson is his price. He wants a whopping $110 million for 4 years. (Sorry Donaldson, if you want that much, you may have to wait until February to sign!) The Twins and Braves have reportedly given him offers, but they're not as much as he is asking for. AGE Along with this is the fact that he is entering his age 34 season. So, when the contract is up, he'll be 38. And not every player is Nelson Cruz in their late 30s. He may not be as valuable in the end of his contract as he is in the beginning and teams may not want to risk getting a player who is nearing the end of their career. INJURY RATE Josh Donaldson has been injured in 2 of the last 3 seasons. This year was a great season, with no injuries, but who knows about the future. Showing his past injury record, teams may not want to sign Donaldson because of how often he gets injured and cannot play, even though he is a good player when he is not injured and can play. SANO There's something that I started wondering about right after I published "The Benefits of Signing Donaldson". What if Sano is WORSE at first base and is better playing at third base? Will they have to alternate with their third basemen like they do with their catchers? What do you think? Do you agree that Josh Donaldson isn't all he's cracked up to be, or do you think they should go big and sign Donaldson? Write your opinion in the comments! Note: There is a half solution to the Sano problem. If Sano can't play first, then they can have Marwin Gonzalez play first and look for a real first baseman at the trade deadline in July. But, Sano and Donaldson both have great bats and having them alternate would give them less chances to meet personal home run records. However, Sano is an option to play designated hitter if Cruz needs a day off, along with Mitch Garver.
  18. Marwin Gonzalez was an absolute God send in 2019 for the Minnesota Twins. The front office locked up the utility man on February 25th to a 2 year $21 million contract. His ability to play all over the diamond was priceless as it turned out, as we saw him start the year at 3B to fill in for an injured Sano. We saw him go on to fill in all over the field as we saw injuries from C.J. Cron, Max Kepler, Byron Buxton, as well as plenty others. Marwin's value goes beyond the statistics. The Twins would have been lost without him in 2019, who despite the depth and versatility within the organization, found themselves relying on guys like Ronald Torreyes down the stretch as the injuries piled up. Despite the value Marwin Gonzalez provided in 2019, I think there's reason to believe that his 2020 could prove to be even more valuable. As previously mentioned, Gonzalez was signed on February 25th, two days after the Twins began their spring training games. The slow progression of the free agent market caused him to wait around on a longer term contract that would never come. The Twins being ever opportunistic, took advantage of the market and signed Gonzalez to a team friendly deal. Gonzalez had waited long enough. He reported right away, but still had to ramp up before being game ready. When he finally did finish playing catchup, he managed a line of .115/.179/.397 by the end of the spring. He had struck out in 13 of his 26 at bats. We hear all the time about the importance of the spring training routine for pitching, but why wouldn't the same be true for hitting? Gonzalez had a triple slash of .167/.244/.256 through the first month of the season, good for a 33 wRC+. He struck out about 24% of the time. His offseason was clearly out of the ordinary for him to that point in his career, and his spring training was a rushed and shortened experience that I would argue carried into the season. 2020 is an opportunity for Marwin to settle in and have a normal spring training again, hopefully leading to a more consistent start to the season. At just 30 years old, Marwin shouldn't be on the decline quite yet. His 93 wRC+ however was his worst since 2016, and well below the benchmark he had set for himself on average over the last 5 years. When looking at why this may have been, I saw that Marwin had an IL stint from 6/19-6/29 for a hamstring injury. This itself is an injury that's known to linger for what can be weeks. I was searching however for the IL stint for the oblique injury I remembered Marwin having, but it doesn't exist. He was scratched on September 24th as a precautionary measure for an oblique injury having played in 6 of the last 8 games. However, he didn't play a single game from August 28th-September 15th for the same oblique injury. He was likely playing through this oblique strain (those are not fun) for weeks. Marwin's 2019 was far from a lost season. He was worth 1.4 wins according to fangraphs measures and filled in admirably at just about every position. He's likely to be the same super utility man in 2020 as well, as the Twins are returning a solid lineup only currently missing a full time corner infielder. While he will be another year older, Marwin Gonzalez stands to benefit from the normal spring training routine this year unlike in 2019. Not only might this get him more prepared to perform come the regular season, it may even mean he will be in better shape to avoid the soft tissue injuries that plagued him in 2020. Despite the rough start mentioned above, from April 29th forward Marwin seemed to get back into the swing of things to the tune of a .283/.337/.446 triple slash. Penciling that into the bottom 1/3 of our lineup is simply ridiculous, and I believe that in 2020 we will see Marwin Gonzalez thrive in a similar way for much of the season.
