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12/26/14

2015 Twins offseason top 40 prospects list: 26-30

Today is the third installment in the top 40 Twins' Off-season prospects countdown.  You can find all installments here in reverse chronological order.  Previous rankings: 36-40, 31-35.  You can find the 2014 off-season summary list here   In these listings in parenthesis, I am including their ranking in the last prospect list, which was the 2014 mid-season list, with "--" if not ranked.  You can find that list here.

 30. Ryan Eades RHP (19) RHSP, DOB: 12/15/1991, 6'2", 178 lbs

Eades was the Twins second round pick in the 2013 draft.  After he signed he played 10 games in the Elizabethton pen pitching 15.7 innings striking out 13 and walking 12.  He had a 4.60 ERA (4.22 FIP) and 1.596 WHIP.  Eades was ranked 11th in last season's rankings, but he dropped to 19th in the mid-season rankings based on what I saw from him last Spring Training.  His potential is a mid to top of the rotation starter with four good pitches.  He reported had a plus fastball that sits at 93-95 mph and peaks at 97-98, with good command.  However, the Eades I saw was a good 5 mph below those numbers and was pitching really tentatively.

In his 2014 season he started 25 games in Cedar Rapids (133 IP).  He was at an average age with the list and finished with 5.14 ERA (4.44 FIP) 98 Strikeouts and 50 BBs.  His K% fell down to 16.6 %.  His loss in velocity and inability to strike out players his age, further dropped him to number 30 in these rankings. Will likely move to Fort Myers for 2015, but Eades really needs to regain his velocity and start missing bats, because pitching to contact with low 90 mph FB, will result to contact with bad consequences for his teams.


29. Felix Jorge RHP (23) RHSP, DOB: 1/2/1994, 6'2", 170 lbs.

Felix De Jesus Jorge  was signed by the Twins out of the Dominican in February of 2011 for $250,000.  He started his pro career at the DSL where he pitched in 9 games (5 starts) for 27 innings, walking 9 and striking out 26 (2.67 ERA, 2.50 FIP, 1.037 WHIP).   He move to the States and pitched 12 games (7 GS) in the GCL in 2012 with similar results (34.7 IP, 37 K, 12 BB, 2.34 ERA, 2.28 FIP, 1.212 WHIP, .303 BABIP) and moved up to Elizabethton as a 19 year old in 2013 starting 12 games (61 IP) striking out 72 and walking 18, with a 2.95 ERA, 2.25 FIP and 1.213 WHIP (.338 BABIP.)   He started the season in Cedar Rapids (1.5 years too young for the league) and  he did not respond well: 39 IP, 1.974 WHIP, 9.00 ERA (7.70 FIP) 20 BB and 23 K.  He lost command and control and resulted in demotion to Elizabethton again (about half a year younger for the league) were he improved in all aspects, but his K%:  66 IP, 1.091 WHIP, 14 BB, 61K, 22.9% K%. 

Jorge is also one of those rare pitchers who had 3 above average pitches when he signed at 16 and he has been improving them.  He has a low 90s fastball with decent downward movement, which he hides really well with his delivery.  Above average slurvy curveball and change up.  He commands all three pitches well, has good control and he mixes pitches well.  Endurance is a question mark, thus the drop in the rankings.  Will likely repeat Cedar Rapids in 2015.


28. Stuart Turner (--), RH, C, DOB: 12/27/1991, 6'2", 220 lbs

Stuart Turner was drafted by the Twins in the third round of the 2013 draft from the University of Mississippi.   He spend all his season (but one game he filled in for the Rock Cats) for the Elizabethton Twins, where he played at 35 games (146 PAs) and hit .272/.345/.384 with 3 HRs and 19 RBI.  He walked 12 times, struck out 23 and hit by a pitch 4.    Last season he played for Fort Myers, hitting .249/.322/.375 in 364 PAs with 7 HRS and a 31:61 BB:K ratio.

