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  1. Good Morning, Per the MLBTR article linked, how would y'all feel about trying to swing a deal with the Red Sox for Mookie Betts and David Price? It appears the Sox are trying to package them together for a couple of high end prospects and it could be a nice opportunity for the Twins. What does a deal look like in this case? Would the Pohlads ever eat this much money to go after a World Series championship? My proposed deal would look something like this: Twins Receive: Mookie Betts (OF) 2020 Salary - $27,000,000Free Agent at end of 2020 SeasonDavid Price (SP) 2020-2022 Salary - $32,000,000Free Agent at end of 2022 SeasonRed Sox retain 20% of salary ($6,400,000 per year, $19,200,000 total)Thaddeus Ward (RHP) Red Sox #10 Prospect, 2018 5th Round Pick from UCFRule 5 Draft Eligible: December 2021Projected to hit the Majors in Late 2021 Red Sox Receive: Eddie Rosario (OF) 2020 Salary - $7,750,000Free Agent at end of 2021 SeasonFernando Romero (RHP) Pre-Arb with 6 years of control remainingFormer top prospectRoyce Lewis (SS/CF) Twins #1 Prospect (per TD)Pre-arb with 6 years of control remainingETA of Late 2021/2022Jordan Balazovic (RHP) Twins #4 Prospect (per TD)Pre-arb with 6 years of control remainingETA of Late 2021Brent Rooker (1B/OF) Twins #14 Prospect (per TD)Pre-arb with 6 years of control remainingETA of Mid to Late 2020Wander Javier (SS) Twins #20 Prosper (per TD)Pre-arb with 6 years of control remainingETA of Late 2022-2023This deal offers the Red Sox some much needed prospect capital and salary relief, as well as a cheap replacement for Mookie Betts in Eddie Rosario. I feel JD Martinez could really help Eddie become a dynamite player in Boston. This deal also offers Romero a much needed change of scenery and an opportunity to get back on track. For the Twins, this takes their "wide open window" and shatters the frame around it. Betts is a former MVP in the prime of his career who can catapult this team to the best record in baseball. While we probably won't be able to re-sign him, one year of Betts is enough to make this team the definitive favorite to come out of the American League. Secondly, which is crazy, is the addition on a legitimate #2-3 starter in David Price. He provides much needed help at the top of the rotation and has postseason credibility that goes back over a decade. It might take a one or two more low end prospects from the Twins to push the needle on this, but I think this could be a framework to getting a massive lineup upgrade and a very good starting pitcher. Thanks for any comments or ideas you may have!
  2. Per Dan Hayes the Twins have signed Homer Bailey and Rich Hill. Homer Bailey will be an interesting project 5th starter and Rich Hill will be really solid, when he’s healthy and that won’t be until July at best. These signings don’t fit Falvey’s “impact pitching” he said he’d go get, a quote he probably is wishing he never said now. Homer Bailey Coming off his best year since 2013, Homer Bailey pitched about league average with the Royals and A’s totaling 163 and a third innings with a FIP of 4.11, he also possessed a respectable BB/9 of 2.9 and K/9 of 8.2. When comparing this to Kyle Gibson’s year last year with a FIP of 4.26, BB/9 of 3.2, and a K/9 of 9.0, Homer Bailey looks a lot like Gibby’s replacement in the rotation. Wes Johnson’s black magic abilities here are certainly intriguing adding the hope that Bailey could be more than just Gibby’s replacement. Rich Hill A healthy Rich Hill that can go all season and you’re sure you’ll get 170 IP from, is impact pitching. However, Rich Hill is 40 and coming off injury, so *maybe* *hopefully* come July or August he can be an impact pitcher. But that’s a whole lot of hoping for a 40 year old. Hill has totaled 327 Innings in the last 3 years with FIPs of 3.72 3.97 and 4.10. In that we can already see that Hill has been in a steady decline, so that hope of impact pitching I stated earlier might not even be true at all and he could just end up another guy at the back of the rotation. If that is the case, the Twins really will have a plethora of arms to use in the 4/5 slots with Bailey, Dobnak, Smeltzer, Thorpe and potentially Hill. Spending only $10 Million guaranteed here is really good and leaves room for a potential Donaldson deal which would transform the offseason into somewhat of a success at the least.
  3. The best starting pitcher in Twins history 1961 The starting pitchers had a history that began in Washington DC with the Senators. For all the starters there years with team, w-l, pct, era, SO/W and WAR. We started out with a very good starting staff. In the early years the started averaged 34 starts per year. Camilo Pascual 13 years starting in DC – 145-141 .507 3.66 SO/W = 2.07. WAR 33.2 Jim Kaat 15 years beginning in DC . 