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  1. The MLB playoff picture is taking shape and the Minnesota Twins are in position to claim their first AL Central since 2020. Barring any late run, the Twins will be the third seed in the American League and face the sixth seed, though who that team will be remains to be seen. This year’s playoff format features six teams from each league that will be made up of the three division winners and three wild card teams. The top two division winners will get first-round byes, the third division winner will face the third wild card team, and the first and second wild card teams will face each other. The wild card round will be a best-of-three series at the higher seed’s ballpark. The winners will move on to the best-of-five ALDS. As the standings sit today, the Twins would face the Texas Rangers in the wild card round, but the Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, and Houston Astros are all realistic possibilities. Each of these teams presents a unique challenge as the Twins seek to pick up their first postseason win in 19 years. Texas Rangers (84-68) Twins’ 2023 Head-to-Head Record: 5-2 The Twins fared well against the Rangers in the regular season and would be happy to see them again in the playoffs. The Rangers have struggled down the stretch, posting a record below .500 (9-10) in September thus far. The loss of Max Scherzer for the remainder of the season hurts their pitching depth as they look to make a run at an AL West crown. Outside of Scherzer, Nathan Eovaldi and Dane Dunning appear to be the Rangers' top two starters heading into the playoffs. Dunning has posted a 3.78 ERA with 127 Ks over 157 IP this season. Meanwhile, Eovaldi is 11-4 with a 3.05 ERA this year; however, he has struggled as of late, allowing nine earned runs in just 12 innings over his last four starts. The bullpen has been a weak spot for the Rangers all year but is led by some strong arms including Jose Leclerc, Jordan Montgomery, Chris Stratton, and mid-season acquisition Aroldis Chapman who all have an ERA+ above 130. The Ranger’s issue is that outside of those four guys, only one reliever has earned an ERA+ over 100. At the plate, the Rangers have been exceptional this season, scoring the most runs (841) of any American League squad. The bats are led by Corey Seager (176 OPS+) and Marcus Semien (121 OPS+), but the Rangers get contributions up and down their lineup. Ten players have double-digit homerun numbers, and the team has an AL best .266 batting average. Toronto Blue Jays (85-68) Twins’ 2023 Head-to-Head Record: 3-3 The Blue Jays have stayed in the playoff race all season in a tough AL East division, and a strong record in September (12-7) has them in position to claim an AL Wild Card spot. Toronto’s strong starting pitching and solid bullpen support a lineup that hits better for average than for power. Bo Bichette (.303 BA, 19 HR) and Brandon Belt (131 OPS+) have led the Blue Jays offense this season although Belt has played only three games since Sept. 1. The pairing of Bichette and Belt is supported by a lineup of primarily veterans that has combined to have a .257 batting average, good for ninth in all of baseball. From the bump, the Blue Jays have five starters with an ERA+ above 110 which will be advantageous in the postseason. Kevin Gausman (3.29 ERA, 232 Ks) appears to be the ace heading into the playoffs, but the number two spot is up for grabs between Chris Bassit, Yusei Kikuchi, and former Twin Jose Berrios. Even Hyun-Jin Ryu is in the mix after a late-season return from Tommy John surgery. If the Blue Jays were to make a deep postseason run, it would be their starting pitching depth that leads them there. Closer Jordan Romano is tied for fifth in the MLB with 35 saves and Tim Mayza is having a breakout season for the Blue Jays, pitching to a 1.40 ERA across 51.1 innings of work this year. Meanwhile, Jordan Hicks and Genesis Cabrera, who were acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals in separate trades, have allowed just 11 ER across 41 innings since joining the teams. Teams will not be comfortable trailing late against the Blue Jays this postseason. Seattle Mariners (84-68) Twins’ 2023 Head-to-Head Record: 3-4 On July 19, the Mariners were 47-48 and in fourth place in the AL West. Since then, Seattle has gone 37-20 and is now tied for the third AL Wild Card spot. The Mariners will essentially decide their own destiny as their final ten games are split between seven against the Rangers and three against the Astros. This year’s Seattle team is well-balanced and highlighted by an outstanding bullpen. The Mariners have seven relievers that have an ERA below 3.40 and those relievers have combined to strike out 320 batters in 275.1 innings. That group of relievers is led by Andres Munoz who has 13 saves this season and regularly touches 100 MPH with his fastball. The Mariners’ rotation is led by Cy Young candidate Luis Castillo (3.06 ERA, 207 Ks), but fellow starters Logan Gilbert, George Kirby, and Bryce Miller are all having good seasons as well. The trio each have an ERA below 3.90 and a combined WHIP below 1.10. Young superstar Julio Rodriguez and J.P. Crawford’s breakout season have led the Mariners' offense this season. Rodriguez is batting .285 with 31 HR and 100 RBI, while Crawford has a .264 average with 16 HR and 34 2B. Veterans Eugenio Suarez and Teoscar Hernandez have also been important contributors this year, adding 21 HR and 25 HR, respectively. Additionally, young catcher Cal Raleigh has contributed 29 HR and 22 2B on the season. Houston Astros (85-68) Twins’ 2023 Head-to-Head Record: 4-2 The Astros come in with the most postseason experience of these four teams and would likely be the most formidable opponent, too. Houston is also the most recent team to beat the Twins in the playoffs when they won both games of the first-round series in 2020. Houston has by far the most complete roster the Twins could face in the first round. Jose Altuve (.312 BA, 17 HR), Yordan Alvarez (28 HR, 93 RBI), Alex Bregman (24 HR, 96 RBI), and Kyle Tucker (28 HR, 108 RBI) are looking to bring the Astros to their fourth World Series in five years. That core is surrounded by players like Jose Abreu, who is closer to hitting like his former self after a slow start; Jeremy Pena, last season's World Series MVP; and Chas McCormick and Yainer Diaz, both of whom are hitting above .280 and each have 20+ HR. For much of the season, the Astros’ bullpen was led by closer Ryan Pressly (30 saves, 71 Ks), as well as relievers Hector Neris (1.87 ERA, 71 Ks) and Bryan Abreu (1.87 ERa, 91 Ks). Even with that much firepower, Houston added reliever Kendall Graveman at the trade deadline and he has performed well since joining the team, posting an ERA of 2.70 and striking out 22 batters over 20 innings of work. Along with the addition of Graveman at the deadline, the Astros also brought back Justin Verlander in a trade with the Mets. Since rejoining the rotation, Verlander has struck out 50 batters across 55 innings on his way to a 3.93 ERA. Verlander will be a great complement to Framber Valdez (3.20 ERA, 183 Ks) and the rest of the Astros’ rotation down the stretch.