Turner has been always described as an excellent defensive catcher with a great feel for the game, but his bat will determine his potential as a prospect.Turner has a large frame and projectable power that will come as he grows.  He will likely start his age 23 season in Fort Myers again with a mid-season promotion, but bat development (even though there are good signs) is crucial, despite this organization's persistence in promoting soft hitting catchers.

27. Brandon Peterson RHP (36) RHRP, DOB: 9/23/1991, 6'1", 190 lbs

Brandon Peterson is a Burnsville, MN native who was drafted by the Twins in the 13th round of the 2013 draft from Wichita State.  He has been a continues surpise with his ability to strike out hitters at a rate about double than his best at College.  In 2013 he played for the Elizabethtown Twins, pitching 27.3 innings walking 9 and striking out 40, 1.134 WHIP, 2.96 ERA, 2.92 FIP, 36% K%.  He started 2014 at Cedar Rapids (age average) pitching 12.3 innings walking 2 and striking out 19 (0.71 ERA, 0.96 FIP, 39.6% K%, 0.87 WHIP and with a .333 BABIP) before he promoted to Fort Myers where he was a year and a half younger than the league.  In the FSL he pitched 45 innings striking out 65 and walking 5 (36.3% K%) with an 1.80 ERA, 1.64 FIP and 1.00 WHIP.   Peterson has a low to mid 90s fastball, a good slider and working on a change up.  Will likely start 2015 in Fort Myers.  Depending on development and his ability to strike out batters in New Britain, we might see him in the Minnesota pen as soon as 2016 or 2017.

26. Max Murphy OF (--) RHB, DOB: 11/17/1992, 5'11", 195 lbs

Max Murphy is a New Hope, MN native who was drafted by the Twins in the 9th round of the 2014 draft from Bradley University.  Max terrorized Appalachian League pitching at a rate of .378/.483/.723 and 10 HRs in 35 games, making a fine transition to the wooden bat, despite being about 1 year older than his league mates.  He moved to Cedar Rapids where he landed back to reality hitting .242/.314/.395 and 4 HRs in 32 games with 8 BBs and 40 Ks.  The strikeout was his issue in Cedar Rapids (he had a 22:34 BB:K ration in Elizabethton) and pitch selectivity and laying off bad pitches is something that the 22 year old needs to work on.  Very good power potential from a small frame, the ability to play a good CF, might propel him pretty fast, if his bat develops.  He reminds some of Rich Becker, who actually was Murphy's age when he made the Twins...









12/24/14

2015 Twins offseason top 40 prospects list: 31-35

Today is the second installment in the top 40 Twins' Off-season prospects countdown.  You can find all installments here in reverse chronological order.  This is the 31-35 rankings. Previous rankings: 36-40.

35. Mat Batts LHP (--), LHSP, DOB: 7/6/1991, 5'11", 190 lbs.

The Twins drafted Harrison Mathis Batts in the 17th round of the 2014 draft from the University of North Calorina Wilmington.  The Lefty breezed through 3 levels in the organization from the Gulf Coast to Elizabethton to Cedar Rapids and finished the season with an impressive 1.78 ERA, 67 K and 7 BB in 60.7 Innigns Pitched.  His WHIP was 0.775, his FIP 2.34, his K% 29.5%, 10 K/9 and an impressive 9.6 K/BB.  Adding these numbers to his 2014 College numbers (2.68 ERA, 103.7 IP, 105 K, 18 BB, 1.05 WHIP), tells a very impressive story for the 23 year old who pitched 164 innings last season. 

Why isn't Batts ranked any higher?  Well... his pitching style is what described as a "Crafty Lefty".  His fastball tops in the high 80s but has a plus curve and a plus change.  Those are great pitches to fool lower level competition.  Batts might shoot through the organization, but his real test with be at AA.  Likely will start for Cedar Rapids or even Fort Myers next season.

