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: