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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.