Twins' Top 25 Pitching Prospect Countdown: 21-25

This off-season I am doing a list of the 50 best Twins' prospects, just I did last season. Like last season, I am dividing them into pitchers and position players. This is the first installment and will feature the pitchers ranked from 20-25, in reverse order. After I finish the top 25 countdown of the pitching prospects, I will start the countdown of the position prospects. The ages of the players listed will be their ages next season.

There we go:

25. Mike McCardell, 6'5", 220 lbs RHP, 25. Mike McCardell was drafted in the 6th round of the 2007 draft from Kutztown University and has moved fairly fast through the Twins' system in his 3 years as a pro starting with the GCL Twins (Rookie-) in 2007 and moving to New Britain (AA) after starting the season at Ft. Myers in 2009. McCardell last season (3.93 ERA, 1.213 WHI, 3.5 K/9, 4.88 K/BB with the Miracle in 94 innings, 17 starts and 4.10 ERA, 1.262 WHIP, 7.4 K/9 and 2.50 K/BB in 48.1 innings, 9 starts with the Rock Cats) was somewhat of a dissapointment compared to his previous seasons, when his WHIP was consistently under 1.000, his ERA consistently under 3 and his K/9 consistently over 9. McCardell has a two seamer and a four seamer in the high 80s, and his out pitch is a curve. He also features a change up. McCardell is a control artist who has to pitch close to the strike zone and get ahead of hitters to be successful, since he cannot blow batters away. This season, batters at the higher levels seems to lay off his curve on the dirt, leading to fewer strikeouts and more walks and hits. Another potential issue is that he might not be durable as a starter (average start just over 5.4 innings). He projects as a middle reliever in the majors. He will probably start his age 25 season next year in New Britain and might move to Rochester depending on the needs of the organization. ETA: 2012

24. Wilson Sanchez, 6'1", 175 lbs, RHP, 19. For a while, I have been claiming that the DSL Twins club has some of the best pitchers in the organization. Thanks to Adrian Salcedo's success this season north of the border in the GCL, the DSL prospects will hopefully get more recognition from the fans and the organization, before the cross the border. Wilson Sanchez was signed as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in late 2008 and he has his first professional season in 2009, where he put numbers better than what Adrian Salcedo did in 2008 at the DSL: 14 GS, 73.1 IP, 0.914 WHIP, 9.3 K/9 and 4.75 K/BB. His main pitch is a four seam fastball that sits at low to mid 90s but has a lot of deceptive movement. His secondary pitches (a slider and a change up) are works in progress at this point. Too early to project his career path, but if learns to master a change up and develop a good third pitch, he will open some eyes. He should start next season at the GCL. ETA: 2014

23. Bobby Lanigan, 6'4", 220 lbs, RHP, 23. Bobby Lanigan was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2008 draft from Adelphi University. After he spent the 2009 season in Elizabethton, he started the 2009 season in Beloit and moved up to Ft. Myers for 7 innings. He started 22 games in Beloit, accumulating a 4.52 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 7.4 K/9 and 3.52 K/BB in 123.1 innings. He possesses a low to mid 90s fastball and a change up that has not been perfected; however, he might have the best slider in the Twins' minor league system. This season in Ft. Myers he was used primarily as a reliever (he made 2 starts and 5 relieve appearances) and as a reliever he help opponents to a .175 batting average compared to a .271 (combined Beloit and Ft. Myers) as a starter. Lanigan projects as a future late inning reliever and will probably assume the role full time in Ft. Myers next season. ETA: 2013

22. Brad Tippett, 6' 1", 190 lbs, RHP, 22; Bratt Tippett is one of the many very good international signings by the Twins in the later part of this decade. He was signed as an amateur free agent from Australia in 2005 and started his career with the Twins in the GCL as an 18 year old in 2006. Brad has moved very slowly through the organization, because he has been very raw, but the patience has benefited him. He is a very polished pitcher at 21 years old, having 3 very good pitches (a high 80s fastball, a curve and an excellent change up), thrown by what Baseball America called "the best control in the organization". He repeated last season in Beloit (was promoted to Beloit mid 2008) but assumed a starting role, while compiling a 3.21 ERA, 1.068 WHIP, 6.6 K/9 and 4.28 K/BB in 146 innings. He is still about the right age for his level and will probably move to Ft. Myers next season. Depending on his development he could be a back of the rotation starter or a middle reliever. ETA: 2013

21. Blayne Weller, 6'5", 220 lbs, RHP, 20. Brayne was drafted in the 14th round of the 2008 draft from Key West High School. This season was his first in professional ball (he pitched for 1 inning at the GCL in 2008) and he dominated the GCL. He started 10 games, pitched 57 innings, accumulating a 1.58 ERA, .947 WHIP, 7.7 K/9 and 6.13 K/BB. He is not a hard thrower (his fastball is mid to low 80s), but he has excellent control, a very good curve with late braking movement, a project-able body and a deceptive 3/4 arm delivery. He will probably start 2010 in Elizabethton. He projects as a back of the rotation starter or a middle reliever. ETA: 2015.


Who is Boof Bonser?

After the Twins removed Boof Bonser from their 40-man roster to make room for the signing of Carl Pavano, they dealt him today to the Boston Red Sox for a yet to be disclosed minor league player. It might seem as a small win for the Twins, since they gained something for a player they were about to lose for nothing, but is it so? The reason stated that Bonser, and not a lesser player like Bobby Keppel, Matt Tolbert or Drew Butera, was removed from the roster was because Bonser did not accept the $550,000 contract the Twins offered him during the offseason and he was headed to arbitration. I suspect that the Twins' brass did not realize that offering him about $90,000 over the minimum would be borderline insulting. So they cut their nose to spite their face and kept Bobby Keppel instead...

Can Bonser be successful? Let's look at the facts starting with a mini scouting report:

Bonser has 4 main pitches: A fastball that averages 92 mph, but hits 95 occasionally with some movement, a plus slider and potentially one of the best curveballs in the game. He is more effective against righthanders (career .699 OPS against) and not effective against lefties (career .891 OPS against, but also .369 BABIP). His career numbers are a bit skewed because he has been both a starter and a reliever, but his future is in the bullpen. There were durability considerations (because of his weight) which made him report to the 2008 training camp several pounds lighter, but the real considerations are with his concentration and mental make up. Boof can pitch brilliantly but when he gets in trouble, he seems to fall apart (Over the Baggy has a great analysis of his pitching numbers, especially his performance with men on base.) When there is someone on first, Boof seems to be a different pitcher (career .956 OPS against in 313 PA), mainly because he looses the control of his breaking stuff and has to throw fastballs in the zone when he falls behind. His 9.5 K/9 and 3.22 K/BB career as a reliever in the major league level (despite the aforementioned problems), along with his devastating curve, project him as a dominating arm in the pen, maybe a future closer, if he deals with his concentration issues. Having a change of scenery and coaching on these respects might be what he needs, and unfortunately this situation smells a lot of the David Ortiz situation years ago...

Bonser was drafted in the 1st round of the 2000 draft by the San Fransisco Giants and came to the Twins in the AJ Pierzynski trade that also brought Joe Nathan and Fransisco Liriano to the team.

Good luck, Boof, but please not against the Twins.


It has been a while... hasn't it?

I know I should post more here but the last couple of months I was fully involved with personal endeavors.

That said, I have been using my Twitter account to quickly and easily post info I have about the Twins and Vikings (and some of it scooped all professional bloggers and sportswriters recently, namely the J.J Hardy acquisition and the 3 year extension of Brad Childress. Thank you classmates!)

With the recent news that Pavano has accepted an arbitration offer (and that contract will end up being about around $5.5 million plus incentives), the logjam in the Twins' pitching staff is getting bigger. Given that Pavano, Baker, Slowey are a lock for 3 starting positions (and I am not mentioning Blackburn for a good reason), the other 2 will be filled by 2 of Blackburn, Bonser, Liriano, Duensing, and Perkins.

Still, a large portion of the Twins' fans feel that the Twins do not have an ace (I do not subscribe to this opinion and every reader here knows that I think that a healthy Slowey is an ace pitcher). Fact: the Twins are having deficiencies in 2B and 3B. I was informed (and tweeted about a month ago, thanks to a certain unnamed classmate who works for the Marlins) that they are looking to make a deal with the Marlins for Dan Uggla. In the initial deal the Twins were looking to make a blockbuster with Ricky Nolasco as part of the deal (and giving the Marlins some pitchers). Since then (a month ago) it appears that Josh Johnson (a Twin-Cities native to boot) has been made available. The ante is upped. My gut feeling says that Bill Smith will make this trade (and, btw, I hated to see GoGo go) but this will practically result to Blackburn being a Marlin (and Perkins and at least one of the slated bullpen guys, in addition to Casilla and prospects)


Not enough words to describe it...

...so here is a video

Five Reasons the Twins will be AL Central Champions

  1. Momentum. The last 2 weeks the team is batting .313/.391/.466, and the bullpen in September has a collective 2.85 ERA, 1.257 WHIP, and has allowed opponents to hit for a .678 OPS. For comparison, the last 2 weeks Detroit is batting .275/.349/.402 and for September its pen has a 4.84 ERA, 1.495 WHIP and has allowed opponents to hit for a .784 OPS. The difference in the numbers get magnified if one looks at just the last week

  2. Head to Head Performance. The Twins have taken 11 of 18 from Detroit and 7 out of 9 in the Dome. As a team, the Twins against Detroit are batting .307/.372/.452 (the best against any AL team this season) and pitching to the rate of 4.21 ERA and 1.331 WHIP. Detroit, on the other hand, as a team against the Twins is hitting .266/.325/.418 and pitching with a 5.48 ERA and 1.628 WHIP (the worse against any AL team this season

  3. Starting Pitchers. This season Scott Baker at home is pitching at a 1.071 WHIP rate with 7.7 K/9 and 5.67 K/BB. At the same time Rich Porcello away is pitching at a 1.365 WHIP rate with 4.3 K/9 and 1.95 K/BB. Rich Porcello on artificial turf this season is 0-3 with a 6.60 ERA, 1.867 WHIP and .991 opponents OPS.

  4. The Dome. It is fair to say that the metrodome has seen the best (and loudest) crowds for 25 years all in the last 2 days: Sell outs for the last 2 weekend baseball games following by a MNF Packers visit. All 3 games victorious for the home team. This game will be in a madhouse and the fans are riding a home town victory high

  5. The 1987 Karma. This team has a lot of similarities with the 1987 team including:
    • Home run hitters
    • A very low winning percentage, esp. away
    • One good young starter pitcher and a good veteran starter pitcher and several questionmarks
    • A re-engineered bullpen that started performing down the stretch
    • A reliable, but often high blood pressure -inducing closer
    It is not a coincidence that a. The last time the Twins played Detroit in a loser goes home for the winter game was in 1987 and b. that most of the 1987 team is actually in the dome the last few days. I strongly believe that the Metrodome magic will work today and this post-season as well



Morneau and scientific facts about back fractures

Today Justin Morneau was reportedly diagnosed with a "stress fracture on his back", which will keep him out of the year.

There are not many details yet, but a fracture in the "back" is a fairly scary thing, and there is not such a diagnosis, btw, but I will try to give some medical and scientific context about it before we learn of more details:

A. What is a stress fracture:

A stress fracture, is a fracture (i.e. break, as in "sticks and stones will break my bones") caused by repetitive strenuous activity. These are hairline fractures (which means that they are "not all the way through" or there is no bone separation and there are no bone fragments around)

B. Anatomy of the spine

A fracture of "the back" does not mean anything... the assumption here is that Justin has a fracture in one of his vertebrae. As far as the seriousness goes, fractures on the Pedicles (the little protrusions that help the back bend but making it not bend so much so it doesn't put too much stress in the spine) are very easy to heal. Fractures on the Facet Joints that do what the Pedicles do plus hit the Pedicles above to keep the "back straight" are a little harder to heal, but still ok. On the other hand, fractures of the Verebral Bodies are much harder to heal and might cause things like slipped discs (which is really painful and that's what Joe Crede had; btw, Joe Mauer's condition was totally different, but this is another story).

Wishing the best for Justin and I will try to keep updated with information about exactly what's going on

Update 12:34 AM EDT:
Apparently the fracture is on L5 (or Lumbar 5) which is the lowest Lumber vertebra (the one where the Pedicle line points to on the right hand side of the above picture). Still no word of which part of the vertebra is affected.


New (retro) post

Yes, I have not posted here for a while, and yes I am dissatisfied with the way the Twins' things are doing these days, but, yes, they can still win the division and yes what I said here (a bit controversial to some a month or so ago; I am sure than now more people feel this way), still stands...


Goodbye Kevin Mulvey and a mini-scouting report

Kevin Mulvey is the player to be named later in the Joh Rauch trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

I think that it is a good trade for the Twins, since Rauch is going to be with the team for 2010 and in December the Twins would have needed to keep Mulvey in the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. However there are not too many 40-many roster spots open and more than likely would have been occupied by other prospects, higher-rated than Mulvey, who also need protection. Thus, it is like losing Mulvey to the Rule 5 draft and signing Rauch as a free agent. Not bad.

Mulvey's career numbers in the minors are very ordinary: 3.54 ERA, 1.308 WHIP, 6.9 K/9 and 2.39 K/BB. This season, his second in AAA Rochester, Mulvery has regressed to: 3.93 ERA, 1.389 WHIP, 6.8 K/9 and 2.09 K/BB, which are all the way career lows at any level for the 24 year old RHP. You can read a 2007 scouting report on Mulvey here. The bottom line is: low 90s 2-seamer, slider and a curve, mixed with an occasional change up to the lefties. His fastball and slider have been considered plus pitches where his curve and changeup are works in process.

Mulvey could potentially be at the tail end of a major league rotation, however middle relief might be closer to his MLB ceiling.

Also, removing Mulvey from the 40-man roster, might allow someone like Danny Valencia to take his spot and contributing with the Twins this September


Recapping the last 24 hours on the Twins trade front

Not many things happened in the trade front today for the Twins, however there are some developments to note:

  • A story in Chicago Tribune confirms what I was told and related last night about a. it will take 2 decent prospects for the Twins to acquire Harden and b. the Twins feel that they need to sign him to an extension to give up this much

  • Joe Christiensen presents a Harden story with a Twins' Front office perspective. They are tight lipped as usually. In the same piece, Joe C, indicates that the Twins did not comment about Penny as well.

  • B.J. Hermsen was pulled off after one inning yesterday, leading to speculation that he might be traded. However, Josh Johnson talked to him and Hermsen said that it was planned because he has to start a playoff game next Tuesday. This does not mean that Hermsen will not get traded, but the likelihood has decreased

Very quiet day today and tonight, we will see how tomorrow and Monday go. As a reminder, the trading deadline is 12 noon EDT Monday.


Waiver trading deadline: what do we know, what we don't know and how I am covering it

August 31st is the waiver trade deadline. The Twins have been more active this season in waiver trades than in non-waiver trades. Here is a list of what is going on right now with the Twins and the ways they are trying to improve the team and a list on how I am going to cover it this weekend. Since the technicalities and the details on roster positions, the 25-man roster and the 40-man roster are extreme, I will be very detailed:

What we know and what we don't know:

  • Before today, the Twins had a full 25-man roster and a full 40-man roster. Also before the December Rule 5 draft, the Twins would have needed to add about 20 players to their 40-man roster to protect them.

  • The Twins have completed a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks that will bring in Jon Rauch to the Twins for a player to be named later. To make room for Rauch, Philip Humber was waived (release waivers) freeing his 40-man and 25-man roster spot. Humber was not selected by another team and did not elect to be a free agent, so he will play for the Rochester Red Wings for the remainder of the season. Rauch will wear his Twins' number 60 uniform on Saturday.

  • The Twins have completed a trade with the Kansas City Royals that will bring in Ron Mahay to the Twins' pen. We know that the Royals designated Mahay for assignment earlier this week and we know that they are picking a large part of his salary this year. Reportedly, the Twins will be responsible for only $100,000 of Mahay's salary. What we don't know is: a. whether there is a Twins' player might go to Kansas City as a return and b. who will be the player(s) who will move off the 25-man and the 40-man roster to accommodate Mahay in both rosters. My suspicion is that Bobby Keppel's days with the Twins came to an end. Mahay is presumably going to join the team on Saturday and a roster move needs to be made before the Twins officially announce the transaction

  • The Twins have traded Yohan Pino to the Cleveland Indians to complete the Carl Pavano trade. I covered that move here

  • The Twins have claimed Brad Penny of release waivers from the Boston Red Sox. We know that Penny can refuse to sign with the Twins, but if this is the case, he will forfeit his $1.5M+ incentives and his $1M remaining salary to sign with a team of his choice. We know that since this is a release waiver pick up the Twins do not have to trade anyone to Boston. We also know that a spot needs to be openned in both 25- and 40-men rosters to accommodate Penny

  • After a lot of back and forth and blowing smoke, I can say now with certainty that the Twins have claimed Rich Harden in trade claims from the Chicago Cubs. We know that the Twins have until Monday evening to complete the transaction. We know that Harden will be a type A free agent in the end of the season and will fetch the Cubs two first round draft picks in the 2010 amateur (rule 4) draft, if they offer him arbitration and he chooses to sign with a different team. We know that if the Twins and the Cubs do not agree in a trade arrangement the Cubs can pull him off trade waivers and opt for those draft picks, so the Twins will have to up the ante. We know that the Twins' 2008 draft pick B.J. Hermsen was pulled off after one inning pitching for the GCL Twins without an injury. It is fair to speculate that he might be included in this trade. We also know that one of the big players from the Cubs' side involved in trade discussions is their current assistant general manager and former Twin world champion Randy Bush.

