Non-Tender Notes

The Twins tendered contracts to all 30 eligible players on the 40-man roster before Saturday’s deadline. I’m sure some people are a bit disappointed to see Jesse Crain and Brendan Harris remain on the roster, but I’m pleased that (so far) they will still be Twins for 2010. Harris is good in a platoon and off the bench against LHP, has some versatility in the infield, and shouldn’t be too expensive. Crain has one of the better fastballs in the bullpen and pitched well after his demotion to Triple-A Rochester last season.

A week ago, Parker Hageman from Over The Baggy left a Facebook post/Twitter tweet which accidentally baited me into doing some research on Crain. I had some Twitter issues so this discussion became Facebook-only, so long story short, here’s the relevant posts from the two of us:

Parker: #Twins do not DFA Crain.Threw FB 93-mph in April, hitting 95 in Oct.13.5% miss rate April-Jun, 21.3% July-Oct. Arm cab be healthy in ’10.

(Skip 2 posts)

Parker: From April to his mid-season demotion undoubtedly horrible… but it takes an average of two years to recover from a torn rotator cuff surgery.

Did not allow a home run from May 17th on – a span of 42 games.

Throwing that slider more often after his recall helped that miss rate and a 2.91 ERA from July-Oct.

(skip 2 more posts)

Me: I think it would help if he threw his curve a bit slower as well. Check out FanGraphs. As his average curveball speed as increased, its linear weight for each season has decreased overall. It might be the reduced break caused by the increased speed that’s causing the value to decrease though.

Parker: That’s a sick comment Bryz and he did does slow it down after his stint in Rochester. After throwing it around 77-mph April-June, he averaged 73-mph July-Oct.

Makes me feel pretty cool when I can get someone like Parker to say, “That’s a sick comment Bryz.” Parker was certainly right when he said that Crain slowed down his curveball after coming back to the major leagues.

I apologize for cropping out the velocity side of the graph. The bottom line is 70 MPH (1st line above the ’09), the top is 90 MPH, and this is in 5 MPH increments. We see in the first 1/4 of the season that Crain’s curveball generally was in the 74-83 MPH range with the average velocities all over the graph. In the middle was clearly where his Rochester stint was, but when he returned to the Twins, Crain’s curveball suddenly was in the 74-77.5 MPH range with a much smaller variability of average speed. It’s interesting to see that the lower limit stays roughly the same, whereas the upper limit was reduced drastically. This suggests that Crain was throwing two different curveballs, or if some of you remember, his slurve in addition to the curveball. Now he did stop using his slurve during the season, but I’m not entirely sure when. That link does report the time as being around September, but remember, that’s when it was reported, not necessarily when he ceased to throw it. Also, FanGraphs does not have data on slurves, so it’s possible that they were lumped together with either or both of Crain’s sliders and curves. But, I do know that slurves tend to be faster than curveballs, so as of right now, I’m attributing the drop in speed to either the elimination of the slurve around the time he went to Rochester, or he simply started slowing down his curveball.

If you clicked on the italicized link above, you’d see that Crain’s curveball velocity has indeed risen since his rookie season in 2004. That season, Crain’s curveball had the slowest average velocity for a season in his career, and the 2nd highest linear weight (wCB) for curveballs of his career (1.2). Considering 0 is average and 10 is considered to be good to very good, 1.2 doesn’t seem like much, but take a look at the next group of columns. wCB/C is the linear weight per 100 curveballs. This value is 2.70, which means two things:

1. Since 2.70 is clearly more than twice as much as 1.2, Crain threw less than 50 curveballs in 2004.

2. Crain’s 2004 curveball was absurdly good.

Don’t believe me when I say it was absurdly good? The average wCT/C (cutter) of Mariano Rivera from 2005-2009 was 2.35. Joel Piniero, credited with having a great sinker this past season, “only” had a wFB/C of 1.14 in 2009.

Since 2004, Crain’s average curveball velocity has increased from 72.4 MPH to a high of 77.2 in 2007 to 76.8 last season. The past couple seasons, his curveball’s value has become negative. I feel that Crain is a pretty good pitcher (contrary to popular belief, but how do you argue against a 3.50 ERA?) but if Crain wants to be better, I feel that he should slow down his curveball.

