Tag Archives: Jose Berrios

2018 Twins provide lesson and warning for the 2019 Phillies

By Paul Morse - http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/07/images/20050724_p072405pm-0149jpg-1-624v.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1459062
Paul Molitor, Minnesota Twins manager
(Photo by Paul Morse via Wiki Commons)
In 2016 the Minnesota Twins finished with a record of 59-103. It was the worst record in all of Major League Baseball. But the following year the Twins shocked many with an 85-77 season and an American League Wildcard playoff berth.
That 2017 Twins team of a year ago were led by a number of exciting young players such as 24-year-old third baseman Miguel Sano, 23-year-old center fielder Byron Buxton, 25-year-old left fielder Eddie Rosario, and 24-year-old right fielder Max Kepler.
On the mound the Twins received a major boost when 23-year-old rookie right-hander Jose Berrios entered their starting rotation in the middle of May. Another rookie, 24-year-old Adalberto Mejia, provided the club with 21 mostly solid starting outings.
There were key veteran contributions mixed in from players such as Brian Dozier (30), Ervin Santana (34), Kyle Gibson(29), closer Brandon Kintzler (32), Minnesota native and favored son Joe Mauer (34), and even 44-year-old pitcher Bartolo Colon.
Though AL Manager of the Year Paul Molitor‘s club went down to the powerful New York Yankees in the AL Wildcard Game, they had set the stage for what appeared to be a regular run of contending seasons.
And then the 2018 season got underway. Injuries and poor performances plagued key youngsters Sano and Buxton all year. A Gold Glover last season, Dozier slumped in his free agency year and was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the July trade deadline. Kepler didn’t necessarily regress, he just failed to step up.
The struggles throughout the lineup have produced a 66-78 season that can be considered nothing less than a disappointment.
In the 2017 season the Philadelphia Phillies went 66-96, the third-worst record in Major League Baseball. It marked a fifth consecutive losing campaign from the Phillies, and the club’s third last-place finish in the division in four years.
But then the 2018 season got underway and the club appeared improved. They jumped to a 16-9 start by April 27, and then to 29-20 by May 26. By the MLB All-Star Game break the Phillies were at 53-42 and had taken over first place in the NL East.
On July 26, a third straight win pushed them to what would be a season-high 2.5 game lead in the division. Continuing to fight through ups and downs as they tried to learn how to win, the Phillies reached their apex on August 5 when a fifth consecutive victory raised their record to 15 games over the .500 mark at 63-48.
Since August 17, when back-to-back wins left them still 14 games above .500, the Phillies have collapsed. In the past month the club has gone just 6-16, and losses in eight of their last 10 games have virtually eliminated them from the postseason conversation.
However, there is no denying that this is going to be considered a step forward season for the Phillies. They are going to finish 10 or more games better in the standings than a year ago. They will be at or near the .500 mark for the first time since 2012 and could have their first winning season since the record-setting 2011 club.
Though they won’t reach the postseason as the Twins did a year ago, they will in many ways have replicated Minnesota’s worst-to-first climb.

There will be some who look over their roster and see young players such as Rhys HoskinsScott KingeryNick WilliamsAaron Nola, and Maikel Franco and think many of the same thoughts as were hung on this year’s Twins prior to the season.
The lesson of the 2018 Twins for the 2019 Phillies should be one of failure to significantly improve the roster with additions from the outside, relying almost solely on perceived natural growth and improvement from young players already here.
In Minnesota, the resources are simply not as great as they are here in Philadelphia. Twins ownership and management did not have the financial wherewithal to go out and add impact talent.
Twins general manager Thad Levine certainly did try. He signed 41-year old closer Fernando Rodney to an affordable one-year deal last December. He got veteran starter Lance Lynn to ink a one-year deal in the middle of spring training. And Levine made a trade with Tampa Bay to bring in starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi.
Phillies GM Klentak squarely on the hot seat this off-season
Rodney and Lynn ended up being dealt to Oakland and the Yankees respectively after the Twins season fell apart. Phillies GM Matt Klentak cannot think that small when putting together his 2019 Phillies roster.
Yes, the Phillies will have taken a step back towards respectability and even contention this year. Yes, there is some young talent on hand that should continue to grow and improve.
But the Phillies are also one of the worst defensive teams in the game by any metric. They are just 11th of the 15 teams in the National League in both OPS and runs scored. As I outlined just yesterday, their back-end starting pitching has largely collapsed over this past month.
Klentak is going to need to find a way to land two proven, impact run-producers for his everyday lineup. He is going to also need to bring in at least one proven, impactful starting pitcher.
The Phillies GM will have plenty of his financial assets with which to work. With less than $70 million in contract commitments the club can afford to take on three big contracts if they so wish. Perhaps more if Klentak can find a way to unload some of the $20 million currently budgeted to be wasted on a 33-year old Carlos Santana.
Those big contracts could take the form of any number of free agents. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are the two most frequently mentioned. They would actually be perfect fits at shortstop and in right field, joining Hoskins to form as formidable a 3-4-5 lineup combination as the game would offer for years to come.
The list of free agent starting pitchers could include Patrick CorbinDallas KeuchelJ.A. HappMatt HarveyGio Gonzalez, and more. At the right price for the right number of committed years, any of them could help the rotation.
With a controlling owner in John Middleton who is hungry to win, getting ownership to lay out that financing will not prove to be a problem. It will be squarely on Klentak this winter to make the right moves, convincing the right players to come to Philadelphia in order to ensure that next year’s Phillies do not resemble this year’s Twins.