190- 159/.544 3.34 2.54 SO/W WAR 30.7 Jack Kralick 5 years 34-32/.515 3.63 1.99 WAR 11.7 Pedro Ramos 7 years 78-112/.411 4.19 WAR 5.8 In 1962 Kaat, Kralick, and Pascual continued to dominate the rotation. In 1963 Dick Stigman, Lee Stange and Jim Perry came on as starters. In 1964 Kaat, Pascual, and Perry were joined by Mudcat Grant. Jim Perry 10 years 128-90/.587 3.15 1.89 WAR 26.4 Great Career. Mudcat Grant 4 years 50-35/.588 3.35 6.0 WAR In 1965 Grant won 21 games, Jim Kaat 18, Perry 12, and Pascual who had injuries 9. It was our world series year. Pascual had a reduced place in the Rotation with 19 starts in 1966 and Jim Merritt and Dave Boswell shared one of the four rotation spots. In 1967 we had six starters with Kaat first and joined by Dean Chance as the number 2, Boswell, Merritt and Perry were other primary starters. Jim Merritt 4 years 37-41/.474 3.03 3.90 great SO/W ratio WAR 11.4 Dave Boswell 7 years 67-54/.554 3.49 1.88 11.2 WAR Dean Chance 3 years 41-34/.547 2.67 Great Era. 13.1 WAR he was a star. In 1969 Dick Woodson, Bob Miller, and Tommy Hall made significant starts in support of Kaat, Chance, and Bowell. Tommy Hall was my favorite. Hall was six foot and weighed 150. I am six foot and 230, I cannot imagine. His nickname was The Blade. In nine years, his record was of 52-33 with 32 saves and he was with the Big Red Machine their first two years. Tommy Hall 4 years 25-21/.543 3.00 2.32 WAR 6.6 In 1970 behind Kaat and Perry were Blyleven 25 games, Bill Zepp (love the name, but I cannot remember him), Luis Tiant, Dave Boswell. 1971 Perry, Kaat, Blyleven and an assortment. 1972 Blyleven, Perry and Woodson were the big three, Kaat and Dave Goltz were behind them. Jim Kaat 15 of 25 years a Twin, 190-159/.544 3.34. 2.54 K/BB rate – amazing for that many years. 30.7 WAR for Twins. Bert Blyleven 11 of 22 years with Twins. 149-138/.519 3.28 and an amazing K/BB rate 3.02 WAR 49.4. In 1973 Blyleven started 40 games, Kaat 28, then Joe Decker 24, Dick Woodson 23, Mike Adams 22. 1974 Blyleven, Decker, Goltz and Albury were the top five. 1975 Blyleven and Jim Hughes were 1 – 2 then Goltz and Albury. Goltz was the ACE in 1976 with Bill Singer, Jim Hughes, and Pete Redfern. 1977 Goltz was backed by Paul Thormodsgard (yup – him), Geoff Zahn, Pete Redfern. 1978 Roger Erickson had the most starts, then Geoff Zahn, Dave Goltz and Roger Serum. 1979 had Jerry Koosman and Dave Goltz leading the rotation. Paul Hartzell, Roger Erickson, and Geoff Zahn completed the rotation. Dave Goltz 8/12 years, 96 – 79/.549 3.48 1.80 K/BB and 24.6 WAR Geoff Zahn 4 years 53-53/.500 3.90 1.37 and 9 WAR Koosman and Zahn in 1980 with Erickson, Redfern, and Darrell Jackson. 1981 had 8 pitchers start and Redfern had the most starts 23 and Albert Williams 22. Jerry Koosman 3/19 years, 39-35/.527 3.77 1.94 K/BB 11.1 WAR Brad Havens was sort of our ACE in 1982 with Albert Wiliams, Bobby Castillo, and Rookie Frank Viola. 1983 Viola took over ACE position and was backed by Ken Schrom (I am amazed by the names in the rotations), Albert Williams, and Bobby Castillo. 1984 Mike Smithson 36 starts, Viola 35, John Butcher 34, Schrom 21. 1985 Smithson 35, Viola 36, Butcher 33, Schrom 26, and Blyleven was back – 14. 1985 Viola, Blyleven, Smithson dominated the rotation. The Champion season, 1987, Blyleven, Viola and that famous Les Straker were 1,2,3 and Smithson 4! Mike Smithson 4 years 47-48/.495 4.46 1.93 K over BB and 4.7 WAR Frank Viola 8 years, 112-93/.546 3.86 2.33 K over BB and 11.6 WAR 1988 Viola, Blyleven were joined by Alan Anderson and behind them were Charlie Lea, Freddie Toliver, and Straker. 1989 Allan Anderson, Roy Smith, Shane Rawley, and Frank Viola were the main rotation. 1990 saw a rotation of Anderson, David West, Kevin Tapani, Mark Guthrie, Scott Erickson, and Roy Smith. Allan Anderson 6 years, 49 – 54/.476 4.11 8.5 WAR The WS year of 1991 Jack Morris started 35 games, it is his durability that made him HOF, Kevin Tapani, Scott Erickson, Allan Anderson, Guthrie and West were our starters. Jack Morris, 1 year, 18 -12/.600. 3.43 1.77, 4.3 WAR Kevin Tapani 7 years 75-63/.543. 4.06 2.84 19.2 WAR Allan Anderson 6 years 49-54/.476 4.11 1.61 8.5 WAR Scott Erickson 6 years 61-60/.504 4.22 1.44 12.7 WAR John Smiley joined Erickson and Tapani in 1992 with Bill Krueger and Bob Kipper. We also had Pat Mahomes, Willie Banks, and Mike Trombley – three young pitchers who were the promise of the future! Tapani, Erickson and Willie Banks lead 1993 with Jim Deshaies and Eddie Guardado. 1994 the same except banks was replaced by Mahomes and someone named Carlos Pulido filled the rotation. 1995 Brad Radtke and Tapani lead the rotation with Erickson, Trombley, and Frankie Rodriguez. 1996 Rodriguez was joined by Rich Robertson, Radtke, Aldred and Aguilera. 1997 It was Radtke, Robertson, Naulty, Tewksbury, LaTroy Hawkins, and Scott Aldred. 1998 LaTroy Hawkins started 33 games, Eric Milton 32, Radke 32, and Tewksbury 25. Brad Radke 12 years. 148 – 139/.516 4.22 3.30 great K over BB! 45.7 WAR Rick Aquilar will eventually make his mark as a reliever but was 40 – 47 as a starter. 1999 it was Milton, Hawkins, and Radke. Joe Mays, Dan Perkins, and Mike Lincoln were three more starters. 2000 we had a solid rotation of five guys who dominated the starts. Santana, Mays, Milton, Radke, and Redman. Eric Milton 6 years 57-51/.528 4.76 2.66 14.8 WAR 2001 Milton, Mays, Radtke over 30 starts, Todd Jones 24, Kyle Lohse 19 and Santana only 11. In 2002, Lohse, Milton and Rick Reed +30 starts, Santana 13, Radtke 21, Joe Mays 17, Matt Kinney 12. 2003 Santana got only 18 starts out of 45 appearances (will we do this to Romero too) Lohse, Kenny Rogers, Mays and Radtke got the starts. Joe Mays 6 years 48-65/.425 4.85 1.56 10.7 WAR Kyle Lohse 6 Years 51-57/.472 4.88 1.94 WAR 6.6 2005 Santana is let loose and is the ACE, with Lohse, Mays, and Radtke. 