Friday, March 27, 2015

Episode 124: Talking Kansas City and the Brian Dozier Contract

You can download the new Talk to Contact (@TalkToContact) episode via iTunes or by clicking here.

This week we talk about the strange details of the Brian Dozier contract, Eric owing a bunch of people helmet nachos, and we try and figure out (again) who is in the lead for the fifth starter spot. After a couple of adult beverages, we talk baseball with Royals Review, http://www.royalsreview.com/, editor-in-chief, Max Reiper and find out what the Royals have been doing this winter.

We finish up with our beverages of choice, baseball and the news.

Enjoy this week's episode. 

If you enjoy our podcast, please tell your friends about us and take a couple extra minutes to rate and review us on iTunes. Ratings and reviews help the Twins make the right choice for the fifth starter spot.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Perspective on Dozier's Extension

Well Twins fans, Brian Dozier isn't going anywhere for the next four years.

What's that? He was already under team control through 2018. Then what just happened...

The Twins and Dozier agreed to a $20-million, four-year contract extension. This new contract covers his eligibility for salary arbitration in the coming years. However, the deal isn't long enough to impact his future timing of free agency. Contracts for pre-arbitration eligible players typically include options years for the team at the end but this one didn't.

So why did this deal get done?

Dozier's Perspective
$20 million will no doubt change the life of Mr. Dozier. He is now guaranteed that amount of money and he doesn't have to worry about going through the arbitration process. By not giving up any option years at the end of the deal, Dozier has the opportunity to hit the open market following his age-31 season.

Depending on his level of play and salary arbitration increases, Dozier might have given up a little bit of money at the end of this deal but he had to do that for it to make sense for the Twins. It sounds like Dozier wants to stay in Minnesota for the long haul even though he's been part of some bad Minnesota clubs. "Hopefully this is a steppingstone for something possibly even longer," Dozier said.

Minnesota's Perspective
The Twins seem to be pushing the fact that they have some cost certainty with Dozier throughout his arbitration years. If Dozier were to hit .320 with 35+ home runs, his arbitration salary could have gone through the roof. They now know what Dozier will get paid and they don't have to worry about the arbitration process. Minnesota has locked up players like Nick Blackburn and Joe Mays and ended up regretting the deal in the end.

Minnesota also likes the type of player Dozier is and what he means to this organization. "He has character. He's a good man. He's good in the clubhouse," general manager Terry Ryan said. "People follow him. We wouldn't extend this type of dollar figure and security to a guy that we don't trust. We trust him, on and off the field."

Aging Gracefully
Overall, Dozier debuted at an older age and will be Most sabermetric's would say that players peak around age 27 while a more recent study says players peak around age 29. Either way Dozier will be past his peak during the life of this contract.
playing in his age 28 season this year.

This deal could end up working out great for the Twins and maybe it ends up resulting in an even longer deal for Dozier. At this point, it doesn't seem like the Twins gained enough by locking up Dozier for his arbitration years. He's a valuable part of the deal but a similar deal could have been struck next off-season if Dozier continued to perform at a high level.

40-Man Roster Dissection: Center Fielders

The race for the starting center fielder job is one of the hottest contests in spring training this year. Aaron Hicks has been the Opening Day starter the last two seasons but he hasn't been able to hit at baseball's highest level. Jordan Schafer seems more like a fourth outfielder than an everyday player. While Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario, might not be ready for baseball's highest level.

Rosario has certainly played well enough during the spring to deserve and opportunity but this comes on the heels of a rough regular season in 2014. It seems far more likely for Hicks or Schafer to split playing time until one of the young players in the system proves they are ready for the role.

