first win of 2018: check

Always nice to get that first one done. Always feels good. And somewhat a relief.

(That shadow lurking in the background is the memory of the 2016 season.)

 

Yesterday the Twins knocked the Orioles, 6-2. Sano hit his first of the season, a solo shot in the first. Six nothing till the ninth, and the boys were working on a no-hitter with two-outs in the 8th. Gibson tossed six hit-free innings, striking out 6 (while also walking 5.) Pressly worked the 7th and 8th, and gave up the hit. Gabriel Moya gave up a two run homer in the ninth. Moya was acquired from the Diamond Backs for catcher John Ryan Murphy and rocked double A ball last year, earning a late season call up.

Berrios pitches for the Twins today, and I rate our chances with him on the mound as good.

I wonder what happened to John Ryan Murphy? The Twins traded Aaron Hicks for him, after a season where he batted .277 in 155 at bats with the Yankees. He was a second round pick by the Yankees, made steady progress through their minors, hit .270 and  then .246 at AAA. Then .146 for the Twins, followed by .236 and .222 at triple A. Then to Arizona, and I see he’s up in the bigs to start the season. Curious.

 

2018 Forecast

I’ve taken a pensive scan through the 2018 edition of the Twins, and at last come up with my 2018 prediction.

The positives I see:

  • Starting pitching – reinforcements have arrived, and Odorizzi and Lynn are, I think,  upgrades. And perhaps Berrios will continue to improve: (+2)
  • Third base – where maybe young Sano can somehow stay healthy this season: (+2)
  • Center field – where we hope to see continued Buxton improvement (+1.5)
  • DH – Where Logan Morrison brings some consistency and a substantial upgrade from last year’s rotating cast: (+2)

This puts the Twins 7.5 games up from last season. Let’s call it eight. That puts them at 93-69 at year’s end.

On the downside:

  • I’m not convinced yet that the bullpen has been improved.
  • Is Mauer really back?
  • Who’s out there at short?

So there’s a few questions heading into the season, but I counterbalance these with

  • Brian Dozier seems to be headed to free agency: will he up his game?
  • Our pitch-framing catcher is back
  • Can Eddie Rosario take his game even higher?

All together, I see all these questions as a break-even proposition. And that still leaves as at 93-69 at year’s end.

But wait. There’s the Hubris penalty.

  • I rounded up from 7.5, I might just as well have rounded down. Philosophically, it’s always better to assume the worst. (-1)
  • And then there’s just my general historic and well-documented over-confidence about the Twins. (-1)

And so this puts the Twins at 6 games up from last season, and 91 – 71 at season’s end.

Sound reasonable?

Unfortunately, Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA projections say today that the Twins will finish at 82 -80 this season, scoring 789 runs, and giving up 784. Last year the Twins scored 815, and gave up 788. I’m not sure how they figure this club is going to score less runs than last year, but I’m sure they’ve put in all the numbers, the pitchers, the health factors, wind direction, economic conditions, seismic activity, global warming, bird migration patterns, oil prices, and bat velocities, and so 789 is probably a pretty good guess. Perhaps they know some things I don’t.

Still, I’ll be surprised if this team doesn’t score more, and give up less. There may be other factors that they’ve overlooked and that I took into account. Time will tell who’s right about this.

The hometown StarTribune stable of baseball mavens are just slightly more optimistic than the Prospectus stat-machine:

  • Pat Reusse: 89-73
  • Jim Souhan: 89-73
  • Chip Scoggins: 87-75
  • La Velle E. Neal III: 86-76
  • Sid Hartman: 85-77
  • Phil Miller: 83-79

Again, they probably are blessed with a wealth of arcane “inside” knowledge, drawn from deep within the inner sanctum of the clubhouse, that mere mortals not able to access. But I still think that they are being overly cautious. Probably because they have professional reputations at stake, and, as baseball writers, well there’s always a lot to criticize and they are happy to do so. And that, my friends, leads to a warped perspective, and a life of unhappiness.

I wonder if they write articles at the end of the season, talking about their forecast and the final outcome? Well, we shall see, gentlemen. We shall see.

 

By the way, here it is, baseball season, game 3, and it’s 26 degrees here, and there’s icy snow on the sidewalks, and there’s more snow predicted in the next couple of days.

I Protest!

Advertisements

playoffs!

Okay, I’d be a terrible baseball blogger indeed if I failed to note that the Twins are in the playoffs. The first team in MLB history to go from a 100 loss season to the playoffs in one season. Quite an accomplishment. And perhaps this says something about the aberrant nature of last season’s death march.

But last season was last season, ancient history. This is the season that counts, and the Twins are in the playoffs. Wooo-hooo!

There’s even a little extra joy in getting to the playoffs in that the Front Office dumped all-star closer Brandon Kintzler at the trading deadline. (Not to mention Jaime Garcia who was both acquired and then de-acquired just before the deadline.) The Front Office was seeming to say that these guys are toast. Wait till next year. But these guys, it turns out, were not made of toast. No indeed.

I, personally, am glad that we play the Yankees. They’ve had our number for years now, and I’d like a little pay-back time.

Congratulations to them Twins. We knew you could do it. Let’s take all the marbles.

maketh hay whilst the sun doth shineth

In other words, hey, those Twins have won six in a row.

Nice.

