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  1. In my opinion, Nelson Cruz had the best years of his career in a Twins jersey. His on field results combined with his clubhouse leadership quickly made him a fan favorite. I have seen some people calling for the Twins to trade for him, so I want to get everyone’s opinions. Would a trade realistically be possible? With the Nationals this year, Cruz started slow but has started to produce more lately, and I’m positive he would produce even more back in Target Field. The only issue is getting ABs for him, or taking ABs away from others. Buxton has gotten a big chunk of the DH ABs so far this year, but the Twins could try to push him more in CF as the year goes on. Sanchez has also gotten DH ABs while Jeffers is catching and has for the most part produced. There’s no doubt we’d all love to see Nelly back in the Twin Cities, but would it make sense?
  2. Women remain underrepresented across the sport, but there’s more than a few that have made their mark on the game, and it’s through their abilities we can see a necessary need for greater inclusion. Wanting to gain perspective from individuals in multiple different roles, I sought out to tell stories from the clubhouse, broadcast booth, and the farm. Talent doesn’t recognize gender, status, ideology, or any other form of societal discrimination. When it comes to Major League Baseball, plenty of females have created synonymous personalities with what we’ve come to expect from an overall experience. Sony made Heidi Watney its go-to presence on MLB The Show. Alexa Datt and Kelly Nash are staples at MLB Network. For Twins fans it’s the duo of Audra Martin and Marney Gellner that are routinely invited into our living rooms. The talent is rich, and it runs deep. Highlighting that and kicking off this four-part series is none other than The Athletic’s Britt Ghiroli. An impressive resume and immediate tie to Baltimore precede her, but coming off a World Series year of coverage the Nationals writer has plenty of stories to tell. Twins Daily: Was it always baseball for you? Graduating from Michigan State, did you know right away that this was the sport you wanted to cover? What role did the game of baseball have in your life prior to your career? Britt Ghiroli: I get asked a lot if baseball is my favorite sport and – to be honest – it wasn’t at the time. I would stay up late at night watching hockey or football with my dad, and European soccer on the weekend mornings. But I fell in love with the stories and the nature of covering baseball, there’s so many nuances and so much access compared to football or basketball, that I’ve never regretted that decision. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a baseball fan and I’m from a big baseball/softball family and we all did the travel teams – my sister played at the University of Pittsburgh – but this job enhanced my appreciation of it. It was sheer luck that the internship I got was with MLB.com and I’m eternally grateful they picked me. I was an athlete my entire life, all the way up through college where I was a swimmer at Michigan State. Once I got there I realized two things: 1) I wasn’t nearly as good of a swimmer as I thought and 2) I better have a plan for my life because women’s swimming isn’t a sport with a future to pay your bills. Michigan State has an excellent journalism program and that’s what I always wanted to do – write. I used to write little stories growing up and have always been a pretty big reader and fan of long-form writers like Gary Smith. Plus, I’m abysmal at math. While swimming, I juggled a few internships which got increasingly harder with classes, but the experience was critical. At first, I thought TV was the way I wanted to go and I did work as a PA (production assistant) for Fox Sports Network in Detroit, which started as an internship and continued as a freelance gig. I also helped out the Big Ten Network when they’d come to town for a big game. I kept writing when I could and worked part time at the Lansing State Journal. It was a lot of grunt work, taking phone calls and filling in tiny box scores about high school games for that day’s paper, but I was also afforded the opportunity to pitch the occasional feature. That, and several other internships helped lead to MLB.com. Obviously, the MLB.com internship was the one that led me to covering baseball full-time and never leave :-) TD: Spending a decade with MLB.com you got to show off your abilities covering multiple beats. Establishing yourself with the Orioles, you quickly became one of the household names when it comes to bylines. What about covering daily action do you do to differentiate yourself? BG: Got on Twitter! Seriously, it was just starting when I got on the beat and I quickly embraced it. I still remember the other beat guys making fun of me for it but it really helped me build up a big network. A lot of those fans, of course, are Orioles fan who now really don’t like that I went to the Nationals... TD: As a female you represent a group that's not nearly proportionate in terms of voices within the industry. Is that a driving force to you? Is there something about the way you do your job that you feel like an additional impact can be made? BG: I don’t think it’s ever been a driving force. I wasn’t raised in a household where sports were for boys- my dad had four daughters and we were all tomboys. My mom is also a big sports fan. I never thought, “I should be a sports writer and try to bring a female voice in!” I just thought it was the coolest job in the world. Most days, I still do. I will say, there are a lot more females now than when I got into this in 2008. I understand it’s what sets me apart a lot, but I spent years trying to shake the stereotype that I was someone’s token female hire, you know? It’s always irked me when I had a close relationship to a guy or got a scoop that some people will always equate it with my gender. I’ve sort of just realized that no matter what I do, good or bad, I’m going to stand out. I always tell young female reporters that any advantage you have it cancelled out. Some people are going to be nicer to you and want to talk to you because you’re female. And some guys aren’t going to be nice or want to talk to you for that very same reason. A lot of the bull**** I thought that came with being a female - what you wear, for example - I thought would go away in my 30s. It hasn’t, but I do care a lot less what someone thinks. If it’s 100 degrees and humid, I’m wearing a tank top and it’s not to flaunt myself or hit on a