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  1. Maybe this is a spoiler alert, but the answer should be “absolutely not!” The pinnacle of the sport is obviously a World Series, but to place that as the goal each season would be suggesting anything but an outcome afforded to one of thirty teams as a failure. Minnesota’s front office put a strong step forward at the trade deadline and to the club both for now and the future. In doing so, they’re still lightyears behind a Dodgers roster that has already surpassed 70 wins. Would it have been better to hang onto prospects and simply play for next year? Maybe Spencer Steer plays above his head and becomes the next Nolan Arenado. Maybe Cade Povich reaches the 200th percentile expectation and is the next Max Scherzer. None of that is likely, but it’s arguably as silly as worry about style points. It’s not the Twins fault that they play in the AL Central. Currently, the division is expected to be won by a team with somewhere around 84 victories. That’s just two above a .500 mark, and well below what the New York Yankees of the world will finish at. The Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Guardians continue to jockey for position alongside Minnesota, although no one has wanted to take a stranglehold on the lead. Minnesota isn’t alone in this pursuit. Both the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals find themselves in similar scenarios within the NL Central. That division has three of the worst teams in baseball however, a run down even from the American League counterpart. Frustrations certainly reign for both of those clubs as well, but the focus is on making it to October. At no point in their future history will the Twins be seen as a World Series favorite. They can be a team that contends for one though, and half the battle in doing so is making the tournament. The 2021 Atlanta Braves won the World Series coming off a season in which they finished with just 88 regular season wins. They then went 11-5 in the Postseason, winning three consecutive series, and grabbing their ring. Better teams existed, but they were the one that got it done. Ultimately what happens against the Dodgers on a random weeknight holds little weight when it comes to a final resting place. You don’t need to play the game in order to be aware New York, Los Angeles, or any host of other clubs have a better roster than the Twins. The games are played though, because on any given night, a different outcome can take place. Rocco Baldelli’s club faces the Cleveland Guardians and Chicago White Sox a combined 17 times after September 1. We still have a few weeks left in August for teams to jockey for position, but nothing is going to be decided until next month anyway. Evaluating games daily makes sense from a performance perspective. Suggesting each one is reflective of eventual outcomes when viewed through a vacuum isn’t a worthwhile practice. The Twins need to get Trevor Larnach, Kenta Maeda, Josh Winder, and Bailey Ober back. They need to continue to gel and have Tyler Mahle look like an ace with Sonny Gray following behind him. They need the lineup to work consistently with Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton leading them. Over the duration of the next few weeks, Minnesota’s goal should be to stack wins, same as any other period. The reality though, is that there are no style points to reaching the Postseason. Get there. Get it done. That’s the message sent by the front office when they added at the deadline.
  2. The Minnesota Twins were granted an off day after the Toronto Blue Jays were gifted a win on a controversial play. They parlayed that into an absolute drubbing at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers. While that’s understandable going on the road against the best team in baseball, the reactions warrant the question, “Does it really matter how Minnesota gets in?” Maybe this is a spoiler alert, but the answer should be “absolutely not!” The pinnacle of the sport is obviously a World Series, but to place that as the goal each season would be suggesting anything but an outcome afforded to one of thirty teams as a failure. Minnesota’s front office put a strong step forward at the trade deadline and to the club both for now and the future. In doing so, they’re still lightyears behind a Dodgers roster that has already surpassed 70 wins. Would it have been better to hang onto prospects and simply play for next year? Maybe Spencer Steer plays above his head and becomes the next Nolan Arenado. Maybe Cade Povich reaches the 200th percentile expectation and is the next Max Scherzer. None of that is likely, but it’s arguably as silly as worry about style points. It’s not the Twins fault that they play in the AL Central. Currently, the division is expected to be won by a team with somewhere around 84 victories. That’s just two above a .500 mark, and well below what the New York Yankees of the world will finish at. The Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Guardians continue to jockey for position alongside Minnesota, although no one has wanted to take a stranglehold on the lead. Minnesota isn’t alone in this pursuit. Both the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals find themselves in similar scenarios within the NL Central. That division has three of the worst teams in baseball however, a run down even from the American League counterpart. Frustrations certainly reign for both of those clubs as well, but the focus is on making it to October. At no point in their future history will the Twins be seen as a World Series favorite. They can be a team that contends for one though, and half the battle in doing so is making the tournament. The 2021 Atlanta Braves won the World Series coming off a season in which they finished with just 88 regular season wins. They then went 11-5 in the Postseason, winning three consecutive series, and grabbing their ring. Better teams existed, but they were the one that got it done. Ultimately what happens against the Dodgers on a random weeknight holds little weight when it comes to a final resting place. You don’t need to play the game in order to be aware New York, Los Angeles, or any host of other clubs have a better roster than the Twins. The games are played though, because on any given night, a different outcome can take place. Rocco Baldelli’s club faces the Cleveland Guardians and Chicago White Sox a combined 17 times after September 1. We still have a few weeks left in August for teams to jockey for position, but nothing is going to be decided until next month anyway. Evaluating games daily makes sense from a performance perspective. Suggesting each one is reflective of eventual outcomes when viewed through a vacuum isn’t a worthwhile practice. The Twins need to get Trevor Larnach, Kenta Maeda, Josh Winder, and Bailey Ober back. They need to continue to gel and have Tyler Mahle look like an ace with Sonny Gray following behind him. They need the lineup to work consistently with Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton leading them. Over the duration of the next few weeks, Minnesota’s goal should be to stack wins, same as any other period. The reality though, is that there are no style points to reaching the Postseason. Get there. Get it done. That’s the message sent by the front office when they added at the deadline. View full article
  3. Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli was livid over a ridiculous overturned call on a play at the plate in extra innings of today's game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Here are some of Baldelli's comments as well as several highlights of the play, a reaction from a Twins fan on the call and discussion on the home plate collision rules. View full video
  4. Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli was livid over a ridiculous overturned call on a play at the plate in extra innings of today's game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Here are some of Baldelli's comments as well as several highlights of the play, a reaction from a Twins fan on the call and discussion on the home plate collision rules.
  5. Last season, the Minnesota Twins watched as promising young slugger Alex Kirilloff had his power sapped due to a nagging wrist issue. Unfortunately, it never corrected itself and he underwent season-ending surgery. After a slow start again this year, he was jettisoned to Triple-A. After working through it, a fresh start was earned, but now we’re again back in the same place. For now, the Twins have yet to place Alex Kirilloff on the injured list, but Rocco Baldelli indicated he would be re-evaluated prior to Minnesota facing the Detroit Tigers, and that the pain had gotten to the point where Kirilloff could again not swing a bat. When he was demoted to Triple-A earlier this season, Kirilloff owned a paltry .172/.226/.172 slash line. It was just a 10-game sample size, but he had zero extra-base hits and a 12/1 K/BB. By any statistical measure, it was a nightmare start. Considering last season's surgery was supposed to do the trick, it’s becoming increasingly worrisome that despite a recent check-in to suggest things were physically fine, he’s unable to perform to the fullest extent. Back in April, it was reported that Kirilloff had shut down his offseason training program due to pain, but was good to go to start Spring Training in March. Prior to playing for the Saints, Kirilloff received a cortisone shot in mid-April. That’s been largely a route for pain management rather than actually fixing the issue, so it always remained curious as to when this problem could again flare up. Returning to the Twins in mid-June, Kirilloff played 13 games for Minnesota throughout the month and posted a .790 OPS. The batting average was there, but he generated just six extra-base hits including only a single home run. The month of July went even worse, unfortunately. A .254/.303/.366 slash line suggested that the ability to drive the baseball was again all but gone. Kirilloff had just four extra-base hits in 21 games last month, split between doubles and homers. There does seem to be some understanding of his limitations while Kirilloff continues to utilize the whole field when facing opposing pitchers. If his wrist doesn’t allow for consistent forearm strength against velocity, utilizing the opposite field makes a ton of sense. He hasn’t been entirely pull happy since his return, and whether by design or happenstance, that’s a plan that can work. The problem for both Kirilloff and Minnesota is that this outcome saps production and so much of the value in his game as a whole. He’s not a defensive stalwart, even at first base where he should find a home, and being a singles hitter is not who he strives to be. Kirilloff has basically never been able to flash the power potential he provides due to lacking health from the moment he’s arrived in Minnesota. Where both parties go from here remains to be seen. During the season Minnesota’s goal was certainly to have the slugger available to him. He’s also been told through additional imaging that things remain status quo. There’s no reason to cut his hand open for the sake of doing so, but any number of new opinions must be sought in order to find the root issue. Give it to Kirilloff for attempting to play through the problem and seeking a better outcome. Both sides can try to limp this thing through the Postseason in hopes of finding whatever value there is to be had, but this isn’t something that can go on forever. For now, Minnesota has virtually never seen a fully healthy Alex Kirilloff at the Major League level, and the more this cycle goes on one has to wonder if we ever will. View full article
  6. For now, the Twins have yet to place Alex Kirilloff on the injured list, but Rocco Baldelli indicated he would be re-evaluated prior to Minnesota facing the Detroit Tigers, and that the pain had gotten to the point where Kirilloff could again not swing a bat. When he was demoted to Triple-A earlier this season, Kirilloff owned a paltry .172/.226/.172 slash line. It was just a 10-game sample size, but he had zero extra-base hits and a 12/1 K/BB. By any statistical measure, it was a nightmare start. Considering last season's surgery was supposed to do the trick, it’s becoming increasingly worrisome that despite a recent check-in to suggest things were physically fine, he’s unable to perform to the fullest extent. Back in April, it was reported that Kirilloff had shut down his offseason training program due to pain, but was good to go to start Spring Training in March. Prior to playing for the Saints, Kirilloff received a cortisone shot in mid-April. That’s been largely a route for pain management rather than actually fixing the issue, so it always remained curious as to when this problem could again flare up. Returning to the Twins in mid-June, Kirilloff played 13 games for Minnesota throughout the month and posted a .790 OPS. The batting average was there, but he generated just six extra-base hits including only a single home run. The month of July went even worse, unfortunately. A .254/.303/.366 slash line suggested that the ability to drive the baseball was again all but gone. Kirilloff had just four extra-base hits in 21 games last month, split between doubles and homers. There does seem to be some understanding of his limitations while Kirilloff continues to utilize the whole field when facing opposing pitchers. If his wrist doesn’t allow for consistent forearm strength against velocity, utilizing the opposite field makes a ton of sense. He hasn’t been entirely pull happy since his return, and whether by design or happenstance, that’s a plan that can work. The problem for both Kirilloff and Minnesota is that this outcome saps production and so much of the value in his game as a whole. He’s not a defensive stalwart, even at first base where he should find a home, and being a singles hitter is not who he strives to be. Kirilloff has basically never been able to flash the power potential he provides due to lacking health from the moment he’s arrived in Minnesota. Where both parties go from here remains to be seen. During the season Minnesota’s goal was certainly to have the slugger available to him. He’s also been told through additional imaging that things remain status quo. There’s no reason to cut his hand open for the sake of doing so, but any number of new opinions must be sought in order to find the root issue. Give it to Kirilloff for attempting to play through the problem and seeking a better outcome. Both sides can try to limp this thing through the Postseason in hopes of finding whatever value there is to be had, but this isn’t something that can go on forever. For now, Minnesota has virtually never seen a fully healthy Alex Kirilloff at the Major League level, and the more this cycle goes on one has to wonder if we ever will.