Just when you count them out, wait, don’t count them out yet. Hey, Falvey! Levine! Don’t count these guys out yet!

A few days back, the brain trust put their thinking caps on and thought, “hey, you know? Maybe we can win something here.” They bolstered their starting pitching with Jaime Garcia from the Braves, and then the Twins promptly lost about five in a row.

And the brain trust suddenly thought, “hey, you know? We’re not going to win anything here,” and, after making one start as a Twin, Garcia was dealt away “to a contender” (the Yankees.) And then closer Brandon Kintzler (2.78, 28 saves) was gone too, to the Nationals. Whereupon, soon after, the boys put together this here little win streak, which finds them within striking distance of winning something again.

Which makes me wonder if Garcia might be available again?

And which just shows that you never know in baseball.

After they traded Garcia away (for a couple of prospects, not so bad) I think it was Molitor who said, no worries, we got this far with what we got, we can go with the horses we have. I paraphrase. But, good point, Molly. We’re not so bad. Not so bad at all.

We just might win something here anyway.

Tonight, Twins 9, Tigers 4.

Obviously, a lot of nice hitting by the Twins. Kepler, Rosario, and Mauer each get three hits, Dozier gets a couple, one of them being a beautiful triple down the right field line. Rosario and Kepler homer. Mr. Kepler has a very nice swing.

Mr. Buxton made a very nice catch in center. And the Twins keep rolling.

Three and a half games out of first.

 

Still no word on which Chicago team Carl Sandburg rooted for.

Update

Another nice win for the Twins yesterday. Here’s Dozier getting ‘er done:

Twins 3, Giants 2, Berrios gets his 5th win.

Local press seem to think that this can’t last. I disagree. (Yeah, I’m the guy that thought they’d be in the series last year. Maybe I was just a year off? An 0-9 start can throw you off for awhile.)

Probably too early still to be thinking about magic numbers.

Nice story on the Twins website about tomorrow’s starter for the Twins, Nik Turley. Nik’s spent 10 years in the minors, including a spell in an independent league, after being drafted in the 50th round by the Yankees in the 2008 draft. He was released in 2014 by the Yankees “after experiencing arm-tightness” (Those Yankees!) and spent most of 2016 with the independent Somerset Patriots. He did pretty well there, and the Twins picked him up. And now he’s done pretty well in the minors: 45 strikeouts in 24.3 innings at Chattanooga, with a 0.37 ERA. 39 strikeouts in 28.3 innings in Rochester, with a 3.49 ERA.

That’s not a lot of innings to go on. They may be rushing Nik a bit, but Santiago has gone on the DL and the Twins need a pitcher, so what the heck. Let’s go Nik!

Turley reminds me of Chris Colabello. He’s with Cleveland’s AAA club right now, Columbus, hitting .229 with five HR. I wonder what happened with him? In 2015 he hit .321 with Toronto, with 15 HR and 54 rbi. In 2016: .069 batting average, 2 hits in 29 at bats. And then he hit .180 in AAA at Buffalo. Very very odd.

Well a little research turns this up: PED, and an 80 game suspension. Damn.

Very very unfortunate.

Here’s a nice shot of Colabello I took a few years ago. One of my favorites:

Here’s hoping that Chris can get back on track.

 

 

That’s Berrios. With a K.

The highly-touted (if not vaunted) Jose Berrios pitched a pretty darn good game yesterday, winning his second of the season, going 7 2/3 innings, striking out 11. It was nice coming after a loss in the first game of the day-night doubleheader. Nothing sucks the life out of a day like losing both games of a doubleheader. But no: the youthful Berrios climbed up and set them down.

I watched a bit of video on those 11 strikeouts.They were brutal. Could we only be so lucky to see this on a regular basis from Mr. Berrios?

Berrios came up last season and had a less-than-auspicious start. 3-7, 8.02 era. He had a bit of trouble finding the plate. This season he started in Triple A, and located the pale platter. He went 2-0, with a .59 ERA and .391 WHIP. He got called up and made his first start with the Twins on May 13th in Cleveland, and got the win, 4-1, pitching 7 2/3, giving up 2 hits, a run, and striking out 4. Yesterday, another 7 2/3 innings, 2 hits, a run, and 11 strikeouts.

We’ve been hearing about this Berrios for quite awhile. Let’s hope he’s finally arrived, for we could surely use him.

Minnesota Twins, 2017 edition

Well, I suppose we should take a little look at the Twins chances in the coming campaign. It’s been difficult for me to muster much enthusiasm for this, after the utter carnage of last year’s collapse. Ugh.

But it’s spring, the time of new beginnings and fresh starts. Out with the detritus of last year’s “efforts.” Who can even remember last year? That was then and this is now, and everybody starts at zero and works from there.

The Twins ownership overhauled their Brain Trust in the off season. AND we’ve added a pitch-framing catcher.

And we’ve sent our top spring hitter down to AAA.

This does not exactly inspire confidence in their decision-making ability.

Their pitching is still something of a mess. Mauer is still at first base. Plouffe is gone. Dozier is still here, but I don’t think he’ll be here long.

Hmmm. 59 wins last season.

Pitch-framing catcher.

Buxton. Sano.

I’m thinking 82-82 this year. I am a glass-half-full guy.

Good luck to you Twins! Let’s play some ball!