  19. Miguel Sano Over the last two seasons, Sano has played 20 games at first and he has logged 31 games at the position throughout his career. Sano has always had a strong arm at third base and that skill would be taken away with a move to first base. Besides his arm, he has struggled at the hot corner as he was the third lowest ranked AL third baseman according to SABR’s Defensive Index. Sano missed all of spring training last season due to an offseason injury and that could have hindered some defensive improvement. Mitch Garver Garver clocked 31 home runs last season and he was able to do this while being limited to 93 games. Health wasn’t an issue for Garver as the team used a rotation of Garver and Jason Castro behind the plate. Over the last three seasons, Garver has played parts of nine games at first, but he has made only four career starts at the position. If Minnesota could sign an underrated free agent like Alex Avila, it could open more time for Garver to move out from behind the plate. Marwin Gonzalez Gonzalez was signed last season because of his versatility and the veteran presence he would add to a young line-up. He’s played over 200 games at first base during his career and the Twins used him for over 160 innings last year at first. Minnesota was forced to use Gonzalez for 59 games in the outfield last season because of injuries to multiple players. If Gonzalez is penciled in as the everyday first baseman, that takes away some of his value because his versatility would be taken away. Alex Kirilloff Minnesota’s future at first base might be Alex Kirilloff, one of the team’s top-rated prospects. During his first two professional seasons, Kirilloff had played only in the outfield, but last season he accumulated over 300 innings at first base. His bat is his best tool so being able to play first base might be a way to fast-track him to the big leagues. He played all last season at Double-A and posted a .756 OPS, so it might be unlikely for him to play significant time at first for the 2020 Twins. Will any of these options be the Twins everyday first baseman next season? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Not registered? Click here to create an account. To stay up to date, follow Twins Daily on Twitter and Facebook. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Non-Tendered Players that Could Interest the Minnesota Twins — The Three Biggest What-Ifs from the 2019 Season — One of the Greatest Trades in Twins History
  20. Click here for Part 1 of this series. Click here for Part 2 of this series. The Veteran Leader Much has rightly been made about Nelson Cruz’s veteran leadership on a fairly young Twins team. At times, immeasurable variables like “team chemistry” and “veteran leadership” are probably over-valued, but in the case of Nelson Cruz, there is little doubt inside or outside of the clubhouse as to how valuable Cruz has been to this team. Cruz has been heralded for his work ethic, preparing himself not only physically, but also mentally for the challenges of playing at a high level as a 39-year-old. Whether in the weight room, the batting cage, or studying video, Cruz always seems to be applying himself to his craft and his younger teammates cannot help but notice. One of the beneficiaries has been Miguel Sano. Twins fans have long dreamed of what Miguel Sano could become, but after a sensational rookie season in 2015, Sano never quite returned to form. 2018 was a disaster filled with injury and off-the-field distractions, but 2019 has been a revelation for Sano. Sano worked hard to get in shape in the offseason and also claimed that he suggested the Twins sign Cruz in the offseason in an interview with FSN’s Justin Morneau. Sano has seemed to work harder than ever to improve his game as can be seen by his willingness to change his swing in-season and the results that have followed (.271/.376/.618 from June 28th to the end of the regular season). There is little doubt that Nelson Cruz has played a large role in Sano’s success. The Houston Astros had a similar veteran addition to their 2017 championship team in Carols Beltran. Beltran was a 19-year MLB veteran who wanted a last chance to win a World Series and Houston was looking to add a veteran to supplement its young core and improve team chemistry. Like Cruz, Beltran loved studying video and was instrumental in breaking down pitchers and passing the information on to his teammates. In Astroball, Correa talked about how much Beltran taught him in regard to viewing video and identifying when pitchers were tipping their pitches. Beltran also helped to identify when hitters like George Springer were developing bad habits at the plate, and Beltran made it clear to his teammates that he was there to help early on: “My friend, I am here to help you. Even if it looks like I’m busy, you won’t bother me. If you sit down next to me and ask me a question, I would be more than happy to give you the time that you need.” Having veterans like Cruz and Beltran on your team is akin to having another coach on the bench who younger