Center fielder Byron Buxton and third baseman Miguel Sano were among the Twins’ best performers during their 2017 playoff season, but both players took massive steps backward during the team’s disappointing 2018 campaign. Now, the down seasons the pair endured are affecting the Twins’ offseason plans, Dan Hayes of The Athletic explains (subscription required). Had those two remained strong contributors last season, Minnesota would’ve been more willing to go “full speed ahead” this winter in an attempt to catch the AL Central rival Indians, Hayes writes. Instead, the Twins’ primary focus right now is to help those two bounce back in 2019. If Buxton and Sano do rebound, Twins ownership would give the team’s front office “the green light to take more of an aggressive step forward with this unit of players,” general manager Thad Levine said, adding he and chief baseball officer Derek Falvey “would feel much more emboldened to take that step forward.”
Here’s more from the American League:
- Even though the Astros’ Lance McCullers Jr. pitched in September and October, the right-hander tells Jake Kaplan of The Athletic (subscription required) that he was aware by then that he needed Tommy John surgery. McCullers revealed that he received the news when he met with surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Aug. 30, but the 25-year-old – with the blessing of ElAttrache and the Astros – put the procedure on hold until the offseason. While pitching through a partially torn UCL was “painful,” McCullers wasn’t going to make the injury worse by doing it, and he knew he’d miss 2019 no matter what. McCullers ended up going under the knife this past Tuesday, and is aiming for a spring 2020 return. Kaplan’s full piece is worth checking out for more from McCullers.
- Catcher Mike Zunino, whom the Rays acquired from the Mariners on Thursday, looks like a solid addition from an on-field standpoint. The Rays also place a great deal of value on Zunino as a person, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes, noting he should help fill the veteran leadership void left by free agents Sergio Romo and Carlos Gomez. Indeed, GM Erik Neander said that “[Zunino’s] somebody that we see that could take a leadership role with our group.’’ In terms of what Zunino provides as a defender, Neander offered a rave review, pointing to “how he navigates a staff, how he manages people, what kind of teammate he is, the care factor, the confidence that he is putting down the right fingers.”
- Unsurprisingly, the Orioles won’t be big players in free agency, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com hears. However, Kubatko relays that they will prioritize adding infielders, likely on short-term deals. Assuming the rebuilding Orioles don’t contend in 2019, they could then try to trade those additions over the summer, Kubatko notes. Of the infield options currently on Baltimore’s 40-man roster (Chris Davis, Tim Beckham, Jonathan Villar, Renato Nunez, Breyvic Valera, Steve Wilkerson and Engelb Vielma), only Villar and Nunez offered passable major league production last season.
We see you Connor Byrne!
I give the commenters rave reviews.
At catcher and the outfield?
*obligatory ‘rave review’ comment*
I’m glad Zunino’s defense gets rave reviews
AL East watch out for the Rays this year. Quietly they were solid thru the 2nd half laat year.
If they could get Brent Honeywell comeback from tommy john , put him with snell and glasnow
The Rays have made a clear path to compete seriously to win the AL East from Boston or Yanks in 19! They had to trade Mallex since the’re were way to many MLB ready LH outfield options. To add a catcher of Zunino’s caliber is the bonus and was where the Rays were weak. Pick up a #2 MLB starting pitcher and we will know the FO is going for it!
Guess Buxton being available was nonsense
As I’ve written previously, the Twins have been in a rebuild since Derek Falvey and Thad Levine were brought in. This is further confirmation.
They were blind-sided by Molitar and the players that got to the playoffs in 2017. So they put on a good front going into 2018, signing a bunch of veteran free agents that no one else wanted at bargain basement prices for a year. Those players came in with attitudes thinking they would be getting tens of millions more then they got. They poisoned the clubhouse, undermined the manager and coaches, and jaked it on the field.
So now the excuse is Buxton and Sano? No. Falvey and Levine have been turning over most of – the ML roster, minor league players, the manager and coaching staff in both the majors and minors, scouting staff, and front office.
Falvey’s mentor – Mark Shapiro – did the same thing in Toronto, starting 2-3 years earlier. It was understandable to take the actions that they did, but they were dishonest about their intentions to the local fans, as well as the employees in place.