34. Todd Van Steensen RHP (--), RHRP, DOB: 1/14/1991, 6'1", 190 lbs.

2014 was the second tour of duty for Todd in the Twins' organization after being released in 2011 in the heels of a 5.68 ERA, 1.351 WHIP season in Elizabethton as a starter.  Meanwhile, between then and 2014, he mimicked Glen Perkins:  Found a mid 90s fastball and re-invented himself as a reliever.   Started in Cedar Rapids as the closer and moved to Fort Myers (he is age average for high A) in the middle of the season.  He finished 2014 with 1.39 ERA (but 3.22 FIP), 1.063 WHIP, 71 Ks and 24 BBs in 58.3 IP.   His control was an issue mainly at Fort Myers, which, since he has been out of baseball, save for Aussie leagues, for a while, might be a conditioning issue.   Will likely start 2015 for the Miracle again.


33. Zach Larson OF (29) RH, OF, DOB: 10/8/1993.  6'2", 185 lbs

Zach was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 20th round of the 2012 draft out of Lakewood Ranch High School in Bradenton FL.  He played only in 15 GCL games in 2012 and his transition to the wooden bat was unremarkable (.250/.318/.325)  However, 2013 was a great season for him.  He started the season repeating the Gulf Coast League where he hit .317/.382/.467 in 137 plate appearances and moved up to Elizabethton without slowing down (.301/.407/.438 in 86 PA).  He declined severely in his 2014 season, thus the drop in the rankings.  In a season marred with injury he hit .265/.325/.358 in Cedar Rapids and had a 3.5:1 K:BB ratio.   Potentially his performance was injury-related.  2015 will be a very important year for Zach, in an organization loaded with corner OFs.  He will likely start 2015 again in Cedar Rapids, where we would be just young for the league.

32. Randy Rosario LHP (40), LHSP, DOB: 5/18/1994, 6'1", 160 lbs

The 20 year old Dominican was one of the Twins' Tommy John surgery victims this season, yet his stocked rose in these listings.  Why? First of all I am discounting his 11.7 injury innings in Cedar Rapids this season and his stuff is really good.  Rosario had a mid 90s fastball with lots of movement that complements with an above average slider and a plus change up.  His only issue has been the command of his fastball.  Based on what I have seen last Spring Training, his command was much more improved.   The question mark that dropped him to 40 was his health and how he will come back from the surgery, but at this ranking I am discount those concerns.   I feel that with correct development, he has the ability to be the top lefty in the Twins' organization.  A couple of years of development and tests in Fort Myers and Chattanooga will tell.  Will likely repeat Cedar Rapids in 2015, depending on elbow health. 

31. Aaron Slegers RHP (26), RHSP, DOB: 9/4/1992, 6'10", 245 lbs

Slegers was drafted by the Twins in the 5th round of the 2013 draft from Indiana University. His first pro campaign was for 19 relief inning in E-town later that season where he baffled younger hitters at the rate of 0.47 ERA, 18 K and 2 BB and 0.947 WHIP.  Last season he moved into a full time starter job starting at Cedar Rapids and promoted to Fort Myers for 3 starts.  Slegers finished the season (132.3 IP - 23 Starts) with a 4.35 ERA (3.82 FIP), 102 K and 24 BB and 1.179 WHIP.  His strikeout rates are of concern, dropping from 26.5% at Elizabethon to 19% at Cedar Rapids and 16% at Fort Myers.  He has a plus Fastball (helps being that tall) that sits in the low 90s and touches 95 or so and a plus change.  He is working on breaking ball.  Depending on development of a third pitch and the ability to miss bats at higher levels, he projects from a mid-rotation pitcher to a middle reliever.  Because of his size, injuries had been a problem previously, so he has to stay healthy.






12/23/14

2015 Twins offseason top 40 prospects list: 36-40

The Rule 5 draft is done, the Winter Leagues are in full blow, Catchers and Pitchers are 2 months away, which means that it is time for the Twins Off-season top 40 prospect list.  Like last year (you can find the summary list here with links to all the posts) I will do a count down 5 at a time starting from number 40.  I will give detailed descriptions of the players and justification why I ranked them where I did when needed.  In parenthesis, I am including their ranking in the last prospect list, which was the 2014 mid-season list, with "--" if not ranked.  You can find that list here.

Unlike several lists, in my list, once a player makes it to the show, it graduates as a prospect.  So, the following Twins' players have graduated last season (2014 mid-season ranking in parenthesis) : Trevor May (4), Kennys Vargas (5), AJ Achter (25).   The one player who is an exception to my rule, is Jorge Polanco, who, while called in the majors twice, barely played, thus I still consider a prospect and will be part of this list when his number comes.

As these posts add up, you can find all the rankings here

Here is the Minnesota Twins Prospects 36 to 40:

40. Luis Arraez (--) LHB, IF, DOB: 4/9/1997: 5'10", 155 lbs

Luis Arraez was signed from Venezuela before last season.  The diminutive 17 year old made his debut in the DSL in 2014 and in a pitcher's league he exhibited excellent ability to make contact and great selectivity on the plate, finishing with a .348/.433/.400 slash line.  He also stole 10 bases in 15 attempts.   Not much power, but he is just 17.  Likely will travel North and play in the DSL for 2015. He played mostly second base, but started 3 games in SS as well.  His fielding is a work in progress but he turned 20 double plays in 155 total touches, which is not a bad place to be.

39. Moises Gomez RHP (--) RHSP, DOB: 12/8/1997. 6'1", 192 lbs

Gomez is another 17 year old Venezuelan who will make the jump to the GCL in 2015.  In his first 26 pro innings in the DSL he allowed 6 runs (2.02 ERA), struck out 30 and walked 10.  Nice easy delivery, good movement in his fastball, misses bats and a good feeling for the change.  This is about as good as it gets for a teenager.  He dabbles with breaking stuff but need work.  Lots of potential, will be interesting to see how he responds in the GCL

38. Tyler Kuresa 1B (--) LHB, 1B, DOB: 11/17/1992 6'3", 190 lbs. 

Kuresa was drafted by the Twins on the 16th round of the 2014 draft from the University of California Santa Barbara and was assigned to Elizabethton.  He had no problem trading his metal bat for a wooden, hitting .298/.381/.478.  A big guy with room to grow and power to grow.  Good eye for a big guy, but fields like a big guy.  Reminds some people of a young Justin Morneau, and that is a heck of a compliment.  Likely will start in Cedar Rapids in 2015. 

37. Fernando Romero RHP (39) RHSP, DOB: 12/24/1994. 6'0", 215 lbs

Fernando Romero was signed to an Amateur Free Agent contract by the Twins on October of 2011 with a $260,000 bonus out of the Dominican Republic.  After spending the 2012 season in the Dominican Summer League, he made the jump to the Gulf Coast League in 2013.  He pitched in 12 games (6 GS) for 45 innings to a 1.60 ERA and had 47 strikeouts and only 13 bases on balls.  His WHIP was 1.00 and K% a very impressive 26, while his K/BB was 3.62. He missed 2014 with Tommy John surgery.   It will be interesting to see how Romero will rebound in his age 20 season. He had a heavy fastball is in the mid to low 90s and barely adequate supplementary stuff.  Romero does have mid rotation potential, depending on development of his secondary pitches and staying healthy.    He will likely begin 2014, his age 19 season, in Cedar Rapids where he will alternate between the rotation and pen until extended.

36. Jermaine Palacios IF (--) RHB, DOB: 7/19/1996, 6'0", 145 lbs.

Palacios is the third Venezuelan 17 year old in today's list, who will likely make his debut in the GCL next year, and was one of the most exciting position players in the DSL last season hitting .270/.404/.399 with 11 doubles and 6 triples (and 14 SB) in 49 games.  Very fast, thinner than Alexei Ramirez and still working with the glove (played mainly 3B with some 2B and SS,)  but projects more as a SS than a corner OF.

