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  1. Since the Rangers signed two shortstops to long-term deals, maybe the Twins could get Kiner-Falefa from them. I suggest Arraez as the player to be traded. I like Arraez, but trading him for a legit and good defensive shortstop makes sense and also opens a spot for Miranda to make the Opening Day roster.
  2. The best Shortstop in Twins history This is a challenging position. No HOF candidates. The first year of the Twins Zoilo Vesalles was the dominate Shortstop – 129 games. Jose Valivielso backed him up. Versalles was in 160 games in 1962, 159 – 1963, 160 – 1964, 160 in the World Series year of 1965 when he was the MVP of the league, he dropped to 135 with Cesar Tovar behind him in 1966, 159 in 1967. After developing a Hemotoma on his back, a lifelong condition, his average dropped and he was sent with Mudcat Grant to the Dodgers for an old Johnny Roseboro, Bob Miller, and Ron Perranoski. But Zoilo, nicknamed Zorro set the Twins standard. Versalles played 9 of his 12 years with the club including two in DC before the move. .250/.296/.383/.679 14.7 WAR. 1968 was a scrum year. Lots of players trying to establish themselves at SS – Jackie Hernandez, Ron Clark, Rick Renick and Cesar Tovar. Even Frank Quilici and Rod Carew got in some games at SS. Then in 1969 we found the next infield anchor – Leo Cardenas who played there 160 games. Then he came back for 160 in 1970, and 153 in 1971. A five time all – star and slick fielder, he tied the American League record with 570 assists and his fielding percentage was the highest in AL history. Then Calvin traded him for relief pitcher Dave LaRoche. This allowed the Angels to then trade Jim Fregosi, their shortstop to the Mets for Nolan Ryan. Just think if we had skipped that intermediary step and sent Cardenas for Ryan! In three years out of a 16 year career Cardenas hit .263/.325/.394/.719 with 11.1 WAR. Danny Thompson took over at SS in 1972 and had the looks of a really good player, but of course, he died of Leukemia at the Mayo in Rochester at age 29. In 1973 he played in 95 games at short and Jerry Terrell 81. In 1974, the Leukemia weakening him he played 88 games at short, Luiz Gomez got in 74, Jerry Terrell 34, and Sergio Ferrer 20. Then in 195, the year before he died, he played 100 games at SS with the same three coming in late game or starting the other games. In 1976 Danny played in 34 games and then he was gone. Danny Thompson’s line for six years .251/.289/.316/.605 with 2.4 WAR. Next to grab hold of the position was Roy Smalley in 1976. We got Smalley in a trade along with Mike Cubbage and pitchers Jim Gideon and Bill Singer for Bert Blyleven and Danny Thompson. Why he would or could trade Thompson is another Calvin mystery. Why we traded Blyleven was a difficult thing to do, but a SS is important. Smalley was in 103 games under his uncle, manager Gene Mauch. He played in 150 games in 1977, 157 in 1978, 161 in 1979, and 125 in 1980 with Pete Mackinin, John Castino, and Lenny Faedo playing in the rest. In 1981 injuries limited him to 37 games and in 1982 he got in 4 games and was traded for Greg Gagne, and Pitchers Paul Boris and Ron Davis from the Yankees. The rest of 1981 saw Chuck Baker, Pete Mackinin, Ron Washington, and Lenny Faedo at SS. In 1982 Ron Washington was our primary SS, Lenny Faedo the backup. In 1983 Washington remained number one, but there were multiple players getting time at short. Faedo was in 51 games, Houston Jiminez in 36, the newly acquired Gagne 10, and Gaetti 3. Then in 1984 this streak of forgettables continued with Houston Jiminez and the number one, Washington number two then Faedo and Chris Speier. Finally, in 1985 Greg Gagne grabbed the position. With Roy Smalley back having been with the Yankees and the White Sox. He got in 49 games, Espinoza 31 and Ron Washington 31. The same four held the position in 1986 and Smalley took over DH with 114 games there. In the championship season of 1987 Gagne was backed up by Al Newman and Smalley played there 4 games with the rest as DH or PH. This ended the Smalley era. Roy Smalley in his two stints with the Twins played for us 10 years 262/.350/.401/.750 20.9 WAR Gagne had no one looking over his shoulder in 1988 The others to play short were Al Newman – 28, Steve Lombardozzi – 11 and then Doug Baker, Gary Gaetti, and Tommy Herr. In 1989 the same top two with Baker the only other SS. Starting the new decade – 1990 the top two stayed the same and Scott Leius became the third option. That stayed the same in 1991 with Knoblauch getting in 2 games at short. 