  2. The Twins face San Francisco in game two of a three game series this evening at Target Field. The Twins won last night, breaking a six-game losing streak, 9-0 with good pitching defense and productive hitting. We haven't seen much of the Twins' "A" game recently, so it was refreshing to see them win comfortably. Tonight, Sonny Gray will start for the Twins. His numbers look good, but he's only 95+ innings so far this season, in part due to two trips to the Injured List and in part due to only averaging five innings per start. The Giants counter with veteran Alex Cobb, who has good strikeout numbers, a losing record and averages 5 and one third innings per start. Pennant race: After losing six in a row, the Twins won last night and gained a game on both Cleveland and Chicago. They trail the Guardians by three games and lead the White Sox by one game. There doubtless is enough time for the Twins to regroup, win a majority of games against their closest rivals and make the postseason. ESPN gives the Twins a 25% chance of making the postseason, while BBRef gives them only a 17% chance. Both give them the seventh best odds of making postseason and only six per league make it. Given the injuries that have accrued plus their less than inspired play for the better part of three months, I think the odds are inflated, but that is what makes sports fun. Hall of Fame: With the induction of Jim Kaat and Tony Oliva, every possible Hall of Fame player who played the majority of his career with the Twins is now in the Hall of Fame. Tony, Kitty and Bert Blyleven weren't all-time greats, but they were very good players who their reward. The 1970 Twins had Carew, Killebrew, Oliva, Blyleven (rookie season) and Kaat on their team. We've seen a lot of talent come and go for the Twins. I'm glad they are well-represented at Cooperstown. Are there any future Hall of Famers on the Twins' roster? I don't think so, but there is talent. I'd love to see everything come together for two months, but I do think that is wishful thinking. Weather: Showers and thunderstorms are forecast during the evening. I'm sure there will be windows when it isn't raining and the game likely will be played in its entirety, but with the new schedule for 2023 having all teams play each other and with so many teams having only one visit, there could be scheduling nightmares next year. Game Thread Introductions: Do you think you would like to set the tone for a game thread? Would you like to impress your Twins Daily brethren with your humor and writing skills? There are still opportunities available. A schedule for September/October has been posted on Game Thread Introductions-2022 thread in this (Twins Talk) forum. There are vacancies to be filled. Sign up now by messaging yours truly (stringer bell) or responding in the Game Thread Introductions thread. Lineups: Giants HITTERS H-AB RBI HR SB AVG T. La StellaDH 41-161 13 2 0 .255 L. Wade Jr.1B 22-126 22 8 0 .175 W. Flores3B 100-402 59 16 0 .249 M. YastrzemskiRF 77-364 44 12 5 .212 T. Estrada2B 95-372 49 11 16 .255 B. CrawfordSS 66-303 40 7 1 .218 A. SlaterCF 62-233 28 5 11 .266 L. GonzalezLF 66-254 32 4 10 .260 J. BartC 45-199 21 10 2 .226 Twins HITTERS H-AB RBI HR SB AVG L. Arraez1B 135-419 41 7 4 .322 C. CorreaSS 101-378 42 15 0 .267 J. Polanco2B 88-372 56 16 3 .237 J. MirandaDH 84-304 55 13 1 .276 N. GordonLF 75-277 24 5 6 .271 G. Urshela3B 97-364 49 11 0 .266 M. KeplerRF 79-351 42 9 3 .225 G. CelestinoCF 53-205 16 2 0 .259 S. LeonC 7-46 4 0 0 .152 PLAYER W-L ERA WHIP IP H K BB HR A. Cobb 4-6 3.99 1.30 106.0 107 108 31 8 S. Gray 7-4 3.10 1.12 95.2 79 95 28 9
  3. The Twins meet the Rangers in game 2 of a 4-game wraparound series at Target Field. Chris Archer starts for the Twins, while the Rangers are sending out Glenn Otto. I haven't paid much attention to the Wildcard race, assuming the AL East would provide all of the wildcard teams. Seattle has moved into good position to take a spot. I wouldn't be surprised to see an AL Central team sneak in as well, so even if the Twins don't win the Central, they still have a chance. Lineups: HITTERS H-AB RBI HR SB AVG M. Semien2B 111-478 58 18 19 .232 C. SeagerSS 110-440 60 26 3 .250 N. Lowe1B 124-430 53 17 2 .288 A. GarciaRF 115-453 74 19 18 .254 B. MillerDH 42-208 29 7 4 .202 L. TaverasCF 54-181 27 3 7 .298 E. Duran3B 36-147 17 3 4 .245 M. ViloriaC 10-48 5 2 0 .208 B. ThompsonLF 13-49 5 0 5 .2 HITTERS H-AB RBI HR SB AVG L. Arraez1B 133-397 39 7 4 .335 C. CorreaSS 95-353 39 14 0 .269 B. BuxtonDH 75-334 51 28 5 .225 J. Polanco2B 83-351 55 15 3 .236 M. KeplerRF 75-329 41 9 3 .228 J. Miranda3B 79-277 52 13 1 .285 N. GordonCF 71-257 23 5 6 .276 J. CaveLF 6-29 2 1 0 .207 G. SanchezC 65-299 42 11 2 .217 PLAYER W-L ERA WHIP IP H K BB HR G. Otto 5-8 4.96 1.42 89.0 77 70 49 13 C. Archer 2-6 4.15 1.29 82.1 65 71 41 9
  4. Despite all the issues and the 19 crippling blown saves, the Twins had one advantage in their bullpen: a young, terrific weapon in Jhoan Durán, who’s carried the late-innings all year. Griffin Jax, another first-year reliever, has been more than serviceable with a 3.49 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 43 innings. It’s Durán, though, who made fixing the bullpen woes at the deadline easier than it appeared. Durán is tied with Guardians’ generational closer Emmanuel Clase for the most Win Probability Added among relievers in the American League (2.80). He owns a sterling 2.15 ERA in 46 innings, striking out 58 and walking only 10. Durán’s emergence is a primary reason why the Twins are in first place. It’s hard to imagine where they’d be without him. Durán’s excellence allowed the Twins to flip the bullpen picture completely. They already had one outstanding right-handed reliever and then traded for another. Jorge Lopez, who now has a 1.64 ERA in nearly 50 innings, completes one of the more overwhelming duos in baseball. López and Durán have combined for a 1.87 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 96 ⅓ innings. While Durán wows with one of the hardest four-seam fastballs in baseball, López induces chopper after chopper with a turbo sinker at 98-100 mph. It’s a deadly combo for opposing hitters. The late innings will primarily belong to the two flamethrowers, but Michael Fulmer is an under-the-radar pickup for the Twins. Fulmer shuts down right-handed hitters, holding them to a .136 batting average and zero homers in 102 plate appearances. Fulmer has given up one extra-base hit to a righty all season, a double from his new teammate Gio Urshela on July 24th. No righty has barreled Fulmer this season. In a division and league loaded with right-handed talent, he should continue to thrive in those matchups. Fulmer and Jax both have elite sliders, holding opponents to a combined .170 batting average. Depth is as important as the stars, and Trevor Megill has filled in wonderfully. Megill has a sub-2 ERA in 19 outings, regularly reaching 100 with his fastball while showing good command. Megill, Durán, and López all average over 97 mph with their primary fastballs. When’s the last time the Twins had three high-velocity arms in their bullpen? Caleb Thielbar hasn’t shined in the ERA department, but his 3.09 Fielding Independent Pitching shows he’s been unlucky. Thielbar has a 1.38 ERA over his last 13 innings and a 2.90 ERA over his last 34 outings. He’s a reliable lefty and has held left-handed hitters to a .180/.281/.260 line. Even Emilio Pagán, who the Twins demoted to a lower-leverage role, has a 3.18 ERA and 2.23 FIP with 21 strikeouts over his last 12 outings. This bullpen picture gets even brighter if he can fill a vital sixth-inning role. Pagán could redeem some of his value with a solid final two months. It’s impossible to ignore the bullpen’s issues up to this point. Pagán and Tyler Duffey have allowed 40 earned runs in 79 ⅓ innings. Joe Smith, while excellent early, was so poor that the Twins DFA’ed him despite being the largest bullpen acquisition of the offseason. Even with the much-improved outlook, there’s still hope and depth outside the 26-man roster. If Jorge Alcalá can return, he’d provide Rocco Baldelli with another high-octane option for the late innings. Alcalá posted a 0.82 ERA with 27 strikeouts over his final 22 innings of 2021. Jovani Moran, who the Twins optioned Wednesday, has a 1.93 ERA in 20 outings with the Twins this year. Kenta Maeda, a relief ace for the Dodgers in the past, is working to return for the stretch run in the Twins’ bullpen. They still have to play the games and stay healthy, but this group looks excellent. The Twins have seldom had this many reliable relievers in one bullpen, and they’ve never had a duo with the weaponry of Durán and López. If the Twins win the division and make a run into October, the bullpen will be a crucial reason why. What do you think of the Twins’ revamped bullpen? Comment below!