Next: 35-30.



12/19/14

List of Twins Spring Training non-roster invitees

The Twins announced a preliminary list of 2015 non-roster invitees for Spring Training.  I suspect that the list will increase as additional players are signed with Minor League contracts.  Of course, the 40 players on the 40-man roster are included by default.

James Beresford (IF)
Doug Bernier (IF)
J.O. Berrios (RHP)
Byron Buxton (OF)
Argenis Diaz (IF)
Tyler Duffey (RHP)
Eric Farris (OF)
Mitch Garver (C)
Tyler Grimes (C)
Mark Hamburger (RHP)
Heiker Meneses (IF)
Adrian Salcedo (RHP)
Ryan O'Rourke (LHP)
Danny Ortiz (OF)
Shane Robinson (OF)
Dan Rohfling (C)
Taylor Rogers (LHP)
Stuart Turner (C)

12/3/14

The signing of Torii Hunter might close a big hole for the Twins

On paper the Minnesota Twins' reunion with 39 year old Torii Hunter last night, seems a bit puzzling.  Rational thinking and looking at records and results of games, would suggest that a team coming back from seasons of 99, 96, 96 and 92 losses and hurting primarily in pitching and defense, would need an aging 39 year old outfielder with diminishing defensive skills being the marquee transaction of the season, as much as a painful communicable disease.  Not to mention that the particular outfield added injury (signing with a team withing the Twins division) two seasons ago, to the 2007 insult of leaving the Twins as a free agent for more money elsewhere.  But that is rational thinking. 

Any person who has followed the Twins should know that this is business as usual for Terry Ryan's front office.  There is no need to rationalize Hunter's signing.  It makes perfect sense, if you realize, that this is how Terry Ryan builds a team.  Here is the complete Terry Ryan transaction record from 
the 1995-2006 seasons and 2012.  I posted that before the last two off-seasons.  The Torii Hunter signing fits Ryan's modus operenti like a glove:  Ryan re-signed a 41 year old Paul Molitor in 1998, reunited the Twins with a 35 year old Mike Trombley in 2002 and washed out Matt LeCroy (the player who chose over David Ortiz after 2002) in 2007, re-signed Capps in 2012 and Carl Willing in 2005 (to release them later,) in addition to the last year's washed out trio of Bartlett, Kubel and Guerrier.  This is the same General Manager who brought old and washed out Tony Batista, Tim Raines, Rueben Sierra, Bob Tewksbury, Otis Nixon, Mike Morgan, Michael Jackson and Sidney Ponson (among others) as "solutions".  Old and washed out is Terry Ryan's specialty.  Nothing new here, nothing to rationalized.  Business. As. Usual. 

Back to non-rational thinking.  One of the biggest problems with the Twins the past 4 seasons (and beyond, as far as the post-season goes) is that they seemed to be ok with losing and they seemed not to give 100% all the time.  Last Spring Training, it became painfully obvious to me, and indicated that I just cannot see this team win, no matter what the improvements on paper (and there were a lot.)  Getting Gardenhire and most of his friends who, if not bred, they were at least ok with this attitude, is a step to the right direction, hoping that Molitor and his staff will install a winning attitude among the players.   Torii Hunter, punching short utility teammates while targeting rookie stars notwithstanding, has had the reputation of playing hard and giving it all.  And keep working.  And then work some more.  Hopefully, he will bring the right attitude to the team of so many young players with so much potential.  Hopefully he will be an example for hard work and never giving up.  And never stop working.  Not that I like that signing, rationally, but when it pours lemons...   On the other hand, Torii Hunter was a core member of the Gardenhire teams that went belly up in the post-season or when they were facing winning opponents.  I hope that 2015 is different.







