Twins Territory as we here in Minnesota know it as. Located at 1 Twins Way, Minneapolis, MN lies Target Field. This my friends is Twins Territory. Over the years the Twins have relied on small ball and control pitching. There have been plenty of good years. Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you the Twins are going to berserk and spend all of Jim Pohlad’s money. That will never happen but I will tell you that I believe better days lie ahead. Look at the Cleveland Indians this year. Look at the pitching they have and where it came from. Good trades, great development led by smart decisive decision making. Well one of those decision makers has made his way to Minnesota. Derek Falvey has spent the last 9 years in Cleveland assembling this years World Series Contenders. How? Trades definetly helped. Cliff Lee brought over Carlos Carrasco, Jamie Westbrook netted Corey Kluber and Vinnie Pestano garnered the highly touted Mike Clevinger. Now not all trades are gauranteed and not all prospects are going to reach their ceilings. Smart decision making can help make a difference though. This is what we are hoping for in Twins Territory, as we seen some of the worst pitching over the last couple years.
“The goal here is straightforward and measurable,” Falvey said. “It’s to build a sustainable and championship-caliber team and organization that Twins fans across Twins Territory will be proud of. Thad and I know there are no shortcuts to getting there. We intend to relentlessly identify, pursue and advance top-performing people, cultivate world-class process and build a culture that’s collaborative and transparent to achieve our goals.”
Thad Levine, former Rangers GM, has joined us here as well. He will be the Senior VP and General Manager as Falvey will be the Executive Vice President and chief baseball officer.
This sounds like good things to come.
Let’s look at where the Twins need to improve. Pitching. It needs to improve, and that’s just that. It’s bad. Last year the starting pitchers ranked last in the Majors with a 5.39 ERA, Bullpen ranked 26th with a 4.63 ERA, and combined where 29th. That’s sad, but the honest truth is it’s not going to get better right away. There are bright spots, and a lot of potential moving forward. It will take time, though, as we seen last year with Jose Berrios (8.02 ERA in 58 innings) so expectations need to be toned down as we move forward.
Tyler Jay, 2013 1st rd draft pick (6th overall from Illinois) had his season cut short due to injury at AA. Currently www.MLB.com’s 35 overall ranked prospect. With a low-to-mid 90’s fastball and a devastating slider, he could provide us with a solid #2 starter down the road.
Stephen Gonsalves, a 4th rd pick in 2014 climbed right into the top 100 prospects last year, and continued to roll finishing 85th overall. He has high upside with a potential +fastball and +curve as a lefty. The road could lead to a solid rock in the starting rotation as soon as next year.
Jose Berrios, as mentioned before didn’t perform well in the majors the first time around, nor the second. The skill set is there, and like the other top prospect, Byron Buxton, we have time to wait. Berrios has done well at AAA with a mid 90’s fastball, change up, and a slurve. This could be the ace we haven’t seen since Johan Santana.
Adalberto Mejia, came over in the Eduardo Nunez trade is also ranked in the top 100. If things go right for him he could be in the starting rotation come the start of the season. Most likely he will start in AAA and be one of the first replacements called up. He brings a mid 90’s fastball with a solid change up and slider. Mid rotation guy that could stick for several years.
With 3 Lefties and a top end rotation guy the future for Minnesota pitching definitely seems bright. The current staff doesn’t have a whole lot going for them. Former 1st round pick Kyle Gibson has been going backwards since his rookie year and at 29 the days are numbered. Ervin Santana has a nice contract that will be getting looks during the off season. Wouldn’t be a bad idea to grab some additional prospects and take a honest approach to the future. Phil Hughes coming back from injury is a question mark and hasn’t looked the same since his 2014 breakout season. Hector Santiago, brought over from Anaheim in the Ricky Nolasco deal, is no certainty to return. Taking into account his 5.58 ERA in 61 innings last year with the Twins, I’m not sure we want him back. Tyler Duffy is the lone bright spot in this current rotation. He had his moments last year with peripherals that didn’t look too bad. With a 6.43 ERA last year the growth is not promised, but you did see moments last year where it looked like he could be a back end starter with staying power. If he does progress he could be the only one remaining in 2017 when the likes of Tyler Jay, and Stephen Gonsalves step on the scene.
The Twins will probably pursue a couple veteran pitchers to fill out the rotation to start the season, but with a limited FA class the options may not be there. Derek Holland and Colby Lewis are a couple options that have been thrown around. As long as we have learned from our over spending on middle tier pitchers, we could be alright moving forward. I believe the pitching is bright with a new tandem leading the helm; I’m confident the future is in good hands.
“I couldn’t envision a better partner to help return championship-caliber baseball to Minnesota,” said Falvey. “Thad’s leadership and management experiences across all facets of baseball operations make him the perfect fit for the role, and I’m looking forward to executing our vision together.”
(quotes – Star Tribune)
(photo’s – Star Tribune, Pinterest)