Byron Buxton Struggling but Twins are Winning

Do you like Wins (Ws) or do you dislike Strikeouts (Ks)?

The Minnesota Twins are 4-0 to begin the 2017 season. They’ve used all aspects of the game to help them win those 4 games. They’ve pitched very well, they’ve played great defense and they’ve scored plenty of runs to win 2 games and as much as they needed to win the other two games.

Unfortunately, Byron Buxton is struggling mightily at the plate and he’s hitting out of the number 3 spot in the batting order. He’s still playing great defense and the Twins have needed that defense to help win the 4 games.

So, here’s the question, with Byron Buxton struggling, do you move him down in the batting order to take some pressure off of him? Or, do you leave him in the 3 spot because the team has been winning?

On the season, Byron Buxton is 1-for-18 with 1 hit, 1 walk and 11 strikeouts. He’s struggling to make contact with the ball. Because of that, we’ve heard he can’t hit and he’s terrible and, of course, we’ve heard the Twins should move him out of the 3 spot in the batting order. A lot of fans thought right off the bat (no pun intended) that he shouldn’t be hitting from that spot in the batting order, anyways.

Before the game, Paul Molitor said he won’t consider moving Buxton out of the third spot just yet. Then, last night, Byron went 0-for-4 with 4 strikeouts and he said after the game, “I ain’t swinging the bat so good.” He also made 2 spectacular catches in the first inning to keep the game scoreless on one catch and at 1-0 with the other catch. The 2nd catch was the 3rd out of the inning and the White Sox had runners on first and second so most likely 2 runs would’ve scored if he doesn’t catch that ball. The final score was 3-1 Twins so he’s helping the Twins win with the glove despite being non-existent with the bat.

Why mess with what might be a winning formula and, at the same time, chance messing up Byron Buxton’s mental state even more by moving him from the 3rd spot in the batting order? He’s already putting too much pressure on himself to produce, thinking he has to swing when he doesn’t, being too anxious on every pitch. He’s going to put in the work to get out of this slump and he’ll have the help & support of all his teammates and coaches to get him through it so leave him there for now while reassuring him of the reasons he was put in that spot to start the season.

Someone commented that it doesn’t matter if they’re winning. What? The whole point of the game is to win! What other reason is there for playing the game? YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME! Herm is right! Now, teams can play bad and win and play good and lose. There’s almost always something that can be done better to help you win, but, like someone else said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

So, let’s say he moves down the batting order after 4 games and 19 plate appearances and the Twins start losing. What do you do then? Move him back? Try something else? There’s no reason to panic after 4 games no matter who’s struggling at the plate, in the field, or on the mound. It’s a 162-game season. Players can’t be playing scared that they’re going to come out if they make a mistake. It’s a team game. The team wins or the team loses.

We’d love to hear your thoughts, or ‘Takes.

Did you like this? Share it:

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Posted in Baseball News and Happenings | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

2017 Minnesota Twins Season Preview – Framework

2017 Minnesota Twins Season Preview - Framework

Are the Minnesota Twins building a framework of winning baseball?

The Minnesota Twins begin the 2017 season with new hope as they enter a new era of their franchise. After hiring a new Chief Baseball Officer in Derek Falvey and a new General Manager in Thad Levine, the Twins seem headed in the right direction. Of course, it’s hard to go anywhere but up after a 103-loss season but, with this new regime taking over the organization, the feeling is they will turn this team around and, maybe, they weren’t as bad a team as their record showed last season.

Last season was the worst season in this franchise’s history in terms of the number of losses but how many of the losses and how bad the season was can be attributed to a young team that couldn’t get over the hump with a big hit or not enough leadership in the clubhouse? It was a season most people would like to forget but, the players that went through it can learn from that season, too. Even if it’s something as simple as never wanting to go through that again can help them now and in the future. Learning how to win can come from knowing what has made you lose in the past.

Help is on the Way

There is talent on this team. Most of that talent is in the field or at the plate rather than on the mound but still, there is talent and it’s talent that can be a big part of turning this team around. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some talent on the mound, too. It just might not be enough talent. That’s where Derek Falvey and Thad Levine come in. They are known for having a background steeped in pitching. They have been able to find and develop pitching that has helped their teams get to the playoffs.

