81 thoughts on “July 2, 2015: This is It”

    1. Schedule the Tommy John surgery! Oh, wait...

      Here's hoping the Big Guy can get off to a roaring start.

  1. So right now the Twins are 4 games over .500. They sit in a wild card spot. They've called up a good number of their top prospects. Others have been promoted and/or are playing well in the minors...

    There were lots of fears about what this season would turn out to be. Another lost year, too much "ii blocking the prospects", no pitching, etc. So while things haven't been perfect, by any stretch, I think we can safely say at this point that our worst fears were not realized. For me at least, this is an organization that has justified the last bits of faith I was giving it.

    1. We have a plethora of good better than before starters, which is nice. Hopefully the prospects infusion can help the offense (and defense) for the second half

      1. using statcorner.com's measures, both May and Milone/Nolasco (counted as one starter) have been solidly above average starters. Hughes has risen to average; Gibson and Pelfrey have fallen below average.

        In the bullpen, only Fien, Perk, and the whispers of Thielbar have been above average.

          1. Had him on my fantasy roster a couple times. Since you're looking, I'm guessing he's available.

        1. I feel like Gibson has risen to below average.

          Hah. Yea, well, I didn't actually look at any splits to confirm those off-the-cuff assessments.

    2. I think they're better, but at the same time, I can remember other years recently where we were near .500 (not above it, but near it) around this time, and then fell apart in the second half. I don't expect that to happen, but it certainly could, especially if they'd get a couple of injuries.

      1. It certainly could. But in past years they weren't aggressively promoting prospects either. That's the biggest piece. They haven't let success prevent them from investing in future success.

      2. Padre, I started this in response to your recap of yesterday's game as it pertained to the Vargas for Sano move, but decided to move it over here based on the current discussion.
        You don't expect them to fall apart in the second half, but do you see them as contending for a wild card spot?

        You assert (accurately I think) that the team believes they're contending for a wild card spot.* My take? I think it's reasonable to believe that their perception is influencing how they're handling a lot of their "prospects" this year. It appears that they're not standing by them through the ups and downs of learning how to play in The Show because they don't want to squander the wins they've banked and a shot at the post season. I agree that it's short-sighted and certainly doesn't seem wise for the long-term success of the players & club. But, based on what they seem to believe their chances at a wild card spot are, I don't know how else they could play it. Their margin for error is so small. No one with significant playing time - even at an arbitrary cut-off of 40/78 games - is batting over .271, and only one of them has an OPS over 800.

        Vargas's "young slugger ups and downs" didn't cause their 17 losses in June, but he didn't contribute much either (51 at-bats: .235/.235/.373, 5 RBI, 17K's, 0 BB). They seem to be looking for guys who can contribute now, like Santana did last year (his worst month was July: .271/.294/.521) and Rosario is doing this year (his June: .266/.303/.415 - 13 runs, 7 RBI, 18K and 5 BB in 94 at-bats ), and perhaps they think that by bringing up some of their top prospects, they're helping with the development by giving them a taste of the majors as well as trying to win now?

        Based on positional needs, if they bring up a 3B/DH, I don't know who else they send down (since they seem unwilling to go with fewer than 13 pitchers). If they believe they're in contention and are willing to sacrifice some development (our perception of the move) in order to stay in contention, then that's their move. I'd like to see Vargas stay up, but until they're out of contention, I don't think they move Plouffe (or anyone really) and go to Sano full time at 3B. Based on the current active roster and the likely-to-possible reintegration of Hicks/Arcia/Buxton/E. Santana ... this may just be a move like the one made by the Cubs with Kyle Schwarber?

        *I think they've shown enough competence that they could be in contention for a post season slot at the end of the summer. I also believe they have sufficient shortcomings which could torpedo the whole enterprise.

        1. I don't really expect them to get a wild card spot, but it's certainly possible.

          As I said, I don't have a problem with Sano ahead of Vargas right now. They're not going to move Mauer off first or Plouffe off third, so that leaves two players for one DH spot. I like Vargas and think he'll be a fine hitter, but there's no question that Sano is the more highly touted prospect. So, if they're going to give Sano a full shot and stand by him in his inevitable struggles (those struggles may or may not come initially, but they will certainly come at some point), I don't have a problem with going with Sano. If it's just a short-term attempt to try to find a hot hand, that's different, but we have to wait and see whether that's the case.