  5. The Twins’ bullpen has leaked runs and caused headaches all year long, motivating the front office to improve it at the deadline. They filled the holes with a bang, and now the arm barn looks like a real strength. Despite all the issues and the 19 crippling blown saves, the Twins had one advantage in their bullpen: a young, terrific weapon in Jhoan Durán, who’s carried the late-innings all year. Griffin Jax, another first-year reliever, has been more than serviceable with a 3.49 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 43 innings. It’s Durán, though, who made fixing the bullpen woes at the deadline easier than it appeared. Durán is tied with Guardians’ generational closer Emmanuel Clase for the most Win Probability Added among relievers in the American League (2.80). He owns a sterling 2.15 ERA in 46 innings, striking out 58 and walking only 10. Durán’s emergence is a primary reason why the Twins are in first place. It’s hard to imagine where they’d be without him. Durán’s excellence allowed the Twins to flip the bullpen picture completely. They already had one outstanding right-handed reliever and then traded for another. Jorge Lopez, who now has a 1.64 ERA in nearly 50 innings, completes one of the more overwhelming duos in baseball. López and Durán have combined for a 1.87 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 96 ⅓ innings. While Durán wows with one of the hardest four-seam fastballs in baseball, López induces chopper after chopper with a turbo sinker at 98-100 mph. It’s a deadly combo for opposing hitters. The late innings will primarily belong to the two flamethrowers, but Michael Fulmer is an under-the-radar pickup for the Twins. Fulmer shuts down right-handed hitters, holding them to a .136 batting average and zero homers in 102 plate appearances. Fulmer has given up one extra-base hit to a righty all season, a double from his new teammate Gio Urshela on July 24th. No righty has barreled Fulmer this season. In a division and league loaded with right-handed talent, he should continue to thrive in those matchups. Fulmer and Jax both have elite sliders, holding opponents to a combined .170 batting average. Depth is as important as the stars, and Trevor Megill has filled in wonderfully. Megill has a sub-2 ERA in 19 outings, regularly reaching 100 with his fastball while showing good command. Megill, Durán, and López all average over 97 mph with their primary fastballs. When’s the last time the Twins had three high-velocity arms in their bullpen? Caleb Thielbar hasn’t shined in the ERA department, but his 3.09 Fielding Independent Pitching shows he’s been unlucky. Thielbar has a 1.38 ERA over his last 13 innings and a 2.90 ERA over his last 34 outings. He’s a reliable lefty and has held left-handed hitters to a .180/.281/.260 line. Even Emilio Pagán, who the Twins demoted to a lower-leverage role, has a 3.18 ERA and 2.23 FIP with 21 strikeouts over his last 12 outings. This bullpen picture gets even brighter if he can fill a vital sixth-inning role. Pagán could redeem some of his value with a solid final two months. It’s impossible to ignore the bullpen’s issues up to this point. Pagán and Tyler Duffey have allowed 40 earned runs in 79 ⅓ innings. Joe Smith, while excellent early, was so poor that the Twins DFA’ed him despite being the largest bullpen acquisition of the offseason. Even with the much-improved outlook, there’s still hope and depth outside the 26-man roster. If Jorge Alcalá can return, he’d provide Rocco Baldelli with another high-octane option for the late innings. Alcalá posted a 0.82 ERA with 27 strikeouts over his final 22 innings of 2021. Jovani Moran, who the Twins optioned Wednesday, has a 1.93 ERA in 20 outings with the Twins this year. Kenta Maeda, a relief ace for the Dodgers in the past, is working to return for the stretch run in the Twins’ bullpen. They still have to play the games and stay healthy, but this group looks excellent. The Twins have seldom had this many reliable relievers in one bullpen, and they’ve never had a duo with the weaponry of Durán and López. If the Twins win the division and make a run into October, the bullpen will be a crucial reason why. What do you think of the Twins’ revamped bullpen? Comment below! View full article
  6. My proposal to radically change MLB playoffs, and deal with some of the issues plaguing the sport at the same time; I call it the All 30, and just like it sounds, it means every team makes the playoffs. See below for how it would work. The leagues are still split; Round 1 Only the teams in places 10-15 face off (10 v 15, 11 v 14, 12 v 13). It is a one game playoff, played at the higher seed's stadium, and occurs on the Tuesday after the regular season ends.Winners advance to the next round, losers are slotted into draft picks 17-22, with the worst record team at 17, and the best record team at 22--this will prevent tanking, as there is now a clear incentive to not lose in Round 1.Round 2 Teams in places 5-9, along with the 3 winners from Round 1 play, after a re-seeding (8 will always play 9, 5 will play the Round 1 winner with the worst record, 6 will play the second-worst, 7 will play the last team). This will be a best of 3 series, with 8 games played every day on Thursday, Friday, and (if needed) Saturday after the regular season. The higher seeds get homefield advantage AND get to choose which 2 games they want at home.Winners advance to the next round, and are also thrown into a lottery with the losing teams for draft picks 1-16. The losing teams get twice the odds of the winning teams, and each pick is drawn from 1-16 (think each losing team gets 100 ping pong balls, each winning team gets 50 ping pong balls).Round 3 Teams in places 1-4, along with the 4 winners from Round 2 play in a best of five series, after a re-seeding like the one described above. Teams 1-4 get 4 games at home, AND get to choose which one game (if necessary) is on the road. These series start on the Tuesday after the end of Round 2, with 8 games being played every day Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and (if necessary) Friday and Saturday.Winners advance to the next round, losers who were a top 4 seed now get their draft order assigned by inverted record--this remains the standard for picks 23-30.Round 4 (LDS) The 4 winners from each league in Round 3 play, without re-seeding (1/8 winner v 4/5 winner, 2/7 winner v 3/6 winner). This is also a best of five series, with games 1, 2, and 5 at the higher seed, and is played starting on the Monday after the end of Round 3, with 4 games every day Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and (if necessary) Thursday and Friday.Winners advance to the next roundRound 5 (LCS) and Round 6 (WS) These operate exactly how they do now--7 game series, 2-2-1-1-1 format, with a travel day after Games 2, 4, and 6 (if necessary)Other stipulations You get reduced shares of playoff revenue for rounds you do not play in (teams playing in a round receive double what teams not playing in a round get; this triples for teams playing in rounds 4-6). This applies only to national revenue--the home team gets to keep all local revenue from tickets/parking/concessions, etcA Salary floor is established--each team must spend at least 1.5% of the total value of player salaries from the prior year's Opening Day Cumulative Payroll (i.e. if all MLB players were paid $4B as of Opening Day 2020, each team must have a payroll of at least $60M in 2021). Players not on the active roster but with active contracts countThe Luxury Tax is re-set at 4x the salary floor. Teams exceeding the luxury tax receive the non-participant revenue rate for all postseason series, even those they play inWhy this system is good Discourages tanking. The worse you are, the more likely you lose in Round 1, and miss out on high draft picks and playoff revenue. There is no longer any reason to be bad.Expands Playoff revenue. More revenue in baseball should be a good thing--more investment in player development, higher salaries for players, higher value to franchises; everyone wins.Provides bad teams a quicker road to competitiveness. With more teams pushing for position, the trade market will have fewer players, leading to greater hauls for teams that do trade at the deadline.Ups the value of the Regular Season. Moving up in the standing is now huge--getting to 12 means you get a home game in Round 1, getting to 9 means you lock in a Top 16 draft pick, getting to 4 means you get a double-bye and Enhanced Home Field Advantage in Round 3Protects the better teams in the early rounds. The teams playing in Round 1 will undoubtedly use their best pitcher in that game, meaning the higher seeds in Round 2 have a rotation advantage. The higher seeds in round 3 get the enhanced home field advantageI'm curious to see what everyone thinks!
  7. So You’re Telling Me There’s A Chance Minnesota’s strong start to the shortened season greatly increased the club’s chances of qualifying for the postseason, especially considering the newly implemented expanded playoff format. The Twins are currently the seventh overall seed in the American League, but they have over a 90% chance of making the playoffs with the second highest change of winning one of the two wild card spots. Looking around the division and its looking increasingly likely that the AL Central will have three playoff teams and there is an outside chance at four clubs qualifying. Chicago and Cleveland have been back and forth at the top of the AL Central, but each club has over a 98% chance of making the playoffs. Tampa Bay and Oakland, the AL’s top-two teams, have the best odds to make the postseason tournament. Looking in the Rearview Mirror Behind the Twins in the AL standings are a group of teams that wouldn’t have even thought about being in playoff position under the old format. Toronto has a good young core of players, but they are a few years away from being strong contenders. That being said, they have an over .500 record and they a greater than 60% chance qualifying for the postseason. Another AL Central foe, the Tigers, sit behind the Blue Jays in the American League standings. Minnesota has had its fair share of trouble with the Tigers this season and now the Motor City Kitties head to Minneapolis for five games this weekend. Detroit is the final AL team with a record above .500 so the Twins would have to fall behind the Tigers to be out of playoff contention. Playoff Bound? At season’s start, Minnesota had the easiest strength of schedule compared to team’s records from last year. Obviously, the AL Central has been much more competitive than originally thought. Cleveland has the easiest strength of schedule (.479 winning %) among the contended AL Central teams. Chicago (.496) and Minnesota (.499) have nearly identical strength of schedules the rest of the way. The Tigers (.508) have the third hardest remaining schedule in the league. If the playoffs started today, the Twins would play a three-game series in Oakland to decided who makes it out of the first round. For a healthy Twins team, that would be a series the team could win. The A’s have also been off the field all week after someone in their organization tested positive for the coronavirus so they are going to be playing catch-up to get all 60-games played before season’s end. Houston trails Oakland by a handful of games in the AL West race so there is a possibility the Twins could end up heading to Texas. There’s also a chance the AL Central winner (Chicago or Cleveland) ends up with the number two overall seed and that could result in an intriguing match-up for the Twins. Luckily, the Yankees are in second place in the AL East, so a match-up with the Bronx Bombers is unlikely at this point. Realistically, everything is going to come down to a short three-game series at the start of the playoffs. The Twins haven’t won a single playoff game since 2004 and they haven’t won a playoff series since defeating Oakland back in 2002. It’s a weird season and the playoff race is only going to make it weirder. What are your thoughts on the Twins playoff chances? 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
  8. With minimum games and the potential that not all the teams will play 60 games the playoffs get quite interesting With the 16 game playoffs who is in and who is out? Based on percentage: American League Yankees, Twins, Athletics are the division leaders Second place teams: Baltimore (really), White Sox, Astros Next two – wild cards – best percentages Cleveland and Detroit (yes Gardy’s gang) National League First seeds: Atlanta, Cubs, Rockies (really) Second group: Miami (yes only three games), Milwaukee, Dodgers Wild Cards: San Diego, San Francisco Wouldn't that be fun?