guy. It’s because it’s 100 degrees and humid. As for additional impact, I look to women like Alyson Footer and Susan Slusser, who have made space for ME. I’d love to get to a point where I do an entire interview and my gender never comes up. TD: While being a beat reporter is essentially a version of storytelling, what about your creative process has made such compelling pieces each time you hit the keyboard? BG: That’s nice of you to say! I’ve been fortunate to have some really great mentors. The best part about being at The Athletic, and I’ll get into that more later, is the freedom you get to really go beyond the nuts and bolts of a baseball story. I was told once your lede should be the first thing you go home and tell your mom, or husband or friend about the person. What is it about that player or moment or game that everyone needs to know? Now, how can you make them care about it? That’s what I try to do. Fans now already know so much. They know the score and the stats. They may have even watched the post-game interviews. To be different, you have to add color and humanize things. You have to go beyond the “how did you feel out there?” questions, and that’s what I try to do. TD: Moving from worst to first in a sense, what was the experience (and rollercoaster) of covering the 2019 Washington Nationals like first hand? It's not your first World Series, but it might have been the most improbable. BG: It was pretty crazy. I remember a lot of people early on sort of joking, “You should have stayed in Baltimore!” because of the Nats early record. The 2008 Rays, which I wrote about recently may have been a little more of an underdog story (though they lost the World Series) but the turnaround in D.C. was truly made-for-the-movies stuff. I remember laughing the day they got Parra, we were in Milwaukee and I joked to my editor to print the World Series tickets. But, truly, you could have. He was such a positive infusion for that team. People love to say clubhouse chemistry is overrated because they can’t see it or come up with a metric for it. But that team needed Parra. They were always talented. They just needed to start to believe they could turn it around. I’m not sure it hit me, like really hit me, until they started to come back in Game 7 in Houston. Up to that point, you kept thinking they were on the ropes and eventually going to lose. But that game, I remember being like, ‘My god, they are gong to rally.” It was unbelievable. TD: Being at The Athletic now, what makes the newest outlet in the game arguably one of the best. It was a meteoric rise for the company, and it's more than just the top tier talent they've brought in. BG: They let you be an adult. People will often ask me about switching teams and, for me, it was never about the Orioles versus the Nationals. It was the chance to get out of my box. I’ve written about powerlifting, grief, memories on the beat, sexism, being yelled at, retirement and mental health. I’ve done Ravens stories and Bruins stories. I’ve never once had someone tell me, “No, you cover the Nationals.” They encourage you to think about different story ideas (especially now!) and they aren’t afraid to take big swings. The Athletic could go under tomorrow and I still wouldn’t regret taking the job. It was scary to leave MLB, it’s a great job and I still have a lot of friends there, but I needed to sort of be pushed out of the nest. To be pushed out of my comfort zone. And that’s exactly what The Athletic has done. TD: We're all worse off being without baseball right now, and the hope is we'll have something resembling a season soon. What have you been doing to keep yourself busy? BG: I am currently trying to plan Take 2 of my wedding. (Our original day was in May and cancelled). So, that’s been interesting to plan from another state. I wake up every morning and read all about two things: baseball updates and the COVID cases in Colorado. (We live in Maryland.) My fiance and I met at the gym so we are very active people. He was a kicker in football and has taken that back up. He’ll knock them out from 50 yards and I’m just trying to make an easy extra point attempt. Work-wise, I’m still writing, it just looks a little different. I recently started a series about each year I’ve been on the beat which has been a lot of fun to do look back and reminisce. It’s easy to fall into the negative trap right now with baseball, so that’s been a nice reminder that this sport is pretty great and matters to a lot of people. Follow Britt and check out her work here. Check back in next week for entry number two in this four-part series. 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. I found myself thinking through recent Twins history today and considered how much volatility there has been in terms of consistency. The Twins have been mostly bad, but when good, the performances have came and went rather quickly. 2020 truly looks like an open window, but it is Brian Dozier that I latched onto as the pinnacle of the roller coaster. After debuting in 2012 as a shortstop, Dozier quickly flamed out at the position after just 84 games there in his opening salvo. He would relocate to second base and it wasn’t until 2015 that he began to make his mark. He was an 8th round pick, and despite an appearance in both the Home Run Derby (2014) and All-Star Game (2015), he didn’t crack an .800 OPS until 2016. That was the year, at age-29, that it seemingly all came together. Dozier reinvented himself into a dead-pull hitter that was determined to find the quickest way over the left field fence. His 42 homers that season were the most by any Twins player during a single year not named Harmon Killebrew. He became a slugger despite a smaller stature, and he had risen to be called one of the best second basemen in the game. It really wasn’t since peak Robinson Cano that baseball had seen someone like Dozier. Brian wasn’t the prototypical uber-prospect, and he certainly wasn’t a five-tool player either. Like Cano, he was an offensive stalwart at an otherwise starved position. Around the league second base had become a destination for poor armed shortstops and was generally a position that you could find someone sitting right at league average. The 2016 Twins were abysmal in every sense of the word. They won just 59 games and manager Paul Molitor couldn’t get any more out of that squad if he tried. Thanks to Dozier’s dinger derby, there was at least something to tune into on a nightly basis. Unfortunately, much of his accomplishment was lost nationally in the vein of his club being so bad. He’d go one to