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  1. Among free agents that have yet to sign (and there are plenty), these 10 are the best fits for the Minnesota Twins. In one man's opinion.These rankings take into account the likely price it'll cost to land the free agent in question. If that were not a factor, I'd have guys like Trevor Bauer and Marcell Ozuna at the top. But all things considered, I'm not especially interested in paying Bauer $35 million annually, or committing to Ozuna for three-plus years, so they don't make the cut. Instead, I went with players that I see as strong fits for the Twins' needs – in terms of the roster, payroll, and overall team-building strategy. Here are my picks, with quick explanations. (Contract estimates via MLB Trade Rumors.) Let's hear yours in the comments. 1. Jurickson Profar, UTIL Estimated Contract: 1 year, $7 million The Twins need to add an impact player in the super-utility role vacated by Marwin González. Generally speaking, my preference would to bring in a new shortstop and slide Jorge Polanco into that role. Unless Minnesota can go and get Jurickson Profar. Functionally, he's a great match. Profar can play second base, left field, third, first, and even short in a pinch (he came up as a shortstop originally). He's a switch-hitter who doesn't strike out much. Most importantly, he seems to be in a state of ascent. The former No. 1 prospect in baseball has been a late bloomer, once considered a bust, but has improved dramatically since arriving in the majors at age 19, and is coming off a career year with the Padres. He turns 28 in February, so he could theoretically become a key part of Minnesota's prime-aged nucleus. I don't think he'll be as cheap as MLBTR projects, but would love to see the Twins land him on a multi-year deal at a similar AAV. 2. Jake Odorizzi, SP Estimated Contract: 3 years, $39 million Aside from Bauer, I'm not convinced any remaining free agent starting pitchers are better than a healthy Jake Odorizzi. That's before you account for the familiarity with a coaching staff that helped the righty unlock his potential and reach the All-Star Game. The Twins need another starting pitcher that at least matches the level of their current top three. Odorizzi checks that box, warranting a "playoff starter" designation, and he's only 30. In 2019, the Twins went 21-9 in his turns. While his 2020 was an injury-ruined mess, there's not much reason to think the health woes will carry forward. Odorizzi could be viewed as the safe and unsexy free agent addition, but I'm not sure why Twins fans would feel that way after seeing what he did two seasons ago. His upside as a borderline ace is hardly theoretical. 3. James Paxton, SP Estimated Contract: 1 year, $10 million There are several intriguing reclamation projects in the starting pitching pool, but Paxton does more for me than others. Though he missed most of 2020 with a flexor strain issue, the lefty reportedly was flashing mid-90s in a December throwing session, and for a 32-year-old his arm has relatively little mileage (750 IP in the majors). Prior to last year, Paxton was a reliable frontline starter, bringing dominant stuff from the left time. He carries his fair share of risk, as someone who's never thrown even 170 innings in a season, but for that reason buying into his potential should be relatively affordable. Plus, the last time he pitched at Target Field a freaking bald eagle landed on his shoulder. If that's not a sign that his future here is written in fate ... I dunno. 4. Andrelton Simmons, SS Estimated Contract: 1 year, $12 million If the Twins are going to add a new starting shortstop, Simmons is easily my favorite option on the free agent market. While the buzz around Marcus Semien is not unexciting, Simmons feels like the safer bet, with a more consistent offensive track record and unparalleled defensive rep. It's hard to overstate the value of having the best fielder in the sport at the most critical position on the diamond. Simmons seems likely to accept a shorter-team deal, which is ideal for the Twins as they spend a year or two assessing what they have in Royce Lewis. 5. Nelson Cruz, DH Estimated Contract: 1 year, $16 million We all know what Nelson Cruz is capable of bringing to the table. We've seen it fully on display over the past two seasons. He has been, by some measures, the second-best hitter in baseball behind Mike Trout, and it's hard to ask for anything more in a DH and No. 3 hitter. The problem of course is that Cruz turns 41 in July and wasn't healthy down the stretch. There's no question that the veteran slugger is valuable to the Twins, both as a thunderous bat in the lineup's No. 3 spot and a cherished leader in the clubhouse. But at this point, the downsides – high regression and injury risks, combined with clogging up the DH spot on a team that could use some flexibility there – weigh heavily enough to keep him from being a top priority in my eyes. 6. Trevor Rosenthal, RP Estimated Contract: 2 years, $14 million On the one hand, it's generally unadvisable to spend big bucks on free agent relievers. On the other hand, the Twins' bullpen is running quite low on proven high-end arms, with both incumbent closer Taylor Rogers and newly signed Hansel Robles looking to bounce back from tough seasons. The loss of Trevor May and his dominant stuff will be felt in this unit, but Trevor Rosenthal could help negate it. (And not just by refilling the "Trevor" quotient.) Rosenthal is coming off a stellar campaign, in which he posted a 1.90 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. He throws in the high 90s and can touch 100. He's one of the league's top strikeout pitchers. Adding him into Minnesota's late-inning mix alongside Rogers, Robles and Tyler Duffey would be a transformative upgrade, greatly lessening the pressure on inexperienced Jorge Alcala to step up in big spots right away. I know some folks fancy Brad Hand for similar reasons, but count me out on him. He's not a great fit in this bullpen functionally to begin with, and moreover, there's something deeply concerning to me about every team in the majors passing up his one-year, $10 million commitment on waivers at a time where Liam Hendriks can score $54 million guaranteed. 7. Kirby Yates, RP Estimated Contract: 1 year, $5 million Much like starting pitching, the free agency market is teeming with interesting rebound candidates with glossy track records. If I'm putting my money on one it is Yates, who offers Hendriks-like upside if healthy and should come at something like 10% of the cost. Instead of making a drawn-out case for the former Padre, I'll simply list his 2019 stats and let you salivate at the thought of adding anything approaching his peak form to the Twins bullpen: 60.2 IP, 1.19 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 2 HR, 15.0 K/9, 1.9 BB/9. 8. José Quintana, SP Estimated Contract: 2 years, $18 million The argument for José Quintana is simple: he's a highly accomplished veteran who raises the rotation's floor. Although a lat injury and thumb laceration limited him to 10 innings in 2020, he'd previously been incredibly durable, making making 31-plus starts and totaling more than 170 innings in seven straight years. He has posted an above-average ERA+ in eight of nine MLB seasons. It's been a while since Quintana has been credibly viewed as a rotation-fronter, but the Twins don't necessarily need one. The left-hander would bring steady stability, and at age 32 a late-career renaissance doesn't seem out of the question. 9. Kiké Hernández, UTIL Estimated Contract: 1 year, $7 million Many words have been written on why Kiké Hernández is a nice fit for the Twins, and I won't rehash them too much. In short, his defensive versatility, ability to hit left-handed pitching, and experience on a perennial contender and reigning World Series champ all align nicely with Minnesota's circumstances. The reason I don't have him higher on this list is that I'm just not convinced Hernández is all that great of a player. His OPS+ has been lower than 90 in three of the past five seasons and he has only once posted an fWAR higher than 1.5 in the big leagues. I see him more as a fallback option if the Twins miss out on Profar, or a nice asset as the secondary utility piece, rather than being a highly desirable target to fill the Marwin role. Note that the contract estimate above is my own, since MLBTR didn't have Hernández listed. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets less. 10. Tyler Clippard, RP Estimated Contract: 1 year, $3 million Rounding out the list, another player who I see as more of a complementary fit as opposed to a primary target. It'd be disappointing if Clippard was the most prominent remaining addition to this bullpen, but it would also be a little disappointing if he isn't added. He was just so incredibly useful for the 2020 Twins, and the cost to bring him back should be negligible (this, again, is my own estimate since MLBTR didn't list him). Now that May has signed elsewhere, Clippard, Cruz and Odorizzi are the only Twins free agents that I'm particularly keen on bringing back. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  2. These rankings take into account the likely price it'll cost to land the free agent in question. If that were not a factor, I'd have guys like Trevor Bauer and Marcell Ozuna at the top. But all things considered, I'm not especially interested in paying Bauer $35 million annually, or committing to Ozuna for three-plus years, so they don't make the cut. Instead, I went with players that I see as strong fits for the Twins' needs – in terms of the roster, payroll, and overall team-building strategy. Here are my picks, with quick explanations. (Contract estimates via MLB Trade Rumors.) Let's hear yours in the comments. 1. Jurickson Profar, UTIL Estimated Contract: 1 year, $7 million The Twins need to add an impact player in the super-utility role vacated by Marwin González. Generally speaking, my preference would to bring in a new shortstop and slide Jorge Polanco into that role. Unless Minnesota can go and get Jurickson Profar. Functionally, he's a great match. Profar can play second base, left field, third, first, and even short in a pinch (he came up as a shortstop originally). He's a switch-hitter who doesn't strike out much. Most importantly, he seems to be in a state of ascent. The former No. 1 prospect in baseball has been a late bloomer, once considered a bust, but has improved dramatically since arriving in the majors at age 19, and is coming off a career year with the Padres. He turns 28 in February, so he could theoretically become a key part of Minnesota's prime-aged nucleus. I don't think he'll be as cheap as MLBTR projects, but would love to see the Twins land him on a multi-year deal at a similar AAV. 2. Jake Odorizzi, SP Estimated Contract: 3 years, $39 million Aside from Bauer, I'm not convinced any remaining free agent starting pitchers are better than a healthy Jake Odorizzi. That's before you account for the familiarity with a coaching staff that helped the righty unlock his potential and reach the All-Star Game. The Twins need another starting pitcher that at least matches the level of their current top three. Odorizzi checks that box, warranting a "playoff starter" designation, and he's only 30. In 2019, the Twins went 21-9 in his turns. While his 2020 was an injury-ruined mess, there's not much reason to think the health woes will carry forward. Odorizzi could be viewed as the safe and unsexy free agent addition, but I'm not sure why Twins fans would feel that way after seeing what he did two seasons ago. His upside as a borderline ace is hardly theoretical. 3. James Paxton, SP Estimated Contract: 1 year, $10 million There are several intriguing reclamation projects in the starting pitching pool, but Paxton does more for me than others. Though he missed most of 2020 with a flexor strain issue, the lefty reportedly was flashing mid-90s in a December throwing session, and for a 32-year-old his arm has relatively little mileage (750 IP in the majors). Prior to last year, Paxton was a reliable frontline starter, bringing dominant stuff from the left time. He carries his fair share of risk, as someone who's never thrown even 170 innings in a season, but for that reason buying into his potential should be relatively affordable. Plus, the last time he pitched at Target Field a freaking bald eagle landed on his shoulder. If that's not a sign that his future here is written in fate ... I dunno. https://twitter.com/Cut4/status/994026166607663104 4. Andrelton Simmons, SS Estimated Contract: 1 year, $12 million If the Twins are going to add a new starting shortstop, Simmons is easily my favorite option on the free agent market. While the buzz around Marcus Semien is not unexciting, Simmons feels like the safer bet, with a more consistent offensive track record and unparalleled defensive rep. It's hard to overstate the value of having the best fielder in the sport at the most critical position on the diamond. Simmons seems likely to accept a shorter-team deal, which is ideal for the Twins as they spend a year or two assessing what they have in Royce Lewis. 