2006 Santana still the Ace, Carlos Silva, Radtke, Boof Bonser, and Scott Baker. 2007 Santana, Silva, and Bonser all have 30+ starts, Scott Baker and Matt Garza are next. 2008 Nick Blackburn takes over with the most starts, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins and Livan Hernandez. Johan Santana 8 mostly under-utilized years 93-44/.679 3.22 3.79 K/BB 35.7 WAR 2009 Baker, Blackburn, Liriano, Slowey and Perkins. 2010 Pavano, Liriano, Baker, Blackburn and Slowey. Scott Baker 7 years, 63-48/.568 4.15 3.44 WAR 15.8. Francisco Liriano 7 years 50-52/.490 4.33 2.43 9.4 WAR 2011 Pavano was followed by Brian Duensing, Blackburn, Liriano, Baker. 2012 Kevin Slowey 5 years 39-29/.574 4.66 4.70 excellent k/BB rate. 4.4 WAR Nick Blackburn 6 years 43-55/.439 4.85 1.92 3.2 WAR Carl Pavano 4 years, 33-33/.500 4.32 3.08 2.6 WAR 2012 Scott Diamond had the most starts, Blackburn, Liriano, De Vries, Pavano in that order. What can I say about 2013 – Kevin Correia had the most starts, Mike Pelfrey was second, Scott Diamond third, Sam Deduno fourth. I think I will stop there. So who are the best starters? Here they are ranked by WAR. Johan will have an argument if we look at WAR per year 4.4, Blyleven 4.5, Radke 3.8, Pascual 2.6, Perry 2.6, Goltz 3.1, Dean Chance 3.3, and Koosman 3.7! 1. Bert Blyleven 11 of 22 years with Twins. 149-138/.519 3.28 and an amazing K/BB rate 3.02 WAR 49.4. 2. Brad Radke 12 years. 148 – 139/.516 4.22 3.30 great K over BB! 45.7 WAR 3. Johan Santana 8 mostly under-utilized years 93-44/.679 3.22 3.79 K/BB 35.7 WAR 4. Camilo Pascual 13 years starting in DC – 145-141 .507 3.66 SO/W = 2.07. WAR 33.2 5. Jim Kaat 15 years beginning in DC . 190- 159/.544 3.34 2.54 SO/W WAR 30.7 6. Jim Perry 10 years 128-90/.587 3.15 1.89 WAR 26.4 Great Career. 7. Dave Goltz 8/12 years, 96 – 79/.549 3.48 1.80 K/BB and 24.6 WAR 8. Kevin Tapani 7 years 75-63/.543. 4.06 2.84 19.2 WAR 9. Eric Milton 6 years 57-51/.528 4.76 2.66 14.8 WAR 10. Dean Chance 3 years 41-34/.547 2.67 Great Era. 13.1 WAR he was a star. 11. Scott Erickson 6 years 61-60/.504 4.22 1.44 12.7 WAR 12. Frank Viola 8 years, 112-93/.546 3.86 2.33 K over BB and 11.6 WAR 13. Jack Kralick 5 years 34-32/.515 3.63 1.99 WAR 11.7 14. Jim Merritt 4 years 37-41/.474 3.03 3.90 great SO/W ratio WAR 11.4 15. Dave Boswell 7 years 67-54/.554 3.49 1.88 11.2 WAR 16. Jerry Koosman 3/19 years, 39-35/.527 3.77 1.94 K/BB 11.1 WAR To continue the debate WHIP leaders 1. Jim Merritt 2. Dean Chance 3. Johan Santana 4. Rick Aquilera 5. Bert Blyleven 6. Jim Perry 7. Mudcat Grant Best ERA – Chance 2.67, Milton Most Wins and I count Wins – good pitchers are in enough innings to dominate a game. Jim Kaat 190 Bert Blyleven 149 Brad Radke 148 Camilo Pascual 145 Jim Perry 128 Frank Viola 112 Best Win Pct. 1. Johan Santana 679 2. Mudcat Grand 588 3. Jim Perry 588 Hits per nine innings 1. Dave Boswell 7.147 2. Johan Santana 7.345 3. Dean Chance 7.373 4. Jim Merritt 7.641 Strikeouts – okay Walter was part of our franchise. 1. Walter Johnson 3509 2. Bert Blyleven 2035 3. Camilo Pascual 1885 4. Jim Kaat 1851 5. Brad Radke 1467 6. Johan Santana 1381 7. Frank Viola 1214 8. Jim Perry 1025 9. Dave Goltz 887 My starting Rotation has the following: 1. Johan Santana 2. Bert Blyleven 3. Brad Radke 4. Jim Kaat 5. Jim Perry Camilo Pascual just misses and Dean Chance did not pitch long enough to make my list.
  4. I've not followed this season as closely as I would have liked, but it has been disappointing for sure. In reading the posts after the Twins traded a quarter of their roster, mostly for prospects, it seemed that the back channel conversation was about when the Twins would be good enough to contend. I think they can as soon as next year. First of all, the lineup has a lot of young veterans who could (and should) make a step forward next year. Sano and Buxton have had high expectations, but only about a season and a half of good results between the two of them--Sano's rookie year and first half of 2017 and Buxton's second half of '17--Kepler hasn't become even a good player despite excellent tools and a great swing, Rosario has broken out, Polanco missed half a season with a suspension. I think three or four of those five could be All-Stars or near All-Stars next year. I'm thinking that an acquisition or two of pitchers with what is coming back next year will make the mound corps pretty good. Berrios has a ways to go, but he's had a handful of dominant starts, Gibson has been very good, and even when he doesn't have his best stuff, he's given the team a chance to win. Add a solid starter and then pick from Meija, Pineda, Gonsalves, Odorizzi, maybe Stewart and Slegers to fill out the rotation. In the bullpen, a veteran arm or two with Rogers, Moya, Hildy, a perhaps revitalized Reed are the start of a good pen. There is money to spend so that shouldn't be a problem. Catching should be better with Castro and an improved Garver manning that duty. There seem to be three or four "super teams" and Cleveland is also very good, but things can change pretty quickly. I certainly hope that the FO approaches 2019 with the idea of contending. I'm too old to wait for rebuilds lasting several years!