follow up that performance with 34 dingers in 2017, a year in which Minnesota made the Postseason. Now having played for both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals since, Dozier’s career has already begun a downturn. He did post a .771 OPS last season while playing in 135 games and eventually winning a World Series ring. He had to settle for a minor league deal heading into 2020, but the expectation would be that he’d make the San Diego Padres Opening Day roster. I’m not sure if we’ll see Brian reach that .800 OPS plateau again or not, but he was a late bloomer that gave us one of the highest peaks in Twins history. The unfortunate reality is that it came during a period of extreme lows and the contributions proved hollow in the grand scheme of things. Thankfully, Dozier was a fan favorite and will not soon be forgotten in Twins Territory. His career will likely come to an eventually end being a rather nondescript one, but the memories will remain among the fondest to take place at Target Field. It will be interesting to see what we get from him in those nice new Padres threads, and what there is yet to come in the future. It will not be a career that’s celebrated with substantial accolades when he hangs em up, but it’s incredible to think how good he was, even if it was for such a brief time. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  4. Obviously, this all hinges on how the organization views the immediate future of Miguel Sano. He’s the current starter at the hot corner and is coming off a .923 OPS during his age-26 season. The Dominican native is under team control for each of the next two seasons, and the expectation would be that his salary remains under $10 million before hitting the open market. Rocco Baldelli has an opening at first base if the club decides to non-tender C.J. Cron, and it’s always been assumed that Sano would be better off switching sides on the diamond. Assume Miguel moves and vacates the hot corner, the timing may never be better. Rendon will play 2020 as a 30-year-old and is coming off an MVP caliber season. He posted a 1.010 OPS and launched a career high 34 home runs. Even with some regression, Rendon hasn’t posted an OPS below .900 since 2016. He’s consistently been a 6 WAR player and generates production through both offensive and defensive excellence. In his final year of arbitration Rendon made $18.8 million for the Nationals. Fangraphs has valued his production as being worth roughly $50 million annually since 2016, and he hasn’t been worth less than $34 million since 2015. The open market isn’t going to pay him that handsomely but expecting a 5-7 year deal that checks in between $25-30 million on a yearly basis seems more than doable. Nolan Arenado and Manny Machado would be the only third basemen paid above Rendon, and that seems like a pretty fair place for him to slot into the leaderboard. The downside to this argument is that Minnesota should be throwing a good deal of their cash at arms. If we assume they have something like $70 million to spend, chopping that almost in half by inking a position player isn’t a great use of funds. However, there’re only so many pitchers on the open market worthy of the big-time payday. Should Minnesota miss on Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, I’d expect only Zack Wheeler to surpass the $20 million mark. That means the Twins could sign a very good arm and still accommodate a contract enticing to Rendon. By no means should the assumption or expectation be that the front office prioritizes a third basemen. Even if there’s a desire to move Sano defensively, other more economical options exist. If the goal is to raise the overall talent level to the highest possible extent though, adding a superstar like Rendon certainly bridges the gap between a superstar pitcher and just a middle of the rotation arm. It’s hard to project the Twins as a serious player any time we’re talking about the best player on the market types, but we’ve entered the territory where the organization is ready to compete and do so at a World Series worthy level.
  5. For the sake of simplicity, we will break down the Nationals roster by position group. One thing you will notice, is the Nationals are willing to explore any and all options in order to add someone that they think will add value to their team. Starting Pitchers Max Scherzer: After breaking onto the scene with the Detroit Tigers from 2010-2014, Max Scherzer signed a 7-year $210 million dollar contract with the Washington Nationals during the 2014-2015 MLB offseason. Stephen Strasburg: Stephen Strasburg was a product of the terrible Nationals teams in the late 2000’s. After finishing dead last in 2008, the Nationals had the first pick in the 2009 MLB draft, and they selected Strasburg with that pick. In May of 2016, the Nationals locked Strasburg up for the long term, signing him to a 7-year $175 million dollar contract extension. Patrick Corbin: During the 2018-2019 MLB offseason, while the Nationals were losing superstar Bryce Harper, they went out and made one of the biggest pitching acquisitions of the offseason, signing Patrick Corbin to a 6-year $140 million dollar contract. Anibal Sanchez: Anibal Sanchez had a strong bounce-back season with the Atlanta Braves in 2018. As a result, this motivated the Nationals to give him a 2-year ,$19 million dollar contract, with a third-year team option, last winter. Relief Pitchers Sean Doolittle: Before the 2017 MLB trade deadline, the Nationals traded for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. In exchange, the Nationals traded away Blake Treinen and Jesus Luzardo. Daniel Hudson: Just hours before the 2019 MLB trade deadline, the Nationals acquired Daniel Hudson from the Toronto Blue Jays, in exchange for minor leaguer Kyle Johnson. Wander Suero: As part of the 2010 International free agent class, Wander Suero signed with the Nationals and has spent the past 10 seasons with the organization. Tanner Rainey: The Cincinnati Reds drafted Tanner Rainey 71st overall in the 2015 MLB draft. Last winter, the Reds sent Rainey sent to the Nationals, in exchange for Tanner Roark. Fernando Rodney: After getting released by the Oakland Athletics back in May, the Nationals signed him to a minor league deal a week later. Javy Guerra: The Nationals claimed Javy Guerra off waivers in May of 2019. They then designated him for assignment in July, before re-signing him again in August. Joe Ross: In December 2014, the Nationals traded away Steven Souza, as part of a three-team deal with the Tampa Bay Rays and San Diego