11/7/14

List of former Twins players who are minor league free agents

I don't think that a reunion is imminent with any, but it is interesting to see how many of those have played with the Twins (in bold,) especially in the recent low times...

Joe Benson (OF, Marlins, AA)
Matt Capps (RHP, Indians, AAA)
Matt Carson (OF, Indians, AAA)
Ray Chang (IF, Reds, AA)
Scott Diamond (LHP, Reds, AAA)
Terry Doyle (RHP, Braves, AAA)
Phil Humber (RHP, Athletics, AAA)
Erik Komatsu (OF, Brewers, AA)
Dustin Martin (OF, Diamondbacks AA)
Corky Miller (C, Reds, AAA)
Ray Olmedo (IF, Rays, AAA)
Brock Peterson (1B/OF, Dodgers, AAA)
Tyler Robertson (LHP, Nationals, AAA)
Josh Roenicke (RHP, Rockies, AAA)
Sergio Santos (RHP, Blue Jays, AA)
Anthony Slama (RHP, Dodgers, AA)
J.R. Towles (C, Rangers, AAA) 


Complete list of Twins' minor league free agents

Today, the following Twins have become minor league free agents.  They can re-sign with the Twins or they can sign with any other team:

James Beresford (IF, AAA)
Eric Farris (UT, AAA)
Jim Fuller (LHP, AA)
Deolis Guerra (RHP, AAA)
B.J. Hermsen (RHP, AA)
Edgar Ibarra (LHP, AAA) 
Yohan Pino (RHP, AAA)
Chris Rahl (OF, AAA)
Wilkin Ramirez (OF, AAA)
Dan Rohlfing (C/OF AAA)
Deibinson Romero (3B, AAA)
Dan Turpen (RHP, AA)
Virgil Vasquez (RHP, AAA)
Brandon Waring (IF, AA)
Corey Wimberly (UT, AA)


The ones in italics were on the Twins' 40-man roster at some point and the ones in bold, played for the Twins.

11/1/14

Paul Molitor is the Twins manager

It seems that the Minnesota Twins, will continue the tradition of hiring within and will offer their manager's job to Paul Molitor.  It will become official next week.  From the three finalists, Molitor was my third choice, Torey Lovullo was the first, mainly because I value outside modern thinking and winning ways.  Lovullo is fresh off a World Championship (2013) with the Red Sox, Doug Mientkiewicz, the other candidate is fresh off leading the Fort Myers Miracle to a championship, and has a ring with Red Sox World Champion team that broke the curse of the Bambino.  Paul Molitor?  He is  a Hall of Famer, he is local, and people like him.   I hope that he surrounds himself with good coaches who understand the nuances of the game in the 21st century, and, other than Brunansky maybe, goes outside the organization.   The key will be the pitching coach.   

I wish Paul Molitor all the luck in the world and hope he leads the Twins to multiple World Series Titles.


10/27/14

Is a Nolasco for Buehrle trade imminent for the Twins?

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe indicated that the Toronto Blue Jays, are shopping Mark Buehrle.  Knowing the infatuation of the Twins' General Manager, Terry Ryan for the former White Sox' slow tossing, fast working Lefty, I suspect that he might be interested.   Could the Twins also show buyer's remorse and trade disgruntled and ineffective Rick Nolasco, who after the season was over, indicated that he wish he were in LA, even further away from there, for Mark Buehrle?  I am not sure that this will be a win for the Twins, other than saving some money and getting a potential headache out of the clubhouse.

Time will show, but it might be an interesting off-season.