          What makes me think they've given up on Vargas is that they sent him to AA. The only reason I've seen Terry Ryan give for that move is that "Chattanooga needs a first baseman", which is so stupid as to be insulting. If Chattanooga needs a first baseman, send Reynaldo Rodriguez down there and at least let Vargas play at AAA. There'd be some logic behind that. It's only going to retard Vargas' progress to send him to AA. He's not going to get better by hitting AA pitching. In fact, he's likely to fall into bad habits because he can get away with them there.

          Emotionally, I'd love to see them trade Plouffe now and open third base for Sano. I know they'd never do that, and I can't criticize them for not doing it. It would be a high risk/high reward move that few teams would have the courage to make. And, of course, I say that not having any idea what you could get for Plouffe. To trade him at mid-season, with a team that's in contention at least for now, you'd have to get something substantial back or you could give the perception that you were giving up on the season. I would, however, like them to strongly consider moving Plouffe during the off-season. Again, that would be a move similar to trading Pierzynski to make room for Mauer or trading Mientkiewicz to make room for Morneau. Sometimes, you have to trade a good player to make room for a better player.

          1. One other note. I don't know how much bringing up a prospect to give them a taste of the majors helps, but if that's what the Twins are doing, it's a marked change in philosophy. They've always said the reason they tend to hold players down is that they want them to be fully ready when they come up and not have to go back and forth. They don't always seem to put that philosophy into practice, but it's what they've said.

          2. One thing that occurs to me as a possibility is that, if there are specific things they want Vargas to work on (and it sounded like that was the case at some point, right?), maybe Mientkiewicz is the right person to be working with him? That's probably not a message the organization is going to ever put out there, but I can see it as a real possibility.

            1. I suppose it's possible. But wouldn't that kind of be an indictment of the AAA coaching staff?

              1. Not necessarily. There might well be some specific skill sets at AA that match well with Vargas.

                  1. Such as? I'm not asking to be argumentative. I'd really like to know. What sorts of things are you thinking Mientkiewicz can teach him that he couldn't learn at least as well in AAA?

                    1. Maybe M11 has worked with him more in the past? Or one of the other coaches? I really don't see the various levels of the minors as promotions/demotions as much as others seem to, particularly when you 're talking about AA/AAA, where prospects make the jump to the majors practically as frequently as the other.

                      I've been to more than one Omaha Storm Chasers game to know that most of AAA players are there because they're not going anywhere else. Doesn't mean they're better than their AA counterparts.

                    2. Rhu has a point. I mean, look at Rochester's roster. It is chock full of late-20s never-gonna-be's. I'd still rather he be at AAA to work on whatever, but....

              2. It might be. The Twins sure have seen a lot of position prospects skip AA and go straight to the majors the last several years (Parmelee, Benson, Hicks, Santana, Vargas, Buxton and Sano). I've heard some people say that teams don't like prospects to play in AAA because the veteran players can display bad attitudes (not just Twins guys, but AAA in general).

          3. He's not going to get better by hitting AA pitching. In fact, he's likely to fall into bad habits because he can get away with them there.

            This could be true ... I just don't think (i.e., kind-of hope) it means they've given up on him. I don't think TR gives up on a guy after only 400 plate appearances in the majors. I admit, your assessment may be the right one, but he only played 1 year at AA (2014) and although it was pretty good: .281/.360/.472, he was still 1.7 years younger than the league average and it was less than 100 games played (405 PA's). He did well in <20 games with AAA this year, but maybe they have a plan for how he can be consistently successful and think AA's the place to learn it?

            On the other hand, Arcia, also 24 with only 1 more minor league season than Vargas, better numbers in the minors (.310/.370/.532 v .289/.369/.487) but with similar offensive numbers in about twice as many plate appearances in the majors, also seems to be in the doghouse. I don't know.

            Skepticism is certainly fair; this front office likely shouldn't get as much leeway after what we've seen the last 4 years, no matter the unexpected success of the first half this year.