Padres. Infielders Ryan Zimmerman: As the fourth overall pick in the 2005 MLB Draft, Ryan Zimmerman was the first ever draft pick by the Nationals organization after they moved away from Montreal. Asdrubal Cabrera: The day after the Texas Rangers released Asdrubal Cabrera in August of 2019, the Nationals signed him to a minor-league contract. Howie Kendrick: Yet another trade deadline acquisition for the Nationals, Howie Kendrick first came to Washington D.C. in July of 2017, as part of a trade that sent McKenzie Mills to the Philadelphia Phillies. After the 2017 season ended, Kendrick re-signed with the Nationals on a 2-year $7 million dollar contract. Brian Dozier: After becoming a free agent at the end of the 2018 season, Brian Dozier signed a 1-year, $9 million dollar deal with the Nationals. Trea Turner: In the same trade that the Nationals acquired Joe Ross, Trea Turner was the headlining piece returning to the Nationals after being selected with the 13th overall pick by the San Diego Padres just six months prior. Anthony Rendon: The top of the 2011 MLB Draft was absolutely loaded, giving the Nationals plenty of options with the sixth overall selection. They decided to go with Anthony Rendon and haven’t looked back since. At the time of his selection, draftees were allowed to sign MLB contracts right after being drafted. As a result, Rendon signed a 4-year, $7.2 million dollar deal. Kurt Suzuki: Once his time with the Twins had ended, Kurt Suzuki joined the Atlanta Braves organization, where he seemed to find his form from early in his career. This led Suzuki to signing a 2-year $10 million dollar contract with the Nationals last offseason. Yan Gomes: With the Cleveland Indians desperate to find ways to trim money from their 2019 payroll, they opted to trade Yan Gomes and the $7 million that was due to him to the Nationals in exchange for prospects Daniel Johnson and Jefry Rodriguez. Outfielders Juan Soto: Signing with the Nationals for $1.5 million dollars, Juan Soto was one of the highest paid players in the 2015 international free agent class. Adam Eaton: After the 2016 season, the Chicago White Sox went into full fire sale mode to try to stockpile their farm system with as much talent as possible. One of the trades they made was sending outfielder Adam Eaton to the Nationals in exchange for Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning. Victor Robles: In the loaded 2013 international free agent class that featured players like Eloy Jimenez, Gleyber Torres and Rafael Devers, Victor Robles flew under the radar, and might go down as the steal of the class. Gerardo Parra: The man who started the baby shark craze in Washington D.C. was signed by the Nationals in May of this year after the San Francisco Giants designated him for assignment. Michael A. Taylor: Stephen Strasburg wasn’t the only player on this roster that the Nationals picked up in the 2009 MLB draft, as they also took Michael A. Taylor in the sixth round, with the 172nd overall pick in that year’s draft. By looking back on their roster, it is clear that Mike Rizzo and company had a layered approach when it came to building this roster. They made it their main priority to spend the majority of their budget on building a dominant top of the starting rotation. They also did an excellent job in armateur scouting and acquired many of their top players from the MLB draft and International free agency. They then went out and made a few trades to acquire a few more pieces to the puzzle. Once they had their core in place, they went to the scrap heap to fill out any remaining holes on their roster and squeeze as much value out of these players as they could. It might not have always looked pretty, but at the end of the day, banners fly forever.
  6. The 2019 MLB season has come and gone, and the Washington Nationals have been crowned World Series Champions. In the era of championship winning teams being built around young cores, the Nationals broke the mold, by winning it all with the oldest team in baseball. In fact, they were the only roster whose average age exceeded 30-years-old. So, let’s take a dive into how the Nationals built their roster, and see if there is anything the Minnesota Twins can draw from as they try to build their own World Series winning roster.For the sake of simplicity, we will break down the Nationals roster by position group. One thing you will notice, is the Nationals are willing to explore any and all options in order to add someone that they think will add value to their team. Starting Pitchers Max Scherzer: After breaking onto the scene with the Detroit Tigers from 2010-2014, Max Scherzer signed a 7-year $210 million dollar contract with the Washington Nationals during the 2014-2015 MLB offseason. Stephen Strasburg: Stephen Strasburg was a product of the terrible Nationals teams in the late 2000’s. After finishing dead last in 2008, the Nationals had the first pick in the 2009 MLB draft, and they selected Strasburg with that pick. In May of 2016, the Nationals locked Strasburg up for the long term, signing him to a 7-year $175 million dollar contract extension. Patrick Corbin: During the 2018-2019 MLB offseason, while the Nationals were losing superstar Bryce Harper, they went out and made one of the biggest pitching acquisitions of the offseason, signing Patrick Corbin to a 6-year $140 million dollar contract. Anibal Sanchez: Anibal Sanchez had a strong bounce-back season with the Atlanta Braves in 2018. As a result, this motivated the Nationals to give him a 2-year ,$19 million dollar contract, with a third-year team option, last winter. Relief Pitchers Sean Doolittle: Before the 2017 MLB trade deadline, the Nationals traded for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. In exchange, the Nationals traded away Blake Treinen and Jesus Luzardo. Daniel Hudson: Just hours before the 2019 MLB trade deadline, the Nationals acquired Daniel Hudson from the Toronto Blue Jays, in exchange for minor leaguer Kyle Johnson. Wander Suero: As part of the 2010 International free agent class, Wander Suero signed with the Nationals and has spent the past 10 seasons with the organization. Tanner Rainey: The Cincinnati Reds drafted Tanner Rainey 71st overall in the 2015 MLB draft. Last winter, the Reds sent Rainey sent to the Nationals, in exchange for Tanner Roark. Fernando Rodney: After getting released by the Oakland Athletics back in May, the Nationals signed him to a minor league deal a week later. Javy Guerra: The Nationals claimed Javy Guerra off waivers in May of 2019. They then designated him for