  5. Continuing in the off-season series, today looking at the free agent market for starting pitching: who's available and which members of the current class the Twins could target in the free agent market. The Twins, as most other teams in the league, are in need of starting pitching. They are one of the few teams that consider themselves legitimate postseason contenders - and need to make significant upgrades to the current rotation if they want to make a serious push towards a World Series birth. The returning staff, presumably, for 2018 has essentially three rotation spots locked with Ervin Santana, Jose Berrios and the resurgent Kyle Gibson. Ervin Santana had very solid 2107 season, posting a 3.28 ERA and 211.1 Innings pitched and pitching his way to an All Star game appearance. Not a typical team "Ace", Santana was the most consistent - and consistently good - Twins pitcher during the 2017 season. Jose Berrios emerged after a disappointing 2016 season, to be good for number 2 on the staff in ERA with a 3.89 mark over 145.2 innings. The burgeoning youngster stepped into a rotation spot and lead the team in both K% (22.6%) and FIP (3.84) marks for the staff. Kyle Gibson, on the other hand, played Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and was a tale of two halves. His 2017 ERA was a very underwhelming 5.07 ERA over 158 Innings, he was demoted in May to AAA, before being called back to the big league club. Upon coming back, however, Gibson seemed revitalized and pitched to a much improved 3.76 ERA in the second half, a dramatic improvement on a terrible 6.31 ERA in the first months of the year. There are some internal candidates for the other two rotation spots, Adelbuerto Mejia and Trevor May ( depending on his Tommy John surgery recovery timetable) may be two options, as well as the up and coming prospects Stephen Gonsalves and Fernando Romero, and others competing for the spots during Spring Training. For the purposes of the article however, we're going to cast aside the notion of filling the spot with internal candidates and see which starting pitchers in free agency the Twins could consider. The 2017-18 Free Agent Starting Pitching Class In an attempt to separate the pack, I have segmented into 3 different "tiers" of pitchers available that i have cleverly named Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 pitchers. Tier One - The "Ace" Type The headlining free agents this off-season will be Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, and if they decline their player options, Masahiro Tanaka and Johnny Cueto. Cueto, coming off a sub-par season and with a lucrative $130 Million dollar contract in hand with San Francisco, is widely considered to be less likely to exercise his option while Tanaka's future is a bit more questionable in New York. Despite Thad Lavines' prior relationship with Yu Darvish in Texas, it is unlikely the Twins as an organization will pay the gargantuan salary due for a pitcher of Davish's caliber, probably approaching or exceeding Zack Greinkes 6 year, 206 million dollar mark. The same holds true of Arrieta and Tanaka, who will more than likely command less than Darvish, but their pedigree will undoubtedly put them in the "Johnny Cueto contract" territory. So, this is befittingly a fairly brief breakdown of the only reason why the Twins - whose 4 year $55 million dollar contract given to Ervin Santana constitutes the largest free agent signing in club history - are probably not in play for the big names in this list. * I will say, as a quick note, the Twins should be in on these pitchers - important to distinguish that. Pitcher contracts being what they are and the ownership in Minnesota's track record - I think its unlikely. The Twins also do not have a TV deal like many other clubs, but - the Twins payroll (which I'm sure I'll discuss at some point this winter) has to increase to accommodate contracts larger than, I'll say, the ownership is comfortable with at this time. Tier Two - The "2/3" Type CC Sabathia The 37 year old lefty is coming off another pretty successful season, posting a 3.69 ERA over 148 Innings. While I'd be surprised to see him get anything more than a 2 or 3 year deal for his remaining years, the annual value of his contract should surpass what the Twins likely would be willing to pay for the aging veteran. All signs signal that he would like to remain in Yankee pinstripes, and the club may be willing to oblige considering his strong postseason performance in 2017. He has been nothing but a consistently strong performer, albeit a few personal issues he's had to overcome in recent years, with stronger-than-you'd-think peripheral numbers (4.11 xFIP and 1.9 fWAR). 2. Lance Lynn The right handed Lynn is another popular name on the free agent market, and for good reason. His 3.43 ERA in 2017 is good enough for second in the '17 free agent class, and while he's not young for a starting pitcher at 30 years old, he's certainly got plenty of productive innings left in the arm. MLB Trade Rumors recently reported he has multiple clubs interested in his services and is seeking a contract in the $110 million dollar range. He will certainly he highly sought after, and the Twins may not be able to keep up with the ensuing bidding war for his services. He could be the most in need of a change of division, with his 5.15 FIP away from Busch Stadium, which might make a transition to the much more pitcher friendly parks in AL Central a good choice, with 2 (or 3) likely rebuilding teams. However, with Lynn's name being very visible and large market (read: Big Spending) teams looking for starting pitching, while I would predict him to be a good fit for the Twins, he is an unlikely sign due to the contract he will likely command. 3. Alex Cobb The 30 year old Cobb is coming off of a very solid '17 campaign, posting solid standard and advanced stats to the tune of a 3.66 ERA, 4.16 FIP and an 86 ERA-. Durability is the major concern with Cobb, as he is yet to complete a MLB season without a trip to the disabled list. However, there is a lot to like about Cobb. He has pitched, very well at times, in the very competitive AL East. He would not be making league switch, as would be the case with Lynn, so familiarity with lineups, parks and the DH would be a positive point for the Twins to consider. He also pitched with much less of a Home/Away FIP split ratio (3.62/4.65 FIP split) than Lynn (4.45/5.15 FIP split). The Rays have attempted - twice - to resign Cobb (reported by Jon Heyman) for $30 million and $40 million respectively in his first two years of arbitration. Cobb should easily surpass these offers this off-season, and it would not surprise me if Lynn and Cobb use each other as benchmarks for the others contract - although Cobb may well be offered less years and dollars because of his injury history. That said, I would expect him to be comfortably (if not exceeding) in the 4-5 year, 65-85 million dollar range (16.25 - 17 Million annually) - both hefty, but perhaps not unreasonably Twins-like numbers. Tier Three - The "3/4/5" Type Its worth prefacing that this is the largest group available, with many names that could be broken down and analyzed as good fits for the Twins. Obviously for the sake of brevity and readability I couldn't include each one, as well as a brief but detailed breakdown of each. Of the players available, I created a table comprised of varying statistics (ERA/ERA-/FIP/FIP(H)/FIP(A)/IP/K%) and weighted them. The pitchers who outperformed their ERA- minus were given the most weight, while those who under performed where given less, etc. The resulting names, while an argument can be made for all of them, just missed the cut - Michael Pineada - Andrew Cashner - John Lackey - Miguel Gonzalez - Doug Fister - Scott Feldman Jhoulys Chacin Chacin, at age 29, had a very good, under the radar 2017 season for the San Diego Padres. He posted a 3.89 ERA over 180.1 IP, and was one of only 7 free agent pitchers to throw enough innings to qualify for the ERA title. Very durable, Chacin didn't just pitch well at PETCO park, with a respectable FIP Away of 4.89 in a very tough division (with bandbox parks in ARI, high altitude in COL, and the World Series appearing LA Dodgers lineup to contend). Chacin is one of the youngest pitchers on the free agent starting pitcher list, and while he doesn't have the established pedigree or upside of the Tier 2 pitchers listed above, he could make a fine addition to the Twins staff. While he has expressed a desire to sign with the Padres, there is very little noise surrounding Chacin. For the sake of transparency, however, he has been up and down in his career. Prior to signing with the Padres, Chacin was pitching in the previously mentioned thin air of Colorado and the desert in Arizona, less than ideal conditions. Chacin has the ability to be a solid number 4 or 5 guy - or, he could be Ricky Nolasco. Luckily, it will probably cost less than the $12 million annually the Twins gave Nolasco, to find out. He would be a calculated gamble, a low ceiling/high floor type signing. 2. Jason Vargas If Kyle Gibson was Jekyll and Hyde, Vargas exemplified this concept by turning it up to "11". His 2.62 ERA in the first half had many arguing that he should start the All Star Game, with 78 K's under his belt when mid-July rolled around, he was widely considered to be contending for a Cy Young, perhaps behind Cory Kluber and Chris Sale. But, then they played more baseball after the All Star break, and boy was it not good for Jason Vargas or his impending free agency. His ERA inflated to 6.38 during the second half, leaving him with a fairly deception 4.16 ERA on the year. His 4.94 xFIP number probably more indicative of the real Jason Vargas, the KC pitcher cannot be viewed as anything more than a number 4 or 5 starter, but in fairness to Mr. Vargas - no one expected him to be Chris Sale in the first place. His poor second half likely killed the hope of a large free agent contract, and at age 34 I would be surprised to see him get a deal longer than 3 years. For the right contract, Vargas is intriguing, but there are better and younger options on the board with more upside and less risk. The Twins already have a younger Jekyll and Hyde. 3. Tyler Chatwood Chatwood has gotten a lot of chatter (excuse the pun) around Twins Territory, I think, because he fits the mold of a type of pitcher the Twins should gamble on. Chatwood, out of all the Tier 3 pitchers, has the most ability to be in the next tier. He is the youngest free agent pitcher, at 27 years old, after what feels like a lifetime pitching at Coors Field. His 2016 season was more impressive than his 2017 season, with ERA at 3.87 in '16 and a 4.69 in '17, but his xFIP ERA estimator suggests that his 2017 season was better if you factored out the unluckiness of FB% for HR (largely outside of a pitchers control, especially in Coors Field). He outperformed league average ERA- , the park adjusted ERA modifier, to put up a 94, a very impressive feat. (For perspective, Chacin and Vargas also had 94 ERA- marks in much friendlier pitching conditions). Chatwood's K/9 is also trending in the right direction, improving from 6.66 K/9 to 7.31 K/9 in 2017. This is Chatwood's first taste of free agency, and while he will be sought after by clubs looking for a high upside bargain, I don't know that he will get the type of contract offers that would price him out of Minnesotas range. Chatwood could conceivably look to establish more value for a second look at free agency by signing with a team that has a (A) pitcher friendly park, ( a good defense and © up and coming contender with postseason aspirations. All boxes that could be checked with the Minnesota Twins. Final Verdict From a spectator's point of view, its hard to see Ace pitchers hit the market and immediately know that your team is not going to be competitive to try to sign them. That said, if Yu Darvish is pining for a reunion with Mr. Lavine AND Mr. Lavine can pry open the Pohlad piggy bank enough to make that happen, stranger things have happened I suppose. Ultimately, though, the Twins may be in the position to do something they haven't done since Ervin Santana, which is sign a free agent starter as a difference maker. After pouring through numbers, which I do - every time i write these - I would stand by the assessment that Alex Cobb and Tyler Chatwood would be ideal targets in the current market for the Twins. While Cobb will be more expensive, and perhaps more prone to time on the disabled list, he also has an good track record in the American League, with good peripheral numbers without being as expensive as a Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta. On the other hand, Tyler Chatwood is the most intriguing name on the board if you're willing to gamble on change of venue and league. He will be a cheaper option than even Cobb, but less of a "sure thing." Purely speculation, I believe Chatwood is a guy the Twins should roll the dice on, if you can get him for 3 to 4 years at a reasonable annual salary of around $12 - 14 million or so. Whether or not he is offered a more lucrative or enticing deal to play elsewhere is always the unknown question. I would expect the Twins to be in on him, though. All things considered, this off-season should include a free agent starting pitcher signing with the Twins. They are on the cusp of making several deep, competitive runs into the postseason, and the old adage always holds true: Good Pitching beats Good Hitting On Deck: The final segment of this series will conclude with a more targeted look at position players the Twins could look to sign in free agency.
