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  1. I wrote a Game Thread opener that had nothing to do with today’s game and very little to do with this year. Then the Twins won four games in a row and the intrigue about buying and selling heightened, as well as some great performances to talk about—Garver with four hits Wednesday and the gamer last night, Gibson with a great performance against the best team in baseball so far this year—and I’m reeled in to discussing the balance of the series versus the Rose Hose. So, today Chris Sale faces Lance Lynn. Sale has been dominant of late, and Lynn has been a disappointment, if not and out-and-out dud. However, the Twins have played the Red Sox very well and done a respectable job against All-Star pitchers and former Cy Young winners. No lineups yet, and I won’t be able to post them, so if someone could post them as soon as they are announced, it would be appreciated. Five topics (sorry, I’m not RB, so no humor): 1) Joe Mauer, Hall of Famer? If the Hall is good with Jack Morris and Allan Trammell, I think Joe eventually has a shot. I’d like to see him rise up and win another batting championship to close the deal, but he’s got a good resume already. Joe has been swinging well lately. I don’t know if he’ll get to .300 again this year, but he’s been one of the Twins better hitters. 2) 311-310. I’m not certain on the exact numbers, but Probus mentioned this on the radio broadcast last night. The Twins and Sox had played over 600 games in their histories and were dead even before last night. Hard to believe—like balancing a pea on the edge of a knife. 3) Molitor—There’s been some rumbling about last year’s Manager of the Year. I tend to believe most managers are good baseball men, who do well enough with the material they have, and that is the case with the Twins’ skipper. Molitor has two or three guys that can’t seem to get through even six innings putting pressure on the bullpen, and he has a bullpen that has been inconsistent. I can’t blame him for that. I question the use of veterans such as Belisle and Bobby Wilson, but most managers have a guy or two like that. 4) Buxton and Sano. For those of us, who had those two guys in the Hall of Fame, or at least perennial All-Stars, oops! Will they return this year or will the Twins get another service year from each? Two separate cases, but both guys seem a long way from their good half seasons last year. 5) Buy, sell or stand pat? Can this squad win 40 of the last 61 games? Can they catch Cleveland? TD has had this conversation for weeks. I think Cleveland is more perilous than last year, but it is the Twins only option to play post-season baseball and seven games is a lot to make up. Sit back and enjoy the game at Fenway. I haven’t forgiven myself for going on a Boston city tour instead of taking in a game there several years ago.
  2. I know it is popular to say Molitor is a poor manager. Today there is even a comparison with Lovullo. But maybe the problem rises to higher levels. Yes Lovullo lost his Ace and still succeeds. The Twins pitching lost its Ace and continued too. I here that the Twins are not running the bases like others. The problem is, you have to get on base. We have a collective 234 batting average and a 307 OBP. The old cliche is - you can't steal first. This team is not built for much of anything. So what has the Front Office done for Molitor - they brought in LaMarre, Cave, Morrison, and Motter. We lost our catcher and they brought in Bobby Wilson. Tell me how Mauer compares to Goldschmidt? Who are the leaders for the team. On the pitching side the analytical geniuses bring in Lynn and Odorizzi - its been a roller coaster, but I am not upset by those moves. On the other hand our aging bullpen additions do nothing for me. We have a 41 year old Rodney and 38 year old Belisle. Then we tell Molitor not to over use the one or two arms that are actually delivering. Reed and Duke - two more old vets are okay, but Reed failed as the eighth inning arm. The FO brought in more coaches, consultants, good old twins guys than I can count or remember, but we watched our two premier players for the future - Sano and Buxton fail and flounder. How many consultants can we assign to them. Fernando Romero looks like the real thing, but as he reached that point where some adjustments are needed we send him down - sorry calling all our consultants. We have had Adrianza and Petit at SS when we have Gordon in the minors. Gordon might be needing some more development, but can't he match these two or perhaps spell a struggling Dozier. Of course Molitor does not want a 224 lead-off hitter like Grossman, but we started with Dozier who is batting 218 and Mauer who is batting 254 and looks lost since his occurrence of concussion symptoms. So who else can bat first? We need the two Eddies to be in the top of the lineup, but do you move them to one and two and put powerless Mauer at number 3 with 191 batting Morrison and 218 batting Dozier in position to drive them in? Who does Molitor bring in from the pen - Hildenberger is doing great, Magill does not seem to have anyones confidence, Reed lost his position, Duke scares us, Rogers and Pressly have eras over 4 - terrible for a reliever. So FO guys, where is the help? How do you give your manager a roster he can actually work with?