1992 Gagne stayed at Short, but Al Newman was replaced by Jeff Reboulet and Donnie Hill. Gagne had been on both world series teams and hit a three run homer in game one of 1991, but in 1992 the Twins were only going to give out one big contract – Kirby Puckett and refused to give Gagne a raise. He left for KC. Greg Gagne played 10 years for the Twins .249/.292/.385/.677 12.7 WAR. Pat Meares was the next player that the Twins put at SS along with Reboulet, Hocking and Lieu in 1993. The same four were at the top of the list in 1994, 1995, 1996, and in 1997.1998 it was just Meares and Hocking. Meares left in FA to Pittsburgh. Pat Meares was a 12th round draft choice and played six years with the Twins .265/.301/.381/.682 6.0 WAR 1999 became the year of Cristian Guzman with Denny Hocking the back up. The same two in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and in 2004 the back up was Nick Punto. Guzman had come from the Yankees in the Knoblauch trade. He led the league in triples three times and it was a pleasure to see him on the bases. The year he had 20 triples was the first time that number had been reached in 70 years. He left as a FA Guzman played six years with the Twins .266/.303/.382/.685 WAR 7.5 In 2005 Juan Castro and Jason Bartlett split SS with Punto behind them. The same three in 2006, but Bartlett asserted himself as number one. Bartlett was SS in 138 games in 2007, with Punto and Casilla playing the rest. In 2007 Bartlett lead the league in errors – 26 and then was part of the trade to get us Delmon Young! Bartlett played 5 or his 10 years as a Twin 271/.340/.361/.702 8.9 WAR 2008 Nick Punto (the leader of the Piranhas) 61, Brendan Harris 55, Adam Everett 44, and Matt Tolber 14 split the SS position. 2009 saw Punto and Harris split the position with Orlando Cabrera. Then in 2010 we had a lead SS again – JJ Hardy with the other SS candidates sliding down the list. 2011 and Hardy is gone – that was quick, but we had Tsuyoshi Nishioki and he started 60 games, Trever Plouffe 45, Alexi Casilla 36 and Matt Tolber 31. Lots of maneuvering! With Nishioki gone, Hardy gone, we turned to our minor leagues and stared Brian Dozier at SS 83 games. Hard to remember or easy to forget. Others had innings and games at SS too in 2012. Pedro Florimon 43, Jamey Carroll (our oldest SS ever) 37, and Eduardo Escobar 6. Lets call that a bad year too. 2013 Pedro Florimon takes the position 133 games, Escobar 38, and Doug Bernier 20. 2014 Escobar takes the position with Danny Santana playing in 34 games and Florimon 31 plus Eduardo Nunez 20. 2015 Escobar and Santana split the position with Nunez filling in and Polanco getting 4 games. 2016 Escobar gets the most games, but Nunez gets in 51 at short and Polanco 47. Polanco takes over in 2017, Adrianza is primary back up and Escobar gets only 16 because he is not primarily at third. I just cannot choose the best out of the mess that is ten years of revolving door at SS and Polanco has a ways to go year. Who is best – here are the candidates and my ranking – what do you think? 1. Cardenas 3 years .263/.325/.394/.719 with 11.1 WAR 2. Versalles 9 years 250/.296/.383/.679 14.7 WAR. 3. Roy Smalley 10 years 262/.350/.401/.750 20.9 WAR 4. Greg Gagne10 years .249/.292/.385/.677 12.7 WAR. 5. Bartlett 5 years 271/.340/.361/.702 8.9 WAR 6. Guzman 6 years.266/.303/.382/.685 WAR 7.5 7. Pat Meares 6 years.265/.301/.381/.682 6.0 WAR 8. Danny Thompson 6 years .251/.289/.316/.605 2.4 WAR. https://twinsdaily.com/blogs/entry/11367-the-best-first-baseman-in-twins-history/ https://twinsdaily.com/blogs/entry/11365-the-best-catcher-in-twins-history/ https://twinsdaily.com/blogs/entry/11371-%7B%3F%7D/
  3. For years baseball played with shortstops that could cover a lot of ground and if they hit well it was a bonus - Marty Marion and Ozzie Smith made the hall like this. Mark Belanger was the glue of Earl Weaver's championship Orioles and Zoilo Versalles brought the Twins to their first World Series. Now we masquerade SS with all the shifts but still we look at Lindor and Correa and other great gloves with great arms as prototype shortstops. Notice how many professional athletes began as Shortstops - that includes Sano. Because the best athlete was the SS. On a site called Dick's Pro Tips the little league teams are given this advise - "Arguably, this should be one of your best defensive players. The shortstop should show great range and the ability to field sharply hit baseballs. Choose someone who has an above-average arm, as many of their throws will be a great distance." Some might argue catcher and they get a lot of points, but they do not have to move as fast and as many directions, catch hops, drives, popups, and bad hops. Nor do they turn DPs. Think about what happens when a shortstop blows a catch, misses on a DP, or drops a pop up. We can put big oafs that hit Homeruns at 1B and even 3B, but not at SS. We can put good gloves with limited range at 2B (hate to say that since I played 2B), but at SS we want quickness, range, and arm. It is a position that demands a lot and is involved in a lot. I bring that up because Polanco is really disappointing this year. I do not have a stat that tells me how much offense is needed to offset bad defense. He has now reached 50 Errors at SS, not counting other positions, in 3 years. Too many. His fielding percentage, his errors, and his defensive WAR are all near the bottom. If the Twins are going to move up in the standings, we have to move up in the quality of each position and Jorge is not cutting it right now. Do we have hope that will change?