          4. Well, for comparison's sake, Hicks, who also had been considered a better prospect than Vargas, was sent back to AA last year after being the Twins' Opening Day CF two years in a row. But he made it back to the majors with the Twins this year. Trading Plouffe doesn't make sense to me unless they get blown away with an offer because offense has been the Twins' biggest problem and he's been one of their three best hitters this year and has consistently shown improvement the last several years. Moving him or Sano to a different position would make a lot more sense. Probably the most sense would be having ii to DH, and having Plouffe or Sano move to a corner outfield spot. Or even Mauer to the outfield, who is probably the most athletic of the options, and Sano to first base, where he'll likely end up anyways.

            1. Hicks was never anywhere near the hitter Vargas was, even in the minors. I think (and again, I'm speaking with no knowledge of what you could actually get in return) that they'd be better off to try to trade Plouffe for a real outfielder than to move him, Sano, or Mauer there. Terry Ryan might not agree with me, though.

              1. It seems as though the system is fairly loaded with OF prospects at the moment, some of whom are being tested out this year or likely will be next year -- Hicks, Rosario, Arcia, Buxton, Kepler, Walker, Minier (who is a long ways away, I know).... I'm not sure I would favor trading Plouffe for a "real outfielder" just as the system seems poised to pay off. He's not so good that he'd likely bring top, camera-ready prospects or somebody already in the Majors and ready to improve significantly on what we've got.

                Maybe for a SS, catcher, or middle-of-the-rotation starter... but, again, that might be asking too much for him. I mean, he's in his age-29 season and pretty much is what he is. His current slash line of 253/314/438 looks just like last year's and just like 2012's. That makes him a league-average hitter, and he's arbitration-eligible next year. Might make sense to sell him to someone making a pennant run this year if (when?) the Twins are out of contention, but I wouldn't expect a big return.

                1. I'd agree with that. My point was not so much that we need get an outfielder in return for Plouffe as that I think it would be better to have outfielders playing in the outfield than to move Plouffe, Sano, or Mauer there. My other point is that sometimes you need to trade a good-but-not-great player in order to make room for somebody who could actually be a great player.

                  1. My concern would be that there's a lot of concern about Sano's ability to play third base and I don't see anyone else in the system that could take over that role if Sano can't, so I wouldn't want to trade Plouffe knowing he has become a pretty good defender. Sano is projected to hit well enough to be valuable no matter what position he plays, but if he can't play third good enough, the Twins will move him to 1b/DH (or possibly corner outfield) and then trading Plouffe would mean just another hole for the Twins to fill.

                    1. That's a legitimate concern. My feeling, though, is that if Miguel Cabrera can learn to play third, so can Miguel Sano. I don't expect him to win a gold glove there, but if he's as good as they say he is, he doesn't need to. All he needs to do is be adequate. And again, the only way we're going to find out if he can play there is to let him play there.

                    2. The other aspect of it is that you can always find a reason not to make a move. Any move involves a risk. But if you don't take chances sometimes, you're never going to get any place.

                    3. Speaking of Cabrera, he started as a shortstop in the minors before being quickly moved to third base. When he got called up as a 20-year-old, the Marlins had Mike Lowell playing third base, so Cabrera played more in the outfield than at third base for half a season and was in the outfield when the Marlins won the World Series. Cabrera played his first full season pretty much exclusively in the outfield then went back to third base when the Marlins got rid of Lowell and his contract.

    3. I'm cautiously optimistic. But, I'm gonna wait four more games (KC) before I say anything more.

  2. the ending of England-Japan yesterday was perhaps the saddest thing I've seen in sports since I watched Ruffian break down in her match race against Foolish Pleasure in 1975 (July 6, so we are coming up on the 40th anniversary of that tragedy).

    1. I still feel so bad for her. The player, not the horse. Though that was sad, too.

  3. As I write this, my younger brother is getting his rotator cuff operated on. Tommy John next?

    1. ugh. Rotator cuff surgery is nasty. I'm really thankful that I avoided that.*

      *Instead (now 2+ years ago), I only had ends of bones sawed off and got told that I have maybe 4-5 years until I'll need a shoulder replacement due to lack of cartilage in the joint. Yea!
      I'm now thinking that I might make it a decade before needing any further work, thanks to vigorous and ongoing rehab.