There was a question on Fox Sports North’s Twins Town Hall meeting asking,

“Do you think there is a true ace in the Twins organization currently, at any level?”

Thad Levine humorously just answered, “Yes.” Derek Falvey elaborated on the question, saying they don’t like limiting any player and they want to maximize every player’s potential. He used Indians ace Corey Kluber as an example saying that he didn’t come up through the minor leagues as that prototype guy. Thad Levine said they think there is somebody in their farm system that can get to that level. They just don’t know who that is yet. Someone or many will overachieve their potential and turn Minnesota Twins pitching into a strength instead of a weakness.

That is what is so exciting about this season. They will use every way possible to develop the pitchers currently on the roster and, maybe, more importantly, develop the prospects they have coming soon and also to scout pitchers (and players) they might draft with the number 1 pick and the entire 2017 MLB Draft.

Changing Mechanics?

Can a tweak in any given pitcher’s mechanics make them into a better pitcher? Or a different pitcher? How much better? How long will it take?

A good example of a veteran pitcher is 29-year-old right-handed starting pitcher Kyle Gibson. He’s always had a ton of potential, advancing from High-A to AAA in his first professional season. Gibby’s biggest problem has been finding consistency from start to start where he can be the best version of the pitcher he should be. He’s been up and down on almost a month to month basis where he’ll be great for a while then struggle. If he can be the same pitcher every start, he should be an above .500 pitcher and be a key to this team getting back to competitive baseball again.

You can say the same thing about every pitcher in the organization. From your opening day starter Ervin Santana to a pitcher ready for the next step like Jose Berrios to a pitcher just hitting the higher levels in the minors like Kohl Stewart to a pitcher just drafted in 2016, any one of them could improve with a tweak to their mechanics, changing a grip on a pitch or two, moving one way or the other on the rubber, or adding a new pitch to their repertoire. Maybe they see something in Hector Santiago which explains why they kept him, too.

A Winning Framework

Pitching and defense are a huge part of helping a team win. That is precisely why Derek Falvey and Thad Levine had Jason Castro as their primary target in free agency. As a catcher, Jason Castro helps both the pitching and the defense so they addressed two weaknesses with one signing.

Signing Jason Castro to a 3-year, $24.5M contract probably seems a little too high. That’s because the first thing most fans will look at are his stats and they will be underwhelmed. The majority of fans just look at the standard stats, with most of those being on the offensive side of the game. Mr. Castro won’t wow you with his bat, which isn’t to say he can’t hit, but it’s not the reason he’s getting that big contract.

Casual baseball fans might not understand how much a catcher has to do with the pitching staff and the entire game.* In fact, they are really like quarterbacks behind the plate, a leader in the field and in the clubhouse. Being called a “catcher” really limits what they do on a day-to-day basis.
*This is also a big reason why Joe Mauer is still being paid $23M a year but, that’s a conversation for another time.

The skill most talked about when it comes to Jason Castro is pitch-framing. How many times did we hear the phrase Pitch-Framing in Minnesota in the Old Era? Did we ever hear it? Pitch-Framing is the skill of catching a pitch and framing it so it looks like a strike to the umpire. That’s the quick definition but that almost sounds like catchers are cheating and, of course, nobody likes being thought of as a cheater so here’s Jason Castro’s longer and more definitive explanation of pitch-framing:

“The goal at the end of the day is to try to help your pitcher keep as many strikes as possible,” Castro said. “And to not do anything to take away from presenting pitches that are in the strike zone to the umpires that would lead them to believe that any given pitch is not a strike.”

With his pitch-framing, Jason Castro will help the pitchers get more called strikes. Changing a ball to a strike will also change the behavior of the hitter and slightly widen the strike zone. Castro was ranked the 5th best overall at pitch-framing with 12.8 runs above average. Compare that to Kurt Suzuki who was 5 runs below average and the Twins could save almost 18 runs with a better pitch-framer. We’ve all seen how a strike being called a ball or a ball being called a strike can affect a game.

A catcher also has to be a leader. Leadership was another area where the Twins struggled last season. A catcher leads by knowing his pitching staff, knowing their pitches, knowing how they want to pitch and knowing how to use all of that information to get the opposing hitters out over the course of an entire game. They have a gameplan for the opponent and each of the opponent’s individual players. They are also part-time psychologists because they have to know how to motivate the pitching staff, get them to calm down if things aren’t going well and figure out how to get the best out of them.

