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8/18/12

Minnesota Twins Minor League Weekly Transactions: 8/11-8/17


This is the third instalment of this series. You can find the older ones here (most recent on top.) Promotions and demotions are listed under the team where the player currently plays (this means promotions to the Minnesota Twins will not be listed here)

Here are the transactions in all levels in the Twins organization from August 11th until yesterday August 17th:

Rochester Redwings (International League, AAA):


8/16 - Minnesota Twins optioned RHP Jeff Manship to Rochester Red Wings.
8/16 - Minnesota Twins optioned RHP Louis Perdomo to Rochester Red Wings.
8/15 - Rochester Red Wings activated 2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka.
8/15 - Minnesota Twins optioned SS Brian Dozier to Rochester Red Wings.
8/14 - Rochester Red Wings activated SS Michael Hollimon from the 7-Day disabled list.
8/13 - 2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka optioned to Rochester Red Wings.
8/11 - 3B Trevor Plouffe assigned to Rochester Red Wings(rehab).

New Britain Rock Cats (Eastern League, AA):

8/17 - OF Rene Tosoni was outrighted to New Britain Rock Cats (removed from the 40 man roster)
8/16 - New Britain Rock Cats activated LHP Andrew Albers from the 7-Day disabled list.
8/16 - RHP Dave Bromberg assigned to New Britain Rock Cats from Rochester Red Wings
8/14 - RHP Luke French assigned to New Britain Rock Cats from Rochester Red Wings

Fort Myers Miracle (Florida State League, A+):

8/16 - RHP Carl Pavano assigned to Fort Myers Miracle (rehab).
8/13 - RHP Kyle Gibson assigned to Fort Myers Miracle from Rochester Red Wings (this might mean that he was officially off the Rochester DL).
8/12 - Fort Myers Miracle placed LHP Pat Dean on the 7-Day disabled list
8/12 - RHP Kyle Gibson assigned to Fort Myers Miracle (rehab) from GCL Twins.

Beloit Snappers (Midwest League, A):

8/12 - Beloit Snappers placed RHP Dallas Gallant on the 7-Day disabled list.
8/12 - Beloit Snappers activated RHP Cole Johnson from the 7-Day disabled list.

Elizabethton Twins (Appalachian League, Rk+):

8/12 - C Michael Quesada suspended (50 days, tested positive for a banned diet supplement)
8/11 - C Kelly Cross assigned to Elizabethton Twins from GCL Twins.

GCL Twins (Gulf Coast League, Rk):

8/12 RHP Carl Pavano assigned to GCL Twins from Fort Myers Miracle.

DSL Twins (Dominican Summer League, Foreign Rk):

No Transactions this week

8/17/12

Minnesota Twins' Minor League Affiliates Attendance Figures

With the Minnesota Twins about to announce another 2-year extension of their Player Development Contract with the Rochester Red Winds of the AAA International League and only their A-level relationship with the Beloit Snappers of the Midwest League being an unfinished business, I thought that it might be interesting to look at the average draw of the Twins' affiliates in all levels.

I am listing ticket sold averages for each Minnesota Twins' affiliate from AAA to Rookie Leagues and also indicate the best and the worse sellers in their leagues (as well as their affiliations.)  This does not include yesterday's games.  In GCL and DSL games are free, but those teams are included for completeness.  The cities (if not included in the name) and the states of the affiliates are also listed.

Looks like the Philadelphia Philly affiliates (including the team closest to me Lehigh Valley IronPigs) are leading in ticket sales in every league they are with the Twins.  Other than the Miracle and the E-Twins, that perennially is pretty high in sales for their leagues, all other affiliates are close to the middle.  Beloit being the only exception and this is part of the reason the Twins are looking to change affiliation.

