September 18, 2012

Rene Rivera, I’m sorry to hear that the Twins broke a promise to you in calling up Chris Herrmann instead of you as a 4th (yeah, FOURTH) catcher. It really is a shame, but to be fair, you probably would have made a grand total of two appearances had you been called up. Okay, a major league paycheck for about half a month sounded nice as well, I have to admit.

Thus, this most excellent Thrice song is for you.

A Pitcher’s Park No More

August 2, 2012

When Target Field first opened in 2010, something unexpected quickly became evident. Although the park’s dimensions were somewhat modeled after the Metrodome, and the intent of Target Field was to be a ballpark that evenly favored both hitter and pitcher, everyone noticed that Target Field had seemingly become Petco Park Midwest. You didn’t need ESPN’s Park Factors to know that it was extremely difficult to hit the ball over the fence at 1 Twins Way, though Park Factors did confirm what we could see on FSN. Target Field’s HR park factor was 0.682, which demonstrated that Minneapolis was the hardest city to homer in all of MLB. To give you an idea of how this park factor is calculated, it’s:

((Home HRS + Home HRA) / Home G) / ((Away HRS + Away HRA) / Away G)

Home HRS = HR hit at home
Home HRA = HR allowed at home
Away HRS = HR hit away
Away HRA = HR allowed away
Home G = Home games
Away G = Away games

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Twins Should Make Willingham Available

July 24, 2012

As the July 31st trade deadline approaches, the Twins are judging which players should be dealt. Denard Span and Francisco Liriano are atop that list, but perhaps the most valuable player Minnesota possesses will likely remain here into August. Josh Willingham, who has been even better than I think anyone expected, is oddly not being shopped around, according to 1500 ESPN.

Willingham currently has a .271/.384/.551 triple slash this year, and that doesn’t even include his 2 HR game from Tuesday night. Even excluding those 2 HR, this season has easily been Willingham’s best of his career. His .935 OPS in 2012 is .088 higher than his career, and .072 higher than his previous career best in OPS (2009 with Washington). His WAR is already a career best, though a slump definitely could change that.

With all these positives, along with good health, Willingham’s trade value is sky-high. But, the Twins don’t want to trade him, and that is a huge mistake.

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Explaining the Goofy Play From Tonight’s Twins vs. Royals Game

July 21, 2012

The Scene

Alexi Casilla on 3B, Jamey Carroll on 2B. Denard Span hits a grounder to Eric Hosmer at first base. Hosmer fires home to Salvador Perez, who chases Casilla all the way back to 3B. However, Carroll also advances to 3B, while Span hustles around and makes it to 2B. Casilla, upon seeing the other two baserunners safe, deliberately runs past 3B. Perez gives up chasing Casilla as he’s now out of the baseline, and he tags Carroll, hoping for a double play. However, after some hesitation, the umpires only calls Casilla out and allows Carroll to stay at 3B. The 4 umpires then have a conversation, and ultimately decide that they made the right call.

As it turns out, they were actually wrong.


For my explanation, I turn to a slew of rules:

A runner acquires the right to an unoccupied base when he touches it before he is out. He is then entitled to it until he is put out, or forced to vacate it for another runner legally entitled to that base.

Two runners may not occupy a base, but if, while the ball is alive, two runners are touching a base, the following runner shall be out when tagged and the preceding runner is entitled to the base, unless Rule 7.03(b) applies.

If a runner is forced to advance by reason of the batter becoming a runner and two runners are touching a base to which the following runner is forced, the following runner is entitled to the base and the preceding runner shall be out when tagged or when a fielder possesses the ball and touches the base to which such preceding runner is forced.

Why are these important?

This means that Casilla was entitled to 3B, while Carroll was entitled to 2B when the play began. Although Carroll ran to 3B and was standing on it before Casilla returned to the base, the second sentence of this rule does not apply, as Carroll was not forced to run to 3B (there was not a baserunner on 1B when the play started). This is why 3B remains Casilla’s base throughout the entire play.

Remember that Casilla was entitled to 3B. Thus, even though he was off the base and Carroll was standing on it, it was still technically Casilla’s base. This rule states that if both runners were standing on 3B, then Carroll would be tagged out and Casilla would stay on 3B. Obviously, this is not what happened. Casilla ran past 3B while Carroll was standing on it, and Perez tagged Carroll before Casilla was called out for running out of the basepath. Since Carroll was the following runner and was tagged before Casilla was called out, this should have resulted in a double play. However, rule 7.03(a) does have an exception if 7.03(b) comes into play.

But, this rule does not matter. This only applies if Casilla and Carroll were forced to advance, as in if the bases had been loaded or they had been on 1st and 2nd. Since they started on 2nd and 3rd, there was no runner on 1st and Span was the batter, neither runner was forced to advance. Yes, even when Span ran to 2nd base, because Span himself was not forced to advance.


This play should have resulted in a double play. Casilla was entitled to 3B, so even though Carroll occupied it, it was Casilla’s base. Carroll was tagged before the umpire called Casilla out for running out of the baseline, and since Carroll was the following runner, Rule 7.03(a) states that Carroll should have been called out. Subsequently, Casilla would have been called out for running out of the baseline, thus how the double play should have been the correct call.

How did you know this?

This play has happened in the past. Also, a similar play was featured in the “What’s The Call” feature of Sports Illustrated for Kids many, many years ago.

On R.A. Dickey and His Recent Dominance

June 19, 2012

By now, you’ve probably heard about the dominant stretch R.A. Dickey has put together over his last few starts. He’s thrown back-to-back 1 hitters, and here’s his stat line from those two games combined: 18 IP, 1 R (unearned), 2 H, 2 BB, 25 K. In particular, look at that K/BB ratio. From a knuckleballer! Now how about his last 6 starts?: 48.2 IP, 21 H, 2 R (1 ER), 5 BB, 63 K, 3 complete games.

As a Twins fan, it may be a bit bittersweet to see this from Dickey, because he was actually a Twin the year prior to joining the New York Mets. But, if you do a little fact-checking, you’ll see that the Twins actually had the dominant Dickey for part of his single season in Minnesota.

Back when the Twins chose to release Dickey, he left with a 4.62 ERA, .286 batting average allowed, and a below-average 5.88 K/9 and 4.20 BB/9. However, I found that Dickey had a string of great outings for the Twins, and the rest of his season was quite poor. Back in Nov. 2009, I wrote about this and found that from May 1 to July 1, Dickey had the following line*: 33.2 IP, 1.34 ERA, 27 H, 11 BB, 24 K. For the remainder of the season, this is what he had: 29.2 IP, 8.49 ERA, 49 H, 19 BB, 18 K

* In my 2009 blog post, it appears as though I credited Dickey with an additional inning, so this is why my numbers now and then do not match up for IP and ERA.

While the numbers aren’t quite the same as what Dickey is doing now in New York, it does illustrate that for a time, he seemed to have figured out the knuckleball, and that for several months, Twins fans were treated to a similar R.A. Dickey as what Mets fans (and baseball fans in general) are seeing now.

I will have to correct something I said in my post from a couple years ago, though. I had originally said that I thought in order for Dickey to have more success, he’d have to throw the knuckler slower. Well, I guess I was wrong, as Dickey’s gone and thrown his knuckler at whatever speed he chooses. He’s averaging about 77 MPH on it (about 2 MPH harder than when he was with the Twins), but he can dial it up to 81 and will throw it in the 60s as well. In that is likely what has aided his success. While he’s throwing nearly 90% knuckleballs and 10% fastballs, his ability to change speeds with the knuckler makes it seem like he’s actually a 4-pitch pitcher.*

* Plus, I recall Dickey often throwing a knuckler that moved like a slider with the Twins, and there are some people on FanGraphs that claim that he’s learned how to throw a knuckleball that “rises,” or perhaps more accurately, doesn’t drop as much as a spinless ball normally would.

I’m not bitter that Dickey’s enjoyed this level of success after leaving the Twins. Honestly, with only being good for half a season, releasing him seemed like a solid decision. I’m just content to just sit back and watch Dickey keep floating his butterfly ball past hitters.

Burnett’s “New” Pitch

April 21, 2012

Coming in to the 2012 season, it seemed like Alex Burnett had no shot of making the roster. A 6.97 ERA and over two baserunners per inning was not indicative of a pitcher worthy of a place in any team’s bullpen, but due to the injuries to Joel Zumaya, Scott Baker, Kyle Waldrop, and Jason Marquis’ daughter, Burnett found himself in the exact same place as he had been the past two years: on the Twins’ Opening Day roster.

Now, you can’t take away very much from spring training statistics, but Burnett hadn’t done much in the past two seasons that showed anything different. A career 5.40 ERA in nearly 100 innings coming into this year, with nearly 1 1/2 baserunners per inning was suggesting that Burnett was simply overmatched against major league hitters. Considering his track record in the minors upon becoming a reliever, this was very disappointing to see.

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A New Year

April 6, 2012

It’s finally here. Hallelujah, it’s finally here.


Back when I was in high school, my girlfriend at the time made an observation. When we hung out together, I was… well, me. A little quiet, a little reserved, sometimes if I was in the right mood, I could become more excitable.

But on the baseball field, I was a completely different person. I was loud. I joked around with everyone. I had a smile on my face practically the entire time. I’d come home from games and rave about the stupid things my teammates did on the field, but I still found them hilarious. Example: One of our outfielders needed to take a leak but didn’t want to run to the Port-a-Potty behind home plate. So, he had the rest of us create a blockade between him and the coaches gathering equipment in the dugout so he could piss in left-center field. Thank god no one had to make any diving catches in that area that day.

Kevin Millar turned heads when he described one of his Red Sox teams as being a bunch of idiots. Well, that’s how my high school team was, too, and yet I loved it. My varsity head coach was awesome. A man that knew his stuff. Yes, he told us that in order to be a good hitter, we had to master bunting. But he also pointed out that getting a walk was good, as it meant that you avoided that likely chance of hitting yourself into an out instead. He was a guy that you could have fun with, you respected, and you appreciated to have as a coach.

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New Life For The New Kid?

March 20, 2012

Two weeks ago, I had a post where I guessed the probabilities of four non-roster invitees successfully making the Twins’ Opening Day roster. At the very bottom was “savior” Brian Dozier, stating that his probability was an F. No chance. Nada.

Well, it looks like one of the Twins brass doesn’t agree. General Manager Terry Ryan stated that the recent demotion of Tsuyoshi Nishioka “has nothing to do with Dozier,” but that could easily be interpreted to mean “Nishioka’s only shot of starting the season with us was as a utility infielder, and Dozier’s not going to fill that role for us.”

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Twins Extend Glen Perkins

March 12, 2012

Late last week, the Twins announced that they had agreed to a three-year contract extension with reliever Glen Perkins, worth $10.3 million. The deal comes with a team option for 2016.

At first glance, I wasn’t too happy with this contract. Handing out long-term deals to relievers is a very risky business, as it’s rare for relievers (actually pitchers in general) to stay healthy and productive for more than a couple years in a row. Obviously there are your outliers, but those are typically few and far between.

The Twins obviously liked what they saw out of Perkins last season, and they jumped on a new contract before he could put together another good year and potentially make himself even more expensive. For example, last season netted him more than twice as much money ($1.55 million) this season as what he made last season ($0.7 million).

In signing him to this extension, an important decision for the future has been brought to light: Does this make Perkins the closer of the future? On one hand, the Twins can say no, and either stick with Matt Capps or find someone else to step in as the closer. An issue with this is that closers are typically expensive to acquire, and there’s not really anyone other than Perkins that appears to be closer material.

On the other hand, making Perkins the closer could lower future costs in the bullpen. With his salary set for the next few years (even with his games finished clause), the Twins can look for cheaper relievers to fill out a ‘pen from year to year. However, this also takes their best reliever out of the “relief ace” role, where his abilities would normally be maximized. Think about it, would you rather have your best guy out of the bullpen coming in when there’s two on, nobody out in the 7th inning where you have a one run lead, or bring him in the 9th inning, nobody out, also with a one run lead? The former is higher leverage and thus should have your best reliever enter the ballgame.

To take a side on this, well, I don’t know if I fully agree one way or the other on what Perkins should be in the future, simply because of the cons. I suppose that if I was forced to choose, I’d go with making him a closer, because that would theoretically keep the bullpen rather cheap over the next few years.

Non-Roster Invitee Letter Grades

March 7, 2012

When a team is successful, deciding on roster spots shouldn’t be much of a chore. The stars have their spots guaranteed, the role players have already been identified, and there’s maybe there’s one player that has a chance at sneaking in.

Last season, the Twins were anything but successful as they lost 99 games. While the departures of Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, and Joe Nathan were eventually filled by the signings of Josh Willingham, Ryan Doumit, and Joel Zumaya (who is now out with a torn UCL), just about everyone on the roster struggled, which meant that plenty of roster battles would be brewing this spring. Sure enough, the Twins invited 66 players to spring training this year, showing that the coaching staff wants to get a good look at plenty of players.

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