Pat Neshek, the forgotten man in the Twins organization

Exactly three months ago, I made the case that Pat Neshek should be the Twins' closer, in the absence of Joe Nathan. Unfortunately, these days he seems to be the forgotten man in the Twins organization by the fans, by the media and, unfortunately by the team.

Calls for improvement of the bullpen, either focus on acquiring second class outsize talent (Aardsma) or promoting one of the "Rochester studs", referring to Slama and Waldrop. I think that the solution is much easier: Promote Pat Neshek.

Pat played in 8 games already in Rochester and other than a single unfortunate outing when he was used in back to back games, he has been lights out. Here are his numbers compared to those of Slama and Waldrop, if you exclude that single outing:

There is no comparison. Pat has been twice as effective as Anthony Slama and is way ahead of Kyle Waldrop. Also he is on the 40-man roster.

I had the opportunity to watch Pat pitch against the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs (on the TV) a few days ago on June 29th. He pitched 2/3 of an inning and retired both batters he faced, striking out one of them. His velocity is back (the stadium radar was indicating between 88 and 91 fastball) and more importantly his movement, control and command are back. He needs to be in the bigs. The Twins need him in Minessota, instead of Ron Mahay, who has been an one batter pitcher and taking a spot from better players.

Is this another case of cutting your nose to spite your face situation, that Ron Gardenhire is so used to? If you remember, Pat was misdiagnosed earlier this year with a finger ailment by the Twins' medical staff. When he was correctly diagnosed with a palm ailment, he was frustrated and voiced his frustration publicly. Ron Gardenhire did not like that. I think that the Twins should really look into having the best players in Minnesota (I can make a similar case about Jose Morales vs. Drew Butera, but that's a whole different story) and do not try to stand behind the proven inept medical staff of this team.

Free Pat Neshek now!


Who is Hot in the Twins' Minors: Version 5

The latest installment of the Who is Hot in the Twins' minors, includes players from all levels of play, since all leagues are underway, including the 3 rookie leagues (Dominican Summer League, Gulf Coast League and Appalachian League.) Several recent Twins' draftees who have signed and started their pro careers appear in the listing.

Here is the list of who is hot in the minors:

Felix Gallardo (RHB, 19, R-DSL) .273/.543/.318 0 HR, 4 RBI, 35 PA
Jairo Rodriguez (RHB, 21, R-GCL) .333/.333/.500 0 HR, 2 RBI, 12 PA

D'Angelo Jimenez (SHB, 32, AAA) .349/.457/.546 11 HR, 69 RBI, 374 PA (incl. Mex. League stats)
Matt Macri (RHB, 28, AAA) .295/.362/.452 3 HR, 16 RBI, 164 PA
Andy Leer (RHB, 22, R-ELZ) .458/.500/.667 1 HR, 7 RBI, 24 PA
Hyeong-rok Choi (RHB, 20, R-ELZ) .313/.350/.500 1 HR, 3 RBI, 20 PA
Juan Blanco (RHB, 21, R-DSL) .364/.397/.473 0 HR, 4 RBI, 13 SB, 59 PA
Miguel Sano (RHB, 17, R-DSL) .315/.441/.556 3 HR, 9 RBI, 68 PA


Joe Benson (RHB, 25, AA/A+) .262/.353/.536 4 HR, 34 RBI, 11 SB, 289 PA
Angel Morales (RHB, 20, A/A+) .286/.372/.444 4 HR, 38 RBI, 19 SB, 303 PA
Oswaldo Arcia (SHB, 19, R-ELZ) .455/.526/.939 4 HR, 9 RBI, 38 PA
Danny Ortiz (LHB, 20, R-ELZ) .290/.314/.645 2 HR, 6 RBI, 31 PA
Eddie Rozario (LHB, 18, R-GCL) .333/.391/.571 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 SB, 35 PA
Candido Pimentel (SHB, 19, R-GCL) .360/.407/.480 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 SB, 25 PA
Kelvim Ortiz (RHB, 18, R-DSL) .391/.462/.609 1 HR, 8 RBI, 6 SB, 52 PA

1st basemen/DH:

