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3/29/08

Some preseason tidbits

An Interesting article in the WSJ, ranks Gardenhire as the best manager in the majors. The problem is that their methodology is based on a flawed assumption.

They "used three criteria to measure the performance of baseball managers: how their teams perform in close games when the manager's strategic decisions have the most impact, how many games their teams win compared to how many runs they score and allow (a formula known as Pythagorean wins) and whether they get more out of players than other managers, measured by additional games won per season".

The problems with the first two criteria is that a. bullpens and not managers win close games and b. the performance of the players and not that of managers are responsible for a team winning more games that the predicted Pythagorean wins. (I will spare the stats for now, but 90% of the teams who fit this category had either team ERA+ higher than 110 or team OPS+ in innings 7-9 higher than 110, or both.) The problem with the last criterium is that it requires a leap of faith: if a player has better stats a particular year there are a whole bunch of probably reasons and only one of them is his manager...

One another note, today the Twins made a very bad trade: They traded R. A. Dickey to Seattle for a minor league catcher. Do the Twins really need another minor league catcher or a versatile knuckleballer in their bullpen who can pitch every day and provide some stability, at least in the beginning of the season, to a young hurting group of starters? Plus, he could probably pitch for at least another 10 years (he is 32); I don't know what Smith was thinking (or whether he was thinking). You don't want to lose Bass and Dickey has never been with the team, but he would most likely be a better option out of the bullpen than Bass and I'd rather see the team lose Bass before Dickey... Also, Dickey passed through waivers, which means that he could be in Rocherster... This trade, even though it is in small letters in the back of the paper today, ranks up there with some of the worse Twins' moves, like non-tendering Ortiz and signing Punto to a $2.4mil/year contract. I just hope that the Twins' don't regret this.

Liriano will start the season in the minors, which means that Blackburn made the team. Baker's fate is still up in the air, which means that he could still be in the DL retroactively and Bass or Humber making at least on start on his spot. Other than that, "the rotation is set"

3/28/08

why Detroit isn't as good as people think. part 1: bullpen

The 2007 Tiger's record on close games (less than 2 runs) was 35-33. An interesting observation is that in all but 3 of these they won, relievers who are either not with the team (Mesa, Ledesma, McBride) or are out for considerable portions of the season (Rodney, Zumaya.) Interesting to note the untouted contribution of McBride in July the first month he arrived from Atlanta.

Here is a list of the wins:

Apr 4 TOR W 10-9 Rodney
Apr 7 @KCR W 6-5 Zumaya
Apr 8 @KCR W 3-2 Rodney
Apr 10 @BAL W 3-1 Zumaya
Apr 12 @TOR W 5-4 Zumaya
Apr 17 KCR W 7-6 Ledesma
Apr 22 CHW W 6-5 Ledesma
Apr 29 MIN W 4-3 Zumaya
May 1 BAL W 5-4 Zumaya
May 2 BAL W 3-2 Rodney
May 5 @KCR W 7-5 Mesa
May 8 SEA W 9-7 Rodney
May 19 STL W 8-7 Rodney
May 23 LAA W 8-7 Mesa,
Jun 9 NYM W 8-7 Rodney
Jun 18 @WSN W 9-8
Jun 23 @ATL W 2-1 Rodney

Jul 1 MIN W 1-0
Jul 4 CLE W 6-4 McBride
Jul 7 BOS W 3-2 McBride
Jul 8 BOS W 6-5 McBride
Jul 17 @MIN W 1-0 McBride
Jul 18 @MIN W 3-2 McBride
Jul 19 @MIN W 4-3
Jul 21 KCR W 10-8 McBride

Aug 6 TBD W 6-4 Rodney
Aug 21 CLE W 2-1 Zumaya, Rodney
Aug 26 NYY W 5-4 Zumaya
Sep 5 CHW W 2-1 Zumaya
Sep 6 CHW W 3-2 Rodney
Sep 10 TOR W 5-4 Zumaya
Sep 14 @MIN W 4-2 Rodney
Sep 15 @MIN W 4-3 Zumaya
Sep 16 @MIN W 6-4 Zumaya
Sep 21 KCR W 5-4 Rodney

It is overoptimistic to assume that the Tigers will win the same number of close games as the did last year, based on the afforementioned bullpen deficiencies, plus the fact that Todd Jones is getting older and pitched very ineffectively in spring training. The only dependable pitcher in Detroit's bullpen is Bobby Seay, who is a specialist lefty. If their bullpen deficiencies result in a loss of 25% (9) of these games, Detroit's record, based on 2007 results would have been 79-83

3/27/08

Some pitching-style comparisons, projected rotation for next week and worthless tidbits

Comparing the current Twins' young pitchers with previous Twins' pitchers based on their pitching styles and pitch arsenal:

Baker - Erickson
Bonser - Blyleven
Liriano - Viola
Slowey - Radke

(edit after the recent Liriano developments)_

3/31 LAA - Hernandez
4/1 LAA - Bonser
4/2 LAA - Blackburn
4/3 LAA - Slowey
4/4 KC - Baker
4/5 KC - Hernandez
4/6 KC - Bonser
4/7 @CHW - Slowey??

