Category Archives: Twins

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OK, now go get some pitchers

Category : Minnesota Twins , Twins , Updates

The Twins have patched any offensive holes that you might be concerned about. Perhaps Jonathan Schoop isn’t the guy you wanted at 2nd, or you didn’t believe designated hitter to be an enormous concern, the Twins went out and signed players to plug into all of those gaps. Aside from Mike Morin, however, the Twins haven’t done much for their pitching staff.
There has been a move towards some more creative pitching strategies, such as the “opener” or “bullpen days”. These are meant to maximize the effectiveness of the various arms that a team might have in the pitching staff, but the only way for this to work as an effective strategy is 1) not to use it for the entire season and 2) make sure you don’t need to lean on the bullpen on days in which a traditional starter is used.
There has been a lot of talk of the Twins getting a bullpen ace, or simply solidifying it with a few veterans, but make no mistake The best way to improve your bullpen is to ensure that you don’t need to use it very often. The Twins, and any organization, need reliable, inning eating starters.
With the moves the Twins have made this offseason, it’s clear that they think they are going to contend this year. If so, do they believe they have the rotation options to bear the weight of the innings? As a refresher, they have Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson and Jake Odorizzi as somewhat bankable options to work 5-7 innings a game. Michael Pineda is a question mark because of his long term and more recent injury history and they otherwise have a collection of young players that could take the 5th spot in the rotation.
I’m not terribly comfortable without 5 locks in the rotation, if it is a season to make a push for the post season. It will be nice to have depth options to move into the rotation when injuries inevitably crop up. There aren’t many options left in free agency, though there are a few choices left.. Dallas Kuechel is the best available option, though he would cost a draft pick, and the team might take a sniff at James Shields or Gio Gonzalez who could eat innings in the back of a rotation, but neither of those guys are terribly inspiring.
I think that means that the Twins need to explore the trade market. The way things are playing out, with few options available through free agency, some names might start to shake free in the next couple of months. The Indians are already marketing some of their top names, and the Rangers seem to be open to moving Mike Minor. Undoubtedly, other options like bounceback names like Marcus Stroman are less likely options, but the Twins could still kick the tires.
It’s easy to see why the Twins think this is a good season to make a push. The Indians are retooling, and we are likely one or two years from the White Sox being a formidable contender for the division crown. The Twins organization will eventually develop good pitchers given a few more years, but they seem to see a window this year. Now is not the time to get cute with the rotation or the pitching staff. Get some guys to gobble up innings, and the chances at a fantastic bullpen will increase.


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Twins seen but not heard in Las Vegas

During their 4 ½ day stay in Las Vegas, the Twins were talked about a few times, they were connected to some free agents, and Derek Falvey even made an appearance on MLB Network but ultimately, as of writing, they didn’t execute any moves. They didn’t sign anyone, trade anyone, or even lose anyone in the Rule 5 draft.
None of the players the Twins have been connected to have signed anywhere, though, so despite what might have been a quiet transaction wire, the Twins certainly didn’t rest on their laurels. It’s more likely that the twins were laying the groundwork for a busy forthcoming 2-6 weeks as they set their team up for Spring Training.
The Twins haven’t been closely tied to many starting pitchers, though I would argue that this is the area in most dire need of repair if the Twins expect to compete in 2019.Instead, the Twins have been reported to have been looking hard at catcher Wilson Ramos, relievers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, and most aggressively, designated hitter Nelson Cruz.
Cahill would be a good option for the middle of the rotation, and having a bullpen ace like Miller or Allen would be a welcome upgrade. Wilson Ramos would return to the Twins organization, though now on the downside of the aging curve. All would be upgrades in their own way. Nelson Cruz would be a bit more nettlesome.
Cruz will be entering his age 39 season, which is young compared to Bartolo Colon and not many other people. Sluggers can still slug into their late 30s and early 40s, but not nearly at the pace of their younger years. Games played diminish with age, especially at this age, and productivity waxes along with it. That’s essentially what one could expect from Nelson Cruz in the very near future.
Unless the Twins are going to be making a more aggressive push for the playoffs than I had anticipated, or it seems they have plans to, this move seems incredibly sort sighted. Cruz would be a very short term asset, but to add him ,they would need to make room on the 40 man roster. The most likely victim would be Tyler Austin, who crushed left handed pitching when he was here just for a few months in 2018.
If this offseason is viewed as one in which the Twins are building a win now squad, then Nelson Cruz makes sense. The low cost maneuvers for younger, team controlled players and the encouraged development of talent in house suggest a long term view though. Whle Cruz is more valuable this season, Austin still has 5 more seasons of team control left! This season Cruz is better, but for the next 5, Tyler Austin will likely be far more worthwhile.
The Twins set the table for the rest of the offseason with their moves in Las Vegas. If the pitching options pan out,then it seems as though everything went according to plan .If they do continue with an aggressive pursuit of Nelson Cruz, I have to admit that I’m not sure what the plan ever was.


