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Weekend Reading

A round up of links for your enjoyment!

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San Francisco Giants v Minnesota Twins
Kyle Garlick’s return sparked the Twins’ offense on Friday
Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

American League Playoff Races

The Twins finally snapped their six-game losing skid last with a big offensive outburst and a strong outing from Joe Ryan. They’ll look to keep the winning going behind Sonny Gray against the Giants at 6:15 tonight.

That win was worth a game in the standings as Cleveland was walked off 3-2 in extra-innings Seattle. The Guardians went 1-15 with runners in scoring position, reminding us yet again that bad things happen to all teams, not just the Twins.

Chicago’s Johnny Cueto finally had a rocky outing in a 7-2 home loss to Arizona.

In the wild-card race, Toronto was blown out by the Angels 12-0, Boston beat Tampa Bay 9-8, and the upstart Orioles overcame Houston 2-0.

Those results leave Tampa Bay (+0.5), Toronto, and Seattle in the three wild card positions with the latter two 2.5 games up on Baltimore and 5 games up on Minnesota heading into Saturday’s action.

Courtesy of FanGraphs

Twins Links

Correa Says the Right Things: Carlos Correa made some headlines during the Twins' trip to Houston this week by saying all the right things about his possible future in Minnesota. It remains most likely that Correa will opt out of his contract in search of a bigger free agent payday, but Dan Hayes of The Athletic writes that Correa has been impressed with what he’s experienced with the Twins this season. In any event, with Royce Lewis recovering from another major injury, the Twins figure to be back in the shortstop market again this winter.

Around the Minors: Right-hander Louie Varland has acquitted himself quite well to Triple-A, working six shutout innings with nine strikeouts for the Saints on Thursday. In 17 innings with St. Paul, Varland has allowed just 3 runs with a 24-3 strikeout to walk ratio. For Double-A Wichita, infielder Eduoard Julien has a .287/.433/.494 line in 95 games this season and has walked 85 times (19.9%) against 105 strikeouts (24.4%). First-round draft pick Brooks Lee is off to a strong start for high-A Cedar Rapids, hitting .296/.367/.426 in 60 plate appearances. Second-round selection, left-hander Connor Prielipp is expected to make his pro debut in the Fall Instructional League as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery.

2023 Schedule: The Twins’ 2023 schedule was released earlier this week and for the first time, they will play each of the 29 other clubs at one point or another. This change in approach comes as part of the expanded playoff format, necessitating that teams play more similar schedules than the current division-opponent heavy format allows. To make room for the additional opponents, the number of intra-divisional games against each opponent will decrease from 19 to 13. As a fan that lives a long way away from Twins Territory, I am very happy to see a schedule that will bring the Twins closer to me more often.

Dobnak On the Mend: Right-hander Randy Dobnak’s long and oft-disrupted rehab from multiple unusual finger injuries appears to finally be pointed in a good direction. Dobnak has made three rehab outings, last completing two scoreless innings with four strikeouts for Cedar Rapids earlier this week. Darren Wolfson is reporting that Dobnak’s next outing will come with the Saints Sunday in Iowa.

Around Baseball Links

Angels for Sale: Word came out earlier this week that Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim owner Arte Moreno is exploring selling the franchise. Forbes estimates the Angels’ value at $2.2-billion and it’s likely that the cost of acquiring the club will exceed that. Moreno purchased the Angels from the Walt Disney Company in 2003 for a mere Joe Mauer extension: $184 million. A factor in the decision to put the franchise up for sale, as has often seemed to be the case in recent years, is issues with plans (or demands?) to build a new stadium and develop real estate around the new stadium. James covered that saga and the associated allegations of corruption, state law-breaking, and abuse of insider information when the Twins played the Angels a few Fridays ago.

Calling Balls and Strikes: One of the few good things to come from MLB’s hostile takeover of Minor League Baseball is that they’ve been able to use the minors as a testbed for rule changes and technology pilots. The automated calling of balls and strikes has been one of those that’s gotten a lot of attention. A lot of people may not have realized that MLB is piloting different variations of an automated strike zone system, and one of them is based on the challenge system used in professional tennis. That approach got a lot of attention recently and might be an effective compromise for those who want the human element in umpiring to remain part of the game.

Early Career Extensions: Teams securing young talent – usually position players – for the long term with very early career extensions is becoming an increasingly popular strategy. Atlanta has made these kinds of deals a centerpiece of its organizational strategy. Seattle has also been known to do this and reportedly has extended star rookie Julio Rodríguez for a very, very long time with a complex deal that appears to have been informed to some extent by the Twins’ complicated contract with Byron Buxton. The Twins have not availed themselves of this approach in any major way – perhaps Dobnak’s modest extension counts – but it could make some sense for them to pursue deals like this with players like Jose Miranda and Jhoan Duran.

Rod Carew & The State of Baseball: Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic brought attention to the story of Rod Carew and a number of other Hall of Famers cornering Commissioner Manfred at the Hall of Fame in July to voice their concerns about the state of the game. Carew also wrote about his perspective on what happened in his newsletter. Unsurprisingly, like most things ailing baseball today, the analytics boogeyman seems to be at the center of this. My perspective, as someone that is a strong proponent for analytics, is that a major place (one of several) the Commissioner has failed in his stewardship of baseball is in finding palatable ways to make analytics-driven changes to how the game is played and the aesthetics of the on-field product not be at odds. The results of the analytic strategies employed speak for themselves (just look at which teams are winning the World Series). But they have also made the entertainment product of baseball less interesting. If baseball is to thrive in the future, those two things can’t be negatively correlated. It’s the Commissioner’s Office’s job to figure out ways to ease that tension and find ways to align winning baseball strategies with a good on-field product.

Have a good weekend and I hope you can join us for the game threads tonight and tomorrow.

John is a writer for Twinkie Town and Pitcher List with an emphasis on analysis. He is a lifelong Twins fan and former college pitcher. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnFoley_21.