State of the Twins

28 Jun

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After winning two out of three games in Philadelphia last weekend, the Twins proceeded to get swept by the Milwaukee Brewers before losing two out of three to the New York Mets. Tonight the Twins begin a three-game series at Target Field against the Detroit Tigers in what has become an important June series. The Twins are now 41-34. We’re not quite to the half-way point in the season, but close enough to need a State of the Twins blog… right? Here are you go:


Ladies and Gentlemen, I humbly bring you the State of the Minnesota Twins (in the opinion of Seth Stohs, on June 28, 2010).  Of course, these opinions and thoughts are subject to change as early as Wednesday after the Twins finalize their three game series against the Detroit Tigers.

Again, the Twins have a 41-34 record. They hold a ½ game lead over the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central. The White Sox recent tear has them just 1 ½ behind the Twins as well. The Twins went 15-8 in the month of April. In May, they went 16-12. However, in June, the team is currently 10-14.


The sky is not falling down. This is a good team. I still think that this is the best team in the division, but I think we (as fans) were all hoping for more. This year’s team was supposed to be different. This team was supposed to dominate. They were suppose to get strong pitching to go with a very strong lineup. But like teams in previous years, they have experienced an extended stretch of poor play. More important, there is a lethargy among both the Twins players (seemingly) and many Twins fans. Many wanted the Twins to clinch a division title by Labor Day to help set the postseason roster and rotation. The reality is that all of the good teams go through these stretches each year. The Twins initial struggles came when JJ Hardy and Orlando Hudson each had to miss extended time with injury. Any time a team is without a starter or two, it is affected. There have been times that the Twins have had four starters out of the lineup. Are injuries an excuse? Yes, they are. But what the injuries did was show that the Twins depth was not real good. Their weaknesses have been exposed.


Of course, as mentioned already, this is a new Minnesota Twins team. The front office spent a lot of money to bring in talent in 2010. They added Hardy, Hudson and Jim Thome via free agency. They paid Joe Mauer a ton of money. They have sold over 3 million tickets. This team has revenues. The Twins went from bottom hadful of teams in revenue to being easily in the Top 10 in MLB. They have resources and that change has Twins fans excited about the upcoming trade deadline. Suddenly in 2010, it’s OK for Twins fans to consider a real possibility that the Twins could go after elite available players such as Cliff Lee or Dan Haren.


Will it happen? We shall see.

Let’s take a quick look at the players and determine their current state:


Pitching and defense win championships, right? The Twins defense has been very good, most of the time. The pitching has been very inconsistent.


To start with the positive, you have to look at two names. Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano should both make the All-Star team. Although the two pitchers are very different, they have both come up huge for the Twins. Scott Baker has been incredible again in Mon.bly disappointing. He is now 6-7 with a 4.97 ERA. Kevin Slowey is 7-5, but has a 4.76 ERA. Nick Blackburn was horrible in April, excellent in May and has been a mess. He is 6-5 but has an ERA of 6.10 on the season. Many ask what I would do. I would like someone to get upset at Baker to see if he responds to anything. Seriously, his calm demeanor can be a good thing at times, but other times, it would be great just to see him show emotion, or anything. Slowey needs to develop a second pitch and, like Baker, stop giving up so many 0-2 hits. Finally, Blackburn is signed for four more years, a deal that was somewhat scrutinized when it was signed. Blackburn’s inability to miss any bats appears to finally be creating the expected results. He’s being lit up. The Twins have him for a long time, and since he is absolutely untradeable, they need to do what is best for him. I would give him one or two more starts, and if things don’t get better, I would flip-flop Blackburn and Brian Duensing in the rotation. Blackburn has options remaining, so he could also be optioned to Rochester if it gets to that point (which hopefully it won’t). Jeff Manship is an option because he has pitched so much better with the Twins than he has in Rochester. Anthony Swarzak and Glen Perkins have done a very good job of making themselves non-options for promotion should the Twins need them.  Overall, it’s not that I expect perfection from the bottom three in the rotation, but I would expect improvements and adjustments, and eventually some consistency. They get to watch Carl Pavano pitch, which I would think would help. It’s inexplicable that the three have not improved. In fact, all three have gone 3 step back in 2010.