  3. By now, most of us have noticed how Matt Magill has been a solid arm in the Twins bullpen this season. He made his first appearance of 2018 in a clunker of a game (which I attended ) on April 29th against the Cincinnati Reds. He threw 2.1 innings that Sunday and gave up just 3 hits and 0 earned runs, adding 2 punch-outs as well. So far this year with the Twins, he’s given up a total of 3 ER over 23.2 IP, for an ERA of 1.14. Magill was drafted in 2008 in the 31st round to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He had two briefs stints in the majors with both the L.A. Dodgers (2013) and the Cincinnati Reds (2016) before joining the Minnesota Twins (2018). During that time, he had ERA’s of 6.51 and 6.23 respectively. He’s clearly been around for a while; so why the recent success on the bump? In my mind, there’s two simple reasons: He’s throwing more strikes:In 2013 as a starting pitcher, Magill gave 28 free passes in 27.2 IP (BB/9 = 9.11 – ouch.) In 2016 as a relief pitcher, he had a BB/9 of 10.38 in just 4.1 IP Now, in 2018, he currently holds a BB/9 of 1.3 – and that is fun to watch [*]His stuff is a lot better: His fastball velocity has an average of 95.1 MPH so far in 2018, compare that to 93.1 MPH in 2016, and 91.8 MPH in 2013. He’s getting more movement on both his 4-seam fastball, and his “cutter” or hard slider. Check out the charts from FanGraphs below on the horizontal movement for Magill's pitches (2018 first, 2016 second). For your reference, a positive value on horizontal movement means the ball will be moving away from a right-handed hitter, and therefore a negative value means the ball is tailing in on a righty. Clearly, in 2018 he’s getting more movement on that cut fastball (FC), slightly more run in on the righties, and again more velocity with the 4-seamer (FA). This could be a contributing factor to why he's been so effective this season at producing weak contact (.219 BABIP - Nice!). Check out the vertical movement below (2018 first, 2016 second): Again, the notable difference is with the cut fastball (FC). Magill is throwing the ball over the plate, and he has increased his velocity considerably, while getting more movement on his cutter. This is a recipe for continued success and I believe it’s time for Molitor to start utilizing him in higher leverage spots. Can somebody explain to me why he hasn’t gotten this chance yet? Let me know what you think in the comments! -Miles
  4. Aside from the first team to go from 100 losses to the playoffs (sort of), they may also be the first team to fire a manager just before that manager wins manager of the year. Maybe Molitor can turn the Tigers around.
  5. I think they shortchanged the Twins in this article. http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/19409515/the-bullpen-revolution-not-televised 1.) Brandon Kintzler has been used for a 4 out save twice this year. That’s more than most teams in the majors and is especially bold because Kintzler is not that good. 2.) Tyler Duffey, though in the starting conversation in spring training, has been used in a very Andrew Miller-esque role this season. Past Twins teams would have used him as a long man when starters get beat up but Duffey has not entered a game where the Twins trailed by more than 2 and has only twice pitched in a game the Twins were up by 4 or more runs – he’s been used in high leverage roles. Duffey has pitched single innings at times and multiple innings at others. He comes in in the 5th of a close game and has pitched the 7th and 8th as a more traditional set-up man. Though he is arguably the Twins best reliever (I’d take him over Kintzler and though Craig Breslow has a lower ERA, he is still Craig Breslow) and has pitched the most innings. I’m not sure I’d call Molitor an innovator but in today’s game where having a closer is pretty standard, he’s way closer to innovative than this article gives him credit. He’s not afraid to bring his closer into the 8th inning and Tyler Duffey belongs in the conversation of guys used like Andrew Miller was in the playoffs. To me the Twins should be in that 25-27 range with the Rays, Dodgers and Red Sox. Thoughts?
