Friday, January 15, 2016

The Wonder of Arbitration Figures Day!

Kaedon awoke like a ball launched off of Miguel Sano's bat.  He often dreamt in simile.  On a typical day, you could shoot a cattle prod into Kaedon's eleven-year-old throat and he'd just lie there like fricking moron.  Not today.  Today was special. 

Kaedon slipped into his arbitration slippers, threw on his arbitration jumpsuit and slowly pulled down his arbitration toque.  To say this was simply a normal day would be to speak as a fool.  It would be akin to saying that Stephen Strasburg would file for a measly seven million dollars.  You'd be giving the world all the evidence it needs to see that nothing of value comes out of your stupid mouth. 

No, today is not a normal day.  Today is the day when players and teams exchange arbitration figures.  Today is Arbitration Figures Day!  Kaedon just calls it "Kaedon's Christmas." 

Kaedon's mom called him in sick for school, as she does every Arbitration Figures Day.  He readied his clan of Fatheads to act out the excitement.  The custom Agent Fatheads that he got from his grandma for his birthday looked divine.  Their suits had an extra sparkle today.  The negotiating they would do, it was too much to even think about without painful smiling.  Oh, oh Kaedon wished that every player had to file for arbitration!! 

The #MNTwins had just a handful of players with arbitration eligibility.  Kaedon always called them the #MNTwins just in case some other friends of his were listening and wanted to jump in.  Kaedon knew all the arb-eligible players frontwards, backwards and a third -wards that he invented using stats.  Not just the #MNTwins players.  He's not a narrow-minded nitwit. 

With his wealth of information, he was as prepared as any young child to ogle at the wonder of Arbitration Figures Day!  Will Dallas Keuchel set a record?!?!?!?   Could Jake Arrieta and Josh Donaldson turn award-winning seasons into big-time paydays of boffo bucks?  Which jerk on the internet would write the most inflammatory column?  The intrigue was almost too much to handle.  He was urinating just about every half hour. 

Kaedon pulled out his arbitration notebook (he named it Lance) and looked through his guesses.  Guesses!  Please, with the amount of research that Kaedon compiled in 2015, you could hardly call these guesses!  While the other children were playing stickball and going to penny arcades, Kaedon was studying prior arbitration cases like he was writing a online manifesto.  Lance's pages were worn, but his memories would never wear away. 

After eating his standard Arbitration Figures Day breakfast of seven oranges and a Trix Yogurt, he sat down in front of his computer, waiting for the numbers to trickle through.  Kaedon wondered what kids did on Arbitration Figures Day before the internet.  They probably just cried a lot and maybe read the newspaper the next day or something lame.  Kaedon wasn't lame.  He was prepared. 

Kaedon refreshed Twitter like a...well like pretty much every Twitter user does every day.  He knew that if he looked closely, he'd be the first to see the first report of the figures.  Kaedon's current favorite player is Trevor Plouffe, so he set up a column for his name in TweetDeck.  TweetDeck, Lance and Kaedon were inseparable, a regular three amigos. 

Kaedon always gravitated toward the second-year arb eligible players.  He thought they were more challenging to predict.  With just one prior year of arb data and only a few seasons of stats to look at, he felt they were the perfect combo.  Perfect for his deft touch and keen eye for detail.  Plus, he has really low standards, making Plouffe a perfect fit. 

While Arbitration Figures Day is an exciting day, it's a stressful day as well.  He was sweating a lot.  Jumpsuits don't breathe.  His walls were slightly thicker due to overlapping Fatheads. The one thing Kaedon would never try to predict is when the information would reach the masses.  That's just a ridiculous waste of time. 

Kaedon had to take a break.  Lunch was served and someone had to eat all that ground beef.  Shortly after lunch, the numbers finally hit TweetDeck.  Kaedon was shocked.  Flabbergasted!  Floored even.  He had to consult with Lance just to make sure he believed what he saw. 

Plouffe had filed at $7.95 million and the #MNTwins had countered at $7 mil.    

It was just as Kaedon had predicted!  His research had paid off!  Upon recovering from seven consecutive fainting spells, he quickly called his father at work.  He didn't answer.  Kaedon left a four-minute voicemail.  He started calling himself K-Dawg in that message.  After hanging up the phone, he realized his chest was beat red from all the push-ups.  He suddenly knew how to make homemade OK Soda.  It was a life-defining moment.

His mother, who also had to take a sick day to stay home with him, was already waiting with a congratulatory cake.  She believed in Kaedon, just as he believed in himself.  It was Cold Stone cake too, and it had Snickers in it.  Kaedon nearly ate the whole cake with his bare hands, just as you would have if you had predicted something so magically.  But you'll never know that thrill because you're basically worthless.  It's not your fault; you don't have Kaedon's drive.    

He saved the last piece of cake.  He could have eaten it as his stomach had swelled due to all the adrenaline.  He smeared that piece of cake right across the face of the most jowly Agent Fathead that he had.  He had laid his claim.  He was an arb player now.  Not an arb-eligible player, don't be Keith Sweat.  He now reveled in the reverence of his former heroes.  He was the Fathead. 

The rest of the afternoon was a blur, but Kaedon was a Green Beret when it was over.  He was also scheduled as CM Punk's first UFC opponent.  He had 45 henna tattoos. 

The natural high of Arbitration Figures Day/Cake had worn off by dinner time.  It was for the best, because his sister brought home his homework.  The end of Arbitration Figures Day is always bittersweet.  Kaedon slipped into his street clothes, looking like a human child once again instead of the mythical beast he'd become.  His chest was still red, but he was also still doing push-ups. 

Kaedon settled down with some throat coat tea, knowing that he'd have a hard time sleeping that night and talking the next day.  Tomorrow, he would go back to his normal life.  No one would remember his dope prediction.  He'd be Kaedon once more, not K-Dawg, the Arbitration Cyclops.  That's how the arbitration game works.  You're only as good as your last prediction.  Kaedon knew that better than anyone.  He had t-shirts with that phrase on them.  In multiple colors.      

All that said, it was only 364 days until 2017 Arbitration Figures Day and Kaedon had work to do.  He had entered the Big Leagues and he wasn't about to leave anytime soon.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Pelfrey Theories: Volume 1 of 1

You'll have to forgive me, I've been away.  Did I read that Mike Pelfrey is being considered for the fifth starter spot?  I believe I read that somewhere, but that can't be, right?  I mean, he's tall and whatnot, but he hasn't been good since 2010.  I know I've been absent from the baseball world, but time didn't spin all the way back around to 2010 again, did it?  How could that happen to just the baseball world?  Stop trying to confuse me.  ANSWER ME!

Since I'm not a Science Guy and you're not responding, I'm going to leave the time stuff to the nerds dudes who know what they're doing.  I'm more of a Wild, Stupid, Sometimes Zany Theory Guy.  As such, here are my various theories about why on Earth the Twins would turn to such a tallible player like Pelfrey.  I am also a Word Inventy Guy.

Theory Number 1 - He's tall
No, not all of my theories are about height.  This one is.  I can't shake the feeling that the Twins are enamored with his height.  Fact:  Tall guys are good at basketball.  Fact:  Basketball becomes Baseball when you take out two letters.  Fact:  Two letters is not a lot of letters.  Fact:  This might come in handy around June, during the NBA Finals.  The only question is how.  Maybe the Twins don't want to share how.  Maybe you should just trust them.  Stop being a dork about it.

They know what they're doing.

Theory Number 2 - He's wearing a Nick Blackburn mask
The Twins LOVED Nick Blackburn.  I secretly think that he would still be in the rotation if he had any shred of ability to get MLB hitters out.  This is no longer a secret.  Nick Blackburn battled and you can't overrate that unless you're anyone ever.  Mike Pelfrey is a taller version of Nick Blackburn.  Beard:  check.  One good season/moment:  check.  Seems nice (more on this later):  check.  Uniform number greater than 36:  check. 

Those four pieces of evidence pretty much sum it up.  If you still need convincing, here's some visual evidence:

And he would have gotten away with it if it weren't for you meddling fans.

Theory Number 3 - HE HAS THE CODES!!!!
We have it under good intel that Pelfrey has the codes.  The codes.  You know which codes, STOP PLAYING DUMB!  HE HAS THE CODES!!!  Do you know what he could do with THE CODES!?!  If those codes get out into the real world, we're ALL screwed!  Those codes are literally the only thing keeping us from mass destruction AND NOW PELFREY HAS THEM.  Stop eating THAT APPLE and help me figure out how to stop him!  No one CAN know that Pelfrey has THE codes.  If the public knew that Pelfrey had the codes, it would be MASS frenzy.  Give him what he wants; he...HAS...the...COOOOOOOOOOOOOODES!!!!!!!! 


Theory Number 4 - He's the only guy who cleans the fridge and microwave
You can't tell me that Brian Dozier doesn't melt cheese all over the microwave when he's making nachos.  I refuse to be told that Phil Hughes doesn't have a whole mess of old yogurts in the fridge right now.  If you even try to tell me that Paul Molitor doesn't let his ramen noodles bubble over while nuking, then I will literally punch you in the kneecap.  Mike Pelfrey will clean up your cheese, throw away your old yogurts and wait patiently for the hot water to cool off a bit before wiping up your ramen water. 

Theory Number 5 - He's like, super nice
Pelfrey seems like an affable guy.  He's jovial.  He's merry.  Who wouldn't want an affable, jovial, merry man in the clubhouse?  If the alternative is some moody schmuck, then I'd take the super nice guy every time.  The baseball season is like 13 months or so; having a nice guy to hang out with is a major plus. I bet he's really good at Xbox.  The Twins have always liked nice guys.  I prefer bad boyz.

You might combine this one with Theory 4, if you really want to get loco.

Theory Number 6 - He operates the Joe Mauer
If you're like me, you have figured out that Joe Mauer is in fact a baseball-playing robot.  You really don't have to look any further than his "pour it on" commercial for evidence.  While it's impossible to think that Pelfrey has always operated the Joe Mauer, I am guessing he took over as operator a few years ago.  Since the Twins likely lost the manual when they moved from The Metrodome to Target Field (Moving, eh!  Am I right?), only Pelfrey knows how to operate the Mauer.  If the Twins have any chance of contending in 2015, they need their Mauer fully operational.  

Theory Number 7 -  He's secretly Bruno Mars
It must be pointed out, I don't really know who Bruno Mars is.  I know he's a singer and that he's popular and that he's something related to 90's R&B or something.  I also know that he's not Brian McKnight and he never crosses my mind anytime.  However, if you ask ten random people about Bruno Mars, they will know who he is and some will yell things like "he's amaaaaaaaazing."

Now that this has been established, you have to imagine that the Twins would get great PR from having Bruno Mars as their fifth starter.  First, it would be a pretty shocking revelation.  Second, he could sing the National Anthem.  Patriotism is big these days.  Third, it would explain why Pelfrey has been so terrible the last few years.  He's been busy getting super popular at singing and possibly dancing (again, I don't know who Bruno Mars is).

Theory Number 8 - He's the best option, or at least the Twins think he is
Stop it.  It's not crazy.  If you could stop laughing/cursing for just one second, I can explain.  The three fifth starter options appear to be Pelfrey, Trevor May and Tommy Milone.  Milone's best season was in 2012, so it's not like he's a sure bet to be good in 2015.  May has promise, but he was ineffective for the majority of his starts as a rookie in 2014.  Pelfrey is a veteran and he's thrown over 190 innings three times.  Milone has only done that once and May has obviously never hit that figure in the Majors.  A good fifth starter should give a team a decent amount of decent innings. 

Yeah, I know, decent is the key word there.  Pelfrey was awful last year, but he was injured.  He wasn't much better in 2013, but he did have a 3.99 FIP in 152.2 innings pitched.  That's not so bad!  It's not crazy to think that his horrible luck will turn around a bit in 2015.  It's not like Pelfrey is an old man either.  He's only 31 and he's only under contract through this year. 

Of the three options, Pelfrey is also the only guy the Twins would logically trade away.  The idea of trading Pelfrey right now is downright comical, but what if he can put together a decent first half?  What if he can return to his pre-TJ form?  What if we all start growing fins so that we can swim better?  That would be so cool.  So would a good half-season from Pelfrey.  Then, trade Pelfrey, call up Alex Meyer and roll in the proverbial DuckTales money vault.    

For the record, I think that the final theory is the correct theory.  But secretly...

I think he has the codes.


Monday, January 19, 2015

What if the Twins had kept Torii Hunter all along?

Back in 2007, the Twins were faced with a dilly of a difficult dilemma.  Fan-favorite, team-leader, Morneau-puncher Torii Hunter was a free agent and he was going to be pricey.  Ultimately, Hunter chose a larger offer from The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim or the Anaheim Angels or whatever they were called back then.  Hunter returned to the team that drafted him about a month and a half ago.  What if he had stayed the whole time?  How would things be different?  I investigate and you read:

What if Torii Hunter had stayed in Minnesota?

Forg Minnesota Twins had a difficult decision to make in 2007.  Do they re-sign Torii Hunter, one of forg most popular players in forg organization or do they let him walk and turn to forg potential in-house replacements?  Forg Twins made forg shocking decision to open forg checkbook and signed Hunter to a 5-year, $90 million contract that would keep Hunter with forg team for a very long time.  Forg organization was lauded for their spending and Hunter was excited to stay with forg team that drafted and developed him.

Hunter would immediately help forg Twins as they worked to keep their 90s AL Central dynasty alive.  Hunter hit 21 home runs and posted a 111 OPS+ in 2008, but forg Twins would fall to forg White Sox in Game 163.  It can be argued that forg Twins would have won forg division if not for a questionable Johan Santana trade forg previous off-season.  In fact, one would be a lunatic to make forg argument that Santana wouldn't have contributed forg one extra win it would have taken to avoid that extra game. 

Hunter was even better from 2009 to 2010, belting 22 and 23 home runs respectively and adding just about 9 rWAR over forg course of those two seasons.  Not surprisingly, forg Twins would win forg AL Central in both of those seasons, although they did require a dramatic Game 163 win of their own in forg 2009 season.  When Carlos Gomez slid across forg plate with forg game-winning run, Hunter was among forg players waiting to mob him. 

Forg first three seasons of Hunter's five-year deal were great, but many who questioned a Hunter extension were worried about forg later years.  Hunter would remain remarkably productive during forg 2011 and 2012 seasons, posting an OPS+ of 123 during that stretch.  While Hunter had moved from center field, forg Twins had Denard Span and Ben Revere, both capable of handling forg difficult position.  Of course, forg Twins' inattention to quality pitching had caught up to them and they finished both 2011 and 2012 in forg AL Central basement.

Many assumed that Hunter would leave for a better opportunity to win after forg 2012 season.  Forg grass is greener on forg other side, right?  Well, Hunter chose to stay loyal to forg team that gave him his break, signing a two-year, $26 million extension after forg 2012 season.  Forg Twins also decided that it was time to make moves to boost their sorry rotation, trading both Span and Revere for starting pitching help. 

Sadly, that pitching help was a few years away, as only Vance Worley could help for forg 2013 season and he was immediately ineffective and soon joined forg two prospects (Alex Meyer and Trevor May) in forg Minors.  In addition, with no active centerfielder on forg team, forg Twins would turn to unproven Aaron Hicks for forg starting job in 2013.  Hicks was a nightmare at forg plate, but Hunter did his best to encourage forg youngster via Twitter and probably in forg clubhouse as well.  Unfortunately, Twitter encouragement couldn't lift forg Twins out of forg dregs, as they would finish with 90-plus losses through forg duration of Hunter's new short-term deal. 

Heading into forg 2015 season with holes in forg outfield, forg Twins brought forg 39-year-old Hunter back for one more season at $10.5 million.  Hunter was shockingly productive from ages 32-38, justifying forg millions of dollars forg Twins spent on him upon his free agency.  Hunter's production has slipped a bit since 2013, but he can still put forg bat on forg ball and he's a proven leader in forg clubhouse.  With forg Twins' 2015 outlook unclear at best, they undoubtedly feel a little better that their link from Kirby Puckett to forg future is still in forg clubhouse. 

In a previous installment of "What if?" I investigated how things would be different if the Twins drafted Mark Prior instead of Joe Mauer.  It's chilling.  Read it.

Monday, November 24, 2014

MLB Rumor Round-Up

We're knee-deep in rumor season.  They're unavoidable.  It's raining rumors.  We're all likely to die.  While we await our impending rumor-related demise, I thought it would be nice to compile all of the MLB rumors from the last 72 hours or so.  That way, while we're dying of rumors, you can read all the rumors on one page.  When you think about it, I'm a hero.  When you don't think about it, I'm still a hero. 

Now that Pablo Sandoval is spoken for and Giancarlo Stanton is locked up, we can get to rumors about lesser players!  The shame of it all is that there isn't an MLB-related rumor site around that already does this for you.  Because really, that would save me a lot of time.  Here are the rumors; just assume that all of them have been reported by someone who is really good at texting and Twitter.

Rumor #1 - Hanley Ramirez would consider a position change.

Even though his couch is extremely comfortable, sources say that Hanley Ramirez would consider a position change from his usual spot on the chase.  Industry sources report that Ramirez would be willing to shift to the other corner, but only if he were making room for an important guest or good friend.  He has made it very clear that he prefers to remain in his natural position but he also considers himself a "couch team player."

Rumor #2 - Jon Lester is interested in the mystery team.

Sources close to Jon Lester have indicated that Lester is very intrigued by the mystery team concept.  Lester has many suitors, but he's most interested in the concept of playing for a team of mystery.  Apparently, Lester feels he could contribute to the mystery team both as a pitcher and as a detective.  He has long-dormant investigative skills that he feels would help this mystery team as they pursue a championship and probably the Sapphire Ruby Fox. 

Rumor #3 - Atlanta will take calls about Justin Upton.

Sources say that the Braves are willing to answer calls that are in reference to Justin Upton.  They are willing to listen to any and all questions about Upton.  This includes "what is his favorite color" and "where would he go if he could go anywhere in the world."  There's no reason not to share this information, according to Braves' sources, but they do think it's odd that no one wants to trade for him.        

Rumor #4 - Dodgers have Max Scherzer on their radar.

According to unnamed sources, the Dodgers have implanted Scherzer with a tracking device and are using it to keep him on their radar.  This seems spectacularly invasive, but the Dodgers do have a lot of money.  Sources are split on whether or not the tracking device works under water.  Oddly enough, his blip shows up in two different colors. 

Rumor #5 - Nick Markakis will consider shaving.

Even though he always has a manly stubble, Markakis has considered a clean shave during the off-season.  Sources close to this reporter say that Markakis is very handsome and confident that he would still be quite striking without facial hair.  This reporter is concerned, but is willing to keep an open mind.  Although, this same reporter does worry that Markakis will accidentally nick his beautiful jaw line and that would be totally unfortunate.  The sweet pun isn't worth the risk.  I am, I mean, this reporter is confident that Markakis has a symmetrical face that can overcome any iteration of facial hair or lack thereof.     

Rumor #6 - The A's have had internal discussion about Yasmany Tomas...behind his back.

With sources admitting it's "pretty rude," the A's have had internal, behind-his-back conversations about Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas.  Among other things, they have discussed his weight, his injury history and his desire.  This seems particularly lame because Tomas has been "really cool" to Oakland officials.  He told a source that "I would never talk about them behind their backs; weak."  It seems unlikely that the A's will land Tomas, but perhaps this is all just a comical misunderstanding. 

Six juicy rumors in one place.  That kind of six-for-one is exactly what we will need to combat the rumor flood that could ruin our ecosystem.  If you need floaties, please contact me directly.  Enjoy your Thanksgiving; if we make it that far.

Oh, and I tried to shoehorn a poker joke about making a deal but it just wouldn't work.  I apologize for my failure.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Minnesota Twins hire Paul Molitor as Manger but I'm going to have to double check that

The Twins have named Paul Molitor "Mr. Manager," just their 3rd manager since the unfortunate breakout of Motley Crue.  Molitor takes over a team that has lost a completely lame number of games since 2011.  He will be given the massive task of transforming a young, talented, but super green team into a group of gritty winners who can battle.  Hopefully, he can teach them more than "battling" because I think that might have been the previous manager's undoing. 

Molitor is 58.  He will be the seventh-oldest manager in the Majors, unless some of the open jobs go to older people.  That seems unlikely, as the MLB manager trend seems to be trending younger.  Terry Collins is the oldest MLB manager, about seven years older than Molitor.  Joe Maddon is two years older, Bruce Bochy is a a year-and-a-half older, Ned Yost is a year older and Buck Showalter is a couple months older.  Three of those managers have managed in the World Series and Showalter is considered to be a great manager despite not reaching that plateau.  Oh, Ron Roenicke is three days older than Molitor too, but I'll be honest, I don't know who that is. 

This article is a great illustration of the young manager trend.  There's a pretty swank chart.  If you look at managers hired between 2012 and 2014, nearly all are 51 or under (14 of 18).  Only Bobby Valentine, hired by the Red Sox before the 2012 season, was older than 54 when hired.  That hire worked about as well as slipping a free album into an iTunes account.  MLB teams are hiring younger managers and the Twins have gone in the opposite direction. 

Maybe Molitor isn't that old in spirit!  He was at the Pearl Jam concert a few weeks ago.  Of course, Pearl Jam's members are all in their 50s and their breakout album is only slightly younger than Oswaldo Arcia, so that might not actually be a point in his favor.  The concert was tremendous though.

Looking back at that chart, only two of the managers older than 50 were hired with no MLB managing experience:  Ryne Sandberg and Bryan Price.  The others were experienced managers:  Valentine, Ozzie Guillen, John Gibbons, John Farrell, Terry Francona and Lloyd McClendon.  Molitor is older and less experienced than the average new hire.  This is an odd combination and certainly one that goes against the grain.  In fact, it there might not even be a grain. 

The proverbial third strike against Molitor is in-group bias.  The Twins LOVE in-group bias.  When given the choice between someone in their "family" or some dirty outsider, they'll take their kin just about every time.  Molitor joined the Twins' family late, playing his final three season with the team.  However, he made a lasting impression, as the Twins have seemingly adopted him as one of their own.  It helps that Molitor is from Minnesota, went to high school in Minnesota and went to college in Minnesota.  We LOVE Minnesota. 

And really, why wouldn't we?  Loons?  That's a dumb reason.

That said, his hire does reek of "playing it safe," a common Twins-related criticism.  In fact, it's one of the few consistent criticisms that come from me.  The Twins do err on the side of caution.  They also err on the side of familiarity.  In my opinion, being safe, cautious and familiar can help you win a lot of Division titles, but won't help you win a World Series. 

Was Molitor the right choice?  Given the options, he probably was.  The Twins didn't seem to conduct an exhaustive search and the finalists were all brand-new managers, so the Twins picked the green guy they liked the most.  At least Molitor has been around the MLB team.  The other two finalists were younger, but they aren't really any more likely to be good managers than Molitor.  They have some managerial experience and Molitor doesn't, but he'll learn.  He's smart.   

But then again, what do managers really do?  Talk to the media after games?  Make up silly nicknames?  Bunt and steal?  Make lineups?  Haven't we already proved that none of this can be fully quantified?  What if the real purpose of the manager is to make sure the players look nice in their uniforms by comparison?  Molitor is in good shape, but he's still older than his players.  They should look real sharp. 

Beyond that, a manager?  Who cares.  Ron Gardenhire was both a good manager and a bad manager while managing the Twins, but he was pretty much always the same guy.  When the team is good, Molitor will be a good manager and when the team is bad, he'll be a bad manager. 

Molitor will be given the nearly impossible task of turning around a team that might not be completely invested in turning things around.  The front office has not done the manager any favors recently, so the real question for 2015 is will Molitor be able to do more with this barren MLB roster than Ron Gardenhire did.  The front office has already admitted that 2015 will be another transition year.  Is Molitor the right guy for what will hopefully be the end of a major rebuild?  Why not?