Oh boy, it’s the man himself, Samuel! The same guy who thinks the Royals will be competitive in 2019! The same guy who deems the royals as 2021 Ws champs! The same guy who finds Dayton Moore to be better than Theo Epstein! What have you got to say now? Addison Reed and Lance Lynn “poisoned” the Twins clubhouse? Wow!
Wait, what? Moore is better than Theo? At what? Pick up stix? Go fish? Would love to have read that thread.
Oh boy, it’s the man himself, baseball1600!
Could work for Fake News ESPN misrepresenting what I write, and attributing statements to me that I didn’t make.
Son, Morrison and Lynn – among others – were major problems. And I didn’t get that information 3rd hand from rumor mongers.
Falvey and Levine pulled the wool over Twins fans eyes, and it’s people like you that allowed them to.
For once, try a little critical thinking. Follow the money……
What free agents did the Twins sign for 2018? How many are on the roster? How many will be on the roster Opening Day, 2019?
Where “did” you get that from then? Are you basing that solely on the fact that those guys are no longer with the Twins? Serious question.
Cannot tell you, but it was a source in MLB that said it was common knowledge.
That does not make it authentic, even to me.
Follow the money. See who signs the free agents the Twins signed that are no longer on the roster. Do they get multi-year contracts? Do they get a guaranteed contract? Do they even get the proverbial Invite To Spring Training.
I do not believe Addison Reed was a part of that group. He was signed early for 2 years, stating he wanted to pitch in the Midwest. (I can understand that!). But as the Twins are in a rebuild, I’d look for him to be moved to a contender by the 2019 trade deadline.
You certainly could tell. It’s not like anybody knows who you are. Unless your real name is Samuel. I e read or heard nothing about any cancers. So to say it was common knowledge to me seems a little far out there. Somebody squeaks about that stuff in the press so to hear it first well after the season on a comment thread seems odd that it would have been the case
I cannot tell because people would know the source. I was hardly the only one given the information.
It was common knowledge within the industry. Lots of things are held in house. You’re naive if you think they’re not.
Minnesota does not have the gossip media that Boston, NY, DC and other markets have. Probably why Reed wanted out of NY and into the Midwest.
Have you worked anywhere? Do you not know that some people think they’re worth more money, resent their management, and complain? An experienced front office would not have brought all those players. There’s a reason they were unsigned and in the markdown bin.
dear god shut up, no one cares about how petty you can be in a msgboard world where pretty much everyone is just spitballing anyway, leave the callout culture at home please and thank you
You don’t have to read this stuff…………
I’m pretty sure I’ve read similar posts from you.
Pot calling the kettle black
What are you babbling about? Santana was injured. Sano is immature and came to camp in poor shape. Buxton is always crashing into things, getting hurt ne then forgetting everything he learned while he rehabs. Dozier either got old quick, was juicing or was injured. Mauer hasn’t been the same since his concussions. Morrison was injured. Lynn was overrated but pitched better for the Yankees. There was no evidence of bad vibes in the clubhouse. I think the FO is crazy to go after analytics so strongly…they need to get good talent, play good defense, play fundamentally sound and stop being so trendy.
Analytical teams are teams who get good players, play good defense etc.
I can’t say I have a strong analytical understanding of it all, but when you look at who the top teams are in baseball…they’re all analytical. No one who is analytical has dropped scouting completely and just plugs in scenarios into a computer.
It’s annoying when people portray it that way. Analytical teams also scout and they do both well. I don’t understand why people have a problem with teams wanting to improve. Seems extremely odd to me.
I want my team to do whatever it takes to win games, minus cheating (stealing signs via using ones own eyeballs is not considered cheating to me).
This. Spot on.
It boggles the mind why people think advanced analytics immediately equal not giving a damn about defense, fundamentals and scouting. It’s flat out lazy and uninformed.
Fortunately, the people who share those lazy views are only representing themselves poorly, and not people who give at least half an effort to know what they’re talking about. I’m fine with stupid people labeling themselves as stupid.
I have a great deal of respect now for McCullers. He is a true grinder pitching through pain (obviously he had injections and meds for the pain but it’s not magic meds). I s yankee fan, hate Houston but I hope McCullers pitches great and wins comeback player of year in 2020! He is what MLB is missing (players with grit) and Houston relays him with a nice contract for putting the franchise above himself. Do I believe in today’s MLB that will happen? No. Houston believes in analytics first and characters 2nd since you can’t quantify heart with WaR and a co computer. But I hope I’m wrong. This kid deserves some payback. Or he’ll- I’ll take him as a FAvfor my Yanks
I have a torn UCL myself. The pain isn’t too bad when using it. The pain sets in later (especially the next morning) and it’s not unbearable but it does suck. A constant dull ache right in your forearm.
How many pitches do you throw a day?!?
I imagine that action hurts it a lot more. I have a torn labrum in my shoulder and it aches from time to time. Can’t imagine the dedication it took Lance to keep taking the mound for his team and the fans.
I pitched for years with a torn UCL before getting TJ. There were days when it actually felt okay, but the other days it felt like a hot knife was being shoved in there.
did a bot write this post?
A wait-and-see approach for the Twins seems like a bad idea. They either need to supplement their current core group, Berrios, Rosario, Kepler, Polanco (Buxton and Sano) or build for the next group (Kiriloff, Gonsalves, Gaterol, Lewis). Taking the middle road will lead to middle of the road results. Given that the Central appears weak and they have no money on the books after this season their opportunity is now.
Totally agree. My first choice is get this group going and have a long contention window when the next bunch comes along. They seem only a couple guys away. Especially if Buxton and Sano can get going. Sure makes you wonder about the coaching staff throughout the system.
Either that or some of these guys just aren’t as good as they’re touted. I hate to say it but things don’t have the same feel as they did when Gardenhire was still around with his organizational harmony stuff and all. Anyways, I agree that the wait and see method is terrible here. I would think that they better get going and do something or they may have a short leash. Been enough losing baseball in MN
I think your comment is why Molitor was let go, for two main reasons. First, I think there was a disconnect from front office to manager to coach to the minor leagues. Second, and probably the bigger reason, is that the Twins seem to be great at developing young players in the minors but the they get to the majors and either stop progressing or actually regress, with some obvious exception.
Pretty much spot on.
I agree on your reason why Molitor was let go. I don’t think the Twins minor leagues do a good job with the talent and I’m not sold on the FO. They seem good at getting rid of decent players for very little return. Their analytics don’t seem to work well.
I agree. They need to spend now. They don’t have to go full “all in” this year but they should be adding somewhere around 30-40M in payroll via FA with how many holes they have (2-3 RP, 2B or SS, probably an OF and 3B backup). I’d like a SP better than Berrios/Gibson but that I could wait on if they miss out on Corbin.
They should be doing that at minimum. There are a lot of good players out there worth paying and who will help bridge the Twins to those other prospects while also improving their win total if things go as they should.
“… “how he navigates a staff, how he manages people, what kind of teammate he is, the care factor, the confidence that he is putting down the right fingers.”
Typical Stat age mumbo jumbo to make the person saying it appear intelligent and insightful
As Branch Rickey said a hundred years ago, the job description of a catcher – in priority order:
1. Run a pitching staff and call a game.
2. Play defense.
Zunino does the first 2 well, which makes him a valuable catcher for a team.
Stats, analytics, sabermetrics – whatever – cannot measure #1-2. in fantasy league algorithms. So silly pitch framing and % of base stealers thrown out (which is on the pitchers, as accepted by their manager and coaches), along with hitting stats are used to determine a catchers value, Comical.
Was very impressed with the Rays getting Zunino to play catcher, which every veteran baseball person knows is the most important position on the team, Branch Rickey knew. He’d been a catcher.
You have an absolutely horrendous understanding of what the analytics movement represents. Here’s a hint – % of baserunners thrown out, isn’t one of them.
If you’re going to knock something, at least know what you’re knocking.
What I knocked what is written in this article about Zunino.
It is also written in just about every single article in MLBTR about catchers. Which inevitably miss the catchers true value to his team.
Please enlighten on the analytics on catchers that MLBTR is not writing.
You’re clearly trolling.
The quote from the article you highlighted as “stat age mumbo jumbo” is so far removed from any talk about stats and even mirrors Branch Rickey’s comments, it just refrains from mentioning hitting.
But Stats literally do measure framing, every count has an expected run value, and that’s a really fun idea! You are right that there are no (public) game calling measurements that have proven to be reliable. Though with how much information is available, the disparity between the best game callers and the worst should be shrinking.
But I digress, either you’re trolling or you’re writing off (really fun and cool ideas) without knowing anything about them, which is sad, because baseball, and the tenants about it that you love, and analytics are inseparable now, and it seems really silly to try to bash one as if it’s separate from the other. Don’t be afraid of what you don’t understand.
I don’t know Sergio Romo any more than what I see of him on the field, but it doesn’t seem like he would be a very good teammate. He seems a little…creepy
Separated at birth: Romo and Ron Moody’s Fagin in “Oliver”…..really, they could be twins….
Romo is a GREAT teammate! He told the Ray players they helped him put back together his confidence and also allowed him to be himself. To show his appreciation, he went out and bought a lot of different items then had a locker room raffle on them with free raffle tickets for everything.
Oh wow! I did not know that. Thank you for the info.
The time is now for the Twins FO. Cleveland is on a down hill slide.
I have no idea why Rays fans are chortling over the Zunino deal. It’s at best “meh”…..and could turn out to be much worse.
Zunino’s top notch defensively; no one doubts it. But the FOURTY percent K-rate, lack of any OBP skills, and base-clogging almost mitigates the defensive skill-set, resulting in a basic no-value player. And 4M is a LOT to pay for that. There are several catchers at AAA with similar (if not as good, but the difference is small) defensive bottom line results. And they’re a lot cheaper.
Smith, meanwhile, morphed over the year from being an idiotic OFer, poor baserunner and swing-from-the heels guy into a reasonably decent OFer (he’ll never be plus), heads-up guy on the bases, contact-oriented (to take advantage of the obvious speed) hitter. It seems the arrow is definitely pointing upward, though to be fair, Smith has fooled people before.
Fraley can be the surprise here. An excellent (only a poor arm keeps him from being elite), solid OBP skills, decent speed player. He gets hurt too much, but he’s definitely worth the gamble. Herridia, OTOH, is a whole lot o-nuttin’; take your pick, 4th or 5th OFer. The young pitcher dominated SS-A, but lots of guys dominate SS-A.
Like I said, probably a nothing-type deal….but it could come back to haunt the Rays, whereas the M’s have little to lose.
Disagree Tillman. The Rays put a premium on a catcher’s defensive ability and Zunino’s is second to none.
What is missing here is rookie Michael Perez a 290 LH hitter-catcher of the Rays who will start out as the sub to Zunino. He (Zunino) will play less games for Tampa and gain much more rest since Perez showed elite hitting skills and clearly the potential to be as good defensively. The Rays will interchange these 2 througout the season/ games while Michael Perez only gets better…His upside is huge!. Oh! Perez is quite good with defense already and is under control for 5 years.
Umm you realize Perez didn’t even have a .700 ops right. I get it was a small sample, but where was these “elite hitting skills” he showed?
JD, I watched almost all the Rays games and Michael Perez (still rookie status) is going to be the real deal..Sadly he was injured erly Sept… Firstly, he has gap to gap skills so his slugging % is clearly in his future. He’s a swinger that barrels the ball and that got him to the majors. So his OPS (as with most rays players) will grow when he takes more pitches towards on base %. His defense is elite already and he doesn’t speak much English as yet., I’ll say it now, Perez will become almost a Yadia Molina type this year backing up Zunino and hit 275 with a ..750 ops or better.in 19. I believe by the ALB, he’ll be better than Zunino! (WAR) and I’m sure Rays FO would possibly agree.
The Twins needs to make ONE, at least one headliner move this offseason, one that’ll take the industry by suprise. Whether that’s acquiring Suarez or Realmuto I don’t know, but they gotta do something.
At the very least I expect the Twins to pursue any of Dee Gordon, Jean Segura, Yonder Alonso, Justin Smoak, Maikel Franco, Starlin Castro, Julio Teheran, Sonny Gray, etc.
I at least like the novelty of getting both the Gordon boys on the team. And they can hire dad for a bullpen coach.