Archive for March, 2011

Putting Sabermetrics To The Test: The Rotation

March 30, 2011

If you haven’t already, I’d suggest reading the introduction to this series before continuing below with my 2011 predictions for the pitching staff. All statistics mentioned were taken from FanGraphs. If you have any complaints with these predictions, you are more than welcome to share your opinions in the comments below. However, before you complain about my predictions, please note that this is the first time I’ve ever seriously done predictions before, and many of the numbers are simply educated guesses. Also, the luck stats I’m looking at are mainly being used to predict that pitcher’s 2011 ERA and batting average allowed; everything else is as I just said, an educated guess.

Typically, luck statistics for pitchers include batting average on balls in play (BABIP), home runs per fly ball (HR/FB), line drive rate (LD%), and the percentage of runners stranded on base (LOB%). Other statistics may also be used when evaluating a pitcher here, even if they are not mentioned in that player’s summary. Additionally, I’m willing to bet some of you will dislike the fact that I’m predicting a player’s win/loss record with these stats. To be honest, the records I’m predicting are somewhat based off the player’s ERA, but anything could happen. We may see someone repeat Phil Hughes’ 2010 (18-8) or Kevin Millwood’s 2010 (4-16).

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Putting Sabermetrics To The Test: The Introduction

March 30, 2011

Anyone that has read this blog more than twice will know that I love sabermetrics. I jokingly told Nick Nelson a while ago that I do it because I’m studying mathematics in college and therefore I’m obligated to like them, but the truth is that I do feel they tell us more about a player than the statistics we’ve used for decades. It also eliminates some of the objectivity that some of us may have towards a certain player,* and can be used effectively with scouting to paint a solid picture of what we can expect out of the player on the field.

* Though you may point out that I will always partially dislike for Dusty Hughes because of the reason why the Twins acquired him, and his acquisition forced Rob Delaney off the 40-man roster. He may be a perfectly decent pitcher for the Twins, but I can’t help but think that if they looked at his stats against the Tigers instead, they would have seen a different pitcher. I digress.

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The Overlooked Benefit of Losing Neshek and Bullock

March 29, 2011

Teams always need pitching depth, so it was certainly puzzling to see the Twins attempt to outright Pat Neshek and trade flamethrower Billy Bullock for the rights to keep Scott Diamond. However, while we were all raging about losing Bullock, this trade allowed the Twins to quietly remove Diamond from the 40-man roster. This means that the Twins now have 2 open spots on their 40-man roster.

The first options I see for the Twins would be to fill these spots with any combination of Kyle Gibson, Carlos Gutierrez, and Kyle Waldrop (my guess would be Gibson and Waldrop). However, as Seth Stohs pointed out to me, it’s very possible that the Twins will search for any other castoffs from the other teams around the league in case someone intriguing pops up.

Right now is a time where all teams are finalizing their rosters, and inevitably some players will be released, or will refuse assignments to the minors. I don’t consider this likely, but the Twins may find someone worth looking at and will extend a 40-man roster spot in order to lure a player into the organization. However, I still feel that they’ll remain in-house with just giving up the spots to one of those three pitchers I mentioned above.

We all knew that Gibson would be in the majors at some point this season, but we rarely talked about how he wasn’t on the 40-man roster. Someone would eventually be removed to make room for him, and now that roadblock has been passed. So while we may still express our displeasure over losing Bullock and Neshek, remember that it likely just made room for two of our pitchers of the future.

Why Hughes Didn’t Make It

March 27, 2011

Apologies for the lack of posts lately. I’m not going to lie, I’ve just been lazy despite the fact that spring training is almost over. I’ll try to curb this habit before the season starts.

With the Twins’ 25-man roster being announced, there have been some murmurs from fans over the inclusion of Matt Tolbert over Luke Hughes. Honestly, I’m not surprised by the Twins choosing Tolbert. He’s the incumbent, more similar to Nick Punto (and likely thus a better person to fill Punto’s vacated role), etc. etc.

But look at Hughes’ home runs and RBI during the spring! Yeah, I know. Want to know someone else that once hit a ton of home runs early? Chris Shelton in ’06. Who? Well, if you don’t remember Shelton, he was the Opening Day 1st baseman for the Detroit Tigers in 2006. Shelton roared out of the gates with 9 home runs in his first 13 games, and I believe had 10 at the end of April. However, he only managed 6 more homers for the rest of the season, and was eventually sent to Triple-A in favor of the recently acquired Sean Casey.