Here are the numbers:

Rochester (NY) Red Wings, AAA, International League

Average Attendance: 5,710
Rank in League: 9th out of 14
League High: 9,083 Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies)
League Low: 3,613 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees

New Britain (CT) Rock Cats, AA, Eastern League

Average Attendance: 4,933
Rank in League: 6th out of 12
League High: 6,265 Reading Phillies
League Low: 2,864 Binghamton Mets

Fort Myers (FL) Miracle, high A, Florida State League

Average Attendance: 1,792
Rank in League: 5th out of 12
League High: 2,558 Clearwater Threshers (Phillies)
League Low: 844 Dunedin Blue Jays

Beloit (WI) Snappers, A, Midwest League

Average Attendance: 989
Rank in League: 15 out of 16
League high: 8,512 Dayton Dragons (Reds)
League low: 862 Burlington Bees (Athletics)

Elizabethton (TN) Twins, Rookie, Appalachian League.

Average Attendance: 948
Rank in League: 4th out of 10.
League High: 1,322 Greeneville Astros
League Low: 781 Pulaski Mariners

Gulf Coast League (Fort Myers, FL) Twins, Rookie, Gulf Coast League.

Average Attendance: no formal attendance/ free games
Rank in League: N/A


Dominical Summer League (Boca Chica Baseball City, DR) Twins, Rookie, Dominical Summer League.

Average Attendance: no formal attendance/ free games
Rank in League: N/A


8/16/12

xPE, xFIP, SIERA, the 2012 Twins pitching and other stories

For a while I wanted to take a bit of a formalized look at the Twins' pitching this season to see what we have learned and see what would make sense for the team to do in the future.  Also, it has been a while since I took a formalized look at Twins pitching, so it was about time.

The metrics I like to use to do this have been some simple things of my own device: Pitching Effectiveness or PE and Expected Pitching Effectiveness or xPE.  I fiddled around with PE in 2008 and with xPE in 2009.  Here is the reason I devised PE and here is the reason I optimized it to xPE.  My main arguments were a. I felt like xFIP and FIP and DICE weigh too much things like home runs (which anyone who watched the home runs by Miquel Cabrera and Delmon Young against the Twins yesterday cannot deny that they are a matter of inches and ballpark and luck and fielding performance from being a long fly ball).  Also these formulae are hard to memorize and I wanted something simple I can calculate looking at a stat sheet and also something that you can calculate using splits (e.g. how has Brian Duensing or Glen Perkins been as a starter vs as a reliever); you can find xFIP around, but not in a spit form.  So in 2008 I devised PE, which simple takes account three things:  Strikeouts, walks and hits.  So a pitcher who strikes out more people, walks fewer and gives lesser hits is more likely to succeed than someone who doesn't.  And all hits are counted equal because the difference between a single and a triple might be the difference of having Delmon Young or Ben Revere play Left Field or the difference between a fly ball out and a home run might be the difference of having Torii Hunter or Rich Becker playing Center Field.  And I use WHIP, K/9 and K/BB to calculate PE (a simple PE= (K/9*K/BB)/WHIP).  xPE further normalizes for BABIP (to league average .290) to account for "luck" with hits.  And unlike FIP and ERA, these two measures go the opposite directions (higher is better) and have a large variation (0.x to 100+) to allow for granularity in comparisons vs. compressing performance from 0 to 10 or so.

Fast-forward to 2010: Matt Swartz and Eric Seidman in a series of 4 articles at Baseball Prospectus (part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4) introduced the metric of Skill-Interactive Earned Run Average or SIERA.  Automatically, I realized that these guys had something (because a lot of their argument of creating this measure were similar to my objections with FIP and xFIP) and the more and more I dug, the more and more I like it.  It basically looks at individual ways of pitching skills like inducing ground balls vs fly balls, striking out people, not walking people etc. Which is great. I think that is has become my favorite ERA-like measure (it too is on a ERA scale and lower is better) to look, but it is also a pain to derive (one needs Excel, on the other hand it is available in places like Fangraphs), but good luck try to figure splits like ground balls allowed as a starter vs as a reliever...  The formula for posterity's sake is:  SIERA = 6.145 – 16.986*(SO/PA) + 11.434*(BB/PA) – 1.858*((GB-FB-PU)/PA) + 7.653*((SO/PA)^2) +/– 6.664*(((GB-FB-PU)/PA)^2) + 10.130*(SO/PA)*((GB-FB-PU)/PA) – 5.195*(BB/PA)*((GB-FB-PU)/PA)

So, if it does not fit on a T-shirt (and it doesn't), I still need a quick way of looking at things.  In the following table I took aggregate (i.e. Duensing's numbers are both for starting and relieving) Twins pitching numbers from 2012 from Fangraphs, including ERA, FIP, xFIP, SIERA and tRA (another measure I am not going to get into right now), calculated PE and xPE and looked at how all correlate with SIERA, xFIP and ERA:




As I mentioned PE and xPE go on a different direction (bigger number is better) than the others (ERA, FIP, xFIP, tRA and SIERA) so -1 is the best possible correlation factor for those (that would be a perfect match)

Happy to say that xPE, xFIP and SIERA correlate really nicely with themselves than with FIP and tRA and they all do not correlate with ERA, which is a good thing.  Actually, I can get more into the nitty gritty dirt and say that xPE seems to correlate better with SIERRA in good to average performances and less in the bad performances, but still a .89 vs .91 correlation factor difference with this sample size is not significant.
(one of these off-seasons I promise I will play with bigger data samples, but I am keeping this about the Twins and their 2012 pitching....)

So how about them Twins?

I am looking at splits, so I am using xPE.  And I am looking at starters vs. relievers vs. the league averages trying to compare the Twins rotation and pen to those and see if I can make any sense doing this.  When I started this 3 and 4 years ago, PE and xPE average for AL starters was around 10 and for AL relievers around 11.5.   And here are some ranges and classifications

Rotation:
xPE
35+ Ace
25-35 #1- #2 Starter
15-25 #2- #3 Starter
10-15 #3 - #4 Starter
7.5-10 #5 Starter



Bullpen:

xPE
35+ Closer
25-35 Closer-Setup
15-25 Setup- Long Relief
8-15 Long Relief-Mopup


The dual classifications indicate positions in Championship-caliber teams vs average teams.  So in other words, in a championship team you better have 3 start pitchers with xPE above 15 and 2 with and xPE above 25 and a forth with xPE above 10.


Here is the data for the Twins rotation and pen (and for pitchers like Swarzak and Duensing I used their individual splits in each to calculate respective xPEs).  Huge surprise (should not be huge but...) :  By looking at the AL Averages, either pitching has improved, especially in the pen (where average xPE is 16; vs 12.5 in the rotation) or hitters do not hit the ball as well.  A 2.5 point jump in averages for starters and 5 point jump for relievers is huge.  And that would be an interesting thing to look during the off-season and might actually make me to adjust the classifications above upwards a bit.


Here are the numbers for the Twins rotation:





and here for the bullpen:




So as far as the rotation goes:

  • The Twins have had 4 number 3 type starters (and not all the time - a lot of Diamond's and De Vries' starts were given to Marquis, Walters and Blackburn) Pavano has been injured and Liriano has ranged from a number one to below replacement.
  • Going forwards the Twins can build on the fact that they have a couple of pitchers who can be number 3 starters in a good team (Diamond and De Vries) and someone who can be a number 5 starter (Hendriks) and seek a couple #1 and #2 starters to make a competitive rotation.
  • Brian Duensing and Anthony Swarzak are better in the pen
  • Something needs to be done with Nick Blackburn

As far as the pen goes:

  • The Twins have a core of 3 very good relievers (Robertson, Perkins, Burton)
  • Casey Fien has been a pleasant surprise
  • Adding Duensing and Swarzak completes a nice pen that would need an additional arm (could be a free agent or some September call up to step up)  It could be Capps, but his performance is not proportional to the $6.5 million option
  • Alex Burnett, Jeff Gray, Jeff Manship, have not been effective (the jury is still out on Perdomo, Oliveros, Maloney and Waldrop because of the small sample )



8/15/12

Dozier to AAA, Florimon to the majors, a mini profile, and controversy?


