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  1. Jim Bowden posted a piece called Anatomy of a Trade (Insider required) yesterday at ESPN and - to everyone’s surprise - it was fantastic. It discusses how trades come together and he goes through a hypothetical trade that takes place… and how it progresses over the course of nearly 40 days. This hypothetical trade ends with both teams coming to an agreement at the deadline. But you must keep in mind that for every one that goes through, there are probably hundreds that never grow legs and die. One conversation that I can confirm has happened - and continues to happen - is between the Twins and the Colorado Rockies. It’s still in the infant stages. In fact, the idea sprouted after an All-Star break where the Twins All-Star second baseman, Brian Dozier, and the Rockies All-Star shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki, “bonded.” As Bowden suggests in his piece, the first call is made and the initial offer is “usually lopsided and downright embarrassing.” I don’t know who made the first offer, but the Rockies’ top target is Kyle Gibson. They’ve also asked for Miguel Sano. The Twins target? Troy Tulowitzki. Where do negotiations go from here? If the Rockies insist on a top arm, there are really only a couple of options. Besides Gibson, you’d have to imagine that Jose Berrios will be brought up. And possibly Trevor May and/or Alex Meyer to a lesser extent. But as far the “headliner” goes, only Gibson and Berrios could really fit in that category. With ten days to go, this discussion could really morph in a lot of different directions. In the right deal, the Rockies would be willing to send some cash. (Seth covered Tulowitzki’s contract really well in this piece posted early today, so I don’t feel the need to re-hash it.) In any deal where money is sent, the Rockies would ask for a better return. Would the Twins have interest in acquiring other pieces from the Rockies? Both LaTroy Hawkins and John Axford could be valuable additions to the Twins bullpen. The Twins have also asked about Rockies catcher Nick Hundley, who is under contract through next season and having his best offensive season since 2011. If you’re wondering how the Rockies could deal the face of their franchise, it seems like they might be ready to move on from the duo of Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, with star 3B Nolan Arenado and All-Star 2B D.J. LaMahieu taking over. Moving Tulo, CarGo and potentially Charlie Blackmon could add a lot of valuable pieces to a franchise who has struggled almost as badly as the Twins have over the past five seasons. None of that means that a deal is going to happen. Not with the Twins or with anyone else. All things have to line up perfectly for a deal to get done. As one source familiar with the talks told me, if the Twins make it through their gauntlet-of-a-week this week, “talks will get serious and move fast.” Whether you like Tulowitzki or not, the Twins are having conversations with the intent of getting better this year.
  2. First and foremost, there are literally hundreds of thousands of trade conversations that happen between teams throughout the season and especially as the end of July rolls around. If the Twins weren’t talking to every team about ways to improve their team, that would be extremely disappointing.Jim Bowden posted a piece called Anatomy of a Trade (Insider required) yesterday at ESPN and - to everyone’s surprise - it was fantastic. It discusses how trades come together and he goes through a hypothetical trade that takes place… and how it progresses over the course of nearly 40 days. This hypothetical trade ends with both teams coming to an agreement at the deadline. But you must keep in mind that for every one that goes through, there are probably hundreds that never grow legs and die. One conversation that I can confirm has happened - and continues to happen - is between the Twins and the Colorado Rockies. It’s still in the infant stages. In fact, the idea sprouted after an All-Star break where the Twins All-Star second baseman, Brian Dozier, and the Rockies All-Star shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki, “bonded.” As Bowden suggests in his piece, the first call is made and the initial offer is “usually lopsided and downright embarrassing.” I don’t know who made the first offer, but the Rockies’ top target is Kyle Gibson. They’ve also asked for Miguel Sano. The Twins target? Troy Tulowitzki. Where do negotiations go from here? If the Rockies insist on a top arm, there are really only a couple of options. Besides Gibson, you’d have to imagine that Jose Berrios will be brought up. And possibly Trevor May and/or Alex Meyer to a lesser extent. But as far the “headliner” goes, only Gibson and Berrios could really fit in that category. With ten days to go, this discussion could really morph in a lot of different directions. In the right deal, the Rockies would be willing to send some cash. (Seth covered Tulowitzki’s contract really well in this piece posted early today, so I don’t feel the need to re-hash it.) In any deal where money is sent, the Rockies would ask for a better return. Would the Twins have interest in acquiring other pieces from the Rockies? Both LaTroy Hawkins and John Axford