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stringer bell posted a topic in Minnesota Twins TalkThe 40-man roster is full and the Twins have several invitees not on the 40-man roster. If history is any guide, the Twins will employ many players not currently on the 40-man. More often than not, one or more players not now on the 40-man make the club out of Spring Training. For the purpose of this poll, please make your choice with the number of days on the active roster the criteria for who is contributing the most to the club.
Nick Gordon's Future
stringer bell posted a topic in Minnesota Twins TalkDuring the first half of the disappointing 2021 season, there was speculation as to whether Nick Gordon would remain on the active roster or be subjected to the DFA process. He was nominally the second backup option for the Twins at both second base and shortstop so there was no clear path for Gordon to get playing time. With the onslaught on injuries in the outfield in '21 (remember Rob Refsnider and Kyle Garlick playing their first professional games in center) Gordon was given an opportunity to get playing time as an outfielder. Gordon eventually played in 45 games in the outfield, including 34 in center field. For someone who had never played there, he did surprisingly well. Adding the ability to play outfield including the key defensive position of center certainly added to Gordon's value going into 2022. In 2022, Gordon made the club as a utility infielder/outfielder and again got the majority of his playing time on the grass. playing in 95 games in the outfield including 62 in left field. Defensive metrics for what is still a small sample size indicate the Gordon is an acceptable outfielder and probably, with a bit more experience, could be above average in left field. Meanwhile, as a hitter Gordon has improved. In 216 plate appearances in '21, Gordon was worth -5 runs as a hitter. In 2023, in about twice as many plate appearances, he was worth +6 at the plate. Much of his improvement probably comes from experience and another positive factor in gradually increasing strength as he has mostly recovered from career-threatening intestinal problems. Gordon has shown he belongs in the major leagues and the trends are pointing north as an offensive player. Roster projections include Gordon as a utility player or perhaps the starting left fielder if Max Kepler is dealt away. I don't know if I am ready to declare Gordon a solid utility player or proclaim him as an every day outfielder. First of all, (again SSS) Gordon's metrics as an infielder are not good. At both second and short he grades out below average on range and defensive runs saved. He has played only six innings at third base and three innings in right field, so I wouldn't say he's a utility option at those positions. As a hitter, Nick is limited by rather extreme platoon splits, with only a .532 OPS versus left handers. Gordon only stole six bases (caught four times) last year so despite very good speed, his impact on the bases has been minimal. The Twins currently have a bunch of left handed hitters as candidates for the two corner outfield spots. Max Kepler and Joey Gallo are veterans and both are good defenders. For Gordon to get ample playing time as a corner outfielder, where he's been at his best defensively, he will have to displace one of Gallo or Kepler plus be better than Matt Wallner, Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff. There are DH at bats available and Kepler in particular has been rumored to be on the block, Despite the improvement Nick Gordon has made and acknowledging his progress as a hitter and improved health, I think Gordon is a trade candidate, particularly since Kyle Farmer looks like the principle backup in the middle infield. I don't know how other organizations would value Gordon and whether he could get a suitable return, but despite what he has done in the last two years, Nick Gordon could well not have much of a role with the 2023 Twins.
Clearing Space - the Outfield
mikelink45 posted a blog entry in mikelink45's BlogReading the blogs and comments I see a lot of people looking at the outfielders and whether we should trade Rosario for starting pitching, put Jake Cave on the roster for Post Season and how to handle the surplus in the minors. September is a big audition month and a time to give some players a little rest. We have too many players who need to be added to the 40 man and not enough room. Do we trade, do we DFA, do we get rid of players already on the roster? Do we allow free agents to leave? So how do we clear the surplus? As I pondered the Rosario trade idea I was struck with the fact that Eddie is a nice player, but in many ways he his not much above replacement in a league where everyone hits HRs. I see Eddie behind Buxton and Kepler, but trading requires the other teams to value your player as high as you would like them too and I do not see Eddie bringing in the SP that we dream of. Nor do I see Cave as a full time player being better than Eddie - another just above replacement performer - nice but not essential. My thought is that if we want something; the player teams will value highest is Buxton. Buxton has now had 1250 big league at bats and this was his best year, but overall he has hit 237/292/706, His defense is what we really value, but he has to be on the field to provide defense. April 1, 2014 Buxton put on injury list by Fort Myers, and again in Fort Myers on May 11 and July 6. July 26, 2015 on DL (Twins) thumb injury. July 15, 2017 Buxton on DL, groin injury. April 2018 on IL for migraines; May 10 broken toe and July 14 back on IL with left wrist strain. In August 2018 he was on the DL in Rochester with a left wrist injury, in June 2019 he was on the IL with a right wrist injury, July 16 on the IL with concussion symptoms, and again on July 23, concussion again, and August 3 - left shoulder subluxation. He played five years in 388/810 games - 48%. How long before injuries and age remove speed and reduce him to a nice, but not great OF? He is valued by us and many others - if we want a starting pitcher Byron might be the best bait. But do we have another CF? Kepler probably moves there and in two years we would be surrounded by Larnach and Kiriloff and our OF defense would not be great. I cannot see this team extending Rosario and I do not see Cave as more than a place holder. Is there a CF in the system? So I see Rosario going, at least as a FA, Cave as a place holder and Buxton probably still here, but a good trade bait. I see Larnach and Kiriloff coming up, I see Rooker going somewhere else and I see Wade as never more than a fourth OF and probably playing for another team - maybe Gardy would like him in Detroit.
Bryce Harper a bad bargain
mikelink45 posted a blog entry in mikelink45's BlogOkay, we know we are not in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes. Be glad. Only Boras can sell him as the $400 million dollar man. If we look closely we know better. What were his stats this year? 1.3 WAR. 248, 34, 100. Yes he had a +133 OPS. Is that worth $40 million a year? He has had 7 years and an accumulated 27.4 WAR - 3.9 per year. What is that worth? Lets me realistic here. The following article says that in this inflated era a player gets $3.8 million per war - that means that for 2018 Harper was worth about $5 Million. If we take his average over his career it means just under $15million. Will he sign for that? Of course not. Boras has the league buffaloed so he will get twice or more for that. https://www.reddit.com/r/baseball/comments/7vwjmy/realistic_war_how_much_should_players_actually/ He will argue that these are his prime years coming up and that is true. However, how long is his prime? Most estimates make 32 the maximum. https://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/article/9933/how-do-baseball-players-age-investigating-the-age-27-theory/ Then what? Look at Pujols. He might be DFA'd now that the Angels have gotten a first baseman and DH. Or Tulowitzki who has been DFA'd with two big years left on his contract. Of course we can always look at the impact that the player has on winning. Harper has been with the Nationals seven years. They have been first 4 times and second 3 times. Of course they also have Scherzer the best pitcher in the NL (I know some like Kershaw) and Strasburg and Rodon and Werth and Turner... Yet they have never made the WS. They lost in the LDS four times 3 - 2. Mr Harper never took them over the top. A team is a team, not a star and bit players. Those who chase Harper or the guy who does not want to play all out, but will play dirty can expend the big bucks, but the Twins have much more affordable options in the next tier. Of course that assumes the Twins want to win and want to spend.
Byron the frustrated Buxton
mikelink45 posted a blog entry in mikelink45's Bloghttp://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/25512874/minnesota-twins-outfielder-byron-buxton-admits-was-angry-not-getting-called-up This article is interesting in light of my recent Blog about Buxton and Sano and how long do we wait for them. Today I listened to Gleeman and the Geek and once again I hear that we are waiting on this potentially dynamic duo. But if so what is the thinking of the Front Office. Read this report and it is obvious that we did a lot of damage by not letting Buxton play in September. Why? What did the team gain by this? What was the message that they wanted to send? In the Athletic - 12//13 - comes the following quote - "But Baldelli hopes to go further than a phone call with Buxton and Sanó soon. He said he tentatively would like to visit each, including a trip to the Dominican Republic to Sanó’s home, before the end of the year, with the knowledge that plans can always change." Why wasn't there a meeting when Buxton was in Minnesota? The Athletic article said, "Buxton spoke out at a charity event in Minneapolis on Tuesday for the first time since the Twins didn’t promote him in September, a move that surprised players in the clubhouse and leaves Buxton just shy of three years of service time. Had he eclipsed three years of playing time during the past season, Buxton would have remained on target for free agency after 2021 as a 28-year-old. Instead, Buxton — who is arbitration-eligible this offseason after reaching Super Two status — won’t hit free agency until he’s 29, which potentially could cost him significant dollars. Buxton spoke to reporters from the Pioneer Press and Star Tribune. “Pissed? Yes,” Buxton said. “I ain’t sugar-coating nothing, simple as that.” “It’s business, they did what they did, I do what I do. At the end of the day, I’m still going to keep playing hard, still want to play in Minnesota, still want to play beside my teammates. That’s all that matters.” Did Buxton have to say that to get their attention. The day after was when Baldelli said he was going to visit Buxton and Sano in person.
