TwinsCentric was formed by Twins super-bloggers Seth Stohs, Nick Nelson, Parker Hageman and John Bonnes. Together they publish at TwinsDaily.com and have authored books, e-books and magazines that provide independent and in-depth coverage of the Minnesota Twins from a fan's perspective. You can contact them at TwinsCentric@gmail.com.
Earlier this week we put out a call on the Twins Daily forum and on Twitter for mailbag questions. You guys came through in a major way. So many great submissions. We've grabbed a bunch of them to feature below.
Let's get to it:
TD Member Boom Boom:
Should the Twins look to bring in a CF, or should they stand pat with Hicks and/or Schafer?
I'd be fine rolling with those two. Hopefully Paul Molitor is open to the idea of platooning, because using Hicks against lefties and Schafer against righties would maximize both their strengths. Even then, that duo might not be anything special offensively, but they'll provide solid defense at least, and Byron Buxton might only be a year away.
Plus, maybe Hicks goes on a nice roll, regains confidence in swinging from both sides and turns into an everyday player. With his patience and defensive prowess, he only needs to hit a little bit to be a valuable starter. I haven't given up on him by any means.
TD Member gunnarthor:
Assuming there isn't a spot in the rotation for him right away, should Meyer pitch in the pen or as a starter in AAA?
Bullpen. Send him on the Francisco Liriano and Johan Santana path. He can get his first taste of big-league hitters by unleashing his best stuff during short stints, then once someone inevitably gets hurt or needs to be replaced, the Twins can stretch him out and let him step in. There's a lot of benefit to keeping Meyer's innings in check early in the season, since he'll be on a workload limit once again.
TD Member goulik:
What type of influence do you see Hunter having on Hicks developing into the outfielder he should have become by now and also on Buxton? Has he ever been given credit with mentoring younger players or are we expecting too much from that part of this signing?
Hunter has a well known rep in that department. He's been credited with helping mentor Mike Trout into the big leagues, and that's a pretty nice notch in the belt. I don't think he's going to directly affect how they play -- he can't teach Hicks to hit left-handed or Buxton to stay healthy -- but if Hunter can make a highly stressful environment a little more comfortable and manageable for them, there's value in that.
TD Member Bark's Lounge:
What's the deal with Ricky Nolasco? Did he hide his arm injury last season? Is he a subversive type of player? I don't put too much into his semi-controversial comment on Twitter, but when we throw all of this material into the whole enchilada, did the Twins make a grave mistake in signing him or is there still reason to believe he can be a part of the solution and we can continue to toss pennies and nickles into the Ricky Nolasco Wishing Well?
There was a combination of factors at play. He was facing tougher lineups with designated hitters. He endured some bad luck, finishing with a 4.30 FIP and 3.97 xFIP that belied his bloated ERA. And yeah, he was probably pitching through some pain.
He's now had a full season to acclimate to playing here, and an offseason to rest up and get himself right physically. I'm confident he'll have a much better year. If he doesn't, it'd put the Twins in a pretty tough position.
TD Member jay:
With the addition of a corner outfielder and a starting pitcher so far this offseason, what's the biggest remaining need? How should they address that need?
To be honest, I don't see much left to cover. You could make a case for a stopgap in center field, but as mentioned above, that can be covered internally. The rotation is full and the starting lineup is set. They've got a good utility guy in Eduardo Escobar and a backup catcher in Josmil Pinto (I guess?). The bullpen might be facing a squeeze, if anything.
We fielded a bunch more quesitons over at Twins Daily, so feel free to come on by for discussion on Pelfrey's future, who will lead the Twins in homers next year, Rule 5 pick J.R. Graham's chances of sticking, and more.
In 2012, Santana was a mess. His velocity was down, his command had escaped him and opponents were dropping dingers all over place (he allowed an MLB-high 39 home runs).
While with the Angels, manager Mike Scioscia questioned whether Santana could maintain a consistent release point and often found his mechanics erratic. Whether his mechanics played a role, the right-handed witnessed a decline in his fastball’s velocity and the ability to throw it for a strike regularly. That year 23 of his league-leading 39 home runs came on his fastball. Tired of paying for more baseballs, Los Angeles decided not to pick up his option for 2013 and traded him to Kansas City.
Somewhere between California and Missouri, Santana smoothed out rough spots in his delivery that plagued him with the Angels. Most noticeably, in 2012 Santana had the habit of tilting his upper body towards the first base side while in the full windup before driving towards home. The results of this was a front side that would fly-open (his glove side drifting towards the first base line prematurely) and creating issues for his command.
At some point with the Royals, this was corrected and his upper body weight stayed above his back leg and tilted slightly towards the third base side while gathering. When driving towards the plate he remains on line and his glove side does not flip as quickly.
In these two examples both catchers are indicating they want a slider thrown down and on Santana’s glove side. Because of the mechanics in 2012, his arm drags and is not able to finish the slider properly. The slider stays up and in. (Although he misses his spot, Seattle’s Jesus Montero is flummoxed anyway as everyone knows his bats are afraid of balls that curve.) In the 2014 example, because of his fluid and smooth delivery Santana is able to place his slider in a much better spot.
More from TwinsDaily.com:
Nick Nelson sees the Santana signing as a shifting mindset for the Twins.
Frequent Randball contributor Jon Marthalar shows why $200 million is the new $100 million.
Thursday is the final day of the 2014 Winter Meetings. The big event of the final day each year is the Rule 5 draft. The Minnesota Twins roster is currently at 39, so they will be able to participate in the Rule 5 draft. The Twins may have interest in several players from other organizations that are available. It is also possible that the Twins could lose a player or two if other teams select them.
It should be also pointed out that the MLB Rule 5 draft is just the first of three Rule 5 drafts. There is a AAA portion of the Rule 5 draft. Each organization can put up to 39 players on their AAA roster. The Twins have 38 players on their roster, according to GM Terry Ryan on the Twins Hot Stove Show last night, so they will likely make a selection in that phase. Finally, there is a AA portion of the draft, though very few players are selected in it.
There are several differences between these drafts. To make an MLB selection, a team must pay $50,000. That player needs to be on the drafting team’s 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the original team for $25,000. The other option is that the teams can work out a trade. The Twins have examples of what can happen with their three most recent picks.
To select a player in the AAA portion, the cost to the team is $12,000. For a player selected in the AA portion, the cost is $5,000. In both cases, the player remains with the new organization.
It has become a lot more difficult to find high-level talent in the Rule 5. The rules changed a few years ago so that teams would have an extra year to determine whether or not to add a player to the 40 man roster.
The Twins have had some success in the Rule 5 draft in their past. Diamond certainly had one very good season. Shane Mack came to the Twins in the Rule 5 draft in 1989 and was a big contributor to the Twins for five seasons.
PLAYERS THE TWINS COULD LOSE
We don’t know who is or isn’t on the AAA or AA roster, so it’s really hard to determine who could be lost. A year ago, the Twins lost Tim Atherton to the A’s in the AAA draft. We do know who is on the Twins roster and who is eligible to be lost by the team.
We like to assume that first-round picks will be easy choices to add to the 40-man roster when that time comes. However, the Twins have several former first round picks who could be lost. There are several other players who could be taken.
To see the list of players that the Twins could lose in the Rule 5 draft, as well as a list of players that the Twins could potentially be interested in selecting with their Rule 5 pick, head on over to TwinsDaily.com.
Also, be sure to check out Parker's most recent article. He wrote about Molitor's Managerment Style.
The Hot Stove is piping hot! Have you caught the fever?
With names like Logan Ondrusek, John Axford, Dustin McGowan and Alexi Ogando floating around as early targets, it's pretty hard to avoid getting swept up in the excitement.
OK. Pardon the sarcasm. But indeed, the Winter Meetings haven't yielded many Twins-related rumors worth buzzing about.
Francisco Liriano, who had oddly been painted as a player of interest to Minnesota in recent days, came off the market Tuesday when he signed a three-year, $39 million deal to stay in Pittsburgh.
Regardless of how much weight those faint rumors held, Liriano was the most high-profile pitcher that has been meaningfully linked to the Twins.
Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press has been trying to play up the Ervin Santana angle, noting Terry Ryan's willingness to forfeit a draft pick and quoting a source that said Santana "loves pitching in the cold." La Velle confirmed that the Twins are "in on Santana," adding that they've been in contact with his agent. But I can't see the Twins making a serious play there, largely for the same reasons I didn't buy the Liriano steam.
As it stands, the confirmed connections we're getting are to names like Ondrusek, Axford, McGowan and Ogando. All players that will likely end up with minor-league deals. Yeesh. I had a feeling this would be a fairly quiet offseason for the Twins, but it's still a little tough to see them being so passive while the White Sox -- who finished alongside them at the bottom of the AL Central this year -- have been so incredibly aggressive.
It sounds like Ryan is at least kicking the tires on some trade options, as Jon Morosi mentioned that they have spoken with the Mets about Dillon Gee. Ultimately, if a big move takes place this week involving the Twins it will probably be a trade; I suspect they've already made their biggest free agent splash of the offseason.
And if Ryan is looking to make a trade, I'd have to imagine Josmil Pinto's name is being dangled heavily. He's big-league ready, but there's just no path to regular playing time for him here.
What do you think? Will the Twins make a trade this week? Will they surprise us and snag a major free agent? Share your thoughts on Day 3 of the Winter Meetings here.
Every stat that measures range has painted him a liability in right field. Ultimate Zone Rating dismisses him wholly as the worst among qualified right fielder. Revised Zone Rating dinged him for not making plays in the accepted right fielder zone that are typically made. Inside Edge’s video scouts agree, saying he has caught 98% of all plays deemed “Almost Certain” (99% conversion rate average) and made 88% of all plays, third worst among right fielders.
As the metric world has come to a consensus regarding the outfielder, some industry sources have mentioned his defensive abilities are not represented within that particular data. Hunter has entered the savvy veteran world of being able to take a proper route in order stave off would-be advancing baserunners. He has done things like thrown behind runners on the bases to get them out. In some ways, touting skills like this feels like sort of like congratulating an elder person who is doing 10 under the speed limit for at least staying in his lane. While there may be some value, it is still not as important as getting to the ball on time.
Consider this play off the bat of the Twins’ Danny Santana in Comerica last June. With the bases loaded and two outs, this harmless fly balls lands safely at Hunter’s feet:
Meanwhile, compare that play to the one made by the former Brave, now current Cardinal Jason Heyward:
Admittedly, without the ability to have MLB StatCast data on both these plays, this is an exercise in imperfection. There are other factors that might have led to the outcome like daytime versus nighttime, the score of the game or whether or not the glove oil fumes were causing dizziness. These two plays were selected based on the hit type, estimated hang time, direction and perceived distance from the right fielder to the play. What the two examples show is the visual difference in the person with the highest UZR (Heyward) and the person with the lowest (Hunter) on a very similar play.
More at TwinsDaily.com:
Nick Nelson questions whether the Twins will add more starting pitching this offseason.
Former Twins pitcher Cole DeVries shares his thoughts on pitching coaches, clubhouse chemistry and more.
Seth Stohs asks Where Are We Now?
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