  6. The Twins finished April of 2017 with a 12-11 record. They had one winning month in 2016 and only two in 2015 when they finished over .500. Here's my take on a decent first 23 games: Sano--The single biggest reason the Twins are above .500 is the hitting a fielding of Miguel Sano. He's been fine at third base and he's been a force with the bat. He crushed it on the recently completed road trip and was mostly responsible for both wins against the Royals, hitting two homers and driving in nine runs in two games. Defense--There has been an overall improvement. The starting outfield of Kepler, Buxton and Rosario covers a lot of ground and they all have good throwing arms. There hasn't been much time in the outfield for Grossman or Danny Santana. As mentioned above Sano has been more than OK at third and Jorge Polanco has been very good at shortstop. Brian Dozier and Mauer have been about was expected at second and first, so overall the infield has been pretty good. Catching defense has been upgraded with the twosome of Jason Castro and Chris Gimenez. All in all the Twins have gone from one of the worst defensive teams in MLB to pretty good and beside one notable botched rundown, they have been fundamentally sound. Starting pitching--Ervin Santana is a candidate for Pitcher of the Month. He's been beyond outstanding. Hector Santiago has also pitched over his head in April. The rest of the rotation? Blech! Supposed second starter Kyle Gibson is winless and hasn't reached six innings in a start. Phil Hughes looks like an end-of-the line veteran getting by on substandard pitches with the help of fast outfielders and pretty good command. Fifth starter A. Meija didn't make it through April although it looks like he has enough stuff to stick in a rotation eventually. Bullpen--While most of the numbers don't look gaudy, the Twins have survived with a bullpen full of question marks. "Closer" Brandon Kintzler has been fine and for the most point the setup guys have held the lead. Ryan Pressly got knocked around early, but seems to be coming out of it. There isn't a lot of talent or upside in the bullpen, but so far they've been OK, although just about every reliever has had a bad outing that skews their stats. Disappointments--The aforementioned Kyle Gibson has been bad nearing brutal. "Established" players Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer have done little in the first 23 games and Byron Buxton is far below the Mendoza Line. Buxton seems to be coming out of his early season funk and Dozier had a slow start last year before exploding for the final four months of the season. Mauer doesn't even walk that much anymore. It appears Mauer's decline is continuing. In summary, the pitching staff looks ripe for regression (a bad thing for the team), but quite a few things have gone well and would appear to bode well for the future. Sano, in particular, looks like he has taken the leap to star or superstar. There should much more to cheer for and talk about in the coming months and years.
  7. Is anyone else baffled by the fact that Ervin Santana's name never came up once this week in trade rumors? Lets look at the reasons why Santana should have a lot of value in the trade market: Very weak Free Agent Starting Pitcher market: Would you rather have Rich Hill (The top FA starting pitcher) at age 37, for 3 years, $48 million or Ervin Santana at age 34 for 3 years, $41 million (Last year is a team option. Santana would be off the books at the latest by age 36. I would choose Santana, and AT WORST it would be a coinflip. A contract that looks better and better: Santana is very affordable at 2 years, $27 million over the next two seasons with a $14 million team option for 2019. Based on some of the contracts that are being signed now and his resurgence in 2016 makes this value look very fair.Has a very consistent track record and health: Santana has started 30 games or more in all of the past 7 seasons besides 2015 when he was suspended for the first half. Even that season he never missed a start after his suspension was up. He has also had an ERA of 4.00 or lower in 6 of those 7 seasons and pitched 200+ innings 4 times. Great Numbers last season in the AMERICAN LEAGUE: (3.38 ERA, 4 WAR, 181 innings pitched). For a reference, Chris Sale had a 3.34 ERA and a WAR of 5. Santana ranked 10th in the AL in ERA and 15th in WAR for a Starting Pitcher. It was also a better ERA than the following players: Danny Duffy, Marco Estrada, CC Sabathia, David Price, Chris Archer, Yordano Ventura, and Dallas Keuchel. Not saying he is better than these guys, but you could certainly argue he had a better 2016 than a majority of themContending Teams always need starting pitching. You can never have too much pitching. With a weak FA market, you would think teams would get desperate and overpay for a guy like Santana. I know the first argument will be, "Why would we trade our best starting pitcher when we need starting pitching?". I get that argument. But my argument is if you can trade Santana a peak value for a couple of top 100 prospects and young controllable pitching, shouldn't you entertain that? By the time the Twins will be ready to contend for a strong playoff run, Santana will likely be gone or 36 years old. So wouldn't it make sense to get top return for him at his peak? I'm not saying that the Twins could get a Chris Sale like package for Santana, nor am I trying to say his valuable is comparable to the elite level guys like Sale, but I expected them to explore the trade market for him a bit more and for other teams to make some offers on him. Let me know what you guys think.
  8. Ryan Isaac from the Ringer, who spent 10 years in baseball operations departments, wrote a fantastic article about the disappearance of an Ace starting pitcher. Some interesting nuggets from the article: - Baseball’s starting pitching club had already grown crowded and diluted over the past three years, averaging nearly 300 unique starting pitchers per season, but with instability further creeping into the upper crust, that club has begun opening its doors to more members than ever before. - In the four-year span of 2008 to 2011, there were 16 instances of a qualifying starting pitcher averaging 7.0 IP or better per start with an ERA of 3.00 or lower - Over the next four years (2012 to 2015), seven starters combined to reach the mark 10 times - Not a single pitcher achieved the feat in 2016 Much more at the link here.
  9. I know it is early and I also know that not many spots are up for grabs. Just looking at the raw numbers, so far the starting pitchers have performed pretty well with the exception of Duffey's kerfuffle today against the Blue Jays. There haven't been a lot of clean innings from the bullpen and most notably the competitors for a second lefty in the 'pen have been playing a pretty fair game of giveaway. A lot of guys haven't hit much--notably Santana, Arcia, and Buxton, all of whom probably need to show more to win spots. Are there any trends that I'm missing? Is there someone making a big move to claim a roster spot?
  10. That New Pack Smell Every year, I treat myself to one pack of baseball cards. I've always enjoyed recapturing the glee, the confusion and the memories of stale bubble gum. This year, with the Twins careening below .500, it seems that plenty of fans would appreciate a diversion like this, but, as a curious soul, I wondered. Would the Twins be any better, if I replaced players on the team with those individuals in my particular deck of cards? Or, put another way, is the Twins Front Office any better at assembling talent than a random machine at the Topps factory? The results, both of my nostalgia and my exercise in Random GMing are as follows. *** PART THE FIRST: RANDOM MUSINGS *** Really? Parker? I always trick myself into thinking the top card will be someone of magic and wonder, someone to trick you into saying: YES! BEST PACK EVER!!...This year's magic man...Jarrod Parker...a good pitcher coming back from elbow surgery...oh boy...this might be more trying than one of Mike Pelfry's starts. Jose Lobaton (Catcher of the Washington Nationals) follows...Lobaton is fun to say, but I might prefer Loba-tron: Android Catcher of the Future. It's funny because he's a Tiger. Cody Ross of the Diamondbacks might be the most stereotypical Millenial suburban baseball boy name ever...but he was actually born in 1980 so he squeaks into the avant garde of Gen X suburban baseball names and the pack's determined outfield partner would be Rajai Davis, who is shown missing a catch...c'mon Topps, that's just mean! Oh boy, it's the middle of the pack time, hitting the role players, fringe prospects and journeymen part of the deck: Wily Peralta from the Brewers, Robbie Grossman from the Astros, and Robinson Chirinos of the Texas Rangers. These are all guys I could sit next to on a flight to New Delhi and never know they were major league baseball players (assuming they would A: fly to New Delhi and B: Fly coach) Ahh, memories of Mike Piazza Oh! We've got a throwback card! (Also known as fan service for the aging buyers of baseball cards) It's Mike Piazza from his Mets days. Side note: I was a big Piazza buff during my teenage years when the Mets were easier to see on Montanan TV than the Twins. I look forward to his induction in the Hall of Fame, even though I never actually did see him play live. Woah, it's time for some quality here at the end of the deck: Stephen Vogt (A's Catcher, and three pitchers who had strong seasons recently: Stephen Strasburg, Jhoulys Chacin, and Hisashi Iwakuma). Clearly my assumptions about the top of the pack being magical need to be re-evaluated. That might actually be the cleverer marketing ploy: save the best for last and convince the kids to go buy more...I'm on to you Topps, you and your diabolical machinations!! *** PART THE SECOND: "ANALYSIS" HERE BE HEARSAY AND CONJECTURE, BE YE WARNED *** So The Topps Pack of 12 contains 0 Infielders, 3 catchers (not counting Piazza), 3 Outfielders and 5 pitchers (all starters). So how would that do at replacing Twins players? In an unscientific study using baseball-reference's WAR so far this season (and a selection of Twins players who have logged most of the time in the line up, here's where the Twins players* (see note 1) stand. Starters: Suzuki/Mauer/Dozier/Plouffe/Santana/Rosario/Hicks/Sano Bench: Nunez/Escobar/Hermann/Robinson Line up Total (6.9) Starting Pitchers: Hughes/Gibson/Pelfry/Milone/Santana Relievers:Thompson/Duensing/Graham/Fein/Boyer/May/Perkins Pitching Staff Total (11.2) Twins Total: 18.1 WAR After that I hunted down the year for those players in this pack to see how they compare. Obviously I couldn't I didn't just want to replace bad players with someone better (any team is better if they choose better players), rather I wanted to see how the Twins could be expected to do if they brought in all 12 of these guys to replace others at similar positions (i.e. Starters, Catchers, and outfielders) So how would the Twins have done if they'd grabbed this pack of cards and plugged them into the rotation? Here's the results: SP1-Phil Hughes (1.8) Stephen Strasburg (-0.3) SP2-Kyle Gibson (2.4) Hisashi Iwakuma (0.6)--Only 10 starts SP3-Mike Pelfrey (1.7) Jhoulys Chacin (0.0)--Injured all year, hopefully maybe this would be May SP4-Tommy Milone (1.4) Willy Peralta (0.5) SP5-Ervin Santana (0.0) Jarrod Parker (0.0)--Injured all year, so it's a wash Regular Twins Staff: 7.3; Trading Card Staff: 0.8 Net Change (-6.5 WAR) The key take away, other than that my initial reaction to pitchers is based much more on name recognition than performance this year, has to be that despite even the worst outings of late for Twins pitchers, over the season, it's WAY better to have the devil we know than the devil we don't Maybe my initial pleasure with these pitchers was ill founded... If we acknowledge that Terry Ryan can build a rotation better than a completely random player generator, how about the line up? Here are the lineup replacements# (see note 2): C-Kurt Suzuki (-0.3) Stephen Vogt (2.5) LF-Eddie Rosario (1.0) Robbie Grossman (-0.4) Most games are in Left CF-Aaron Hicks (1.4) Rajai Davis (0.9) Most games in center. Utility IF- Eduardo Nunez (0.4) Jose Lobaton (-0.1) 2nd C-Chris Hermann (0.0) Robinson Chorinos (1.6) 4th OF-Shane Robinson (0.2) Cody Ross (-0.9) He only played 9 games (so I kept him here) Regular Twins Line up: 6.9; Trading Card Line up: 7.9 Net Change: (+1 WAR) Clearly the outfield is hurt by that set of swaps, but shockingly (or unshockingly I suppose) any combination of these three random catchers would all outperform the Suzuki/Hermann Tandem with room left over for a third catcher and a couple of days of Vogt spelling Mauer at first base...heck Chorinos even has starts at 3rd on his resume. All told, if the Twins let a random pack of trading cards determine half their line up, they would be significantly worse than they are: 18.1 Team WAR to 12.6 Team WAR. I won't use this as some asinine proof that the Twins are secret geniuses, but at the very least, I won't tweet out some claim that monkeys at typewriters could bang out a better roster than the front office. ...At least...until I open a better pack.... *Note 1: A case could be made that I should have used some different players who either played better (i.e. drop Santana and include Vargas instead) or worse (i.e. Drop Santana for Nolasco), but like my warning says, it's hearsay and conjecture, stick with me guys. #Note 2: I suppose you could quibble and say that I should have removed Hunter for Davis and kept Hicks, or dropped Santana instead of Nunez for the third catcher, but whatever way you do it, the gain of 1-3 Wins above Replacement isn't enough to offset for the dismal pitching changes. And besides that: HEARSAY! CONJECTURE! Smarter writers will have better reasons, I'm just a shmuck who opens trading cards and writes about it.
  11. As SpiritofVodkaDave mentioned in the Rotation forum, Ervin Santana is bound to make his Twins debut in 2 weeks. That leaves us fans with a lot of questions on who's in, and who's out in the rotation. The lowest hanging fruit to clear up the rotation log jam and free up a spot on the 40 man roster going forward is Mike Pelfrey. The man is currently on the final year of his contract, and is most likely viewed as a rental player on a contending team. The question is, what could the Twins get via trade for Mike Pelfrey? Could we get a close to MLB ready catcher for a Pelfrey/prospect package deal? Or is he only worth a low-level, take a chance on me type of prospect?
