New year, new you!
OK, now that we’re done with that nonsense, let’s take some questions from the peanut gallery. Whatcha got?
What's the funniest thing Harper has said or done lately?
— William Bohl (@BreakTheHuddle) January 7, 2019
My daughter turns 20 months in a little less than a week, and when you look into your child’s eyes and see yourself staring back at you, it’s equal parts thrilling and terrifying.
My wife and I say it all the time, but she’s gotten the best of both of us. She has her mom’s looks and temperament, and my sense of humor and gift of gab.
And recently, she’s started calling me by my first name. Most of the parents I’ve known tend to dislike that kind of thing — but it absolutely delights me.
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
Cutest. Thing. Ever.
Do you feel, if the Twins leave $20+M in player payroll on the table compared to 2018, that they have wasted opportunities to either:
A. lock up young players (Berrios, Buxton, etc.) or,
B. Sign impact FA’s to win the AL Central, make a playoff push, etc.
— John Olson (@Four_Six_Three) January 7, 2019
Not so much on A, because it’s possible the extensions wouldn’t kick in until 2020. But I do see where you’re coming from — and I think it’s a bit premature to worry about that.
I really do think they’re laying in the weeds on this one. I’m not saying they’re going to sign A.J. Pollock or anything, but if any player they can use is still a free agent a month from now, I suspect they’ll plunge some of that extra cash into the team.
And I really do think it makes a lot of sense to explore extensions not only with Jose Berrios, but Kyle Gibson as well. I keep hammering this point home, but it’s not ideal to have the team with only one pitcher signed past 2019 in the current rotation.
So it comes down to if you prefer Gibson or Jake Odorizzi — or perhaps both? — or if you’re earmarking some money for a possible Michael Pineda extension, which would likely be three or four years and around $15 million per year if he’s 100 percent this season.
But yes, if they go into the season with a payroll of $100 million and win say….83 games? That’s disappointing.
1. Is Dallas Keuchel a serious possibility? At what cost?
2. Adrianza or The White Rhino if you have to keep one on the bench? 3. Kepler a trade candidate before this season begins? #AskBW
— Peyton Nuy (@pnuy15) January 7, 2019
Thanks for all the questions. I don’t really see Keuchel as an option right now, but if he was willing to sign for something like three years and $60 million, that makes a lot of sense. He doesn’t throw hard, but also hasn’t needed to in order to be who he’s been at the peak of his career.
With that said, is it possible his edge between great and merely average is narrower because of his stuff? That’s certainly possible. Could he be a Barry Zito/Wandy Rodriguez hybrid in that case? Maybe, though I think his exceptional command and ability to induce tons of grounders gives him added insulation from that potential issue.
So yeah, I’d be willing to go three years and maybe $20-22 million per year — but I think he gets more than that.
On the second one — Adrianza. I’m not throwing away a guy who can handle short like that, especially when Astudillo has options and I have no idea what I’m getting from him defensively.
We talked about the potential of trading Kepler on the latest episode of Midwest Swing, and concluded that it might make sense to consider, but ultimately it’d probably be selling low. Jake Cave as a holdover in right field until Alex Kirilloff is ready isn’t the worst plan either, and LaMonte Wade, Michael Reed and Zack Granite are decent insurance options.
Why is the sky blue?
— Jonathon Zenk (@jzenk42) January 7, 2019
Because molecules in the air scatter blue light from the sun more than red light.
Favorite N64 game
— Brandon Evens (@sportspuzzle) January 7, 2019
Now for full disclosure, N64 wasn’t a console I grew up with. I had an NES, then a Sega Genesis, then a PS1 and down the line there. We also at various points had a Sega Dreamcast and each of the Xbox consoles, but the ones I missed out on in my youth were Super Nintendo, N64 and GameCube.
Now that I’ve made up for that deficiency in my adulthood, I can say definitively:
Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball — and it isn’t very close.
Slugfest — which came out a year later — is also good, but I think you have to go with the original here.
How well does Castro manage the pitching staff?
— Dave Borton (@BoldJava) January 7, 2019
Everything I’ve heard is that he does a great job, but this will be an interesting storyline to follow. Every catcher I’ve talked to said it doesn’t take terribly long to learn a pitching staff — spring training is a good start, and just a few starts in guys feel 100 percent comfortable — but Castro had one year with the team, one year lost to injury and now this, his final year of the three-year deal he signed after the 2016 season.
Furthermore, how much time will he cede behind the plate to Mitch Garver. Will Willians Astudillo see any time back there? Are the Twins completely out on Yasmani Grandal?