      1. I had my rotator cuff tidied up when I had my labrum repair done. Doc was sorta like "Well, I was already in there, so why not."

      2. Sis-in-law texted that surgery went well. We'll have to see how he recovers, but glad to hear that. He's been walking around with a torn rotator cuff for months. My sis-in-law had surgery a couple of months ago and he waited until she recovered before he went under the knife. He also had a partially torn bicep that got fixed (or that was the plan).

        1. And ZOMG, 3.5 hours after surgery, he's in a car riding home. For 4 hours. Good lord.

            1. He's not driving (he's drugged up), but still. I tried to tell him to stay with us. But, he's most definitely his own man.

  4. So, NBA:

    Spurs are gonna get LMA. Holy shit. They are the favorites for next year's title and probably won't have to resort to hack-a-DeAndre tactics, because DeAndre's probably going to the LOLakers and won't make the playoffs. They better watch out, though, because Paul Pierce is probably gonna hit a three falling back into his wheelchair to eliminate them in the 2nd round next year.

    Cleveland has shit ton invested at the four. I don't know about that. I can see them going small a lot, but damn, they have a really good center who is an excellent rim protector.

    The Heat are gonna be a factor again, I think.

    Have you seen that Melo is trying to get Me7o to stick as a thing? How about Mel0 instead? The Knicks have it goink on. I was talking to someone about the NBA the other day and they said that they can't imagine anyone taking Mel0's deal in a trade. You mean holding the ball for 20 seconds and then jacking up a turnaround jumper as your first offensive option isn't the way to a ring? Who knew?

    1. This has been the greatest two weeks in Knicks and Lakers schadenfreude in, perhaps, the history of the league.

      1. The entire post-Mel0 trade era has been pretty fantastic, actually. And I love that LMA was not happy with his meeting with Mamba. Kobe's like, you gonna be like Pao Gasol and LMA's like, CYA.

      2. I think Phil needs to get back to LA and commiserate with his honey.

        Brian Windhorst on The Herd: "For the Knicks not to offer Greg Monroe a max contract in this market ... it's a mismanagement by the Knicks. It's the Knicks living in the wrong era."

          1. Wow.

            I like Monroe a lot. But I'm thinking that all of these max deals for merely "very good" players are signalling that just maybe the max in the CBA is too low.

            1. Oh, it's definitely too low. When the new TV contract kicks in next year, I think that the salary cap is gonna go up about $20 million and that much again the next year. Teams are and will be awash in money to spend, so Monroe getting the max is not at all out of line.

              That's why the Knicks not getting in on that is foolish.

              1. I do kind of wonder if he would have gone to NY or MIL had the Knicks offered that max, anyway. Big market, endorsement money, blah, blah, blah and all that, The Knicks are such a LOL-show that they may not even be able to attract these free agents as everyone always thinks they can. Phil might almost get close to making their fans fondly remember the Isaiah days....

                1. David Aldridge has been making the point that the market size isn't as much of a consideration because small market dudes (think KD) can get all kinds of national exposure and endorsement $$$ if they are good enough. SAS and MEM are small markets, but they have bad-ass teams (SAS is the king of that, of course). Any franchise, if well run, can make it. The league and its players are in a really good place right now.

                  1. The league and its players are in a really good place right now.

                    Never been better. Transitioned out of the iso-dominated offenses and thuggish defenses to a much more wide-open game that is very fan-friendly. Now just get rid of the hack-a- strategy, Commissioner Scarecrow.

                    1. I think a rule change is a lock before next year. It seems simple enough to me to not allow off-ball fouls to get free throws.

                    2. It seems simple enough to me to not allow off-ball fouls to get free throws.

                      Umm, boy, I dunno about that. How about one shot and the ball? Giving guys free shots at someone does not seem like a good idea.