10/5/14

Catchers at the Outfield? The 2014 Twins and respectability

If anyone thinks that playing shortstops, first basemen, catchers and DHs at the outfield did not hurt the Twins, here is a pretty astonishing set of numbers allowed to us by the new technology that tracks hit balls.   I am just showing the significant departures from league averages:

Up the Middle RHB:

Twins: PA against: 1339 Slash line: .336/.330/.498 (.826 OPS)
AL: PA against:  19461 Slash line:  .308/.303/.439 (.742 OPS)

Opposite field RHB (i.e hit at the Twins RF):
Twins: PA against: 404 Slash line: .332/.326/.532 (.858 OPS)
AL: PA against: 6191 Slash line: .279/.274/.408 (.682 OPS)

That is a huge difference (from average and not from league best too).  I hope that someone at the Twins looks at that and adjusts accordingly.  If you are a defensive stats minded person, here are plus/minuses (which is actually appropriate for the sample size; devised by Bill James and indicates runs saved from average) and UZR/150 (which is not appropriate for numerical calculation, but the direction gives a sense of what is going on.) 

Santana (CF) plus/minus: -2, UZR/150: -12.2
Mastroianni (OF) plus/minus: -3, UZR/150: -9.2
Hicks (OF)  plus/minus: -6, UZR/150: -8.2
Schafer (OF) plus/minus: -3, UZR/150: 1.2
Herrmann (OF)  plus/minus: -4, UZR/150: -21.9
Kubel (RF)  plus/minus: -7, UZR/150: -29.1
Parmelee (OF)  plus/minus: -7, UZR/150: -7.4
Colabello (RF)  plus/minus: -6, UZR/150: -73.8
Bartlett (OF)  plus/minus: -2, UZR/150: -293.1
Arcia (OF)  plus/minus: -12, UZR/150: -6.9
Willingham (LF)  plus/minus: -5, UZR/150: -6.6
and
Escobar (OF) plus/minus: -1, UZR/150: -27.2
Nunez  (OF) plus/minus: -1, UZR/150: 19.9

Adding those plus/minuses is 57.  Which means that the Twins' outfield gave up 57 more runs than an average outfield.  In 2014 the Twins scored 715 runs and gave up 777 for a 62 run differential.  If they had an average outfield, that differential projects at -5, which projects to an 80-82 record, which, albeit not competitive, is respectable.

The 2014 outfield defense was not the reason the Twins did not compete, but it was the reason the Twins were not respectable. 

I really cannot believe that anyone should use the adjective "solid" to describe any of the above players - maybe with the exception of Schafer - as outfielders.  Some of them are young enough and they can learn and improve, but "solid" they are not.   Nope.  Mr Parmelee is not a solid outfield.  . Mr Herrmann is not a solid outfield.  Mr Santana is not a solid centerfielder.  Mr Hicks is not a solid centerfielder.

Yes, starting pitching beyond Hughes and Gibson (and maybe Pino, his FIP and WHIP are close to Gibson's) was a problem, but it was not the only problem in opponent scoring.   The Twins need to address outfield defense in 2015 as a top priority.


9/29/14

The ball is on Terry Ryan's court: The aftermath of the firing of Ron Gardenhire by the Twins.

Today Terry Ryan held a press conference, in absentia Jim Pohlad & Dave St. Peter, who apparently had better things to do, to announce that Ron Gardenhire will not be returning as the Twins manager in 2015.   The news were so unusual that might be the reason that former Twins manager Tom Kelly suffered a minor stroke today (best wishes Tom.)  Ron Gardenhire's dismissal was long overdue.  It should had happened after the 2006 post-season.  And, as I indicated previously,  I felt that it was done deal at least a month ago.