The bullpen has been pretty solid so far this year. Jon Rauch has been better than expected. Matt Guerrier has solidified him as the Top reliever in baseball (and nearly assured his Type A status). Jose Mijares’s season started out really bad, but he has actually been very good of late, returning to the form he showed last year. Brian Duensing has been incredible as another lefty in the bullpen. And Alex Burnett has been much better, much faster than we thought. Jesse Crain and Ron Mahay have been the weaker links. Unlike starting pitching, the Twins have plenty of depth in the bullpen. Pat Neshek’s first two months of the season have been quite interesting, but he is pitching in Rochester and could be an option for the Twins bullpen in the not-too-distant future. Clay Condrey is pitching some rehab games and we have to assume that the Twins will want to use him a little since they are going to pay him. Rob Delaney is on the 40 man roster, but he isn’t pitching well in AAA. Two guys that are not on the 40 man roster are both pitching well. Anthony Slama is again dominating AAA hitters and recording saves. But Kyle Waldrop is the guy that should be up with the Twins. His groundball tendencies have been remarkable.


There have been positives and negatives in the Twins lineup this season. They have been terrific with runners in scoring position, but they have been horrific with the bases loaded. They have scored a lot of runs, but they have left a ton on base. And, their ability to hit into double plays is impeccable.


Justin Morneau has been the clear choice as the top hitter for the Twins this entire season. He’s hitting for average, getting on base, hitting home runs and driving in runs. Also, his 1B defense continues to impress.


The team’s second best hitter so far this year has been Delmon Young. Sure, he still swings at a ton of first pitches, but clearly his commitment in the offseason is paying off tremendously. He got off to a slow start, but he had laid the groundwork through effort and hustle. His range in the outfield has greatly increased and allowed him to show off his strong arm. He has come through in clutch situations more than any other Twins hitter. He is still so young, and it’s fun to see that potential just start to be met.


Joe Mauer is still the best hitting catcher in baseball, and I don’t think it is particularly close. Has he been a disappointment in 2010? Sounds strange to say, but I absolutely think that he has. It’s not just the lack of home runs. I agree with him that he should not adjust the type of hitter that he is to a ball park. That said, he needs to make some adjustments so that he doesn’t ground out to second base so weakly so often. Believe me, I’m not one who will expect him to hit .350 or higher every year. That’s not fair. We didn’t know how much Target Field would affect his power numbers since the ball doesn’t travel from gap to gap, which is where Mauer hits the ball. Defensively, however, is where I think Mauer has been quite disappointing.  Lots of balls getting by him. And, if we ever want to credit catchers for pitchers’ success, don’t we have to give them some of the blame too? (Note that I haven’t mentioned the 8 year, $184 million contract. We all knew that was a bad deal for the Twins as it relates to baseball. Mauer got that money for other reasons, including being from Minnesota, opening Target Field, public perception, etc.).


Denard Span is hitting .275, so it’s hard to say that he’s not hitting well. His on-base percentage is below 35% which is well lower than it has been his first couple of years in the league. He  has just been so inconsistent. His home/road splits are hardly believable.And, although he’s a solid defensive player, there have certainly been plays that he has misplayed. And on the bases, despite being successful on 15 of 16 steal attempts, I don’t think he is an accomplished base runner. He’ll be better in the second half, no question, and that’s exciting.


Michael Cuddyer hit into a ton of double plays early in the season. He continues to not learn how to lay off sliders down and away. He remains about as streaky a hitter as there is in baseball, and that is because I don’t know that there is another guess-hitter like Cuddyer. Defensively, I have definitely noticed that it takes him a while to react to fly balls. I really never thought it was a big deal previously, but this year it is noticeable. His versatility is nice, but sometimes it makes no sense. Based on what happened in NL games, it appears that we could see a lot of Cuddyer at 3B in the second half to allow Jason Kubel to play RF and Jim Thome to DH. But someone who gets such a poor jump (slow reaction)  in the outfield does not make sense at 3B where it is all about reaction. Some want Delmon Young to hit 5th with Cuddyer dropping to 7th. I’m not too worried about the topic, to be honest. I don’t think it’s a huge deal.


Jason Kubel got off to a horrible start, but all of a sudden, you look and realize he’s up to .261/.351 with 11 doubles and 10 homers. He’s had a very solid season. Defensively, he’s not great in either corner OF position, but he more than holds his own and has a very strong arm. He has adjusted his swing and approach at Target Field, and that has helped him.