Just caught the 10th inning of the Cubs-Brewers game on MLB.tv and I really dig the new Brewers uniforms... Almost look like a batting practice jersey, blue with sharp gold lines underneath the arms. Really nice...

2007 Season opener

With the 2008 season opener approaching, here is one of the most exciting plays of last year's home opener

Some flaws in the Twins' 25 men roster

The 25-men roaster is all but set with the only question marks being whether Liriano and/or Baker will make the trip up north or stay in FL for extensive spring training until they build their endurance. Regardless, I think that there are some flaws in the 25 men roster that can be proven painful for the Twins this year:

  • There are too many pitchers on the roster, leaving some serious deficiencies in the lineup. Historically, teams had 10 pitchers and 15 batters on their rosters. During the nineties, especially after expansion. The standard became 11 and 14. Now several teams are starting the season with 12 pitchers. This tactic, even though would lead to a fresher pitching staff, does not allow the manager to make appropriate substitutions in situational pinch hitting and running as well as in a day-to-day injury, unless the 4-man bench is set up correctly.

  • The Twins have issues with their 4-man bench because Redmond is not very versatile; whomever from Monroe or Kubel does not start at DH can only play corner outfield positions successfully; Punto and Tolbert have pretty much the same skill set (infielders) and they are practically a duplication. A versatile outfielder (such as Pridie) could have been a better choice than one of the Punto/Tolbert duo

  • Tolbert could be a potential pinch runner in late innings as could be Punto, but when Monroe is starting, there are no power righty bats of the bench.

  • Another issue: Gomez is injury prone. He showed that yesterday. It that game, Gomez had a leg cramp and had to leave the game after the forth inning. With Monroe starting at DH, Gardernhire substituted Punto as the CF replacement, a totally inadequate substitution. A better course of action (albeit not ideal) would have been to move Young to CF and insert Kubel as the LF. This problem would be an issue if Gomez is day-to-day and out for a couple of days. This is why Pridie would have been a better choice... The only other position without good backup plan is 1B (the best case scenario if Morneau gets a minor injury would be to put Cuddyer on 1B with either Kubel or Monroe taking the RF position and again have no OF on the bench...

  • The pitching staff itself is too righthanded with potentially (if Liriano is not ready) only 1 lefthander (Reyes) on the staff. This is not an issue against primarily righthanded lineups, like Detroit, but it can hurt in the long run. Neshek has a good record against lefties but he is the set up man. Perkins or Keisler should have probably taken Bass' spot (even though the later is out of options.)

  • LH relievers are a rare and expensive fruit but the Twins should probably package a few people for a trade. There is a surplus of righthanders and it maybe time to see what a package such as Punto+Bass+Rincon can bring. Would it be enough for a situational lefty? Possible. Additionally, it would solve the bench Punto/Tolbert duplication issue. In such a scenario, Pridie would take Punto's spot, Humber Bass' and the new lefty Rincon's. I think that the Atlanta Braves might be an ideal trade partner, resulting to someone like Royce Ring or even Will Ohman coming to the Twins (with or without the inclusion of Bass in that trade...)



just some food for thought...

3/26/08

the best pitching prospect in baseball?

Yulieski González

He is a lefty, 28 years old playing for Habana Province and finished the Cuban league season with an 15-0 record, a 2.25 ERA and 111K in 124 innings...

New team, old team, blue team, green team

Does the average age of a team matter? Here is a list of the average ages of the world champion teams since 1980:

Year/Team/Average age Batter/Pitcher (*=NL)

2007: BOS 30.1/31.1
2006: STL 29.6/28.6*
2005: CHW 29.2/29.6
2004: BOS 30.5/32.5
2003: FLA 27.7/26.3*
2002: LAA 28.3/30.2
2001: ARI 31.9/30.9*
2000: NYY 31.3/32.0
1999: NYY 30.8/31.2
1998: NYY 30.4/30.2
1997: FLA 28.6/27.5*
1996: NYY 30.0/29.3
1995: ATL 27.9/27.4*
---three division league----
1993: TOR 29.3/29.5
1992: TOR 29.3/30.0
1991: MIN 29.1/28.6
1990: CIN 27.5/27.4*
1989: OAK 29.3/30.0
1988: LAD 28.9/29.2*
1987: MIN 27.8/31.4
1986: NYM 28.0/25.0*
1985: KCR 30.7/26.1
1984: DET 28.5/29.7
1983: BAL 29.7/28.1
1982: STL 27.8/28.7*
1981: LAD 29.3/26.2*
1980: PHI 30.6/28.6*