  6. For reasons I can't get into, I'm not at my accustomed place(s) on a Sunday morning. It has given me a chance to think about some random things pertaining to the Twins. I don't want to rival Brian or Always 33, but here are some things I am pondering on a Sunday morning: 1) Paul Molitor was a first ballot Hall-of-Famer. He had the requisite 3000 hits, a high number of stolen bases and a World Series ring. He finished his career with the Twins and played three years for them. Included in those seasons was an outstanding 1996, in which he had 225 hits, drove in 113 and won a Silver Slugger. My question is, if Molitor had retired after playing for the Blue Jays and not toiled three years for the Twins, would he have made the Hall? 2) Brian Dozier is my favorite current Twin. He made his first All-Star appearance (which he deserved) and had an incredible first half of 2015. Since the All-Star break, Dozier has not hit well. I believe his OPS is about .665. He run production has suffered and the power has diminished. His OBP is much lower than last year. Has the league figured him out? Will he have to make adjustments to use the whole field? Should he bunt more for base hits? 3) Last year, the Twins weren't good, but especially in the second half of the season they could score runs. This year, they are struggling. While three players that contributed last year (Arcia, Santana, Vargas) were demoted, the Twins have added a rejuvenated Aaron Hicks, Eddie Rosario and especially Miguel Sano to make up for the heavy regression from the three noted above. Yet, this year the Twins are below the median for run scoring. They've increased their power, relative to the league, but are drawing fewer free passes and no one is hitting for a high average. Is this expected regression or was last year a fluke? 4) I have maintained that the Yankees or Blue Jays get one wild card spot, while the Twins are competing with Houston, Texas and the Angels for the second slot. Toronto is on the verge of sweeping the Yankees and with the Yanks injuries and remaining schedule, maybe the Twins can overtake the Evil Empire. Is there a chance that New York can miss the playoffs? Should the Twins consider New York "in play"? 5) Danny Santana was the surprise Rookie of the Year for the Twins last season. He was given the shortstop position to start 2015 (his natural position) and truly has had a miserable major league season. In 64 games at short, he has managed to register as one of the worst defenders at the position, while registering an OPS+ of 45. Late this year, the Twins have resurrected last year's quasi-incumbent, Eduardo Escobar. Esco has hit very well and done his usual capable job on defense. Do the last two seasons guarantee Escobar the starting nod at shortstop next year? What is Santana's future with the Twins? The Twins have another huge game today in Chicago. I hope people have time to offer their opinion about my scattered thoughts. Enjoy the game today or maybe the great out-of -doors or maybe some football today.
  7. I predict next week Torii Hunter will walk into the manager's office and offer up his right field job to Aaron Hicks for the remainder of the year, thus freeing up Paul Molitor/Terry Ryan to call up Byron Buxton to play center field for the rest of the year. My thinking: It has dawned on Torii Hunter (an intelligent mentor who has been playing pretty dreadfully lately) that his presence in right field is holding back Buxton who, at the very least, seems ready to try to emulate his good friend Miguel Sano at the Major League level. If it doesn't happen, I'm wrong.