5. Nelson Cruz, DH Estimated Contract: 1 year, $16 million We all know what Nelson Cruz is capable of bringing to the table. We've seen it fully on display over the past two seasons. He has been, by some measures, the second-best hitter in baseball behind Mike Trout, and it's hard to ask for anything more in a DH and No. 3 hitter. The problem of course is that Cruz turns 41 in July and wasn't healthy down the stretch. There's no question that the veteran slugger is valuable to the Twins, both as a thunderous bat in the lineup's No. 3 spot and a cherished leader in the clubhouse. But at this point, the downsides – high regression and injury risks, combined with clogging up the DH spot on a team that could use some flexibility there – weigh heavily enough to keep him from being a top priority in my eyes. 6. Trevor Rosenthal, RP Estimated Contract: 2 years, $14 million On the one hand, it's generally unadvisable to spend big bucks on free agent relievers. On the other hand, the Twins' bullpen is running quite low on proven high-end arms, with both incumbent closer Taylor Rogers and newly signed Hansel Robles looking to bounce back from tough seasons. The loss of Trevor May and his dominant stuff will be felt in this unit, but Trevor Rosenthal could help negate it. (And not just by refilling the "Trevor" quotient.) Rosenthal is coming off a stellar campaign, in which he posted a 1.90 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. He throws in the high 90s and can touch 100. He's one of the league's top strikeout pitchers. Adding him into Minnesota's late-inning mix alongside Rogers, Robles and Tyler Duffey would be a transformative upgrade, greatly lessening the pressure on inexperienced Jorge Alcala to step up in big spots right away. I know some folks fancy Brad Hand for similar reasons, but count me out on him. He's not a great fit in this bullpen functionally to begin with, and moreover, there's something deeply concerning to me about every team in the majors passing up his one-year, $10 million commitment on waivers at a time where Liam Hendriks can score $54 million guaranteed. 7. Kirby Yates, RP Estimated Contract: 1 year, $5 million Much like starting pitching, the free agency market is teeming with interesting rebound candidates with glossy track records. If I'm putting my money on one it is Yates, who offers Hendriks-like upside if healthy and should come at something like 10% of the cost. Instead of making a drawn-out case for the former Padre, I'll simply list his 2019 stats and let you salivate at the thought of adding anything approaching his peak form to the Twins bullpen: 60.2 IP, 1.19 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 2 HR, 15.0 K/9, 1.9 BB/9. 8. José Quintana, SP Estimated Contract: 2 years, $18 million The argument for José Quintana is simple: he's a highly accomplished veteran who raises the rotation's floor. Although a lat injury and thumb laceration limited him to 10 innings in 2020, he'd previously been incredibly durable, making making 31-plus starts and totaling more than 170 innings in seven straight years. He has posted an above-average ERA+ in eight of nine MLB seasons. It's been a while since Quintana has been credibly viewed as a rotation-fronter, but the Twins don't necessarily need one. The left-hander would bring steady stability, and at age 32 a late-career renaissance doesn't seem out of the question. 9. Kiké Hernández, UTIL Estimated Contract: 1 year, $7 million Many words have been written on why Kiké Hernández is a nice fit for the Twins, and I won't rehash them too much. In short, his defensive versatility, ability to hit left-handed pitching, and experience on a perennial contender and reigning World Series champ all align nicely with Minnesota's circumstances. The reason I don't have him higher on this list is that I'm just not convinced Hernández is all that great of a player. His OPS+ has been lower than 90 in three of the past five seasons and he has only once posted an fWAR higher than 1.5 in the big leagues. I see him more as a fallback option if the Twins miss out on Profar, or a nice asset as the secondary utility piece, rather than being a highly desirable target to fill the Marwin role. Note that the contract estimate above is my own, since MLBTR didn't have Hernández listed. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets less. 10. Tyler Clippard, RP Estimated Contract: 1 year, $3 million Rounding out the list, another player who I see as more of a complementary fit as opposed to a primary target. It'd be disappointing if Clippard was the most prominent remaining addition to this bullpen, but it would also be a little disappointing if he isn't added. He was just so incredibly useful for the 2020 Twins, and the cost to bring him back should be negligible (this, again, is my own estimate since MLBTR didn't list him). Now that May has signed elsewhere, Clippard, Cruz and Odorizzi are the only Twins free agents that I'm particularly keen on bringing back. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. Voting for pitcher of the year can be difficult. How do you compare a starting pitcher who may work 160-200 innings to a top relief pitcher who might throw 60 innings, but most of them are very high leverage? That distinction becomes even more difficult in 2020 when the top starting pitchers threw 63-67 innings and the top relievers threw just 20-25 innings due to the COVID-shortened, 60-game season. Yes, voting for Best Pitcher can be quite difficult, at times. This year, the choice was really quite easy as all 23 Twins Daily voters gave their first-place vote to Kenta Maeda. He was the easy choice for Twins Pitcher of the Year, and more important, everything the Twins needed. When Maeda came to the Twins before spring training from the Dodgers in exchange for Brusdar Graterol, it was met with mixed feelings. The Twins gave up a top pitching prospect, though one who most assumed would fit in a bullpen. In return, they received Maeda who had put up five quality seasons in Los Angeles. His numbers were fairly equitable to those Jose Berrios had put up in recent years. Maeda found himself in the bullpen late in his seasons with the Dodgers, and he remained in the bullpen in the playoffs. Was it for contract purposes, or was it because he was best serving his team by pitching, very well, in the playoffs? Coming to the Twins, he was excited about his role with the Twins, and he pitched so well that there was never any consideration of moving him to the bullpen. Maeda led the Twins with 66 2/3 innings in 11 starts. His six wins tied Randy Dobnak for most on the team. His 2.70 ERA was two-thirds of a run better than his previous career-low and was 61% better than league average. His 0.75 WHIP was best on the team, 0.04 lower than Tyler Duffey in over 42 more innings. His previous career-low was 1.07. His 1.4 BB/9 tied Tyler Clippard for the best on the team. His 10.8 K/9 was best among Twins starters. He never worked less than five innings in any of his 11 starts. He never gave up more than three runs in an outing. On August 18th against the Brewers, he had a no-hitter into the ninth inning. At one point in that same game, he struck out an organization-high eight consecutive batters. His previous career high in fWAR was 2.9. He recorded 2.1 fWAR in 60 games in 2020 and was on pace for a 5.7 fWAR in a full season. By almost every pitching measure, Kenta Maeda put together the best season of his MLB career and easily the best season by a Twins pitcher. PITCH-MIX CHANGES With the Twins, Maeda made some adjustments to his pitch mix. In 2019, he threw 37% fastballs. In 2020, he threw just 26% fastballs. He increased his slider percentage from 31% to 40% In addition, he increased his changeup usage from 24% to 29% He spoke about working with the Twins and knowing that his changeup was good enough to use versus left-handers as well as right-handers. By throwing more sliders against right-handed hitters, and more changeups versus left-handed hitters, he was able to get more swinging strikes inside and outside the strike zone. Along with that, batters had a career low exit velocity and Hard Hit % against him. The numbers speak for themselves. Maeda pitched better than anyone else in 2020. Just as important, Maeda provided the Twins with a top-of-the-rotation starter that they have not had in recent years. He provided the team with consistency and reliability that it needed. OTHER CANDIDATES Tyler Duffey was the top bullpen arm for most of the season. He was used in the highest leverage situations and came through most times out. Matt Wisler, our choice for Most Improved Twins player in 2020, provided quality pitching regardless of what role he was used in this season. He was an Opener, a Closer and pretty much everything in between. Tyler Clippard doesn’t overpower anyone, but he had a fantastic season pitching in a variety of roles Randy Dobnak tied Maeda for the team lead in wins. He was a strong candidate for AL Rookie of the Year for the first month of the season before a late-season fade pushed him down to St. Paul. Jose Berrios struggled for the first month, but he finished really strong. Rich Hill quietly put together a strong September. Others who deservingly received votes: Michael Pineda, Jorge Alcala, Sergio Romo. THE BALLOTS Here’s a look at the ballots from our 23 voters. But first... how would your ballot look? Here are the results from the Twins Daily Twitter poll: https://twitter.com/twinsdaily/status/1316197453083877377 Seth Stohs: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Jose Berrios, 4) Matt Wisler Nick Nelson: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Jose Berrios, 4) Rich Hill John Bonnes: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Jose Berrios, 4) Sergio Romo Tom Froemming: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Jose Berrios, 3) Tyler Duffey, 4) Matt Wisler Andrew Gebo: 1) Kenta Maeda, Matt Wisler, 3) Tyler Duffey, 4) Randy Dobnak AJ Condon: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Matt Wisler, 3) Tyler Clippard, 4) Tyler Duffey Cody Christie: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Jose Berrios, 4) Matt Wisler Cody Pirkl: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Michael Pineda, 3) Tyler Duffey, 4) Randy Dobnak Cooper Carlson: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Jose Berrios, 4) Matt Wisler Jeremy Nygaard: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Jose Berrios, 4) Tyler Clippard Lucas Seehafer: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Matt Wisler, 4) Jose Berrios Matt Braun: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Jose Berrios, 3) Tyler Clippard, 4) Tyler Duffey Matt Lenz: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Michael Pineda, 4) Tyler Clippard Matthew Taylor: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Matt Wisler, 4) Jose Berrios Matthew Trueblood:1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Matt Wisler, 4) Randy Dobnak Nash Walker: 1) Kenta Maeda, Tyler Duffey, 3) Randy Dobnak, 4) Matt Wisler Nate Palmer: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Clippard, 3) Tyler Duffey, 4) Michael Pineda Patrick Wozniak: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Jose Berrios, 3) Tyler Duffey, 4) Matt Wisler Derek Wetmore: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Jose Berrios, 4) Tyler Clippard Steve Lein: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Tyler Clippard, 4) Randy Dobnak Renabanena: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Matt Wisler, 3) Randy Dobnak, 4) Tyler Duffey Ted Schwerzler: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Michael Pineda, 3) Randy Dobnak, 4) Matt Wisler Thiéres Rabelo: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Matt Wisler, 3) Tyler Duffey, 4) Jorge Alcala POINTS Kenta Maeda: 92 Tyler Duffey: 56 Matt Wisler: 25 Jose Berrios: 25 Tyler Clippard: 12 Michael Pineda: 9 Randy Dobnak: 8 Rich Hill: 1 Jorge Alcala: 1 Sergio Romo: 1 Leave a comment and make your case. PREVIOUS PITCHER OF THE YEAR WINNERS 2015: Kyle Gibson 2016: Ervin Santana 2017: Ervin Santana 2018: Jose Berrios 2019: Taylor Rogers OTHER 2019 AWARD WINNERS Rookie of the Year: Ryan Jeffers Most Improved: Matt Wisler Pitcher of the Year: Kenta Maeda Most Valuable Player: Coming tomorrow