Twins Paul Molitor should be the AL Manager of the Year

Molitor has guided surprising Twins to verge of postseason

The Minnesota Twins downed the repeat AL Central Division champion Cleveland Indians on Tuesday by an 8-6 score at Progressive Field.

With the victory, Minnesota lowered it’s ‘Magic Number’ to just 1 in order to clinch the final American League Wildcard playoff berth.

It appears to be a forgone conclusion at this point. A year after finishing 59-103, the worst record in all of MLB, the Twins are going to the playoffs.

There are many reasons that one can point to when looking for reasons as to how this happened. They have developed a versatile lineup. There is a chance that they finish with five hitters who each slam 20+ home runs, and 4-5 players who could steal bases in double digits.

On the mound, rookie Jose Berrios has been everything that the organization hoped as he climbed through their system to become a top prospect.

Berrios has gone 13-8 with a 3.93 ERA. The 23-year old righty has allowed just 129 hits over 144.1 innings in his 25 starts. His emergence has given the Twins a legit 1-2 rotation punch with veteran Ervin Santana.

They are receiving strong leadership and somewhat of a turn-back-the clock season of production from veteran Joe Mauer.

The popular St. Paul native is enjoying his best season since 2013, when he was honored with the last of his six career AL All-Star appearances and his fifth career Silver Slugger.

But possibly the biggest reason for Minnesota’s success has been the performance of yet another homegrown product, manager Paul Molitor.

Molitor is another St. Paul native. Like Mauer, he was a product of Cretin High School and Cretin-Derham High School. Unlike his first baseman, who was drafted right out of those high school ranks, Molitor also attended the University of Minnesota.

Following a 21-year career that ended with three final seasons playing for the Twins from 1996-98, Molitor was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

He finished that playing career with 3,319 hits as well as a career .304 average and 504 stolen bases. This made him one of just five players in history to finish with at least 3,000 hits, a .300 average, and 500 steals.

Molitor had been the 1978 AL Rookie of the Year runner-up, was a 7x AL All-Star, and a 4x Silver Slugger. In 1993, Molitor was the runner-up in the AL Most Valuable Player voting. Also that year he helped lead the Toronto Blue Jays to their second straight World Series crown, becoming MVP of the Fall Classic.

Following his retirement as an active player, “Molly” was hired as the Twins bench coach to longtime skipper Tom Kelly, serving three years in that position before joining the Seattle Mariners as their hitting coach.

Molitor returned to the Minnesota organization after just one year in Seattle, and spent the next nine years coaching throughout the Twins minor league system. In 2014 he was brought back to help coach the big leaguers.

Finally in 2015, Molitor was offered and accepted the chance to manage the Twins. His first season resulted in a winning 83-79 record, the club’s first winning campaign in five years. That was followed by last season’s worst-in-baseball debacle.

Kelly has seen this before in Minnesota, first-hand. The Twins skipper from 1986-2001, he led the franchise to it’s only two World Series championships in 1987 and 1991. That ’91 Twins club went from being the AL’s worst team in 1990 to world champions the following season.

I think Mr. Molitor and the staff have gotten a lot out of the players this year,” said Kelly per Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune. “…Paul has gotten an awful lot out of these guys and they’re playing the game well. I think Paul has done a very good job, without question.”