Lastly, some non-tendered players that interest me. Of all these players, the Twins may consider Kelly Johnson, but I doubt it. I honestly don’t see any of these guys coming to Minnesota, but it’s just fun to talk about them anyway:

Edit: So I see that Aaron Gleeman posted something very similar to this at around the same time of night. Even more coincidental is that he also mentions Garko, Johnson, and Gomes. If you assume that Gleeman announced his post on Twitter right after he posted it, then he beat me by about 1 1/2 hours. I promise you I didn’t get this idea from him.

Ryan Garko, 1B/DH, San Francisco Giants: You likely remember him from the Indians, but he was traded to the Giants mid-season. David Gorski from Twins Fix mentioned on Twitter that the Twins should consider Garko for various reasons. With Kubel’s struggles against LHP and the fact that the Twins are projected to have a very weak bench (Harris, Morales, Pridie, and an additional backup infielder), I can’t disagree with him.

Mark DiFelice, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers: DiFelice is one of those guys that you can’t understand how he succeeds in the major leagues. His main pitch (thrown 80% of the time) is a low-80s cutter, but he’s made it pay off by having a 3.44 career ERA in 2 seasons with nearly 1 K/IP. FanGraphs profiled him twice, so if you’re yearning for more information, those two links are articles you should check out. Unfortunately, he underwent major shoulder surgery and will miss the entire 2010 season, and his career may be in jeopardy.

Matt Capps, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates: I was a bit surprised to see Capps be non-tendered. He still is able to get some strikeouts, but a significant increase in walks, hits, and home runs allowed did him in. He might get a couple offers due to his previous success in the majors.

Jonny Gomes, LF/RF, Cincinnati Reds: Gomes had a good season with a .267/.338/.541 line and 20 HR in only 281 AB, but it’s been mentioned repeatedly that Gomes did this with a significant number of AB coming against LHP, which puts him in the same boat as Ryan Garko. Also, don’t forget that the Reds’ stadium is Great American Ballpark, which allowed the 6th most home runs in 2009. On Sunday night, MLBTR reported that the Reds are interested in re-signing Gomes, but didn’t want to give him what he potentially could have earned through arbitration.

Garrett Atkins, 3B, Colorado Rockies: Just say no, Bill Smith. I know the Twins no longer have to swing a trade to acquire him, but his name is bigger than his production.

Chien-Ming Wang, RHP, New York Yankees: It sounds like Wang was non-tendered simply so the Yankees could avoid paying him $5 million when he won’t even be ready to pitch until April or May.* Like Gomes, look for him to be re-signed at a lower salary.

* The Yankees being cost-conscious? I don’t believe it!

Kelly Johnson, 2B, Atlanta Braves: A guy that probably interests the Twins. Although he’s had better success against LHP in his career despite batting lefthanded, the Twins are likely more interested in a 2B that hits either righthanded or switch.

Brian Bass, RHP, Baltimore Orioles: The Twins could dump Bobby Keppel for Bass and I bet no one would know the difference.


4 Responses to “Non-Tender Notes”

  1. Over the baggy and Off the Mark talk Crain Train Says:

    […] the full article linked below: […]

  2. Josh Says:

    I have no greater disdain for a player than Bass-hole.

    • Andrew Says:

      Bass (career): 4.87 ERA, 5.14 FIP, .313 BABIP, 5.07 K/9, 3.84 BB/9, 1.18 HR/9, 1.59 WHIP, 59.4% ground balls (just to show the effectiveness of their sinkers)

      Keppel (career): 5.36 ERA, 4.98 FIP, .332 BABIP, 5.17 K/9, 3.80 BB/9, 1.07 HR/9, 1.66 WHIP, 47.3% ground balls

      I suppose if you want opponent’s batting average as well, Bass has a .292 OBA while Keppel is at .305. Pretty clear you don’t want these guys in clutch situations.

      Looks like some fairly similar players, except Bass gets a higher percentage of ground balls. I don’t particularly like either of them, they’re the type of pitcher that’s easily replaceable. I know there are some situations that beg for a double play grounder, but the risk of giving up a hit versus a GIDP with these guys is probably much higher than if you used someone that doesn’t give up many hits and gets a fair amount of grounders.

      Maybe I’ll do the math later. It doesn’t seem like it would be tough to figure out.

  3. Blogging Milestones « Off The Mark Says:

    […] of my posts: This has happened twice, first with a website dedicated to Jesse Crain linking to my non-tender deadline post that distinctly leaned towards discussing Crain, and just a few days ago when my girlfriend’s […]

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