  8. The team downplayed the importance of the Royals series, saying that it was June and nobody is securing anything right now. “I’ve had that approach where I need a World Series ring on April 1,” said Torii Hunter on June 7, “and that never happens.” “You gotta be a little careful. You’re in June, and you’ve put yourself in a position to play meaningful games in June,” echoed manager Paul Molitor, “but that’s not nearly what it means to play meaningful games in August and September, so you’ve gotta keep your perspective.” It’s not necessarily a bad thing that people are focusing on the Twins in June — after all, in the past few seasons the team was collapsing by this point and fans were losing interest. Instead, the Twins played in front of a sellout crowd in the second game the Brewers were in town and 100,000 people showed up for the entire three-game series. Granted, that number is bolstered by the number of Wisconsinites who crossed the border, but that was the first sellout since the team’s miserable performance on Opening Day, and it's first 100,000-fan series since August 2013. People are taking notice, even if they think the team’s hot start will fade over time. And fade it has. Kyle Gibson, owner of a sub-3.00 ERA to begin the season, came back to earth in his latest start against Kansas City. Joe Mauer wasn’t going to hit .400 with runners in scoring position all season long. Trevor Plouffe started the year with a massive slump, caught fire and then slumped again. Kurt Suzuki played well in a contract year last season, but has returned to the .230 hitter he was with the Washington Nationals and Oakland Athletics the past few years. Sometimes it’s not individual performance that evens out, but rather the sum of the parts that cancel each other out. Mike Pelfrey has maintained his status as an ace, bucking the recent trend of regression, but as the No. 9 overall selection in 2005, he was supposed to be a top of the rotation guy. Phil Hughes was a top prospect in the Yankees organization, but was pilloried once he got to New York because he didn’t live up to expectations. A higher right field fence and more forgiving fan base provided a better environment for him last year, but he’s off to a slow start and isn’t pitching nearly as well as he was last season. Similarly, Aaron Thompson and Blaine Boyer have been revelations in the bullpen and have carried much of the load when it comes to relief pitching because Brian Duensing and Tim Stauffer were struggling. Stauffer was ultimately designated for assignment, meaning, of the two offseason bullpen acquisitions, one has panned out so far and the other hasn’t. Nobody is shocked that the Twins are taking a step back. The team’s 20-win May was historically good, but nobody who showed up for Opening Day and saw the team dismantled 12-3 has forgotten about that, nor have they forgotten that Minnesota started 1-6 and hasn’t had success against the Detroit Tigers yet. All good teams go through rough patches, and the Twins have plenty of holes that indicated they could not maintain an AL Central-leading pace all year long. Plouffe and Suzuki are No. 6 and 7 hitters being forced into the middle of the lineup because the middle of the order talent — Miguel Sano, Oswaldo Arcia and Kennys Vargas — have spent most or all of the year in the minors. Sano is at Double-A and won’t be rushed up; Arcia just came off the disabled list and was immediately placed in Triple-A; Vargas just got a call from Rochester and isn’t ready to hit in the middle of the lineup. That’s the nature of player development and progression. Because the team’s prospects aren’t major league ready yet, Molitor is forced to go with a makeshift lineup for the time being. This team goes as the youth does, plain and simple. An ideal lineup of players currently on the team or in the system would be Brian Dozier — a revelation himself — hitting leadoff, Hunter in the 2-hole, Mauer hitting third, a combination of Sano, Vargas and Arcia in the middle, Plouffe and Suzuki hitting sixth and seventh, and then defensively-savvy Eddie Rosario and Aaron Hicks constituting the bottom of the order. That doesn’t even include Byron Buxton, who probably will take the aging, yet productive, Hunter’s spot at the appropriate time. It’s not hard to envision the Twins putting it together. Hunter is having a great season, but he may just want to end on a high note when it’s over or finish his career as a fourth outfielder, riding what is hopefully a wave of success in Minnesota. He has not only been a great locker room presence this year, but his seemingly ageless production hasn’t forced the Twins’ hand with Buxton — he’ll get the call when he’s ready rather than out of necessity to fill a glaring need. Sano is a player the Twins may have to rush to the major leagues. Plouffe’s defense has taken the pressure off of the Dominican prospect in that aspect — there’s no guarantee Sano will be a major league third baseman, although he should get ample tries to make it work given that he has more value there than at first base or DH — but he’s still inconsistent at the plate and more of a No. 6 hitter than a cleanup guy anyway. Sano also is further away from the big leagues than Buxton, and is likely to surface later in the season. Arcia possesses 30 home run power but is undisciplined at the plate, and prone to temper tantrums away from it. Last season he went Bo Jackson on his bat after striking out, splitting it in half over his leg — a testament to his strength as a human being, but also justifying his label as a head case. If the Twins can get him straightened out, they have a bona fide power hitter on their hands. If they cannot, he may join Chris Parmelee as a man who could hit the ball out of the park, but was never able to make contact with it on a regular basis. Of course if Arcia doesn’t pan out and Sano and Vargas do, Minnesota still has it’s beef in the middle of the order. And for the time being, as long as the rotation holds its own, the Twins can steal a couple wins here and there knowing the starter won’t be out by the fourth inning. Trevor May and Kyle Gibson have proven that they can go deep into games even when they don’t have their best stuff. Hughes has had slow starts in the past and overcome them. Ricky Nolasco showed some promise early in the season and should be better after returning from injury. And, even if he cools off a bit, Pelfrey is supposed to be a top of the rotation pitcher, so he just shouldn't go stone cold and he’ll likely be fine. The point of all this is that there are a lot of moving parts for the Twins. Not only are personnel changes sure to come as prospects develop, but on any given team players get hurt, others slump and some catch fire. At the beginning of the season, both local and national media saw another losing season on the horizon. Molitor emphasized immediate success at his introductory press conference, but didn’t appear to have the personnel to back his ambition. Sports Illustrated had the team at 67 wins, ESPN had 68, and Grantland and Yahoo and everyone under the sun had them in last place. After the team’s success in May, the tune changed to “well, the team has wins banked now, so they’re gonna be around .500.” What does that mean, “banked”? What is preventing this team from a 10-game losing streak at some point? The team has lost five of the last six games they’ve played. On the other hand, if their prospects develop and the rotation stays healthy and the bullpen is supplemented by players like Michael Tonkin, Lester Oliveros, Zach Jones and Nick Burdi, why can’t they be more than a .500 team this year? What is the mean? Is it the 60-70 wins projected at the beginning of the season? Is it 80-82? Twins GM Terry Ryan asserts that the Twins are just winning more close games simply because the defense is better and the bullpen is closing out games, especially closer Glen Perkins, who has been perfect so far. He also says that defensive metrics are rudimentary at this point, and to some extent he’s right. In baseball, a game where everything seems so certain, especially in the Moneyball era, there’s a lot about this team we don’t know. One certainty, however, is that before the season began, management felt they had a winner on their hands. “Things can change in this game very dramatically at this level, very quickly,” Molitor said back in November. “I’ll want it to be something that’s supportive amongst itself, leadership from players, accountability, certainly but creating a vision that they believe that they can win now because things can change very, very rapidly, and I hope that we can set that tone in motion.” In many ways it already has. This story was originally published on the Cold Omaha section of 105TheTicket.com. Tom Schreier writes for 105 The Ticket’s Cold Omaha. Tune into the Wake Up Call every Sunday at 8:00 am to hear the crew break down this week in Minnesota sports. Follow Tom Schreier @tschreier3
  9. The Minnesota Twins are regressing, make no doubt about it. After splitting a series with the Boston Red Sox, Minnesota lost two out of three to the Milwaukee Brewers and were swept by the Kansas City Royals at Target Field, allowing Kansas City to pass them in the standings for first place in the division.The team downplayed the importance of the Royals series, saying that it was June and nobody is securing anything right now. “I’ve had that approach where I need a World Series ring on April 1,” said Torii Hunter on June 7, “and that never happens.” “You gotta be a little careful. You’re in June, and you’ve put yourself in a position to play meaningful games in June,” echoed manager Paul Molitor, “but that’s not nearly what it means to play meaningful games in August and September, so you’ve gotta keep your perspective.” It’s not necessarily a bad thing that people are focusing on the Twins in June — after all, in the past few seasons the team was collapsing by this point and fans were losing interest. Instead, the Twins played in front of a sellout crowd in the second game the Brewers were in town and 100,000 people showed up for the entire three-game series. Granted, that number is bolstered by the number of Wisconsinites who crossed the border, but that was the first sellout since the team’s miserable performance on Opening Day, and it's first 100,000-fan series since August 2013. People are taking notice, even if they think the team’s hot start will fade over time. And fade it has. Kyle Gibson, owner of a sub-3.00 ERA to begin the season, came back to earth in his latest start against Kansas City. Joe Mauer wasn’t going to hit .400 with runners in scoring position all season long. Trevor Plouffe started the year with a massive slump, caught fire and then slumped again. Kurt Suzuki played well in a contract year last season, but has returned to the .230 hitter he was with the Washington Nationals and Oakland Athletics the past few years. Sometimes it’s not individual performance that evens out, but rather the sum of the parts that cancel each other out. Mike Pelfrey has maintained his status as an ace, bucking the recent trend of regression, but as the No. 9 overall selection in 2005, he was supposed to be a top of the rotation guy. Phil Hughes was a top prospect in the Yankees organization, but was pilloried once he got to New York because he didn’t live up to expectations. A higher right field fence and more forgiving fan base provided a better environment for him last year, but he’s off to a slow start and isn’t pitching nearly as well as he was last season. Similarly, Aaron Thompson and Blaine Boyer have been revelations in the bullpen and have carried much of the load when it comes to relief pitching because Brian Duensing and Tim Stauffer were struggling. Stauffer was ultimately designated for assignment, meaning, of the two offseason bullpen acquisitions, one has panned out so far and the other hasn’t. Nobody is shocked that the Twins are taking a step back. The team’s 20-win May was historically good, but nobody who showed up for Opening Day and saw the team dismantled 12-3 has forgotten about that, nor have they forgotten that Minnesota started 1-6 and hasn’t had success against the Detroit Tigers yet. All good teams go through rough patches, and the Twins have plenty of holes that indicated they could not maintain an AL Central-leading pace all year long. Plouffe and Suzuki are No. 6 and 7 hitters being forced into the middle of the lineup because the middle of the order talent — Miguel Sano, Oswaldo Arcia and Kennys Vargas — have spent most or all of the year in the minors. Sano is at Double-A and won’t be rushed up; Arcia just came off the disabled list and was immediately placed in Triple-A; Vargas just got a call from Rochester and isn’t ready to hit in the middle of the lineup. That’s the nature of player development and progression. Because the team’s prospects aren’t major league ready yet, Molitor is forced to go with a makeshift lineup for the time being. This team goes as the youth does, plain and simple. An ideal lineup of players currently on the team or in the system would be Brian Dozier — a revelation himself — hitting leadoff, Hunter in the 2-hole, Mauer hitting third, a combination of Sano, Vargas and Arcia in the middle, Plouffe and Suzuki hitting sixth and seventh, and then defensively-savvy Eddie Rosario and Aaron Hicks constituting the bottom of the order. That doesn’t even include Byron Buxton, who probably will take the aging, yet productive, Hunter’s spot at the appropriate time. It’s not hard to envision the Twins putting it together. Hunter is having a great season, but he may just want to end on a high note when it’s over or finish his career as a fourth outfielder, riding what is hopefully a wave of success in Minnesota. He has not only been a great locker room presence this year, but his seemingly ageless production hasn’t forced the Twins’ hand with Buxton — he’ll get the call when he’s ready rather than out of necessity to fill a glaring need. Sano is a player the Twins may have to rush to the major leagues. Plouffe’s defense has taken the pressure off of the Dominican prospect in that aspect — there’s no guarantee Sano will be a major league third baseman, although he should get ample tries to make it work given that he has more value there than at first base or DH — but he’s still inconsistent at the plate and more of a No. 6 hitter than a cleanup guy anyway. Sano also is further away from the big leagues than Buxton, and is likely to surface later in the season. Arcia possesses 30 home run power but is undisciplined at the plate, and prone to temper tantrums away from it. Last season he went Bo Jackson on his bat after striking out, splitting it in half over his leg — a testament to his strength as a human being, but also justifying his label as a head case. If the Twins can get him straightened out, they have a bona fide power hitter on their hands. If they cannot, he may join Chris Parmelee as a man who could hit the ball out of the park, but was never able to make contact with it on a regular basis. Of course if Arcia doesn’t pan out and Sano and Vargas do, Minnesota still has it’s beef in the middle of the order. And for the time being, as long as the rotation holds its own, the Twins can steal a couple wins here and there knowing the starter won’t be out by the fourth inning. Trevor May and Kyle Gibson have proven that they can go deep into games even when they don’t have their best stuff. Hughes has had slow starts in the past and overcome them. Ricky Nolasco showed some promise early in the season and should be better after returning from injury. And, even if he cools off a bit, Pelfrey is supposed to be a top of the rotation pitcher, so he just shouldn't go stone cold and he’ll likely be fine. The point of all this is that there are a lot of moving parts for the Twins. Not only are personnel changes sure to come as prospects develop, but on any given team players get hurt, others slump and some catch fire. At the beginning of the season, both local and national media saw another losing season on the horizon. Molitor emphasized immediate success at his introductory press conference, but didn’t appear to have the personnel to back his ambition. Sports Illustrated had the team at 67 wins, ESPN had 68, and Grantland and Yahoo and everyone under the sun had them in last place. After the team’s success in May, the tune changed to “well, the team has wins banked now, so they’re gonna be around .500.” What does that mean, “banked”? What is preventing this team from a 10-game losing streak at some point? The team has lost five of the last six games they’ve played. On the other hand, if their prospects develop and the rotation stays healthy and the bullpen is supplemented by players like Michael Tonkin, Lester Oliveros, Zach Jones and Nick Burdi, why can’t they be more than a .500 team this year? What is the mean? Is it the 60-70 wins projected at the beginning of the season? Is it 80-82? Twins GM Terry Ryan asserts that the Twins are just winning more close games simply because the defense is better and the bullpen is closing out games, especially closer Glen Perkins, who has been perfect so far. He also says that defensive metrics are rudimentary at this point, and to some extent he’s right. In baseball, a game where everything seems so certain, especially in the Moneyball era, there’s a lot about this team we don’t know. One certainty, however, is that before the season began, management felt they had a winner on their hands. “Things can change in this game very dramatically at this level, very quickly,” Molitor said back in November. “I’ll want it to be something that’s supportive amongst itself, leadership from players, accountability, certainly but creating a vision that they believe that they can win now because things can change very, very rapidly, and I hope that we can set that tone in motion.” In many ways it already has. This story was originally published on the Cold Omaha section of 105TheTicket.com. Tom Schreier writes for 105 The Ticket’s Cold Omaha. Tune into the Wake Up Call every Sunday at 8:00 am to hear the crew break down this week in Minnesota sports. Follow Tom Schreier @tschreier3 Click here to view the article
  10. Here is Paul Molitor from several years ago - maybe 10 - regarding slumps. "I think the more you learn what kind of hitter you are, the better you're able to stay away from lengthy slumps. For me, I tried to work the field backwards in batting practice, hitting to the opposite field first, then going to center field before I'd try to pull anything. "When you hit to the opposite field, the distance between the bat head and your point of contact is shorter, and a shorter stroke means less margin for error. Less can go wrong. It also means you're letting the ball travel farther, meaning you get a longer look at it. "There seems to be a sequence to slumps. It might begin with bad luck, then you start pressing to make something happen, and all of a sudden you're trying to force the action. Instead of waiting for your pitch, you're reaching out and trying to get the baseball, which doesn't work. That's the opposite of what you should try to do." Quoted by Jim Souhan in Minneapolis Star-Tribune Sport's section, date? Molitor is a sharp thinker. Will his intelligence lead the team through this rough patch, and many more to come as the team grows, changes, and matures? Also, would it be interesting to gather Molitor quotes from throughout the years? Would it perhaps make a great baseball book? (Hey, I called it first!)
