Archive for November, 2011

Are You Experienced?

November 25, 2011

When it comes to baseball, I have a few pet peeves. Ron Gardenhire always batting a middle infielder second in the order is one of them. Calling a mediocre pitcher an “innings eater” as an excuse to keep his low 5.00 ERA in the rotation is another. Today, I’m focusing on the “proven closer.”

New general manager Terry Ryan made it clear recently that the Twins will not have Glen Perkins as their closer in 2012. In my opinion, I’m okay with this decision. Manager Ron Gardenhire is typically strict with his usage of his closer. If it’s not a save situation, the closer is not coming into the game, unless he hasn’t pitched in about four days. With how dominant Perkins was last season, being locked into the closer role might actually hurt the Twins more than it would help. Being a set-up reliever allowed Gardy to use Perkins in virtually any situation, including as an occasional closer when Matt Capps started faltering. Yet if he was a closer, Perkins would only pitch in save situations. I’d much rather have the best pitcher in the bullpen come in an 8th inning jam in a tie game than in the 9th inning with nobody on base.

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Twins Sign Ryan Doumit

November 19, 2011

GOD DOUMIT.

Just kidding. Thanks to The Dugout, I utter Doumit’s Dugout “screen name,” which is “god_doumit,” anytime I hear his name. Anyway, I feel like the Twins made a great signing with Doumit. Considering that he’s only signed for 1 year and $3 million, this certainly as the potential of being a great signing. Even better than the Carroll signing.

This signing does carry some risk. Doumit would probably be one of the last players the Twins would want to sign due to his own injury woes over his career, and with the track record our team’s medical staff has accumulated over the past couple years, there’s a high probability that he might lose an arm this upcoming season. Then, the athletic trainers might acknowledge his missing limb by saying, “Wait, we thought you were always missing an arm!” but I digress.

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Twins Sign Jamey Carroll

November 13, 2011

I know I’m a few days behind on this, but I suppose I’m not actually late if the deal isn’t even official yet. On Friday, it was announced that the Twins had reached a 2-year, $7 million contract with 38-year old Jamey Carroll, instantly naming him as the starting shortstop. This is rather interesting as Carroll hadn’t been playing shortstop with any semblance of regularity until two years ago. Until then, he had mostly been used at 2B and had made a bunch of appearances at 3B.

There are two certain things about Carroll’s offense, and those are that he won’t hit for any power, but he’ll draw plenty of walks. A career .278/.356/.348 hitter, he would be perfect for the 2-spot in the batting order, and fortunately he meets Ron Gardenhire’s requirement on having a middle infielder bat second. The fact that he’s generally rated as an above-average fielder according to UZR makes this signing even better.

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Bill Smith Fired

November 8, 2011

Over the past few years, it’s been clear that Bill Smith just wasn’t quite right for being a major league general manager. When the Twins were winning, his misfires on trades and free agent contracts didn’t look quite as bad. However, a 99 loss team certainly magnified his poor decisions and non-decisions.

I’m not going to go over his trade and free agent history in-depth, that’s something that most of us should already know. All I’ll say about that is that we should remember that he did have some good moments when it came to acquiring players from outside the organization. Jon Rauch, Orlando Cabrera, Carl Pavano, J.J. Hardy, and Brian Fuentes were all good trades. Signing Jim Thome in two consecutive years was big.

However, it was the biggest trades that were also his worst. Additionally, it was the ignorance of building depth within the organization that really sunk the team this past season. Thome was originally signed to bolster the bench, but it became clear that he could still be a major league DH, and this turned guys like Matt Tolbert into the first players off the bench in key spots of the game. Injuries certainly hurt the team last year, but the inability to replace Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau with solid backups also led to their demise.

This offseason also started with a sputter when the team chose to claim Jeff Gray and Matt Maloney off of waivers. Both are players that may come in handy, but in no way were needed to be handed 40-man roster spots off the bat (pardon the pun). It’s probably extreme to think that these two players were the final straw for the Twins, but it is a little coincidental.

I must say that Terry Ryan being Smith’s successor was a big surprise. I was among the many that felt that someone else would be named Smith’s replacement, but overall I’m pleased with Ryan returning to the GM’s chair. He did an excellent job building the organization up until the mid-2000s, and I have faith that he can do the same again. While I might be intrigued by the possibility of someone outside the organization stepping in as the new full-time GM, the Twins have never been interested in significant turnover. They’re proving this right now by offering Bill Smith another job within the front office, and naming a former Twins general manager that had still been in the front office as the new GM (I wonder if we can now call him Grover Cleveland?).

I feel that some people are worried with Ryan already talking about cutting payroll down to $100 million (especially with so much money tied up with Mauer and Morneau), but if anyone can do it, it would be Ryan. After all, the Twins of the ’90s and 2000s were awfully cheap, weren’t they? Ryan knows how to build a team with a lack of funds, and he’ll have to do it once again.

Finally, it will be interesting to see what direction Ryan wants to take with the team. The Twins appear to be better suited for a rebuilding rather than contending mode (my personal opinion, not necessarily fact), and we’ll have to see how Ryan feels about this. Smith and Co. mistakenly thought last year’s team was a contender, and unless the team is significantly upgraded, they’ll likely fail to contend in 2012.

Terry Ryan, good luck.

Attempting To Make Sense Of The Maloney and Gray Waiver Claims

November 6, 2011

Key word here: “attempting.” To be honest, I don’t see any logical reason why the Twins would have wanted these two guys and passed on another reliever that was recently claimed as well. Anyway, here’s what I think.

Matt Maloney is a soft-tossing LHP that was claimed from the Cincinnati Reds, and is coming off a terrible 2011 season, at least in the major leagues. He only threw 18.2 innings and had a 9.16 ERA, mainly from allowing over 3 home runs per 9 innings pitched, and a .396 (!) batting average allowed. His numbers were much better in the minor leagues, and I think that’s why the Twins felt the need to add him to the organization. In 81.1 innings at Triple-A, Maloney was 7-1 with a 2.99 ERA, while exhibiting good control. Career numbers for Maloney:

Matt Maloney: 5.40 ERA, 5.48 FIP, 6.08 K/9, 1.91 BB/9, .300 AVG

Huh. Left-handed, good control, allows plenty of fly balls and home runs, and doesn’t throw hard (averaging 87.1 MPH on his fastball for his career). This sounds an awful lot like Chuck James, doesn’t it? You know, the same Chuck James that was removed from the 40-man roster just before the end of the 2011 season? If you didn’t know any better, you’d swear that they were twins (okay, I had to do that pun).

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