  4. For reasons I can't get into, I'm not at my accustomed place(s) on a Sunday morning. It has given me a chance to think about some random things pertaining to the Twins. I don't want to rival Brian or Always 33, but here are some things I am pondering on a Sunday morning: 1) Paul Molitor was a first ballot Hall-of-Famer. He had the requisite 3000 hits, a high number of stolen bases and a World Series ring. He finished his career with the Twins and played three years for them. Included in those seasons was an outstanding 1996, in which he had 225 hits, drove in 113 and won a Silver Slugger. My question is, if Molitor had retired after playing for the Blue Jays and not toiled three years for the Twins, would he have made the Hall? 2) Brian Dozier is my favorite current Twin. He made his first All-Star appearance (which he deserved) and had an incredible first half of 2015. Since the All-Star break, Dozier has not hit well. I believe his OPS is about .665. He run production has suffered and the power has diminished. His OBP is much lower than last year. Has the league figured him out? Will he have to make adjustments to use the whole field? Should he bunt more for base hits? 3) Last year, the Twins weren't good, but especially in the second half of the season they could score runs. This year, they are struggling. While three players that contributed last year (Arcia, Santana, Vargas) were demoted, the Twins have added a rejuvenated Aaron Hicks, Eddie Rosario and especially Miguel Sano to make up for the heavy regression from the three noted above. Yet, this year the Twins are below the median for run scoring. They've increased their power, relative to the league, but are drawing fewer free passes and no one is hitting for a high average. Is this expected regression or was last year a fluke? 4) I have maintained that the Yankees or Blue Jays get one wild card spot, while the Twins are competing with Houston, Texas and the Angels for the second slot. Toronto is on the verge of sweeping the Yankees and with the Yanks injuries and remaining schedule, maybe the Twins can overtake the Evil Empire. Is there a chance that New York can miss the playoffs? Should the Twins consider New York "in play"? 5) Danny Santana was the surprise Rookie of the Year for the Twins last season. He was given the shortstop position to start 2015 (his natural position) and truly has had a miserable major league season. In 64 games at short, he has managed to register as one of the worst defenders at the position, while registering an OPS+ of 45. Late this year, the Twins have resurrected last year's quasi-incumbent, Eduardo Escobar. Esco has hit very well and done his usual capable job on defense. Do the last two seasons guarantee Escobar the starting nod at shortstop next year? What is Santana's future with the Twins? The Twins have another huge game today in Chicago. I hope people have time to offer their opinion about my scattered thoughts. Enjoy the game today or maybe the great out-of -doors or maybe some football today.
  5. Okay, we're past the statistical halfway point in the season. Sometimes it takes a while to flesh out who can help a team for the present and the future and sometimes circumstances make that decision. However, the Twins still haven't made decisions about several positions and players. The team is in the race for a wild card and they have not solidified several positions on the team. Here's my take on the key decisions that need to be made. 1-Shortstop. Danny Santana started the season as the regular, got demoted and now is back on the team. He showed some signs in the most recent series that he might start hitting and his tools at short are very good. Eduardo Escobar has started more in left field than short, but played over half the season at short last year and did well. Eduardo Nuñez has also been given several starts presumably in an effort to add offense. Nuñez isn't capable enough defensively, Santana hasn't produced after a standout rookie season, mostly played in center field, and Escobar has regressed from last year's numbers. My pick would be Escobar, who provides the highest floor and least risk going forward. Jorge Polanco also could figure in, but I can't see that he's ready to contribute. 2-Outfield. Eddie Rosario has emerged as a regular outfielder. Torii Hunter has been a solid right fielder for the Twins. That leaves one person. The guy who has the most at-bats after Rosario and Hunter is Escobar. He's a novice in the outfield, but has been acceptable. Aaron Hicks has provided excellent defense in center, hasn't hit much, but seems much closer than he has been in previous trials. Byron Buxton played a week+, showed his tremendous potential, but also showed that he has a long way to go before he's an offensive force. Buxton is currently on the DL, and won't return for at least a few weeks. It is unknown whether he could step in right away or might need rehab. The Twins could also use an option and give him time at AAA. It is probably a no-brainer to go with Hicks until Buxton comes off the DL. The big question is what to do then. My guess is that Buxton goes to Rochester for rehab and unless he tears it up, is optioned there perhaps until September 1st. The other factor is Hicks. If his BA continues to dive and the OPS doesn't get above .600, it might be time to give up on him being a productive everyday player. 3-Rotation. For now the decision has been made, Mike Pelfrey stays in the rotation and Trevor May is in the bullpen. May has a future in the Twins' rotation and this demotion really doesn't change that. I actually think that May can help the struggling Twins bullpen. He has strikeout ability and can get the fastball up to near-dominating numbers. I do believe the leash for Pelfrey can't be that long. His last two starts were failures and his peripherals suggest he isn't as good as his ERA might suggest. Pelf is a free agent after this year. Some have also suggested Tommy Milone should be optioned or put in the bullpen. I think Milone provides a bit too much to be pushed aside. He is still relatively young and under team control. Ricky Nolasco has missed over a month with an ankle issue and so far he hasn't solved the problem. I wouldn't be surprised to see Nolasco get surgery and miss most of or the entire remainder of the season. I agree with the Twins decision, but if Pelfrey gets knocked around in his next start, it might be a short demotion for May. Pelfrey throws hard enough that maybe he also can help the bullpen. 