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  1. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine took over Minnesota's baseball operations department leading into the 2017 season. Each season has taken on a different feel, but they have a track record of making moves at the trade deadline. This series will look back at each trade deadline under this regime. Minnesota's front office likely wasn't planning on being sellers, but a terrible start to 2021 put the team in a bad spot. Luckily, there was a silver lining to a last-place finish as the team made multiple trades that looked to have long-term impacts. Trade 1 (July 22, 2021) Twins Receive: P Joe Ryan, P Drew Strotman Rays Receive: DH Nelson Cruz, P Calvin Faucher Minnesota helped to get the trade market moving last season when they dealt Nelson Cruz to the Rays. Tampa had previously shown interest in Cruz, so it seemed like a good match. The Twins were looking for pitching that was close to being ready for the big-league level. Joe Ryan was the team's Opening Day starter this year and has been one of the team's best starters since he joined the rotation. Cruz struggled down the stretch for the Rays, and Boston eliminated Tampa in the ALDS. Drew Strotman transitioned to a bullpen role at Triple-A and has a 7.49 ERA in 24 appearances. Calvin Faucher has made 14 appearances for the Rays with a 7.11 ERA. Trade 2 (July 30, 2021) Twins Receive: SS Austin Martin, P Simeon Woods Richardson Blue Jays Receive: P Jose Berrios This trade will continue to be intriguing to dissect as time passes. The Blue Jays acquired Berrios and quickly signed him to a 7-year, $131 million extension. His first full season in Toronto hasn't gone as planned as he leads the American League in earned runs and home runs allowed. Austin Martin has seen his stock drop, with a .691 OPS in his second stint at Double-A. However, it is only his second professional season, and he is still considered one of the organization's top prospects. Simeon Woods Richardson's performance puts him in the conversation for the organization's top pitching prospect. In 11 starts, he has a 3.40 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP with a 53-to-19 strikeout to walk ratio. Trade 3 (July 30, 2021) Twins Receive: P Alex Scherff Red Sox Receive: P Hansel Robles Minnesota signed Hansel Robles leading into the 2021 season to help the bullpen improve. There was no reason to keep him on the roster with an expiring contract. In Boston, his numbers improved as he posted a 3.60 ERA with a 1.36 WHIP in 27 appearances. They brought him back for the start of the 2022 season, but he struggled with a 5.84 ERA, and the team released him. After being acquired by the Twins, Alex Scherff didn't pitch last season, but the club assigned him to Double-A for the start of the 2022 campaign. In 25 appearances, he has a 5.27 ERA with a 1.50 WHIP and a 28-to-15 strikeout to walk ratio. Trade 4 (July 30, 2021) Twins Receive: P Evan Sisk, P John Gant Cardinals Receive: P J.A. Happ Many had been clamoring for J.A. Happ to be out of the Twins rotation for most of the season. In 19 starts, he posted a 6.77 ERA with a 1.59 WHIP, but the Cardinals thought they could get something out of the veteran. After the trade, Happ lowered his ERA to 4.00 and had a 1.28 WHIP to help the Cardinals get into Wild Card position. Minnesota used John Gant at the end of last season as a starter and reliever, but his cost was going to be too high to keep him in arbitration. Gant is pitching this year in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball League. Evan Sisk has been one of the organization's best relievers this season. In 28 appearances between Double- and Triple-A, he has a 1.18 ERA with a 0.97 WHIP and 9.5 K/9. Looking back at last year's deadline, it's easier to see how the front office felt they were retooling to be contenders again in 2022. Not all of the trades have worked out perfectly to this point, but there is still time for some of the prospects involved to continue developing. What do you remember most about last year's trade deadline? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES -2017 Trade Deadline -2018 Trade Deadline -2019 Trade Deadline
  2. Last season was one to forget for the Twins as the team underperformed and finished in last place. Thankfully, multiple trade deadline deals helped keep the team's winning window open. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine took over Minnesota's baseball operations department leading into the 2017 season. Each season has taken on a different feel, but they have a track record of making moves at the trade deadline. This series will look back at each trade deadline under this regime. Minnesota's front office likely wasn't planning on being sellers, but a terrible start to 2021 put the team in a bad spot. Luckily, there was a silver lining to a last-place finish as the team made multiple trades that looked to have long-term impacts. Trade 1 (July 22, 2021) Twins Receive: P Joe Ryan, P Drew Strotman Rays Receive: DH Nelson Cruz, P Calvin Faucher Minnesota helped to get the trade market moving last season when they dealt Nelson Cruz to the Rays. Tampa had previously shown interest in Cruz, so it seemed like a good match. The Twins were looking for pitching that was close to being ready for the big-league level. Joe Ryan was the team's Opening Day starter this year and has been one of the team's best starters since he joined the rotation. Cruz struggled down the stretch for the Rays, and Boston eliminated Tampa in the ALDS. Drew Strotman transitioned to a bullpen role at Triple-A and has a 7.49 ERA in 24 appearances. Calvin Faucher has made 14 appearances for the Rays with a 7.11 ERA. Trade 2 (July 30, 2021) Twins Receive: SS Austin Martin, P Simeon Woods Richardson Blue Jays Receive: P Jose Berrios This trade will continue to be intriguing to dissect as time passes. The Blue Jays acquired Berrios and quickly signed him to a 7-year, $131 million extension. His first full season in Toronto hasn't gone as planned as he leads the American League in earned runs and home runs allowed. Austin Martin has seen his stock drop, with a .691 OPS in his second stint at Double-A. However, it is only his second professional season, and he is still considered one of the organization's top prospects. Simeon Woods Richardson's performance puts him in the conversation for the organization's top pitching prospect. In 11 starts, he has a 3.40 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP with a 53-to-19 strikeout to walk ratio. Trade 3 (July 30, 2021) Twins Receive: P Alex Scherff Red Sox Receive: P Hansel Robles Minnesota signed Hansel Robles leading into the 2021 season to help the bullpen improve. There was no reason to keep him on the roster with an expiring contract. In Boston, his numbers improved as he posted a 3.60 ERA with a 1.36 WHIP in 27 appearances. They brought him back for the start of the 2022 season, but he struggled with a 5.84 ERA, and the team released him. After being acquired by the Twins, Alex Scherff didn't pitch last season, but the club assigned him to Double-A for the start of the 2022 campaign. In 25 appearances, he has a 5.27 ERA with a 1.50 WHIP and a 28-to-15 strikeout to walk ratio. Trade 4 (July 30, 2021) Twins Receive: P Evan Sisk, P John Gant Cardinals Receive: P J.A. Happ Many had been clamoring for J.A. Happ to be out of the Twins rotation for most of the season. In 19 starts, he posted a 6.77 ERA with a 1.59 WHIP, but the Cardinals thought they could get something out of the veteran. After the trade, Happ lowered his ERA to 4.00 and had a 1.28 WHIP to help the Cardinals get into Wild Card position. Minnesota used John Gant at the end of last season as a starter and reliever, but his cost was going to be too high to keep him in arbitration. Gant is pitching this year in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball League. Evan Sisk has been one of the organization's best relievers this season. In 28 appearances between Double- and Triple-A, he has a 1.18 ERA with a 0.97 WHIP and 9.5 K/9. Looking back at last year's deadline, it's easier to see how the front office felt they were retooling to be contenders again in 2022. Not all of the trades have worked out perfectly to this point, but there is still time for some of the prospects involved to continue developing. What do you remember most about last year's trade deadline? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES -2017 Trade Deadline -2018 Trade Deadline -2019 Trade Deadline View full article
  3. For two seasons, Nelson Cruz was the heart and soul of the Twins lineup. Will the front office consider a reunion with Boomstick with the trade deadline looming? In recent years, Nelson Cruz seemed to be defying Father Time. From age 38 to 40 seasons, he posted a 151 OPS+ while averaging 30 home runs per season. At an age when many players are significantly declining, he was accomplishing things few players had done in their careers. Cruz had many memorable moments with the Twins, and his lasting legacy may be the players the Twins received when trading him to Tampa Bay. The Twins had an opportunity to bring Cruz back for the 2022 season, but the National League adding the designated hitter created other opportunities for his services. He signed a one-year $12 million deal with the Nationals and got off to a slow start. Cruz ended the month of April with a .479 OPS and more strikeouts (17) than hits (13). It looked like Father Time had caught up to the slugger, but then something clicked. From May 6 through July 3, Cruz hit .289/.367/.449 (.816) with 12 doubles and six home runs in 51 games. He might not produce like the old Boomstick, but he is undoubtedly an above-average hitter in a declining offensive environment. Other Statcast numbers also point to Cruz being closer to his former self. He ranks in the 70th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, hard-hit %, xwOBA, xSLG, and BB%. His Barrel percentage is among the league’s best as he nearly ranks in the 90th percentile. There is a lot of season left, and Cruz has something contending teams may be interested in adding to their roster. Some contending teams looking for a bench bat may be scared away by Cruz’s age, and his performance declined in the second half of 2021. After the Twins traded Cruz, he hit .226/.283/.442 (.725) with eight doubles and 13 home runs in 55 games. Both Tampa Bay and Cruz struggled in the playoffs as he went 3-for-17 (.176 BA) and the Red Sox eliminated the Rays. The 162-game schedule can be grueling for players, especially for those over the age of 40. For the 2022 Twins, Cruz may be a superfluous addition to the roster. Adding him would allow Ryan Jeffers and Gary Sanchez to get more regular rest on the days they aren’t catching. Miguel Sano is on track to return to the roster in the second half and doesn’t have a clear path to playing time. Cruz was a vocal leader in the clubhouse, but the Twins players and coaches have been adamant about the difference in clubhouse culture this season. Other players have taken on the leadership role, which seems to work for the club. This year’s trade deadline is also different from previous years due to the expansion of teams in the playoffs and the National League having the DH. More teams are in contention, and more teams will be interested in adding a big bat for the stretch run. It remains to be seen if Cruz can continue his hot-hitting ways or will this finally be the season where Father Time comes calling. Do you think the Twins should try and acquire Cruz? How do you predict he will do in the season’s second half? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  4. In recent years, Nelson Cruz seemed to be defying Father Time. From age 38 to 40 seasons, he posted a 151 OPS+ while averaging 30 home runs per season. At an age when many players are significantly declining, he was accomplishing things few players had done in their careers. Cruz had many memorable moments with the Twins, and his lasting legacy may be the players the Twins received when trading him to Tampa Bay. The Twins had an opportunity to bring Cruz back for the 2022 season, but the National League adding the designated hitter created other opportunities for his services. He signed a one-year $12 million deal with the Nationals and got off to a slow start. Cruz ended the month of April with a .479 OPS and more strikeouts (17) than hits (13). It looked like Father Time had caught up to the slugger, but then something clicked. From May 6 through July 3, Cruz hit .289/.367/.449 (.816) with 12 doubles and six home runs in 51 games. He might not produce like the old Boomstick, but he is undoubtedly an above-average hitter in a declining offensive environment. Other Statcast numbers also point to Cruz being closer to his former self. He ranks in the 70th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, hard-hit %, xwOBA, xSLG, and BB%. His Barrel percentage is among the league’s best as he nearly ranks in the 90th percentile. There is a lot of season left, and Cruz has something contending teams may be interested in adding to their roster. Some contending teams looking for a bench bat may be scared away by Cruz’s age, and his performance declined in the second half of 2021. After the Twins traded Cruz, he hit .226/.283/.442 (.725) with eight doubles and 13 home runs in 55 games. Both Tampa Bay and Cruz struggled in the playoffs as he went 3-for-17 (.176 BA) and the Red Sox eliminated the Rays. The 162-game schedule can be grueling for players, especially for those over the age of 40. For the 2022 Twins, Cruz may be a superfluous addition to the roster. Adding him would allow Ryan Jeffers and Gary Sanchez to get more regular rest on the days they aren’t catching. Miguel Sano is on track to return to the roster in the second half and doesn’t have a clear path to playing time. Cruz was a vocal leader in the clubhouse, but the Twins players and coaches have been adamant about the difference in clubhouse culture this season. Other players have taken on the leadership role, which seems to work for the club. This year’s trade deadline is also different from previous years due to the expansion of teams in the playoffs and the National League having the DH. More teams are in contention, and more teams will be interested in adding a big bat for the stretch run. It remains to be seen if Cruz can continue his hot-hitting ways or will this finally be the season where Father Time comes calling. Do you think the Twins should try and acquire Cruz? How do you predict he will do in the season’s second half? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  5. In my opinion, Nelson Cruz had the best years of his career in a Twins jersey. His on field results combined with his clubhouse leadership quickly made him a fan favorite. I have seen some people calling for the Twins to trade for him, so I want to get everyone’s opinions. Would a trade realistically be possible? With the Nationals this year, Cruz started slow but has started to produce more lately, and I’m positive he would produce even more back in Target Field. The only issue is getting ABs for him, or taking ABs away from others. Buxton has gotten a big chunk of the DH ABs so far this year, but the Twins could try to push him more in CF as the year goes on. Sanchez has also gotten DH ABs while Jeffers is catching and has for the most part produced. There’s no doubt we’d all love to see Nelly back in the Twin Cities, but would it make sense?
