I don’t know why, but I’ve been a bit cranky today. Perhaps it’s because it’s April Fool’s Day, one of my least favorite holidays (is this even a holiday?) of the year. Maybe I’m being impatient for the exhibition games against the Cardinals, only to worry that BOTH may be rained out. I do feel a little burnt out from writing my last song parody (“Big Girls Don’t Cry” already was one song I wasn’t fond of, so listening to it over and over again was definitely taxing on my soul), which has made me a bit apprehensive of continuing my AL Central Preview extravaganza even though I already have the song for the Indians picked out and the Twins one is almost finished.* I’m not turning green, so I’m definitely not turning into the Grinch, and although I have a few gray hairs on the top of my head, I’m not old and thus not turning into Ebenezer Scrooge, so I guess I don’t have a definitive answer. However, being a bit high-strung can be tough when three particular things turn up in my sporting life that makes me wonder what the hell is going on.
* No, I don’t think the Twins will finish third; rather, I’ve been working on their song since January.
First, how many of Bill Smith’s puppies do you think Anthony Slama kicked in his lifetime? Four? Six? TEN??? The reason I ask this is because Ron Mahay, despite being with the team for all of one week in 2010, already appears to be the #1 choice to be promoted from Rochester in the event that the Twins need a new reliever. Isn’t the entire premise of spring training to get ready for the season…and hasn’t Ron Mahay skipped nearly the entire thing?* Considering he gave up 2 runs in today’s game against the Red Sox against mostly minor leaguers, I can’t believe that he’s game-ready at this point.
* Although I don’t know if it was his refusal to accept particular contracts or the fact that the Twins were the first to offer him a contract that should be at fault here.
Meanwhile, Slama has looked good regardless if he’s pitching in spring training or the minors, but the Twins seem determined to prevent him from making the big league roster for as long as possible. The Twins are smart enough to use Mahay only against lefthanded hitters, so his value is maximized and he won’t appear to be a version of Clay Condrey: Spring Training Edition, but I feel that Slama is the better pitcher. However, he’s fighting against the fact that:
1. He’s the guy with less experience. Well, in this case, no experience.
2. The Twins are more familiar with Mahay, since he pitched with the team in 2009.
Even without this situation, I feel that the Twins are the type of organization that prefers guys where they have some familiarity. The Twins could have gone after a free agent starter, but they preferred to offer arbitration to Carl Pavano since he helped the team reach the playoffs last year. Jim Thome was not only a great bargain, but he spent much of his career battering the Twins while with the White Sox and Indians. In each case, the organization had some familiarity with each player, and since Gardy, Bill Smith, etc. don’t know Anthony Slama as well as they know Ron Mahay, I have to feel that they preferred the veteran over the rookie.
If you’ve read Moneyball, you remember the chapter about Chad Bradford and how he was stuck in the White Sox minor league system because the front office felt that his mid-80s sinker, despite being thrown from a submarine angle, wouldn’t work in the majors. His minor league success just had to be a fluke. Now, it feels like this story is repeating itself with Slama. His scouting report says that he doesn’t really have dominating stuff, but like Bradford, he has incredible minor league numbers. It’s just a matter when he gets a shot with a major league team, and I’d hate to think that the Twins may not be that team.
Second, as you probably heard, Denard Span hit his own mother with a foul ball in a game against the Yankees. As a reaction to this stroke of twisted luck, Ron Gardenhire and Span want there to be more protective netting in foul territory (as Span mentions, preferably extending to the dugouts). I’m glad to hear that Span’s mom is doing just fine, but I have to wonder if this article would have even been written if anyone else – specifically a fan not related to someone that was in a Twins or Yankees uniform – had been hit in the game.
Let’s say our buddy Joe Six-Pack or Jane Common-Woman gets hit by the exact same foul ball. Span hears Mr. Six-Pack or Miss Common-Woman scream and probably flinches, but doesn’t rush over to the stands to see if (s)he’s OK. After the game, Span and Gardy have probably already forgotten about the fan because (s)he wasn’t seriously hurt. The article never gets written, and everyone, excluding Six-Pack or Common-Woman and his/her family, move on.
I don’t have any data to back this up, but plenty of people get hurt by foul balls every year, regardless of if they had Wanda Wilson’s seats or ones in the upper deck.* I’m not trying to belittle Wilson’s injury or act like I don’t care, but it bugs me to think that this topic is coming up now when it honestly should have been addressed years ago. At least this doesn’t only happen in baseball; everything in real life seems to take a reactive position rather than a proactive position when it comes to safety.
* Proof is below, though this wouldn’t suffice in court. Also, if you remember a certain Twins commercial involving a male fan, a broken arm, and Brad Radke, insert your memories of that commercial here as well.
Lastly, I have to call out Patrick Reusse once again. He’s definitely becoming the Official Punching Bag of Off The Mark, but I have to feel that every time he’s mentioned, my complaints have been justified. This time, Reusse is claiming that Jose Mijares may be the most important cog in the Twins bullpen. Not Jon Rauch, who surprisingly hasn’t been officially declared the closer. Not Matt Guerrier, who was aided by a ton of luck last year and likely will regress this year. Not Pat Neshek, who’s coming back from Tommy John surgery and should be the closer. Not Jesse Crain, the enigma of the bullpen that many fans would release instantly. Nope, it’s Jose Mijares, the guy that probably should only face lefthanded batters. However, Reusse chose to speak about more than just Mijares. Let’s take a look at everything that I have an issue with in his latest column.
1. “Rauch…has to grunt to get past 90 miles per hour on a legitimate radar gun.”
Interesting, since FanGraphs says that Rauch averaged 91.3 MPH on his fastball last year. Rauch can grunt all he want, but apparently even legitimate radar guns say that Rauch can easily get past 90.
2. “No matter which veteran righthander the Gardenhire/Rick Anderson team chooses to close, that pitcher will not be the most important presence in the Twins’ bullpen.
That distinction goes to Jose Mijares, the 25-year-old lefthander. His pitches were mediocre in Florida. The Twins can’t handle more of that.”
I understand that Mijares has been struggling in spring training. He was bad last year as well, but he went to Triple-A, was dominant in the first few weeks of the season, came back to the majors, and was great for the rest of the season. As we usually say, spring training numbers don’t really matter.*
* The fact that Jacque Jones, Brendan Harris, and Wilson Ramos all hit over .300 in spring training yet only have one major league roster spot among the three should provide sufficient evidence.
3. “That distinction goes to Jose Mijares, the 25-year-old lefthander. His pitches were mediocre in Florida. The Twins can’t handle more of that. They need the last month of 2008 and the middle four months of 2009 from Mijares — they need him to be a relentless, lights-out lefty — if there’s a chance to piece together this bullpen successfully.
If Husky Jose can’t get 15 key outs most every week, wave goodbye to the Mighty Whiteys.”
That’s the end of the column. I’m not kidding. Reusse titles his column about how Jose Mijares is the key to the Twins’ success in 2010, and yet he spends just more than one paragraph explaining why. Where’s my sixth grade English teacher? I want to show him this travesty of a persuasive essay before I start complaining about my C average.
4. “If Husky Jose can’t get 15 key outs most every week, wave goodbye to the Mighty Whiteys.”
15 key outs most every week. Does anything seem odd about this? I sure hope you can pick it out, because this line is the entire reason why I was annoyed in the first place with this column. Can you figure it out? If not, then follow along.
15 outs = 5 innings
Reusse wants Mijares to pitch 5 innings “most every week.” If Mijares doesn’t, then the Twins apparently don’t make the playoffs.
The Twins’ season goes from April 5th to October 3rd, which is 181 days.
181 days = 25.86 weeks –> 26 weeks
5 innings “most every week” (Seriously, this quote is important)
5 innings x 26 weeks = 130 innings
That’s right, Reusse apparently wants Mijares pitching 130 innings in 2010. Unfortunately, Mijares’ career high in innings pitched (according to FanGraphs data) is 69.2 in 2007 split between Double-A and Triple-A, which is about half as much as Reusse wants. But wait, he said “most every week.” Let’s adjust for that by saying that if Mijares doesn’t pitch 5 innings in a week, then he only pitches 2, and “most every week” means 2/3 of all weeks in the season.
1/3 x 26 weeks = 8.67 weeks
26 weeks – 8.67 weeks = 17.33 weeks
(5 innings x 17.33 weeks) + (2 innings x 8.67 weeks) = 104 innings
Looks like the Twins aren’t making the playoffs this year. But Pat, at least you keep me in business.