There are a few strange things about this and I don't think that they are coincidental:
  • The Twins' owner and president were not around in the press conference
  • Gardenhire was and allegedly was offered a position within the organization (rumors that it is for the roving grouch instructor are not substantiated.)
  • There was no word about his coaches, however their contacts are all expired and no renewals were announced and it looks like they are all gone, pending new manager's whim.
  • When asked, Ryan said that he knows what type of manager he wants (and went to a great detail describing characteristics) but admitted that he has no list of candidates.
  • The kicker is that Terry Ryan was adamant and on the record as late as 8/22 saying that Gardenhire will be back
This does not seem like a General Manager who a. wanted to do this and was ready to do it,  b. has the support of his bosses (who did not even bother attending) and c. is facing a serious health issue.  If Gardenhire's firing was demanded and imposed by Ryan's bosses recently, several things could be explained (especially his unpreparedness for a replacement.)  However,  no matter what, Ryan looks like a liar right now.  I would not be surprised if Terry Ryan resigns shortly, before he names a manager and this will probably be better for both him and the Twins. 

9/27/14

Rick Anderson is about to get fired Sunday night...

... and it will be the tip of the iceberg of the changes.  As I indicated before, Ron Gardenhire is as good as gone, and Terry Ryan with his inability to be around every day because of health issues, will likely resign.

Here is the sphinx-like words that TR uttered about Anderson.  But what the Twins really need is a baseball man on top.  It is not a coincidence that the Twins have been anchored to the basement starting the season that Jerry Bell retired and David St. Paul, who is more aware and interested in concert acts and food and beverage selections, was promoted on the top of the organization.

Changes are needed, does Jim Pohlad have the fortitude to make them?

We will find out in 3 days.

9/15/14

Chris Tillman Has Turned Into The Ace Baltimore Needs

Guest post by Matt Jenkins
----

With the 2014 MLB playoffs just around the corner, the Baltimore Orioles are pretty much a lock to represent the American League East. Not a lot of people expected them to be at the top of the division at the start of the year, but here they are with a sizable lead. They have quite a few players to thank for their outstanding season so far, but one big surprise has been Chris Tillman on the mound.

The American League Cy Young Award has pretty much been wrapped up by Felix Hernandez. However, if it was not for Hernandez having such a special season on the mound, there is a very good chance that Tillman would come away with the award. He has been able to the very solid on the mound, and he has also been very consistent. His numbers and fantasy baseball illustrate just how valuable he has been for Baltimore.

Among playoff teams, Baltimore certainly looks like a franchise that does not have the same type of top-tier talent on the mound. Most people agree that in order to win a World Series, pitching needs to be the key for any franchise. Tillman is hoping that he can carry over his regular season success to the postseason. He might not have a huge track record, but nothing seems to be holding him back at this time.

Tillman was pretty good at the beginning of the year, but he has been very solid since the beginning of June. In fact, he has not allowed more than 3 earned runs in any of his starts since June 5, and that has put Baltimore in contention every single time he takes the mound. He might only have 12 wins on the year and a slightly bloated 3.36 ERA, but Baltimore will be counting on him quite a bit during the most important part of the year. If he can take his game to another level, Baltimore has a fighting chance to go all the way.

8/14/14

666 The number of the beast, and higher than the OPS of about half of the Twins' hitters

In addition to the Iron Maiden song, .666 is the lifetime OPS of Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.  Rumors that he sold his soul to someone to get to the Hall of Fame have not been substantiated.  Interestingly enough, in his case that .666 OPS translated to an 87 OPS+.  Right now for the Twins, Jordan Schafer is just missing the list with a .668 OPS and he has an 88 OPS+.  The more things change...

Here are the (non-pitcher) Twins' hitters whose bats are not quite as hot as Hell (I guess that might be a good assumption) :

Chris Colabello  .662
Eric Fryer .635
Eduardo Nunez  .632
Jason Kubel .607
Aaron Hicks .600
Kendrys Morales .584
Chris Herrmann .343
Pedro Florimon .310
Jason Bartlett  .250
Darin Mastroianni  .083

It is worth mentioning that only two of these guys are with the club right now (Nunez & Fryer) and a few more (Colabello, Hicks, Hermann, Florimon) are still with the organization.  If I were to pick, I'd think that only the 2 previously high ranked prospects with a history of success (Hicks & Herrmann) will see some playing time in the majors next season.