  11. The Twins are off to a dreadful 1-5 start and so far exactly one player has positively surprised--Tommy Milone. The other four starters have ranged from pedestrian to awful, the bullpen has been putrid with few exceptions. Outfield defense was expected to be bad and has met that low bar. It was flat-out embarrassing to see two easy catches missed in the same inning today. Many hitters are off to slow starts, some with resumés (Hunter, Plouffe, Dozier) and others less so (Schafer, Arcia, Santana). To be fair, the Twins' hitters have faced a bunch of All-Star starting pitchers and played all six games on the road, but they have looked feeble a lot more than they've looked promising. My question is how long the Twins will continue to trot out guys like Boyer, Stauffer, and Pelfrey (with another large question mark next to Ricky Nolasco's name) and continue with Schafer being stretched in center field. The long term answers remain in the Twins' farm system. Do the Twins wait until May 1st, or the 4th of July? Of course, it is possible that this is just a stretch of bad baseball that almost all teams go through. I was in San Francisco last summer when the Giants were stinking it up and the hometown fans were ready to abandon a team that had won it all twice in the last four years and who would go on to win it all in 2014. My humble opinion is that the Twins' flaws are pretty much real flaws and not just a rough patch. They definitely need improved pitching and defense and their offense might make a move in the wrong direction this year. If I were GM (and thank goodness I'm not!), a couple of bullpen guys would be one more bad appearance away from release or Rochester, Arcia would have a couple of weeks to get it together and the starters except for Hughes and Gibson would need to show something in their next few appearances. What should the timetable be for giving up on this year and going with the prospects?
  12. Who doesn't love a good conspiracy theory? With the 2015 season starting off with questionable roster decisions, two nearly unwatchable games which resulted in shut out losses and now pitchers getting injured I thought some conspiracy theories might be in order to save us from the harsh realities of this season's awful start and most likely just as awful future. Conspiracy Theory #1: Paul Molitor is really a patsy. Longtime baseball fans and Minnesotans liked the idea of giving Molitor the chance to manage the team he grew up watching. And to appease those people TR hired him. Now however TR is building a terrible MLB roster with journeyman veterans and a questionable pitching staff. The reason you may ask, Doug Mientkiewicz. Dougy Baseball is the man the Twins really want to be their long term manager. So the Twins stick him down in AA for a year with their future MLB star players; Sano, Buxton, Berrios, etc. With his roster they dominate and he looks good doing building a rapport with them youngsters. Meanwhile up in the big leagues Molitor's team struggles to reach third base and the pitching staff falls apart. Who is to blame? The Manager, Paul Molitor. Ryan convinces Molitor he is not a MLB Manager and Molitor resigns after the Twins lose their 104th game of the year. Two days later Doug Mientkiewicz is names the Twins interim manager, eventually manager. The young studs come up and the 2016 season starts of with all of the excitement and changes people hoped for in 2015. Conspiracy Theory #2: The Twins are still cheap. Ricky Nolasco is not living up to the expectations he came with and now 3 innings into his 2nd season, elbow pain, and surgery. Good thing the Twins listen to that insurance salesmen and bought insurance and Nolasco's contract. And just like that the Twins recover a large chunk of Nolasco's salary from insurance. Nolasco never pitches for the Twins again and they keep on taking the insurance money. Conspiracy Theory #3: Terry Ryan wants to get fired. Of course he could quit, but then he looks like a quitter and I assume gives up the remaining money on his contract. So he concocts a plan to put an atrocious team on the field that doesn't even include the Twins young prospects. Hoping the Pohlad's get furious because of dropping attendance and decreasing revenue he thinks this plan will get him canned. I know these are dumb but I need these to deal with what I have witnessed the team doing the last few weeks. Although I do somewhat believe/hope #1 is trueish.
  13. Has hitting evolved to such a level that will will never see the high avg player again? There are still many high average players in MLB, but many of them are also power guys. Ultimately, that is what every team dreams of (rarely find), but what happened to the high average, high contact, low to medium power, low strikeout, leadoff and #3 hitters? The Tony Gwynn, Wade Bogg, Rod Carew, Ichiro Suzuki, Mark Grace type of player. There used to be more of this type of player, but seem to be disappearing as most players try to add some power to their game.
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