Twins

Ask BW (6/7): Wrestling Comps, Littell's Debut and Shirseys

Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Hey! It’s the inaugural edition of “Ask BW” — a recurring article series where you ask questions and I answer them.

Sorry for getting super technical there. Let’s go:

I wasn’t totally sure off the top of my head — and even now a couple days later — of the worst ones I’ve ever seen, but one thing I can do is list some of the worst or strangest ones I’ve ever owned.

I was a Twins season ticket holder from 2006-’10, and a crazy fan as a younger person before I got into this side of the business. I bought all kinds of shirts to wear to games, and might have at one point been able to go to an entire slate of home games for a season without wearing the same thing twice.

Fortunately, it never came to that.

But I have a Jason Kubel game-worn jersey that I ended up getting signed — it’s framed in my home office — and I bought it on the cheap (well, $300) when he was down with the ACL injury suffered in the Arizona Fall League which stalled his early development.

So yeah, I was in pretty deep.

These are some of the crazier shirseys — t-shirt jerseys, for the uninitiated — that I’ve owned over the years:

  • Mike Lamb – Twins
  • Joe Crede – Twins
  • Kosuke Fukudome – Cubs
  • Coco Crisp – Red Sox
  • Lastings Milledge – Mets

I thought about this one for a while, and here’s what I came up with — the Four Horsemen.

One of the greatest promos in the Nitro era was in when the group reunited on Sept. 14, 1998.

Watch the whole thing in its 18-minute glory here:

I’ve always regarded the Four Horsemen — whatever iteration you prefer, whether it was early with James J. Dillon, Ole Anderson and Tully Blanchard, midway through with Brian Pillman and Chris Benoit or late with Mongo McMichael and Dean Malenko — as part of what was right with the business.

And to that end, I feel like the new group has brought some structure and vision for the future as far as modern baseball is concerned.

Also, I like to imagine Falvey or Levine delivering Arn Anderson’s tremendous line from this promo:

“Because we don’t wear white hats, we’re not nice guys, and I can tell you this: heads are gonna roll!”

I think it was clear he was way, way too amped early. He hit 95 mph on the fastball he struck Yoan Moncada out with to start the game, and the reports the Twins had on him were far, far closer to the 89-92 he was at for the rest of the game.

I thought the fact that he got eight swinging strikes was encouraging too, and it’s clear that the fastball will play up due to spin rate. Most of his swinging strikes came on it, and he is supposed to be sort of like Jake Odorizzi in that respect. That is, not a burner in terms of velocity, but still can get strikeouts with pitches up in the zone.

Overall I think it’s hard to grade a debut where all the runs scored in the game came off him, but I think it was a good learning experience, and he reiterated as much coming out of it.

I think he’s got a nice future in the big leagues, though it’ll be worth watching in what role and where. The Twins have a lot of pitching to sort through in the next year or so.

It’s more than a little puzzling he’s still in Chattanooga when he clearly has nothing left to prove there. He’s spent parts of three seasons with the Lookouts and has been absolutely incredible: 1.56 ERA, 102-36 K/BB ratio in 98.1 innings, 1.01 WHIP.

He’s also 27 — nearly three years older than his average Southern League contemporary — so it’s high time to figure out what he’s capable of at a higher level.

The Rochester pitching staff is pretty great this year — 3.36 ERA, 8.8 K/9, 1.26 WHIP — but still it’s hard to believe they don’t have any room to push the Aussie up and see how he fares in the International League.

Maybe it’ll take the Twins finding a spot for someone like Nick Anderson in the big leagues? There’s another 27-year-old reliever who is lighting the world on fire. Anderson turns 28 in just under a month, and has a 3.60 ERA with 38 strikeouts and 11 walks in 25 innings with Rochester.

Those numbers looked a lot better a week ago before he gave up six earned runs in two-thirds of an inning against Norfolk, however.

Well, I did write that it should have happened a little while ago…..

But seriously, now it seems pretty unlikely it’ll be before September. While guys like Ehire Adrianza and/or Gregorio Petit are playing on a daily basis right now, it’s going to get more crowded as Joe Mauer and Jorge Polanco returned.

With Mauer, what I mean is that it takes away the flexibility the Twins have to move Miguel Sano over to first base to get Escobar some time at the hot corner. With Logan Morrison now back in the lineup after dealing with a back issue, these spots are only going to get tighter and more contentious until rosters expand for the season’s final month.

So to that end, it makes sense to hold off on adding Gordon, who isn’t required to be added to the 40-man roster until after this season. And with a few guys coming off the 60-day disabled list in the near(ish) future — Trevor May, Ervin Santana and Michael Pineda — it makes sense to keep the 40-man roster as uncluttered as possible for the time being.

They can also add Jason Castro to the 60-day DL to make room and still might be able to run Petit or Bobby Wilson through outright waivers if/when the time comes, but again, there’s no use needlessly complicating matters for a short-term move.

Now with that said, Gordon assauged any worries about his second-half slide at Chattanooga last year by hitting .333/.381/.525 in 42 games with the Lookouts, and has barely skipped a beat with Rochester in his 16 games since getting the call: .350/.371/.467.

The jury is still out on which side of second base he’s going to play on — multiple people I trust have told me drastically different views on if he can handle short, but the consensus seems to be “no” in the long-term — but that’s probably not entirely settled with Polanco either. So the hope is that one or the other takes the job and runs with it, with the other taking over for Brian Dozier if he isn’t brought back after this season.

It really does seem like they’re going to have to get creative, but I also think the current rotation as it stands now means they won’t activate Ervin a day earlier than they have to.

With that said, I don’t think they’re going to shortchange his innings for any reason. With pitching, these things always seem to shake themselves out. Do they trade someone? Does someone get hurt?

Does Fernando Romero move to the bullpen? I don’t think we can rule anything out at this point. With that said, if the Twins want Romero starting over the long haul — there’s no reason to doubt this — they’ll have to keep bumping his innings count so he can eventually give them 180 innings.

He’s at 57.1 innings between Rochester and Minnesota this year, and threw 125 last year for Chattanooga. To that end, it seems like he’d probably be capped at around 150-160 this year, which would make next year a regular year where he could, in theory, take his 32-33 turns or whatever it comes out to.

This is a long way of saying if there’s any sort of tandem thing that’ll happen here, it would probably be with Pineda, not Santana.

It’s certainly possible, though it’s hard for me to envision them doing so with Reed after handing out the first multi-year deal to an outside reliever in club history just a few months ago.

But with that said, they have quite a few intriguing pitchers to churn through, so maybe they could consider moving Gibson a year ahead of free agency — especially with him pitching so well?

But he’s a well-regarded clubhouse presence and just an all-around terrific guy, and they’ve waited for a long time for him to pitch like he has. Might it be tough to move on from that? It’s hard to say.

Keep in mind, Falvey/Levine did not draft him, so it’s unclear how much equity they truly feel they have with him.

Also: I don’t think this team will be in a position to sell. I still think they’re going to be pretty good. They need to get everyone healthy and not suspended, though.

https://twitter.com/sauteed/status/1004745697713942529

It’s certainly possible. He leads the AL with 32 games pitched, which means he’s gotten into over half the games the Twins have played so far. He’s played the same number of games as Sano (32) and more than Byron Buxton (28). Which probably says a lot more about the team than they’d be hoping for.

It also says quite a bit about the expectations for Pressly that he’s allowed two earned runs in back-to-back games and it has A. added more than a full run to his ERA and B. led people to wonder if something is wrong.

He’s been awesome this year.


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