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Miguel Sano is maybe in trouble again?

Last offseason was a tough one for Twins fans. Allegations of assault arose against Miguel Sano, and even more troubling were the corroborating accounts about Sano, and how there was a relative lack of surprise about the allegations. Though MLB was unable to prove Sano’s accuser’s account, I think most people with an open mind have fallen on the side of the accuser. Sano probably did something very wrong, but there wasn’t any tangible evidence left behind.
With that in the back of our minds, I think many of us heard about his run in with the police, and initially feared the worst, especially given that recent history. The accounts that leaked out first were frightening, that he ran through a police checkpoint, causing significant injury to a Dominican police officer. Further accounts proved to be less insidious, but they all ended the same way: Miguel Sano was paying for the cop’s treatment.
There was also then a nefarious thought that perhaps there was some corruption involved. Unfortunately, the Dominican Republic has a reputation for corruption, and some found the interaction to be fishy. Patrick Reusse is perhaps the most famous local to ascribe to that theory.

I’m thinking opposite. I’d want to see X-rays of that broken leg if I were Miguel’s attorney. https://t.co/VVkVbr8nWT
— Reusse (@Patrick_Reusse) October 8, 2018

And frankly, I was on the bandwagon until I saw a recent quote from Derek Falvey. The incident, apparently, was definitely an accident, and the injured officer was a childhood acquaintance of Sano. This raises important questions all around though.
Why does trouble, assumed, alleged and actual, seem to follow Sano around? Will he continue to a distraction, or dogged to the point that his development continues to lag? If the Twins want to move him, is his value further depressed?
And how much more vigilant will we all need to be with players coming from abroad? We are worried about Sano’s susceptibility to extortion, but we’ve also seen Wilson Ramos kidnapped, and a disproportionate number of players suspended for PED us have been from Latin America, and attributed some of their problems to a local medical community disinterested in American or MLB regulation.
The Twins front office has contended, undoubtedly, with most of these issues, or similar situations to these in the past, and have likely made up their mind on Sano, even before the latest incident. They’ve certainly made their peace with the challenges of doing business and finding talent in South and Central America, or the Caribbean. We’ll likely find out before too long how the team feels about Miguel Sano. Is he the source of the problem, or is this just another symptom of the challenges of international business? We’ll undoubtedly learn what the Twins’ stance is fairly early in free agency.


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Leaving

The end of the season was tough for a lot of Twins fans. The baseball was a lot better in the last week, despite the team falling out of contention early, but it wasn’t the on field product that was so tough. It was the idea that we might be saying good bye to Joe Mauer as a player.
I think that the touching send off, and all the pageantry of the finale, centered around Mauer consolidated the Twins fan base behind Mauer in a way that hasn’t really been seen since he signed his long term extension 8 years ago. The show of support served as a way to send a clear message that the organization doesn’t regret the extension, even as much as certain elements of the fan base excoriated them – the Twins and Mauer.
It hasn’t been posted here yet, and the montage of events definitely gave me a lump in my throat. Check it out before we move on.

It was a great show of respect for one of the Twins legends, and a nod to the organization for the past 20 years or so, and the loyalty to players, local athletes and staff.
Then, Not 2 days later, the Twins fired Paul Molitor, another local guy, who the organization had mandated loyalty to when the front office came into control. Joe Mauer’s good bye, in retrospect, wasn’t just an homage to a legend, but an inflection point in the organization. The old way is dead.
From the outside looking in, it seems clear that the front office wanted to take this organization and mold it in however they saw fit. Paul Molitor, good or bad, wasn’t compatible with the way the organization envisioned their future. The new front office, outsiders all, don’t put loyalty at the top of priorities for keeping players (like Brian Dozier) or staff, opting instead for long term sustained success. It’s the way baseball runs today, but is a jarring moment antithetical to the Twins philosophy since they moved to Minnesota.
The home finale, and perhaps Joe Mauer’s career finale was one last chance for the organization to have a sincere moment of loyalty. Now they are done being sweet, and he Twins, are going to get down to business.


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