  12. The Twins managed to lose last night. With their current bullpen, leads in the middle innings look very fragile. The Royals shut down bullpen shut the Twins down and the Twins bullpen allowed the tying and winning run to score. No surprises in that. The Twins stand at 5-9 and are looking up at the rest of the division. Meanwhile, the Royals are tied for first with a nice 11-3 start. The pitching matchup is probably the #5 starter for each club. Cuddy's old pal 36 year old Jeremy Guthrie has started twice. He has a win and a no-decision, he allowed four earned runs in each start and has toiled 13 innings in his starts. Gurthrie has had a bit of a resurrection since coming to KC, after being one of the worst starters in the National League while pitching for Colorado. Mike Pelfrey toes the slab for the Twins. He, too, has two starts to his credit, going five innings in each. More accurately, he has labored for five innings in both starts. The Twins gave Pelf a nice lead in Chicago, which he managed to squander (four runs in five IP), and he battled Cleveland and Cory Kluber for five innings, yielding a run but keeping the club in the game. Pelfrey got a no-decision in each start. Despite scoring five runs last night, the Twins lineup continues to struggle. Four "regulars" who could be optioned or DFAed probably are beginning to feel a little pressure--Schafer, Vargas, Santana, and Arcia. I expected some regression, but so far these guys and really every starter, have struggled. I am expecting a couple of the guys to break out soon and perhaps the hittable stuff of Guthrie will be the turning point. Pelfrey has a tough order holding down the Royals. Besides the fact that they are hitting very well, they have a lot of guys who can take advantage of his less than speedy delivery to the plate. Probably the best thing for him would be a big lead, but we saw him squander that type of lead in his first start. I want to point out how early it is in the season. That, in and of itself, doesn't give us Twins fans a lot of hope, but perhaps reminding ourselves that a lot can change can keep us interested. I do believe that many of the guys hitting around the Mendoza line will start to swing better. I am not as hopeful over the woeful state of the bullpen (without different faces). My prediction for tonight is a veritable slugfest. Because I am a Twins fan, I will predict a 10-8 victory several home runs. That's all for tonight, enjoy the game!
  13. Terry Ryan kept with company policy and made the long-expected and unsurprising decision to offer Paul Molitor a contract to become the new manager of the Minnesota Twins. Molitor, a St. Paul native, has been expected to take over as Ron Gardenhire’s replacement for at least a year, if not longer depending on the rumors you choose to believe, and could have taken over for Tom Kelly in 2002 had he not removed himself from the running due to the contraction fiasco. So Terry Ryan and the Twins got the man they wanted 13 years ago. No surprises in Twins Territory. This blog was originally published at Go Gonzo Journal Sports. The move means absolutely nothing. There is no discernible difference between Molitor and Gardy. They're both infield and baserunning specialists, although Molitor may be more in tune with today’s dependence on statistics when it comes to defensive play, and will hopefully be more open to platoon players with extreme splits to increase overall productivity. That’s a difference of winning a few extra games per season. It won't make the Twins a contender. The ONLY thing that will make the Twins a contender is an ace, and I'm not talking about Phil Hughes. I’m talking about Madison Bumgarner, or someone with comparable talents. Although, after his World Series performance, comparable talents may not exist. Bumgarner proved that in almost 150 years of organized baseball, nothing has changed. Starting pitching still wins championships. Kansas City’s bullpen approach didn't work. You can have as many high-powered arms in the pen as you like, but one man can still shut you out and win three games in a seven-game series despite an average offense that had very little pop in the MLB Playoffs. The Royals could have run a different pitcher out there every inning and still would have lost. Cliff Corcoran of Sports Illustrated found the Royals’ bullpen ranked seventh in runs allowed in all-time postseason history. Even they couldn't hang with Bumgarner and were rocked in Game 4. Starting pitching still wins championships. You can make all the noise you want about the Royals being sound defensively, especially in the outfield, but they didn’t win, and the Giants did despite a two-base error by their center fielder in the ninth inning of Game 7. Starting pitching still wins championships. You can make the argument that you need the bats of Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval in order to score enough runs to win, but you'd be wrong. Gregor Blanco drew a bases loaded walk and scored again after drawing a walk when rookie Joe Panik tripled in Game 1. Blanco got the scoring started with another walk in Game 4, took second on a wild pitch, and took third because he could, later scoring on a groundout by Pence. Matt Duffy, who had just two plate appearances in the World Series, scored on a single by Buster Posey after slapping a leadoff single of his own and taking second on a groundout. Then, in the bottom of the seventh inning, Brandon Crawford hit an infield single and Michael Morse walked to put Blanco in a bunting situation. He laid it down and reached on an error allowing Crawford to score. The rookie Panik then doubled to score Morse and Blanco. That would be all the Giants needed to win Game 4. Juan Perez, a defensive replacement, scored an unearned run in the bottom of the eighth inning of Game 5 on a single by Crawford. In fact, the only game the Giants truly needed the bats of Sandoval and Pence was Game 7. They accounted for every run scored, but it was Morse and Crawford that drove them in. Pence and Sandoval had stellar performances that would have been MVP-worthy any other year, but starting pitching still wins championships. Without an ace on the staff, like Bert Blyleven, Jack Morris, Johan Santana, or even a young Francisco Liriano, the hopes and dreams of Twins’ fans will continue to be dashed by the front office at Twins Way. Unless Terry Ryan and the rest of his disciples learn the Twins’ way isn't the winning way, Molitor replacing Gardy as manager is meaningless, and every job in the front office should be made available. ---- Anthony Varriano is editor of Go Gonzo Journal, a blog featuring the rants of fans and outlaw journalists.
  14. I looked at how well the Twins have pitched since ending the 10-game losing streak. You can read the rest of Minnesota Twins Now Have Difficulty Finding Room for Kyle Gibson at Yahoo! Sports. Does Gibson still need more starts at AAA? Who should go out of the rotation when he gets called up?
  15. I'll start a thread on Samuel Deduno. He's 28 (29 in July) and after missing more than a month is in Rochester's starting rotation. His raw numbers are pretty intriguing: 1-1 record 2.57 ERA in 35 innings. 21 walks, but 41 Ks and only 22 hits allowed. Given the state of the Twins' rotation, his live arm could and should get a shot sometime this season.
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