Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Morning Madness: July 21, 2014

Weekend Recap

Does MLB offer their teams refunds for entire series?  Can an MLB team get a "do over" on the first series out of a break?  If a tree falls in the woods, could it possibly join the Twins' lineup and produce a few hits?  Is suckatude a word?    

Arcia went 0-4 on Friday night, sat against a tough lefty on Saturday and then returned on Sunday with another 0-3, this time with two strikeouts and he was pinch hit for in the 8th inning.  Arcia is clearly not producing as many had hoped.  I predicted 55 extra-base hits from him in 2014!  Instead, he has 13 and the way he's been hitting, I wonder if he reaches 25 by the end of the season.

I still believe that there are reasons to be optimistic about Arica.  His walk rate has improved, his strikeout rate is slightly down.  He's hitting more line drives and fewer ground balls.  I would hope that he's in the lineup just about every single day going forward. 

I don't think sending him to AAA does him any good at this point.  He has a .999 OPS in AAA.  The Twins have sent him down with the hope that he'll mash AAA and bring that confidence or whatever with him to Minnesota.  It hasn't worked.  For now, they need to brute force this slump.  He needs to play until he breaks out of it.  He's too talented to slump forever. 

Hughes had another rough start on Saturday, giving up five earned runs over seven innings, picking up his sixth loss on the season.  Over his last six starts, Hughes has a 6.34 ERA.  In 38.1 innings over those six starts, he has 31 strikeouts to just 4 walks.  Not bad.  Unfortunately, he's given up a shocking 56 hits over those starts.  Even in his one good start during this stretch he gave up eight hits. 

His BABIP during those six starts is .421, both incredibly high and highly unsustainable.  Basically, Hughes is going through a rough patch, but he should be able to ride it out.  Back on April 20, when his ERA was 6.43, his BABIP was .394.  In the ten starts in the middle, his BABIP was .286 and his ERA was 2.08. 

It sucks that his ERA has spiked by nearly a run over his last six starts, but I wouldn't be too surprised to see it down in the low 3s again by the end of the season, especially if he keeps his strikeout and walk rates where they've basically been all year. 

Optimism Fading

I try hard to be optimistic with the Twins.  I predicted (read:  hoped for) a 75-win season.  I'm willing to concede that they are highly unlikely to reach that win total.  The offense goes cold for weeks at a time, the starting pitching is very inconsistent and what does a bullpen matter when the score is 5-1 after 4 innings?  

I greatly hope that the Twins don't completely fall apart in August and September again.  While I don't think they have the talent to reach 75 wins, I really don't want to sit through another 4-25 April.  I'd like to see some young players get time later in the season, but hopefully the few veterans who will remain can keep things together and win some games.  I'm tired of being in the "draft slot derby" in September.  I'd like to see the team finish respectably. 

Former Twin Update - Alexi Casilla

If you're wondering why we haven't heard much about Sexi Lexi this season, it's because he's spent his season with Baltimore's AAA team.  Well, at least the parts of the season when he's been healthy.  It's been a rough year for Casilla, as he hyperextended his knee in May and missed a bunch of time and now he's pretty much out for the season with a broken hamate bone. 

It's a shame because I always liked Casilla, even if his performance didn't merit my affection.  I'll likely always gravitate toward the short middle infielders because that was who I was when I played ball once upon a time.  Plus, we both have spaces in the middle of our front teeth.  Also, he was awesome.  Just ignore his 73 OPS+ in seven seasons with the Twins; he was awesome.

Fun Stat - 4th Starters

Did you know that teams who have paid more than $100,000 per start to their fourth starter have a collective winning percentage of .481?  Did you know that teams who have paid less than $100,000 per start to their fourth starter have a collective winning percentage of .528?  Why is this important?

Well, the Twins happen to have a young pitcher who many have predicted for the fourth starter role.  This particular pitcher is nearly MLB-ready (or already MLB-ready, depending on who you ask) and has been very durable in his Minor League career.  In addition, by way of being young, he will be very cheap and should easily make less than $100,000 per start when he hits the Majors. 

I'm going to expand on this in a post on Wednesday, as I have a whole mess of data and analysis related to Trevor May to share.  Check back on Wednesday!  Cliffhanger!

Baseball Card from the Past

Yep, Rickey Henderson often batted while sitting on six stolen bases.  You probably forgot about that. 

All-Star Game Recap!

As I mentioned roughly 4 million times, I attended the All-Star Game on Tuesday.  In my American League midseason award and predictions column (click here if you missed it), I wrote about how I reacted to a fan who said Mike Trout was overrated.  In addition to that blow-up, I also became irate when I dropped my turkey sandwich.  Seriously, I traversed roughly 30,000 people and 10,000 people looking backward in complete confusion to get to my seat, then I dropped my tantalizing sandwich. 

Make no mistake, I went back and got another one.  It had cajun seasoning and sweet and spicy BBQ sauce.  I made the right choice. 

Oh, the game was fun too.  I think Derek Jeter won.

Poll Results

Last month, I posted a poll with a simple question - When will the Twins make the playoffs next?  Here are the results:

  • 2014 - 2 votes
  • 2015 - 20 votes
  • 2016 - 17 votes
  • 2017 - 4 votes
  • 2018 - 3 votes
  • A depressingly long time from now - 10 votes
To be fair, the last one could overlap with a couple of the other options.  I voted for 2016, a year later than my original projection from before this season.  The two who voted for 2014 are incredible.  I would like to be their friend.  I did post a new poll, so check out my blog and vote.  It's what cool kids do.

Plugging My Way

Well, I already plugged my AL midseason award post, so for the sake of symmetry, here's my NL post as well:  click here!  If you're curious, I did not predict any awards correctly before the season and I did gutlessly change all of my predictions when given the chance.  You should read it, it's fun!

Parting Thought

The second half of the season is not off to a great start.  However, the Twins still have seven games at home to try to pull things together.  Of course, they'd almost have to win six of seven to really have a successful homestand.  I'm just going to assume that won't happen.  At the end of the homestand, the trading deadline will be nearly upon us.  The sweep from the Rays to start the second half might have been the best thing for the "fire sale" crowd and the worst thing for the "buy it now" crowd.  I'm in neither camp, so I'll just chill.  Have a nice week, everyone!

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