Friday, April 4, 2014

April Mailbag!

It's the first Friday of the month, so it's time for another fake mailbag.  If you have a question for me, the email address is on the side.  If you don't want to wait a month for an answer, just send a bunch of questions.  I'd do this every week if I had some inspiration.  Just saying.  If I can be completely honest, this is all your fault.  But then, I'm not here to lay blame.  Let's answer!

The Twins have a weird roster.  I count two too many Jasons.  How do you feel about the roster decisions that the Twins made?

Brad S., St. Paul, MN.

I'm not that upset about the roster.  If Aaron Hicks was in AAA and Eduardo Escobar was on the Astros, I'd be a lot more upset about the presence of Jason Kubel and Jason Bartlett.  Since the Twins gave those two Jasons jobs over Alex Presley and Chris Parmelee, it's hard for me to get too upset.  Parmelee is a AAAA player and Presley is just meh.

I like Bartlett if he can actually play center because he can also play the infield (obviously).  He won't play much and when he does, it will be as a sub.  Kubel is a better bet to hit than Parmelee, in my opinion.  Both guys are unlikely to do much, but Kubel has been a good hitter in the past, so I guess it's possible.  I actually think the Twins took the best 25-man roster to Minnesota. 

Who will be the first player to lose his job?

J. Pinto, Minneapolis, MN.

Sadly Mr. Pinto, I don't think it will be Kurt Suzuki.  My money is on Pedro Florimon.  I hate to predict this because I actually like Florimon, but I just don't see how he keeps his job through a second futile season at the plate.  The Twins have already used Eduardo Escobar as a pinch hitter for Florimon, which is like subbing mayonnaise for Miracle Whip (I notoriously loath both).  Escobar is ready and already on the roster.  He's younger, likely a better hitter and much more willing to flash a giant smile.  The Twins also have Danny Santana at AAA and if he can start making routine plays, he'll be in Minnesota before long. 

It all adds up against Florimon.  Suzuki bought himself about 8 months of playing time with his opening series performance, if you are using the "Clete Thomas scale of earning playing time" and we all know the manager does.   

You're climbing high over a chasm in the mountain tops, ala Cliffhanger.  You slip and you're dangling, ala Cliffhanger.  You get to choose one current Twins player to attempt your rescue.  Who do you select?

Sylvester, Hollywood, CA.

You'd think you'd want the guy with the most strength, but you'd be wrong.  You want the guy with the most resolve.  The guy who refuses to quit.  The guy who won't give up when times are tough.  I'm going to be rescued by Chris Colabello.  Sure, he's big, so that's nice, but I'm picking him because of all the years he spent toiling in Independent Leagues, just waiting for his chance to play MLB baseball.  He showed resolve.  He showed tenacity.  He showed persistence.  He'd hold onto my flabby arm for as long as he had to.  I'd be in good hands.  It doesn't hurt that he looks really strong either.

What is your problem?

Everyone, Everywhere.

Oh, I get asked that question so often, it's losing all meaning.  I think I just get bored.  I'm basically the Sherlock Holmes of Twins bloggers.  I was bored after the first game of the season, so I wrote this.  It was emotional. 

How are Kendrys Morales and Stephen Drew still unemployed?  If you ran the Twins, would you sign either player?

Brad S., St. Paul, MN

Honestly, I'm quite surprised.  Drew is a good shortstop and Morales had a 121 OPS+ over the past two seasons.  There are literally hundreds of players on active rosters who are much worse than these two.  Morales would be the Twins' second-best hitter and Drew would be arguably the Twins' second-best overall player.  The draft pick compensation and/or the agent's demands must be really keeping teams away.  At this point, teams can wait just two more months and sign either guy without giving up the pick.

If I ran the Twins, I would probably wait it out.  Even the most optimistic observer is unwilling to predict a .500 record for the Twins in 2014.  Drew and Morales are nice players, but they don't add 5-6 wins to a team.  Therefore, these guys won't move the needle on the Twins' 2014 season.  However, if either or both guys are available in early June, I'd jump in on Drew headfirst.  He's still 31 and the last contract figure I saw attached to him was a very reasonable 3 year, $39 million, which would have to be pro-rated to reflect the June signing.  This would take care of the Twins' shortstop hole quite nicely. 

The Twins might not want Drew long-term because Danny Santana is at AAA and getting closer to his MLB debut.  If they wait until June, they get to look at Santana at AAA for two months before they have to make a decision.  At this point, there's no reason to sign Drew unless the team is petrified of losing him.  They've pretty much demonstrated that they are not scared right now. 

I have an unconventional idea for the Twins after the 2014 season.  Hanley Ramirez is a free agent and he'll be just 32 in 2015.  Would you

I'm just going to stop you right there.  I would not sign Hanley Ramirez unless he comes at a very reasonable cost.  I get all the reasons why the Twins should be interested - he's a shortstop, he's good, the Twins need a good shortstop.  That said, I think there are plenty of reasons to be worried about Ramirez's performance, even considering his rebound in 2013. 

Ramirez's slide in 2011 and 2012 are explainable.  He was injured in 2011.  That hurts.  Literally.  His BABIP in those two seasons was a full 40 points lower than his established career rate.  That hurts.  Figuratively.  His BABIP and health returned in tandem in 2013 and he resumed being a productive player. 

Well, it's not quite that simple.  His walk rate has been in decline since his peak in 2008.  Why doesn't he walk as much, even in 2013 when he was a good hitter?  His strikeout rate fell in 2013, but had been climbing in previous seasons.  Was this a one-year blip or has he figured something out?  In 2013, his home run to fly ball ratio was eight points higher than his career mark and his line drive rate was four points higher than his career mark.  Are these new thresholds or just one-year spikes?  His defense rated above-average in 2013, but had been below-average from 2010-2012.  Can Ramirez even play short going forward?

I count four pretty large questions in that paragraph.  I'd prefer Drew to Ramirez, this year, next year and the following year.  After that, who knows, we'll all be super old. 

Thoughts on the White Sox series?

Readers, Everywhere (I hope).

Well, it's just one series, but that's what bad teams do - they lose 2 out of 3 on the road.  I think the Twins are better, despite the 1-2 record, but they're still bad.  They'll still lose around 90 games.  90-loss teams lose 2 of 3 on the road more times than not. 

Opening Day was no surprise.  The Twins have been owned by tough lefties since the dawn of time and Chris Sale is as tough as they get.  Ricky Nolasco didn't look great, but he did throw six innings and it's just one start.  

Kevin Correia was effective on Wednesday and the Twins scored some runs.  It's disappointing that the bullpen was so shaky because I thought that would be one of the strengths of the team, but again, it's just one series and I believe in the individuals who were hit hard. 

Phil Hughes was Phil Hughes on Thursday, pitching mostly well but getting beat by home runs.  When he keeps the ball in the park, he's going to give the team a chance to win.  His strikeout and walk numbers are going to look really good even if his ERA doesn't match.  We'll call him a FIPer, and that won't catch on at all.

The offense looks about as I expected and it's competent.  I count seven regulars who can hit - Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Oswaldo Arcia, Josh Willingham, Trevor Plouffe, Jason Kubel and Aaron Hicks.  Josmil Pinto and Chris Colabello can hit too, when they're in the lineup.  Kurt Suzuki did hit in that series.  With so many guys who are capable, I don't see the offense getting completely shut out too often.  They'll have bad games as individuals, and a few may have bad seasons, but as a whole, they'll do enough to score some runs.

The Pinto home run and Arcia triple from Thursday were my highlights, but that's not too surprising because the Twins actually won that game.  It was also nice to see Glen Perkins bounce back immediately following a blown save.  It's just one series, but it went about how I thought it would.

Well, there you have it.  Questions - answered!  Have a great weekend, everyone!


  1. I think the Twins need to only allow Hughes to pitch in home games and a few select road series, such as the one in San Francisco (I'll be there!) In the Deadball Era, he would have been a Hall of Famer, especially if he had pitched in Pittsburgh at Forbes Field.

    1. That is an excellent idea. It's a shame he can't keep the ball in the field; he has fantastic stuff.