players not only trust but can emulate. Cruz has also provided in one area that Beltran didn’t – Cruz has put up really big numbers while Beltran struggled in his final season. Beltran hit just .231/.283/.383 as a 40-year-old for Houston, whereas Cruz has been one of the MLB’s best hitters at age 39, slashing .311/.392/.639 with 41 home runs. Regardless of the results, Cruz’s leadership would have been valuable to the team, but when combined with his elite production he may well be the team’s MVP. Free Agency and Starting Pitching In their first two years in Minnesota, Falvey and Levine had a bit of a mixed record in free agency. Catcher Jason Castro turned out to be a pretty good three-year signing, but last year’s last-minute bargains, Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison were pretty much a disaster as they seemed unhappy to be in Minnesota playing for less money and years than they had hoped for. Pitcher Michael Pineda was also signed before last season but was really signed for the 2019 season as he sat out 2018 recovering from Tommy John surgery. The FO seemed to learn their lesson and have had much greater success with this year’s signings, which include the previously mentioned Cruz and utility man Marwin Gonzalez, who came over from the Astros organization. Both have played well and have brought a winning attitude to Minnesota. Minnesota was also able to add second baseman Jonathan Schoop to the team. He has had an up-and-down year but has provided some pop, is well-liked by his teammates, and could have been essential to the team’s postseason roster, depending on rookie Luiz Arraez’s availability due to an ankle injury. If the Twins do hope to emulate Houston, upgrading the rotation would be the next step in the process. The Astros feature three of the best starters in baseball in the aforementioned Verlander, Cole, and Greinke. None of the three came from within the organization so the Astros needed to do two things that the Twins should be able to do as well. The first was to be willing to give up some of their prospect capital to acquire starting pitching. While the Astros had to give up good prospects in all three trades, they were able to do so without giving up anyone on quite the level of Lewis or Kirilloff. The Twins certainly have the prospect surplus to make some trades. Secondly, Houston was willing to take on some salary. Verlander and Greinke were under contract for large amounts and Houston went on to extend Verlander and reliever Ryan Pressly. With a lot of salary coming off the books, the Twins should theoretically have a lot of money available, and could definitely make a run at one or two of the top free agent starters if they so choose. With Jose Berrios as the only current starter due back next season (although Randy Dobnak may be in next year’s rotation), it will be interesting to see what the FO does to address starting pitching. Some big name free-agent starters will be available, led by Houston’s Gerrit Cole. The Twins got good years out of Michael Pineda and Jake Odorrizi, but they are set to be free agents along with Kyle Gibson. With this year’s team breaking the competitive window wide open, there may never be a better time to add an “ace.” Brain Drain Although Houston continues to succeed, finishing with the best overall record in 2019, they have had to deal with other teams luring talented front office staff and coaches away from the organization. When an organization finds success, especially with a new approach, other teams are sure to take notice. Gone from the front office are Sag Mejdal and Mike Elias who were poached by the Baltimore Orioles, and Mike Fast joined the Atlanta Braves. Bench coach Alex Cora famously became the manager of the Boston Red Sox and led them to a World Series victory in 2018. With the success of the Minnesota Twins is 2019, other organizations are sure to take notice, and Minnesota would be extremely lucky if everyone remained in place for 2020. Coaches such as Derrek Shelton and James Rowson will likely draw interest and members of the front office and analytics department are likely to be hot commodities as well, not to mention minor league coaches and staff. With the right philosophy in place, Minnesota may be able to plug in great new minds and continue to succeed as Houston has. However, the teams that are plucking employees may soon bridge the gap as the Twins (and others) have done to the Astros. The best teams will need to evolve, always on the lookout for new hidden advantages, and the process will continue as it always has. Here We Go The Twins didn't reach the World Series this season, but regardless of the result, it’s hard to view the season as anything less than a resounding success. The Twins will obviously blaze their own path going forward, but if there is a ballclub to emulate, you can’t do much better than the Houston Astros. As Minnesota’s young core continues to mature, with most of the team returning for 2020 and plenty of intriguing options inching closer from the farm, the best is hopefully yet to come.