How I am going to cover this deadline and why:

  • There are a lot of things that are going on with the Twins right now and there are probably more slow fires burning than their is smoke out there. I am certain that the Twins will make 2-3 more moves before Monday is history and I will cover them all

  • Since it is the weekend and a lot of people (including me) are away from their computers most of the time, this is how I will cover this deadline:

    • When something breaks or is close to break, it will be in my Twitter. You can follow me at Twitter or you can come here and refresh this page often. All my Twits appear on the top panel of the left side of this page

    • When time allows, I will post longer summaries at my facebook page (feel free to add me, my username there is "Thrylos Thatsme", I add everyone back)

    • I will give more in-depth analysis of things that happened here, and if things happen later at night or on Monday when I have access to my computer and I won't have to type on my iPhone this information will be here as soon as I can type it

So you have it, this is what I am doing during this deadline and you all are more than welcome to be a part of it.

Yohan Pino goes to Cleveland and a mini scouting report

Today the Twins traded Yohan Pino as the player to be named later to complete the Carl Pavano trade.

Yohan Pino is a 25 year old Venezuelan who was signed by the Twins as an amateur free agent as a 21 year old in 2004. Originally a starter, he had a break through season in Beloit (Midwest League, A) in 2006 and in Ft. Myers (Florida State League, A+) in the beginning of 2007. However, since he moved up to New Britain (Eastern League, AA) later in 2007 he has struggled until this season.

Yohan is a rare phenomenon: he is a strikeout pitcher with a mid to high 80s fastball. His slider and change up are exceptional and when he can locate his fastball in the corners to set up his out pitches he can be effective. A complete scouting report on Yohan Pino can be found here at scout.com, where he was ranked as the Twins #36 prospect going into the 2009 season. I suspect that he probably climbed a few positions based on his performance this season.

He needed to be added to the 40-man roster (the Twins have about 20 players in the same position) by this December to be protected for the Rule 5 draft. If he was not added, he would very likely be selected by another team. Thus the Twins' have accelerated that process...

How does Jon Rauch fit in the Twins' bullpen?

Before the virtual ink dried in my Ron Mahay post, I was informed that the Twins have acquired Jon Rauch from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

How does he fit?

Here is the data:

Rauch is slightly below the AL average reliever but better than Mahay. Thus the addition of Mahay and Rauch and the subtraction of the likes of Bobby Keppel and Philip Humber will help the Twins. Rauch is under contract for 2010 for about $3 million

Here are Joe Rauch's career numbers against AL Batters: they collectively hit .169/.228/.265; and he has 1.14 ERA, 0.864 WHIP 9.4 K/9, 3.73 K/BB (in 39.1 IP) these are excellent numbers and he could prove to be a valuable acquisition not only for 2009 but for 2010 as well

How does Ron Mahay fit in the Twins' bullpen?

Ken Rosenthal reported that the Twins have acquired Ron Mahay, a 38-year old lefty reliever from the Kansas City Royals. This will be a quick post to analyze how Mahay might fit with the team and I will profile him during the weekend.

I will be using PE and xPE to evaluate Mahay's effectiveness compared to the rest of the Twins' pen. Here is the data:

As you can see, Ron Mahay is the Twins' fifth best reliever behind Joe Nathan, Matt Guerrier, Jose Mijares and Jesse Crain. Like Jesse Crain, Mahay has a high strikeout rate and an inflated WHIP due to a much higher than usual BABIP. Nathan, Guerrier and Mijares are above average compared to AL relievers (AL reliever average PE is 10.71) and Crain and Mahay slightly below average, but still much better than the likes of Brian Duensing, Phillip Humber, Bobby Keppel, Jeff Manship and R.A. Dickey (now in Rochester) who have been below average.

This is the second time this season the Twins made a trade within the division, with the acquisition of Carl Pavano from the Cleveland Indians being the first.


Would Brad Penny be an improvement?

Joe Christensen in his blog mentioned that the Twins might pick Brad Penny from the release waiver wire. Let's examine whether he will be an improvement over the Twins' current starters.

To analyze this, I will be using the same methodology I used here, looking at PE and xPE:

For Pavano's numbers I am using only his Twins' appearances. Gabino's sample is not significant.

Clearly from the current starters (with Liriano in the DL), Brad Penny would rank third in the Twins' staff behind Baker and Pavano. A low risk high reward pick up that might help the Twins in their pennant run and would be more effective that Blackburn, Duensing, and Swarzak. Dave Cameron agrees with this line of thinking at FanGraphs, using different statistic criteria.

On another note, Carl Pavano and Brad Penny were the #1 and #2 starters for the 2003 World Champion Florida Marlins. Mike Redmond was the back-up catcher in that team.

Various off day Twins (and not only) thoughts

  • This is a sight for sore eyes:

    Also it looks like the grass will be very close to the foul line in Target Field, which might help bunting.

  • Case in point on why predictive metrics have some merit: If someone on June 17 told you that "Blackburn is living on the edge by giving too many hits, walking more batters than usual and striking out fewer than usual" at the same time when mainstream Twins' media and his manager were calling him a "stopper", and his ERA was hovering in the low 3's, you'd think that this someone must be nuts. What do you think now?

  • Here is an interesting article about the status of international baseball, now that the sport is not an Olympic sport from 2016 on.

  • You'd think that an unassisted triple play would be a feat that some Hall of Famers, or at least All-Stars accomplished. This is not the case. All fifteen players who have turned unassisted triple plays are not stars. Also interesting is the fact that 13 of the 15 unassisted triple plays happened in the same manner: The fielder caught a line drive, touched 2nd and tagged the runner coming from 1st.

  • This is something that I missed (and I suspect that a lot of other people did), but it is very remarkable: On August 23rd, The Hudson Valley Renegades (New York/Penn League, short-season A, Tampa Bay Rays affiliate) broadcast their game against the Staten Island Yankees, live on Twitter using the Twitcam technology. A sign of things to come? The Renegades' next Live Twitter game is on September 3rd at 6:50 PM against the Brooklyn Cyclones (New York Mets' NPL affiliate). I think that it will be interesting to watch.

  • Toby Gardenhire suffered a broken wrist in a collision last night and he is out for the season.

  • About 5 days are left for the waiver trade deadline (Aug. 31) and for the roster expansion deadline (Sept. 1). I am not sure that the Twins will make any trades. Their biggest need right not is starting pitching and I do not thing that the names available might be an upgrade. I posted earlier my opinion on September call ups. Since then, two things have changed: Boof Bonser, currently on the 60-day DL, is expected to potentially see action in September and Joe Crede, received an epidural last night to alleviate pain from his back. Unless his back responds (it did last season after an epidural when he played for the Chicago White Sox), I expect a DL-stint for Joe Crede.


What went wrong with Armando Gabino?

Armando Gabino made his major league debut yesterday and by all means it was not very successful: He pitched for 2.2 innings, gave 5 hits, 4 earned runs (one of which in a bases loaded walk by Phillip Humber who relieved him in the 2nd inning), 2 walks and struck out one batter. Let's examine what went wrong.

Gabino was not getting his bread and butter pitches called strikes

Here is Gabino's Pitch F/X location data from last nights game (from Brooksbaseball.net):

Gabino's bread and butter are pitches in the red rectangle. For Gabino to be successful, he needs those to be called strikes. Gary Darling, the home plate umpire did not only call pitches down and out of the strike zone balls, but some in the lower part of the strike zone as well.

Gabino tried to adjust and was successful on the outside part of the strike zone (red squares to the left), but he left too many balls in the middle that resulted in being in play (blue squares)

Darling had a consistently small strike zone (here is his balls and strikes calls for all pitchers from both teams) :

Gabino threw very few changeups

Gabino's best pitch is a circle change. Last night he threw only 8 change ups in 57 pitches (and 3 of them in a row at some point in the third inning.) I am not sure whether this is due to the fact that the last time Joe Mauer caught him was in the Spring Training of the 2008 season, but for Gabino to be successful his change up ration should be higher and better mixed.