assignment in July, before re-signing him again in August. Joe Ross: In December 2014, the Nationals traded away Steven Souza, as part of a three-team deal with the Tampa Bay Rays and San Diego Padres. Infielders Ryan Zimmerman: As the fourth overall pick in the 2005 MLB Draft, Ryan Zimmerman was the first ever draft pick by the Nationals organization after they moved away from Montreal. Asdrubal Cabrera: The day after the Texas Rangers released Asdrubal Cabrera in August of 2019, the Nationals signed him to a minor-league contract. Howie Kendrick: Yet another trade deadline acquisition for the Nationals, Howie Kendrick first came to Washington D.C. in July of 2017, as part of a trade that sent McKenzie Mills to the Philadelphia Phillies. After the 2017 season ended, Kendrick re-signed with the Nationals on a 2-year $7 million dollar contract. Brian Dozier: After becoming a free agent at the end of the 2018 season, Brian Dozier signed a 1-year, $9 million dollar deal with the Nationals. Trea Turner: In the same trade that the Nationals acquired Joe Ross, Trea Turner was the headlining piece returning to the Nationals after being selected with the 13th overall pick by the San Diego Padres just six months prior. Anthony Rendon: The top of the 2011 MLB Draft was absolutely loaded, giving the Nationals plenty of options with the sixth overall selection. They decided to go with Anthony Rendon and haven’t looked back since. At the time of his selection, draftees were allowed to sign MLB contracts right after being drafted. As a result, Rendon signed a 4-year, $7.2 million dollar deal. Kurt Suzuki: Once his time with the Twins had ended, Kurt Suzuki joined the Atlanta Braves organization, where he seemed to find his form from early in his career. This led Suzuki to signing a 2-year $10 million dollar contract with the Nationals last offseason. Yan Gomes: With the Cleveland Indians desperate to find ways to trim money from their 2019 payroll, they opted to trade Yan Gomes and the $7 million that was due to him to the Nationals in exchange for prospects Daniel Johnson and Jefry Rodriguez. Outfielders Juan Soto: Signing with the Nationals for $1.5 million dollars, Juan Soto was one of the highest paid players in the 2015 international free agent class. Adam Eaton: After the 2016 season, the Chicago White Sox went into full fire sale mode to try to stockpile their farm system with as much talent as possible. One of the trades they made was sending outfielder Adam Eaton to the Nationals in exchange for Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning. Victor Robles: In the loaded 2013 international free agent class that featured players like Eloy Jimenez, Gleyber Torres and Rafael Devers, Victor Robles flew under the radar, and might go down as the steal of the class. Gerardo Parra: The man who started the baby shark craze in Washington D.C. was signed by the Nationals in May of this year after the San Francisco Giants designated him for assignment. Michael A. Taylor: Stephen Strasburg wasn’t the only player on this roster that the Nationals picked up in the 2009 MLB draft, as they also took Michael A. Taylor in the sixth round, with the 172nd overall pick in that year’s draft. By looking back on their roster, it is clear that Mike Rizzo and company had a layered approach when it came to building this roster. They made it their main priority to spend the majority of their budget on building a dominant top of the starting rotation. They also did an excellent job in armateur scouting and acquired many of their top players from the MLB draft and International free agency. They then went out and made a few trades to acquire a few more pieces to the puzzle. Once they had their core in place, they went to the scrap heap to fill out any remaining holes on their roster and squeeze as much value out of these players as they could. It might not have always looked pretty, but at the end of the day, banners fly forever. Click here to view the article
  7. Data scientist and former FiveThirtyEight journalist Rob Arthur wrote a piece today for Baseball Prospectus. The premise was that the baseball teams played the game with all season is now gone, and that’s quite a damning revelation. If you don’t have access to a subscription at Baseball Prospectus, he did a nice job breaking it down to a bite-sized Twitter thread. The ball itself is causing more drag than it has at any point since 2016. Home runs are down more than 50%, and the playing field established for 162 games has now been abolished. https://twitter.com/No_Little_Plans/status/1182286423833096192 Arthur went on to clarify that weather is not the culprit for these outcomes. He stated that drag factors in both temperature and pressure, while also noting conditions have been more optimal than normal and don’t have a significant overall impact. Considering the research he provided, and the comments offered up by Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper, I began to think of specific examples. Earlier I mentioned thinking that something seemed off about that Dodgers and Nationals game to close out the National League Division Series. I didn’t dig in enough to see the amount of wall scrapers typically present on a game-by-game basis, but it certainly seemed abnormal. I did however consider that Will Smith at bat in the bottom of the 9th. His 100 mph exit velocity and 26-degree launch angle resulted in a fly out. During the regular season there was 75 similar occurrences of those inputs, and they resulted in 44 homers with an 83% base hit rate. https://twitter.com/tlschwerz/status/1182363415228141574 This is a Minnesota Twins website, so let’s bring things full circle here. Parker Hageman immediately turned to Monday’s game against the Yankees. I remembered thinking it was odd to see Gleyber Torres barely get out on a well struck ball, but it was Marwin Gonzalez’s blast that immediately looked gone and fell way short that got me. As Parker notes, the Twins 1B had his well struck ball become a pretty small outlier. https://twitter.com/tlschwerz/status/1182366456899670016 If we think back to game one, there were homers hit by both Miguel Sano and Nelson Cruz that struck me as odd. Although the ball went out to the opposite field, power sluggers like those two rarely need every extra inch to reach the seats. In doing some research through MLB’s own Statcast service, the balls that left the yard in the Postseason traveled an average of 70 feet shorter than they same circumstances produced during the regular season. https://twitter.com/tlschwerz/status/1182367265683058688 