Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday Morning Madness: April 21, 2014

Series Recap

The Royals series didn't quite go to plan.  The Twins' starters threw almost 18 innings in three games, holding the Royals' offense in check for the most part.  However, when the Royals struck, they typically struck for multiple runs (more on that below).  The Twins managed to win the final game and therefore, they sit at 9-9 as they head to Tampa Bay to finish up this road trip.   

I'm officially worried about Aaron Hicks.  I preached patience with Hicks in 2013 all the way to the bitter end.  I preached patience this Spring and early this season.  But now, I can't ignore what I see.  He looks passive.  He looks shaken.  He looks unconfident.  I'm not in his head, so I can't truly gauge his confidence, but it doesn't look good as an observer.  His strikeout rate is far too high and he isn't driving the ball when he's actually hitting.  He's walking more, which would be a good sign if he didn't look so passive in doing so. 

He's reaching historical territory as well.  Since 1961, Hicks has the 46th most plate appearances of any player with a sub-.200 career batting average.  There are a lot of backup catchers in the list of 45 players ahead of Hicks.  If the Twins continue to give him at-bats and he doesn't pull things together soon, he could find his way into the top 20 by the All-Star break.  Here's the full list, if you're a masochist:

It's gross, be warned.

For the record, I don't think Aaron Hicks will be on this list forever.  Although, I'm starting to wonder if some time in Rochester might serve him well. 
To add to Hicks' discomfort, the Twins claimed Fuld off of waivers from the Athletics and DFA'd Darin Mastroianni.  Fuld is a slight upgrade over Mastroianni, but he's not someone who should be replacing Hicks.  I don't think he will replace Hicks, at least not at first.  However, if Hicks continues to falter at the plate, he could lose starts.  If he loses starts, I hope he gets sent to Rochester.  Fuld is a slightly more viable option than Clete Thomas and should be a decent 4th outfielder if Hicks cooperates. 

Starting Rotation

Big innings.  Crooked Numbers.  Get used to seeing them from opposing teams.  The Twins have assembled a rotation that should be better than the previous few seasons, but as we saw all weekend, they are prone to innings where the other team strings together a series of hits.  I looked at the leaders in hits per nine innings among all active starters with at least 500 career innings pitched.  Here is how the Twins' four qualified starters rank:
Many of the players in the top 40 are no longer starters at all.  If you remove all the guys who have not started a game in 2014, here is how the Twins rank:
  • Mike Pelfrey - 2nd
  • Kevin Correia - 8th
  • Ricky Nolasco - 10th
  • Phil Hughes - 22nd
For the record, Kyle Gibson would top this list, but he's about 430 innings short of 500 and will have improved his H/9 substatially by the time he gets there.  Only the Diamondbacks and Phillies have more than one starter in the top 22.  The Twins have four. 

The point of all this?  Expect the hits to keep on coming!  Sam Deduno would be in the mid-60s on this list, for the record. 


Former Twin Update - Denard Span

The Nationals activated Span from the 7-day concussion disabled list over the weekend.  Span missed just the minimum seven days after his most recent concussion, his third since becoming a regular MLB player.  I wish Span the best and I hope he's dealt with his last concussions.  Multiple concussions really worry me, but I do think the MLB concussion protocol is improved and truly designed to make sure players are healthy before resuming play.  If he's healthy (and I have to assume he is), I'm glad he's back in action. 

Random Photoshop - Easter Bunny

Easter was yesterday and in honor of that Holiday, I thought it would be fitting to photoshop a Twins player onto the Easter Bunny's body.  I thought for a good twenty minutes about who it should be or if there was a punny name I could make.  I got nothing.  Since the photoshop is supposed to be random, I truly randomized it.  Here's my proof:

I also learned that I do know the entire active roster by heart, something my wife will no doubt appreciate the next time I forget something at the grocery store.  I made this on Saturday, so my apologies to Sam Fuld.  Kevin Correia was the winner, so here he is, in honor of Easter:

Response to a Hypothetical Facebook question

Q:  How about giving some of his salary back because he never won anything but worthless stat awards and popularity contest!

Note - This, along with a ton of additional vitriol toward Joe Mauer, was written in response to a post wishing Mauer a Happy Birthday.  The nerve of the Twins to do such a thing!

A:  Well, Mauer does contribute a fair amount of money to charities, but I'm guessing that wasn't what you meant.  He COULD give some of the money back to the team, but I'm willing to bet that you also feel that the team doesn't spend enough, so what would be the point of that? 

Those "worthless stat awards" that he has won are pretty helpful toward winning baseball games, but then, is winning baseball games really a baseball player's goal?  I can't deny the popularity contest part.  I mean, the sheer volume of aggravating comments about "Mauer the Sissy" in response to some innocuous birthday wishes pretty much sum up his "popularity." 

Random Top 10 List - Destroying the Narrative

By the way, to all the "Hey Mauer, why not get an RBI for your birthday" crowd, here's a top ten list for you.  These are players with the 10 highest batting averages with runners in scoring position since 1989 (at least 2000 career PA):

1 Tony Gwynn 1044 .359 1632 1322 702 475 98 14 29 655 221 64 .434 .520 .954 688 60 70 131
2 Paul Molitor 1043 .341 1764 1430 709 488 82 14 23 622 242 164 .422 .466 .889 667 38 71 67
3 Joey Votto 620 .339 1007 762 383 258 64 2 41 365 217 165 .479 .589 1.068 449 19 21 80
4 Miguel Cabrera 1287 .334 2157 1750 710 585 123 3 91 868 334 337 .432 .564 .996 987 101 57 180
5 Joe Mauer 857 .333 1417 1089 538 363 81 5 23 518 274 157 .455 .480 .935 523 43 45 105
6 Albert Pujols 1429 .332 2376 1778 962 591 135 3 128 979 487 180 .466 .628 1.094 1116 100 81 272
7 Adrian Gonzalez 971 .328 1565 1258 505 412 90 3 64 614 249 258 .429 .556 .985 700 50 48 126
8 Manny Ramirez 1767 .327 3053 2341 1038 765 171 7 147 1248 579 491 .454 .594 1.048 1391 122 90 212
9 Mike Sweeney 1040 .327 1721 1416 556 463 96 1 66 691 216 161 .411 .536 .947 759 56 59 61
10 Barry Bonds 1862 .326 3045 1909 1276 623 129 16 140 1061 1026 294 .550 .631 1.181 1204 58 84 607
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/19/2014.

Hmm, is that Joe Mauer behind just FOUR other players in all of baseball in the last 25 years?  But...but...he doesn't drive in runs??????  Turns out, maybe he doesn't get enough opportunity in RBI situations because he certainly converts his opportunities at a high rate. 

Hey Facebook Twins fans/Mauer haters...YOU suck.

I apologize for my actions one second ago.  It won't happen again. 

Poll Results!

Thank you very much to the 14 people who voted in the last poll.  That is a truly discouraging number.  I blame myself, as it was a very self-serving poll.  Here are the results:

Question - Who will you tire of me writing about first?
  • Chris Colabello - 1 vote
  • Aaron Hicks - 1 vote
  • Eduardo Escobar - 4 votes
  • Mike Pelfrey - 3 votes
  • Some player with a name that sounds like a bird - 5 votes
Well then.  I guess my Chickie Nolasco photo will have to wait a few weeks. 

I have posted a new poll and it's much better.  Please check it out and vote it up. 

Plugging My Way (sung to the tune of Thumbing My Way by Pearl Jam)

Actually, you know what, no singing.  I wrote about Clete Thomas for one last time and I want to share it with you. 

Also, I wrote about the national perception of the Twins and why I don't think it quite matches reality.  Of course, this last weekend doesn't help my argument but whatever.  In a post about outdated opinions, it only stands to reason that I would provide an outdated opinion.

Song of the Week

With all my talk of the Afghan Whigs and their new album, I don't want Mark Lanegan to think that I am favoring one Gutter Twin over the other.  Here's one of my favorite Lanegan solo songs:

Parting Thought

Last Monday, I wrote about Kyle Gibson and his early success.  I wasn't sold on how he was achieving his success, but I was pleased with the outcome.  This past week, he pitched his best game of the season and he looked good while doing it.  I've been sold on Gibson since the Twins drafted him and I think he's going to be in the rotation for a lot of years.  One piece of the Twins' puzzle seems to be in place; will anyone else join Gibson this season?

Have a great week, everyone! 


  1. The Joe Mauer hate on Facebook is so ignorant and misplaced. Yes, he's paid a lot and the Twins don't otherwise spend much money...that's all there is to it, but is that Joe Mauer's fault? No. I love that he has a higher BAwRISP than some of the greatest hitters in a generation. Given that, why on earth is batting 2nd in the order when both his OBP and his BAwRISP are more valuable in the 3 spot?

    1. It's funny because no matter what split you pick when looking at Mauer, he is great. The reason - he's a great hitter! I do think he's more valuable in the 3-hole. He's certainly the best long-term option on the current roster.

  2. Yeah, Sam Fuld is the latest in the string since Denard Span was sent packing to Washington - Clete, Alex Pressly, and now Sam Fuld. Combined VORP? Probably lower than Carrie Nation's blood alcohol content. Really hoping Hicks can get it together.

    1. 100% agree. Fuld got off to a hot start, but I can guarantee it won't last. I'll enjoy it while it lasts though.