  6. Tampa Bay has an intelligent front office known for identifying players from other organizations that help them “win” almost every trade they complete. So, how have the Twins fared in trades with the Rays? November 28, 2007 Tampa Bay Received: Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, Eddie Morlan Minnesota Received: Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, Jason Pridie Minnesota’s first trade with Tampa Bay was its biggest as it included vital pieces from both teams’ rosters. The Twins acquired Delmon Young to be a right-handed bat to slide in between Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. He never lived up to his potential as the number one overall pick, but he played parts of ten big-league seasons. Minnesota was his only stop where he posted an OPS+ over 100, and he finished in the top-10 for the AL MVP in 2010. Pridie only got six plate appearances with the Twins and never recorded a hit. Harris posted a .669 OPS in three years with the Twins before being packaged with JJ Hardy in the infamous trade for Brett Jacobson and Jim Hoey. Tampa ended up getting the two best players in this trade. Matt Garza pitched over 1700 big-league innings and accumulated a 12.5 WAR. Garza won the 2008 ALCS MVP for Tampa, his first season with the club. Jason Bartlett played three seasons in Tampa, including his lone All-Star season, where he had a 132 OPS+ and a 6.2 WAR. Morlan topped out at Double-A, but it’s clear the Rays ended up with the better package of players. Winner: Tampa Bay July 31, 2015 Tampa Bay Received: Alexis Tapia, Chih-Wei Hu Minnesota Received: Kevin Jepsen At the trade deadline, Minnesota found themselves in contention and wanted to add a late-inning bullpen arm. Kevin Jepsen posted a 1.61 ERA with a 0.89 WHIP in 29 appearances through the rest of the 2015 season. Unfortunately, Minnesota fell short of qualifying for the playoffs, but Jepsen couldn’t have pitched much better in his first season for the Twins. Alexis Tapia never made it out of High-A in the Rays system, while Chih-Wei Hu was limited to 11 big-league appearances. In his second season with the Twins, Jepsen pitched horribly, and the team released him on July 11, 2016. Even with this poor ending, Jepsen provided the 2015 Twins with solid innings for a contending team. Winner: Minnesota June 24, 2016 Tampa Bay Received: Oswaldo Arcia Minnesota Received: Cash Considerations Oswaldo Arcia was supposed to be part of the first wave of prospects that helped turn things around for the Twins. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, as he posted a .732 OPS in over 250 games for the club. In June 2016, the Twins sent Arcia to the Rays for cash considerations. He’d only play in 21 games for Tampa as he appeared in games for four different big-league clubs that season. Minnesota shed Arcia, and Tampa got a player that accumulated negative value while playing for them. Winner: Minnesota February 17, 2018 Tampa Bay Received: Jermaine Palacios Minnesota Received: Jake Odorizzi This trade was a slam dunk win for the Twins. Jake Odorizzi pitched parts of three seasons in Minnesota with a 107 ERA+ and an All-Star appearance in 2019. Jermaine Palacios topped out at Double-A in the Rays organization before resigning with the Twins. His unique prospect journey has come full circle this year as he made his big-league debut for the Twins. Winner: Minnesota July 22, 2021 Tampa Bay Received: Nelson Cruz, Calvin Faucher Minnesota Received: Joe Ryan, Drew Strotman Last summer’s blockbuster trade looks to be working out significantly in favor of the Twins. Nelson Cruz played 55 games for the Rays and posted a .725 OPS. Since rookie ball, Calvin Faucher has yet to post a sub-4.00 ERA at any level. Minnesota received six years of team control over Joe Ryan, an AL Rookie of the Year contender, and Drew Strotman, a solid organizational depth piece. Even if Ryan regresses, the Twins are still getting more value from him than what the Rays got from Cruz. Winner: Minnesota Do you agree with the winners named above? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  7. November 28, 2007 Tampa Bay Received: Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, Eddie Morlan Minnesota Received: Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, Jason Pridie Minnesota’s first trade with Tampa Bay was its biggest as it included vital pieces from both teams’ rosters. The Twins acquired Delmon Young to be a right-handed bat to slide in between Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. He never lived up to his potential as the number one overall pick, but he played parts of ten big-league seasons. Minnesota was his only stop where he posted an OPS+ over 100, and he finished in the top-10 for the AL MVP in 2010. Pridie only got six plate appearances with the Twins and never recorded a hit. Harris posted a .669 OPS in three years with the Twins before being packaged with JJ Hardy in the infamous trade for Brett Jacobson and Jim Hoey. Tampa ended up getting the two best players in this trade. Matt Garza pitched over 1700 big-league innings and accumulated a 12.5 WAR. Garza won the 2008 ALCS MVP for Tampa, his first season with the club. Jason Bartlett played three seasons in Tampa, including his lone All-Star season, where he had a 132 OPS+ and a 6.2 WAR. Morlan topped out at Double-A, but it’s clear the Rays ended up with the better package of players. Winner: Tampa Bay July 31, 2015 Tampa Bay Received: Alexis Tapia, Chih-Wei Hu Minnesota Received: Kevin Jepsen At the trade deadline, Minnesota found themselves in contention and wanted to add a late-inning bullpen arm. Kevin Jepsen posted a 1.61 ERA with a 0.89 WHIP in 29 appearances through the rest of the 2015 season. Unfortunately, Minnesota fell short of qualifying for the playoffs, but Jepsen couldn’t have pitched much better in his first season for the Twins. Alexis Tapia never made it out of High-A in the Rays system, while Chih-Wei Hu was limited to 11 big-league appearances. In his second season with the Twins, Jepsen pitched horribly, and the team released him on July 11, 2016. Even with this poor ending, Jepsen provided the 2015 Twins with solid innings for a contending team. Winner: Minnesota June 24, 2016 Tampa Bay Received: Oswaldo Arcia Minnesota Received: Cash Considerations Oswaldo Arcia was supposed to be part of the first wave of prospects that helped turn things around for the Twins. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, as he posted a .732 OPS in over 250 games for the club. In June 2016, the Twins sent Arcia to the Rays for cash considerations. He’d only play in 21 games for Tampa as he appeared in games for four different big-league clubs that season. Minnesota shed Arcia, and Tampa got a player that accumulated negative value while playing for them. Winner: Minnesota February 17, 2018 Tampa Bay Received: Jermaine Palacios Minnesota Received: Jake Odorizzi This trade was a slam dunk win for the Twins. Jake Odorizzi pitched parts of three seasons in Minnesota with a 107 ERA+ and an All-Star appearance in 2019. Jermaine Palacios topped out at Double-A in the Rays organization before resigning with the Twins. His unique prospect journey has come full circle this year as he made his big-league debut for the Twins. Winner: Minnesota July 22, 2021 Tampa Bay Received: Nelson Cruz, Calvin Faucher Minnesota Received: Joe Ryan, Drew Strotman Last summer’s blockbuster trade looks to be working out significantly in favor of the Twins. Nelson Cruz played 55 games for the Rays and posted a .725 OPS. Since rookie ball, Calvin Faucher has yet to post a sub-4.00 ERA at any level. Minnesota received six years of team control over Joe Ryan, an AL Rookie of the Year contender, and Drew Strotman, a solid organizational depth piece. Even if Ryan regresses, the Twins are still getting more value from him than what the Rays got from Cruz. Winner: Minnesota Do you agree with the winners named above? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  8. Last season Bailey Ober made his Major League debut starting 20 games for a bad Twins team. A 12th-round pick in 2017 and never a top prospect, Ober performed well above his expected water level. The 4.19 ERA wasn’t earth-shattering, but it came with over a strikeout per inning, and if he was able to be just a bit more stingy with the longball, another step forward could be taken. Despite a brief stint on the injured list this season, Ober has now made five starts and owns a 2.55 ERA. His 3.26 FIP suggests he’s not pitching much over his head, and while the strikeouts have tailed off a bit, he’s allowing just 0.7 HR/9 and has cut the H/9 down by one to 8.0. In an age where velocity reigns supreme, Ober is doing it with a fastball that averages just 92 mph. Of course, the fact that he’s 6’9” and basically putting the ball across the plate out of his hand doesn’t help opposing hitters to sit on his pitches. The step forward is also evident in the peripherals. Ober is allowing 5% less hard contact this season, dropping the hard-hit rate against him down to 32%. Both his xFIP and xERA are hovering in the 4’s, but his whiff and chase rates are both slightly up from where they were last season. It’s a small sample size thus far in 2022, but the body of work is starting to become substantial. The thought on Ober was that he’d provide Minnesota great depth if pushed to Triple-A. Instead, he was tabbed as a rotation mainstay from the get-go and has continued to look the part of found money when it comes to projecting prospects. On the flip side, Joe Ryan has been a top-100 prospect after being drafted in the 7th round of the 2018 Major League Baseball draft. It will forever be mind-boggling that Minnesota wrangled him from the Rays in exchange for a few months of an aging Nelson Cruz, but here we are. Ryan’s debut was extremely limited last season. He made five starts down the stretch and posted a 4.05 ERA. The 3.43 FIP suggested more was there and the 10.1 K/9 was hard not to get excited about. If Ober’s numbers were small and tough to get behind, however, then Ryan’s were minuscule. Instead of hedging their bets, Minnesota named Ryan their Opening Day starter even after acquiring potential ace Sonny Gray. Now eight starts into his 2022 campaign, Ryan may be the frontrunner for the 2022 American League Rookie of the Year award. He has a dazzling 2.28 ERA and is still sitting strong with an 8.7 K/9. Maybe being helped by the deadened baseball, his 0.6 HR/9 is more than halved from what it was a season ago, but the 3.24 FIP suggests his stuff is as good as advertised. Like Ober, Ryan doesn’t pump velocity on his fastball. Averaging just 92.4 mph on the pitch, which is a one mph jump from 2022, his ability to spin the pitch and get movement is where the success comes from. Minnesota has gotten Ryan into a more slider-focused repertoire this season, pushing roughly 10% of the fastball usage to his newly featured offering. The results haven’t produced a shift in chase rate or whiff rate, but they’ve helped to hold the status quo on what were already impressive results. Admittedly we’re still early in the 2022 season. The combined total here is just 13 starts. Knowing the rotation needed to be reconfigured though, both Ober and Ryan were immediately penciled in as key pieces and that may have seemed like a leap. The Twins' front office seemingly knew what they had, however, and the developmental path for both arms continues to remain strong.