Orlando Hudson proved the value of a good #2 hitter with a strong on-base percentage. He isn’t the same defensive player that he was three or four years ago, but he makes the plays he gets to. But his ability to get on base was so important. The team struggled when he was out, and he clearly is not back to 100% Hopefully he can get back there too.


JJ Hardy was very good defensively and has a strong arm. Offensively, he struggles, and it appears that 2009 was not necessarily a fluke. He has been unable to get his wrist healthy and missed a ton of time.


Nick Punto has no arm, but his glove is absolutely tremendous. He has moved around the infield again this year because of injury. I’ll take a .260/337/.337 line from a #9 hitter any day.


Brendan Harris inexplicably got a two year contract from the Twins front office (which I liked at the time) and did absolutely nothing. Not good defensively, but a rocket arm at 3B. The offense just never came around, and frankly, I have never seen a player take so many called strikes and complain about every one of them. He was recently outrighted to Rochester after clearing waivers.


As bad as the Rochester Red Wings and New Britain Rockcats have been this year, they have helped the Twins. Luke Hughes came up and homered in his first at bat and had a couple more hits in limited time. Wilson Ramos had seven hits in his first two games before struggling. Trevor Plouffe’s first big league experience was solid. Danny Valencia hit about .360 in his first ten games. Jeff Manship has been very good when he has pitched with the Twins. And even Matt Tolbert has had a moment or three. Drew Butera’s defense is clearly best on the big league roster and the two catchers in Rochester just are not performing at this point.


What does the lineup need? Well, I agree that you never want to over-react, but with the team’s current lethargy, a shake up may make sense. Nothing completely crazy, but something to show that they are serious about the team starting to perform. In my mind, the Cuddyer at 3B thing should end, but it won’t. Danny Valencia likely plays 3B against left-handed pitching, while Cuddyer plays 3B against right-handers with Jim Thome as DH. I was talking to “Kunza” on Sunday afternoon, and he came up with an interesting idea. What do you think about this lineup?


Hudson 2B

Mauer C

Young LF

Morneau 1B

Kubel DH

Cuddyer RF

Valencia 3B

Span CF

Punto SS


Mauer is now a slap hitter again who takes a ton of pitches. I think you could flip-flop Hudson and Span in this lineup. How would that be for a shock to the system?


Thoughts on Interleague – Whereas in previous seasons, the Twins dominated interleague play, they struggled this year and that is because they played a tough schedule. Then again, you can’t explain off winning two of three in Philly and then getting swept in Milwaukee. That said, I do think that the division races and the wild cards are affected by the interleague schedule. The Twins didn’t’ play the same inter-league schedule as the Tigers, much less the Rays or Yankees. I know, it’s old school, but I would prefer to go back to the old system of No Inter-league play and all teams playing each other the same amount of times.


Alright… I covered a bunch of topics and gave some thoughts. Now it’s your time. What are your thoughts? How will the Twins play this week against the Tigers and Rays? Who knows, they could win seven in a row and next week at this time, we’ll be talking again about how we need to stop overreacting during the tough times.

Leave your comments here.

33 Responses to “State of the Twins”

  1. Dusty June 28, 2010 at 5:32 am #

    Man, and to think that before this stretch Twins fans would complain about Gardy not letting our starters pitch an extra inning because he would be around 100 pitches. I, for one, can’t stand the lack of concentration from this team right now. Defensively this week we made 6 errors in four games (which is unheard of when talking about the Twins), our bats are either hit or miss completely, and Gardy continues to let it ride with Cuddyer in the 5 spot. I agree that putting him at third base is a huge mistake. Hopefully it was just a move to get Kubel’s bat into the lineup with the pitcher hitting and won’t become a reoccurring theme once we get the DH back.

    I remember complaining how Cuddyer wasn’t in the lineup earlier this month when he was put on the bereavement list, and now, I’m wishing he would get a day or two off. It’s really disappointing to see him struggle so much right behind Morneau. This lineup does need a shakeup. I don’t believe for one second the idea surrounding Delmon that if his current spot in the batting order is working for him, don’t mess with it. I can tell you a guy like Delmon will be pitched to the exact same way no matter where he bats in the lineup as long as he is still such an aggressive hitter. At least show the fans you’re trying SOMETHING Gardy, instead of hiding behind the lame excuses.

    As far as this next week goes, we better not lose first place when playing the Tigers at home. The Rays are a great team (much better than the Tigers despite their current struggles) so I can cope with maybe a series loss against them and guess who, another staff ace in Price. I can tell ya if we can’t win tomorrow and Liriano gets beat up like the other 3 have been, I will be almost certain Twins make a move for an ace.