By now the latest transaction of the Minnesota Twins is about half a day old. SS Brian Dozier was optioned to the Twins AAA club and SS Pedro Florimon was recalled. Dozier was benched for 2 games after a critical error on Sunday and he has been at about replacement level with the bat and been strugging on the field on occasion. Typical rookie season. Even here, yesterday morning the possibility the the Twins might have given up on Dozier temporarily, was mentioned.

Also, it looks like this was not a unanimous decision by the Twins' management. In this article Joe Christensen suggests that the move has been debated for "weeks" among Twins' officials and reported that Ron Gardenhire didn't seem thrilled when it happened and he would not speak on the move.  Rob Anthony answered all questions about the move. Clearly Gardhenhire has been of the loud Dozier supporters the past 2 seasons and it seems that he was against this decision.  MLB.com Rhett Bollinger's piece does not have the Gardenhire information. Phil Mackey's ESPN 1500 story also suggests that there was a long discussion on the subject among the Twins brass and Mackey also adds that the particular play on Sunday and Dozier's reactions afterwards. could have been the decisive point in the demotion (the proverbial last piece of straw). Pioneer Press' Ben Goessling's article is also devoid of mentions of internal discussions and disagreements. Terry Ryan was at Rochester on Tuesday to watch the team and Pedro Florimon played SS; so the timing of his trip might be more than co-incidental.   It will be interesting to see the cohesiveness of the Twins' management in what has been a clearly trying and frustrating season for the Minnesota Twins.

EDIT (Wed afternoon) : Here is new additional information on Ron Gardenhire's reaction and feelings about Dozier, by Phil Mackey  of ESPN 1500.

Pedro Florimon will wear uniform number 25. The last player who wore it was Erik Komatsu earlier this season and Jim Thome before him. Interesting enough, this was Alexi Casilla's number and Jim Thome had to buy it from him. So maybe this is passing of the batton in a way from one Dominican to another in the Twins' middle infield. The most notable Twin associated with number 25 is Randy Bush, member of both Twins' World Championship teams, who wore if from 1982 to 1993.
 

Pedro Florimon was born on December 10, 1986 in La Romana Dominican Rebublic and signed an amature free agent contract with the Baltimore Orioles organization in 2004 as a 17 year old. He came to the states as a 19 year old and played in Baltimore Appalachian League (Rookie) affiliate Bluefield Orioles and their Short Season A New York Penn League affiliate Aberdeen IronBirds. He ended the season hitting .293/.403/.369 with one HR, 13 RBI, 7 SB in 269 PAs. That was probably his best professional season in the Orioles system. His last season there was 2011, when he repeated AA Eastern League Bowie Baysox and hit .267/.344/.396 with 8 HR, 6 RBI and 15 SB. He was selected off Waivers by the Twins on December 5, 2011 at last off-season's winter meetings. Was invited at the MLB Spring Training camp last spring where he was one of the last cuts, and started his Twins' career with AA Eastern League New Britain Rock Cats and played 30 games before was promoted to Rochester. At New Britain he hit .283/.347/.372 2 HRs, 7 SB (improving his previous season performance in the same league) and for Rochester .251/.308/.344 in his first taste of AAA as a 25 year old.

When I gave a mini scouting report when he was claimed by the Twins last September, I mentioned:  

Defensively, he has exceptional range and instincts, but he (more than occasionally) botches easy plays. In 602 games at SS, he has 174 errors but also turned 363 double plays. He has a strong arm and has some occasional gap power with the bat. All in all, he is very similar to a younger Alexi Casilla and would need some work with his concentration on the field. I think that the Twins signed him as organizational depth at this point, since there are no pure short stops in the higher levels of the organization. If he improves his error rate, he could possibly win a bench position with the Twins.
 
