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12/27/08

If the history repeats itself...

... the last year in the Metrodome (2009) does not look too good for the Twins.

Here are the records and finishes of all the teams in the franchise in the last year of a stadium:

1903 Washington Senators (American League Park I) 43-94 (8th out of 8 in the AL)

1010 Washington Senators (American League Park II) 66-85 (7th out of 8 in the AL)

1955 Washington Senators (Griffith Stadium I) 53-101 (8th out of 8 in the AL)

1960 Washington Senators (Griffith Stadium II) 73-81 (5th out of 8 in the AL)

1981 Minnesota Twins (Metropolitan Stadium) 41-68 (7th out of 7 in the AL West)

Will the 2009 team break the curse of the last year in a stadium for the Twins/Senators franchise?

12/24/08

Meet and greet R. A. Dickey

This is the second time in 2 years that the Twins signed R.A. Dickey as a minor league free agent. Last season they lost him to the Mariners in the rule 5 draft. While the Mariners could not add him to their 25 man roster, they worked a trade with the Twins that brought Jair Fernandez a catcher who just turned 22 past December 10 and had a .283/.333/.370 season while throwing out 46.7% of attempted stollen base runners in Beloit (Midwest league, A) last year. Last May I described that trade as a mistake.

Given what we know now, about the failures of Rincon and Bass in the pen, it looks like it was probably a mistake, since R.A. Dickey posted a 2.00 ERA and held opposing batters to a .205/.287/.307 line as a reliver with the Marines while compiling an 1.11 WHIP, 1.43 K/BB and 5.0 K/9 in 36 innings of relief.

Let's dig a bit deeper. Dickey also started 14 games for 76.3 innings and he was horrible as a starter: Opponents batted .316/.385/.506 off him, he had a 6.72 ERA, 1.77 WHIP, 1.01 K/BB and 4.49 K/9. That is below replacement level. For comparison purposes, while with the Twins, Livan Hernandez had a 5.48 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, 1.86 K/BB, 3.50 K/9. Given that knuckleballers can pitch until embalmed and should not have that much difference between starting and relieving (because they can go for many innings in consecutive days), how is this schism on Dickey's stats explained? Looking even closer, there are several warning signs about Dickey:


a. His knuckleball is too fast. It averages 73 mph while his fastball averages 85 and his change 74. To be effective in needs to be in the 60s maximum.

b. His knuckleball has not enough movement. Given that and its speed hitters sit on it like a change and hit it like a change. Hitters chased only 18% of his knuckleballs last season (for comparison purposes hitters chased 37% of Bonser's off-speed offerings and 40% of Guerrier's). In addition to the lack of the movement, he does not have control of it. His overall K/BB last season was 1.14.

c. Last season he threw 65% knuckleballs and 30% fastballs (of the Livan variety of “fastball” with similar results, 1.56 WHIP) He’s got to be at the 90% knuckleball 10% fastball range

d. His BABIP as a starter was .322 and as a reliever a ridiculous .226; which means that with a normal BABIP of .290 he would be closer to a 4.75 ERA 1.45 WHIP pitcher.

I do not have the numbers, but maybe as a starter he used his fastball more and an 85 mph fastball in this league is bigger than a harvest moon to a professional hitter (ask Livan). If this is the case, a good pitching instructor who specializes on knucleballers (alas, the Twins have none such beast in their current staff) might fix the problem.

Which Dickey will show up next year (Jeckyl or Hyde, R or A) is hard to fortell; regardless, R.A. Dickey is a great human story



One more note: Number 41 is taken by Bobby Korecky. Would he been a better option than Dickey in the Twins' pen?

Twins' fans' Christmas present: R. A. Dickey

a full profile to follow, but this spot from Mike and the Mad Dog sums up my feelings pretty much...

12/21/08

Catch-19?

’cause things are fairly quiet now, time to stir the waters a bit ;)

here goes another interesting situation with potential Twins’ consequences:

a. Every team has until March to offer every player in its roster a contract (in most cases for players not going to arbitration or signed to a contracts it is a typical situation: player is under team control, team offers minimum, thing done)

b. Atlanta’s owner, GM and the whole front office after the Furcal situation are in record saying that they will never sign a player represented by or work with the Wasserman group of agents (Furcal’s agents)

c. Guess who is represented by the Wasserman group? Yunel Escobar.

Do you think that he will not be offered a contract and thus become a free agent or do you think that Atlanta’s owner, GM and front office will offer him a contract and prove that their word is worth as much as the Wasserman group in the Furcal negotiations?

nice Catch-19 (Escobar’s jersey number) situation…