could be valuable additions to the Twins bullpen. The Twins have also asked about Rockies catcher Nick Hundley, who is under contract through next season and having his best offensive season since 2011. If you’re wondering how the Rockies could deal the face of their franchise, it seems like they might be ready to move on from the duo of Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, with star 3B Nolan Arenado and All-Star 2B D.J. LaMahieu taking over. Moving Tulo, CarGo and potentially Charlie Blackmon could add a lot of valuable pieces to a franchise who has struggled almost as badly as the Twins have over the past five seasons. None of that means that a deal is going to happen. Not with the Twins or with anyone else. All things have to line up perfectly for a deal to get done. As one source familiar with the talks told me, if the Twins make it through their gauntlet-of-a-week this week, “talks will get serious and move fast.” Whether you like Tulowitzki or not, the Twins are having conversations with the intent of getting better this year. Click here to view the article
  3. So who is Alex Anthopoulos? What do Twins fans need to know about this potential candidate? He could be shaping the future of this organization for years to come and fans are hungry to see a winning team back on the field. Blue Jays Rising Anthopoulos served as the general manager and senior vice president of baseball operations with the Toronto Blue Jays from 2010-2015. Last season, he helped the Blue Jays end a 22-year playoff drought but he decided to leave after some changes to the team's front office. Mark Shapiro was brought in as president and CEO and it sounds like the Jays wanted to cut costs and stop trading away prospects. He currently works as the vice president of baseball operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers which seems like a springboard job to other positions in the baseball. Wheeling and Dealing During his time in Toronto, the 39-year old Anthopoulos was not afraid to make moves. Some of his biggest trades included: Acquiring 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson from Oakland for Brett Lawrie Sending Noah Syndergaard to the Mets for RA Dickey Pushing to get Troy Tulowitzki from the Rockies for Jose Reyes and other prospects Dealing a trio of left-handed pitchers to Detroit for David Price Besides his willingness to deal away prospects for established players, he also spent plenty of money on contracts for players like Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Many Twins fans have wanted the front office to be more active in making trades and spending money. As Nick alluded to earlier this week, this might not always be the best strategy. Scouting Background Anthopoulos has a background in scouting and he made major additions to the scouting department in Toronto. He created regional cross-checker positions and nearly doubled the size of the scouting team from 28 to 54. In doing so, he was able to shrink each scout's coverage area so they could spend less time traveling and more time working. "We get to see players more often -- more innings pitched, more at-bats, Anthopoulos said. "We've added layers we didn't have before." It seems likely that he would do some major shake-ups throughout the Twins' scouting team including bringing in some scouts who have previously worked with him. The Future When the Twins let Terry Ryan go, they made it clear that they would like to have someone hired by season's end. The Dodgers are four games up in the NL West and posed to make a playoff run. This could mean Anthopoulos continues to work in his current position until deep into October. When the Dodgers hired him, they had to know he was destined to get other opportunities. Maybe they would be willing to let him out of his current position so he can start finding Minnesota's next general manager. There're plenty of changes that still need to happen and hiring Anthopoulos might be just the first step. What are your thoughts on Anthopoulos? Is he the right fit for the Twins organization? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  4. We are ten days from the July trade deadline. Yesterday, Nick wrote about the Twins biggest need, behind the plate. But if catching is the team’s #1 need, would shortstop be #1b? Should the Twins continue to stand by young Danny Santana or turn things back to Eduardo Escobar? Should they look outside the organization for an option, or should they take a shot and hand over the job to Jorge Polanco?Let’s start by considering the internal options. DANNY SANTANA A year ago, Santana was a surprise call-up to the Twins. He stuck and shocked most who had paid any attention to his minor league statistics. He hit .319 and showed good power to go with his speed. Of course, he played primarily centerfield instead of shortstop and finished seventh in American League Rookie of the Year voting. To call his sophomore season a slump would be kind. For the most part, 2015 has been a disaster for Santana. As I went to look at where his statistics compare to other MLB second baseman, I hit a wrong button and ended up with a report that showed me 248 players with 200 or more plate appearances. It was ranked by WAR and guess who came in at the bottom of the list? That’s right. Danny Santana’s -1.7 WAR is worst in baseball. 