Then, of course, there’s the actual playing the game part. That’s somewhat important, right? Jason Castro’s defense will help stop the opponent’s running game with his arm and when to call for a pitchout and/or a pickoff throw.
“Hello, this is Diamond Security…Jason Castro speaking. Is everything alright? You mean like a bass guitar? Oh, I see. Can you describe it? Ok, it’s square and they are stuck into the ground. Have you ever thought of bringing them in the house or locking them up somehow?”

Love for the Glove

Speaking of defense, we have come to yet another weakness the Twins have to fix in order to start winning more often. They’ve got some areas that are very good and should be for a long time but there are, of course, some areas that still need some work and will require some patience.

The strongest area is the outfield, predicting Eddie Rosario is in left, future gold glover Byron Buxton is in center and Max Kepler is in right. All 3 of them are young and they are above average defensively. They are slightly above average at 1st base with Joe Mauer as the starter and at 2nd base with Brian Dozier. The areas of concern are at shortstop with Jorge Polanco and 3rd base with Miguel Sano. Something that comes from a team trying to take the next step is figuring out if Polanco and Sano can hold down the job defensively on the left side.

It’s been said that Miguel Sano’s natural position is 3rd base. Natural usually means that’s where they aren’t meant to play and we did see him make some great plays at the hot corner last season but we also saw a lot of bad plays like infield fly balls that dropped to the ground. Give the man credit though. He used the offseason to workout to get in better shape and to work on his defense. He has a rocket for an arm and is pretty good coming in on bunts. We’ll see how he progresses through the season.

The Twins moved Jorge Polanco to 2nd base a couple years ago, moving him from the shortstop position where he had played most of his career. Was it due to arm strength, defensive range, throwing accuracy, or just trying him out at 2nd base because he really never looked like he’d make it as a major-league shortstop?

The Twins are no stranger to having a new starting shortstop as a season opens. They’ve only had one shortstop since 2004 that has started 2 seasons and that was Pedro Florimon. It’s pretty crazy that they haven’t been able to find and/or develop a shortstop in 12 years. Is it impatience at the major league level, giving up on a player too soon? Or is it giving up on a player too soon in the minors? Or did they actually never have anyone capable of being their shortstop for an extended stay? Whatever the answer is, it doesn’t paint a good picture of the old front office and the scouting department.

They claimed shortstop Ehire Adrianza off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers in early February mainly for his glove. He’s average at best with the bat but he does have decent on-base skills. Knowing defense helps teams win, Falvey & Levine probably want a fallback option in case Jorge struggles at short and they want that fallback option to be solid defensively.

Let’s Play Ball!!!

The bottom line is, for the most part, the same as it has always been for the Minnesota Twins. If they pitch well and play good defense, their offense is good enough to score enough runs to win games. That offense was 16th in all of baseball and 9th in the American League in runs scored last season. That’s 4 ½ runs per game and it can easily go up with good years from Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Byron Buxton, Joe Mauer, Max Kepler, Byungho Park at some point and a new hitting coach in James Rowson.

This is The Dawn of a New Era of Minnesota Twins baseball. Winning is coming. It’s just a matter of how soon. This is a baseball team with a lot of talent. Can some confidence individually and as a team get them there as soon as this season?

That’s a lot to ask. I’m predicting 75+ wins.

Thanks for reading our TwinsTakes on the 2017 Minnesota Twins season. We’d love to hear what you think or your ‘Takes on how you think the Twins will do this season. We’re on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. We also post most of our articles on TwinsDaily.com.

That’s why we call it TwinsTakes.com because it’s…TwinsTakes.com - Tell us what You think about the Minnesota Twins

Did you like this? Share it:

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Posted in Minnesota Twins, My Twins Takes, Schedule | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2017 Minnesota Twins Opening Day Roster – Where to, Park?

Byungho Park reassigned to the minors? 13 pitchers?