  7. Following a tilt against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 30, the Minnesota Twins announced first baseman Miguel Sano had a torn meniscus and would undergo knee surgery. He returned following the maximum rehab assignment and now is again back on the injured list after just three games. Is this the end of the line? Although Miguel Sano spent the maximum 20 days on the injured list, he played in just 12 games. The Twins curiously had part of his rehab assignment take place during the All-Star Break which ate up time that Sano could’ve gotten in at bats. Regardless, he performed extremely well on the farm, slashing .333/.422/.795 split across a few Complex League games and Triple-A. Relegated to the back-end of Minnesota’s lineup, Sano got in just six at-bats before returning to the injured list. Drawing two starts but playing just one complete game, it’s clear Rocco Baldelli sees the slugger as little more than a revolving piece at this point. Sano was hitless in his return to action and posted four strikeouts without generating a walk. There’s no denying that the front office took as much time as they could to look at options before activating Sano. It appeared a possible DFA was on the table, and that would’ve left the Twins on the hook for the remaining $7 million or so on his deal. In a perfect world, they’d find a trade partner to offload his remaining commitment, but there’s just little reason for anyone to pay for Minnesota’s anchor of an expense. So now it remains to be seen what an eventual timeline for a return to play looks like, but it’s hard not to imagine this being the end of the road. We’re into August and the 26-man roster needs to be best positioned for a Postseason run. Gilberto Celestino was optioned to make room for Sano initially, but it’s hard to argue he’s not of more value as a fourth outfielder. Even though Alex Kirilloff is hurt and that takes away an option at first base, the Twins have developed other depth there in the form of Jose Miranda and Luis Arraez. If the timeline is short, and it probably won’t be considering the previous handling of the same injury for Sano, a decision would need to be made as to how he factors back in. Another rehab stint could happen, but that would just be delaying the inevitable. If a return can happen in something like 10 days, Sano could find himself as an option given the health of the current roster. Even then, however, that DFA from before could again rear its head. Maybe Minnesota would rather not end this era of such a highly prized prospect on a whimper, but it didn’t seem to deter them before. Across 694 games with the Twins during his eight-year career in the big leagues, Sano has blasted 162 home runs. There’s been highs and lows, but I think it’s probably safe to assume this is where it ends. Should he not play another game in a Minnesota uniform, what would register as some of your favorite memories for the Dominican product that sparked an entire documentary and put the Twins farm system on the map? View full article
  8. Although Miguel Sano spent the maximum 20 days on the injured list, he played in just 12 games. The Twins curiously had part of his rehab assignment take place during the All-Star Break which ate up time that Sano could’ve gotten in at bats. Regardless, he performed extremely well on the farm, slashing .333/.422/.795 split across a few Complex League games and Triple-A. Relegated to the back-end of Minnesota’s lineup, Sano got in just six at-bats before returning to the injured list. Drawing two starts but playing just one complete game, it’s clear Rocco Baldelli sees the slugger as little more than a revolving piece at this point. Sano was hitless in his return to action and posted four strikeouts without generating a walk. There’s no denying that the front office took as much time as they could to look at options before activating Sano. It appeared a possible DFA was on the table, and that would’ve left the Twins on the hook for the remaining $7 million or so on his deal. In a perfect world, they’d find a trade partner to offload his remaining commitment, but there’s just little reason for anyone to pay for Minnesota’s anchor of an expense. So now it remains to be seen what an eventual timeline for a return to play looks like, but it’s hard not to imagine this being the end of the road. We’re into August and the 26-man roster needs to be best positioned for a Postseason run. Gilberto Celestino was optioned to make room for Sano initially, but it’s hard to argue he’s not of more value as a fourth outfielder. Even though Alex Kirilloff is hurt and that takes away an option at first base, the Twins have developed other depth there in the form of Jose Miranda and Luis Arraez. If the timeline is short, and it probably won’t be considering the previous handling of the same injury for Sano, a decision would need to be made as to how he factors back in. Another rehab stint could happen, but that would just be delaying the inevitable. If a return can happen in something like 10 days, Sano could find himself as an option given the health of the current roster. Even then, however, that DFA from before could again rear its head. Maybe Minnesota would rather not end this era of such a highly prized prospect on a whimper, but it didn’t seem to deter them before. Across 694 games with the Twins during his eight-year career in the big leagues, Sano has blasted 162 home runs. There’s been highs and lows, but I think it’s probably safe to assume this is where it ends. Should he not play another game in a Minnesota uniform, what would register as some of your favorite memories for the Dominican product that sparked an entire documentary and put the Twins farm system on the map?
  9. A manager's decision to pull a starting pitcher or squeeze another inning out of them is often criticized. Rocco Baldelli, who tends to pull pitchers quickly, is no exception. But what goes into that decision and how should we assess the effectiveness of Baldelli's quick hook? The above graph shows OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) against each starting pitcher separated by times through the order. So for example, it shows that hitters have a 0.786 OPS when hitting against Joe Ryan for the second time in a game. The size of the points indicate fraction of pitches. Chris Archer has only pitched to 10 hitters for a third time in a game (mercifully, it seems). The pattern for most pitchers is clear: the scales tip toward the batter with each successive time through the lineup. So for Rocco Baldelli, the urge to call on the bullpen should strengthen each time opposing lineups turn over. For comparison's sake, consider the group of middle relievers comprised of Tyler Duffey, Caleb Thielbar, Emilio Pagán, Jovani Moran, and Trevor Megill. That group has an OPS against of 0.636. So while turning to the bullpen often has not been pretty, it's still a much better option than having the likes of Chris Archer, Dylan Bundy, or Devin Smeltzer face a hitter for a 3rd time. View full article
  10. The above graph shows OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) against each starting pitcher separated by times through the order. So for example, it shows that hitters have a 0.786 OPS when hitting against Joe Ryan for the second time in a game. The size of the points indicate fraction of pitches. Chris Archer has only pitched to 10 hitters for a third time in a game (mercifully, it seems). The pattern for most pitchers is clear: the scales tip toward the batter with each successive time through the lineup. So for Rocco Baldelli, the urge to call on the bullpen should strengthen each time opposing lineups turn over. For comparison's sake, consider the group of middle relievers comprised of Tyler Duffey, Caleb Thielbar, Emilio Pagán, Jovani Moran, and Trevor Megill. That group has an OPS against of 0.636. So while turning to the bullpen often has not been pretty, it's still a much better option than having the likes of Chris Archer, Dylan Bundy, or Devin Smeltzer face a hitter for a 3rd time.
