Twins publicly criticize Aaron Hicks’ lack of preparation

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Aaron Hicks was handed an Opening Day job both last season and this season, but now the 24-year-old center fielder is in danger of playing himself back to the minors and the Twins are talking publicly about his lack of preparation.

Hicks has hit .186 through 109 career games, including .192 last year and .167 this year, and yesterday manager Ron Gardenhire talked openly about being frustrated with the one-time top prospect:

We had a long talk, just about baseball, about picking it up, numbers. This game, no matter how we try to say it, developing at the major league level, whatever you want to try to do here, it is still about numbers. To hit .160, .170, those don’t last in the big leagues.

He needs to start studying the game a little more, studying the pitchers a little bit more, a little extra work in the outfield, doing drills and everything. Your whole game, the way you come to the ballpark and your approach to the game. … You can’t just throw your talent out of the field and say, “I can do this.”

Assistant general manager Rob Anthony had similar comments about Hicks:

I think he gets preoccupied with some things about his game. It’s not that he’s distracted by other things. I think it’s more a matter of thinking about what he’s going to do, but I don’t think he always has a plan–how that guy is going to pitch him, how he’s going to be prepared for it.

Obviously any player not working hard to prepare himself is fair game for criticism, but it’s also worth noting that a) Hicks came up through the Twins’ farm system, where he should have been taught those things, and b) the Twins rushed him to the majors last year because they were so convinced he was ready to make the jump from Double-A.

Minnesota traded both Denard Span and Ben Revere last offseason to clear the path for Hicks to take over in center field and now the Twins’ lack of other options at the position have likely forced them to stick with him longer than they might have normally.

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The Reds have “jumped into” the J.T. Realmuto sweepstakes

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The Cincinnati Reds have popped up in rumors for a lot of players that one would not normally expect. Free agents like Dallas Keuchel and, earlier, Patrick Corbin. Trade bait like Yasiel Puig. I’m not sure how serious any of that pursuit has been. Maybe it’s just P.R.-driven noise aimed at making Reds fans think the team is going for it or whatever, but it’s been kind of fun. The Reds have, basically, been that guy who shows up in everyone’s photos from the party even though no one knows who he came with or why he was there.

The latest hot stove photobomb for the Reds is Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. Craig Mish of SiriusXM reports that they have “jumped into” his trade market.

There seems to be some room to jump, as the talks with the Mets are perceived to have cooled off in the past 24 hours. It’s also the case that the Reds are far more likely to be able to improve via a trade than via the free agent market, as the Reds aren’t as attractive a landing spot as a lot as some other places. Still, given that the Marlins are the trading partner, it will almost certainly cost a lot in prospects or young big league talent to get Realmuto and that’s the sort of talent the Reds should not be in the business of giving up, so it’s hard to see a match.

But hey, the party is fun. Why not hang out for a while?