    P.S. can Kansas City please bring the White Sox back down to earth since we’re back into AL play?

  2. Large Canine June 28, 2010 at 7:36 am #

    The over reaction by many posters is obvious in their posts. That being said, there are many posts that bring up legitimate issues like resting too many starters on the same day, players not knowing the rules, etc… Those complaints should be addressed by the manager or at least the questions asked by the media. I understand the reasoning behind the initial set up of the batting order. But, with the way the team is playing, there is much room for improvement-deviation from the origional lineup. I don’t like Gardy’s hypocracy. He will say this like “Cuddy will not go back to 3B”. The fans who suggest that move are called idiots by other posters. But, then Gardy does move Cuddy to 3B. Being a high level athlete in many sports over the years, I do not see the issue with changing positions in the batting order, ie Hudson moving to leadoff, Young moving to 5th, etc… Are the Twins (GArdy) afraid to speak to Cuddy about his problems? He is being paid large dollars (9.6 mil) and is the biggest Twins disapointment for the money. I’m still optimistic about this season. I believe the Twins will win 95 or so. They should go on their annual 10 game winning streak soon.

  3. Fran June 28, 2010 at 8:12 am #

    Don’t think shake-ups are necessary.

    The real disappointment here was the sweep by the Brewers. Set that aside for a moment, and the Twins are ~ .500 in June, despite facing Ubaldo, Halladay, Johan, Lee, etc.

    It’s nice to pretend Liriano and Pavano are All-Stars, but they really aren’t much different than the others. The Twins have a collection of 15-12 starters. They knew that going in and so did the rest of us. Pavano is the one currently on a good roll. A month ago, he was meh and Blackburn was the one pitching well. Liriano, for all his hype, has the same number of wins as Blackburn and Baker. Wins can be ‘overrated,’ but they are the only stat that really matters when you get to the bottom line.

    I believe the pitching will sort itself out one way or another, whether the Twins deal for Lee or somesuch or not.

    Really think the bigger concern is the health of Hardy, Hudson and Span. You can’t have a third of your line-up injured (and I think Denard was/is hurt as much or more as the other two, he took the brunt of that mishap and has had to play, anyway) and expect the team not to miss a beat.

    Repko may mitigate Span a bit, ODog may gradually round back into form, but will Hardy ever be back and/or effective? I would be looking for the best available 3B or SS. Emphasis on defense, but a decent bat if possible. Pickings are probably slim, but it should be top priority.

  4. mike wants wins June 28, 2010 at 8:48 am #

    Seth, that’s the exact lineup I was thinking about driving in this morning, so you should be worried about being wrong.

    The two biggest issues on offense are Mauer’s hitting (which is still very good) and Cuddeyer’s hitting. I think they could survive Span’s drop in productiviy if those two were hitting like most people expected them to. Last I checked, only 2 RFers were hitting worse than Cuddeyer.

    The pitching, well, that’s what these guys are for the most part. Blackburn NEVER should have been signed to an extension. That was a terrible, terrible decision. The team had him under control, there was no reason to do it. Slowey, while I’ve never been a big fan, is hopefully still trying to shake the rust off from last year. I don’t think he’s anything more than a 3/4 type starter, but he hasn’t even been that good this year. Baker is the one I don’t get. He should be a clear number 2 type pitcher, but something just isn’t there that needs to be. This, to me, is the spot the front office and we fans over-estimated coming into the year. The starters just aren’t good enough.

    I’m not sure what Valencia would have to do to play more. He’s done everything they want (other than the AB where he swung at the first picth when the pitcher was struggling, but I had no problem with that).

    As for Gardy, his continued stubbornnes is silly. There is no reason for Cuddy not to be dropped in the order. There is no reason for him to play every day (almost). The Twins aren’t running the bases well this year. They aren’t playing crisply on D (yes, they lead the league in FP, but there have been a ton of balls in Target field that players should have received errors on, but didn’t). Cuddy can’t get to balls, and hasn’t played the new wall well. Mauer has not played well at all on defense. Is this the minor league coaching, or the major league coaching? Because, they are not doing the little things well at all this year.

