Monday's Mail (4.5.21): Kirilloff Call-Up, Frauds (Not) Eating Butter and Jorge Alcala's Future
Hey! Monday’s Mail was delayed this week by a holiday weekend and a sick kid. A million apologies.
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Tweet @brandon_warne or @accesstwins with the hashtag #askBW
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Should be pretty easy, right? Let’s talk to it:
Boy, the Minnesota Twins are really getting the screws turned on this decision right now, aren’t they? Josh Donaldson getting hurt forced Luis Arraez onto the dirt, then Brent Rooker struggled/got hurt. Even Arraez suffered a little tweak that at least threatened the potential of him missing some time — which may or may not have affected Alex Kirilloff’s timeline, but definitely fit the bill with how things have gone health-wise for this team.
While I don’t think this is a service-time ploy/play, I still think the optics would be bad if the Twins were to make a move before the St. Paul Saints play any meaningful games. Now with that said, they’re at 14 pitchers right now and it’s pretty hard to argue any other position player is ahead of Kirilloff — though adding someone like JT Riddle or Tomas Telis would take some 40-man gymnastics — as it pertains to a possible call-up.
I’m thinking around May 15. Do not quote me on this. Give him two weeks to hit .400 off Triple-A pitching, and he can hit the ground running in the big leagues. Just my two cents.
The stuff is there but I just think there are too many guys to leapfrog at this point. Now, if Hansel Robles has a tough year — and I don’t think he’s anywhere near as bad as 2020 was for him — that certainly changes things. But early indications are that won’t be the case.
In all honesty, I think Alcala’s presence — and to a similar extent, Cody Stashak’s — just presents the case for how much depth this group has this season. Alcala would have easily been the team’s best reliever a half-decade ago — or at least when Glen Perkins’ career started winding down — and he’s no higher than fifth in the team’s bullpen hierarchy. Maybe even sixth depending on how one views Caleb Thielbar.
Alcala will go as far as his fastball takes him. The slider is terrific, but unlike with Matt Wisler, I think the fastball has too much potential to stray from. But he has allowed a .843 OPS on the pitch so far in his career — including an .890 mark last season.
It has a fairly healthy swinging-strike rate of 9.3 percent for his career, though, so I don’t think it’s much more than a little tweaking of location and/or sequencing, which in turn could end up in him landing in the late innings in due time.
I just don’t think 2021 will be that year.
Yeah, I think that’s especially possible now with Willians Astudillo on the roster. Having Garver at first base wouldn’t be as “risky” as having him DH without a third catcher — like the Tigers dealt with on Tuesday — but mostly now I just think he has to justify force-feeding him those plate appearances in the first place.
It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario. If Garver needs more plate appearances to get out of his funk, that’s an easy way to do it. The same can be said for Miguel Sano, however, as he’s off to a slow start.
I get a tight three hours a night with my commute to and from Miller P….I mean, American Family Field.
Here’s the reference, because apparently, Brewers husky boy Daniel Vogelbach is my doppelganger:
I do not take this as a slight, and have even leaned into the joke. I suspect we will revive it when the Twins play the Brewers again in August — assuming he’s still on the team then.
In the interest of fairness, this was asked prior to Nelson Cruz hitting a grand slam in Detroit on Monday. Prior to that, the Twins were 0-for-4 with the bases loaded. I also think the team hitting just .217/.231/.348 with the sacks packed back in 2019 has left a poor taste in fans’ mouths, because the team was really, really good in those spots last year: .333/.353/.595.
Let’s give Dylan some credit, though — the Twins are 3-for-4 with the bases loaded since he asked this question. Well done.
I don’t want to overreact to how they’re both hitting right now. I think Jorge Polanco is the superior player when both are healthy and going like you’d want them to, but I’m convinced one or the other isn’t happening with him right now — if not both.
I’m going to lean Polanco, just because I think his playing time is a little more stable, while Arraez is still mostly dependent on Donaldson’s health, when Kirilloff comes up and how he matches up on a given day against a pitcher vs. Polanco.
Arraez’s career slash line against lefties works against him there. In 136 plate appearances against southpaws, he has just two extra-base hits and a .265/.382/.283 slash line. No, that isn’t a misprint — a .283 slugging percentage. That’s a tOPS+ (relative to his overall splits) of just 63.
So I’m going to lean Polanco, but it’ll be something like 475 to 450 or something in that vicinity. It’s going to be a very, very minimal margin.