I know, it’s only one player and one example, but it shows an important lesson: It doesn’t matter how well you start the year, it matters more if you can be consistent or show improvement towards the end. In Hughes’ case, he followed a similar path as Shelton, as he started 8 for 19 (.421) in his first seven games, but finished by going 8 for 49 (.163) in his final sixteen. That’s not what the coaching staff wants to see, even if you hit 6 home runs over 23 games.

There’s no doubt that Hughes can hit, and Tolbert can seem Punto-esque at times, but I feel that Tolbert’s ability to bring speed and more defensively flexibility earned him the roster spot over Hughes. Even though he doesn’t make the roster, it’s almost certain that Hughes will be the first infielder called up from the minors if needed. There’s still a good chance for him to be a righthanded bat off the bench for the majority of the season. Remember that there are 162 games, and injuries will happen. Provided that one of those injuries doesn’t afflict Hughes, we will see him very shortly in Minnesota.

So Long, Pat Neshek

March 20, 2011

As you’ve likely heard by now, Pat Neshek was claimed off waivers by the San Diego Padres. Ever since tearing a ligament in his arm and having Tommy John surgery, Neshek had been having trouble returning to the same form he had in 2006 and 2007 when he had a 2.68 ERA and an impressive 10.65 K/9 combined between the two seasons.

I’m willing to bet that part of the reason the Twins let Neshek go was that he had allowed 3 home runs in only 6 innings thus far this spring. While his velocity was starting to climb again and his slider was biting more than it had in past years, it seemed like he had fallen down the depth chart for relievers. While the bullpen is a question mark, I did show that there were 15 pitches competing for 5 spots at one time. Since then, we could probably say that it’s now 9 pitchers for 4 spots (Manship, Diamond, Hoey, Hughes, Slama, Perkins, Waldrop, Slowey, and Baker, whom I had forgotten to place on the list), and arguments could be made for all those guys on why they should start the season in the bullpen.

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Growing Up

March 12, 2011
CasillaNishioka

After signing Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka to a 3-year, $9 million contract, it became clear that some adjustments would need to be made within the Minnesota Twins organization. Manager Ron Gardenhire started carrying around a book titled Survival Japanese. Players started working on picking up various words and phrases to help them communicate with their new teammate. Perhaps most importantly, someone would need to become a leader while introducing Nishioka to the American lifestyle and brand of baseball. To aid these efforts, Gardenhire chose Nishioka’s partner on the opposite side of second base, Alexi Casilla.

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Today’s Bad Baseball Article

March 6, 2011

I haven’t done one of these in a while, so here we go. This was actually tweeted by Denard Span a couple days ago, and although he didn’t include a link, it was still rather easy to find. First, Span’s comments (edited by me into a paragraph instead of 6 tweets):

According to Doug Poe on yahoo sports he and other twins fans wanna see nishi hit leadoff… He also said that he and other twins wanna see the twins get past the first round! After reading that I got that he’s trying to say that we lost to the Yankees 2 yrs in a row bc I was the lead off hitter! All I can say is wow lol I don’t mind the idea of moving outta the leadoff spot. Just the fact that guy refers to me and us not getting out of the 1st round of the playoffs (sic)

Now, Span did have a down season last year, but I wouldn’t necessarily think this means he should be moved out of the leadoff spot. Well, just because Joe Morgan no longer works for ESPN doesn’t mean we have to stop wishing for him to be fired, so let’s take a look at Doug Poe’s article to see why he feels Span should be moved to the bottom of the order.

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Thome’s At-Bat Music

March 5, 2011

I know I mentioned this in my Notepad Scribbles earlier, but I’ve been working on getting Jim Thome’s 2011 AB music to be the intro to Carl Orff’s “O Fortuna.”

During the afternoon on Friday, the Minnesota Twins Twitter account had the new Twins music director Dan Edwards answering questions and comments. It turns out that Edwards also has a Twitter account, so after posting the same message twice on Friday, I sent one directly to Edwards.

@RealDanEdwards Since he doesn’t mind what it is, do you think “O Fortuna” for Jim Thome’s AB music can be a possibility?

This was his response:

@Bryz_OffTheMark I’ll talk to him when the team gets to town!

Ladies and gentlemen, we are one step closer to hearing “O Fortuna” at Target Field.

Notepad Scribbles, 3/4/11

March 4, 2011

Well, we are only 4 weeks away from Opening Day, and 5 from the home opener. I’ve been debating whether I should work the home opener (since I did last year and personally I’d find it fun to start a tradition) but that would require me missing my class. Normally, I’d be fine with that, but I am already potentially going to miss 2 additional Fridays this semester. Oh well, I still have a couple weeks to decide.

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