  11. In game one against the New York Yankees this season the Minnesota Twins had gone back and forth with a foe so dominant of them it’s been comical. In the 7th inning another ugly moment reared its head and manager Rocco Baldelli was forced to defend a decision made on his reliever Tyler Duffey. Following a big answer from second baseman Jorge Polanco in the bottom of the 5th inning, Minnesota was trailing by just a single run. After Juan Minaya and Yennier Cano bridged the game to that point, Tyler Duffey was tasked with facing Jose Trevino, Joey Gallo, and D.J. LeMahieu in the 7th inning. To set the stage, all of Minnesota’s best relievers including Jhoan Duran, Joe Smith, and Emilio Pagan were available and rested. Tyler Duffey has arguably been the worst of the group in the bullpen this season, and issued a single and a walk before Anthony Rizzo stepped in. Despite having two outs in the inning, Duffey appeared shaky. He nibbled around Gallo, and put LeMahieu on second with a wild pitch. Then he intentionally walked Judge after getting to a three-ball count. If there was a point to second guess the move to give him the inning, this was it, but it also goes against everything Minnesota has practiced in recent seasons. Asked following the game by MLB.com’s Do-Young Park, Rocco Baldelli explained that trailing in the middle innings just simply isn’t a leverage situation by Minnesota’s standards. He said, “We play a lot of close ballgames. It feels like we’re in close ballgames most games in those spots. If we treat games where we’re down as if we’re up, then when we are up we’re not going to have the pitchers that we really want setup to throw in those games. It doesn’t always feel satisfying at times and that’s fine. But we have guys like Duran and Pagan who've thrown late in a lot of games and Joe Smith, those guys have pitched mainly in games where we’re winning and we want them to be available and ready to finish ballgames when the time comes.” Deep breath, exhale, Duffey serves up a three-run shot to Anthony Rizzo effectively ending any chance for Minnesota to mount a comeback. The opportunity to win never presented itself as the opportunity not to lose wasn’t capitalized on. There’s room for debate as to what should have happened, but the question becomes, what should the process be going forward? Minnesota plays a lot of consistently evident situations analytically. In regards to the bullpen, as Baldelli stated, their horses don’t pitch without a lead to protect. On the infield dirt, it’s routine to see the fielders play in, even early in a game, to cut down a run at the plate. Platoon advantages throughout the lineup are present often. It’s not to say this organization and team is run by a computer, but rather that data drives many decisions with the understanding that numbers normalize over time. Unfortunately for Baldelli, and we’ve seen this in previous years as well, sometimes the decision comes down to a 50/50 coin flip on which he is consistently seeing the wrong side of. With regards to this specific situation, the bullpen, there’s two competing thought processes at play for Minnesota. The Twins have next to no reliable middle relief help right now. Minaya was DFA’d following the Yankees loss, and Cano has been erratic at best. Duffey isn’t close to what he was a couple of years ago, and Caleb Thielbar hasn’t seen the results that his advanced metrics are there. Whether leading or not, Minnesota has nearly no one to turn to when looking for a bridge to the back of the pen. On the flip side, while playing close games with a lineup capable of damage, it’s worth wondering how often a hypothetical opportunity never presents itself because the gap is widened. Had one of the horses entered in the 7th inning down by a run and slammed the door, what kind of momentum is generated to recoup the single run and take a lead. Without that process ever being explored, it’s hard to suggest a definitive answer. Ultimately the Twins are strapped in relief. On a nightly basis they don’t have a bullpen that can make up for starters going just five innings or less. Winning or losing, Duran, Smith, and Pagan can’t be expected to lock down three innings something like five times per week. There has to be help brought in, both for the rotation and bullpen, but it may also be time Baldelli and Wes Johnson consider protecting the opportunity in front of them rather than just the potential one they may never see. Share your thoughts below. How would you handle pitching from behind in a close game? View full article
  12. Following a big answer from second baseman Jorge Polanco in the bottom of the 5th inning, Minnesota was trailing by just a single run. After Juan Minaya and Yennier Cano bridged the game to that point, Tyler Duffey was tasked with facing Jose Trevino, Joey Gallo, and D.J. LeMahieu in the 7th inning. To set the stage, all of Minnesota’s best relievers including Jhoan Duran, Joe Smith, and Emilio Pagan were available and rested. Tyler Duffey has arguably been the worst of the group in the bullpen this season, and issued a single and a walk before Anthony Rizzo stepped in. Despite having two outs in the inning, Duffey appeared shaky. He nibbled around Gallo, and put LeMahieu on second with a wild pitch. Then he intentionally walked Judge after getting to a three-ball count. If there was a point to second guess the move to give him the inning, this was it, but it also goes against everything Minnesota has practiced in recent seasons. Asked following the game by MLB.com’s Do-Young Park, Rocco Baldelli explained that trailing in the middle innings just simply isn’t a leverage situation by Minnesota’s standards. He said, “We play a lot of close ballgames. It feels like we’re in close ballgames most games in those spots. If we treat games where we’re down as if we’re up, then when we are up we’re not going to have the pitchers that we really want setup to throw in those games. It doesn’t always feel satisfying at times and that’s fine. But we have guys like Duran and Pagan who've thrown late in a lot of games and Joe Smith, those guys have pitched mainly in games where we’re winning and we want them to be available and ready to finish ballgames when the time comes.” Deep breath, exhale, Duffey serves up a three-run shot to Anthony Rizzo effectively ending any chance for Minnesota to mount a comeback. The opportunity to win never presented itself as the opportunity not to lose wasn’t capitalized on. There’s room for debate as to what should have happened, but the question becomes, what should the process be going forward? Minnesota plays a lot of consistently evident situations analytically. In regards to the bullpen, as Baldelli stated, their horses don’t pitch without a lead to protect. On the infield dirt, it’s routine to see the fielders play in, even early in a game, to cut down a run at the plate. Platoon advantages throughout the lineup are present often. It’s not to say this organization and team is run by a computer, but rather that data drives many decisions with the understanding that numbers normalize over time. Unfortunately for Baldelli, and we’ve seen this in previous years as well, sometimes the decision comes down to a 50/50 coin flip on which he is consistently seeing the wrong side of. With regards to this specific situation, the bullpen, there’s two competing thought processes at play for Minnesota. The Twins have next to no reliable middle relief help right now. Minaya was DFA’d following the Yankees loss, and Cano has been erratic at best. Duffey isn’t close to what he was a couple of years ago, and Caleb Thielbar hasn’t seen the results that his advanced metrics are there. Whether leading or not, Minnesota has nearly no one to turn to when looking for a bridge to the back of the pen. On the flip side, while playing close games with a lineup capable of damage, it’s worth wondering how often a hypothetical opportunity never presents itself because the gap is widened. Had one of the horses entered in the 7th inning down by a run and slammed the door, what kind of momentum is generated to recoup the single run and take a lead. Without that process ever being explored, it’s hard to suggest a definitive answer. Ultimately the Twins are strapped in relief. On a nightly basis they don’t have a bullpen that can make up for starters going just five innings or less. Winning or losing, Duran, Smith, and Pagan can’t be expected to lock down three innings something like five times per week. There has to be help brought in, both for the rotation and bullpen, but it may also be time Baldelli and Wes Johnson consider protecting the opportunity in front of them rather than just the potential one they may never see. Share your thoughts below. How would you handle pitching from behind in a close game?
  13. Recently, reporters questioned Rocco's decision to pull starter Devin Smeltzer after 80 pitches and 7 innings of scoreless baseball. Despite the success over the first 2 months of the season, that response is worrisome for his long-term outlook for the Minnesota Twins and just confirms what the Rocco doubters have been saying since 2019.