  4. This week at Twins Daily, we will be handing out our 2020 Twins Awards. So far we have named the team’s Best Rookie and Most Improved players. Today, we discuss the team’s top pitchers. Upon completion of the season, our panel of 23 Twins Daily writers voted on the four annual Twins Daily Awards. Asked to rank their top four pitchers, ten Twins pitchers received votes. It won’t surprise anyone to learn that this year’s choice for Twins Daily Pitcher of the Year was unanimous.Voting for pitcher of the year can be difficult. How do you compare a starting pitcher who may work 160-200 innings to a top relief pitcher who might throw 60 innings, but most of them are very high leverage? That distinction becomes even more difficult in 2020 when the top starting pitchers threw 63-67 innings and the top relievers threw just 20-25 innings due to the COVID-shortened, 60-game season. Yes, voting for Best Pitcher can be quite difficult, at times. This year, the choice was really quite easy as all 23 Twins Daily voters gave their first-place vote to Kenta Maeda. He was the easy choice for Twins Pitcher of the Year, and more important, everything the Twins needed. When Maeda came to the Twins before spring training from the Dodgers in exchange for Brusdar Graterol, it was met with mixed feelings. The Twins gave up a top pitching prospect, though one who most assumed would fit in a bullpen. In return, they received Maeda who had put up five quality seasons in Los Angeles. His numbers were fairly equitable to those Jose Berrios had put up in recent years. Maeda found himself in the bullpen late in his seasons with the Dodgers, and he remained in the bullpen in the playoffs. Was it for contractpurposes, or was it because he was best serving his team by pitching, very well, in the playoffs? Coming to the Twins, he was excited about his role with the Twins, and he pitched so well that there was never any consideration of moving him to the bullpen. Maeda led the Twins with 66 2/3 innings in 11 starts. His six wins tied Randy Dobnak for most on the team. His 2.70 ERA was two-thirds of a run better than his previous career-low and was 61% better than league average. His 0.75 WHIP was best on the team, 0.04 lower than Tyler Duffey in over 42 more innings. His previous career-low was 1.07. His 1.4 BB/9 tied Tyler Clippard for the best on the team. His 10.8 K/9 was best among Twins starters. He never worked less than five innings in any of his 11 starts. He never gave up more than three runs in an outing. On August 18th against the Brewers, he had a no-hitter into the ninth inning. At one point in that same game, he struck out an organization-high eight consecutive batters. His previous career high in fWAR was 2.9. He recorded 2.1 fWAR in 60 games in 2020 and was on pace for a 5.7 fWAR in a full season. By almost every pitching measure, Kenta Maeda put together the best season of his MLB career and easily the best season by a Twins pitcher. PITCH-MIX CHANGES With the Twins, Maeda made some adjustments to his pitch mix. In 2019, he threw 37% fastballs. In 2020, he threw just 26% fastballs. He increased his slider percentage from 31% to 40% In addition, he increased his changeup usage from 24% to 29% He spoke about working with the Twins and knowing that his changeup was good enough to use versus left-handers as well as right-handers. By throwing more sliders against right-handed hitters, and more changeups versus left-handed hitters, he was able to get more swinging strikes inside and outside the strike zone. Along with that, batters had a career low exit velocity and Hard Hit % against him. The numbers speak for themselves. Maeda pitched better than anyone else in 2020. Just as important, Maeda provided the Twins with a top-of-the-rotation starter that they have not had in recent years. He provided the team with consistency and reliability that it needed. OTHER CANDIDATES Tyler Duffey was the top bullpen arm for most of the season. He was used in the highest leverage situations and came through most times out. Matt Wisler, our choice for Most Improved Twins player in 2020, provided quality pitching regardless of what role he was used in this season. He was an Opener, a Closer and pretty much everything in between. Tyler Clippard doesn’t overpower anyone, but he had a fantastic season pitching in a variety of roles Randy Dobnak tied Maeda for the team lead in wins. He was a strong candidate for AL Rookie of the Year for the first month of the season before a late-season fade pushed him down to St. Paul. Jose Berrios struggled for the first month, but he finished really strong. Rich Hill quietly put together a strong September. Others who deservingly received votes: Michael Pineda, Jorge Alcala, Sergio Romo. THE BALLOTS Here’s a look at the ballots from our 23 voters. But first... how would your ballot look? Here are the results from the Twins Daily Twitter poll: Seth Stohs: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Jose Berrios, 4) Matt Wisler Nick Nelson: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Jose Berrios, 4) Rich Hill John Bonnes: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Jose Berrios, 4) Sergio Romo Tom Froemming: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Jose Berrios, 3) Tyler Duffey, 4) Matt Wisler Andrew Gebo: 1) Kenta Maeda, Matt Wisler, 3) Tyler Duffey, 4) Randy Dobnak AJ Condon: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Matt Wisler, 3) Tyler Clippard, 4) Tyler Duffey Cody Christie: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Jose Berrios, 4) Matt Wisler Cody Pirkl: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Michael Pineda, 3) Tyler Duffey, 4) Randy Dobnak Cooper Carlson: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Jose Berrios, 4) Matt Wisler Jeremy Nygaard: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Jose Berrios, 4) Tyler Clippard Lucas Seehafer: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Matt Wisler, 4) Jose Berrios Matt Braun: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Jose Berrios, 3) Tyler Clippard, 4) Tyler Duffey Matt Lenz: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Michael Pineda, 4) Tyler Clippard Matthew Taylor: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Matt Wisler, 4) Jose Berrios Matthew Trueblood:1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Matt Wisler, 4) Randy Dobnak Nash Walker: 1) Kenta Maeda, Tyler Duffey, 3) Randy Dobnak, 4) Matt Wisler Nate Palmer: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Clippard, 3) Tyler Duffey, 4) Michael Pineda Patrick Wozniak: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Jose Berrios, 3) Tyler Duffey, 4) Matt Wisler Derek Wetmore: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Jose Berrios, 4) Tyler Clippard Steve Lein: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Tyler Duffey, 3) Tyler Clippard, 4) Randy Dobnak Renabanena: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Matt Wisler, 3) Randy Dobnak, 4) Tyler Duffey Ted Schwerzler: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Michael Pineda, 3) Randy Dobnak, 4) Matt Wisler Thiéres Rabelo: 1) Kenta Maeda, 2) Matt Wisler, 3) Tyler Duffey, 4) Jorge Alcala POINTS Kenta Maeda: 92 Tyler Duffey: 56 Matt Wisler: 25 Jose Berrios: 25 Tyler Clippard: 12 Michael Pineda: 9 Randy Dobnak: 8 Rich Hill: 1 Jorge Alcala: 1 Sergio Romo: 1 Leave a comment and make your case. PREVIOUS PITCHER OF THE YEAR WINNERS 2015: Kyle Gibson 2016: Ervin Santana 2017: Ervin Santana 2018: Jose Berrios 2019: Taylor Rogers OTHER 2019 AWARD WINNERS Rookie of the Year: Ryan Jeffers Most Improved: Matt Wisler Pitcher of the Year: Kenta Maeda Most Valuable Player: Coming tomorrow Click here to view the article
  5. Aaron and John walk through each of the Twins' impending free agents and discuss whether or not a path exists in which they return to the team. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click this link. Listen Now Here Click here to view the article
  6. This week is quite possibly the most important the Minnesota Twins will have embarked upon in 2020. Monday represents the halfway point in the 60-game sprint, while a week from then is the 2020 Trade Deadline. With plenty of guys on the shelf, it’s imperative Rocco’s boys keep winning and get healthy. Starting out with three games on the road against the Cleveland Indians, Minnesota will miss both Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac but deal with Shane Bieber anyways. After leaving Ohio, they’ll travel to Michigan for a four-game set with the lowly Detroit Tigers. In terms of opponents, there couldn’t be more of a stark contrast, but putting distance between themselves and The Tribe will be reliant on early week wins and later expected results. Leading the division by 1.5 games as of August 24, Minnesota is in a very good position to make the Postseason. This team’s goals are significantly loftier than that however, and it’s in that reality that the situation off the field may prove even more dire. Right now, Baldelli’s lineup is void of 33% of the Opening Day group, and the pitching staff seems to take a new hit each day. The latter is an issue, but the former could prove to be a real problem. Josh Donaldson has been shelved since July 31, playing just seven games in his debut season with his new team. Miguel Sano swapped positions to accommodate him, and following a COVID positive, it took Sano roughly two weeks into the season to get his bat going. Donaldson currently owns a .614 OPS on the year and hasn’t settled in at the plate. If he misses much more beyond this week, expecting him to be acclimated and contribute from the outset of October would be somewhat of a fool’s errand. Ryan Jeffers is the future tandem partner with Mitch Garver anyways, so ushering him in hasn’t been a problem. Garver also hasn’t gotten going however, and while it looked like he was starting to find it, the intercostal injury could cost him ample time to lock in. The injury is just a grade 1 problem, but it still remains to be seen when he’ll be back on the field. In the outfield Byron Buxton has been among the Twins greatest assets this season. It’s a sigh of relief that his shoulder injury doesn’t involve the surgically repaired labrum, but it seemed to come out of nowhere and anything more than a 10-day breather would seem problematic. Jake Cave has not stepped up at the plate, and both Rosario and Kepler on the corners have yet to consistently contribute. On the mound there’s a reinforcement coming in the form of Michael Pineda. However, Cody Stashak has been one of the club’s best relievers and him going down out of nowhere was a blow. Zack Littell worked plenty of high leverage a season ago, and now an elbow injury could prove to be a serious problem. Tyler Clippard gets bit by unluckiness being hit by a comebacker, and Homer Bailey has yet to do anything of substance for Minnesota. To say that the shuffling on the mound is starting to wear thing would probably be putting it lightly. There’s not much in the form of starting pitching options that will be available at the deadline, and that means Minnesota will either need to stay internal or go the route of relief to bolster their staff for the stretch run. I’m not yet considering who is brought in being impactful to the same extent as who can get healthy. This week is a critical juncture for the players and training staff to get bodies back on the field. Ideally Buxton misses the minimum, Donaldson returns to the lineup, and Clippard has now more than a bruise needing to heal. This club has all the talent in the world, but there’s only so many injuries one roster can truly withstand. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  7. So far in his two seasons as manager, Rocco Baldelli has shown a preference for giving players time off and allowing pitchers to throw in situations that best fit their role. He adjusted his bullpen usage last season because the team’s relief core was struggling through parts of the first half. In fact, that was one of the team’s biggest needs at the trade deadline last season (See the team’s trade for Sam Dyson and Sergio Romo). Luckily for the Twins players like Tyler Duffey and Trevor May have emerged and the team went out and signed a veteran arm like Tyler Clippard while resigning Romo. This leaves the Twins with one of the baseball’s best bullpens, but their second-year manager could approach the team’s bullpen usage in a different way than he has through the team’s first third of the season. There are two different ways to rank the bullpen when it comes to effectiveness and how the manager views the hierarchy. Taylor Rogers is clearly at the back end of any bullpen configuration for the Twins. From there, things get a little dicey. Baldelli is inclined to use Romo as the team’s alternate closer, but it can be argued that he is the team’s fifth best relief option. The players that should be ahead of Romo in the bullpen pecking order are Tyler Duffey, Trevor May and Tyler Clippard. Duffey has turned himself into one of the most dominant right-handed relief pitchers in the American League. He might be even better than Taylor Rogers, the team’s closer, and that’s quite the honor. May tends to allow some home runs and Clippard is on the backend of his career. So, how could the Twins do a better job of using these pitchers? Minnesota’s offense hasn’t been performing at the same level as the 2019 team and it would be hard to live up to the same level as the record-setting “Bomba Squad.” Still, the trend so far this season has been to turn to less established relief arms when the team is trailing in a game. The names mentioned above are saved for if/when the team takes the lead and other players like Cody Stashak, Matt Wisler and Caleb Theilbar are trusted to keep the team in the game. https://twitter.com/AaronGleeman/status/1292951071556374530?s=20 Twins manager Rocco Baldelli seems to be in the frame of mind that using his best pitchers in deficit games is will have negative results. This seems like a logical response for a manager if the season is 162-games. Unfortunately, the team isn’t in the midst of a season that long. Even the best teams this season will only win around 35 games. This is going to force managers with good bullpens, like Baldelli, to use his good relief arms when the team is trailing. Unless a starting pitcher is pulled after three innings, there is little chance to use Rogers, Duffey, May, Clippard and Romo all in the same game. If the Twins go on a winning streak, this type of bullpen usage could help the team. The team could have a better chance to win by spreading the team’s five best relief pitchers over the course of multiple games. There has also been a plethora of pitching injuries so far this year so allowing pitchers to rest could help the team to stay healthy down the stretch. Out of bullpen arms, Clippard and Wisler have the most innings and that includes Clippard making multiple starts as an opener. Romo, Duffey, Stashak and May have all pitched more than Rogers. In fact, Rogers has barely pitched more than rookie Jorge Alcala. In the grand scheme of a shortened schedule, bullpen usage might not matter until the games count in the playoffs. It is still perplexing to consider the way Baldelli has approached his relief options so far in 2020. Are you concerned with the team’s bullpen usage so far this season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  