4-Bullpen. This isn't about changing roles, it is about changing faces. Aaron Thompson was a good story and a fine contributor for the first six weeks of the season. He just can't get people out anymore. He needs to be optioned immediately. Blaine Boyer was a surprise, but has done a slow fade for the last month. Boyer probably deserves to stay on the team, but should not be the high-leverage bullpen piece as he has been used thus far. Brian Duensing was miserable, but has shown some signs of improvement lately, no runs and only two hits, one walk and five strikeouts in the last 7.2 innings. The temporary addition of a starter in the bullpen might mean that only one pitcher should be added. I think AJ Achter has pitched well enough to get another start. Lefty Taylor Rogers has shown he can dominate AAA left handed hitters as a starter. I think he should be moved to Rochester's bullpen immediately and if he flourishes, should get a chance to help the big team. If Ryan Pressly is disabled, another name to consider is Mike Tonkin, who seems to be able to dominate in AAA, but hasn't done well enough to stick in the majors. For the record, demote Thompson, move up Achter and see if there is a good bullpen arm available on the trade market.
  6. I was originally going to write about the Twins "June Swoon", but the news of Vargas' demotion followed by word that Miguel Sano would assume his spot on the roster makes last month's struggle old news. The Twins are above .500 so by loose definition they are contenders to make the playoffs. They have promoted three of their top prospects within the last month and it looks like this won't be the end of the moves. First, a look at positions, followed by a look at players. Center Field: The Twins have supplanted an injured and now released Jordan Schafer with first, Aaron Hicks and then top prospect Byron Buxton. Both are currently on the DL, with Hicks rehabbing and Buxton supposedly not due back for three to five weeks. I was really surprised when Hicks was not recalled following the injury to Buxton. Hicks has struggled a bit in his first games, but had three hits today. I have to believe Hicks is in Kansas City tomorrow when the Twins face the Royals. The future still belongs to Buxton, despite his struggles with the Twins. Hicks future seems pretty uncertain. The team has started three guys in center in the last week. Shortstop: When Santana was demoted about a month ago, it was assumed that Eduardo Escobar would get his chance to establish himself as the current shortstop. It didn't happen. Santana has returned and started a few games and Eduardo Nuñez has been at short more than Escobar. Jorge Polanco is still in Chattanoogs and committing too many errors. Starting rotation: Ervin Santana's suspension is up on Independence Day. His three rehab starts were very good. All five current starters have a pretty good claim to stay in the rotation. Bullpen: Alex Meyer was recently called up and in two appearances where the starter was knocked out early, has been pretty close to dreadful. The two non-closing left handed reliever have bad statistics and little chance for upside. Blaine Boyer seems to be weakening after a stong start. DH: Vargas opened the season as the regular DH, got demoted and then came back. He hasn't been a constant threat and has seen his playing time diminish. It appears that Sano will get a chance at DH. Players: Kennys Vargas-He wasn't a top prospect last year, but last year he forced his way onto the Twins last year. This year has offered major regression. Vargas had a brief demotion to AAA and today was sent to Chattanooga. Vargas needs to hit with authority and he's failed to do that. As mostly a pure DH (a game at first occasionally) the production has to be substantial. Oswaldo Arcia--He was injured and then optioned to Rochester. Arcia finally has started hitting, but he's been passed by by Eddie Rosario as an outfielder and probably Miguel Sano as a DH. The way back to the majors isn't clear. I would guess someone needs to struggle while Arcia lights it up. Eduardo Escobar--Last year's primary shortstop has hardly played the position. Danny Santana was given the job and when he faltered Escobar has gotten a few starts, but other have started many more. Most of Escobar's playing time has come in left field. He hasn't hit well enough to be a serious alternative in the outfield. Danny Santana--The Opening Day shortstop was demoted to the minors and only recalled when there were injuries. He hasn't hit well since his recall, and started the last two games in center field. Eddie Rosario--Rosario was recalled in May and now seems secure to stay with the club. He has adjusted very well to the majors, starting games at all three outfield positions. Aaron Hicks--Recalled after dominating AAA, Hicks played well in the field, but was at best only a #9 hitter. He was injured just as Buxton was to be recalled and is rehabbing in Rochester. Hicks could be on his way back to the majors as soon as tomorrow. Byron Buxton--The crown jewel of the farm system, Buxton struggled but showed obvious talent. He is slated to be disabled for probably another month. It appears that the Twins have settled on Rosario as a regular outfielder and that DH will be handled by Sano for now. Center field probably goes to Hicks until Buxton is healthy. I don't know who the shortstop for the rest of the year will be. I wish they would give Escobar a legitimate chance at this point. I think Santana needs work in the minors, along with Vargas and Arcia. That is some high quality depth
  7. If Casey Fien feels okay, he will be in uniform tomorrow. That could be the end of the road for Stauffer or Duensing, or mean an option for Tonkin or Pressly. It still doesn't deal with the logjam between left field, shortstop, and DH. Arcia is rehabbing and so far Vargas is raking at AAA. Who should be with the Twins and who should be in the minors?