The Minnesota Twins have made their final roster decisions for Opening Day 2017, which is on April 3rd and only 3 days away. They:

  • assigned 1B/DH Byungho Park to minor-league camp
    • along with OF JB Shuck, 3B Matt Hague, INF Benji Gonzalez, 1B/DH Ben Paulsen, and C Eddy Rodriguez
  • named LHP Adalberto Mejia their 5th starter
    • RHP Tyler Duffey will join the bullpen
  • will add C Chris Gimenez to the 40-man roster
  • optioned C John Ryan Murphy to AAA Rochester

So that means the 25-man Opening Day roster, for now, is:
Hitters/Fielders – 12
C – Jason Castro
1B – Joe Mauer
2B – Brian Dozier
3B – Miguel Sano
SS – Jorge Polanco
LF – Eddie Rosario
CF – Byron Buxton
RF – Max Kepler
DH – Robbie Grossman
Bench – C Chris Gimenez, INF Eduardo Escobar, UTIL Danny Santana

Starting Pitchers – 5
RHP Ervin Santana
LHP Hector Santiago
RHP Kyle Gibson
RHP Phil Hughes
LHP Adalberto Mejia

Relief Pitchers – 8
RHP Brandon Kintzler
RHP Matt Belisle
RHP Ryan Pressly
LHP Taylor Rogers
LHP Craig Breslow
RHP Michael Tonkin
RHP Justin Haley
RHP Tyler Duffey

On Disabled List
LHP Glen Perkins (?), LHP Ryan O’Rourke, INF Ehire Adrianza, 1B/DH Kennys Vargas (?)

Why “for now?”

Because, obviously, everyone is most likely wondering how Byungho Park did not make the team after a great Spring Training where he hit 2 doubles, 6 HRs and had 13 RBIs among 19 hits with 6 walks and 15 strikeouts in 51 at-bats for a .353 average and a .414 on-base percentage. He showed that he’s worked on his swing and is taking better at-bats.There might be a few reasons.

First off, he’s not on the 40-man roster and the Twins already have to add backup catcher Chris Gimenez to the 40-man roster. Assuming they’re taking Buddy Boshers off the roster for that spot, who else can you take off of it to find a spot for Byungho Park? Ryan O’Rourke? He’s on the 10-Day DL so he can’t be removed unless they move him to the 60-Day DL and he won’t be out that long. They could move Glen Perkins to the 60-Day DL and they still might but I believe he has to agree to that and he probably doesn’t want to be out until near the end of May if he can get back before that. There may be other players you could take off the 40-man roster but, obviously, the front office and the coaches like those players or they wouldn’t be on the roster.

Second, yes, Park’s stats are impressive but, they’re also from Spring Training, which is hard to take seriously so, maybe the front office would like to see him continue that same type of consistent hitting and good at-bats in AAA. If he keeps mashing the ball like he did in Spring Training, he’ll most likely get called up to the big club. Or if Robbie Grossman or a reliever or someone else struggles early, they could make a move to recall him?

Third, and this might be the biggest one, maybe Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are looking to acquire and/or move a player to make room for Mr. Park. By reassigning him to minor-league camp, some other teams might show some interest. We expect them to be looking for every possible way to improve this team.

Why 13 pitchers?

That seems unusual but, again, that doesn’t mean they’ll stay with 13 pitchers for the whole season or even a month of the season. The Minnesota Twins biggest problem (and need) has been pitching since the losing started 6 seasons ago. So, having 13 pitchers shows how bad it’s been. They might need that many to get through a week. If the starters are pitching bad, that bullpen can get overworked quickly.

So, they might want to get a look at these guys in real games when it counts rather than just evaluate them in spring training. Some, if not all, pitchers are working on new mechanics, new pitches, and/or new grips on pitches, trying to get used to those new tweaks to their deliveries or adding a new pitch. They aren’t that concerned if they get hit hard during a game.

Plus, having 13 pitchers could mean they are going to go with this starting lineup for awhile and let them play. They’re going to let Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano figure out if they can stay at shortstop and 3rd base. The bench of Eduardo Escobar, Chris Gimenez, and Danny Santana gives them the flexibility to replace every position as Gimenez has played some 1st base, Escobar and Santana can play 2nd, 3rd or short and Santana can play in the outfield, too. Sano could play some 1st base and in the outfiel…uhh…no, let’s not go back to that. Anyways, this lineup does have some flexibility even if there are only 12 players.

So, basically, let’s wait and see how it goes for the next 3 days before Opening Day. If they’re still the same after that, let’s give them some time to play it out for awhile and see what happens. It might not be as bad as you think.

