Thursday, July 3, 2014

July Mailbag!

A mailbag on a Thursday?  WHAAAAAAA?  I know, I know, mailbags are for Fridays, but tomorrow is Independence Day and that day deserves to be free from fake mailbags.  In this installment, I have TWO actual questions!  One is from a family member, but it still counts.  Enough dilly-dallying, let's answer some questions.

Escobar has been one of the most consistent bats in the lineup and boasts the 3rd highest OPS on the team. If Oswaldo Arcia can't find a way to produce by the time Plouffe returns from the DL, should Gardy consider playing Eddie in RF to keep his bat in the lineup?


An actual question!  Send me something and I'll answer it.  You'll be famous among 18 people. 

Thank you for your question, Duncan and thank you for being a big supporter of this blog!  This question was sent about two weeks ago, and Escobar has cooled significantly since then.  He is batting just .143/.163/.190 over the last 14 days.  Even before that, I would have probably tried to keep Arcia in the lineup, just because I like his power potential and hairstyle.  But so much has happened since I received this question!

Plouffe and Eduardo Nunez are back.  Danny Santana is hurt.  Jorge Polanco was here and gone.  Chris Parmelee is suddenly hitting.  With Parmelee hitting, he fits nicely in right if Arcia doesn't start to produce.  If Parmelee cools, Santana returns and Arcia isn't producing, I could see trying Escobar in right, provided he's hitting again. 

I like when managers try to move people around to see how it works.  It never hurts to try to make your players and roster more versatile.  Worst case, you put an infielder in the outfield and he can't find the warning track and the team loses.  But, really, how often does that happen?

The Twins have had a plethora of shortstops on the roster this year.  Please rank the many shortstops in the order of your preference.  Thank you, I really enjoy your 3:1 puns-to-analysis ratio.

Brad S., St. Paul, MN

3:1 seems low, but thanks for the compliment!  It's actually crazy to think that the Twins have had 6 different shortstop this year.  That position has been a problem for the Twins for almost two decades and now they have some pretty impressive organizational depth.  Here are my rankings for this year:
  • Eduardo Escobar - The Eddie 400 has been a rousing success, even if Escobar has cooled off in recent weeks.
  • Danny Santana - Would probably be number one if I wasn't so connected to the powerful Eddie 400 movement.  Very exciting player to watch.
  • Jorge Polanco - Would probably be number one if he wasn't still two years from regular MLB duty.  Very exciting player to watch.
  • Eduardo Nunez - Would probably be number one if he was better than the first three guys on the list.  He seems like a nice guy.
  • Pedro Florimon - What a disaster.  A loyal reader suggested we create the "Florimon Abyss" for players who the "Mendoza Line" doesn't do justice.  I love it.  I'm in.
  • Jason Bartlett - Yeah, remember this?  All your anger about scholarships and country clubs is just rushing back!
Derek Jeter is in town this week and I really want to get him something nice to celebrate his retirement.  Can you suggest a gift or 10 for me?  Thanks!

Brad S., St. Paul, MN

Wow, you are in luck!  I literally wrote on this very subject yesterday!  What a wonderful coincidence!  Here's the link to that piece, complete with images of Jeter enjoying his new stuff.  For the record, I would give him the 25 hand-drawn pictures.  It would be an amazing spectacle. 

Hey Brad you think you're so smart about what the Twins need & how to build their team. What about all those rotten softball teams you played for & all along you knew someone close to you that was a career .700 hitter & classic #3 guy for his teams for 20 plus years. Yeah maybe he pulled his hammies often, usually both at the same time, but I still say I'm good for 5 runs a game.

Dad S., St Paul, MN

Another real question, from my actual Dad!  I'm going to address this in a few parts:

1.  One of those "rotten" teams won the Shoreview Slow-Pitch Co-Red D Softball League in 2010.  I have the shirt to prove it; I got bleach on it.  We won the championship game 2-0.  A 2-0 shutout in slow-pitch!  What a team! 

2.  I regret my decision to keep you off the team.  What we really needed was veteran presence and I was too brash to know it at the time.  There's a reason we moved to that Fall League and completely self-destructed.  There's a reason we haven't played in that Shoreview League since winning the title.  We didn't even defend!  I couldn't get a team back together. 

That was on me.  I was riding high after our title.  I started referring to myself as "Rickey," I recorded that bluegrass album with one of the guys in Steely Dan, and I bought so many gold chains.  My neck still hurts.  I should have focused on our dynasty.  What a monster. 

I have a follow-up to your Dad's question.  Since you're such a super baseball genius who can't even plant a tree, what is the first thing you would you do if some moron decided to actually put you in charge of their baseball team?  By the way, there's still a bunch of your lame stuff in our basement. 

