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.

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TwinsCentric: Crazy Twins first-half stats

Posted by: Nick Nelson Updated: July 2, 2014 - 12:38 AM

When Chris Colabello's season off to an insanely hot start, I remember multiple people commenting to me excitedly about how he was on pace for something like 200 RBI.

Some folks just love to extrapolate those grandiose "on pace" figures when a guy has a great first couple weeks. It's fun early season fodder, but of course, it's all utterly meaningless.

Projecting hypothetical full-season totals at the halfway point is a bit more sensible, because at this point we've got 50 percent of a season as our sample. That's not enough to preclude fluky performances, but 81 games is 81 games.

I thought I'd examine some of the crazier first-half stats on the Twins, in the context of what the numbers will look like at year's end if the player replicates his first three months.

Joe Mauer is on pace for four home runs and 52 RBI.

And he hasn't even missed much time. He played in 75 of the team's 81 first-half games, piled up 336 plate appearances, and managed a total of two home runs and 26 RBI.

Many people hoped, perhaps misguidedly, that the transition to first base would yield more prototypical power numbers. Others would have been satisfied with the usual Mauer, whose production would have been good -- not spectacular -- at an offense-oriented position.

Instead, Mauer is on pace to play a career-high 150 games and drive in 52 runs. Part of that is on his teammates. Part is bad luck. But… man.

Brian Dozier is on pace for 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases.

Dozier has been pretty cold lately, so it might be a little difficult to envision him reaching this heralded milestone combo at the moment, but he's proven over the last two years that he's capable of catching fire at any time.

Here's a list of players that have joined the 30/30 club since 2010: Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun (twice), Ian Kinsler, Mike Trout. That's it.

Dozier's growth continues to amaze. In the minors, he topped out at nine home runs and 24 steals in a season.

Eduardo Escobar is on pace for 46 doubles.

OK, this really came out of nowhere. I have long wondered if the young infielder might have hidden offensive upside, to the extent that he might be a superior option to Pedro Florimon, but there was little in Escobar's track record to suggest this kind of two-bagger tear was possible.

The 25-year-old entered this season with a .228/.280/.307 MLB hitting line. In eight minor-league seasons, he slugged .358 and topped out with 26 doubles in a campaign.

Last year, only nine major leaguers hit more than 40 doubles, so if Escobar comes anywhere near the projected total it'd be wild. This has the makings of one of those half-season flukes, but if Escobar can keep it up, a doubles-machine shortstop with a decent glove is a quality asset.

Phil Hughes is on pace to issue 20 walks.

… In 32 starts and 206 innings. Wow. That would be less than half the walks that Hughes allowed in 145 innings last year with New York, and even then his total wasn't bad.

Ricky Nolasco is on pace to allow 250 hits.

The Twins have had some hittable, contact-heavy staffs over the years -- they've given up the most hits of any team in the majors since 2011, in fact -- but in the past decade only one Minnesota starter has allowed 250-plus hits in a season: Carl Pavano (262). Ironically, that was in 2012, right after he'd signed what was at the time the most expensive free agent contract for a starting pitcher in franchise history.

I don't actually think Nolasco is going to give up 250 hits. I expect big improvement in the second half, and hopefully we saw the beginning of that on Tuesday night. But if he keeps getting knocked around, the Twins aren't going to have much choice but to keep trotting him out.

Glen Perkins is on pace to save 40 games with a 90-to-12 K/BB ratio.

Obscene.

Twins Daily: Carew Interview, Part 1

Posted by: Seth Stohs Updated: July 1, 2014 - 1:57 PM

Saturday night was Minnesota Twins night at Perfect Game Field in Cedar Rapids. The rains came, but there was an excitement because Twins great Rod Carew made the trek to Iowa. Before the game, he was briefly in the Kernels locker room. He then spent over an hour signing autographs and shaking hands with fans that lined up, around several corners, trying to meet the Hall of Famer. He joined Morgan Hawk, the Kernels radio man who was also on TV locally on that night, for the first two innings.

At that time, he was made available to the media. He spent 15 minutes talking about all kinds of topics with the small group. Here is Part 1 of that interview, a look at his career. In the next two days, two more parts of the interview will be posted at TwinsDaily.com.

Of course, the first question he was asked was if he had been to Cedar Rapids previously, he said that he had. “It was in the dead of winter and it was cold.”

Carew never played in Cedar Rapids. The 68-year-old spent just over two years in the minor leagues before he advanced to the big leagues. He made us aware of an interesting rule from a previous era. “Back then, they could take 28 guys north, and at the end of the month they cut down to 25 man rosters.”