Gabino had a mechanical issue of sorts

Here is Gabino's release point from last night:

Very inconsistent, and it seems to form 2 nuclei very similar to Liriano's. Liriano's release point is different when facing RHB and LHB (because he steps on different place on the rubber depending on whether he faces a lefty or a righty), but Gabino's was all over the place regardless whether he was facing a lefty or a righty.

As you can see he releases his breaking pitches (orange) and change up (yellow) from a much straighter position than his fastballs (green and blue). This is a huge difference and easily picked up by an opposing batter who can wait on a pitch based on Gabino's release point.

He is tipping his pitches in a very bad way... When a ball comes from a straight delivery, the opponent can guess slider or change up and when it comes from a 3/4 delivery he can guess fastball and be right 100% of the time.

Not too good.

Gabino needs to fix these 3 things in order to be a successful major league pitcher:

  • Adjust when he does not get the low strike, but do not throw the ball in the middle of the plate (his 93 mph max FB is not good enought to blow by batters). Stay on the edges, like he partially did last night

  • Mix it up. Got to have batters beat him with his best weapon (change up) not with his least (fastball)

  • Get a consistent delivery and release point to improve his command and stop tipping his pitches


Guest Post: New Britain comes to Binghamton

Today's guest post comes from Shawn from Binghamton, a great Twins' fan who not only follows the big league team all over the place (he went to Wrigley field this season to see the Twins play) but follows the AAA team (Rochester Red Wings, NY) and the AA team (New Britain, Rock Cats, CT) as well. Without further ado, here is his post:

I appreciate Thrylos giving me the opportunity to guest blog and showing me how much work it is.

My name is Shawn and I am a lifelong baseball fan from northern MN. I have been a Twins fan since 1984. I live in Binghamton, NY and go to as many New Britain and Rochester games near my area as I can.

This last week New Britain came to town for a 3 game set. New Britain has been playing well of late, going 9-6 leading to this series in Binghamton.

Tuesday’s game did not work out very well. The game started early due to impending weather. My stepson and I sat down in time to watch Whit Robbins hit a double in the top of the 3rd, and then lightning struck. I would have liked to see Mike McCardell pitch for the first time but play was suspended. We sat underneath the canopy to ride out the weather for a bit. Unfortunately the rain blew through the stands and we had to run for cover. The pictures included don’t even do it justice. These are the ones I could take before we were blown out of the stands. We were completely soaked and I couldn’t get any more pictures off.

Needless to say, the game was suspended.

Wednesday was an old fashioned minor league double header, with 7 innings remaining from the prior night and another 7 inning game. Frank Mata started third and it didn’t go well, he went .1 innings giving up 4 earned runs on 3 hits and a walk, he took the loss. Kyle Waldrop, former #1 pick was next, he went 3.2 giving up 1 earned on 3 hits and a walk with a strikeout. He looks to be adjusting nicely after an injury derailed 2008 His fast ball topped out at 91. The man I wanted to see relieved him, Loek Van Mil, the 7’1” pitcher just called up from A ball. The 24 year old has come back strong from injury and is starting to turn heads. Seth Stohs mentioned that Loek had hit 99 in Fort Myers. This game his velocity was 94-96, touching 97. He was having a hard time hitting the strike zone and his fastball seemed a little straight. He went 1.1 innings, giving up 1 earned run on 2 hits and a walk. If he can throw strikes and mix his pitches he will be a great reliever. Spencer Steedley came in to finish off game. He went .2 innings and giving up 1 hit. I discovered a new scrappy underdog player. I had never heard of Yancarlos Ortiz and with his under 600 OPS I know why. I loved watching the kid play short; if he could learn to hit a little he’d have a future as an all glove SS in the majors. Of course Nicky Punto is in the majors so anything is possible. Little Papi did go 3-4 in this game however and will be a joy for minor league baseball fans. Brandon Roberts went 2-5 and Whit Robbins went 2-4 with a double.

Even this crappy Iphone shot shows a little how big he is:

Between games we headed over to the New Britain bullpen. I really wish I knew more faces to the names of the players, so I had a better reference of who I was speaking with, but most of the prospects were new to AA. The guys couldn’t have been a better bunch of guys. I congratulated Loek on his call up and gave him crap about hitting 97 when he topped out at around 90 in 2008. The other guys busted on him saying the Binghamton gun must be fast. Loek was sheepish about it. He wasn’t terribly effective in the prior game and seemed to be a humble guy. He told us he only hit 85 when he was signed. We got an autographed ball with Carlos Gutierrez, Frank Mata, Van Mil, Steedley, Waldrup, Alex Burnett, & Jeff Christy… got Juan Portes added later. My stepson was very excited. I told him that 3 or 4 future Twins had signed his ball. The guys were all good dudes.

Game 2 was a well pitched game by Ryan Mullins. He gave up a run on 6 hits over 6 innings, striking out 3. New Britain won 6-1, but I noticed a ton of warning track power in this game and from this team. Erik Lis must fly out to the warning track every other at-bat. If he could gain 20 feet on his flies he’d be a legitimate major league DH. Rene Tosoni finally hit one out in the 5th, going 2-3. Brandon Roberts and Brian Dinkleman also went to 2-3 with a double for Dinkleman. Alex Burnett came on for a scoreless 7th giving up 2 hits and a walk. He looks good out in the bullpen.

Rene Tosoni, Brandon Roberts, Luke Hughes, and Erik Lis:

Thursday we got to see Deolis Guerra for the first time. He looked really good against his former organization. He earned rave reviews from the Binghamton manager Mako Oliveras:

"We just ran into a very good pitcher," Oliveras said. "He's a very good kid. It's sweet and sour. I hate that we got beat, but it's still sweet to see one of the kids you've worked with be successful - even against you." "He changed speeds well," Oliveras said. "He located his fastball real well, and his change-up was outstanding. So was his curveball."

His fastball only reached 90; sitting at 86-89 but his changeup coming in at 74-76 was a devastating pitch. His mechanics were nice and fluid and he had a very repeatable delivery. I am betting he can gain a couple more miles back on his fastball as his body grows into itself. He gave up 2 runs, 1 earned and 5 hits in 6.2 innings striking out 6. The 2 runs were relatively unlucky, a double that hit the chalk line, a Texas league single, pass ball, error, and a sac. fly. Brian Dinkleman keeps hitting the ball well going 2-5 with a double and a HR. He should be rising up the prospect lists. Wilson Ramos looks like a stud. He went 3-4 with a walk and his body looks like more power should develop. Steve Singleton also went 2-4 with a double. I tweeted during the game that Matt Moses didn’t play any of the games, apparently due to a finger injury. It hasn’t been an easy road for Matt and he will probably be with another organization next year, but he seemed like a good team mate, cheering, high fiving, on the rail, and interested in the game. Hopefully it works out for him I kind of feel badly for a guy.

That’s it. Thanks to Thrylos for letting me babble a little about AA baseball. Minor league ball is fun and this is a good crop of players New Britain brings to town. Many of these players will be playing for the Twins soon.


Meet and greet number 83: Armando Gabino

Armando Gabino is a 25 year old (will turn 26 this August 31st) Dominican RHP from Santiago, birthplace of major league notables Jhonny Peralta, Luis Polonia, and the Minnesota Twins' very own Carlos Gomez. Armando was signed as an 18 year old international free agent by the Cleveland Indians organization in April of 2001 and was later picked up by the Twins organization in December of 2004 in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft.

Armando has never been considered a strikeout pitcher, but he is a control pitcher. His career minor league line is 3.31 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 6.4 K/9 and 2.3 K/BB. He is featuring a low nineties 2-seamer, a very effective pitch when spotted with command, a decent slider and an excellent change up. Changing speeds and mixes pitches and locations is Armando's bread and butter. Before this season, Armando had only 4 starts in the Twins' organization with three of them coming in Elizabethton (R, Appalachian League) in his first year with the Twins' organization, 2005. He had another start with Elizabethton in 2006, before he was promoted to Beloit (A, Midwest League) later that season. This season, mainly because of the continuous shuttle of starting pitchers from Rochester to the Twins, Armando had 4 starts with Rochester (AAA, International League) and has been particularly effective.

Armando's numbers this season are 2.93 ERA (3.69 FIP), 1.01 WHIP, 5.9 K/9 and 2.7 K/BB. As a starter he has been very effective: 2.63 FIP, 0.91 BABIP, 6.39 K/9, 3 K/BB, in 4 starts. He held opponents to a .215 batting average for the season and only to a .198 average as a starter. He is equally effectively vs. LHB (.205 opponents' batting average) and RHB (.222 opponents' batting average). Are there any clouds in the horizon? Yes, there are two: This season, he has .245 BABIP against and 5.6% HR/F (percent of fly balls that go out for home runs. Overall hitters hit 35.6% ground balls, 20.% Line Drives and 40.5% Fly Balls. A huge 16.8% of these fly balls are infield flies. The low percentage of fly balls that go out of the park (usually the norm is around 10%) might be sustainable for Armando, because his career minor league number is 6.3% (Very close to his 2009 5.6%.) However, his career BABIP is .284, so I suspect that his WHIP will increase in the majors.

All in all is a great move for the Twins. Gabino has been on the 40-man roster for 2 seasons (to protect him from the rule 5 draft) and in 2011 when he has to be on the Twins 25-man roster or become a free agent. It would be a great opportunity to evaluate Armando in the majors, after his break-through season in Rochester this year. If I were to compare Armando to any current Twins' pitcher, he would be close to Carl Pavano as far as stuff and approach to the game.

Here is a 2007 interview of Armando with the New Britain Rock Cats press

Here is a video of Armando Gabino pitching for the Rock Cats in May of 2007:


September Call-ups for the Twins: Realistic Expectations

September is the time in a baseball season when the major league rosters "expand". This is the time when teams "call up" minor league players to either help them in a pennant race or to give the players a try out for the next season. First I will describe the rules that govern this process as well as analyze potential consequences of different moves:

"Roster expansion" in September refers to the fact that from September 1st each team is allowed to play all the players in its 40-man roster in major league games. Prior to September only players who are in their 25-rosters (or "major league" rosters) are eligible to play. The 40-man roster includes minor league players that the team wants to protect from the Rule 5 draft, as well as players on the 15-day disabled list. Players on the 60-day DL do not take a spot on either roster. To be called up a player needs to be in a team's 40-man roster. If the 40-man roster is full, a player on the roster needs to be removed (designated for assignment, DFA) before a new player takes his spot.

Twins' fans have the expectation that potential bullpen solutions such as Robert Delaney and Anthony Slama as well as the future third baseman, Danny Valencia, Yohan Pino who has been pitching remarkable in Rochester in August, and the minor league leader in home runs, Justin Huber, will be wearing Twins' pinstripes in September.

How realistic is this?

Here are the players in the Twins' 40-man roster, currently not on the 25-man roster (and their status):

R.A. Dickey (AAA)
Armando Gabino (AAA)
Francisco Liriano (DL)
Kevin Mulvey (AAA)
Glen Perkins (DL)

Drew Butera (AAA)
Jose Morales (AAA)
Wilson Ramos (AA)

Brian Buscher (AAA)
Luke Hughes (AA)
Trevor Plouffe (AAA)
Deibinson Romero (A+)
Matt Tolbert (AAA)
Steven Tolleson (AAA)
Jason Pridie (AAA)

It is a safe bet that Francisco Liriano and Glen Perkins will be in with the Twins in September. It also a safe bet that Jose Morales will be also with the big team in September, as is Armado Gabino. Steven Tolleson, Jason Pridie and Trevor Plouffe have good possibilities to see action as well.

Anthony Slama, Danny Valencia, Yohan Pino, Justin Huber and Robert Delaney would need to replace 5 players in the 40-man roster to be called up. Another option is the fireballer Juan Morillo.

Who could those players be? In addition to the above, Bobby Keppel and Philip Humber are currently on the 25-man (and 40-man roster). It is possible that the Twins will DFA them to open 2 positions in their 40-man roster. There are 3 more positions needed to fit these players. And this is where it comes to hard decision time for the Twins:

Looking at the 40-man roster, the candidates for replacement are: R.A. Dickey, Brian Buscher, Matt Tolbert, Drew Butera, Jason Pridie and Luke Hughes.

I do not think that the Twins will give up on the last 3, since they are younger. So the tough decisions the Twins have to make are: who has a bigger future with the organization and do they want the future to start in September or in November (when these players would have to be added to the 40-man roster to protect them in the Rule 5 draft)

Yohan Pino/Anthony Slama/Robert Delaney/Juan Morillo or R.A. Dickey
Danny Valencia or Brian Buscher
Jason Huber or Matt Tolbert.

It is a hard decision. Danny Valencia will be added to the 40-man roster sooner or later and I hope that it is sooner. I do not see R.A. Dickey with the organization in 2010 and I would like to see what Yohan Pino can do in September. Also, Tolbert has been pretty much a failure and the presence of Alexi Casilla, Nick Punto and Brendan Harris, makes him unnecessary at this point.

My logic says that the Twins should go with all 5 younger choices here, esp. since this will give them a competitive advantage in September. My gut says that at least Buscher and Tolbert and probably R.A. Dickey will be up. This will allow only 2 (at most, if the Twins DFA Keppel and Huber) of the 5 deserving non-roster candidates to be up in September.

I hope that the Twins surprise me

What is your opinion? Feel free to comment.


Twins Pitching News: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue

Fransisco Liriano has been placed to the 15-day DL after his latest short ineffective outing (last night at Texas, at 96 degree weather.) This outing was particularly disappointing since it came just after a brilliant 7 inning (3 hits, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K; game score 74) performance (his best this season) against the Royals in the Metrodome. There is no official diagnosis about what is physically wrong with Fransisco. Ron Gardenhire is quoted to say "he had nothing left in the tank". A medical reason might be given soon. Not to forget that Justin Morneau was taken out early in the game with "dizziness". High heat and humidity would do that. Let's hope that there is nothing too alarming, especially dealing with his surgically reconstructed elbow. Liriano is the third pitcher in the Twins rotation (Slowey 60-day, Perkins 15-day) currently in the DL.

The best news for the Twins last night was that the team work around a potential impasse, to sign their 2009 first round pick, Kyle Gibson, for $1.85 million signing bonus, an amount in the middle of the 22 spot recommendation and the $2.5 million he and his adviser (amateurs do not have agents, but are allowed to have agents as negotiating advisers before they sign a contract) reportedly wanted. The negotiations went well close to the midnight ET deadline. About an hour and forty five minuted before that deadline, Kyle appeared live on Seth Stohs' weekly podcast. A definite must listen for a Twins' fans. Do not miss it. Kyle sounds like a great guy who likes to interact with fans. This is the third time he appeared in Seth's podcast and to do this while the negotiations were heating up, says a lot about him. Welcome to the Twins' family Kyle.

Kyle, a projected top 10 pick, fell down to number 22 because of a stress fracture on his forearm, which has completely healed. I provided links to scouting reports and videos of Kyle during my live draft blogging coverage of the first day of the draft. Kyle will probably go to the Twins' training complex in Ft. Myers for instructionals, but I will not be surprised if he joins the Miracle in the FSL playoffs if they need an additional arm and he is in game ready shape.

To replace Fransisco Liriano in the Twins' pitching staff, the Twins purchased the contract of Philip Humber (109 IP, 5.28 ERA, 1.477 WHIP, 6.4 K/9, 2.0 K/BB with the Red Wings) from the Rochester Red Wings. There is an additional move to be made to open a spot on the 40-man roster, and I suspect that either R.A. Dickey or Matt Macri will be removed from that roster. This is a very surprising move, because it bypassed 2 Red Wings' starting pitchers, Armando Gabino (83 IP, 2.93 ERA, 1.012 WHIP, 5.7 K/9, 2.7 K/BB with the Red Wings) and Yohan Pino (35 IP, 3.86 ERA, 1.114 WHIP, 8 K/9, 3.44 K/BB with the Red Wings and 62 IP, 3.19 ERA, 1.242 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, 4 K/BB with the Rock Cats) who outpitched him this season and could potentially help more the Twins. Rob Delaney and Anthony Slama, other potential candidates, are relievers and allows 11 ERs in 1.1 IP between the 2 of the last night for Rochester, which makes them slightly less desirable in the bigs, esp. with the state of the Twins' starting pitching in a flux.

On the heels of a disappointing season that proved what was thought as the strength of the team last spring, the starting rotation, a mirage, and just before the move to a brand new park, I believe that a pitching move by the front office to energize the fan base, the players and the staff is necessary. And what would be better than acquiring Cuban 21 year old phenom free agent Aroldis Chapman. If you are not familiar with Champan, he is a starter lefty with a fastball that touches the low 100s and sits comfortably in the mid to high 90s. here is a brief scouting report from his recent WBC appearance. Chapman is currently probably at the AAA level, because of his command and quality of the secondary pitches, but at this point, he would have been the third best starter for the Twins behind Scott Baker and Carl Pavano. His price tag is speculated to larger than the $30 million contract Jose Contreras signed in 2003; but with the state of the economy, this might be a fairly high estimate. I suspect that it will be closer to the $16 million neighborhood (Steven Strasburg's singing bonus by the Nationals). Bringing Aroldis Chapman north would not only be a tremendous energizing move for the Twins' fan base, but a move that would help their rotation for years to come.


Twins sing-along with Nick Punto

I am not going to talk about the Kansas City series. Nope. It's Friday. Thank God. We don't need to talk about depressing stuff, how about some spirit lifting. And what is better spirit lifter than:

Sing-Along time.

You know the tune (R-rated lyrics on the link), here are the words. Sing with me:

I knew a player named Nicky
I guess u could say he was a bunt fiend
I met him in a ball park
Hitting about a buck fifteen
He said howd u like 2 waste some time
And I could not resist when I saw little Nicky grind

I took me to a box seat
And I just couldnt believe my eyes
He had so many devices
And that head first first base slide
Gardy wrote his name on the dotted line
The lights went on
And Nicky started 2 grind


The ballpark started spinning
Or maybe it was my brain
I cant tell u what he did on the park
But my team will never be the same
His hitting will kick your behind
Oh, he'll show u no mercy
But he'll shonuff shonuff show u how he grind

Darlin Nicky

Woke up the next morning
Nicky wasnt there
I looked all over and all I found
Was a Strib article by LEN3
Smith said it was Nicky's Rochester time
Call him up whenever u want 2 grind

Oh, Nicky, ohhhh

Come back Nicky, come back
You dirty little prince
Wanna grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind grind


Five reasons to keep the hope alive for the Twins

The finishing line of the 2009 season is closing and the Twins are taking the final turn 5 games behind the Detroit Tigers and one game behind the White Sox (in the loss column) in the standings. Based on the 5 games difference from the Tigers and the acquisitions of Jake Peavy and Alex Rios by the White Sox, Twins' fans are about ready to throw in the towel (or the hanky), if not done already. Being the eternal optimist, here are 5 reasons why the Twins can and will win the AL Central this season:

  1. The Twins are 5 games behind the Tigers, but have 6 games against them. The Twins have their next 3 games against the Kansas City Royals at home, while the Tigers are hosted by the Boston Red Sox. A sweep both ways, will make the difference in the standings 2 games

  2. The Peavy trade will hurt the White Sox this season. Effectively the White Sox Replaced 11 starts by Clayton Richars (4.52 ERA, 1.398 WHIP, 7.1 K/9, 1.69 K/BB as a starter in 2009) with 4 or 5 starts by Jake Peavy (4.60 ERA, 1.277 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 2.73 K/BB away from Petco in 2009; 3.94 ERA, 1.563 WHIP, 9 K/9, 4 K/BB against the AL in 2008 the last time he pitched against the AL) and 6 or 7 starts of the likes of Carlos Torres (6.75 ERA, 1.929 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, 0.89 K/BB). Overall, even if Peavy returns from his injury in perfect shape, this is a net loss for this season for the White Sox

  3. The Rios acquisition seems great in the books (they got an "all-star" "5-tool" player for nothing other than picking up his inflated contract), until one looks at his numbers this season compared to the ones of the player he is replacing, Scott Podsednik. Rios' defense is considered superior; however this season he has a -1.3 UZR/150 at RF, while the player whom he replaces, Podsednick has a 6.6 UZR/150 at CF. Arguably, CF is a harder position to play, as well. How about his bat? Coincidentally, Podsednick and Rios have exactly the same OPS (.744), however for a top of the order player, Podsednick's OBP (.351 in 2009) is more preferable than Rios' (.317 in 2009). One good thing about this trade is that the White Sox will have 4 good outfielders and Podsednick is superior to Dewayne Wise, Jerry Owens and the like on the bench. Very slight difference this season, if any, either way, for the Sox with this trade, but the trade is potentially good for the long run, if Rios proves healthy and returns to his All-star form of 3 seasons ago

  4. The Twins' acquisitions have paid dividends so far. Orlando Cabrera is on a mad tear hitting .361/.378/.611 (.989 OPS) from the number 2 hole of the lineup. He replaces there Alexi Casilla and Matt Tolbert who hit .155/.223/.184 (.408 OPS) and .179/.277/.214 (.491 OPS) respectively at the #2 spot. This is more than .100 points difference in the OBP and at least double OPS. Carl Pavano has only one start, but his start was a. exceptional and b. one of the most important wins for the Twins this season. He probably has 11 more starts taken from Glen Perkins. That change would probably give the Twins at least 2-3 more wins, conservatively.

  5. You probably cannot tell, by just watching games, but the Twins as a team are actually trending better lately both in batting and pitching. Here are the numbers for the last month:

    • Batting:

      • season: .768 OPS
      • last 14 days: .818 OPS
      • last 7 days: .834 OPS

    • Pitching:

      • season: 6.3 K/9, 2.23 K/BB
      • last 14 days: 6.4 K/9, 2.42 K/BB
      • last 7 days: 7.2 K/9, 3.00 K/BB

    The problem has been that bats and arms show up on different days sometimes, but the presence of two new veteran with World Series rings in the club, might help getting things going more consistently from now on... and definitely there is a challenge for Ron Gardenhire and his coaching staff to take advantage of the situation and keep everyone on the team focused


Off Day by the numbers

.323: Delmon Young's batting average with runners in scoring position this season

.309: Denard Span's batting average with runners in scoring position this season

.296: Carlos Gomez' batting average with runners in scoring position this season

.229: Micheal Cuddyer's batting average with runners in scoring position this season

.274: Twins' team batting average with runners in scoring position this season and Chicago White Sox' team batting average with runners in scoring position this season

.259: Detroit Tigers' team batting average with runners in scoring position this season

.339: Twins' team batting average at the first pitch of an at bat

.204: Twins' team batting average with a full count

38: The projected number of home runs for Joe Mauer for 162 games this season

.306: The difference between Orlando Cabrera's OPS with the Twins (.989) and his OPS with the A's (.683)

2: The number of shoulder MRI exams Glen Perkins has had this month

20: The number of pitchers the Twins used so far in 2009

17: The number of pitchers the Twins used the whole 1987 season

16: The number of pitchers the Twins used by August 10 in 2008 and the number of pitchers the Twins used the whole 1991 season

6: The number of games behind Detroit in the loss column and the number of games the Twins play Detroit in the remaining of the season

.625: Opponents' batting average against Jesse Crain with the bases loaded this season

4.29: Scott Baker's ERA with 4 days rest between starts this season

8.20: Scott Baker's ERA with 6+ days rest between starts this season

7.19: Fransisco Liriano's ERA with 4 days rest between starts this season

4.07: Fransisco Liriano's ERA with 5 days rest between starts this season

9.30: Glenn Perkins' ERA with 5 days rest between starts this season

4.63: Glenn Perkins' ERA with 6+ days rest between starts this season

2.70: Anthony Swarzak's ERA with 4 days rest between starts this season

19.12: Anthony Swarzak's ERA with 5 days rest between starts this season


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.


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


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


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


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:

$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

$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


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...


Breakdown of the Orlando Cabrera for Tyler Ladendorf trade

The Twins today acquired 34 year old, twice gold glove winning shortstop Orlando Cabrera for 21 year old Shortstop, Tyler Ladendorf, who was the Twins' second round pick in the 2008 amateur draft and split this season between Elizabethton (high Rookie) and Beloit (A).

Let's see what the Twins are getting with Orlando Cabrera:

Cabrera has played in the post-season 4 times: 2004 world champion with the Red Sox, 2005 and 2006 with the Angels and 2008 with the White Sox. When he was traded to the Red Sox mid season in 2004 (by the Expos in a 4-team trade with the Twins and the Cubs - the Twins traded Mientkiewicz to the Red Sox and received Justin Jones by the Cubs. Another interesting point in that trade was that current Twin Brendan Harris went to the Expos by the Cubs), he spark plugged the Red Sox with a .294/.320/.465 performance in 58 games. That season was a contract year for him, similar to this season.

His current line is .280/.318/.365 with a .302 wOBA, however after the All-Star break he has been on fire hitting .386/.415/.525 with half of his season total 4 home runs. The Athletics had him bat on the lead-off spot for a while and he disappointed (.224/.263/.308; 153 PA), however when he was switched to the second spot of the order, he has been hitting .305/.346/.381 (244 PA). For a comparison, players who occupied the Twins #2 spot were hitting a combined .245/.299/.372 (475 PA). Also, the player who he will likely replace, Brendan Harris has been very cold recently, hitting .203/.239/.313 since the All Star break.

Defensively this has been a bad season for Cabrera posting a -7.9 UZR (projecting to -9.6 UZR/150). However, last season he posted a 14.0 UZR (13.1 UZR/150), which suggest that there is potential to return to his previous form defensively. For comparison purposes, Brendan Harris at SS has a -1.2 UZR (-2.4 UZR/150) and Nick Punto a -1.0 UZR (-2.4 UZR/150).

Tyler Ladendorf was one of the top Twins' middle infield prospect who has been thought as a potential 5-tool player. He is 21 and just promoted to Beloit. With this trade the Twins are actually doing something similar to what the did with the Luis Castillo trade from the Marlins in the 2006 off-season: trading potential with actuality.

What impact would Cabrera have with the Twins?

Best case scenario is that he will hold the every day shortstop position, his defense will improve with better fielding teammates, his hitting will be solid and solidify the number 2 spot in the batting order and hopefully be a piece of the puzzle that propels the Twins to a path similar of his 2004 Boston Red Sox team. It remains to be seen whether this will happen, but overall this is a good trade with low risk for the Twins since they did not part with a current MLB player or a player expected to help the team within the next 3 seasons.

2 hours for the trade deadline and I have a feeling that the Twins are not yet done dealing

Twins acquire Orlando Cabrera

Orlando Cabrera for Tyler Ladendorf. More details later

Ladendorf scouting report from scout.com.

Highlights: ETA 2012, their number #32 prospect in the Twins' organization, possible five-tool prospect, potential 15-20 HR power, potential 20 steals, "tremendous arm, and good range".


Seventeen things the Twins can do to right the ship

Everyone is trying to play general manager/owner this time of the year, so here is my list:

  • Fix the on field personnel and the chemistry of the club. This team has lost its spark; it is time for infusion of energy:

    • Release Ron Gardenhire from the MLB manager position, offer him another position in the organization and hire former Twin (and 1986 World Champion) Wally Backman as the new Twins manager

    • Release Ron Anderson from the MLB pitching coach position, offer him another position in the organization and promote Bobby Cuellar as the new Twins pitching coach

    • Replace Scott Ullger with Jake Mauer as the Twins' third base coach

    • Replace Steve Liddle with a Latino bench coach of Wally Backman's choice

    • Establish the post of the Twins' team captain and make Joe Mauer the first ever Twins' captain

  • Fix the rotation. It is no secret that the Twins' Achilles heel this season has been the pitching, both starting and relief.

    • Trade Glenn Perkins to the Mariners for Jared Washburn and a minor leaguer like Michael Pineda or Brett Lorin

    • Try to work a deal with the Giants for Barry Zito. I argued that point here recently

    • Trade Nick Blackburn for pitching prospects

    • These moves will give the Twins a rotation of Slowey (Swarzak until he returns), Baker, Zito, Washburn and Liriano

  • Fix the bench and the outfield mess.

    • Clean up house in the majors: DFA Redmond, recall Morales, option Buscher and call up Huber

    • Try to see what kind of prospects you can get for Punto and call up Grudz when ready and have Tolleson fill in until ready

    • Establish a starting OF of Span LF, Gomez CF, Young RF; use Cuddyer as a super sub

    • This will give the Twins a bench of: Cuddyer, Grudz/Tolleson, Morales, Huber; not bad.

  • Improve the bullpen.

    • Keppel and Duensing do not belong in a major league bullpen, and much more in a contender's bullpen. Release Keppel and promote Morillo and option Duensing to Rochester. This will leave one empty spot.

    • Go after a 8th inning reliever like Scott Downs or Chris Wuertz. There is a huge OF depth in the minors that is unlikely to make it in the majors with the Twins, with the oldest of the Twins' starting outfielders being 25 years old. Rene Tosoni (a Canadian) would be a perfect bargaining chip for a Downs trade. Martin, Winfree, Pridie, Roberts also could factor in the equation

    • Mijares should be a LOOGY. Period. Denny Reyes, Jr. only better in getting lefties out and hitting the post-game buffet.

    • This would give the Twins a bullpen of Nathan (CL), Guerrier (8th), Wuertz/Downs (8th), Mijares (LOOGY), Crain and Morillo (low leverage), Dickey (long). Not that bad

  • Clean up house in the front office:

    • Allow/force/whatever Jim Rantz to retire (he is the only person in a MLB-organization's Hall of Fame who currently holds the same job he was elected for).

    • Bill Smith has his hands tied. All the old guard (Terry Ryan, Tom Kelly etc.) is there. Let them retire and let Bill Smith succeed or fail on his own

    • If this team does not make the post season this year, replace Bill Smith with Randy Bush, former World Champion with the Twins and current assistant GM with the Cubs


No title...


Is Minnesota becoming a baseball state?

Here are the results of an ESPN online poll today, asking "what is on your mind right now as far as sports are concerned: baseball, football, or something else". The state by state map speaks more than a thousand words:


The best arm in the Twins' minor league system

Utterly horrible game yesterday at Oakland in several levels. There have been tomes of virtual ink describing this game already today, so I do not plan to focus on it. Instead I will focus on something more positive, identifying the best arm in the Twins minor league system, who is a well-kept secret, btw (unless you read this blog last year as well.)

Who is he? I'll get to this in a second, but I will get to his numbers this season first:

He started 9 games, won 6 and did not lose any. In the 50 innings he pitched, he allowed one earned run in 28 hits while he walked 6 and struck out 50. This translates to 0.18 ERA, 0.680 WHIP, 9.0 K/9 and 8.33 K/BB. Outstanding numbers, especially given the fact that his league averages are 3.84 ERA, 1.404 WHIP, 7.84 K/9 and 1.79 K/BB. He is the 19 year old Pedro Guerra in his second stint with the Twins' DSL team, following a team-best season of 2.45 ERA, 1.032 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, 6.25 K/BB (his age 18 season in 2008). If someone like Shooter Hunt or Kyle Carr (or insert the name of any 2008 Twins' draft pick) had similar numbers the last 2 seasons, the Twins fans and all the major project publications would have been all over him and had listed him as a top prospect. Furthermore, the GCL is an easier league to pitch than the DSL. The 2009 pitching averages for the GCL are 3.51 ERA, 1.285 WHIP, 7.84 K/9, 2.27 K/BB; compare those to the ones previously listed for the DSL.

Pedro will probably be in the states next season as a 20 year old, but he does deserve a spot at least at the GCL roster this season. He was signed as a 16 year old out of Venezuela (he is from Cagua, home of former major league SS Alex Gonzalez of Marlins' fame) and played his first professional season in 2007 with the Venezuela Summer League Twins/Cubs split squad (the Twins stopped playing at the VSL after 2007) where as a seventeen year old he put up excellent numbers (3.64 ERA, 1.011 WHIP, 6.4 K/9, 2.63 K/BB).

What does the future hold for Pedro Guerra? It is extremely early to tell, but he has been the top minor league pitching performer in the Twins' organization and he has to be recognized for it. I hope that he finds his way up north sooner than later...


Miguel Angel Sano watch: part II

This morning, Sano officially passed the MLB age and identification investigation: he is who he claims to be and he is 16. Let the bidding war begin.

There are no news as of now. All we know is:

  • The Pirates are the only team that has made an official offer

  • Mike Radcliff (Twins' VP of player personnel) is in the DR since yesterday

  • Sano prefers to play for the Pirates, but his agent is looking for the most money

  • The Yankees and Red Sox will not deal with this agent

I will keep an eye in the story and will post any new developments in my twiter. You can follow it here in the panel left to this post (just refresh for the latest updates) or follow me on twitter.

My gut feeling is that some announcement will be out by Monday


A dark horse trade target for the Twins

With the recent wrist injury to Kevin Slowey and the relative ineffectiveness and inexperience of the pitching rotation, it would be wise for the Twins to target an experienced starting pitcher. Roy Halladay is available but the cost might be prohibitive for the Twins (it will likely take one or two good young arms and an additional highly ranked prospects). Jarod Washburn might be available, but he will likely be a high priced (in players) two-month rental.

I think that there is a dark horse in the race who currently plays with an organization that has been a trading partner for the Twins. As most dark horses, there are some apparent problems on the surface, but there are potential slices of hope. Who is he?

He is a former Cy Young award winner who was offered a very large free agent contract and the last two seasons prior to the current, his performance has been that much sub-par that he practically defines the term "free agent bust" in the baseball world:

Barry Zito

Before you place a call to the nice people with the white coats to come and rescue me, listen to my reasoning:

  • The Giants might be willing to bite the bullet and eat most of his salary. There have been calls and indications that the Giants might release him before the season is over. His contract looks like this:09:$18.5M, 10:$18.5M, 11:$18.5M, 12:$19M, 13:$20M, 14:$18M club option ($7M buyout); option vests with 200 IP in 2013 or 400 IP in 2012-13 or 600 IP 2011-13. If you assume that the option will vest, he will be owned $84.5 million until 2014. If a team is assuming to pay $5 million of this over the next 4.5 seasons plus add a couple of so-so players with no future in their organization (think Humber/Macri) , it will be a win for the Giants over giving him his outright release.