  9. What could it look like? How could MLB promote more exciting baseball? Is 162 the right amount of games? Is the inclusion of reality TV a real thing? Is it logistically even possible? So I came up with an idea. It's a little crazy, (I think) more exciting, fewer games, includes weekly reality TV and (most likely) would be a logistical mess (in every aspect imaginable). But would be all sorts of entertaining. Oh, and it includes two new expansion teams. We need 32 teams for this to work. Phase 1 runs for 13.5 weeks and each team plays 27 three-games series. The phase runs from March 25 until June 27. Each team would play each division opponent for five series (15 games x 3 teams = 45 total games) and each league opponent in one three-game series (12 teams x 3 games = 36 games.) The first phase would be 81 total games. You would alternate home-field advantage (and the 41st home game) every other year. At the conclusion of Phase 1, each team would get a full week off, which includes all the All-Star Game festivities, and, potentially, the trade deadline. Phase 2 is where things start to get different. It will be exclusively five-game series for nine weeks, with those games all being played between Tuesday and Sunday. It's also the beginning of the "playoffs." Crazy, huh? Stay with me. Only the teams that finished Phase 1 in fourth place would play a best-of-five series in the first week, though. The other 12 teams in each league would match up with an opposing division and play a five-game series, with the games counting towards their overall record. In the second week of Phase 2, the two third-place teams with the worst record would play the fourth-place winners, with the fourth-place losers also facing off (all ties would be broken with head-to-head games, as everyone plays league opponents, initially, an odd amount of times). Non-playoff teams would play an interleague opponent. This is where Manfred can get his reality TV. The third-place team with the best record gets to choose which fourth-place winner they want to play. Depending on how far in advance MLB wants to do things, they could also announce all other weekly matchups. Teams all travel on Monday and all tickets go on sale Monday morning (which would help limit after-market sales, maybe). I have the whole bracket made up here, if you're interested. Essentially, over the nine-week phase you slowly introduce all the teams into a bracket-style tournament. Each week culminating with a primetime, Sunday Night two-hour show that reveals and previews the next week. Yes, Sunday Night baseball would probably have to go. Yes, Monday is probably now baseball-less. And, yes, you also don't know where or when your favorite team will be playing for the upcoming week until days in advance. (Though I imagine someone smarter than me could work out these kinks.) Over those nine weeks, no team will play more than 45 games. Some teams (if swept or sweep in best-of-five sets) could play as little as 27 games. (Though you could make those best-of-five series a regular five-game series if you really wanted to. Again, that's for someone smarter to decide.) Phase 3 would begin in early September - right in time to compete with the NFL - and the first two weeks would include all teams, all would have a chance to make what would eventually become a more traditional playoff look. All best-of-seven series over a ten-game stretch. (The four teams in each league that lose in both Weeks 1 and 2 would be eliminated and could enter an 8-team tournament to determine draft order.) If you look at the bracket, you'll notice a lot of "battle back" games starting at week 8; teams looking to re-enter for the chance to win the World Series. That would end after Week 11, when the four winners in each league enter the Division Series (week 12). The winners then play the Championship Series (week 13). The season would be capped off by the World Series (week 14) which would take place between October 17 and October 26. It would be a seismic shift. Fewer games. More intrigue. And fascinating to think about. Little changes are silly. Big, out-of-the-box changes, though, might just attract new fans, all while keeping the old ones.
  10. A little over a week ago, Joel Sherman introduced a potential playoff expansion idea that commissioner Manfred may allegedly be considering. Our Matthew Lenz covered it here. That led me to do some thinking: What if the whole schedule and playoff system was completely destroyed and we started over from scratch?What could it look like? How could MLB promote more exciting baseball? Is 162 the right amount of games? Is the inclusion of reality TV a real thing? Is it logistically even possible? So I came up with an idea. It's a little crazy, (I think) more exciting, fewer games, includes weekly reality TV and (most likely) would be a logistical mess (in every aspect imaginable). But would be all sorts of entertaining. Oh, and it includes two new expansion teams. We need 32 teams for this to work. Phase 1 runs for 13.5 weeks and each team plays 27 three-games series. The phase runs from March 25 until June 27. Each team would play each division opponent for five series (15 games x 3 teams = 45 total games) and each league opponent in one three-game series (12 teams x 3 games = 36 games.) The first phase would be 81 total games. You would alternate home-field advantage (and the 41st home game) every other year. At the conclusion of Phase 1, each team would get a full week off, which includes all the All-Star Game festivities, and, potentially, the trade deadline. Phase 2 is where things start to get different. It will be exclusively five-game series for nine weeks, with those games all being played between Tuesday and Sunday. It's also the beginning of the "playoffs." Crazy, huh? Stay with me. Only the teams that finished Phase 1 in fourth place would play a best-of-five series in the first week, though. The other 12 teams in each league would match up with an opposing division and play a five-game series, with the games counting towards their overall record. In the second week of Phase 2, the two third-place teams with the worst record would play the fourth-place winners, with the fourth-place losers also facing off (all ties would be broken with head-to-head games, as everyone plays league opponents, initially, an odd amount of times). Non-playoff teams would play an interleague opponent. This is where Manfred can get his reality TV. The third-place team with the best record gets to choose which fourth-place winner they want to play. Depending on how far in advance MLB wants to do things, they could also announce all other weekly matchups. Teams all travel on Monday and all tickets go on sale Monday morning (which would help limit after-market sales, maybe). I have the whole bracket made up here, if you're interested. Essentially, over the nine-week phase you slowly introduce all the teams into a bracket-style tournament. Each week culminating with a primetime, Sunday Night two-hour show that reveals and previews the next week. Yes, Sunday Night baseball would probably have to go. Yes, Monday is probably now baseball-less. And, yes, you also don't know where or when your favorite team will be playing for the upcoming week until days in advance. (Though I imagine someone smarter than me could work out these kinks.) Over those nine weeks, no team will play more than 45 games. Some teams (if swept or sweep in best-of-five sets) could play as little as 27 games. (Though you could make those best-of-five series a regular five-game series if you really wanted to. Again, that's for someone smarter to decide.) Phase 3 would begin in early September - right in time to compete with the NFL - and the first two weeks would include all teams, all would have a chance to make what would eventually become a more traditional playoff look. All best-of-seven series over a ten-game stretch. (The four teams in each league that lose in both Weeks 1 and 2 would be eliminated and could enter an 8-team tournament to determine draft order.) If you look at the bracket, you'll notice a lot of "battle back" games starting at week 8; teams looking to re-enter for the chance to win the World Series. That would end after Week 11, when the four winners in each league enter the Division Series (week 12). The winners then play the Championship Series (week 13). The season would be capped off by the World Series (week 14) which would take place between October 17 and October 26. It would be a seismic shift. Fewer games. More intrigue. And fascinating to think about. Little changes are silly. Big, out-of-the-box changes, though, might just attract new fans, all while keeping the old ones. Click here to view the article
  11. Slowly but surely, even the least observant among us will have noticed the precious minutes of daylight being added since the winter solstice, spreading good cheer to Druids everywhere. And with the countdown to pitchers and catchers reporting falling to a mere 23 days, our thoughts turn to baseball, opening day, the first game cancelled due to snow, the All-Star Game, the trade deadline, rosters expanding in September, the Arizona Fall League, the Wild Card game, the Divisional Series, the League Championship Series, the World Series, winter meetings, the hot stove league, and pitchers and catchers reporting in 2021. With such a plethora of events to keep us non-Druid baseball fans occupied, it's easy to overlook the complex machinations of who might start Game 3 of the 2021 American League Championship Series for your Minnesota Twins. But with the sun well shy of the 2020 vernal equinox, it's time to fire up our crystal balls and clear up the somewhat muddy waters of October 2021. Let's look at the candidates: Trevor Bauer - Fresh off a World Championship season with the Cincinnati Reds, Bauer looks every bit the part of a #1 starter, so why include him here? Well remember, we're talking about 2021, and you can be darn sure that we won't be skating to the divisional championship with as much ease as we did in 2019 and 2020. Playing the division down to the wire means our rotation isn't exactly lined up how we'd prefer. Still, having Bauer settle in as our #3 for the rotation is not so bad, huh friends? I sure don't think so, and that's why he's my first choice here. Robbie Ray - Sure, he hasn't pitched in a playoff game since 2017 and totally fell apart down the stretch for us in 2021, but when a guy has an alliterative name, you slot him in as the Third Thrower, amiright? Besides, he has an October birthday. He was practically born to pitch the third game in the series before next year's Fall Classic. James Paxton - Yes, I know he's 32 in 2021. Yes, I know it isn't likely he'll even be on the Twins. But when every body else is looking to the right? The wise move is to look left. That's why I could see him making a lot of sense here. Randy Dobnak - That mustache and glasses costume just doesn't get old. Still just 26 years old in 2021, Dobnak is ready to grab the spotlight and squeeze it in a way that normal people can't squeeze light. He's the kind of guy who seems ready-made to step into the folklore of Minnesota baseball. Are you ready for Legenddobnak? Johan Santana - Hey, I don't think it'll happen either, but we're talking about 2021 here. Anything can happen, including Johan coming out of retirement with a brand new arm and the same ol' circle change. Would you want to face a brand-new-armed-Johan in Game 3 of the 2021 American League Championship Series? I didn't think so. Now it's your turn to get real about the playoffs of next season. Who do you think should start Game 3 of the 2021 American League Championship Series for the Twins?