All along, the expectation should’ve been that the sport would walk the baseball back. Despite the home run providing a level of excitement to the game (one that pace of play changes would seemingly be geared towards), Rob Manfred has publicly stated that inquiries would be made too many times for tools of the trade to go untouched. What strikes this writer as irresponsible, unfair, and downright disingenuous is to make these wholesale changes during the season. The point isn’t to suggest that the Twins or any other team is getting a raw deal because of the deadened baseball. What is fair is for players across the league, most importantly hitters, to have a level of frustration aimed at the governing body of their sport. As former pitcher Dallas Braden puts it, “The guy that deflated footballs in the NFL was drug over the coals by the commissioner of the NFL for altering the sports’ ball. What do WE do when it’s THE COMMISSIONER altering balls like some MAD plastic surgeon? Let the man snip & shape as he sees fit, no issues?” I’ll never have a problem with seasons being analyzed separately as not all factors remain the same as the calendar changes. I do think you’ve got a significant problem when the integrity of a collective season is being manipulated at the drop of a hat. Because of this uproar Major League Baseball has now issued a statement on the situation. Unfortunately it does little to address any of the actual problems and avoids any statements that point to real reasons why there's such drastic changes in results. https://twitter.com/BizballMaury/status/1182385320311963649
  8. Box Score Perez: 5 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 65.6% strikes (59 of 90 pitches) Home Runs: Polanco (21) Multi-Hit Games: Arraez (3 for 5), Polanco (2 for 5, HR), Castro (2 for 4) WPA of +0.1: Cruz .101 WPA of -0.1: Perez -.220, Rosario -.161, Astudillo -.159, Adrianza -.105 The Nationals jumped all over Martin Perez, from the get-go. After retiring Trea Turner for the first out of the game, Perez gave up a double to Adam Eaton, walked Anthony Rendon, a single to Juan Soto and a single to Ryan Zimmerman. By the time the Twins even sent their first hitter to the plate, they already trailed by a score of 2-0. The top of the third started off like a pretty harmless inning. Martin Perez retired Adam Eaton and Anthony Rendon to get two quick outs, but after a walk to Juan Soto things got interesting. Perez got Howie Kendrick down 0-2 and delivered a quality slider down below the zone that Kendrick lifted into right field for what looked like a routine fly out. However, with Eddie Rosario, nothing has been routine for him in the outfield this year, and that was the case with this fly ball, as he let it sail over his head for an RBI-double. Just two pitches later, Ryan Zimmerman made the Twins pay dearly for this mistake, as he took Perez deep to give the Nationals a 5-0 lead. The Twins were able to answer back with a couple of runs in the bottom of the inning, thanks to a Luis Arraez one-out single, and Jorge Polanco taking Stephen Strasburg deep to cut the deficit down to three. Polanco’s homer was the Twins 277th of the season and gave the Twins the lead in the home run race over the New York Yankees. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1171948398053941249 During the middle innings the bats for both teams stayed quiet. The Twins relievers, Zack Littell, Brusdar Graterol and Fernando Romero, all pitched scoreless innings to keep the Twins in the game. Unfortunately, the Twins were unable to take advantage of that. They put up a two-out threat in the fourth, thanks to a LaMonte Wade walk, and a Jonathan Schoop double, but Jason Castro was rung up on strikes to nullify that threat. In the bottom of the eighth, the Twins had yet another chance. The Nationals made a questionable move to bring former Twin Fernando Rodney, and his 5.54 ERA into the game to face Polanco, Cruz and Rosario. The inning started off strong for the Twins, as Polanco reached on an infield hit, and Cruz drew a walk, but then Rosario, Astudillo and Adrianza all hit lazy fly balls to the outfield, killing the Twins' chances. All this was done, by the way, with Mitch Garver waiting in the dugout with his helmet and batting gloves on but was never called upon to take an at-bat that could have tied the ballgame. Randy Dobnak came in to pitch for the Twins in the top of the ninth, and promptly gave up a solo home run to Trea Turner, to extend the Nationals lead to 6-2, which would be the final score of the ballgame, as the Twins got a couple of runners on but failed to score in the bottom of the ninth. Bullpen Usage Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days: Next Three Games Thu vs WSH, 6:40 pm CT (Corbin-Gibson) Fri at CLE, 6:10 pm CT (Odorizzi-Civale) Sat at CLE, 6:10 pm CT (TBD-TBD) Last Game Twins Game Recap (9/10): Berrios Bounces Back in Twins Win
  9. With the Washington Nationals throwing Stephen Strasburg up against Martin Perez for the Minnesota Twins and their depleted lineup, it was going to be a tough test to secure the second win in as many nights for the Twins. The Twins had a few chances as the game went on, but failed to come through with any clutch hits, as they fell to the Nationals by a score of 6-2.Box Score Perez: 5 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 65.6% strikes (59 of 90 pitches) Home Runs: Polanco (21) Multi-Hit Games: Arraez (3 for 5), Polanco (2 for 5, HR), Castro (2 for 4) WPA of +0.1: Cruz .101 WPA of -0.1: Perez -.220, Rosario -.161, Astudillo -.159, Adrianza -.105 The Nationals jumped all over Martin Perez, from the get-go. After retiring Trea Turner for the first out of the game, Perez gave up a double to Adam Eaton, walked Anthony Rendon, a single to Juan Soto and a single to Ryan Zimmerman. By the time the Twins even sent their first hitter to the plate, they already trailed by a score of 2-0. The top of the third started off like a pretty harmless inning. Martin Perez retired Adam Eaton and Anthony Rendon to get two quick outs, but after a walk to Juan Soto things got interesting. Perez got Howie Kendrick down 0-2 and delivered a quality slider down below the zone that Kendrick lifted into right field for what looked like a routine fly out. However, with Eddie Rosario, nothing has been routine for him in the outfield this year, and that was the case with this fly ball, as he let it sail over his head for an RBI-double. Just two pitches later, Ryan Zimmerman made the Twins pay dearly for this mistake, as he took Perez deep to give the Nationals