Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Using MLB 13: The Show to improve the Minnesota Twins' 2013 Season: Part III

Welcome back to this fake video game fake season!  In the first two parts, we learned about the new Twins team and we saw them make some interesting moves.  If you missed either and want to check them out, you can find part 1 here and part 2 here

Now we're into June.  The draft is over.  The long summer has begun.  The Twins were in the second Wild Card position just 3 short weeks ago, but are now mired in last place in the Central.  Let's see where they go from there.


Do you remember that fake player the Twins got for Josmil Pinto?  His name is Dalton Castro and he wasn't long for Minnesota.  On June 7, The Twins traded Castro, Damon Galarraga and Frenk (yes, Frenk) Trevino to the Rays for Alex Torres.  Huh?  Here's Galarraga:

So, the RoboTwins decided, "Hey, let's trade two 'A' potential starting pitching prospects and another guy for a reliever.  No one could possibly hate that."  This is a puzzling move and one that shows the danger of A.I.  All the A.I. can do is see where the holes are and where the "strengths" lie.  The Twins had a full starting rotation and a hole in the bullpen.  So, the A.I. decided it was time to fill some holes.  The RoboFans are furious.  It's bad enough that the RoboTwins traded a promising pitcher in Pinto, but then to use his bounty to acquire a reliever?  Disgusting.  Robo Terry Ryan should be ashamed of himself.

As a result of this trade, the Twins sent Michael Tonkin back to AAA.  They also decided that the Boyce Mosley era needed to end, adding Jamey Carroll back to the starting lineup.  Trevor Plouffe is currently hitting .196, just so we're all clear that the RoboTwins do offer scholarships.

Shortly thereafter, Mosley was sidelined with a strained calf.  His estimated injury time was listed at 2-11 days.  lol. 

At the end of a tumultuous June, the Twins sat at 37-44 and were 15 games back of the dominant Tigers.  The actual Twins were 36-42.  Hmm.  Shaun Marcum has paid great dividends, as he has gone 6-3 with an ERA under 3 since signing with the Twins in May.  Vance Worley continues to struggle, with an ERA north of 6.  Aaron Hicks has 16 doubles and 13 steals.  Justin Morneau is having a ridiculous season, hitting .318 with 15 home runs and 60 RBI.  Joe Mauer continues to be RoboPatient, with 43 walks and just 68 hits. 


The Twins continue to jerk their oldest and youngest players around.  On July 3, Jamey Carroll and Oswaldo Arcia were both sent to the bench in favor of Boyce Mosley and Darin Mastroianni.  Mosley and Mastroianni earned it though.  They have combined to hit .203 in 2013.  Cool.  If you look closely, you can see Robo Terry Ryan high-fiving Robo Ron Gardenhire, which seems to indicate some sort of grand conspiracy. 

All-Star Festivities

One would imagine that the Twins would be heavily included in the All-Star Game Festivities, right?  The Twins are a storied franchise.  They've won two World Series.  They have young, exciting players.  They made some super weird trades.  They're bound to get some love, right? 

Nope.  Jared Burton was the lone representative and he didn't play.  Fun.  The AL did win the game, so the Twins will have home-field advantage in the 2013 Robo World Series

End of July

On July 19, the Twins sent Wilkin Ramirez to AA.  Ramirez was hurt for most of the real 2013 season, but that still seems to be a better result than his Robo 2013 campaign. 

On July 25, Aaron Hicks separated his shoulder.  It was very sad.  The Robo Kevin Slowey was Framed blog was changed to all black backgrounds and text to mourn.  No one could read anything; no one seemed to care.  With Hicks sidelined, Eric Fryer was recalled and Wilkin Ramirez was allowed to go back to Rochester. 

One very positive story from this lost season would be that their former MVP decided that he was healthy and wanted to hit home runs.  No, not Joe Mauer.  Come on!  As mentioned earlier, Morneau is having a monster season.  At the end of July, Morneau was hitting .307 with 23 home runs and 90 RBI.  He had 30 RBI in July!  He's the lone bright spot in this offense, with pretty much everyone either performing below expectations or below expectations of Joe Mauer. 

The Twins finished July with a 50-57 record.  They are 27-24 since June 1, when they traded Josmil Pinto.  Getting that clubhouse cancer out of Minnesota really seemed to spark them from awful to mediocre.  Nice work RTR!  The Twins are 20 games behind the Tigers, who are just dominating the Robo AL.  However, the Twins are just 6 games out of the second Wild Card.  Could they make a crazy trade at the July deadline to spark them from mediocre to good or even better?

Nope.  They did nothing.  They did call Shairon Martis up to AA, but that doesn't really help anyone with anything.  Perhaps they will make a big move in August.  I'm cautiously optimistic.  In our next installment, we will find out just how aggressive RTR will be.  It's hard because he's part Terry Ryan, a cautious man who always keeps at least one eye on the future, and part robot, and robots are all insane and made of metal.  I'm not sure what that means, but I know I can't predict what will happen.  We'll find out in part 4.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Minnesota Twins Offseason Extravaganza: 1994

State of the Team

1994 Record:  53-60, 4th in the BRAND NEW AL Central
1995 Outlook:  Will there be a season?  If so, where will Shane Mack be?