Twins the last decade and (position in division):
2007: 28.5/27.4 (3)
2006: 28.3/26.9 (1)
2005: 27.6/27.9 (3)
2004: 27.8/28.2 (1)
2003: 27.3/29.7 (1)
2002: 26.6/28.8 (1)
2001: 26.2/27.4 (2)
2000: 26.4/26.6 (5)

2008 ages would probably approximate 27.5/26.5





(data from baseball-reference.com)

100 win and 100 loss teams since 1980

100 wins:

2005: STL 100-62
2004: STL 105-57, NYY 101-61
2003: NYY 101-61, ATL 101-61, SFG 100-61
2002: NYY 103-58, OAK 103-59, ATL 101-59
2001: SEA 116-46, OAK 102-60
1999: ATL 103-59, ARI 100-62
1998: NYY 114-48, ATL 106-56, HOU 102-60
1997: ATL 101-61,
1995: CLE 100-44
---------three division league ends----------
1993: ATL 104-58, SFG 103-59
1990: OAK 103-59
1988: OAK 104-58, NYM 100-60
1986: NYM 108-54
1985: STL 101-61
1984: DET 104-58
1980: NYY 103-59, BAL 100-62

100 loses:

2006: TBD 61-101, KCR 62-100
2005: KCR 56-106
2004: ARI 51-111, KCR 58-104
2003: DET 43-119
2002: TBD 55-106, DET 55-106, MIL 56-106, KCR 62-100
2001: TBD 62-100, PIT 62-100
1998: FLA 54-108
1996: DET 53-109
---------three division league ends----------
1993: NYM 59-103, SDP 61-101
1991: CLE 57-105
1989: DET 59-103
1988: BAL 54-107, ATL 54-106
1987: CLE 61-101
1985: PIT 57-104, CLE 60-102, SFG 62-100
1983: SEA 60-102
1982: MIN 60-102, CIN 61-101
1980: SEA 59-103

Fearless prognostications

'Tis the time of year for that, so here is what my crystal ball says:

Playoff teams:

AL EAST: Red Sox 90-72
AL CENTRAL: Twins 89-73
AL WEST: Angels 91-71
AL WILD CARD: Seattle 88-72
DIVISION CHAMPRIONS: Seattle over Boston in 5, Twins over Angels in 4
AL CHAMPION: Twins over Seattle in 7
NL EAST: Mets 91-71
NL CENTRAL: Brewers 85-77
NL WEST: Padres 88-75
NL WILD CARD: Diamondbacks 86-77
DIVISION CHAMPRIONS: Mets over Diamondbacks in 4, Padres over Brewers in 5
NL CHAMPION: Mets over Padres in 7
WS CHAMPION: Twins over Mets in 6 with Liriano beating Santana in both his starts


Twins' team & player specific:

  • There will be 4 players with more than 20 HR (Monreau - more than 30, Young, Kubel, Cuddyer). There will be an additional 4 players with more than 10 HR (Harris, Lamb, Monroe, Mauer) with Gomez maybe making the cut, potentially making Everett the only starter with less than 10 HR

  • Gomez will break Knoblauch's Twins single season SB record (62, 1997) and challenge Clyde Milan's franchise record (88, Senators 1912)

  • Nathan will break Guardado's single season saves record (45, 2002)

  • One of the Twin's pitchers will have better record than Santana

  • Another one of the Twin's pitchers will have better record and ERA than any of the names discussed in the Santana trade (Hughes, Lester, Kennedy)

  • Gomez will score more runs than either Melky Carbera or Ellsbury

  • The Outfield will have more than 50 assists (had 32 last year)

  • Harris will have fewer errors than Bartlett this year

  • D. Young will have more RBI than Torii Hunter

3/25/08

The season has officially started

The Boston Red Sox beat the Oakland Athletics 6-5 in front of 45,000 people in Japan in the premier of the 2008 MLB season. Manny Ramirez and Brandon Moss each has 2 hits for Boston with Ramirez picking up 4 RBI and Moss 2 including a game winning HR off Hudson Street in the 9th. Hannahan and Cosby each had 2 hits and a home run a piece for the As while Barton had 3 BBs. The A's team looked unrecognizable on paper... Pitching on both sides was spring training-like with both the closers surrendering runs.

Welcome to the new season

The roster is (almost) set

It looks like the lineup and bench are set...

Lineup:

Gomez CF
Mauer 2B
Cuddyer RF
Morneau 1B
Young LF
Kubel DH
Lamb 3B
Harris 2B
Everett SS

bench:
Redmond C
Monroe DH/OF (will be the starting DH against LHP)
Tolbert IF
Punto IF

Bullpen:

Nathan (CL)
Neshek
Reyes
Crain
Rincon
Guerrier
Bass (Spot starter)

Rotation:
Hernandez
Bonser
Slowey
Blackburn/Baker (Baker's spot but he is likely to start in DL)
Liriano (if not ready Bass might start or alternatively Humber called up)

3/23/08

Granderson was placed in the 15 day DL for Detroit; this means that Jacque Jones is the only lefty hitter in the team