    Finally, some stuff on roster composition. There is no excuse for having three utility players on the roster at one time. No way they should have started the year with Harris, Punto and Casilla all on the roster. This obsession over not losing Casilla on waivers is silly. He’s the same player has Punto and Tolbert (and probably 3-4 minor leaguers). No way they should have had Harris, Punto and Tolbert all on the roster at the same time (not until Hardy was hurt anyway). They should have had Valencia or an OFer up here all along. The silliness with veteran bullpen arms instead of Slama or Waldrop is also frustrating. Finally, signing Harris to a two year deal was insane.

  5. chris June 28, 2010 at 9:01 am #

    “He has adjusted his swing and approach at Target Field, and that has helped him.” Seth, why can’t Mauer do this???
    Chris in WBL

  6. Peterb18 June 28, 2010 at 9:14 am #

    I agree with most of the above,especially the parts concerning Cuddy. I think the Twins’s brass have Valencia pegged as a sub-standard starter at 3rd base. If he is the player that some think he is–now is the time to use him, but they are not.
    However, the big problem is starting pitching and the Twins are in a bind over this. Gardy knows this-but as of now- he doesn’t have a lot of options. Maybe bring in Duensing from the pen.

  7. Shannon June 28, 2010 at 9:19 am #

    I like the idea of shaking up the lineup, similar to what you listed. My preference would be Span, Mauer, Young, Morneau, Kubel, Hudson, Cuddyer, Valencia, Punto. Punto and Valencia can share 3B when Hardy returns. Or have Punto bounce around the infield. For pitching, I think Blackburn needs to be on a short lease with Slowey not far behind him. Any way Seattle would take Blackburn as part of the package for Lee? I’d look at moving Duensing into the rotation. Option Blackburn to AAA and bring up Manship or Waldrop. Eventually Mahay needs to go too. What is his role, lefty specialist and mop-up? Maybe he’s needed more if Duensing is in the rotation.

  8. zerg June 28, 2010 at 9:24 am #

    Mauer is disappointing because of his defense and he’s letting lots of balls get past him? He has 3 passed balls; last year he had 9.

    Are you really going to say that the Mauer deal is a bad baseball deal? Based on 3 months of a catcher with a .800 plus OPS? What if he ends the season at .880 or .900 OPS? Is the deal worth it then?

    Also, I’m pretty convinced that Mauer is still hurting from his bruised heal but he’s playing through it at about 80% capacity.

  9. CapitalBabs June 28, 2010 at 9:29 am #

    Exactly – I might quibble about a small detail or two here and there but for the most part, you actually hit the right tone of where the Twins really are. This IS a winning team, and the best one we’ve had in ages. Fans need to keep their feelings moderated to the actual situation NOT their expectations.

    Great job, Seth.

  10. TT June 28, 2010 at 10:19 am #

    Since when are statistics from half a season of baseball meaningful?

    Its obvious that the new park has been harder on home runs than the Dome. Not because the numbers tell us that, but because its been obvious. Whether that continues as the weather warms up is still an open question. But all of Mauer’s numbers are down, not just his home runs. That would indicate the problem is not the change of parks. It may just be bad luck.

    I have always expected Delmon Young to break out and this might be it. But to say he is a better hitter than Mauer based on one hot month is ridiculous. Likewise the idea that Hudson is better in the leadoff spot than Span (or even his equivalent).

    The Twins pitching was the question mark going into the season. Pavano has done well, so far … Liriano has done well, so far … The Twins have five pitchers who can be expected to be somewhat inconsistent and they have been, so far … They are all capable of having great stretches. But that isn’t likely to happen at the same time. A consistent ace to replace Blackburn or Slowey would make the race down the stretch a lot less bumpy.

  11. mike wants wins June 28, 2010 at 10:53 am #

    Zerg, you are probably asking Seth, but here’s my answer.

    If you want to make $23MM per year, you better be one of the 15 best hitters in all of baseball, regardless of position, to justify that on the field. Now, how you judge “15 best”, that is up for debate.

    However, the Mauer contract was not just about the on the field results. They market him a ton. They just moved into a new stadium, had they not signed him it would have been very, very bad PR.

    • zerg June 28, 2010 at 2:51 pm #

      mike wants wins, it’s only 3 months, and he’s not even making 23 million this year, that doesn’t kick in until next year.

      Since when are supposed to just focus on the hitting side? You say that he “better” be one of the best 15 hitters in baseball, I don’t get why you picked top 15, but if that’s the argument, I think he should be one of the top 15 players, and that incorporates offense and defense. You just can’t discount the fact that catcher is the most grueling, difficult, and important defensive position on the field.