  8. Danny Santana committed his seventh and eighth errors on Friday. We all know that errors aren't the best measure of defense, but anyone who makes a lot of errors can't be a good defender. In about 100 games, Eduardo Escobar committed five errors for the entire season at shortstop. Santana can't continue making errors at the rate he committed them this month, obviously. I suspect that if he stays at short, he will make more errors than any Major League shortstop. It takes a lot out-of-zone plays to make up for the plays he should have made. Having a strong arm and good range does not automatically made a player a good defender.
  9. From the album: Resolutions

    Perhaps it was desperation that stuck Danny Santana in centerfield, perhaps there really isn't a viable alternative this season (at least until Aaron Hicks follows through on his new years resolution), but if it's at all possible, Danny Santana should try to get himself back into the short stop position. Playing extra shallow, sitting down in the outfield and picking dandelions, sad puppy dog eyes, all are feasible solutions
  10. I might be whistling through the graveyard, but I think 2015 is the Twins' year to become a contender for quite some time. I base some of this hypothesis on the young talent already on the team, the young talent soon to be on the team, and the prospect that a few veterans will have strong comeback seasons. Further, I think there was much improvement in the team's talent from the beginning of the season until their last game in late September. Finally, I think the Twins are overdue for some good luck. The Twins allowed the most runs in the American League. They need to improve on both facets of run suppression--pitching and defense--and that has to mean new faces in new places. I think the Twins need some turnover in the relief corps and at least one addition to the rotation. My picks for the new rotation part is Justin Masterson. Brett Anderson and Josh Johnson are also interesting "lottery tickets", but Masterson has been better more recently. Masterson should be had for high seven figures ($8-9M), with perhaps a team option at higher dollars. In the bullpen, I think at least two holdovers need to go. Anthony Swarzak is arb eligible, but the Twins have rotation candidates to take his role in long relief. Veterans Duensing and Fien are also arb eligible. While their raw numbers weren't bad, a deeper look predicts dramatic falloff. I trade or non-tender both veterans and add who is next in line in the minors (I believe next in line is Michael Tonkin and Lester Oliveros). With the absences created by the claiming of Samuel Deduno and free agency of Jared Burton, there should be room for a potential starter or two to fill the long relief role. In order to improve defense, there needs to be stability in center field and better defenders on the corners. My blueprint allows for the acquisition of fielding whiz Peter Bourjos and also use better fielders in left field. Candidates to provide both offense and defense on the corners are Jordan Schafer and perhaps Eddie Rosario. Both also could get a shot to start in center, perhaps in some adapted platoon with Bourjos. Aaron Hicks would also figure for left or center, but I think both he and the team would be better served to start Hicks in AAA. Much of the rest of the roster would be status quo. Starters in the infield at first, second and third return. Santana auditions at both shortstop and the outfield and is a starter at one spot and Option B if the original plan doesn't work out. Nunez would be the primary utility infielder if Escobar is the SS. His ability to play in the outfield might buy him a roster spot even if Santana is at short,. Escobar is either the primary utility infielder or starting shortstop. At catcher, incumbent Kurt Suzuki will be back with Josmil Pinto as his understudy. Here's my 25-man roster leaving Fort Myers: Starting rotation: Phil Hughes, Kyle Gibson, Ricky Nolasco, Alex Meyer, Justin Masterson Bullpen: Mike Pelfrey, Tommy Milone, Caleb Thielbar, Michael Tonkin, Lester Oliveros, Casey Fien, Glen Perkins (12 pitchers) Catchers: Kurt Suzuki, Josmil Pinto (2 catchers) Infielders: Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe, Danny Santana, Eduardo Escobar, Kennys Vargas, Eduardo Nuñez (7 infielders) Outfielders: Jordan Schafer, Eddie Rosario, Peter Bourjos, Oswaldo Arcia
  11. In 2014, I saw Danny Santana play in a lot of games in spring training. I was impressed with his swing and his speed, but thought that he was a long way from helping the Twins in 2014. But, Santana showed the baseball world that he was ready when he was recalled in early May.He hit early and continued to hit throughout the season. Danny finished with a .319 batting average and an OPS of .824, both of which would have led the team easily if he had had enough plate appearances. Danny made the All-Rookie team and is a cinch to be the Twins Rookie of the Year for 2014. Santana assumed the leadoff spot in the order at midseason and thrived there. He hit over .300 and stole 19 bases as the leadoff man. Santana scored 70 runs in just over 100 games and had 41 extra-base hits in 430 plate appearances. Danny's BABIP was .405, a very high number and it was an astounding .443 as a right- handed hitter. Beyond his offensive contributions, Santana saved the Twins by playing center field. Danny started 62 games there after playing center only a handful of games in the low minors. His defense wasn't good at the start, but he improved and was adequate by the conclusion of the season. Two questions loom over Danny Santana for 2015 and beyond: 1) Can he sustain his outstanding offensive performance? and 2) What will his defensive position be? First, it is hard to believe that Santana will continue to hit .319 next year and beyond. He's got great speed, a nice swing and unflappable attitude, but that BABIP is pretty close to otherworldly, especially from the right side. I expect the major regression will come on his right-handed hitting because his K percentage is much higher (32% vs. 19% as a LH hitter). Also, I think Danny has to learn to be a bit more selective at the plate. He chased a lot of pitches out of the zone making for short or defensive at-bats. Adding to his walk percentage would be a good idea, as well (only 4.4% in 2014). Where Santana should play going forward has been a top topic on Twins Daily. The team got solid production from last year's de facto starting shortstop, Eduardo Escobar, and did not get anything close to solid production in center field from anyone else on the current roster. Santana was a shortstop playing center field in 2014. He could be more than that if the team decides he is needed in the outfield. However, he has the arm and range to be an outstanding defensive shortstop. It is a quandary that the next manager will have to deal with. Any solution will be controversial. The hope is the team picks a position for Danny and leaves him there, at least for 2015. Click here to view the article
  12. He hit early and continued to hit throughout the season. Danny finished with a .319 batting average and an OPS of .824, both of which would have led the team easily if he had had enough plate appearances. Danny made the All-Rookie team and is a cinch to be the Twins Rookie of the Year for 2014. Santana assumed the leadoff spot in the order at midseason and thrived there. He hit over .300 and stole 19 bases as the leadoff man. Santana scored 70 runs in just over 100 games and had 41 extra-base hits in 430 plate appearances. Danny's BABIP was .405, a very high number and it was an astounding .443 as a right- handed hitter. Beyond his offensive contributions, Santana saved the Twins by playing center field. Danny started 62 games there after playing center only a handful of games in the low minors. His defense wasn't good at the start, but he improved and was adequate by the conclusion of the season. Two questions loom over Danny Santana for 2015 and beyond: 1) Can he sustain his outstanding offensive performance? and 2) What will his defensive position be? First, it is hard to believe that Santana will continue to hit .319 next year and beyond. He's got great speed, a nice swing and unflappable attitude, but that BABIP is pretty close to otherworldly, especially from the right side. I expect the major regression will come on his right-handed hitting because his K percentage is much higher (32% vs. 19% as a LH hitter). Also, I think Danny has to learn to be a bit more selective at the plate. He chased a lot of pitches out of the zone making for short or defensive at-bats. Adding to his walk percentage would be a good idea, as well (only 4.4% in 2014). Where Santana should play going forward has been a top topic on Twins Daily. The team got solid production from last year's de facto starting shortstop, Eduardo Escobar, and did not get anything close to solid production in center field from anyone else on the current roster. Santana was a shortstop playing center field in 2014. He could be more than that if the team decides he is needed in the outfield. However, he has the arm and range to be an outstanding defensive shortstop. It is a quandary that the next manager will have to deal with. Any solution will be controversial. The hope is the team picks a position for Danny and leaves him there, at least for 2015.
  13. I saw Danny Santana play in a lot of games in Spring Training of 2014. I was impressed with his swing and his speed, but thought that he was a long way from helping the Twins in 2014. Santana showed the baseball world that he was ready when he was recalled in early May. He hit early and continued to hit throughout the season. Danny finished with a .319 batting average and an OPS of .824, both of which would have led the team easily if he had enough plate appearances. Danny made the All-Rookie team and is a cinch to be the Twins Rookie of the Year for 2014. Santana assumed the leadoff spot in the order at midseason and thrived there. He hit over .300 and stole 19 bases as the leadoff man. Santana scored 70 runs in just over 100 games and had 41 extra-base hits in 430 plate appearances. Danny's BABIP was .405, a very high number and it was an astounding .443 as a right handed hitter. Beyond his offensive contributions, Santana saved the Twins by playing center field. Danny started 62 games there after playing center only a handful of games in the low minors. His defense wasn't good at the start, but he improved and was adequate by the conclusion of the season. Two questions loom over Danny Santana for 2015 and beyond: 1) Can he sustain his outstanding offensive performance? 2) What will his defensive position be? First, I find it hard to believe that Santana will continue to hit .319 next year and beyond. He's got great speed, a nice swing and unflappable attitude, but that BABIP is pretty close to otherworldly, especially from the right side. I expect the major regression will come on his right handed hitting because his K percentage is much higher (32% vs. 19% as a LH hitter). Also, I think Danny has to learn to be a bit more selective at the plate. He chased a lot of pitches out of the zone making for short or defensive at-bats. Adding to his walk percentage would be a good idea, as well (only 4.4% in 2014). Where Santana should play going forward has been a top topic on Twins Daily. The team got solid production from last year's de facto starting shortstop, Eduardo Escobar, and did not get anything close to solid production in center field from anyone else on the current roster. Santana was a shortstop playing center field in 2014, he could be more than that if the team decides he is need in the outfield. However, he has the arm and range to be an outstanding defensive shortstop. It is a quandary that the next manager will have to deal with. Any solution will be controversial. I hope the team picks a position for Danny and leaves him there, at least for 2015.
  14. Entering 2014, I had Eduardo Escobar pegged as a standard-order utility infielder. He was a switch-hitter with a pretty good glove, okay speed who had demonstrated the ability to capably fill in at short, third and second. There was some chatter that EE shouldn't make the Twins coming out of spring training, but most viewed him as a good fit for the utility infielder role. Some wanted to see "Eddie 400" in 2014--that is at least 400 at-bats to see what the still-young Venezuelan could do with more consistent playing time. The early season gave Escobar his chance. Pedro Florimon, already seen as a subpar hitter, got off to a woeful start and Escobar got several early starts at shortstop. The rest, as they say, is history. Escobar hit .357 in April and backed that up with a .322 (.865 OPS) May. Florimon was demoted and Escobar became the de facto starting shortstop. Escobar returned to earth in June and July--his average fell to .274 at the end of June--and then he stabilized. Eduardo finished with a .275 batting average and his OPS ended at .721, good for a 102 OPS+. The season qualifies as a breakthrough. Escobar had more plate appearances than in his previous three years combined (over a year and a half in the majors). Escobar set career highs in almost every offensive category and played solid defense at the three infield positions (metrics vary) and showed durability. Esco still has some issues. He struck out 93 times and walked only 24, keeping his OBP relatively low (.315). Many, including myself, doubt that he can replicate his extra base numbers (35 doubles among 43 XBH). Escobar is not a explosive runner and thus will never have excellent range. All of this limits his upside to about what he was this year. Escobar ended up with dramatic platoon splits. In just over 300 ABs, he had only a .654 OPS as a left handed hitter, while in 131 at-bats as a right handed hitter, his OPS was .877. It does appear that Eduardo has been a stronger RH batter throughout his limited major league career. If someone would have said going into the season that the Twins would have a young switch hitting shortstop who could field capably and be an asset at the bottom of the order, most Twins fans would have been ecstatic and guarantee the guy a starting spot for years, however Escobar's rise coincided with the emergence of Danny Santana, who has the speed and explosiveness that Eddie 400 lacks. Next year's role for Escobar is up in the air. He may revert to a 3-position utility guy, he could become a "10th starter", filling in for multiple infielders, but not having a specific position. Perhaps he can hold shortstop, if Santana stays in the outfield. If injuries occur, Escobar could slide in for whoever gets hurt.
  15. I never booed Derek Jeter. I had never thought of him as the best player in baseball either. He's been in the majors for a long time and had a lot of success, no matter how it is measured. Upon reaching 3000 hits, it has become certain that he will be elected to the Hall of Fame. The question, to me, is whether he will get the highest percentage of votes or perhaps if he will be elected unanimously. Does Jeter deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? I don't think anyone seriously disputes that. He has over 3400 hits, five rings, five Silver Sluggers, and five Gold Gloves. His durability has resulted in counting numbers that are top of the class. He has been a model citizen under the microscope of the New York media. There is no hint of PEDs or illicit drugs. No one has mustered a harsh word against the man. Defensive metrics show a less-than-great defender. Jeter never won the MVP, but he has been in the Top Ten in that balloting eight times. To top off all the other honors, Jeter has been at his best in post-season. He's won several post-season honors and seems to have made a lot of key plays when the spotlight was the brightest. If I had a vote for the Hall of Fame, I'd vote for Jeter. I really can't see a reason not to vote for him, except for spite. He's had a great career and deserves the accolades.