Players Lost - Free Agency

The seeds for the 1994 off-season were planted in 1993 when the (at the time) current collective bargaining agreement expired without a new agreement.  A strike was a legit possibility and looked more and more likely as the 1994 season continued.  On August 12, 1994, the strike began.  On September 14,  1994, Commissioner Bud Selig cancelled the rest of the season and the playoffs/World Series.  He was World Serious. 

So, the 1994 off-season was super weird.  No one was really sure how long the strike would last and some players retired and some left for other baseball pursuits.  Kent Hrbek retired, which sucked.  Shane Mack left for Japan, which sucked.  The Twins lost two of their four best offensive players and they really weren't very good before that. 

Welcome to the Scott Stahoviak era!  Don't get too comfortable.

The Twins also lost Jim Deshaies and Rich Garces.  Deshaies was a dishaster and Garces was a failed prospect who had a four-season stretch of effective pitching about four years later. 

Players Gained - Free Agency

The Twins didn't really sign anyone of note, although they did sign some players who I had heard of.  First, the Twins brought in Kevin Maas, likely in an effort to replace some of the power that was retiring/leaving.  Maas didn't play in the Majors in 1994 and really, he barely played in 1995.  He made it through 22 games before being cut loose and signing a Minor League deal to return to the Yankees.  He never reached the Bigs again.

They also signed Greg Harris, a starter who had some relative success earlier in his career.  Harris threw 32.2 innings, posted a dope 8.82 ERA and was gone by August.  He will be forever remembered by me like this:

Jerald Clark was another '94-absent player, although he actually produced for the Twins in 1995.  He hit .339/.354/.550 in 113 plate appearances.  He hurt his knee in mid-June and never played MLB baseball again. 

Finally, the Twins signed Riccardo Ingram, who had 10 plate appearances in 1995 but will be best remembered for having a cool name.


The strike brought one of the weirdest trades in MLB history and one that would have literally made the Twins Daily forums explode with vicious and delicious rage.  Dave Winfield was traded on August 31, for a player to be named later.  When the season was cancelled, there was no real reason to complete the trade.  So, some executives from the Indians took some executives from the Twins out to dinner and paid the bill.  AT THE HENNEPIN COUNTY TAXPAYERS EXPENSE, probably.

Biggest Splash

The Twins claimed Rich Robertson off of waivers from the Pirates.  In 1995, he threw 51.2 innings and had a 3.83 ERA.  Not bad!  However, as we learned from American Beauty:  look closer.  He walked over 5 batters per nine innings and he barely struck out more than 6 batters per nine innings.  Not surprisingly, Robertson was a train wreck of an earthquake of a disaster in 1996 and 1997, starting 57 awful games and posting an ERA around 5.5.  Ah, the mid-90s.

Biggest Miss

Shane Mack left for Japan after the 1994 season.  He likely made that decision at least partially because of the strike.  I have no idea if the Twins tried to keep them or if they were allowed to try to keep him, but it would have been great if he had stayed.

My Own Personal Heartbreak

Back to Mack.  I retroactively loved Shane Mack.  I didn't appreciate him as a kid because I was Team Kirby and Mack was like his second fiddle.  I should have made room in my heart for Kirby Puckett and Shane Mack, but that is my regret.  I'll work it out in shock therapy.  Had Mack stayed with the Twins for even three more seasons, he probably would go down as one of the best Twins of all-time.   He was still a very productive player during his two seasons in Japan and he was even still pretty good when he came back to the States in '97 and '98.  He dealt with a lot of injuries, but he played well when healthy.  It's a shame that the strike stole Shane Mack from us.  I blame everyone. 

That being said, if he were to ever appear at Target Field, with this song playing...

I'd lose my mind applauding.  I'd probably break both of my wrists and all the tiny bones in my hands.

Return of the Mack was released in February of 1997.  Shane Mack returned to MLB shortly thereafter.  It's not a coincidence.

Arbitrary Overall Assessment:  F

An F for the Twins and an F for baseball.  Seriously, there was no 1994 World Series.  I mean, how do things get that bad?  Labor strife and management control over employees are historical problems, but we're talking about a professional sport.  Millionaires and Billionaires and blah blah blah.  I'm just glad that things have been relatively peaceful ever since.  Sports strikes are among the most baffling occurrences on Earth, at least to me.  I understand crop circles better.  I understand Sasquatch sightings better.  I understand Matthew McConaughey better. 

The Twins get an F, but I'm not sure what more they could have done differently.  The strike sucked, to state the obvious.

Next week, we'll look at the 1995 off-season.  See you then!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Using MLB 13: The Show to improve the Minnesota Twins' 2013 Season: Part II

I have been using an old video game to recap a season that already happened.  Sounds enticing, right?  If you missed part I, here you go.  In part I, we went through Spring Training and played out Opening Day.  Sony made some pretty surprising moves after Spring Training and now we're in April and who knows what could happen next?!?!

The suspense is killing you; let's begin. 


The Oswaldo Arcia experiment didn't last very long.  Apparently Robot Ron Gardenhire (RoboRon going forward) has a quicker hook than 2007 Bassmaster Classic winner Boyd Duckett!  Chris Parmelee was inserted into the lineup after Arcia posted a miniscule .121 batting average in his first eight professional games.  Yikes. 

In real life, Darin Mastroianni suffered a stress fracture in his left ankle on April 16 and missed almost four months.  In fake life, Mastroianni suffered a sprained knee on April 16 and would miss just 15 days.  Wilkin Ramirez was promoted from AAA to take his place.  The clubhouse chemistry rating spiked. 
The Twins won seven games in a row from April 12 to April 19.  Then, they lost their next six games.  Life imitates art.  I keep saying that.  Is this art?

The Twins ended April 12-14, four games behind Detroit.  Joe Mauer was the team's best hitter with a .867 OPS.  He also had the best digital sideburns.  He had 19 walks and 22 hits.  Get the bat off your digital shoulder, bum!  Aaron Hicks hit .292 with four home runs and five steals.  The digital fans wanted him sent to Digital New Britain.  Vance Worley was 1-4 with an ERA north of 7.  Digital ball don't lie. 


Remember this date - May 8, 2013.  On that day, the Twins dove headfirst into this pennant race.  They sent Liam Hendriks and his ERA over 8 to AAA.  The sent Kyle Gibson and his ERA over 6 to the bullpen.  They sent Shairon Martis to Class A, just because.  They used the extra roster spot to sign Shaun Marcum, who had been cut in Spring Training.  They signed him for one year, 857K.  Digital Twins Daily applauded!  Also on that day:  Oswaldo Arcia reclaimed his starting spot in right field.  On May 8, 2013, the Twins were just three games behind Detroit and occupied the second Wild Card spot.  Remember this day...

Because it didn't last.  They lost their next 6 games.  By the end of May, the Twins were 13.5 games behind Detroit and sat at 23-32.  GUH.  At the end of May, Brian Duensing led the pitchers with a record of 5-1.  Vance Worley was 3-6 with an ERA over nine!  Scott Diamond, Cole De Vries (lol) and Mike Pelfrey all had ERAs over 5.50.  Aaron Hicks led the Twins with a .843 OPS, 10 doubles, 7 home runs and 12 stolen bases.  No, I did not program this game.  Pelfrey had 22 strikeouts in 63 innings.  Mauer had more GD walks than hits.  IT'S ALL FALLING APART!!!

Then, in a baffling move, the Twins added Josmil Pinto to their trade block.  WTH?  Panic switch engaged, amiright?  They also sent Drew Butera from AAA to AA, which is just not a cool thing to do. 


Well, I suppose we should have seen this coming.  On June 1, the Twins traded Josmil Pinto AND Mike Pelfrey to the Phillies for Dalton Castro.  Trading Pelfrey - fine.  Trading Pinto - confusing?  It's one thing to trade a really young, talented player.  It's another thing to trade him for a fake player.  Let's get to know Dalton a bit:

Sweet.  25 years old, low K/9, low BB/9...where have we seen this before.  Even Robo-Terry Ryan has a soft spot for soft-tossers.  He was assigned to AAA Rochester.  Remember the name Dalton Castro; he's going to come up again later.

June 1 was a significant date for a couple of other reasons too.  The Twins grew tired of Jamey Carroll's .286 batting average and called up Top 50 prospect Boyce Mosley to play short.  Mosley was created by EA, giving Robo-Twins fans the hope that they have a long-term answer at fake short. 

Looks like he might be a lefty-killer.  Decent potential.  Pretty good fielder.  Some pop.  Good baserunner.  Not a good bunter.  Short.  B+ prospect?

In addition, the Pelfrey trade opened a spot in the rotation for the return of Kyle Gibson.  The Twins used their other open roster spot to promote Michael Tonkin.  For the record, Trevor Plouffe is currently hitting .190 and Jamey Carroll's secondary position is listed as 3B.  Just saying. 

The Draft!

The Twins participated in the Rule 4 draft on June 6.  Since Kohl Stewart isn't in the game, the Twins had to go another route with their fourth-overall selection.  Meet Omar Mota, the Twins' first-round selection:

Mota is a 21-year-old second baseman with good contact skills.  His fielding needs some work and he doesn't have much power.  He's not much on the basepaths either.  His upside is probably Brian Dozier.  Great pick, Robo-Ryan!

Twins' seventh-round selection, Nolan Coulter has an MLB ETA of 2023, when he'll be 31 years old.  That seems a bit conservative.  As you can see from this blurry image, all of his bar graphs are very low:

And, he's not on Twitter:

Bummer.  With the draft in the rearview, I think this is a perfect time to stop for today.  We'll cover some big June news and get through the trade deadline next week.  The Twins have one more big trade left in them, I can feel it.  I hope Dalton Castro doesn't buy a home in Minnesota.  Cliffhanger! 

Have a nice day, everyone!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My World Series Preview

I think the Cardinals will win.

Using MLB 13: The Show to improve the Minnesota Twins' 2013 Season: Part I

Back in March, I took a stab at previewing the upcoming 2013 Minnesota Twins season using MLB 13:  The Show.  It was a hoot.  I used the game to see how the Twins would fare as a team and how some of their players would perform during the upcoming season.  If you look back at that preview, you'll see that Sony had a very different view for some very important Twins players.  I enjoyed the exercise, and enjoyed the residual pageviews that I received anytime someone was looking for information about the game. 

Then I thought:  that preview was really stupid  And not just because I used the word "haterz.".  The main problem was that not all the players were in the game at the beginning of the season.  Most prominently, Aaron Hicks, Kyle Gibson, Oswaldo Arcia and Andrew Albers had never played an MLB game, so they weren't there.  I created Aaron Hicks myself, but mostly as a means for making a joke about how much we overreact to Spring Training stats.

HAHAHAHAHAHA.  You see, the joke is...

Since the Twins' 2013 season was such a bust in real life, I decided to take the updated rosters that Sony provided at the end of the season and replay the season using the game.  I figure, the results couldn't be any worse and it will probably be about 25 times more watchable.  For the record, when I say play, I mean simulate.  I can't sit through another season, much less play one. 

So, I dug the game out from under my couch and spent a good hour setting up the rosters properly.  I had to put Justin Morneau and Jamey Carroll back and I had to find where some of the scrubbier players had been hidden.  I found Drew Butera.  I found Luis Perdomo.  I found P.J. Walters.  However, some players could not be found.  Some players either disappeared or transformed into fake players.  Here are the vanished:  Esmerling Vasquez, Alex Burnett, Nick Blackburn, Lester Oliveros, Ray Olmedo and Jeff Clement.

Ouch.  Now, your average blogger would just move on.  Not me.  I can't just let these players go missing forever. 

I feel better now.  Since we've got that in place, we can get back to this fake season. 

I started with Spring Training.  I set up the 40-man roster as it was before the season and I added all potential future Twins to their respective Minor League teams.  Andrew Albers may have earned a real MLB promotion, but we'll just see if he earns a Sony promotion.  Sony might make some crazy changes too!  Maybe the EA version of the Twins will keep Aaron Hicks at AAA for a few months.  Maybe they'll move Kyle Gibson to the Majors a bit faster.  Who knows?  THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS!

Spring Training

Spring Training was grueling.  It took well over 45 seconds to simulate.  No one was injured during Spring Training, meaning all players were healthy and ready to go!  These Twins finished Spring Training 14-14, although they started 9-1 and scuffled to finish March.  There were certainly some interesting performances in this fake Spring Training, including the Battle for Center Field Supremacy!

Aaron Hicks - .829 OPS
Darin Mastroianni - .437 OPS

Guess who won the job?  I pleaded with the game to give Hicks just a month or so at AAA but they were more concerned with selling tickets to those circle faces in the virtual crowd than Hicks' long-term development.  Disgusting.

Josmil Pinto hit the crap out of the ball in Spring Training, ending with a .927 OPS and 6 home runs!  Your OPS leader in Spring Training?  Doug "Luke Hughes" Bernier with a 1.171 OPS.  On the pitching side, Sam Deduno decided to skip the World Baseball Classic to focus on his Twins career.  He had a 7.84 Spring ERA and walked more than he struck out.  Bad choice, man.  Pedro Hernandez was the best Twins pitcher in the Spring, posting a sweet 2.08 ERA.  He was still assigned to AAA. 

After every Spring Training, difficult decisions have to be made.  Some players get cut and some players make the cut.  Of course, the video game can make robot decisions and the real team has to weigh emotions and pride and crud like that.  As such, the Robot Twins 25-man roster was a bit different. 

Sony sent Pedro Florimon and his .279 Spring OPS down to New Britain.  Ouch.  They also decided that stretching out Josh Roenicke as a starter would be a good idea, but sent him to AAA to work it out.  They sent Eduardo Escobar, Wilkin Ramirez and Tyler Robertson to AAA.  Somehow, they got Ryan Pressly to AAA as well.  They must have some additional ninja powers that Terry Ryan doesn't have.  Finally, they just released P.J. Walters altogether.  The real Minnesota Twins would never release a nice guy like that. 

However, it wasn't all goodbyes.  They chose to keep Kyle Gibson, Oswaldo Arica and Josmil Pinto in Minnesota.  Arcia won the starting RF job, Pinto would be the backup catcher (an odd choice) and Gibson was put in the 5th spot in the rotation.  In addition, they kept Sam Deduno and that bad ERA from Spring, Clete Thomas and his steely glare and Scott Diamond because he wasn't hurt in virtual reality. 

The starting rotation out of Spring Training looked like this:  Vance Worley, Mike Pelfrey, Scott Diamond, Cole De Vries (lol) and Kyle Gibson.  WHERE'S KEVIN CORREIA?   They felt his talents better suited a long-man role.  Of course, they also felt that way about Deduno and Liam Hendriks.  Interesting approach to building a bullpen. 

Ready or not, it is time for Opening Day!

Opening Day

Actual Opening Day
MLB Show Opening Day
Aaron Hicks
Jamey Carroll
Aaron Hicks
Joe Mauer
Justin Morneau
Justin Morneau
Ryan Doumit
Josh Willingham
Chris Parmelee
Trevor Plouffe
Oswaldo Arcia
Pedro Florimon
Brian Dozier
Vance Worley
Vance Worley

As you can see, the Twins' Opening Day lineup looks a bit different than it was in reality.  Sony felt that Aaron Hicks was ready for the Big Time, but not the lead-off spot.  Jamey Carroll's veteran presence was valued very highly and Chris Parmelee was banished to the bench (sometimes art imitates life). 

How did Opening Day go, you ask?  The Twins were shut out by Justin Verlander through 6, then EXPLODED for four runs off of him in the seventh.  Ryan Doumit hit a solo home run, Oswaldo Arcia doubled in a run and Jamey Carroll did the same.  However, Vance Worley staked the Tigers to a huge lead, giving up 5 earned runs through 4 innings.  The Twins didn't have enough offense and lost 6-4, almost certainly because Eduardo Escobar and Wilkin Ramirez were down in AAA doing damage.  Aaron Hicks went 0-4 with 3 Ks.  Art, life, you know.

Ok, this is getting lengthy.  I'm sure you want to know more about how this fake season went.  In the next part, we'll see how the first half of the season went down.  A bit of foreshadowing:  the Twins trade a young stud catcher for a pitch-to-contact pitcher.  But who?  And why?  You'll find out soon enough. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Minnesota Twins Offseason Extravaganza: 1993

State of the Team

1993 Record:  71-91, 5th in the AL West
1993 Overview:  Extremely disappointing, the beginning of the end...
1994 Outlook:  Not good; welcome to the abyss

Players Lost - Free Agency

The Twins didn't really lose a whole lot after the '93 season.  We're talking about mostly minor players here.  Mike Hartley was decent.  Terry Jorgensen, Jeff Grotewold and Mike Maksudian were all alive.  You have to give them that.  They're gone.  The only important/notable player that left after the '93 season was long-time catcher Brian Harper

Harper had been the Twins' starting catcher since 1988.  He won a World Series with the team in 1991 and he was just a darn good offensive catcher.  He hit .306/.342/.431 in those six seasons and he stabilized a key position for a really long time.  On the other hand, he was 34 and the Twins seemed to be intent on getting younger as they were bottoming out.  Ultimately, the decision to let Harper go was the correct decision.  Harper had a rough year in Milwaukee, playing only 64 games.  He played just two games the following season and never played in the Majors again.

Harper would have still been the best catcher on the '94 Twins roster, but that team sucked and the strike ended everything and aw nuts it was all just awful at that time. 

Players Gained - Free Agency

The Twins re-signed Gene Larkin and Bernardo Brito.  That's cool, right?  Brito is El Pupo and Larkin might be crazy, but both guys were brought back for good reasons.  (Seriously, scroll to the 1:41 minute mark and listen to Larkin laugh like a completely insane person).  Brito had immense power, but never really showed it in the Majors.  He did have a ridiculous 1994 season, just with Salt Lake in AAA.  Larkin hit the walk-off single in the 10th inning of Game 7, so that alone earns you an invite to Spring Training a few years later.  Ultimately, Larkin was cooked and didn't make the team out of Spring Training. 

The Twins also decided that signing Jim Deshaies should become an off-season tradition, so they signed him again after the '93 season.  It wasn't a terrible idea.  Deshaies won 11 games for the hapless Twins in '93 and they were able to trade him for three young players in August.  In '94, Deshaies was a Deshaster.  In 25 starts he went 6-12 with an ERA of 7.39.  He pitched just 130.1 innings in those 25 starts, or just a shade over 5 innings per start.  At least the Twins had a solid bullpen that year.  Carl Willis, Mark Guthrie, Mike Trombley, Larry Casian and Dave Stevens all posted an ERA over 5.92, each going at least 40 innings.  They were all better than Deshaies.  Spectacular!


On November 24, the Twins acquired a future closer and a future starting catcher.  All they had to do was give up a pretty average starter.  Not bad, right?  It probably helps to provide this information:  the future closer was Dave Stevens and the starting catcher was Matt Walbeck.  So... 

All the Twins gave up to get those two gems was Willie Banks.  The same Willie Banks who never threw another good inning in his life (unfair).  However, looking at the context of the trade at the time, it's hard to understand why it was made.  All three guys were roughly the same age, so this was not a "youth movement" move.  Banks was cheap, so it wasn't about money.  Banks was coming off a '93 season where he won 11 games, had a 4.04 ERA and a 107 ERA+.  His strikeout rate was improved and his walk rate had dipped (slightly, but still).  2.5 WAR too, if you're into that sort of thing. 

Walbeck and Stevens combined to "provide" the Twins with a combined -2.5 WAR in their illustrious Twins careers.  Banks was equally awful, so I guess this trade was just a huge wash.  Catchers are important, but starters are more important.  It was a puzzling move at the time, not a big deal now, but it could have worked out really poorly. 

Biggest Splash

Kirby Puckett and Shane Mack were getting older, so the Twins signed Alex Cole for $375,000 right around the beginning of Spring Training.  Cole played 105 games in 1994, mostly in center.  He hit .296/.375/.403 in that strike-shortened season.  He also stole 29 bases.  Hey, not bad Twins! 

Biggest Miss

Bringing back Deshaies only served to help invent the word Deshaster. 

My Own Personal Heartbreak

The Twins had already traded one of the stars of this video after the '91 season:

Now, Willie Banks is gone too?!?  Who will dance for this team?  Jack Morris and that creepy hip shake was long gone.  Kent Hrbek only knows how to point.  We established that Gene Larkin is too insane to dance.  Who's going to dance?  Jim Deshaies?  He'd probably give up 8 runs while doing so.

I would like someone to re-create this video either with current Twins or by bringing back the actual players in their current state.  Denny Neagle had to concentrate very hard to match Willie Banks' dance moves, but he's had over 20 years to practice.  He might look more natural now.  Hrbek can probably still point too.

Arbitrary Overall Assessment:  D-

The Cole signing keeps this from an F.  I was 12 when it happened, so I didn't fully understand all the reasons why the Banks trade was so confusing.  I just saw his 4.04 ERA and figured he wasn't that good.  Walbeck was a switch-hitting catcher and Stevens was a good prospect, so the trade made sense on that end.  The Twins must have known something about Banks and I'm sure someone will remember what and comment on it.  I was too young.  All in all, this was an uneventful off-season that came right after a terribly disappointing season.  Low marks all around. 

Next week, we'll look at the 1994 off-season.  See you then!

Friday, October 18, 2013

AL Central Preview Review

The 2013 regular season has ended.  The AL Central has produced a team that has made it to at least the ALCS.  In addition, the Indians made the Wild Card game and the Royals had a pretty decent season.  The Twins and White Sox battled heroically for last place, with the White Sox emerging victorious.  Prior to the season, I did some predictin'.  I looked at each of the AL Central teams' offseason moves and came to some wild & crazy kids conclusions.  When I started this blog a little over a year ago, I had one thing in mind:  accountability.  I wanted to have a record of all the stupid and sometimes (rarely) insightful things that pop into my mind on a given day.  Who better to call myself out than me?  I know me really well. 

BTW, I predicted the following order before the season:

Preview Predicted Order
Actual Order
Kansas City
Kansas City

I mean, 1/5 is really not that bad. 

So, here is the dumbest and most smrt thing that I said about each team during the previews.  If you really want to read previews from a season that already happened, here is the Tigers preview with links to the others. 


Dumb:  Phil Coke emerged in the ALCS and could ride his confidence/quirkiness to a successful season.  In fact, you could argue that Phil Coke is the Zooey Deschanel of the Tigers.

Ok, I can't say that I really remember what this was in reference to.  I think there were a lot of New Girl promos and Phil Coke was a weirdo or something.  The successful season part was incorrect.  Coke was terrible and injured in 2013.  On the plus side, I have gotten a surprising amount of Google traffic from people searching for Zooey Deschanel.  Those people must be so confused.

Smrt:  Addition by Subtraction - Valverde, who was overrated when he was good and mostly bad last year.  Young, as no one in Detroit as to worry that Delmon will run into a dam while chasing a fly ball and flood the whole city.

Ha!  Roasted, Delmon.  I even drew a picture to commemorate that sick burn:

Ah, memories.  Replacing Young with Torii Hunter was a former Twins upgrade.  Valverde was actually brought back early in 2013 due to issues with the Tigers bullpen.  He was released after 19.1 hungry innings. 

Kansas City

Dumb:  Mike Moustakas is solid.

Well, this is just plain inaccurate.  Moustakas was the second overall pick back in 2007.  After seeing a huge jump in his WAR in 2012 (mostly from defense), he plummeted to negative WAR in 2013.  He's only 25 and not arbitration eligible until 2015, but I'd bet the Royals are already looking at potential long-term replacements.  His OBP sunk to .287 last season.  Yuck; not solid.

Smrt:  Their bullpen is crazy talented.

This is accurate.  According to Fangraphs, the Kansas City bullpen provided 7.3 WAR, second only to Texas.  They had a 2.55 ERA and averaged more than a strikeout per inning.  Greg Holland was ludicrous.  Luke Hochevar made the transition from albatross starter to extremely effective reliever.  Louis Coleman, Tim Collins, Will Smith, Aaron Crow, the list goes on.  They were even able to overcome some regression from Kelvin Herrera, who still looks great to me despite a near 4 ERA.  Goodness.


Dumb:  All that being said, there is serious talent on this roster.

Nope, not true.  Chris Sale and Addison Reed are talented.   Jose Quintana is talented.  Alex Rios and Jake Peavy are talented, but were traded.  Paul Konerko is talented, but he's old.  Alexei Ramirez plays a mean short.  Other than that, there isn't a lot of actual talent on the roster.  Serious talent was an overstatement.  Moderate talent would have been more appropriate, but possibly still too strong. 

Smrt:  The offense scored runs, but might be worse than in 2012.

I really felt their collapse in my bones.  I should have written "will" instead of "might."  In the early days of this blog, I wanted to remain non-confrontational.  I've emerged as a shock jock and shock jock Brad would have used "will."  Regardless, their offense went from 7th in the Majors in 2012 to 29th in 2013.  Paul Konerko retired (not really, but figuratively), Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo regressed, and Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham improved, but were still unimpressive.  Adam Dunn lead this offense with a 103 OPS+ and he hit .219.  Just awful; and I felt it and I wasn't confident about it.  Never again!


Dumb:  Bauer is pretty close to MLB ready, so he might even help in 2013.

I had this odd affinity for Trevor Bauer.  I guess I just love complex warm-up routines or something.  I liked that he had a mix of pitches and I guess I got ahead of myself.  Bauer did not help the Indians in 2013.  He only made four starts and only lasted through 17 innings in those starts.  He walked everyone and didn't fare much better in AAA.  A lot of experts think he needs to lose some pitches.  I guess he'll have to adapt or die, as they say.  I still hold out some long-term hope, but I'm not sure he helps much in 2014.

Smrt:  2013 might not be a playoff season, but the future is fairly bright in Cleveland.

Yes, I was wrong about 2013.  However, the bright future part does look pretty smart in hindsight.  The Indians were the 5th worst team in baseball in 2012.  They traded one of their best offensive players in the off-season.  Yet, I thought the moves they made were very impressive.  I wrote this before the signed Michael Bourn, although I have to admit that signing would not have made me put them any higher than 3rd in the division.  All that being said, their future is bright and I'm not so sure that was the general sentiment around them in February.  If nothing else, it is definitely the most intelligent statement in that preview.  So that's something.

Your Minnesota Twins

Dumb:  Addition by Subtraction – Matt Capps, but only for fan sanity.  I still think he has something to give a team.

I was right about the addition by subtraction part.  Matt Capps did have something to give a team too!  7 AAA innings.  That's it.  That's what Matt Capps did last summer.  The Indians just re-signed him yesterday and I can't imagine they will get less out of him in 2014.  He's still just 30.  It's baffling, but he must be one of those guys who's 40 when he's 25.  You know, those guys.

I was pretty on point with the Twins going into 2013.  I had low expectations, but felt the team had gotten better organizationally.  I thought the offense would struggle and the pitching would be basically the same as it had been in 2012.  I thought the bullpen was good and I thought that the good players would be good players.  The problem was that there weren't a lot of good players on the team.  Here is how I ended my preview:

Predicted Division Finish -  5th.  Twins fans, it hurts.  Three straight last place finishes is on no one’s wish list.  However, one more bad season might be it.  There are really exciting players coming up through the farm system, and quite a few will be in Minnesota by 2014.  If things really click, the 2014 Twins could resemble the 2001 team that put this franchise back on the map after nearly a decade of losing.  Don’t lose hope and faith in this franchise.  All teams go through this (except the Yankees).  If you stick with this team, your patience will pay off.

I still believe all of that.  I truly believe that 2014 could be the start of a turnaround.  A lot rides on the moves made this off-season and the development of the organization's prospects, but 2014 could be a real turning point.  Next off-season, this paragraph could look ridiculous, but I'm not so sure it will.  I may be overly optimistic, but I don't think this is a basement-level franchise in the long-term.

I'm excited to write a 2014 preview.  The moves made this off-season will dictate whether 2014 is a 2001 or another 2013.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

2013 Fun Stats Review: The Pitchers

Welcome back to the 2013 Fun Stats Review and Recap.  What a fun title!  If you missed last week, you missed out on some really fun batting stats.  You can read it here.  Today, I'm going to look for all sorts of fun pitching stats to share with you.  Will I find any?  I certainly hope so; I did write this entire intro paragraph after all.  Enough introducin', more funnin'. 


If you listen to the Effectively Wild podcast, you are familiar with the concept of a No-Walker.  It's basically a no-hitter, but instead of a complete game shutout with no hits allowed, it is a complete game shutout with no walks allowed.  The EW guys (that's what I call them) think it is equally impressive.  I'm not here to judge, just report.  Here are some fun facts about the 18 No-Walkers from 2013:
  • Shelby Miller had the most strikeouts in a No-Walker with 13
  • Andrew Albers had the fewest strikeouts in a No-Walker with 2
  • Shelby Miller, Yusmeiro Petit, Andrew Cashner and Jon Lester all threw a one-hitter with their no-walker. 
  • Bronson Arroyo gave up the most hits in his no-walker, with 7
  • Chris Archer and Clayton Kershaw each threw two no-walkers in 2013
  • Bartolo Colon threw the fattest no-walker in 2013
Balk Balk!

You know, like a chicken. 

Four pitchers balked twice in one game in 2013:  Stephen Strasburg, Rex Brothers, Wilton Lopez and Alfredo Aceves.  Aceves faced 22 batters on April 23, 2013.  He gave up seven hits, four walks, two balks, seven earned runs, one home run and one double.  He did strike out three.  That adds up to a game score of -666.  I actually didn't look that last part up, so it could be inaccurate. 

For the season, three of those fellows tied Edgmer Escalona for the league-lead with three balks.  It was actually Aceves who never balked again.  It's impossible to know when Aceves will balk again, so please be vigilant and report any future balks to your local authorities.


Jose Veras threw the most innings without a win, going 62.2 futile innings.  Josh Beckett made eight starts and did not record a win, but at least he kept that disgusting soul patch in order.  Jason Grilli had the best entrance music of any player without a win, using "Whipping" by Pearl Jam and effectively winning my heart in the process.  Jose Mijares ate the most cheeseburgers of any player without a win, probably.

Joe Martinez pitched five total innings and recorded a win.  John Gast pitched 12.1 innings and recorded two wins.  Vic Black won three games in only 17 innings and I'm pretty sure that's a fake name.  All of those guys make Josh Beckett sick.  Cole Hamels threw 220 innings in 2013, posted a 3.60 ERA, but only knew how to win 8 times.  What a piece of

Adventures in Wins

On April 12, Kyuji Fujikawa entered a game with a 2-0 lead.  He got the first out, then gave up a double, a wild pitch, a single and then hit a guy.  He still had the closer mentality at this point, leading 2-1.  He then got a groundout.  Then, a double that scored two.  Fujikawa doesn't have the closer mentality anymore.  Of course, Dioner Navarro (who is still just 18 years old somehow) hit a leadoff home run, and a couple hits later, the Cubs won, giving Fujikawa the win.  So, he lost his closer mystique and learned how to win in the same game. 

Vance Worley only managed one win in 2013.  In that game, he gave up 11 hits, one walk and struck out one in 5.1 innings.  Worley won 11 games in 2011, 6 games in 2012 and that one lone game in 2013.  If you are good at math, you know that Worley will win -4 games in 2014.      

  • Seven guys won a game on their birthday! - Hisashi Iwakuma, Luke Gregerson, Max Scherzer, J.J. Hoover, Wade Davis, Anthony Swarzak, and Gio Gonzalez.  Happy birthday indeed!
  • Five guys lost a game on their birthday! - Jeremy Hellickson, Josh Lindblom, Sam Deduno, Tom Gorzelanny, and Juan Nicasio.  Happy birthday, indeed?
  • Four guys saved a game on their birthday!  - Craig Kimbrel, Ernesto Frieri, Joaquin Benoit, and Casey Janssen.  Happy birthday indeed!
  • John Axford blew a save on his birthday.  Happy birthday, indeed?
  • Three guys recorded holds on their birthday!  No one cares about holds.
Random Fun Facts!
  • C.J. Wilson and Erik Bedard each walked 11 batters after having them 0-2.  Pathetic.
  • Justin Verlander, Tim Lincecum, Ian Kennedy and Yu Darvish each struck out 6 batters after letting the count go to 3-0.  Inspiring!
  • Brett Cecil pitched to 18 3-0 counts.  13 of those batters walked.  None scored.  Walks will haunt, eh?
  • Chien-Ming Wang got 4 batters to an 0-2 count and struck out none of them. 
  • Mark Buehrle received at least six runs of support in seven starts, Barry Zito and Pedro Hernandez in eight starts.  Each of these pitchers were horrible with their leads, posting ERAs over seven.  They did win two of those games apiece. 
  • On June 7, Rich Hill entered the game, gave up a single to Brayan Pena and then picked him off.  That was it for Hill that day.  Fun, right?
  • Raul Valdes had the worst first inning ERA in 2013.  His 45 ERA was from his one and only start in 2013.  Not sure why he didn't get another start... 
And with that, the fun has ended.  All the fun stats have been catalogued and posted.  If you ever need to remember what was fun about 2013, just stop by again and review.  If you need, there is a Cliff's Notes version available at your local Barnes and Noble.  Have a great day, everyone