Monday's Mail (3.22.21): Baseball Cards, Opening Day LF and J.T. Riddle
Welcome back to a weekly edition at Access Twins called “Monday’s Mail.” 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 email@example.com with the subject “Monday Mailbag”
Watch for sporadic Facebook posts asking for questions
Should be pretty easy, right? Let’s dive right in:
I’d consider it if there’s enough interest. I’m fascinated to watch it from a distance this time around but more than happy to not participate. It’s become a bloodsport, almost.
I kind of liken it to autograph hunting. I think it’s great that kids want to collect, and I’m not opposed to adults doing so but it’s a much higher bar to clear for it to not be weird and/or creepy.
This boom — and I think it could create a huge bubble for collectors — has led me to scope out a few cards I like to buy, especially if the price is right.
I picked up an autographed Wayne Terwilliger card the other day — the recently-passed former first base coach for the Minnesota Twins — and I also got a game-used bat card from George Kell that I picked up from former MLB reliever Brad Ziegler.
I don’t have any interest in flipping these cards and I really don’t want to bulk up my collection — I lost my entire collection at age 16 in a flood — but to me it was kind of cool to pick up a piece of game-used bat from a Hall of Famer who hasn’t played in the big leagues in more than 60 years.
I also opened up the book of cards I keep with all the cards I deem better than just average. I found a mid-80s Nolan Ryan that might be worth as much as $300 or so — I’d have to grade it, and don’t really think I’ll ever do that —
In other words, I’ll maintain a passing interest but don’t really dive in — so I don’t know if I’d have enough knowledge to even formulate good questions for some of the more frenetic collectors. We’ll see.
I’m of the belief that he’s probably about fourth or fifth right now in the race for the 26th-man spot on the roster, but if he heads to St. Paul — I’m not sure about his opt-out status — I’d say there’s a good chance he helps the big-league club this season, even though he’s not on the 40-man roster.
I’d say he’s about deadlocked with outfielder Keon Broxton — another NRI — trailing guys like Willians Astudillo, Kyle Garlick, Brent Rooker and maybe even Andrew Romine or Travis Blankenhorn.
Still, teams love versatility and Riddle made at least one appearance at every position except catcher last season.
Yes, it’s too long. I’ve talked to a number of former Twins who think it could be cut by as much as half. Maybe that’s a bit drastic, but I think as long as pitchers can get ramped up in, say, four weeks, that would be all that’s necessary. I think Summer Camp last year provided a fairly good blueprint for what Spring Training could/should look like in the future if the topic is ever discussed.
Love it. I have a hard time figuring out where Rooker fits on this team in the near-to-mid-term future, but I think he still does. It might be at DH when Nelson Cruz moves on, first base if Miguel Sano moves to DH or as a mix-and-match guy at both of those positions as well as left field based on matchups.
But I do think he can hit enough — assuming the strikeouts don’t pile up too much — to force the team to play him on a fairly regular basis, if not this year maybe next. He’s looked really, really good this spring (.381/.391/.667).
I know that Jonathan Mayo of MLB Pipeline really likes De Andrade, going so far as to put him in the team’s top 30 — at No. 30.
How teams handle prospects this season is going to be especially curious after a COVID-marred 2020 season for minor leaguers. By the looks of it, the 16-year-old De Andrade will play this year with the Dominican Summer League Twins and progress from there. He’s a ways off, of course — MLB Pipeline lists his ETA as 2025, when he’ll be just 21.
Also — thanks for making me feel old. Danny was born six weeks before I graduated from high school.
I’m taking Thorpe. He may or may not be granted an additional option year, but I think he’s not only having a terrific spring — 2.35 ERA, 9.4 K/9, 0.78 WHIP — but has a slightly more dynamic repertoire and is a good fit for if the Twins want to piggyback someone as an opener or maybe for a tandem with J.A. Happ, who is a little behind this spring after contracting COVID.
Either way, I think it’s pretty close in terms of how the team views them. I don’t think it matters too much but Smeltzer has gotten hit hard this spring — three home runs in 4.0 IP — so that might make the decision a bit easier.
I’m leaning toward Brandon Waddell. I think guys like Derek Law, Glenn Sparkman, Juan Minaya, Danny Coulombe and Luke Farrell could get earlier looks based on more extensive previous MLB experience, but Waddell has looked really interesting this spring.
There was talk of working on Waddell’s fastball to get more carry in The Athletic, and while he’s carried a 5.68 ERA in a small spring sampling, he’s struck out everyone in sight. He’s recorded 19 outs this spring and 12 have been via the strikeout.
I think the Twins might have a gem on their hands in this lefty.
I don’t think it’s impossible. Rooker has smoked the ball this spring while Kirilloff has been a bit of a slow burn. If the Twins keep Kirilloff down, I don’t get the sense that they’d bring him up magically at one of the two “service time” dates — either for Super-Two reasons or an added year of control — but rather because he didn’t overtake Rooker, or for that matter Garlick or Jake Cave for the lion’s share of time out there.
It also falls back on my old adage that you can go with the older guys first and have the kid topple them if he proves he’s ready. It’s hard — if not impossible — to do that in the other direction.