  21. Royce Lewis was one of the Minnesota Twins prospects selected to participate in the Arizona Fall League. While his home runs are turning heads, so are his starts at third base and center field over his usual shortstop. What might this mean long term for the Twins top prospect?Overall 2019 was a down year for Minnesota Twins top prospect Royce Lewis. While calling it a down year, it is labeled so with a bit of hesitancy. While it is an absolutely appropriate label as Lewis slashed .236/.290/.371 between High-A Fort Myers and Double-A Pensacola. There are more factors to a prospect's development at times than pure and linear statistical output. Lewis is also only 20-years-old and had other outside influences contributing to a lower production at the plate. He did struggle with an oblique strain early in spring training and also has been tinkering with his approach at the plate. All of which seem to have contributed to a lower output at the plate. Regardless of how we frame Lewis’ 2019 numbers, they did cause Lewis to stumble a bit lower on national prospect rankings, but he is still clearly one of the best prospects in baseball. Something that now is being showcased in the Arizona Fall League. Offensively Lewis has been doing things like this: And defensively like this: And that is where the heads begin to turn. That is Lewis in center field. Which isn’t all that strange, but the shortstop hasn’t in four games started at his regular position once and has seen all his time split between center and third base. So what does this all mean? We ultimately have no idea, but we can sure have some fun speculating. So let’s start with the most exciting option first. The Twins really like his bat now It is no secret that the Twins have a really good lineup right now. Maybe the Twins would like to add their former number-one pick to that lineup. The problem is that right now the middle infield spots look to be secured by Jorge Polanco and the emergence of Luis Arraez. Third base is also technically occupied, but it seems possible the Twins could roll with an infield that puts Lewis at the hot corner. And then goes around the horn with Lewis-Polanco-Arraez-Sano. Lewis could also wiggle his way into a crowded outfield situation. There is plenty of speculation about Byron Buxton’s long term ability to stay healthy. There is also a good dose of speculation surrounding Eddie Rosario as a trade piece in trying to bolster the Twins pitching staff. It seems absolutely plausible that at some point there will be a new face in the 2020 starting outfield compared to this year’s go-to group. It makes imagining a starting group next season as three of Rosario, Buxton, Kepler, and Lewis (or name your outfielder) feel very realistic. This scenario does feel like a stretch as I write it. Lewis’ scenario feels like one that no matter what he does in the AFL or spring training he will find more time in the minors in 2020. Since he has already made it to Double-A we also know that a promotion to the majors can happen quickly once a talented player hits that level. So while we as fans aren’t used to seeing 21-year-olds in the big leagues we know it isn’t impossible either. Versatility is King If there is anything we have learned about baseball in 2019, next to guys who can hit the baseball really far, it is that teams value defensive versatility. Marwin Gonzalez, Ehire Adrianza, Luis Arraez, and Willians Astudillo are all guys on the Twins roster that greatly increase their value by their ability to field multiple positions. Generally superstars (which I think we all hope Lewis becomes) find one position and are able to lock into it. That may still be true, but maybe we are seeing that the Twins will also value that versatility out of even a superstar. This is AFL specific The last and least exciting option is this. This is just how the roster of the Salt River Rafters has worked best when it comes to day-to-day lineups to this point in the AFL season. So while Lewis is still viewed as a shortstop it just works best with the players on the roster to have him see time at third or in center. Lewis is still a better prospect than Arizona Diamondbacks Geraldo Perdomo who has seen time at short instead of Lewis. Which maybe only fuels speculation about what is happening in Arizona right now and what it means about the long term fate of Lewis and other Twins players. Do-Hyoung Park recently wrote that he has been told Lewis will return to his regular work at shortstop after the AFL. Which adds to this being the likely reasoning behind what we are seeing from Lewis. Not to mention Steve Lein wrote that this exact situation was a very strong possibility in his AFL preview not quite a week ago. Time will tell where Lewis plays once he gets a shot in the majors. Right now we can enjoy improved production at the plate from him as in four games Lewis has slashed .333/.412/.800 with a 1.212 OPS and two home runs. Lewis continues to look like one more very talented bat that isn’t far from plugging in somewhere and working to keep playoff-level baseball in Minnesota. Click here to view the article
  22. Overall 2019 was a down year for Minnesota Twins top prospect Royce Lewis. While calling it a down year, it is labeled so with a bit of hesitancy. While it is an absolutely appropriate label as Lewis slashed .236/.290/.371 between High-A Fort Myers and Double-A Pensacola. There are more factors to a prospect's development at times than pure and linear statistical output. Lewis is also only 20-years-old and had other outside influences contributing to a lower production at the plate. He did struggle with an oblique strain early in spring training and also has been tinkering with his approach at the plate. All of which seem to have contributed to a lower output at the plate. Regardless of how we frame Lewis’ 2019 numbers, they did cause Lewis to stumble a bit lower on national prospect rankings, but he is still clearly one of the best prospects in baseball. Something that now is being showcased in the Arizona Fall League. Offensively Lewis has been doing things like this: https://twitter.com/wboor/status/1175947350839156737 And defensively like this: https://twitter.com/wboor/status/1174872875062312961 And that is where the heads begin to turn. That is Lewis in center field. Which isn’t all that strange, but the shortstop hasn’t in four games started at his regular position once and has seen all his time split between center and third base. So what does this all mean? We ultimately have no idea, but we can sure have some fun speculating. So let’s start with the most exciting option first. The Twins really like his bat now It is no secret that the Twins have a really good lineup right now. Maybe the Twins would like to add their former number-one pick to that lineup. The problem is that right now the middle infield spots look to be secured by Jorge Polanco and the emergence of Luis Arraez. Third base is also technically occupied, but it seems possible the Twins could roll with an infield that puts Lewis at the hot corner. And then goes around the horn with Lewis-Polanco-Arraez-Sano. Lewis could also wiggle his way into a crowded outfield situation. There is plenty of speculation about Byron Buxton’s long term ability to stay healthy. There is also a good dose of speculation surrounding Eddie Rosario as a trade piece in trying to bolster the Twins pitching staff. It seems absolutely plausible that at some point there will be a new face in the 2020 starting outfield compared to this year’s go-to group. It makes imagining a starting group next season as three of Rosario, Buxton, Kepler, and Lewis (or name your outfielder) feel very realistic. This scenario does feel like a stretch as I write it. Lewis’ scenario feels like one that no matter what he does in the AFL or spring training he will find more time in the minors in 2020. Since he has already made it to Double-A we also know that a promotion to the majors can happen quickly once a talented player hits that level. So while we as fans aren’t used to seeing 21-year-olds in the big leagues we know it isn’t impossible either. Versatility is King If there is anything we have learned about baseball in 2019, next to guys who can hit the baseball really far, it is that teams value defensive versatility. Marwin Gonzalez, Ehire Adrianza, Luis Arraez, and Willians Astudillo are all guys on the Twins roster that greatly increase their value by their ability to field multiple positions. Generally superstars (which I think we all hope Lewis becomes) find one position and are able to lock into it. That may still be true, but maybe we are seeing that the Twins will also value that versatility out of even a superstar. This is AFL specific The last and least exciting option is this. This is just how the roster of the Salt River Rafters has worked best when it comes to day-to-day lineups to this point in the AFL season. So while Lewis is still viewed as a shortstop it just works best with the players on the roster to have him see time at third or in center. Lewis is still a better prospect than Arizona Diamondbacks Geraldo Perdomo who has seen time at short instead of Lewis. Which maybe only fuels speculation about what is happening in Arizona right now and what it means about the long term fate of Lewis and other Twins players. Do-Hyoung Park recently wrote that he has been told Lewis will return to his regular work at shortstop after the AFL. Which adds to this being the likely reasoning behind what we are seeing from Lewis. Not to mention Steve Lein wrote that this exact situation was a very strong possibility in his AFL preview not quite a week ago. Time will tell where Lewis plays once he gets a shot in the majors. Right now we can enjoy improved production at the plate from him as in four games Lewis has slashed .333/.412/.800 with a 1.212 OPS and two home runs. Lewis continues to look like one more very talented bat that isn’t far from plugging in somewhere and working to keep playoff-level baseball in Minnesota.
  23. The Twins used a group of rookie pitchers including Randy Dobnak and Cody Stashak to beat the Royals by a score of 4-3. Everything was working late as Marwin Gonzalez came through and Miguel Sano showed off his elite speed.Box Score Dobnak: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 61% strikes (45 of 74 pitches) Bullpen: 2.9 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K Home Runs: None Multi-Hit Games: None Top 3 WPA: Randy Dobnak (0.25), Trevor May (0.17), Marwin Gonzalez (0.13) Bottom 3 WPA: Eddie Rosario (-0.11), Devin Smeltzerr (-0.07), Jonathan Schoop (-0.05) The legend of Randy Dobnak continues. Randy Dobnak has the greatest mustache of all time and also is the greatest Twins pitcher of all time. That was a slight exaggeration, but you get the picture. He continued his great rookie campaign with 5 1/3 great innings allowing only three hits and one run. Even he would have never predicted to be in the majors this season as two years ago he scheduled his wedding for the upcoming Sept. 28. Would it be weird to get married in the clubhouse or on the mound? The only run given up was actually off a pitch from Cody Stashak so I’m sure Randy is eternally angry with him. Besides that hit, Stashak was dominant once again, striking out the next two batters he faced. That makes 21 strikeouts and just one walk so far in his young career. When he first came up, he said he was just here to throw strikes and he seems to be doing that. Twins offense scores early, waits five innings and scores again The bats got off to a quick start tonight with a Mitch Garver walk and a Polanco double. Nelson Cruz followed with a sacrifice fly that Dick Bremer probably convinced you was a home run. Then the most unlikely event possible occurred when Miguel Sano hit an RBI triple to the right center gap. Yes, I said triple. After nothing really got going from innings two through five, the Twins got it going again in the sixth with a Polanco walk, a Sano walk, and then a Marwin Gonzalez RBI double that let Miguel Sano once again show off his insane speed. Who needs Buxton when Sano is running like this? Royals put up a fight but ultimately they achieve their 99th loss. Devin Smeltzer had a nice and clean seventh inning but he and Brusdar Graterol ran into some bad luck in the eighth with batters reaching on balls with an expected batting average of .170, .140, .400 and .200 so the Royals scrappy approach finally found some luck. Brusdar and his bazooka would leave the eighth inning with a 4-3 lead. Trevor May came in for the save and struck the first batter out on three pitches. Then he struck out Whit Merrifield looking. He capped off the save with....another strikeout! All three of the strikeouts came on fastballs and hitters have just a .158 BA against his fastball to go with a 32% whiff rate. It’s his best pitch and he throws it 62% of the time. Trevor May also has a 1.62 ERA since the start of August. Elite. Twins magic number drops to five and lead in the central stays at four. With today’s win the Twins have dropped their magic number to five games. Fangraphs has the Twins at a 99% chance to win the division. I know a lot of you are taking that 1% but just so we are all clear, the Twins will win the AL Central. As Trevor May would say, go Twins. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. Click here to view the article
  24. Box Score Dobnak: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 61% strikes (45 of 74 pitches) Bullpen: 2.9 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K Home Runs: None Multi-Hit Games: None Top 3 WPA: Randy Dobnak (0.25), Trevor May (0.17), Marwin Gonzalez (0.13) Bottom 3 WPA: Eddie Rosario (-0.11), Devin Smeltzerr (-0.07), Jonathan Schoop (-0.05) The legend of Randy Dobnak continues. Randy Dobnak has the greatest mustache of all time and also is the greatest Twins pitcher of all time. That was a slight exaggeration, but you get the picture. He continued his great rookie campaign with 5 1/3 great innings allowing only three hits and one run. Even he would have never predicted to be in the majors this season as two years ago he scheduled his wedding for the upcoming Sept. 28. Would it be weird to get married in the clubhouse or on the