Should Phil Hughes be part of the Twins pitching staff in 2018?

Phil Hughes delivers to the Chicago White Sox Sunday, June 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

Phil Hughes will start his fifth year in Minnesota in 2018 and he makes about $13.2 million a season, the third highest on the team as it stands today behind Joe Mauer and his $23 million deal and Ervin Santana and his $13.5 million contract. The Twins signed Hughes as a free agent starter in December 2013 and then gave him an extension through 2019 after a very good 2014 season. 

After his extension, Hughes went on to have a mediocre 2015 season and then had physical ailments in 2016-2017 that limited him to just 26 starts and ERA’s of 5.95 and 5.87. The last two season have seen him pitch just 112.2 combined innings while giving up 148  hits and 23 home runs. Hughes had two trips to the Disabled List this past season for 104 days and in 2015 his trip to the DL cost him 100 days. Even back in 2014 he visited the DL once for 32 days. 

So the Twins are on the hook for the next two seasons for $26+ million, not exactly a lot of money for a good starter but Hughes has not proven to be a reliable starter by any means. As the old hunter that coached the Minnesota Vikings once said, ability is great but without durability, it is wasted.

There are a lot of teams out there looking for pitching and his salary is not prohibitive so I would try to trade Phil Hughes in a deal where both teams take a calculated risk while trading pitchers that have under performed for what ever reason. After the 2018 season Hughes becomes a 10/5 guy and that limits team options and puts Hughes in the driver’s seat.

Failing to find a new home for Phil Hughes I would make him a reliever, a task that is not entirely new to Hughes and one that he had done OK in over the years but his trip to the pen in 2017 was not one of his better ones. If the Twins don’t land a closer in some other fashion I would even throw his hat in that ring even though Hughes gives up a lot of hits.

If the Twins can’t trade Hughes and the bullpen role doesn’t work out, then I would trade him for whatever I can get at the 2018 trading deadline, why pay him another $13 million in 2019? Phil Hughes has done basically nothing for the Twins in 2016 or 2017 and if his performance in 2018 is substandard then he should be jettisoned because the Twins won’t miss someone who has not contributed in the last few years. The Minnesota Twins have moved their play to another level, one that does not afford them the luxury of carrying dead weight and anything they get from Phil Hughes or for Phil Hughes is just gravy.

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Twins organization All-Stars by MiLB.com

Stephen Gonsalves (Credit: Brian McLeod/MiLB.com)

A lot of our readers are not only interested in the Minnesota Twins history but also want to know something about the Twins future, so now and then we throw them a bone and point them to a story that caught our fancy and maybe it is something they too might enjoy.

In the “Down on the Farm” section on the right hand side of the home page is a headline that reads “Twins’ Gonsalves, Curtiss ready to contribute“, it is nice piece by MiLB.com about Minnesota Twins prospects that are getting close to putting on a Twins uniform or may have already worn out briefly. The article puts together a Twins organization All-Stars about players in the Twins farm system that have stood out in 2017. If you have any interest in the Twins future you might want to check this story out.

If you want to check out Organization All-Stars for the other MLB teams, go here. The “Down on the Farm” headlines are often very interesting and it might be something that you might enjoy looking at if you have not done so.

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Minnesota Twins radio “Dark Ages” finally over

The Minnesota Twins announced today that their radio broadcast have returned to WCCO, 830 on your AM radio dial after an 11 year absence. The 50,000 watt WCCO was the radio home of the Minnesota Twins from the time they moved to Minnesota in 1961 through the 2006 season. The Midwest “Good Neighbor” was outbid for the rights to Twins games after the 2006 season and the Twins switched to KSTP 1500 AM where they stayed for six seasons. KSTP had a decent signal but the station seemed to have no clue on how to promote Minnesota Twins baseball and their in-house broadcasters for pre and post game shows sounded like a bunch of clowns doing rookie league baseball.

The Pohlad family then switched the Twins radio broadcasts to a FM station at 96.3 (that the family bought back in 2007) starting with the 2013 baseball season. Switching MLB broadcasts from AM to FM seemed to be a hot trend at the time. The greedy Pohlads jumped on the bandwagon and figured that they could make more money from ad revenue rather than by selling the rights to Twins radio broadcasts. The Pohlad owned radio station changed call signs over the next few years more often than Paul Molitor brought in relief pitchers and their promotion of Twins games was non-existent on a station that features alternative rock music when the Twins weren’t playing. If the Twins were not playing, there was no baseball talk on the station. The station signal was so weak you had to almost stand next to the radio station itself to get a signal. It was almost as if the Minnesota Twins had no radio outlet at all. 

The wheels in the Minnesota Twins organization turn ever so slowly and the rights to their radio broadcasts seem to fit right in, it took the organization 11 years to correct their original mistake and make things right again. When the Twins left WCCO it was like their team had lost its major league status and was sent to the minors. Eleven seasons of bush league baseball and now the Minnesota Twins have been upgraded to the major leagues once again, it’s about time. The Minnesota Twins radio “Dark Ages” have finally ended.

WCCO is expected to retain the current Twins broadcasting team of Cory Provus and Dan Gladden who are actually Minnesota Twins employees.

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Twins skipper Paul Molitor wins Manager of the Year award

Twins manager Paul Molitor

Paul Molitor, 61 year-old Minnesota native won the American League Manager of the Year award after his Minnesota Twins became the first team to make the playoffs following a 100-loss season. Molitor won the honor November 14 in voting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Molitor joins Frank Robinson as the only Hall of Fame players to win a manager of the year award. Molitor finished ahead of Cleveland’s Terry Francona and Houston’s A.J. Hinch in the AL balloting. Torey Lovullo of the Arizona Diamondbacks won the NL award.

Molitor was rewarded with a three-year extension after the 2017 season ended.

 

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Twins all-opponent team closer

We are going to close out our Twins all-opponent team series today by naming the teams closer. I will tell you up front that the best closer I have seen in the 60 years I have followed major league baseball is Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees. Watching Rivera close out a game was almost like watching a machine, as near perfection as you can get. You all know my history with the Yankees, I have always disliked them since I was a pup, but in this case greatness needs to be recognized for what it is. If Mariano Rivera is not a first ballot Fall of Fame baseball player then no one is. 

Mariano Rivera

Now that my praise for Mariano Rivera is out-of-the-way we will go on to name the Twins all-opponent team closer and he is Troy Percival. Percival closed games for the Angels for 10 seasons before moving on to close for the Tigers, Cardinals and Rays. Percival was an All-Star four times and had 358 career saves over his 14 years in the big leagues.

Troy Percival

In 47 games against our Minnesota Twins he pitched 47.2 innings giving up just 19 his while striking out 56 batters and notched 23 saves. The man gave up just two earned runs against Minnesota (none as an Angel pitcher) and one of those was on the only home run that a Twins batter (Justin Morneau) hit off him. Fittingly it seems, he earned the win in that game when the Tigers came back to win the game in 10 innings 5-4 at Comerica Park. His career ERA against Minnesota? Make that 0.38 .

https://bbref.com/pi/shareit/smWmb

 

Our previous selections for the Twins all-opponent team

CatcherIvan Rodriguez

First BasemanPaul Konerko

Second BasemanLou Whitaker

Third BasemanWade Boggs

ShortstopCal Ripken

Left FieldJim Rice

Center FieldFred Lynn

Right FieldMagglio Ordonez

DHEdgar Martinez

Starting Pitcher (right-handed) – Jim Palmer

Starting Pitcher (left-handed) – David Wells

 

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Byron Buxton first Twins player to ever win Platinum Glove award

Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton was honored as the American League’s top defender on October 10, receiving the Rawlings Platinum Glove Award at the Gold Glove ceremony in New York. Buxton is the first Twins player to win a Platinum Glove, an award established in 2011. The National League Platinum Glove winner was third baseman Nolan Arenado from the Colorado Rockies.

In 2011, Rawlings unveiled the first-ever Rawlings Platinum Glove Award, a new fan-centric platform asking the game’s avid fans who the best defensive baseball player is among that season’s Rawlings Gold Glove Award® winners. To determine the Rawlings Platinum Glove Award winners, fans can only select one player among the Rawlings Gold Glove Award winners from each League.

Rawlings Platinum Glove Award voting – and its open and spirited debate on social media – proved what many believed to be true: fans have a very vocal opinion on who they believe is “the best of the best”, and they understand the defensive nuances enough to back their favorite player’s candidacy from the point-of-view of a scout and an advance analytics sabermetrician.

In 2013, a new sabermetric component from the Rawlings Platinum Glove Award’s new presenting sponsor, the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and its new SABR Defensive Index™ (SDI™) joined the international fan vote to determine the Rawlings Platinum Glove Award winners from each league. The SDI’s ability to accurately compare players from different positions helped establish the “science” behind the evolving Award platform.

Buxton was also named the 2017 Wilson Defensive Player of the Year on Friday. Buxton and Brian Dozier won Gold Gloves for the first time this year.

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Twins all-opponent team starting pitchers

Now it is time to look at the pitchers. Who have been the toughest starting pitchers that the Twins have faced over the last 57 seasons. The criteria just to make this list is very high, pitchers have had to start at least 25 games and pitched 150 innings during their career against the Minnesota Twins between 1961 and 2017 just to show up on this list.

First we are going to look at the right-handed starters and 30 pitchers make the list. Who is the best right-hander that has pitched against the Twins over the years? It is an almost impossible task but I am going to go with Jim Palmer and here is my reasoning. 

I have to admit, if not for all the chatter surrounding Roger Clemens about his cheating I would probably have selected him as the guy, but right or wrong I am disqualifying him in my mind as a cheat. Don’t forget that I also consider Hank Aaron as the legitimate home run champion. The starter that I am going with as the best right-handed starter as the Twins is Hall of Famer Jim Palmer.

BALTIMORE, MD – CIRCA 1970s: Pitcher Jim Palmer #22 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches during circa early 1970s Major League Baseball game at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. Palmer played for the Orioles from 1965-84. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Palmer started 39 games against Minnesota, all with the Baltimore Orioles colors on his back and put up a 20-10 record with an 2.64 ERA with 14 complete games and four shutouts. In 280 innings pitched he struck out 161 batters and allowed just 238 hits.

Check out the list of right-handed starters below and tell me who you would pick as the top guy if you don’t agree with my selection. It is not an easy pick at all.

 https://bbref.com/pi/shareit/al3kb

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Happy Veterans Day!

Don’t forget to thank a Veteran, or two, or three, for their service today and every day.

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Long time Twins coach Rick Stelmaszek passes away

 

FT. MYERS, FL – MARCH 01: Bullpen Coach Rick Stelmaszek #43 of the Minnesota Twins poses during photo day at Hammond Stadium on March 1, 2010 in Ft. Myers, Florida. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Rick Stelmaszek, a fixture on the Minnesota Twins coaching staff from 1981-2012 passed away at the age of 69 after a courageous battle with cancer. His 32 seasons as a coach with one team (Twins) are the third longest such stint in major league history, and he had the longest tenure of any uniformed employee in Twins history.

Richard Francis Stelmaszek known to all his baseball friends as “Stelly”, was born in Chicago, IL on October 8, 1948 and passed away in the city where he was born on November 6, 2017.

According to baseball-reference.com Rick’s father, Raymond Stelmack was a pitcher and outfielder that played in the Yankees, Cardinals, White Sox, and Cubs farm systems from 1939 to 1946 but he never reached the big leagues.

Rick Stelmaszek was drafted after graduating from high school by the Washington Senators as a catcher in round 11 of the 1967 amateur draft and started his professional career in 1968 with the “A” ball Salisbury Senators in the West Carolinas League. Although not a great hitter by any means, Stelmaszek reached the big leagues in 1971 at the age of just 22 and made his big league debut on June 25 at Yankee Stadium when he entered the game in the seventh inning as a pinch-hitter for catcher Paul Casanova and finished the game going 0 for 2. The visiting Senators lost that game 12-2 and it was one of the six big league games he played in 1971.

Note that long-time Twins pitching coach Dick Such is also on the card.

The Washington Senators left Washington after the 1971 season and moved to Arlington, Texas where they became the Texas Rangers.  Stelmaszek spent all of 1972 in the minors perfecting his trade. In 1973 in his seventh game in a Ranger uniform and 0 for 17 in his big league career, Stelly finally got off the snide with a single off of future fall of famer Nolan Ryan of the California Angels for his first big league hit.

That hit must have impressed the Angels because the next day they acquired him in a five player trade with the Rangers. Stelmaszek spent the rest of 1973 with California but found himself in AAA when the 1974 season started. In July of 1974 Stelmaszek was packing his suitcase again, this time he was off to his home town of Chicago where he appeared in 25 games for the Cubs. Stelly hit his first and only major league home run wearing a big league uniform when hit the “tater” off future hall of famer Don Sutton in an 18-8 Cubbies loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field. Stelmaszek went 2 for 4 with a double when he played in his final big league game at the age of 25, a 3-2 loss at Wrigley to the Montreal Expos.

Stelmaszek spent all of 1975 with the Cubs AAA team and in January of 1976 he was on the move again, this time he was headed for the bright lights of New York City to play with the Yankees. However; Stelly never got to wear the Yankee pinstripes and he spent 1976 with the Yankees AAA team and in 1977 he was playing in AAA for the Rangers.

1978 found him with the Minnesota Twins organization as a player manager for the “A” ball Wisconsin Rapids Twins in the Midwest League. His record that season was only 62-76 but the only player that ever reached the big leagues that played on that team was Mark Funderburk and he only played in 31 major league games for the Twins. Stelmaszek retired as a player after the 1978 season but he continued managing at Wisconsin Rapids through the 1980 season.

After winning the Midwest League Manager of the Year award in 1980, Stelly joined the Twins big league coaching staff in 1981 as the bullpen coach under manager Johnny Goryl and continued in that roll for 32 years and coached under five managers, Goryl, Billy Gardner, Ray Miller, Tom Kelly and Ron Gardenhire

When the Twins finished 2012 with the worst record in baseball, Rick Stelmaszek was one of the coaching casualties and lost his long time coaching job with the Twins. Stelmaszek was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December 2016. The Twins talked him into returning to Target Field to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day in 2017. He also made it back to Target Field for the 30-year anniversary celebration of the 1987 World Series team in July. The team recently announced that Stelmaszek would receive the Herb Carneal Lifetime Achievement Award, to be presented in January.

Here is the Twins’ statement after learning that their long time coach had passed away.

“The Minnesota Twins are deeply saddened by the loss of Rick Stelmaszek.  A true Twins legend, “Stelly” was widely respected throughout baseball. He was a professional who dedicated his life to Twins baseball and instilled a winning culture into generations of Twins players. The club, like many of his friends throughout the game, is thinking of his wife and son, Kathy and Michael, and the entire Stelmaszek family during this difficult time.”

 

Longtime Twins bullpen coach Rick ‘Stelly’ Stelmaszek dies at 69

Former Twins coach Rick Stelmaszek dies at 69

Stelmaszek was wondrous practitioner in noble art of baseball humor

Rest in peace, Rick Stelmaszek

Thank you for the memories Rick Stelmaszek and we here at Twinstrivia.com would also like to pass on our condolences to the Stelmaszek family and friends.

 

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Twins all-opponent team DH

DHEdgar Martinez – What? Not who you thought? You probably forget about this All-Star third baseman turned DH but this man was a hitting machine. Martinez started his career at the hot corner in 1987 but didn’t get a full-time gig until 1990 when he was 27. In 1995 he became a full-time DH after numerous injuries kept him from playing full-time. During his 18 year big league career he won two batting titles, five Silver Slugger awards and was a seven time All-Star.

He appeared in 2,055 games and had a career average of .312 and an OPS of .933. Martinez had 2,247 career hits and 514 of them were doubles and 309 were of the long ball variety.

Edgar found hitting against the Twins to his liking, in 436 PA’s he hit .353 with an OPS of 1.044 with 27 doubles, 25 home runs and 78 RBI and he crossed the plate 80 times. He also walked 58 times and struck out just 60 times. Twins managers had him walked intentionally eight times, more often than any other DH.

My runner-up for DH has to be David Ortiz but there have been numerous other great DH that have beat up on Minnesota over the years like Hal McRae, Harold Baines, Travis Hafner, Frank Thomas, Don Baylor, Victor Martinez, Billy Butler, Jim Thome, Mike Sweeney and of course we can’t leave Paul Molitor off this list. Are you sure that baseball is better without a DH?

 

Our previous selections for the Twins all-opponent team

Catcher – Ivan Rodriguez

First Baseman – Paul Konerko

Second Baseman – Lou Whitaker

Third Baseman – Wade Boggs

Shortstop – Cal Ripken

Left Field – Jim Rice

Center Field – Fred Lynn

Right Field – Magglio Ordonez

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