  12. The Minnesota Twins bullpen of 2019 was a roller coaster ride that would rival even the most thrilling attraction at Valley Fair. In this article, we’ll be taking a ride on the 2019 Twins "bullpen coaster" as I go through all the various peaks and valleys that the relief group experienced in 2019. Prior to the start of the season, expectations for the Twins bullpen were certainly a mixed bag following a disappointing 2018 which saw the Twins relievers finish 22nd in the majors with a 4.45 ERA. After Twins fans pleaded with Falvey and Levine all offseason to acquire relief arms, the 33-year old journeyman, Blake Parker, was the only reliever that the front office duo signed. While the Twins knew they had a budding star in Taylor Rogers, it appeared that the Twins would otherwise be leaning heavily on a bunch of unproven question marks the likes of Parker, Trevor Hildenberger, Trevor May, Adalberto Mejia and Fernando Romero. Names like Tyler Duffey and Zack Littell were starting the season in the minor leagues and Cody Stashak was a complete unknown. Fangraphs, however, was more bullish than most on the Twins bullpen, ranking the unit 11th in the majors in their pre-season power rankings. Peak #1: Hot start Just like the rest of the Twins ballclub, the bullpen exceeded any and all expectations to kick off the 2019 season. The bullpen coaster reached its first peak of the year, though, on May 26 when the Twins shut out the Chicago White Sox, 7-0. On this day, the Twins bullpen recorded 3.2 scoreless innings from Magill, May, Rogers and Duffey to push the Twins to 20 games over .500 with a 36-16 record. Through this point in the season the Twins were seventh in the American League in ERA at 4.07 and fifth in the American league in FIP at 3.89. This great performance was thanks in large part to the four relievers who pitched in the May 26 shut out who had to this point posted ERAs of 1.54 (Magill), 3.79/3.79 (May), 1.31 (Rogers) and 2.63 (Duffey). Valley #1: The Yankee Debacle The Bullpen stayed hot through the month of June, but as the calendar flipped from June to July our bullpen coaster began it’s steep decline. In a period of 17 games from July 1 - July 23 the Twins relievers posted an ERA/FIP of 5.32/4.31 with a -1.61 WPA during that time. During this same stretch, three Twins relievers were DFA’d due to poor performance - the previously mentioned Matt Magill, Adalberto Mejia, and Mike Morin. The culmination of poor bullpen performance, and the first valley on our bullpen coaster, was the 14-12 heartbreaking loss to the Yankees on July 23. In a game that featured 16 runs, 35 hits, and 6 bombas, the stats that will stick with Twins fans from this game are the two blown saves and nine earned runs from the bullpen. Blake Parker surrendered four runs to turn a 9-5 lead to a 10-9 deficit. Then, after a heroic Sano bomba, Taylor Rogers surrendered two runs to turn a 11-10 lead to a 12-11 deficit. Finally, after Polanco tied the game to force extra innings, Kohl Stewart surrendered two runs to turn a 12-12 tie game to a demoralizing 14-12 loss. Following the game, the Twins DFA’d their fourth reliever in 11 days by letting Blake Parker go and all of a sudden the Twins bullpen found themselves at rock bottom. Peak #2: The Trade Deadline The silver lining to the July decline and the Yankee debacle was that it forced the front office to realize that acquiring relief arms at the deadline was no longer a luxury, but a necessity. The voices clamoring for bullpen help were getting louder, and lo and behold the front office acted. First by acquiring the 36-year old, right handed reliever, Sergio Romo. In Romo the Twins acquired a proven winner with a nasty slider that killed right handed hitters. The general feeling, though, was that the Romo acquisition wasn’t enough and we needed more arms. Then, in the 11th hour of the trade deadline, news broke that the Twins acquired veteran reliever, Sam Dyson, and things were looking up for this bullpen. Dyson was arguably the best arm that was moved at the deadline and filled the missing setup man role for the Bomba Squad. Falvey and Levine got us the help we needed, we were primed for a resurgent second half of the season, and the bullpen coaster reached its final peak. Or so we thought... Valley #2: Damaged Goods While the Romo acquisition was looking like a slam dunk for the Twins, the Dyson experiment was not quite looking the same. In his first appearance with the Twins on August 3rd, Dyson didn’t record a single out, allowed 3 runs, and posted a -0.46 WPA. The following day, after a second straight shaky performance, Dyson was placed on the injured list with bicep tendonitis in what turned out to be a chronic issue that he had been experiencing since before coming to Minnesota (AND DIDN’T TELL ANYONE?!). At this point Twins fans across Minnesota feared that Dyson was damaged goods, and finally on September 26 their fears were realized when Dyson was shut down for good. What was the final piece to the Twins bullpen turned out to be a net-negative and Minnesota was once again stuck in a valley, needing guys from within the organization to hold on for dear life as they fought for the AL Central crown. Peak #3: Late Season Resurgence The Twins needed the current crop of arms in the organization to step up in Dyson’s absence, and step up they did. The group that got it done for the Twins in August and September was a mix of guys who contributed throughout the year (Duffey, Rogers and May) along with a group of kids who played far above their age and expectations (Littell, Stashak and Graterol). The bullpen coaster peaked, though, on September 14 when the Twins played a bullpen game to complete a double header sweep of the Indians and all but seal up the AL Central. After 3.2 mediocre innings from Lewis Thorpe, the Twins blanked the Indians for the final 5.1 innings thanks to scoreless outings from Stashak, Graterol and May. Overall, in August and September the Twins bullpen posted a 3.51 FIP, best in the American League. The unit that Twins fans thought would cost them the division ended up winning them the division in a bullpen game. Pretty cool. Valley #3: October Disappointment Heading into the Playoffs, the Twins had a plethora of question marks. They had just two viable starting pitchers, Arraez’s ankle was a question mark, Kepler hadn’t played in weeks, the list goes on and on. What Twins fans were confident in, though, was our group of bullpen arms. The same group that carried the team through August and September seemed primed to carry them through October. The narrative flipped quickly, though, when Baldelli brought in Zack Littell to start the fifth inning of game one. Littell clearly was not up to the moment as he faced three batters, while allowing two runs. The next inning, Baldelli brought in Cody Stashak who allowed home runs to LeMahieu and Gardner to seal a game one loss. Game two of the ALDS was even worse for the Twins bullpen thanks mostly in part to Tyler Duffey serving up a grand slam to Gregorius, all but ending the game (and series) before it even started. All in all, the Twins bullpen posted a 7.56 ERA in 25 innings and, unfortunately, the bullpen coaster ended the 2019 campaign in a valley. You can say a lot of different things about the 2019 season for the Minnesota Twins bullpen, but you can’t say that it was boring. As you can see, the season was truly a roller coaster ride unlike any that I can remember. Although we ended 2019 in a valley, I look forward to the 2020 group climbing up the chain and reaching new peaks.
  13. This is a short Blog - kind of a reaction blog set off by the St Louis Cardinals (my favorite NL team). Did you see the headline - 10 runs in the first inning. The Braves were in never never land! What happened. A really good team beat another really good team and did it with fire! The articles say that the pre-game talk by the Cardinal Manager (who the hell is Schildts?) was angry, it pushed the limits and for a while was available on video. ESPN had this article - "In a video that surfaced online Wednesday night, St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Shildt can be seen giving a fiery, expletive-filled speech to his team in the locker room following a win over the Atlanta Braves in Game 5 of the National League Division Series. "The [braves] started some s---. We finished the s---," Shildt says in the video, which outfielder Randy Arozarena later acknowledged he streamed live on Instagram. "And that's how we roll. No one f---s with us ever. Now, I don't give a f--- who we play. We're gonna f--- them up. We're gonna take it right to them the whole f---ing way. We're gonna kick their f---ing ass."" https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/27809815/locker-room-video-shows-cardinals-manager-expletive-filled-speech In contrast our manager felt fine just like Dave Roberts after his Dodgers bombed again. The bombs are not as fun as Bombas, by the way. It reminds me of the Vikings Superbowl bombs. I was so keyed up for them, but as I watched the players they were not. Just going through business as usual. There unflappable coach was stoic and the players were run over by the emotion, if not the talent, of Kansas City, Oakland, Miami, and Pittsburgh. Emotions count. Next year Rocco, I hope the players love you, I hope that they enjoy playing for the Twins, but when you get to the place where the season hinges on the game - get mad, get emotional, play like it is more than a game.