Thanks for reading our TwinsTakes. We’d love to hear your TwinsTakes. That’s why it’s…TwinsTakes.com - Tell us what You think about the Minnesota Twins

Did you like this? Share it:

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Baseball News and Happenings, Minnesota Twins, My Twins Takes, Schedule, Transactions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 2016 MLB Winter Meetings are Here

The Winter Meetings are Here - or is it Twinter Meetings?

You can’t spell Winter Meetings without T-W-I-N-S!

Now, will the Minnesota Twins make a move, a big move, during the Winter Meetings that begin Monday, December 5th and run through Thursday, December 8th. The general managers from every team are all in one place so if any of them are interested in pursuing a trade, they just have to find that team’s GM, walk over to them and/or set up a meeting, if they haven’t already, and start talking. Let the rumors fly….

It’s no secret that the Minnesota Twins biggest need is pitching. It’s been their biggest need for quite some time. Now, they have some new minds at the top of the organization who have experience acquiring and developing pitching. New “modern” minds that will use any and every way possible to find and develop pitchers as quickly as possible.

If you’ve been ignoring or not paying attention to Minnesota Twins news since the 2016 season ended or even before that since they had the worst season in Twins franchise history, we’ll try to catch you up on everything Twins before the Winter Meetings get underway tomorrow morning.

You can “Be the GM,” if you will, by going to TwinsDaily.com and downloading the TwinsDaily 2017 Offseason Handbook for FREE, with the option of paying/donating to the authors for their efforts. It’s a fun, quick read (54 pages or so) filled with all the information you need to handle the offseason for the Minnesota Twins. The TwinsDaily.com staff give you a blueprint at the end of what they would do, letting you see the roster heading into the 2017 season. Then they encourage every reader to do their own Offseason Blueprint. Show us what you got!

Let’s get you caught up so you’re ready for the #TwinterMeetings tomorrow morning.

Front Office Twins

After a crazy Fall Classic that ended with Theo Epstein’s Chicago Cubs breaking their 108-year franchise curse, the offseason ramps up pretty quick. The Minnesota Twins were in cram mode for their offseason as they introduced their new leaders, Chief of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey and new General Manager Thad Levine.

They were cramming because they had to wait for the end of the World Series to introduce their new Baseball Operations leaders due to Falvey’s former team, the Cleveland Indians, being in the World Series. Right after their introductory press conference, they headed to the GM meetings with former interim GM Rob Antony to get up to speed on their new team so they can get a feel for the rest of the league.

Both Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are known for using every possible avenue to acquire and develop talent and, most of all, pitching. For the Twins organization, that will include the use of a lot more analytics than they’ve ever used before. They are stepping into the modern era of developing baseball players, joining together old school scouting with new school analysis.

That’s why this offseason could very well be the most interesting offseason in Twins history.

Forty Twins

Every year, each MLB franchise has to make some tough decisions on players they’ve developed for years to decide if they want to keep them in the organization or make them available in the Rule 5 Draft. The Twins are no different and, actually, might have some tougher decisions as they might need these guys sooner rather than later because of the state of the team.

Here are the 6 players added to the Twins 40-man roster: RHPs Fernando Romero & Felix Jorge, C Mitch Garver, OFs Daniel Palka & Zack Granite and SS Engelb Vielma. Could we see any of these guys at Target Field next season?

Both Mitch Garver and Daniel Palka reached AAA last season and Zack Granite won the Twins Minor League Player of the Year Award after a stellar season in AA. Felix Jorge reached AA and Fernando Romero reached High-A so the pitchers could be a couple seasons away still.

Catcher, Framed

As soon as free agency began, word got out that the Twins were interested in signing former Houston Astros catcher, Jason Castro. Other teams had shown interest in him as well. The Twins believe he can have a big “role in helping develop our pitching.”

It’s impressive that Falvey & Levine can beat out other teams to convince Jason Castro that the Twins are his best option. The terms of the deal probably helped a little. The signing of Jason Castro will help the Twins in multiple ways. Obviously, the signing fills a need at the catcher position. The key to this signing is how much it will help the pitching staff but, it’s also about the defense and what he does behind the plate for the pitchers with pitch-framing, game-planning and calling the game for his pitchers.

This reminds us of why Joe Mauer was once a great catcher. He played great defense, called a great game and he loved being in control of that part of the game and helping his pitchers. That’s a big part of why he was given the contract that a lot of fans complain about. Unfortunately, a concussion forced a move out of the catcher position. Where would this team be if they had a healthy Joe Mauer all this time? We’ll never know.

