Surfing the blogosphere

Here is a list of a few things that have caught my eye in the baseball blogosphere the last week or so:

  • Matt Cameron of USS Mariner fame in Fangraphs is counting down organizational rankings for all MLB franchises in reverse order. He is are up to #23 today. In the same blog, Marc Hulet is looking at the MLB teams prospects. The Twins should be coming up and it is always good to look at how other view an organization from a neutral point of view

  • Trevor Plouffe, got a new blog hosted by the MLB site, joining Glen Perkins, Kevin Slowey and Pat Neshek in the ranks of Twins player-bloggers (links to those other blogs at my blogroll at the left margin of this blog

  • The best WBC coverage, hands down (at least in English), is at Mister Baseball, a blog dedicated to baseball happenings in Europe. This blog is the only one of its kind and the best information source about baseball in Europe

  • Baseball Digest (remember the annual magazine that appears in newstands this time of the year?) is attempting a huge entry in blogosphere, featuring content from bloggers covering all MLB teams. The Twins' blog, which you can find here is edited by Seth Stohs (of sethspeaks.net and features additional veteran Twins' bloggers: Parker Hageman of Over the Baggy fame, Nick Nelson of Nicks & Nicks Twins Blog fame, John Meyer who runs the Twins Most Valuable Blogger blog and, last but not least, Josh Johnson from Josh's Thoughts.

  • Speaking of Josh Johnson, after he finished his 50 best Twins' prospects countdown, he is featuring a daily Top 50 MiLB Prospects countdown. Don't miss it.

  • Stick and Ball Guy is in the middle of a community exercise that involves, writing six word descriptions for current and former Twins' players and then voting for the best of the bunch per player. Lots of fun. Go and participate

  • A very unique blog that should be in your RSS reader or bookmarks just because of its significance is It Might Be Dangerous... You Go First. It is run by Paul DePodesta, the former GM of the LA Dodgers and current Assistant GM with the Padres. There Paul in addition to describing every personnel move the Padres make and the logic behind it, gives a great insight on the business things of baseball like how Rule 5 operates and how contracts for pre-arbitration eligible players work. A lot of good information and a great example of a pioneering franchise front office that wants to communicate directly with the fans. (Now only if someone taught Terry Ryan how to boot a computer...)

Any other happenings in the blogosphere you might want to add?

as a parting shot, here is Nick Punto after being drilled at the elbow in Italy's WBC game against Venezuela 2 days ago.


Fearless prognostication for the 2009 season

I had all the numbers but waited until the injury situation with Joe Mauer has been clarified a bit, before I published them. The collective stereo (from the Twin Cities and Ft. Myers) relief sigh when his test results were announced today was audible all the way up the Atlantic coast: his discomfort is due to back inflammation and not due to kidney set back. This means that Joe has a high likelihood to play for a good part of next season.

Back to the predictions: Last year, using 3 different methods (projected team wins based on a particular starter’s starts from 2007, projected individual starting pitcher record and potential changes on close game outcome based on roster changes), I calculated, amidst great ridicule, that the 2008 Twins will win 89 games and predicted that they will win the AL Central Division with and 89-73 record. The fact that I was close (but, unfortunately, no cigar) makes me a bit confident about my methodology.

This year, I have a couple of new calculations to add to the previous ones. Also, I am dropping the close game calculation, because, simply the roster has not changed that much from last year to warrant closer look. What I am basing my prediction will be by looking at:
  1. Projected wins based on projected team OPS (as I looked at the subject this post-season, it became apparent that OPS is the single best measurement that correlates with these Gardenhire Twins winning, leading to the development of a predictive formula of wins based on team OPS)

  2. Projected wins based on projected wins above replacement for the Twins’ players

  3. Projected team wins based on projected starter win-loss record (I used that last year)

  4. Projected team wins based on the team’s record on a particular starting pitcher starts in 2008 (I used that last year)

There we go:

This spreadsheet contains the data for #1 and #2 above

I am using 2 OPS projections (Bill James’ and Phil Mackey’s) and average them to arrive to wins. I am using the CHONE projections for WAR and set the replacement squad wins to 48, which is the average of what a replacement Twins’ team in the Gardenhire era (2002-2008) would win. Please ask questions in the comments area about the different columns, if you have any; as explaining it on a narrative will make this post the size and readability of Magna Carta.

The bottom line is: Using the OPS-based calculations, the 2009 Twins are predicted to win 89.5 (+/-3) games and using the WAR-based calculations, they are predicted to win 89.5 games. These methods seem to agree; but, again, these are new this year.

For #3 above, here are my projected wins by starter for 2009:

Perkins 2
Blackburn 12
Slowey 21
Liriano 17
Baker 15

Bullpen 25 (average of last 4 years)

Total: 92 wins.

Also, if you look at the Twins’ record in games individual starters started in 2008 and projected for 2009 (#4) using 33 starts for Liriano, Baker, Slowey and Blackburn and 30 for Perkins, the number projects to 92 wins.