  14. Michael Powell wrote - "There was a mellow quality to conversations with the Twins after their postseason finale with the Yankees on Monday night, a wistful pride at what they had accomplished before that 18-wheeler from New York City flattened them." Wow I can feel that! "Rocco Baldelli, the Twins’ young manager, slid into his seat Monday night, having come out on the wrong side of a 5-1 score in the deciding game of an American League division series. He shrugged. His team had just lost its 13th consecutive playoff game to the Yankees, a record of futility that extends to the early days of this century. “To be very blunt about it, they probably pitched a little better than us,” Baldelli said. “They probably swung the bats a little better than us and defended better than us. We’re not going to run away from what just happened." "The Yankees dispatched the Twins as a farmer puts down an old cow, clinically and with minimal fuss." "When the end came near midnight, many fans had long ago streamed through the exits, and the Yankees celebration, the usual waste of industrial strength Champagne, had a perfunctory quality. “This was our absolute best effort,” Baldelli insisted before departing into the night. “Nothing got in the way of it.” Nothing except that Yankee eighteen-wheeler." If you want to read more from Michael Powell - https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/08/sports/yankees-twins-michael-powell.html Or there is the game summary article - “We’ve got a really good team,” said Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres. “We don’t feel any pressure.” Compare that to our listless Twin quotes. "The Twins became the first 100-win team to be swept in the first round of the playoffs since the 1980 Yankees were knocked out by the Kansas City Royals." Doesn't that make us feel good, we are the books with the Yankees. "In a series that was expected to produce seesawing action between the two best home run-hitting teams of all time, the outcome was decidedly lopsided. The Yankees, who didn’t add major-league pitchers at the July 31 trade deadline, held the Twins to seven runs in the series." Yes we expected something too, like the series we had during the season. "When the bases were loaded with no outs in the second inning, he got Miguel Sano to pop out on a 98-mile-per-hour fastball, and then struck out Marwin Gonzalez and Jake Cave on diving sliders." “That situation right there set the tone for the rest of the game,” Severino said. That situation also summed up the Twins approach - stikeouts do nothing, put the bat on the ball. "“Today we played the best defensive game of all season,” said Carlos Mendoza, the Yankee’s infield instructor." And how was the Twins defense for this series? "Three more outs were not nearly enough for the Twins to erase a four-run deficit with Aroldis Chapman on the mound. The Yankees’ closer allowed a two-strike leadoff single to Marwin Gonzalez and walked C.J. Cron, but that was all Minnesota could muster. Chapman struck out Max Kepler on four pitches — getting three consecutive sliders past Minnesota’s leadoff batter — got some serious help on a diving catch by Gregorius on a liner by Jorge Polanco and finishing things off by freezing Nelson Cruz with a 99.4 mile-per-hour fastball for a called strike three, and the ballgame, and the series." Here is the full game summary it you want to suffer through it https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/07/sports/baseball/twins-yankees.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_191008?campaign_id=2&instance_id=12775&segment_id=17677&user_id=df677009e65a80ff046d9aedfdc120f5&regi_id=275511921008
  15. I wondered how the New York Press would describe game 2 - here are some key quotes - and I cannot disagree with any of them: "Dobnak’s short outing was fairly predictable. A recent Uber driver against this lineup? Rather optimistic of the Twins. The last Twins rookie to start a game in the postseason was Brian Duensing at Yankee Stadium in 2009. Duensing gave up five runs in four and two-thirds innings and his father was hit by a car outside the stadium (he was O.K.)." "The Yankees did not homer off Dobnak, but they wore him down with hard-hit singles and doubles. Twins Manager Rocco Baldelli hooked Dobnak after the Yankees loaded the bases with no outs in the third inning and turned to Tyler Duffey, a reliable reliever during the regular season. But Duffey was no better against the Yankees’ buzz-saw of a lineup, which began to pile on the runs." "The best-of-five series will shift to Minneapolis on Monday, with the Yankees one win away from clinching a berth in the A.L. Championship Series. And if the Twins cannot neutralize even the Yankees’ struggling hitters, they have little hope of extending their postseason." If you wonder what they wrote after game one - "Yankees fans, spoiled by 27 World Series trophies, might be frustrated by their team’s decade-long drought without adding another title. But consider the plight of Minnesota Twins fans when they learned of their team’s first-round postseason opponent. The Twins, who last won a World Series in 1991, have been eliminated in five of their six previous recent playoff appearances — in 2003, ’04, ’09, ’10 and ’17 — by the Yankees. In 15 postseason games between the two teams before this year, the Twins had won only twice — the first games of the American League division series in 2003 and 2004." "Interspersed between the blasts and runs, the dawdling game, which lasted 4 hours 15 minutes, featured 11 total relievers as both managers tried to navigate through the other’s potent lineup." I have nothing to add - let's just start by ending this losing streak! A moral victory is at least a victory.
  16. This was an article/idea that I wrote back originally back in 2013. I've updated it to include the changes MLB have already implemented, like removing the significance of the All-Star in the World Series Home Field Advantage. Back in 2013, I had been listening to the baseball commentators, reading ESPN, SI and MLB.com about the uneven schedules pertaining to having inter-league play everyday and how people don't seem to like it. Personally, I am not a fan of the inter-league play and would prefer having a balanced schedule between the leagues. Here is my proposed adjustment to the current league structure: I'm a big fan of having the pitcher hit for themselves (it makes the managers actually manage the game) but lets get real, it's time for the universal DH in both leagues. Here is my realignment of the divisions: 6 divisions of 5 teams is moved to 4 divisions of 8 teams. The alignment of teams would increase geographic rivalries (to a certain extent), hopefully making travel to opposing ballparks more appealing, increase attendance, decrease team travel and increasing bottom lines (since this is what the owners want in the end). The Divisions: "American League" North: Minnesota Twins, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians and Colorado Rockies West: San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, LA Dodgers, Anaheim Angels, Oakland A's, Arizona Diamondbacks, Seattle Mariners, and Vancouver BC (Proposed new team) "National League" South: Miami Marlins, Atlanta Braves, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, San Juan, Puerto Rico (Tampa Bay moves), and San Antonio, TX (Proposed new team) East: Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Toronto Blue Jays This alignment also expands the coverage of baseball more into Canada, which has a big baseball following, along with adding a team in Puerto Rico, a baseball rich area. I chose San Juan, Vancouver and San Antonio because of the the size of their markets and location need within the proposed league. These locations are all currently larger than the following MLB Markets: Milwaukee, Cleveland, Kansas City, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. The Playoffs: Playoffs would include the Top 2 teams from each division. The #1 (home) team (North) would play the opposing divisions #2 (away) team (West) and visa versa in a 5-game series (this would be the current "Wild Card Round"). The winners of their respective series would move onto the "AL or NL Championship Series Round." This series would include a 7-game series with teams playing for the American or National League Pennant along with a trip to the World Series. The World Series would remain the same, a 7-game series, as it currently is stands. With the team with the best overall regular season record determining the home-field advantage. This would be a big shake up to the current format of baseball but I believe this would have its advantages that fans, players and owners would enjoy. I understand that it currently eliminates the 2nd wild card team but lets not water down the playoffs with additional teams. In regards on how this proposed realignment would affect the Twins, I would say that it would not be in the best interest for them. Soley based on the 2017 results, this is where the Twins would have ended up to finish the season...not in the playoffs: Cleveland Indians - 102 Wins Chicago Cubs - 92 Wins Colorado Rockies - 87 Wins Milwaukee Brewers - 86 Wins Minnesota Twins - 85 Wins Cincinnati Reds - 68 Wins Chicago White Sox - 67 Wins Detroit Tigers - 64 Wins When we look at the payrolls for each of these organizations (Numbers from 2017 Opening Day) - we continue to fall towards the middle of the pack. Interesting to note that the team with the largest payroll also had the worst record in 2017. If the Twins were to raise their annual payroll to about $125 Million - would that help us climb this proposed standing? Detroit Tigers - $199 Million Chicago Cubs - $172 Million Colorado Rockies - $130 Million Cleveland Indians - $124 Million Minnesota Twins - $108 Million Chicago White Sox - $99 Million Cincinnati Reds - $93 Million Milwaukee Brewers - $63 Million The idea was to create discussion and have a little fun with hypotheticals. Would be interesting to see how the addition of the DH to the former national league teams would affect their overall record and if that would be a positive or negative to the Twins playoff hopes. Any thoughts or ideas to add?
  17. The Twins might be done for 2017, but the Supershow will never die! With Stubbs out of town, the boys invade New Thompson South. Dantez and Panda break down the 2017 post-season, reminisce about Glen Perkins’ major league career, machinate on what might happen with the 2018 Twins, and what games they’d love to see on a N64 Classic! You can find this show and all previous shows on Spreaker, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and Pocket Casts. Don’t forget to leave a like, comment, and share this with your friends and family! https://www.spreaker.com/user/the4dpodcastnetwork/twins-and-losses-supershow-episode-47-we
  18. On the season as a whole, Minnesota owns a 2-4 record and a -8 run differential against Joe Girardi’s squad. They did take the series at Target Field, but were swept on the road in September. A better road team over the full slate of games however, this group isn’t afraid to win anywhere. Without a full series, and realistically in a situation that benefits them, Minnesota will have to capitalize early and often to pull the upset. Here are a few areas for them to key on: Get to Severino- An All-Star in 2017, Luis Severino has had nothing short of an incredible year. With a 2.98 ERA and a 10.7 K/9, he’s among the best young pitchers in the game. Therein lies an opportunity as well. At 23 years old, a one-game Wild Card will be the biggest stage the youngster has ever pitched on. Going against Minnesota on September 20, he may have begun to tip his hand. Lit up for three runs on five hits in just 3.0 IP, it was his second shortest outing of the year. Across 71 pitches, he threw 35 fastballs, 28 sliders, and 8 changeups. With velocity being his game, Twins hitters were able to sit fastball, and tee off on the pitch. He didn’t give up much real hard contact, but Twins hitters were able to get decent launch angles on most of the balls they put in play. Knowing what’s behind him as far as Yankee arms go, working Severino and jumping out to an early lead is going to be a must. Score early and often- When Minnesota took the series from New York in Minnesota, it was on the backs of 4-2 and 6-1 victories. Both of those games saw the Twins score first, and neither of them ended up being a grind-it-out effort. While a one game situation allows teams to pull out all of the stops, turning it into a barnburner doesn’t favor Minnesota. On the year, Minnesota has scored the fifth most runs in MLB, and the Yankees trail only the Houston Astros. Playing for one run in any inning, especially early, is going to have the Twins beating themselves. With just 27 outs at their disposal, Paul Molitor will have to do everything he can to turn away from bunting and micro-managing the game. Realistically, the hometown nine don’t have the staying power that the Yankees do, and New York can get back into a game in a hurry (ask Bartolo Colon). Getting chunk innings, and continuing to add on will be a must for a victory. Control the pace- In the recent series with the Yankees, battery mates Ervin Santana and Jason Castro allowed New York to have their way on the bases. Knowing this same dup will be on the mound, expect Girardi to exploit whatever he saw that first go-around. Allowing New York runners to swipe extra bases is one issue, but the Twins will need to control the pace in general. The Yankees are one of the slowest playing teams in all of baseball. Being on the road already hurts momentum, but Minnesota will need to do what they can to harbor as much of it as possible. Strong defense and good at-bats can go a long way toward eventual run production. Play the percentages- Yes, the Yankees bullpen is significantly better than what the Twins have at their disposal. Minnesota will need to do what they can to avoid allowing that to make a difference. That being said, Molitor can use his best relievers to exploit Yankees hitters. There’s power up and down the New York lineup, but there is also plenty of strikeout potential. Using arms like Taylor Rogers, Ryan Pressly, Trevor Hildenberger, Alan Busenitz and Matt Belisle, Molitor should focus on putting opposing hitters in situations he wants them in. While not a traditional usage of a reliever, getting single outs at a time should be the goal. If there are opportunities that lend themselves to easier avenues in generating outs, take them. Over the course of a full season, a boatload of pitching changes is never going to be a welcome reality. Given the situation however, pulling out all of the stops is a must. Ideally, Ervin Santana throws a complete game shutout, but if and when he doesn’t, don’t be afraid to have an early hook. Entering Yankee Stadium, the Twins are playing with house money. This collection was not supposed to be here, and they won’t be favored at any point from here on out. While you can embrace the underdog narrative, the reality is that this group has the ability to make waves. They’ve shown that throughout the regular season, and whether it be a one-game playoff with the Yankees, or a full series with the Indians, any opponent welcoming this contingent with open arms is opening themselves up for disappointment.
  19. Halfway through the season it looked like the postseason was a distinct possibility. The Twins entered the All-Star break at 49-40, sending Glen Perkins and Brian Dozier to represent the team in Cincinnati. Perkins, a converted starter who was perfect in save situations up until that point, and Dozier, a converted shortstop who has been immaculate in the field and productive as the team’s leadoff man, were two shining examples of the Twins’ patience in developing prospects and adjusting on the fly. Additionally, Trevor Plouffe was mashing at the plate and handling the hot corner with ease, Aaron Hicks, Eddie Rosario and Torii Hunter had shored up the outfield, and the pitching staff — led by, ahem, Mike Pelfrey — was holding its own. The fact that Joe Mauer’s slow start was overshadowed by the team’s overall success told you everything you needed to know about the Twins up until that point. It was obvious at the trade deadline that Minnesota had to shore up a bullpen that was relying on Aaron Thompson, who had been sent down after two strong months, and a slew of other pitchers on the wrong side of 30 — Brian Duensing, Blaine Boyer and Casey Fien — to get by up until that point. Kurt Suzuki had regressed from his All-Star status last year, hitting .230 and having trouble throwing out runners and blocking stray pitches. The shortstop position was held together by a rotating cast of characters — Eduardo Escobar, Eduardo Nunez and Danny Santana. Still, the Twins had built a buffer between themselves and the rest of the AL, and if they got off to a good start to the second half, they might have even been able to challenge the Kansas City Royals for the division lead. Instead of vying for the AL Central title, the Twins now are in serious jeopardy of missing the playoffs, losing six series (and splitting one) since the All-Star break. Meanwhile, the Toronto Blue Jays revamped their roster by adding David Price and Troy Tulowitzki at the deadline and are now chasing the New York Yankees for the AL East crown. The Houston Astros are driving Twins fans mad, as they were similarly awful along the same timeline as Minnesota, but were declared future World Series champs by Sports Illustrated. They appear to be unfazed by the magazine’s hex, however, adding Scott Kazmir and Carlos Gomez at the deadline in an attempt to stave off Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the AL West. Even the Texas Rangers made a splash, acquiring Cole Hamels from the Philadelphia Phillies. With the Baltimore Orioles also in the mix for a wild card spot following a strong start to the second half, the Twins suddenly are on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture. They relinquished their wild card spot during their series in Toronto, which was infuriating to fans who watched the Blue Jays beef up their roster while the Twins made a relatively minor deal to get Kevin Jepsen, a decent reliever. But it wasn’t just the Jays who have turned Minnesota into a .500 team: The A’s beat them 14-1, the Angles 7-0, the Yankees 7-2, the Pirates 10-4, the Mariners 6-1, the Jays 9-3, the Indians 17-4 — essentially a route per series. And that’s not including New York coming from behind to win after being down 5-0 in game 2 of that series — a possible turning point in the season — or Minnesota losing 8-1 in Cleveland on Sunday. After that 17-4 loss, in which the Twins resorted to using Shane Robinson as a reliever despite a nine-man bullpen, many fans and pundits pronounced the team dead (including Cold Omaha’s Sam Ekstrom on The Wake Up Call). Depending on who you ask, Minnesota is either wasting money or not spending enough of it. In truth, the Twins were smart not to sell the farm at the deadline, allowing the team to keep its window of success open longer by not acting shortsightedly. Jose Berrios and Byron Buxton still have something to offer to this club, even if neither is a shortstop or catcher. And, really, Alex Meyer could provide a valuable arm in the pen next year even if at one point he was projected to be a top-of-the-rotation starter. When it comes to the bullpen, player development is holding back the Twins. Everyone knew that Duensing and Fien were aging last year, and Blaine Boyer, 34, was not a long-term solution. Hope resided in prospects like Nick Burdi, Zach Jones and, to a lesser extent, Tyler Jay. All three are in their 20s, all three have stuff, but none are close to surfacing as a major leaguer. Lester Oliveros, the player to be named later in the Delmon Young trade, is 27 but hasn’t pitched in the majors this year, and Michael Tonkin, a 30th round pick in 2008, has been given opportunity, but never stuck. At the major league level, Ryan Pressly and J.R. Graham will likely factor into the bullpen equation in the future, given that they have stuff and are in the prime of their careers, but both need to prove they can be reliable in high-leverage situations. Ryan O’Rourke is a lefty-killer who could become a value pick (13th round, 2010), as could A.J. Achter (46th round, 2010) if they can stick in the majors. All four players are in their mid-20’s. Perkins, 32, likely will be the exception to the rule in that he should pitch well into his 30’s, and appears to be getting out the rut he was in following the All-Star break. While the bullpen should be able to be fixed internally, the Twins will likely have to go outside the organization to fill their need at catcher. Josmil Pinto is battling concussion symptoms and wasn’t a great defensive player to begin with. Chris Herrmann has shown flashes, but hasn’t been consistent enough to challenge for the starting job, and Suzuki has regressed — likely due, at least in part, to the heavy beating he’s taken at that position over the years. Minnesota could build support in the offseason by acquiring Matt Wieters, the Orioles catcher who likely will be available in free agency, but offering a large contract to a 6-foot-5, 29-year-old catcher runs the same risk they had with Mauer — he gets hurt or wears down and ends up at first base for the last half of the deal. The Twins may have to take that risk, however, given that the second-best catching prospect in the organization, outside of Pinto, is Mitch Garver: a 24 year old in High-A. Whether or not the shortstop solution comes from within the organization is up for debate. Minnesota appears to be grooming Jorge Polanco for the position, but whether or not he will stick at shortstop is up for debate. “That will be up to him,” says Ryan. “A done deal? Well, we thought Plouffe was a done deal once, and we thought Cuddyer was a done deal once. You know it’s up to the player: Can you handle it or can you not?” If Polanco doesn’t end up being a major league shortstop — a la Dozier and Plouffe — in the near future, Minnesota will end up having to go outside for that position, too. There’s always an outside chance that Nunez, Escobar or Santana make a second-half surge, but given the amount of playing time they’ve had and the fact that none of them has taken over a spot that’s clearly up for grabs, that seems unlikely. The pitching staff has struggled lately, but Minnesota can’t afford to use more resources there. Pelfrey will likely be off the books next year, and the team must hold out hope that Nolasco will be better when healthy. Trevor May should be back in the rotation, and Berrios hopefully will challenge for a spot — creating a culture of competition that should be good for the rest of the players on the staff. As far as whether or not this season will be deemed a success, playoff berth or not, that’s probably best judged in the years to come. As much as Twins fans have become impatient after four 90-loss seasons — and reasonably so — there’s reason to believe that the best has yet to come. The pitching staff isn’t this bad. The outfield is suddenly stacked. There’re young arms to replenish the bullpen. The Twins constantly claim that money is not an issue, which should mean they’ll invest in a catcher, at the very least, in the offseason. Mauer’s inability to catch will be overlooked if the team is winning, he’s productive with the bat, and there’s a premier free agent to help out behind the plate. Keep in mind, most people that follow the Twins thought this would be a 75-win season. It was a logical conclusion, one that would show the team was moving in the right direction. Instead they’ve increased expectations — not a bad thing by any means — and must live up to them. Because, even though 75 wins is an improvement from where the Twins were, the goal, as always, should be to play meaningful games throughout the year. “As everybody in this game should be pointing towards the playoffs, we are too,” Ryan said back in November. “I expect to get into the playoffs every year. Why [else] should we take the diamond?” This article was originally published on the Cold Omaha section of 105TheTicket.com. Follow Tom on Twitter @tschreier3.