a 5-0 lead. The Twins were able to answer back with a couple of runs in the bottom of the inning, thanks to a Luis Arraez one-out single, and Jorge Polanco taking Stephen Strasburg deep to cut the deficit down to three. Polanco’s homer was the Twins 277th of the season and gave the Twins the lead in the home run race over the New York Yankees. During the middle innings the bats for both teams stayed quiet. The Twins relievers, Zack Littell, Brusdar Graterol and Fernando Romero, all pitched scoreless innings to keep the Twins in the game. Unfortunately, the Twins were unable to take advantage of that. They put up a two-out threat in the fourth, thanks to a LaMonte Wade walk, and a Jonathan Schoop double, but Jason Castro was rung up on strikes to nullify that threat. In the bottom of the eighth, the Twins had yet another chance. The Nationals made a questionable move to bring former Twin Fernando Rodney, and his 5.54 ERA into the game to face Polanco, Cruz and Rosario. The inning started off strong for the Twins, as Polanco reached on an infield hit, and Cruz drew a walk, but then Rosario, Astudillo and Adrianza all hit lazy fly balls to the outfield, killing the Twins' chances. All this was done, by the way, with Mitch Garver waiting in the dugout with his helmet and batting gloves on but was never called upon to take an at-bat that could have tied the ballgame. Randy Dobnak came in to pitch for the Twins in the top of the ninth, and promptly gave up a solo home run to Trea Turner, to extend the Nationals lead to 6-2, which would be the final score of the ballgame, as the Twins got a couple of runners on but failed to score in the bottom of the ninth. Bullpen Usage Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days: Next Three Games Thu vs WSH, 6:40 pm CT (Corbin-Gibson) Fri at CLE, 6:10 pm CT (Odorizzi-Civale) Sat at CLE, 6:10 pm CT (TBD-TBD) Last Game Twins Game Recap (9/10): Berrios Bounces Back in Twins Win Click here to view the article
  10. Brief Overview: As is to be expected from any National League club, the Nationals are relative strangers to Target Field. This will be their first visit without Bryce Harper, and thankfully for the Twins, Max Scherzer is not scheduled to pitch in this set either. Washington is wrapping up a brief two-city road trip and is just 1-3 after leaving Atlanta with a series loss. What They Do Well: You have to start this section with their resolve and resilience. Expected to be a postseason team when 2019 began, the Washington Nationals raced out to an awful 20-31 start. By the beginning of June it looked like Davey Martinez’s squad was left for dead owning a 24-33 record and trailing in the NL East by nine full games.Since that point they have gone 55-30 being one of the hottest teams in the sport, and are now firmly entrenched in the first wild card spot. It’s not a surprise that a team with Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin in its rotation would pitch well. At fifth in overall fWAR as a staff, it’s the rotation that does the heavy lifting on this club. Washington’s starters own the best fWAR in baseball and have generated a full win more than the second-place Dodgers. Just because they can pitch doesn’t mean they don’t hit as well. Bryce Harper’s departure wasn’t ever going to be inconsequential but the lineup has had plenty of players step up. The lineup has produced a top third fWAR and they’ve scored the seventh most runs in all of baseball. What They Do Not Do Well: Technically we could put fielding in this category as the Nationals own the 19th-rated team in terms of defensive WAR. That’s essentially middle of the pack though, and it’s only two spots shy of the Minnesota Twins. Relief pitching has been atrocious. Washington owns the 25th overall fWAR from a relief perspective, and the poor performances have come from all over the place. Sean Doolittle looked like a lock-down lefty until just shy of the trade deadline, and now he’s got a 4.09 ERA. Tanner Rainey is the only arm with an ERA south of 4.00 to pitch more than 25 innings for the Nationals, and they’ve turned to Oakland Athletics castoff Fernando Rodney as a steadying presence. The bullpen is a hodgepodge of no-names and has-beens, while the group as a whole has hardly lived up to expectations (or performed right on par with them depending on how you look at it.) Individuals of Note: You know all about Strasburg, Scherzer, and Corbin. You probably know that Juan Soto is one of the best young players in the game right now. The outfielder has a .968 OPS through 131 games and he’s making it look incredibly easy. Former divisional foe Yan Gomes is on this club, and previous fan favorite Brian Dozier comes back to town for the first time as well. The most important individual, and one that flies under the radar most often, is none other than Anthony Rendon. Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger have gotten all of the NL MVP hype in 2019, but you best believe the Nationals third baseman is deserving of consideration as well. Rendon is just 29, has a 1.047 OPS and has blasted 32 dingers this season. He hits for average, he hits for power, and he does it all while playing a strong third base. If it’s Gerrit Cole being handed a blank check on the bump this free agency cycle, teams should be lining up to pay Rendon whatever he wants to join their lineup. Recent History: Minnesota last played Washington in 2016 going 0-3 against them. The last time the Nationals were in Minnesota the Twins still played at the Metrodome. In 2008 the Twins swept the Nats over a three-game series in June. Recent Trajectories: Minnesota has gone 6-4 over their last ten games but are coming off a dropped series to begin this six game home swing. The Nats are 5-5 in their last 10 and went 1-4 against the Braves to start this trip. Pitching Matchups: Tuesday: Berrios vs Sanchez Wednesday: Perez vs Strasburg Thursday: Gibson vs Corbin Ending Thoughts: For whatever reason I was convinced that the Twins were scheduled to play the Nationals in 2020. That isn’t the case though, and Stephen Strasburg will be making his Target Field debut this week. Juan Soto was all of 9-years-old when Washington last came to Minnesota. This is going to be a clash of two good, likely playoff-bound, clubs. The Twins need to get healthy, and showing a lineup that resembles that during this series is a must. With the starter tipped in their favor just once, the Twins are in an uphill battle, but this team has risen to the occasion often in 2019. I’ll say the Fightin’ Rocco’s take two and keep the train moving.
