Intros are awkward. Let’s just answer some questions:

I was the last person to give up on Aaron Hicks, and I’ll do the same for Buxton. He’s still just 24, was a terrific hitter down the stretch last year and has a Gold Glove on his resume.

And take a look just how much the outfield defense looks with Max Kepler or Jake Cave — both what I’d consider B/B+ center fielders — out there instead of Buxton.

It’s a slow burn, but baseball is kindest to those who are patient.

Not at all. For one, only Kepler, Eddie Rosario and Alex Kirilloff of that bunch project as future MLB regulars, and secondly, getting too worried about handedness instead of skill is a good way to punch your ticket out of the front office.

A reporter friend told me a story about a team getting too worked up about positions in a trade instead of good players, and they wound up focusing too much on getting a catcher back as a big part of the deal.

The catcher played in the big leagues for over a decade — a guy the Twins saw a lot of, as luck would have it — but had a career OPS under .700 and in general, just failed to live up to the expectations for the player he was traded for.

That player will be in the Hall of Fame someday.

As far as Anibal Sanchez is concerned, I think it’s totally reasonable to think he was washed up after the last three years in Detroit: 5.67 ERA (5.01 FIP), 1.43 WHIP, 1.8 HR/9.

To me, though, it just sort of fits the pattern of how this Twins season has gone. For years Twins fans have lamented the team settling for the low-ceiling veteran stopgaps — guys like Livan Hernandez, Sidney Ponson, Juan Castro, Adam Everett and Tony Batista come to mind — and Sanchez seemed to be quite clearly cut from that mold.

So when the new front office decides to try to break that mold with a higher-ceiling veteran in Lance Lynn, the most “2018 Twins” thing happened. Lynn’s career did a dead-cat bounce while Sanchez looks revitalized in his first NL foray since he was traded to the Tigers back in 2012.

Does it speak to something/anything that the Twins were out in front of the idea that Sanchez could be decent this year? Maybe yes, maybe no. But I have a hard time getting too beat up about them not keeping Sanchez when they truly thought Ervin Santana was coming back two months earlier than he did.

I also think you’d be hard-pressed to find a Twins fan that — at the time — didn’t want to see Lynn or Alex Cobb instead of Sanchez.

Rodriguez feels a bit more inexplicable — and perhaps like a “we don’t like the old regime’s players as much” kind of move — but it’s also important to note that it’s only been 73 innings, albeit very good ones.

There are some indications that he could regress — .264 BABIP, 0.5 HR/9 despite subpar groundball rates, etc. — but even as a No. 4-5 starter with six years of control, that’s a really nice get in minor-league free agency for the Giants.

Rodriguez doesn’t throw particularly hard (91.8 mph average fastball) and he hasn’t missed a ton of bats (8.7 percent whiff rate). Coming into this season, he’d only thrown 75.1 innings above High-A, and had been old for every level he’d pitched at — a necessity as a converted outfielder, of course.

So while it looks bad now, it’s possible it came down to Felix Jorge, Aaron Slegers and/or Rodriguez, and the Twins took the two guys who had pitched at higher levels at younger ages. What makes it look bad is the team’s relative stagnancy on the young pitching front — though Fernando Romero had some good stretches this year — but it’s also the sort of thing where teams have to make educated guesses/scouting decisions on 40-man roster crunches.

I think it’s all about what is available and when. It’s a dangerous proposition to get too married to one thing or another — except for catchers; draft a lot of catchers — and sometimes it just comes down to where they are on the draft board when the time comes.

Keep in mind, these guys took Blayne Enlow and Landon Leach fairly early last year — amidst Royce Lewis and Brent Rooker, too — so I don’t think we can really point to any sort of trend.

Now with that said, if it was the case it might not be the worst idea since pitchers are such a volatile commodity.

How’s that for talking out of both sides of my mouth?

Yes. I’ll say Joe Mauer signs a two-year deal worth $20 million, with a fairly good chance he retires after the first year.

Also: I think Gibson signs a three-year deal worth $45ish million in the offseason. Fourth-year team option in the $15-18 million range.

It used to be Butcher and the Boar’s rib tips, but they don’t have that stand anymore. Now it’s probably Red Cow Hot Chicken — it’s at Bat & Barrel and I haven’t had it but I’ve heard great things — or the 60/40 Bacon Burger, which is also from Red Cow (section 126).

You also can’t go wrong with a simple Kramarczuk’s sausage.

  • Lewis: Opening Day 2020 – he’s on the Joe Mauer path
  • Kirilloff: midseason 2020 – I keep waiting for some sort of hiccup to his hitting development because he missed a whole season, but for now that hasn’t come close to happening.
  • Rooker: very early 2019 – I really think he should end the season at Rochester this year, then get a look if he mashes the first month or two there next season. If/when the Twins move on from LoMo, Tyler Austin gets the first crack at replacing him and I think Rooker is next up.

I mean I think Mauer is sort of a copout to this question, so I’ll go with Gibson (see above). I would say the least likely is Jake Odorizzi, who has had an up-and-down first season with the Twins, but will want to hit free agency and should have a better year with Buxton hopefully patrolling center field regularly. Odorizzi is a big-time fly ball guy (MLB-low 28 percent groundball rate).

Addendum:

In this case, I’ll say Rosario. His success has been more than just a small-sample blurb, and I think he’d like to get paid and also stay here if the money is right. I’d look into a four- or five-year deal with options on the back end, personally.

I try not to be too public about my opinions regarding this sort of thing out of respect for Molitor. Now with that said, I think the obvious in-house candidates would be Derek Shelton, Jeff Pickler and James Rowson — and probably in that order.

If they look to the outside, you’ll want to consider Texas and Cleveland connections. In that way, current Mets manager — and former Indians pitching coach — Mickey Callaway made a lot of sense.

Names I’d monitor include Sandy Almoar Jr., Robby Thompson, Ron Washington, Scott Atchison and Doug Brocail.

In this case, they simply had two open spots on the 40-man roster. Field looks like he can play a little bit, and he’s considered a grinder with excellent makeup. He’s in the mix for fourth outfielder work next year with Cave and Zack Granite, most likely.

Drake has a pretty good repertoire — low 90s fastball with a really good splitter — but has struggled to get a significant look in the big leagues for an extended period of time, and he’s basically taken Matt Belisle’s roster spot now that Matt Magill is back from the paternity list.

Now with that said, I’m not really sure why they haven’t chosen to look at guys not on the 40-man roster, such as Nick Anderson or Jake Reed. Both have solid to very good numbers with Rochester, and neither are particularly young.

Reed turns 26 before the end of the season, while Anderson turned 28 on July 5. Both pitchers deserve a shot — as do the ones you listed — so it’ll be worth watching how that is handled with roster expansion in September, if not sooner.


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