  14. Recently, reporters questioned Rocco's decision to pull starter Devin Smeltzer after 80 pitches and 7 innings of scoreless baseball. Despite the success over the first 2 months of the season, that response is worrisome for his long-term outlook for the Minnesota Twins and just confirms what the Rocco doubters have been saying since 2019. View full video
  15. Managers tend to soak up a lot of blame while their teams are struggling, and receive little credit when things are going well. It's the name of the game. Let's buck that norm. Rocco Baldelli is managing his ass off this year, and Monday night's win in Oakland was a perfect example. Baldelli had the makings of a slam-dunk hire in 2019, when he became the youngest recipient of Manager of the Year in history, leading the Twins to a historic 101-win season. He followed with another division title in the COVID-shortened 2020 season. One would think such an impressive start to his managerial career would earn the guy a bit of leeway in the eyes of fans. Turns out, not so much. While experiencing his first rocky year at the helm, Rocco was routinely derided by a large portion of the fanbase and columnist hive in 2021's last-place debacle. Never mind he was supplied by the front office with Alex Colomé as his closer and the Happ-maker combo as his rotation reinforcements. Never mind dealing with a rotten hand injury-wise. Baldelli took major heat nonetheless. It's the name of the game. As this 2022 season got off to similarly ugly start, with a 4-8 record two weeks in, fans on Twitter were calling for Rocco's head and a certain desperate-for-attention local media outlet was hilariously attempting to manufacture a manager controversy. Since that 4-8 start, Baldelli's Twins are 17-7. They're winning tight games. They're playing far cleaner, crisper ball than opponents. And they're bouncing back from adversity. Tactically, Baldelli has been pressing the right buttons and his decision have paid off time and time again. Here are three examples from Monday's 3-1 victory: 1: Chris Archer pulled after four innings. It wasn't an obvious call by any means. Archer had allowed only one run on two hits over four innings. He was at just 62 pitches when Baldelli made the decision to pull him. The Twins were in the midst of a stretch with nine games in nine days. They could've tried to squeeze another inning or two. The skipper did not want to see Archer face Oakland's lineup for a third time and that was absolutely the right call. Yennier Canó came in and mowed down the next two frames, giving hitters a very different look from the starter. Griffin Jax followed with two scoreless frames, and then Tyler Duffey closed things out in a clean ninth. Another shutout showing from the relief corps. Minnesota's bullpen, despite losing one of the best relievers in baseball on the eve of Opening Day, has been phenomenal. Elite by any measure. Elite! Who would've expected this based on the personnel we saw forming this unit? Twins relief pitchers – from Canó to Jax to Joe Smith to Jhoan Duran to Emilio Pagán and beyond – are getting it done. Rocco is putting them in spots to succeed, as has been his trademark. His bullpen ranked third in the majors in WAR in 2019, and second in 2020. Baldelli quietly has an argument as the best bullpen manager in baseball. 2: Small ball pays off in the 5th inning. I'm not a big fan of small-ball tactics generally, and based on his tendencies I think it's safe to say Baldelli feels the same. (I mean, that 2019 team was basically a giant middle-finger to small ball as a concept.) But both of us could agree that it made sense to take such an approach in the fifth inning of a 1-1 game after Royce Lewis drew a leadoff walk. Nick Gordon, the #9 hitter who entered with a paltry .596 OPS, stepped in and got the bunt call. He executed, bringing up the team's best hitter with one out and a man in scoring position. Byron Buxton? Oh, you know he executed. Even if it hadn't worked out, bunting with Gordon there is a move that simply made sense. Baldelli has shown he'll go that route when it's warranted. You wonder if the dead-ball trend might compel this calculating manager to keep adjusting in that direction. 3: Buxton was on the field. There's been a whole bunch of grumbling lately about the team's "kid-gloves treatment" of Buxton. (Much of it, you'll be shocked to learn, coming from the aforementioned desperate-for-attention outlet.) Apparently it is now controversial to take a cautious approach in a 162-game season with your vitally important superstar who also happens to be banged up, and maybe the most injury-prone player in the league. Yes, Baldelli and the Twins have opened up about their intentions to manage Buxton's workload this year in hopes of keeping him off the injured list. Their plan has been successful so far, in every way. Buxton has avoided the IL – despite a few scares that continue to affect him – and the Twins are six games above .500, leading the division, even with him playing only two-thirds of the time. Winning the division and having Buxton healthy for the playoffs should be this team's utmost aspiration. It's a combination they haven't yet been able to achieve yet. Right now, Baldelli has the Twins on track to do both. And people are still complaining. SMH. Some of us appreciate you, Rocco, and see the things you're doing to help this team exceed expectations. Many won't. But that's the name of the game. View full article
  16. Right before the 2022 Major League Baseball season was set to commence, the Minnesota Twins decided to shake up their roster. Flipping closer Taylor Rogers to the San Diego Padres for Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan, it’s now on the latter to provide value for the season ahead. It’s understandable that a controllable starter like Chris Paddack may have been available for a lesser return given his elbow issues. Unfortunately, they reared their head just a few starts into 2022 and now it appears he’ll undergo surgery to fix the problem that was already there. Emilio Pagan was hardly a throw-in, however, and despite his 4.83 ERA last season, he’s just a few years removed from being one of baseball’s more dominant relievers. Pagan, who recently turned 31-years-old, posted a 2.31 ERA in his lone season with the Tampa Bay Rays. Acting as their closer that year, he recorded 20 saves and worked 70 innings. His 12.3 K/9 was a career-high, and the 1.7 BB/9 was near a career-low. The 3.30 FIP suggested it was all pretty solidly rooted in advanced statistics as well. Of course, he wasn’t the same pitcher the past two seasons for the Padres, and that’s likely why they were willing to upgrade the back end of their pen. For Minnesota, needing to replace Rogers, Pagan would immediately become an option should he find a way to harness his former glory. Things started ugly for the Twins' new closer as he took the loss in his second appearance, and blew a save in just his third try. Through his first six outings this year Pagan had just a 7/6 K/BB and appeared to be doing a tightrope act each time he took the mound. Since that point though, Pagan has pitched another six innings and has not allowed an earned run. His 8/4 K/BB is more manageable and the ERA is down to 1.54. While the free passes remain an issue, he’s worked around the danger thanks to a career-best 5.4 H/9. It’s not as though Pagan simply lost the ability to find the zone. He’s an established veteran with more than 200 Major League innings under his belt, and in that time he surrendered just a 2.3 BB/9. The gaudy 7.7 BB/9 comes from something else, and he was asked about it following his fifth save of the season. Having basically always been a two-pitch pitcher, and really only one when you consider the secondary offering is a version of the other, Pagan changed his repertoire this season. He’s traditionally been categorized as a fastball and slider guy, although most reporting systems call his secondary offering a cutter. This offseason he added a splitter and it’s drastically different from what he already brings to the table. During Spring Training, and still then with the Padres, San Diego manager Bob Melvin said, “He’s coming up with a new pitch. He’s throwing a split(-fingered fastball) a lot. … I think a third pitch will serve him well. Typically, a bullpen guy, especially late innings, is more of a two-pitch guy. But I think a third pitch will be good for him. Fastball, sliders are mostly hard (stuff). This is kind of a slower pitch, goes in a different direction, and gives the hitter something else to think about. He’s thrown it in a game and feels confident about it.” To this point in 2022, the splitter has been a focal point for Pagan. He’s thrown it over 17% of the time, and it’s drastically changed the cutter usage. In developing a new pitch and then utilizing it in games, it’s understandable there would be some hiccups and likely control or command issues. As he continues to find comfort with the offering, the walks should subside back down to his career norms. Rocco Baldelli has a very good thing going at the back of his pen right now. Whether going with rookie fireballer Jhoan Duran, or veteran-tested Pagan, he’s got capable arms to mix and match for any situation. The more Minnesota can lean into both of them shutting down the opposition, the better they’ll find themselves positioned to close out games in routine fashion. View full article
  17. It’s understandable that a controllable starter like Chris Paddack may have been available for a lesser return given his elbow issues. Unfortunately, they reared their head just a few starts into 2022 and now it appears he’ll undergo surgery to fix the problem that was already there. Emilio Pagan was hardly a throw-in, however, and despite his 4.83 ERA last season, he’s just a few years removed from being one of baseball’s more dominant relievers. Pagan, who recently turned 31-years-old, posted a 2.31 ERA in his lone season with the Tampa Bay Rays. Acting as their closer that year, he recorded 20 saves and worked 70 innings. His 12.3 K/9 was a career-high, and the 1.7 BB/9 was near a career-low. The 3.30 FIP suggested it was all pretty solidly rooted in advanced statistics as well. Of course, he wasn’t the same pitcher the past two seasons for the Padres, and that’s likely why they were willing to upgrade the back end of their pen. For Minnesota, needing to replace Rogers, Pagan would immediately become an option should he find a way to harness his former glory. Things started ugly for the Twins' new closer as he took the loss in his second appearance, and blew a save in just his third try. Through his first six outings this year Pagan had just a 7/6 K/BB and appeared to be doing a tightrope act each time he took the mound. Since that point though, Pagan has pitched another six innings and has not allowed an earned run. His 8/4 K/BB is more manageable and the ERA is down to 1.54. While the free passes remain an issue, he’s worked around the danger thanks to a career-best 5.4 H/9. It’s not as though Pagan simply lost the ability to find the zone. He’s an established veteran with more than 200 Major League innings under his belt, and in that time he surrendered just a 2.3 BB/9. The gaudy 7.7 BB/9 comes from something else, and he was asked about it following his fifth save of the season. Having basically always been a two-pitch pitcher, and really only one when you consider the secondary offering is a version of the other, Pagan changed his repertoire this season. He’s traditionally been categorized as a fastball and slider guy, although most reporting systems call his secondary offering a cutter. This offseason he added a splitter and it’s drastically different from what he already brings to the table. During Spring Training, and still then with the Padres, San Diego manager Bob Melvin said, “He’s coming up with a new pitch. He’s throwing a split(-fingered fastball) a lot. … I think a third pitch will serve him well. Typically, a bullpen guy, especially late innings, is more of a two-pitch guy. But I think a third pitch will be good for him. Fastball, sliders are mostly hard (stuff). This is kind of a slower pitch, goes in a different direction, and gives the hitter something else to think about. He’s thrown it in a game and feels confident about it.” To this point in 2022, the splitter has been a focal point for Pagan. He’s thrown it over 17% of the time, and it’s drastically changed the cutter usage. In developing a new pitch and then utilizing it in games, it’s understandable there would be some hiccups and likely control or command issues. As he continues to find comfort with the offering, the walks should subside back down to his career norms. Rocco Baldelli has a very good thing going at the back of his pen right now. Whether going with rookie fireballer Jhoan Duran, or veteran-tested Pagan, he’s got capable arms to mix and match for any situation. The more Minnesota can lean into both of them shutting down the opposition, the better they’ll find themselves positioned to close out games in routine fashion.
  18. Baldelli had the makings of a slam-dunk hire in 2019, when he became the youngest recipient of Manager of the Year in history, leading the Twins to a historic 101-win season. He followed with another division title in the COVID-shortened 2020 season. One would think such an impressive start to his managerial career would earn the guy a bit of leeway in the eyes of fans. Turns out, not so much. While experiencing his first rocky year at the helm, Rocco was routinely derided by a large portion of the fanbase and columnist hive in 2021's last-place debacle. Never mind he was supplied by the front office with Alex Colomé as his closer and the Happ-maker combo as his rotation reinforcements. Never mind dealing with a rotten hand injury-wise. Baldelli took major heat nonetheless. It's the name of the game. As this 2022 season got off to similarly ugly start, with a 4-8 record two weeks in, fans on Twitter were calling for Rocco's head and a certain desperate-for-attention local media outlet was hilariously attempting to manufacture a manager controversy. Since that 4-8 start, Baldelli's Twins are 17-7. They're winning tight games. They're playing far cleaner, crisper ball than opponents. And they're bouncing back from adversity. Tactically, Baldelli has been pressing the right buttons and his decision have paid off time and time again. Here are three examples from Monday's 3-1 victory: 1: Chris Archer pulled after four innings. It wasn't an obvious call by any means. Archer had allowed only one run on two hits over four innings. He was at just 62 pitches when Baldelli made the decision to pull him. The Twins were in the midst of a stretch with nine games in nine days. They could've tried to squeeze another inning or two. The skipper did not want to see Archer face Oakland's lineup for a third time and that was absolutely the right call. Yennier Canó came in and mowed down the next two frames, giving hitters a very different look from the starter. Griffin Jax followed with two scoreless frames, and then Tyler Duffey closed things out in a clean ninth. Another shutout showing from the relief corps. Minnesota's bullpen, despite losing one of the best relievers in baseball on the eve of Opening Day, has been phenomenal. Elite by any measure. Elite! Who would've expected this based on the personnel we saw forming this unit? Twins relief pitchers – from Canó to Jax to Joe Smith to Jhoan Duran to Emilio Pagán and beyond – are getting it done. Rocco is putting them in spots to succeed, as has been his trademark. His bullpen ranked third in the majors in WAR in 2019, and second in 2020. Baldelli quietly has an argument as the best bullpen manager in baseball. 2: Small ball pays off in the 5th inning. I'm not a big fan of small-ball tactics generally, and based on his tendencies I think it's safe to say Baldelli feels the same. (I mean, that 2019 team was basically a giant middle-finger to small ball as a concept.) But both of us could agree that it made sense to take such an approach in the fifth inning of a 1-1 game after Royce Lewis drew a leadoff walk. Nick Gordon, the #9 hitter who entered with a paltry .596 OPS, stepped in and got the bunt call. He executed, bringing up the team's best hitter with one out and a man in scoring position. Byron Buxton? Oh, you know he executed. Even if it hadn't worked out, bunting with Gordon there is a move that simply made sense. Baldelli has shown he'll go that route when it's warranted. You wonder if the dead-ball trend might compel this calculating manager to keep adjusting in that direction. 3: Buxton was on the field. There's been a whole bunch of grumbling lately about the team's "kid-gloves treatment" of Buxton. (Much of it, you'll be shocked to learn, coming from the aforementioned desperate-for-attention outlet.) Apparently it is now controversial to take a cautious approach in a 162-game season with your vitally important superstar who also happens to be banged up, and maybe the most injury-prone player in the league. Yes, Baldelli and the Twins have opened up about their intentions to manage Buxton's workload this year in hopes of keeping him off the injured list. Their plan has been successful so far, in every way. Buxton has avoided the IL – despite a few scares that continue to affect him – and the Twins are six games above .500, leading the division, even with him playing only two-thirds of the time. Winning the division and having Buxton healthy for the playoffs should be this team's utmost aspiration. It's a combination they haven't yet been able to achieve yet. Right now, Baldelli has the Twins on track to do both. And people are still complaining. SMH. Some of us appreciate you, Rocco, and see the things you're doing to help this team exceed expectations. Many won't. But that's the name of the game.
  19. The Minnesota Twins are 35 games into their 2022 Major League Baseball season. Star centerfielder Byron Buxton has played in just 23 of them, or 65.7%. That’s apparently a threshold both parties (team and player) intend to uphold, but what does that look like when the dust settles? It became clear following a Saturday night game against the Cleveland Guardians, in which Byron Buxton should’ve been called upon to pinch-hit, that rest and caution remain paramount for the organization. Rocco Baldelli has consistently rested players with the hopes of keeping them fresh, and while the current state of Minnesota’s Injured List would suggest that as not bearing fruit, it also doesn’t appear as something the organization will move off of. Relating to Buxton specifically, he’s dealing with the same right knee soreness that immediately looked like a season-ending injury. Sliding into second base, he punched the ground in anguish and a question as to whether his knee was torn up immediately came into question. Returning to the lineup less than a week later, he’s still dealing with the after-effects, even if an MRI revealed no serious damage. It’s not as though Buxton hasn’t been productive. Quite the opposite actually, as he’s been a monster through the 23 games he has been on the field. Buxton owns a .259/.330/.706 slash line and is just one homer shy of the American League lead with 11. He’s yet to triple but does have five doubles to his credit, and a few recent walks make the 28/6 K/BB ratio more workable. Through 134 innings in the outfield, Buxton has been worth 1 Defensive Run Saved and 2 Outs Above Average. Following Sunday’s game against the Guardians, one in which Buxton was back in centerfield and Minnesota won, he said, "We've got a process, process of me staying on the field, trying to play 100 games. So however that looks, who knows? But that's what we have, a plan here, and it's what we're going to stick to." As unfortunate or disappointing as that may be, it’s clear that Buxton is in lockstep with manager Rocco Baldelli regarding that plan. After the loss to the Guardians on Saturday night, Minnesota’s manager said in regards to the decision against pinch-hitting Buxton, “"It wasn't going to be an option. Ultimately, we discussed that as a group, but ultimately I make that decision. When we make the decision before the game, we don't change what we're going to do when the game gets going." Those notes in conjunction with one another suggest the Twins are firmly set in a plan to have Buxton play right around 60% of their games this season. The good news is that even through that few contests, extrapolating his numbers gets a gaudy amount of production. You’d be looking at something like 21 doubles, 47 homers, and 7.4 fWAR. Putting up those statistics in 162 games would be generous for most. If Buxton was able to continue that pace over just 100, it would be nothing short of unfathomable. On the defensive side of things, it may be hard to find the same rhythm. Buxton has been worth just one DRS thus far and contributed only 2 OAA. Gilberto Celestino has done an amazing job filling in, so maybe it matters less, but Buxton’s Gold Glove prowess is always going to be missed. When looking at this decision by Minnesota, there are a couple of things to consider. First and foremost is that not all players can operate as a designated hitter, or without being constantly involved in the game flow. Buxton has suffered without playing the field, and missing over one-third of the games will certainly threaten any attempt to create consistency. The other problem is the assumption that disjointed time off will prevent further injury or advance healing. After all, Buxton was injured on a play where he slid into second base, and also suffered an injury running to first base following a dropped third strike. It’s not as if he’s being threatened in instances that won’t routinely present themselves. His body may simply be less durable than others, and that leaves him susceptible in all capacities. Maybe most interesting here is who the Twins have as a manager. Baldelli himself was on a path to being one of baseball's best players and constant injuries derailed his career. Buxton certainly is involved throughout this planning process, as is Baldelli, but the front office must be clued in too. The Twins training staff is probably weighing in with their expertise, and we don't completely know what the injury was given the designation simply being soreness. Maybe this is something Baldelli himself has implored Buxton to consider knowing what consistent injury and health issues can do to the overall length of a playing career. What do you think? Are the Twins actually able to prevent further injury by trying to avoid consistent games played? Does Buxton benefit from time down to heal completely? What should happen here? View full article
