Friday Files (12.20.21): Opening Day Shortstop, Monday Night Wars & Twins Caravan
Welcome back to a weekly edition at Access Twins called “Monday’s Mail.” During the regular season, we call it “Friday Files” but we transition to Mondays as the offseason goes on.
If you’d like to be involved, there are a few ways you can do so:
Tweet @brandon_warne or @accesstwins with the hashtag #askBW
if Twitter isn’t your thing, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Monday Mailbag/Friday Files”
Watch for sporadic Facebook posts asking for questions
Should be pretty easy, right? Let’s talk to it:
If you want me to say just one name, I’m going to go with Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong. After hitting .251/.318/.467 (107 OPS+) over his first three MLB seasons with 162-game averages of 31 home runs and 89 RBI, he’s hit just .213/.295/.378 over the last two seasons (86 OPS+).
He’s still shown very good power over that span (22 home runs in 158 games), and he’s somewhere between a good and very good defensive shortstop.
Despite hitting .197/.284/.390 last season, he was still worth plus-1.6 WAR via Fangraphs and Baseball Reference both — a testament to how his defense is valued when considering he accumulated just 402 plate appearances.
It wasn’t just because he hit below the Mendoza line that DeJong lost time at shortstop last year, either. Rookie Edmundo Sosa hit .271/.346/.389 in 326 plate appearances across multiple positions, but spent his most time at short and would appear to be a ready-made replacement at the position.
DeJong would also cost the Twins almost nothing to acquire, most likely. He’s due $6.17 million in 2022 and $9.17 million in 2023, and then has two club options for $12.5 and $15 million in 2024 and ‘25 — his ages-30 and -31 seasons.
To pay $15 million and change for above-average shortstop play over the next two seasons is no big deal — and that’s assuming he doesn’t have any more seasons in him like any of his first three (121, 102 and 99 OPS+ in order).
It’s possible that, heading into his age-28 season, he does. If he does prove he’s still got something left in the tank, the club options are affordable enough to keep DeJong around, or at very least make him an attractive trade chip should the team decide one of the existing shortstop prospects is ready to take the job.
The Twins could do a lot worse than DeJong on the trade market, and his contract looks exactly like the thing they’d be likely to take on. Far more likely than signing Trevor Story or Carlos Correa to a mega deal, for sure.
I think it would have simply…ended. WCW proved quickly they had nothing up their sleeve other than the nWo — maybe the greatest storyline of my lifetime in the sport — so while they did show they could hang in the ratings battle before Scott Hall descended those stairs in Macon, Ga. in mid-1996, I just don’t think it takes off in any meaningful way.
Beyond that, you have to account for that star power staying in then-WWF. You’re talking about two ready-made contenders for your top strap (Championship in either promotion) and your second-tier one (Hall was made for the Intercontinental/U.S. Title, I think). That’s a big tidal wave that never washes over WCW in your scenario.
The only chance I see them having is if they can get to September 1997 to Goldberg’s debut, but I’m extremely skeptical.
Without the nWo as we know it — even if they’d have launched the angle with Sting (as rumored) and Hogan and maybe….Macho? — I just don’t think it takes off the same way. People thought that sh*t was real.
Yeah, most likely alums and minor-league players who are maybe more recognizable names but not on the 40-man yet. Wouldn’t be surprised if someone like Louie Varland (Minn. native) was on it. Maybe Kent Hrbek, Tony Oliva and other alums like that?
I don’t think so. I don’t think it makes sense to commit to Byron Buxton for seven years and nine figures to not try compete again. Beyond that, a lot of really crappy things happened in 2021 that shouldn’t be expected to happen again.
With that said, those things are what led to the team moving on from Jose Berrios — a key linchpin to whatever direction the Twins might have taken otherwise — but I stand by the fact that the deal was too good for the team to pass up when they simply weren’t going to offer the righty the term (length) he wanted.
That’s a long-winded way of saying I think they still have some tricks up their sleeve.
So yeah, story time.
I get killed for this on Twitter all the time, but my friend Ryan Boser — a Minnesota native who lives in the Seattle area — tuned me into this:
English muffin, toasted
Creamy peanut butter
Pickles (your choice, but I like bread and butter)
It just works. It’s savory, sweet, hot, crunchy — you name it. It hits all the right buttons.
Anyway, my favorite crock pot recipes are either pulled pork (pork tenderloin cooked in your favorite cheap beer) or crack chicken.
I’ll get a pork tenderloin, rub it up with whatever spices you like and then make sure the beer covers it (however many it takes to get to that height since tenderloins vary in size).
I usually cook it on low for six hours, rip it up and then drain the beer off. Then, I look for a barbecue sauce to make — something vinegar-based, particularly — and I drizzle it over the top of the meat on the sandwich as opposed to mixing it in like a lot of people do.
I also love adding coleslaw to the sandwich itself. Another good taste combination.
Here’s the recipe for crack chicken. All I’ll say is this: it includes chicken, ranch dressing mix, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, bacon and green onions.
Enjoy. It’s called crack chicken for a reason.