  11. Each passing day that goes by gives us another opportunity to see that the Minnesota Twins bullpen could use some help. Trevor May picked up his first save of the season last night as Taylor Rogers was on the shelf. Needing the back-end guys to get a break, acquiring a quality upgrade is a must for the front office. Today’s target is Nationals closer Sean Doolittle.*You're going to see a lot of speculation and analysis on potential bullpen additions at the site over the coming weeks. Cody led things off earlier this week with a great overview of 10 potential trade targets. We'll continue to explore the reliever market by running profiles on specific pitchers each day. Sean Doolittle, LHP, 32-years-old Washington Nationals (31-36, 4th in NL East) $6.5MM team option for 2020 2019: 3.58 ERA, 1.337 WHIP, 11.4 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 in 27.2 IP 2018: 1.60 ERA, 0.600 WHIP, 12.0 K/9, 1.2 BB/9 in 45.0 IP What’s to Like? Doolittle has been a model of consistency over the entirety of his big-league career. He’s worked as a reliever for eight years and has operated in high leverage or save situations for a vast majority of it. It remains to be seen whether the Nationals sell, but they’re certainly fighting an uphill battle in the NL East right now. Over the course of his career Doolittle’s 2.88 ERA is paired with a 2.44 FIP. He’s been a double-digit strikeout pitcher on a yearly basis and has displayed a level of command that keeps his walks well into the manageable range. Washington has really scuffled in 2019, especially considering their expectations, but it wasn’t the fault of Doolittle out of the gate. In his first 18 games Doolittle owned a 0.95 ERA and a 22/5 K/BB. The Nats were 15-3 in games he pitches, and he recorded six saves (against just one blown save.) Another lefty is something Baldelli could certainly use, and a hard thrower would be the ideal variety. Concerns There’s more here than I’d like to see for a target the Twins should have some interest in. The 2.89 FIP is fine, but the 4.48 xFIP is not a great sign. Pair that with velocity that has dropped a full mph on his fastball, and a whiff rate that’s 3% below where he was a season ago. Doolittle started out the year on a great note as referenced above, but it’s been anything but smooth sledding since. He owns a 9.35 ERA and 1.019 OPS against in his last 8.2 IP. The 13/2 K/BB is still plenty good, but with 15 hits in that span pitches simply aren’t missing bats. Worth mentioning is that Sean Doolittle removed the toe tap from mechanics after a protest by the Chicago Cubs. That game took place on May 18, and his next outing (May 22nd) saw him surrender four runs on two hits without recording an out against the Mets. He has a 9.45 ERA and 1.039 OPS against since that point. There could be some mechanical tweaks in order to restore him to previous form. See Also Kirby Yates, RHP, Padres 10 Relievers Minnesota Could Target Click here to view the article
  12. *You're going to see a lot of speculation and analysis on potential bullpen additions at the site over the coming weeks. Cody led things off earlier this week with a great overview of 10 potential trade targets. We'll continue to explore the reliever market by running profiles on specific pitchers each day. Sean Doolittle, LHP, 32-years-old Washington Nationals (31-36, 4th in NL East) $6.5MM team option for 2020 2019: 3.58 ERA, 1.337 WHIP, 11.4 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 in 27.2 IP 2018: 1.60 ERA, 0.600 WHIP, 12.0 K/9, 1.2 BB/9 in 45.0 IP What’s to Like? Doolittle has been a model of consistency over the entirety of his big-league career. He’s worked as a reliever for eight years and has operated in high leverage or save situations for a vast majority of it. It remains to be seen whether the Nationals sell, but they’re certainly fighting an uphill battle in the NL East right now. Over the course of his career Doolittle’s 2.88 ERA is paired with a 2.44 FIP. He’s been a double-digit strikeout pitcher on a yearly basis and has displayed a level of command that keeps his walks well into the manageable range. Washington has really scuffled in 2019, especially considering their expectations, but it wasn’t the fault of Doolittle out of the gate. In his first 18 games Doolittle owned a 0.95 ERA and a 22/5 K/BB. The Nats were 15-3 in games he pitches, and he recorded six saves (against just one blown save.) Another lefty is something Baldelli could certainly use, and a hard thrower would be the ideal variety. Concerns There’s more here than I’d like to see for a target the Twins should have some interest in. The 2.89 FIP is fine, but the 4.48 xFIP is not a great sign. Pair that with velocity that has dropped a full mph on his fastball, and a whiff rate that’s 3% below where he was a season ago. Doolittle started out the year on a great note as referenced above, but it’s been anything but smooth sledding since. He owns a 9.35 ERA and 1.019 OPS against in his last 8.2 IP. The 13/2 K/BB is still plenty good, but with 15 hits in that span pitches simply aren’t missing bats. https://twitter.com/PitchingNinja/status/1133709588916781062 Worth mentioning is that Sean Doolittle removed the toe tap from mechanics after a protest by the Chicago Cubs. That game took place on May 18, and his next outing (May 22nd) saw him surrender four runs on two hits without recording an out against the Mets. He has a 9.45 ERA and 1.039 OPS against since that point. There could be some mechanical tweaks in order to restore him to previous form. See Also Kirby Yates, RHP, Padres 10 Relievers Minnesota Could Target
  13. Okay, we know we are not in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes. Be glad. Only Boras can sell him as the $400 million dollar man. If we look closely we know better. What were his stats this year? 1.3 WAR. 248, 34, 100. Yes he had a +133 OPS. Is that worth $40 million a year? He has had 7 years and an accumulated 27.4 WAR - 3.9 per year. What is that worth? Lets me realistic here. The following article says that in this inflated era a player gets $3.8 million per war - that means that for 2018 Harper was worth about $5 Million. If we take his average over his career it means just under $15million. Will he sign for that? Of course not. Boras has the league buffaloed so he will get twice or more for that. https://www.reddit.com/r/baseball/comments/7vwjmy/realistic_war_how_much_should_players_actually/ He will argue that these are his prime years coming up and that is true. However, how long is his prime? Most estimates make 32 the maximum. https://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/article/9933/how-do-baseball-players-age-investigating-the-age-27-theory/ Then what? Look at Pujols. He might be DFA'd now that the Angels have gotten a first baseman and DH. Or Tulowitzki who has been DFA'd with two big years left on his contract. Of course we can always look at the impact that the player has on winning. Harper has been with the Nationals seven years. They have been first 4 times and second 3 times. Of course they also have Scherzer the best pitcher in the NL (I know some like Kershaw) and Strasburg and Rodon and Werth and Turner... Yet they have never made the WS. They lost in the LDS four times 3 - 2. Mr Harper never took them over the top. A team is a team, not a star and bit players. Those who chase Harper or the guy who does not want to play all out, but will play dirty can expend the big bucks, but the Twins have much more affordable options in the next tier. Of course that assumes the Twins want to win and want to spend.
  14. The Twins clearly still need some middle infield help, most specifically at shortstop (Pedro Florimon is not the answer). What do we think of Danny Espinosa of the Washington Nationals? I think he'd be a solid fit, and could be acquired cheaply.Here's an article I did last week on the topic, please feel free to read, react, disagree, etc. Link: Minnesota Twins Rumors: Should a Young Infielder Be on Their Radar?
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