  12. Seth June 28, 2010 at 11:05 am #

    Just a couple of points. Good comments so far.

    My idea for lineup changes would be to change things up. Hopefully it would be temporary, a few games, just to try to get things going. I think Denard Span is a great leadoff hitter. Mauer can hit 2nd or 3rd in my opinion.

    I think Cuddyer will be just fine over a full season. I’m not worried at all. I just don’t think he’s a 3B. And as “Large Canine” said, Gardy’s continually saying that Cuddyer isn’t a 3B anymore will really come into question with whatever happens against AL opponents. I fear what will happen now is Cuddyer will play 3B against RHP, so Kubel can play RF and Thome can DH. Makes sense in theory. But will be tough to watch those ground balls sneak through the left side.

    Big picture is that I do think that this team is incredibly talented and they shouldn’t be this inconsistent. The injuries absolutely play into it, but that doesn’t explain why 60% of the starting rotation has been pretty bad so far. At the same time, each of those three has done enough to warrant continued opportunity and to be considered long-term starting options. I believe they’ll be fine, but some change may be needed.

    As you know, I’m usually the last one to suggest too much change. I just believe a little shakeup is necessary to jump start things.

  13. Ted k June 28, 2010 at 11:06 am #

    Matt Guerrier isnt the best setup man in baseball rather the most lucky. Flyball pitchers, with moderate/low strike out totals dont translate to a 1.59. His xfip is 4.36. Pavanos recent results recently have been more lucky that good too. 3 strikeouts in his 2 complete games. Maybe he can teach baker how to get hitters to hit ball at people. Pavs peripherals are right in line with what they were last year its just the era is better. Saying that pav is performing like an allstar is a very era drivin argument. He wasnt an allstar last year, hes not an allstar this year because hes getting more balls in play turned into outs.

    • TT June 28, 2010 at 9:50 pm #

      1) xFIP is a meaningless number – it doesn’t measure anything.

      2) The idea that getting outs on balls in play is just luck is ludicrous. There isn’t a pitcher in the Hall of Fame with an above average BABIP. Not one. Were they all “just lucky”?

      3) Generalities about averages often don’t apply to individuals.

      • Ted k June 28, 2010 at 11:59 pm #

        xfip isnt a rate statistic specifically but neither is a stat like ops. Its a fairly simple equation that correlates gb% k rate and BB rate, trying to quantify the more pitcher controllable statistics into a number on the same scale as era but is derived from performance rather than results like era is. It is certainly more predictive than era. Saying its meaningless because it doesnt measure anything specifically is stupid and wrong. I dont think you understand the statistic or why era is not a good stat. Guerrier doesnt strike out many or get many ground balls, hes pitched worse than his era indicates and if his era spikes it shouldnt come as a huge surprise.

        In pavs last complete game he struck out 2 and gave up 3 hits in 9 innings. A pitcher can do that from time to time in an individual game, but with that many balls in play more of them are likely to fall in in general. What pav did in his 2 complete games was great on that day, but in general if he pitches like he did the results will be more often worse. Track records and averages dont mean anything when it comes to individual games but over a full season they can be predictive. Pavano doesnt stike out a lot of guys or get a ton of ground balls which isnt a recipe for a sub 4 era. Pavano is doing almost nothing different than he did last year when his era was 5.

      • TT June 29, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

        “It is certainly more predictive than era.”

        Predictive of what?

        “but is derived from performance rather than results like era”

        ground balls, K’s and BB’s are not results?

        “I dont think you understand the statistic or why era is not a good stat.”

        Actually I think it is you that doesn’t understand either xFIP or era since hardly anyone has ever thought era was a very useful statistic for relief pitchers even over a full season, much less three months.

        “but with that many balls in play more of them are likely to fall in in general.”

        That depends on the pitcher doesn’t it? Many good pitchers have fewer balls in play go for hits. As I said, that is true for every pitcher in the Hall of Fame going back to the 19th century.

        “Pavano is doing almost nothing different than he did last year when his era was 5.”

        Except, apparently, giving up runs.

        “track records and averages dont mean anything when it comes to individual games but over a full season they can be predictive.”

        Again, predictive of what? The fact is that season over season stats are not very predictive for anything. Some statistics are more volatile than others, but that doesn’t have much to do with anything.