When your pitching staff ranks 22nd in all of baseball in ERA, 26th in Batting Average Against, and just 29th in MLB in strikeouts, yet you are on the verge of a playoff berth, the skipper is doing something right.

Outside of Santana, Berrios, and 3-4 others, there are few consistently reliable arms. Molitor has done a fabulous job of juggling what he has available, mixing and matching to near perfection.

He’s done a good job of using information that’s available,” said Mauer per Pat Borzi at MinnPost. “Nowadays sometimes there’s a lot more information than you might need, but I think he’s good at deciphering, trying something out, hearing things, and then applying it where you can.” 

There are certainly other strong candidates for the honors as American League Manager of the Year. Other leading contenders include A.J. Hinch of the Houston Astros, Joe Girardo of the New York Yankees, and Terry Francona of the Cleveland Indians.

But I could make an easy argument with you by simply scanning their rosters. Each of those men operates with a more talented roster than Molitor does in Minnesota. That’s not a slight to the Twins, but instead a nod to those other organizations overall talent.

For my money, the Twins aren’t sniffing a postseason berth, let alone on the verge of playing meaningful October baseball, without the job that Molitor has done at the helm. He is absolutely deserving of being honored as the 2017 AL Manager of the Year.

MLB Spotlight Series: New York Yankees at Minnesota Twins

Paul Molitor’s Twins face key mid-season series vs Yankees
When the 2017 MLB season began, few would have guessed that a mid-July series between the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins could be so significant. But here we are, and this is indeed a series that has become important for both clubs.
Led by explosive rookie Aaron Judge, the Yankees took over the AL East Division lead in mid-April. New York held that lead for the most part right up through late June. But a 9-20 mark since June 12 has dropped the Bronx Bombers into third place, 3.5 games behind the arch-rival Boston Red Sox.
The Twins were the biggest surprise team in all of Major League Baseball over the first couple of months. For much of the same time that the Yanks were leading their division, the Twins were on top of the AL Central.
Just as with New York, the Twins have slowed measurably. Since their high-water mark at seven games over .500 on May 24, Minnesota is just 21-27. The Twins have dropped four of their last five games heading into this series.
The American League Wild Card standings after games on Sunday, July 16 show the Yankees still control the second of the two available postseason berths. The Twins are just 1.5 games out, two games behind the Yanks in the loss column.
This week’s clash at Target Field in Minneapolis marks the first meeting of the season between the two teams. They will not meet again until a three-gamer at Yankee Stadium in late September.

PITCHING MATCH-UPS

The pitching match-ups are as follows:
MONDAYBryan Mitchell (NYY, 1-1, 5.06 ERA) vs Adalberto Mejia (MIN, 4-4, 4.43 ERA)
TUESDAYLuis Cessa (NYY, 0-3, 4.18 ERA) vs Bartolo Colon (MIN, 2-8, 8.14 ERA)
WEDNESDAYJordan Montgomery (NYY, 6-4, 3.78 ERA) vs Jose Berrios (MIN, 8-3, 3.70 ERA)
As you can see, there are no marquee match-ups here. In fact, issues involving the lack of quality starting pitching are the main culprit for both of these teams. If neither one figures it out, it’s possible, perhaps likely, that neither ends up playing October baseball.
Can the ageless wonder Colon get back to the form that made him a fan favorite in both Oakland and with the New York Mets late in his career? If he performs as he did in Atlanta prior to his release last month, he won’t be long for the Twin Cities.
Berrios is a talented rookie who got off hot after first being promoted. He has not officially been announced for the start, but it falls on his day to pitch. Over his last few starts he has been a mess. The Twins need Berrios to regain his form and confidence quickly.

STATISTICAL COMPARISONS

In looking at the two teams’ statistical production, the Yankees would appear to be clearly the better team. New York is third in all of MLB with 488 runs scored, while Minnesota’s total of 415 ranks them 19th in the game.
With a combined .784 OPS, the Yanks rank fourth in baseball, while the Twins’ .736 mark is just 20th in MLB. On the base paths they are about even, with the Yankees holding a 56-52 edge in stolen bases, and a 77.78-77.61 advantage in stolen base percentage.
On the mound, the New York pitching staff has a combined .238 batting average against, the fourth best mark in the game. The Twins staff is at .271, way down at 27th in all of MLB.
Strikeouts (6th – 30th), walks (5th – 18th) and quality starts (10th – 26th) are all easily in favor of the New York Yankees pitching staff. There is a slight fielding edge for the Twins, who have made the fourth-fewest errors in baseball. The Yanks’ 55 errors leave them a middle-of-the-pack 15th.
The Yankees are coming off a split of a four-game series at Boston. It began an 11-game road trip that continues here in Minneapolis, and then moves out to Seattle.
Manager Joe Girardi was quoted by NJ.com’s Brendan Kuty on what would make the trip successful. “I think you try to win every series. We didn’t win this (Boston) series, but we didn’t lose it. You try to win every series and if you do that, good things will happen.”
These are two teams who have had it rough of late, each looking for those good things to happen. For the Twins, playing at home with far less expected of them, it’s a chance to reverse fortunes and prove they really belong in the race. For the Yankees, a chance to separate from their closest pursuer in the overall AL standings.

