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8/8/09

Who is hot in the minors V7

This is the seventh version of the list of the best performing players in the Twins' minor league system year to date. Up to the all star break. The rookie leagues are in full swing, so players will appear here, including some of the recent draftees. Here are some news: the Twins late this week have signed 2009 MLB Draft picks Eddie Ahorrio (45th round) and Richard Calcano (47th round), both High School RHP from Puerto Pico.

Catchers:

Jose Morales (SH, 26, AAA) .327/.410/.408 1 HR, 22 RBI, 223 PA
Allan De San Miguel (RHB, 21, A,A+,AA,AAA) .244/.409/.331 1 HR, 19 RBI, 166 PA
Danny Rams (RHB, 20, Rk/APP,A+, A) .306/.373/.644 12 HR, 39 RBI, 160 PA
Josmil Pinto (RHB, 20, Rk/APP) .331/.387/.620 7 HR, 35 RBI, 121 PA
Tobias J. Streich (RHB, 21, Rk/APP) .259/.333/.543 8 HR, 25 RBI, 116 PA

Infielders:

Brian Dinkelman (LHB, 25, AA) .302/.393/.460 7 HR, 27 RBI, 361 PA
Hyeong-rok Choi (RHB, 19, Rk/GCL) .305/.388/.475 2 HR, 8 RBI, 67 PA
Wander Guillen (RHB, 16, Rk/DSL) .297/.422/.338 11 RBI, 90 PA


Outfielders:

Joe Benson (RHB, 21, A+) .278/.411/.390 4 HR, 18 RBI, 233 PA
Chris Herrmann (LHB, 21, Rk/APP) .304/.400/.493 5 HR, 18 RBI, 148 PA
Wang-Wei Lin (lHB, 21, Rk/GCL) .364/.432/.545 1 HR, 7 RBI, 37 PA
Candito Pimentel (SH, 18, Rk/DSL).287/.416/.376 1 HR, 19 RBI, 198 PA
Romy Trinidad (RHB, 18, Rk/DSL) .315/.444/.370 1 HR, 11 RBI, 183 PA

1st basemen/DH:

Micheal Gonzales (LHB, 21, Rk/APP) .321/.399 /.500, 5 HR, 28 RBI, 153 PA
Kevin Sylvania (LHB, 18, Rk/DSL) .283/.371/.483 2 HR, 12 RBI, 70 PA

RH Starters:

Jeff Manship (24, AA/AAA) 3.88 ERA, 1.293 WHIP, 5.39 K/9, 2.03 K/BB
Mike McCardell (24, A+/AA) 4.34 ERA, 1.255 WHIP, 7.67 K/9, 4.27 K/BB
Dave Bromberg (21, A+) 2.45 ERA, 1.232 WHIP, 8.14 K/9, 2.26 K/BB
Brad Tippett (21, A) 2.75 ERA, 1.025 WHIP, 6.86 K/9, 4.29 K/BB
Bobby Lanigan (22, A) 4.45 ERA, 1.295 WHIP, 7.29 K/9, 3.52 K/BB
Pedro Guerra(19, Rk/DSL) 0.44 ERA, 0.754 WHIP, 9.74 K/9, 7.33 K/BB
Cesar Ciurcina (18, Rk/DSL) 1.47 ERA, 0.713 WHIP, 7.22 K/9, 9.00 K/BB
Wilson Sanchez (18, Rk/DSL) 1.45 ERA, 0.952 WHIP, 9.44 K/9, 4.64 K/BB
Manuel Soliman (19, Rk/DSL) 2.36 ERA, 1.230 WHIP, 6.49 K/9, 2.75 K/BB
Renzo Reverol (18, Rk/DSL) 2.10 ERA, 0.728 WHIP, 9.17 K/9, 8.75 K/BB
Tom Stuifbergen (20, Rk/APP) 3.38 ERA, 1.106 WHIP, 7.76 K/9, 7.67 K/BB
B.J. Hermsen (19, Rk/GCL) 0.92 ERA, 0.692 WHIP, 6.69 K/9, 9.67 K/BB
Adrian Salcedo (18, Rk/GCL) 1.18 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 8.76 K/9, 18.50 K/BB
Blayne Weller (19, Rk/GCL) 1.54 ERA, 1.057 WHIP, 7.46 K/9, 5.80 K/BB
Jhon Garcia (22, Rk/GCL) 1.64 ERA, 0.879 WHIP, 6.82 K/9, 8.33 K/BB
Micheal Tonkin (19, Rk/GCL) 5.29 ERA, 1.268 WHIP, 11.41 K/9, 10.25 K/BB

RH Relievers:

Armado Gabino (25, AAA) 3.13 ERA, 1.087 WHIP, 5.35 K/9, 2.16 K/BB
Rob Delaney (24, AA,AAA) 2.61 ERA, 1.087 WHIP, 8.74 K/9, 3.94 K/BB
Yohan Pino (25, AA/AAA) 3.69 ERA, 1.241 WHIP, 8.78 K/9, 3.52 K/BB
Anthony Slama (25, AA) 2.53 ERA, 1.203 WHIP, 12.66 K/9, 2.90 K/BB
Alex Burnett (21, A+, AA) 1.93 ERA, 1.022 WHIP, 8.60 K/9, 2.42 K/BB
Steve Hirschfield (23, A+) 2.15 ERA, 1.023 WHIP, 6.34 K/9, 2.82 K/BB
Santos Ariaz (22, A+) 2.18 ERA, 1.237 WHIP, 6.53 K/9, 2.35 K/BB
Loek Van Mil (24, A+) 2.16 ERA, 1.230 WHIP, 5.94 K/9, 1.38 K/BB
Matthew Williams (22, A, A+) 2.41 ERA, 1.161 WHIP, 8.84 K/9, 3.44 K/BB
Billy Bullock (21, Rk/APP, A) 1.80 ERA, 1.100 WHIP, 11.70 K/9, 5.20 K/BB
Fransisco Nunez (17, Rk/DSL) 3.60 ERA, 1.175 WHIP, 10.58 K/9, 11.75 K/BB
Ricardo Arevalo (18, Rk/DSL) 2.70 ERA, 1.114 WHIP, 4.63 K/9, 1.50 K/BB
Carlos Carillo (19, Rk/DSL) 1.80 ERA, 1.050 WHIP, 5.40 K/9, 1.20 K/BB
Peter Kennelly (21, Rk/GCL) 1.74 ERA, 1.258 WHIP, 8.71 K/9, 2.00 K/BB

LH Relievers:

Spencer Steedley (24, A+,AA) 2.11 ERA, 1.193 WHIP, 8.62 K/9, 2.21 K/BB
Joe Testa (23, A,A+) 2.13 ERA, 1.108 WHIP, 12.37 K/9, 2.91 K/BB
Kyle Carr (22, Rk/APP,A) 3.55 ERA, 1.145 WHIP, 13.86 K/9, 3.55 K/BB
Luis Nunez (17, Rk/DSL) 2.97 ERA, 1.169 WHIP, 10.30 K/9, 3.46 K/BB
Edgar Ibarra (20, Rk/DSL) 4.13 ERA, 1.094 WHIP, 9.53 K/9, 3.00 K/BB
Matt Tone (21, Rk/GCL) 1.71 ERA, 1.286 WHIP, 11.57 K/9, 1.59 K/BB
Andrei Lobanov (19, Rk/GCL) 1.00 ERA, 0.667 WHIP, 15.00 K/9, inf K/BB
Nelvin Fuentes (20, Rk/GCL) 0.63 ERA, 0.558 WHIP, 11.30 K/9, 9.00 K/BB

8/7/09

Meet and greet Carl Pavano

This morning the Twins acquired Carl Pavano from the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named later (probably a minor leaguer).

A few days ago here, I identified Pavano as a real trade target for the Twins' rotation; however, I had reservations that the Twins will trade within the division. As I indicated in the above liked post, Pavano is one of the two potentially available pitchers (the other being Aaron Harang of the Cincinnati Reds) who is pitching much better than the average AL pitcher. His PE this season is 17.52, second to that of Scott Baker (24.72) among the current Twins' starters. His xPE (factoring in his high .328 BABIP) is a very solid 19.82.

Of, course, his ERA (5.37) does not tell the story. Looking at his FIP (which is flawed by better than ERA), his 4.26 FIP is ahead of both Glen Perkins' (4.63) and Fransisco Liriano's (4.78)

This season, Pavano is: 3-0, 1.93 ERA, 23.1 IP, 5 ER, 1 BB, 13K against the Tigers and 2-1, 2.42 ERA, 22.1 IP, 6 ER, 2 BB, 15K against the White Sox. Like Orlando Cabrera, he has post-season experience and a World Series ring. He was the main player in Boston's package to Montreal, which put Pedro Martinez in a Red Sox' uniform in 2003.

Let's look closer at the 33 year old version of Carl Pavano. He has 4 pitches: A fastball averaging 90.5 mph, which he throws about 60% of the time, A slider averaging 82.7 mph, which he throws about 16% of the time, a change up averaging 81.0 mph, which he throws about 24% of the time and an occasional split-finger fastball. What is making the 2009 version of Pavano more effective than the 2008 version?

  • His velocity is higher in 2009. All his pitches are about 3 mph faster on average

  • His least effective pitch is his fastball (-1.47 runs above average per 100; wFB/C), his slider (2.02 wSL/C) and change up (0.59 wCH/C) have been effective and been thrown often (40% of the time)

  • He is striking out more batters (3.9 K/9 in 2008 vs. 6.3 K/9 in 2009) and walking fewer (2.6 BB/9 in 2008 vs. 1.3 BB/9 in 2009) resulting to a great 3.83 K/BB in 2009 (vs. just 1.50 K/BB in 2008)


To make room to the 25 man roster, the Twins optioned R.A. Dickey to Rochester. As a result of the trade either Fransisco Liriano or Glen Perkins will move to the pen. Based on their performance as starters this season, Perkins would be the logical choice to move to the pen; however, Liriano might be the emotional choice.

All in all it was a great move by Bill Smith that is helping fill a true need in the system. I expect at least another arm either from outside or inside the organization in the 25-man roster and the eventual move of Duensing and Keppel to the minors.

Pavano started against the Tigers last Sunday pitching for 8 innings allowing just one run on six hits. He struck out four and walked one. His turn is today. Will he take the mount against the team he recently dominated tonight?

He should, if not tonight, at least in this series.



Update: To make room for Pavano on the Twins 40-man roster, Boof Bonser moved to the 60 day DL, which means that any potential comeback this September is probably unlikely

Update:. The Twins' payroll responsibility for Carl Pavano:

From Cot's Baseball Contracts:

Base contract: 1 year, $1.5 M (about $600K left)

$5.3M in performance bonuses:

starts:
$0.1M each for 18, 20, 22;
$0.2M each for 24, 26, 28;
$0.25M for 30;
$0.3M for 32;
$0.35M each for 33, 34;
$0.4M for 35

He has 21 starts. If he gets to 32, the Twins will be responsible for $1.05 M

innings:
$0.1M each for 130, 140, 150;
$0.15M each for 160, 170;
$0.2M for 180;
$0.25M each for 190, 200, 210;
$0.3M for 215;
$0.4M for 225;
$0.5M for 235

He has 125.2 IP; based on projected 32 starts and his average 6 IP/start, that will give him 192 IP and the Twins will be responsible for another $1.05M

Total projected cost for the Twins: $2.7M

8/3/09

The state of the Twins pitching and trade possibilities

The general consensus is that the Achilles heel of the Twins this season has been pitching, both starters and relievers. The Front Office had tried to help the team by targeting certain pitchers before the non-waiver trading deadline, but these efforts were fruitless, probably due to the fact that most contenders this season were looking for pitching and it was a sellers market. The Twins were able to fill a lesser need, acquiring Orlando Cabrera from the Oakland Athletics for Tyler Ladendorf, a move which I analyzed here. Now the trading deadline is long passed and the Twins could add to the club through waiver trades. As a matter of fact, the Twins are in an advantage over the other American League contenders because they have the worse record of the bunch, which results in the Twins having priority on waiver calls for players placed on waivers by other American League teams. Unfortunately, unless an National League player passes through waivers, the Twins will probably not be able to add an NL player through a claim, since all National League clubs, including the Dodgers, who have the best record in the majors have priority over the AL Clubs on players waived by NL teams.

Here I will attempt to do two things:

  1. Using objective criteria look at the current state of Twins' pitching

  2. Using the same criteria look at possible targets who might improve the Twins' pitching in the stretch run


The objective criteria I am using is Pitching Efficiency or PE, defined as: (K/9*K/BB)/WHIP and a newly devised metric, expected PE or xPE, defined as PE*(BABIP/.290). A few words about xPE: xPE is the expected pitching efficiency if a pitcher had balls in play batter for an average of .290; in other words, trying to take "bad luck" out of the equation.

