News and Notes from the Twins Spring Training: 2/25/17

This is the latest report of the happenings in the Twins' Spring training.   The previous one is here, and can find all 2017 Twins Spring Training related posts here.  I will be describing events of interesting in the Twins' camp as well as happenings with former Twins.  For two weeks these reports will be live from Fort Myers and will be indicated in the title.

  • Twins LHP Craig Breslow decided to focus in the Twins' Spring Training and making the team, and will not pitch for Israel in the WBC 
  • Similarly former Twins RHP Liam Hendricks, now with the A's will not participate in the WBC team Australia.
  • The Twins who had the worst record last season in the majors, are ranked ahead of several other teams in the Sports Illustrated Power Rankings by Jonah Keri.
  • The Twins played their first game hosting the Rays on Friday.  Some highlights:
    • Kyle Gibson threw 30 pitches and almost got 2 innings of work, if it were not for a throwing error charged to SS Jorge Polanco on a throw that 1B Kennys Vargas could not get from the dirt.  Gibson struck out 2 in the first inning and he induced ground balls with his 90-91 mph two-seamer.  The news is that he has been throwing his four-seamer up in the zone up to 94 and that missed bats.  Also threw off-speed pitches at 80-81 mph.
    • Byungho Park, who was the DH, got the first hit for the Twins in the second inning as a single and got a double (that was a missed HR) in the 4th inning.
    • Brandon Kintzler and Justin Haley had a few problems and allowed a run each.
    • Brian Buxton stole third base, something he should try to do more.
  • Wayne Krivsky, 63 years old, was demoted from "Special Assistant to the GM" to "Scout." Expect him to retire. Also, the Twins have hired former Chicago Cubs advance scout Keith Stohr and Earl Frishman was promoted to special assignment scout.
  • The Twins went across town to Jet Blue to play the Red Sox on Saturday.
    • There was not a radar in the stadium but Phil Hughes did not look ready, with his velocity approximately in the high 80s.  He fell behind every batter he faced and was saved by a double play at the end.  His command was just not there and the ball was all over the plate.   
    • Tyler Duffey who followed Hughes was sharper and pitched for one inning.  Ryan Vogelsong followed for 2/3s of an inning and got rocked.  He was very inconsistent, had a wild pitch, among the 32 pitches he threw, and ended up having to throw fastballs down the middle when fell behind the count, which, of course, did not work.  Lefty Randy Rosario who followed was impressive striking out Xander Bogards.  Adalberto Mejia followed in the fifth and was tested against Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, Mitch Moreland, Chris Young, and Pablo Santoval. His breaking ball looked great and fastball was mostly effective; allowing a double to Betts, grounding out Ramirez, and striking out Moreland, walking Young and got Santoval to fly out, however Grossman botched the play.
    • Byungho Park continued being of fire with a HR, followed by a sacrifice fly; Drew Stubbs struck out twice and hit a long HR on dead centerfield against Matt Barnes, and lost a couple of balls in the sun.
    • Interesting substitution that might indicate their relative position in the Twins' depth charts: J.B. Shuck came in to play Centerfield while Zach Granite played Right Field.  Also, C Chris Gimenez who is battling for the back up spot, played first base as a sub, showing his versatility.


News and Notes from the Twins Spring Training: 2/24/17

This is the latest report of the happenings in the Twins' Spring training.   The previous one is here, and can find all 2017 Twins Spring Training related posts here.  I will be describing events of interesting in the Twins' camp as well as happenings with former Twins.  For two weeks these reports will be live from Fort Myers and will be indicated in the title.
  •  According to a study by Eno Sarris at Fangraphs, a Twins' pitcher had the 7th "unluckiest" change up in the majors last season.  However, the semantic line between "unlucky" and "unfortunate" is a very thin one.
  • Twins RHP JT Chargois has worked with pitching coach Neil Allen and LHP Glen Perkins to change his baseball grip on his slider, to compensate for the differences between the major league and minor league balls.
  • Former Twins RHP Josh Roenicke has signed a contract with Pericos de Puebla of the Mexican League
  • Twins LHP Glen Perkins finished his third bullpen of 15 pitches each, with "no issues".  Still it is likely that he will start the season in the Disabled List.  No reports of his velocity yet. 
  • The Twins' off-season get a final grade of a C-, according to a particular national baseball reporter.
  • It looks like LHP Hector Santiago will have 6 days rest and RHP Jose Berrios a full 9 days before they start their first games for Puerto Rico in the WBC.  This is unfortunate for their preparation, especially for Berrios, while fighting for a spot in the Twins' rotation.
  • Former Twins' RHP Matt Capps will audition for teams in Marietta, GA this coming Sunday February 26th.
  • The Twins are playing their first Spring Training game at 7:05 PM EST, hosting the Tampa Bay Rays.  The game is available via gameday audio to the mlb.tv subscribers.