247th on that list was Jimmy Rollins at -0.9 WAR. Put another way, if the Twins had gone with a replacement level player such as Doug Bernier or Argenis Diaz instead of Santana this season, they likely would have had significantly better production from the shortstop position. Among 29 shortstops with over 200 plate appearances in 2015 Santana ranks last with a .241 on-base percentage and .547 OPS. His .306 slugging percentage ranks 27th of 29, while his .221 batting average comes in at 26th. Santana came into the season with the full support and backing of Terry Ryan and Paul Molitor. They wanted to give the 24-year-old every opportunity to improve. As late July approaches and the Twins remain a legitimate playoff hopeful, it’s hard to imagine he has too much more rope. One other consideration is that Santana is out of options in 2016. EDUARDO ESCOBAR Last year as a 25-year-old, Eduardo Escobar earned the Twins starting shortstop job. In fact, many would argue that he did enough to have been handed the gig in 2015. Of 32 shortstops who accumulated 300 plate appearances in 2014, Escobar ranked 21st with a 1.1 WAR. All spring, Escobar said the right things, but he had to be disappointed to return to a utility role. He has played in just 18 games at shortstop this year, less than Eduardo Nunez. Meanwhile, he has inexplicably played in 32 games in left field, including 27 starts. He has been average, or slightly below average at both positions. After hitting .275/.315/.406 (.721) with 35 doubles and six home runs a year ago, his bat hasn’t taken off this year. He is hitting .254/.284/.400 (.684) with 19 extra base hits. Although not great, it would be around average for an MLB shortstop. JORGE POLANCO Polanco’s Major League stat line looks pretty impressive. He has hit .333/.500/.667 (1.167). Of course, that’s just 12 plate appearances. Signed for his glove work as a 16-year-old in 2009, Polanco’s offense has been what has carried him to AAA and those short stints with the Twins. He played in 67 games with Chattanooga this season and hit .301/.347/.409 (.755) with 14 doubles, two triples and four home runs. Upon his promotion to AAA Rochester, he has hit .298/.317/.351 (.668) in 14 games. The issue with Polanco at this point looks like his ability to play shortstop. He had 16 errors and a .939 fielding percentage in AA. He has seven errors and an .865 fielding percentage in 14 games with the Red Wings. However, it is important to note that he had six errors in just his first six games for Rochester. EXTERNAL OPTIONS Or, do the Twins need to look outside for a shortstop? Here are a few options: JIMMY ROLLINS Last week on 1500ESPN.com, Phil Mackey wrote about a “somewhat crazy, yet realistic trade idea.” The 36-year-old Rollins is hardly playing better than the 24-year-old Santana. Hitting just .204/.259/.322 (.581). As mentioned above, his -0.9 WAR is second-worst to only Santana. He would certainly provide another veteran voice on the Twins roster, and I can’t imagine that it would take much of a prospect to acquire him. The Dodgers also have mega-prospect Corey Seager pretty much ready at AAA. Rollins had his 2015 option vest last year and is making $11 million. The hope would, of course, be that he would play like Orlando Cabrera did down the stretch in 2009. JEAN SEGURA 25-year-old Jean Segura made his MLB debut as a 22-year-old in 2012. After one game, he was part of a trade that sent Zack Greinke from Milwaukee to the Angels. He has been the Brewers every day shortstop since the deal. In 76 games this year, he is hitting .276/.305/.346 (.650) with six doubles, three triple and three home runs. After stealing 44 bags in 2013 (when he was an All-Star), he stole 20 last year and has 13 this season. When the Twins played the Brewers, Segura’s effort-level was questioned on several occasions and that isn’t something new with him. Segura is making just $534,000 in 2015, but he will be arbitration-eligible after the 2015 season for the first time. The Twins would have his rights for the next three years which certainly makes him a bit more intriguing. Yet, it makes it less necessary for the Brewers to deal him, so the Twins would need to give up more to get him. ZACK COZART Cozart has been the shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds since 2012. He is making $2.35 million this year, his first arbitration-eligible season. In 53 games, he is hitting .258/.310/.459 with ten doubles and nine home runs. His .769 OPS so far in 2014 is over .110 points higher than his career average and one would assume that he would not hit for as much power in Target Field as he has with the Reds. The 29-year-old is very strong defensively up the middle. His range is average, but he is very steady and consistent. Since he still has two more years of control, I would expect the Reds to ask quite a bit for him. TROY TULOWITZKI Here is the name we all dream about, right? Tulowitzki was the seventh overall pick of that tremendous 2005 draft out of college and quickly got to the Rockies late in the 2006 season. Since then, he has played in five All-Star games, won two Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger Awards. In 82 games this season, he is hitting .320/.365/.502 (.866) with 19 doubles, 12 homers and 52 RBI. His best years were 2009 through 2011. He has been one of the best offensive shortstops through much of his career. The concerns with Tulowitzki are clear. First, there will always be questions for a player who leaves the offensive-friendly confines of Coors Field. Second, Tulowitzki has not been able to stay on the field consistantly. He played just 47 games in 2012, 126 games in 2013, and 91 games in 2014. But when he is healthy, he puts up big numbers. Defensively, he has always been very good. He has average range, but a strong arm and steady hands. At 30, it’s fair to wonder aloud how long he would be able to remain at shortstop. And those numbers helped him sign a ten year, $157.7 million deal before the 2011 season. He has five years and $98 million remaining on the deal after this 2015 season. He will make $20 million each year from 2016 through 2019. He’ll make $14 million in 2020, and then he has an option for 2021 at $15 million with a $4 million buyout. There are also quite a few bonuses that he will get for MVP votes, All-Star appearances and other individual achievements. The other hurdle in a possible Tulo-to-the-Twins deal is the fact that the Twins would have to give up a ton to acquire the shortstop. Those trade negotiations likely start with a combination of J.O. Berrios and Jorge Polanco, and then the Twins would likely need to add a couple of more pieces as well. That level of prospect is what would motivate the Rockies to consider dealing their popular shortstop. So, what should the Twins do at shortstop? Up-the-middle defense is important. Nick wrote about the catcher position yesterday, and today we consider shortstops. The trade deadline is just ten days away. Put yourself in the GM's shoes and think about what is best for the organization, short-term and long-term. What would you do? Click here to view the article
  5. Let’s start by considering the internal options. DANNY SANTANA A year ago, Santana was a surprise call-up to the Twins. He stuck and shocked most who had paid any attention to his minor league statistics. He hit .319 and showed good power to go with his speed. Of course, he played primarily centerfield instead of shortstop and finished seventh in American League Rookie of the Year voting. To call his sophomore season a slump would be kind. For the most part, 2015 has been a disaster for Santana. As I went to look at where his statistics compare to other MLB second baseman, I hit a wrong button and ended up with a report that showed me 248 players with 200 or more plate appearances. It was ranked by WAR and guess who came in at the bottom of the list? That’s right. Danny Santana’s -1.7 WAR is worst in baseball. 247th on that list was Jimmy Rollins at -0.9 WAR. Put another way, if the Twins had gone with a replacement level player such as Doug Bernier or Argenis Diaz instead of Santana this season, they likely would have had significantly better production from the shortstop position. Among 29 shortstops with over 200 plate appearances in 2015 Santana ranks last with a .241 on-base percentage and .547 OPS. His .306 slugging percentage ranks 27th of 29, while his .221 batting average comes in at 26th. Santana came into the season with the full support and backing of Terry Ryan and Paul Molitor. They wanted to give the 24-year-old every opportunity to improve. As late July approaches and the Twins remain a legitimate playoff hopeful, it’s hard to imagine he has too much more rope. One other consideration is that Santana is out of options in 2016. EDUARDO ESCOBAR Last year as a 25-year-old, Eduardo Escobar earned the Twins starting shortstop job. In fact, many would argue that he did enough to have been handed the gig in 2015. Of 32 shortstops who accumulated 300 plate appearances in 2014, Escobar ranked 21st with a 1.1 WAR. All spring, Escobar said the right things, but he had to be disappointed to return to a utility role. He has played in just 18 games at shortstop this year, less than Eduardo Nunez. Meanwhile, he has inexplicably played in 32 games in left field, including 27 starts. He has been average, or slightly below average at both positions. After hitting .275/.315/.406 (.721) with 35 doubles and six home runs a year ago, his bat hasn’t taken off this year. He is hitting .254/.284/.400 (.684) with 19 extra base hits. Although not great, it would be around average for an MLB shortstop. JORGE POLANCO Polanco’s Major League stat line looks pretty impressive. He has hit .333/.500/.667 (1.167). Of course, that’s just 12 plate appearances. Signed for his glove work as a 16-year-old in 2009, Polanco’s offense has been what has carried him to AAA and those short stints with the Twins. He played in 67 games with Chattanooga this season and hit .301/.347/.409 (.755) with 14 doubles, two triples and four home runs. Upon his promotion to AAA Rochester, he has hit .298/.317/.351 (.668) in 14 games. The issue with Polanco at this point looks like his ability to play shortstop. He had 16 errors and a .939 fielding percentage in AA. He has seven errors and an .865 fielding percentage in 14 games with the Red Wings. However, it is important to note that he had six errors in just his first six games for Rochester. EXTERNAL OPTIONS Or, do the