      • Ted k June 29, 2010 at 11:03 pm #

        Predictive of future results obviously. GB%, k’s and walks are things a pitcher has a fair amount of control over. Once the ball is in play the result of the of the play becomes dependent on a lot of things besides pitcher skill. Things like defense, ball park, luck ect. Xfip attempts to measure pitcher effectiveness independent of things he has little control over; again things like defense and luck. xfip isnt a perfect stat obviously but it is a better indicator of pitcher performance than era. ERA isnt a very good stat for a starter or a reliever.

        “Actually I think it is you that doesn’t understand either xFIP or era since hardly anyone has ever thought era was a very useful statistic for relief pitchers even over a full season, much less three months.” This isnt true at all. I think most people think era is a very good pitching stat which its not. Seth made the argument that pav should be an allstar exclusively because his era is low not because his pitching has been all star caliber.

        “Except, apparently, giving up runs. ” Youre making my point for me. Forget era, its deceptive.

  14. gobbledy June 28, 2010 at 11:39 am #

    just read something on the red sox being in trouble because they lost their “heart and soul” puddy for a period due to injury. made me think who is the twins “heart and soul”? do we have one? was it o-cab that had a heart and soul and got the twins going last yr.? the tv guys like to talk about puntos energy, if a .250 hitting utility guy is your heart and soul is that a good thing? morneau talked about lack of energy and a couple days later takes the day off, is that an example of heart and soul?

  15. DH in Philly June 28, 2010 at 11:50 am #

    Maybe Heart and Soul is something amorphous that people need to fall back on when they really don’t understand the more fundamental parts of a topic under discussion? Like CNBC saying I don;t know why the market is down – must be “investor sentiment”.

  16. ben June 28, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

    Good summation although I cant remember cuddyer being streaky this year. Just consistantly awful. The guy should have 60 RBI’s by now. I dont think the bullpen is that good. I dont care what their numbers say. It’s hard to imagine them holding up through the late innings in the playoffs in boston, NY, or Tampa. (Playoffs! Did I just say the Playoffs?) Especially when most of the games are tight and often won or lossed on homeruns. They cant really do it vs. the A.L. Central not to mention doing it two strait times in october to get to the world series. I hope they add help in the bullpen too. Even after the trading deadline through waivers

  17. Trentar June 28, 2010 at 3:56 pm #

    You might want to watch Brennan Boesch of the Tigers the next few days. He’s a rookie running mostly under the radar while hitting .338 with 12 HRs, 43 RBIs and .621 slugging percentage. Big kid, huge upside.

  18. Thor June 28, 2010 at 8:47 pm #

    The problem with the lineup is Kubel and Young fail to hit consistently unless they play in the outfield. My fear is that Cuddy will do the same at 3rd.

    Pitching wise, they definately need shook up. Who was it that Pinella left hanging a few years ago when the bullpen was gassed? I think he left him out there for 14 earned or something like that. Maybe it is time for a few of our young guys to be told they will pitch 7 no matter the score.

  19. TT June 28, 2010 at 10:02 pm #

    “I just believe a little shakeup is necessary to jump start things.”

    Seth –

    I have never known a “little shakeup” to jump start anything. Its a clear statement that you lack confidence in the people currently doing the job. You don’t put the sales staff in charge of marketing unless you don’t think the marketing people can get the job done. And you don’t stick Hudson in the leadoff spot unless you think he can do a better job than Span.

  20. beth June 28, 2010 at 11:14 pm #

    Seth, What do you think of the pitchers Tom Powers highlighted in his SPPP article today? Fausto Carmona, Brian Bannister, and Jeremy Guthrie.

  21. MrHockey June 29, 2010 at 12:09 pm #

    “Brian Duensing has been incredible as another lefty in the bullpen.”

    He should move into the rotation and put Blackie into the bullpen for now. Duensing was one of the keys during the Twins’ late season push in 2009.

  22. mike wants wins June 29, 2010 at 1:01 pm #

    Someone suggested Bannister as a possible soolution to a problem? Wow.

  23. TT July 2, 2010 at 6:55 am #

    “Predictive of future results obviously.”

    The question is what future results? You already criticized using “results” instead of “performance”.

    “Things like defense, ball park, luck ect.”

    But these things all have an impact on gb%, walks and strikeouts as well.

