Welcome back to a weekly edition at Access Twins called “Monday’s Mail.” Except now, it’s going to be “Friday Files” until the end of the regular season. Then, we’ll do Flashback Friday and move the mail back Monday.
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:
It’s kind of hard to make comparisons in this era of hitters. Kirilloff is hitting “just” .239/.276/.435, but that’s a 95 wRC+ in this run environment. In other words, 5.0 percent below league average.
The Twins clearly don’t expect him to hit like this for very long, as he’s started in the No. 3 spot in the order on multiple occasions even when guys like Nelson Cruz, Josh Donaldson and Jorge Polanco have been in there.
Let’s look at it this way — ZiPS, which is probably my favorite projection system, says it expects Kirilloff to hit .281/.323/.457. That’s a 116 wRC+ in this environment, which is really, really good.
I always joked about Kirilloff being #BabyVotto, but he’s, in reality, not going to be that good. But if he can post a 116 — or even let’s say a 108-110 — wRC+ as a rookie, that means the future is pretty bright.
My sense is that he could settle in as a 125 wRC+ type in the future, which isn’t entirely different than what Anthony Rizzo (124 wRC+) has given the Cubs this season with his .269/.369/.444 line.
That with pretty good defense at first base isn’t a bad player.
A wise man — Mike Berardino, that is — once told me not to focus on positions when getting players in return, but on the quality of said players.
I want to say his example was a team trading for John Buck because they “needed” a catcher — I can’t remember if it was the Carlos Beltran trade or the Mark Buehrle/Jose Reyes trade — but it didn’t pan out because Buck, while a good catcher, was nothing especially useful over the course of his career (5.8 bWAR across 11 years and 1,090 games).
So while that might feel like a copout, the answer is the good prospects.
I don’t think you can rule it out. We don’t know how much Cave’s injury has affected him this season — or what exactly happened when he wasn’t great in 2020 — but I think he probably gets a bit more time to show he can still play once he’s healthy.
That is, assuming it’s still this season. If he’s out for the year, all bets are off.
But Rob Refsnyder isn’t going to play like this forever. Cave has a more than 200-game track record in the MLB of being a pretty decent hitter (100 OPS+) and he’s respectable at all three outfield spots defensively. I wouldn’t be too quick to get rid of that in the cheap years.
More on your second point in a bit.
Anything not bolted down, which is probably any player who is eligible for free agency at the end of the season.
I’ll write more on it next week, but here’s how I’m looking right now:
J.A. Happ - good as gone
Matt Shoemaker - even more so than Happ
Andrelton Simmons - almost certainly traded, should bring back something nice
Nelson Cruz - this I’m less sure about, as the Twins would want to do right by him and trade him to a contender if he desires that, but depending on how he plays, will it be a Josh Willingham-to-the-Royals situation?
Hansel Robles - almost certainly traded, could bring back something nice
Again, all of this is hinging on the idea that the Twins do not work their way back into contention. We’ll see if they do. But beyond that, I’m really not inclined to believe they’ll trade anyone under control past this season as I think they’ll view 2021 as an anomaly — which I do as well.
Move Shoemaker to the bullpen, give Luke Farrell bigger spots and start Lewis Thorpe until Kenta Maeda is ready to return.
It’s just astonishing how often these guys look like they’ve never played before, isn’t it? Like it’s not every single night — and in fact, Fangraphs looks upon the team’s defense favorably — but between the Gilberto Celestino play on Thursday night and the Luis Arraez/Travis Blankenhorn debacle in Oakland, it’s just astonishing how much it has hurt a team that doesn’t have much in the margins to play with at this point.
It’s got to change.
Templeton Rye for me, but your mileage may vary.
It’s completely understandable to me why people don’t, but what’s the point of starting summer without any hope? They’ll need to really take off, but I still think nobody will run away with the Central and I also think a Wild Card spot might not be as unattainable as people think right now.
A lot will depend on how good Toronto/Boston/New York/Oakland/Houston are.
But I do get why people are jumping off into lifeboats.
Here was the thought that occurred to me today:
It might not be somethin’ but it’s also not nothin’.
Not happening. You can be a bit dismayed at their development of pitching, but things would be a lot different if there had been minor-league ball in 2020. Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran would almost certainly be in the big leagues. Maybe Matt Canterino too.
But with that said, it was not a good decision to go with Happ and Shoemaker as the team’s No. 4-5 starters. That was just not a great idea. Still, there have been a lot of guys who’ve fizzled out who they might have also targeted — James Paxton comes to mind — so it’s not as though there was an easy fix to be had.
Rocco Baldelli has won 57 percent of the games he has managed. He’s not going anywhere.
The Yankees aren’t going to move Jasson Dominguez. They just aren’t. I could get behind the Cristian Pache idea — even though the start to his career has been especially bumpy — but I’m just not sure the Braves would be compelled to make that deal with how injury-plagued Byron Buxton has been.
It’s the right idea but I just don’t see it happening.
To me, I don’t really see a reason to deal Jose Berrios unless the team is going to rebuild — and that’s not going to happen. Don’t get me wrong, I think getting Alek Manoah and the other prospects you’ve mentioned would be great — or Austin Martin, as well — but I just don’t think the Twins are going down that road. I just don’t. Sorry.
Same as above. I just believe in the talent, and if you give up on the season in June, what’s the point of the rest of the summer?
He finessed me in a way I’m hoping I can tell people about soon. We’ll see. Stay tuned.
Get healthy, first and foremost, and find a starter/relief mix that allows the Twins to have more success deep in games. If Shoemaker is going to keep starting, he needs to be pulled the second he sees a lineup for the third time — or at any sort of threat beginning.
But really they just need to get healthy. And that sucks because they haven’t been all season long — starting with Josh Donaldson’s first plate appearance in Milwaukee.
They just don’t mesh well with the pitching dominance that we’re seeing this season. A 4.68 ERA on the surface is merely bad; but when the league average is 4.06 — down from 4.45 last year and 4.51 in 2019 — it’s just going to require the team to play from behind far too often.
According to Sportradar, that’s not a recipe for success. The Twins are tied for last in comeback wins with three other teams (eight), and have 20 blown-lead losses (most in MLB). That needs to change.
There hasn’t been an update in over a week. I’m not optimistic that this is a good thing. Beyond that, I’m just not sure what else to say.
A fellow resident of the city I live in checking in here. I try to mow every Friday — especially when heading out of town. In 95 degree heat isn’t ideal, but I have a small yard I want to keep especially well-manicured.