Aaron Hicks
.215/.341/.274, 1 HR, 8 2B, 18 RBI, 22 R
Hicks has come north with the club in each of the last two seasons. However, he hasn't show offensive consistency and this has resulted in him combining to play 150 MLB games. There was some talk of him switching away from being a switch hitter last season but that talk has cooled. Minnesota has given Hicks plenty of chances so it could be a make it or break it season for him with other younger options getting closer to being big league ready. 25-Man Roster Prediction: Yes

Max Kepler
.264/.333/.393, 5 HR, 20 2B, 59 RBI, 53 R (High-A Level)
Since the Twins signed Kepler at such a young age, he had to be added to the 40-man roster while he was still multiple years away from Target Field. Kepler's power numbers dropped last season during his second year of full season ball. The majority of his minor league games have come as a center fielder but he's also played a large chunk of games in both corner outfield spots and a little at first base. It seems likely for him to have to break into the big leagues at a position other than center field. 25-Man Roster Prediction: No

Eddie Rosario
.243/.286/.387, 8 HR, 20 2B, 40 RBI, 45 R (High-A & Double-A Level)
Rosario began last season serving a 50-game suspension for his second positive drug test. Once he was able to get into games, he compiled some of his worst hitting numbers of his professional career. Things started to get back on track during his second stint in the Arizona Fall League. He was one of the best hitters in the league and he helped led his team to the championship. His spring training numbers could mean he's finally recovered from last season's disastrous start. However, he'll probably still need to start the year in the minors. 25-Man Roster Prediction: No

Jordan Schafer
.238/.310/.305, 1 HR, 9 2B, 15 RBI, 26 R, 30 SB
With Paul Molitor at the helm, the Twins might be a little more aggressive on the bases. That's where Schafer could provide some positive upside for the club. He stole 30 totals bases last year with 15 of those steals coming after he was claimed off waivers by Minnesota. He's other offensive numbers don't exactly excite anyone and that's probably why he would be most valuable as a back-up outfielder and late inning pinch runner. 25-Man Roster Prediction: Yes

Monday, March 23, 2015

2015 Topps Opening Day Review: Minnesota Twins

With only a handful of days until the actually opening of the baseball season, Topps Trading Cards has released their annual Opening Day set. This set is a simplistic version of their 2015 Topps set and it is the cheapest product offered by Topps. The lower cost makes this set perfect for younger collectors and it is any easy set for set builders to complete.

The base set includes 125 cards from Series One and 75 Series Two preview cards. Each card in the main set has multiple parallels such as Blue Opening Day, Opening Day 1/1, and four printing plates per card. The base set doesn't include an foil in the design but both Opening Day parallels feature a foil stamp with the date of MLB's Opening Day.

Unlike some other team's the Twins have a fairly strong presence in the base set and in the inserts. The Twins base set includes two veteran star players and some of the other young up-and-coming players that made a splash last season.

2015 Opening Day Base Set
30. Danny Santana
68. Joe Mauer
89. Brian Dozier
126. Oswaldo Arcia
168. Kennys Vargas

Danny Santana is not only featured in the base set, he's also in the "Franchise Flashbacks" set. This set profiles 20 different players wearing throwback uniforms. Joe Mauer is featured in the "Opening Day Stars" set, which are 3-D cards of some of the game's best players.

TC Bear makes the cut for two different Opening Day inserts. 25 different mascots have cards featured in the set and left-handed slugger is one of the lucky few. He's also one of five mascots to have a Mascot Autograph included in the set. TC Bear is one of two mascots to be featured in the "Team Spirit" insert set along with eight of the best players in the game.

In a unique feature, two Twins fans will have their photography used in the "Stadium Scenes #ToppsLive" set. Lance McKinnon and Tony Voda each took pictures at Target Field last year and published their photos on Instagram. Topps picked the best photos and used them on cards.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Episode 123: Rosario in CF and the Indians Preview

You can download the new Talk to Contact (@TalkToContact) episode via iTunes or by clicking here.

This week’s Talk to Contact podcast is filled with rampant speculation. Can Eddie Rosario win the CF job this spring? How long will uber prospects Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton spend in AA? Can either Alex Meyer or Trevor May do anything to make the opening day roster? Can Danny Santana be a legitimate leadoff hitter and avoid the “sophomore slump”? All these questions answered and more. 

We finish the podcast with a special guest, Jason Lukeheart (@JasonLukeheart), the managing editor of Let’s Go Tribe (http://www.letsgotribe.com/) to find out what’s been going on in Cleveland since the season ended and find out what the Indians ball club will look like heading into the 2015 season. 

Thanks for listening.

If you enjoy our podcast, please tell your friends about us and take a couple extra minutes to rate and review us on iTunes. Ratings and reviews help the Twins figure out their center field situation.