That was before he played a single inning in a Twins' uniform.  Based on his Spring Training performance and his steadiness with the Rock Cats and Red Wings this season, I think that he did turn the corner on the field and could even potentially challenge for a starting job next season, depending who is still with the team. On a good competing team, unless he progresses further with the bat (he is still 25,) he could be a bench player. A note:   I am calling him a bench vs. a utility player.  All his career, Florimon has played only at short stop exept of a single game at center field (2011, Bowie BaySox) and 2 at second base (2011, Bowie Baysox and 2009, Delmarva Shorebirds) in the Baltimore Orioles' organization. So, unless he receives additional instruction and playing time at second and third next off-season and spring training, his utility future might be uncertain.  Recently, Baseball America, awarded him the "strongest infield arm in the International League" award.









8/14/12

Random Tuesday Twins Thoughts and Tidbits


Here is this week's installment:
  • Unfortunately Matt Capps' MRI did not show any improvement and he is not close to a rehab assingment yet. Probably threw his last pitch as a member of the Twins. And there might be some sugar coating but re-signing him and losing the 2 draft picks was one of the worst mistakes that Terry Ryan made. And there is no sugar coating for that.
  • Congratulations to Oswaldo Arcia for named Eastern League player of the month for July and the Eastern League player of the week for the past week.
  • Twins' RHP Scott Baker, who underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this season, is already playing catch. And he has been saying that he feels better than he felt for the last 2 years, which is really positive.
  • Here are the most recent organization Transactions. Please notice the Carl Pavano shuttle. He is in the GCL and not in the FSL right now.
  • Catcher Michael Quesada was suspended. He last played for the Elizabethton Twins (Rookie, Appalachian League.) He was suspended for 50 days because he tested positive for methylhexaneamine, a banned and dangerous diet supplement similar to ephedra
  • Here is a great article on Cole De Vries.
  • Lots of awards coming up, but Baseball America, named Twins' middle infielder Pedro Florimon, the "strongest infield arm" in the AAA International League.
  • Former Twins' starting pitcher Jason Marquis took a no-hitter into the 7th and ended up with a two-hitter. Happy to see that Gardy and Andy helped him realize his full potential while with the Twins. In 13 starts with the Padres he has 3.66 ERA, 1.195 WHIP, 7.5 K/9 and 3.33 K/BB. Another success story for Andy and Gardy and Terry...
  • The New Britain Rock Cats are celebrating their 30th year of existence in New Britain (after they moved from Bristol, CT) this season. Here is a great write up about the history of the Twins AA affiliate.
  • Here is a great post by the Snappers' Director of Media relations, where she gets the Twins' A level players to give her the number one reason why they play baseball. Great stuff.
  • Apparently the Minnesota Twins' ball cap, is preferred gear of a certrain hip hop artist
  • Interim Twins' GM Terry Ryan, is related to the Republican Vice Presidential candidate
  • In 5 games after his trade to the Twins, GCL Twins' Jeremias Pineda is hitting .273/.304/.273. He hit .421/.447/.534 before traded. Meanwhile, Danny Valencia, the other part of this trade was called up for Boston and has been hitless in 2 games.
  • If you wonder what the Elizabethton Twins' players do in their days off, check this out. And the ones who are not doing that, are doing this
  • Will a particular Twins' player have something going on that explains his offensive surge this season?
  • Twins' product of the week is Minnesota Twins Throwback Gnome. The Twins need luck in any way possible, and this guy looks a bit like their manager as well...
The parting shot today is of Brian Dozier who has been lagging both on the field and with the stick lately. I hope that the Twins do not give up on him, but this has been a long season for him.