We’re getting ready to head into a New Year and for the Minnesota Twins to intrioduce Nelson Cruz, so in the meantime, why not take some questions from the peanut gallery?
It’s time for another #AskBW column. Ask me anything.
(I’m so gonna regret this)
— Brandon Warne (@Brandon_Warne) December 29, 2018
*deep breath* OK, here we go:
Where would the All-Time Twins team rank among all MLB All-Time teams?
— Pitch Mechanics 101 (@PitchMechanics) December 29, 2018
Not very high, due to a combination of relatively short franchise history (1961-present) and a lack of depth in some very key spots (shortstop, to name one).
For fun, this is my team off the top of my head:
- C- Joe Mauer
- 1B- Harmon Killebrew
- 2B- Rod Carew
- 3B- Corey Koskie
- SS- Roy Smalley
- LF- Tony Oliva
- CF- Torii Hunter
- RF- Kirby Puckett
- DH- Bob Allison
- Bench- Battey | Knoblauch | Morneau | Tovar
- SP- Bert Blyleven
- SP- Johan Santana
- SP- Jim Kaat
- SP- Frank Viola
- SP- Brad Radke
- SP/RP- Francisco Liriano
- RP- Juan Rincon
- RP- LaTroy Hawkins
- RP- Eddie Guardado
- RP- Glen Perkins
- RP- Rick Aguilera
- CL- Joe Nathan
Off the top of my head, that’d probably be something like 15-20th across MLB? Fun exercise.
How can the Twins win the AL Central in 2019?
(You must answer in 10 words or fewer)
— Chris Cwik (@Chris_Cwik) December 29, 2018
Sign Kikuchi/Keuchel, Sano and Buxton perform to their potential.
What would you be willing to offer the Yankees for Sonny Gray? What do you think they’re asking for?
— Jason Baune (@jasonbaune4) December 29, 2018
It’s really hard to say. In my blueprint, I said Jason Castro — of course, with the Twins signing Yasmani Grandal — but a good defensive catcher to back up Gary Sanchez makes a lot of sense.
But the Twins are (probably) not signing Grandal, and thus Castro will be a necessity for them.
The teams don’t necessarily match up poorly from a trade standpoint, at least not when considering they’ve made a few moves in recent years. It’s hard to imagine the Yankees are expecting a ton when they’ve publicly put him on the trading block like this, but would they do it for someone in the 20-30 range of Twins prospects? Tyler Jay? John Curtiss?
For a one-year rental, I’m not sure it makes a ton of sense. I keep beating this drum, but the Twins need another multi-year answer in the rotation because it’s Jose Berrios and four question marks for 2020 right now with Michael Pineda, Jake Odorizzi and Kyle Gibson eligible for free agency next winter.
What would you say, ya do here? pic.twitter.com/qis34vE55B
— John Olson (@Four_Six_Three) December 29, 2018
Rooker forces his way on to the Twins roster on……….?
— Nathan (@Plouffe24Fan) December 29, 2018
Sept. 3, 2019 — the day after Rochester’s season ends. Gives the Twins enough time to evaluate if he’s the answer at DH or 1B for 2020, but I still think the team is good enough to not have traded Nelson Cruz by this time.
For the record, I think they’re about an 85- or 88-win team right now.
Favorite team and player outside of the Twins
— Nathan Olson (@n8olson31) December 30, 2018
I really just love baseball in general, and have ceased rooting for the Twins in my current role. But if you asked me to step out of that bubble, I’d pick Atlanta/Tampa/Oakland as presently constructed, and I think Francisco Lindor is an absolute delight to watch.
Favorite non-sports Twitter follow?
— Leland Steva (@lsteva3) December 30, 2018
I’ll give you a few:
If you don’t think wrestling is a sport (shame on you)
- Conrad Thompson (@heyheyitsconrad) – Ric Flair’s son-in-law, does podcasts with Eric Bischoff, Tony Schiavone and Bruce Prichard
- Meltzer in the 90s (@ObserverQuotes) – Self-explanatory if you’re a wrestling fan
If you think wrestling is a sport it’s probably Jimmie Whisman (@WhismanSucks), who is a stand-up comedian and half of the duo that does the podcasts Small Town Murder (@MurderSmall) and Crime in Sports (@CrimeInSports).
Rank the AL Wild Card contenders.
— nmbaseball (@nmbaseball52) December 30, 2018
Assuming the following division winners — Red Sox/Indians/Astros — and as constructed at this very second:
- Yankees – stacked
- Angels – love their offseason so far, bullpen is weak though
- A’s – fun team, but who is going to start?
- Rays – Snell-Morton-Glasnow-Faria is a really good quartet, Yandy Diaz is a breakout candidate
- Twins – teams 2-5 are all fairly close together
- White Sox – not personally a believer yet, but headed in the right direction
1 starter and at least 1 (hopefully 2) relievers are still needed in my opinion. What moves could still be coming? Any players in mind?