                    3. That's most definitely coming. I, too, think one shot and the ball.

                      MJ was a drug that the league was hooked on. They've got so many really good players now and interest is high. Huge ratings for that finals without the Lakers, Celtics, or (ha!) the Knicks. CLE, MEM, SAS, OKC, all small markets with compelling teams. Hope in MIN and MIL. Rebirth in ATL. Replay has done a lot to remove the conspiracy claims and to get calls right down the stretch. (And validate, I think, how good most of the refs in the league are, as compared to baseball, which seems to have a really high overturn rate.)

                      Plus, a league with an excellent diversity rating for both women and people of color. For me, it's the model professional league. But, I'm biased.

    2. Wait, hold on...

    3. Holy hell...
      Teams agreed to $1.4 billion in players salaries yesterday, not including the five-year, $145 million extension to The Brow.
      LMA & DeAndre Jordan haven't decided what they'll be paid yet, and neither have LeBron and DWade.

      1. Also, unlike with NFL free agency, these players are gonna actually get that money. And they should. NBA free agency is the best free agency period. It's a freaking mad scramble.

        1. The players probably deserve a biggest slice of the revenue pie by having a larger salary cap.

        2. The problem I have with the NBA salary cap is that it is so complicated and results in so many trades for cap-only purposes. I hate when a guy gets traded only to even up the $.

          But I do like that it favors teams keeping their own players. I think that is better for fans and the quality of the teams.

          Maybe there isn't a way to accomplish this without being complicated.

          1. As opposed to cutting players for salary cap purposes? The cap is a soft cap in many ways, which allows teams to pay and keep their own players. Yep, it's complicated, just like the tax code, but that's because there's a lot of things to consider when making the policy.

  5. Holy crap. Can the Kings please move so that I can get Warriors home games on my local cable?

    Sixers get:

    Nik Stauskas (the eighth-overall pick in the 2014 draft)
    Carl Landry
    Jason Thompson
    A future top-10-protected first-round pick (per Grantland's Zach Lowe)
    The right to swap two future first-round picks

    Kings get:

    The rights to overseas-based Lithuanian prospect Arturas Gudaitis and Serbian prospect Luka Mitrovic (per ESPN's Pablo Torre)
    A future second-round pick
    The Kings cleared $13 million off their salary cap by getting rid of Landry and Thompson, but it cost them their 2014 first-round pick and a bunch of future assets. The Kings now have around $27 million in cap room, but even if they can sign two of Rondo, Matthews, and Ellis, are they really a serious contender in the West?

    Now, Jason Thompson and Carl Landry are expensive role players, and Stauskas has a long way to go before he becomes a good NBA player. But seriously? Who they hell would want to go play for the Kings in free agency? And they are targeting Rondo??? Ugh.

        1. I was just commenting on who they were interested in, not who they were gonna get. I'm also working on this morning's news because I haven't been able to check the twitters all day.

          1. Grantland, it seems, is more sanguine about the deal on Philly's side.

            Almost exactly two years ago, the Warriors shipped two future first-round picks to the Jazz as payoff for Utah swallowing $20 million of dead money attached to Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins.

            Put another way: Utah paid $10 million a pop for two first-round picks. That is on the high-ish side of the pick exchange market, but it’s not out of line with what other teams — including the Warriors and then-Bobcats1 — have coughed up for picks.

            Point is, the Sixers absorbing $25 million attached to Carl Landry and Jason Thompson in return for a protected first-round pick and the right to swap first-rounders with the Kings in two more drafts, is not, on the surface, some embarrassing outlier for the Kings. Philly actually paid a very high price in cash and two second-round picks of their own for an uncertain asset: a top-10-protected pick that could arrive in 2018 or 2019, once the Kings fulfill the endgame of another embarrassing trade, and becomes unprotected after that.

            But it's still a bad deal for the Kings, particularly if they cannot attract a major impact player to pair with Boogie Cousins and get George Karl to STFU with all that cap space.

            Contending teams can flip first-round picks in exchange for pieces that might put them over the top. Rebuilding teams cannot flip first-round picks in exchange for nice players who might not even push them into the race for the no. 8 seed — especially not a Kings team already out a first-round pick to Chicago, via the Cavs, that they dealt in an on-its-face terrible deal for J.J. freaking Hickson.

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