  9. The Minnesota Twins went into the offseason needing to revamp a starting rotation that had lost both of its top arms and needed a significant talent infusion. When the dust settled it appeared that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine were fine leaning heavily on Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober. Turns out, they look right. Last season Bailey Ober made his Major League debut starting 20 games for a bad Twins team. A 12th-round pick in 2017 and never a top prospect, Ober performed well above his expected water level. The 4.19 ERA wasn’t earth-shattering, but it came with over a strikeout per inning, and if he was able to be just a bit more stingy with the longball, another step forward could be taken. Despite a brief stint on the injured list this season, Ober has now made five starts and owns a 2.55 ERA. His 3.26 FIP suggests he’s not pitching much over his head, and while the strikeouts have tailed off a bit, he’s allowing just 0.7 HR/9 and has cut the H/9 down by one to 8.0. In an age where velocity reigns supreme, Ober is doing it with a fastball that averages just 92 mph. Of course, the fact that he’s 6’9” and basically putting the ball across the plate out of his hand doesn’t help opposing hitters to sit on his pitches. The step forward is also evident in the peripherals. Ober is allowing 5% less hard contact this season, dropping the hard-hit rate against him down to 32%. Both his xFIP and xERA are hovering in the 4’s, but his whiff and chase rates are both slightly up from where they were last season. It’s a small sample size thus far in 2022, but the body of work is starting to become substantial. The thought on Ober was that he’d provide Minnesota great depth if pushed to Triple-A. Instead, he was tabbed as a rotation mainstay from the get-go and has continued to look the part of found money when it comes to projecting prospects. On the flip side, Joe Ryan has been a top-100 prospect after being drafted in the 7th round of the 2018 Major League Baseball draft. It will forever be mind-boggling that Minnesota wrangled him from the Rays in exchange for a few months of an aging Nelson Cruz, but here we are. Ryan’s debut was extremely limited last season. He made five starts down the stretch and posted a 4.05 ERA. The 3.43 FIP suggested more was there and the 10.1 K/9 was hard not to get excited about. If Ober’s numbers were small and tough to get behind, however, then Ryan’s were minuscule. Instead of hedging their bets, Minnesota named Ryan their Opening Day starter even after acquiring potential ace Sonny Gray. Now eight starts into his 2022 campaign, Ryan may be the frontrunner for the 2022 American League Rookie of the Year award. He has a dazzling 2.28 ERA and is still sitting strong with an 8.7 K/9. Maybe being helped by the deadened baseball, his 0.6 HR/9 is more than halved from what it was a season ago, but the 3.24 FIP suggests his stuff is as good as advertised. Like Ober, Ryan doesn’t pump velocity on his fastball. Averaging just 92.4 mph on the pitch, which is a one mph jump from 2022, his ability to spin the pitch and get movement is where the success comes from. Minnesota has gotten Ryan into a more slider-focused repertoire this season, pushing roughly 10% of the fastball usage to his newly featured offering. The results haven’t produced a shift in chase rate or whiff rate, but they’ve helped to hold the status quo on what were already impressive results. Admittedly we’re still early in the 2022 season. The combined total here is just 13 starts. Knowing the rotation needed to be reconfigured though, both Ober and Ryan were immediately penciled in as key pieces and that may have seemed like a leap. The Twins' front office seemingly knew what they had, however, and the developmental path for both arms continues to remain strong. View full article
  10. The Twins are closing in on 1,000 home runs at Target Field and plenty of memorable players have helped them reach this milestone. Here are the players that cracked the back-half of the top-10 and their biggest hits. 10. Jorge Polanco: 30 HR Polanco has become one of Minnesota's most valuable contributors, and he is one of 22 second basemen to hit more than 30 home runs in a season. During the 2019 season, Minnesota coughed up a ninth-inning lead only to have Polanco hit a walk-off in the tenth inning. 9. Joe Mauer: 32 HR Mauer wasn't known for his home run prowess and his best home run season came at the Metrodome. His first walk-off home run was worth the wait as it came in his 14th big-league season. 8. Josh Willingham: 33 HR Willingham's home run prowess gets a little lost because he played on some bad Twins teams. However, he hit one of the most valuable home runs in Target Field history. With the Twins down to their final out, Willingham sent the fans home happy. 7. Nelson Cruz: 36 HR What is left to say about Cruz? His Twins tenure was full of remarkable moments, and he seemed to be the glue behind Minnesota's record-breaking home run season. The Twins don't have a lot of good memories against the Yankees, but his walk-off home run against Aroldis Chapman has to be one of the best. 6. Byron Buxton: 38 HR Buxton's long-term deal means he will continue to move up this list in the years ahead. However, he already hit a memorable home run during the 2022 season. His 469-foot moonshot was the longest walk-off home run in the StatCast era. Which one of these home runs stands out most to you? How high will Buxton get on this list before the end of his career? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. PREVIOUS POSTS IN THE SERIES -Home Run Hitters: 11-15 View full article
  11. 10. Jorge Polanco: 30 HR Polanco has become one of Minnesota's most valuable contributors, and he is one of 22 second basemen to hit more than 30 home runs in a season. During the 2019 season, Minnesota coughed up a ninth-inning lead only to have Polanco hit a walk-off in the tenth inning. 9. Joe Mauer: 32 HR Mauer wasn't known for his home run prowess and his best home run season came at the Metrodome. His first walk-off home run was worth the wait as it came in his 14th big-league season. 8. Josh Willingham: 33 HR Willingham's home run prowess gets a little lost because he played on some bad Twins teams. However, he hit one of the most valuable home runs in Target Field history. With the Twins down to their final out, Willingham sent the fans home happy. 7. Nelson Cruz: 36 HR What is left to say about Cruz? His Twins tenure was full of remarkable moments, and he seemed to be the glue behind Minnesota's record-breaking home run season. The Twins don't have a lot of good memories against the Yankees, but his walk-off home run against Aroldis Chapman has to be one of the best. 6. Byron Buxton: 38 HR Buxton's long-term deal means he will continue to move up this list in the years ahead. However, he already hit a memorable home run during the 2022 season. His 469-foot moonshot was the longest walk-off home run in the StatCast era. Which one of these home runs stands out most to you? How high will Buxton get on this list before the end of his career? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. PREVIOUS POSTS IN THE SERIES -Home Run Hitters: 11-15
  12. DH Nelson Cruz to Rays for RHPs Joe Ryan and Drew Stotman Many of the Twins' moves project to have positive results. On an expiring contract, Nelson Cruz was dealt for two pitchers that are close to big-league ready. There are plenty of questions about the team’s rotation for 2022, so adding two more pitchers to the mix can only help the organization’s pitching depth. The Cruz deal was far from the only one that made headlines. RHP Jose Berrios to Blue Jays for SS/OF Austin Martin and RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson José Berríos was dealt for a pair of top-100 prospects, which seems like a high price to pay for just over a year of Berríos. The Dodgers traded for starting pitcher Max Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner and received a similar trade package in return. Even the website, Baseball Trade Values believes the Blue Jays overpaid. LHP J.A. Happ to Cardinals for RHP John Gant and LHP Evan Sisk Speaking of teams that overpaid, the Twins found a taker for JA Happ, as the Cardinals were willing to trade for him. He’s been bad for most of the season, and his recent numbers don’t point to him improving. It seemed more likely for the Twins to designated him for assignment instead of finding a trade partner, but it was a crazy trade deadline, to say the least. RHP Hansel Robles to Red Sox for RHP Alex Scherff Robles, like Cruz, was on an expiring contract and plenty of contenders were looking for relief help. Minnesota signed Robles for $2 million this off-season and he's had some up-and-down moments as part of a Twins bullpen that has struggled for the majority of the season. Relief pitching can be fickle and Boston hopes Robles can find some of his previous successes. From Minnesota's perspective, the front office has to be happy to get any value back for a player that wasn't part of the team's long-term plans. Who Wasn't Traded? Not every part of the trade deadline was positive for the Twins. Minnesota had multiple players on expiring contracts that stayed with the team, including Michael Pineda and Andrelton Simmons. Pineda is the biggest head-scratcher as the trade market seemed hot for starting pitching. As the smoke cleared, the front office said the right things, but there doesn’t seem to be much value in keeping him around until season’s end. There were plenty of other rumors circulating on Friday, including some big names for the Twins. There was a chance of a Byron Buxton deal with multiple teams interested in the centerfielder. For good reasons, Minnesota’s price was likely high, and there will still be an opportunity to revisit trades this winter. There may also be a chance to revisit a contract extension with Buxton, especially with the young core the organization has built in the minor leagues. Another missed opportunity was parting ways with Josh Donaldson, as his name had been out in the rumor mill throughout the last few weeks. Minnesota signed Donaldson to his four-year deal, knowing that he may decline toward the backend of the contract. He has been relatively healthy this year and producing as one of the league’s best third basemen. This trade deadline might have been his peak trade value, especially since it’s tough to imagine the Twins contending in 2022. Overall, this might go down as a franchise-altering day in Twins history. However, there were some missed opportunities along the way. Now it might be a couple of years before fans know if the team indeed won or lost the 2021 trade deadline. Do you think the Twins were winners or losers at the trade deadline? 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
  13. Every trade deadline, teams are declared winners or losers. So, how did the Twins fare on a whirlwind day? DH Nelson Cruz to Rays for RHPs Joe Ryan and Drew Stotman Many of the Twins' moves project to have positive results. On an expiring contract, Nelson Cruz was dealt for two pitchers that are close to big-league ready. There are plenty of questions about the team’s rotation for 2022, so adding two more pitchers to the mix can only help the organization’s pitching depth. The Cruz deal was far from the only one that made headlines. RHP Jose Berrios to Blue Jays for SS/OF Austin Martin and RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson José Berríos was dealt for a pair of top-100 prospects, which seems like a high price to pay for just over a year of Berríos. The Dodgers traded for starting pitcher Max Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner and received a similar trade package in return. Even the website, Baseball Trade Values believes the Blue Jays overpaid. LHP J.A. Happ to Cardinals for RHP John Gant and LHP Evan Sisk Speaking of teams that overpaid, the Twins found a taker for JA Happ, as the Cardinals were willing to trade for him. He’s been bad for most of the season, and his recent numbers don’t point to him improving. It seemed more likely for the Twins to designated him for assignment instead of finding a trade partner, but it was a crazy trade deadline, to say the least. RHP Hansel Robles to Red Sox for RHP Alex Scherff Robles, like Cruz, was on an expiring contract and plenty of contenders were looking for relief help. Minnesota signed Robles for $2 million this off-season and he's had some up-and-down moments as part of a Twins bullpen that has struggled for the majority of the season. Relief pitching can be fickle and Boston hopes Robles can find some of his previous successes. From Minnesota's perspective, the front office has to be happy to get any value back for a player that wasn't part of the team's long-term plans. Who Wasn't Traded? Not every part of the trade deadline was positive for the Twins. Minnesota had multiple players on expiring contracts that stayed with the team, including Michael Pineda and Andrelton Simmons. Pineda is the biggest head-scratcher as the trade market seemed hot for starting pitching. As the smoke cleared, the front office said the right things, but there doesn’t seem to be much value in keeping him around until season’s end. There were plenty of other rumors circulating on Friday, including some big names for the Twins. There was a chance of a Byron Buxton deal with multiple teams interested in the centerfielder. For good reasons, Minnesota’s price was likely high, and there will still be an opportunity to revisit trades this winter. There may also be a chance to revisit a contract extension with Buxton, especially with the young core the organization has built in the minor leagues. Another missed opportunity was parting ways with Josh Donaldson, as his name had been out in the rumor mill throughout the last few weeks. Minnesota signed Donaldson to his four-year deal, knowing that he may decline toward the backend of the contract. He has been relatively healthy this year and producing as one of the league’s best third basemen. This trade deadline might have been his peak trade value, especially since it’s tough to imagine the Twins contending in 2022. Overall, this might go down as a franchise-altering day in Twins history. However, there were some missed opportunities along the way. Now it might be a couple of years before fans know if the team indeed won or lost the 2021 trade deadline. Do you think the Twins were winners or losers at the trade deadline? 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 View full article
  14. Nelson Cruz, Josh Donaldson, and Mitch Garver are no longer with the Minnesota Twins. Does that mean Twins fans should be worried about DH production this season? In recent years, Nelson Cruz was penciled in as the team's primary designated hitter, and he performed at a high level in this role. Throughout the offseason, the Twins planned to rotate through various players in the DH role, but there has been a roster turnover since the lockout ended. Here are some of the names expected to fill the DH role in 2022. Gary Sánchez 2021 Stats: .204/.307/.423 (.730), 13 2B, 23 HR, 121 K, 117 G It seems likely for Sánchez to get the majority of his at-bats in the DH role this season because he is atrocious behind the plate. Sánchez has played 74 games as a DH for his career while hitting .224/.306/.469 (.775) with 11 doubles and 19 home runs. If Ryan Jeffers misses time or struggles, Sánchez will be pressed into service behind the plate. He's also in his final year of team control, and he likely wants to hit the market known for being a catcher and not just as a DH. There is an outside chance that Minnesota will include Sánchez in a trade before Opening Day, and then the team will have to turn to other DH options. Miguel Sanó 2021 Stats: .223/.312/.466 (.778), 24 2B, 30 HR, 183 K, 135 G Expectations were for Sanó to be used more regularly at the DH spot this season with Cruz out of the picture. Since switching to first base, he's made marginal defensive improvements, but SABR's SDI ranks him as the second-worst defensive first baseman. Also, Sanó isn't a stranger to the DH position as he's played nearly as many games at DH (155) as first base (195). He has a .753 OPS as the DH for his career, which is lower than when he plays a defensive position. Minnesota has a $14 million team option attached to Sanó with a $2.75 million buyout for next season. That's a steep price to pay for someone that has shifted to a more regular DH role. Brent Rooker 2021 Stats: .201/.291/.397 (.688), 10 2B, 9 HR, 70 K, 58 G Rooker has run out of things to prove in the minor leagues as he has a .932 OPS in nearly an entire season at Triple-A. The 27-year-old was used sporadically at the big-league level in 2020-21, and a DH role might be his best shot to earn a permanent role. Last season, he lost out on an Opening Day roster spot because the team was concerned with his defensive ability in the outfield. Those concerns likely remain, but Rooker is already behind the aforementioned names, and he may be relegated to a bench role this season. Other Options All three players mentioned seem to fit the prototypical DH mold, but others on the Twins roster will have the opportunity to fill the DH spot. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli has preached a mantra around giving players adequate rest, including moving a regular position player to the DH role for the day. Four outfielders currently project to make the Opening Day roster, so one of those players could fill in at DH on any given day. Besides the outfielders, Luis Arraez and Jorge Polanco have played through in-season injuries in the past. A day at DH may take some of the wear and tear off their knees (Arraez) and ankles (Polanco). Jose Miranda is also coming off a tremendous season, but he doesn't have a clear roster spot this spring. Would the team consider bringing him up to get at-bats in a DH role? Some other powerful prospects like Matt Wallner and Aaron Sabato are also working their way towards Target Field. Minnesota's DH plan seemed much clearer at the beginning of the offseason, but those plans have changed. Now, these options seem worse than the Twins' production out of the DH spot with Cruz. Should Twins fans be worried about production from the DH spot? 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 View full article
  15. In recent years, Nelson Cruz was penciled in as the team's primary designated hitter, and he performed at a high level in this role. Throughout the offseason, the Twins planned to rotate through various players in the DH role, but there has been a roster turnover since the lockout ended. Here are some of the names expected to fill the DH role in 2022. Gary Sánchez 2021 Stats: .204/.307/.423 (.730), 13 2B, 23 HR, 121 K, 117 G It seems likely for Sánchez to get the majority of his at-bats in the DH role this season because he is atrocious behind the plate. Sánchez has played 74 games as a DH for his career while hitting .224/.306/.469 (.775) with 11 doubles and 19 home runs. If Ryan Jeffers misses time or struggles, Sánchez will be pressed into service behind the plate. He's also in his final year of team control, and he likely wants to hit the market known for being a catcher and not just as a DH. There is an outside chance that Minnesota will include Sánchez in a trade before Opening Day, and then the team will have to turn to other DH options. Miguel Sanó 2021 Stats: .223/.312/.466 (.778), 24 2B, 30 HR, 183 K, 135 G Expectations were for Sanó to be used more regularly at the DH spot this season with Cruz out of the picture. Since switching to first base, he's made marginal defensive improvements, but SABR's SDI ranks him as the second-worst defensive first baseman. Also, Sanó isn't a stranger to the DH position as he's played nearly as many games at DH (155) as first base (195). He has a .753 OPS as the DH for his career, which is lower than when he plays a defensive position. Minnesota has a $14 million team option attached to Sanó with a $2.75 million buyout for next season. That's a steep price to pay for someone that has shifted to a more regular DH role. Brent Rooker 2021 Stats: .201/.291/.397 (.688), 10 2B, 9 HR, 70 K, 58 G Rooker has run out of things to prove in the minor leagues as he has a .932 OPS in nearly an entire season at Triple-A. The 27-year-old was used sporadically at the big-league level in 2020-21, and a DH role might be his best shot to earn a permanent role. Last season, he lost out on an Opening Day roster spot because the team was concerned with his defensive ability in the outfield. Those concerns likely remain, but Rooker is already behind the aforementioned names, and he may be relegated to a bench role this season. Other Options All three players mentioned seem to fit the prototypical DH mold, but others on the Twins roster will have the opportunity to fill the DH spot. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli has preached a mantra around giving players adequate rest, including moving a regular position player to the DH role for the day. Four outfielders currently project to make the Opening Day roster, so one of those players could fill in at DH on any given day. Besides the outfielders, Luis Arraez and Jorge Polanco have played through in-season injuries in the past. A day at DH may take some of the wear and tear off their knees (Arraez) and ankles (Polanco). Jose Miranda is also coming off a tremendous season, but he doesn't have a clear roster spot this spring. Would the team consider bringing him up to get at-bats in a DH role? Some other powerful prospects like Matt Wallner and Aaron Sabato are also working their way towards Target Field. Minnesota's DH plan seemed much clearer at the beginning of the offseason, but those plans have changed. Now, these options seem worse than the Twins' production out of the DH spot with Cruz. Should Twins fans be worried about production from the DH spot? 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
  16. The Minnesota Twins' starting rotation is in shambles at this point. Dylan Bundy is the only starter signed before the lockout, and Carlos Rodon is the only realistic upper-tier target that still seems plausible. With those parameters, it seems a good bet that the Twins turn to the trade market, a place they’ve been expected to dabble all along. For Falvey, this is probably the optimal outcome. While free agency has been a malady of misses, the trade front has actually worked out well for this front office. I’m still baffled how an aging Nelson Cruz was parlayed for two legitimate arms, and that was after the Jake Odorizzi trade had already tipped the scales against the Rays for Minnesota. Throw in getting a haul for Jose Berrios when the organization had decided against extending him, and you have to be happy with the results. Looking at the prospect rankings and, more importantly, the organizational location for Minnesota, it’s clear they need external help. The Twins farm system shows up consistently at the bottom of the teens, and outside of Jordan Balazovic, there isn’t an arm on the farm that’s a top 100 talent and ready to immediately contribute. An explanation for much of the feelings regarding the Twins system relates to the missed time the past few seasons. The depth is there, while the floor currently trumps many of the ceilings. Parlaying a few arms into one big one could be the ideal action plan. Oakland has plenty of arms on the block, and stud Frankie Montas is among the best of them. Cincinnati could be a willing partner with either Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, or Tyler Mahle. Houston might be willing to flip Odorizzi back to Minnesota. There is any number of possibilities for the front office to explore. It would be wise to assume that frameworks have been discussed before the lockout, and things should come together quickly when we get a resumption. If and when Minnesota swings a deal, there should be a level of trust built from how Falvey has constructed previous swaps. There’s going to be hurt in prospect capital, especially for a top-level arm, but betting on the Twins knowing their talents and the warts they may have is an earned belief. An ideal trade has both sides winning when the deal is struck, but Minnesota continuing to come out on top, in the long run, is something every fan can get on board with. Derek Falvey needs to keep stacking the positive results in that category. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  17. When Derek Falvey was brought into the Twins organization, it was with a belief he would develop a pitching pipeline similar to what he did in Cleveland. While we haven’t yet seen that bear fruit, this front office has seen success on the trade market. A perfect storm post-lockout could be brewing, knowing what the organization needs, and seeing where we’re at this offseason. The Minnesota Twins' starting rotation is in shambles at this point. Dylan Bundy is the only starter signed before the lockout, and Carlos Rodon is the only realistic upper-tier target that still seems plausible. With those parameters, it seems a good bet that the Twins turn to the trade market, a place they’ve been expected to dabble all along. For Falvey, this is probably the optimal outcome. While free agency has been a malady of misses, the trade front has actually worked out well for this front office. I’m still baffled how an aging Nelson Cruz was parlayed for two legitimate arms, and that was after the Jake Odorizzi trade had already tipped the scales against the Rays for Minnesota. Throw in getting a haul for Jose Berrios when the organization had decided against extending him, and you have to be happy with the results. Looking at the prospect rankings and, more importantly, the organizational location for Minnesota, it’s clear they need external help. The Twins farm system shows up consistently at the bottom of the teens, and outside of Jordan Balazovic, there isn’t an arm on the farm that’s a top 100 talent and ready to immediately contribute. An explanation for much of the feelings regarding the Twins system relates to the missed time the past few seasons. The depth is there, while the floor currently trumps many of the ceilings. Parlaying a few arms into one big one could be the ideal action plan. Oakland has plenty of arms on the block, and stud Frankie Montas is among the best of them. Cincinnati could be a willing partner with either Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, or Tyler Mahle. Houston might be willing to flip Odorizzi back to Minnesota. There is any number of possibilities for the front office to explore. It would be wise to assume that frameworks have been discussed before the lockout, and things should come together quickly when we get a resumption. If and when Minnesota swings a deal, there should be a level of trust built from how Falvey has constructed previous swaps. There’s going to be hurt in prospect capital, especially for a top-level arm, but betting on the Twins knowing their talents and the warts they may have is an earned belief. An ideal trade has both sides winning when the deal is struck, but Minnesota continuing to come out on top, in the long run, is something every fan can get on board with. Derek Falvey needs to keep stacking the positive results in that category. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  18. During the Covid-shortened 2020 season, MLB implemented the DH in the National League to see how it would work. It was also done for health reasons and to protect pitchers. Were the changes made in 2020 masked as a "benefit" for the players but lining the owners' pockets. It’s understood that owners want the DH to protect their pitchers, but they do not want to pay for what that would mean. If they want to pay pitchers more and protect them, having another player to pay is the only option. The effect is twofold. First, it's 15 more jobs for which MLB owners wouldn't have to pay premium prices. The National League would then have to pay a decent salary for a decent hitter. Or a position player would have to move into the DH role. So, which is more important to the owners? Are they protecting the pitcher or saving money? The Twins are not strangers to the designated hitter. The American League began playing with a DH nearly 50 years ago. It would not make a difference to the AL teams if Major League Baseball implemented the universal designated hitter. The managers know who they have, what they need, where their strengths and weaknesses are in the lineup. With that stated, bringing on a designated hitter from outside the organization is not in the Twins' best interest (sorry, Nelson Cruz fans). The Twins need a hitter that they can rely on to hit, bring in runners and get on base themselves. After Nelson Cruz was traded, the Twins used several different players as DH, particularly a hobbling Josh Donaldson. When using position players from the roster, while the DH can give a player a break, a team runs the risk of more injuries and fewer players to DH. Players are more likely to get hurt playing their position playing the field, which would remove them from playing DH, putting it on someone else. Having a full-time or tandem DH is what makes sense. It is common knowledge that the front office will find ways to save every penny they can. $30-40 Million left in revenue to spend is a fair chunk of change. However, if the Twins use someone already on the roster, they can use that money to bring in the pitching they desperately need. So what do the Twins do at the designated hitter spot? I am glad you asked. **Takes audible deep breath** Miguel Sano. Hear me out. There is a great divide in the Minnesota fanbase over Sano's ability to hit. He is a very streaky hitter. Last season, he reached 1,000 strikeouts in the fewest games (661) in MLB history. He lacked plate discipline at times. If he sees a ball in his zone, he swings at it. Pitchers are not afraid to pitch to him because of his strikeouts and lack of consistent content. However, they also know that he can hit a ball-into-next week if his timing is right. During the 2019 season, the newly-acquired Nelson Cruz saw Sano struggling and took an interest in helping him improve his plate appearances. Cruz invited Sano to meet with him and hitting coaches Edgar Varela and Rudy Hernandez, who Cruz frequently used to help him improve his hitting and technique. Sano put in the hard work, not shying away from asking questions and even calling Valera or Hernandez to discuss mechanics when they weren't meeting. In 2019 Sano had an outstanding season. His contact was harder, balls went farther and faster off the bat. His stance, timing, and mechanics also improved. His ability to be patient and read pitchers became an asset. Nelson Cruz had not only stepped in as a father figure but also as a friend and a coach. Sano may not have had a 'record-breaking year' in 2021; in fact, he was streaky at best throughout the first half of the season, but because Alex Kirilloff kept getting hurt, Sano stayed in the lineup and worked hard to stay where he was. Last season, Sano had a career-low strikeout percentage (32.3%). He relied on his timing and mechanics shown to him by Cruz and the coaches to help him drive in 75 runs and launch 30 home runs into the stands. Sano made significant improvements to his plate appearances, and he is not the greatest at first base. Taking him off of first base would not be a loss for the Twins. Sano has firm control of his swing, and even in Twins losses, his presence adds excitement to the game and runs to the board. Sano easily is the best choice for a full-time designated hitter. There could be an argument for Josh Donaldson joining in tandem due to his already high-cost contract and consistent hitting. Donaldson may need a break from third base, and a rotating DH position for him wouldn't be out of the question. Donaldson is one of the best hitters on the team for the Twins, he has a batting average of .247 and an equally impressive OPS of .827, but has pre-existing injury conditions and he has a consistently declining batting average. Miguel Sano has less time on Injured Reserve and would be on the roster more consistently than Donaldson. Sano was shown how to get the most out of an at-bat by the best-designated hitter in the league, and he was also not afraid to put in the work to improve. His batting average may be lower than Donaldson’s, but this past season, in 2021, he had more at-bats of any year - showing that he is consistently on the roster more. When Nelson Cruz left on July 22, 2021, Sano quite literally slid into Cruz's pants and poured his heart and work ethic into his plate appearances to show the clubhouse and the fans that in his final season (before the 2023 club option), this is where he deserves to be. Who's on first? So naturally, the next question would be who would play first base? The Twins have moved players up and down from St. Paul to see what fits. There has been success with Alex Kirilloff. First base and the outfield have a few players that could easily take over that position and even leave room to bring up a St. Paul player if needed to another position. Alex Kirilloff has proven to be an asset to the Twins 40-man roster. Kirilloff was drafted 15th overall in the first round of the 2016 MLB draft. He was a hot commodity, and the organization knew it. He has spent his entire career from the minors to the majors with the Twins organization rotating between the corner outfield positions and first base, showing that he has some versatility. Kirilloff is a good outfielder but is best served at first base, and he could potentially be a gold glove contender. Last season, he showed that he deserves to be in the big leagues. In 215 at-bats, Kirilloff hit .251 with eight home runs and a .722 OPS. Barring any complications from his wrist surgery, this writer believes Kirilloff would make an outstanding first baseman. The Twins have an arsenal of players at their disposal for not only the lineup, but it also leaves the ability to move players around and still have depth. The Twins farm system was ranked number 12out of 30 by MLB Pipeline. Alex Kirilloff was ranked number 26 in the top 100 prospects by MLB Pipeline a year ago and was the Twins Daily top prospect. The farm system is doing the work that the Twins need to create a strong team that will hopefully take them to the postseason. What do you think the Twins should do at the Designated Hitter position in 2022? View full article
  19. It’s understood that owners want the DH to protect their pitchers, but they do not want to pay for what that would mean. If they want to pay pitchers more and protect them, having another player to pay is the only option. The effect is twofold. First, it's 15 more jobs for which MLB owners wouldn't have to pay premium prices. The National League would then have to pay a decent salary for a decent hitter. Or a position player would have to move into the DH role. So, which is more important to the owners? Are they protecting the pitcher or saving money? The Twins are not strangers to the designated hitter. The American League began playing with a DH nearly 50 years ago. It would not make a difference to the AL teams if Major League Baseball implemented the universal designated hitter. The managers know who they have, what they need, where their strengths and weaknesses are in the lineup. With that stated, bringing on a designated hitter from outside the organization is not in the Twins' best interest (sorry, Nelson Cruz fans). The Twins need a hitter that they can rely on to hit, bring in runners and get on base themselves. After Nelson Cruz was traded, the Twins used several different players as DH, particularly a hobbling Josh Donaldson. When using position players from the roster, while the DH can give a player a break, a team runs the risk of more injuries and fewer players to DH. Players are more likely to get hurt playing their position playing the field, which would remove them from playing DH, putting it on someone else. Having a full-time or tandem DH is what makes sense. It is common knowledge that the front office will find ways to save every penny they can. $30-40 Million left in revenue to spend is a fair chunk of change. However, if the Twins use someone already on the roster, they can use that money to bring in the pitching they desperately need. So what do the Twins do at the designated hitter spot? I am glad you asked. **Takes audible deep breath** Miguel Sano. Hear me out. There is a great divide in the Minnesota fanbase over Sano's ability to hit. He is a very streaky hitter. Last season, he reached 1,000 strikeouts in the fewest games (661) in MLB history. He lacked plate discipline at times. If he sees a ball in his zone, he swings at it. Pitchers are not afraid to pitch to him because of his strikeouts and lack of consistent content. However, they also know that he can hit a ball-into-next week if his timing is right. During the 2019 season, the newly-acquired Nelson Cruz saw Sano struggling and took an interest in helping him improve his plate appearances. Cruz invited Sano to meet with him and hitting coaches Edgar Varela and Rudy Hernandez, who Cruz frequently used to help him improve his hitting and technique. Sano put in the hard work, not shying away from asking questions and even calling Valera or Hernandez to discuss mechanics when they weren't meeting. In 2019 Sano had an outstanding season. His contact was harder, balls went farther and faster off the bat. His stance, timing, and mechanics also improved. His ability to be patient and read pitchers became an asset. Nelson Cruz had not only stepped in as a father figure but also as a friend and a coach. Sano may not have had a 'record-breaking year' in 2021; in fact, he was streaky at best throughout the first half of the season, but because Alex Kirilloff kept getting hurt, Sano stayed in the lineup and worked hard to stay where he was. Last season, Sano had a career-low strikeout percentage (32.3%). He relied on his timing and mechanics shown to him by Cruz and the coaches to help him drive in 75 runs and launch 30 home runs into the stands. Sano made significant improvements to his plate appearances, and he is not the greatest at first base. Taking him off of first base would not be a loss for the Twins. Sano has firm control of his swing, and even in Twins losses, his presence adds excitement to the game and runs to the board. Sano easily is the best choice for a full-time designated hitter. There could be an argument for Josh Donaldson joining in tandem due to his already high-cost contract and consistent hitting. Donaldson may need a break from third base, and a rotating DH position for him wouldn't be out of the question. Donaldson is one of the best hitters on the team for the Twins, he has a batting average of .247 and an equally impressive OPS of .827, but has pre-existing injury conditions and he has a consistently declining batting average. Miguel Sano has less time on Injured Reserve and would be on the roster more consistently than Donaldson. Sano was shown how to get the most out of an at-bat by the best-designated hitter in the league, and he was also not afraid to put in the work to improve. His batting average may be lower than Donaldson’s, but this past season, in 2021, he had more at-bats of any year - showing that he is consistently on the roster more. When Nelson Cruz left on July 22, 2021, Sano quite literally slid into Cruz's pants and poured his heart and work ethic into his plate appearances to show the clubhouse and the fans that in his final season (before the 2023 club option), this is where he deserves to be. Who's on first? So naturally, the next question would be who would play first base? The Twins have moved players up and down from St. Paul to see what fits. There has been success with Alex Kirilloff. First base and the outfield have a few players that could easily take over that position and even leave room to bring up a St. Paul player if needed to another position. Alex Kirilloff has proven to be an asset to the Twins 40-man roster. Kirilloff was drafted 15th overall in the first round of the 2016 MLB draft. He was a hot commodity, and the organization knew it. He has spent his entire career from the minors to the majors with the Twins organization rotating between the corner outfield positions and first base, showing that he has some versatility. Kirilloff is a good outfielder but is best served at first base, and he could potentially be a gold glove contender. Last season, he showed that he deserves to be in the big leagues. In 215 at-bats, Kirilloff hit .251 with eight home runs and a .722 OPS. Barring any complications from his wrist surgery, this writer believes Kirilloff would make an outstanding first baseman. The Twins have an arsenal of players at their disposal for not only the lineup, but it also leaves the ability to move players around and still have depth. The Twins farm system was ranked number 12out of 30 by MLB Pipeline. Alex Kirilloff was ranked number 26 in the top 100 prospects by MLB Pipeline a year ago and was the Twins Daily top prospect. The farm system is doing the work that the Twins need to create a strong team that will hopefully take them to the postseason. What do you think the Twins should do at the Designated Hitter position in 2022?
  20. Under the Falvey-Levine regime, the Twins followed a similar offseason strategy. That strategy doesn't benefit the front office's short-term goals in a lockout-shortened winter. As a disappointing 2021 season came to a close, Minnesota's front office faced plenty of questions about the club's future direction. With the team's current roster make-up, it's clear the club doesn't want to enter a long rebuilding phase. Plus, there are multiple reasons why it is a terrible time to try and rebuild. "I fully anticipate, this offseason, we're going to try to find a way to get better for '22 and beyond," Derek Falvey told reporters. "I've approached each of the last three offseasons, really even going back after '17, with an approach: 'How do we find a way to get better now and in the future?' We talk about sustainability. In order to do that, you have to keep an eye on short-term and long-term." Patience and attempts to find good value have been the critical factors in many of the team's offseason moves under the current regime. That strategy has played itself out in recent years. 2021 Offseason Key Moves: Nelson Cruz, Andrelton Simmons, Alexander Colomé, J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker Minnesota's five most significant moves last winter came after the start of the new year. The Twins were patient with Cruz as he tested the market, but the NL not having the designated hitter limited his potential landing spots. Simmons was one of the best available free agent shortstops, but the Twins only turned to Simmons after Marcus Semien signed with Toronto. Semien finished third in the AL MVP vote, and Simmons had a career-worst season. The trio of free-agent pitchers signed by the Twins seemed like cheap deals at the time, but there was little upside involved. In hindsight, all three contracts ended up being poor as both starting pitchers were out of the organization by the season's end. Colomé improved throughout the year, but his terrible first month put the Twins into a hole from which they couldn't recover. 2020 Offseason Key Moves: Josh Donaldson, Kenta Maeda, Michael Pineda, Jake Odorizzi, Homer Bailey, Sergio Romo, Alex Avila, Rich Hill, Tyler Clippard This was a massive offseason with Minnesota spending north of $150 million and trading for Kenta Maeda. Like other offseasons, things didn't go exactly as planned. Rumors were linking the Twins to some of the top free-agent pitchers, but none of those deals worked out for various reasons. Luckily, the front office pivoted and signed Josh Donaldson to the biggest free-agent contract in team history. Donaldson's deal fell to the Twins after other free agents went by the wayside. Bailey and Hill's contracts followed a similar pattern of the front office looking for cheaper one-year deals, but once again, there was little upside involved with either arm. As with previous offseasons, Minnesota waited for other teams to make moves, and they examined what was still available. Names at the top of the team's wish list were already signed, so the club had to shift to a different strategy. 2019 Offseason Key Moves: Nelson Cruz, Marwin Gonzalez, Jonathan Schoop, Martin Perez, C.J. Cron Signing Cruz became one of the best free-agent moves in franchise history. He immediately impacted the line-up and helped transform the Twins into the Bomba Squad. At the time, Gonzalez looked like an intriguing signing after his impact on the Astros World Series run. Schoop and Cron projected to add some pop to the line-up, and Perez was a rotational boost. The AL Central was wide open, but the team only made marginal moves. All of the acquisitions provided a boost to the team, and the team went on to win over 100-games. However, Minnesota followed a similar offseason plan as they waited out the market and signed players late into the winter. At the time, Falvey and Levine made it clear that they believed in the club's core. That mantra may hold true for the 2022 offseason, but it's tough to be overconfident in the current core. It's hard to argue with the front office's strategy since the team has won two division titles in the last three years. However, the lockout impacts Minnesota's ability to sign players later in the cycle. The new CBA may also add a wrinkle to the team's offseason plans as there is a potential to add a payroll floor. If this happens, small payroll teams will be looking to add players that have typically been Minnesota's fallback options. Do you feel the front office's off-season strategy doesn't work this winter? 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 View full article
  21. As a disappointing 2021 season came to a close, Minnesota's front office faced plenty of questions about the club's future direction. With the team's current roster make-up, it's clear the club doesn't want to enter a long rebuilding phase. Plus, there are multiple reasons why it is a terrible time to try and rebuild. "I fully anticipate, this offseason, we're going to try to find a way to get better for '22 and beyond," Derek Falvey told reporters. "I've approached each of the last three offseasons, really even going back after '17, with an approach: 'How do we find a way to get better now and in the future?' We talk about sustainability. In order to do that, you have to keep an eye on short-term and long-term." Patience and attempts to find good value have been the critical factors in many of the team's offseason moves under the current regime. That strategy has played itself out in recent years. 2021 Offseason Key Moves: Nelson Cruz, Andrelton Simmons, Alexander Colomé, J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker Minnesota's five most significant moves last winter came after the start of the new year. The Twins were patient with Cruz as he tested the market, but the NL not having the designated hitter limited his potential landing spots. Simmons was one of the best available free agent shortstops, but the Twins only turned to Simmons after Marcus Semien signed with Toronto. Semien finished third in the AL MVP vote, and Simmons had a career-worst season. The trio of free-agent pitchers signed by the Twins seemed like cheap deals at the time, but there was little upside involved. In hindsight, all three contracts ended up being poor as both starting pitchers were out of the organization by the season's end. Colomé improved throughout the year, but his terrible first month put the Twins into a hole from which they couldn't recover. 2020 Offseason Key Moves: Josh Donaldson, Kenta Maeda, Michael Pineda, Jake Odorizzi, Homer Bailey, Sergio Romo, Alex Avila, Rich Hill, Tyler Clippard This was a massive offseason with Minnesota spending north of $150 million and trading for Kenta Maeda. Like other offseasons, things didn't go exactly as planned. Rumors were linking the Twins to some of the top free-agent pitchers, but none of those deals worked out for various reasons. Luckily, the front office pivoted and signed Josh Donaldson to the biggest free-agent contract in team history. Donaldson's deal fell to the Twins after other free agents went by the wayside. Bailey and Hill's contracts followed a similar pattern of the front office looking for cheaper one-year deals, but once again, there was little upside involved with either arm. As with previous offseasons, Minnesota waited for other teams to make moves, and they examined what was still available. Names at the top of the team's wish list were already signed, so the club had to shift to a different strategy. 2019 Offseason Key Moves: Nelson Cruz, Marwin Gonzalez, Jonathan Schoop, Martin Perez, C.J. Cron Signing Cruz became one of the best free-agent moves in franchise history. He immediately impacted the line-up and helped transform the Twins into the Bomba Squad. At the time, Gonzalez looked like an intriguing signing after his impact on the Astros World Series run. Schoop and Cron projected to add some pop to the line-up, and Perez was a rotational boost. The AL Central was wide open, but the team only made marginal moves. All of the acquisitions provided a boost to the team, and the team went on to win over 100-games. However, Minnesota followed a similar offseason plan as they waited out the market and signed players late into the winter. At the time, Falvey and Levine made it clear that they believed in the club's core. That mantra may hold true for the 2022 offseason, but it's tough to be overconfident in the current core. It's hard to argue with the front office's strategy since the team has won two division titles in the last three years. However, the lockout impacts Minnesota's ability to sign players later in the cycle. The new CBA may also add a wrinkle to the team's offseason plans as there is a potential to add a payroll floor. If this happens, small payroll teams will be looking to add players that have typically been Minnesota's fallback options. Do you feel the front office's off-season strategy doesn't work this winter? 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
  22. It seems like a disappointing 2021 for the team has spilled into feelings of disappointment toward players who don’t deserve it. Josh Donaldson is perhaps the best example of this. Even for die-hard Twins fans, it’s easy to miss how impressive Donaldson still was in 2021. 2020 was admittedly a bad start to the four-year, $92m contract the Twins gave Josh Donaldson after whiffing on a big-name starting pitcher the offseason before. The former MVP missed more than half of the 60-game season with injuries including the best of three playoff series that ended in a whimper from the offense. Per game, however, Donaldson was the same star hitter he always has been, and he showed that across a much bigger body of work in 2021. For those unfamiliar with MLBs use of Statcast measurements, these numbers read in percentiles, meaning Donaldson is in the 99th percentile in average exit velocity, 95th percentile in barrel percentage, etc. In most offensive measurements, Donaldson’s raw skills were among the top 5-10% in all of baseball. For a season many considered disappointing, I think such a strong showing deserves some context. As you can see, Donaldson actually bested fan-favorite Nelson Cruz in many raw measurements in 2021 according to Statcast. It’s interesting to look at considering one of these players is discussed as the cornerstone of whatever lineup he’s in while the other is being discussed as a possible salary dump. Why might that be? 2020 Left a Bitter Taste 2020 was a season that likely had the front office wishing for a do-over on the largest free-agent contract the team had ever handed out. There was an understandable amount of frustration as the biggest addition to the team was nowhere to be seen for most of a season where the Twins captured their second consecutive division title only to be swept out of the playoffs once again. To make matters worse, those feelings of frustration had gasoline thrown onto the fire when Donaldson injured his hamstring on opening day 2021 and missed a chunk of time. For many, their minds were made up. Donaldson’s availability down the stretch was an incredible accomplishment, however, and showed that while his injury concerns are very much a reality, he’s still capable of being an everyday player across a full season. To once again make a Cruz vs. Donaldson comparison, DH Nelson Cruz played in 140 games compared to Donaldson’s 135 in 2021 which may surprise even the biggest Twins fans to hear. 2021 Was Unlucky The ongoing joke in 2021 was the continued use of the phrase “bad luck” as so much went wrong that it’s impossible to chalk it all up to misfortune. For Donaldson however, we have Statcast measurements saying his raw offensive ability hasn’t declined at all at age 35. His .247 average was much lower than his .268 expected batting average. His .475 slugging percentage was much lower than his .541 expected slugging. He also hit four fewer home runs than expected given the way he impacts the ball. His speed on the bases may be a partial explanation for these discrepancies but his hampered legs can only explain away a portion of these gaps in expected performance. If you aren’t a believer in expected stats, it’s still difficult to look back and be disappointed in his body of work that included a triple slash of .247/.352/.475, good for 24% above league average. Repeating that line would be just fine for 2022, but he appears to still have the physical capabilities to garner MVP votes if he can remain on the field as he did in 2021. So why point out Donaldson’s impressive performance in 2021? To be honest, he doesn’t get the appreciation he deserves. His impact would have essentially erased a disappointing 2020 in the eyes of fans had he performed exactly the same and the team hadn’t crumbled. Statcast says he could have performed even better. He’s talked about like he’s over the hill and his contract needs to be dumped before it’s too late so the Twins can improve. In reality, however, Donaldson is probably one of the three most important pieces of the Twins offense in 2022. Without Nelson Cruz, Donaldson is an important figure on the team not just on the field, but as a veteran-hitting savant who can have a huge impact on the upcoming prospects. It’s entirely possible that Donaldson’s health in 2022 could go the way of 2020 rather than 2021. That being said, at bat for at bat there still aren’t a ton of players you want in the heart of your lineup over Josh Donaldson, and he’s still a tantalizing talent that should have Twins fans looking forward to the beginning of the 2022 season. — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here View full article
  23. 2020 was admittedly a bad start to the four-year, $92m contract the Twins gave Josh Donaldson after whiffing on a big-name starting pitcher the offseason before. The former MVP missed more than half of the 60-game season with injuries including the best of three playoff series that ended in a whimper from the offense. Per game, however, Donaldson was the same star hitter he always has been, and he showed that across a much bigger body of work in 2021. For those unfamiliar with MLBs use of Statcast measurements, these numbers read in percentiles, meaning Donaldson is in the 99th percentile in average exit velocity, 95th percentile in barrel percentage, etc. In most offensive measurements, Donaldson’s raw skills were among the top 5-10% in all of baseball. For a season many considered disappointing, I think such a strong showing deserves some context. As you can see, Donaldson actually bested fan-favorite Nelson Cruz in many raw measurements in 2021 according to Statcast. It’s interesting to look at considering one of these players is discussed as the cornerstone of whatever lineup he’s in while the other is being discussed as a possible salary dump. Why might that be? 2020 Left a Bitter Taste 2020 was a season that likely had the front office wishing for a do-over on the largest free-agent contract the team had ever handed out. There was an understandable amount of frustration as the biggest addition to the team was nowhere to be seen for most of a season where the Twins captured their second consecutive division title only to be swept out of the playoffs once again. To make matters worse, those feelings of frustration had gasoline thrown onto the fire when Donaldson injured his hamstring on opening day 2021 and missed a chunk of time. For many, their minds were made up. Donaldson’s availability down the stretch was an incredible accomplishment, however, and showed that while his injury concerns are very much a reality, he’s still capable of being an everyday player across a full season. To once again make a Cruz vs. Donaldson comparison, DH Nelson Cruz played in 140 games compared to Donaldson’s 135 in 2021 which may surprise even the biggest Twins fans to hear. 2021 Was Unlucky The ongoing joke in 2021 was the continued use of the phrase “bad luck” as so much went wrong that it’s impossible to chalk it all up to misfortune. For Donaldson however, we have Statcast measurements saying his raw offensive ability hasn’t declined at all at age 35. His .247 average was much lower than his .268 expected batting average. His .475 slugging percentage was much lower than his .541 expected slugging. He also hit four fewer home runs than expected given the way he impacts the ball. His speed on the bases may be a partial explanation for these discrepancies but his hampered legs can only explain away a portion of these gaps in expected performance. If you aren’t a believer in expected stats, it’s still difficult to look back and be disappointed in his body of work that included a triple slash of .247/.352/.475, good for 24% above league average. Repeating that line would be just fine for 2022, but he appears to still have the physical capabilities to garner MVP votes if he can remain on the field as he did in 2021. So why point out Donaldson’s impressive performance in 2021? To be honest, he doesn’t get the appreciation he deserves. His impact would have essentially erased a disappointing 2020 in the eyes of fans had he performed exactly the same and the team hadn’t crumbled. Statcast says he could have performed even better. He’s talked about like he’s over the hill and his contract needs to be dumped before it’s too late so the Twins can improve. In reality, however, Donaldson is probably one of the three most important pieces of the Twins offense in 2022. Without Nelson Cruz, Donaldson is an important figure on the team not just on the field, but as a veteran-hitting savant who can have a huge impact on the upcoming prospects. It’s entirely possible that Donaldson’s health in 2022 could go the way of 2020 rather than 2021. That being said, at bat for at bat there still aren’t a ton of players you want in the heart of your lineup over Josh Donaldson, and he’s still a tantalizing talent that should have Twins fans looking forward to the beginning of the 2022 season. — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  24. It's hard to fathom that former AL Central staple Zack Greinke will be entering his 19th season in Major League Baseball in the 2022 season. At 38, the crafty veteran still has gas left in the tank and could prove to be a valuable asset for a Twins rotation that is flooded with youth. Sports fanatics classify the term 'journeyman' as someone who has spent an arm and a leg in the league bouncing between teams with adequate success but nothing special. Zack Greinke crosses off a few of those checkmarks; he isn't exactly a spring chicken anymore and the eephus-touting free agent has played for six teams throughout the course of his MLB career. For the lack of success part? Not so much. A six time all star with a Cy Young award (has also finished top ten in voting three times) and four gold gloves, Greinke has maintained a level of consistency that is rare for veteran pitchers who've long surpassed their peak years. The hitting-loving, burrito connoisseur finished last season in Houston with an 11-6 record and 4.16 ERA before electing free agency. That steeps above his career ERA of 3.41 but through the lens of "he's 37 and battled a variety of injuries," it's still impressive. His 29 starts in 2021 are on par with the high 20's-low 30's range that cemented his 'glory days' in Kansas City. Greinke may not have the flashy appeal of other names on the free-agent market like Carlos Rodon and Clayton Kershaw. Yet in addition to his consistency, Greinke's value to the Twins could extend far beyond metrics on the mound. It's a move that coincides with previous organizational patterns and one that could lay the foundation in a young Twins rotation. Aged like Fine Wine As expected, one of the biggest rebuttals to signing Greinke is his age, lack of strikeouts, and low velocity. All of these are valid concerns; Greinke's 120 strikeouts and 6.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 2021 were the lowest number in his career (in a full season). The late 30's have presented him a somewhat high-density of minor injuries in the past few years, including a neck injury in 2019 and shoulder and abdominal injuries in 2021. None of those injuries landed him on anything longer than the 10-day Injured List; pretty impressive. Minus the 2006 season when he prioritized his mental health, Greinke has pitched close to a full season throughout the entirety of his career. There are a couple of things that contribute to his longevity; Greinke knows what works for him and what doesn't. While many pitchers toss out the '”I pitch 100% all the time," he doesn't. He knows what works for and what doesn't in terms of maximizing his value and health. Take this 2014 article from Yahoo! Sports as an example; Greinke admits that he has become more selective with his slider due to the strain it previously presented to his elbow. The epitome of work smarter, not harder, Greinke's pitch arsenal is a testament to his lengthy career. According to Baseball Savant, 67% of his pitches in 2021 consisted of fastballs (averaging at 89 MPH) and changeups (averaging at 86 MPH). That means that less than a third of his pitches are curveballs and sliders, two pitches that tend to shred the arm. And no, fans won't be shouting "throw 'em the heater, Zacky!" when he's on the bump, they never have. That doesn't matter when a pitcher hits his spots. Greinke only walked 36 batters in 2021, scoring him in the 95th percentile for walks across Major League Baseball. The 'ground out/pop up out' brand of pitcher has been a constant for the Twins over the years. Yet few have nailed the craft to a T as consistently and accurately as Greinke has. Old Bull Among Young Calves With the absences of José Berríos (traded to Blue Jays) and Kenta Maeda (Tommy John Surgery), the Twins starting rotation is faced with crossroads of uncertainty. Michael Pineda is expected to return in 2022 but is a free agent and has drawn interest from some of his previous teams. A few things are certain; offseason addition Dylan Bundy will play a role in the rotation and young bucks Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan will have ample opportunities to soak their feet in the pond of Major League pitching. Scraps and appetizers of the meal are there, but the entrée is missing; a well-seasoned veteran who has experienced success throughout his career yet has endured experiences that have shaped him as a pitcher and potential mentor for young, undeveloped talent. Greinke certainly has his quirks, we all do. Yet it's tough to imagine Greinke not being an excellent mentor for young pitchers like Ober and Ryan. His career has encountered trades, free agency, winning teams, abysmal teams, and everything in between. Frankly, he's seen the game of baseball from all different angles and perspectives. Ryan and Ober come to the Twins from very different paths; Ober was drafted by the organization in 2017 and developed as 'in-house' talent whereas Ryan came to the Twins last season via the Nelson Cruz alongside Drew Strotman. And while Ober has a bit more experience under his belt than Ryan, a guy like Greinke could prove valuable to help weather the mountains and valleys that come with the territory of being a young MLB Pitcher. To top it off, Greinke's arsenal parallels Ober and Ryan to an extent. Both youngsters rely heavily on a fastball in the low 90's and have untapped potential with their respective off-speed pitches. Not the First Rodeo It's no secret that the Twins have developed a reputation for signing and trading for high-quality players who may be past their prime but haven't hit E on the tank yet. The previous regime did it with names like Jim Thome and Ervin Santana and the current leadership continued the pattern with Maeda, and most notably, Nelson Cruz. It's become a way of life for the Twins, a mid-market team that frankly doesn't have the 'street cred' of Los Angeles, New York, or even Chicago. The latter doesn't mention names like C.J. Cron or Logan Morrison, veteran acquisitions that perhaps didn't come to fruition the way that the front office would have liked. Zack Greinke isn't Logan Morrison though. The only 'eye sore' season in his decorated career was almost two decades ago and his progression only elevated following his time off in 2006. Just a few years later, the Royals' ace was a Cy Young winner. Another appeal? Given his age, Greinke is likely to be in the $12-15 million range (estimation by Twins Daily's Nick Nelson and others); those are numbers that the Twins can work with. Given the Buxton extension and the fact that the Twins play in the AL Central (as opposed to a division like the AL East or NL West with two-plus legit contenders), the focus of going all-in and forgoing a rebuild is a legitimate (and almost expected) possibility. Greinke's familiarity with the Central and the division's ballparks, playing styles, etc. is only gravy on top. The cry for starting pitching has resounded loudly throughout Twins Territory during this long and dark offseason. Don't be surprised if the organization alleviates those cries by making a move on a pitching who could change the outlook of the pitching rotation drastically. View full article
  25. Sports fanatics classify the term 'journeyman' as someone who has spent an arm and a leg in the league bouncing between teams with adequate success but nothing special. Zack Greinke crosses off a few of those checkmarks; he isn't exactly a spring chicken anymore and the eephus-touting free agent has played for six teams throughout the course of his MLB career. For the lack of success part? Not so much. A six time all star with a Cy Young award (has also finished top ten in voting three times) and four gold gloves, Greinke has maintained a level of consistency that is rare for veteran pitchers who've long surpassed their peak years. The hitting-loving, burrito connoisseur finished last season in Houston with an 11-6 record and 4.16 ERA before electing free agency. That steeps above his career ERA of 3.41 but through the lens of "he's 37 and battled a variety of injuries," it's still impressive. His 29 starts in 2021 are on par with the high 20's-low 30's range that cemented his 'glory days' in Kansas City. Greinke may not have the flashy appeal of other names on the free-agent market like Carlos Rodon and Clayton Kershaw. Yet in addition to his consistency, Greinke's value to the Twins could extend far beyond metrics on the mound. It's a move that coincides with previous organizational patterns and one that could lay the foundation in a young Twins rotation. Aged like Fine Wine As expected, one of the biggest rebuttals to signing Greinke is his age, lack of strikeouts, and low velocity. All of these are valid concerns; Greinke's 120 strikeouts and 6.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 2021 were the lowest number in his career (in a full season). The late 30's have presented him a somewhat high-density of minor injuries in the past few years, including a neck injury in 2019 and shoulder and abdominal injuries in 2021. None of those injuries landed him on anything longer than the 10-day Injured List; pretty impressive. Minus the 2006 season when he prioritized his mental health, Greinke has pitched close to a full season throughout the entirety of his career. There are a couple of things that contribute to his longevity; Greinke knows what works for him and what doesn't. While many pitchers toss out the '”I pitch 100% all the time," he doesn't. He knows what works for and what doesn't in terms of maximizing his value and health. Take this 2014 article from Yahoo! Sports as an example; Greinke admits that he has become more selective with his slider due to the strain it previously presented to his elbow. The epitome of work smarter, not harder, Greinke's pitch arsenal is a testament to his lengthy career. According to Baseball Savant, 67% of his pitches in 2021 consisted of fastballs (averaging at 89 MPH) and changeups (averaging at 86 MPH). That means that less than a third of his pitches are curveballs and sliders, two pitches that tend to shred the arm. And no, fans won't be shouting "throw 'em the heater, Zacky!" when he's on the bump, they never have. That doesn't matter when a pitcher hits his spots. Greinke only walked 36 batters in 2021, scoring him in the 95th percentile for walks across Major League Baseball. The 'ground out/pop up out' brand of pitcher has been a constant for the Twins over the years. Yet few have nailed the craft to a T as consistently and accurately as Greinke has. Old Bull Among Young Calves With the absences of José Berríos (traded to Blue Jays) and Kenta Maeda (Tommy John Surgery), the Twins starting rotation is faced with crossroads of uncertainty. Michael Pineda is expected to return in 2022 but is a free agent and has drawn interest from some of his previous teams. A few things are certain; offseason addition Dylan Bundy will play a role in the rotation and young bucks Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan will have ample opportunities to soak their feet in the pond of Major League pitching. Scraps and appetizers of the meal are there, but the entrée is missing; a well-seasoned veteran who has experienced success throughout his career yet has endured experiences that have shaped him as a pitcher and potential mentor for young, undeveloped talent. Greinke certainly has his quirks, we all do. Yet it's tough to imagine Greinke not being an excellent mentor for young pitchers like Ober and Ryan. His career has encountered trades, free agency, winning teams, abysmal teams, and everything in between. Frankly, he's seen the game of baseball from all different angles and perspectives. Ryan and Ober come to the Twins from very different paths; Ober was drafted by the organization in 2017 and developed as 'in-house' talent whereas Ryan came to the Twins last season via the Nelson Cruz alongside Drew Strotman. And while Ober has a bit more experience under his belt than Ryan, a guy like Greinke could prove valuable to help weather the mountains and valleys that come with the territory of being a young MLB Pitcher. To top it off, Greinke's arsenal parallels Ober and Ryan to an extent. Both youngsters rely heavily on a fastball in the low 90's and have untapped potential with their respective off-speed pitches. Not the First Rodeo It's no secret that the Twins have developed a reputation for signing and trading for high-quality players who may be past their prime but haven't hit E on the tank yet. The previous regime did it with names like Jim Thome and Ervin Santana and the current leadership continued the pattern with Maeda, and most notably, Nelson Cruz. It's become a way of life for the Twins, a mid-market team that frankly doesn't have the 'street cred' of Los Angeles, New York, or even Chicago. The latter doesn't mention names like C.J. Cron or Logan Morrison, veteran acquisitions that perhaps didn't come to fruition the way that the front office would have liked. Zack Greinke isn't Logan Morrison though. The only 'eye sore' season in his decorated career was almost two decades ago and his progression only elevated following his time off in 2006. Just a few years later, the Royals' ace was a Cy Young winner. Another appeal? Given his age, Greinke is likely to be in the $12-15 million range (estimation by Twins Daily's Nick Nelson and others); those are numbers that the Twins can work with. Given the Buxton extension and the fact that the Twins play in the AL Central (as opposed to a division like the AL East or NL West with two-plus legit contenders), the focus of going all-in and forgoing a rebuild is a legitimate (and almost expected) possibility. Greinke's familiarity with the Central and the division's ballparks, playing styles, etc. is only gravy on top. The cry for starting pitching has resounded loudly throughout Twins Territory during this long and dark offseason. Don't be surprised if the organization alleviates those cries by making a move on a pitching who could change the outlook of the pitching rotation drastically.
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