Who plays in the OF?
mikelink45 posted a blog entry in mikelink45's BlogI am back from guiding a hiking trip in Michigan where I got to watch the Detroit Tigers play a few games against the Cardinals - fun to see Gardenhire. As I watched their struggles to find the right Outfielders for the future I was interested in the various players that they put in and how each had different potentials and strengths. But it got me thinking about the Twins. For the last two years we have been led to think of the outfield as Rosario/Buxton/Kepler. But is it those three for the future? I know we have had LaMarre and Field out there during the year and they do not excite me. We have used Adrianza in the OF as well as Astudillo, and Taylor Motter. Logan Morrison was even in the OF for two games. And of course we have had Jake Cave and Robbie Grossman playing extensively in the OF. No minor leaguers were brought up this fall to get any MLB time in the OF but Wade seems like a candidate and eventually we will have more minor leaguers move up to challenge I hope. But what is the immediate future - the next two years? Who will be have out there when we turn the corner? Start with the Big Three Byron Buxton has had a lost year. He is 24 and has been with the team for parts of 4 years. His defense is out of this world, his slash line for the four years is 230/285/387 and we all know the drama that was 2018. 6.8 WAR Eddie Rosario seems to be the one who stepped up this year, leading the team in all the batting categories and playing a steady, if unspectacular OF. In his four years he has a slash line of 280/312/471. 8.6 WAR Max Kepler has not regressed, he has not progressed, he is not a star, is he a starter? His slash for the same four years is 235/314/421 and he has an accumulated WAR of 6.7. Before looking at other options - if I take the lazy route and just add and average these three players we would have an OF with a 248/303/408 slash and 1.8 WAR. Not good enough for a team that wants to be a champion. The two players on the team that look like our next OF candidates - Sorry Adrianza and Astudillo - are Grossman and Cave. Two players who elicit very different responses from TD fans. Robbie Grossman has been our number 4 OF for three years and has played in 331 games (DH and 1B included). His slash line for MN 262/365/397 which is actually a good line for a number 4 if we do not consider his OF range and defense. Jake Cave is our find of the year, after Motter and LaMarre and numerous other dumpster dives we were able to get Cave out of the Yankees and he has produced. 265/311/487 slash and 1.7 WAR for 76 games. He hustles and looks good but his fielding is not as good as some might claim. In the long run, when it comes to defense, Buxton has no worries. That is five players for starting and bench. Are they the right five and in the right order? The 40 man roster still has Zack Granite who had a lost year and Johnny Field. Granite earned 0.3 WAR in 93 ABs in 2017 and played better CF than all but Buxton. In 2018 he played in 68 games before ending his year with injury. He batted 211/282/245, He is 25 years old. Johnny Field has been in 13 games so far with a slash line of 071/100/171. If we look at his entire 2018 year he has 75 games and 193/231/330. I hope to not see him on the 40 next year. The next question is who is in the minors who might be up soon? MLB.com has a top 30 for each team - http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2018?list=min Our number two is Alex Kiriloff - how long before he comes up - will it be in the next two years? If he does Kepler better watch out because RF is his best position. Trever Larnach is in his first year, but already prospect #6. Too early to project him as a Twin. Akil Baddoo is #12 and so far has been a CF player. LaMonte Wade is #13 and seems the most ready for 2019. LaMonte Wade Age 24 has a minor league slash of 257/360/380 reminiscent of Grossman, but better in the field. He does not have power, but controls the plate. Alex Kiriloff is moving so fast he cannot be left out of the discussion for 2019 and definitely should be looked at for 2020. 348/392/578 is a slash line that cannot be ignored. Yes he is young, but you might notice that Atlanta and the Nationals both had players as young as him starting in their OFs this year. Akil Baddoo is 20, but could move fast and be a factor in 2020. 243/351/419. Trevor Larnach is 21, but is in his first year - 303/390/500 is an impressive start - 2020 is an outside possibility if the Twins are aggressive. Gilberto Celestino - just 19. He is our #14 prospect but should not be in this two year window. Gabriel Maciel is also just 19 and ranked #17. At least three years away. Luke Raley can play 1B or OF and is ranked #19. 275/350/471 He has the advantage of being someone the FO traded for - he is one of theirs and is considered a Grinder - Molitor will like that. Jacob Pearson is the last OF ranked in the top 30 Twins Prospects - He is age 20 with the Kernels this year and should be three years away. So that is the assortment we can work with in our system. Not counting more dumpster diving the following are Free Agent OFs for 2018. Bryce Harper - forget it Adam Jones - Not worth it Brett Gardner - he is already 35 Nick Markakis - he too is 35 Carlos Gonsalves - 33 coming from the light air of CO Michael Brantley - 32 - it would be nice to take him from Cleveland Steven Pearce - 36 - no thanks Lonnie Chisenhall - 30 - another Indian on the market Matt Joyce - 35. NO NO NO Curtis Granderson - 38, another old man, no thanks Carlos Gomez - 33, no we have already had him once Marwin Gonsalves - 30 - from Houston, interesting player. Cameron Maybin - 30 - nope Jon Jay - 34 - no interest Chris Young - 35, Angels, no Rajai Davis - 38 - another Cleveland OF - we could fill up with these guys, but no thanks Leonys Martin - 31, Guess which team - you Cleveland Gregor Blanco - 35 from SF. I say no to any over 32. Shane Robinson - 34 - Yankees Eric Young - 34 - Angels Brandon Barnes - 33- ANOTHER INDIAN! Jose Bautista - 38 - yes 38, no Austin Jackson 32 from the Mets Ben Revere - 31 - No retreads Some more with no resume, no interest on the list! Now comes the hard part - arrange them as you would like - this is the order I expect: 2019 Rosario Cave Kepler Buxton Grossman Raley 2020 Rosario Kiriloff Cave Buxton Raley Baddoo Where is Kepler, Wade...I expect trades. I would rather have Wade that Grossman in 2019, but I do not see the Twins making that move, I see him traded before being rostered. I am trying to guess at the Twins as much as looking at what I would like to see. Have at it.
4th OF - Andrew McCutchen?
ThejacKmp posted a blog entry in Blog ThejacKmpI was thinking about the trade deadline today. If the Twins are still in it after the All-Star Break and don't have any huge injuries (knock on wood), they're a pretty solid team. It’s hard to see where they’d need massive upgrades. • The starting rotation almost has too many options so outside of an ace, it makes little sense to get a pitcher. Even then, not sure there’s going to be a starting pitcher available who moves the dial that much. • The bullpen has struggled at times but is deep with a lot of options in the high minors. You could make a move but the market on elite bullpen arms is always high and I’m not sure the Twins will have a need that excuses the cost. • The starting lineup looks set. Escobar papers over any infield issues and the starting outfield is strong. And with Polanco coming back in the second half (though not the playoffs), SS seems like somewhere the Twins can hold off on an upgrade. The Twins biggest targets might be more cosmetic and involve the bench. Assuming Castro isn’t gone for long, catcher is set. Infield seems good too with Adrianza and Escobar (elephant in the room about who goes when Polanco comes back). The big hole for the Twins is a RH 4th outfielder who can soak up some DH at-bats. Rosario and Kepler have hit lefties well but it’d be nice to not be trotting out Grossman so regularly against LH starters. Ryan Lamarre has been a nice story but there’s room for improving the outfield depth on the MLB roster – Grossman can become a 25th man as a switch-hitting bench bat rather than an often-overmatched 4th OF. The Twins will have some options to upgrade this spot but I’m hoping that Andrew McCutchen will be available and willing to come play a more bit role for a contending team. That last part is no small matter but the Giants have lost Madison and Cueto and look like a team that could plummet down the standings. McCutchen might be interested in tasting the playoffs again? He would be an ideal fit. He has a career .963 OPS vs. LHP (and 1.131 OPS last year so that's not weighted by early performance). That would be solid in the Twins lineup and would also give them that big bench bat they're looking for when teams bring in left-handed relievers late (McCutchen has a higher OPS vs. LH relievers than LH starters). He’s also a capable corner OF even if he’s no longer a CF. The cost would likely not be prohibitive. McCutchen is in the last year of his deal and has struggled at times this year. He fetched almost nothing this offseason – middling RH reliever Kyle Crick and Bryan Reynolds, a 2016 2nd round pick OF who hasn’t look special thus far and profiles as a 4th OF or defensive centerfielder. If the Twins are willing to eat $6-8 million in salary, I think they could get McCutchen for someone like 2017 5th round pick Andrew Bechtold. And even that might be too high - I was siding on giving up too much instead of an unrealistic pipedream. Thoughts on this? I’d feel a lot more comfortable if our lineup against LHP was something like: 1B Mauer ( L ) 2B Dozier ( R ) DH Sano ( R ) RF McCutchen ( R ) LF Rosario/Kepler ( L ) CF Buxton ( R ) 3B Escobar ( S ) C Garver ( R ) SS Polanco/Adrianza ( S ) You could even give Joe a day off and slot Grossman in as DH with Sano playing 1B. Your bench against lefties would be Morrison, Rosario/Kepler, Grossman/Mauer and Castro. That’s not too shabby.