With no further ado, and because a picture (or a table) is worth more than a thousand words (add your favorite cliche), here is a table that shows each Twins' pitcher's PE and xPE in 2009 (and its components). Also the team average and the AL average, as well as the AL average for starters and the AL average for relievers are also shown. (The same table shows potential targets' metrics, but I will talk about them later) Twins' pitchers' metics better than the AL average for starters or relievers (in any individual metric) are in bold, starters with PE or xPE better than the AL average are highlighted in yellow and relievers with PE or xPE better than the AL average are highlighed in green:



Here are my conclusions:

  • Surprising the overall team pitching looks better than the AL average; the reason for this is that 2 starters (Slowey and Baker) and 2 relievers (Nathan and Guerrier) are much higher than the AL average

  • Looking at the starters, there were only 3 starters higher than the AL starter average, Slowey, Baker, Liriano; but, unfortunately, the Twins has lost their best starter for most (or all) of the season

  • Looking at the relievers, there were only 3 relievers higher than the AL reliever average, Nathan, Guerrier, Ayala; but, unfortunately, personality clashes with the coaching staff and the manager, resulted to the release of the Twins third-best reliever

  • Perkins, Swarzak and Blackburn trail by far (in best to worse order) the AL starter average (about a month ago at a point where several have anointed him "the ace" or the "stopper", I indicated that Blackburn was living on the edge based on his PE, and his latest ineffectiveness did not surprise me)

  • Mijares, Crain, Dickey, Keppel and Duensing trail by far (in best to worse order) the AL reliever average. Keppel and Duensing are very close to replacement level and are much worse that the pitchers they replaced (Ayala and Breslow/Henn)


Is there hope?

Of course, there is always hope; however, lets look at who could potentially help the Twins, instead of being existentialistic or fatalistic.

Today Joe Heyman in Sports Illustrated posted 3 lists of players:

  1. Players who are likely to pass through waivers

  2. Players who might pass through waivers

  3. Players who will not pass through waivers, but a trade could be made by the claiming team


I did the following:

  • Took the pitcher's from Heyman's lists, with the exceptions of NL pitchers in his last (#3) category and pitcher like Roy Halladay and Felix Hernandez, for whom the Twins are extremely unlike to work a trade

  • Calculated their PE and xPE and listed it on the table above (broken down by Heyman's 3 categories)

  • As with the Twins' pitchers earlier, every metric higher than the AL average corresponding to a starter or a reliever is on bold, if a starter has higher PE and/or xPE than the AL average for starters he is highlighted in yellow and if a reliever has a higher PE and/or xPE than the AL average for relievers, he is highlighted in green


The result is only 5 names, 2 starters and 3 relievers from Heyman's list, are better than the AL Average in their respective functions. Let's examine then:


  • Aaron Harang. Despite the fact that he is playing for an NL team (the Reds), his numbers are good enough to translate into a legitimate above average pitcher in the AL. For 2009 his contract is $11 million (about $4.5 million left), he is under contract for $12.5 million in 2010 and there is club option for $12.75 million in 2011 (with a $2 million buyout). I think that if he passes waivers, as Heyman suggests, with the Reds are looking to reduce payroll after the Rolen acquisition, if the Twins are willing to spend $19 million for the next 2 years, he might be part of the solution

  • Ron Mahay. He barely made that list because of his high BABIP this season. He plays for an AL Central team (Royals). The Twins do not trade within the division. Is he better than Mijares? Maybe. Is he better than Duensing? Yes. Will it happen. No.

  • Carl Pavano. The man who was once traded (by the Red Sox to the Expos) for Pedro Martinez is on a very nice rebound this season. He is on an one year contract with about $600,000 left, which is great. Unfortunately he is pitching for the Indians and as long as the Twins' are not trading within the division, it is not happening.

  • Mike Wuertz. He is on a tear. The Twins' tried to trade for him with the A's and it did not work out before the deadline. Now that the Twins are in an advantage as far as AL-waiver claims go (because having the worst record among the contenders, they can claim him before anyone else), it will be interesting to see whether they could work a trade with the As. Wuertz (who btw is from Austin, the home of SPAM, not Texas) is under team control for 2009 and 2010, arbitration-eligible for 2010 and is owed about $400,000 for the rest of the season. The issue here is whether the Twins might be willing to give up someone like Anthony Slama and a lower level prospect for him, because that will probably be what it takes (As PTBNL) to get Wuertz in his home state Twins' uniform, give or take. He could also be part of the solution

  • Jason Frasor. A lot of the things that I said earlier about Wuetz, apply to Frazor, other than the facts that Frazor is not effective as Wuertz this year, he is from the land of Lincoln (the president, not the car), he pitches for the Blue Jays and he is a free agent after this season (he has about $500,000 remaining in his contract). And, yes, he will be cheaper. Will the Twins decide to give Rene Tosoni (a Canadian OF) to the Jays and a lower prospect as PTBNL? We'll see, but he can also be part of the solution


So here it is: Best case scenario: Aaron Harang, Mike Wuertz and Jason Frazor. Worse case scenario: Do nothing. Realistic scenario: We'll see, but I think that it will fall in-between those two extremes...