AnalyzeD

Defense is a big part of why teams win and why other teams lose. The better teams win because their defense prevents runs. The Twins have struggled to prevent runs and have actually helped teams by giving them more runs with bad defense.

The new regime will analyze each defensive position and see how they can improve it. Signing Jason Castro is one step in that direction. They need to be better on the left side of the infield and in left field. Byron Buxton has gold-glove caliber defense in center field and Max Kepler has the ability to be a good defensive outfielder. Will Miguel Sano be able to be an MLB caliber 3rd baseman in terms of defense? He has a lot of work to do to get there. Is Jorge Polanco going to stick at shortstop? We haven’t seen enough of him yet. His bat should keep him in the lineup somewhere, possibly 2nd base and then Eduardo Escobar would be back to starting at shortstop.

This is just another area the new regime will have to make their mark.

Nick, Big Leaguer?

Maybe the Twins won’t have to wait too long to get that starting shortstop they’ve been looking for for a long time. Nick Gordon has only reached the High-A level with the Fort Myers Miracle but, he was sent to the Arizona Fall League and was picked as one of baseball’s next sensations.

Next Big Leaguers - Nick Gordon

Next Big Leaguers: Nick Gordon

Ferrin’s take: “While there isn’t one standout tool, he does run well, he plays very solid defense at shortstop, he has a strong enough arm for the position and there are bat-to-ball skills that are going to allow him to transition into a typical top-of-the-order leadoff hitter.”

Trade Brian Dozier?

There could be a spot for Nick Gordon very soon, too. Brian Dozier is the player getting all the attention as a player the Minnesota Twins could very well trade during these Winter Meetings. We wrote our ‘Take on Trading Dozier in July when he was in the midst of an all out tear with the bat.

I doubt anyone wants to trade Brian Dozier. He’s good for the team in many ways: leadership, lineup, defense, contractually and off the field. That being said, the bottom line is this Twins team needs pitching and they might have to make a big sacrifice to change how their pitching has performed the last 5 or 6 seasons.

The Twins have said they would have to be “really inspired” to trade a player they feel they don’t have a replacement for right now. No one player in their system can replace 42 home runs, 104 runs scored, 99 runs batted in and 18 stolen bases who can be a leader in the clubhouse. That sounds like a veteran a winning team could definitely build around.

Old, New, Borrowed, Blue?

There’s been a lot of change to the Twins organization since the offseason began. This was expected with a new Chief Baseball Officer and a new General Manager.

First, the old, coaches Tom Brunansky and Butch Davis were relieved of their duties. Also leaving are Ron Gardenhire, who was hired as a bench coach by the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Bill Smith, who will leave the organization when his contract expires on January 31st.

Also, Terry Ryan was hired as a Special Assignment Scout by the Philadelphia Phillies. He will do the bulk of his major league coverage at Target Field, seeing “a lot of whoever comes through here. Obviously, I’ll see the Twins a lot, so that’s a good thing. This is a pretty good fit. I was fortunate a few teams had interest. I ended up in a pretty good spot.”

The new, so far, only consists of James Rowson, who was hired as the Twins new hitting coach on December 1st. The 40-year-old played for four seasons in the minors for the Mariners and the Yankees and then moved on to coaching starting with the Angels before moving on to the Yankees, Cubs and back to the Yankees as minor league hitting coordinator. He was the Cubs hitting coach for a season and a half from 2012-2013. Here’s some of what he said about coaching different players:

“I think you accentuate the positives. To do that you have to build a partnership with each guy and talk to them and see what they feel their positives are and you have some back-and-forth dialogue.”

It’ll be interesting to see what Mr. Rowson can do with the Twins young hitters.

Rule #5

The Twins cleared a spot on its 40-man roster by not tendering a contract to RP Yorman Landa. They did that so they would have room to select a player, with the first pick, in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday.

The Rule-5 Draft was put into place so teams couldn’t stockpile talent in the minors. Good to great players have been found through the Rule 5 Draft. Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente was a Rule 5 Draft pick back in 1954. Oops!

The last time the Twins had the first overall pick in the Rule 5 Draft was in 1999 and it was a great Rule 5 Draft for the Twins, maybe the greatest. In 1999, they picked RHP Jared Camp. Do you remember Jared Camp? No? Well, you may remember the guy they traded him for in a pre-arranged deal (with cash) with the Florida Marlins for the 2nd pick, an okay pitcher, Johan Santana.

Obviously, they’d love to have that kind of pick again. Last year’s draft had 7 players stay with their new teams all year. That’s a pretty high number considering a lot of the players available haven’t seen time in the majors.

Freedom!!!

Some pretty good players became free agents following the non-tender deadline. Tyson Ross, Ben Revere, Chris Carter and Seth Maness are now available to any team. You’d think a guy like Tyson Ross would see some interest from the Twins. He’s a former ace for the San Diego Padres. He was non-tendered because he had some shoulder issues in 2016, making only one start before having to undergo surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

That’s something the Twins are familiar with since Phil Hughes season ended mostly because of the same problem. Former Twins minor leaguer Deolis Guerra also had to have that operation done. It might take a decent amount to sign Tyson Ross but it also might be well worth it.

Alright, hopefully, we’ve caught you up with Twins news and you can now enjoy the Winter Meetings…or the Twinter Meetings.

Thanks for reading our ‘Takes. Now, please share your ‘Takes in the comments section, on Twitter, Facebook or Google+. That’s why we call it…

otyt-twinstakes

Did you like this? Share it:

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Baseball News and Happenings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TwinsTakes on the 2016 Minnesota Twins – Season Review

TwinsTakes on the 2016 Minnesota Twins - Season Review

The 2016 Minnesota Twins. It’s finally over.

The 2016 Minnesota Twins were the worst team in all of baseball and the worst team in the history of the Twins franchise. So yeah, it’s a good thing that it’s over. There’s not a lot of positives you can take from being the worst team in baseball. That We’ll try to find the few positives of having this kind of season. Look at the bottom of the cover picture, that’s the Twins 2016 season game-by-game with the upward lines (green) being wins and the downward lines (red) being losses. Don’t look too long, though. Depression might set in.

The Bad, The Worse and The Ugly

After an 83-79 season in 2015 where they missed the playoffs by 3 games, you’d think a team could build off that, right? For some reason, the 2016 Minnesota Twins couldn’t get it done. They couldn’t get out of a losing funk that started with the first series in Baltimore and would last for the majority of the season. It started badly. It got worse and it was ugly.

They’d end up losing their first 9 games. Surprisingly, the pitching wasn’t that bad in that stretch, at least collectively. They had a staff ERA of 4.20 in those games but the offense would only score a total of 14 runs in those 9 games. There is no possible way to win if you score 1.5 runs/game and give up 4.2 runs/game. Throw away that recipe. It doesn’t sound good or look good. I don’t want to know how it smells or tastes.

Most people considered the Twins season done after that start but I still had hope. I’m a positive person and with 153 games left in a season, I thought this team still had a chance to be competitive. They’d win their next 4 games in a row then proceed to win only 4 of their next 21 games. That 4-game winning streak would equal their longest winning streak of the season, something they’d do 2 more times. Their longest losing streak was 13 games. They would also have a 7-game and an 8-game losing streak to add to that opening season 9-game streak. That’s 37 losses right there.

Is it Contagious?

There’s a saying in baseball, “good hitting is contagious.” First of all, the word contagious rarely means anything good. If you hear someone might be or is contagious, you don’t usually run to that person and see what they have because it might be something good. “Hey, I heard you were contagious. What do you have? Dangit, now I’m sick and contagious, too.” So, when I think of the word contagious in baseball, I would think of something like bad hitting, bad pitching and losing.

It has been said a few times that “losing a disease.”* I believe losing is contagious. A losing team will find ways to lose. They’ll lose games in some of the craziest ways because they’ve been losing. If the slightest thing happens in a game to turn the tides, it’s like here we go again. You can see teams start to hang their heads. The good teams find ways to get over those things and stop losing.

"Losing is a disease" from The Natural

*”Hobbs, get back in here!”

This Twins team was in a losing funk most of the season, losing games they should have won for whatever reason. Was the reason because they were a losing team and just couldn’t get out of that losing mode?

If you look at the 1st month of the season, if the offense would’ve scored more than 3 runs a game, who knows what could’ve happened. After that first month, the Twins offense scored 642 runs in 138 games. That comes out to 4.65 runs per game. That’s enough to win games as long as you have good pitching but, as Twins fans know, the Minnesota Twins haven’t had good pitching for quite awhile now.

The 2016 Twins didn’t respond to one loss with a win until July 5th vs Oakland. It took until game 83, over half the season, for this team to not lose consecutive games after losing one game. The very next day they won consecutive series for the first time. Not surprisingly, that’s when they were playing their best baseball of the season. In the month of July, they went 15-11, scored 144 runs (5.54/game) and only gave up 111 runs (4.27/game.)

Talk about your outlier month of baseball

2016 Minnesota Twins Season Win/Loss Splits

If you kept watching all season long, you probably know what also happened about that time that might have gotten the team going a little before July. Brian Dozier began his historic career tear of hitting the baseball better than he ever has before.

History with a Bat

Think of this, through April & May, Brian Dozier was hitting .202/.294/.329 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 21 runs, 35 hits, 7 doubles, 5 home runs, 3 stolen bases and 18 walks with 35 strikeouts. That’s about as ugly as it gets from one of the players you are counting on to be productive and lead your team. It may have been historically bad, actually. I don’t want to look.

brian-dozier-2016-batting-splits-april-thru-may

Now look at the rest of his season:

Brian Dozier Monthly Splits from June 2016 to October 2016

In almost every month after that horrid start, he had almost the same numbers, if not more, as he had in the first TWO months of the season. He always had more extra-base hits, home runs and RBIs (minus July.) In 109 games, he scored 83 runs, had 130 hits with 28 doubles, 5 triples, 37 home runs, 82 RBIs and 15 stolen bases with 43 walks and 113 strikeouts. Too bad it came in the worst season of his team’s history. Could the Twins trade Brian Dozier after that kind of a comeback? Should they?

The Changing of the Guard

Depending on how you feel about this franchise and how it’s been managed since the ‘91 World Series, maybe this is what this team needed to finally make a change from the old school ways that may have put them in this mess in the first place.

Twins General Manager Terry Ryan was fired in July. Later, we found out the Twins were searching for a presidential-level executive who will have authority over all baseball decisions and that person would hire the next General Manager. Are the Twins finally making the move to the modern day development of a baseball organization? It appears so.

On October 3rd, the Twins announced the hiring of Derek Falvey as their new Chief Baseball Officer. Mr. Falvey comes from the Cleveland Indians organization of which he has been a part of for 9 years. Hired in 2007 as an intern, he assisted in amateur and international scouting for 3 years then spent 2011 as the assistant director of baseball operations. He was then named the director of baseball operations where he focused on player personnel and acquisitions. He held that role until he was named assistant GM last year.

He has helped the Indians in all areas of baseball operations and also assists manager Terry Francona and his staff on a daily basis. Francona has called him a rising star but the thing that should get Twins fans excited is when Francona said this, “Over the course of time, because he’s a hardworking kid, he made it his, probably his passion, to understand pitching and the delivery…”

Pitching is the Minnesota Twins greatest need and has been for a long time. It is why they’ve had to resort to signing free agent pitchers like Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes and Ervin Santana. Obviously, that hasn’t worked out well. Any Twins pitcher should be excited about this as well. They should all get a fresh start because they will be looked at from the perspective of new eyes of a person who has helped the Cleveland Indians achieve success with its pitchers in a variety of ways.

Closing Time

I’ve probably spent too much time talking about the 2016 Twins season. Now, you don’t have to go home but you can’t watch Twins baseball for awhile. Even though it was hard to watch Twins baseball this season, it was still Twins baseball and I’ll miss it until next April 3rd when they open the 2017 season at home against the Kansas City Royals.

Heck, I’ll miss it until Pitchers and Catchers report in February, until the winter meetings or until 5 days after the World Series ends and free agency begins sometime in the first week of November. This might be the most interesting offseason in Twins history because of the change at the top and what’s to come with a new General Manager, a new coaching staff, new acquisitions, possible trades and the beginning of a new era of Twins Baseball!

Thanks for reading our TwinsTakes! We’d love to see your TwinsTakes too so let us know what you think in the comments, on Twitter or on our facebook page.

otyt-twinstakes

Did you like this? Share it:

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Posted in Baseball News and Happenings, Minnesota Twins, My Twins Takes | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment