Hey guys. I’m writing you all from vacation in beautiful Rapid City, S.D. We’re on our way to see Mount Rushmore in the morning, but before that, here’s the mailbag column I promised you all almost a week ago. The homestand got kind of busy, and I ended up writing a James Rowson/Byron Buxton column I wasn’t previously planning on.
Also, my baby turns eight weeks old this Tuesday, and so we’re spending my paternity leave and some of my wife’s maternity leave on the road because we never take vacations. I mean seriously, look at this face:
Early 8-week photo before we left for vacation. ???? pic.twitter.com/sClK20S6NQ
— Brandon Warne (@Brandon_Warne) July 8, 2017
So anyway, here goes nothing:
How does our player development strategy change from our old regime to the new regime?
— Nick Lindner (@LindnerFishing) July 3, 2017
I think it’s too soon to say. I think it’ll probably take 2-to-3 season to know for sure, but I do know based on my conversations with guys on the big club that they’re not throwing away old ways of doing things, but are also emphasizing analytics quite a bit — and Jeff Pickler is at the forefront of those operations.
I do think though that they’re taking the slow and steady approach to this thing. They haven’t really turned over the 40-man roster that much — outside of mostly a bunch of inherited relievers — and didn’t do a ton in the offseason, either. I think bringing on two new catchers with good defensive skills was a way to evaluate existing players this season with their own eyes. That is to say, not holding what guys like Kyle Gibson did with different guys behind the plate and with whatever changes this new staff has implemented not yet taking shape yet.
In other words, it’s an evaluation year for basically everyone in the organization, and they’ll begin parting it out more in the offseason. I think it’s a smart way to do business.
You're GM for a day. What moves do u make to help compete this year without blowing up farm system? What trades do u make?
— Tony Kurimski (@MrKurimski) July 3, 2017
You can target some cheaper rental relievers, but otherwise there isn’t much that can be done unless it’s taking on a lot of money or years in a contract that a team doesn’t want. That doesn’t make a lot of sense for the Twins right now. I think Pat Neshek makes a lot of sense if the Phillies aren’t asking for too much, but otherwise, I just stay the course. I’ve seen people clamoring for Brad Hand on the message boards and that makes no sense at all to me. A.J. Preller is going to straight up fleece someone in that deal, and it’s one reliever. Billy Wagner in his prime isn’t going to alter the course of what the Twins are going to do the rest of the year enough to merit this kind of trade, let alone Hand, who was not on the radar at all a year ago.
The smartest bullpens in today’s game are the ones who find Brad Hands, not trades for them. Look at the Red Sox with Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg. They paid quite a bit in trade equity for those two guys, and have gotten a combined 2.2 innings from the duo. I’ve seen people on the boards and on Twitter who would be OK with moving names like Stephen Gonsalves plus more for Hand. That’s absolutely preposterous.
Related question. Any idea what the shelf life of killebrew root beer is?
— Mike (@MikeNerdlaw) July 3, 2017
Oh man, one of the greatest best I’ve ever taken. I believe it was in midsummer 2013 or ’14, and was regarding whether or not Byron Buxton and/or Miguel Sano would debut in the big leagues that season.
That bet had more to do with Christian Ponder than you’d think, too…..
Serious Question. Who do we see on the big club first. K. Stewart, L. Michael or N. Gordon?
— Mike (@MikeNerdlaw) July 3, 2017
Gordon. Michael may never make the big leagues and Stewart is behind the 8-ball due to missing a large chunk of time this season with a knee injury. He was also pretty bad before getting hurt. His first two starts since returning are better, though still not all that encouraging: 11 innings, one earned run (0.82 ERA), .526 OPS against, 3-2 K/BB ratio, 55 percent GB rate.
If he doesn’t find strikeouts, he may have to move to the bullpen to avoid being the second-coming of Mike Pelfrey. I still believe in the stuff.
Is Dozier getting any pressure from the coaching staff to focus on hitting the other way when circumstances call for it?
— Joan Sautre (@sauteed) July 3, 2017
No. First of all, he’s hitting very, very well to all fields this season:
- to LF – .795 OPS
- to CF – .966 OPS
- to RF – .857 OPS
Second of all, as long as he has good numbers, the Twins aren’t going to worry about it too much. He could hit every ball to left field if he posted numbers like last year.
Is it time to DFA Ryan Pressly and give his 40 man spot to Melotakis or Curtiss?
— 3 Fourths Geek (@3FourthsGeek) July 3, 2017
No. Pressly would be snapped up in a hot minute, and Melotakis right now has velocity issues that resulted in him clearing waivers in the first place. Curtiss is interesting — and my Chattanooga guy says he could make it — but Pressly has big-league success and still is stuff-wise who he was last year. You don’t just give up on 95-plus with a power slider/curve combo. You’d rue that decision in less than a month.
Has Santiago burned his bridge w/ Molitor w/ comments about OF positioning? Who is more at fault for communication breakdown?
— Nate Baustad (@flamingbagofpoo) July 3, 2017
No, but they are dubious to say the least. First of all, it’s worth noting that Santiago has the highest exit velocity allowed of any pitcher with at least 1,000 pitches thrown this season (90.2 mph). Only one other pitcher — Cincinnati’s Amir Garrett — is over 90 mph. In short, he’s giving up a bunch of screamers and has all season long, and was more likely bailed out by good defense early in the season than anything. Furthermore, he’s a fly ball guy. He should be thriving — at least relatively speaking — in front of this outfield defense.
Second of all, Molitor and Santiago are grown men, and I’m certain they’ve already hashed that part out. Molitor did say they had an extended chat after the start in Kansas City. He didn’t say anything in-depth, but I suspect they cleared the air.
Finally, the shift made sense! Hosmer only hits fly balls 19.3 percent of the time against left-handed pitchers this season. He’s a groundball hitter by nature — which is why his power development remains behind his overall talent as a hitter — as noted by the fact he’s hitting them 61.4 percent of the time against lefties. He also has a pull rate against lefties of just 29.2 percent and a hard-hit rate of just 24.7 percent against lefties this season.
It’s easy to see why he’s frustrated, but the numbers back up Molitor here.
Will Gonsalves and/or Romero start games for Twins this year?
— Andrew Woodard (@Woodsauce24) July 3, 2017
I’d put my money on Romero doing so because he’s on the 40-man roster, but ultimately I’d say it’s about 60-40 for him and about 50-50 for Gonsalves. The longer the Twins stay in the race might heighten their need to give those guys a look. They won’t rush them on that basis alone, but it’s obvious the Twins have a need there.
I wonder what is would take to get Stroman…
— butt friend (@RichWkru) July 7, 2017
So my pet theory on Stroman — who I’d be all-in on the Twins acquiring — is that the Blue Jays are willing to move him for one reason, and one reason only. That is, what is the most precious, rare commodity in the game? Young, cost-controlled and effective pitching. Few teams have it; all teams want it. That has been amplified even more this season with how many teams have burnt through pitching. Look at the Mets. Who would have ever thought they’d be left at the altar waiting for Bartolo Colon to come back to them, only to be jilted when Colon chose the Twins?
But wait…don’t the Jays need young pitching? Well yeah, but if they’re going to embark on a rebuild — and it makes sense with guys like Jose Bautista and Troy Tulowitzki aging and underperforming — the time is now. They can move Josh Donaldson and still get a king’s ransom no matter who they trade him to. They can find teams who have needs and move Joey Bats and Tulo.
But most importantly, they can move Stroman and/or Aaron Sanchez and really, really extort maximum value to jump start this rebuild in the Great White North. With the Yankees on the upswing and the Red Sox just flat out more talented in the near-term, the Jays can do a prospect hoard like the White Sox did and get started rebuilding their farm by dangling young, cheap and solid pitching to restock the shelves. The best part is that the acquiring team will be taking on just as much risk as the Jays are. Sure, prospects are never a guarantee, but neither is the continued health of Stroman or Sanchez, both of whom have battled injuries in their young careers. That’s not to say they’re injury-prone — maybe even far from it — but rather than the position lends itself to substantial injury risk.
Back to the point at hand: what would it take for the Twins to get into the bidding?
- Nick Gordon
- Alex Kirilloff
- Stephen Gonsalves/Fernando Romero (pick one)
- Some type of prospect unique to Toronto’s tastes (like Lewin Diaz, Travis Blankenhorn or someone like that)
If you’re thinking that’s too steep, that’s the Twins fan in you speaking, because if you were a Jays fan, you probably are thinking the exact opposite. Maybe it’s even a bit shallow, but hypothetically, if I could get a deal done for Stroman that allows me to keep Romero — I’m doing it all day.
Stroman is Jose Berrios, plus groundballs and has the heart of a lion. Not only that, but you’d have his rights through 2020. Any trade that allows me to keep Romero and Royce Lewis in my system — yes, I know Lewis is ineligible to be dealt, just hear me out here — is on the table if I’m Thad Levine. It would also be worth seeing if Marco Estrada (~$7.5 million for the rest of the year) or Francisco Liriano (~$6 million) can be thrown in, too. If all things are equal, it’s worth a shot.
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