Brock Peterson (RHB, 26, AAA) .262/.339/.488 12 HR, 41 RBI, 290 PA
Kennys Vargas (SHB, 19, R-GCL) .435/.480/.652 1 HR, 3 RBI, 25 PA
Kelvim Sylvania (LHB, 19, R-GCL) .286/.348/.524 1 HR, 5 RBI, 23 PA

RH Starters:

Kyle Gibson (22, A+/AA) 3.10 ERA, 1.178 WHIP, 7.8 K/9, 3.25 K/BB
Bobby Lanigan (23, A+) 2.25 ERA, 0.944 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, 4.83 K/BB
Liam Hendricks (21, A/A+) 1.66 ERA, 0.826 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 9.78 K/BB
Tom Stuifbergen (21, A) 1.49 ERA, 1.128 WHIP, 8.9 K/9, 4.00 K/BB
BJ Hermsen (20, A) 3.75 ERA, 1.192 WHIP, 4.7 K/9, 2.36 K/BB
Pedro Guerra (20, R-GCL) 0.90 ERA, 0.600 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, 2.00 K/BB
Cesar Ciurcina (19, R-GCL) 1.64 ERA, 0.663 WHIP, 4.9 K/9, INF K/BB
Ezequiel Zarzyla (19, R-DSL) 2.05 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 7.4 K/9, 2.57 K/BB
Sterling Bonilla (18, R-DSL) 0.95 ERA, 0.895 WHIP, 5.2 K/9, 3.67 K/BB
Jose Jimenez (18, R-DSL) 2.81 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 3.4 K/9, 0.86 K/BB
Orlando Villaroel (20, R-DSL) 2.84 ERA, 1.066 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, 1.91 K/BB

LH Starters:

Dan Osterbrock (23, A/A+) 2.59 ERA, 1.115 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, 3.50 K/BB
Martire Garcia (20, R-ELZ) 0.000 ERA, 1.167 WHIP, 12.0 K/9, 2.67 K/BB

RH Relievers:

Anthony Slama (26, AAA) 1.40 ERA, 0.889 WHIP, 10.2 K/9, 2.43 K/BB
Kyle Waldrop (24, AAA) 1.02 ERA, 1.038 WHIP, 6.1 K/9, 3.27 K/BB
Kane Holbrooks (23, A) 1.56 ERA, 1.116 WHIP, 12.7 K/9, 4.75 K/BB
Mark Trau (19, R-GCL) 0.00 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 13.5 K/9, 3.00 K/BB
Angel Mata (17, R-DSL) 3.75 ERA, 1.083 WHIP, 12.8 K/9, 5.67 K/BB
Edgar Martinez (19, R-DSL) 2.25 ERA, 1.083 WHIP, 3.8 K/9, 2.50 K/BB
Junior Subero (18, R-DSL) 2.92 ERA, 1.135 WHIP, 5.1 K/9, 1.75 K/BB

LH Relievers:

Spencer Steedley (25, AA) 2.60 ERA, 1.096 WHIP, 9.4 K/9, 2,57 K/BB
Jose Gonzalez (20, A+) 1.20 ERA, 0.867 WHIP, 5.7 K/9, 2.63 K/BB
Andrei Lobanov (20, A+/R-ELZ) 1.91 ERA, 1.129 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, 5.00 K/BB
Nelvin Fuentes (21, R-ELZ) 1.80 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 10.8 K/9, 3.00 K/BB


Thoughts about the Twins rotation

The Twins have just finished their annual interleague series, with results that did not fulfill expectations, posting an overall losing record, for the first time since 2005. This fact, in addition to an 11-game winning streak by the White Sox and a decent interleague performance by the Tigers, which brought these 2 teams one-and-a-half and half a game respectively, behind the Twins in the standing, has triggered a lot of speculation about the team with most fingers pointing towards the starting rotation. Trade speculation that will bring in pitchers like Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt to the Twins has been rampart, and in the national media as well.

I am attempting to examine the performance of the Twins starting pitchers, compare it to that of a few pitchers, including Lee's and Oswalt's, and will share my thoughts.

I will use 2 criteria to look at pitching performance:

  • Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP)

  • and
  • Expected Pitching Efficiency (xPE). I do like (and prefer) using PE, (K/9*K/BB)/WHIP, and xPE, PE*(BABIP/.295), as pitching performance indicators, but I am adding the more widely used xFIP

Here is the performance of Twins' starters, the AL average starters and a couple of other pitchers, including some historic data:

  • Clearly (esp, as far as xPE is concerned, and xFIP pretty much agrees), the Twins have four above average pitchers in their rotation, and a fifth, Nick Blackburn, which is pitching at about replacement level. A quick look at the BABIP of the Twins' pitchers, will show that, with the exception of Pavano, it has been extremely high, and it is due for a correction that would result in more success, in terms of ERA and W-L, for the Twins starters. However, Blackburn's peripherals, esp. K/9 and K/BB are extremely low to make him a league average pitcher, even with the BABIP correction. I have criticized the contract extension and my reasoning was that (because of his conditionally low PE) he projects as a number 5 starter in a competitive team, and you do not lock your number five starter long term.

  • Replacing Blackburn in the rotation, is pretty much imperative at this point. One of the arguments for bringing in Lee or Oswalt is that "the Twins lack a true Ace" and the newcomer will be that ace for the Twins' run in the post-season. If you look at Liriano's performance, both as far as xPE and (mostly) as far as xFIP is concerned, he is an Ace. His performance has been better than that of Johan Santana's in his last year with the Twins and that of both Lee (his 2010 xPE is off the charts, because of low BB/9) and Oswalt in both of their last 2 season. So, myth debunked: The Twins do have an ace, and his name is Fransisco Liriano.

  • I think that unless Lee divides the clubhouse (and there have been a lot of questions about both his clubhouse presence and his character, and some indications of that were obvious to the Twins' fans with the infamous Gomez incident in 2008), I think that he will be a worthwhile addition, paired with Fransisco Liriano (a fellow lefty) on the top of the rotation. What will it take to pry Lee from the Mariners. There was a report that a trade was made involving Ramos, Duensing and an outfield prospect, which fell through because of Ramos oblique injury. I do not believe this trade rumor, mainly because it will be overpaying for the Twins. I think that Ramos will be the centerpiece in any package. Reportedly, Seattle wants "young outfielders" (is it because the Twins have many of those?) in addition to a young catcher. The Twins could really fit that bill with players like Benson and Roberts, but adding players like Hicks, Revere and Angel Morales will be overpaying. Personally I would like to see both Glen Perkins and Nick Blackburn go to the Mariners (the Twins might have to pay some of Blackburn's ill-advised contract), because it will be win-win situation for anyone involved: The Twins open 3 spots (Ramos' as well) on their 40-man roster, enabling them to add players like Waldrop and Slama, and a spot on the 25-man roster. The Mariners get two pitchers who had relative success in the majors in the past and they can resurrect their careers in a new environment in the Mariners' large ballpark.

  • Oswalt on the other hand, would be better than Blackburn (not a tall order, Duensing will be better than Blackburn at this point) but not a top of the rotation starter. He never pitched in the AL before and all pitchers that made the NL to AL move later in their careers have not been able to translate NL success to AL success.

  • How about Slowey? Disappointing season so far. In the last 3 games his velocity fell by about 2 mph (both average FB velocity and max FB velocity). I hope that he is not having injury problems and it is an adjustment that he is making that results in the decreased velocity. To be noted: Opponents hit for a 1.208 OPS off Slowey (and 1.341 OPS off Blackburn) when paired with Drew Butera vs. a .780 OPS off Slowey (and .953 off Blackburn) when paired with Joe Mauer. Slowey should always pitch at Mauer. Gardenhire, could adjusts Mauer's days off to coincide with the pitching days of Pavano (.663 oOPS with Mauer and .601 oOPS with Butera) or even Baker (.845 oOPS with Mauer and .740 oOPS with Butera.) There is no reason that Butera should not be Pavano's "personal catcher". That concept (the back up catcher catching one pitcher who has been successful with him as a catcher, unless there are injuries) has been a very wide spread practice and should be applied in this situation. I have been calling for Butera to go to AAA and be replaced by Morales since Morales was healthy, but it seems that there is a mis-understanding between Gardenhire and Morales at this point... Regardless, Butera has no business catching Slowey.

  • The Twins are starting a critical 3 game series at home against Detroit today. Sweeping Detroit might make things a lot better, but, still, some changes (replacing Blackburn and selective use of Butera) should be in the Twins' future, as far as the starting rotation is concerned....