Four methods:

#1 89.5 +/-3
#2 89.5
#3 92
#4 92

The average is 91, but I will be conservative and predict that the Twins will win 90 games (and the AL Central division) ; however it is not out of the realm of possibility that they can win up to 92. If Mauer was lost for the season, using the OPS method, the Twins’ predicted wins drop to 86.5 (-3), which makes me feel is a good reason to lower the pitching-based expectations to mitigate for Mauer’s potential lack of play.

Friday the 13th is looming

And it is the opening day of the minor league camp for the Twins. With the return of Crain, Morneau and Punto from the WBC, it is almost guaranteed that there will be cuts from the major league camp and re-assignment to the minor league training camp. Who are the candidates? Here is a short list:

Trevor Plouffe
Danny Lehmann
Toby Gardenhire
Brock Peterson
Luis Matos
Ben Julianel

Do you think that someone else might be involved?


And the winners are...

Marv, Josh's thoughts, AM and yickit

you are all the winners of the offseason contest.

Please email me your mailing addresses at thetenthinningstretch at gmail.com (you need to use "@" instead of "at" and there are no spaces) so I can send you each a copy of Seth's prospect book.


A new contest will be posted this week, so keep your eyes open for this


Spring training weeks 1-2 summary.

A couple of weeks have passed in spring training so far, with the Twins assembling a 6-3 record in the Grapefruit League. They were 2-0 in the exhibition games with WBC teams Puerto Rico and Netherlands, but those 2 games do not count in the standings, nor the player's statistics are included in their overall spring statistics. This is how the Twins' players involved in position battles are performing so far. These are the cummulative statistics through week 2 (The rankings are by decreasing OPS for position players and by decreasing WHIP for pitchers) :

Position Players:

Outfield Starter Battle:

Young .533/.563/.667, 1 SB (15 AB)
Gomez .313/.353/.750, 2 HR, 1 BB, 2 SB (16 AB)
Cuddyer .188/.235/.313 1BB (16 AB)
Span .111/.273/.111 4 BB, 1 SB (18 AB)

Spot on the Bench vs Rochester Battle:

Buscher .500/.529/.857, 1 HR, 2 BB (14 AB)
Ramos .333/.455/.444 (9 AB)
Hughes .333/.333/.333 (6 AB) WBC with Australia
Machado .143/.143/.250 2 SB, 1 BB (7 AB)
Tolbert .111/.200/.111 2 BB (18 AB)
Morales .167/.143/.167 (6 AB)
Macri .100/.182/.100 1 BB (10 AB)
Plouffe .111/.111/.111 (9 AB)
Tolleson .000/.000/.000 (4 AB)

Battle for Rochester vs. New Britain:

Martin .538/.500/.692 (13 AB)
Valencia .444/.444/.444 (9 AB)
Winfree .444/.400/.444 (9 AB)
Peterson .100/.250/.400 1 HR (GS), 2BB (10 AB)

Other notable starter stats:

Kubel .400/.538 /.800 1 HR, 3 BB (10 AB)
Morneau .429/.500/.714/ 1 BB (7 AB); now with Canada in WBC
Harris .400/.455/.500 (10 AB)

Position Player of weeks 1-2:

Brian Buscher

Honorable mention:, Delmon Young, Jason Kubel, Brendan Harris, Dustin Martin, Carlos Gomez.


Starter Performance:

Slowey ERA 0.00, WHIP 0.00, 0 BB, 1 K 2 IP (+ 3 more perfect innings against the Netherlands)
Blackburn ERA 0.00, WHIP 0.00, 0 BB, 0 K, 2 IP
Perkins ERA 0.00, WHIP 0.89, 2 BB, 5 K, 9 IP
Liriano ERA 2.00, WHIP 0.78, 1 BB, 7 K, 9 IP
Baker ERA 6.00, WHIP 2.00, 0 BB, 4 K, 6 IP

Battle for set up man:

Crain 0.00 ERA, WHIP 0.00, 0 BB, 0 K, 2 IP WBC with Canada
Ayala 0.00 ERA, WHIP 0.50, 0 BB, 0 K, 2 IP WBC with Mexico
Breslow 2.25 ERA, WHIP 0.50, 0 BB, 5 K, 4 IP
Guerrier 6.75 ERA, WHIP 2.00, 3 BB, 1 K, 4 IP

On the bubble; battle for the last 1-2 spots:

Keppel 0.00, WHIP 0.33, 0 BB, 1 K, 3 IP
Dickey 3.60 ERA, WHIP 0.80, 1 BB, 5 K, 5 IP
Jones 1.80 ERA, WHIP 1.40, 2 BB, 4 K, 5 IP
Henn 0.00 ERA, WHIP 1.50, 1 BB, 0 K, 2 IP
Humber 12.00, WHIP 1.67, 0 BB, 0 K, 3 IP
Goslin 0.00 ERA, WHIP 1.88, 2 BB, 1 K, 2.7 IP
Mijares 2.25 ERA, WHIP 2.00, 5 BB, 3 K, 4 IP

pitcher of weeks 1-2, spring training:

Kevin Slowey (how can you beat perfection?)

honorable mention: Nick Blackburn, Fransisco Liriano, Glen Perkins, Bobby Keppel, R.A. Dickey