8. Last night Randy Dobnak took the title of Twins ace and continued his mastery on the mound. Allowing just a single run in five innings of work, his MLB best ERA continued to get the job done for Minnesota. With the losing streak snapped, Tyler Clippard and the bullpen will look to keep the Twins rolling tonight.YESTERDAY’S GAME RECAP MIN 4, MIL 2: The Randy and Rosie Show QUESTION OF THE DAY How do you feel about the infield playing in early in a game? TODAY Twins at Brewers 7:10 pm CT Betting lines: Minnesota -105, O/U 9.0 Twins opener: Tyler Clippard RHP, 0-0 1.17 ERA Rocco Baldelli is going with an opener for tonight’s action against the Brew Crew. With Minnesota still putting together somewhat of a piecemeal rotation they have sprinkled pen games in. Clippard has been very good for the Twins this season allowing just a single run in his seven appearances thus far. When Clippard was tasked with taking the ball to start against Cleveland nine days ago he gave the Twins two innings out of the gate. They were hitless and walkless while he earned one punchout. How much length he gives the Twins, and who the bulk guy is, remains to be seen. Download attachment: ccs-8747-0-88117400-1597115532_thumb.png Last night Baldelli used each one of his horses in the bullpen. Only Taylor Rogers was taxed from a pitch total standpoint, and he struggled in back-to-back outings a year ago. Lewis Thorpe was hit around his last time out and has seen diminished velocity for most of the year. Devin Smeltzer could also be an option to follow Clippard with his start coming on August 7th. Brewers starter: Josh Lindblom RHP, 1-0 4.15 ERA This season is Lindblom’s first back in the major leagues since 2017. He spent the last two years overseas pitching for the Doosan Bears in the KBO. His sub-3.00 ERA’s and near 200 innings of performance were enough to have the Brewers enticed. Through two starts this season Lindblom owns a 12/4 K/BB and has given up four earned runs on seven hits in 8.2 IP. The secondary stats and numbers under the hood suggest there could be opportunity for the Twins to strike tonight. Lindblom has allowed a 47% hard hit rate while generating just a 21% ground ball rate. Giving up so many line drives and fly balls, the recipe for objects to start leaving the yard is there. Download attachment: Capture.PNG He’s a fastball-slider pitcher and the velo on his heater rests at just 90 mph. Minnesota’s lineup still hasn’t begun to click, but this is another opportunity for them to get going tonight. Lineup: News and notes: The Indians were off yesterday, but it didn’t stop more bad news coming from their club. Mike Clevinger was also with fellow dummy Zach Plesac in going out on the town in Chicago. Their rotation-mate, Carlos Carrasco, recovered from Leukemia last season. Both are now quarantined and have had their starts altered.St. Louis continues to look for a clean bill of health prior to any game action return. Their doubleheader with the Tigers on Thursday has been banged.Around the AL CentralDET 5, CWS 1 MIN 11-6 (+25 run differential) DET 9-5 (+4) CLE 10-7 (+22) CWS 8-9 (-7) KC 7-10 (-5) Tomorrow’s game Minnesota @ Milwaukee, 6:10 pm CT Kenta Maeda vs Eric Lauer See Also: Ranking the Twins' Current Injury Concerns Why Harder Might Not Mean Better for José Berríos Click here to view the article
  9. YESTERDAY’S GAME RECAP MIN 4, MIL 2: The Randy and Rosie Show QUESTION OF THE DAY How do you feel about the infield playing in early in a game? TODAY Twins at Brewers 7:10 pm CT Betting lines: Minnesota -105, O/U 9.0 Twins opener: Tyler Clippard RHP, 0-0 1.17 ERA Rocco Baldelli is going with an opener for tonight’s action against the Brew Crew. With Minnesota still putting together somewhat of a piecemeal rotation they have sprinkled pen games in. Clippard has been very good for the Twins this season allowing just a single run in his seven appearances thus far. When Clippard was tasked with taking the ball to start against Cleveland nine days ago he gave the Twins two innings out of the gate. They were hitless and walkless while he earned one punchout. How much length he gives the Twins, and who the bulk guy is, remains to be seen. Last night Baldelli used each one of his horses in the bullpen. Only Taylor Rogers was taxed from a pitch total standpoint, and he struggled in back-to-back outings a year ago. Lewis Thorpe was hit around his last time out and has seen diminished velocity for most of the year. Devin Smeltzer could also be an option to follow Clippard with his start coming on August 7th. Brewers starter: Josh Lindblom RHP, 1-0 4.15 ERA This season is Lindblom’s first back in the major leagues since 2017. He spent the last two years overseas pitching for the Doosan Bears in the KBO. His sub-3.00 ERA’s and near 200 innings of performance were enough to have the Brewers enticed. Through two starts this season Lindblom owns a 12/4 K/BB and has given up four earned runs on seven hits in 8.2 IP. The secondary stats and numbers under the hood suggest there could be opportunity for the Twins to strike tonight. Lindblom has allowed a 47% hard hit rate while generating just a 21% ground ball rate. Giving up so many line drives and fly balls, the recipe for objects to start leaving the yard is there. He’s a fastball-slider pitcher and the velo on his heater rests at just 90 mph. Minnesota’s lineup still hasn’t begun to click, but this is another opportunity for them to get going tonight. Lineup: https://twitter.com/dailyrotonews/status/1293255637670023170 News and notes: The Indians were off yesterday, but it didn’t stop more bad news coming from their club. Mike Clevinger was also with fellow dummy Zach Plesac in going out on the town in Chicago. Their rotation-mate, Carlos Carrasco, recovered from Leukemia last season. Both are now quarantined and have had their starts altered. St. Louis continues to look for a clean bill of health prior to any game action return. Their doubleheader with the Tigers on Thursday has been banged. Around the AL Central DET 5, CWS 1 MIN 11-6 (+25 run differential) DET 9-5 (+4) CLE 10-7 (+22) CWS 8-9 (-7) KC 7-10 (-5) Tomorrow’s game Minnesota @ Milwaukee, 6:10 pm CT Kenta Maeda vs Eric Lauer See Also: Ranking the Twins' Current Injury Concerns Why Harder Might Not Mean Better for José Berríos
  10. Going back a decade or more, the concept of Closer-by-Committee was met with disdain by many inside baseball circles. Meanwhile, the concept behind it was certainly sound. Use your best bullpen arms in the best positions for them to succeed. In other words, if your opponent has Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Justin Upton coming up to start the eighth inning, you might want to use your closer in that situation, especially if you’ve got a closer that dominates right-handed hitters. Get through that situation, and bring in the most logical next reliever for that ninth-inning save. It has also always been tradition that the better bullpens have a ninth inning guy, an eighth inning guy and maybe even a seventh inning guy. That is their role in a game that the team is winning. The role is based on the inning, not necessarily on the matchups coming during that inning. Through admittedly just eight games this season, it appears that Rocco Baldelli, Wes Johnson and the Twins have decided not to give pitcher roles by innings but instead by situation. Here is a quick breakdown of which innings the relievers have been used in so far. Taylor Rogers: 9th/Save (3) Sergio Romo: 7th (1), 8th (1), 9th/Save (1), Trevor May: 5th (1),7th (1), 8th (1), Tyler Duffey: 6th (1), 7th (2), Tyler Clippard: 6th (3), 8th (1), Cody Stashak: 8th and 9th (1), 7th (1), 8th (1) Zack Littell: 5th (1), 6th and 7th (1), Devin Smeltzer: 6th and 7th (1), Matt Wisler: 8th (1), 8th and 9th (1) Lewis Thorpe: 6th, 7th and 8th (1), 8th and 9th (1) Kenta Maeda became the first Twins starting pitcher to throw a pitch in the six innings. In games that the Twins have won, we have seen Clippard, Duffey, May, Romo, Stashak and Rogers. As interesting, pitchers have been used in a variety of roles. Trevor May has pitched in the fifth inning and in the eighth inning. On Sunday, Tyler Clippard will be used as an Opener after being used in either the sixth or eighth innings previously. Tyler Duffey has pitched in the sixth and seventh innings. Duffey said on Saturday afternoon that Baldelli has been up front with the relievers about their roles. “Rocco did a good job. Before we got started, he kind of made the rounds and talked to guys. He said, ‘Hey, situations are gonna call for guys to pitch. Just be ready.’” Earlier in the week, Sergio Romo hesitated when asked about reliever roles, but said, “We all have an ability to get hitters out in a unique way, in a different way from each other. The situations that Rocco’s been putting us in is a compliment to that, to each one of our strengths. Each one of us has been put in situations where I feel Rocco - maybe beyond 100% - knows we’re going to succeed. I think you’ll see more of that.” And succeed they have. Duffey (3 IP), Rogers (3 IP), Romo (3 IP), Stashak (4 IP), Thorpe (4 ⅔ IP) and Wisler (2 ⅓ IP) have combined to throw 20 innings with a combined 0.00 ERA. Clippard (4 IP) and May (3 IP) have each given up just one earned run. Zack Littell threw two scoreless innings in his most recent outing after giving up four runs in his first inning. Devin Smeltzer gave up five earned run in two innings in his lone outing. Combined, the bullpen has pitched 32 innings and has a 3.09 ERA. If you remove Littell’s and Smeltzer’s first outings, the bullpen has thrown 29 innings and has a 0.62 ERA. In short, outside of one game, this bullpen has been remarkable! We knew coming into the season that the bullpen was expected to be a strength of for the Twins. Many national sports media sites ranked the Twins bullpen among the Top 5 in MLB. There is talent. There are veterans like Romo and Clippard who have performed over their dozen-plus big league seasons. Taylor Rogers emerged the last two seasons as one of the best left-handed relievers in the game, if not one of the best relievers period. Trevor May and Tyler Duffey each have electric stuff and seemingly put it together in 2019s second half. Both are much more confident early this season. Zack Littell and Cody Stashak were rookies last year who were a big boost to the late-season improvements of the Twins bullpen. Stashak has been terrific early this year. Stashak said, “It (bullpen’s confidence) is pretty high. I’m sure the word’s gone around that we’ve got a solid ‘pen.” Littell struggled in his first outing, then threw two scoreless innings on Thursday night. He has now been put on the Injured List with a hamstring injury. Baldelli said of Littell, “Zack came out of his last outing with just a little bit of a hamstring tightness. You could call it an injury. You could call it just a minor incident. Really, what it comes down to, is you probably don't want to have to put a guy on the IL for something like this, but it probably would have been a couple of days before he would have seen game action again. So, does he need the full 10 days to feel better and be able to get out there on the mound? I don't know. Probably not. But to have a spot in the bullpen where you're not going to pitch a guy for a handful of days right now is also not a place where we really want to be. ” That gives Jorge Alcala, whose stuff the team has been raving about throughout summer camp, an opportunity. Before Saturday’s game, Baldelli noted, “We had some videos of him throwing at home, and he looked really, really impressive. The velocity was good and was up from what we saw in the big leagues last year. We know he has a big arm and some added depth to the breaking ball was apparent. More than anything, I think his confidence in what he's doing when he steps on the mound against hitters, against big league hitters, even against his own teammates in some of these outings and Summer Camp sessions.” So now maybe Alcala assumes the role and gets the situations that Littell had pitched. With the innings not being the determining factor for when a pitcher comes in, how does a pitcher know, or anticipate, when he might be called upon? In Saturday’s pre-game Zoom Meetings, I asked Duffey if he just needs to start getting ready earlier or if it causes him to pay attention to things like the opponent’s batting order and such. He said, “Obviously we’re not locked in for nine innings, but you kind of look at the lineup and say, ‘OK, there are some righties, or I’ve done well against that lefty in the past, or maybe we need to turn this switch-hitter around,’ something like that. Those are thoughts that go through your mind.” Duffey added, “You can’t really expect anything, and I think that’s good. It keeps everyone on their toes and mentally ready. I can’t say it enough, this is a really, really good group of guys. A lot of talent, a lot of different looks, especially out of our bullpen. I think that’s why we’re gonna have a lot of success.” Sergio Romo agrees, and is looking forward to seeing how it plays out. “It’s going to be fun to see the combinations that Rocco puts together with us. Again, it’s more of a compliment to us when he has so many different ways to use us and is so willing to do it confidently. It’s fun to be a part of again.” While the starters will, hopefully, continue to eat more innings as the season moves on, Baldelli and Johnson have to feel really good about their bullpen, knowing whoever they put into a game is fully capable of shutting the door. And having one of the top closers in the game certainly doesn’t hurt either.
  11. It took until the fifth game of the season for Twins closer Taylor Rogers to get into a game. In the team’s first eight games, he has now pitched three times and recorded three saves for the Twins. He has a pretty well defined role on this team, but the roles of the rest of the bullpen appear to be ever-changing.Going back a decade or more, the concept of Closer-by-Committee was met with disdain by many inside baseball circles. Meanwhile, the concept behind it was certainly sound. Use your best bullpen arms in the best positions for them to succeed. In other words, if your opponent has Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Justin Upton coming up to start the eighth inning, you might want to use your closer in that situation, especially if you’ve got a closer that dominates right-handed hitters. Get through that situation, and bring in the most logical next reliever for that ninth-inning save. It has also always been tradition that the better bullpens have a ninth inning guy, an eighth inning guy and maybe even a seventh inning guy. That is their role in a game that the team is winning. The role is based on the inning, not necessarily on the matchups coming during that inning. Through admittedly just eight games this season, it appears that Rocco Baldelli, Wes Johnson and the Twins have decided not to give pitcher roles by innings but instead by situation. Here is a quick breakdown of which innings the relievers have been used in so far. Taylor Rogers: 9th/Save (3) Sergio Romo: 7th (1), 8th (1), 9th/Save (1), Trevor May: 5th (1),7th (1), 8th (1), Tyler Duffey: 6th (1), 7th (2), Tyler Clippard: 6th (3), 8th (1), Cody Stashak: 8th and 9th (1), 7th (1), 8th (1) Zack Littell: 5th (1), 6th and 7th (1), Devin Smeltzer: 6th and 7th (1), Matt Wisler: 8th (1), 8th and 9th (1) Lewis Thorpe: 6th, 7th and 8th (1), 8th and 9th (1) Kenta Maeda became the first Twins starting pitcher to throw a pitch in the six innings. In games that the Twins have won, we have seen Clippard, Duffey, May, Romo, Stashak and Rogers. As interesting, pitchers have been used in a variety of roles. Trevor May has pitched in the fifth inning and in the eighth inning. On Sunday, Tyler Clippard will be used as an Opener after being used in either the sixth or eighth innings previously. Tyler Duffey has pitched in the sixth and seventh innings. Duffey said on Saturday afternoon that Baldelli has been up front with the relievers about their roles. “Rocco did a good job. Before we got started, he kind of made the rounds and talked to guys. He said, ‘Hey, situations are gonna call for guys to pitch. Just be ready.’” Earlier in the week, Sergio Romo hesitated when asked about reliever roles, but said, “We all have an ability to get hitters out in a unique way, in a different way from each other. The situations that Rocco’s been putting us in is a compliment to that, to each one of our strengths. Each one of us has been put in situations where I feel Rocco - maybe beyond 100% - knows we’re going to succeed. I think you’ll see more of that.” And succeed they have. Duffey (3 IP), Rogers (3 IP), Romo (3 IP), Stashak (4 IP), Thorpe (4 ⅔ IP) and Wisler (2 ⅓ IP) have combined to throw 20 innings with a combined 0.00 ERA. Clippard (4 IP) and May (3 IP) have each given up just one earned run. Zack Littell threw two scoreless innings in his most recent outing after giving up four runs in his first inning. Devin Smeltzer gave up five earned run in two innings in his lone outing. Combined, the bullpen has pitched 32 innings and has a 3.09 ERA. If you remove Littell’s and Smeltzer’s first outings, the bullpen has thrown 29 innings and has a 0.62 ERA. In short, outside of one game, this bullpen has been remarkable! We knew coming into the season that the bullpen was expected to be a strength of for the Twins. Many national sports media sites ranked the Twins bullpen among the Top 5 in MLB. There is talent. There are veterans like Romo and Clippard who have performed over their dozen-plus big league seasons. Taylor Rogers emerged the last two seasons as one of the best left-handed relievers in the game, if not one of the best relievers period. Trevor May and Tyler Duffey each have electric stuff and seemingly put it together in 2019s second half. Both are much more confident early this season. Zack Littell and Cody Stashak were rookies last year who were a big boost to the late-season improvements of the Twins bullpen. Stashak has been terrific early this year. Stashak said, “It (bullpen’s confidence) is pretty high. I’m sure the word’s gone around that we’ve got a solid ‘pen.” Littell struggled in his first outing, then threw two scoreless innings on Thursday night. He has now been put on the Injured List with a hamstring injury. Baldelli said of Littell, “Zack came out of his last outing with just a little bit of a hamstring tightness. You could call it an injury. You could call it just a minor incident. Really, what it comes down to, is you probably don't want to have to put a guy on the IL for something like this, but it probably would have been a couple of days before he would have seen game action again. So, does he need the full 10 days to feel better and be able to get out there on the mound? I don't know. Probably not. But to have a spot in the bullpen where you're not going to pitch a guy for a handful of days right now is also not a place where we really want to be. ” That gives Jorge Alcala, whose stuff the team has been raving about throughout summer camp, an opportunity. Before Saturday’s game, Baldelli noted, “We had some videos of him throwing at home, and he looked really, really impressive. The velocity was good and was up from what we saw in the big leagues last year. We know he has a big arm and some added depth to the breaking ball was apparent. More than anything, I think his confidence in what he's doing when he steps on the mound against hitters, against big league hitters, even against his own teammates in some of these outings and Summer Camp sessions.” So now maybe Alcala assumes the role and gets the situations that Littell had pitched. With the innings not being the determining factor for when a pitcher comes in, how does a pitcher know, or anticipate, when he might be called upon? In Saturday’s pre-game Zoom Meetings, I asked Duffey if he just needs to start getting ready earlier or if it causes him to pay attention to things like the opponent’s batting order and such. He said, “Obviously we’re not locked in for nine innings, but you kind of look at the lineup and say, ‘OK, there are some righties, or I’ve done well against that lefty in the past, or maybe we need to turn this switch-hitter around,’ something like that. Those are thoughts that go through your mind.” Duffey added, “You can’t really expect anything, and I think that’s good. It keeps everyone on their toes and mentally ready. I can’t say it enough, this is a really, really good group of guys. A lot of talent, a lot of different looks, especially out of our bullpen. I think that’s why we’re gonna have a lot of success.” Sergio Romo agrees, and is looking forward to seeing how it plays out. “It’s going to be fun to see the combinations that Rocco puts together with us. Again, it’s more of a compliment to us when he has so many different ways to use us and is so willing to do it confidently. It’s fun to be a part of again.” While the starters will, hopefully, continue to eat more innings as the season moves on, Baldelli and Johnson have to feel really good about their bullpen, knowing whoever they put into a game is fully capable of shutting the door. And having one of the top closers in the game certainly doesn’t hurt either. Click here to view the article
  12. When a team acquires a pitcher, via free agency or trade, it is because they believe that pitcher can get batters out with regularity. However, when the team signed Tyler Clippard and re-signed Sergio Romo this offseason, they were getting two pitchers with a ton of experience. Experience that can help develop the Twins young, talented bullpen arms.37-year-old Sergio Romo has pitched in 708 major-league games over the past 12 seasons. He has once been an All Star. He was an important piece in three Giants World Series championships (2010, 2012, 2014). Tyler Clippard is 35 years old. He has pitched in 751 games over his 13 seasons in the big leagues. He is a two-time All Star, and has been a part of two World Series teams. Only side-winding Joe Smith has pitched more games than Clippard among active players. Romo is fourth among active players in games pitched. Active MLB Leaders in Games Pitched 782 - Joe Smith 751 - Tyler Clippard 710 - Joakim Soria 708 - Sergio Romo 705 - Combined MLB games pitched by Taylor Rogers (258), Trevor May (191), Tyler Duffey (169), Zack Littell (37), Cody Stashak (18), Lewis Thorpe (12), Devin Smeltzer (11), Randy Dobnak (9). Sure, you can add Matt Wisler’s 129 MLB games to the list, but then the list above doesn’t look quite as cool. That said, the point is certainly clear. The Twins have two relievers who come with a ton of major-league experience. The 2020 Twins bullpen should be strong, but these two have many experiences and tips and tricks that they can share with the younger pitchers to help them improve. Some of it is simply accepting and thriving in the reality that they are now at a different phase in their careers. Tyler Clippard credited lefty Ron Villone and right-hander Brad Lidge for being guys that he looked up to and learned a lot from when he was new to the league. Now he is taking on that role as veteran leader, and happy to do so. He said, “That perspective that I had as a younger player, looking up to those veteran guys and knowing that I’m on that side of it now. Respecting that and recognizing that is very important to me and something I enjoy the heck out of every day. Hopefully they get something out of it, but I truly enjoy it. ” In his career, Sergio Romo has had some great experiences. For instance, he was the closer for a World Series championship team. He’s been a great set up man too. And he clearly sees the talent in the guys that the Twins are projected to pitch in those late innings. We know that Taylor Rogers would love to be the guy on the mound if and when the Twins win the World Series, as Romo was when he struck out Miguel Cabrera to end the 2012 World Series. It’s something that he and the other Twins pitchers can talk to Romo about. To hear a guy with Romo’s track record acknowledge how great Rogers is has to be meaningful. But Romo and Clippard aren’t just there to lead those late-inning relievers. They are there to get outs, and some big outs in key situations. They can also instill confidence in the rest of the bullpen too Romo said, “There are guys that haven’t had their coming out party yet, and I think this short spring could be something of that sort for a couple of guys in our bullpen.” He specifically mentioned Cody Stashak and Zack Littell. “These guys are going to come out with a bang, and they’re going to be so consistent in this short sprint that it’s going to be so dang hard to not talk about them in the long run.” Littell has appreciated the leadership shown by Romo and Clippard. He said recently, “I think the biggest thing they bring to the table aside from the obvious experience they have, is the ability to show that everybody needs to just be themselves. Sergio and Clippard are two very different personality guys, but each of them is able to go out and get outs everyday and have both been doing it a long time. And there’s something to be said for being comfortable in your own skin especially when you get into these big moments in games and they both are just examples of that.” Littell had transitioned from being a starting pitcher prospect into the bullpen and was such a key cog in the bullpen’s resurgence over the final two months of the season. In 29 games on the season, he went 6-0 with a 2.68 ERA. But with Romo on the roster in August and September, Littell must have felt much more comfortable. He gave up just one earned run over 18 2/3 innings covering 15 games. Stashak made his debut in late July last year. The cool, calm right-hander walked just one batter and struck out 25 batters over 25 innings (18 games). Stashak rejoined the Twins “Summer Camp” a little bit late as he was with his wife when she gave birth to the couple’s first child. He told Twins Daily recently that he hasn’t had as much time with Clippard, but he was a locker mate with Romo throughout his time in the big leagues last August and September. Of Romo, Stashak said, “He is a guy that will answer any question even if it is not about baseball. We talked a lot during my time up there. He was more of a mentor for me as I was still trying to get comfortable up in the big leagues. He is funny, energetic and everyone loves the guy. It’s hard not to like a guy like Serg.” But Stashak was quick to compliment other veterans on the Twins roster such as Nelson Cruz, Josh Donaldson and Alex Avila. He added, “The atmosphere around the clubhouse is great and everyone gets along which makes it such a fun group to be around. From a pitching side there are two guys who you mentioned who have experienced it all, like being a World Series contender and even a champion. Hopefully they can help guide us to a World Series and help us win it!” While Romo is the more boisterous of the two veteran relievers, he points out that Clippard not only has experience, but that he is able to communicate well with his teammates. “The experience that he has... The communication skills that he has that I’ve already seen... Being able to share his experiences and share his thoughts, and thought-process on the mound, and when what he’s trying to accomplish in his practice, in his bullpen sessions, his flat grounds, and even his normal play-catch sessions. It’s awesome how he can simplify it all.” Clippard has relished the opportunity to lead and be an ear and an example for younger pitchers. “That’s been one of the coolest parts of my career over the last three or four years, has been being a veteran guy and being a guy that (younger) guys look to for answers, whether it be it baseball-related, off the field stuff, anything or everything. I love talking to the younger guys. I love talking about pitching. I learn a lot of the times as much from them as they might learn from me.” I have talked to several former Twins recently for some upcoming stories, and each has taken time to point out how much ‘character’ has mattered when drafting, signing or otherwise acquiring players. It is clear that trait is still very important as Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard have not only had tremendous, long-laster careers on the mound, but they clearly have had a very positive effect on younger players and teammates as well. Click here to view the article
  13. 37-year-old Sergio Romo has pitched in 708 major-league games over the past 12 seasons. He has once been an All Star. He was an important piece in three Giants World Series championships (2010, 2012, 2014). Tyler Clippard is 35 years old. He has pitched in 751 games over his 13 seasons in the big leagues. He is a two-time All Star, and has been a part of two World Series teams. Only side-winding Joe Smith has pitched more games than Clippard among active players. Romo is fourth among active players in games pitched. Active MLB Leaders in Games Pitched 782 - Joe Smith 751 - Tyler Clippard 710 - Joakim Soria 708 - Sergio Romo 705 - Combined MLB games pitched by Taylor Rogers (258), Trevor May (191), Tyler Duffey (169), Zack Littell (37), Cody Stashak (18), Lewis Thorpe (12), Devin Smeltzer (11), Randy Dobnak (9). Sure, you can add Matt Wisler’s 129 MLB games to the list, but then the list above doesn’t look quite as cool. That said, the point is certainly clear. The Twins have two relievers who come with a ton of major-league experience. The 2020 Twins bullpen should be strong, but these two have many experiences and tips and tricks that they can share with the younger pitchers to help them improve. Some of it is simply accepting and thriving in the reality that they are now at a different phase in their careers. Tyler Clippard credited lefty Ron Villone and right-hander Brad Lidge for being guys that he looked up to and learned a lot from when he was new to the league. Now he is taking on that role as veteran leader, and happy to do so. He said, “That perspective that I had as a younger player, looking up to those veteran guys and knowing that I’m on that side of it now. Respecting that and recognizing that is very important to me and something I enjoy the heck out of every day. Hopefully they get something out of it, but I truly enjoy it. ” In his career, Sergio Romo has had some great experiences. For instance, he was the closer for a World Series championship team. He’s been a great set up man too. And he clearly sees the talent in the guys that the Twins are projected to pitch in those late innings. https://twitter.com/SethTweets/status/1282780542178664448 We know that Taylor Rogers would love to be the guy on the mound if and when the Twins win the World Series, as Romo was when he struck out Miguel Cabrera to end the 2012 World Series. It’s something that he and the other Twins pitchers can talk to Romo about. To hear a guy with Romo’s track record acknowledge how great Rogers is has to be meaningful. But Romo and Clippard aren’t just there to lead those late-inning relievers. They are there to get outs, and some big outs in key situations. They can also instill confidence in the rest of the bullpen too Romo said, “There are guys that haven’t had their coming out party yet, and I think this short spring could be something of that sort for a couple of guys in our bullpen.” He specifically mentioned Cody Stashak and Zack Littell. “These guys are going to come out with a bang, and they’re going to be so consistent in this short sprint that it’s going to be so dang hard to not talk about them in the long run.” Littell has appreciated the leadership shown by Romo and Clippard. He said recently, “I think the biggest thing they bring to the table aside from the obvious experience they have, is the ability to show that everybody needs to just be themselves. Sergio and Clippard are two very different personality guys, but each of them is able to go out and get outs everyday and have both been doing it a long time. And there’s something to be said for being comfortable in your own skin especially when you get into these big moments in games and they both are just examples of that.” Littell had transitioned from being a starting pitcher prospect into the bullpen and was such a key cog in the bullpen’s resurgence over the final two months of the season. In 29 games on the season, he went 6-0 with a 2.68 ERA. But with Romo on the roster in August and September, Littell must have felt much more comfortable. He gave up just one earned run over 18 2/3 innings covering 15 games. Stashak made his debut in late July last year. The cool, calm right-hander walked just one batter and struck out 25 batters over 25 innings (18 games). Stashak rejoined the Twins “Summer Camp” a little bit late as he was with his wife when she gave birth to the couple’s first child. He told Twins Daily recently that he hasn’t had as much time with Clippard, but he was a locker mate with Romo throughout his time in the big leagues last August and September. Of Romo, Stashak said, “He is a guy that will answer any question even if it is not about baseball. We talked a lot during my time up there. He was more of a mentor for me as I was still trying to get comfortable up in the big leagues. He is funny, energetic and everyone loves the guy. It’s hard not to like a guy like Serg.” But Stashak was quick to compliment other veterans on the Twins roster such as Nelson Cruz, Josh Donaldson and Alex Avila. He added, “The atmosphere around the clubhouse is great and everyone gets along which makes it such a fun group to be around. From a pitching side there are two guys who you mentioned who have experienced it all, like being a World Series contender and even a champion. Hopefully they can help guide us to a World Series and help us win it!” While Romo is the more boisterous of the two veteran relievers, he points out that Clippard not only has experience, but that he is able to communicate well with his teammates. “The experience that he has... The communication skills that he has that I’ve already seen... Being able to share his experiences and share his thoughts, and thought-process on the mound, and when what he’s trying to accomplish in his practice, in his bullpen sessions, his flat grounds, and even his normal play-catch sessions. It’s awesome how he can simplify it all.” Clippard has relished the opportunity to lead and be an ear and an example for younger pitchers. “That’s been one of the coolest parts of my career over the last three or four years, has been being a veteran guy and being a guy that (younger) guys look to for answers, whether it be it baseball-related, off the field stuff, anything or everything. I love talking to the younger guys. I love talking about pitching. I learn a lot of the times as much from them as they might learn from me.” I have talked to several former Twins recently for some upcoming stories, and each has taken time to point out how much ‘character’ has mattered when drafting, signing or otherwise acquiring players. It is clear that trait is still very important as Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard have not only had tremendous, long-laster careers on the mound, but they clearly have had a very positive effect on younger players and teammates as well.
  14. Corey Bulow, 36, has written about baseball his entire adult life. Even in the off-season, he’s found enough material in winter baseball and hot stove speculation to keep posting. The COVID-19 outbreak has proven to be a content challenge he can’t surmount. “There’s just nothing to write about,” said the Pine City native. “I could probably wring 250 words out of Tyler Clippard doing a long toss in his backyard, but I don’t even have that. It’s depressing.” The phenomenon of simulated games intrigued Bulow at first, but he soon realized he was late to the party. “People are firing up simulations of the cancelled games. People are pitting classic teams against one another. I assume there’s a hundred old-timey nerds doing a Strat-O-Matic tournament. All the fake baseball is already snatched up.” That’s when he realized he had one path available to him: Pottery. “I live out in the sticks, and someone decided to use our grove as a place to leave all their junk,” said Bulow. “At first I was mad, but some of the stuff that wasn’t old paint cans was worthwhile.” One of those things: an actual kiln. “You don’t come across a kiln too often in the middle of the woods. It sparked something in me. I was reborn.” Bulow has been fascinated by pottery since his childhood. “My grandma took a ceramics class when I was a kid,” said the furloughed bar manager. “She wasn’t very good at it, and the only thing she made me was an ashtray. I was seven. Still, I always wanted to learn how she did it. And with all this extra time on my hands, it was time to throw the clay.” In the three weeks that he’s been a potter, he’s learned one important thing. “This is really hard. You know how in Ghost where Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze’s spirit make a beautiful pot? Yeah, that’s not happening. I’ve made a bowl and a cup and they look like I’m making fun of bowls and cups.” Bulow says he’s not giving up. Yet. “I’m going to try and make a vase tomorrow. But it would be suuuuuper cool if I woke up and there was a vaccine instead. If that happens, I’m just going to go and buy a vase.” Image license here.