MLB 2016 Prediction: American League Rookie of the Year

Our staff has just released our predictions for the winners of each division, as well asour postseason predictions, including the 2016 World Series winner. 
I released my own predictions for the Phillies in the coming season. Now we begin the process of releasing our predictions for some of MLB’s major award winners.
Impact rookie ball players are always a fascinating part of any MLB season. A year ago, the Philadelphia Phillies began their rebuilding program by introducing 3rd baseman Maikel Franco for his first full campaign, and starting pitchers Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff as rookies on the mound.
A year ago there was a fascinating finish in the American League Rookie of the Year voting, with a near photo finish between a pair of talented shortstops with very different player profiles.
The award went to Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, who delivered a .279/.345/.512 slash line with 22 homers, 68 RBI, and 14 stolen bases in just 387 at-bats across 99 games following his call-up to the big leagues on June 8th.
The runner-up was Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor. He produced a .313/.353/..482 slash line with a dozen homers, 51 RBI, 50 runs scored, and a dozen stolen bases in 390 at-bats across the same 99 games following his own promotion on June 14th.
While Correa had more of an offensive profile and Lindor a top-notch defensive reputation, each proved to be a more than capable performer in all aspects of the game during their freshman campaigns.
Minnesota Twins slugger Miguel Sano banged out 18 homers and drove in 52 runs with a .269/.385/.530 slash line over 279 at-bats in just 80 games. 
He finished in third place a year ago. For the coming season, it’s a teammate of Sano who has been made our staff choice as the AL Rookie of the Year favorite.

Byron Buxton has been a known commodity for the last 3-4 years in baseball circles. He was considered the top prospect in the game by Baseball America and a number of other evaluation sources during both the 2014 and 2015 seasons, but his big league arrival has been derailed by a series of injuries.
While some of the lustre has come off the Buxton shine for some evaluators due to those injuries and a poor showing during his debut a year ago, the Twins center fielder remained among the top prospects on every list prior to this 2016 season.
Buxton came to the Majors twice last season, first making his debut on June 14th and staying up for most of June. 
Returned to the minor leagues, he then came up for good on August 20th. He produced just a .209/.250/.326 slash line with 16 runs scored and two stolen bases over 138 plate appearances in 46 games.
The 22-year old only recorded 129 official at-bats with the Twins, one short of the MLB rookie eligibility limit. 
Thanks to that single at-bat, Buxton remains an official candidate for the Rookie of the Year Award this season.
Our staff gave the talented 5-tooler half of our eight votes to become the cumulative favorite. However, four other players each received a single vote, and each has to be considered a legitimate candidate as well.
Those receiving votes included Texas Rangers slugging 3rd baseman/outfielder Joey Gallo, who is beginning the season in the minor leagues. 
Also receiving votes and starting the year in the minors are Houston Astros 1st baseman A.J. Reed and Minnesota pitcher Jose Berrios.
A spring surprise who won a starting job in MLB and who has received the vote from our Ryan Gerstel was infielder/DH Tyler White of the Houston Astros. 
The 25-year old White hit for a .325/.442/.496 slash line with 14 homers and 99 RBI in a 2015 season split between AA and AAA in the Astros’ minor league system.
White won a surprise role with one of the American League’s top teams with an outstanding spring in which he hit for a .353/.443/.588 slash line in the Grapefruit League, with three homers and a dozen RBI down in Florida. 
If he keeps hitting like that, he will certainly keep his job and remain a contender for the rookie award.
Others who could emerge as top rookies this season in the junior circuit include Twins’ Korean import DH Byung-ho Park, Indians ouftielder Tyler Naquin, Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge, Rays pitcher Blake Snell, and Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara.