released a piece with the best of the 2016 year, and of course, Minnesota had three entrants.
It's pretty easy to pick out that the Twins have gotten considerable run from Fernando Abad, Brandon Kintzler, and Robbie Grossman in 2016. Both Abad and Kintzler were non-roster guys that received spring training invites and minor league deals with the Twins. It was expected from the get go that Abad would make the team as the club's lefty reliever, and Minnesota thought his down 2015 was simply due to tipping his pitches.
After posting a 4.15 ERA with the Athletics a season ago, Abad has been incredible for the Twins. No longer tipping his pitches, he's made it through the first half with a 2.83 ERA and a 3.63 FIP. His 8.2 FIP is along the lines of his last three seasons, and he's danced around the a career worst 4.1 BB/9. Despite a recent rough stretch, Abad has been able to get both righties (.725 OPS) and lefties (.451 OPS) out. Obviously looking at those numbers, he's absolutely dominated left-handed batters, to the tune of a .163/.196/.256 slash line.
Despite being a long shot to make the 25 man roster, Kintzler obviously saw a pretty solid chance to make the Twins at some point after the club had such a poor pen a season ago. He owned a 3.52 ERA in 10 games with Triple-A Rochester prior to his promotion to the big league club. Since, he's owned a 2.42 ERA and walked next to no one (0.7 BB/9). His FIP leaves plenty to be desired, but he;s now working as the Twins (miscast) closer, having picked up his first five major league saves.
Rounding out the trio of guys touched on by MLB Trade Rumors was Robbie Grossman. Cast off by the Cleveland Indians, Ryan and the Twins saw an opportunity to solidify their revolving outfield. Grossman, just 26, had shown promise with the Astros but had never lived up to his billing. With the Twins, he's been an on base machine, and has slashed .289/.421/.465 through 48 games. He's already matched his career high in homer (6), and is just four doubles shy of tying his career high (14).
It's pretty safe to say that each of the three aforementioned guys have been among the Twins best players in 2016. This isn't something new though for a Terry Ryan club, and it's really not even isolated to this trio for the current year.
Buddy Boshers was another non roster guy that the Twins brought in out of Indy Ball for the 2016 season. He was a part of the roster squeeze a few days back, but he posted a 1.38 ERA across 13.0 IP and amassed a 9.7 K/9 with a 1.4 BB/9 in his first major league action since 2013.
A season ago, Minnesota could've used Mark Hamburger in their pen. He was lights out at Triple-A Rochester, posting a 3.44 ERA in 68.0 IP with an 8.3 K/9. Now pitching in Indy Ball with the St. Paul Saints and working as a starter, he's compiled a 2.59 ERA across 11 outings. In an uncertain outfield, Minnesota brought in Shane Robinson who turned out 3 defensive runs saved in just over 450 innings. Before that, it was signings like Blaine Boyer (2.49 ERA across 65.0 IP in 2015 for Twins), that showed Ryan's acumen.
At it's core, the highlighting of small splashes like those noted above are what Terry Ryan has done best. It follows the narrative of the Twins being a small market team, but is really indicative of a different story altogether. It's not that the Twins don't have the money to spend, but instead that when they do, Ryan generally misses the mark.
It's in deals like those handed out to Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes that Ryan looks to make the big wave and comes up short. Rather, when he uses his adept scouting knowledge and looks to squeeze what's left out of something lesser, the Twins GM generally finds his mark. Seeing the Twins turn out decent non-roster deals or small market contracts is far from a surprise, and once again should benefit them in 2016.
As the trade deadline approaches, Abad should be an easy piece to move. Kintzler is a usable option for a competing team, and Grossman's approach should be able to help another club unless the Twins see him as a fourth outfielder in the year ahead. What hitting on situations like these does is allow for a bad team, like the Twins have been, to try and stockpile assets moving forward. You won't get the cream of the crop, but your return on investment should be through the roof.
When push comes to shove at the end of the season, Minnesota would be best served to fire Terry Ryan. Don't let him walk away on his own terms, don't let him step down. Send the message that he has failed as General Manager, there's no soft way to put that. If the club has a problem cutting ties or wants to utilize his true talent though, Ryan serving in a scouting capacity of some sort would be far from a bad option. If there's something Ryan had proven over his tenure with the Twins, it's that he knows what he's looking for when scouting that diamond in the rough. He's just been miscast in executing it.