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10/2/08

The season in review - introduction: two out of three ain't bad

The Twins finish a close second in the AL Central, an unexpected finish for many; however falling short of my preseason expectations for this team. It was a season where the glass was filled at the half-mark. Some may think of it as half-full some as half-empty. It was a season of growth, but also a season of missed opportunity. It is imperative for this organization to learn from the lessons of this season, reinforce the positives and prepare to avoid the negatives, in order to create a champion.

here are the monthly splits of starters' ERA, relievers' ERA, OPS and the record for each month:

month record starters ERA relievers ERA OPS

april 14-14 4.74 3.54 .666
may 15-13 4.43 3.94 .740
june 17-11 4.70 3.24 .770
july 15-10 4.28 5.21 .802
august 17-12 3.09 4.13 .771
sept 11-15 4.92 3.68 .739


To quote Meatloaf, a brief descriptive one liner for the Twins' season would be "two out of three ain't bad". When two of these indicators were at or above the league average (.749 OPS, 4.44 Starter ERA and 4.10 reliever ERA) the Twins were winning... When 2 of these indicators were below those averages the Twins were losing.

What caused the September collapse? Sub-par hitting, but mostly sub-par starting pitching.

In the monthly break downs the bullpen had only one month (July) below league average, the starters had 3 (April, June, September) and the batters three (April, May, September). So while the ousting of Livan Hernandez (and his replacement with Liriano) and Bass and the call up of Mijares, gave a big breath for the bullpen in August and especially September and in August for the rotation, the inability to replace Mike Lamb with a productive bat (Brian Buscher's OPS in September was .578) and the inability of Gardenhire to go with the hot bats, cost this team.

To expand on the last point: If one of the two lagging factors (starter ERA or team OPS) ware close to league average in September, the team would have had a better chance to win that month. Given that the starters ran out of gas and there were not many replacement options, better attention should have been paid to keep the hot bats in the lineup.

Examples:

  1. As said, Buscher had an .578 OPS in September, but had 55 plate appearances, while Brandon Harris who had .878 OPS for the month, had 44 plate appearances.

  2. Nick Punto had a .653 OPS in September but was preferred (93 PA) over Adam Everett (.764 OPS, 11PA) and Matt Tolbert (.897 OPS, 33 PA).

  3. Similarly, Alexi Casilla finished September with .574 OPS and 113 PA; some of those should have been taken by Tolbert

  4. At DH, Michael Cuddyer with an injured foot and a .667 OPS in September (20 PA) and Kubel (.777 OPS) in September (77 PA) took ABs against LHP from Randy Ruiz who had only 14 PA in the month, even though he posted a .790 OPS the previous month

10/1/08

The Twins needs in the offseason

Quick and Dirty


  1. One or 2 power bats; hopefully both, but at least one RH

  2. A Third baseman

  3. A SS

  4. A starting pitcher to compliment Slowey, Liriano, Baker and Blackburn in the rotation

  5. Two relievers: An 8th inning RHP and a 7th inning RHP

  6. A back-up catcher

What the Twins have to spend in the offseason

Here is the bottom line for what the Twins have to spend in the off-season, if they are willing to get their payroll to 2007 level:

Pluses:

$15 million for the difference between 2008-2007
$5 million Livan
$2.5 million Rincon
$2.8M Everett
$2.4M Punto
$1M Reyes
$1M Guerrier
$.5M Lamb (the Twins have to pay him 3M in 09 but paid $3.5 in 2008)
$3.8M Monroe
$1M Redmond

total: +$35M

minuses:

Morneau +$3.2M
Mauer +$4.3M
Cuddyer +1.8M
Crain +$.7M
Kubel +? (assume $1M)


total: +11.5M

Net=
$24M

And this assumes that Cuddyer will be with the team next year…

(If the re-sign Redmond and offer arbitration to Guerrier, the number drops around $22.5 million)

and they are willing to get to the league median payroll of $81M (Brewers), it would be $34M

Hiatus ended with the Twins' season

I took a month break because they were winning, but now that the season is over, it is time to post and focus in the offseason...

My post season predictions:

Rays over White Sox (4)
Red Sox over Angels (4)

Red Sox over Rays (6)

Philies over Milwaukee (4)
Dodgers over Cubs (5)

Dodgers over Philies (7)

Dodgers over Red Sox (7)
Manny Ramirez WS MVP