Predicting the Twins 25-man Roster - version 1.0

Tomorrow Friday the 24th is the first Spring Training game for the Twins at Fort Myers against the Tampa Bay Rays.  There is a lot of Spring Training left, but here is my first cut at a prediction of the Twins' 25 man roster, with commentary on each position.  Note:  This is not what I would do, this is predicting what the Twins will do. Lefties are noted by an asterisk (*) and switch hitters by a hash (#)

Starting Pitchers (5)

Ervin Santana
Kyle Gibson
Phil Hughes
Trevor May
Ryan Vogelsong

I see this as a battle for  2 spots among several pitchers, including in addition to the predicted winners, Jose Berrios, Justin Haley, Hector Santiago, and Nick Tepesch.   Based on the planned order of pitching Hector Santiago might be ahead of Ryan Vogelson right now; however the fact that he, like Jose Berrios, will be missing from the Twins camp, joining the Puerto Rico team in the WBC, decreases his probabilities to win a battle, like Berrios.

Relievers (7)

Brandon Kintzler
Ryan Pressly
J.T. Chargois
Matt Belisle
Craig Breslow (*)
Justin Haley
Hector Santiago (*)

Kintzler, Pressly, and Belisle are locks, pending injuries.  Haley and Santiago will be the two long men and spot starters, if necessary.  With Santiago being a lefty there is likely one more spot and based on what he brings to the table (and despite the fact that he will be pitching for the Israel WBC team that, unlike Puerto Rico, is not slated to go far,) Craig Breslow will win that spot.  The last spot will go to the most talented pitcher from the group, J.T. Chargois who will win it over former starter Tyler Duffey who will be optioned to Rochester to transition as a full time reliever.

Catchers (2)

Jason Castro (*)
Chris Gimenez 

The battle for the second catcher is three-way, between veteran Chris Gimenez and younger players J.R. Murphy and Mitch Garver.  I see Gimenez winning the battle because of the praise he has received as being able to help younger pitchers, as well as hitting lefties ok, something that the projected started Jason Castro does not.

Infielders (6)

Joe Mauer (*)
Brian Dozier
Jorge Polanco (#)
Miguel Sano
Eduardo Escobar (#)
Ehire Adrianza (#)

Outfielders (5)

Byron Buxton
Max Kepler (*)
Robbie Grossman  (#)
Drew Stubbs
J.B. Shuck (*)

A few surprises here.  I suspect that the Twins will go with experience over youth, and, like Santiago and Berrios, Kennys Vargas and Eddie Rosario, both of whom have one remaining option, will not make the team because of their choice to leave camp and join team Puerto Rico in the WBC.  The last cut was Danny Santana, who is out of options.  JB. Shuck wins over Santana because of the better glove at the OF and the fact that Ehire Andrianza's presence makes Santana unnecessary as an infielder.   I foresee a rotation at the DH spot with the primary DH being Grossman, and Mauer, Sano, Polanco, Kepler, and Stubbs rotating.   When Mauer is the DH, Max Kepler and/or Ehire Adrianza can man 1B in this configuration.

This is the first version of a predicted Twins' 25 man roster, and my predictions will likely change when they start playing games.  My view is that they Twins at this point will value veteran clubhouse presence and defense.


News and Notes from the Twins Spring Training: 2/22/17

This is the latest report of the happenings in the Twins' Spring training.   The previous one is here, and can find all 2017 Spring Training related posts here.

  • Paul Molitor finally made a public admission that the Twins have  mishandled SS Jorge Polanco's development as a shortstop.   I have been discussing this unfortunate situation for a while now.   Hopefully the new Twins' regime is starting to hold people accountable for mis-developing players with star potential.  Good to see many people now in the Polanco bandwagon. Was lonely for a while ;) 
  • Former Twins prospect C Stuart Turner who was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the last Rule 5 draft, has a good possibility of returning to the Twins' system, because to make the Reds they will have to carry 3 catchers
  • It is still very early in the Spring Training, but it appears that that the Twins are pairing C Chris Gimenez who has a good reputation in helping develop young pitchers with young RHP Jose Berrios.  This might have implications in the back up catcher battle, esp. if Berrios starts next season in Rochester.  
  • David Schoenfield, ESPN Senior Writer, indicates that the Twins' LF was the 4th weakest position in the majors since 2007.
  • The Twins are linked to 16 year old Dominican switch hitting SS Jelfrey Marte who will demand a bonus close to $3M.
  • The Twins are looking at High Schoolers, in addition to SS/RHP Hunter Greene for the first overall pick of the 2017 draft the coming June, including IF/OF Royce Lewis
  • SS Ehire Adrianza has been taking ground balls at third base.  It will be interesting to see if there is future for him as a utility player in the 2017 Twins' roster.
  • Twins' General Manager Thad Levine has indicated that Brandon Kintzler will be given every opportunity to start 2017 as the Twins' closer.
  • The Twins have signed LHP Evan Sanders  as an undrafted free agent to a minor league contract.
  • The Twins have signed RHP David Fischer to a minor league contact. The 26 year old has played in the Nationals organization and in the Independent Leagues for the last two seasons.


Complete List of the Twins' Ballpark Giveaways for 2017

The Minnesota Twins have announced their ballpark giveaways for 2017.  Here is the complete list along with the sponsors and the target audience, to help you select the games you attend this season at Target Field, if collecting bobbleheads and/or DQ caps is your thing:

April 3, Twins Long Sleeve Hooded T-Shirt in adult M or XL (all, 30,000) / Northland Ford Dealers
April 15, Twins Fur Trapper Hat (all, 10,000) / Pepsi
April 17, Twins Photo Magnet Schedule (all, 10,000) / Star Tribune
April 18, Twins Photo Magnet Schedule (all, 10,000) / Star Tribune
April 19, Twins Photo Magnet Schedule (all, 10,000) / Star Tribune
April 20, Twins Photo Magnet Schedule (all, 10,000) / Star Tribune
April 22, Twins Red Cap (all, 20,000) / DQ
April 23, Twins customizible T-shirt in Youth M or XL, (kids, 5,000)

May 2, MLB Network Bag (all, 10,000) / MLB Network
May 3, MLB Network Bag (all, 10,000) / MLB Network
May 6, Twins Rocket Raccoom Bobblehead (all, 10,000) / MARVEL
May 7, Twins Beach Tote (all, 5,000) / The beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel
May 20, Twins Batting Practice Pullover in adult M or XL (all, 10,000)  /  CenturyLink
May 29, Brian Dozier T-Shirt in adult M or XL (all, 10,000) 

June 14, LED Energy Efficient Light Bulb (all, postgame) / Xcel Energy
June 18, Twins Father's day socks (male 18+, 10,000) / Sheboygan Sausage Company
June 21, Twins Star Wars T-Shirt in adult M or XL (all, 10,000)

July 8, Twins Cap (all, 20,000) / DQ
July 9, Twins Bat and Ball Set (kids 14-, 10,000) / Play Ball
July 18, Twins Beach Towell (all, 7,500) / Pentair
July 22, Twins 1987 World Championship Stein (21+, 10,000) / Budweiser

August 3, Twins Diversity Day Item (all, 5,000) / Treasure Island Resort & Casino
August 4, National Baseball Day Commemorative Day Trading Card Pack (all) / Topps
August 5, Twins Back to School Item (14-, 5,000) / Target
August 6, T.C. Bear Bobblehead (all, 10,000) / US Bank
August 18, Rod Carew Bobblehead (all, 10,000)
August 19, Michael Cuddyer Twins HOF Bobblehead (all, 10,000) / Delta Airlines
August 20, Michael Cuddyer and Any MacPhail HOF Pins (all, 5,000) / Coordinated Business Systems

September 29, Twins Stocking Cap (all, 30,000) / Target
September 30, Twins Stocking Cap (all, 30,000) / Target
October 1, Twins Stocking Cap (14-, 10,000) / Target


News and Notes from the Twins Spring Training: 2/20/17

As every Spring, I will be following the Twins and providing news and notes.  For about 10 days I will be in Fort Myers providing live coverage from the Twins' Spring Training.  Those post will be noted as such.  Otherwise I will be providing summaries of the team's activities and individual posts on certain subjects relating to the Twins' preparation for 2017.  You can find all 2017 Spring Training related posts here.

  • The Twins have signed 28 year old journeyman and former Gophers RHP Seth Rosin to a minor league contract.  The Arden Hills, MN native was drafted by the Twins in the 28th round of the 2007 draft, but decided to go to the Univesity of Minnesota instead.  He projects as a Rochester pen depth signing. 
  • RHPs Kyle Gibson Nick Burdi, and Jose Berrios have been changing their deliveries, the first two to keep their shoulder and elbow healthy, and Berrios to hid his pitches better and avoid tipping them.  So has done LHP Craig Breslow, with his motivation being to re-invent himself.
  • 1B/DH Kennys Vargas has worked out with Manny Ramirez this winter.  Ramirez has been fellow Dominican's Miguel Sano's winter training partner, but Sano decided to work out for former third baseman Fernando Tatis, to include some fielding work this winter.  In an interesting confession, Vargas indicated that the Twins' coaches wanted him "for years to cut down his swing and use the whole field, as [they did with] Ortiz", something that Ramirez and him worked to fix last winter.
  • LHP Hector Santiago, changed his number to 53 from 66 last season.  He wore 53 both with the Angels and the White Sox previously.  The number became available when RHP Pat Light was traded to the Pirates a couple weeks ago.  Santiago will fight about 10 other candidates for a position to the Twins' rotation this Spring, something he will not be handed, as he decided to take off the Twins' camp and pitch for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in the WBC.  Jose Berrios, another pitcher fighting for a rotation sport for the Twins, will be in the same disadvantage because he made the same choice.
  • 2B Brian Dozier is surprised to be back with the team.  His and the Twins' wish might come true by next off-season, now the Mets will have an opening in the position.
  • LHP Glen Perkins who is recuperating from a torn labrum surgery, pitch twice from the mound in bullpens without any problem.  It was indicated that he was pitching at "75%", but no velocities were mentioned.  Something will definitely keep and eye on and report live when in Fort Myers, as with RHP Phil Hughes' recovery from TOS surgery.  Hughes sounds ahead of Perkins, as far as recovery goes, and, unlike Perkins, who will likely start the season in the DL, is planning to start the season with the big club.  For both, return of velocity is essential to be effective, and will keep an eye on that.  During his recovery Perkins used an electronic muscle simulator, instead of icing after workouts.
  • LHP Mason Melotakis is the only other injured player in the camp, recovering from an oblique strain and not throwing.
  • The Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey said the following in an interview by Mackey and Judd:
    • He would like information to be shared throughout the organization, making more informed decisions through collaboration, bringing different ideas from different departments.
    • He wants his staff to check their egos in the door and share ideas.  Will abolish the "we've always done it this way" mentality, and explore the "whys' of doing something.
    • Being patient with changes in order to make good informed decisions that will be happening as the time passes
    • C Jason Castro can impact the game, in addition to pitch framing, with his game calling abilities, as well as with his bat that "has upside".
    • There is not "an one size fits all approach" with the pitchers.  They will try to leverage each pitcher's strengths .
    • Was imperative to spend 5-10 minutes with each players to make sure that everyone understands the expectations as well as that the management is accessibly for the players.
    • He believes that the team can "take a step forward" this year with the players the team has, by giving them more resources to succeed.