The Twins history is rich. He played his first big league game with the Twins on April 11, 1967. Carew talked about debuting with the Twins, with some great teammates. “As a 20-year-old kid coming up and being on the same club as Harmon Killebrew, and Tony Oliva, and Jim Kaat, and Mudcat Grant, and Earl Battey. Those are guys that I learned a lot from, especially Tony Oliva and Harmon Killebrew, and we remained friends until his death.”

He said that he continues to think about Killebrew frequently since he passed away a couple of years ago. “It’s still hard. We know we’re not going to live forever, but when you get close to someone. He was my mentor. I learned so much from him, and then to lose him. I still think about him. My wife and I were just talking about Harmon a couple of days ago, about his passing, so he’s always here, he’s always in my heart.”

He continued, “One thing I learned from Harmon is that it doesn’t cost anything to be nice. And so, when he told me that, I thought to myself that I would go through the rest of my life, no matter what happens, I’m always going to be nice.”

Last week marked 50 years since the Minnesota Twins signed Carew out of high school in New York City. Asked to reflect on that time, he said, “You know, I never thought that I would accomplish the things I accomplished in baseball. As a young kid, you hope that you do well, but I never thought I would go on and do the things that I did. But I was fortunate, I had people around me that worked with me and talked to me, so that helped. I was blessed with God-given talent, but having God-given talent is not all that it is. You also have to work. You have to continue honing those skills or trying to get better."

And to be an all-time great, Carew had to have a competitive edge. “I was greedy. I was never satisfied. If I had three hits one day, I wanted four. If I had four hits one day, I wanted five.” He continued, “That was my mentality. I learned that from being Tony Oliva’s roommate for ten years. He always used to tell me, ‘Rookie, get as many base hits as you can.’ So I was very fortunate.”

Carew's numbers are remarkable. In 19 years, he hit .328/.393/.429 (.822). He finished his career with 3,053 hits. He was an 18-time All Star. He won seven batting champions. He had six Top 10 finishes in MVP voting and won the 1977 award. That season was one of the greatest, if not the greatest, in Twins history. He hit .388/.449/.570 (1.059). His OPS+ was 178! He had 239 hits including 38 doubles, 16 triples, 14 homer runs, drove in 100 and scored 128 runs. 

He played his final game on October 5, 1985, and in 1991, he was inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame. 

What does it mean to be a Hall of Famer to Rod Carew? “HOF means you’re at the top of your profession. And to be in the same place with Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, Christy Matthewson, and Willie Mays and Jackie Robinson and all those great players. As a young kid, you don’t think about that. You don’t think about playing to get to the HOF. You’re thinking about playing and surviving and hoping you stay healthy to do good things. I was fortunate to do that. It’s one of the greatest fraternities in the world. When we get together Hall of fame weekend, we have a good time. Pitchers talk about how they used to get you out, and hitters talk about how many HR they used to hit off of you. It’s just a great time that we have together.”

Over the next couple of days, I'll continue to post Mr. Carew's comments regarding several topics including what he tells young players and how the game is different today than in his era.

Be sure to head over to TwinsDaily.com the next few days for the rest of the Rod Carew interview and much more.

Gleeman and the Geek, Ep 152: Falling to Pieces in More Ways than One

Posted by: John Bonnes Updated: June 29, 2014 - 9:33 PM

Aaron and John talk about the starting pitching (and podcast hosts) falling apart, Jorge Polanco's rushed arrival, Alex Meyer and Trevor May having issues in the minors, Chris Parmelee as a center fielder, puking in cabs, throwing out backs, Joe Mauer turning things around, Eduardo Escobar returning to earth, Aaron Hicks going back to Double-A, and Clayton Kershaw vs. Johan Santana. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Stitcher or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com.

Meanwhile, at Twins Daily:

TwinsCentric: Should we be worried about Alex Meyer?

Posted by: Nick Nelson Updated: June 25, 2014 - 9:28 AM

The rosters for the MLB Futures Game were announced on Tuesday. Representing the Twins organization will be Single-A pitcher Jose Berrios and Double-A slugger Kennys Vargas.

None of Minnesota's "Big Three" will be participating. Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano obviously have been injured, and Alex Meyer -- the team's top pitching prospect and its greatest hope for a top-of-the-rotation starter -- simply isn't having a very good season.

That's fairly worrisome, especially when you look at his recent performance.

Back in late April, it appeared that Meyer had turned a corner after reportedly learning a new changeup grip from his teammates. In his fourth and fifth starts of the season for Class-AAA Rochester, the lanky right-hander was as dominant as could be, striking out a combined 22 hitters over 12 2/3 innings while allowing no runs on five hits.

At that point, Meyer was perhaps one or two more strong starts away from joining the big-league rotation and making a major impact. Yet, since that high point in his season, he has largely been a mess.

In 10 starts since the beginning of May, Meyer has a 4.43 ERA and 1.54 WHIP, and has completed six innings in an outing only twice. He continues to miss bats with his high-end stuff (he ranks second in the International League with 83 strikeouts) but that's really the only aspect of his game that you could point at as being close to MLB-ready.

The short outings are the biggest red flag. As a 24-year-old top prospect, Meyer is at a point where you'd like to see him facing some big-league competition, but the Twins aren't going to call up a guy who is routinely unable to complete five or six innings at Triple-A. Granted, his pitch counts are being watched closely, but he hasn't been effective. In his last three starts, the righty has failed to even reach the fifth.

This raises an uncomfortable question: Is everything OK physically?

It's hard not to wonder, considering that Meyer missed two months last year with shoulder soreness. Right now, he's laboring through short outings, struggling to throw strikes and uncharacteristically giving up bunches of hits. In his latest start for Rochester, he coughed up multiple home runs for just the second time in his pro career.

This is just strange to see from a player of his caliber. If his problems are mechanical, the coaching staff has got to find a way to get him straightened out. If there's an injury at play, well, that's just beyond depressing considering the way things have already played out this year with Sano and Buxton.

On the bright side, the Twins have had plenty of positive developments down on the farm. Berrios, who has been absolutely inhuman down in Ft. Myers (2.05 ERA, 10/6 K/9), ranks highly among them. Trevor May also continues to pitch well in Triple-A, providing another MLB-ready option with upside and making Meyer's setbacks a little easier to stomach.

But, as I've often stated, I believe that Meyer is the single most important prospect in the organization, so as long as he continues to scuffle through short outings, it's going to be tough to get excited about the Twins' short-term outlook.

They need more front-end talent in the rotation and nobody fits that profile better than a healthy, effective Alex Meyer. Despite some flashes, we simply haven't seen that guy consistently.

Gleeman and the Geek, Ep 151: Beating the White Sox and Falling From Trees

Posted by: John Bonnes Updated: June 23, 2014 - 3:29 PM

Aaron and John talk about the pleasure of dominating the White Sox, Yohan Pino's impressive debut, Aaron Hicks going back to switch-hitting, Kyle Gibson's good run, Joe Mauer showing signs of life, Oswaldo Arcia swinging "too hard," Tony Gwynn's lasting legacy, and how to have fun and injure yourself at a 25-year reunion. You can listen by downloading us fromiTunesStitcher or find it atGleemanAndTheGeek.com.

And at TwinsDaily.com..

TwinsCentric: Rosario and redemption

Posted by: Nick Nelson Updated: June 18, 2014 - 9:31 AM

Despite being perpetually trapped in the shadows of Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano within the Twins' system, Eddie Rosario had firmly established himself as a true upper-tier prospect by the end of the 2013 season.

At the age of 21, he had cruised through Single-A and Double-A, batting .302/.350/.460 between the two levels all while working on the defensive transition from outfield to infield. His bat was so good, and his athleticism so outstanding, that it appeared he may have a chance to make an early impact for the Twins here in 2014.

My, how things change.

As we all know, Rosario was tagged with a 50-game drug suspension during the offseason, costing him a crucial chunk of development time just as he was preparing to graduate to the highest level of the minors.

He was a no-show at spring camp while dealing with "personal issues." And as the season got underway, with Rosario completely out of the picture, Brian Dozier turned his hold on second base into a tight grip, emerging as one of the better players in the majors at the position.

So when Rosario finally returned from his ban late in May, he returned to a dramatically different set of circumstances from the ones that prompted the Twins to experimentally try to switch him from center field to second base a couple seasons ago in an effort to more quickly move his bat up to the majors.

Back then, center field was overloaded and second base was a position with no clear future.

My, how things change.

The embattled Rosario started playing games again at the end of May, opening in Ft. Myers where he got back up to speed with a quick eight-game stint before heading back to New Britain. He's played a bit of second base, but is back to playing mostly in center, where there is now a huge hole in Minnesota.

And while the Twins have plenty of quality arms available in the high minors to supplement their pitching staff, they are lacking reinforcements for their scuffling offense at Triple-A. Josmil Pinto and Deibinson Romero are really the only intriguing bats at Rochester, and Pinto will likely remain there indefinitely to work on his defensive game.

With the Kendrys Morales signing, the Twins made a loud statement that they are in "win-now" mode, with more of their decisions being driven by a desire to improve the current club. If offense continues to be an issue and they find themselves needing a boost later in the summer -- particularly in center field -- they may find that Rosario is in fact their best option.

My, how things change.

He needs to demonstrate complete mastery of the Double-A level -- and perhaps even the Triple-A level -- before the Twins would consider bringing him up, but Rosario is one of the most dynamic hitters in the organization and could provide a critical infusion into the lineup in the second half. As far as his stock has fallen in the past eight months or so, he'd be able to revive it substantially by coming up and making a positive impact for a Twins team that is trying to compete in a weak division.

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