Time to Decide
stringer bell posted a blog entry in stringer bell's BlogOkay, we're past the statistical halfway point in the season. Sometimes it takes a while to flesh out who can help a team for the present and the future and sometimes circumstances make that decision. However, the Twins still haven't made decisions about several positions and players. The team is in the race for a wild card and they have not solidified several positions on the team. Here's my take on the key decisions that need to be made. 1-Shortstop. Danny Santana started the season as the regular, got demoted and now is back on the team. He showed some signs in the most recent series that he might start hitting and his tools at short are very good. Eduardo Escobar has started more in left field than short, but played over half the season at short last year and did well. Eduardo Nuñez has also been given several starts presumably in an effort to add offense. Nuñez isn't capable enough defensively, Santana hasn't produced after a standout rookie season, mostly played in center field, and Escobar has regressed from last year's numbers. My pick would be Escobar, who provides the highest floor and least risk going forward. Jorge Polanco also could figure in, but I can't see that he's ready to contribute. 2-Outfield. Eddie Rosario has emerged as a regular outfielder. Torii Hunter has been a solid right fielder for the Twins. That leaves one person. The guy who has the most at-bats after Rosario and Hunter is Escobar. He's a novice in the outfield, but has been acceptable. Aaron Hicks has provided excellent defense in center, hasn't hit much, but seems much closer than he has been in previous trials. Byron Buxton played a week+, showed his tremendous potential, but also showed that he has a long way to go before he's an offensive force. Buxton is currently on the DL, and won't return for at least a few weeks. It is unknown whether he could step in right away or might need rehab. The Twins could also use an option and give him time at AAA. It is probably a no-brainer to go with Hicks until Buxton comes off the DL. The big question is what to do then. My guess is that Buxton goes to Rochester for rehab and unless he tears it up, is optioned there perhaps until September 1st. The other factor is Hicks. If his BA continues to dive and the OPS doesn't get above .600, it might be time to give up on him being a productive everyday player. 3-Rotation. For now the decision has been made, Mike Pelfrey stays in the rotation and Trevor May is in the bullpen. May has a future in the Twins' rotation and this demotion really doesn't change that. I actually think that May can help the struggling Twins bullpen. He has strikeout ability and can get the fastball up to near-dominating numbers. I do believe the leash for Pelfrey can't be that long. His last two starts were failures and his peripherals suggest he isn't as good as his ERA might suggest. Pelf is a free agent after this year. Some have also suggested Tommy Milone should be optioned or put in the bullpen. I think Milone provides a bit too much to be pushed aside. He is still relatively young and under team control. Ricky Nolasco has missed over a month with an ankle issue and so far he hasn't solved the problem. I wouldn't be surprised to see Nolasco get surgery and miss most of or the entire remainder of the season. I agree with the Twins decision, but if Pelfrey gets knocked around in his next start, it might be a short demotion for May. Pelfrey throws hard enough that maybe he also can help the bullpen. 4-Bullpen. This isn't about changing roles, it is about changing faces. Aaron Thompson was a good story and a fine contributor for the first six weeks of the season. He just can't get people out anymore. He needs to be optioned immediately. Blaine Boyer was a surprise, but has done a slow fade for the last month. Boyer probably deserves to stay on the team, but should not be the high-leverage bullpen piece as he has been used thus far. Brian Duensing was miserable, but has shown some signs of improvement lately, no runs and only two hits, one walk and five strikeouts in the last 7.2 innings. The temporary addition of a starter in the bullpen might mean that only one pitcher should be added. I think AJ Achter has pitched well enough to get another start. Lefty Taylor Rogers has shown he can dominate AAA left handed hitters as a starter. I think he should be moved to Rochester's bullpen immediately and if he flourishes, should get a chance to help the big team. If Ryan Pressly is disabled, another name to consider is Mike Tonkin, who seems to be able to dominate in AAA, but hasn't done well enough to stick in the majors. For the record, demote Thompson, move up Achter and see if there is a good bullpen arm available on the trade market.