Mom S., St. Paul MN

Ok, that question might not be real.  It is an excellent question, however.  My very first move would be somewhat minor, but very impactful.  I'd take a look around the proverbial room, see what I see, take it all in.  Then I would get to work on organizing and designing my office.

I always envisioned an entire wall of bookshelves, filled with all kinds of different books.  I'd have a bunch of Vonnegut novels that I'd never finish, some baseball books that make me look smart, some books from other sports to give the appearance that I'm looking for new ideas and a whole mess of childrens' books to show that I have a playful/confusing side.  You know what, let's just line three walls with bookshelves.  I do need one wall for something else.

Once the books are in place, a good desk is really important.  L-shaped desks are popular because they add space, so I'd push two L-shaped desks into a square for maximum space.  Sure, I'd have to crawl under by desk square every day, but that would be a fun thing for reporters to witness and hopefully comment on.  Again, the playful/confusing side.

Finally, I'd need something to write with and write on.  That fourth wall would just be a giant chalkboard, a call-back to my previous position as a teacher where I never once used any chalk.  I could get a bunch of that colored sidewalk chalk to write with.  That way, every time I shake hands with someone, I would literally leave my mark in pink and purple chalk dust. 

Once my office is set, I'd probably DFA Mike Pelfrey just for kicks.

The Twins are currently significantly below .500, but they're also within "striking distance" of the second (and first) Wild Card.  With this being their reality, how should the team determine when they are buyers or sellers?

Brad S., St. Paul, MN

This requires a nuanced perspective, something I am not known for.  The additional Wild Card basically keeps all non-Cubs teams in the race for much longer than they probably should be.  Hypothetical scenario:  The Twins tread water for the next week and enter the All-Star Break seven games under .500 and eight games back in the Wild Card standings.  Technically, they're still in it, but does that mean they should start buying?

I don't think they should.  I mean, a couple of minor moves would be fine, but they shouldn't trade anyone of any prospect significance.  The move they made for Eduardo Nunez earlier in the season would be a good barometer.  Trading a low-level prospect for someone of value is always a good move.  However, trading a top ten, or even top twenty prospect to upgrade the bullpen or outfield would be unwise.

When it comes to selling, they don't have to go full "fire sale" mode.  If the right deal comes along, they should take it.  Most importantly, they shouldn't turn down a trade for one of their players because they're "still in it."  Seven games under .500 is not really in it, even if they are only eight games back. 

I don't think this team is capable of playing 10-15 games over .500 in the second half, which is likely what they would need to do to actually win a Wild Card spot.  Simply put, they aren't in a position to sacrifice the future for the present, even if it hurts for a few more months. 

Next year, they might be sitting at .500 in mid-July, just five games out.  At that point, I'd be interested in doing some serious buying. 

Follow-up to that previous question.  If the Twins do become sellers, who do you hope they trade?  Thanks, I'm psychic.

Mr. Magic, St. Paul, MN 

Wow, two follow-ups within something printed!  History!

My feeling is that no one should be untouchable.  It really depends on who is being offered.  For instance, I don't want the Twins to trade Phil Hughes.  However, if the Nationals call and say "we're goin' fer it." and offer Lucas Giolito, the Twins have to take that offer.  So while the Twins should keep players like Hughes, Glen Perkins and Brian Dozier to build around, you can't turn down the so-called "Godfather" offer. 

Of the more reasonable trade chips, I would be willing to part with everyone for the right price.  Kurt Suzuki?  Thanks for the surprising season!  Josh Willingham?  I enjoyed your home runs and outfield runs.  Kendrys Morales?  Maybe we can be pen pals.  Kevin Correia?  I hope the nightclub scene is great wherever you land.

That's all I have time for today, thank you so much for all the wonderful and intelligent questions!  I'll be back next month, ON A FRIDAY, to answer more questions.  Have a nice long weekend, everyone!


  1. Agreed on the trade question. For the Twins, everything and everyone should be for sale except perhaps Buxton, Sano, Dozier, Trevor May, Dozier, and Pinto. Bryce Harper and Stephen Strausburg for Hughes?! Sure! Trout and Richards for Suzuki and Nolasco?! I'll draw up the paperwork.

    Good call on the Vonnegut novels. They read really fast, however - once, I picked up "Timequake" to read on an eight hour long bus trip, and finished the thing in about 45 minutes. That was a bummer.

    1. If a team wants to overpay, the Twins have to jump. The A's sent a really great prospect to the Cubs for Shark and maybe the Twins can get a really great prospect for someone they don't really want to trade, but probably should.

      I actually need to read a second Vonnegut novel to run my total to 2, but the one I read was very good.

  2. Which one have you read? If you haven't done Cat's Cradle yet, make that your next one.

    1. Slaughterhouse-Five because I'm mainstream. I'll check that one out when I get to a novel again!