mound? The only run given up was actually off a pitch from Cody Stashak so I’m sure Randy is eternally angry with him. Besides that hit, Stashak was dominant once again, striking out the next two batters he faced. That makes 21 strikeouts and just one walk so far in his young career. When he first came up, he said he was just here to throw strikes and he seems to be doing that. Twins offense scores early, waits five innings and scores again The bats got off to a quick start tonight with a Mitch Garver walk and a Polanco double. Nelson Cruz followed with a sacrifice fly that Dick Bremer probably convinced you was a home run. Then the most unlikely event possible occurred when Miguel Sano hit an RBI triple to the right center gap. Yes, I said triple. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1175205161133727744?s=20 After nothing really got going from innings two through five, the Twins got it going again in the sixth with a Polanco walk, a Sano walk, and then a Marwin Gonzalez RBI double that let Miguel Sano once again show off his insane speed. Who needs Buxton when Sano is running like this? https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1175233968473399301 Royals put up a fight but ultimately they achieve their 99th loss. Devin Smeltzer had a nice and clean seventh inning but he and Brusdar Graterol ran into some bad luck in the eighth with batters reaching on balls with an expected batting average of .170, .140, .400 and .200 so the Royals scrappy approach finally found some luck. Brusdar and his bazooka would leave the eighth inning with a 4-3 lead. Trevor May came in for the save and struck the first batter out on three pitches. Then he struck out Whit Merrifield looking. He capped off the save with....another strikeout! All three of the strikeouts came on fastballs and hitters have just a .158 BA against his fastball to go with a 32% whiff rate. It’s his best pitch and he throws it 62% of the time. Trevor May also has a 1.62 ERA since the start of August. Elite. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1175246368161460224?s=20 Twins magic number drops to five and lead in the central stays at four. With today’s win the Twins have dropped their magic number to five games. Fangraphs has the Twins at a 99% chance to win the division. I know a lot of you are taking that 1% but just so we are all clear, the Twins will win the AL Central. As Trevor May would say, go Twins. Postgame With Baldelli https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1175256273995976704 Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
  25. Facing a right-handed starter, which dominate both the Astros’ and Yankees’ rotations, Marwin Gonzalez and Jake Cave are better fits than CJ Cron (684 OPS vs RHP) and Jonathan Schoop (737 OPS vs RHP). Both started Monday night. Garver has also seen more time at catcher lately, even versus right-handers. The rest of the lineup are the everyday players But if Kepler is in the lineup, he is likely to lead off. Kepler has been the leadoff hitter for the Twins 105 times this season, versus just eight times for Arraez. So what does the batting order look like if one adds Kepler? Turns out, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli has written that combination of nine names – last night’s 1-8 hitters plus Kepler - into the starting lineup just one time all year. Like last night, it was against the White Sox at Target Field. And like last night, it was against Reynoldo Lopez. Last month on Tuesday, August 20th, the Twins scored 14 runs and beat up the White Sox. (Here's the box score.) The starting lineup looked like this: (L) Max Kepler-CF (S) Jorge Polanco-SS ® Nelson Cruz-DH (L) Eddie Rosario-LF ® Miguel Sano-3B (L) Luis Arraez-2B ® Mitch Garver-C (S) Marwin Gonzalez-1B (L) Jake Cave-RF Does Kepler’s health change things? Does Cave need to show he can hit like he did before the injury? If he does, does he switch places with Gonzalez? Do Sano’s back problems mean he switches places with Garver? These are additional questions for us to explore and the Twins to work out over the next two weeks. But you’re welcome to share your ideal postseason lineup in the comments.
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