Twins need to look outside for a shortstop? Here are a few options: JIMMY ROLLINS Last week on 1500ESPN.com, Phil Mackey wrote about a “somewhat crazy, yet realistic trade idea.” The 36-year-old Rollins is hardly playing better than the 24-year-old Santana. Hitting just .204/.259/.322 (.581). As mentioned above, his -0.9 WAR is second-worst to only Santana. He would certainly provide another veteran voice on the Twins roster, and I can’t imagine that it would take much of a prospect to acquire him. The Dodgers also have mega-prospect Corey Seager pretty much ready at AAA. Rollins had his 2015 option vest last year and is making $11 million. The hope would, of course, be that he would play like Orlando Cabrera did down the stretch in 2009. JEAN SEGURA 25-year-old Jean Segura made his MLB debut as a 22-year-old in 2012. After one game, he was part of a trade that sent Zack Greinke from Milwaukee to the Angels. He has been the Brewers every day shortstop since the deal. In 76 games this year, he is hitting .276/.305/.346 (.650) with six doubles, three triple and three home runs. After stealing 44 bags in 2013 (when he was an All-Star), he stole 20 last year and has 13 this season. When the Twins played the Brewers, Segura’s effort-level was questioned on several occasions and that isn’t something new with him. Segura is making just $534,000 in 2015, but he will be arbitration-eligible after the 2015 season for the first time. The Twins would have his rights for the next three years which certainly makes him a bit more intriguing. Yet, it makes it less necessary for the Brewers to deal him, so the Twins would need to give up more to get him. ZACK COZART Cozart has been the shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds since 2012. He is making $2.35 million this year, his first arbitration-eligible season. In 53 games, he is hitting .258/.310/.459 with ten doubles and nine home runs. His .769 OPS so far in 2014 is over .110 points higher than his career average and one would assume that he would not hit for as much power in Target Field as he has with the Reds. The 29-year-old is very strong defensively up the middle. His range is average, but he is very steady and consistent. Since he still has two more years of control, I would expect the Reds to ask quite a bit for him. TROY TULOWITZKI Here is the name we all dream about, right? Tulowitzki was the seventh overall pick of that tremendous 2005 draft out of college and quickly got to the Rockies late in the 2006 season. Since then, he has played in five All-Star games, won two Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger Awards. In 82 games this season, he is hitting .320/.365/.502 (.866) with 19 doubles, 12 homers and 52 RBI. His best years were 2009 through 2011. He has been one of the best offensive shortstops through much of his career. The concerns with Tulowitzki are clear. First, there will always be questions for a player who leaves the offensive-friendly confines of Coors Field. Second, Tulowitzki has not been able to stay on the field consistantly. He played just 47 games in 2012, 126 games in 2013, and 91 games in 2014. But when he is healthy, he puts up big numbers. Defensively, he has always been very good. He has average range, but a strong arm and steady hands. At 30, it’s fair to wonder aloud how long he would be able to remain at shortstop. And those numbers helped him sign a ten year, $157.7 million deal before the 2011 season. He has five years and $98 million remaining on the deal after this 2015 season. He will make $20 million each year from 2016 through 2019. He’ll make $14 million in 2020, and then he has an option for 2021 at $15 million with a $4 million buyout. There are also quite a few bonuses that he will get for MVP votes, All-Star appearances and other individual achievements. The other hurdle in a possible Tulo-to-the-Twins deal is the fact that the Twins would have to give up a ton to acquire the shortstop. Those trade negotiations likely start with a combination of J.O. Berrios and Jorge Polanco, and then the Twins would likely need to add a couple of more pieces as well. That level of prospect is what would motivate the Rockies to consider dealing their popular shortstop. So, what should the Twins do at shortstop? Up-the-middle defense is important. Nick wrote about the catcher position yesterday, and today we consider shortstops. The trade deadline is just ten days away. Put yourself in the GM's shoes and think about what is best for the organization, short-term and long-term. What would you do?
  6. http://traffic.libsyn.com/gleemangeek/Episode_205_Troy_Tulowitzki_Mayor_of_Speculation_City.mp3
  7. Aaron and John get together for a midweek, podcast-only episode to talk about the Twins lusting after Troy Tulowitzki, the ups and downs of midseason trades since 2000, making your face look good with Harry's razors, which prospects have the potential to make everyone sad, misremembering Doug Mientkiewicz, having beer on the rooftop patio at LynLake Brewery, and mailbag questions from listeners. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Stitcher or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click the Play button below. Click here to view the article
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