    More to the point, none of them directly determine the outcome of baseball games. You can strike out a lot of batters, get a lot of ground balls or not walk many batters and still be a lousy pitcher. Conversely you can be a very good pitcher without striking out batters or getting many ground balls. You are not a very good pitcher if the balls that are put in play go for hits and the other team scores a lot of runs. And those are things the pitcher has a lot of control over as well.

    “Xfip attempts to measure pitcher effectiveness independent of things he has little control over; ”

    xFIP has the same problem as FIP regardless of what their creators are attempting to do. Any stat that uses IP (which is the number of outs while a pitcher is pitching divided by 3) is not independent of fielding (or parks). And nothing is immune to luck.

    For more on that:

    “I think most people think era is a very good pitching stat which its not. Seth made the argument that pav should be an allstar exclusively because his era is low not because his pitching has been all star caliber. ”

    Well yes, for starting pitchers it IS a pretty good stat. over an entire season. It measures a result that really matters. You were using it in the context of Matt Guerreir.

    • Ted k July 2, 2010 at 11:48 am #

      The point of fip, xfip, sierra, ect is that luck and defense have little effect on a pitchers bb, k and gb rates. I never said xfip was completely independent of luck but it is certainly a better effort than era. Your Ip complaint is relevant but era has the same problem. When i evaluate a pitcher i look at k, bb, and gb rate individually. I referenced xfip because its an indicator of the set of statistics i believe are important. The stat certainly has weaknesses, as do all stats, but the IP weakness is not a significant one in a large sample size.

      “You can strike out a lot of batters, get a lot of ground balls or not walk many batters and still be a lousy pitcher. Conversely you can be a very good pitcher without striking out batters or getting many ground balls. You are not a very good pitcher if the balls that are put in play go for hits and the other team scores a lot of runs. And those are things the pitcher has a lot of control over as well.” Youre wrong. Pitchers have little control of where the ball goes when its hit. Thats why reducing the total number ball put in play, the number of free baserunners via walk and generating contact with a low oslg typically leads with better results.

      “Well yes, for starting pitchers it IS a pretty good stat.” No its not. It measures what youve done and is not good at measure how you will do going forward. Ubaldo jimenez has like a 1.2 era but hasnt pitched anywhere near well enough to sustain an era that low. The same true about Carl pavanos 3.3 era. Even over large samplesizes era sucks. Nick blackburns era was good the last 2 years but his peripherals were terrible. Him struggling this season shouldnt surprise anyone.

      • TT July 2, 2010 at 2:35 pm #

        “Your Ip complaint is relevant but era has the same problem.”

        No it doesn’t. No one has ever suggested that era is “independent” of other players’ performance.

        “luck and defense have little effect on a pitchers bb, k and gb rates.”

        How much effect do they have and how did you measure it? The answer, of course, is you haven’t. This is simply an assertion. But its pretty clear that strike zones vary from umpire to umpire, despite baseball’s efforts to control it. So there is a LOT of luck in how many bb and k’s a pitcher gets. But when you talk about bb and k rates, you are back to that problem with IP, the better the defense, the more outs it makes and the lower the K and BB rate.

        “IP weakness is not a significant one in a large sample size.”

        If defense and park effects even out with a large enough sample, then the same is true for era and every other measure. If they don’t, then they don’t for xFIP either.

        “Pitchers have little control of where the ball goes when its hit. ”

        Well yes, in fact they do have a lot of control where the ball goes. About the same control as they have over whether it is a ground ball. Where they pitch and the pitch the throw is a major determinant of where the ball goes when hit. But more importantly, the quality of the pitch helps determine how hard it is hit. That is likely why there are NO pitchers in the hall of fame who do not have above average BABIP. The same cannot be said of strikeouts or, I would suspect, walks.

        “It measures what youve done and is not good at measure how you will do going forward.”

        Every statistic “measures what you’ve done” unless its a pitchers height and weight.

        “Nick blackburns era was good the last 2 years but his peripherals were terrible. Him struggling this season shouldnt surprise anyone.”

        Right, and the same thing was said before last season and then he didn’t struggle. Eventually if you predict failure often enough you will be right. Or if you aren’t, you won’t bring it up. But frankly so what? Are you saying Blackburn’s era isn’t a measure of whether his performance helped the Twins win last year? That Pavano’s isn’t a measure of his contributions so far this year? Its all just “luck”?

      • Ted k July 2, 2010 at 7:23 pm #

        youre very wrong about everything.


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