  15. After a busy and fruitful offseason, the Twins will have several new faces entering the fold in 2020. As they get to know their new teammates in Fort Myers, let's get to know a little more about them. Read on to learn five revealing facts about newly acquired players, each of which tells a bigger story.1: Tyler Clippard won a World Series in 2017 ... but didn't pitch in the playoffs. Marwin Gonzalez has received a lot of attention for playing a role in the Astros' tainted 2017 championship. That make sense; the numbers make it quite clear he was a prime beneficiary of the cheating. One player who's receiving less attention is Clippard. That also makes sense; he was a pitcher and he wasn't even on the postseason roster. But the veteran reliever was on the 40-man roster, and with the team during their run, so he got a ring. It's unfortunate that Clippard's time with Houston coincided with one of the worst stretches of performance in his career. The Astros had acquired him from the White Sox in mid-August, hoping he could assist in their World Series pursuit, but the right-hander failed to earn confidence, posting a 6.43 ERA in 14 innings. So, he wasn't a contributor in October. But he was out there on the field celebrating as the Astros reveled in their title*. Unlike Rich Hill, who is singularly focused on winning a World Series after coming just short against those Astros in 2017, Clippard does have the coveted accomplishment checked off. But something tells me he'd like to do it again and play an actual role this time around. (Oh, and like Hill – plus almost every other free agent the Twins signed – Clippard does have postseason experience: a 4.26 ERA in 12 2/3 innings with the Nationals and Mets.) 2: Kenta Maeda's medicals raised red flags when he first came over from Japan. When looking back at the initial coverage of Maeda's signing with the Dodgers back in 2016, I found this tidbit rather ironic. Much has been made of the new starter's highly appealing contract, which includes low guarantees and heavy incentives. But the reasons behind this unusual deal architecture are interesting in light of all the drama that unfolded with the recent trade. Physical exams at the time of Maeda's signing revealed irregularities in right elbow, leading to a "strong suspicion ...he will need Tommy John reconstruction at some point." "It's factored into the length and structure of the contract," which maxed out at more than $100 million but guaranteed less than a quarter of that, according to Dodgers head exec Andrew Friedman at the time. Maeda was 27 then. Four years later, he's thrown 589 innings over 137 appearances for Los Angeles and had not one issue with his pitching elbow. All three of his stints on the injured list in LA were due to lower-body injuries. It's just another data point to illustrate that the human body is unpredictable, and medical prognosticating is an incredibly inexact science. So whatever concerns arose in Boston's eyes when they looked at Brusdar Graterol's medicals, causing them to sour on him and back out of the original trade, were flimsy at best. 3: Jhoulys Chacin has a better career ERA+ than Jose Berrios or Jake Odorizzi. His 108 ERA+ mark in the contextualized metric (100 is average) over 1,300 career innings edges that of either incumbent All-Star. Berrios (105) and Odorizzi (106) have been solid in aggregate, as has Michael Pineda (103), but Chacin's body of work surpasses them all. ERA+ shines a positive light on the former Rockie because it accounts for his six years spent in the league's toughest pitching environment. Chacin's 3.78 ERA in Colorado was even more impressive than it looked. Per ERA+, he's been above-average in six of his nine seasons with 50+ IP, including two of the past three. He has also been very durable of late, logging 100+ innings and 22+ starts in four straight campaigns. Because he's coming off a rough year, Chacin is being slept on as one of the most underrated additions in the Twins offseason. Tabbing him for the fifth rotation spot with a non-guaranteed deal is a completely risk-free proposition with very real upside. 4: Josh Donaldson was a childhood friend of former Twin P.J. Walters. I came across this factoid in a profile on Donaldson from 2013. In his junior year of high school, the Florida native transferred to Faith Academy in Mobile, AL, partially because Walters – "one of Josh's best friends," per MLB.com's Jane Lee – had enrolled there a year earlier. At the time that article published, Walters was pitching in the Twins organization. The right-hander threw 152 total innings in the majors, and 101 of them came with Minnesota, where he made 20 starts in 2012 and '13. It was a real low point in the franchise's recent history, as Walters epitomized the perpetual struggle of Terry Ryan's front office: throwing fringe arms at the wall in desperate hopes of adhesion. Walters was one of many misfires, posting a 5.79 ERA and 1.60 WHIP for the Twins, and never again appearing in the majors afterward. Donaldson, meanwhile, represents just how much things have changed for the Twins since those dark days. He's the marquee addition to a 101-win division champ, assembled by an overhauled front office that has elevated the club's operational sophistication drastically. 5: Alex Avila developed a rep as "The Titanium Catcher" ... and as a lightning rod for foul tips. In January of 2014, months after the Twins announced Joe Mauer would be moving away from catcher, an article on Fox Sports Detroit boasted of this nickname for Avila, who missed two weeks the prior season due to headaches and nausea resulting from a foul tip (incidentally, sustained just 11 days before the one that ended Mauer's catching career). "One thing Avila did do after he returned from the disabled list," according to the writeup, "was start wearing a heavier mask to absorb more of the impact from the foul tips he seems to get so frequently." His ability to bounce back from the bell-ringers earned Avila a rep for imperviousness, and he has gone on to start 387 games at catcher in the six years since. But as Twins fans know all too well, just one foul tip can change everything, especially when there is a history at play. Mauer moved to first base permanently in 2014, and later retired at age 35 following another flare-up of symptoms. Mitch Garver suffered a concussion on a foul-tip in September of 2018, and didn't catch again for the final three weeks of the season, casting some doubt on his own future behind the plate. Thankfully, he avoided any further issues or complications in a breakout 2019. The Twins will hope that Avila can continue to be titanium-grade this year, so he can help lighten Garver's load and continue the productivity of Minnesota's catching unit. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  16. 1: Tyler Clippard won a World Series in 2017 ... but didn't pitch in the playoffs. Marwin Gonzalez has received a lot of attention for playing a role in the Astros' tainted 2017 championship. That make sense; the numbers make it quite clear he was a prime beneficiary of the cheating. One player who's receiving less attention is Clippard. That also makes sense; he was a pitcher and he wasn't even on the postseason roster. But the veteran reliever was on the 40-man roster, and with the team during their run, so he got a ring. It's unfortunate that Clippard's time with Houston coincided with one of the worst stretches of performance in his career. The Astros had acquired him from the White Sox in mid-August, hoping he could assist in their World Series pursuit, but the right-hander failed to earn confidence, posting a 6.43 ERA in 14 innings. So, he wasn't a contributor in October. But he was out there on the field celebrating as the Astros reveled in their title*. https://twitter.com/dcsportsbog/status/925937167834271744 Unlike Rich Hill, who is singularly focused on winning a World Series after coming just short against those Astros in 2017, Clippard does have the coveted accomplishment checked off. But something tells me he'd like to do it again and play an actual role this time around. (Oh, and like Hill – plus almost every other free agent the Twins signed – Clippard does have postseason experience: a 4.26 ERA in 12 2/3 innings with the Nationals and Mets.) 2: Kenta Maeda's medicals raised red flags when he first came over from Japan. When looking back at the initial coverage of Maeda's signing with the Dodgers back in 2016, I found this tidbit rather ironic. Much has been made of the new starter's highly appealing contract, which includes low guarantees and heavy incentives. But the reasons behind this unusual deal architecture are interesting in light of all the drama that unfolded with the recent trade. Physical exams at the time of Maeda's signing revealed irregularities in right elbow, leading to a "strong suspicion ...he will need Tommy John reconstruction at some point." "It's factored into the length and structure of the contract," which maxed out at more than $100 million but guaranteed less than a quarter of that, according to Dodgers head exec Andrew Friedman at the time. Maeda was 27 then. Four years later, he's thrown 589 innings over 137 appearances for Los Angeles and had not one issue with his pitching elbow. All three of his stints on the injured list in LA were due to lower-body injuries. It's just another data point to illustrate that the human body is unpredictable, and medical prognosticating is an incredibly inexact science. So whatever concerns arose in Boston's eyes when they looked at Brusdar Graterol's medicals, causing them to sour on him and back out of the original trade, were flimsy at best. 3: Jhoulys Chacin has a better career ERA+ than Jose Berrios or Jake Odorizzi. His 108 ERA+ mark in the contextualized metric (100 is average) over 1,300 career innings edges that of either incumbent All-Star. Berrios (105) and Odorizzi (106) have been solid in aggregate, as has Michael Pineda (103), but Chacin's body of work surpasses them all. ERA+ shines a positive light on the former Rockie because it accounts for his six years spent in the league's toughest pitching environment. Chacin's 3.78 ERA in Colorado was even more impressive than it looked. Per ERA+, he's been above-average in six of his nine seasons with 50+ IP, including two of the past three. He has also been very durable of late, logging 100+ innings and 22+ starts in four straight campaigns. Because he's coming off a rough year, Chacin is being slept on as one of the most underrated additions in the Twins offseason. Tabbing him for the fifth rotation spot with a non-guaranteed deal is a completely risk-free proposition with very real upside. 4: Josh Donaldson was a childhood friend of former Twin P.J. Walters. I came across this factoid in a profile on Donaldson from 2013. In his junior year of high school, the Florida native transferred to Faith Academy in Mobile, AL, partially because Walters – "one of Josh's best friends," per MLB.com's Jane Lee – had enrolled there a year earlier. At the time that article published, Walters was pitching in the Twins organization. The right-hander threw 152 total innings in the majors, and 101 of them came with Minnesota, where he made 20 starts in 2012 and '13. It was a real low point in the franchise's recent history, as Walters epitomized the perpetual struggle of Terry Ryan's front office: throwing fringe arms at the wall in desperate hopes of adhesion. Walters was one of many misfires, posting a 5.79 ERA and 1.60 WHIP for the Twins, and never again appearing in the majors afterward. Donaldson, meanwhile, represents just how much things have changed for the Twins since those dark days. He's the marquee addition to a 101-win division champ, assembled by an overhauled front office that has elevated the club's operational sophistication drastically. 5: Alex Avila developed a rep as "The Titanium Catcher" ... and as a lightning rod for foul tips. In January of 2014, months after the Twins announced Joe Mauer would be moving away from catcher, an article on Fox Sports Detroit boasted of this nickname for Avila, who missed two weeks the prior season due to headaches and nausea resulting from a foul tip (incidentally, sustained just 11 days before the one that ended Mauer's catching career). "One thing Avila did do after he returned from the disabled list," according to the writeup, "was start wearing a heavier mask to absorb more of the impact from the foul tips he seems to get so frequently." His ability to bounce back from the bell-ringers earned Avila a rep for imperviousness, and he has gone on to start 387 games at catcher in the six years since. But as Twins fans know all too well, just one foul tip can change everything, especially when there is a history at play. Mauer moved to first base permanently in 2014, and later retired at age 35 following another flare-up of symptoms. Mitch Garver suffered a concussion on a foul-tip in September of 2018, and didn't catch again for the final three weeks of the season, casting some doubt on his own future behind the plate. Thankfully, he avoided any further issues or complications in a breakout 2019. The Twins will hope that Avila can continue to be titanium-grade this year, so he can help lighten Garver's load and continue the productivity of Minnesota's catching unit. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  17. While we all wait for the big, "impact" move, the Twins announced a couple of moves that will hopefully solidify their 2020 bullpen. 34-year-old Tyler Clippard was signed to a one-year deal. He pitched in 53 games for Cleveland in 2019 and went 1-0 with a 2.90 ERA in 62 innings. He has been in pro ball for 17 years, starting in 2003 when he was a ninth-round pick of the Yankees. Since then, he has played in 13 big-league seasons and played in two All-Star Games. He has spent time with the Yankees, Nationals, A's, Mets, Diamondbacks, White Sox, Astros, Blue Jays and Indians. The team also confirmed the signing of Sergio Romo to a one-year contract with a 2021 option. The Twins 40-man roster is now at 38. And no, a $2.75 million contract for a reliever has no effect on their pursuit of the likes of Josh Donaldson or Hyun-Jin Ryu. A potential Twins bullpen could now include: Taylor Rogers Tyler Duffey Trevor May Sergio Romo Tyler Clippard Zack Littell Cody Stashak Fernando Romero Matt Wisler Jorge Alcala (and guys like Dobnak, Smeltzer, Thorpe, Graterol)
  18. The Twins continued to address their bullpen on Friday with the announcement that they have signed veteran right-handed reliever Tyler Clippard to a one-year deal. In addition, the Sergio Romo signing was confirmed.While we all wait for the big, "impact" move, the Twins announced a couple of moves that will hopefully solidify their 2020 bullpen. 34-year-old Tyler Clippard was signed to a one-year deal. He pitched in 53 games for Cleveland in 2019 and went 1-0 with a 2.90 ERA in 62 innings. He has been in pro ball for 17 years, starting in 2003 when he was a ninth-round pick of the Yankees. Since then, he has played in 13 big-league seasons and played in two All-Star Games. He has spent time with the Yankees, Nationals, A's, Mets, Diamondbacks, White Sox, Astros, Blue Jays and Indians. The team also confirmed the signing of Sergio Romo to a one-year contract with a 2021 option. The Twins 40-man roster is now at 38. And no, a $2.75 million contract for a reliever has no effect on their pursuit of the likes of Josh Donaldson or Hyun-Jin Ryu. A potential Twins bullpen could now include: Taylor Rogers Tyler Duffey Trevor May Sergio Romo Tyler Clippard Zack Littell Cody Stashak Fernando Romero Matt Wisler Jorge Alcala (and guys like Dobnak, Smeltzer, Thorpe, Graterol) Click here to view the article
  19. Aaron and John talk about the Twins shooting their final shots for Hyun-Jin Ryu and Josh Donaldson, beefing up the bullpen with fan favorite Sergio Romo and BABIP god Tyler Clippard, losing out on Madison Bumgarner, whether the Indians or the White Sox are scarier, and a bonus clip of our patreon-only interview with Dustin Morse. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click this link. http://traffic.libsy...3?dest-id=74590 Click here to view the article
  20. http://traffic.libsyn.com/gleemangeek/Ep_458.mp3?dest-id=74590
  21. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine did a good job identifying some underrated free agents last off-season. Nelson Cruz had a monster season and Marwin Gonzalez and Jonathan Schoop also provided value. This off-season there will be plenty of other undervalued free agents, so could any of these names wind up in Minnesota?Richard Justice of MLB.com identified the following eight players as being underrated. With multiple outfielders and corner infield options, only a few of the names would be a fit with the Twins. 1. Howie Kendrick, UTIL, Nationals Kendrick helped the Nationals to their first World Series title, and he was an offensive threat the entire season. According to Baseball Savant, he ranked in the 92nd percentile or higher in exit velocity, xBA, Hard Hit %, xwOBA, and xSLG. He will turn 37 next season and he seems more valuable to a team that could use him as a designated hitter. The Twins have multiple players for that role. Twins Fit: No 2. Marcell Ozuna, OF, Cardinals Ozuna never really lived up to expectations after being traded to the Cardinals. His last season in Miami saw him accumulate a .924 OPS and his two years in St. Louis resulted in a .779 OPS. His Exit Velocity and Hard Hit % were both above the 92nd percentile. He will be 29-years old throughout next season so there might be some room for him to continue to grow. That being said, the Twins outfield is pretty full unless the team makes a trade. Twins Fit: No 3. Rich Hill, LHP, Dodgers Hill is coming off an injury-plagued season that limited him to 13 starts. This isn’t exactly promising for a player set to turn 40 in March. Over the last three seasons, Hill has amassed a 3.30 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP, and a 3.89 FIP while averaging almost 110 innings per season. Minnesota needs as many rotation arms as possible so taking a flyer on a veteran pitcher could help to shore-up the rotation until some of the younger arms are ready to step-in. Twins Fit: Yes 4. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B, Nationals Zimmerman had to deal with plenty of regular season and playoff woes before finally seeing the Nationals raise the World Series trophy. It feels weird to think of him outside of a Nationals uniform and he hasn’t played in over 85 games since 2017, his last All-Star season. With limited defensive flexibility and an aging body, Zimmerman likely won’t be calling the Twin Cities home. Twins Fit: No 5. Hunter Pence, OF, Rangers Pence was an All-Star last season at the ripe age of 36. He was forced to sign a minor league deal and earn his spot on the Rangers roster. A back issue limited him to 83 games, but he posted a .910 OPS when he was on the field. Plenty of rebuilding clubs could take a flyer on Pence, but Minnesota likely wouldn’t have a need for him unless an injury were to arise. Twins Fit: No 6. Eric Thames, 1B, Brewers Thames came back from Korea three seasons ago and he reestablished himself as a very good power hitter on some strong Milwaukee teams. Like many others on this list, he has little defensive value and that could make his free agent market disappear quickly. His Exit Velocity and Hard Hit % were both in the 80th percentile, but Minnesota has multiple corner infield options at this point. Twins Fit: No 7. Alex Avila, C, Diamondbacks I’m in love with the idea of a catching duo of Alex Avila and Mitch Garver. Avila will turn 33 this winter and he could fall into a similar role as Jason Castro this season. Avila showed some of the best catch framing skills in all of baseball last season and that fits what the Twins were looking for when they signed Castro a few seasons ago. Garver could also start to see some time at first base when Avila would be behind the plate. I want the Twins to make this signing yesterday. Twins Fit: Yes 8. Tyler Clippard, RHP, Indians Clippard had quite the bounce-back season in Cleveland last year as he posted a sub-3.00 ERA for the first time since 2015. Taylor Rogers was relied on heavily in Minnesota’s bullpen and Clippard could help to add a late-inning arm from the right side. Minnesota did little to address their bullpen issues last off-season and I think the club will sign at least one veteran arm in the weeks ahead. Twins Fit: Yes If you were running the Twins, would you sign Avila? What about Clippard or Hill? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  22. Richard Justice of MLB.com identified the following eight players as being underrated. With multiple outfielders and corner infield options, only a few of the names would be a fit with the Twins. 1. Howie Kendrick, UTIL, Nationals Kendrick helped the Nationals to their first World Series title, and he was an offensive threat the entire season. According to Baseball Savant, he ranked in the 92nd percentile or higher in exit velocity, xBA, Hard Hit %, xwOBA, and xSLG. He will turn 37 next season and he seems more valuable to a team that could use him as a designated hitter. The Twins have multiple players for that role. Twins Fit: No 2. Marcell Ozuna, OF, Cardinals Ozuna never really lived up to expectations after being traded to the Cardinals. His last season in Miami saw him accumulate a .924 OPS and his two years in St. Louis resulted in a .779 OPS. His Exit Velocity and Hard Hit % were both above the 92nd percentile. He will be 29-years old throughout next season so there might be some room for him to continue to grow. That being said, the Twins outfield is pretty full unless the team makes a trade. Twins Fit: No 3. Rich Hill, LHP, Dodgers Hill is coming off an injury-plagued season that limited him to 13 starts. This isn’t exactly promising for a player set to turn 40 in March. Over the last three seasons, Hill has amassed a 3.30 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP, and a 3.89 FIP while averaging almost 110 innings per season. Minnesota needs as many rotation arms as possible so taking a flyer on a veteran pitcher could help to shore-up the rotation until some of the younger arms are ready to step-in. Twins Fit: Yes 4. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B, Nationals Zimmerman had to deal with plenty of regular season and playoff woes before finally seeing the Nationals raise the World Series trophy. It feels weird to think of him outside of a Nationals uniform and he hasn’t played in over 85 games since 2017, his last All-Star season. With limited defensive flexibility and an aging body, Zimmerman likely won’t be calling the Twin Cities home. Twins Fit: No 5. Hunter Pence, OF, Rangers Pence was an All-Star last season at the ripe age of 36. He was forced to sign a minor league deal and earn his spot on the Rangers roster. A back issue limited him to 83 games, but he posted a .910 OPS when he was on the field. Plenty of rebuilding clubs could take a flyer on Pence, but Minnesota likely wouldn’t have a need for him unless an injury were to arise. Twins Fit: No 6. Eric Thames, 1B, Brewers Thames came back from Korea three seasons ago and he reestablished himself as a very good power hitter on some strong Milwaukee teams. Like many others on this list, he has little defensive value and that could make his free agent market disappear quickly. His Exit Velocity and Hard Hit % were both in the 80th percentile, but Minnesota has multiple corner infield options at this point. Twins Fit: No 7. Alex Avila, C, Diamondbacks I’m in love with the idea of a catching duo of Alex Avila and Mitch Garver. Avila will turn 33 this winter and he could fall into a similar role as Jason Castro this season. Avila showed some of the best catch framing skills in all of baseball last season and that fits what the Twins were looking for when they signed Castro a few seasons ago. Garver could also start to see some time at first base when Avila would be behind the plate. I want the Twins to make this signing yesterday. Twins Fit: Yes 8. Tyler Clippard, RHP, Indians Clippard had quite the bounce-back season in Cleveland last year as he posted a sub-3.00 ERA for the first time since 2015. Taylor Rogers was relied on heavily in Minnesota’s bullpen and Clippard could help to add a late-inning arm from the right side. Minnesota did little to address their bullpen issues last off-season and I think the club will sign at least one veteran arm in the weeks ahead. Twins Fit: Yes If you were running the Twins, would you sign Avila? What about Clippard or Hill? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  23. On a team-by-team level, this is maddening; if everyone is a contender, then no one is. Teams that have struggled to find .500 are, at least in theory, just one or two pieces away from making the crucial leap. The Royals proved last year that once you get into the playoffs, anything can happen, leaving fans of fringe-contending teams to shout "Don't just stand there, DO SOMETHING!" Thanks to the object lesson that is the New York Mets, we can see just how flawed that logic is. They traded High-A starter Casey Meisner for A's reliever -- and free-agent-to-be -- Tyler Clippard. Cue Keith Law's response: Charitably, the Mets made themselves better when they acquired Clippard and they did so by trading talent from a position of strength, and at least they struck while the iron was hot, right? Flags Fly Forever! Law's point, and he's probably correct here, is that not all action -- even that which makes you better in the short run -- is good. The Mets' bullpen isn't great, but it's also not their most glaring weakness. It sits at or slightly above average in most categories (K/9, BB/9, FIP, and WAR most notably), and while having a shutdown bullpen makes the playoffs less stressful, the Mets' decidedly sub-par offense still may keep them from ever getting there. If the Mets determined that Meisner had more value as a trade piece than he did in their organization, which seems objectively true, they still misused him and received too little value in return. Having a large collection of quarters doesn't make trading five of them for a dollar a good idea. I'll leave the actual evaluation of Meisner to the professionals. He's a 20-year-old in High-A, meaning he still has the full range of possibilities ahead of him: His could be a cautionary tale for years to come when he becomes a star (like Wilson Ramos or Carlos Santana) or a complete non-factor (ala Deolis Guerra or literally dozens of other pitchers league-wide). Twins fans should take the Mets' move as a cautionary tale, since there's a parallel between someone like Meisner and someone like Max Kepler, who is showing good production in the low minors, but who may be blocked on his path to the majors. Or, more pointedly, who may have more value outside the Twins organization than in it. He could be used to bring talent into a squad that sorely needs it, but unless they can get fair-market value or above for him, the Twins are better off keeping Kepler and waiting for a calmer trading period to emerge. Fortune favors the bold, especially with so many teams in the mix for a fixed number of playoff spots, but for a team at the very beginning of its contending window like the Twins are, sometimes .
  24. Baseball hasn't always been the paragon of parity, with teams like the Cardinals, Braves, and Yankees constructing dynasties that spanned for the better part of a decade, but this year is unlike any we've seen in recent history. No American League team is more than 10 games out of a playoff spot with two full months of the season left. It's parity to the utmost: Every team is in it if they want to be. From a general baseball standpoint, this is phenomenal. Even as the Royals run away with the AL Central, the other four playoff spots are all still very much up for grabs, and it virtually guarantees meaningful baseball will be played well into September.On a team-by-team level, this is maddening; if everyone is a contender, then no one is. Teams that have struggled to find .500 are, at least in theory, just one or two pieces away from making the crucial leap. The Royals proved last year that once you get into the playoffs, anything can happen, leaving fans of fringe-contending teams to shout "Don't just stand there, DO SOMETHING!" Thanks to the object lesson that is the New York Mets, we can see just how flawed that logic is. They traded High-A starter Casey Meisner for A's reliever -- and free-agent-to-be -- Tyler Clippard. Cue Keith Law's response: Download attachment: Law_Keith_Mets_Tweet.jpg Charitably, the Mets made themselves better when they acquired Clippard and they did so by trading talent from a position of strength, and at least they struck while the iron is hot, right? Flags Fly Forever! Law's point, and he's probably correct here, is that not all action -- even that which makes you better in the short run -- is good. The Mets' bullpen isn't great, but it's also not their most glaring weakness. It sits at or slightly above-average in most categories (K/9, BB/9, FIP, and WAR most notably), and while having a shutdown bullpen makes the playoffs less stressful, the Mets' decidedly subpar offense still may keep them from ever getting there. If the Mets determined that Meisner had more value as a trade piece than he did in their organization, which seems objectively true, they still misused him and received too little value in return. Having a large collection of quarters doesn't make trading five of them for a dollar a good idea. I'll leave the actual evaluation of Meisner to the professionals. He's a 20-year-old in High-A, meaning he still has the full range of possibilities ahead of him: He could be a cautionary tale for years to come when he becomes a star (like Wilson Ramos or Carlos Santana) or a complete non-factor (ala Deolis Guerra or literally dozens of other pitchers league-wide). Twins fans should take the Mets' move as a cautionary tale, since there's a parallel between someone like Meisner and someone like Max Kepler, who is showing good production in the low minors, but who may be blocked on his path to the majors. Or, more pointedly, who may have more value outside the Twins organization than in it. He could be used to bring talent into a squad that sorely needs it, but unless they can get fair-market value or above for him, the Twins are better off keeping Kepler and waiting for a calmer trading period to emerge. Fortune favors the bold, especially with so many teams in the mix for a fixed number of playoff spots, but for a team at the very beginning of its contending window like the Twins are, sometimes . Click here to view the article
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