  16. Danny Santana was called up because the Twins were just about out of choices for position players. He didn't play every day at first, but did start to hit right away. He hit enough to stay, then to play every day as the leadoff hitter and now almost certainly will make the Twins as their leadoff hitter in 2015. Santana is hitting .316 with an OPS of .822, fine numbers. Looking more deeply at his splits, he has hit better as a lefty (.851 OPS), hit well in almost every situation, and shown enough pop and speed to excite the fan base. If there are concerns, they would be about contact and BB/K ratio. Danny has struck out 78 times in slightly over half a season's at bat. He has drawn only 17 walks. I don't have his BABIP at my fingertips, but it has to be pretty high, which is fitting for a switch hitter with excellent speed, but he would probably be categorized as "lucky" in his young career. As mentioned previously, Santana has an OPS about 100 points higher as a left handed hitter. His OPS from the right side is a still-very-acceptable .752. He joins Kennys Vargas as a Twins switch hitter who fares better against right-handed pitching. Santana is 23 and has put up a very fine rookie season. What is his major league future and will he be the Twins regular shortstop for years to come?
  17. The Cubs picked up shortstop prospect Addison Russell, adding to their bank of highly touted shortstops (Javier Baez and Starlin Castro). There is already talk (of course, there is always talk) that the Cubs could/would/need to move somebody. At age 24, Castro is in his 5th year of MLB and is signed through 2019 with a team option in 2020: 2014 -- $5MM 2015 -- $6MM 2016 -- $7MM 2017 -- $9MM 2018 -- $10MM 2019 -- $11MM 2020 -- $16MM (Team option, $1MM buyout) His slash line is .283/.324/.412 (.736). What would you be willing to give up for Starlin Castro? Or do you like Escobar and Santana and Polanco enough to not bother even thinking about it?
  18. Here are Stephen Drew's numbers for 2013 (including post-season): G-140 PA-558 AB-496 R-61 H-118 2B-29 3B-9 HR-14 RBI-71 OBP-.310 SLG-.415 BB-56 K-143 Pct.-.238 OPS-.725 OPS+-96 This includes Drew's pretty dreadful post-season and lowers his numbers, while still providing a sample for a full season (140 games). Those numbers for a single season would put Drew still as an above-average SS, but nothing special. His OPS would fit between Brian Dozier and AJ Pierzynski. Drew's age, going from a great lineup in a very good offensive home park, and career mediocrity all tell me to stay away from him. He is a good defender, but IMHO, no better than that. Getting Drew for eight figures for multiple years and surrendering a high second round draft choice just doesn't make sense to me. The Twins can get better value spending on other positions. I think the best course to take is to locate someone in another system and trade for him.
  19. The Twins again started the season with a new tandem in the middle infield. The two guys this year, Pedro Florimon and Brian Dozier. In 2012, Dozier and Florimon were both shortstops with Dozier playing the middle portion of the schedule as the regular shortstop and Florimon finishing the season, approximately the last third of the schedule, as the primary shortstop. The decision was made to move Dozier to second base. He opened 2013 spring training as the favorite to secure the position and did become the Opening Day second sacker. Florimon was awarded shortstop. Nearing the halfway point of the season, both players' numbers are underwhelming. My question as a thread topic is, which of these two will have the longer tenure as a regular with the Twins? Here are some particulars: Dozier turned 26 in May. He hit a disappointing .234 in 2012 with a .603 OPS. He didn't field well at short and was demoted in August and didn't return when rosters were expanded. Dozier has opened eyes as a second baseman, but his hitting is pretty much the same--.230 BA and .624 OPS. Dozier has no prospects behind him in Rochester, but Top Ten prospect Eddie Rosario looms in New Britain. June has been Dozier's best month so far, hitting .297 with an .894 OPS. Florimon is also 26. He received his first extended major league time in 2012, hitting .219 with a .579 OPS in 54 games. He has demonstrated good range and an extremely strong throwing arm at short, but has been a bit inconsistent in the field. Florimon started 2013 by hitting relatively well, but in June, Pedro has fallen off--hitting just .114 with a .388 OPS. In addition, his defense has taken a bit of a downturn. Overall, Florimon is hitting . 227 with a .632 OPS. There doesn't appear to be a prospect on the horizon to replace this year's incumbent. Obviously, the tougher defensive position is shortstop and offensive production from a second baseman needs to be higher in order to maintain a spot in the lineup. I think that Dozier's offense and defense will end up being better than Florimon. I expect that Dozier will remain a Twins regular until Rosario arrives, probably 2015. I don't think Florimon lasts as a regular through 2013.
  20. I am glad that we'll finally get a look at the much-hyped prospect in the majors. If his position teeters on Morneau's health, it is fairly likely that he will be with the club for a good amount of time. What are are your predictions for Dozier following his callup? After a month, I think his slash line will be about .245/.305/.380 with a pair of dingers and 3 or 4 SB. Quite a few errors also seem likely given his pretty unflattering fielding percentages as a minor league shortstop.
  21. Here's a link to the Hardball Talk post about Cristian Guzman getting released by the Indians. With the Twins middle infield need for a backup shortstop, its seems plausible that they would look into bringing the ex-Twins infielder back in 2012.
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