  • OK, he will really come cheap, but how could he be better than say a Ramon Ortiz or a Sidney Ponson or, more importantly, the current pitchers the Twins have in their rotation? Here is why: This season, Zito seems to have overcome his nagging injuries and pitching at least as effectively as in his last (All Star) season with the A's (2006):

    • His peripherals are 1.406 WHIP, 6.8 K/9, 1.82 K/BB (.293 BABIP); his 2006 All Star season numbers: 1.403 WHIP, 6.1 K/9, 1.53 K/BB(.285 BABIP)

    • His fastball velocity is the highest that have been since 2005 and it has been more effective in getting batters out since 2005

    • His newly developed (and frequently thrown this season) slider and his signature curve ball are very effective out pitches. His curveball is more effective this season than has ever been, including his Cy Young 2002 season, as measured by curveball runs above average per 100 pitches thrown (see previous link)

    • This season he has been throwing 3.90 pitches per batter he faced. This is the second best of his career, behind his 2006 season when he threw a close 3.88 pitches per batter

  • Both with the A's and the Giants he has been among the leaders in Pitching abuse points (2009 data on the link; change the years to see the other season rankings). Moving into an organization that does not let pitchers' arms fall off, might help him.

Will he ever return to his previous glory? Who knows? He is 31 and under contract until his age 36 season (assuming the option vests). Based on these numbers and the trending, I am convinced that in the right organization he would be at least a decent number three starter with a contact that would burden his next team a little more than a million a season. That is not bad and it is something that the Twins should look into


Who is hot in the minors V6

This is the sixth 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.


Allan De San Miguel (RHB, 21, A,A+,AA,AAA) .258/.425/.344 9 RBI, 93 PA
Danny Rams (RHB, 20, Rk/APP,A+, A) .329/.415/.695 6 HR, 26 RBI, 94 PA
Josmil Pinto (RHB, 20, Rk/APP) .296/.298/.741 6 HR, 27 RBI, 57 PA
Tobias J. Streich (RHB, 21, Rk/APP) .327/.375/.673 4 HR, 14 RBI, 57 PA


Danny Valencia (RHB, 24, AA,AAA) .304/.373/.505 10 HR, 42 RBI, 330 PA
Tyler Ladendorf (RHB, 21, Rk/APP, A) .375/.465/.653 4 HR, 19 RBI, 86 PA
Brian Dozier (RHB, 22, Rk/GCL, Rk/APP) .344 /.488/.375 2 RBI, 41 PA
Jairo Perez (RHB, 21, Rk/GCL) .300/.400/.467 1 HR, 2 RBI, 35 PA


Rene Tosoni (LHB, 22, AA) .278/.387/.480 10 HR, 51 RBI, 324 PA (Interesting post on Tosoni @ FanGraphs here.
Joe Benson (RHB, 21, A+) .297/.432/.432 3 HR, 15 RBI, 149 PA
Chris Herrmann (LHB, 21, Rk/APP) .397/.473/.667 4 HR, 12 RBI, 94 PA
Wang-Wei Lin (lHB, 21, Rk/GCL) .364/.432/.545 1 HR, 7 RBI, 37 PA

1st basemen/DH:

Justin Huber (RHB, 26, AAA) .285/.360/.490, 12 HR, 49 RBI, 289 PA
Erik Lis (LHB, 25, AA) .320/.388/.486, 10 HR, 46 RBI, 321 PA
Kevin Sylvania (LHB, 18, Rk/DSL) .283/.371/.483 2 HR, 12 RBI, 70 PA
Kennys Vargas (SH, 18, Rk/GCL) .263/.364/.500 2 HR, 11 RBI, 44 PA

RH Starters:

Mike McCardell (24, A+) 3.93 ERA, 1.213 WHIP, 7.47 K/9, 4.88 K/BB
Dave Bromberg (21, A+) 2.87 ERA, 1.308 WHIP, 8.01 K/9, 2.03 K/BB
Brad Tippett (21, A) 2.64 ERA, 1.078 WHIP, 7.38 K/9, 4.12 K/BB
Liam Hendriks (20,Rk/APP, A) 3.22 ERA, 1.299 WHIP, 7.18 K/9, 0.54 K/BB
Pedro Guerra(19, Rk/DSL) 0.00 ERA, 0.705 WHIP, 7.25 K/9, 9.00 K/BB
Cesar Ciurcina (18, Rk/DSL) 1.74 ERA, 0.750 WHIP, 9.20 K/9, 9.00 K/BB
Manuel Soliman (19, Rk/DSL) 2.61 ERA, 1.184 WHIP, 6.87 K/9, 2.42 K/BB
Renzo Reverol (18, Rk/DSL) 2.10 ERA, 0.728 WHIP, 9.17 K/9, 8.75 K/BB
Wilson Sanchez (18, Rk/DSL) 1.85 ERA, 0.971 WHIP, 10.06 K/9, 5.47 K/BB
Angelo Sanchez (20, Rk/APP) 3.63 ERA, 1.209 WHIP, 9.7 K/9, 4.80 K/BB
Miguel Munoz (20, Rk/APP) 3.10 ERA, 1.230 WHIP, 10.62 K/9, 6.00 K/BB
B.J. Hermsen (19, Rk/GCL) 1.59 ERA, 0.647 WHIP, 5.29 K/9, 5.00 K/BB
Jhon Garcia (22, Rk/GCL) 1.06 ERA, 0.647 WHIP, 8.47 K/9, 16.00 K/BB
Adrian Salcedo (18, Rk/GCL) 0.64 ERA, 0.857 WHIP, 10.93 K/9, inf K/BB
Blayne Weller (19, Rk/GCL) 2.77 ERA, 1.077 WHIP, 9.00 K/9, 4.33 K/BB

LH Starters:

Mike Tarsi (22, A, A+) 1.80 ERA, 1.300 WHIP, 8.64 K/9, 2.89 K/BB

RH Relievers:

Jesse Crain (27, AAA) 3.14 ERA, 1.256 WHIP, 10.70 K/9, 2.43 K/BB
Juan Morillo (25, AAA) 2.84 ERA, 1.263 WHIP, 11.60 K/9, 2.23 K/BB
Armado Gabino (25, AAA) 3.27 ERA, 1.089 WHIP, 5.68 K/9, 2.20 K/BB
Rob Delaney (24, AA,AAA) 2.79 ERA, 1.1103 WHIP, 8.84 K/9, 3.80 K/BB
Yohan Pino (25, AA) 3.16 ERA, 1.228 WHIP, 9.79 K/9, 4.77 K/BB
Anthony Slama (25, AA) 2.77 ERA, 1.250 WHIP, 12.63 K/9, 3.08 K/BB
Alex Burnett (21, A+, AA) 2.10 ERA, 0.955 WHIP, 9.12 K/9, 2.89 K/BB
Steve Hirschfield (23, A+) 2.53 ERA, 1.123 WHIP, 6.00 K/9, 2.24 K/BB
Loek Van Mil (24, A+) 1.96 ERA, 1.174 WHIP, 6.26 K/9, 1.45 K/BB
Matthew Williams (22, A, A+) 2.76 ERA, 1.276 WHIP, 7.87 K/9, 2.64 K/BB
Billy Bullock (21, Rk/APP, A) 1.00 ERA, 0.665 WHIP, 11.00 K/9, 11.00 K/BB
Fransisco Nunez (17, Rk/DSL) 1.91 ERA, 0.988 WHIP, 10.80 K/9, 11.33 K/BB
Orlando Villaroel (19, Rk/DSL) 2.33 ERA, 1.222 WHIP, 6.70 K/9, 4.00 K/BB
Eddy Santana (21, Rk/DSL) 4.15 ERA, 1.269 WHIP, 8.83 K/9, 3.40 K/BB
Dakota Watts (21, Rk/GCL) 0.00 ERA, 0.360 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, 2.33 K/BB

LH Relievers:

Spencer Steedley (24, A+) 1.83 ERA, 1.150 WHIP, 8.93 K/9, 2.75 K/BB
Joe Testa (23, A) 2.10 ERA, 1.078 WHIP, 12.45 K/9, 2.96 K/BB
Kyle Carr (22, Rk/APP) 1.06 ERA, 0.647 WHIP, 14.80 K/9, 5.60 K/BB
Andrei Lobanov (19, Rk/GCL) 1.23 ERA, 0.545 WHIP, 12.30 K/9, inf K/BB
Nelvin Fuentes (20, Rk/GCL) 1.59 ERA, 0.706 WHIP, 11.10 K/9, 3.50 K/BB