I suspect none of those things will amount to much, and Castro — assuming he’s healthy — will catch something like 100-110 games. With that in mind, how much stock are we putting into Gibson’s breakout year while barely pitching to Castro?
Not much here, but I’m sure I’m not the first person to think about it.
So back to the question, I still have go to with very well. Castro is a smart guy — Stanford educated, after all — but is a good communicator and seems to have the respect of not only all the pitchers, but his backstop colleagues as well. Garver and Bobby Wilson both had good things to say about him last year, as he was around rehabbing whenever the team was at home and we had clubhouse access.
other than Buxton or Sano, your pick for most improved Twin
— Bruce Bialka (@theRealJemmer) January 7, 2019
Max Kepler. I wanted to go with Jorge Polanco, but I don’t know that he can improve that much with the bat — a .780 OPS from a shortstop is solid — and most of his improvement will come from simply playing more than 77 games this year.
Kepler, on the other hand, has made impressive gains against lefties over his career — though some of it came at the expense of his numbers against righties last season — but he hits the ball hard, took his walks last year and plays a very good defensive right field.
He has drawn Christian Yelich comparisons from the standpoint of being a guy who has a lot to gain by elevating the ball more frequently. I’m not saying he’s going to break out into an MVP candidate, but there’s a lot more in his frame than a .730 OPS year in and year out.
He may have to show it fairly soon, however. Kirilloff isn’t going away.
Most underrated free agent signing this offseason?
— nmbaseball (@nmbaseball52) January 7, 2019
Across all of baseball? I’m just going to riff a bit here and hopefully it makes sense.
I love what the Angels have done this offseason with Justin Bour (mashes righties, cheap), Trevor Cahill and Matt Harvey. Both of those pitchers for a combined total of what Keuchel will probably get per year strikes me as a decent gamble — especially since it’s on such a short term.
Cahill is the guy to watch for me there. In 2018 he did everything one could ask from a starter — strikeouts, limit walks, grounders, etc. — with the exception of staying healthy. In fact, his season numbers compare favorably with Nathan Eovaldi, who got a four-year deal worth $64 million from the defending World Series winners.
Part of that is the October factor, and part of it is that Eovaldi has more impressive raw stuff, but it’s also important to remember that he’s not short of injury concerns either. So to that end, I like the Cahill gamble.
Whoever signs Jed Lowrie is also going to be fairly pleased, I think. A two-year deal around $15-16 million would help solidify a lot of teams atop their orders and could help at either second or third base.
I think the best value signing is Daniel Descalso to the Cubs, however. For just $5 million over two years, Descalso brings positional versatility along with a respectable bat. Arizona inflates offense a bit, but he still hit a surprising .238/.353/.436 for the Diamondbacks last year.
If you were forced to go back in time and required to let a player leave via FA instead of signing/extending them would you choose Puckett or Mauer?
— Josh Krueger (@87Twins91) January 7, 2019
I’ll take heat for it, but Puckett. Mauer signed his new deal when he was headed into his age-26 season. Puckett was — we thought — 31 at the time he signed his, but was actually 32.
Thoughts on if the twins will go after Marwin at all for a utility man over Adrainza
— Cory Hansen (@CoryHansen23) January 7, 2019
I don’t see it. He’s going to get too much money, and they really like Ronald Torreyes, who might well be the second coming of Eduardo Escobar in the clubhouse. He doesn’t have the same kind of pop, however.
I'm well aware of what your area of expertise is but who should be the Wolves next coach? GM?
— Tyler (@TangoYankee13) January 7, 2019
All I ask is that they don’t go the ‘name’ route. I know casual fans — like me! — can get caught up in wanting to have someone whose name we recognize, but I’d rather just see the process play out and a fair shake given to whomever is the right candidate.
I really like Ryan Saunders for the coach job, though.
From Joe Braga — “Are the Twins ever going to get into the top 50 percent in payroll?”
I get the gripe, but payroll really is just a number. I don’t want them to give Keuchel four years and $25 million per just to push that number up to placate fans who’ll want the lefty lynched the second his ERA swells above 4.00.
If they’re at $112 million this year with a competitive roster and the ability to extend whomever they choose after the year, that’s fine. Sure, it’s almost $17 million below where they started last year, but as long as the Twins eventually get something done with Berrios, etc. I really don’t see a reason to riot.
The Twins were in the top 10 in payroll in 2010 and 2011 and 13th in 2012 — and had absolutely nothing to show for it.
From George Murphy – “Why wasn’t Miguel Sano dealt when he still had value?”
Because that was three years ago.
From Fred Ontjes – “Patriots or Chargers — and why?”