  20. It became clear following a Saturday night game against the Cleveland Guardians, in which Byron Buxton should’ve been called upon to pinch-hit, that rest and caution remain paramount for the organization. Rocco Baldelli has consistently rested players with the hopes of keeping them fresh, and while the current state of Minnesota’s Injured List would suggest that as not bearing fruit, it also doesn’t appear as something the organization will move off of. Relating to Buxton specifically, he’s dealing with the same right knee soreness that immediately looked like a season-ending injury. Sliding into second base, he punched the ground in anguish and a question as to whether his knee was torn up immediately came into question. Returning to the lineup less than a week later, he’s still dealing with the after-effects, even if an MRI revealed no serious damage. It’s not as though Buxton hasn’t been productive. Quite the opposite actually, as he’s been a monster through the 23 games he has been on the field. Buxton owns a .259/.330/.706 slash line and is just one homer shy of the American League lead with 11. He’s yet to triple but does have five doubles to his credit, and a few recent walks make the 28/6 K/BB ratio more workable. Through 134 innings in the outfield, Buxton has been worth 1 Defensive Run Saved and 2 Outs Above Average. Following Sunday’s game against the Guardians, one in which Buxton was back in centerfield and Minnesota won, he said, "We've got a process, process of me staying on the field, trying to play 100 games. So however that looks, who knows? But that's what we have, a plan here, and it's what we're going to stick to." As unfortunate or disappointing as that may be, it’s clear that Buxton is in lockstep with manager Rocco Baldelli regarding that plan. After the loss to the Guardians on Saturday night, Minnesota’s manager said in regards to the decision against pinch-hitting Buxton, “"It wasn't going to be an option. Ultimately, we discussed that as a group, but ultimately I make that decision. When we make the decision before the game, we don't change what we're going to do when the game gets going." Those notes in conjunction with one another suggest the Twins are firmly set in a plan to have Buxton play right around 60% of their games this season. The good news is that even through that few contests, extrapolating his numbers gets a gaudy amount of production. You’d be looking at something like 21 doubles, 47 homers, and 7.4 fWAR. Putting up those statistics in 162 games would be generous for most. If Buxton was able to continue that pace over just 100, it would be nothing short of unfathomable. On the defensive side of things, it may be hard to find the same rhythm. Buxton has been worth just one DRS thus far and contributed only 2 OAA. Gilberto Celestino has done an amazing job filling in, so maybe it matters less, but Buxton’s Gold Glove prowess is always going to be missed. When looking at this decision by Minnesota, there are a couple of things to consider. First and foremost is that not all players can operate as a designated hitter, or without being constantly involved in the game flow. Buxton has suffered without playing the field, and missing over one-third of the games will certainly threaten any attempt to create consistency. The other problem is the assumption that disjointed time off will prevent further injury or advance healing. After all, Buxton was injured on a play where he slid into second base, and also suffered an injury running to first base following a dropped third strike. It’s not as if he’s being threatened in instances that won’t routinely present themselves. His body may simply be less durable than others, and that leaves him susceptible in all capacities. Maybe most interesting here is who the Twins have as a manager. Baldelli himself was on a path to being one of baseball's best players and constant injuries derailed his career. Buxton certainly is involved throughout this planning process, as is Baldelli, but the front office must be clued in too. The Twins training staff is probably weighing in with their expertise, and we don't completely know what the injury was given the designation simply being soreness. Maybe this is something Baldelli himself has implored Buxton to consider knowing what consistent injury and health issues can do to the overall length of a playing career. What do you think? Are the Twins actually able to prevent further injury by trying to avoid consistent games played? Does Buxton benefit from time down to heal completely? What should happen here?
  21. Former San Diego Padres manager Jayce Tingler will take the reigns for the Minnesota Twins tonight in Baltimore and for at least the next several games. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli tested positive for Covid earlier on Thursday. Later in the afternoon, Tingler announced that Luis Arraez and Dylan Bundy have also tested postiive for Covid. A year ago, the Twins were doing a little West Coast swing. While in Anaheim, several players including Max Kepler, Kyle Garlick, and Caleb Thielbar tested positive for Covid. The Twins were in the early part of a delayed season that was already going south quickly. Losing players and the stress of that situation only contributed to the Twins early-season demise in 2021. Obviously the hope this time around is that the affected players (and manager) are feeling alright and can return to the game in quick fashion, hopefully within a week. That said, we may not have heard the end of this. Players have been testing today, and with more positive tests, it is likely that they will continue to test in the coming days. We know that Covid's incubation period can be several days, so the Twins could find more positives for the next few days as well. Max Kepler has felt under the weather for a couple of days. He left Wednesday night's game early. He has taken a few Covid tests and they have been negative to this point. GM Thad Levine said other players are also feeling a little under the weather. We shall see where this takes us, but it could be a very interesting weekend for the Twins. The Twins entered play on Thursday with a 15-10 record and a 3 1/2 game lead over the White Sox and Guardians in the AL Central. Levine told reporters in Baltimore, "This is why you built out a lot of versatility and experience in your coaching staff and go get several people on our bench who have had managerial experience whether it be in the big leagues or winter leagues or in the minor league," That is equally important when considering how the Twins built their roster, with several players able to play multiple positions. Speculation is that the Twins personnel may have contracted Covid while in Tampa as several members of the Rays coaching staff are also currently out for the same reason. Bundy and Arraez were both placed on the Covid-IL. Per MLB Trade Rumors: "As per the 2022 version of the league’s COVID protocols, Arraez and Bundy will miss at least the next 10 days, though they may make an earlier return if they meet three criteria — two negative PCR tests, at least 24 hours without a fever, and approval from a team doctor and a MLB/MLBPA joint committee of two other physicians." With that in mind, the Twins will likely need to add a couple of players to their active roster on Friday. To replace Luis Arraez, the team will likely want a 40-man roster guy who could play multiple positions if needed. They will also want to add a pitcher to replace Bundy. Sonny Gray is making a start for the Saints this weekend. Josh Winder, Chris Paddack and Joe Ryan are scheduled to start for the Twins this weekend at Target Field against the A's. So the Twins could go with a long reliever or a starter. It will be interesting to see what direction the team goes with a pitcher. It would seem that Alex Kirilloff would be the hitter to return. We will continue to update this as more information becomes available. View full article
  22. A year ago, the Twins were doing a little West Coast swing. While in Anaheim, several players including Max Kepler, Kyle Garlick, and Caleb Thielbar tested positive for Covid. The Twins were in the early part of a delayed season that was already going south quickly. Losing players and the stress of that situation only contributed to the Twins early-season demise in 2021. Obviously the hope this time around is that the affected players (and manager) are feeling alright and can return to the game in quick fashion, hopefully within a week. That said, we may not have heard the end of this. Players have been testing today, and with more positive tests, it is likely that they will continue to test in the coming days. We know that Covid's incubation period can be several days, so the Twins could find more positives for the next few days as well. Max Kepler has felt under the weather for a couple of days. He left Wednesday night's game early. He has taken a few Covid tests and they have been negative to this point. GM Thad Levine said other players are also feeling a little under the weather. We shall see where this takes us, but it could be a very interesting weekend for the Twins. The Twins entered play on Thursday with a 15-10 record and a 3 1/2 game lead over the White Sox and Guardians in the AL Central. Levine told reporters in Baltimore, "This is why you built out a lot of versatility and experience in your coaching staff and go get several people on our bench who have had managerial experience whether it be in the big leagues or winter leagues or in the minor league," That is equally important when considering how the Twins built their roster, with several players able to play multiple positions. Speculation is that the Twins personnel may have contracted Covid while in Tampa as several members of the Rays coaching staff are also currently out for the same reason. Bundy and Arraez were both placed on the Covid-IL. Per MLB Trade Rumors: "As per the 2022 version of the league’s COVID protocols, Arraez and Bundy will miss at least the next 10 days, though they may make an earlier return if they meet three criteria — two negative PCR tests, at least 24 hours without a fever, and approval from a team doctor and a MLB/MLBPA joint committee of two other physicians." With that in mind, the Twins will likely need to add a couple of players to their active roster on Friday. To replace Luis Arraez, the team will likely want a 40-man roster guy who could play multiple positions if needed. They will also want to add a pitcher to replace Bundy. Sonny Gray is making a start for the Saints this weekend. Josh Winder, Chris Paddack and Joe Ryan are scheduled to start for the Twins this weekend at Target Field against the A's. So the Twins could go with a long reliever or a starter. It will be interesting to see what direction the team goes with a pitcher. It would seem that Alex Kirilloff would be the hitter to return. We will continue to update this as more information becomes available.
  23. In the late innings of Thursday afternoon's Twins win over the Tigers to complete their sweep of a homestand, Justin Morneau posed a question that comes up from time to time. It comes up when a team is doing well and is questioned if teams are playing poorly. Does winning create chemistry, or does chemistry come with wins? Many articles that you read here at Twins Daily or other sports or news sites may use data or reasoning to push a reader toward an opinion. Sometimes it's as black and white as right or wrong. Other times, statistics or scenarios can push a narrative. That isn't what this article is going to be. Frankly, I don't know what this article is going to be. I haven't written a Stream of Consciousness article for quite some time. While trying to organize my thoughts, I realized that there are many angles and factors to be considered. So, let's see where this takes us. Does team chemistry help with Winning, or does it take Winning to create team chemistry? I think looking at the 2022 Minnesota Twins can undoubtedly help the conversation, or it can just give more data points or concepts to consider. There is no doubt that the chemistry of this team was altered with all of the February and March transactions. Trading popular, positive team leaders like Mitch Garver and Taylor Rogers certainly affects chemistry. Trading Rogers literally on opening day and welcoming Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan to the team the next day had to be jarring. On the other side of the equation, it's possible that team chemistry improved with a bit of Addition by Subtraction. It is clear (after the fact) that trading away Josh Donaldson was a positive for team chemistry. Still, Gio Urshela's struggles in 2021, and Gary Sanchez's unfortunate negative relationship with Yankees fans, could have made both players bitter. Instead, they have been happy, excited teammates since Day 1, and the change of scenery could be a blessing in disguise. Urshela has been competing against the Twins for many years, going back to his time in Cleveland. Gary Sanchez has been friends with Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco for over a dozen years. As exciting as it is that the Twins signed Carlos Correa, it sure could have gone a number o ways. He could have come in and acted entitled. He could have been a prima donna. Instead, from Day 1, he has said all the right things. He hasn't tried to take over a leadership role, but his leadership qualities showed when he told everybody that this is Byron's (Buxton) team. Despite his slow start, it's clear that he is leading in the dugout. He has been a supportive teammate. He has taken the time to help and offer ideas to teammates. And Byron Buxton? There is a legitimate question of if he is the best player in baseball or at least the most talented player. He had every right to be upset at the Twins and this front office for their manipulation of his service time. He couldn't have handled it any better than he did, starting the following year. And last year, amid rumors of broken contract talks and trade talk, Buxton made it clear that he wanted to stay with the Twins. And ultimately, that's what happened. He could have waited and become a free agent after this season. He likely could have doubled the guaranteed money he received from the Twins or another team. Instead, he took an offer that he could be happy with, his family and the Twins' front office should be thrilled with. Fans should be thrilled with the deal. But, maybe more important, Buxton made playing in Minnesota a good thing. Signing him probably helped Carlos Correa's interest in the team. In coming offseasons, could his presence factor into decisions of other free agents, like it did when Kirby Puckett roams the outfield for the Twins? And how much fun is it to see him having a blast playing with this group? It's clear that he is everything you would want in a superstar, and seeing him smiling in the dugout, and joking with teammates, is encouraging. Sonny Gray came to the Twins in a trade, a veteran with a terrific track record over his career. We have frequently heard about how Gray has encouraged (if not made it mandatory) all of the starting pitchers to be there for each other's bullpen sessions. First, they can watch what the other pitchers are working on and how they work. Second, they can pass on information and learn from each other—veterans leading the way and veterans who seem to enjoy learning. Chris Archer was great with Tampa. However, once he was traded to the Pirates, he started fighting injuries and struggling on the mound. He talked to former teammates who played in Minnesota or for Baldelli and was told it's a great place. Dylan Bundy has faced injuries throughout his decade in pro ball, and he's had some ups and some real lows. Aside from pitching well, these guys are leaders and articulate lessons well to teammates. You have heard consistently from all new players to the organization is the atmosphere facilitated by the front office, Rocco Baldelli, and his coaching staff. It is an atmosphere of professionalism and working on getting ready for every game and scenario. It's an atmosphere that will also treat them as men, with dignity and respect. Baldelli's leadership has created an environment of communication and makes sure players and their families are comfortable. These are things that I know some people will roll their eyes when they read it. I get that. No one wants to think that touchy-feely stuff affects adults. They are incredibly well-compensated adults playing a kids' game. I get it. We've all heard people say that. Regardless of our job or our role in life, we all want to be respected. We all want to work in a comfortable environment, an environment where everyone feels heard, and increased compensation is available through hard work and challenging yourself. Maybe not everyone wants those things, but like the big leagues, those people are often weeded out. So, again, let's bring it back to this season. With a short spring training and new teammates coming in over that three-week period, it had to take time to get to know each other, much less develop chemistry on the field, in the clubhouse. Again, the roster moves continued right up until Opening Day. Should we be surprised that they struggled out of the gate? Should we be impressed that they only needed 12 games (4-8 start) to turn things around? With their seven-game win streak and sweeps of the White Sox and Tigers, the Twins are now 11-8 and sit atop the AL Central at this very early stage. Players talk about the chemistry the team felt even through their early struggles. So, was it that Chemistry that allowed the Twins to start winning? Or was it the Winning (and a couple of wild wins) that made the chemistry stronger? How much does the front office affect team chemistry? Well, probably primarily by getting reports about players from people who have been their teammates or coaches, or even opponents (along with all of the statistical and analytical stuff). It seems that is part of the role of special advisors to Baseball Operations like Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, LaTroy Hawkins, and Justin Morneau. Part of their job description, when hired, was that they could speak to this type of information on players they played with or against or use their relationships around the game to get information on the interpersonal skills of players the Twins might consider acquiring. But that can go both ways. Was Donaldson a detriment to team chemistry? What kind of atmosphere could devolve when popular teammates are traded right before a season starts? How much does the manager, Rocco Baldelli, deserve credit for the chemistry? This is where it's at. Since he was hired, he has set the atmosphere and the expectations. He has been a players' coach, but he's led the Twins through some challenging situations, from Covid to the riots in Minneapolis, to a labor lockout. He's hired coaches, with help from the front office obviously, who are good teachers, know their technical stuff, and listen. Proof of that is that several coaches from his staff have been hired away over the years. Finally, you probably would never hear a player badmouth his manager. Still, the sense is that there is genuine respect for Baldelli, his intelligence, his playing, scouting, coaching background, and more. With replay, there aren't as many opportunities for a manager to "back his players" by getting ejected with silly arguments with umps on close plays. So again, is it chemistry that helps a team relax and perform better and win... or does a team need to experience success (usually in Wins) for chemistry to develop better? And let's be honest. It's easy right now to tout the team's chemistry. They held on early and are currently pitching well and winning games. I'm sure that they will lose their ninth game of the year at some point. The winning streak will likely come to an end. And, like most other teams, the Twins will have a couple more rough patches throughout the season. They are likely to have another 4-8 stretch or two. That's part of the beauty of baseball. It's a marathon, filled with ups and downs. I think chemistry is essential in any part of life, especially in team sports. But it isn't everything. There have been teams that hated each other, got in fights with each other (think 1970s A's, or pretty much any Billy Martin-led team), and won. There have been teams that got along great, had great relationships, and lost a lot of games. And, of course, there are close teams with great chemistry that have won and bad chemistry teams that have lost. So, does that mean that chemistry has nothing to do with winning or losing? There are many examples of teams that won that hated each other. The questions for you to consider include: 1.) What work atmosphere do you personally prefer in your life? 2.) How does that compare to your thoughts on chemistry in professional (or any) sports? 3.) What are your thoughts on the team chemistry of the Twins this year, and where that credit lies? (Front office, manager, coaches, players) 4.) And what are your thoughts on the question: Does Winning create chemistry, or does team chemistry help a team Win? Here are a few final thoughts - and if you've made it this far, thank you, or I'm sorry Ranking keys to success on a baseball team #3 - Chemistry #2 - Talent #1 - Having Byron Buxton on your team and on the field. View full article
  24. Many articles that you read here at Twins Daily or other sports or news sites may use data or reasoning to push a reader toward an opinion. Sometimes it's as black and white as right or wrong. Other times, statistics or scenarios can push a narrative. That isn't what this article is going to be. Frankly, I don't know what this article is going to be. I haven't written a Stream of Consciousness article for quite some time. While trying to organize my thoughts, I realized that there are many angles and factors to be considered. So, let's see where this takes us. Does team chemistry help with Winning, or does it take Winning to create team chemistry? I think looking at the 2022 Minnesota Twins can undoubtedly help the conversation, or it can just give more data points or concepts to consider. There is no doubt that the chemistry of this team was altered with all of the February and March transactions. Trading popular, positive team leaders like Mitch Garver and Taylor Rogers certainly affects chemistry. Trading Rogers literally on opening day and welcoming Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan to the team the next day had to be jarring. On the other side of the equation, it's possible that team chemistry improved with a bit of Addition by Subtraction. It is clear (after the fact) that trading away Josh Donaldson was a positive for team chemistry. Still, Gio Urshela's struggles in 2021, and Gary Sanchez's unfortunate negative relationship with Yankees fans, could have made both players bitter. Instead, they have been happy, excited teammates since Day 1, and the change of scenery could be a blessing in disguise. Urshela has been competing against the Twins for many years, going back to his time in Cleveland. Gary Sanchez has been friends with Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco for over a dozen years. As exciting as it is that the Twins signed Carlos Correa, it sure could have gone a number o ways. He could have come in and acted entitled. He could have been a prima donna. Instead, from Day 1, he has said all the right things. He hasn't tried to take over a leadership role, but his leadership qualities showed when he told everybody that this is Byron's (Buxton) team. Despite his slow start, it's clear that he is leading in the dugout. He has been a supportive teammate. He has taken the time to help and offer ideas to teammates. And Byron Buxton? There is a legitimate question of if he is the best player in baseball or at least the most talented player. He had every right to be upset at the Twins and this front office for their manipulation of his service time. He couldn't have handled it any better than he did, starting the following year. And last year, amid rumors of broken contract talks and trade talk, Buxton made it clear that he wanted to stay with the Twins. And ultimately, that's what happened. He could have waited and become a free agent after this season. He likely could have doubled the guaranteed money he received from the Twins or another team. Instead, he took an offer that he could be happy with, his family and the Twins' front office should be thrilled with. Fans should be thrilled with the deal. But, maybe more important, Buxton made playing in Minnesota a good thing. Signing him probably helped Carlos Correa's interest in the team. In coming offseasons, could his presence factor into decisions of other free agents, like it did when Kirby Puckett roams the outfield for the Twins? And how much fun is it to see him having a blast playing with this group? It's clear that he is everything you would want in a superstar, and seeing him smiling in the dugout, and joking with teammates, is encouraging. Sonny Gray came to the Twins in a trade, a veteran with a terrific track record over his career. We have frequently heard about how Gray has encouraged (if not made it mandatory) all of the starting pitchers to be there for each other's bullpen sessions. First, they can watch what the other pitchers are working on and how they work. Second, they can pass on information and learn from each other—veterans leading the way and veterans who seem to enjoy learning. Chris Archer was great with Tampa. However, once he was traded to the Pirates, he started fighting injuries and struggling on the mound. He talked to former teammates who played in Minnesota or for Baldelli and was told it's a great place. Dylan Bundy has faced injuries throughout his decade in pro ball, and he's had some ups and some real lows. Aside from pitching well, these guys are leaders and articulate lessons well to teammates. You have heard consistently from all new players to the organization is the atmosphere facilitated by the front office, Rocco Baldelli, and his coaching staff. It is an atmosphere of professionalism and working on getting ready for every game and scenario. It's an atmosphere that will also treat them as men, with dignity and respect. Baldelli's leadership has created an environment of communication and makes sure players and their families are comfortable. These are things that I know some people will roll their eyes when they read it. I get that. No one wants to think that touchy-feely stuff affects adults. They are incredibly well-compensated adults playing a kids' game. I get it. We've all heard people say that. Regardless of our job or our role in life, we all want to be respected. We all want to work in a comfortable environment, an environment where everyone feels heard, and increased compensation is available through hard work and challenging yourself. Maybe not everyone wants those things, but like the big leagues, those people are often weeded out. So, again, let's bring it back to this season. With a short spring training and new teammates coming in over that three-week period, it had to take time to get to know each other, much less develop chemistry on the field, in the clubhouse. Again, the roster moves continued right up until Opening Day. Should we be surprised that they struggled out of the gate? Should we be impressed that they only needed 12 games (4-8 start) to turn things around? With their seven-game win streak and sweeps of the White Sox and Tigers, the Twins are now 11-8 and sit atop the AL Central at this very early stage. Players talk about the chemistry the team felt even through their early struggles. So, was it that Chemistry that allowed the Twins to start winning? Or was it the Winning (and a couple of wild wins) that made the chemistry stronger? How much does the front office affect team chemistry? Well, probably primarily by getting reports about players from people who have been their teammates or coaches, or even opponents (along with all of the statistical and analytical stuff). It seems that is part of the role of special advisors to Baseball Operations like Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, LaTroy Hawkins, and Justin Morneau. Part of their job description, when hired, was that they could speak to this type of information on players they played with or against or use their relationships around the game to get information on the interpersonal skills of players the Twins might consider acquiring. But that can go both ways. Was Donaldson a detriment to team chemistry? What kind of atmosphere could devolve when popular teammates are traded right before a season starts? How much does the manager, Rocco Baldelli, deserve credit for the chemistry? This is where it's at. Since he was hired, he has set the atmosphere and the expectations. He has been a players' coach, but he's led the Twins through some challenging situations, from Covid to the riots in Minneapolis, to a labor lockout. He's hired coaches, with help from the front office obviously, who are good teachers, know their technical stuff, and listen. Proof of that is that several coaches from his staff have been hired away over the years. Finally, you probably would never hear a player badmouth his manager. Still, the sense is that there is genuine respect for Baldelli, his intelligence, his playing, scouting, coaching background, and more. With replay, there aren't as many opportunities for a manager to "back his players" by getting ejected with silly arguments with umps on close plays. So again, is it chemistry that helps a team relax and perform better and win... or does a team need to experience success (usually in Wins) for chemistry to develop better? And let's be honest. It's easy right now to tout the team's chemistry. They held on early and are currently pitching well and winning games. I'm sure that they will lose their ninth game of the year at some point. The winning streak will likely come to an end. And, like most other teams, the Twins will have a couple more rough patches throughout the season. They are likely to have another 4-8 stretch or two. That's part of the beauty of baseball. It's a marathon, filled with ups and downs. I think chemistry is essential in any part of life, especially in team sports. But it isn't everything. There have been teams that hated each other, got in fights with each other (think 1970s A's, or pretty much any Billy Martin-led team), and won. There have been teams that got along great, had great relationships, and lost a lot of games. And, of course, there are close teams with great chemistry that have won and bad chemistry teams that have lost. So, does that mean that chemistry has nothing to do with winning or losing? There are many examples of teams that won that hated each other. The questions for you to consider include: 1.) What work atmosphere do you personally prefer in your life? 2.) How does that compare to your thoughts on chemistry in professional (or any) sports? 3.) What are your thoughts on the team chemistry of the Twins this year, and where that credit lies? (Front office, manager, coaches, players) 4.) And what are your thoughts on the question: Does Winning create chemistry, or does team chemistry help a team Win? Here are a few final thoughts - and if you've made it this far, thank you, or I'm sorry Ranking keys to success on a baseball team #3 - Chemistry #2 - Talent #1 - Having Byron Buxton on your team and on the field.
  25. Before Byron Buxton walked off the Chicago White Sox with an absolute mammoth tank job, it was apparent that multiple players were unavailable for the Twins. Minnesota values rest as a baseball season will forever be a marathon and not a sprint. Late in Sunday’s game, Jose Godoy came to the plate with runners on first and third while Minnesota needed a run. Carlos Correa was on the bench, and so too was Ryan Jeffers. The former was simply getting a day off, while the latter was out with a left knee contusion but said to be available. Rocco Baldelli opted to let Godoy hit rather than pinch-hit the $35 million talent in Correa or bring in a better catcher and bat in Jeffers. The recently-selected backstop bunted and popped the ball in the air. The Twins didn't score, and the opportunity passed them by. It was at that moment it became abundantly clear that Minnesota will continue to value rest. Being told he would get the day off, Correa wouldn’t be inserted without it being forced on the Twins manager. Maybe more a part of the equation was Jeffers, who would’ve needed to come into the game behind the plate. Being available to pinch-hit doesn’t mean Minnesota wanted half of their ailing duo strapping on the gear unnecessarily. Looking at Correa and his workload, he’s played in 14 of Minnesota’s first 16 games. Last season he played in 148 of 162, and in the shortened 2020 campaign, he missed just two games. Before that, however, his time on the Injured List was notable. Correa played in just 75 games for Houston in 2019 after playing in just 110 and 109 the two years prior, respectively. Managing workloads isn’t something new for Minnesota. It’s been widely reported that the Twins see more benefit in keeping players fresh each time they step on the field instead of running them down with consistent usage. Installing a nap room for veteran designated hitter Nelson Cruz was a part of keeping his aging body going, and there have been plenty of instances over the past few years in which long-term availability was the primary focus. Not coincidentally, Minnesota’s starter was also dealing with a managed workload on Sunday. Chris Archer’s plan was just 60 pitches as he looks to build his body back up after injury-shortened seasons the past few years. While he lost control late in his outing before giving way to Josh Winder, it’s evident that the Twins would prefer Archer’s availability remain down the stretch. Having gone through multiple seasons in which depth is tested at inopportune times, the focus for the organization has been to keep their best players available to them. Turnover in the training staff has occurred, and investment has been made in understanding more body science-related advantages. It’s likely by design that a manager who dealt with injury so heavily throughout his career is also a strong leader when it comes to pushing the health and availability of his players. Baldelli has a way of connecting with those around him, and it’s a trait that helps him get buy-in from players when being agreeable to decisions and tweaks. April results matter just as much as those in September, but it’s certainly more challenging to get good results late if you’re scrambling to replace talent. View full article
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