  20. I’m trying to be realistic. Our expectations in that clubhouse should be to make the postseason. — Twins GM Terry Ryan, 11/4/14 The Minnesota Twins set the tone shortly after hiring Paul Molitor as Ron Gardenhire’s successor. Molitor came out and said that he wanted to win immediately, general manager Terry Ryan said that he expected the team to make the postseason: This after four-straight 90-loss seasons, but before the signing of Ervin Santana and Torii Hunter. “I’m coming here to win,” said Molitor back in November. “I think that it’s very important to lay that out there, right from the start.” Halfway through the season it looked like the postseason was a distinct possibility. The Twins entered the All-Star Break at 49-40, sending Glen Perkins and Brian Dozier to represent the team in Cincinnati. Perkins, a converted starter who was perfect in save situations up until that point, and Dozier, a converted shortstop who has been immaculate in the field and productive as the team’s leadoff man, were two shining examples of the Twins’ patience in developing prospects and adjusting on the fly. Additionally, Trevor Plouffe was mashing at the plate and handling the hot corner with ease, Aaron Hicks, Eddie Rosario and Torii Hunter had shored up the outfield, and the pitching staff — led by, ahem, Mike Pelfrey — was holding their own. The fact that Joe Mauer’s slow start was overshadowed by the team’s overall success told you everything you needed to know about the Twins up until that point. It was obvious at the trade deadline that Minnesota had to shore up a bullpen that was relying on Aaron Thompson, who had been sent down after two strong months, and a slew of other pitchers on the wrong side of 30 — Brian Duensing, Blaine Boyer and Casey Fien — to get by up until that point. Kurt Suzuki had regressed from his All-Star status last year, hitting .230 and having trouble throwing out runners and blocking stray pitches, and the shortstop position was held together by a rotating cast of characters — Eduardo Escobar, Eduardo Nunez and Danny Santana. Still, the Twins had built a buffer between themselves and the rest of the AL, and if they got off to a good start to the second half, they might have even been able to challenge the Kansas City Royals for the division lead. Instead of potentially vying for the AL Central title, the Twins now are in serious jeopardy of missing the playoffs, losing six series (and splitting one) since the All-Star Break. Meanwhile, the Toronto Blue Jays revamped their roster by adding David Price and Troy Tulowitzki at the deadline and are now chasing the New York Yankees for the AL East crown. The Houston Astros are driving Twins fans mad, as they were similarly awful along the same timeline as Minnesota, but were declared future World Series champs by Sports Illustrated. They appear to be unfazed by the magazine’s hex, however, adding Scott Kazmir and Carlos Gomez at the deadline in an attempt to stave off Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the AL West. Even the Texas Rangers made a splash, acquiring Cole Hamels from the Philadelphia Phillies. With the Baltimore Orioles also in the mix for a Wild Card spot following a strong start to the second half, the Twins suddenly are on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture. They relinquished their Wild Card spot during their series in Toronto, which was infuriating to fans who watched the Blue Jays beef up their roster while the Twins made a relatively minor deal to get Kevin Jepsen, a decent reliever. But it wasn’t just the Jays who have turned Minnesota into a .500 team: The A’s beat them 14-1, the Angles 7-0, the Yankees 7-2, the Pirates 10-4, the Mariners 6-1, the Jays 9-3, the Indians 17-4 — essentially a route per series. And that’s not including New York coming from behind to win after being down 5-0 in Game 2 of that series — a possible turning point in the season — or Minnesota losing 8-1 in Cleveland on Sunday. After that 17-4 loss, in which the Twins resorted to using Shane Robinson as a reliever despite a nine-man bullpen, many fans and pundits pronounced the team dead (including Cold Omaha’s Sam Ekstrom on The Wake Up Call). Depending on who you ask, Minnesota is either wasting money or not spending enough of it. In truth, the Twins were smart not to sell the farm at the deadline, allowing the team to keep its window of success open longer by not acting shortsightedly. Jose Berrios and Byron Buxton still have something to offer to this club, even if they are not a shortstop or catcher. And, really, Alex Meyer could provide a valuable arm in the pen next year even if at one point he was projected to be a top-of-the-rotation starter. When it comes to the bullpen, player development is holding back the Twins. Everyone knew that Duensing and Fien were aging last year, and Blaine Boyer, 34, was not a long-term solution. Hope resided in prospects like Nick Burdi, Zach Jones and, to a lesser extent, Tyler Jay. All three are in their 20s, all three have stuff, but none are close to surfacing as a major leaguer. Lester Oliveros, the player to be named later in the Delmon Young trade, is 27 but hasn’t pitched in the majors this year, and Michael Tonkin, a 30th round pick in 2008, has been given opportunity, but never stuck. At the major league level, Ryan Pressly and J.R. Graham will likely factor into the bullpen equation in the future, given that they have stuff and are in the prime of their careers, but both need to prove they can be reliable in high-leverage situations. Ryan O’Rourke is a lefty-killer who could become a value pick (13th round, 2010), as could A.J. Achter (46th round, 2010) if they can stick in the majors. All four players are in their mid-20’s. Perkins, 32, likely will be the exception to the rule in that he should pitch well into his 30’s, and appears to be getting out the rut he was in following the All-Star Break. While the bullpen should be able to be fixed internally, the Twins will likely have to go outside the organization to fill their need at catcher. Josmil Pinto is battling concussion symptoms and wasn’t a great defensive player to begin with. Chris Herrmann has shown flashes, but hasn’t been consistent enough to challenge for the starting job, and Suzuki has regressed — likely due, at least in part, to the heavy beating he’s taken at that position over the years. Minnesota could build support in the offseason by acquiring Matt Wieters, the Orioles catcher who likely will be available in free agency, but offering a large contract to a 6-foot-5, 29-year-old catcher runs the same risk they had with Mauer — he gets hurt or wears down and ends up at first base for the last half of the deal. The Twins may have to take that risk, however, given that the second-best catching prospect in the organization, outside of Pinto, is Mitch Garver: a 24 year old in High-A. Whether or not the shortstop solution comes from within the organization is up for debate. Minnesota appears to be grooming Jorge Polanco for the position, but whether or not he will stick at shortstop is up for debate. “That will be up to him,” says Ryan. “A done deal? Well, we thought Plouffe was a done deal once, and we thought Cuddyer was a done deal once. You know it’s up to the player: Can you handle it or can you not?” If Polanco doesn’t end up being a major league shortstop — a la Dozier and Plouffe — in the near future, Minnesota will end up having to go to the outside for that position, too. There’s always an outside chance that Nunez, Escobar or Santana make a second-half surge, but given the amount of playing time they’ve had and the fact that none of them has taken over a spot that’s clearly up for grabs, that seems unlikely. The pitching staff has struggled lately, but Minnesota can’t afford to use more resources there. Pelfrey will likely be off the books next year, and the team must hold out hope that Nolasco will be better when healthy. Trevor May should be back in the rotation, and Berrios hopefully will challenge for a spot — creating a culture of competition that should be good for the rest of the players on the staff. As far as whether or not this season will be deemed a success, playoff berth or not, that’s probably best judged in the years to come. As much as Twins fans have become impatient after four 90-loss seasons — and reasonably so — there’s reason to believe that the best has yet to come. The pitching staff isn’t this bad. The outfield is suddenly stacked. There’s young arms to replenish the bullpen. The Twins constantly claim that money is not an issue, which should mean they’ll invest in a catcher, at the very least, in the offseason. Mauer’s inability to catch will become overlooked if the team is winning, he’s productive with the bat, and there’s a premier free agent to help out behind the plate. Keep in mind, most people that follow the Twins thought this would be a 75-win season. It was a logical conclusion, one that would show the team was moving in the right direction. Instead they’ve increased expectations — not a bad thing by any means — and must live up to them. Because even though 75 wins is an improvement from where the Twins were, the goal, as always, should be to play meaningful games throughout the year. “As everybody in this game should be pointing towards the playoffs, we are too,” Ryan said back in November. “I expect to get into the playoffs every year. Why [else] should we take the diamond?” This article was originally published on the Cold Omaha section of 105TheTicket.com. Follow Tom on Twitter @tschreier3.
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