Let’s see. It’s in New England and the books are giving the Patriots roughly four points. I want to take the Patriots, but one thing I can’t shake is how good the Chargers have been on the road this season (7-1). Then again, New England hasn’t lost in Foxboro this year, and I don’t see that happening this weekend. I’ll take the Patriots to win, but I don’t think they cover.
Philip Rivers is playing some of the best ball of his career, and I just don’t think the supporting cast around Brady is as ironclad as it has been in recent years. I’m rooting for an upset, but the heart and the brain are not in sync on this one. Patriots 23, Chargers 20.
From Zeke Fuhrman – “Will Buxton finally be ready to step into the leadoff role this season?”
My long-held contention has been this — if Buxton becomes who he’s supposed to be, he won’t be a leadoff hitter.
His 100th percentile outcome is Mike Trout 2.0, but let’s say he hits somewhere between 70-80 percent. That’s like a young Torii Hunter or Lorenzo Cain, neither of which had the on-base skills you’d like out of a leadoff hitter.
That’s my short way of saying if he only develops most of the way, the carrying tool in this equation is more likely to be his pop and wheels (slugging percentage) rather than his eye (on-base percentage).
And if he clicks across the board — he’s a superstar who’ll probably hit second or third. So I don’t really see leadoff in his future.
From Chad Vitzhum – “Hoiberg to the T-Wolves?”
I really, really have no idea what to make of this rumor. I think the world of The Mayor and wonder if he wouldn’t have been better off just staying in Ames, but with that said I’m also a bit leery of going the ‘name’ route for the head man again.
Of course, Hoiberg wouldn’t get the title and all the jazz that Tom Thibodeau got, but I still wonder if it isn’t time to find a groundbreaking, young head coach who brings totally new blood and a fresh viewpoint to Target Center?
As weird as it sounds, I think that could be Ryan Saunders — who could probably legally have listed Target Center as his home address on his first driver’s license — but I also think someone like Becky Hammon, who has gotten her feet wet as an assistant under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio might be worth a look.
I don’t want the Wolves to break through that barrier just for the sake of doing it; but if they feel Hammon is ready, why not? The reason I say that is sometimes getting caught up in the magnitude of the moment puts a person in a bad spot, and doesn’t allow them to reach their full potential because of the added pressure. I would hate to see the first woman coach in the NBA fall by the wayside because she wasn’t brought along in a way that allowed her a level playing field, success-wise.
From David Heisler – “Have the Twins added enough to compete for the AL Central Title given what the Indians have lost this offseason?”
Not yet. At this point, I’m not sure it’s terribly far off. Vegas lines released on Tuesday night have the over/under for the Twins at 84 wins, while Cleveland is still at 91.5. The Twins need to add one more impact player to cushion the expectations that will be placed on guys like Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton. I also think signing one more reliever — like Cody Allen — is a nice idea.
From Mark Elton – “Will the Vikings ever build up the offensive line?”
I’m a weird one to ask about this. Not because I don’t cover or like the Vikings — I don’t cover them and I am a fan — but because I think there’s a lot of nuance when it comes to improving a line.
It’s not like they’ve completely ignored it. They signed Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers to fairly big deals — not Matt Kalil big, mind you — and Brian O’Neill looks to be a nice find on the right side.
Quick fixes can be hard to come by on the line via free agency as well. Ryan Kalil is the highest-paid pending free agent from this past year, and he’s retiring. The next six guys on that list — based on 2018 salary — are all 30 or older: Mike Iupati, Andy Levitre, Jared Veldheer, Rodger Saffold, Bobby Massie and James Carpenter.
Next on the list is Seantrel Henderson, the hometown boy who has hung around in the league for a while now after an uninspiring career at the University of Miami (Fla.). Henderson missed most of the season with a broken ankle, and has played just eight games over the last three seasons after playing 26 between his first two years in the league with Buffalo.
So yeah, it gets pretty bleak pretty quickly in free agency.
Some names to keep an eye on in the draft are Jonah Williams (Alabama tackle), Cody Ford (Oklahoma guard) and Greg Little (Ole Miss tackle), but the idea that any of them will come in and make a Quenton Nelson-like impact in year one is a huge ask.
From Jacob Vass – “Trout or Astudillo?”
— Rafa Nieves (@mlb_agent) January 9, 2019
— Mike Trout (@MikeTrout) January 7, 2019
Blech. Easy decision here.
From Brian Danger Blandin-Jones – “Do you answer any questions people post here?”
Yes, just not the one you asked last week. “Have you stopped abusing small animals?”