— Andrew Woodard (@Woodsauce24) December 30, 2018
Given everything we know now, I feel like Charlie Morton would have made a ton of sense, right?
I’ve watched some film on Yusei Kikuchi and come away impressed. He runs the fastball 93-94 mph regularly and up to 96, has a really nice slider and appears to have ironed out some of his command issues from earlier in his career. I think that might be from working exclusively out of the stretch, but I can’t find older video to compare. He’d make a great pickup.
Dallas Keuchel would as well, and as I’ve noted elsewhere he’d give the Twins another element they don’t have in the rotation — left-handed, groundball-heavy with good command. Each of the other four penciled into the rotation do things a little differently, and conventional wisdom suggests that four different looks in a four-game series can’t hurt — even if it maybe isn’t as obvious as it might seem.
But the Twins haven’t been tied to either of them — and apparently, Kikuchi has to sign within the next few days due to a specific rule? — and they haven’t been tied to any of the impact relievers left on the market, like David Robertson or Adam Ottavino.
In a perfect world? Kikuchi and Robertson. I think they’re the right combination of cheaper (on the front end) and stable (on the back).
What’s more realistic while still acceptable? Something like Gio Gonzalez (also left-handed and pretty good) and Cody Allen.
Even if the Twins can’t get a top-tier relief arm — let’s add Kelvin Herrera into that mix, by the way — there are plenty of guys who are at least semi-intriguing still out there, like Brad Boxberger, Randall Delgado, Tony Barnette and one of my favorites, Nick Vincent.
Also, do you agree with me in saying old friend Plouffe would be a good player for the Brewers to invite to ST for utility purposes?
— Scott Líndhólm (@4arlandria) December 31, 2018
- That one’s tough, because Wade is closer but the outfield is really crowded. I’ll take Wade but with no conviction at all.
- Stewart, because I think he’d make a good reliever.
- No. The team will be built on mashing.
- Maybe, but I also don’t think he’d be willing to go to Triple-A if he doesn’t make the team. Corner-only utility guys aren’t in high demand.
Any chance for new unis for the Twins next season ? 👕🔥
— Julian (@thegrandtruax) December 29, 2018
I don’t think so. At minimum, I feel like we’d have heard something by now if it was the case.
But with that said, bring back the baby blues for Sunday getaway games or something like that!
What one move makes the Twins a serious post season contender? #AskBW
— Andrew Pint (@pintandrew) December 29, 2018
Sign one: Kikuchi/Keuchel/Grandal/Pollock. That’s it.
#AskBW what are your thoughts on the shift? It drives me nuts.
— Julie (@ThanksToTroops) December 29, 2018
I like anything that makes a team better at converting batted balls into outs. Data is good.
Whats the biggest issue between putting out all the content you do and being a great dad (which you are)?
— Ultimate Twins Fan (@Devlin_clark84) December 29, 2018
First of all, thank you. Secondly, I think anyone will tell you it’s balance. But I try to get a lot of this stuff done early in the morning — I started this at 5:30 a.m. — or at night after my daughter has gone to bed.
It can’t be done without a strong work ethic, though, and a great support system.
And how cute is she, seriously?
My daughter has started calling me by my first name and it’s the cutest thing ever. pic.twitter.com/xeRs1vsAAV
— Brandon Warne (@Brandon_Warne) December 30, 2018
% chance on the twins getting either ottavino or Robertson?
— Andrew bieganski (@Andrewbiegansk2) December 29, 2018
Pretty low, but better this offseason than any previous one. I can’t figure out why nobody wants to spend money. I mean, I can — but I still don’t get it.
How long until the @Twins pull the string on Buxton?
— Benjamin Sherry (@BenLSherry) December 29, 2018
Two years at the earliest? He just turned 25 like last week. Baseball is a slow burn and really hard. Patience, friends.
Who is the best “internal” candidate to close in 2019?
— Sam Humbert (@humbert_chief) December 29, 2018
It’s either Trevor May or Addison Reed. Reed has the experience, but May was probably their best reliever other than Taylor Rogers last year — among those returning.
Maybe I’m underselling Rogers here. Righties only posted a .643 OPS against him last year, and he’s always nuked lefties (.428, zero extra-base hits last season).
As of this second:
But that’s purely a guess.
Lots of talk this off season about the lack of OBP in the Twins lineup with most of the additions primarily being power bats. Who, in your estimation, are 2 or 3 players that have a chance to significantly boost their on-base percentage compared to their past performance?
— Terry Anderson (@nater79a) December 29, 2018
In no specific order:
- Max Kepler – Took a big step forward in discipline last year (11.6 percent BB rate) and has the talent to hit way better than .224 like he did last year.
- Jorge Polanco – Just takes really, really good plate appearances. Saw four-plus pitches per PA last season, and never appears overmatched.
- Eddie Rosario – I really think he’s continuing to learn more about what pitchers want to do to him, and a healthy shoulder will make him a dangerous hitter in 2019.
- Byron Buxton/Miguel Sano/Jason Castro – Theoretically nowhere to go but up.
- Tyler Austin – Comes down to power. If he shows enough, he’ll add walks out of sheer respect.
Do the Twins sign another “big” free agent?
— Peyton Nuy (@pnuy15) December 29, 2018
I’ve kind of hemmed and hawed about this one. Is Allen a big free agent? Is Herrera?
I really think they should. But I’m no more than 50/50 that they will — and maybe less.
Do the Twins deploy Nelson Cruz’s biceps as a jungle gym to help in workouts?
— Tyler Austin’s Biceps (@TA_Biceps) December 29, 2018
I can’t see why not?
Do you think that the Twins will be deploying the “shift” at all this season?
— Ralph Walker (@RalphWalker74) December 29, 2018
Yes. They’re going to — at least in my view — continue to be among the teams at the forefront of these sorts of analytical decisions. According to Baseball Savant, the Twins shifted the third-most in MLB last year at 28.4 percent.
And while I wasn’t able to immediately find data proving/disproving their usefulness in 2018 for the Twins, I can’t see any reason for the team to buck that trend.
Weirdest thing you've searched the internet for is…..?
— Cory Schmidt (@C0ryw00d) December 29, 2018
I’m weirdly into crime/death and that sort of thing — in another life, I might have worked in forensics — and one time I read a fascinating, detailed description of what happens to the body after we die, from the hours after death to being embalmed to the months after being buried, complete with fairly tasteful photos.
Trying to find it again has proven difficult — and kinda gross.
And now, to the Facebook questions:
From David Whitcomb: “Byron Buxton?”
I’m still on the bandwagon. Let’s say….a .270/.325/.400 season with another Gold Glove.
From Andrew Jore: “Does Nelson Cruz salvage Miguel Sano’s career? Or rather, maximize it?”
I don’t see how it can hurt. As a late bloomer, Cruz has managed to play into his late 30s, stay in great shape and overcome self-inflicted issues that cast him in a negative light. Add in that they’re from the same area, speak the same native language and appear to already be fairly acquainted, and I think it’s a good move not only for his on-field performance, but that he’ll give the team some closure if Sano continues to fizzle and they eventually move on.
From Scott Fahy: “Do you drive to work or take your lunch?”
This feels like a Freudian slip. Yes, I drive to work, and I have an Italian spot in the skyway that does a low-carb meal for like $10 with a full salad and meatballs. Lots of food, filling but not out of my budget money or nutrition-wise.
From Nathan Timm: “Ric Flair or Hulk Hogan?”
Flair. Gotta go with the Minnesota guy, the better worker and the better personality. Hogan ruined a lot of careers along the way.
From Jason Guy: “What do you think about my mustache?”
In a word – ravishing.
From David Schlenk: “Two trains are traveling towards each other. One is going 30 MPH and the other one 45 MPH. Why don’t we have faster trains in the US?”
I blame Obama.
From Maria Stangler: “Who are your best neighbors and why? 😜”
Definitely the ones who handle our trash cans while we’re on vacation!
From Tim Fugleberg: “Favorite B-School roommate?”
I lived alone for like two months. That was the best.
From George Murphy: “Be married still with your family intact or be able to be general manager of the Twins?”
Married. Family over everything.
From Alex Jagiela: “What do the cubs need to do to get Bryce Harper”
Ten years, $300 million, probably frontloaded for $35 million per in the first four years with opt-outs after three and five.
So, something like $35-$35-$35|$35-$30|$26-$26-$26-$26-$26.
And if you believe the Cubs, probably trading Jason Heyward and Tyler Chatwood.
Not terribly likely if they stick to that.
From Ryan Shirley: “Why is Cody Warne a Packers fan?”
If I had a nickel for every time I wondered that…
From Phil Wiese: “What would it take for the twins to land a relevant big name player? I would assume it would start with new ownership but after that…”
I have a Target Field theory that I’ll share here very briefly.
There are three levels in baseball. I call them Rays/Cardinals/Yankees.
- The Rays draft and develop stars, but rarely can keep them.
- The Cardinals draft and develop stars, can keep the ones they want to and leverage the ones they don’t for draft picks to re-load or other players they like (Heyward for Shelby Miller, for instance).
- The Yankees can pretty much do whatever they want.
The goal with the new stadium was to take the Twins from the Rays level to the Cardinals level. Fans are mad it didn’t take them to the Yankees level — it was never going to — because they haven’t seen the fruits of being at the Cardinals level since the team hasn’t developed many players worth keeping.
Berrios will be a good test of this theory in the near future, I think.
From Brandon Stroud: “What’s your favorite joke from the Nitro column?”
I tried to find other ones better than this, but I keep coming back to: