The Twins remarkable turnaround from a 103-loss 2016 season to an 85-win, AL Wild Card appearance 2017 campaign is even more improbable when you consider their below average bullpen. The team ranked 9th in the American League and 19th overall in relief Runs Allowed per Game last year.
Enter Addison Reed. Drafted in the 3rd round by the White Sox in 2010 out of San Diego State, Reed debuted with Chicago in 2011 and made stops in Arizona, the Mets and Boston before inking a 2-year, $16.75 million free agent contract with the Twins in January.
In eight big league seasons, the 29-year-old righthander has made 416 appearances, posted a 3.16 ERA, 434 strikeouts against 107 walks in 410.2 innings and notched 125 saves. Reed and I chatted outside his locker before Thursday’s game.
DZ: We are two weeks into the season now, a week here at home, what are your impressions of the Twins and Minnesota and everything so far?
REED: Well, the team is everything that I expected it to be. I expected us to be good, and we’ve shown that we are. I think last year, they caught a lot of teams by surprise, and I don’t think this year we’re catching anybody by surprise. They know the type of team we have, they know the talent that we have in here. And it’s not even just our one through nine, it’s everybody coming off the bench, it’s coaching staff, it’s the relief crew, it’s the system. It’s everybody. I’m glad I’m on this team, so I don’t have to pitch against them, I don’t have to face them. So that’s kind of as I expected. I expected us to be as solid as we are.
Thinking of the games we’ve lost, there’s a couple things could’ve went our way, and end up with a changed outcome of the game, but overall, we’re playing pretty solid. And in the state of Minnesota and in the city of Minneapolis, it’s kind of what I expected. It’s a beautiful place, I always loved coming here…It’s beautiful. We have a nice little setup over in Lake Calhoun, stadium is nice. And what I didn’t realize was we’re kind of shocked here with how nice the clubhouse is, the kitchen, the weight room, kind of everything. Everything is put together really well.
I expected it to be good, but this is as good of a locker room and kind of a kitchen setup as I’ve been in, on any of the five teams I’ve been on, so. That’s really sweet, it’s awesome. Nothing that I could even say remotely is not good, and not going well. So everything’s been great, and I expect it to continue.
DZ: What made you pick Minnesota, as a free agent?
REED: Everybody’s asked me that. I know it sounds really, really cliché, but the talent in this room. There’s one through nine, the bench, like I said, in 2016, they were off their game, and you saw what they turned around and did last year. They played how they were capable of playing last year, and like I said, caught a lot of people off guard. And then, before I signed, they signed (Fernando) Rodney, they signed (Zach) Duke. So, you kind of saw that they were making an emphasis to be good now. They realized that they were already good in 2017, and they started adding pieces. They weren’t subtracting pieces, they weren’t getting rid of anybody, they were only adding. So that was really appealing.
I know there’d been reports saying that I was only going to sign with a Midwest team, and that’s not the truth at all. If there was a Midwest team that showed interest in me and I didn’t believe that they were going to win, I wasn’t going to go there. So, when I found out that the Twins had interest, and I talked to Thad (Levine) and Derek (Falvey), I got on the phone instantly with my agents and said, “Make it happen. Make me a Twin.” And a couple weeks passed by, three weeks passed by, and the next thing you know, I’m signing a contract to come play for Minnesota.
So, everything kind of worked out how I wanted it to, but I’d say that the biggest factor was coming to a team that is going to win now, not a team that has the potential to win in a year or two or has the pieces but aren’t quite over the hump. This is a team that, we have a World Series team in this room, and that’s what appealed to me.
DZ: You mentioned it’s your fifth team, I think it’s your eighth year. What are the advantages and disadvantages of bouncing around a little bit like that?
REED: I’d say the advantages are just kind of getting to play with a bunch of different style of players. There’s an advantage to staying with one team for your whole career, or a sense of comfort. You don’t have to move, you stay in the same place your whole career. So, in that sense, it’s kind of better to stay with one team, for living purposes, or if you have a family, which I do. So that makes it kind of tough, having to move around a lot.
But I think when it’s all said and done, when I look back on my career, I’m going to have enjoyed it more playing with more teams than if I would’ve just stayed with one team. It was kind of cool to see how different organizations are ran, see how things are done in different organizations. It’s kind of cool, to not just get used to one thing. You’re always doing something new. So, I have two years here, it’s going to be a lot of fun, and at the end of this, I hope I have two rings.
DZ: You’ll have a cool jersey collection too…
REED: Yeah, I have a lot of cool jerseys. I usually take one or two of each jersey that we wear, whether it’s our home, our away, or just cool, like, Fourth of July or Memorial Day jerseys. I have quite a bit of them. So, like I said, when my career is all done with, it’s going to be cool to look back on all of this.
DZ: Couple quick things, like you said, you played in Boston and New York, too, some bigger cities. What were the differences between playing in markets like that, versus playing in Minnesota?
REED: The biggest thing that sticks out to me is the media. The first thing I realized, or recognized, when I came into the spring training complex in Fort Meyers was there were five or six reporters in the clubhouse. And that – I mean, the two teams that I was on prior to this, that was not the case. There was, at any time, the least amount of reporters in the room was 15. So that was the one thing that stuck out to me was, the amount of reporters, and the amount of people covering the team. Other than that you kind of, as a player, you kind of make it more than it is, or less than it is. And as a player, whether you’re in a big market team, a little market team, I’m still going to go out there. It doesn’t matter if I’m on the Yankees or Red Sox, you know, Marlins. It doesn’t matter what team I’m on, I’m still going to try and do my job, and go out there and pitch like I know how to pitch. So, I’d say the biggest thing for me was just how little media there is here, compared to Boston and New York.
DZ: And there’s one last thing. You know, views the bullpen and relievers have really evolved, especially in the last few years, probably more to your advantage than anything else. What is your take on all that?
REED: I love it. I’ve always said, my interpretation is, I think (the save) the most overrated stat that there is. I always was a believer that. I mean, look how many games are decided by one or two runs, and that could’ve happened – there could’ve been a bases-loaded, no outs situation in the second inning, your starting pitcher held them to one run. We ended up winning that game by one run. In my opinion, what happened there, in the second inning, was the save of the game. And I think you really saw it a couple of playoffs ago…with (Cleveland and Andrew) Miller. He was their guy, but he was coming in and, coming in the fifth and sixth inning. The important part of the game, the heart of the lineup was coming up. And I don’t see why you wouldn’t, kind of; no matter who it is. If it’s your closer, if it’s just a lefty reliever in your bullpen. If you think that that guy has the best chance of getting that particular part of the lineup out, I don’t see why you wouldn’t put him out there. I don’t think there should be any labels. I think we should just have seven or eight guys down there, and whoever kind of fits, whoever can kind of get those outs at that particular time, I think should be the one to go in there and pitch. I kind of like how it’s evolving that way, and it seems like the Minnesota Twins will do that.
DZ: It seems like also, you’re seeing more guys who are not closers getting to the All Star game, and even the salaries going up.
REED: Yeah, yep…In the past, it’s just starters and then closers, those are the only guys (who were All Stars). And the guys who were getting big outs in the sixth and seventh inning were kind of just; there was a job they were supposed to do then, they don’t get the sexy stat, they don’t get the hold status of the save, or the win. So, never really understood it, and don’t know why it’s taken this long to kind of figure that out. But people are starting to figure it out, and those middle relievers are starting to get the recognition that they deserve.